Monday, October 30, 2006

Log Cabin Republicans Are Like Chickens for Colonel Sanders


In the 1960s, the Democratic Party lost the South because of its leaders' support for civil rights. Barry Goldwater won several Deep South states even while losing badly almost everywhere else. Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, announcing that he was switching parties, said, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. It left me."

It's too bad that gay and lesbian Republicans can't see, in an inverted way, the same thing a bigoted philistine like Thurmond could.

The Mark Foley scandal has put this GOP minority into the spotlight, albeit in an unfortunate way. Foley's misbehavior certainly isn't representative of the gay community.

But many Americans are now aware of something I don't think they'd given much thought to before: There are surprisingly many gay and lesbian Republicans.

My question is: why? Why would people of those sexual orientations continue to vote for and donate money to candidates of a party mostly composed of people who regard them as, at best, sick freaks, and at worst, hellbound sinners?

The most high-profile organization that gives these GOP outsiders something of a voice is the Log Cabin Republicans. Their home page describes them as "loyal Republicans" who believe in things like:

  • Low taxes. (So they'd rather live in Central America than in one of those socialist nightmare regimes in Scandinavia. Have they read anything about the state of gay rights in Guatemala lately?)

  • Limited government. (Do they mean the kind that can't respond to natural disasters like hurricanes? Or the kind that gives the president semidictatorial powers to, for example, define what constitutes torture?)

  • Strong defense. (Like the kind that, after the U.S. is attacked by Al Qaeda, decides to attack an adversary of theirs in Iraq? And then doesn't send enough troops to secure the borders, the precious oil fields, or bring any semblance of order to the country? But still stretches our military so thin that it likely wouldn't be able to respond to a real threat from, say, North Korea or Iran? And somehow manages to create a virtual terrorist training ground in Iraq? Can you say Larry? Moe? Curly Joe?)

  • Free markets. (Do they mean the kind in which contractors like Halliburton, with incestuously close ties to the "vice president," get no-bid contracts worth well over $10 billion?)

  • Personal responsibility. (Do they mean the kind that George W. Bush and Deadeye Dick Cheney have demonstrated during their adult lives?)

  • Individual liberty. (Do they mean the kind the Texas Republican Party endorsed in its 2004 platform, in which it opposed legalization of "sodomy," and also advised candidates that a risk of not supporting the entire platform would be withholding of state party funding?)

I understand that what Log Cabin Republicans have in common with politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mary Bono and Lincoln Chafee is that all contemporary Republicans, "moderate" or otherwise, are economic royalists.

It's not hard to understand how someone would want their human rights and the trust fund, too. They basically want the little people to pay the bulk of the taxes, and then much more; and they may even sincerely believe, for whatever misguided reasons, that they should. I'll save that argument for another time.

But as the radical right extends its already decades-long dominance of the GOP, these "moderate" politicians are looking almost as irrelevant now as James Eastland and Lester Maddox appeared among Democrats in the Sixties.

Log Cabin Republicans, you didn't leave the party, but it left you -- 25 or 30 years ago. Maybe it's time you gave some thought to something you regard as unthinkable -- to follow the lead of Media Matters for America founder David Brock, and back Democrats, at least for a while. The only way "moderates" (I'm old enough to remember when they were called conservatives.) are ever going to retake the GOP is for the radical right to start losing elections. A lot of them.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Condi's Con: One More Contemptible World-Class Liar in the Bush Junta


"We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida." -- Condoleeza Rice, in a New York Post interview

The pantheon of liars in the Bush administration can now add Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to their highest ranks. Joining her boss, and Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others in weaving the web of anti-history, Condi seems to have conveniently forgotten a series of briefings that the departing Clinton administration set up in January 2001 for their (illegitimate) successors.

One of the meetings was described in the Aug. 4, 2002, edition of Time magazine by reporter Michael Elliot in a story titled, "They Had a Plan":

"One such meeting took place in the White House situation room during the first week of January 2001. The session was part of a program designed by Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, who wanted the transition between the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to run as smoothly as possible. With some bitterness, Berger remembered how little he and his colleagues had been helped by the first Bush administration in 1992-93. Eager to avoid a repeat of that experience, he had set up a series of 10 briefings by his team for his successor Condoleezza Rice, and her deputy, Stephen Hadley. Berger attended only one of the briefings -- the session that dealt with the threat posed to the U.S. by international terrorism, and especially by al-Qaeda. 'I'm coming to this briefing,' he says he told Rice, 'to underscore how important I think this subject is.' Later, alone in his office with Rice, Berger says he told her, 'I believe that the Bush Administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on al-Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.' "

The story goes on into detail about the terrorism briefing by expert Richard Clarke, at which Rice was present. Then, Elliott goes on to outline how the Bushies, in the months that followed, basically did little or nothing in response. And Condi was one of the main ones who ignored this wealth of information and let our nation fall prey to terrorists that she had been amply warned about. And yet she shamelessly lies about having had this information.

What seems clear in hindsight is that the Bush junta was told in no uncertain terms what a threat al-Qaeda was, and specific things it should do to counter the threat. The warnings were ignored, right up until the week before Sept. 11, 2001. Clarke, who was later demoted by the Bushies, recalled before the 9/11 Commission, as reported by The Washington Post:

"I believe the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue but not an urgent issue. There was a process under way to address al Qaeda. But although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way."

Clarke is on record as having written to Rice on Sept. 4, 2001, urging "policymakers to imagine a day after a terrorist attack, with hundreds of Americans dead at home and abroad, and ask themselves what they could have done earlier."

The Post reported further that Clarke told the commission that while "the Clinton administration treated terrorism as its highest priority, the Bush administration did not consider it to be an urgent issue before the attacks."

Most recently, a New York Times story reported: "A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleeza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday (Oct 2, 2006).

"The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats."

Doesn't Condi know that in the age of the Internet, anybody from Toledo to Tora Bora can look this stuff up?

The secretary of state seems to have learned well from others in our rogue administration how to lie through her teeth.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Fiscal Cost of Iraq War Will Soon Exceed Cost of Korean War


The Iraq War is already the fourth costliest war in American history (as measured in constant dollars). Soon, it will be the third costliest war in U.S. history.

The National Priorities Project has reported that the Iraq War has cost U.S. taxpayers $334 billion so far. The cost of the Iraq War is rapidly approaching the cost of the 1950-53 Korean War, which cost the U.S. $361 billion.

The most expensive wars in U.S. history, according to The Christian Science Monitor are: World War II ($3.114 trillion), the Vietnam War ($531.5 billion) and the Korean War ($361.2 billion). Note: all figures are in 2005 dollars.

Actually, even these figures don't tell the whole story, though. The cost of fighting World War II was offset by the fact that after the war, America acquired an enormously valuable treasure trove of highly lucrative German technology and patents. This ranged from aerospace and jet engine technology to military technology to sophisticated chemicals.

By contrast, the U.S. won't be reaping any benefit whatsoever from the Iraq War. In fact, we're having a difficult time just accessing that nation's oil reserves. So much for the Bush team's pre-war prediction that Iraq's oil would pay for the cost of the invasion.

On that topic, I'd like to debunk one of the stupidest Republican arguments to have come down the pike the past couple of years. That is: that Bush's rationale for the Iraq War could not have been oil, since the U.S. hasn't had much luck in accessing Iraq's oil since the invasion.

I've heard this argument repeated by right-wingers endlessly. The lack of logic is breathtaking. First of all, just because America hasn't gotten its grubby hands on Iraq's oil doesn't mean that our leaders don't want the oil. All it means is that the Iraqi insurgents have been highly successful in targeting Iraq's oil infrastructure and pipelines. It's difficult for Iraq's oil industry to operate when the nation is in the midst of chaos and civil war.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Who Will Direct November Election: Frank Capra--Or David Lynch?


If you're a Democrat these days, life is good. At least it seems to be good.

The embattled GOP appears to be on the ropes. Even before the Foley story, the party had been reeling from an endless series of scandals and revelations. Things have gotten so bad that Republican congressmen are running away from their own president, as George W. Bush's own approval ratings sink further into the toilet.

How could the Democrats possibly not re-capture the Congress in November?

Well, before you pop that champagne cork, keep a few things in mind. The Republicans are still massively well-funded and they and their allies still control the nation's corporate media. Last, but not least, America's election system is still broken and subject to tampering (and the GOP has shown time and again that they will not hesitate to steal votes).

Nevertheless, Democrats remain jubilant these days. The past six hellish years of Bush and NeoCon control of this country appear to be nearing an end. And if the Democrats can re-capture the Congress, then we have a chance to make Bush finally answer for his crimes. The NeoCon corruption, crime and evil that soiled our nation's capital might finally come to an end.

It's a heartwarming scenario with a happy ending that might have come straight out of a Frank Capra movie.

There's only one problem.

The America that we all grew up with and admired as a nation no longer exists in the George W. Bush era. The nation that was once admired and emulated around the world no longer exists. Our present government has sullied America's good name in scores of ways, from embracing torture as official policy to illegal wiretaps, to brazenly stealing elections, to illegally invading sovereign nations.

Democrats are hoping that the November elections will have a happy ending, like something Capra would have directed. But I fear that it instead will resemble the work of another director: David Lynch, the cinematic master of the creepy, the surreal, and the horrible.

As good as things appear to be for the Democrats at the moment, it seems like a lot of us have forgotten that America's election system still has severe problems that have yet to be corrected. Although a number of investigators and writers have extensively documented the election system problems, I don't think we'll see them resolved until the mainstream media brings them to the attention of the American people.

Democrats already face huge obstacles to re-taking the Congress---and that's before we even start talking about stolen votes.

Incumbents in Congress already enjoy an enormous financial advantage over their challengers. Take the House for example. As has pointed out, House incumbents have raised a total of $376,250,753 (which works out to $887,384 per candidate). That dwarfs the $95,260,904 raised by challengers, who have only raised $170,413 per candidate.

No wonder incumbent re-election rates are so high these days. As notes, in 2004, an eye-popping 98 percent of House incumbents were re-elected (excluding incumbents facing incumbents), as were 96 percent of incumbent Senators.

It is indeed a bleak prospect to think that the Democrats won't prevail in the November elections. But I'd like to emphasize that I'm not suggesting that anyone not bother to vote in November. Not by any means. I still urge everyone to get out and vote. Are you registered to vote? Go to this site to find out.

As investigative journalist Greg Palast has written:

"How many times am I asked, "Why vote if they're going to steal the election?" That's the point: Make them STEAL it. Make them know they can't win UNLESS they steal it."