Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Crap Editorial in Today's Advertiser

In today's Advertiser they chose to run an Guest Editorial on Minimum and Livable Wage. This column's author is Earl Hargroder and it seems he has been "drinking the Kool Aid" of Fox News.

Here are my thoughts on his piece:

I see, it's not that people are not getting paid a LIVING WAGE, it is the perception that they are not getting paid a LIVING WAGE! People are not POOR - It's that they perceive themselves as POOR - What crap!

I especially like how he goes through expenses and states which are "TOO MUCH" he would actually have people jump on the bandwagon to tell people that their expenses and choices are wrong... - "who needs to eat three times a day, one can get by with two meals" doesn't seem to be far off from his thought process.

Unbelievable... The auto industry has made it's own bed, now they must lie in it. If they would have supported Single Payer Healthcare system a decade ago they wouldn't be in the bind they are today. Also if they would have spent the time on R&D a decade ago we would be driving the cars from the future today as well! Imagine a company that invested in this a decade ago and now offered vehicles that could get 60-90 miles per gallon... Those would be the cars FLYING out of the dealerships... Instead as most businesses do these days - they look for the quick buck, not the long term.

Prime examples here locally - BELL SOUTH - in 10 years time there won't be the need for "LOCAL PHONE COMPANIES" - one pipe will service all communication needs and unless and until Bell South addresses this they will be out of business. Their merger with AT&T seems wise as at least AT&T is looking towards the future... But the blow back on these companies for their unfair tactics in the marketplace - trying to legislate their reason for being will ultimately be their undoing.

This ultimately does tie into undocumented workers as well. The corporate addiction to these individuals is vast, and these companies are not paying them even minimum wage in many situations, thus corporations can continue to take advantage of these individuals all the while wages are depressed.

The frustrating thing to hear is "Americans won't do this work...." However they never seem to finish this sentence... The facts are "American's won't do this work, for that wage."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fate of the Republic Hinges on Defeat of Republicans

Three opinion pieces in newspapers over the weekend illustrate the threat to America's Constitutional order and the republic itself that the administration of George W. Bush poses.

The first was by Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Army Colonel and the former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Wilkerson says that the current President Bush threatens America's greatness due to his radicalism:
As Alexis de Tocqueville once said: "America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

In January 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president, America set on a path to cease being good; America became a revolutionary nation, a radical republic. If our country continues on this path, it will cease to be great - as happened to all great powers before it, without exception.

From the Kyoto accords to the International Criminal Court, from torture and cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners to rendition of innocent civilians, from illegal domestic surveillance to lies about leaking, from energy ineptitude to denial of global warming, from cherry-picking intelligence to appointing a martinet and a tyrant to run the Defense Department, the Bush administration, in the name of fighting terrorism, has put America on the radical path to ruin.

Unprecedented interpretations of the Constitution that holds the president as commander in chief to be all-powerful and without checks and balances marks the hubris and unparalleled radicalism of this administration.

Moreover, fiscal profligacy of an order never seen before has brought America trade deficits that boggle the mind and a federal deficit that, when stripped of the gimmickry used to make it appear more tolerable, will leave every child and grandchild in this nation a debt that will weigh upon their generations like a ball and chain around every neck. Imagine owing $150,000 from the cradle. That is radical irresponsibility.
Wilkerson rightly holds the Republican controlled Congress as complicit in the transformation:
A somnolent Congress assisted - a Congress that, as Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia said as the Senate failed to debate in the run-up to the Iraq war, was "ominously, ominously, dreadfully silent."
Wilkerson holds out hope that Congress will change:
Congress can awaken and discover that the Constitution is correct, that Congress is in fact a separate and equal branch of government. The American people will find a way to deal with the remainder of the radicals, whether at the ballot box, in the courts or in the Senate.
This Republican controlled Congress has, time and again, shirked its Constitutional responsibility to act as a co-equal branch of our government and has, time and again, either remained silent or rubber-stamped Bush administration adventurism.

The next crisis is being (in a favorite verb of Edwin Edwards) "confected" in the White House, this time centered on Iran.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and certainly no dove, writes in the Sunday Los Angeles Times that the new run up to war against Iran is a near carbon copy of the run up to the war in Iraq.
IRAN'S ANNOUNCEMENT that it has enriched a minute amount of uranium has unleashed urgent calls for a preventive U.S. airstrike from the same sources that earlier urged war on Iraq. If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar that there also will be immediate charges that Iran was responsible in order to generate public hysteria in favor of military action.
Brzezinski then gives what he calls four compelling reasons against such an attack on Iran. They are:
First, in the absence of an imminent threat (and the Iranians are at least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack would be a unilateral act of war. If undertaken without a formal congressional declaration of war, an attack would be unconstitutional and merit the impeachment of the president. Similarly, if undertaken without the sanction of the United Nations Security Council, either alone by the United States or in complicity with Israel, it would stamp the perpetrator(s) as an international outlaw(s).

Second, likely Iranian reactions would significantly compound ongoing U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps precipitate new violence by Hezbollah in Lebanon and possibly elsewhere, and in all probability bog down the United States in regional violence for a decade or more. Iran is a country of about 70 million people, and a conflict with it would make the misadventure in Iraq look trivial.

Third, oil prices would climb steeply, especially if the Iranians were to cut their production or seek to disrupt the flow of oil from the nearby Saudi oil fields. The world economy would be severely affected, and the United States would be blamed for it. Note that oil prices have already shot above $70 per barrel, in part because of fears of a U.S.-Iran clash.

Finally, the United States, in the wake of the attack, would become an even more likely target of terrorism while reinforcing global suspicions that U.S. support for Israel is in itself a major cause of the rise of Islamic terrorism. The United States would become more isolated and thus more vulnerable while prospects for an eventual regional accommodation between Israel and its neighbors would be ever more remote.

In short, an attack on Iran would be an act of political folly, setting in motion a progressive upheaval in world affairs. With the U.S. increasingly the object of widespread hostility, the era of American preponderance could even come to a premature end. Although the United States is clearly dominant in the world at the moment, it has neither the power nor the domestic inclination to impose and then to sustain its will in the face of protracted and costly resistance. That certainly is the lesson taught by its experiences in Vietnam and Iraq.
An impeachable offense that would make America an outlaw nation. Well, that would certainly be enough to give pause to most rational thinkers, but our president and his administration have repeatedly demonstrated that thinking things through is not their long suit.

Brzezinski nicely lays out the problem in the process of suggesting a solution:
It is therefore high time for the administration to sober up and think strategically, with a historic perspective and the U.S. national interest primarily in mind. It's time to cool the rhetoric. The United States should not be guided by emotions or a sense of a religiously inspired mission.
He wraps up with these words:
For now, our choice is either to be stampeded into a reckless adventure profoundly damaging to long-term U.S. national interests or to become serious about giving negotiations with Iran a genuine chance. The mullahs were on the skids several years ago but were given a new burst of life by the intensifying confrontation with the United States. Our strategic goal, pursued by real negotiations and not by posturing, should be to separate Iranian nationalism from religious fundamentalism.

Treating Iran with respect and within a historical perspective would help to advance that objective. American policy should not be swayed by the current contrived atmosphere of urgency ominously reminiscent of what preceded the misguided intervention in Iraq.
Historian and former advisor to President Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., writes in Monday's Washington Post, that signs are pointing to Bush launching a third war (Afghanistan, Iraq and possibly Iran) in his final 1,000 days in office:
But as of this week, a thousand days remain of President Bush's last term -- days filled with ominous preparations for and dark rumors of a preventive war against Iran.
He notes that another president argued against this kind of war:
The issue of preventive war as a presidential prerogative is hardly new. In February 1848 Rep. Abraham Lincoln explained his opposition to the Mexican War: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure [emphasis added]. . . . If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us'; but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.' "
Schlesinger lays out the danger:
There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war.
These men are from various points across the political spectrum. There is growing unease about Bush and the disasters his policies have brought upon the country.

The fact remains that there is nothing in the experience or character of the current Republican controlled Congress (House and/or Senate) that demonstrates the capacity or the will to accept the burden of accountability that the Constitution demands it accept.

The ONLY chance for survival that exists for our noble experiment is to wrest control of the House and/or Senate from the hands of the profligate party of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove. That means the fate of the republic depends on our ability to defeat people like Charles Boustany who apparently believe they were elected to Congress as part of some kind of joy ride.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Louisiana Democrats and the DNC: A Bill Has Come Due

Welcome to Louisiana, Democratic National Committee! Thank you for choosing Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular as the site for one of your 2006 meetings.

We are grateful for the attention.

But, don't think for a minute that just showing up and contributing some bucks to our sales tax coffers in any way approaches settling the debt we are owed by you, the party, and the nation as the place where the resistance to Bush/Cheney emerged, the implosion began and then tipped to the point of creating an imperiled presidency.

Before laying claim to what we're owed, let's establish why we're owed.

In the month between the November 2002 mid-term elections and the December run-off for Mary Landrieu's U.S. Senate seat, the Bush/Cheney administration and their allies, poured tens of millions of dollars into Louisiana seeking to end Senator Landrieu's tenure at one term. But, Louisiana voters cut through the rhetoric and the BS, rallied to Senator Landrieu and, despite being outspent, she was returned to the Senate for a second term.

At that same time, unbeknownst to just about everyone then, Jack Abramoff and his band of happy thieves were planting the political mines across Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi (in the form suitcases of Indian casino cash) that would bring Republicans crashing down. Abramoff, like his buddies Bush and Cheney, apparently figured Louisiana Indians, Republicans and Christians for easy marks. It would all come crashing down within four years, but that would come later. Just remember that it all got started in Louisiana. Welcome to ground zero.

In 2003, again, national Republicans and their allies poured big bucks into Louisiana, trying to retain the governorship for their party. Again, Louisiana voters sniffed through the BS, figured out who was genuine, and elected Democrat Kathleen Babineaux Blanco as their governor.

In 2004, things went crazy.

For the second consecutive election cycle, the Democratic national ticket abandoned Louisiana shortly after the convention, thus leaving the Republican spin machine to fill the vacuum. Let the record also show that when the national ticket and the DNC spend money in Louisiana, Democrats elect presidents. See Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 for the freshest evidence.

As a result of that vacuum, Louisiana elected our first Republican senator since Reconstruction, we also lost a traditionally Democratic Congressional District (the 7th) and failed to support what could have been a serious challenge to a party-switching traitor in the 5th. Fortunately, Charlie Melancon was just too dogged a campaigner to let any obstacle stand in the way of his election and he captured the 3rd District.

The fact remains that when the 2008 presidential election cycle comes around, it will have been 12 years since the national party ran a campaign in our state. Howard Dean, this statement presumes that you will make good on your pledge that the party will run in all 50 states in 2008.

But, there's one more matter on the why we're owed: the storms of 2005.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped final tatters of competence from the facade of the Bush administration. People around the world were stunned by the images of Americans standing on the roofs of their houses pleading for food and rescue; shocked by the scenes of people dying on the street in front of the New Orleans Convention Center while the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security denied knowing there were any people gather there at all; dumfounded by the incompetence of Bush-appointed head of FEMA Michael Brown and how his scapegoating sought to shield the Bush administration’s record of cronyism.

Two weeks later, Hurricane Rita devastated southwest Louisiana and east Texas, but the horror of the impact of that storm paled in the wake of the federal failures after Katrina. The worst kept secret of 2005 and 2006 is that the federal response to Hurricane Rita has been every bit as incompetent and ineffective as it was for Katrina.

One result of more than 1,000 Louisianans being killed by the storms and their floods, tens of thousands having been displaced from their homes, hundred of thousands forced to evacuate the communities which they'd always called home, has been that the Bush administration has lost credibility with all but the most diehard Republican loyalists.

It was too high a price for us to pay, but Louisiana's misfortune has extracted a political price from Bush and Republicans that will haunt them this year and for decades to come.

While his Iraq adventure/war has seriously damaged his presidency, it was the failure of his administration to protect and shelter Americans in their homes, in their cities in the wake of natural disaster that finally undid George W. Bush. That happened here. It happened in our state, in our cities, to our people. It happened to us.

What we're owed.

So, now that you've decided to meet in New Orleans, here's a bill for services rendered over the past four years in the matter of the wrecking of the Bush presidency.

That bill is a commitment from the DNC and its allies and friends to spend not one damned dime less than $2 million in Louisiana in 2006, delivering its national campaign theme in districts across the state and in direct support of Democratic members of Congress and Democrats who are challenging Republican members of Congress.

Start with the Democrats. Charlie Melancon deserves to be re-elected and, though his prospects for re-election look good at this point, we want to ensure that he has the resources he needs to win against all challengers.

Congressman Bill Jefferson's legal challenges are well known. The party needs to work to ensure that this seat remains in Democratic hands.

In District 1, Republican Bobby Jindal is running around the state preparing to run for governor again in 2007. Jindal has deep ties to the conservative movement in the country and to corruption (he has signed more of Grover Norquist's no-tax pledges than he's signed paychecks). When he was DHH Secretary under Republican Governor Mike Foster, his office squelched water tests that showed contamination of drinking water of residents in a trailer park next to a chemical plant across the river from Baton Rouge. And, on his first day as a member of Congress, Jindal voted to scuttle the ethics process in the house in order to protect Tom DeLay. Go after Jindal in 2006 and it will pay dividends in 2007 as well.

In District 5, Rodney Alexander has jumped parties once and (man of principle that he is) will probably try jump again when the Democratic Party returns to majority status in the House later this year. But, the party does not need traitors in its ranks and should not repeat the mistake of 2004; it should put money into a Democratic campaign to defeat Alexander.

In the 4th District, Jim McCrery is up to his armpits in money from Jack Abramoff’s clients. What party loyalty oath will he have to take in order to move up the Republican leadership? This is the year to once and for all link McCrery to the corruption and incompetence of his party. There is a strong military presence in his district, too. Hold McCrery accountable for his support of Bush/Cheney military adventurism.

In the 7th District, Charles Boustany got elected because Democrats tried to defeat him by running a Republican against him. The 7th District is a Democratic district waiting for a Democrat to run for that seat. People will not spontaneously respond to a message that is not articulated. They also will not vote for candidates who they perceive don't have a set of core values. Boustany's core value is political opportunism that was masked by the failure of the party to give voters a choice in 2004. Boustany has been touched by corruption (like fellow freshman Jindal, he voted to gut the Ethics Committee in a vote on his first day in office). He's taken money from other corrupt Republicans and their corruptors. He is an atrocious public speaker, easily rattled. Run a Democrat against him and this seat can be ours again.

All of these Repubican congressmen are susceptible to the kind of national campaign that can not only tip Louisiana, but the majority of the House into the Democratic column.

The reason national participation in these campaigns is so important this year is the economic and financial blows that the storms have delivered to our state and its people. Too many of our voters and our workers are flat on their financial backs trying to recover from the devastating blows those two women delivered.

The financial resources to mount the kinds of campaigns we need are just not available locally.

This money would not just be an attempt to wring victory this year, it is an essential investment that will lay the foundation for victory here in 2008 when we have a senate seat to defend and a president to elect.

As prior elections have shown, every vote does count. Louisiana’s electoral votes should be in the blue column in 2008. The way to get there is by investing in the Democratic message here in 2006.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

On the Verge of a Military Revolt

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Richard Holbrooke, makes explicit what has only been hinted at thus far in the criticisms of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: the United States Military is on the verge of a revolt against the Bush administration!

In his monthly column at the Washington Post, Holbrooke lays out the situation as plainly as is possible:
The calls by a growing number of recently retired generals for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have created the most serious public confrontation between the military and an administration since President Harry S. Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. In that epic drama, Truman was unquestionably correct -- MacArthur, the commanding general in Korea and a towering World War II hero, publicly challenged Truman's authority and had to be removed. Most Americans rightly revere the principle that was at stake: civilian control over the military. But this situation is quite different.

First, it is clear that the retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning period for the war in Iraq, made this clear in an extraordinary, at times emotional, article in Time magazine this past week when he said he was writing "with the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership." He went on to "challenge those still in uniform . . . to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak."
"Challenge those still in uniform to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity -- to speak." Calling on those still in service to speak out against the Secretary of Defense!

It goes further than that:
Second, it is also clear that the target is not just Rumsfeld. Newbold hints at this; others are more explicit in private. But the only two people in the government higher than the secretary of defense are the president and vice president. They cannot be fired, of course, and the unspoken military code normally precludes direct public attacks on the commander in chief when troops are under fire. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course: In addition to MacArthur, there was Gen. George McClellan vs. Lincoln; and on a lesser note, Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, who was fired for attacking President Jimmy Carter over Korea policy. But such challenges are rare enough to be memorable, and none of these solo rebellions metastasized into a group, a movement that can fairly be described as a revolt.)

This has put President Bush and his administration in a hellish position at a time when security in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be deteriorating. If Bush yields to the generals' revolt, he will appear to have caved in to pressure from what Rumsfeld disingenuously describes as "two or three retired generals out of thousands." But if he keeps Rumsfeld, he risks more resignations -- perhaps soon -- from generals who heed Newbold's stunning call that as officers they took an oath to the Constitution and should now speak out on behalf of the troops in harm's way and to save the institution that he feels is in danger of falling back into the disarray of the post-Vietnam era.
So, the retired generals are calling on those still in active duty to respond to what they see as a higher calling of loyalty to the Constitution rather than their careers!

The Bush/Cheney/NeoCon adventure in Iraq, combined with the apparent preference for a military 'solution' in connection with Iran has brought the U.S. Military to the point of near insurrection.

Since late last year, there have been stories circulating about how the military (particularly the Army) risked collapse if things did not radically improve in Iraq. The Bush administration and their sycophants would even dignify the predictions with a reaction. But, as events have continued to slide in Iraq and the administration appears intent on launching yet another ill-timed, poorly thought out war against Iran, the military officer corps (retired and, Holbrooke predicts, active duty) has begun to put country before career and gone public with their concerns. Soon, the question could be not "who lost Iraq," but "who lost the Army?"

Now, if only members of Congress had such principles and courage!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Garry Wills: "Christ Among the Partisans"

Garry Wills is one of my favorite authors. I was first introduced to him via his book "Nixon Agonistes" while a student at the University of New Orleans back in the 1970s. An essential part of Wills' argument about Nixon was that Nixon was actually "the last liberal" when it came to foreign policy. He used "liberal" in the classical, Wilsonian sense of an interventionist America willing to use its military to right what it perceived to be the world's wrongs.

Using that framework, one could argue (accurately, I believe) that George W. Bush is also a liberal, despite all his posturing. In fact, many conservatives are actually coming to see this Bush administration as liberal (or at least the antithesis of conservatism) in the way it has launched foreign wars, grown the size of government, as well as the reach of government into the lives of the citizenry.

Wills has a great op-ed piece in the Sunday edition of the New York Times in which he argues that Jesus is beyond the reach of the politics, despite the persistent attempt of the political parties (particularly Republicans) to pose as the party of the religious.

Kevin Phillips, in his new book, "American Theocracy" argues that the Republican Party has become the first religious party in American history. I agree. But, Wills distinguishes between the "institutional Jesus" and the Jesus of the New Testament whom, Wills points out, "is called a devil, the devil's agent, irreligious, unclean, a mocker of Jewish law, a drunkard, a glutton, a promoter of immorality."

What I love about Wills the writer is his how his research and knowledge enables readers to gain new insights and understanding of even "familiar" figures like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, St. Augustine, or, in his most recent book, Jesus.

Wills' body of work is worthy of the attention of any serious thinker.

Vermont Democrats call for Bush Impeachment

Hey! There are Democrats with some backbone -- it's just that most of them are not in Washington!

Reuters is reporting that the Democratic Party in Vermont has passed a resolution calling on Congress to impeach President George W. Bush.

Here's the big ideas in the story:
In an elementary school cafeteria strewn with American flags and copies of the U.S. Constitution, some 100 state party officials agreed to make the request to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ah, the Constitution! That quaint document that once (prior to 9/11/01) was the document upon which our government was based. As we all know, the President, his Attorney General, and the rest of the administration, believe that the Constitution is no longer operable when Congress authorizes the use of force (no need to even declare war).

So, Democrats displaying copies of the Constitution in a call for impeachment are so pre-9/11/01 (that would make them/us Constitutionalists). Copies of The Federalist Papers would have been appropriate, too. You know, the series of documents that explained our system of government and the thinking behind it to the founding generation back in the late 18th Century?

Can anyone who backs this administration actually call for the appointment of "strict constructionists" to the federal courts any more, particularly in light of the monarchical view of the presidency being propagated by this administration? This administration is inventing constitutional law every day. The notion that their theories are somehow rooted in the fundamental doctrines of the founders is a bold-faced lie!

The Vermont Democrats are pretty clear that this Bush administration is acting far enough outside Constitutional parameters as to warrant House impeachment actions.
The measure asks the Republican-controlled House to pass articles of impeachment against Bush for misleading the nation on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and engaging in illegal wiretapping, among other charges.

Democratic state committees in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and North Carolina have taken similar steps.
Impeachment, for those of you keeping score, is the Constitutional equivalent of an indictment. The House Judiciary Committee and the House itself act as something of a grand jury. If a "true bill" is returned against a federal official, the process then moves to the Senate, which acts as the jury in the case.

The kind of extra-constitutional activities in which the Bush administration has engaged and even gloried in are precisely the kind of questions that the impeachment process was intended to resolve (not questions of determining if a president lied about a blow job).

If the Congress cannot bring itself to commence a thorough and genuine investigation of the actions of the Bush administration, then this Congress is not worthy of offices they collectively they hold because they do not have in them the moral force to carry out the duties of their oaths of office (which call on them to defend the Constitution and laws of the country).

If, by November, this Congress has not launched a legitimate investigation into the actions of this administration (as outlined by the Vermont Democrats and others), then that inaction becomes the basis for citizens to demand a change in the leadership of the Congress.

If, after a change in leadership, there is no investigation, then our form of government is dead.

This is the real deal. A Constitutional crisis of the highest order. If this administration can't be reined in, then we are a republic in name only.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

38 Years Ago

Tuesday was the 38th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was a 16 year-old sophomore in high school in Eunice, Louisiana. Five years earlier, President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. The South had been racked by the Civil Rights Movement as an old order tried desperately to cling to a past that was dead to everyone but themselves. American cities, north and south, burned as the result of riots by blacks and others who demanded freedom rather than more rhetoric about freedom some day.

Protests against the Vietnam War had also begun to spread across the country, as people came to believe that their government had engaged in a long series of lies in order to bog the country down in a war for unclear objectives in a country thousands of miles away.

But, in Memphis, Tennessee, in the late afternoon of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel.

In those inflamed times, Dr. King's murder had the effect of throwing gasoline on a fire.

That same evening, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Senator Robert Kennedy spoke to a crowd who had not yet learned the news of Dr. King's assassination. He spoke these words:
Ladies And Gentlemen,

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black--considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible--you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization--black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Contrast those words to what we've heard from our elected leaders in Lafayette in recent months as the debate over naming a major street for Dr. King in Lafayette has been kicked around by the Lafayette Parish Council.

What is most striking is the complete and utter failure of leadership among all parties in this travesty that more resembles 'professional' wrestling than it does a political debate -- all preening, posing and posturing, with little of real substance ever occurring.

If we do, indeed, get the government we deserve, then we are in a hell of a fix here in Lafayette.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

DeLay Departure CYA Plot

The Washington Post reveals the real reason Tom DeLay clung to his seat after he was stripped of his party leadership.

Was it principle? In a way. Here's what the Post reports Republicans saying was the real reason DeLay held out until now:
An additional impetus for putting off the resignation until now was suggested by John Feehery, a former aide to DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "He needed to raise money for the defense fund. That was the bottom line," Feehery said. "He wanted to make sure he could take care of himself in the court of law." Under federal campaign rules, any reelection money a lawmaker raises can be used to pay legal fees stemming from official duties.
Yeah, it was all about DeLay standing up for the time-honored principle of white collar criminals — CYA (Cover Your Ass). He did it to bolster his legal defense fund!

No doubt, the former Texas roach killer will defend himself in the courts with the same tenacity with which he hung onto his seat. Which means that he'll be copping a plea within six months (or just before the Congressional elections).

What a patriot! What a leader! What a rallying cry for so-called conservatives every where to follow: "When the going gets tough, the tough pad the legal defense fund!"

Monday, April 03, 2006

QUITTER!!! Boustany Patron DeLay Won't Seek Re-election

The Washington Post is reporting that Charles Boustany's early patron, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, has decided not to seek re-election.

Could it have something to do with the corruption that has surrounded delays reign as leader of the House Republicans? You decide:
The decision came just three days after his former deputy chief of staff, Tony C. Rudy, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and corruption charges, telling federal prosecutors of a criminal enterprise being run out of delays leadership offices. Rut's plea agreement did not implicate DeLay in any illegal activities, but by placing the influence-buying efforts of disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff directly in delays operation, the former aide may have made an already difficult reelection bid all but out of reach.
DeLay was the head of his party's money operation in the Congress. People like Charles Boustany made their way into the money train thanks to nods, winks and nudges from DeLay, his cronies, and circle of 'contributors.'

Boustany and others can try to spin this any way they want, but the facts remain that they rode to office on a path paved by corrupt money (DeLay's money has, for Boustany, been replaced by money from the new Majority Leader Boehner).

Think about that the next time Charles Boustany tries to say he is not part of the old, corrupt politics of the past. No, he's part of the new corrupt politics of the present that has brought this country to the verge of fiscal bankruptcy while putting the U.S. Military on the verge of collapse in Iraq.

DeLay and his legacies like Boustany have done, in the words of their leader Bush, "a heck of a job!"

Those Aren't Conservatives; they're drunken sailors!

Let me first apologize to all of our drunken sailor readers if the above quote comparing the Republican leadership in Washington to them is considered an insult. I was merely trying to put things in perspective by using a bit of humor.

USAToday reports on one of the fundamental lies about the current crop of Republicans: they call themselves conservatives, but they are anything but that. In fact, the federal budget has rocketed out of control during the combined one-party rule the Bush White House and the Frist/DeLay/Hastert/Boehner Republican Congress.

Here are a few pertinent quotes from the front page story:
WASHINGTON — Federal spending is outstripping economic growth at a rate unseen in more than half a century, provoking some conservatives to complain that government under Republican control has gotten too big.

The federal government is currently spending 20.8 cents of every $1 the economy generates, up from 18.5 cents in 2001, White House budget documents show. That's the most rapid growth during one administration since Franklin Roosevelt.
Think that's stunning? Continue on:
There are no signs that the trend is about to turn around. The House Budget Committee last week rejected a proposal that would require spending hikes to be offset by cuts in other spending or by tax increases.

This week, the House is scheduled to debate the $2.8 trillion budget for 2007, which projects an additional $3 trillion of debt in the next five years.
Naturally, since it's USAToday, there are some keen graphics that drive home the point that these Republicans are not conservative at all. When it comes to the size of government, they've increased it. When it comes to spending, it's out of control. When it comes to accountability, they want none of it.

Keep those thoughts in mind this summer and fall when, as sure as summer's going to bring mosquitoes, Republicans will be running for election and re-election to the Congress as conservatives.

Drunken sailors? Hypocrites? You make the call! All we know for certain is, these folks are NOT conservatives.