Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Martial Law - First Step to President for Life

Those of you who hang on every word I write (all one of you) will remember a little thing I wrote back in late June called He's Not Leaving, which was published on Buzzflash.

I got a lot of good feedback on the piece, which I confess surprised me a little, since even I thought it was a bit farther outside the box than I was usually comfortable with. If you have any interest in reading some of that feedback, here is the article as it appeared on this blog:

However, subsequent events and legislation only made me believe what I said in that column even more. And the following article all but cements it - Bush is planning to stay on in the White House beyond January 20, 2009.

Here's one of quite a few ways he's going to do it:

It’s amazing what you can find if you turn over a few rocks in the anti-terrorism legislation Congress approved during the election season.

Take, for example, the John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2006, named for the longtime Armed Services Committee chairman from Virginia.

Signed by President Bush on Oct. 17, the law (PL 109-364) has a provocative provision called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.”

The thrust of it seems to be about giving the federal government a far stronger hand in coordinating responses to Katrina-like disasters.

But on closer inspection, its language also alters the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act, which Congress passed in 1807 to limit the president’s power to deploy troops within the United States.

That law has long allowed the president to mobilize troops only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.”

But the amended law takes the cuffs off.

Specifically, the new language adds “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident” to the list of conditions permitting the President to take over local authority — particularly “if domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.”

Since the administration broadened what constitutes “conspiracy” in its definition of enemy combatants — anyone who “has purposely and materially supported hostilities against the United States,” in the language of the Military Commissions Act (PL 109-366) — critics say it’s a formula for executive branch mischief.

Yet despite such a radical turn, the new law garnered little dissent, or even attention, on the Hill.

One of the few to complain, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., warned that the measure virtually invites the White House to declare federal martial law.

It “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law,” he said in remarks submitted to the Congressional Record on Sept. 29.

“The changes to the Insurrection Act will allow the President to use the military, including the National Guard, to carry out law enforcement activities without the consent of a governor,” he said.

Moreover, he said, it breaks a long, fundamental tradition of federal restraint.

“Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy.”

And he criticized the way it was rammed through Congress.

It “was just slipped in the defense bill as a rider with little study,” he fumed. “Other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.”

No matter: Safely tucked into the $526 billion defense bill, it easily crossed the goal line on the last day of September.


The language doesn’t just brush aside a liberal Democrat slated to take over the Judiciary Committee come January. It also runs over the backs of the governors, 22 of whom are Republicans.

The governors had waved red flags about the measure on Aug. 1, sending letters of protest from their Washington office to the Republican chairs and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

No response. So they petitioned the party heads on the Hill — Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and his Democratic opposite, Nancy Pelosi of California.

“This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors,” said the Aug. 6 letter signed by every member of the National Governors Association, “and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government.”

“We urge you,” they said, “to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act.”

Again, no response from the leadership, said David Quam, the National Governors Association’s director of federal relations.

On Aug. 31, the governors sent another letter to the congressional party leaders, as well as to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who had met quietly with an NGA delegation back in February.

The bill “could encroach on our constitutional authority to protect the citizens of our states,” they protested, complaining again about how the provision had been dumped on a midnight express.

“Any issue that affects the mission of the Guard in the states must be addressed in consultation and coordination with governors,” they demanded.

“The role of the Guard in the states and to the nation as a whole is too important to have major policy decisions made without full debate and input from governors throughout the policy process.”

More silence.

“We did not know until the bill was printed where we stood,” Quam said.

That’s partly the governors’ own fault, said a Republican Senate aide.

“My understanding is that they sent form letters to offices,” she said. “If they really want a piece of legislation considered they should have called offices and pushed the matter. No office can handle the amount of form letters that come in each day.”

Quam disputed that.

“The letter was only the beginning of the conversation,” he said. “The NGA and the governors’ offices reached out across the Hill.”


Looking back at the government’s chaotic response to Katrina, it’s not altogether surprising that the provision drew so little opposition in Congress and attention from the mainstream media.

And of course, it was wrapped in a monster defense bill related to the emergency in Iraq.

But the blogosphere, of course, was all over it.

A close analysis of the bill by Frank Morales, a 58-year-old Episcopal priest in New York who occasionally writes for left-wing publications, spurred a score of liberal and conservative libertarian Web sites to take a look at it.

But a search of The Washington Post and New York Times archives, using the terms “Insurrection Act,” “martial law” and “Congress,” came up empty.

That’s not to say the papers don’t care: There’s just too much going on in the global war on terror to keep up with, much less write about such a seemingly insignificant provision. The martial law section of the Defense Appropriation Act, for example, takes up just a few paragraphs in the 591-page document.

What else is in there? More intriguing stuff, it looks like — and I’m working my way through it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Comments are still here, but the post is gone

I've left the comments that were posted on the SJR agenda, because I wouldn't want to be accused of censorship, now would I? The agenda itself was just clutter, and didn't say anything important anyway.

I also don't want to remove the evidence the person left of genuine mental illness.

I want to point out that ALL of the comments that aren't clearly identified as being from me - the ones signed "Logically Negative" - were written by the same person. Even the supposedly "sensible" one signed "Stop Bashing..." was written by the same moron who wrote the insane rants.

I didn't know that when I replied to "Stop Bashing" but I do now. Jonathan.

Rich Miles

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Gas Prices are Down! Let's All Vote Republican!

Gee, gas prices sure have gone down a lot lately...from around $3.00 a gallon about a month ago, the cheapest prices in my area are $2.14/gal, a reduction of 29% in about a month. At this rate, gas will be free by election day.

In case you wonder why, our president has actually told us that HE knows why, and that the national press should "watch it carefully". I don't remember the last time a president of the United States telegraphed his intent and his knowledge of what is going to happen in the future so clearly.

The following link is to Dan Froomkin's blog at the Washington Post Online. The quotes below the link are selections from that blog. The quote was given in the same interview with conservative columnists in which Bush referred to the Third Awakening".

Check well down the page for the relevant exchange:

Dan Froomkin's WaPo Blog for 9/14

Gas Watch

Does Bush have some insider information about gas prices, which appear to be conveniently dropping just in time for the mid-term election?

Fred Barnes writes in the Weekly Standard: "Bush said the price of gasoline, which has been falling rapidly, is one of the 'interesting indicators' that the press should watch carefully. 'Just giving you a heads up,' he added."

Just for your added interest, the same blog contained the following excerpt:

Believe It or Not

Evan Thomas of Newsweek actually believes that Bush has read more than 60 books in the last year -- then marvels at how little he knows about history.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Day that Will Live in Infamy

I don't post on this thing often enough. I spend way too much time on, writing the stuff on his blog that I should be writing on mine.

Anyway, sorry for lifting FDR's famous line for the title of this post, but it seems the only appropriate way to start this.

George W. Bush has used his first presidential veto in 5 1/2 YEARS to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, HR 810.

As if there were any doubt before, now it's official. The president of the United States is a religious fanatic who has no shame in pandering to the other religious fanatics in his "base" (Arabic translation: Al Qaeda - and I'm not kidding, trolls, that's really what it means.) He has not the first whit of concern for the American people at large, only those who can move his political (not leadership, POLITICAL) agenda forward.

Yahoo News reports that Bush has stamped his little feet and threatened a veto 141 times before this, and this is the one that is important enough for him NOT to flip-flop on? The one that makes America look like an ignorant, Luddite backwater full of snake-handling knuckle-draggers? Good job, George. Good job!

If this doesn't ensure a Democratic landslide in November and again in 08, then there is no hope for the Dem party, and they deserve what they get. Or don't get, as the case may be.

And if this veto is not overridden, then Congress might as well draft legislation to make Bush King for Life, because if they don't beat him into submission on this one, they'll never have any power or oversight again. Not that they have very much of it now.

Q: Islamic religious fanatic - Christian religious fanatic. What's the difference?

Anyone want to try that one on?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Have I hit a nerve?

by Rich Miles

Note the by-line. I'm going to change all of them when I have time. It was a dumb pen name anyway. I was just too chicken to put a name out there, but I think it's time to come out from behind it.

So my last post, "He's Not Leaving" was published on Buzzflash, and while I expected a bit of response, and that some of the responders would call me a nutcase, what I didn't expect was 23 emailed responses, ALL of them agreeing with at least the plausibility of my argument: Bush is going to attempt to stay in office beyond January 2009.

Now, 23 replies is not a lot - better-known bloggers get that many comments or replies in a morning, and guys like Kos probably gets that many in 5 minutes. But considering that nobody knows who the hell I am, I consider that figure to be a clear indicator that I've said something that needs to be said, and something that other people have thought or said before me.

Here is a sample of what some of my respondents said (last names removed to protect anonymity, and all samples unedited):

Just read your article at Buzzflash. The same thought occured to me quite awhile back. I am not so sure that anyone, even some Republicans, especially the libertarian wing, would be likely to sit still for an amendment to the consttitution just to keep Junior in the White House.

But I do see the possibility of a national emergency: Declaration of martial law, suspension of the constitution and no voting in Novemeber, 2008. Hell, it could be anything. "Al Qaeda attacks" in New York and L.A. with whatever. The Avian Flu, for that matter would be just as good or bad. Either one of these scenarios could be arranged much easier that people think.

Talk about tinfoil hat time, all they would have to do is make sure Hillary is elected and everything will go away, just like Iran/Contra went away when Bill Clinton was elected.

The Bushites are going to try to steal the elections again this year. Can it be done on a state-by state basis? Just ask Max Clelland in Georgia. This is where they did their trial run.

Mr Rich,

Thank you for putting "flesh" on what I expressed to my family and friends just before "Rove's War" began.

We are in deep "shit" in our country.

Elections are a farce, this administration controls the vote count for all 50 states. This administration controls with fear, I have fear, fear that we are unable to rid our country of this tyranny.

Bring back paper ballots,

David H
Hey Rich:
Just read your article concerning Bush staying on for a third term. Well, you're not the only one thinking of such a fiasco. I myself, who am marginally politically astute, have considered such a scenario myself. It's looking like the beginning of the end in oh so many ways. Good article.
Best, Karl G
Say it isn't so. You sure have spelled it out for them. Don't give these bastards any ideas. It is too painful.
I loved your article for Buzzflash. I have been saying the same thing since 2000 when he was first selected by the SC to be pResident.

I have also been saying that not only was 9/11 an inside job, but that if dumbya need another one to stay in power it would happen.

I want to do all I can to circulate your article, if you don't mind. I want to e-mail it, print it, post it, and spread it around in its entirety with full credit to you. Please let me know if this is OK.

Keep up the good work.
Good morning, Rich

Your article scared the hell out of me because it doesn't sound the
least bit far-fetched.

Don't I wish the Jesus that these neo-Cons swear to love so much returns
to Earth to chomp on their asses as well as more so-called "private

Lisa N, in the Greater Boston area
Dear Mr. Miles:

Kudos for your subject essay which expresses many of the very same thoughts I've fearfully entertained, and not for a minute do I doubt the possibility of such an atrocious outcome.

To play on an old cliche', "when you snooze, you lose" has never before been in such evidence during my rather extended lifetime as our citizens of today obviously are snoozing away our freedom.

Thank you for having the honesty and courage to offer such food for thought, and may there be a massive awakening before all is lost to the forces of lust for power and insatiable greed.

Yours very truly,

Jacquelyn W - TN
Dear Rich-

You know, I think you got it right. My SO has been muttering about this very thing for 6 yrs, and at first I said, nah, that's just.....then in the utter dark of all these nights, I realized, how the fuck COULD they leave? And if you'll 1/steal the presidency, 2/plan/be complicit in an attack on US soil just so you can be King of the Mtn, and 3/all that other shit they keep doing/not doing in order to just majorly fuck us all up, then what's a 3rd term, eh?

About to click over to your reg site, whatever that may be. Probably pretty good. I'm from Kaintuck myself, down ca Bowling Green. Migrated up to the NYC area long ago. Sorry your governor is such a jerk....we're about to get rid of our moron and possibly get a rather cool one--Spitzer. Works for me!

Thanks for the Buzzflash letter....

Sally L
Dear Sir,
I have been trying to tell all of my friends about the very real possibility of what you said in your article, but they all laugh and try to tell me that I'm a nutcase. I am going to make a copy of your article and show it to as many friends and people that I know, if you don't mind.
I believe that GW and friends are fascists and will stop at nothing to retain power and screw over the american people.
Thanks for your article.


Paul B
Like you, I do not believe that the Bush gang will leave willingly. First they claimed the unconstitutional prerogative of something called the “unitary president” which you know places them above the law. They have also floated the idea of a thing called the “continuity presidency” which essentially allows POTUS to remain in office during a national emergency. The notion comes from the legal mind of Alberto Gonzales. On the bright side, the Supreme Court just slapped George’s wrist, but he will blow them off just like he has the Congress. In fact, Congress is so subservient it will probably help him do it. History may note that the 1st American Republic ended on December 9, 2000, the date the Supreme Court issued its injunction stopping the Florida recount in preparation for handing the presidency to Bush. Every disaster than has befallen since was fomented by that decision.

They’ve already taken control of the country. The only issue is how to take it back and what the 2nd American Republic will look like.


So - not a representative national sample perhaps, but do you think maybe, just maybe, this is a thought that someone had before me?


Friday, June 30, 2006

He's not leaving

Author's note: This piece was published on Buzzflash as He's Not Leaving on June 30, 2006

by Rich Miles

This idea has been rattling around in my brain for a while now, but as we approach November's elections, it starts to look less and less insane, as much as we might wish it to be. In fact, an editorial on Buzzflash recently called Darkness at Noon for Democracy has made it look a little more likely, rather than less. Here's my prognostication:

Bush is not going to relinquish the office of the presidency on January 20, 2009.

No, seriously - don't write off the idea quite yet. Think about what it would take for him to stay on beyond his constitutionally-mandated term of office:

Method One: A Third Term

1) There would have to be a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd amendment limiting presidents to two terms - difficult, but not impossible. We did it with the 21st amendment, which repealed Prohibition. From congressional passage to state ratifications to law of the land was a scant 9 months. Of course, that involved booze, which is much more important to most people than who is in the White House - but still, it can happen.

2) Then, there would have to be a major turnaround in Bush's popularity that would allow him to be elected to a third term by another 50.7% margin or so (never mind the arguments about how he was not really elected to the first term - that's for another rant.)

3) And all of this would have to happen between November 2006 (no way in Hell it even gets mentioned before the midterms) and July 2008, to allow at least the appearance of freely selecting Bush as the nominee again, and a convention, and a small semblance of a campaign.

In other words, in political terms all this would have to happen at the speed of light - again, not impossible, but really really difficult on so many levels, not least of them that more and more people genuinely hate the sumbitch, making it harder for him to steal another election. Or there's...

Method Two: Martial Law

1) Along about, oh I don't know, September or October of 2008, there will be another 9/11-style attack on American soil, or perhaps a genuine act of war against us by another recognizable state - North Korea perhaps, though there are numerous other candidates. As in 2001, we will retreat into fear and give away the constitutional farm, as long as Bush will promise not to let the boogeymen get us

2) As a result of this event, Bush will suspend the Constitution, dissolve Congress, declare martial law, suspend the '08 elections, reassert himself as Commander in Chief, and claim that he does not have to give up the presidency because, hey, the Constitution is what says he has to, and that's suspended. He'll do all this in the name of "national security", and we'll let him get away with it for at least a little while because despite our national penchant for bloodlust and sabre-rattling, we are at heart a bunch of pussies who will, in times of national crisis, follow anything that moves, as long as it promises not to hurt us.

Freedom of the press? Gone. Freedom of assembly? Pffft. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness? Out the effin' window. Suspending the Constitution also conveniently makes him unimpeachable, a not-inconsiderable side benefit

3) And so, America will be plunged into a level of crisis nationally and internationally that will make the Civil War look like a church picnic.

Now look - never mind how unlikely all this is. Never mind how unlikely it would be to be successful if things did go down this way. Even as I write this, I know how conspiracy-freakish it sounds. But can you say with certainty that what I describe here CAN'T happen? Can you look back at the past five-plus years, at all the laws that have been broken or simply ignored by this administration, and say no way? I can't.

At the very least, I'd like to believe that some combination of the armed forces and American patriots would thwart such a clearly criminal enterprise at the top of our government.

But do we really want the military to bail our sorry asses out in this way? They already know they have the manpower and the weapons to take over the government, but do we want to ask them to do so? How do you get that genie back in the bottle?

But consider the consequences for Bush, Cheney, et al. if they leave office quietly, like every other president has done: if a Democrat is elected (more and more likely), every single document, everything the Bushies have done, is going to see the light of day. Classified documents - suddenly available to the public. False justifications for war - clearly on the table. Circumventions of the law - no longer deniable or spinnable. And criminal charges? Not out of the question, even after they've left government. And most of this can happen even if the next president is a Republican - what better way to seal the deal on your re-election than to show you're more honest than the last guy, even if it's a member of your own party you have to hang out to dry?

No, they can't leave in January of '09. (See my post titled Time To Set a Precedent - 2/27/06 for more reasons why.) This stuff is not going away just because they leave office, and they know it. Even a country-club prison is still a prison.

And if you think I'm the only person this idea has ever occurred to, that I'm just a loose cannon of a conspiracy nut and this kind of thing can't happen in America - and if you don't think that the other people who are thinking about this topic are in the White House and environs - then I have some land in Florida I'd like to sell you. That is, if Gov. Bush doesn't already own it.

Friday, May 19, 2006


by Rich Miles

Attn: Radical Right-wing Republicans who still support Bush:
Don't you know you are destroying America? Seriously, it's not the liberals who are killing America. It's you - and you have to stop soon, before it's too late!

Can you possibly have your heads so far up George Bush's backside that you can't see how badly he, and by your complicity you, are destroying everything - everything - that distinguishes America from the rest of the world? Can you possibly be so filled with fear and hatred that you can't look past today's ration of same to see how your hero, George W. Bush, is trying to turn America, Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, into a fascist police state controlled by the worst men ever to hold power? Can you say 'kakistocracy'? Do you have any idea what it means?

I know I'm not the first person to say these things, and I sincerely hope I will not be the last. But the latest madness issuing from your 'Beloved Leader' just makes me want to puke. Even more than the last bunch of pandering to the alleged 'base', the anti-gay hate rhetoric that would write discrimination against a class of Americans into the U.S. Constitution, made me want to puke. It's a helluva way to lose weight.

Can you really not see that the whole immigration issue is nothing more than an appeal to the worst, most xenophobic, hate-filled instincts of red-state America? Can you really imagine that building a wall across the Mexican border, at HUGE cost, is really going to solve the problem of illegal immigration? Can you not see that, if Bush federalizes the National Guard, again at HUGE cost in both dollars and manpower, he has in effect hired his own private army, who will then be entirely under his command? Do you understand what the Posse Comitatus Act even means?

Sure, it's necessary to control immigration, no matter where the emigres come from. But that's not what's at work here. What is at work here is nothing less than the demonization of an ethnic group for the political gain of a majority party that is in danger of losing majority status. The actions now being taken or considered are NOT going to do anything to correct the problem - but it WILL get a lot of Mexican immigrants legal or otherwise, and more to the point Mexican-AMERICANS, U.S. citizens, beat up or worse.

The Senate passes - not just reports out of committee, but PASSES - a law making English the "national language" - and you applaud this as a needed action to save the Republic. Fuck the Meskins, if they don't want to learn the language let them go back to Mex-land where they came from!

You don't even NOTICE all the things the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration they kowtow to have done to take money out of your pocket, to hurt YOU, to consolidate control over all of us, not just the lefties you so despise. You think your one-party government is going to do everything you want them to do, and liberals can just go fuck themselves if they don't like it.

Do you not understand that Bush is NOT INFALLIBLE? Is it that hard for you to let go of your worship of him, even if continuing means serving your children up to him on an olive-drab platter? Does it not even cause you to raise an eyebrow when the president of the United States says that God speaks directly to him? Are you really that unreality-based?

Something like 63% of you say, as some polls have shown, that you're willing to give up a little personal freedom and privacy, as long as Daddy W will keep you safe from the bad old Osama and friends. And you haven't read enough history to even KNOW that Benjamin Franklin warned us against this very phenomenon more than 230 years ago:

"Those who would surrender essential liberty for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

It's not just a clever little phrase from some old leftie. It's our future. And you - those who think it's OK for the government to spy on us because you have nothing to hide (and believe me - everyone has SOMEthing to hide) are the ones who are making America into a collection of gulags, and an international pariah.

Have you traveled outside of America lately? To Europe perhaps, or Africa or Asia?

Of course not, sorry I asked. They don't have NASCAR in those countries, and the animals you would hunt in those other places are not squirrels and rabbits and deer, they are big and scary, and actually require some skill to bring down. So you've probably never been there, and thus you don't know:

We are HATED around the world. Yes, we've always had some enemies, but we've also, historically, had lots of friends the world over. But no more.

My wife is Scottish, so I go to Scotland once a year to visit the Auld Folk. One of the friendliest countries in the world to Americans - until last year, 2005. Last year, the people I had met in prior years, and the strangers I liked to talk to in pubs, had a sort of suspicious air about them. They were willing to forgive us for electing a madman once - but when we did it a second time (and I still don't acknowledge we did) , they had to wonder if they'd placed too much faith in good ol' American know-how. And that hurt me, because it made a country I had loved feel not quite so much like a second home.

So stop it, OK? Stop letting a total sociopath who cares NOTHING for you, who considers you and us merely tools to achieve his goals, run our country into the grave. Stop thinking he's on your side. Stop believing he can give you anything you want, or keep you safe, or make the nasty old liberals go away, because he can't. All he can do, and he's done that remarkably well, is to make the rich richer, and the rest of us poorer, and America despised around the world.

If you can't think of any other reason, can you at least consider: what if the power you're giving Bush now, one day devolves into the hands of Hillary Clinton? Will that scare you enough to rein him in?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Divider Not a Uniter

by Rich Miles

Ever see the movie "Matewan"? It's a fictionalized account of a real incident in the coal fields of 1920's West Virginia, showing the beginnings of coal miner unionization efforts. Stars Chris Cooper ("American Beauty", among others) and Mary McDonnell ("Dances With Wolves", again among others.) I recommend it to your attention.

The reason I mention it now is that I saw it again the other day, and Cooper has a really great speech along about the middle of the picture, when the white miners are highly resistant to the idea of letting black miners, who were originally brought in as scabs to break the union, join them in their organizing efforts. I'll paraphrase a bit, but here is approximately what he says:

"They got you all fighting each other - white against colored, native against foreigners, holler against holler. That's what they want you to do - that plays right into the Company's hands, if they can keep you fighting each other, you don't think so much about fighting them."

As I say, that's a close approximation, but it resonated with me, because it's exactly the strategy our government is using today to keep us from thinking so much about fighting them.

Pres. Bush's speech on immigration Monday night was pretty much a useless mishmash of half-formed and inconsistent ideas, self-evident observations, and unfunded commitments of our National Guard. But more than that, it was practically an invitation to the white majority in this country to tap into their deepest racist fears about, as Bill O'Really? put it, the "browning of America".

Bush (and O'Really) have been really good at pitting us against each other for as long as he's been in office. Democrat against Republican, Right against Left; pro-Iraq war vs. anti-war; pro-choice vs. anti-choice, pro-gay marriage vs. anti, radical Christians against leftie liberals, and on and on.

And for Bush, the net result of this has been that he is still in office, and not in a federal prison somewhere.

Because if we - the American people - were ever to put aside the ancillary points of disagreement that keep us at each other's throats and just agree to disagree, and live our lives according to our own values, and allow others to do the same, it would give us the time and the leisure to take a closer look at how our government is screwing us in so many ways.

And that sort of scrutiny just can't be permitted by this president - and the very fact that it's starting to happen anyway, despite Bush's best efforts to distract us and set us against each other, scares the living hell out of him. That's why I wrote the post He's not leaving back on May 2 - because he's going to keep trying to scare the hell out of US so he can cook up some really good reason not to let go of power in January of 2009, so he can continue to stay out of prison.

We're the ones with the power ultimately. Bush is trying his damnedest to keep that simple fact from us, as he does so many others.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


by Rich Miles

Ah, that famous acronym - It's OK if you're a Republican, not OK if you're a Democrat. The modus operandi of Right-wingnuts for the past at least 12 years, and now in full flower in the indictment of our - no, wait - THEIR governor.

Ernie Fletcher, alleged governor of our fair state of Kentucky, has been indicted for, in essence, being an arrogant jerk, and surrounding himself with MORE arrogant jerks who all seem to think, like our ludicrous excuse for a president, that they are above the law. Of course, that's not the charge shown on the indictments, but to non-lawyers like me, this would be a reasonable layman's interpretation.

So then, what is the first official act of the indicted official and his sub-demons? To accuse the attorney general, who has been on this case for more than two years now, of "political motivation" in bringing the charges, and then file a motion in court to have the attorney general removed from the case.

Now, let's look at that accusation for a minute, because this tale of woe is going to be heard a lot in days to come, and from folks a lot higher up in the political food chain than Ernie Fletcher's puny self and his pals. In fact, I fully expect it to be heard from the White House in not too many more days.

First, is it possible that Atty. Gen. Greg Stumbo has his sights set on a run for the governorship next year? Yes, in fact it's a virtual certainty.

Second, is it also possible that Stumbo has some, shall we say, "personal animosity" toward Fletcher et al.? I would call that too a near certainty, since the Republican administration has called Stumbo and his staff every foul name imaginable over the course of the two-year investigation that has led to these indictments. One does tend to develop a negative opinion of people who do such things.

But third, is it even remotely imaginable that someone who intends to run for the highest office in the state would pose these sorts of accusations against a potential political opponent without rock solid evidence that the charges have some basis in reality?

Do the Fletcher sycophants really think Stumbo is that stupid?

See, this is the biggest mistake the whiny, "I'm the victim of the liberals" Republicans make, over and over - thinking that their opponents are as stupid and venal as they are. Sometimes, I'm sad to say, they're right. But in this case, if Stumbo is indeed that stupid, to bring charges against a sitting governor with only flimsy backup, then it's best we know this now, instead of next year when we might accidentally elect him.

But frankly, I don't think that's the case. And I don't think it's going to be the case when the White House starts saying it either - it's pretty clear that Patrick Fitzgerald is a whole lot better lawyer than Greg Stumbo, and he's not even running for anything.

The "pol-mot" excuse is simply not on any longer. Even the base - Fletcher is, in addition to being a physician, also an ordained wingnut minister - are starting to wake up a little. For the wrong reasons, it's true, but they're still abandoning their godheads left and right: in a recent NY Times-CBS poll the percentage of respondents who think the Dems more accurately represent their moral values is at 50%. Who would ever have imagined that being possible back in November of '04?

And by the way, if I were Fletcher, I would ask myself why

- David Williams, Republican KY State Senate President,
- Darrell Brock, previously-indicted and Fletcher-pardoned chair of the state Republican Party,
- Rep. Anne Northup, (R-KY 3)
- Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY 4) and
- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Fletcher's political mentor and the highest-ranking Republican in the state

were "unavailable for comment" on the day the indictments were handed down.

(Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY 2) and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) said nothing either - they just didn't SAY they were saying nothing, and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY 1) went all wingnutty on us. According to Bluegrass Report, he issued the following statement:

...Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-1st District who served in the U.S. House with Fletcher, said the governor “is a conscientious man of high moral character, and this indictment is nothing more than the continuation of a politically-motivated effort to discredit the governor and to bring down his administration..)

They're hanging you out to dry, Ernie! It couldn't happen to a nicer arrogant jerk.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

KY Governor Indicted

Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher has been indicted on misdemeanor charges in relation to a state merit-system hiring scandal. For more, go to The Bluegrass Report. Mark has better facilities for following a breaking story like this.

Update 610pm: Mark Nickolas is all over this at Bluegrass Report - has much better coverage than the two biggest papers in the state, The Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader (though the Herald is much better than the Courier). Take note of his update - so far, it's a scoop as far as I can find - on Brett Hall sniveling that he's gonna file suit against the state attorney general for "malicious prosecution" - nobody else has that yet.

Of Biblical proportions

by Rich Miles

"Every terror that haunted me has caught up with me,
and all that I feared has come upon me."

Book of Job 3:35, New English Bible

And then some....

Back in November of 2004, I wrote a little piece called Memo To: Red States in which I expressed my utter dismay and anger at the Red States, whose votes for the Usurper got him close enough to steal the election a second time. In short, I pointed out my perspective on the mistake they had made by putting their trust in a man who was cynically using them for the enrichment and empowerment of himself and his friends and cronies. I laid out a list of things that it was clear the "faith-based" community (as opposed to the "reality-based" folks) couldn't possibly know about Bush - because if they did, even they wouldn't have voted for him.

And ya know what? An awful lot of the things I said in that piece have turned out to be far too mild. I expected a second Bush term, when he no longer needed fear the electorate, to be a disaster for pretty much all of us. But I never dreamed he'd create a worldwide disaster of Biblical proportions, and rattle his sabre even further by threatening to create an even worse one.

Who ever dreamed that a U.S. president or his administration might:

- Spy on U.S. citizens accused or suspected of no crime?

- not only refuse to prohibit, but actually approve of torturing prisoners of war

- threaten to use nuclear weapons - nuclear weapons - on a country that has not attacked us, and that will not have even the most rudimentary ability to produce a nuke of their own for at least 10 years

- alienate every ally we had on Earth, and do his level best to further antagonize our enemies

- hold suspected criminals for years without trial or legal representation

- lie to us about the offensive capabilities of a country so as to justify a "pre-emptive" war against them

- repeatedly hire unqualified cronies to lead government posts and for judgeships, even after it's shown that such actions lead to disaster

- approve government funding of religious organizations

- deny that global warming exists despite overwhelming scientific evidence

- ignore or discredit scientific research that conflicts with religious dogma or administration policy

- give Presidential Medals to people who have failed miserably to perform their jobs

- allow the energy industry to dictate energy policy, the pharmaceutical industry to dictate government health care policy, and the business community in general to dictate their own laws and regulations

- go from some of the largest surpluses of the past 5 decades to the largest deficits, both in dollars and percentage of GDP, ever

- and all while cutting taxes over and over and over again

- conduct a war whose costs are completely off the books, thus making the deficit even higher than it appears by hundreds of billions of dollars, or

- ignore his own GAO, the American people, the 9/11 Commission, Congress, any judge who hands down a contrary opinion, and anyone else who disagress with his preconceived ideas?

It's exhausting. The list could go on for another 5000 words, and not even get close to being finished.

Never before has America been led by someone who cares less about the wellbeing of our country or the world. Never before have we been led by a greater cabal of sociopaths and screwups.

In my worst nightmares, I never imagined how bad a Bush presidency untethered from any considerations of being re-elected could be.

And you want to know the really scary part? 31% of Americans, according to recent polls, still approve of him.

What is wrong with those people?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Vote the Rascals Out! ALL of them!

by Rich Miles

Here's a suggestion for how we ("the people" - remember us?) can regain some semblance of control over our out-of-control government this November:

Don't vote for your current congressman and/or senator.

I mean it - no matter what party they allegedly represent, if they're currently in office, don't vote for them - vote for the challenger, no matter how incompetent or stupid or underfunded he or she is. If you have an open seat in your district, vote for the candidate from the former opposition party.

Of course, if everyone in the whole country does this (and even I'm not addled enough to believe they will), we'll end up with a Democratic majority in both houses, which is what is needed to have any hope of a little accountability in Congress and the White House. But that's not what I'm talking about here.

Because we've lost control of the "People's House", which hasn't been anything like ours for decades, and we never even sorta had control of the Senate, the patrician wing of the legislature.

We don't just need to be rid of one-party rule of all three branches of government - we need to be rid of career politicians. Anyone who has served a term in Congress, especially the 107th, 108th or 109th Congresses, has had their turn and needs to go back to the home district. ALL of them. Dem or Rep, Blue or Red, gone. This November. No questions.

We need to get a bunch of scared rookies into the Congress - a bunch of men and women who don't know where the toilets are, much less how the corruption works. A bunch of people who rightfully fear for their jobs every two years instead of assuming that, because they managed to weasel in once, they're set for life, or until the K Street benefits make it worth their while to quit and cash in. There will be some holdover Senators who aren't up this year, but in two more election cycles we can even be rid of them! We HAVE to get rid of them, ASAP!

The evidence for this is so voluminous as to daunt even the most dedicated chronicler, but if one, or actually two recent episodes may be used as representative (no pun intended) samples, here they are:

Bush, Hill Republicans Agree To Extend Expiring Tax Cuts: Democrats Point to Deficit and Benefits for the Rich (By Jonathan Weisman)

Senate Defies Bush on Spending: $109 Billion Bill for Wars, Storm Relief Disdained in House (By Shailagh Murray)

I mean, they STILL don't get it. They - and I mean the whole Congress, though primarily the Republican majority - still think that tax cuts and pork barrel spending and more wars to make them look tough are going to pull their cojones out of the fire again.

They're not right, are they?

Are they?

Give my plan a try - hell, nothing else has worked so far.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So now they tell us

by Rich Miles

Been trying to contain my rage at reading, in today's WaPo , that what we knew all along is true: the Bush tax cuts are NOT strengthening the economy, and are in fact leading to INCREASED government spending and impoverishment of the middle class.

So far, in 5+ years, Bush has gotten exactly NOTHING right.

Well, perhaps that's a bit too harsh. He's VERY good at rewarding his campaign contributors and cronies in various ways while screwing the rest of us blue, and he's top-notch at fudging (or if you prefer the more informal term, stealing) close elections. At least, we think they're close - hell, this thing is so big that he may actually have lost by 20 points and we'd never know it.

How bout this: What Part of $2.6 Trillion Don't You Understand?

Or this: Logic 101

Or even this: The Robbery Continues

It ain't like this is NEWS, people! I mean, the guy's been screwing us, and TELLING us he's screwing us, and asking us to LIKE it that he's screwing us, for FIVE FUCKING YEARS!

And now, all of a sudden, the pundits are starting to sit up and take notice?

It's gone way beyond Dem vs. Republican, folks. If you don't see that the issues at hand represent, in total, the question of the continued existence of the Republic, NOT just "as we know it", but the nation's survival AT ALL, then you're too stupid to live.

And that's the truth.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Just a quick heads-up

by Rich Miles

Tomorrow's Derby Day here in Red State Hell. So naturally, the CIA director abruptly quit today, because HIS boss would not let him have the day off to go to the races.

But seriously - he quit, as Wonkette kindly points out, for one of two reasons: either he's up against the deadline for filing for the Senate primary in Florida against Katherine Harris (they are SOOOO put out with her, and for good reason), or he's about to get arrested for his part in the Duke Cunningham sordidness. As Cat pointed out tonight, a bit of fun is to be had by googling "Porter Goss gambling prostitutes parties lobbyists" - and you can add "corrupt right-wing bastard" if you like...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mayday! Mayday!

by Rich Miles

Oh. My. God.

While everyone in the blogosphere is hailing Stephen Colbert's ass-biting and face-getting-into of the Usurper at the "Press" Dinner the other night, His Self-Righteousness proclaims May 1, 2006 as Loyalty Day across the land.

Loyalty Day! And May 1! If we needed any further proof that a) Bush has no idea what went on in history, even some of the history HE created, and b) he is getting closer and closer to totally insane or at least totally unconscious, it is this prez'denchul proclamation, on this particular day.

For those too young to remember, or too old to likewise, May 1 is the day the Communists used to celebrate their....ummm...communism. They call it May Day, which also happens to be a word used by pilots and other military people to indicate that they're in a world of trouble and are going to bail out. And it also just conveniently happens to be the day when, three years ago, the Bushmaster stood in his khaki clown suit on the deck of the Abe Lincoln and proclaimed an end to "major combat operations" in Iraq.

And just as a point of idle curiosity, loyalty to what or whom? We're already loyal to America - so it's hard to envision him meaning anything else but loyalty to...him!

Do the red-state rubes REALLY still buy this crap - things like "Loyalty Day"? Or is he now totally talking to the hand?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Why Am I Telling You All This?

by Rich Miles

There's a point to all this. The point is that there is almost always a larger point underpinning the news you see every day - or sometimes a smaller point hidden in the weeds of our leaders' rhetoric. I try to establish and expand on these whenever possible. I'm not the only blogger doing this sort of thing, in fact my blog links will connect you to folks who may do it a lot better than I do. But I promise this - no one does it just like you'll see it done here.

And as time goes on, you will I hope see some of my friends and colleagues, and perhaps even you on this blog. Because while I am the lead voice here, I don't even want to be the only one. There are a lot of people who feel their voices aren't heard in the world today. If I can let a few of them speak here on my little corner of the Web, I will do so happily and proudly.

Because we live in a time when, to a greater degree than at any time in America's history, our alleged leaders bank on our not paying very close attention to what they do, and when on rare occasions we call them on their lies, they behave as if it's our fault for being foolish enough to let ourselves be lied to.

Or they tell us that what we see and hear is not reality, that we didn't really hear them tell us one thing and do another, or tell us one thing today and another two weeks later, or any number of other ways our leaders have of treating us like abused spouses who are so addled from the repeated blows that we don't know reality from fiction.

And we keep letting them do it to us - keep letting our leaders lie to us, in fact often seem to INSIST that they lie to us so we needn't face the painful truths, and only once in a while do we get brave enough to say, ya know, that doesn't quite seem true - right before they slap us down again, and tell us that black is white, and up is down.

A lot of people think I'm too old to be this earnest (I'm in my mid-fifties). A lot of them think I should have figured out by this point in life that no one person can really make any difference in what goes on in our country. And I suppose that's true. But I'm not just one person - as you know if you're a frequent web-crawler, there are an awful lot of us out here, and together, maybe we can make some kind of difference, change one mind, debunk one lie, something.

So I and the zillion other bloggers all over the U.S. who take an interest in matters political and social will try to bring some light to the dark experience that is being a liberal and/or progressive in America these days. We'll keep talking till someone listens, I guess.

Rich Miles
April 30, 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Render Unto Caesar

Fletcher Administration Has Its Priorities Set - For An Election Campaign, But Not For The People of Kentucky

by Rich Miles
April 26, 2006

OK, Let me see if I’ve got this right:

The reasons to deny University of the Cumberlands an $11 million state funding package for a new pharmacists’ school are basically these:

1) The giving of state funds (OUR money) to private, faith-based organizations of any kind is expressly forbidden in Section 189 of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky, and in various specific laws as well.

2) If it were a federal matter, it would be against specific federal anti-discrimination law, and in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of the United States as well. ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.")

3) 80% of people who contacted the Governor’s office with an opinion on this matter (a self-selected sample, it’s true, but it’s self-selected in both directions) opposed the funding

4) University of the Cumberlands cannot get any new pharmacy school they may build accredited nationally because of the very discrimination they practice that brought them to statewide notice in this matter.

5) While Gov. Fletcher refused to line-item veto this $11 million, he DID veto as much as $370 million in other budget appropriations, much of it taken away from our established, open-to-all-KY-residents state universities, as well as social programs for the poor, the elderly, youth programs, and environmental improvements..

The reasons to go ahead with the funding, and not exercise the line-item veto are these:

1) The governor is courting the radical fundamentalist religious right, in the mistaken belief that they will carry him to re-election next year.

2) Senate President David Williams says, in essence, that the will of the people doesn’t make a bit of difference in this matter - that it is not a “pick-a-star” contest. Also see #1 in reference to Williams as well.

3) The governor has decided that the courts must waste an immense amount of time and money answering a question that, in this separation-of-church-and-state republic, should never have been asked, and indeed that no one but him and Sen. Williams have asked now: we must know, once and for all, if it’s unconstitutional for Kentucky to fund faith-based institutions, and the money isn’t going to be released for use till that question is answered.

So is this a real dogfight, or are we, the people of the state of Kentucky, being taken for a ride again, with elected representatives alleging to represent the will of the people, while doing nothing of the sort, and pandering to a small slice of the electorate for what they perceive to be their political gain?

Before I proceed, let me clarify a couple of points here: First, I don’t deny the right of the University of the Cumberlands to refuse access to their educational gifts to anyone they want to - as long as they’re self-supporting through tuition and private, non-governmental donations. I think it’s particularly nasty and un-Christian of them to do so, but they have the right, as long as I and other state residents don’t have to pay for it. But when they take MY money, and yours, then WE get to say how it’s used, and WE get to object if it’s used to promote bigotry and intolerance.

Secondly, the young man, Jason Johnson, who was expelled from U Cumberlands because he’s gay should have known better - if he wasn’t willing to abide by the rules at UC, he should have gone elsewhere to school. He can be gay if he wants, but why deliberately start this kind of fight?

But having said that, I have to ask: how much longer do we have to put up with this?

How much longer will our government, our elected representatives, subvert the expressed - EXPRESSED - wishes of the majority of the people of our state, in order to kowtow to a small but highly vocal minority of radical religious nutjobs, which by the most optimistic estimates represent at most 20% of the electorate, of whom not all even agree with the governor and senator on this issue?

Dump the appropriation for University of Cumberlands, Gov. Fletcher - or I promise you, that 80% who oppose this nonsense are going to remember this ignoring of the will of the people, this perfidy and political posturing in November of ‘07. I for one will do my best to make certain they do.

Render unto Caesar, and all that. And yes, that's from the Bible.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Tribute to Anne Braden

By Rich Miles

Anne Braden passed away last month, on March 6, 2006. She was 81 years old, what the country folks sometimes call a “goodish age”. She worked virtually till her dying day, and was said to be “annoyed” when the doctors told her she’d have to go into the hospital. She lived more life in those 81 years, made more friends (and enemies), served more causes and more just plain folks than most of us could hope to if we were given 5 times that many years.

I’m not going to sit here and give a rundown of the many accomplishments of the life and career of Anne Braden – a career that started in earnest when I was about a year old, and continued unabated until just last month. Pretty much all of it is part of the public record, and I encourage you to seek it out if you haven’t already done so. Her life, her truth, makes a good read.

Instead, I’d like to tell you about what Anne has left us: what she created for us in life, and what she has bequeathed us at her passing.

Anne McCarty Braden was, to all appearances, no one’s idea of a formidable opponent. She stood about 5 feet tall, even a bit shorter in her later years, and was a slim girl of 23 or so when she arrived back in Louisville in 1947, having been born here but raised in Anniston Alabama. But despite her diminutive physical stature, she had something about her that would not be beaten down, not for the entire 52 years during which she worked for civil rights and racial equality - and that something is the real gift she has left us here today, and for years to come.

For if a life such as Anne Braden’s can be summed up in one word, that word would be: courage.

Not the kind of courage that a soldier needs to face battle and possible death, though she received more than her share of death threats. Not the courage of a firefighter or a policeman or woman, to protect us from the accidents and ills of daily life. But courage all the same.

Courage to see wrong, and do all in our power to right it. Courage to see social institutions in need of change, and do what we can to effect those changes. Courage to see that there are people who will never believe what you believe, and yet keep putting out your message of peace and understanding and harmony among all races and nations, knowing that some will hear and scoff, but every once in a while, some will hear and change, some will join your fight, and some will, with luck and God’s help, even surpass you, and make the world a better place to live in for all of us – even the scoffers. Even the threateners. Even the haters.

The things Anne Braden did almost daily, and more importantly the reasons for them, have lost currency in our world today – it’s become almost unbearably “corny” to speak of changing the world, of creating a space where peace may thrive among individuals or among nations. Those who do this work are called hippies, dreamers, idealists, and worse. Anne was often called a Communist back when that term was the bugbear of the day. She was arrested twice on charges of sedition – a word we hardly hear today, whose antiquated roots embrace the very ancient and ongoing practice of governments attempting to silence their opposition. And still she kept at it. Still she saw that, no matter how much we might SAY that racial equality was growing and thriving in America, we did not always, perhaps did not often live up to our own standards. She saw this right up to the day she died, and she never stopped working and fighting for what she believed was simply – right.

And that – more than anything else she could have given us – is what she has left for us to do. We must have the courage to speak truth to power, as she did. We must have the courage to make it clear that war is never the answer, that racism is never acceptable, that hatred is its own reward – all we get from it is more hatred.

This is in large part why I feel the need to write these words. Our issue of the moment is not that of Anne Braden, but we need her courage and dedication to address our issue as well as to continue addressing hers. No one person, not even an Anne Braden, ever solves these problems all by herself, or all at once. It’s a long, hard job, and there’s not likely to be a break or an endpoint, or a place where we can say, the job is done - not in our lifetimes at any rate. But the more of us there are, and the more we can muster the courage of an Anne Braden, the greater the chance that some day, long after we’ve all gone to dust, our children or our children’s children may be able to say “I wonder why those people so long ago thought racism and war were so important? We don’t do that any more.”

It’s a fond dream, and perhaps mankind can never get there – that’s what a lot of so-called experts think, that we as a species can never get beyond hatred. But Anne Braden believed we could. Her whole life was dedicated to the proposition that we could. And the best we can do as her survivors is to do all in our power to prove her right.

If your beliefs include the idea of an afterlife, perhaps we can envision Anne now, finally getting to rest and finally seeing her beloved Carl again after 31 years without him. But Anne is still with us in spirit, in our hearts and minds and actions even now that death has taken her out of our sight. If there’s a better measure of immortality available to any of us, I can’t imagine what it would be.

Rest well, Anne – you’ve earned it.

And to those who read these words, keep the faith – what you do matters. If nothing else, the life of Anne Braden proves that.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Time To Set a Precedent

By Rich Miles

February 27, 2006

There’s no longer any way around it: George W. Bush must go to prison.

So must Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and the whole sociopathic, vicious gang.

Impeachment, dragged screaming and kicking out of the White House, permanent humiliation is no longer enough. It’s no longer enough for us to disgrace them, then let them serve out their respective terms, and leave them the leisure to rehabilitate themselves into elder statesmen in years to come.

The American people must once and for all show our current and future leaders that there are consequences – personal and inescapable – for lack of conscience, lack of leadership, and lack of compassion for the people who elected them, the people they are pledged to serve.

Therefore, the president of the United States must go to prison.

He cannot be permitted to escape a term in the lockup by resigning, as Nixon did. Even if he resigns – unlikely, since those who think themselves kings must abdicate not resign he must be charged, tried, and convicted of all his multiple felonies, then sentenced to life, plus the duration of the "War on Terrorism”.

Because if we, the American people, don’t finally show the people who work for us, who were hired by us, and are paid by us that they are accountable to us, Bush and his thugs and those who come after them will keep perpetrating crimes on us over and over and over again, and there will never be any accountability.

Never mind how unlikely it may seem that this can be done now, with all three branches of government under Republican control, and the Democrats in Congress searching high and low for a spine. First, the lock-step is not quite as locked as it seems and thus the "reality base" may have more support across the aisle than we think; and second, control of Congress is almost certainly going to change in November. That's not just optimistic talk - all the signs are there, in spite of all the "where the hell are the Democrats" articles in the MSM. Perhaps THAT will make the Democrats stand up for themselves and for us.

And in any case, consider the consequences if we don't:

Our so-called "leaders" ignore the will and well-being of the people and make us the enemy of the world.

They lie with impunity to keep us fearful, terrified, weak.

They steal our birthright, kill our children, destroy our country.

We must stop them. We must do all legally in our power, and we must start now. Before they stop America forever.

Monday, January 02, 2006

We Won't Get Fooled Again - Will We?

Originally published on, in the Kentucky subsection

By Rich Miles

January 2, 2006

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

- Old country saying

Fool me three times…you must be one of George Bush’s people.

I mean, the scandals and the snowjobs just come too hot and heavy to keep up with.

We should be afraid. Very afraid

Why, you may ask? Should we fear that Osama bin Laden is plotting another 9/11-style attack? It’s crossed my mind, but no, that’s not it. I’m pretty sure Osama is so happy sitting in his designer-decorated cave somewhere, laughing his head off at how we’ve been running around like headless chickens for the past 4+ years EXPECTING him to mount such an attack that he doesn’t feel he has to bother - we’re defeating ourselves.

Should we fear that some of those WMD’s we couldn’t find in Iraq have made their way to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or Ayman al-Zawahiri, and that they’re making plans to deliver them to central Kentucky or some other mainland location? No, that’s not really it either. That’s just so unlikely that it doesn’t bear worrying about. We all have too many other things to make us lose sleep at night, like no health care for the poor and middle class, and tax cuts for the wealthy in wartime, and our children who are dying in that war.

I don’t know about you, but here’s what I’m most afraid of these days: that the Bush administration’s insane rhetoric, recently losing ground in making us afraid enough to kiss their collective backsides and hand them the country and our civil liberties, will “take” again, and that our spineless Congress will sidestep the crimes they and the Bushies have committed on the people of Iraq and America, and that by November 2006, we will have forgotten what completely evil-minded screw-ups George W. Bush and his neocon pals are, and we’ll re-elect his sycophants to Congress and the Senate because they’re incumbents and it’s easier to vote for the devils we know than to actually THINK about who to vote for, and nothing – NOTHING – will have been learned or changed.

Remember the London (England) Guardian headline in November ’04: “How Can 59,000,000 People Be So Dumb?” You s’pose that question will seem current again soon?

There is ample evidence that many of our representatives in Congress who have spent the past 5 years with their noses up Bush’s arse are starting to distance themselves from The War President, to wit:

- That old reliable hawk John Murtha was equated with the evil Michael Moore for daring to say that things are pretty bad in Iraq, and we need to look for the exits.

- John McCain is getting his revenge on Bush for the 2000 campaign by forcing George to eat crow at least 2 meals a day, but hey, at least we don’t torture any more.

- Four Republicans joined in the filibuster to keep the Patriot Act from being made permanent.

- The ANWR drilling initiative was snatched from madman Ted Stevens’ feeble claw yet again (what is this, 20, 25 times now?) by a bipartisan effort.

- A Bush-appointed judge and Supreme Court short-lister, J. Michael Luttig, angrily denied the White House the right to transfer Jose Padilla to civilian custody because Luttig saw through the effort as an attempt to evade Supreme Court review of the case.

- And Even Sen. Rick Santorum, one of the most reliably non-reality-based supporters of anything Bush says or does, had to plead a “prior engagement” on Veterans’ Day when Bush was in his home state. Never mind that, if one supports the president, one changes one’s Vet’s Day plans when that prez shows up – Santorum clearly didn’t care to bask in the glow of a rapidly failing president.

These are but a few of the more visible recent defections from the Bush miasma, but there are many more, and the ones who aren’t bailing out are actually having to justify remaining on-board with Bush, when it was axiomatic not too long ago.

(Warning: I’m about to do something that even I consider scummy - I’m about to link our troops’ sacrifices in Iraq with politics - because that is surely what the conscienceless monsters in the Bush administration are already doing.)

As we could have predicted, Rumsfeld announced troop drawdowns on Dec. 23, just in time for Christmas, and less than a year before that red-letter day, Nov. 7, 2006. We’re going to see a lot more of this sort of thing, despite the fact that NOTHING has changed in the military situation in Iraq, except that it’s gotten worse. We’re not winning, we haven’t gotten things under control, or gotten the Iraqi forces trained enough to take care of their own country – we’re just going to “declare victory and leave”. Just in time for the mid-term elections.

And while I am thrilled at any development that might bring our troops home as soon and as safely as possible, this is not what it appears to be. Not even close. What’s really happening is that they’re gearing up the process of fooling us again. And we’re in dire danger of letting it happen. Again.

The reasons for this new chapter in the Republican campaign of deceit are as cynical as they are obvious: All of the House and 1/3 of the Senate are up for re-election next year, and Bush is not. And despite Bush’s insistence that he doesn’t care about polls, that he doesn’t govern based on what the American people think is right but what HE thinks is right (and consider the subtext of THAT concept for a minute), what is unmistakably clear is that all those folks who have to face the scrutiny, and perhaps the wrath, of their constituents next year are starting to feel the hot breath of challengers charging up behind them. In fact, Santorum is already looking up the distant backside of his principal rival and has been for months.

So in what I sincerely hope will be merely another misguided attempt to sway the opinions of the American people with lies rather than leadership, Bush and Cheney and the rest of the criminals in the administration are going on the offensive again, and manipulating us with troop drawdowns – politicking on the corpses of dead soldiers, and over the faces of living ones. They reckon that voters will no more vote against the people who are bringing our brave soldiers home than they would against the folks who repeatedly lowered their taxes in the first Bush term. They reckon we’re just that stupid, that we won't remember that THEY were the ones who got the soldiers over there in the first place.

And there is some little evidence that some portion of America is buying it – again.

Let’s look at what the ubiquitous polls are telling us, since their findings are actually starting to exhibit a bit of consistency: it would appear that there is a small percentage of Americans who simply cannot be swayed from their slavish support of anything Bush does. If Bush and his Secret Service entourage showed up at their back door, came inside and peed in their cornflakes, this small group would somehow twist their thinking around to believe that it was vital for national security, and perhaps even God’s will, that the cornflakes be urine-soaked. My admittedly unscientific estimate of the size of this cohort is around 23-25% of voters. NOT a mandate or majority – just a small but solid slice of the electorate that apparently cannot be swayed from their opinions by facts. The anti-reality segment of America.

It also seems clear that there is a roughly equal number of people on the exact opposite end of the spectrum, who have come to view Bush’s administration and all that it entails as incapable of doing anything that does any good for America - unless, of course, there are cronies and wealthy contributors to be enriched from such acts, and even then, any benefit to the American people at large is pretty much accidental. In some ways, this left end of the spectrum ignores reality almost as much as the right end, only for less magical reasons.

This leaves, if one takes the middle numbers in both cases above, something like 50-52% of the American populace who are willing and able to synthesize wide-ranging information and come up with a reasoned opinion about what Bush et al. are doing and whether those things are good for America.

The good news is that this middle half of America seems to be awakening from its 9/11-induced stupor and starting to recognize that not only is what Bush is doing to us not good, it is actively bad, and that all those in government who continue to support him and his policies ought to be gotten rid of at the earliest opportunity – which, in our system, is November 2006.

So in recognition of these challenges to their perks and their power bases, and in the long Bush tradition of perpetual campaigning (without often dirtying one’s hands with actual governing), Bush, Cheney, the radical right-wing media, the spineless mainstream media, and the decreasing number of members of Congress who can’t see the handwriting on the wall have once again gone on the offensive: portraying their opponents as unpatriotic, weak on national security, willing and eager to “cut and run”, unsupportive of our troops’ sacrifice, and just altogether not to be trusted to keep those stolen nukes and Islamic radicals out of our towns in middle America.

And there is some sad evidence that it’s working. Here’s why:

Back in 2000, and arguably long before, Bush and his handlers stumbled on a formula for political success that has proven all too useful to their purposes: appeal to Americans’ basest beliefs about ourselves.

In sum, this has meant sword-rattling patriotism, chest-thumping arrogance on the international scene, the bloodthirstiness that not so subtly underlies our national image of ourselves, and most of all – fear.

Fear! Keep the rubes afraid, remind them continually that YOU, personally, are the only one who can keep them safe from what they fear, tell them that we must fight pre-emptive wars against our enemies real and imagined (including gays and non-Christian-evangelicals, women who dare to demand control over their own bodies, and – ugh – liberals), and they’ll keep voting for you because they don’t want their hometowns overrun with crazed Muslim suicide bombers, homosexual couples, abortion clinics, or Michael Moore.

Recent evidence of this approach is everywhere, but if one recent example serves to make the point as to how much fear figures into the Bush strategy, go on the Internet and look at the tape of Bush’s press op in Panama after his recent trip to South America. In answer to a reporter’s question, he did everything but form his hands into fake claws and shout “Boogah boogah!!!” to tell us how afraid we still must be. And based on a small up-tick in his job approval ratings shortly after that trip (which was in all other regards a near-total failure) there are still people in this country who buy it. Likewise the people who are willing to overlook a little thing like unwarranted phone taps on American citizens on American soil, in essence because if it ain’t happenin’ to them, it isn’t important.

Now let me be clear: I don’t wish to suggest that there are no problems for America either at home or abroad. That would be just as unreality-based as the people against whom I’m railing here. What I’m saying is that the things we need to fear as Americans are not always the things our leaders are telling us to fear.

What we as Americans need to fear most is a government which has not, after all this time, really made us safer, and has almost unquestionably put us in greater peril; a president who seeks to subvert and subsume all the things that have historically made America great for his own political gain or that of his party; a Congress that, in the misguided belief that Americans are so stupid we will believe anything, has continued until very recently quietly to do Bush’s bidding while playing at serving the people who elected them; and the continued support by all these people of a war that simply will not ever be won, that irreparably harms our standing in the world, that weakens our military’s real ability to protect us here at home, and that may decimate a generation of Americans if left unchecked.

Do we need to fear Islamic radicalism and terrorism? Yes, with sane and sensible reasoning, and actions that will produce results, not just more fear.

Do we need to fear gay marriage, or a “war on Christmas”?

Please. Get a grip.

Do we need to fear that our own government, those folks we hired to make our lives safer and better, will use this very real threat against us to forward an agenda that is at base un-American?

We shouldn’t have to fear this. But we do. In fact, we fail to do so at our peril.