Friday, November 19, 2004

On Changing the Rules

I hope I shook up a few sleepy heads last evening, when I agreed with Tom DeLay that if a simple majority can adopt a rule in Congress, then a simple majority can change it. Now, the rules we’re talking about have to do with filibusters. Good folk now think of filibusters as a way a minority can prevent the majority from doing bad things. They say this even as this majority IS doing bad things, and planning worse. They forget that filibusters used to be a favorite took of white racists -- who were then Democrats but have since changed their label. They forget that one rule, which Newt Gingrich whipped up in cahoots with Bill Clinton, requires cutting social programs across the board, right now, this week, in order to hold down the federal deficit.

The electoral college, Lord help us, is a rule that pretends to protect the little states against the big ones. We can do better, and we must -- other countries do. But let me find a note of hope in this grim picture. Since the beginning of time, a majority of people have favored the death penalty and the oppression of women. Yet in Europe, the death penalty has been outlawed, and women have made great strides, because cooler heads have come to prevail. Even Turkey has foresworn executions in order to be accepted among more civilized countries. And all this has happened in a few decades. Here, we’ve had a setback, harkening like Islamic extremists, to the barbarity of fundamentalism, but that cannot last. It’s too cruel, too mean, too stupid.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lame All Over

I was composing a sermonette last evening when Con Ed blew a manhole cover and took WBAI off the air. They call it "stray voltage" or good old American knowhow, Meanwhile, surfing the networks, I didn’t hear a single mention of the great scandal of last weekend, about the murder of unarmed Iraqi civilians in that mosque. Only foreigners seem to care. Anyway, what I intended to say seems just as valid tonight.

What I wrote was that they were calling it a lame-duck session of Congress, but that was pure flattery. Those ducks don’t have a leg to stand on. They’re about to meekly raise the national debt limit by 800 billion dollars. They went past the limit weeks ago but pretended not to, in order not to embarrass the Republicans before the elections.

I was going to note that they don’t embarrass easily. I was also going to predict that the Senate Democrats would sheepishly ratify Condaleezza Rice as secretary of state -- -- Joe Lieberman called her "an excellent choice." Then I would quote Tom DeLay’s threat to "go nucular" if the Democrats use the rules to suspend him when he gets indicted, or to block really awful court appointments. That’s a great point. [To be discussed further: If Congress can adopt rules by a simple majority, it can repeal them by a simple majority. Why not? We’ll still have to fight the Bush counterrevolution out in the streets.]

And finally, I might quote the humor weekly The Onion as reporting that the Republicans plan to privatize elections. Which in fact they already have.

Courage.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Interrupted Sermon

FYI -- Good friends I was composing a sermonette for this evening when Con Ed blew a manhole cover ("stray voltage") and put WBAI’s phone out of action for a day or two. Another triumph for good old American knowhow. I tought I might, with your forbearance, share today’s thoughts before events overtake them. You are welcome to pass them along.

They’re calling it a lame-duck session, but that is pure flattery. Those ducks don’t have a leg to stand on. They’re about to quietly raise the national debt limit to 800 billion dollars. They went past it weeks ago but pretended not to, in order not to embarrass the Republicans before the elections.

That’s when I was told the phones were down. I was going to note that they don’t embarrass easily -- already they’re blaming for slandering our brave marines with that videotape in the Iraqi mosque. I was going to predict that the Senate Democrats would meekly ratify Condi as Secretary of State -- Joe Lieberman called her "an excellent choice."

Then I would note Tom DeLay’s threat to "go nucular" if the Democrats use the Senate rules to block judicial appointments. A great point I’ve seen nobody make before: If Congress can make rules by a simple vote, it can repeal them by a simple vote. Why not? We’ll still have to fight the Bush counterrevolution out in the streets. And finally, I might quote the Onion as reporting that the Republicans are calling for privatizing elections. Whcich in fact they already have. Courage.

She’d Take All But Utah

A message from the Queen to the former American colonies reads that in light of their failure to elect a suitable president and thereby govern themselves, Her Majesty has decided to take them back -- "except Utah, which she does not fancy."

A copy was E-mailed to me by an English friend who is registered as a Liberal. which in Britain puts him on the center-right. Everywhere in the world except for the USA - the word "liberal" MEANS conservative -- as in laissez-faire -- keeping the government’s nose out of people’s affairs. The Brits HAVE a Conservative party, so named, but it has been discredited by its support for the Bush war -- so the Liberals have been coming back.

Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Europeans are against the war, but a majority of American voters think they’re for it. One reason is that we are incredibly badly informed. Take a front-page story in the Washington Post today. A pool reporter from NBC News taped marines shooting unarmed civilians at an Iraqi mosque. "This one’s still alive -- bang, bang." The reporter was there, saw it with his own eyes, got it on tape. So what was the headline? "Marines Investigate Shooting."

How’s that for fair-and-balanced, objective reporting? It‘s a way of life inside the Beltway -- and outside, too -- including Utah.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Mission Re-Accomplished

Mission accomplished -- again. All of Falluja is democratic now, whether it wants to be or not. Those fireworks we’re seeing on TV are not as pretty as those on the Fourth of July, but they carry the same message -- independence. Fallujans who survive will damned well vote.

One of their liberators may not be there, though. Colin Powell has put in his resignation -- too soon to celebrate this victory, too late to save his honor.

He was the only combat veteran in Dubya’s coop of chicken hawks, and they often seemed to hold it against him -- hinted that he didn’t have the guts they required. What he did not have, surely, was the guts to stand up to them. Time and again, he lied to our country and to the United Nations about why we had to tackle Saddam Hussein -- quickly, even before we nailed Osama bin Laden. Caught in his lies, he never really apologized, never expressed remorse.

There’s talk now of his being replaced by Condoleesa Rice -- who evidently despised Powell and would never dream of apologizing or expressing remorse. She says she never gave the secretary’s job a thought.

Well, there’s no telling how this will come out. We’re still mopping up in Fallujah.