Ah, the richness of folk humor. I cannot emphasize the power of
ridicule in primitive societies. In Tibet it was common for unpopular
political figures to be pilloried by satiric street songs, and if those
songs were pointed enough and memorable enough, they became so popular
and widely repeated that they were sometimes able force resignations, so
the targeted official could escape widespread public ridicule. The
assault on Clinton never took the form of really effective ridicule,
because the subjects were either so obscure (Whitewater, Travelgate) or
so volatile (Monica) that devastating ridicule was impossible. By
comparison, the assault on Gore was in some measure easier. I would add
that our political cartooning is pale, pale, pale, by comparison to
political cartooning in India, which is literally breathtaking in its venom.
On a recent trip to Hong Kong I found that a Tibetan friend had forgotten Dick (crazyface) Cheney's name, but was able to indicate who he was talking about by doing an eerily accurate twisting up of the left side of his face, saying, "You know (grimace), this guy", and I knew immediately who he meant. In street politics there are no inhibitions about assaulting others peculiarities and disabilities, in fact they are gleefully seized on. In that spirit, with a nod to our Algonquin ancestors and their false face society, I suggest that we make "crazyface" Vice-President Cheney's official nickname. Hell, he's running the country, let's not ignore him. --Arthur, 2/9/01
I knew Bush wasn't very bright, and was going to run into heavy seas over the coming years, but now he's really done it. The damn fool has gone and picked a fight with my wife. Now, mind you, I pick fights with her every now and again, just for the fun of it, but I know what I'm doing... Bush doesn't.
My wife has had MS (multiple sclerosis) for seventeen years (doing very well, thanks, seems stable now) and stem-cell research is the most promising avenue for potential repair of nerve damage for the 350,000 people in the US who have MS, as well as the wide range of other folks who have other nerve damage syndromes. One side effect of MS is to make sufferers slightly (how can I say this diplomatically?) "shorter fused" than they might otherwise be. Volatile, Sicilian in their abiding animosities. Husbands of MS sufferers understand these personality quirks, and employ humor, quick wit, and other stratagems to stay out of the dog house. Bush? he doesn't even seem to know how many people he's just pissed off, but actually the total number isn't so critical. Only one matters. My wife. He's toast.
I could have warned him, of course, but he never answered any of my other e-mails, so I'm not sure he ever read them. He never got down on his knees in public and asked for the forgiveness of the American people, so he didn't seem inclined to take that advice, so I didn't think he'd take this advice either. Some people only are capable of learning from their mistakes, and I guess Bush might be one of those.
I read Bushwatch nearly everyday from home (I live in the country outside of Austin) and I learned about Votermarch.com from you. I flew to DC to protest, the first time in my 46 years. On Friday, I went to 49/50 of the Democratic Senators' offices and hand-delivered a letter reminding them that they are in the majority party, begging th em to resist the Bush administration's appointments and policies, and assuring them they will be rewarded by millions of angry Democrats someday...
On Saturday, I went to Dupont Circle and hooked up with thousands of
interesting peaceful people. We listened to speakers and started walking on
our permitted route, chanting "What do we want...Democracy, when do we want
it...now" and "Not my President!" Several blocks into the march we met a
3-deep police barracade and were forced to split up and go in different
directions. We were never planning to go near the Inaugural Parade, we were
trying to end up at the Supreme Court to meet up with Al Sharpton and other
groups. But the police hovered over us with a helicopter and sent the vans
full of barracaders ahead of us to stop us at every turn.
We were eventually broken up into many small pockets and funnelled onto the
parade route. We ended up lining the parade route, chanting and booing as
Bush drove by, and breaking up without reaching the Supreme Court. To me, the
March was a failure... the new "police state" disregarded our permits,
treated us like dangerous subversives, and diluted the strength of our
Worst of all was the media coverage, which was nil. We were on none of the
major American networks, although there were foreign cameras and reporters
mixed in the crowd. I guess the new regime is installed and the voice of the
people will be squelched, just like the vote count!
After Bush...stole...the election, there was a flurry of discussion on disbanding the Electoral College. This has since subsided, probably due to two unanswered points raised by the opposition. The first was that "we are a Republic", not a Democracy, and the Electoral College insures that less populous states are not excluded from influence in the vote for President. The second argument is that because the Constitution requires that a Constitutional Amendment be ratified by 2/3rds of the states, it is unlikely to ever get passed, being as it were against the self-interests of those less populous states. This is the more compelling argument, or at least the more deflating. Well, my answer is: So? First, the Constitution does allow for change. We may be a Republic, but we can still become more of a Democracy. The less populous states would not be ignored in a Presidential race. Why would a politician ignore votes? Especially in a close race. This argument is from the horse and buggy days. Certainly, even the most remote part of our country has access to the many forms of media and communications that modern times has to offer. No voter is cut off from the information they need to make their decision. A citizen would have to make a concerted effort to remain unaware of a presidential race. Just because a candidate won't personally shake their hand does not mean that they cannot get full text copies of all their campaign speeches off the Internet. As for the argument that state legislatures are unlikely to vote themselves decreased influence I would have to say that that all depends on the state legislature. Who are, of course, elected democratically, more or less. If there were a populist majority in favor of abolishing this anachronism, undoubtedly there would be politicians willing to pander to that sentiment. Elect the right people to your state legislature and you get more Democracy. As easy as that. What is lacking here is a unifying principle, expressed in a compelling way. An idea whose time has come. A slogan around which the people can rally. I suggest a calling on historical precedent, a classic slogan of Democracy throughout the world. One man, one vote.
Even before he began asking his questions, senator Herbert Kohl, the Democrat from Wisconsin, said to John Ashcroft, "You are likely to be confirmed, as we well know." As we know too damned well, the so-called "hearings" over the confirmation of Ashcroft are turning out to be another fine example of what a cowering, prostrate, bought-and-paid-for puppy dog of a party the Democrats have become. Two days have passed without any real challenge to Ashcroft's venomous racism, his ardent love of the Confederacy, his mysogonistic pro-birth activism, his dirty deals with corporations, his rabidly militant religious beliefs and ties to Christian militia groups, his Bob Jones butt-kissing, nor his fund raising activities and long history of defying campaign finance laws. The volumes of evidence compiled by civil rights groups, women's groups, human rights groups, anti-corruption organizations and other investigators---filed away and ignored. Two days, we have suffered through the usual obstructionism from hatchetmen Orrin Hatch and Arlen Specter (the eternal defenders of all things Republican, corrupt, and criminal), and biased "testimony" from Ashcroft friends and relatives like the corrupt and pompous John Danforth. Two days we have labored through hours of Senatorial buddy-buddy, preening, congratulatory chuckling and sickening ass kissing about how "Senator Ashcroft served our great and grand nation with honor" and "exudes integrity".
The polite and effete Democrats who did managed to peep out questions squeaked out the wrong ones, and worse, tossed patently ridiculous softballs at Ashcroft such as, "Will you defend Roe v. Wade, Senator Ashcroft?". "I will enforce the law," he said. "Thank you, what a great, great man you are. By gosh, I believe ya." And it's over. Only Ted Kennedy dared to venture into Ashcroft's skeleton closet. But Kennedy's words, however blistering and appropriate, have no power in America. He has long been defrocked--- "Chappaquidicked"---by his political opponents to the point that whatever leaves his mouth is rendered harmless.
Ashcroft knows the congressional testimony game. Republicans have played the
weak Democrats like fools since the Iran-Contra/Clarence Thomas days.
The formula, which will be used by every Republican who comes before the
Senate, consists of variations on the following:
---"I promise to be good and ethical. Trust me. (wink)"
---(Lie about record here.)
---"That may have happened in the past. I won't do it anymore."
---"I don't recall."
---"I can appreciate your views. (Do not clarify nor answer.)
---(Distort facts here.)
---"No, I didn't say that.(List lies here)."
---"Thank you for that important question. I'll do my best to address it. (Ramble but don't.) "
---(Take credit for things he/she never did here.)
---"In fact, I am a caring, passionate defender of all people (List lies here)."
---"Thank you for that compliment, first name of Republican chum, that is an issue that means a lot to me. (Follow with rambling patriotic monologue laced with homilies, bad sport analogies and religious humility.)"
In an adjoining Senate chamber, Colin Powell repeated the same lies to even
softer softballs. It will happen over and over with Norton, Thompson,
Rumsfeld and whoever Bush chooses to force down our throats.
Dirty politicians like Ashcroft and Bush lie. They lie in front of
microphones and cameras, and under oath. They lie, and the system protects
them. They lie, and the corporate media reflects their lies. A genuinely
stupid and dumbed-down populace accepts the soundbites of lies (based
"hunches", a politician's looks and or style, and on zero knowledge of
The politicians slip by and, once in power, do violence to democracy with
ruthlessness and impugnity---with the consent and assistance of congressional
cronies who are themselves corrupt.
It is painfully evident that America is not run by two parties. It is run by
one fanatical Corporate Party headed by the likes of the Bush family, in
which no member can or will fight another.
Can we expect the Borking that Ashcroft deserves before the full Senate?
Under a system in which a "progressive" senator such as Paul Wellstone of
Minnesota is a personal friend of a gun-toting rightwing fanatic like
Don't hold your breath. Just take to the streets.
Bush Watcher, 1/18/01
On Inauguration Day, for those of us not lucky enough to join the demonstrations in Washington or other cities, we can still show our disdain towards the stolen election. Some have suggested burning the American flag in protest. But flag-burning is not as good an idea because its message is too short-lived. A few seconds, and poof! Your political message is over. And unless a camera is right there to record your message, few people will even notice. By hanging the flag upside-down, on the other hand, your message will last as long as the flag remains in that position: all day, or even all year if necessary.
The upside-down flag is consistent with our message: that America is a nation
in dire distress.
Hang the American flag upside-down everywhere on January 20th: from your
flagpoles, from freeway overpasses, from your dorm room windows. Hang them
on trees and telephone poles. Plant dozens of small upside-down flags in the
But let us not stop there--on Inauguration Day. Let us work to make the
upside-down flag as ubiquitous during this stolen presidency as the peace
symbol was during the late 60's. Stick upside-down flag stamps on your mail.
Put upside-down flag stickers on your notebooks, your school lockers, your
car bumpers, emblazon upside-down flags on tee shirts. And stamp upside-down
flags on papers that circulate widely.
If this idea catches on, and continues through the next four years, Dubya
Bush may never gain a consensus that his is a legitimate presidency.
--Bush Watcher, 1/17/01
Is it really 2001, or is it 1801? Gail Norton is so far out on the fringe that Bush's spokesmen are actually forced to clarify that their nominee is against slavery. Jeanie Mamo, a spokeswoman for Norton and the Bush transition team, said Norton was making ``a strong case for local and state rights'' in the speech, and did not intend to express any sympathy for the Confederacy. She said the speech also focused on the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants to the states ``powers not delegated to the United States.'' Regarding the comment on slavery being ``bad facts,'' Mamo said, ``What she's saying is that it's wrong, that clearly slavery is wrong. That's a legal term.'' ``She absolutely believes slavery is wrong,'' Mamo added.
--Bush Watcher, 1/16/01
Well, it all comes down to Ashcroft. If he is given a few tough questions and then confirmed, its game, set, and match - the Democratic Party is dead. Probably for a generation, maybe going the way of the Whigs. Here's how: A lot of politicos knew this election was largely about the Supreme Court and who got to appoint the replacements for O'Connor, Stevens and possibly Ginsburg. This was the strongest argument against Nader and the Greens. Ashcroft is both a payback to the Christian Right core and a trial balloon. If he passes, look for O'Connor to resign within the month and a Scalia/Thomas type replacement to follow in the trail blazed by Ashcroft. After that, ole Dubya can just wait out Stevens and Ginsburg. All of this will be good news, in a perverse way, for Nader. Keeping the Gen X vote from going Green will be impossible. Hell, I might vote Nader next election. This will, of course, mean that the Republicans will then gain a firm hold of power and political activism will return to grassroots organizing. Why spend all your efforts trying to turn the Democratic party to the left if they have no hope of gaining power? So here's the choice for Senate Democrats: Filibuster and define who you are or go with the flow and prove the need for your replacement.
Mr. Galbraith's report (1-12-01 Bush Watch) is right on target. I am a Democrat and I am from Little Rock. Everyone who lives in the South understands that there are two types of Southerners: Those who know the Civil War was wrong and gladly rejoined the Union and those who never accepted defeat. It sounds silly, but these mindsets do exist. Bill and Al are new Southerners, as I am. Dubya, Trent, Tom, Dick, et al. are old Southerners. My question is: If a dumb hillbilly like me knows the difference between the two, why do people from supposedly more sophisticated parts of the country continue fall for the hypocrisy of old style Southern politics? With Dubya in the White House, everyone will soon know what it would have been like had the South won the war.
Until this election, I've never "hated" Republicans. I am trying to channel
my anger in a positive way: Writing my Congressional representatives,
letters to newspapers, contributing to the Democratic party, etc. But, a
large part of the anger I feel has been routed into a determination to break
the back of the Republican party.
With Southern Republicans in charge, I no longer believe the two parties can
coexist. The GOP must be stopped, or everything that is great and good about
the American melting pot will cease to exist. I truly believe our grand
experiment in democracy is facing the most difficult challenge of its
Bush Watcher, 1/13/01
Politex... Poster Child for Education Stuns the World...
"...a more literate country and a hopefuller country." George W. Bush, 11 January, 2001 The final words of George Dubya Bush (and I do emphasize the "Dub") after leaving his edjicashun conference. He also stated that his edjicashun bill is "the first thing I want to get out of Congress". (This does not exclude getting out of Congress all those Democrats who have nothing better to do than to make W's existence as miserable as possible.) Today's Bushism is of course a classic statement, for he raises the fact of his own illiteracy through a powerfully ironic utterance, and all in a single magic breath. Remember, he is OUR President. Enjoy.
I think we're all pleased that El Dub wants to become the edjicatshun president, as he is most surely now the Poster Child for its necessity. How the Administrators at Yale must cringe at his every ututterance. Do they really plan to memorialize his campus birth house? Perhaps instead they might convert it into a museum of Language Misuse or, better, make it a condom distribution center. Perhaps others like him can be halted at the source. Tonight I stand even more astounded than when he made his last imbecilic utterance. Each incident brings me closer to the brink of screaming. What? I have no idea. He's not in the White House yet and still he's managed to create International Embarrassment. It's a wonder we're not bombed out of pure language retaliation. To our friends in all the other...countries, we truly are sorry. It's really quite out of our control.... Perhaps in another hundred years, should we still have a planet, a historian might stumble upon today's Bushism on a more modern internet. In the record of the time it may be written, "Never were so many deceived by so few and led completely astray by a single one."
I heard Cokie say that the Dems used the threat of objecting to the electoral vote as leverage in the power sharing deal they cut with Lott. If so, it was a smart use of the new Realpolitic in Washington. As much as I would have loved to see the congress implode with objections to the Florida debacle, in the long run, the Dems can screw Bush much more handily with power sharing in the Senate. In their appearances on Russert , Biden and Kerry sounded like they might truly Bork Ashcroft. Let the games begin. I believe that the true lesson of Florida is that the Republicans will ruthlessly exercise the levers of power with impugnity, secure in the knowledge that the media suffers from institutional ADD and can be managed handily with political star power and snappy spin. Impeachment resulted in the resignation of Newt Gingrich, to be sure, but this was only a year after his own Taliban caucus tried to oust him for compromising too much. The Florida debacle, too, will not result in long term harm to the Republicans despite the fact that it was clearly accomplished through brute political force, demogoguery, and higher levels of partisan power in Florida and the federal courts.
Clinton (as usual) said it best when asked by Dan Rather if he was surprised
by the Supreme Court decision. He replied, "No. After 8 years in Washington,
I wasn't surprised. They had the power and they used it."
With the Republicans in charge of all three branches, the Democrats had better
wise up very quickly and learn to use what little power they have left. If
Daschle used the threat of letting Harkin or some other Dem with guts
formally object to the electors as a way of forcing Lott to give them power
sharing, then I think they have gotten the message. If he further encourages
the Dems to Bork at will, then we are looking at a long overdue recognition
that the Republicans have paid virtually no price for their escalation of the
partisan warfare of the last 20 years and it's time to go on offense. They
changed the rules and now they have to live be them. Payback is a bitch.
Is this your captain speaking? "I mean, these good folks are revolutionizing how businesses conduct their business. And, like them, I am very optimistic about our position in the world and about its influence on the United States. We're concerned about the short-term economic news, but long term I'm optimistic. And so, I hope investors, you know--secondly, I hope investors hold investments for periods of time--that I've always found the best investments are those that you salt away based on economics."--Austin, Texas, Jan. 4, 2001
It is fitting that Saturday - by a beautifully symbolic lack of quorum in Joint Session of Congress - George Dubya Bush (and I do emphasize "Dub"), A.K.A. President Select, was "certified". Since he was not elected, what influence will the mere United States Congress have on the process? They could pull the plug on life support and this beast would continue on. Yet a few of them walked out in protest. Those that picked up their hat and left the chamber were all members of the Congressional Black Caucus. This act required considerable courage, as did their press conference following the action, one in which they were allowed to exercise their free speech rights. Free speech was something denied them on the floor of the House, a place where you'd not expect that sort of thing, since speaking out is what they were sent there to do. I find it encouraging, and tellingly sad, that the historically disfranchised, those who many of us whities fought against when they wanted to become more than 3/5ths human, now stand up for all of us. And I do mean all.
I consider this as I read for the seventh time these disjointed, rambling utterances of our President Select, which continue to leave me somewhat jaw-dropped. It is possible, of course, that this biological mistake just doesn't speak very well on his feet (or for that matter sitting on his petard or any other orientation), however to refer to any of this group as "these good folks" is a gigantic stretch into some fairly imaginative allegory. Certainly Bush's brain dump is reminiscent of what happens when a computer crashes. The result is unpredictable, sometimes funny, and can be very destructive. The only difference - a crash leads to blessed silence. So here's my response to today's Bushism. First, you blundering idiot, they're not "folks". Maybe they're your sort of folk, the multi-millionaire type of folk, but they are certainly not the folk most of us hang out with. The only one of the group representing the "ordinary" is you. Most of them got where they are by cunning, criminality and intelligence. You won by two out of the three. Guess which one you're a little short on. Second, you're full of baloney on the economy. Business failures and a State in near ruin aside, you have considerable gall telling us, on the one hand, how bad things are, and then immediately after your little economic conclave, announce that you wanted all these "good folk" to tell you "what the current state of the economy is". You mean, you really have no idea, right? Thought so. Maybe if you'd actually worked once in your pitiful life you might have some useful economic ideas. Third, and last, take a few notes. We didn't elect you. The Congress didn't certify you (there was no quorum). The non-vocal majority really don't want you around. So why don't you just spare us any further international embarrassment and do the right thing. Resign before January 20th.
Sen. John Kerry is a liar [if he says he never received a request to chellenge the Florida vote]: I spoke to a staffer at his Boston office (when I told him the Congress could simply ignore the lawless thus null-and- voic US SC decision, he asked, "Under what statute?" I had to explain co-_equal_, 3 U.S.C., and also gave an example of Congress overturning US SC by enacting a statute--the latter not necessary in the instant case). I also sent that office two strong FAXes, and at least one email--one for certain after the Saturday complicity notifying him I am a FORMER-Democrat. I sent copy of the same FAX to Kennedy and Cong. Moakley, and will be sending a third during the week focused upon their racist (can't be anything else) disregard for the disenfranchised minority voters in FL, GA, Cook County, IL, and as anecdotally reported TN. And their disregard for the nullification of the votes of all who voted for Gore in all 50 states. And informing them I am now a FORMER-Democrat.
... As I said in those FAXes: If you cooperate with the false pretense effort to give Bush legitimacy, you are morally complicit in the theft. And: Either you align yourself with the right to vote, or you kick your voters in the teeth exactly as have the Republicans. With the third FAX I'll be including a copy of the "Nation" article "Turning Back the Clock on Voting Rights," from the October, 1999, issue. I got it online at the "Nation" site (thenation.com), and-- though I don't know if it's still there--I recommend you link to it, and suggest to others that they also FAX a copy to their Democratic "repre- sentatives" with their comments on the issue: the flagrant abuse of black voters detailed in that article by the Clinton-Reno DOJ are beyond disgusting re violations of 1965 Voting Rights Act.
I'm not black; but I've been a civil rights activist since first
learning of Abraham Lincoln and "equality for all under the law" at
8-9 years old. I'm 52 in April, and I've never stopped that activism
(only expanded it to women's rights, then the all-inclusive human
rights), and have all along defended the Democratic Party against
criticisms of it because of its concrete establishment of civil
rights protections in the 1960s. I cannot defend that which has
become the enemy of all that for which I've stood, defended, advocated,
and suffered abuse. Nor can I give it my support in word or vote.
They, being cynical, won't care: "Where will he go? Republicans?" I
don't know. If it's a choice between voting for Democrats and not
voting, I see no option, but--as I told them-- millions of Democrats
will be doing that in 2002 and 2004--either voting for "anyone but" or sitting
I agree with you that the Senators should have come out forcefully about the certification of the President-select. I also applaud the Black Caucus for their stand. However, I think the Democratic Senators saw this as a fight that they could not win. In addition, this was probably a compromise for which they received power sharing on many congressional committees. I think we should look at this as a pragmatic, political choice that they made and if it improves the Democrats' power over the years to come, is probably a wise decision. What would be counterproductive is for those of us that are incensed about the election to turn our anger against the Democratic Party. I am a Democrat and I believe that there is a great deal of difference between the two parties. However, practicality makes you have to choose your battles. If you notice, the rhetoric coming out against the cabinet appointments has increased. I think the Senators have decided that this is where the battle will be more productive. Let's not forget that this was a fascist coup under the strictest definition of these terms. Do not empower those that pulled off this coup by weakening the only legitimate group that has a chance of standing up to this coup in the future. Let us fight this coup intelligently. The anger, paranoia and hated that are typical of these conservatives can turn against itself and destroy itself. I think this can happen if we stay united and quietly, yet staunchly and intelligently, stand by our values and principles. It is my hope that the events that have occurred in this election will bring about citizen acitvism that will lead to overwhelming Democratic victories in 2002 and 2004.
...John and Betty, 1/8/01