bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
There are several catalogings of the World's Three Greatest Lies out there. But the one that has stuck in my head is... )

My thoughts today turn to the middle one: "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." According to Ronald Reagan these are the nine scariest words in the English language. Surprisingly, I tend to agree, but I'm certain I do so for far different reasons from Reagan.

It seems the individual members of the US government (both Congress and the Executive Branch) are each so consumed with perpetuating their own grip on power, mostly by kowtowing to corporate interests rather than doing the will of the people who elected them, that there is indeed little the government is willing to do to actually help the ordinary American.

Yet, there are some things that only the government has the resources to do, if only it had the will. This is especially true of massive public and semi-public works on which modern life is dependent. Provision of clean water, sewerage and sewage treatment; transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail, airports, and ferries; waste collection, recycling, and ultimate disposal; power transmission and distribution; and telecommunications infrastructure are all provided by a continuum of public and private (corporate) funding and support, with the first being more heavily funded by government and the last more by private capital and revenue.

The problem is that in many instances the heads of corporations act in their own self-interest and disguise it as the interest of the corporation as a whole (which is to say, the interests of the stockholders). And in many instances the interests of the corporations and their stockholders, whether or not they mesh with those of their CEOs, are at odds with the interests of the US economy as a whole (which is to say, the interests of the average American). And when conflicts of interest arise, it is the duty of government to resolve such conflicts in favor of doing the most good for the widest number of people -- but a government beholden to corporations cannot fulfill its duty.

And in essence this is most obvious when one considers the interests involved in the Iraq war. To the interests of the average American, war anywhere is an unmitigated disaster everywhere, because it not only puts all one holds near and dear in jeopardy, but also steals resources from the domestic economy to which they shall never return, and thereby impoverishes the nation. To the interests of the average multinational corporation, however, war is a cash cow, never mind the waste in resources and human suffering it engenders.

This is why every war has to be sold to the people with patriotic sentiments and noble intentions, and more and more are simply not buying it. So a government beholden to the war machine becomes increasingly tempted to bypass the rational marketplace and force the Kool-Aid down the collective throat of the nation.

This, quite simply, needs to stop.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Caught a blurb on the Mike Malloy Show about some anti-war protesters from ANSWER being arrested, allegedly for holding a press conference in a public park. The arrest was made by police barging into (the press release said "suppressed") the press conference on horseback to separate the suspects from the press.

There was, to be honest, a fairly legitimate reason for the arrest: the press conference was staged because ANSWER didn't like being ordered not to advertise by pasting posters on surfaces such as electrical boxes and utility poles. The organization was already being threatened with fines for defacing public property, which is not protected by the First Amendment.

The argument could be made that as long as other advertisers are permitted to use public property to get out their message, that clamping down on only anti-war protesters is discriminatory abuse of police discretion. That is an argument for a court and not for the police to decide.

But purely making a speech in a public park arguably IS so protected, and an attempt to squash peaceful public protest by requiring permits could be construed as unconstitutional interference with freedom of speech. That case is still before the courts, but the obvious take-away is "what part of 'Congress shall make no law' did you not #@$%^&* understand?".

So on balance, I think there was no excuse to suppress the press conference itself to make what looked like a righteous bust based on legitimate principles of civil disobedience.

Hint to DC police: Wait until they are done (or almost done) and *then* make the arrest. That allows for less use of force, and it makes you look more like reasonable law enforcement officers instead of fascist stormtroopers.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Does anyone else think that W drawing the analogy of Iraq to Vietnam, after so many years of avoiding it like the plague, is a political and strategic blunder of the same order of magnitude as Marie Antoinette's infamous remark, "Let them eat cake"? I do.
bigmacbear: Me collapsing into Gary's arms, one arm over my forehead, both of us shirtless and wearing sunglasses (drama)
I woke this morning to Ken Schram on KOMO 1000 radio stating his opinion of the Ehren Watada case, now being tried before a court-martial at Fort Lewis, WA. The gist of the story is that Lt. Watada refused to deploy to Iraq on the grounds that the war there is in violation of the US Constitution and international law.

Mr. Schram pointed out that Lt. Watada "enlisted in the military after the invasion. He knew what he was getting into." Therefore he "deserves what I strongly suspect the military will give him: A dishonorable discharge and a few years to ponder his navel while in federal prison."

What is wrong with this picture? )

Whoever is right, this miscarriage of justice in the making -- or perhaps I should call it an outright abortion -- is going to be painful to watch. Enough said.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
If you read nothing else today, please read this. And watch the video if you are able (and haven't already seen it on MSNBC). Central quotes:

The most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons. And, always, always wrong.

And if you think this hyperbole or hysteria, ask the newspaper editors when John Adams was president or the pacifists when Woodrow Wilson was president or the Japanese at Manzanar when Franklin Roosevelt was president.



My take on the matter )

In short, vote in this upcoming election as though your very life depends on it, because it very well might.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
As I said in a comment in [livejournal.com profile] thezzyzx's journal yesterday, it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in George II's office the day he was briefed on the Haditha incident:

"Haditha? Wasn't she the little girl on Bewitched?"
"That was Tabitha, Mr. President."

(yes, I know it isn't pronounced that way...)

The more I hear about this the more I think we are reliving the dark days of the Vietnam war. Haditha is for today what My Lai was for that war, as I'm sure you will hear from many sources.

Rant. New and improved, with Strong Language! )
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Cindy Sheehan arrested in the House chamber before the State of the Union address

The stated reason for her arrest: "refusing to cover up a T-shirt bearing an anti-war slogan". She was an invited guest of a U.S. Representative, so trespassing wouldn't fly -- so they charged her with "unlawful conduct", which strikes me as a completely bogus charge. Any law she could possibly be violating is clearly in violation of the First Amendment -- what part of "Congress shall make no law" didn't they understand?

Trampling on the Constitution, in the very chamber where a traditional event it created is about to begin, is really bad form and shows the contempt George II has for civil liberties -- while spouting platitudes about spreading freedom and democracy around the world, how about remembering to defend freedom at home? How about it, Mr. President?

I hope the ACLU is all over this one.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Folks,

This is a bloody awful thing to have to write so do NOT click through the lj-cut link if you are at all squeamish. No it is NOT a link to the Nick Berg execution video, but it may be more disturbing than any amount of watching that video could possibly be to all who love the USA.
You have been warned. )
God help us all.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
Over on the Bears Mailing List, someone mentioned a New York Times article which discusses the possible release of images showing American soldiers having sex with one another at Abu Ghirab prison, and he thinks we should be on the alert for right-wingers trying to shift the blame for the abuses in Iraq onto gays in the military.

My response follows. )
bigmacbear: Me squatting naked in the Miller River (naked)
Where: Desk at home
Wearing: Nothing
H Factor: 3
C Factor: 8

OK, I'm running late for work so I'll make this brief.
  • It would be a shame if the Academy decides to cancel the Oscars, whether due to security issues or an attempt to silence protestors. In fact I think the latter possibility to be beneath contempt for an industry that lives and dies with freedom of expression. 'Nuff said.

  • And by the way, I think it's regrettable that we are at war, but I understand the reasons behind the decision (whether I agree with them is another matter entirely). More later.

Gotta go. Catch y'all later.
bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
I happened to read the later entry you'll find here on [livejournal.com profile] fj's page. He's disallowed commenting directly but I think what he has to say puts a lot of my own thoughts and fears in perspective. I especially liked the following quote:

So yeah, guess the fuck what: people worldwide see Bush as having pulled this crisis out of his ass for some reason and riding it into the glorious Western susnset, no doubt hearing Ennio Morricone in the background. And people don't like it.

It seems obvious to me that a good chunk (but by no means the whole) of Bush's motivation for war with Iraq is distinctly personal -- he's trying to finish the job his father started back in 1991, or alternatively, he's acting out a personal vendetta because SoDamn Insane tried to kill his father.

FJ goes on to point out that the freedoms we so rightly cherish in this country are in some sense no longer available, that these days dissent is to an alarming degree being shouted down by government functionaries, the media (Fox News is particularly egregious in this regard, I'll admit, which is why I refuse to watch them anymore), and even the proverbial man-on-the-street. I chalk a lot of that up to the slow strangulation of the two-party system, as politics has become so thoroughly homogenized that neither major party has anything real to offer and those people who do are shunted aside.

But what really galls me about this lopsided force of public opinion is the way certain functionaries in the government -- John Ashcroft being the most egregious example -- are taking advantage of it to destroy the very foundations of our liberty, such that Bush might as well be king for the power his lackeys have amassed for him. I've given some thought as to the likelihood that George II, emboldened by the fiasco of the 2000 election and by the incredible powers he and Ashcroft have arrogated unto themselves, might actually abrogate the Constitution entirely to remain in power indefinitely, thus becoming the despot we once fought a war to get rid of.

Let me get this straight -- we got rid of George III only to end up two-hundred-and-some-odd years later having to deal with George II?

Actually, I think FJ's quite right to be disgusted with the state of America these days. I certainly am. But somehow I think Bush understands that this country will not stand for too much more of this tinkering with the Constitution, even in wartime. I suppose there's nothing for it but to ride out the war that W. is bound and determined to get us into, and make damn sure he does not get re-elected.

The Chinese have a curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." I think it apt for this day and age.

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