Saturday, July 12, 2008

* Dear Senator Barack Obama - Your vote for the FISA bill was a major disappointment to many of us who support your candidacy. At the same time I cannot anticipate anything that you could do to lose my vote, given the alternative. I accept the fact that “politician” defines your career path and it requires tactics and decisions that cannot always satisfy your core constituency. However, I believe you possess the integrity and a sense of the law that mandates accountability for all branches of government. I would hope that as president you will sanction the investigation of the many areas where the Bush administration is suspected of having broken the law. At a minimum, the exposure of wrong-doing would provide some level of accountability for the Bush administration that was non-existent during its tenure. If trust in our government and leaders is not restored the future will be even bleaker than the current state of affairs. You sir, are the best hope that our country has at this time. I wish you well in your candidacy and trust that you have the ability and courage to fulfill the expectations that so many millions hold for you and our country.

* It may be a headache but, its all in your head – Phil Graham is McCain’s top economic advisor. The former senator and then lobbyist for national and international banking interests earned millions of dollars pushing for laws and policies that substantially contributed to the current mortgage crisis. Given his substantial wealth it is no wonder that this week he said that we are a nation of whiners. Graham claims that the economic recession that millions of Americans are experiencing is in fact a mental recession. The 10 percent of haves in this country would probably agree with this lobbyist leech. The vast majority of Americans would conclude that Mr. Graham’s head is up his assets.

* The Manchurian Candidates were elected – Vice President Dick Cheney not only ignores the safety and welfare of Americans but actually goes out of his way to ensure that we are at risk. The justification for this seemingly implausible statement about a national leader was the revelation this week that Cheney’s office deliberately deleted congressional testimony of a senior government official about the consequences of climate change on public health. A former senior EPA official, Jason K. Burnett, said “the White House was concerned that the proposed testimony last October by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might make it tougher to avoid regulating greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.” Protecting the interests of Big Oil was more important to the VP than the health and safety of fellow citizens. When the history of the first decade of the 21st century is written I believe that the damage to America caused by Dick Cheney and George Bush will have far exceeded the damage perpetrated by Osama bin Laden. Also to be ignobly immortalized will be a Congress that was gutless and impotent opposing the Bush/Cheney juggernaut and too often sucked at the teat of special interests.

* Foot dragging, incompetence, malfeasance? ~ meet the U.S Justice Department – “More than 900 cases alleging that government contractors and drug makers have defrauded taxpayers out of billions of dollars are languishing in a backlog that has built up over the past decade because the Justice Department cannot keep pace with the surge in charges brought by whistle-blowers, according to lawyers involved in the disputes.” Under the Bush administration we have experienced the Justice Department acting as a political arm of the executive branch of government. As the government cries poor mouth, lacking funds for education, reducing Medicare payments to doctors and a litany of other under-funded programs it allows available resources to be stolen by scumbags with portfolio. I did not share the mild optimism that Michael Mukasey would be an improvement over Alberto Gonzales since any Bush appointee must possess an inherent Stepford quality. Both Attorney Generals have proven to be advocates for a corrupt and incompetent administration, failing to investigate wrongs and blocking the attempts of Congress to perform its fiduciary responsibilities. The nobility of blind justice has tragically descended to merely blind.

* Fighting hunger with gourmet meals and droppings from the southern end of a bull – The G8 is an organization of leading countries that meet to address an array of world problems. Their recent meeting in Japan focused on solving the global food crisis. “Delicious” would best describe the gathering. The six-course lunch was followed by an 18-course dinner that included white asparagus and truffle soup, almond oil foam and tapenade, smoked salmon and sea urchin with hot onion tart, grilled bighead thorryhead fish with pepper sauce, G8 Fantasy dessert and Le Reve Grand Cru Brut/La Seule Gloire Champagne. Fighting hunger is a challenge. On the other hand, “pathetic” would describe the G8’s commitment to reducing world hunger. “In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world's poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target (60 percent into the commitment).” “Fantasy” not only describes the G8 dessert.

* If not them, whom? – The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is part of the U.S. intelligence community, has the lead responsibility for domestic surveillance of foreign intelligence and suspected terrorist targets. Important and vital would best describe this critical role in keeping us safe. However, a new report by the Senate Appropriations Committee has determined that the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C is somewhat lacking. “The Hoover Building does not meet the Interagency Security Committee’s criteria for a secure Federal facility capable of handling intelligence and other sensitive information.” The most surprising part of this revelation is that it was revealed. We have become accustomed to inadequacies, incompetence and illegalities in the federal government being hidden from public view by classifying the information as national security, state secrets, executive privilege and none of your bees wax. In too many cases “embarrassment” is the real motivation for hiding the truth but the shear volume of screw-ups does result in a few leakers.

* Movie nostalgia ~ not the film, the venue of drive-in theaters – Younger readers may have heard of but never experienced a drive-in movie theater. My online friend Sue Katz has an interesting blog entry at Consenting Adult that looks at the 75th anniversary of drive-in theaters. It sure brought back some memories! Also of interest in the article is a video that is a montage of intermission films that were shown at drive-ins that as Sue says, “are a window on the social messages being pushed during the 50s and 60s: from cold war patriotism to urgings that you go to church and the PTA to proper drive-in etiquette.” Other messages encouraged registering to vote and supporting the Boy Scouts. It led me to ponder where one finds the message today for responsible participation in society? Almost every waking moment is accompanied by some form of electronic communication. To what end and to what value?

* “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) 26th president of the U.S.


Sue Katz said...

"The vast majority of Americans would conclude that Mr. Graham’s head is up his assets." Stephen, that's the kind of line any writer would wish they had written. It's astounding how you can report for us, your readers, on the most reprehensible of characters and social developments, and still keep us laughing. Don't ever stop.

Anonymous said...

Always a joy, Mr. Weinstein, to read about the decline of the American empire and laugh at the same time. Also enjoyed the link to the delightfully irreverent Sue Katz. Gotta re-watch American Graffiti to relive those not-so-innocent 60s. - Ruth Z Deming