* Bumper Sticker of the Week ~ Joe Must Go – Many voices are urging the Democratic Party in the Senate to remove Joe Lieberman from his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committee. I believe that this would be the correct action. His campaigning for John McCain and his questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism are at the bottom of the list of reasons for Joe to go. His pathetic record of leadership on this important committee is the overriding justification for his removal. Intentional incompetence best describes his tenure in this post. As Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show and Heather writing at Crooks and Liars point out, Lieberman over the last two years, never held hearings on the disastrous US government response to the Katrina hurricane disaster nor did the committee look into no-bid contracts awarded to friends and associates of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. Many of those contracts were implemented incompetently while the US government was overcharged billions of dollars. As chairman of this committee Lieberman did not represent the interests of the American people. Instead, Lieberman represented the interests of the Bush administration that operated in secret and often outside of legal parameters, and at great cost to you and me, the citizens recovering from a natural disaster, and the military men and women who were underserved as they served this country while in harms way. Joe Must Go.
* Remember Typhoid Mary? ~ Meet Leukemia Dick and some of the other dicks who “serve” America –
Drilling for natural gas, a policy being touted as a means of reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, may contaminate water supplies with unsafe levels of chemicals like benzene, a compound that can cause leukemia, according to an investigation by Pro Publica. The drilling process, pioneered by Dick Cheney's former company Haliburton, uses water pressure and chemicals to break rocks and release the gas. It was exempted by Congress from the Safe Water Act after a 2004 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study declared it safe. It now appears that this EPA study was not as conclusive at it claimed to be.
It is well-documented that the EPA often goes out of its way NOT to protect the environment and the American public. It is well-documented that Cheney has been the most ardent advocate for the interests of energy companies and Haliburton. One wonders what influence was imposed upon the EPA that resulted in this exemption from the Safe Water Act. “More than 1,000 other cases of contamination have been documented by courts and state and local governments in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In one case, a house exploded after hydraulic fracturing created underground passageways and methane seeped into the residential water supply. In other cases, the contamination occurred not from actual drilling below ground, but on the surface, where accidental spills and leaky tanks, trucks and waste pits allowed benzene and other chemicals to leach into streams, springs and water wells.” This is but one example where the interaction of the executive branch, the legislative branch, federal agencies and business failed the American people. The majority of the problems and dangers confronting America today are the result of such failed leadership.
* Fly Me to the Moon ~ it may be safer – Sixteen months ago I commented about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) being accused of covering up mistakes by air traffic controllers at Dallas-Fort Worth airport. It was discouraging to learn that a federal agency empowered to protect air travelers was actually complicit in reducing safe conditions. At a minimum, one would expect that the release of the report would have resulted in personnel changes and an upgrading of the oversight. Not in the current state of our federal government.
ABC reports a new investigation has found “the misclassifying of safety errors had continued” at Dallas-Fort Worth, that FAA employees continued to hide safety errors. It causes one to wonder if the repeated dereliction of duty by the FAA at Dallas-Fort Worth is it also taking place at other airports. What is happening in Boston, NY, LA, Miami and hundreds of other major airports? I imagine that remedial action will be taken when two or three planes collide, resulting in the death of 639 passengers, 19 crew members, 412 people on the ground and the widespread destruction of a residential neighborhood. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security may even hold hearings. Perhaps Republican Texas Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchinson will exercise their fiduciary responsibility by pressing for an investigation into this problem that bodes dire consequences. Perhaps a new administration will coerce a sense of responsibility and accountability into the performance of federal agencies. That would be a refreshing development.
* Change we can believe in ~ it is up to us – The above examples of broken government brings to mind the often-used and cynical phrase, “You can’t fight City Hall.” It is only a truism if good people do nothing. I was reminded of this while reading an article by Gary Younge in the British newspaper The Guardian titled, “Obama's army of supporters must maintain their level of activism.” Younge notes that the characterization of American political life - the notion of a lazy, contented people who do not vote, care or really understand what is being done in their name and leaving governance to big business, and lobbyists – may be changing. I recommend the article because it notes many changes that have been occurring within the American electorate.
I would suggest that the change Younge identifies is a result of two influences; the devastatingly damaging tenure of George W. Bush and the electric and populist rise of Barack Obama. The Bush years awakened a previously unengaged citizenry and the Obama campaign provided the vehicle to channel the disappointment, the losses, the regression and resulting anger and frustration into a movement for change. This new activist citizenry demands responsible and responsive leadership. It opposes narrow ideology agendas and expects federal leadership to address the major issues that challenge our society – challenges that have been ignored over the last eight years. The higher expectations have brought us a new president, senators and representatives that embrace progressive ideas. Their mission is to overcome a bureaucratic government burdened by politicization, ideology and special interests as well as accepted and expected incompetence. Success will require a continually engaged citizenry that keeps a bright light on the ills, vociferously communicates to elected representatives the change that is required and rewards responsible and responsive representatives with re-election.
* All things Progressive – If you have interest in Progressive ideas and activities I recommend the web site The Bucks/Mont Progressive Events. The editor Tom Ulrich does a terrific job each month identifying Progressive events in the Philadelphia area and national broadcasts, publications and videos.
* All things regressive ~ prejudice, hate, ignorance – Much of the Sarah Palin rhetoric during the presidential campaign appealed to this three-headed Hydra. Those susceptible to divisive discourse reveled in the speeches of Palin and other Republican orators. The forces of hate are as real and alive today as they were 50 and 100 years ago. These forces certainly are not as widespread but, certainly as real. One example of such despicable human behavior is the Ku Klux Klan. This organization, originally spawned to repress African Americans, has broadened its “vision” to include Latinos and other minorities. It is fortunate that we have people such as Morris Dees and his organization The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) standing up to forces that debase civil rights and humanity.
In Kentucky on Friday the SPLC gained a decisive jury verdict against members of the KKK, accused of severely beating a Latino in 2006 at a rural county fair. As Dees noted, "The people of Meade County, Kentucky, have spoken loudly and clearly. And what they've said is that ethnic violence has no place in our society, that those who promote hate and violence will be held accountable and made to pay a steep price." The verdict against Imperial Klans of America (IKA), Imperial Wizard Ron Edwards and two former KKK members who have already served prison terms for their involvement was $2.5 million. It is likely the judgment will cripple IKA’s 16 chapters that are located throughout eight states.
The weakening of a KKK group is encouraging but the ugliness of hate that infects the land of the free and the home of the brave will not be eradicated in our lifetime. As noted in an article at the Huffington Post the election of Barack Obama has spurred hundreds of race threats and crimes that include, “Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting ‘Assassinate Obama.’ Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.” America has come a long way in civil rights and human relations. Gay rights are improving with much still to be achieved. There is much to be proud of in America but the road ahead will not be free of prejudice, hate and ignorance. It is a flaw in the human condition that may never be overcome.
* “You cannot hate other people without hating your self.”