Monday, June 19, 2006

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention

I've been finding it harder and harder to write political opinion lately. Not because there isn't enough to write about. But because it's all so negative, and I'm just so damned angry. I was having a hard time even understanding my anger, which is the necessary first step before channeling it in a useful direction.

Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker with a message so obvious, it helped clear things up for me.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Yes, it's a bit embarassing to have been so inspired by a bumper sticker. Yet it helped me understand my anger. I'm angry at anyone else that isn't angry. Mostly it's about elected officials that aren't outraged by our country's current situation. By regular non-elected folks are to blame as well.

That's right. This is the message we must send to our Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials. If you're not expressing your outrage, you're not doing your job. Or, to put it another way, if your not shouting from the rafters with a bullhorn, you're part of the problem. And if you're a citizen, with the right to vote and the power to influence, an you just sit back and pay your taxes wiuthout becoming an activist, well you're part of the problem too. The bottom line is that in a mere six years, the Bush/Cheney/Rove clan has caused irrepairable damage to our nation, our world, and our planet.

I doubt anyone here needs to see the evidence again, but let's take a look at the obvious ones; the ones that keep me up at night: They've tossed aside the Constitution by disregarding clear limits on executive authority and treading all over States' rights. They've treated their own citizens like enemies through illegal spying and warrentless searches. They waged a bloody war half way across the world based on blatant lies in order to further a frightening agenda of imperialism and lining the pockets of friends and corporate interests. They've given handouts to corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans while making life more difficult for the rest of us. They've operated with such incredible arrogance, that the rest of the world has turned against America. In Iraq, where they said we would be "greeted as liberators" America is now considered by most to be the enemy. And in perhaps the penultimate display of arrogance and Cover Your Ass mentality, they have filled our courts with neo-con justices that prevent due process and checks on authority. I'd go on, but it just gets me more riled up. (Feel free to add more examples in the comments.)

And what have the majority of our elected officials been doing? Not a god damned thing! Actually, they've done worse than nothing. They've been complicit in the Bush/Cheney agenda to destroy what had once made America the envy of the free world. The problem persists beyond any political labels. It's not about Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Neo-Cons, Theo-cons, or other-Cons. Because memebers of all of these groups are guilty of the same crimes against the electorate. They've forgotten the mission. The founders didn't put it in the Constitution, probably because it just seemed so damned obvious: our elected leaders should adopt a version of medical community credo: "First, do no Harm."

OK, I'm rambling without focus. Focus Neal, focus. Perhaps the issue that most disturbs me can be summed up in a discussion of loyalty. Yes, loyalty is a great virtue and one we should look for when electing leaders. But loyalty to whom? Well, clearly the founders intended loyalty to the electorate. Our leaders should be held soley accountable to those that put them in office. Yet today our leaders have a very confused understanding of loyalty. They put the interests of other elected officials ahead of the citizens. They are more concerned about securing their jobs than they are about doing their jobs. They expend great amounts of effort to protect the interests of corporate lobbyists and wealthy individuals that finance campaigns, at the exclusion and expense of pretty much everyone else.

The Lamont vs. Lieberman campaign has been at the top of my mind lately. This campaign clearly illustrates my point. Lamont is the outraged one - a good guy! Like me, he just can't even begin to comprehend how Senator Lieberman and his cronies in Washington sit back and allow this administration to destroy our nation. Not only that, but when someone like Lamont has the courage (and the finances) to finally call "bullshit," the Liebercrats come to the defense of the criminals at BushCo!

Those that continue to defend Lieberman are perfect examples of misplaced loyalty. Here's a guy that goes on Fox News and mocks other members of his own party. A man that led the charge against Democratic President Bill Clinton. A man that constantly acts as volunteer State's Attorney everytime the Bush Admin. runs afoul. A man that DOES NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE ELECTORATE IN HIS OWN STATE. Yet every other major Democrat comes out of the woodwork to support him. They see it as a matter of loyalty. Yes, instead of expressing OUTRAGE, which is all Lieberman and those like him deserve, they offer up misguided and confised loyalty. Frankly, there are days I wonder if Lieberman has comprimising photos of every other Democrat in DC. For that's about the only plausable explanation I can think of for the outpouring of support he is receiving. Here in Connecticut we rarely see any regular citizens standing up to support Lieberman. Yet Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chuck Shumer insist that we should keep him as our Senator. Senators, one word of advice: mind your own fucking business and let us choose our own Senator, thank you. Or, are you frightened that more Ned Lamonts will appear to threaten your jobs in DC too? Well, good. You should be scared. Shape up or ship out.

But this is about more than Lamont vs. Lieberman. That's been going on for a while now, and I've written much about it. It's really about the OUTRAGE felt by me and so many other great Americans right now. Sure, the Liebercrats will call us angry liberals and say that we hate America. That's just because they don't get it and because they're scared. If your friend is a drug adict, and you love him, what do you do? Do you support his habit or stage an intervention? Well, I love America, which is why I say we need to stage an intervention.

So, how do you stage an intervention for a country? Do we send the President to AA? (Hopefully he's already been.) No, it's called VOTING. We use the electoral process to CLEAN HOUSE. And by HOUSE, I mean the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House (not soon enough), and even our state houses and municipal governments.

Yes, the guilt extends all the way down to the local level. When our Federal Government is stealing money from us in order to fund a $250 million a day debacle in Iraq, and to hand out no-bid contracts to their buddies at Haliburton, every Mayor and Governor should be expressing their outrage. Why aren't they protesting in front of the White House? Why aren't they holding rallies in every town square in America? Our local officials are under the misguided notion that the War in Iraq is not a local issue. Well, time to wake up and smell the rotting corpses. Did any of the soldiers come from your home towns? Did you cut education or law enforcement because Federal Grants didn't come through? Is your state going to fail No Child Left Behind requirements because the Federeal Government passed the law but then didn't bother funding it? Yes, the War, the crooked Adminsitration, and the ineptitness of our leaders (I use that term lightly) in Washington are all local issues.

All of this has big implications for upcoming elections. The Democratic Party is celebrating prematurely. The logic seems to be that the voters will express their OUTRAGE by voting Republicans out of office in November. The point that's being missed is that the OUTRAGE will be directed at incumbents - Republican AND Democrat. Americans are fed up with the status-quo of government and they're going to take it out on everyone. It's not about party lines or liberal vs. conservative. It's like lifting that plastic sheet on the magic slate and trying to draw a new picture better than the last.

The Lamont-Lieberman challenge is a case in point. I'm not saying that every incumbent is going to lose (see Harman vs. Winograd) but few are safe. And to me, this is a good thing. The only way to fix this country is with a Civil War at the ballot box.

So my message to anyone up for election this year: If you're not outraged, you're part of the problem. Either get off your asses and fight for us or we'll find someone that will.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stuff from People More Talented than Me

From FiredogLake, one of the few blogs I actually make sure to read every day.

"Keepin' it Real" by Jane Hamsher



(Graphic by FXQ)


From Jesus' General on Chuck Schumer encouraging Joe Lieberman to run as an independent.



Thanks to CTBlogger for pointing this one out.

If the Lamont Boat's Rockin - Joe Won't Come Knockin'

The Lamont web site just launched a great new feature - Personal Fundraising pages. This campaign is already running on rocket fuel. With some more cash and committed supporters, we can really Pimp Ned's Ride.

Yes, I know, Ned Lamont is a gazillionaire. But he's our gazillionaire and needs our support. The more individuals that contribute, the more momentum we build. Contributions don't need to be large. People with skin in the game are more likely to volunteer and support in other ways - including showing up on August 8th if they're registered Connecticut Democrats.
Visit my Personal Fundrasing page by clicking on the boat. Be sure to have your credit card handy.Sailboat Image

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Bunch of Weirdos

In an interview in yesterday's Harford Courant, John F. Droney Jr., a former Democratic state chairman who helped Lieberman unseat Republican Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in 1988, urged Lieberman to drop out of the August Democratic Primary and instead run as an independent. Rumors and conjecture of a potential Independent Lieberman run have been flying around the traditional newsmedia and blogosphere for some time now - and as recently as this week, Lieberman has still refused to rule out an independent run. But, this is the first time a major party figure has actualy publicy suggested that this is a good idea.

Droney seems to hold a great amount of disdain for the democratic process.

I think to be terrorized through the summer by an extremely small group of the Democratic Party, much less the voting population, is total insanity for a person who is a three-term senator...

Droney went on to comment about how Lamont is energizing his base of supporters to turn out for the August 8th primary.
Every single weirdo in the left wing will be there. That's what the Lamont strategy is all about.
Wait, let's get our weirdos straight. Either Droney is off his rocker, or at least 1/3 of Connecticut Democrats are "weirdos" by his standard. The most recent Q-Poll shows Lamont at 40% among likely primary voters and 32% among all registered Connecticut Dems. Hmmm, that's a lot of weirdos for one state. And, quite a large number of people to qualify as a "small group" wouldn't you say?

The same day as Droney's brilliant remarks were published, Lieberman Campaign manager was asked whether the Senator would support Ned Lamont if he wins the Democratic Primary. Smith's response was not only unconvincing, but undercut Droney's claim that Lamont only appeals to extreme left-wing weirdos.

Smith said Lieberman would not promise to support Lamont, because the businessman voted frequently with Republicans as a local official in Greenwich. "The only public record this guy has, he voted time and again like a Republican," Smith said. "Why would we support that?"
So, let's try to unravel the logic here. Ned Lamont is a Conservative Republican who appeals only to the most extreme liberals. Perhaps this makes sense in the bizarro parallel universe inhabited by Lieberman, Smith, and Droney. Too bad for them that the Connecticut voters live in Realityville.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lieberman Rebuffs Lamont Challenge - Will Not Support Party if Lamont Wins

This morning on WSTC/WNLK here in Connecticut, Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith made it official. He said this to news reporter Erik Campano,

Are we going to support Ned Lamont? Ah, no! (laughs)...

Listen to the audio clip (MP3 , 42kb, 10sec)

Smith goes on to make eroneous claims that Lamont is a closet Republican, and that's the reason why Lieberman will not support him. As in the past, Smith claims, without any specifics, that when serving on the Greenwich Board of Selectmen and Board of Estimates and Taxation he voted with the Republicans 80% of the time. Smith fails to mention that Lamont served on these boards over 12 years ago, and that in Greenwich town politics there are rarely divisive partyline votes as in the US Senate. The Lieberman campaign attempted to paint Lamont as a Republican in their "Greenwich Millionaire" TV ads, which were pulled almost immediately because they were not effective. I assumed they would have moved onto another strategy by now.

Lamont spokesperson, Liz Dupont-Diehl responded to Smith's remarks by quoting from Joe Lieberman's own book, In Praise of Public Life, saying:
"it's unfair and misleading to go back many years into an opponent's record and take isolated votes and distort them, and here he is doing the exact same thing" (more in the clip)

Listen to the audio clip (MP3, 81kb, 20sec)

Smith's comments were in response to questions about Ned Lamont's latest radio ad , in which he makes this challenge to Senator Lieberman:
So I have a challenge for our junior senator. Joe, let’s both go to the Democratic primary on August 8th, and let the people of Connecticut decide. I’ll pledge to back you one hundred percent if you win. And for the good of the party, you’ll pledge to support me one hundred percent if I’m victorious. What do you say Senator? May the best Democrat win.
Stories about the new Lamont radio spot are all over the news and blogs this morning. But, it appears that local reporter Campano was the only one to get the Lieberman campaign on the record stating Lieberman's intentions to NOT support the winner of the Democratic primary. Perhaps Sean Smith thinks that no one listens to AM radio anymore?

Several newspapers, including The Boston Globe picked up the story of Lamont's ads from the Associated Press. Though the AP story does not have the Lieberman campaign saying they will not support Lamont if he wins.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

DFA / MoveOn Rally for Lamont

Today's rally in New Haven was really amazing. Much has been said online about the event already, so I will spare you my commentary right now and let you check it out for yourself. For more about the event:


Listen to the entire event

Program details:
  • 0:00 Jim Dean (DFA)
  • 6:44 Vivien Blackford (Guest Speaker from CT)
  • 22:47 Joe Hefle (MoveOne member invited to introduce Ned)
  • 30:26 Ned Lamont

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Speaking of Blogs

A few days ago, BranfordBoy of MyLeftNutmeg and I were interviewed by Erik Campano, a local radio newscaster here in Connecticut. We spoke about the Lamont campaign along with the impact of bloggers on Connecticut politics in general. The show aired this weekend on several stations around Connecticut. It was a lot a fun and I think we even said one or two intelligent things. Please take a listen for yourself.

MP3 File of Interview (24 Minutes) (5.8mb)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hallelujah!

Considering we barely spoke for the first 20 years of our lives, it's remarkable the things my brother and I have found in common as adults. I've admired his taste in music for many years and he has introduced me to some great songs and artists. But until this post today at Reports from Poisonville, I didn't know we shared this one among our favorite songs.

Hallelujah! was written by Leonard Cohen and has been recorded/performed by many others. I didn't realize quite how many before seeing this list at My Old Kentucky Blog. Ironically, until today I don't think I ever heard Cohen's own recording of the song. The version most of you have probably heard was performed by Rufus Wainwright for the Shrek soundtrack.

You may have also heard K.D. Lang's recording from Hymns of the 49th Parallel. If not, this CD, which pays homage to Canadian songwriters is certainly worth adding to your collection. The recent season finale of The OC features an a capella rendition of Hallelujah! by Imogen Heap; I don't love this version, but it's nice to know that Fox is exposing the kids to some quality music (I'm a few episodes behind, so the finale's still on the Tivo.) I haven't listened to them all yet, so I can't yet say which is my favorite.

Happy listening!