Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Should Dynasties Rule the United States?

If, as I strongly suspect, George H.W. Bush was to Ronald Reagan as Dick Cheney is to George W. Bush, one family (plus a couple of well connected players—one a puppet, the other a puppet-master) has occupied or otherwise controlled the White House for 20 of the past 28 years. Only one other family—the Clintons, for eight years—claimed 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as its mailing address during that time.

And now, former First Lady Hillary Clinton would have us return the Clinton Family to the White House for a third term, which would give just two families a combined total of 32 years in the nation’s highest office. A two-family dynasty of consecutive Presidents over a nearly three decade time span is unprecedented in U.S. history. It’s a precedent that should not have been allowed to happen and should not be allowed to continue.

And no, I’m not opposed to a Hillary Clinton Presidency because Hillary’s a woman, but because she’s Hillary Clinton. To clarify, I’m opposed to Clinton because of who she is, not because of what she is.

There are several compelling reasons why all Americans should hope that Hillary fails in her bid to capture the Democratic nomination, foremost among them her deplorable environmental LCV score of 73% (2006) compared to Obama’s 100%. Yeah, folks, the environment is a very big deal, and Hillary is not the candidate best equipped to address the many problems it faces.

Hillary’s support for the Iraq war and the ensuing occupation is also problematic. I see no reason to believe that Clinton has any intention of diverting our nation away from the course that the Bush Crime Family so unwisely set for it. Pursuing failed policy is not a strategy for success, nor is it the way to achieve world peace.

Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination is all the more troubling since Ralph Nader threw his hat in the ring. That Nader would siphon more votes away from candidate Clinton than he would from candidate Obama is almost certain, and my gut feeling is that if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination the election will tip to John McCain. Sure, that would break the chain of dynastic rule, but it would put yet another Republican in charge of the White House. We have to ask ourselves if we can afford to have either one of these corporate shills ascend to the nation’s top position of power.

Finally, there’s my suspicion that Clinton’s run for the Presidency is but a poorly disguised attempt to give Bill a third term in office by letting him in through the back door. Slam that door, chain it, double bolt it, and set the alarm—before he gets in.

• • •

The problem with dynasties is that you tend to get the same stilted thinking, the same lack of vision, and the same corrupt policies from one administration to the next. The only thing that matters to the power elite is maintaining the status quo.

So, what would a continuation of the Bush-Clinton Dynasty look like in the years ahead? Hillary Clinton, two terms; Jeb Bush, two terms; Neil Bush, two terms, Chelsea Clinton; two terms; Jenna Bush, two terms; Barbara Bush, two terms. That’s another 48 years added to the 28 years already savaged by two-family dynastic rule. And who knows what future Bush/Clinton offspring will be waiting in the wings, awaiting their turn to occupy the Oval Office?

Okay, I’ll admit that this a little extreme. Chances are slim that this scenario will ever play out. Still, the potential is there, the possibility exists. Better to stop that juggernaut now, while we still have Constitutional protections—and voting rights.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clinton Campaign in Meltdown Mode?

The tide seems to be turning against Hillary’s campaign, which can only be construed as a sign that sanity and reason are once again making inroads into the nation’s collective political consciousness. Despite Hillary’s specious claims of 35 years of political experience (do the years she spent sleeping with former Arkansas Governor/former US President Bill Clinton count as actual political experience?), her accomplishments as a US Senator seem to pale in a side-by-side comparison with Senator Barak Obama’s.

According to a comment posted on Hart Williams’ blog, over a full six-year term Clinton pushed through some 20 pieces of legislation, all but a handful of them so inconsequential (in my opinion) as to not be worth a serious politician’s time. In contrast, during his first year as a US Senator Obama wrote 152 bills and co-sponsored 427. Clearly, the facts contradict Ms. Clinton’s rhetoric that she’s a doer and Obama’s a talker.

Nor do Ms. Clinton’s verbal assaults against Obama cast her in a favorable light or win support for her from a majority of Democrats. Instead, she comes across looking like a shrewish, vindictive harridan flirting ever closer with the edge of psychological meltdown.

To his credit, Obama seems to be taking it all in stride, for the most part maintaining his composure while the Clintons, Hillary and Bill, berate his qualifications. Staying cool under pressure is a hallmark of leadership ability—something Hillary would do well to learn.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

McCain's Agenda Consistent with GOP Record

Beginning with Reagan’s first term in 1980, Republicans have occupied the White House for twenty of the past 28 years. In two terms Reagan drove the country to the ropes; in one term George H.W. Bush put it against the ropes; Democrat Bill Clinton kept it against the ropes for two terms; and, nearing the end of his second term, George W. Bush persists in trying to bring the country to its knees. My greatest fear is that another term of Republican mismanagement could put our nation down for the count.

Front-running GOP Presidential candidate John McCain does nothing to inspire confidence that Republicans are even remotely interested in getting the country back on track and headed in the right direction.

A couple of weeks ago, McCain proclaimed that he’d have no problem with the US staying in Iraq for the next 100 years, if that’s what it took to win. This is the same John McCain that hopes to be elected President of the US, a nation in desperate need of moral leadership.

Last week, The League of Conservation Voters gave Senator John McCain a score of zero on its 2007 National Environmental Scorecard. McCain, who has a lifetime LCV score of 24, missed 15 of 15 important environmental votes in 2007. This is the same John McCain that hopes to be elected President of the US, a nation in desperate need of environmental leadership.

This week, McCain found himself embroiled in controversy over his relationship with a certain corporate lobbyist and what he may or may not have done to grease the wheels for said lobbyist’s client. This is the same John McCain that hopes to be elected President of the US, a nation in desperate need of ethical leadership.

By now it should be apparent to everyone that McCain’s agenda serves the interests of the corporate establishment and the power elite, not those of the American middle class. Assuming that he wins the Republican nomination, voters would be wise to send him home in November—and I don’t mean home to the White House.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Not Just Reefer Madness, but Reefer Stupidity, too!

Despite the best efforts of the pro-legalization movement, nearly two-thirds of the American public still believes the government’s negative propaganda regarding marijuana. But please, let’s not call it marijuana. That’s a Mexican slang term, made popular in the 1920’s by yellow journalism’s founding father, William Randolph Hearst, that characterizes a relatively small part of one of the most amazing and useful plants ever to grow upon planet Gaia—cannabis hemp.

Marijuana, pot, reefer, ganja, weed, hay, and many lesser-known terms all refer to the flower tops (buds) of cannabis sativa and/or cannabis indica, both of which are known to possess numerous medicinal properties. A close cousin, cannabis ruderalis, is too low in THC content to be useful for smoking purposes, but it excels as a renewable industrial resource for users of fiber (rope, cordage, textiles, paper), cellulose (building materials, biofuels, bio-degradable plastics), and seeds (food, oil). At the time it was banned in 1937, there were known to be some 25,000 different uses for cannabis hemp. How many more might be discovered, today, using modern technologies and processes?

Why, then, does the government persist in maligning such a valuable plant, in disseminating false information about it, in criminalizing its use, when all credible scientific evidence suggests that the world would be a saner, safer, healthier place were it legalized and put into widespread use? As it turns out, there are a multitude of answers to that question, none of which agree with the government’s publicly stated reasons for banning cannabis hemp.

Government agencies responsible for fostering the current climate of anti-cannabis ignorance and hysteria include the ONDCP, the FDA, and the DEA, all of which regurgitate a litany of false premises in order to defend and promote a cannabis prohibition agenda. These agencies have long argued that marijuana (their term, not mine) contains no known medicinal properties, that it’s a gateway drug, that it’s an addictive drug, that it’s a dangerous drug, that it’s a health hazard, yada, yada, yada, despite thousands of university studies conducted over a ten-year period between the mid-sixties and the mid-seventies that reached opposite conclusions on every point. Add to that anecdotal evidence based on the personal experiences of millions of cannabis users and the government’s case for cannabis prohibition falls apart. Still, the government persists.

The feds claim that marijuana lacks enough research to determine its relative safety and medical efficacy. Of course, the feds have, for nearly 30 years, used every means available to block legitimate cannabis research by denying legitimate researchers the necessary permits and access to cannabis they need in order to do the research. The government’s lack of credibility on this issue further erodes its case for cannabis prohibition.

Nor do cannabis foes gain any traction for their cause in the way they demonize their nemesis. A recent anti-marijuana ad, which played on one of the cable channels a few weeks ago, was no better conceived than any of its predecessors; stupidity is stupidity, no matter how you package and present it.

In one segment of the ad, a supposedly stoned teenager (or he could simply be a disgruntled environmental activist who’s incensed over global climate change) sets fire to a car in a driveway. None of the stoners I have known—and I’ve known many—would behave in this way, so this specious bit of nonsense flunks the straight face test.

A second segment depicts another teenager, also supposedly stoned, piling his broken-to-pieces guitar onto a barbeque. Give me a break! While a stoner might strum his guitar until it’s a-smokin’, no music-loving stoner I’ve ever known would mistake a guitar for a hamburger, not even in a worst-case scenario of the munchies. Once again, government-inspired lunacy gets a failing grade.

Archaic laws, and the draconian criminal penalties meted out for breaking them, also undermine the government’s case for cannabis prohibition. The public is growing weary of invasions of privacy, of no-knock raids gone awry, of wrongful deaths, of low-level non-violent marijuana offender emerging from lengthy prison sentences as hardened criminals. Eventually, even the politicians who could hasten real change are bound to get a clue.

If the government agencies responsible for waging a war against (some) drugs told the truth about cannabis, that truth would look something like this:

• If marijuana were legalized, millions of Americans would turn to low-cost, high-efficacy marijuana-based remedies, thus depriving the pharmaceutical industry of billions of dollars in annual profits. Doctors and hospitals would also lose billions.

• If marijuana were legalized, it would go a long way toward ending America’s dependence on foreign oil, thus costing Big Oil billions of dollars in annual profits.

• If marijuana were legalized, the rationale for waging war in the Middle East would collapse, and the Pentagon would lose billions of dollars in annual funding.

• If marijuana were legalized, law enforcement and the private prison industry would lose billions of dollars in annual funding and profits.

• If marijuana were legalized, the annual timber harvest decline would cost timber companies billions of dollars in profits.

• If marijuana were legalized, family farms might find it possible to stay in business, thus threatening the ongoing expansion and industry dominance enjoyed by Big Ag factory farms.

• If marijuana were legalized, certain petrochemical companies would suffer huge losses (potentially billions of dollars) when their poisonous products suddenly become irrelevant.

• If marijuana were legalized, it would cost the tobacco and alcohol beverage industries billions of dollars in lost profits.

• If marijuana were legalized, it would upset entrenched economic interests and rearrange the status quo by opening new windows of opportunity for the millions of workers and would-be entrepreneurs who now cling to the economic ladder’s lowest rungs.

Faux patriots and hardcore capitalists will be comforted to know that the federal government values corporate profits over the global environment, civil liberties, public health, and human life. The federal government’s anti-cannabis bias has never been about protecting the public’s health and safety; it couldn’t care less about these things. From its inception, cannabis prohibition has been all about protecting corporate profits, the public be damned. The demon drug marijuana has always been the excuse for—but never the reason behind—cannabis prohibition.

Gradually, the public’s perception of cannabis is changing as true knowledge and understanding of this remarkable plant’s potential to revolutionize and revitalize the nation’s economy infuse themselves into the national consciousness. Although much remains to be done, there are now some clearly defined blueprints to aid in bringing about the necessary changes.

Time, logic, and necessity favor cannabis legalization; the public mindset is shifting from ignorance, fear, denial and skepticism to fearless acceptance and informed optimism. When human needs and environmental degradation reach critical tipping points, cannabis legalization will be a done deal.

Monday, February 04, 2008

An Abundance of Apathy, a Dearth of Optimism

It’s hard to feel optimistic about America’s future, or the future of mankind, for that matter. At a time when most things need to be going right, almost everything seems to be going wrong. The environment, the economy, pending global and national energy shortages, food and water security, health care, public education, public infrastructure, an overextended military, and a flagging national reputation all suffer the ill effects of corruption, incompetence and neglect.

Recent changes in American domestic and foreign policy clearly show that America is a nation in decline. Although the decline began some years ago, the past seven years of the Bush Administration hastened the nation’s journey along the road leading to its ultimate demise. The death of America will forever be a part of the Bush legacy.

Today’s America is not the country I was born into; it no longer resembles the country I once knew. Neocon nitwits write, speak and teach revisionist history, to the detriment of all but those in the top few percent of the social hierarchy. As a consequence, an entire generation of young people is rendered oblivious to the loss if its Constitutional heritage.

When the federal government extended to corporations the same rights of citizenship it granted to ordinary citizens, it sealed the nation’s fate. Corporate interests, powered by big money and represented by lobbyists, eventually seized control of the government, thus ensuring the gradual disenfranchisement of the people. And the people, whose attention is easily diverted by celebrity and media sensationalism, didn’t see it coming.

Nothing the Bush Administration has done in seven years inspires trust or confidence in the government’s ability to address the nation’s problems. Good ideas go unrecognized while the power brokers—bankers, investors, corporate titans, various movers and shakers and others of the privileged class—clamor for business as usual. What few people understand is that business as usual is the primary cause (but not the only cause) of the problems.

Unless the corporatocracy that now controls the world is planning a mass human extermination event for the near future, it would do well to set aside its policy of business as usual and implement policies that lead to sustainability. Remaining on the present course—short of mass extermination—means that the Vampire Elite will also feel the stings of environmental and economic backlash.

But I have no great hope that the powers-that-be will do the right thing. As always, they’ll do the expedient thing. They’ll do it because greed always trumps good sense.