Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In the wake of the tragic Sandy Hook shooting and the choruses of "When Will They Ever Learn," as Michael Moore points out that there have been 61 mass shooting since Columbine, perhaps it's time to rename the gun lobby the "Death Lobby," taking a page from the Heritage Foundations dubbing of the inheritance tax the "death tax."

So now we can target Congress members who accept money from the "Death Lobby," as in, "How much money did you receive from the Death Lobby this year, Senator?" That should get them scampering.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Coming Romney Implosion

Although, like so many others, I've been very disappointed in President Obama's performance, especially in the policing of the banking industry, the drone war in the Middle East (and the Presidential power to murder anyone anywhere in the world deemed a "terrorist"), and his signature health-care bill that enshrines the profits of insurance companies; I can't help enjoying what appears to be the unraveling of the Romney campaign these days, over his prevarications regarding his control of Bain Capital after 1999 (when it became a job exporter & destroyer), and his refusal to make his tax returns public. An aura of  slickness and dishonesty is forming around him, and the more he tries to "clarify" things by splitting hairs in business-speak, the more he begins to sound like Clinton trying to fend off accusations of sexual impropriety by implying that oral sex is not true sex, without mentioning the former (remember, "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is"?) Both Charles Blow and Gail Collins offered revealing columns on this subject in Saturday's New York Times (July 14).

So the Republican Presidential campaign is beginning to implode, and the Democrats are gleefully nudging it along, as they should. By the time we get to the national convention at the end of August Romney's stink might be so great the would be GOP kingmakers may actually betray their distaste while praising him on the podium, and the gut-based voters back home may get the subliminal message. How long can Boehner and others insist that the election is not about who Romney is or what is leadership would be like, but only about getting rid of that usurper in the White House and replacing him by anybody (even a Bush retread??)? Can non-racists, non-Obama haters (who think he's both the devil and a socialist) actually swallow this?

The problem is that any Republican nominee would have the same problem. Since they're all really working for the big corporations and giant banks and don't give a whit about the poor (whom they try to prevent from voting—and soon, eating, judging by their recent attempt to defund food stamps while preserving big agribusiness "farm" subsidies) corporate malfeasance, the environment, infrastructure, education, etc. etc., the GOP election strategy is perforce to crap on the opponent and stay as mum as possible about the character and background of their nominee. Fortunately, we still have some investigative journalism left, and the Boston Globe has been doing the digging around Romney, requiring him to make 5 network TV appearances to split those hairs over his disssociation with Bain (despite a 6-figure salary) after he accepted the unpaid position as Salt Lake City Olympics chair in 1999.

This season is going to be fun.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

BIDDER 70: documentary about Tim DeChristopher

Bidder 70--the documentary about Tim DeChristopher, who disrupted the illegal land auction for drilling rights in Utah, hastily called at the end of the Bush Administration.

This was the first subject I wrote on in this blog, and now there's a moving documentary on the subject. It was featured yesterday as part of the Human Rights Watch film series at Lincoln Center. I hope it goes into general distribution.

 Tim DeChristopher was bidder #70 at the auction he intentionally disrupted, and "70" became a symbol of the environmental movement that coalesced around him in Salt Lake City, being stenciled on signs carried throughout demonstrations.

This is a very moving film, not only because it addresses the critical issues of climate change and the possible destruction of some of the most sublime land on earth, but because it squarely faces the moral issue of what we are willing to endure to support our convictions. It begins with a Martin Luther King quote to the effect that you must be willing to suffer at the hands of the authorities you oppose. Of course, King not only went to jail, he got himself killed. And so did Gandhi

De Christopher very seriously faces going to prison (the film offers a brief excursion into prison scenes, and communicates how oppressive and demoralizing it is), and his supporters derive courage from this and cheerfully get themselves arrested—twice.  It also reveals the utter corruption of our political system, wherein the Obama Administration, whose Secretary of Commerce, Ken Salazar, invalidated the auction that DeChristopher disrupted, still refuses to stop the trial, where the judge, one Dee Benson (a man) an appointee of President George H.W. Bush and Brigham Young U. graduate (also chief of staff for Sen. Orrin Hatch from 1984–88, and co-author of the minority report on the Iran-Contra scandal, with Dick Cheney—so his far-right credentials are impeccable), refuses to let the defense speak of the environmental issues that motivated DeChristopher, and a host of other legal points, assuring that DeChristopher be convicted on the narrowest possible grounds. Then he's really mean to him after the trail, not letting him get his affairs in order before reporting to prison—as if he were a violent criminal or flight risk.

So we live in a country where an idealist who acts out of conviction to save unique land and slow the progress of climate change is sent to Federal prison (in California, far from his family in Colorado, though there is a prison close to them in Colorado), while the Administration refuses to prosecute BP for its repeated violations that led to the devastating oil spill in 2010, nor, for that matter, the CEOs of the financial institutions whose documented law-breaking led to the great Crash of 2008, wreaking catastrophic economic havoc around the world.

The film does mention in passing that an oil company executive has bragged that his industry controlled the White House.