Tag Archives: Gore Vidal

Arnold’s Bathtub

With California’s Republicans fulfilling their sacred vow to Grover Norquist to stuff government into the bathtub and destroy the most basic services government was meant to provide, California’s Democrats, who–by the way–ARE in a majority, are finally standing up to this bully governor.

Throughout this recent highly expensive special election that the Republicans forced upon us, it was obvious that Californians were not buying the lies any longer. Much has been made about how we brought this on ourselves by all the initiatives and bond issues that we’ve passed. This totally misses the point.

California’s initiative system was put into place precisely BECAUSE the state legislature was bought out by the railroad monopolies.  Roll this picture forward a century and we have a state legislature that is now bought out by the current corporate elite and their minions of lobbyists that descend on a capital now devoid of most media coverage.

Initiatives exist because the state legislature does NOT respond to the needs of the citizens, or, rather, our needs are placed a distant SECOND after the corporate masters’ requests are fast-tracked through.

And, initiatives ALWAYS have problems. First, there is the language that is often poorly written, or ambiguous, and sometimes not even constitutional. Then there’s the summary blurb written by the Attorney General’s office. GOOD LUCK if that bears any resemblance to what is actually IN the initiative. Usually, there are significant parts that are NOT in the summary–the Trojan horses that haunt us later.

Not to mention that the forces for and against the initiative immediately reduce whatever it is into bite-size slogans that are then bandied about the pathetic corporate media that we have left and stuck onto the mailing pieces and slate cards that go to the most likely voters. The few who still bother. Only 12% came out May 19th. After the budget, PLEASE get on with a serious reform of the initiative process!!

Meanwhile, back at the negotiating table, the telegenic (he thinks so) gov has proposed a “reality show” starring himself and the four leaders from the Assembly. Just great!!! We SO want to see our macho narcissistic terminator posturing about some more!!!

During these last weeks, as Arnold holds his breath and turns blue while reciting his “No New Taxes” chant, I’ve been reading Ethan Rarick’s book “The Life and Times of Pat Brown: California Rising” (U of CA Press).  Gore Vidal has always admonished the U.S. as having amnesia about its past. In California, I think it’s probably NOT amnesia, because that would assume that Californians knew, or were taught, their history in the first place. Not likely. Or at least not for most. So, back to a time of giants–

“The governor walked over from his suite of offices and took the podium in each chamber, first the assembly and then the senate, greeted both places by clamorous standing ovations. After the noise died away, Brown said that his first legislative session as the state’s chief executive had been ‘the most exhilarating six months’ he had ever experienced. He pointed especially to the antidiscrimination bill that created the Fair Employment Practices Commission. It was, he said, a ‘great symbol of human progress– an achievement of enlightenment and understanding.’

There was much to be proud of. He had already signed into law 1,109 bills and had at least 1,000 more waiting on his desk. The increased aid to schools was only the second such boost since World War II. More than nine thousand poor, disabled people were provided with state-funded health care. For the first time, standards were set for air quality and for pollution from cars. Safety regulations for farm labor trucks were increased. Consumer protections were stiffened. Disability benefits were raised. Unemployment insurance payments were increased and the time limit for benefits lengthened, at least during periods of high unemployment.  State workers got a pay raise.

All of it was funded by the biggest California tax increase in a quarter century, which was perhaps the most important accomplishment of all, since it provided money desperately needed by an ever-growing state with ever-growing public demands. This was not necessarily an obvious outcome. Republicans and business groups complained that the proposed tax increases were too steep. Brown said no. Cautious legislators suggested that the tax increases be phased out after two years. Brown said no. The legislative analyst urged steeper budget cuts and an increase in college tuition. Brown said no. Again and again, in other words, the governor and his allies fought to keep intact an ambitious fiscal program that raised taxes–mostly on rich people, corporations, and cigarette smokers– in order to pay for important and expanding public programs. ‘Responsible liberalism,’ as it turned out, was an activist’s creed.”

Wow!! Contrast that with our so-called leaders today. And, Democrats who supported the recall and who wouldn’t support Phil’s bid to deny Arnold his second term need to re-examine their allegiances if they’re okay with what’s happened as a result of their poor judgment. We DO have a state in financial crisis for many reasons, not the least of which is the Republican intransigence over paying for the services often most needed by their own constituents. They need to be given a new framing: Paying taxes is patriotic!

I think back to those times of Pat Brown and his incredible leadership and wonder what he would do with this mess. I wasn’t in California during his time in office, but I was fortunate enough to know him as our party’s patriarch during Gov. Jimmy Carter’s campaign in ’76 and for several years after. There is NO WAY he would allow the type of cuts Arnold is trying to force onto Californians. Our Democratic leaders must find a way, and if it’s impeaching the governor, then let’s get on with it.


(bold emphasis mine)

An Inconvenient Impeachment

There he goes again, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, reading into the Congressional record just 35 of the reasons why this Congress should be impeaching this sitting president and his VP. With diminutive stature but steely resolve, Kucinich forcefully takes his place alongside the earlier patriots who stood up to executive abuse, the “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and spoke out for accountability.

And who was listening? Certainly not the US media, and by extension, no one else. The C-Span viewer was one of the few in the country who could witness this historic event. Or, check youtube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JLf… Gore Vidal  rightfully points out that anyone truly interested in knowing what’s going on in our country must be reading foreign coverage–all still available online–since other countries ARE interested in what happens in the U.S. http://www.truthdig.com/report…

The impeachment resolution, HR 1258, was introduced June 9th as a “privileged motion” to get around Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who personally opposes impeachment and has reportedly said she “likes” President Bush.  

Two days later, the House voted that this motion be referred to John Conyers’ Judiciary Committee. Kucinich, as well as co-sponsors, Robert Wexler (D-FL) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), voted FOR this referral. For rollcall see: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/200…  Most pundits are saying that the motion will die in Judiciary. If so, then why would these three have voted for it to go there? Is there hope that Conyers will actually step forward and support impeachment hearings as he did BEFORE he took over as chair after the 2006 election?

Yes, let’s roll back to that time when those who vote came out and said ENOUGH!!! Give control back to the Democrats so that they will stop this war and put brakes on this renegade band in the White House! Yet, immediately after this 2006 election when DEMOCRATS were handed the majority in both houses (well, sort of, if anyone really still considers Lieberman one), Nancy Pelosi, as the new Speaker, took it upon herself to dismiss the constitutional requirements to hold the executive branch in check through the mandated procedures of impeachment.

“Impeachment is off the table,” said she. And one by one, the little sheep in the Democratic flock, have gone along with her pronouncement. They seem to think that they will somehow be rewarded and handed the presidency in ’08 as a result of their cowardice. It may not be convenient that we are in a presidential election year, but should this be used as a reason to NOT INVESTIGATE these serious charges? I think not. A far greater threat is to allow them to pass onto the dung heap of dead motions and, thus, take a stand that ALLOWS the destruction of our constitution. Is that really what Democrats stand for in this presidential election year?

My own Congressman, Henry Waxman, went to great pains to explain to a group of activists from his district last year that there “wasn’t enough time.” He was not ready to support impeachment regardless of those within his district who wanted his many hearings into the corruption of the Bush administration to END with a SERIOUS RESULT — IMPEACHMENT. West Hollywood, a city within his CD, had voted to support impeachment. The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, one of the oldest and largest in his CD, declined to endorse this incumbent’s candidacy (in spite of no one running against him). David Swanson just posted his take on Waxman’s inaction: http://afterdowningstreet.org/…  (what his constituents have said for a long while).

Are our incumbent Democrats so entrenched and bought out by corporate lobbyists that they will not respond to their electorate? And the dwindling electorate increasingly opts out and won’t vote because “it makes no difference.” And fewer and fewer people make it to the polls, especially for those so-called “little elections” where state officials are selected and gain entree onto the political runway. And incumbents with no opposition funnel their lobbyist funds to their anointed choices who win elections with a tiny fraction of those eligible to vote. And the cycle perpetuates itself.

And the democracy that we’ve been taught we had, is no more, taken over by the corporate and religious interests who dictate both domestic and foreign policy and continue to loot the treasury and spin this nation into the unending pit of trillions of dollars of debt…and the country’s mainstream media fiddles on, themselves complicit.

So, WHY ARE the members of Congress so afraid of this president and his henchmen? Have there been blackmail threats? Are there internal dossiers of their own many transgressions? Do they have sexual proclivities that will be revealed if they dare show any backbone? Have their families been threatened? And, what about Blackwater? Is it being used for private enforcement and surveillance?

I recall the days when Senator Wayne Morse stood up to oppose another war and another administration. He was a true patriot.  And earlier in this current war, when our most elder statesman, Senator Robert Byrd, stood up and tried to stop his colleagues’ “rush to war.” Thank you Dennis Kucinich, for standing up once again in the midst of your fellows who are busy doctoring and reframing the meaning of patriotism.

Democratic leadership may think this is an inconvenient time to remind them of their constitutional responsibilities. If you disagree, start calling your electeds and jam the lines. 202-224-3121 is the main number for the House. Or, better yet, go to www.house.gov, tap in your zip code, and get the direct line to your congressional representative. And, call often. Even daily. Remember, there’s a local AND a Washington DC number. Call both.