Friday, May 29, 2009

"Pedro Tancredo" Latest Mad GOP Buffoon du Jour

Like a buzzard to fresh roadkill, disgraced former GOP congressman, Tom Tancredo could not pass up the lights and cameras. Dusting off his career xenophobic Latino bashing, he attacked Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor calling her a "racist."

In case you don't immediately place Uncle Tom Tancredo, he is the grandson of Italian immigrants and ran for congress from Colorado's 6th Congressional District promising to only serve three terms. Tancredo stumped with unforgettable magniloquence, "We want to reinvigorate the electoral process by introducing people into the system who think of government service as a temporary endeavor, not as a career."

He etched in stone his three term limit promise saying, "For me, the issue of giving one's word and promising to do something like this is more important than the rest of it ... I took the pledge. I will live up to the pledge. That's it. That's the overriding issue."

Tancredo broke his pledge and ran for a fourth term in Congress in 2004.

Then on April 2, 2007, Tancredo announced that he would run for President in the 2008 election. His singular platform issue, his signature fixation, was illegal immigrants and immigration reform.

In the May 3, 2007 debate among the ten candidates for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, Tancredo was one of three who raised their hands when asked if anyone did not believe in the theory of evolution. Starting to place him now?

A month before he dropped out of the race, he ran a TV ad with a voice of death warning, "There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs ... the price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill." Mercifully, he ended his candidacy on his 62nd birthday.

During his time as a US Congressman, he was a strident anti-abortionist, and had hawkish pronouncements on the Iraq war, even though when he was eligible for the Vietnam war draft, in June 1969 he went for his physical, telling doctors he had been treated for depression, and eventually got a "1-Y" deferment.

Though he was raised a Roman Catholic, he attacked Pope Benedict XVI for "encouraging illegal immigration to the USA to boost membership in the Catholic Church." Tancredo now attends a Christian evangelical church.

But illegal immigration is his constant one-note samba. Whenever Lou Dobbs hears it he dances gleefully.

Tancredo was persona non grata at the White House after getting into a shouting match with Karl Rove, ranting at him, "if the nation suffered another attack at the hands of terrorists able to skirt immigration laws, the blood of the people killed would be on Bush's and Congress’ hands." Rove had him blacklisted from entering the White House, calling Tancredo a "traitor to the Party."

Tancredo said if we have another terrorist attack on the USA we should bomb Mecca.

He suggested that state legislators and 'sanctuary city' mayors should be imprisoned for passing laws contrary to federal immigration law.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a long list of hateful, insane acts and statements by Tancredo who, incidentally, was given an A+ for his opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens by "Americans for Better Immigration." The average Congressmen was given a C+.

Last Thursday, May 28th, Tancredo appeared on CNN to voice his opposition to Judge Sotomayor as nominee for appointment to the Supreme Court. CNN host, Rick Sanchez asked him if he thought Sonia Sotomayor is a racist, Tancredo replied “certainly her words would indicate that that is the truth” and he then compared the Hispanic-American advocacy group. "La Raza" to the KKK.

And Tancredo would know about the KKK. On September 11, 2006 in Colombia, South Carolina he was guest speaker before a group he helped form, the "Americans Have Had Enough Coalition." The room in which he spoke was reportedly decked out with large portraits of Robert E. Lee and lots of Confederate battle flags. After Tancredo spoke, men dressed in Confederate uniforms are said to have broken into a rousing chorus of "Dixie."

Tancredo panders to racists. He thunders about "racial multiculturalism" being the ruin of America. He called Miami a "Third World Country." Governor Jeb Bush called his remarks "naive" and countless organizations and political leaders have denounced Tancredo's blatant racism.

I will stop here, but I just wanted to paint a clear picture of this loud, mistaken dogmatist who now is the latest spokesperson du jour for the leaderless Republican Party, whether they like it or not.

Today some Republican Congressmen started breaking ranks with their sour conservative party core calling Tancredo's rant disgraceful and not representative of the Grand Old Party. Even GOP Party Chairman, Michael Steele, has completely disavowed Tancredo.

Judge Sotomayor's early comment, taken out of context by both Tancredo and Rush Limbaugh, who compared Sotomayor to KKK leader David Duke, will certainly be thoroughly reviewed in her upcoming confirmation hearing. Hopefully Republicans in the hearing will not take the low road.

Too bad Tancredo and Limbaugh are both opponents of same-sex marriage, because theirs would be a marriage made in hypocrites' heaven.

Graphic by Larry Ray

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Guantanamo : Bush's Toxic Assets, Boogie Men and Political Prostitution

With only 23 percent of Americans now claiming to be Republicans, what’s left of their party has decided to attack Barack Obama for "not having a plan" to close the Guantanamo Bay Detainee Center. It has been a loud, shameless exercise in fear-mongering.

The protean Senators have said, "Never mind the priority of halting a national financial collapse and possible economic depression in America. Forget the powder keg that is the Taliban and al-Qaida threat in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Personal political futures back home are much more important.

The Senate let personal political priorities guide their 90 to 6 vote to withhold the $80 million Obama requested for the Guantanamo closure till he gives them “a plan.” Scared silly Democrats also joined in the disgraceful fear-mongering vote.

No one would like to get Mr. Bush's nightmarish mess cleared up more than Mr. Obama. His Thursday speech made clear that work has been underway by legal, military, and diplomatic experts to solve the complex problem since he took office less than 150 days ago. But Republicans desperate to woo back lost votes are all screaming BOOGIE MAN COMING!!

They warn that dangerous terrorists are going to be moved to jails and prisons in their districts back home where they could break out and hide under YOUR bed waiting to get you! The scenario continues with terrorists being turned loose with a new suit of clothes and a few bucks, on the streets of YOUR TOWN! Shamefully, Majority Leader, Harry Reid said, "Part of what we don't want is them be put in prisons in the United States." That's the way to support "real change," Harry.

The whipped up fear exploits a deeply buried American realization that if we or our family members had been rounded up, shackled, tortured and held with no charges and no rights for seven years we would be mad as hell. Just as mad as the Gitmo prisoners who have been treated that way and are now "headed for the streets of America." OMG

The Republican game plan is to make it look like Obama is about to empty the prison camp down in Cuba, and turn out the lights and let the terrorists be set loose across America. Lots of plain folks, aided by Dick Cheney’s mad raving on cable TV may actually believe this nonsense.

Just so the politically terrorized can all sleep at night without having to leave the lights on, let's review some facts:

Thirty three international terrorists, including those with al-Qaida connections are locked up in the Federal prison known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” or ADMAX Florence in Florence, Colorado, and there has been no public outcry at all.

Any bad guys transferred from Guantanamo to the USA will be housed in maximum security, super-max prisons, like the Fort Leavenworth prison and the Florence ADMAX. No dangerous Guantanamo prisoners are to be released in the USA. The most dangerous of the prisoners held in Guantanamo are to be incarcerated as “enemy combatants” in maximum security prisons, as will others awaiting trial in a federal court of law in the US. No one has ever escaped from a super-max prison.

Terrorists and violent criminals are kept in solitary confinement, and when moved outside their cells one hour a day, they are in leg shackles accompanied by three guards. They rarely see other prisoners, are allowed few visitors and their mail is monitored. Ramzi Yousef, who headed the group that carried out the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993 faces this daily routine as a prisoner in the $60 million Florence, Colorado super-max prison.

Let’s look at how many prisoners we are talking about after Guantanamo is finally closed. Since 2002, 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo. Some 420 have been released to countries of origin or other countries with no charges against them. In late January 2004, U.S. officials finally released three children aged 13 to 15 swept up as “enemy combatants” and returned them to Afghanistan. As of January 2009, approximately 245 detainees remain and only three of them have been charged.

The US Department of Defense on February 11, 2008, charged terrorists Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Walid Bin Attash for the September 11 attacks under the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Untangling the details of trying these 911 terrorists is part of what is taking time to find a constitutionally and internationally legal approach to handling these cases which involve serious questions, not the least of which include torture.

Earlier, U.S. officials have said they intended to eventually put 60 to 80 prisoners on trial and free the rest. But what to do with those held for years, and never charged? That is one of many tough problems taking so much time to work out. Mr. Cheney and some hard core conservatives would prefer to keep them locked up in Cuba forever, innocent or not, Constitution be damned.

It would seem that our Congressmen and Senators would all be enthusiastically pitching in to work with the administration on a plan for a diplomatic, constitutional way to empty Guantanamo, and close this sad chapter in our history. Sadly, they are thinking only of remaining career politicians.

Yes these prisoners include dangerous terrorists who want to hurt America. But all have to be dealt with under the law. Holding them in maximum-security prisons poses no threat to our security at home. Continuing to do what we have been doing for the past seven years in Guantanamo remains a growing threat to our security.

We cannot continue to hold these prisoners in indefinite limbo on our military base in Cuba. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that they are entitled to the protection of the U.S. Constitution ... the same constitution our Congressmen and Senators have sworn to defend and uphold.

Photo by Shane T. McCoy, U.S. Navy

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dick Cheney and the Curse of the Pomegranate Seeds

There are emerging scholarly theories about former Vice President Dick Cheney's lifelong allergy to pomegranates which could be at the center of his secretive, imperious, angry and delusional behavior and his lifelong health problems.

Mr. Cheney is part of the estimated 1.24% to 16.8% of the population considered "at risk" for having an anaphylactic reaction if they eat, are injected with or even inhale one or more allergens. Anaphylaxis comes from the Greek, meaning "against protection." Anaphylactic shock can attack those severely allergic to a bee sting, or even a pomegranate, causing a serious blockage of the airway, an extreme drop in blood pressure and can lead to death in a matter of minutes if left untreated.

For this reason, Mr. Cheney has always had within arm's reach, what is commonly called a "bee sting kit" which has a preloaded syringe containing epinephrine (adrenaline) to keep the heart beating, and other compounds to keep one breathing. Early in his political career, a staffer, and more recently a Secret Service agent has constantly been at the ready with the little zippered pouch in case a bit of killer pomegranate makes it down the Veep's gullet.

So with this bit of basic Mr. Wizard science background under our belts, let's look at why Dick Cheney might have been a nice guy with, say a peanut or bee sting allergy instead of the curse of the pomegranate. It all has to do with the Greek connection.

The pomegranate features mightily in the complex Greek story of Zeus's daughter Persephone who was snatched by Zeus's brother Hades, Lord of the underworld, and taken below to become his Queen. Now, when you get snatched and taken to the dark side, the deal is that if you don't eat, you can eventually return back up to light and goodness. Persephone's mother, Demeter, became so distraught at the loss of her daughter she neglected the earth which had droughts and became barren. It got so bad that Hades relented and called Hermes to take Persephone back home to momma.

But, just as Persephone was leaving, Hades gave her a pomegranate to eat. She knew the deal about eating and not being able to return to earth, but she was famished and ate seven pomegranate seeds. Well . . . you can figure out the ending. She got to return to the happy world to be with mom and dad, but poor Persephone had cut a deal with the devil. She wound up having to return to Hades four months out of the year. It wound up giving us winter and summer, but, those damned pomegranate seeds!

Actually pomegranate juice has powerful antioxidant properties and is used to treat a variety of maladies, most notably cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack. Medical researchers also claim great benefit in interrupting the process of atherosclerosis which is the clogging of arteries due to excessive fat deposits.

Mr. Cheney has earned the diagnostic title of "vasculopath" with an almost 30-year history of coronary atherosclerosis, with his first heart attack when he was only 37. No one is sure when he ate his first pomegranate seeds, or how many he ate, but clearly he was damned to the dark side early on, and as a result was not even allowed to have any more of the sweet, potentially health benefiting fruit. The deal with Hades was already made.

To many, it is clear that Cheney didn't get a short four-month deal like Persephone. He clearly spends lots more time down in the underworld's dark side than she did. Cheney's official press releases have conveniently described him as being in "an undisclosed location."

His buddy Hades has lately been giving Mr. Cheney more weekend passes than in years past so he can spend more time up here in the light to appear on radio and TV to spread his dark message. He has been reveling in his angry, convoluted attacks upon truth, transparency and change by America's new Democratic leaders and majority voters.

Hades and Cheney working together, make Machiavelli's schemes pale by comparison. They have even cleverly lured Speaker Pelosi into a torturous lose-lose series of public appearances and defensive statements where her political armor has finally been pierced ... by her own spear.

No one is happier than Hades, chortling down in his dark homey hell while topside the earthly GOP, Guardians of Pomegranates, urged on by Hades' emissary, Dark Dick, pass out the fruit's sweet seeds to their dwindling hard core members, and unsuspecting malcontents.

Hopefully Hades will soon cut out the weekend passes, and Dark Dick will return to his undisclosed location ... for good. But he mustn't forget his bee sting kit because there is always the possibility he will eventually finally even tee off Hades, who certainly will have his pomegranate waiting for him.

Graphic from MerchantCircle