Monday, October 31, 2005

Main objective of Bush operatives perjury and obstruction was to protect outcome of 2004 election.

Timing is everything in elections. When reviewing the findings of Prosecutor’s Fitzgerald’s investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame one of the significant conclusions that pops out is the time line. The outing of Plame came in a Robert Novak column of July 14, 2003.

The repercussions of the Wilson stories, on that lack of WMD uranium in Africa, triggered discussion and arguments about the reasons for war put forth by the administration. Because of this it became imperative to the damage control people in the Bush Cheney Campaign that Wilson, at all costs, be discredited and silenced as soon as possible. It can be argued that Bush Cheney determined that outing Plame would work to this end by silencing Wilson and others who wanted the truth to be known about misrepresentation of the facts in the run up to war.

It must have been reasoned within the Bush campaign that any findings of an investigation of the breach of national security by the illegal disclosure of Plame’s identity, that was sure to come, would have to be delayed till after November 2004. When Bush subsequently, would be narrowly elected to a second term. It is interesting to look at Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s comments from the press conference.

QUESTION: “In the end, was it worth keeping Judy Miller in jail for 85 days in this case? And can you say how important her testimony was in producing this indictment?

FITZGERALD: Let me just say this: No one wanted to have a dispute with the New York Times or anyone else. We can't talk generally about witnesses. There's much said in the public record.

FITZGERALD: I would have wished nothing better that, when the subpoenas were issued in August 2004, witnesses testified then, and we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005. No one (Miller) would have went to jail.”

One has to think that if the American People had known what they know now prior to the November 2004 presidential election, George Bush would not have been elected.

It is significant, in retrospect, that Judith Miller of the New York Times by refusing to name the source of her information for the NYT story, about covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, delayed the investigation. She contested it all the way to the Supreme Court and subsequently spent 90 days in jail for contempt of court. She also claims she needed to be released from her obligation to withhold her source, now known to be Libby, before she was willing to testify. So Libby ultimately has control over the timing of any potential damaging testimony.

Her published collusions in the NYT and special treatment by the White House, which a number of recent news stories have alleged, certainly call into questions her motives for writing what she did in the NYT during a period just prior to the war. The stories seemed to supported administration justification for going to war. It’s a strong indication that she was in bed with the administration all along or, at the very least, being manipulated by them to get favorable stories published in the NYT about the reason the United States should go to war.

This and the indicted perjury and obstructing of “Scooter Libby”, White House aid to Bush and Cheney, ultimately delayed the findings of the investigation until last week. Had the revelations of investigation been known prior to the election it is easy to see that it probably would of change enough votes in key states to give the election to John Kerry. The war and reasons for going to war cover up, and lying about it, would have been a major consideration of most voters. Approximately 100,000 votes in Ohio and 6000 votes in New Mexico would of made those states blue.

Ambassador Joe Wilson’s revelations where seen by the Bush Cheney operatives as a ticking time bomb in the run up to the election should they be allowed to go unchallenged. Wilson’s accusations have led today to obvious conclusion that the Bush administration had contrived many of the main reasons to justify the war with Iraq.

Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rove and Miller stonewalling, obstructing and phony first amendment rights theatrics eventually succeeded, keeping the damaging information under wraps so it could not hurt them in November 2004. In the perverted world of political ethics, that is the Bush administration, the damage control strategy, it turns out, was well worth the risk of any legal problems administration officials face today. It gave them a second term in office.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fitzgerald baseball analogy explained for baseball challenged!

Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something. If you saw a baseball

(Conspiracy to discredit a political opponent by revealing that his wife was a covert CIA agent that discourages him from talking to press about his trip to Africa related to WMD's and Iraq)

game and you saw a pitcher

(Carl Rove and/or Dick Cheney, perhaps Bush)

wind up and throw a fastball

(Talk to Robert Novak who eventually outed Valerie Plame)

and hit a batter

(Ambassador Joe Wilson)

right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them,

(Credibility of Wilson saying that there was no link to Niger and Saddam’s alleged WMD’s in Iraq and to create fear for Wilson’s wife’s safety)

you'd want to know why the pitcher

(Cheney, Rove or perhaps Bush)

did that.

(Wanted to destroy Wilson credibility and get him to shut up)

And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, "I've got bad blood with this batter.

(The presidential election is riding on this perhaps)

He hit two home runs off me.

(His writing about lack of WMD’s undermined justification for the war in Iraq in the midst of presidential campaign)

I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can."

(Out Wilson's wife, a undercover CIA agent, and get him to shut up)

You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher

(Carl Rove and/or Dick Cheney perhaps Bush himself)

just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head.

(Get caught)

And there are lots of shades of gray

(Covering up, perjury, lying, stonewalling)

in between.

You might learn that you wanted to hit the batter in the back and it hit him in the head because he moved. You might want to throw it under his chin, but it ended up hitting him on the head. FITZGERALD: And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You'd want to know: What happened in the dugout?

(White House)

Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else?

(Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice)

What was he thinking?

(Wanted to stop war desent and destroy Wilson’s credibility)

How does he react? All those things you'd want to know. And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball,

(Impeached jailed fired discredited)

whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, "Hey, the person threw a bad pitch. Get over it." In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.

(Plus more then 2000 American dead in Iraq with countless Iraqi civilians dead scores of Americans and Iraqi civilians wounded and billions of US tax dollars wasted)

And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out?

(To silence opposition to the war)

Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters?

(To give the story legitimacy and discredit Wilson)

Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times?

(To use her like a cheap journalistic prostitute to be the conduit reporter writing misleading stories in the NYT about WMD's , and Iraq war)

Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?
FITZGERALD: Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray? And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes.

(Cover up, Libby lying to protect others probably Cheney or Rove, maybe even Bush)

He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.

(Libby falls on his sword like a good soldier and announces he'll fight the charges because he got what happen screwed up and just couldn't remember the facts)

Photos of the Week!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I saw America at its best today

It was embodied in an individual that we have come to know in the course of the CIA leak investigation. One affable young prosecutor from Illinois name Patrick Fitzgerald. From what I’ve seen, heard and read of him I think he should hence forth be known as “robo-prosecutor”.

Is he not the walking definition of a noble public servant, who works mostly in silence and obscurity? Perhaps a modern Mr. Smith goes to Washington whose all too unique character traits are fairness, selflessness and a complete distain for anyone who is not strait forward or honest. He reaffirms that we are a nation of laws. That no one is above the law, at least in theory.

“But I think what we see here today, when a vice president's chief of staff is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, it does show the world that this is a country that takes its law seriously; that all citizens are bound by the law.”

As the CIA leak investigation unfolded the pundits heaped praise on Fitzgerald and referring to him as such things as an alter boy or the new Eliot Ness. An incorruptible Irish strait shooter, who has time and time again demonstrated unquestionable fairness when investigating high profile federal crimes. Rove couldn't even find a way to smear him. It is apparent that Fitzgerald is both hard working and brilliant in his role as defender of the law, truth and our constitution. The Harvard educated 44-year son of Irish Catholics from Flatbush Brooklyn personifies his family’s blue-collar sensibilities. His father was a doorman in Manhattan. I’d bet my money he was a damn good doorman too, if someone doesn't believe me I dare you to check.

Fitzgerald’s news conference today reminded me so much of the first time I saw Barak Obama, the new young Senator from Illinois. It was his, now memorable, keynote speech at the 2004 Democrat Convention on television. It was like someone had slugged me in the stomach. His words inspired me and made me think of the dream I had in my head about my country.

America longs for men and woman like these. Because they stand above the fray and they stand for fairness, honesty and integrity. They urge us to move to higher ground. They are not petty. Isn’t this the place where we really want our country to be? On the mountain top standing for something besides the common denominator of politics as usual. Against fear and wars of misguided ideology. A nation of competent governance. The fleeting thought that we are truly brother and sister after all. A nation moving amongst other nations. We can do better perhaps?

These men stand out because we live in a cesspool of lies surrounded by death and dying. Continuing to foul our own nests while many of us are more interested in our own selfish ends. Shallow, dumb, weak fearful. We have become too use to it. We all know that this administration has lied and manipulation. This has lead to death for many and a warped sense of patriotism. Haven't we become like most polititians we see today so contrived, image conscious and fake that we can not speak the truth spontaneously?

We see also a cancer in the Democratic Party that consist of many Democrats sticking their finger in the wind before taking a stand on the tough positions, like the war in Iraq. Many Democratic leaders are apparently unable to really risk anything because they perceive honesty as weakness or a threat to their hold on power. We know deep down it is really only vanity. Democrats must learn to tell the truth, not just say what they think people want to hear in order to get elected. Because telling the truth is what will get them elected.

We waste time gloating at the mis-steps of Bush and his incompetent administration rather then striving to lift our eyes up to the sky to offer our own vision. We only get down in the dirt with the Republicans, lowering ourselves to their level, when we hate them and call them stupid.

This is why when we sense real honesty and integrity in government officials it shines like a beacon into our memory of what we once expected our country to become. We as a nation must strive to be something noble and good again. People like Fitzgerald and Obama show us the way.

Democrats must resist gloating over these indictments and cease continually resorting to only calling Bush stupid. He is not stupid. But he is extremely incompetent. Incompetence should be our talking point, not just the personalized and sophomoric Air America style, holier then thou, assaults on him and his administration that we liberals seem to always resort to, apparently they make us feel personally superior or more intelligent. Who cares.

We must focus the electorate on the incompetence of his government and the incompetence of the congress and offer Americans a viable alternative. We must point out the way to return to the higher ground and return to integrity and intelligence in government. We must once again learn how to tell the truth.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

KVI Boycott Update Note: Call Fisher Communcations Directly
Fisher Communications, Inc.
100 4th Ave N
Suite 510
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 404-7000

Boycott KVI Radio Sponsors Part II

Here is a partial list of KVI advertisers and their contact information. (I hope to add more as I go along but in order to do that I'm forced to listen to Wilbur and Carlsons painful halfbaked arguments) I urge you to contact them today by email, phone or letter to voice your opposition to KVI Radio being used as a platform to support initiative I-912. Also contact Fisher Communications the parent company of KVI and file a complaint about their misuse of the public airwaves.

You should indicate that you will not purchase products of services from them until unfettered equal time is granted to the vote NO opponents of I-912 or KVI refrains from using the public airwaves unfairly supporting initiative. I-912.

Sample email copy and paste:

Dear KVI Radio Advertiser,

KVI Radio Seattle is unfairly using the public airwaves to promote the passage of Initiative I-912 the anti gas tax initiative. They are not willing to allow opponents free equal and unfettered airtime to fairly argue against the passage of initiative I-912. In fact recently a Thurston County Court ordered KVI’s in house proponents of initiative I-912 to report all air time devoted to passage of I-912 as an in-kind political contribution required by law to be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission. The Judge in the case determined that KVI radio personalities have played a intricate role in creating and promoting initiative I-912 from the beginning.

The purpose of the message is to inform you that effective immediately I will not be purchasing products or services offered by your company. I will also make every effort to convince others to boycott your product or service. I will continue to urge everyone to boycott KVI radio sponsors until the station refrains from unfairly promoting the passage of the initiative I-912.

Further, I am disappointed with your company's apparent lack of perspective when it comes to the need to build and maintaining a modern highway and transportation system in the State of Washington. I believe the increase in the gas tax is a necessary expense if we hope to keep this region's businesses competitive. Whether you realize it on not you are indirectly supporting the passage of initiative I-912 through your advertising revenue paid to KVI radio. I am sure many progressive members of the community, including many business people, would be upset if they fully understood that you are indirectly supporting opposition to the gas taxes needed to maintain a modern transportation system in this state. A transportation system needed to deliver products to market and necessary to keep Washington State businesses competitive.


Your name or organization here

List of advertisers follow with contact information:

Washington Mutual Bank
206 461-2000
Attn: General Inquiries
1201 3rd Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101

Home Depot

State Farm Insurance
State Farm Insurance
One State Farm Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61710

Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air

Carrier Furnace,,CLI1_DIV28_ETI144,00.html
Director, Communications
Carrier World Headquarters
One Carrier Place
Farmington, CT 06034-401

Big O Tires

Mcclendan Hardware
877 505-1202

King County Auction
877 546-4243
6722 Pacific Hwy East
Fife, WA

The Power Shop
800 935-8839
1920 Garrett Street
Enumclaw, WA 98022

Doug’s Lynnwood Mazda/Hummer
22130 Highway 99
Edmonds, WA 98026
Dr. Finnegan Lasik

Destination Harley
2302 Pacific Highway East
(253) 922-3700
Tacoma, WA

Walla Walla Tourism

Luxury Bath
2711 152nd Ave NE
Redmond, WA 98052

Genesis Financial
1-800 511-9010

Dr. William Thompson

RCS Equipment Rentals
1 800 222-7777

Boycott KVI Radio Sponsors Now!

Thurston County Judge Chris Wickham rejected a civil rights law suit by KVI’s right wing talk show hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson again Wednesday. The two had claimed their right to free speech was being infringed on when the judge told them that they must report to the Public Disclosure Commission any airtime promoting the anti gas tax initiative I-912 as a in-kind contribution to the campaign in favor of its passage. An organization calling itself

Since the two right wing talk show hosts are principle organizers behind the inception and promotion of the initiative to repeal the gas tax the judge ruled that any on air promotion on KVI Radio in support of a yes vote should be treated as a in-kind campaign contribution and reported to and monitored by the Public Disclosure Commission.

The incremental 91/2-cent per gallon gas tax increase was passed in the last session of the legislature to rebuild the state's highways and jump start major projects like the replacement of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct. The viaduct has been determined to be a risk, and would probably collapse if another significant earthquake should hit the Northwest. The state’s highways have been neglected for years mainly due to Republican opposition to any taxes that would be needed to maintain or modernize the highway system. When Democrats finally took control of the State Legislature and State House last year they passed the gas tax with the help of a few progressive Republicans and many in the business community who saw it as a necessary move to maintain the state's infrastructure which is so vital to the delivery of goods to market and transportation in general. See NO on I-912 website here for more background.

The ruling is a double edge sword for the Carlson and Wilbur. The publicity they receive from the law suit is free and helps promote their radio show. But it also shows that they are not impartial about the issue really when using air time on KVI to promote the initiative. Airtime that is unavailable to the opponents of the initiative.

The law suit is mostly a "win win" situation for KVI Carlson and Wilbur. The promotion of the anti gas tax initiative galvanizes conservative listeners who listen because they are most likely in support of the initiative to repeal the tax while at the same time the station gets free publicity for Carlson and Wilbur that potentially may draw new listeners to KVI. Something the station needs to do based on recent listener ratings.

But the playing field is not really level in this battle of ideas. KVI Radio is in effect promoting the repeal of the gas tax. If this major Seattle radio station is not willing to grant free equal time to the opponents of the initiative I-912, I think its time that the opponents let KVI know that they intend to boycott the sponsors who continues to support KVI programming with their advertising. Starting immediately.

I urge you to email call or write Fisher Communications KVI's parent company today and tell them you intend to boycott the sponsors advertising on their station as a protest against the unfair use of the public airways by them to promote initiative I-912. I would also encourage you to also contact the sponsors directly and inform them that you will not buy their products unless unfettered equal time on KVI Radio is granted to the opponents of the initiative or Carlson and Wilbur cease using airtime to promote the passage of I-912.

Fisher Communications, Inc.
100 4th Ave N
Suite 510
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 404-7000

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Puppet Government in America

Recent revelations that Dick Cheney is a power hungry master manipulator with a hidden political agenda have begun to come in to focus. No true Democrat or freethinking person is really that surprised! Cheney has always delighted in his macho tough guy grumpy bad boy image. It doesn’t take much Carl Jung 101 to realize that he is probably just the opposite. Probably a resent filled egotist whose real fear or people places and things make him want to act the tough guy role.

News from the CIA leak investigation and with recent mea culpa(s) from the likes of Lawrence B. Wilkerson former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft former national security advisor with Bush I, we begin to see into Dick’s sinister world of smoke and mirrors that became the manipulated lie of an argument that the United States should go to war in Iraq. Wilkerson went as far as to call the plan to start a war in Iraq the work of a white house “cabal” headed by Cheney in concert with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Cheney has in effect hijacked our country. George W. Bush is painted as a president somewhat diconnected and weak on the intellectual tools of the trade that would be needed to make a difference. Credence is added to this when we see that many of the decisions coming from the White House have proven to be half-baked. Case in point Harriet Miers ill faded nomination to the Supreme Court. Even Democrats have to ask themselves is this the best America has to offer up in the field of jurisprudence? The answer of course is no.

It is George Bush at his best appointing cronies to positions of power who are totally unqualified. Unfortunately the mistake is not often discovered till after the damage has been done. Example “your doing a hell of a job Bownie” episode with former FEMA director Michael Brown who resigned in disgrace after the complete bungling of the hurricane Katrina emergency aid program.

Wilkerson’s statement and the observations like those of Maureen Dowd of the New York Times point out the complete monkey wrench has been thrown into the constitutional works of government. Something that is entirely different then what most American people expected when they voted. We in effect have a Vice President running the country not the president we elected. That is if you accept that Bush was actually elected president in 2000 or 2004. Of course neo conservatives probably would of really preferred that Cheney were at the top of the ticket in the first place, and it could be argued that they knew what most Democrats widely suspected. Cheney would be the one really running the show in the White House anyway. Now we have some definitive proof of that.

Bush is further painted as a President who is not always completely in the loop on major policy decisions. Recent revelations in the news about the administration have reinforced the image of Bush as incompetent, disconnected, without vision or imagination. Condoleezza Rice is seen as a “go along to get along” advisor who rarely would tell the emperor that he has no clothes or who is more interested in her future ambitions then creating friction or rocking the boat by questioning Cheney or Bush policy decisions.

More far reaching is the continuing saga and conflict of interest that Cheney’s ties to companies like Halliburton present. Halliburton is profiting immensely from no bid contracts associated with the war in Iraq and the gulf coast disasters. The white house has suspended laws that call for open bidding on contracts for the war and rebuilding the gulf coast. Contracts that eventually got awarded companies like Halliburton from which the vice president directly benefits.

Bend over America! President Clinton was put up for impeachment for having consensual oral sex with Monica Lewinsky. Maybe Cheney and Bush should be impeached for metaphorically having non-consensual anal sex with American voters. I think a far more serious offense base on the number of lives we lost directly due to their lying, profiteering and manipulation of the truth.

Dingell Berries

ABC News political unit “The Note” had some interesting quotes from Representative John Dingell who is celebrating 50 years in congress. Proving term limits was a lame idea that was origninally pushed by a bunch of political nitwits who couldn't understand the political process. If you want to limit someone's term don't vote for them. I for one think expericnce is important.

Dingell will officially mark 50 years in the House of Representatives on December 13, 2005, making him the third longest serving House member in U.S. history.

THE NOTE: "Retired Gen. Odom has said the longer we stay in Iraq, the worse it gets. As someone who voted against the war, do you agree? And if so, is it time to get out?"

DINGELL: "Well, remember I voted for going into rescue Kuwait from the Iraqis. I voted against going into Iraq. Having said those things: is it time to pull out? It is time for the President to present a plan that will work — clearly his plan is not working at this time: hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent over there. Thousands of Americans are dead. A hundred thousand Iraqis are dead. . . It is becoming a terrorist training ground . . . But I'm not sure that we can get out. . . If we don't come up with a way of addressing this, we're going to destabilize the Middle East and sow the seeds of World War III. And it's going to have a tremendous economic impact. There would be a loss of energy sources upon which we are now dependent."

THE NOTE: "Why do you think that the war in Iraq might lead to World War III?"

DINGELL: "I can't prophesize that. What I can tell you is that World War I started in a little place called Sarajevo. World War II started when the Germans invaded Poland — it was really just a continuation of World War I. . . Some Arab extremist group can take over a country drop a dirty bomb. Terrible trouble."

THE NOTE: "What do the Democrats need to do in 2006 to recapture Congress?"

DINGELL: "Let the people know what George W. Bush is doing to the country . . . George W. Bush has brought us the most intolerable international situation. He's doing nothing to resolve the troubles in the Middle East. He's involved us in a war. This is caused in caused in good part by intellectual laziness. He sold an attack on Iraq on the theory that there were weapons of mass destruction and that there were ties to terrorist organizations, neither of which was true. Show what they are trying to do to Social Security . . . Show that they are hostile to Medicare . . . George W. Bush came in with a $2 trillion surplus. We now have a $7 trillion deficit . . . This is the worst and most incompetent administration since Coolidge."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Family Feud and Other Observation

Dysfunctional King County Politics

The revelations this last week concerning the David Irons family crazy dysfunctionality and how it should relate to the qualifications of David Irons to become the King County Executive border on the bizarre. Local blogger David Goldstein of broke the story this last week with the MSM picking it up and running with it through the weekend.

Although I believe that Ron Sims is better qualified I now worry that the revelations into the wacky snake pit that is the Iron’s family feud will be perceived as the ultimate dirty trick by Sims against Irons rather then good investigative blogging by Goldstein. Sims categorically denies that he had anything to do with the story. Goldstien vehemently denies any connection to the Sim’s campaign for the genesis of the story. Goldstien an unabashed liberal democrat insists he felt it was important that the story be told to inform the voters about possible character flaws of candidate Irons and only that.

Irons response to the revelations has been to paint the family members who oppose him or made accusations about his character as cracked and/or politically motivated acting on the direct orders of Sims.

Who will the voters believe? I fear it may be Irons. The story, which paints Irons as an unstable dishonest person with anger management problems is rather bizzare. But it is also a classic he said she said tale. It is also so bizarre that it plays I suspect rather like a bad episode of Jerry Springer in the mind of the average voter. I'm more afraid that it may be perceived more as a campaign dirty trick engineered by the Sims campaign then what Goldstien intended it to be. If this is true it could end up costing Sims the election. Then we will be stuck with real horse’s ass of a County Executive.

Sims main problems were the Critical Areas Ordinance and the Green Party Candidate Gentry Lange. The CAO is widely perceived in urban King County as a land grab. or worse, by liberal county egg heads. Rural county voters see the ordinance as environmental overreaching by the Sims administration and a general loss of freedom to do what they please with their property. Whether is it or not, that is the perception. Sims has not done a good job of defending the reasons for the ordinance to rural voters and it has worked as a rally point for the opposition.

Gentry Lange as the Green Party candidate is taking votes away that would normally be going to Sims. A sort of “Ralph Nader” effect within the county that may end up giving Irons the margin he needs to win the election. The race seems to be neck and neck at this time with Irons slightly ahead and Gentry pulling from 5% to 7% or the vote. Sims will need to overcome these problems prior to election day if he is to remain County Executive.

What may history say?

The constant bickering and spin control by politicians and pundits on the issues of the day often can make it impossible to see the deeper issue or any true perspective on the question of how history may view our current situation when it is review at some time in the future.

I think that the historians will write is that the administration of George W. Bush and his white house cabal completely changed the dynamic of American foreign policy that had existed, for the most part, since before World War II. It did this when it decided it should start a preemptive war in Iraq. Its foreign policy approach in general became adversarial rather then defensive or diplomatic, the old policy being perceived as a weakness by the administration neo-cons. Gore Vidal refers to this policy as sort of America’s in the face of every country in the world, which they, including our traditional allies, consider insulting.

The administration then engaged in strategy of selling the justification for the war to the American public, or at least to congress, and especially democrats in congress, who needed to vote to support it. It successfully did this without sufficient debate on the merits of going to war on such grounds because the mood of the country in the shadow of 9/11 put democrats in the peculiar position of seeming unpatriotic if they opposed it. This neutered democratic criticism of the war during the 2004 presidential election and continues to haunt them to this day. Even now when it is widely understood that the argument made by the administration to support the war were false or at the very least greatly flawed.

Twinkie defense?

Republican Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchinson today on Meet the Press pooh-poohed any indictments that may be forthcoming from the CIA leak investigation if the charges are based on perjury or conspiracy only rather then the act of being involved in the leak itself. Both charges are felonies. This appears to be the tact that the Republicans will most likely pursue since it is widely suspected that the special prosecutor will in fact find violations of the law based on lying to grand jury or a conspiracy. At one point Bailey Hutchinson compared the case to that of Martha Stewart who was convicted of perjury. Stewart was convicted of lying about her insider trading rather then the trading itself. Bailey-Hutchinson comparison is a considerable reach since Stewart’s perjury didn’t eventually lead to American reasons to go to war in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: Based what's in the public domain from Judith Miller when she wrote in The New York Times and others have said publicly, do you believe that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby discussed Joseph Wilson's trip and his wife's employment at the CIA?

SEN. ALLEN: I don't know. I know that's rare from a politician. I don't know. I've been more focused on Harriet Miers' qualifications and reducing energy prices and others, and I'll leave this to the prosecution and by the way, again, due process rather than a lot of speculation on what actually is known or not said in testimony in a very closed grand jury proceeding.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Hutchison, you think those comments from the White House are credible?

SEN. HUTCHISON: Tim, you know, I think we have to remember something here. An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people's lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let's just see what the charges are. Let's tone down the rhetoric and let's make sure that if there are indictments that we don't prejudge.

MR. RUSSERT: But the fact is perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate. Senator Hutchison.

SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I'm not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process--and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country. And I think we have to weigh both sides of this issue very carefully and not just jump to conclusions, because someone is in the public arena, that they are guilty without being able to put their case forward. I really object to that.
She continued to use the term “technicalities” when referring to possible finding of lying or conspiracy. A sort of speak understood by her legally challenged supporters in Texas apparently. Being found guilty of a technicality rather then the substance of a charge is a common conservative complaint about the judicial system. Though it didn’t seem to mean that much when it was the technicalities on which the Republicans based their case to impeach Bill Clinton.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All

Is labor in crisis or on the verge of renewal?

What’s wrong with organized labor? Has cronyism, corruption, and a lack of new ideas made unions ineffective at representing potential members? Why are most workers indifferent about organized labor? Has business succeeded in making workers believe that they don’t need unions? Are workers unable to understand the premise that strong democratically run unions may be an effectively way to deal with poor working conditions and exploitation by their employer? Have the corporations and Republicans won the public relations battle and created a perception in the mind of most workers of unions as corrupted and evil entities, who are nothing more than “dues collection agencies” funneling money to corrupt union leadership and politicians? Have Republican politicians finally succeeded in removing legal protections that make workers truly afraid of employer retaliation if they should try to join a union?

Unfortunately, the answer is YES to most of these questions! But they are questions that organized labor must have the courage to ask and answer openly if labor is to continue to be a viable player on behalf of American workers or alternatively become nothing more than a dusty entry in some future encyclopedia. Labor must beginning to return to its ideals and true values and be willing to complete a long overdue top to bottom overhaul. Unless it does it will soon become irrelevant to the real American work place or worker. This decline did not happen overnight and in my way of thinking its genesis can be found in a time just after the Second World War when unions were reaching their modern zenith of power. In a certain respect labor union success has turned union leaders into the vary thing they once opposed. Materialist more interested in their personal accumulation of power and wealth then leaders who paramount concerned should have been with the welfare of the downtrodden worker.

Today we continue to find labor union membership in America declining with about 13% of worker in this country belonging to a union. Membership has been steadily dropping since the late fifties when nearly 40% of the workforce belonged to a union. Recent news reports of the successful United Airlines move to discontinue the pension plan for it’s employees without much more then a whimper from any sector on the political landscape or Northwest Airlines moving to break it’s striking Machinist Union and actually seeing their strike as a opportunity for the company to be rid of the union once and for all. The United Auto Workers recently agreed to cut medical benefits for company retirees when faced with the GM's saging profits predictions.

Actions that would of created an outrage politically and publicly not that long ago. Most smart workers should be asking themselves if my pension plan is the next to go? But they aren’t. Sufficiently indoctrinated to feel their lucky just to have a job or insulated by a employer who keeps the union out by providing conditions that are just barely comparable to that of a unionized work place. Conditions that can be withdrawn or eliminated entirely at any time at the employers whim.

On the bigger scale the Republicans and business have attempting to privatize Social Security and weaken Medicare. Both organized labor prized plumbs . On all fronts the labor movement is under siege and unable to do much about it in the face of corporate and Republican political power in a full-scale onslaught to destroy them. The Republicans power since the Reagan administration and the Republican revolution of the early nineties have over time been extremely successful in dismantling or rendering toothless the labor laws that once protected workers or at least created a level playing field between them and business.

I was raised in an Irish Catholic oriented pro labor family. My father born in 1900 in Chicago was a labor official most of his adult life. My mother was a Eastern Washington farm girl whose mother and father worked most of their lives for the Northern Pacific railroad in and around Kittitas County Washington State. All these family members nurtured us at the dinner table on the tenets and history of the American labor movement as we grew up. My older sister, when still in grade school, had turned out a term paper covering “the benefits of the union shop” when other in her class were more likely to be writing about Roy Rogers horse Trigger.

This was the atmosphere of expectations in which we lived. Convinced of the strength that most workers had the protection they needed against the abuses of an employer framed in the institution of collective bargaining and unionism. Eventually my enthusiasm for the union and my father’s reputation in the Seattle labor movement lead to a position as an organizer with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 8 in 1970.

In my mid twenties I was brash longhaired and idealistic like so many of the sixties generation. I often inspired workers and offended employers with my hair, zeal and determination. But I also bothered union leaders who felt I was too outspoken, brash and willing to rock labor’s boat whenever I thought it appropriate. Sometimes I saw labor leadership as a bigger obstacle to progress then the employer. More interested in protecting their position, place and compensation packages then interested in really supporting the workers by demonstrating transparency, taking controversial positions, sacrificing themselves or demonstrating leadership. Many lacked integrity and were often susceptible to cronyism and petty corruption. Some had wandered far from the basic ideas of collective bargaining and were simply running dues collection agencies.

There were some exceptions to the rule. One such person was the Longshoremen leader Harry Bridges who was a grand example of a man who ran a clean and effective union. Today his leadership and ideals has kept the ILWU among one of strongest and most effective unions in the labor movement well known for its worker solidarity even today. Bridges was a socialist at heart and this rankled the feathers of many in mainstream labor. Given the Communist scare of the early 1950’s. Another leader who sticks out was the United Farm worker leader Cesar Chavez. Both these leaders demonstrated their willingness to perform personal sacrifices when fighting for workers or to win a strike.

The problem I believe was many mainstream labor leaders the likes of Dave Beck, the powerful president of the Teamster Union till he he had to step down due to corruption in 1958, believed that labor was the “flip side of the coin” to business. Not so much a political or social movement attempting to control the means of production vis-à-vis business but simply an agent for workers it signed up who paid dues to the local union for services rendered. Beck once bragged about not having every had to walk a picket line because of his adeptness with working with business. This dogma of being only an agent representing workers without ideology had begun to permeate much of organized labor by the mid fifties. Beck also practice a technique of “organizing the employers” rather then the workers often strong-arming employers to force them to have their employees join the union in exchange for free movement of their products to market, something the Teamsters Union had considerable control over.

In the early seventies I saw this “disconnect’ and talked incessantly to other labor officials about how labor must return to integrity and idealism of an earlier time. I was seen as a troublemaker for the most part. I surmised that labor leadership did not identify much with workers and the workers knew something didn’t add up. I also saw this disconnect again years later when I was elected a delegate to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas in 2001. Basically a teamster shop steward elected as a reform delegate from Local 763 in Seattle. Despite the enormous amount of rhetoric about being about improving the lives of workers voiced by Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and his cronies at the convention. The message I heard and saw there are that the Teamsters were a union mostly involved in maintaining the status quo, looking and sounding good, and protecting those in power while lining their pockets first and foremost with few exceptions.

The other main reason for labor’s decline is its inability to make workers understand that unions were basically democratic institutions run by the workers who elected their own leaders to negotiate better working conditions and protections. Because most workers could see they were not. Workers began to call a spade a spade with organizations run by corrupt old farts more interested in their personal agendas and unable to offer much in the way of any improvements in their working conditions even if they were given the chance. This disconnect was reinforced because unions, in spite of their rhetoric, where not democratic, open or transparent. Union bylaws are to this day often written to keep the old guard in power not to open up the process to progressive change. The first thing the employer points out to the employees whenever it is faced with an organization attempt by the union.

Most of labor is in denial about this even today. Unions seem often more adept at projecting favorable public relations images then the principles and integrity the union should stand for. Most of the stories you read about the downfall of labor blame it on the aggressive and sustained attack on labor starting with the Reagan administrations successful decertification and busting of the air traffic controllers union in the early eighties. This, it is argued, sent a message to the business community that union busting was back. It is true companies began to become more aggressive in their dealing with unions. But the union own incompetence, mismanagement and loss of integrity existed long before that Reagan became president. I think he recognized labors weakness and was only more then willing to exploit it. Labor began to crumble because it was in fact a straw horse that had lost its real idealism and moral authority long before.

In July 2005 nearly a third or 13 million members of American Federation of Labor broke away from that body. The breakaway unions including the Teamsters, Laborers, Service Employees, Food and Commercial Workers, Carpenters, and United Farm Workers who believed that the AFL was not doing enough to move the labor movement towards the renewal needed to produce newly organized members. They have formed a new federation of labor their calling “Change to Win”.

I would hope this is a move in the right direction. But I worry that it is more sizzle then steak once again. True progress cannot be made I believe till labor really is willing to clean house of corruption, get rid of the good old boys and the cronies and really get honest with the American worker. Leaders must be willing to return to the true ideals of the labor movement. Not just talk a good game. Union leadership must be willing to fight for workers through personal self sacrifice not just collecting dues and signing sweetheart deals with employers. Unions must be unorthodox and above all be honest and admit they have been the ones mainly responsible for the fix they find themselves in today. Organize labor must take a long look in the mirror if it hopes to become a force in he future.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Life Without Hope

"My hope is that we may recover something of a renewal of that vision of the law with which men may be supposed to have started out with in the old days of the oracles, who communed with the intimations of divinity." Woodrow Wilson

The worst part of government under George W. Bush and the Republican Congress is the serious lack of hope or new ideas that the American people long for from their leaders as we sit on the precipice of a new century. A feeling of moving proudly forward into the future instead of bogged down in ubiquitous mountain of crony driven in competency and banal horseshit.

Bush and the Republicans are mainly interested in protecting turf and the maintaining the status quo. Fighting to maintain the power of their class of blue-blooded silver spoon-fed privileged pricks. Most of them on the fast track up the latter of life fueled by the misappropriation of our natural world by their robber barons relatives of the early part of the last century. They perceive most political groups that are not of their own ilk to be enemies who should be marginalized or eliminated. Now in power, they spend their time using our government institutions and power to keep their boot on the necks of the working and other common people. They are jingoist of the worst order and often hide behind a phony religiousness to justify their militaristic aims. They act patriotic and wounded when they sacrifice the lives of young Americans in wars to gain access to diminishing oil supplies. But neatly avoided their time of service through the use of family string pulling and political influence.

Ironically, they oppose government itself. They do not want their tax dollars spend in anyway that would represent supporting the common good unless it works to increases or subsidize their moneymaking schemes or personal stock portfolios. They do not support taxes that would provide universal healthcare to the citizens of this country. Forever opposing it with a phony claim it is un-American or socialism. Further they oppose taxes on many fronts that would strengthen or maintain our nation’s physical and mental infrastructure. In Washington State the conservative one issue radio talk crowd of political porn artists and the Republican party have joined forces in a current attempt to roll back a gas tax that was past during the last session of the Democrat controlled legislature aimed at maintaining and improving the state’s highways and transportation needs. They do this even though their friends in the business community support the tax knowing that it is necessary to maintain the infrastructure needed to deliver products to market. But it’s always about ME with these shortsighted blowhards. Screw you! I’ve got mine!

Working people hopefully are beginning to see the end game for these floundering frat boy oppressors. We need to return to a sense of community instead of just phony slogans and putting on appearances of caring. More often their's it is a message of sink or swim.

Government is not responsible for people’s lives, but it certainly has a social responsibility to help us achieve a meaningful existence if it serves the common good. Social Security, Medicare, veteran’s benefit programs, grants for college education and protection or the environment are forms of government help that have been successful. Although conservatives would argue that they should be scuttled not base on their success but because of their ideological opposition to them.

It’s time for us to recognize these people are running our country only to fulfill the limited agendas that benefit their kind. It’s time to wake up from the nightmare of a nation without real hope.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The 2006 Democratic Party Proposal of Priorities for America

"the best ideas are common property"
Seneca 5 BC - 65 AD

President Bush and the Republicans seem to have lost their way these days. The President and Congressional approval ratings are apparently close to hitting bottom. This development is delighting Democrats when viewed through the periscope of what it may mean in 2006. Democrats may have a historic opportunity to take control of one or both houses of the US Congress in 2006 if the Republicans continue to display cronyism, incompetence and bungling that seems to be daily event these days.

In the 1994 elections for congress the Republicans swept the Democratic Party aside. For the first time in 40 years Republicans gain control of the US House of Representatives and US Senate. Since that time the Democrats have been the minority party, except for a brief period when they barely had control of the Senate, only to lose control again in a subsequent election.

The 1994 victory for the Republicans was due in part to that party’s “Contact With America” theme campaign. Newt Gingrich, the Republican minority leader at that time, promoted the contract’s set of proposals as a list of changes he and his fellow republicans intended to bring about if they were given control of the congress. It played a major part in getting Republicans elected. Even long time Democrat Tom Foley (WA), the House Majority leader, was defeated. It was a dark time for Democrats. who seemed blindsided by the overwhelming success of the Republicans and their use of the contract with America to win seats.

The Republican contract was a loosely worded document and consisted of two major parts. It represented a conservative wish list of items including, ironically in the context of today’s record deficits run up under Republican control, such things as a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget along with such items as taking back our streets, personal responsibility act and American dream restoration act. Democrats founds some of these proposals laughable. But it appears they did touched a cord with the voters when the votes were finally cast.

Many of the items outlined in the contract never did become law even after the Republicans became the majority party. But it certainly achieved it principle objective in that it clearly framed the Republican candidates position on the important issues of the day, and drew clear distinctions about what the Repubican party supposedly stood for against the Democrats who took the Republican tactic pretty much for granted. As a public relations election tool it was a total success. It got Republicans elected in overwhelming numbers that November.

The Democratic Party has an excellent opportunity to turn the tables on the GOP in 2006. But it still will not be easy. Democrats must also be prepared to offer Americans clear alternatives and choices. It may not be enough to just run on Republican failures and mistakes if the Democrats expect to win back the congress.

I think it is time the Democrats also propose a contract with America outlining the specific changes they will attempt to bring about if the voters once again give them control of the US congress.

To help jump-start this process I propose the following “ The 2006 Democratic Party Proposal of Priorities for America”, not necessarily listed in order of importance.

  • Capture Osama Bin Laden
  • Strengthen and protect America against terrorists
  • Set time table for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq
  • Universal healthcare for all Americans
  • Fix Social Security and Medicare
  • Balance the federal budget
  • Tax reform Aimed at helping working families
  • Strengthen laws that protect civil liberties and privacy
  • Make America energy independent within 20 years
  • Tougher vehicle gas mileage standards within 5 years
  • Strengthen environmental protections
  • Cut government red tape and waste
  • Call for an international summit on proplems in the Middle East
  • Better Prepare Federal Government to handle natural and other Catastrophes
  • Strengthen rules and enforce penalties for Congressional ethics violations including expulsion and demand integrity in government
  • Standardize voting procedures in Federal elections
  • Rebuild America’s infrastructure
  • Increase federal grants for college education
  • Develope programs to strenghten and encourage math, science and technical education
  • Fully fund “No Child Left Behind”
  • Prepare America for potential pandemic illnesses
  • Fund substance abuse programs
  • Funding for more first responders and police including equipment and facilities
  • Require corporate ethics and transparence
  • Campaign spending reform including eliminating 527 organizations
  • Control nuclear proliferation
  • Strengthen the United Nations
  • Rebuild and respect foreign alliances
  • Keep commitments to our military veterans
  • Make access and use of mass media free and accessible to all
  • Reconsider “war on drugs” (rethink decriminalization, control over and taxation of marijuana and other drugs)
  • Sign Kyoto Treaty (Develop Federal policy on Global Warming)
  • Rebuild the Gulf Coast infrastructure including state of the art New Orleans levies
  • Assist the victims of hurricane Katrina
  • Stop illegal immigration and strengthen our borders
  • Safeguard Air and Clean Water
  • Support Music and Art Education
  • Create Business Enterprise Zones
  • Fight Aids
  • Stop human trafficking
  • Stop all abuse of military combatant prisoners
  • Fund Job Corp and Youth Programs
  • Strengthen Labor Laws
  • Strengthen worker safety laws
  • Strengthen laws against discrimination on basic of race, sex, age or sexual orientation
  • Protect and imporve internet security and freedoms
  • Make America the leader in science and technology
  • Stengthen laws on identity theft
  • Crackdown on Meth labs
  • Repeal the death penalty
  • Keep abortion safe and legal
  • Encourage Sexual Education
  • Forgive 3rd world debts
Your input is welcome if you have any other items you think should be in the poposal please add it as a comment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Duck Beaten Arrested and Jailed By Police

Starting the end of 1977 I was hired by KISW “Seattle’s Best Rock” Radio to promote the station to their listeners. The promotion was somewhat unique because it required that I appear on behalf of the station wearing a custom-made “duck” costume costing in the neighborhood of $1500 and weighing nearly 75 pounds. Yes, I was to become the official mascot of the radio station around town performing as the infamous KISW Duck.

Being 30 years old at the time and somewhat of a “bon vivant”, I was quite excited about accepting the job and couldn’t wait to get started. It meant an additional $250 dollars each week in my pocket and all the perks, free records albums and free concert tickets I could appropriate. I was somewhat of a mini celebrity immediately. Plus it availed me the opportunity to play a clown and not have to show my face. So I had the freedom to act a little crazy without any personal repercussions. Little did I know that it would later even provided me with a few “duck groupies” and numerous fans that identified with the radio station promotion?

The idea of the Seattle radio station creating a mascot dawned on station management when they saw the success being enjoyed by a mascot for Radio Station KBG in San Diego. The San Diego station had created a mascot in 1974 named the KBG (San Diego) Chicken who was played by a young man named Ted Giannoulas. “The Chicken” for short as he was often referred to in the radio business was to become famous not only in Southern California but up and down the West coast by the late 70’s. Giannoulas proved to be extremely adept at performing as the “chicken” and also garnering loads of free attention for the chicken and for the radio station he represented through his clowning and brazen self-promotion at public events, concerts, and San Diego Padre baseball games. Giannoulas always played it strait and always appeared in costume when in public. The KGB Chicken eventually became so popular, because of Giannoulas’s talent and public relations savvy that he sued the station for the rights to the promotion claiming he was primarily responsible for it’s success and identity and therefore should have control of the hefty revenue stream that the bird was by now producing. Since that time Giannoulas has created an empire build around the “chicken” mostly through personal appearances and novelties. Today he is known as “The Famous Chicken” and is regularly seen at sporting events throughout the country. But I digress.

In late 1977 KISW thought they’d try this type of promotion also and rather blatantly ‘ripped off” the KBG idea. Instead of a chicken it was to be a DUCK. This was a time when there weren’t that many commercial or sports mascots around so I’m sure the powers to be thought they were getting in on the “mascot” bottom floor, so to speak. A costume making company was retained and the costume was made. It consisted of a oversized head piece with screen mess eye holes, a huge foam rubber body with large foam filled wings which gave the duck a rather rotund look and a broad wingspan. Yellow tights were worn underneath the costume, which gave the illusion that the bird had yellow legs, and finally, webbed duck feet made from leather were strapped on to complete this little piece of theater. The large letters KISW were emblazoned across the duck’s ample chest. The duck also had a rather stupid looking and “goofy” fixed expression with big dark eyes on a brown head and a long yellow bill. Women would often swoon when meeting the duck and say that they thought he was “cute”.

I was instructed to attend rock concerts, sporting events, fairs and festivals, radio station promoted and personal appearances. I was in charge of most of my bookings and the station gave me free reign to go and come as I pleased. I would make personal appearances at car dealerships and station ad clients stores doing promotions and giveaways. The duck was expected to make several appearances each week around town. I gave away free donuts to listeners when they drove by in front of the station each Friday morning on their way to work. A promotion called "dollars for donuts".

But, The rock concerts I worked were the most interesting to me. Often it would mean an appearance before the show outside the venue and an appearance on the floor of the concert hall or on stage when the first act was being introduced. A usual night consisted of performing before the show, then retreating back stage for short breaks during the show. Most of these concerts took place in the local sports arena before large audiences of “stoned out of their minds head bangers”. KISW station format called for lots of “heavy metal” and this attracted mostly “head bangers” especially the shows the station promoted directly. Backstage I could remove the costume headpiece catch my breath and dry the considerable amount of sweat from my brow. I’d usually end up smoking a joint with the roadies or other hangers-on, or just watching the show from a non-conspicuous spot in the wings. I sometimes would get to meet the performers who’s attention I get because they were attracted by the strange man in a funny looking costume or interested in what it was like “being in there”. The most asked question was usually “doesn’t it get hot in there”? The answer was yes hot as hell.

I would often lose 5 lbs or more while sweating profusely as I danced, tumbled and jumped around flapping the enormous wings as I performed different variations or moves. I specifically remember meeting Bruce Springsteen who seemed quite interested in the duck. Another time I meet Crosby Stills Nash and Young while wearing the suit. They buzzed about me playfully as they were coming off stage and I remember thinking how strange it was to meet these icons of sixties rock wearing a duck costume that hid my face from them. I once preformed on stage with the TUBES when they performed a final encore at Seattle’s Paramount Theater in 1979. Fee Waybill the charismatic lead singer noticed me standing in the wings and invited me on stage. The band was known for great theatrics and apparently Waybill thought the duck was “off the wall” enough to fit in that moment. Other bands that stand out were the Talking Heads who unexpectedly invited me into the their dressing room to chat and smoke a joint and find out more about what the experience was being a professional duck. I think they took pity on me more then anything else. I performed with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra with William Shatner special guest hosting the performance. The evening was entitled "A evening in outer space". It featured themes from all the great space movies. It must have been during a low point in Captain Kirk’s rollercoaster career I guess, but it was a thrill for me. Although I was a little amazed because he turned out to be short with a bad hairpiece in real life. My god it was freaking Captain Kirk. It was more common that I’d avoided the performers not wanting to impose myself on them being only a guy who was wearing silly duck suit. Not really high art. It was fun to observe all the back stage happenings, as you would imagine. At the time my “day job” was selling advertising at “The Rocket Magazine” a popular northwest entertainment scene and pop music publication I helped start. I also wrote a gossip column called “lip service” under the byline Ricky Cresciend’o. So what I saw back stage often became fodder for the next issue’s column.

As the duck became more established and popular the station decided, with my urging, to provide me with a van so that I could travel to events and have a place to change into the costume. It also became necessary for me to ask the station to provide me with a bodyguard who would protect me from rowdy fans who often were stoned or drunk or wanting to make a name for their self by roughing me up in front of their friends. I convince them to hire a friend of mine named Richard Koch who was a local tough guy. Richard loved to party and fight so it was right up his alley. He became my regular traveling companion and would regularly ham on guys who got a little to exuberant or pushy. Concert revelers in the late 70’s were always stoned and felt it was their job to “get the duck high” also. They would often blow marijuana smoke in the eyeholes. This of course would fill the head with smoke and get me quite stoned too. Which at that time I enjoyed because I was a slacker and pothead and thought it was cool. I had stopped drinking alcohol at the time because that didn’t agree with me so pot became the drug I used quite often to feel normal. Or what I thought was normal.

The most peculiar thing about being the duck was the phenomenon of being able to see people react to the duck’s presence and persona and not have them really know who I was inside there. It was rather like watching a “Fellini” movie especially while stoned. Children of course would often become hysterical and call for mommy and perhaps now are damage for life because of a inadvertent meetings with the duck. The second best thing about the duck was that I could literally do anything artistically or physically I wanted, when in costume, without having to reveal my identity. This allowed me lots of freedom to experiment and clown.

Next to rock shows the duck next most frequent duty was attending local sporting events. Washington Husky football, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Sounders and Sonics all involved roaming the sidelines, isles or seating area looking to get the duck’s face on for a few seconds of free TV time. That would keep the radio station management happy. This was crucial because it was the reason for the duck’s existence. A few seconds on local TV with the station call letters plainly in view on the duck’s burly chest during a game made the cost of the promotion literally pay for itself. Lots of time and effort and the occasional bribe of a camera operator were not unheard of if it meant getting a camera’s “red light”. Record albums, concert tickets, favors and perks often would change hands prior to the game. Playing to the cameras was commonplace of course. Yelling and cajoling a camera operator so they’d “just give me a couple of seconds” was part of the days work. It’s got to be emphasized here that this was an era went the mascot craze really was in it infancy. So there wasn’t that much competition. TV directors were looking for something novel or interesting to put on the screen in between plays instead of athletes adjusting their jockstraps. A man in a duck or chicken costume making an ass of their self would do just fine. I appeared on TV during a number of games. I remember being on “this week in baseball” several times. A weekly show of major league baseball highlights. I recall Mel Allen the popular announcer doing the week’s baseball highlights and saying, “now what do we have here, a happy duck” referring to that week’s Mariner’s game highlight and a shot of the duck dancing after a hometown homerun in the Kingdome. The hapless Mariners drew about 10,000 fans a game, if they were lucky, in those days so you pretty much had the run of the stadium.

One special night I recall the baseball club had hired the San Diego Chicken to come to the Kingdome and do his show. His rising stardom seemed boundless and he was in demand from ballparks all around the country. In my head there was a certain amount of professional jealousy when I learned of his pending appearance. Granted he was the first modern day mascot but I deserved some share of fame too, I reasoned. I also resented that he was invading what I considered to be my “turf”.

I arrived at the game as usual and had with me several empty buckets of “Kentucky fried Chicken with rubber chickens in them”. I also had a sign that said ‘it’s finger licking good”. I brazenly shadowed the chicken in the stands getting a few laughs pulling the rubber chicken from the KFC bucket and placing it in my mouth as if to eat it or alternatively ringing the props neck, then throwing it down on the ground and stomping on it. Meanwhile my bodyguard followed close behind me flashing the “ it’s finger licking good” placard. I could tell Ted Giannoulas, the person inside the famous chicken costume, was getting pissed. I could hear him swearing and mumble something in my direction. I approached and when I got within hearing distance I said “Hi”. I then yelled a question, “would you like to do a little “shtick” together, maybe a little dance for the fans”? Thinking it would please the crowd to see the two mascots dance together. Giannoulas turned his chicken head towards me lean over and said loudly. “I work alone asshole”. “Your really are a chicken after all”, I responded. I thought he was just a fun loving guy who’d be more then willing to help his fellow local mascot out, NOT! The chicken from San Diego was all about the chicken from San Diego and getting those big appearance fee bucks. In a way I can’t blame him. I was just a blue collar working man type of mascot pretty much.

In 1978 the duck attended the Rose Bowl sent there by the station when the Washington Huskies won the Pacific Ten berth in the game. I attended a 100 football games, even a few minor level bowl games held in Seattle. The station knew that most of the Northwest would have the sets tuned to the Rose Bowl game. “It was the granddaddy of them all”. This was to be the biggest stage yet for the KISW Duck. It meant a week all expenses paid in LA with my bodyguard and a working vacation with lots of parties. But, the main reason for making the trip was to get on TV. The game was the highest rated bowl game of the year and was seen by millions across the country. The station would consider the promotion a total bust unless I got some screen time, even if it was only for a few precious seconds. In preparation for the trip I need some professional mascot advice so I called the nationally known attention seeker “Rockin Rollin”. (aka: The Rainbow Man Rollen Stewart) who lived in Washington State and made a career of traveling around the country. He was obsessed with celebrity and in order to feed the inner hunger he relentlessly tried to get on TV whenever possible by attending nationally televised sporting events. He was known for his “rainbow” wig, long mustache and garishly colorful clothes. He would dance and mug for the camera so they’d give him airtime. This lead to a strange form of celebrity for Rollin as he appeared on more and more broadcasts. Howard Cosell and other sports announcers would talk openly about him when he was spotted in the stands. He became so well known Budweiser hired him to do a beer commercial. By that time he had appeared on literally thousands of sports broadcasts. Later he found Jesus and would go to great lengths to hold banners up made with bed sheets that simply said John 3:16. Being apparently obsessed with prophecy about the "end of the world”. The broadcasters began to avoid him and he eventually ended up in jail in 1992 for taking a hostage and holing up in a Los Angles hotel room in a convoluted plot he had cook up mostly in his mind to draw attention to his belief that the world would end in six days. But that’s a story for another day.

In 1978 he was important because of his knowledge of how to get on television at a sporting event, the very thing he did with regularity. He and I talk on the phone prior to going to Pasadena and he indicated he meet up with me at the game and help me get some air time. The Rose Bowl stadium is enormous and holds well over 100 thousand people for a game like the Rose Bowl. I arrived at the stadium early and began to scout the camera locations that were placed throughout the gigantic bowl. It was a sunny day with near perfect weather. As the game progressed I feverously worked one camera position then another with out much luck. I’d get the camera pointed at me but no red light with the director probably suspecting exactly what I was trying to pull off. Sponsors are paying millions for airtime for a game like this and this duck thinks he can get some for nothing. I’m sure they thought. At half time I hooked up with Rockin Rollin. He shouted for me to follow him. We began make the rounds, one camera to the next. Rollin would yell and cajole the camera operators to “just give us a shot baby” or “can you help us out buddy” and “we need a red light”. It was getting late and I was getting a little nervous and was exhausted from running up and down and around the stadium. Rollin and I conferred and decided with 5 minutes left in the game we head for the first row closest to the field on the Washington side. We did and positioned ourselves near the 50-yard line in the front row, ignoring ushers as we went. We would shout to the hand held camera operators on the sidelines trying to get their attention. With approximately a minute left in the game and the Washington up by seven points Michigan was marching towards the Huskies goal line. The Michigan quarterback threw a pass that was intercepted by Washington. The enormous crowd of husky fans behind us went nuts. The Husky bench directly in front also erupted. Suddenly the camera operator turned to get a shot of the crowd. The duck stood directly in his sights. The red light came on and stayed on for about 10 glorious seconds. I was a star. I did it I thought to myself! Mission accomplished. After the game ended I sat hunched over in the first row of seats. The stadium slowly emptied. I was totally drained covered in sweat from head to toe. I’d been in the costume for nearly 7 hours by then. Later at the hotel I determined I had dropped about 8 pounds of body weight that day. The KISW duck had many more adventures. Once even playing goalie in a soccer game with the Seattle Sounders at the Kingdome before thousands of fans to raise money for charity.

Probably many remember that In 1979 the duck ran “a fowl” of a Seattle Police Officer while dancing in front of the Paramount Theater prior to a Richard Pryor show. For some reason the officer took umbrage with something the duck did. Why the officer reacted that way he did is still a mystery. The duck was subsequently manhandled, arrested and charged with obstructing an officer. The City attorney dropped the charges a few days later because of the weak nature of the city’s case against the duck. It was probably a bad hair day for the police officer. The duck wanted to sue the police for brutality. It was humiliating to be thrown in holding tank wearing only a set of yellow tights. The station legal counsel advised against it. Saying it would be better to let it just be forgotten. “Duck beaten by Police”. Several national music and trade magazines wrote. Antidotes about the duck being beating by the cops were on local TV. Teen magazine had a full page spread on the incident. People thought of the duck-beating incident whimsically.

Just before all this bad publicity the station had hired a new manager. When I came into work about a week after the incident, when things appeared to have settled down, the receptionist told me the new manager wanted to see me. When I sat down with him in the office he told me that Duck promotion was being dropped by the station.. He didn’t think it was a promotion that he wanted to be a part of station’s future image. He told me to turn in the costume. I went to the van and gathered up the parts to the costume. I brought them into the building and in the hallway leading to the mangers office I propped the costume up against the wall to make it look like it was sitting there. I placed the head on the costume and walk away. Looking back once more I saw that “goofy” expression on the duck’s face staring back at me. He looked rumbled and disheveled like a homeless beggar on an overpass. I had a very “fowl” and sad feeling in my heart as I turned and walk out the door.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Divine Comedy

Are we there yet? Slipping into banality.

I certainly think so. Negativity and intolerance of people who are different or disagree with us on a personal and group level must be at an all time high. Is America in the midst of a dark night of the soul?

Shouldn’t this be a time to build hope by supporting leaders who are fundamentally honest? Who demonstrate character and stand out because they have new ideas? It seems in these times we find ourselves caught in the cesspool of real or imagined over busy-ness that accomplishes nothing to lift us up. Bombarded by a manipulated mass media. Pursuing self, false prophets or material prosperity only. We are divided blue against red. There seems to be no real hope, or hope generating leadership politically, that can lead us towards the brightness and liberation of a new day of hope, meaningful contemplation and creativity. Yes, a nation moving towards the embrace of a new personal level of spiritual reality that knows the humility of its place. Perhaps we can call it “a big idea” that captures the imagination of the nation. Control the present and overcoming obstacles in our path. De-politicizing our environment. This country, once a bastion of the belief in readily overcoming our problems with guile, hope and a little help from the government has now gone inward into self-preservation. We are often living a philosophy of “rugged individualism” rather then community. It seems we are not content in being a great nation living in peace among other great nations. We must make war on our perceived enemies and force our philosophy upon them. Are we confused about who are real enemies are? Weren’t we the champion of human rights not the banal purveyor of injustice and torture that we have become? Can this nation and it citizens collectively pull ourselves out of the pit? Or are we to eventually becoming a nation of fat, lazy, selfish delusional people more concerned with idol gossip, triviality, character assassination and the lowest common denominator living in constant fear. We have lost access to our intuition and common sense.

Now as we slowly sink into a world of self-mediocrity we must look for new ideas, new hope, new leaders and new directions?

Modern day conservatives philosophically stand against being governed and government. If asked I think they would say no, we stand against “big government” or burdensome taxation or government involvement in their property rights and other fundamental “rights” they see as nonnegotiable. But by their actions they indicate that they dislike and really wish to dismantle all government and the tax systems that support it. Some examples of this would be tax breaks in the face of record deficits, privatizing or eliminating Social Security, opposing government sponsored universal health care, no controls on business, no protection of the environment that affects free enterprise, no interference with their right to make personal choices even if they are contrary to the common good.

Republican and conservative success at the polls has created an ironic dichotomy because they have become the government. The very thing that they wish to eliminate and reduce they must now be. A fundamental problem exists because of this. Best reflected in a severe lack of any new ideas coming from government. In a time when the country is crying out for political leadership and a new creative age of ideas in the new century we get practically nothing from Republican leadership. This paradox is further complicated by an attempt by conservatives to impose their moral and religious standards on Americans everywhere by controlling judicial appointments and just plain old fashion jingoism. The contradiction of being the government and not liking government is beginning to produce problems for the conservatives when it comes to governing the country. We see glimpses of this when we see corruption, cronyism, banality, and breakdowns in government, spending out of control and polls reflecting wide mistrust and doubt with the course government is going. There is no hope I believe generated by this form of government.

The belief that government could play a role in making citizens lives better or “social liberalism” grew out of the “progressive era” in the early 1900’s. It really took form and shape in this country with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” beginning in 1932 upon his election as president. This movement believed and demonstrated that government’s directly involvement in the lives of common people would better protect them with a better quality of life. Examples of the “new deal” were government created programs aimed at improving the working conditions, job safety, pensions, compensation, rights to associate and to unionize, child labor protections, Social Security and minimum wage laws. Many of these programs, created in the early days of the “New Deal”, are now generally taken for granted by most citizens. Conservatives opposed this social engineering and frequently labeled it as “socialism” or even “communism” and, therefore, basically un-American. I think few can argue that the Roosevelt’s new deal brought America forward. It was an important period in the creation of what we understand to be modern day America.

In the 1960’s Lyndon Johnson’s “great society” and “war on poverty” were further examples of social liberalism and progressive government programs aimed at common citizens and the less fortunate in a effort to reach out and help . VISTA, Job Corps, Head Start, and Medicare are examples of “great society” programs that, once again, we take for granted today.

1980 brought us Ronald Reagan. Reagan a conservative was elected to office on a platform of returning America to greatness with a muscular foreign policy mainly aimed at Soviet Communists and Iran (who the US was involved directly with at the time because of the “Iranian hostage crisis”) and fundamental American ideals centered on the rugged individualism, family values and personal responsibility. Reagan brought with him the real beginnings of a return to conservative ideas like limited government, tax cuts for business, reforming or abolishing welfare and government sponsored social programs, a return to catchy sounding themes like “family values” and a strong military. His presidency laid the ground-work for what was later to become known as the “republican revolution” when the republican party in 1994 took control of both houses of congress for the first time in 40 years. Though Democrat Bill Clinton was president during most of the 1990’s he was often on the defensive when he went up against the conservative republicans controlling congress. This era was marked by a new style of politics that’s hallmark was viciousness, polarization and lack of compromise. Today under George W. Bush the conservatives exercise of power is unprecedented, because they control all branches of government.

Many Americans are beginning to see the true conservative agenda. Focused selfishly inward on the individual rather then on the common good. Creating elitism and worship of wealth and position. Enforcing various Christian moral standards down our throats. Dividing and polarizing political thought. We say they are leading the country down the wrong path. Away from the social compact made and instituted by “new dealers” and those who came after them. A compact that reached outward and protected the working man and created extremely successful programs like Social Security. In spite of what conservatives say they want, they wish to end government responsibility for social security.

The Democratic Party has a great opportunity to return to power. By retaking the congress in 2006 congressional elections and in a run for the White House in 2008. We must become a party of new ideas and truth. We must provide hope to the people once again. Bruce Reed in his article “three men and party” in Slate talks about this need. He identifies Barack Obama D-Ill., and others as forward thinking leaders in this area. Obama talks about “tone, truth, and the Democratic Party”. He talks of being bold and unorthodox when trying to elect democrats. We must take the political high ground back. We must abandon old tired rhetoric and be unique and sincere in our approach.
"Whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government. We must become the party of ideas not rhetoric."
The Service Employees International Union has created a website which is soliciting ideas to promote economic opportunity for ordinary people. Politicians like Obama, and the outspoken Howard Dean understand that the Democrat Party must begin to frame the political debate on values and positive reform. The conservatives offer only the negative the old outdated approaches to our many problems. We Democrats must support candidates who will return honesty and hope and ideas to America.