Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Digression - meanwhile, last weekend

Sunday, here in Petaluma, California, was the annual Progressive Festival.

This is a gathering of folk who pretty much all have agendas which largely overlap, mostly having to do with making the world a better place. I happen to agree with most of their ideas.

It is amusing and yet sad to see so many intelligent folk grouped into little booths, each dedicated to one aspect or one collection of viewpoints of the Big Problems. Sort of like the fabled blind men discovering the elephant. This one feels the leg (maybe police brutality and prison unions) and says the elephant is like a tree (sees a need for prison reform and shifting money back from the prison system to the education system.) That one feels the side of the elephant (perhaps President Eisenhower's military industrial complex) and says the elephant is like a wall (Lockeed-Martin-Bechtel-Halliburton.) One sees the ears (PACS and Lobbyists and Big Money) and says the elephant is like a sheet (corruption and graft in government.) The last one feels the trunk (Monsanto and GE foods) and is sure the elephant is like a rope.

You get the picture. Everyone sort of agrees that there's a problem, but they see different manifestations of it.

The problems all boil down to this: the system is not working correctly. Things that are supposed to protect the common good are being destroyed or perverted by greed and a lust for power. The government of the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world is being run by folk who disregard the Bill of Rights of that country's constitution, and seek to foster and then prey upon fear and terror in order to gain more and more control.

One guy who stood alone all day, talking to passers-by, was an old acquaintance of mine. He does characatures each year at the Napa Grad Nite, where I do portraits next to him. He had a one-man display about the need for Secure Elections -- maps showing where Verifiable Paper Trails were legally required, and where they're not. At the same time, Bonnie was helping to man the California Clean Money Campaign booth, collecting signatures to support a bill to institute public financing of statewide political campaigns. I see these two issues as the core issues that have to be faced before ANY of the other problems can be addressed. Without equal resources for all legitimate candidates, we are locked into the same old "those with money call the shots" syndrome. And without verifiable, legitimate elections, the elections themselves are meaningless.

What brought this all up was a talk that Daniel Ellsburg gave late Sunday afternoon at the festival. I'd seen him several times, always quite grim, always with very sensible and horrific predictions for the future, all of which have come true.

This time he seemed unusually upbeat, which was a contrast with his message. He has a lot of insight into the way this country and its government works -- he's been inside it and outside it -- and he seemed to think that, as a free and civil country, we have a very slim chance, if all concerned and truly aware folk work very very hard in the next year or two, to turn out most of our representatives and take back the Congress from the Republican majority which is preventing any detours on the fast trip we're taking down the drain.

And if, indeed we luck out and manage to replace those Republicans with Democrats, then the way is clear to impeach Bush and his entire cabinet and everyone associated with it for the lies and graft and corruption which has become a hallmark of this administration. And then possibly the country can get back on track.

Lacking this slim chance, he said to be ready for the next terrorist attack, whether from outside the US or something allowed to slip through inside, makes no difference, to be used as an excuse for establishing Martial Law, something Bush was checking out at a command center in Colorado even as Ellsberg was speaking. Look for concentration camps to be filled with people who look Arab, or have names that sound Arab, or even happen to be at Festivals like the very one Ellsberg was speaking at. Look for a round-up of citizens to fill these camps that will make the Japanese in WWII "look like they were at a a country club."

As long as we have unverifiable election machines rigging our elections, and Democrats so beholden to rich doners that they are afraid to stand up and say anything (last count 15 were backing Roberts for Chief Justice!) I consider the chance of anything good coming of this to be less than slim.


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