Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Oh, Stand UP Damned Democrats! If you can.
Democrats need to decide, if they have not already, for whom they will go to bat. Who will they stand with and fight for. For the people?, who vote and volunteer and donate? Or for the corporations? If the party will break ranks, then they stand as a handmaiden party to the Republicans.
IF the Democratic Party is a handmaiden to a dominate, authoritarian, christianist, fully martial party, then ‘06 and ‘08 (and ‘10 and ‘12) will be replay. And the replay will be run on retread, old rubber burning up the road… the stench will be overwhelming. Tho I am of the mind they may want that. And I just observe their games, having transited that doorway I stood in for a couple decades.
Atrios and Arianna and CNN have greater strength and fortitude than I so I will let their words carry the day. Since no true natural constituency of the party that should be for the people will be winning one here.
But, from the point of view of the party as a whole, it’s completely and utterly wrong. When more than a few members are peeled off, suddenly it’s a “bipartisan bill.” In 2006, Nancy Pelosi won’t be able to make the bankruptcy bill part of a national issue because too many members supported it LOUDLY AND PROUDLY. And, if we don’t nationalize the congressional race in 2006 we will lose once again.
Until the party begins to take disciplined stands against these things, they don’t stand for anything.
So what does the bill do? It makes it harder for average people to file for bankruptcy protection; it makes it easier for landlords to evict a bankrupt tenant; it endangers child support payments by giving a wider array of creditors a shot at post-bankruptcy income; it allows millionaires to shield an unlimited amount of value in homes and asset protection trusts; it makes it more difficult for small businesses to reorganize, while opening new loopholes for the Enrons of the world; it allows creditors to provide misleading information; and it does nothing to reign in lending abuses that frequently turn manageable debt into unmanageable crises. Even in failure, ordinary Americans do not get a level playing field.
With Senate approval virtually assured after the bill cleared two key hurdles on Tuesday, backers Wednesday rejected proposals to ease the impact of the legislation on families with children, young people below age 21 and people with below-median incomes.
They also turned thumbs down on a proposal by Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy to close a loophole that benefits wealthier individuals in states with unlimited homestead exemptions, such as Texas and Florida.
“Millionaire deadbeats buy a huge mansion in Florida and Texas to shield their wealth from creditors. The harsh rules of bankruptcy being established by this bill will trap hard working middle class families, but the unlimited homestead exemption will allow rich debtors to escape,” Kennedy argued.
His amendment would have capped the amount allowed for homestead exemptions at $300,000. It was rejected 47-53.
55,000 sq. ft Mega Mansions in Florida are safe. Breathe a big sigh of relief. Whew!... I was so worried for the Faustos and Ken Lays of the earth. I lost sleep.
The bill’s main sponsor, Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, insisted the measure was fair and necessary, saying there had been an “explosion” in bankruptcy filings.
“It’s become an economic problem where the average person in America is paying $550 dollars for goods and services because somebody else didn’t pay their bills,” he said.
On Tuesday, the bill cleared a key hurdle as the Senate rejected a controversial abortion-related amendment that had scuttled it in previous years. Senators also voted to limit debate, but Democratic opponents of the bill appeared determined to use up the remaining time allowed.
Who benefits? One word, that stands for all of them, the Enrons of this nation. Democrats need to cut the corporate teat. As one of the contenders back in the primary season used to say:
Stand Up For America!
They not only need spines, they need legs and feet and capacity for locomotion. A desire to cut free of inertia… And to then have hope and desire for America and her people.
ACTION ALERT • Elections 2004-08 • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Web for News, Blogs for Politics...
Based on a new Pew poll (telephone-based survey of more than 2000) on use of the web for news there is a slew of reports appearing in the media today…
Editor and Publisher reports:
In 1996, only 3% of those surveyed called the Web one of their two leading sources of campaign news. In 2004, the figure was 18%. Reliance on TV rose slightly from 72% to 78% but prime use of newspapers plunged from 60% to 39%.
And for blogs:
About one in ten said the Internet had information not available elsewhere. They were more likely to visit blogs or campaign sites for information.
Blogs “are having a modest level of impact on the voter side and probably a more dramatic impact on the institutional side,” Lee Rainie, author of the study, told the Associated Press. “Blogs are still a realm where very, very active and pretty elite, both technologically oriented people and politically oriented people go."
However, sort of like the big bad wolf in the forest (oh fine I’ll look anyone in the face, including the wolf monster) a new article in American Prospect from Garance Franke-Ruta indicates to be aware…
But success bred change. Along has come a new group of bloggers who arenâ€™t mere â€œcitizensâ€? at all. On the left side, some of these became deeply enmeshed with political parties, â€œ527s,â€? and campaign advocacy groups—and are now a new generation of no-holds-barred partisans and major party fund-raisers, the liberal equivalent of George W. Bushâ€™s â€œRangersâ€? and â€œPioneers.â€?
On the right, a number of these bloggers were already political operatives or worked at long-standing movement institutions before taking up residence online. They are, at best, the intellectual heirs of L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center and Reed Irvine, who founded the ultraconservative, media-hounding nonprofit organization Accuracy In Media (AIM) in 1969 as part of the first generation of postâ€“Barry Goldwater right-wing institutions.
At worst, they’re the protÃ©gÃ©s of conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie and dirty-tricks master Morton Blackwell, who has tutored conservative activists since 1965, most recently mocking John Kerry at the Republican national convention by distributing Band-Aids with purple hearts on them.
It’s an interesting article, quite a lot tucked inside it…
[Not my day, a quick subversive hit...]
Art Of Blogging • Elections 2004-08 • Grassroots/Organizing • Political Marketing • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Saturday, February 26, 2005
In Defense of CSR: A Response to the Economist
Soapbox competition essay submitted by dcvote
A recent issue of the Economist presents an argument against corporate responsibility (CSR), which has become a popular tool for advancing social and environmental welfare. Economist authors state that â€œcompanies that merely compete and prosper make society better offâ€? and assert that unethical companies wonâ€™t remain in business long, anyway. Where companiesâ€™ interests and the public good do not alignâ€”for instance, when companies polluteâ€”the authors are confident that government or the courts can address the problem. Thus, they say, CSR is unnecessary. Enlightened self-interest and the marketâ€™s invisible hand, shepherded by legislation and jurisprudence, will achieve the best outcome for all.
Being a proponent of CSR, I have some problems with this argument. Granted, the Economist might not take issue with me demanding fair trade coffee from supermarkets or fuel-efficient cars from automakersâ€”after all, Iâ€™m communicating consumer demand, and the most successful companies will be those that create a supply to match itâ€”but theyâ€™d disagree with my motivating viewpoint, which is that many corporations earn their profits at the expense of society and the environment and must be stopped from doing so.
The main reason the Economistâ€™s formula (enlightened self-interest + market forces + government regulation = the best outcome for all) doesnâ€™t work is that corporations hold more sway than voters when it comes to regulation. Take, for instance, the Medicare prescription drug bill that will cost $723 billion over the next ten years and benefit the drug companies more than seniors. Public Campaign helps explain this development: â€œHealth care related interests have poured more than $163 million into federal political campaigns and party coffers since 1999 and have reaped huge policy paybacks that are harmful to ordinary peopleâ€™s health.â€? Examples in other arenas, from relaxed environmental laws to corporate tax breaks, abound. Politicians who are looking out for corporate interests are also likely to install corporation-friendly judges whoâ€™ll uphold such laws, thus perpetuating the cycle.
The Economist would probably agree that one solution to this problem is to elect politicians who arenâ€™t beholden to special interests. This, like the assertion that the market will reward the best companies, rests on the faulty assumption that we have good options to choose from. If political hopefuls who refuse corporate contributions and companies that operate ethically are squeezed out by corporate-financed candidates and unscrupulous corporations, then we canâ€™t vote with our ballots or our dollars for a good candidateâ€”weâ€™re stuck choosing between Bad and Worse.
So, how do we get good options into our political races and our marketplace? I recommend supporting campaign finance reform and clean elections while pressuring companies to consider workersâ€™ welfare, human rights, and the environment as well as profitsâ€”in other words, to practice CSR. Once clean politicians and ethical corporations can truly compete with their less-ethical counterparts, Iâ€™ll feel more comfortable letting the invisible hand do its work.
Econ, Biz, Devel • Elections 2004-08 • Nonprofits/NGOs • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Monday, February 21, 2005
Soapbox competition essay submitted by SheaBriana.
How often have we heard it said that Democrats live in the city and Republicans inhabit our suburbs and rural towns? In fact, isnâ€™t this the concept the Red/Blue map of America is based upon? (here and here)
When did our geography become the basis for our political affiliation? If itâ€™s true that stereotypes get their basis from fact, then there must be a way to interpret and understand how and why residency location plays a role in political affiliation.
Itâ€™s my theory that ideology and attitude are based largely on subconscious notions conveyed through land design. Sound complicated? Well, basically, the way in which the areas that you live in are designed have a direct influence on the nature of your beliefs.
David Sucher writes about this topic in his book City Comforts: How to Build an Urban Village. He gives a sundry of ideas on how to develop space for the greatest interaction. Most of his beliefs center around new urbanism and, to an extent, the smart growth and sustainability movements. In his blog he shows an image of urban/suburban building design that further illustrates this point.
Republicans are â€œgainingâ€? voters due, in part, to the trend of sprawl which distances community and promotes sameness among residents. Buildings closer together, on the other hand, promote more individualization, less group think, and more reliance on others.
Understandably, there is concern that these types of land use models arenâ€™t market-driven. I disagree. As much as these models are applicable in a city (as they have been proven to be) they can be applicable in suburbia and rural America.
If Democrats want to â€œtake backâ€? the country, they need to start with someone on the planning commission of every municipality. By encouraging sustainable communities and smart growth models we can combat the geo-ideology problem, as these models place a greater emphasis on those â€œdemocraticâ€? values.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Ticking Time Bomb
Soapbox competition essay submitted by Social Thinker
While we all are focused solely on the Social Security debate, there is another serious, and potentially deadly, problem lurking in the shadows. As the Bush Administration’s harsh criticism of Iran’s nuclear ambitions continues, one must reconsider the events of the last two years.
Throughout the course of the War in Iraq, the liberal left made accusations littered with the words oil and Israel, while the conservative right preached words like imminent threat, weapons of mass destruction, and September 11th. To date, the War in Iraq has brought to fruition none of the accusations made by the left, and virtually disproved every defense made by the right. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no imminent threat to our nation’s citizens, and absolutely no ties between Saddam Hussein and the horrific events of September 11th. Oil prices are among the highest they’ve ever been, and Israel seems to be handling its own problems one day at a time. Compounded, this should leave every American citizen to wonder just why over 1400 US troops have died “defending freedom,” as well as a rumored 15,000+ Iraqi civilians.
Three years ago, President Bush spoke of a goal to “prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction.” In light of this goal, he listed three regimes “constituting “an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world,” North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Naturally, in his speech, they were listed in that very order; from highest of threats to the lowest.
One year later, this list was reversed, placing Iraq at the top. He then went on to make his now infamous case against Iraq, claiming that Saddam was “assembling the world’s most dangerous weapons.” With the case for war approaching, it’s obvious why he would place Iraq at the top of the list and leave Iran and North Korea with but an honorable mention. Months later, the war in Iraq began.
In his 2004 address, President Bush again brought Iran and North Korea to the table. This time North Korea was honored with the first mention, followed by Iran. He then reiterated his commitment to “keeping the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes.” But he didn’t stop there, proceeding to defend the War in Iraq, citing the numerous countries that supported the invasion as well as the numerous achievements it had made. This is where his intentions become a bit more clear. In his speech, he introduced the subject of the Middle East as a whole, claiming it still remained “a place of tyranny and despair and anger” and that it will “continue to produce men and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends;” and introduced his pursuit of “a forward strategy of freedom in the greater Middle East.” Notice his transition from weapons of mass destruction to the crusading strategy of freedom. No longer is he trying to snow the American public on threats to their safety and worst-case scenarios; he’s already achieved that. Since he has now gained the ability to invade a relatively non-threatening country, he is free to broaden his ambitions to include a much larger Middle Eastern plan.
Which brings me to today. In President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union Address, North Korea gets a brief mentioning in passing, but Iran is talked about at much more length. Additionally, and of more importance, his plan to “promote peace in the broader Middle East” is given a large chunk of air time, making the claim that “America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” This statement alone, should make every man and woman in the United States just the least bit nervous. This is the agenda that led the invasion of Iraq. This is the agenda that you never heard. But how could you have? If the Bush Administration had introduced this policy from the beginning, not a single taxpayer would have supported it. Instead, an environment of fear and paranoia was produced to facilitate an unprovoked attack on Iraq. Once that was accomplished, a seemingly sense of moral superiority was instilled in every American, leaving them feeling like a second-string member of the winning team. Only then, could this Administration begin spoon feeding us an agenda aimed at spreading peace and democracy across the globe.
So now, three years later, it is perfectly clear what the Bush Administration had up its sleeve all along. A plan to invade the Middle East, beginning with the easiest country to pick on. Because, let’s face it, this plan would never work if two things weren’t accomplished: one, a viable invasion option complete with justifiable reason, and two, a viable invasion option that would basically be an “easy win.” Now what the Bush Administration may or may not have planned on was the massive insurgency that ensued following our invasion. Nonetheless, it worked in Bush’s favor by intensifying US resolve and our sense of patriotism, which is exactly what they needed to push this Middle Eastern agenda on us.
So what’s the problem, you ask? The problem is this: Bush is not going to stop with Iraq. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you should accept it now. This war is nowhere near ending. As much as I hate to say it, this war could very well mark the beginning of the 21st century version of World War III, a.k.a. the War in the Middle East. But this World War won’t be reminiscent of thelast two, it will be different, although potentially just as deadly. It will have the endless traits of the Vietnam War, the broad definition of the Cold War, and the ideological fuel of all wars combined. In the past, we went to war to stop the spread of Communism; now we’re going to war to spread the idea of Democracy.
Unfortunately, Bush’s plan didn’t necessarily go off without a hitch. In the landmark Iraqi elections [WaPo subscription required], “the top two winning parties—which together won more than 70percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq’s new prime minister and president—are Iran’s closest allies in Iraq.” And to make matters worse, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi “reiterated previous statements by top officials that Iran would not tolerate any acts of aggression, particularly from the United States.” Those statements? “Rice and other U.S. officials are aware of Iran’s capabilities....during the talks with the Europeans, we told them in clear terms to tell their American allies not to play with fire, and the Europeans clearly got our message.” On top of that, “Iranian President Mohammad Khatami last week warned that Iran would turn into a ‘scorching hell’ for any possible attackers.”
Ousting Saddam to get a piece of Middle Eastern real estate was one thing, but step two of Bush’s Middle Eastern freedom agenda is ten times as dangerous, leaving open a host of horrible possibilities. If this isn’t nipped in the bud soon, many more Americans won’t have any need for Social Security.
Elections 2004-08 • International Focus • War on Terra • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Principiis obsta :: Finem respice
from an essay by Milton Mayer
"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception has grown too heavy ... and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in â€“ your nation, your people â€“ is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.
But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.
..."Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.
"Once the war began,” my colleague continued, “resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism’. You assumed that there were lists of those who would be ‘dealt with’ later, after the victory.
I think now we know, although it is more than 60 years later and different in some critical ways, that indeed it can happen here. Or we at least visibly teeter on the edge. It is an interesting essay, I think it captures the combination of creeping, incremental change mixed with the human capacity, a need really, for illusion. And that human capacity allows us to tell ourselves that we, and our world, are stable… and we are safe.
This is a Sunday sermon, from the days before 9/11 and the ensuing wars, in observance of Hiroshima Day. Tthe Unitarian minister weaves in a column by Hal Crowther, whom many may remember as the author of With Trembling Fingers. (I remember it gave all of us hope.)
And down the hill, led by a girl with a drum, came two dozen elementary school students in parade formation, carrying sticks and toy rifles on their shoulders. They split into companies and proceeded to re-enact some “historical battle,” perhaps Lexington or Bunker Hill. It was a battle, from the age of muzzle-loaders and massed formations firing at point-blank range â€“ an age of “patriotic suicide.”
A teacher, a woman, was directing the company that seemed to represent the British: “Now kneelâ€¦.aimâ€¦fireâ€¦.withdrawâ€¦reload.” the battle lines were ten feet apart. It was chillingly authentic. [And] of course the kids were loving itâ€¦
â€¦I remember[ed] something H.G. Wells wrote, before the “great wars” that killed more than one hundred million soldiers and civilians: “The crazy combative patriotism that plainly threatens to destroy civilization is very largely begotten by the schoolmaster and the schoolmistress in their history lessons. They take the growing mind at a naturally barbaric phase and they inflame and fix its barbarism."
And lest any one rush at me for liberal wussiness, I am in love with all sorts of play for children. And distinctly remember the very gaudy bright silver and turquoise pistol set (with belt!) that mother bought me. We went to Union Square in downtown San Francisco, so I could put it on immediately in the bright sun shine, with the pigeons gathering, they had spied the cornets of feed we brought with us. I was all of about 35 inches tall and very happy. But mother was a strong willed red head and such toys were a blip in the road. America is not always so lucky.
Again from Hal Crowther, from just before election 2004:
Last week, far from Kansas, I experienced my own vision of the long-suffering, self-devouring faithful who have anchored the Republican revolution. Early one Saturday evening ... I drove south from Rochester, N.Y., into the Allegheny foothills. In late September twilight I drove 90 miles, almost to Pennsylvania, before I found a motel or any substantial sign of life. The dozen towns I drove through were ghost towns, with empty streets, empty storefronts and scarcely 20 functioning businesses that I could count—and 15 of those sold pizza. It was like a medieval countryside emptied by the plague. Do ghosts eat pizza?
Every 40 miles or so a Wal-Mart sits like a fortress in the same medieval landscape, the Wal-Mart that murdered these once-charming villages, that created five mega-billionaires on the latest list of the super-rich, that controls all the retail business and most of the jobs that remain in wasted rust-belt regions like Western New York. And I know from the experience of living there, as well as the flags and ribbons, that most of these people support the war and support this president. Out here even the ghosts vote Republican.
It’s here in the empty country that the great Republican gullibility holds sway. People surrender their soldier-children, their votes, their meager taxes without a murmur, then call in to rightwing radio hosts to rage about abortionists and same-sex marriage. Where hope is hard to find, people turn to more accessible emotions, like anger and fear. They need enemies to give them purpose in the world, and if Osama bin Laden is out of range they’re happy to substitute you and me—the too-tolerant, too-skeptical secular humanists for whom, ironically, the post-Enlightenment American democracy was expressly designed.
The Republicans are wondrous manipulators of these lost souls, these disenfranchised Middle Americans. But Kansas isn’t our enemy. It’s our responsibility, as a few serious politicians understand.
That landscape delivers too many to what lies at these links, they have pinged about the ‘nets for days but bear to be linked to again, the KY church (and they are not alone in this) that admits the mil inside the church, to then actively recruit as hymns are sung. (Any one with strength, the Yurica report has a full page of extracts related to Boykin and his christian soldiers.)
I am riveted by the photos. To me, I see the government harvesting… humans. I feel such panic looking at those photos.
From the Unitarian sermon referenced above, there was a Jonathan Kozol quote that, as I reread it, made me think of Izzy’s post, buffeted by the wild winds of Politics. None of what has come about, the strange wasteland of too much of America, had to be.
"Evil exists,” a student in the South Bronx once remarked to Jonathan Kozol. “Somebody has power. Pretending that they donâ€™t so they donâ€™t need to use it to help people â€“ that is my idea of evil.” ["Spare us the Cheap Grace,” Jonathan Kozol, Time magazine, 12-11-95]
I am remembering an interview a few years ago with Kozol, asked if anything had ever really been implemented from his books, with infinite sadness he said no. I had to accept it, it came from him, after all. All those books, all those years, working to determine what might help children, educate them better, let us, as a nation, be wiser parents to all the children. Utter devastation. Just as ghostly as the landscape Crowther drove thru.
The very last is a snippet of an interview that I found with Frances Fox Piven, of CUNY, in the wake of the election. It gives some hope. Her arc appears significantly shorter than mine. I am grabbing hers and running with it....
RC: So, what else would you say to those who are wondering â€œWhat now?â€?
Piven: Well, itâ€™s gonna be a tough few years but I think only a few years. We cannot continue following these policies without creating domestic political crisis in the United States. And we should be ready for that crisis. We should be politically prepared, politically mobilized, straighten out our heads about what we believe in [she’s got that one right!] and what we want to correct in our own society and we should understand that this is not only important for us, itâ€™s important for the entire world because the United States has become a very dangerous power. People all over the world now agree that the greatest danger to world peace is the United States government.
Elections 2004-08 • War on Terra • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Saturday, February 12, 2005
You have the power!
art by Norn
Welcome Howard Dean to the DNC with a contribution to support the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. Please consider throwing a few bucks to Matt, Ben, and the aching servers at ActBlue with your “Welcome Howard” contribution. They do a fantastic job promoting Democratic candidates and causes.
Sacramento 2003 speech. Sniff, sniff. Auntie Em’s getting misty eyed.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Big Kink In the Deal...
hmmm. Possibly none of this will make sense. But then it would be undifferentiated from much of anything else going on. I get to Howard at the DNC the really long way around.
We start with Kinky Friedman, who has declared for the run for governor of Texas, tho he must obtain over 45,000 signatures (post primary and from non primary voters, this could get dicey) as an Independent. I always welcome people like Kinky, they get ‘’stuff’’ said, whatever else does or does not happen… and we are surely down to the Jesters in this world… only they may speak freely. Or they just choose to…
He does start out really right, at the Alamo at dawn and stating that Gov. Perry should surrender. Oddly, it was very clever staging, it somehow reminded me there were old rumors about Perry being gay, virtually living with a senior staffer.
Listen up Democrats: Where did that rumor go? Find it, and don’t call home for money ‘til it is up and running. Truly, I don’t know this weak knee’d thing they call a party. Tho I have been watching it most of my adult life.
More over the fold.
Kinky, let it be said, started as a Democrat, the ‘’born as one, in your bones’’ Democrat. I used to say I was always surprised it was not on my birth certificate. Or my passport, same as birth place is displayed....
Here is Kinky on declaring:
His pledges thus far are to “take care of the teachers, cops, firefighters and cowboys” â€“ especially teachers, who he said the system has “screwed, blued and tattooed.”
He said something is wrong when Texas is first in executions and 49th in funding public education. He said he doesn’t mind the death penalty but doesn’t want to see the wrong guy executed. [...]
“I want to remind young people that JFK is not an airport, RFK is not a stadium and Martin Luther King is not a street. [Oh God love him for that!] If I’m able to inspire people, especially the younger ones, get them back in the process, then that would go a long way in solving all of our problems,” he said. [...]
He is not daunted, and he pointed out that not since Sam Houston has there been an independent on the ballot.
“So we’re here to wake up that great, slumbering giant of Texas independence,” he said.
There follows more Kinky, excerpted from his column in Texas Monthly (published about a month before the November 2 election), which requires paid subscription. I snip out a bit, the sweetly sad bit, and link to the blog that captured most of it.
"I don’t understand how you can support Bush’s policies. I’m told you grew up a Democrat. What happened?”
What did happen, I wondered, to the little boy who cried when Adlai Stevenson lost? What happened to the young man whose heroes were Abraham, Martin, and John?
Time changes the river, I suppose, and it changes all of us as well.
Let me be clear: I DON’T support Kinky’s reasons for voting for Bush (something I never could do) but I have a list as well, a VERY different one than Kinky’s, and mine is filled with rage, sheer anger at the loss, and I do not speak of the electoral losses, tho the losses are a part of it....
Kinky, to me, is more sad than anything, his reference to ‘’time and the river’’ flowing is a tip off… further, he admits he has changed. I have not, not in my core political beliefs, nor in what I demand of a national political party…
But! here is the link between us, (he may very well be gone but not all like him are gone for good) to many of us the PARTY must find credible ways to speak to us and to others in the nation. The party representatives, that all but non-existant “leadership” and equally non-existant “establishment” (if one were to listen “elsewhere") must begin to believe themselves, believe in their own platform and precepts, what they say must sound truthful. It is a big problem, not small in any way, for three long months they have floundered, and they floundered for years before this… it has not been pretty, nor convincing of anything but utter internal disarray and political inertia.... Denying it does not make it go away.
It was a big problem with Kerry, one he could not surmount (my apologies to those for whom his candidacy worked, I am blunt here). I trusted him less than almost any pol I have ever paid attention to. I considered him a captive already in a strange surrender, very problematical for a pol running in a tough election. The party must break free of sounding and looking afraid of themselves and, worse, afraid of the electorate:
Show Up! Sit down and Talk with People! Get real and Be real! I should not have to say these things.
I also felt certain the Republicans would destroy him in office and that He Would Not Fight Back. He did nothing to dissuade me of these observations that built steadily from November, 2002 in New Hampshire, to the crumple speech, Nov 3, 2004. Deadly.
Take the following for what it is worth. I am less interested in Howard, now, than at any time since July 12, 2002, when I landed on him, and I say this nearly a FULL YEAR since his suspension in WI. I did not support the run for DNC chair, tho I certainly did nothing to oppose it… not that anyone would care or notice. I am relatively disinterested in any future presidential run he might make. But I surely will watch. I am always in it for the political story, a diehard junky...
A lot of the decades of utter distaste for the party/apparatus/leadership can be summed up in something that does not augur well, and speaks to the core problems with the party: Pelosi and Reid and their comments in the past few days.
How peevish, petty and small can they get? God help them if they can do this in finer grind. How much more should they do to signal their disagreeable disagreement? I expect I will see more roll out from them, that they managed this, right off the bat:
‘’I think that Governor Dean would take his lead from us,’ said [Pelosi].
And Mr. Reid said:
‘The Democratic chairman has a constituency of 447 people. Our constituency is much larger than that.’
This morning, with little Stephy, Pelosi spoke glowingly of Roemer (did you know he ‘’came to Congress to help children’’? REPUBLICANS are laughing...) and at greater length than she spoke about Dean. I suggest thanks is appropriate, since she seems disinclined to see any positive.
WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE?
And who the FUCK are they?
(I’d put that in 24 point if I could.)
Meanwhile, as Harry and Nancy (the Leadership! In Congress!) fiddle,
the party and it’s new chair are up against hit pieces such as this in TIME from Joe Klein --I only link to it, no excerpts, as it is purely scabrous in my view, a true hit piece, petty and peevish, mean as well… he even smears Ron Reagan, the son, for good measure!.
Joe Klein, who only took part in that endlessly strange boys’ night at Al and Franni’s (did they let her play, too… or did she roll in the liquor trolley on cue? was it for the boys only?, I never did find out!) to help Kerry figure out who he was and what it all meant (truly what did it all mean?).... It struck me as useless as most overly long encounter sessions, everyone left with their cracks intact. No advance. Thanks Joe, on two counts.
Last, Democrat after Democrat made sure when asked about Kennedy’s speech on Iraq of last week, that they used “NO” as the initial comment with a long pause so it became a byte by itself (both Biden and Kerry, in particular). Not one, NONE that I heard (hopefully there ws one and I missed it) corrected the pundits and idiots to re iterate that it called for “a negotiated” withdrawal, leading off with 15,000 at first.
Democrats have very little time and face much hard work, and I am not speaking of ‘06 and ‘08, which right now are moot… not worth discussing at the national level… not til I see proof of life. They must get real. Right now they are not.
(This is very late, my apologies.)
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Last man standing
Donnie Fowler has apparently withdrawn his name from consideration. Looks like Gov. Dean will be elected chairman of the DNC by default.
Thoughts? Advice? Priorities? What will/what should become of DFA?
Thursday, February 03, 2005
VOTE NO! on Gonzales
Contact the Senate now.
ACTION ALERT: Contact Ken Salazar’s office NOW! He’s planning to vote “yes” on Gonzales.
Washington Office: 202-224-5852. Denver, CO Office: 303-455-7600. If you’re not a Colorado resident, call his contributors (listed in the comments).
3 FEB UPDATE: More commentary on today’s floor speeches. Keep an eye on The Rice 32 and how they are using their time on the soapbox.
UPDATE: The Gonzales Six—Lieberman-CT (term expried 2007), Landreau-LA (term expires 2009), Bill Nelson-FL (term expires 2007), Ben Nelson-NE (term expires 2007), Pryor-AR (term expires 2009) and Salazar-CO (term expires 2011).
ACTION ALERT • Civil Rights • Elections 2004-08 • Political Marketing • War on Terra • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink
Don't blame trade for US job losses
From McKinsey Quarterly
The enormous US trade deficit has caused many observers to conclude that international trade, particularly a massive flood of imported goods from China and of services from India, is to blame for the loss of US jobs since 2000. In fact, research shows that only 11 percent of the job losses in manufacturingâ€”about 314,000 jobsâ€”can be attributed to trade, and even in this instance the real culprit was falling exports, not rising imports. Offshoring in the services sector destroyed even fewer jobs. The real causes of job losses were weak domestic demand, rapid productivity growth, and the dollar’s strength.
Protectionism won’t address the causes of the loss of US manufacturing jobs in recent years. The real solutionsâ€”stimulating domestic demand, cutting the budget deficit, and pushing countries with artificially low currencies to allow them to appreciate against the dollarâ€”are harder to implement but more likely to boost employment.
More below the pink slip fold…
So contast this cheery news with Bush’s SOTU speech:
â€œNext week I will send you a budget thatâ€¦ stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.â€?
But, but, but… The president’s deficit figures EXCLUDE:
- the war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan (already at $220 billion including the latest White House request for another $80 billion)
- the $3 trillion gutting of Social Security to implement a duplicative and risky privately-held retirement savings program (uh, George, you ever heard of IRAs, 401Ks, 403Bs?)
- codifying a permanent $2.5 trillion government tax funded “gift” to the wealthy paid for by lower and middle class Americans without access to tax shelters, loopholes or financial nest eggs to ward off the daily economic impact of higher costs for gasoline, food, property taxes, local levies to fund social services, schools, etc.
Add it all up and the US budget deficit is expected to reach $427 billion.
That’s gotta be good for business.
Oh, and the dollar is trading at EUR 0.768377 as of 10:45AM MST this morning. Niiiiiice but WWWMD (What Will Wal-Mart Do?).
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Auntie Em's Ye Olde Good Tyme SOTU Drinking Gameâ„¢
When President Bush says “Good evening...” start drinking the libation of your choice.
When President Bush says “May God Bless America...” stop drinking.
Remember to take two over the counter pain relievers* of your choice, drink plenty of sweet iced tea (it’s gotta be REAL sweet), and if you see Dick Cheney close your eyes tight. He can see into your soul.
*If you’ve got better drugs, call me. I’ll be right over.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
A New Yearâ€™s Resolution: Practicing What I Preach
I often catch myself complaining about the ineptitude and timidity of the Democratic Party establishment. On this blog, Iâ€™ve complained about Democrats failing Hispanics, and Democrats failing to stand up for their own purported values, and even accused them of not having values at all. Yet being a Democrat has to be more than about voting and expecting a miracle in return. Governor Dean (yes, I am an unabashed Dean fan), said that voting only gets you a C- (or was it a D?). This is true.
Because of this, Iâ€™ve decided to do less complaining, and more doing. If I expect Senator Barbara Boxer to go against the grain in the U.S. Senate, amid the kind of peer pressure that makes high school look like an ass-kissing festival, I have to also stop being on the outside looking in. I have to work within the party, and bring change at whatever level I can.
By this, I mean that I will no longer complain about elected officials not speaking up if I am not willing to put myself in a similar place. I have joined my local Dem club and will attend county party functions. Not because I want more friends to nod when I talk politics, but because I too want to stand up and speak my mind on issues that matter, and I want the clubs that I belong to, to stand up for some core values too. This is the least I can do if I want the party to speak to me.
By being party to the Democratic Party, at any level, I am helping to build a more progressive, courageous party, so that someone like Barbara Boxer will know that the organization she belongs to has her back, at all levels. Many progressives think they are above the fray when they refuse to step in the door and deal with the BS that needs to be dealt with. If you want great food, and the chefs are not cooking to your taste, get in the kitchen, my friend. Chances are, if enough of us do, we will find other Barbara Boxers out there, ready to step in as well.
If I wonâ€™t work for the Democratic Party, the party is not going to work for me.
The Rice 32: Jeff Bingaman
Every weekend I will compile a dossier on the Senate Dems--The Rice 32--who voted to confirm Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State.
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)? This is your life.
UPDATE below the fold. Seems Sen Bingaman has developed an interesting group of “friends.”
Native of New Mexico. Born Oct. 3, 1943.
BA, Government, Harvard U., 1965
JD, Law, Stanford U. School of Law, 1968
Army Reserves, 1968-1974
Private Practice 1970-1978
Assistant New Mexico Attorney General, 1978
Elected New Mexico Attorney General, 1979-1982
Elected US Senator, 1982-present
Married to Anne Kovacovich Bingaman.
One son, John.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ranking Member
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Joint Economic Committee
Deputy Democratic Whip
Member, Democratic Technology and Communications Committee
Member, Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee
From Thomas.gov; submitted 201 bills through 23 year Senatorial career; very few sponsored bills passed.
Sponsored bills of interest:
S.AMDT.1801 to S.1438 To make available $650,000 for the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center for an expanded Arabic language program. 10.1.2001. Agreed by unanimous consent.
S.J.RES.34 : A joint resolution approving the site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, for the development of a repository for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, pursuant to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. Introduced 4.9.2002. Senate passed companion measure H.J.Res. 87 in lieu of this measure by Voice Vote. Note: For further action, see H.J.Res. 87, which became Public Law 107-200 on 7/23/2002.
S.2733 : A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand retirement savings for moderate and lower income workers, and for other purposes. Introduced 7.16.2002. Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
Voting Record on War and Peace
Cited at On the Issues:
Voted YES on $86.5 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan. (Oct 2003)
Voted NO on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002)
Voted YES on allowing all necessary forces and other means in Kosovo. (May 1999)
Voted NO on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo. (Mar 1999)
Voted NO on ending the Bosnian arms embargo. (Jul 1995)
Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism. (Oct 2001)
Interest Group Ratings
Courtesy of Project Vote Smart.
The 2003 National Journal Composite Liberal Rating of Sen. Bingaman is 70 percent and Composite Conservative Raing is 30 percent.
Courtesy of Project Vote Smart.
From Open Secrets.
1999-2004 Total Receipts: $3,462,363
1999-2004 Total Spent: $3,283,089
Cash on Hand: $282,263
Date of last report: September 30, 2004
First elected 1982
Next election 2006
Fundraising by Cycle:
Bingaman, Pearce Wealthiest of NM Delegation:
Albuquerque Journal reported Bingaman declared stock holdings in excess of $1 million.
Here’s where things get interesting:
Sen. Bingaman’s wife, Anne, is also a Stanford law grad and was in private practice for several years. Then, she served as the Chief of the Justice Department’s Anti-Trust Division and was lead counsel in the Microsoft Anti-Trust case.
In 1999, while Chairman and CEO of Valor Communications, she was paid $2.5 million for six months of consulting work for Global Crossing, the now disgraced and bankrupt telecommunications company, according to Business Week.
Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman attended the June 2003 American Enterprise Institute’s World Forum in Beaver Creek, CO as guests of AEI and the Vail Valley Foundation to the tune of $4,670. The forums could charitably be considered Camp NeoCon—as they are a meeting ground for arch-conservative public officials and the lobbyists who buy them, as evidenced by Center for Public Integrity report on the influence of GOP contributors and Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force of which the “secret” members attended or served on World Forum panels, like Ken Lay of Enron infamy.
Other luminaries attending the 2003 event with Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman were Gerald Ford (Former US president), VÃ¡clav Klaus (The President of the Czech Replublic), Richard B. Cheney (Vice President of the U.S.), Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve), Bill Pryor (Attorney General of Alabama), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense), Ehud Olmert (Vice Prime Minister of Israel; Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor), Michael Novak (George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy).
Sen. Bingaman also attended gratis a 2003 conference on politica islam in Helsinki, Finland at a cost of $4,887 courtesy of the Aspen Institute which boasts its own rogue’s gallery of board members. An August 2003 Aspen Institute conference to Moscow attended by Sen. and Mrs. Bingaman was not listed on the 2003 filing of his US Senate Financial Disclosure Report.
Interesting group of friends the Bingamans are cultivating.
So considering Sen. Bingaman’s record and, especially, his opposition to the Iraq War, what explains his affirmation to confirm Condoleeza Rice? A conk on the head? Horse trading in a smokey back room of the Senate? Political expediency?
Thursday, January 27, 2005
â€œInclude You Out, George? Well Iâ€™m SURE Weâ€™ll All Miss Youâ€?
In recent memory, nothing could be done without the US. Today, however, practically all new international institution-building of any long-term importance in global diplomacy and trade occurs without American participation.
Tony Blair will go over the head of President Bush tomorrow to appeal directly to US business leaders to back his plans for action on climate change. The prime minister flies to Davos in Switzerland tomorrow, where he will address the World Economic Forum of corporate executives and push his vision for tackling carbon emissions in the wake of the US refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol.
Asean Plus Three (APT), which unites the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with China, Japan and South Korea… could become the world’s largest trade bloc, dwarfing the European Union and North American Free Trade Association.
The South American Community of Nations (SACN). Led by the Marxist government of Inacio Lula da Silva, 15 South American countries are moving to form SACN. This would combine two existing regional blocs, the Andean Community of Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru) and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay), along with Chile, Guyana, and Suriname. The SACN is seen by PINR as an alternative to a U.S.-dominated Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), although the term “foil” might be more appropriate.
The EU has devoted far more resources to consolidating democracy in post-communist Europe than has the US.
The present one-party rule in the US… The role of money in American politics… America’s judges...America’s antiquated winner-take-all electoral system… [The model] has been abandoned by many other democracies for more inclusive versions of proportional representation.
Human rights? Europe has banned the death penalty and torture. The US is a leading practitioner of execution. Under Mr Bush, the US has constructed an international military gulag in which the torture of suspects has frequently occurred
EU weapon sales to China: In early December, Beijing and Brussels held a summit in the Netherlands to discuss the possible end to an arms sale embargo imposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. “Despite Washington’s opposition,” PINR reports, “the summit reached a result favorable to Beijing.”
NATO revolt over Iraq. During a recent meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Secretary of State Colin Powell “encountered the refusal of France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Greece to participate in a mission to train Iraqi security forces.... Powell had come to Europe to mend fences.... He left seeing the divisions widened.”
As noted by ‘Slate’ columnist Fred Kaplan in the ‘New York Times’ on Sunday, central bankers in Middle Eastern oil-producing countries, along with Russia and China, are shifting a greater percentage of their reserves out of dollars and into euros which, as noted by ‘Washington Post’ correspondent T R Reid in his new book, ‘The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy’, ‘’was specifically designed to challenge the global hegemony of the dollar’’.
[Note] the EU’s rapid progress towards military independence. American protests failed to prevent the EU establishing its own military planning agency, independent of the Nato alliance (and thus of Washington). Europe is building up its own rapid reaction force.
Even in the military sphere, what realist theorists call ‘’balancing’’ against U.S. power is also underway, signalled most intriguingly this past week when Russia and China announced they will hold their first large-scale joint military exercises, including the deployment of submarines and possibly strategic bombers.
That announcement followed the biggest exercises China has ever held with a foreign force last March—the French Navy, a development that clearly got the attention of administration hardliners, especially in the Pentagon, which has not only mounted a major campaign to prevent the European Union (EU) from lifting a 15-year arms embargo against Beijing, but also has exerted heavy pressure on favoured ally Israel to stop selling China weapons or even refurbishing older equipment.
Elections 2004-08 • Megatractor • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink