Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
At the same time, however, in college I was majoring in history and political science. I was particularly interested in the USSR under Stalin, and I immersed myself in Soviet history. I was so horrified and appalled by what I found (especially after reading the first part of The Gulag Archipelago) that I became a militant anti-Communist. I also grew to hate Communist China's government as I learned about it. I had been repelled, also, by those who rejoiced at the Communist victory in Vietnam in 1975 (which was NOT how the majority of the anti-war movement felt, by the way). I came to see Communism's defeat as a moral imperative.
After college, living and working in a small, very Republican suburb, surrounded by decent and hardworking conservatives also began to change me. I found Jimmy Carter to be annoyingly self-righteous and voted for Ford in 1976. And I went deeper into the horrors of the USSR under Stalin as I worked on my Masters degree in history. By the late 1970s, I was fiercely anti-Soviet, looking for someone who would have the backbone to defy the horrible system I hated with every fiber of my being. Despite the fact that he made a lot of bone-headed statements, I began to see Ronald Reagan as someone who felt about the USSR the same way I did. Here's the crux of the matter: The Democrats just didn't seem to take the threat of Soviet Communism seriously, and the Republicans did. I voted for Reagan in 1980 because of this conviction.
Although I began to hear accusations about Reagan's actions in Central America, I still voted for him in 1984. Walter Mondale struck me as a tired, whining-voiced, unimaginative northern liberal whose chief "idea" was to restore the New Deal. It was no contest, as far as I was concerned.
But doubts began to creep into my conservatism. Reagan and his people seemed indifferent to environmental concerns, which I was just beginning to embrace. I especially loved the redwoods of northern California and wanted to see them protected. When ERA failed, I was angry. Reagan's speech in 1985 at a cemetary in Germany which contained SS graves also bothered me. My family had always been pretty strongly pro-civil rights (I grew up in an integrated neighborhood and had lots of African-American friends when I was a kid) and I didn't like a lot of the neo-Confederate nonsense I was beginning to hear in right wing circles. And I was adamantly pro-evolution in my thinking, having taught myself a good deal of physical anthropology. Did being a Republican mean I had to embrace creationist idiocy? It was starting to seem so. And I had gay friends, and I sure didn't like the hatred I was hearing directed against people like them.
I almost voted for Dukakis in 1988 because I was disquieted by Dan Quayle, but Duke just didn't seem to have the leadership I was looking for. This was a big mistake on my part. By 1991, the elder Bush repelled me with his tongue-tied rhetoric, his kissing up to the radical religious right, and his general ineptitude after the Gulf War, when he had a strongly unified country behind him and did...nothing. I decided he also seemed to have no real moral or ethical core. There was something wrong with him I couldn't put my finger on. And the Bush deficits scared the hell out of me. By 1992, I gladly voted for Clinton, although his personal lack of discipline (i.e., keeping his fly zipped) was troubling.
I stayed a Democrat because the Republicans continued to move farther and farther right. I stayed a Democrat because Bill Clinton was an effective, capable president. I stayed a Democrat because to be a Democrat meant being for science, for equal opportunity and equal rights, for fiscal responsibility, for economic opportunity, for defending our environment, for the rights of women, and above all for moderation. I stayed a Democrat because I was outraged at the criminal farce of the Clinton impeachment. And faced with the most vicious, unprincipled, incompetent, dishonest, and corrupt administration in history, a regime supported by terrifying right wing fanatics of all stripes, I am a stronger Democrat than ever.
In retrospect, if the Democrats had spoken out as forcefully against Soviet brutality as the Republicans did, I don't think I would have strayed after McGovern. The Republicans seemed to feel that the defeat of the Soviet Union was possible; the Democrats seemed resigned to a permanent Cold War, which I didn't want. I was always more moderate than most of the Reaganites. Maybe with my big goal achieved (the fall of Communism in Europe), my eyes could focus on other issues. And once they did, the Democrats seemed saner and more responsible in almost every way.
I will never really be a hardcore liberal, but I'm still a moderate. And for a moderate these days, the Democratic Party is the only rational option.
My wandering days are through; I will die a loyal Democrat.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich...more than any other single person below the rank of general, [is] probably most responsible for the Pentagon’s embarrassment when NFL-player-turned-Army-Ranger Pat Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, by his own comrades.
Kauzlarich has been energetically avoiding responsibility for the fratricidal incident ever since.
It appears from reading the documents in the incident the he and others in the military may have violated multiple laws—including obstruction of justice, evidence tampering and conspiracy.
Kauzlarich may have conspired with others to award an inappropriate Silver Star, complete with a phony account of the events surrounding Tillman’s death. Members of Tillman’s chain of command attended Tillman’s memorial service without breathing a word to the family about what really happened, and it appears, again from the documents, that Kauzlarich deep-sixed the original investigation, which he then had redone under his personal supervision.
The Army’s criminal investigation division and the Pentagon’s Inspector General are currently investigating Tillman’s death and the events that ensued.
Kauzlarich now looks to Nov. 7, 2006, with a gnawing disquiet. Only a thin congressional majority that stand between a nemesis like Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee. Subpoena authority might transform a mere gavel into a mighty political weapon. [Emphasis added]
But in the meantime, a recent ESPN.com exposé by Mike Fish aired an interview with Kauzlarich, who was the “cross commander” of the Rangers in Khoust, Afghanistan, in April 2004. Kauzlarich, in a stunning display of Christian empathy, blamed the family for continuing to ask questions about the circumstances of Pat’s death, and suggested that the reason they’d found no closure was that infidels such as themselves (the Tillmans did not belong to a church), when they die, are only “worm dirt.”
“So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more,” continued Kauzlarich, “that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don’t know how an atheist thinks…. You know what? I don’t think anything will make them happy, quite honestly. I don’t know. Maybe they want to see somebody’s head on a platter. But will that really make them happy? No, because they can’t bring their son back.”
You see, Pat's family is a bunch of dirty non-believers. That's why they want Kauzlarich to answer for his lies and cover-ups. That's Kauzlarich's reasoning, anyway. Absolutely disgusting.
Pat Tillman was opposed to the war in Iraq and he was planning to vote for John Kerry. (When told of this, the despicable Sean Hannity and borderline psychotic Ann Coulter refused to believe it and in effect called Pat's parents liars.) We need to take a stand in defense of Mr. and Mrs. Tillman and in honor of their son--a true American patriot and a model, in my eyes, of what every real man who loves his country should be.
"Father's [Moon's] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism," writes Wells. "When Father chose me to enter a PhD program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle."
Friday, July 28, 2006
The partisans are of two basic types. For shorthand, they can be called The Ideologues and The Big-Money Crowd
The Ideologues traverse the political spectrum, from the Religious Right to the New Left. The former push for the teaching of a pseudo-science, intelligent design, in biology class; the latter refuse to countenance the idea, taken seriously by biologists, that males and females may have different aptitudes for such subjects as math and language. Each is vulnerable to the courtroom dressing-down that the Jack Nicholson character, Marine Col. Jessep, delivered in "A Few Good Men." "You want answers?" the grizzled Nicholson asked a young Tom Cruise, playing a military lawyer.
"I want the truth!"
"You can't handle the truth!"
As for The Big-Money Crowd, the striking example is the fossil fuel industry's willful reluctance to acknowledge "an inconvenient truth" -- global warming -- as science evangelist Al Gore asserts in his new movie by that name. Probably these cool cucumbers, unlike The Ideologues, can handle the truth -- it is their bottom-line businesses that seem invested in fable and distortion. The real loser, of course, could be planet Earth.
As far as the differences in male and female capacities, I have my doubts about that. I've been a teacher for 32 years, and I fail to see these differences. But being a history teacher, I cannot safely judge the aptitude of females for math and science. I'm not afraid of research in this area, and I would never dream of trying to block it on ideological grounds. Let's settle the question instead of arguing about it. In regard to the global warming "controversy" (I put the term controversy in quotes because the so-called controversy is wholly manufactured), we know what's at stake. Despite the overwhelming evidence that human activity is exacerbating the natural cycles of the earth's warming and cooling, a massive political apparatus has sprung up to fight this evidence. This fight is solely based on economic self-interest, regardless of potential consequences.
The Left has sometimes violently objected to research that upsets its worldview. What happened to Edward O. Wilson is instructive:
In 1978, at a meeting in Washington of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a protester poured a jug of water over the head of Edward O. Wilson, a world-renowned Harvard entomologist whose specialty was the study of ants. The miscreant's compatriots verbally denounced Wilson for giving sustenance to sexism, racism, and genocide through his research.
Wilson's sin was his founding of "sociobiology," which he defined as the extension of "neo-Darwinism into the study of social behavior and animal societies." Humans were part of this analysis -- their activities treated not as outside of biological principles but as obedient to them. The result was a politically incorrect litany of examples that were presented in a nuanced fashion but infuriated the Left nevertheless. In the chapter on "Sex" in his book "On Human Nature," Wilson wrote, concerning humans and "most" animal species, that "it pays males to be aggressive, hasty, fickle, and undiscriminating," while "in theory it is more profitable for females to be coy, to hold back until they can identify males with the best genes."
On the question of whether human beings are "innately aggressive," and for this reason prone to warfare, "the answer," he wrote, "is yes." In The New York Review of Books, Wilson was attacked for reviving theories that were the basis for "the eugenics policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany."
I think this reaction can safely be characterized as hysterical. Wilson's bottom line is this: humans are animals with a long evolutionary past that has shaped their development. To contend, as some have, that cultural influences are the only factors that shape human behavior is to be dangerously misguided about why humans act as they do. Sociobiology is a legitimate scientific endeavor, now known chiefly as evolutionary psychology. Let the facts behind human behavior be explored, and if these facts destroy cherished prejudices, so be it.
By far the most egregious offenders against science, in Starobin's view, have been right wing Big Money people and ideologues. The litany of their sins is depressingly familiar:
[In promoting creationism after attempts at banning evolution failed] religious ideologues took a different tack, seeking to have public schools teach intelligent design in science classes as an alternative to evolution. The problem is that "ID is not science," as a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge, John E. Jones III, ruled decisively [PDF] in Harrisburg, Pa., last December. "ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation," Jones wrote in his explanation of why the Dover Area School Board was guilty of "breathtaking inanity" in its requirement that students be told about intelligent design in ninth-grade biology class.
Jones tossed out the Dover school board's requirement on the grounds that intelligent design, as "creationism relabeled," breached the constitutional wall separating church from state because it was the product of a religious viewpoint. He might have ruled narrowly; instead he provided a tutorial on the origins of the modern scientific method in the time of Newton. His ruling made clear that advocates of ID were not simply displaying hostility toward evolution -- they were, in effect, rejecting the workings of science and the evidence compiled by scientists since Darwin offered his theory in "The Origin of Species" in 1859. In attempting to package intelligent design as science, the ID advocates were rejecting science itself. In a way, this was intellectual hubris of the highest order.
For his troubles, Jones was accused by Phyllis Schlafly, a longtime activist on behalf of conservative religious causes, of being in league with "atheist evolutionists" and, more than that, of betraying "millions of evangelical Christians" who voted for Bush in 2000 and thus made possible Jones's appointment to the bench. In his ruling, Jones "stuck the knife in the backs of those who brought him to the dance," Schlafly thundered in a Copley News Service column.
The intelligent-design movement may or may not be dead as a result of Jones's ruling. But efforts to deny the scientific validity of evolution most certainly are not -- the forces behind intelligent design are merely regrouping. Of course, no one is under any compulsion to accept evolution -- or to accept, for that matter, the proposition that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade under normal pressure. But should popular democracy, as Schlafly implies in her column, get to decide what is and what is not credible science?
Exactly. Science is not "democratic". Its findings do not depend on popular support. In 1632 Galileo found himself deeply isolated in his opinion that we lived in a heliocentric universe. In our own era, as late as the 1930s, only one scientist in the world truly understood how the sun works. When opponents of evolutionary fact argue that most Americans reject evolution, they are making an argument of almost mind-warping idiocy, as if the laws of nature are determined by popular vote.
Starobin reminds us of Big Tobacco's assault on research that proved its products were dangerous. He exposes the cynicism of the Republican assault on environmental science (which uses Frank Luntz derived arguments about the "inconclusive" evidence of global warming). And he also criticizes Richard Dawkins, whom I deeply respect, for his efforts to use science to prove his contention that religious believers are essentially fools. (One scientist is quoted as calling Dawkins an evangelist for atheism and adding, "He's killing us.)
Starobin's arguments will raise a lot of hackles. Good! Let the hackle raising begin. Because, in the end, reality ALWAYS wins, despite our best efforts to ignore it or bend it to our will. The world is as it is. That simple proposition has been fought by too many people for too long. The dangers of the politicization of science lead Starobin to this conclusion:
A fascinating, if somewhat frightening, societal experiment is under way. The question is whether democracy naturally advances science, or whether modern progress in science actually has less to do with heralded forms of government than with the fruit born of a special moment in historical time, the modern European Enlightenment, from which America, courtesy of the Founders, greatly benefited.
Jefferson, the ultimate optimist about progress in science and democracy going hand in hand, died in 1826, at the dawn of what became known as Jacksonian America, a raucous new era of muddy-boots rule by "the people." Alexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who toured this America in 1831 and was its most perceptive chronicler, worried about the prospect for science in the new Republic. "Nothing is more necessary to the culture of the higher sciences or of the more elevated departments of science than meditation; and nothing is less suited to meditation than the structure of democratic society," Tocqueville observed in "Democracy in America."
For a very long time, this appeared to be the rare Tocqueville insight that was off the mark. Our current age, though, seems bent on proving him right after all.
Read the whole thing--and become enlightened.
The percent of 25- to 29-year olds who completed at least some college increased from 36% to 57%.
The percent of 25- to 29-year olds who earned a bachelor's degree increased from 19% to 29%.
All of those numbers can and should be better. But it's foolish to say that the federal student aid money spent during that time did no good.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The Pro Cure Movement.
Excerpts from Alter's powerful article:
Because this was Bush's first veto—itself a newsworthy event—he found it harder to ignore the obvious questions: If destroying an embryo is "murder"—the Bush position, according to his spokesman—how can he support the existence of fertility clinics, which routinely throw out thousands of surplus embryos? His answer lay in last week's photo op, where he surrounded himself with cute babies "adopted" from these embryos. How many such "snowflake" babies are there? Despite federal funding and intense outreach, only 128 of 400,000 frozen embryos (.032 percent) have been adopted, says Sen. Arlen Specter. It turns out that couples using the clinics overwhelmingly prefer to donate their surplus embryos to science, while couples looking to adopt prefer babies already born who need homes, a large constituency of extremely needy children Bush seems to have put in second place.
It is now almost five years since Bush's August 2001 stem-cell "compromise," which allowed for work on 60 existing cell lines. When most of those lines turned out to be unworkable or irrelevant to cures for humans, he didn't let the new facts affect him. In that sense, the whole issue is emblematic of what's wrong with the Bush presidency: his inflexibility, obsession with his conservative base, religious arrogance and contempt for scientific consensus. Most of all, last week's decision betrayed his oft-stated belief in the sanctity of life. The question, as in all moral issues, is whose life? I'll choose yours or mine over a piece of protoplasm no larger than the period at the end of this sentence.
Bush has handed it to us on a plate--a major issue on which the radical Right is opposed by almost 70% of the population. This is an issue we can build into OUR wedge issue, a sledgehammer we can use to smash the candidacies of extreme right Republicans all over the country. (The representative from IL-11, right wing Republican clown Jerry Weller, has been an adamant opponent of stem cell research. Am I going to use it against him? Damned right I am, at every opportunity I can think of.) Think of the stake that millions of Americans have in this research, not only the sick and injured but the people who love them, the people who are in emotional agony seeing their children, their siblings, their parents, or their life partners go through horrible suffering every day. A lot of Americans are OUTRAGED by Bush's veto and the radical Right's efforts to keep their loved ones from benefiting from what could be the most promising medical resarch in history. Bush has chosen to elevate the moral status of a blastocyst above that of a real, tangible, living, breathing human. If that isn't something worth fighting against, then why do the Democrats exist at all?
Make stem cell research an issue everywhere. Tie Bush's huge unpopularity around the neck of every right wing Republican Ann Coulter-loving bastard running for office anywhere, including Utah, Mississippi, Idaho, and Alaska. (Yes Howard, I've been listening to you.) By God, take a stand--and grab the leadership of what could be one of the most powerful political forces in recent American history--THE PRO CURE MOVEMENT.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
- Are you registered to vote?
- Which Democratic candidates are you supporting?
- Are you contributing money to a Democratic candidate?
- Do you plan to campaign (phone bank, canvassing, etc.)?
- Do you direct people to Democratic blogs (like this one)?
- How many people will you take with you to the polls on 7 November?
- Will you stuff envelopes, hand out flyers, etc.?
- Will you be a poll watcher on 7 November to keep Republicans from stealing votes or intimidating voters?
- What issues do you think voters are interested in this year?
Let me know what you think!
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The Pakistani army is thought to have about 50 uranium warheads. India and Pakistan, which have fought three conventional wars in less than 60 years, already have nuclear weapons and an arsenal of missiles capable of reaching far beyond each other's territory.
There has so far been no official reaction from Islamabad, although the Washington Post quoted an unnamed "senior Pakistani official" as acknowledging that an expansion of the country's nuclear programme was under way.
Ayesha Siddiqi Agha, a Pakistani writer on defence issues, pointed out that since Washington had proposed a nuclear deal with India, the Pakistani establishment had been keen to "match it": "The signal is that while India surges ahead, Pakistan has ways to pull them off balance. So this may be about restoring a psychological balance between the two."
Monday, July 24, 2006
Just as Bush and his advisers see the carnage as “birth pangs of a new Middle East” – in the words of Condoleezza Rice – so bin-Laden perceives the same violence as crucial for his own vision of a “new Middle East,” by isolating the dwindling number of pro-Bush leaders in the Arab world from the “Arab street.”
Compounding this Arab political problem, the Bush administration has even boasted of the anti-Hezbollah positions taken by the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan – exposing those autocratic leaders to furious criticism from their citizens.
This dilemma appears to have contributed to a surprising development on July 23 after Bush invited some of his more reliable friends from the Saudi monarchy to a strategy session at the White House.
However, instead of simply endorsing Bush’s hard-line support for Israel’s Lebanese offensive, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal delivered a letter from Saudi King Abdullah beseeching Bush to pressure Israel to stop its attack inside Lebanon that have killed nearly 400 people, mostly civilians.
“We requested a cease-fire to allow for a cessation of hostilities,” the Saudi foreign minister told reporters after the meeting. “I have brought a letter from the Saudi king to stop the bleeding in Lebanon.”
White House officials said Bush rebuffed the king’s appeal and remained adamantly opposed to the idea of pressuring Israel into a cease-fire. Though the Saudis and other Sunni governments see a threat from the rising influence of Shiite-ruled Iran, which backs Hezbollah, they also are worried about being viewed by their own populations as Bush’s puppets.
- Iraq becomes even more savage and violent, as civil war sweeps over the entire country, endangering the U.S. forces caught in the middle of it.
- The Kurds try to secede from Iraq, creating an independent Kurdistan. Turkey immediately invades to crush this new nation.
- The U.S. attacks Iran, triggering a shocking rise in the price of oil, inflicting hundreds of thousands of casualties, and setting off a general war of Islam versus the United States.
- Pakistan vastly expands its nuclear arsenal, prompting a worried India to launch a terrible pre-emptive strike.
- Israel gets bogged down again in a brutal guerrilla war in Lebanon and Syria is dragged into it.
- The Saudi royal family is overthrown and replaced by a ferociously anti-American Islamist government.
- Afghanistan descends into anarchy as a revived Taliban attempts a comeback.
And then imagine George W. Bush having to deal with any--or possibly all--of these possibilities. If that doesn't put the fear of God into you, I really don't know what in the hell would.
Yes, Bin Laden knew exactly what he was doing. His favorite American is pushing the world to the brink of catastrophe--just as he hoped.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Summary: ABC's John Stossel presented a "special report" on the failure of American public schools that included a series of misleading claims, a lack of balance in reporting and interviews, and video clips apparently created primarily for entertainment to argue for expanding "school choice" initiatives such as vouchers and charter schools."
Meanwhile, writes Talk To Action's Dr. Bruce Prescott, many on the Christian right - including powerful factions in the Southern Baptist Convention - are agitating for the wholesale pullout of children from public schools.
But, the centerpiece of the strategy to destroy America's public schools may in fact be the No Child Left Behind Act.
A recent analysis predicts that 3/4 of Massachusetts schools will fail to meet the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" act when it goes into full force in 2014 - despite the fact the Mass. schools rank among the highest in the nation.
Further, 1/4 of U.S. schools currently fail to meet the provisions of the No Child Left Behind act.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
“We might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Why wait? Does anyone think a nuclear Iran can be contained? That the current regime will negotiate in good faith? It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions — and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement.”
And here’s a front pager in today’s Washington Post about neoconservative anger towards the Bush administration because of its newfound restraint in foreign policy. Prominent Iraq hawks like Max Boot and Cakewalk Ken Adelman are upset that their favored tactic, “bomb today for a brighter tomorrow,” no longer commands the respect it once did in Washington.
Now, you could marvel at the brazenness of all this: the same people who helped lead us into the biggest foreign policy disaster in 30 years trying to push another war (or wars) on us without so much as a prefatory “sorry about the whole Iraq thing, old boy.” But the current squawking also strikes me as a useful reminder of how very, very important war is in the neoconservative vision. It is as central to that vision as peace is to the classical liberal vision.
For the neoconservatives, it’s not about Israel. It’s about war. War is a bracing tonic for the national spirit and in all its forms it presents opportunities for national greatness. “Ultimately, American purpose can find its voice only in Washington,” David Brooks once wrote. And Washington’s never louder or more powerful than when it has a war to fight.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
"Does the United States fit this bill? No one knows for sure, but there are strong reasons to believe the United States may be going broke."
Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.
The figure is massive because President George W Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics. [Emphasis added]
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Sigh. What a bunch of suckers we are. If more of us don't get off our asses, we're going to suffer the same burning, terrible disappointment on November 8 that we did on November 3 two years ago.
It's all about the money folks, and it's pouring into the GOP like there's no tomorrow. Lost in the anger about John Boehner's frenetic fund raising activities is a simple fact: the son of a bitch is raising TEN THOUSAND FREAKING DOLLARS A DAY FOR THE REPUBLICANS, and has been doing so since February.That's $70,000 a week, $300,000 a month, $900,000 every quarter. And that's just him. I can't conceive of how much the other Republican leaders are pulling in. And remember, Bush and Cheney can raise a million dollars for any Republican candidate in America any time they want to. The Republicans don't HAVE to win the public debate--they win because they have more g-d damned money than we do. For example,we brag about how we're going to kick Santorum's miserable, lying ass in November, but that bastard has FOUR MILLION MORE DOLLARS right now than Bob Casey, and he'll use every dime of it. If he survives--God forbid!!--it will because he had the bucks. It's really that simple.
What do the Republicans buy with their megabucks? Well, paid media, of course, obscene amounts of it. But they also buy their massive get out the vote ground game--which is how they kill us on Election Day. They buy their voter lists. They buy their data banks. They buy their phone operations. They buy their laptops and hand-helds. They buy the "poll watchers" that challenge and intimidate our voters. They buy stories in the MSM that make them look good. They buy the buses that pick up their voters and send them to the polls. And they buy the mailers, inundating every targeted household with election propaganda. (Remember: the Rove rule is a minimum of 7 mass mailings are required to push your candidate over the top.) They beat us because they can afford it.
Am I being simplistic? Bullshit. I'm being realistic. The winner of a contest is, overwhelmingly, the candidate with the most money. Check the link here if you don't buy it. Excerpt:
Almost as soon as Election Day concluded, one thing was certain: Money won big in the 2004 elections.
In 95 percent of House races and 91 percent of Senate races that had been decided by mid-day today, the candidate who spent the most money won, according to a post-election analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The findings are based on figures reported Oct. 13 to the Federal Election Commission.
The biggest spender was victorious in 415 of 435 decided House races and 31 of 34 decided Senate races. On Election Day 2002, top spenders won 95 percent of House races and 76 percent of Senate races.
Am I making my point, folks? IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW HORSESHIT A JOB THE REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE. If they outraise and outspend us, they will win on November 7, and America will continue to spiral downward, destroying the future for our children and grandchildren. Just imagine Bush crowing on Wednesday, November 8 about how America endorsed his policies, if you can bear to. That's what we're up against.
Every resource must be tapped. The activists have been wonderfully generous in their contributions. But we need more. Howard Dean is busting his ass, but we need more. Rahm Emanuel is knocking on every door, but we need more. We need a GRASSROOTS REVOLUTION. We need mass contributions, $1, $5, $10, $20 at a time from millions of ordinary Democrats and Independents. We need to roust our friends with appeals for contributions. We need to comb our e-mail lists and Christmas card lists and the lists of people we invited to the Bar Mitzvah, the wedding, the open house, everything. We need cash right now to help us organize the ground game we must have to win. I know I seem over the top, but I just can't go through another defeat. And the ONLY way we can stave off another defeat is by outraising those Republican bastards. Period.
If we don't win the Senate, it means more Alitos. If we don't win the House it means the K-Street project rolls on. If we don't win, Bush can claim another "mandate" to continue his catastrophic direction. I don't give a shit what our poll numbers say--I want to see our fundraising numbers.
All real patriots must come to the aid of their country--and that means with bucks. It means getting everyone you know to kick in money and to get everyone they know to kick in money, and so on. Broken record Joe will say it again: 10 million people kicking in 10 bucks a month will help us crush the Rightwing that is killing America.
Don't give me political analysis. Don't give me debating points. Don't give me polls. Don't give me issue papers. Give me millions of people pouring money into the Democratic Party. Yes, all the other things matter. But they won't amount to a hill of beans if we don't back 'em up with a hill of cash.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
- Israel is certainly right to view Hezbollah as its enemy, and it is right to strike back in retaliation for attacks on northern Israel and the kidnapping of several of its soldiers. However, the manner of the retaliation is disproportionate to the offense and risks triggering an all-out war in the Middle East. Iran has been aiding Hezbollah, the organization that murdered 241 American Marines in 1983. The U.S. is certainly right to consider Hezbollah the enemy. However, our government must act to restrain Israel before things get out of hand.
- Iran must be contained and deterred, not physically attacked. I am especially worried about an Israeli strike on Iran because of the Hezbollah drone that damaged an Israeli warship.
- Iraq may have to be broken into three pieces, including an independent Kurdistan--which Turkey would vehemently oppose. There seems little doubt that a civil war is raging and that Baghdad is rapidly getting out of control. This is 100% attributable to the incredible incompetence of the Bush regime, which failed to anticipate what would happen in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion. It is in no way the fault of the war's critics, who were right all along.
- The Marines accused of raping an Iraqi woman and murdering her and her family in order to cover up the crime deserve the presumption of innocence. But if convicted after due process, they deserve the most severe penalty military justice can provide. In postwar Japan Douglas MacArthur issued strict orders that no civilian was to be assaulted. Our men in Iraq must be held to the same standard.
- Stem cell research deserves our full support. The opposition to it, based on misguided religious sentiment, must be defeated. It is our moral obligation to press on with this research. Go, Nancy Reagan!
- I predict oil will reach $100 a barrel before the end of 2006. Gasoline will average $4.00 a gallon plus. Will Americans finally get serious about alternative fuel? By the way, it makes more sense to use sugar than corn in making fuel. My nephew Stewart (aged 44) has convinced me of that. (He's studied this extensively).
- Global warming is real. Although a naturally occurring phenomenon in earth's multi-billion year geological history, this current warm period is being exacerbated by human activity. There can no longer be any doubt of it. Al Gore is right, just as he was right about the war and so many other issues.
- Kim Jong-il's death would be an immensely welcome event.
- I am truly beginning to question the mental stability of George W. Bush, and I do not make such a statement casually.
There you have it.
Friday, July 14, 2006
The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reviewed all 179,855 "uncountable" votes and found the majority attempted to choose Gore. And they would have been counted -- but Florida's Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, ordered a halt.
So Bush was elected not by counting the votes but by preventing their count. And he was reelected the same way in 2004 when a quarter million votes were nullified in Ohio.
But why fixate on Florida and Ohio? Here's a nasty little fact about voting in the Land of the Free not reported in your newspapers: 3,600,380 ballots were cast in the November 2004 presidential election that were never counted. In 2000, the uncounted ballots totaled just under two million.
And where were the Democrats? In 2004, behind the huge jump in uncounted votes was a mass challenge campaign aimed at poor, Black and Hispanic voters by the Republican Party -- pushing these voters, mostly Democrats, to "provisional ballots." They could have been counted, if someone had fought for it. Hundreds of lawyers were on stand-by but the head of the biggest legal team told me in confidence -- and in frustration -- that the Kerry campaign told them to stand down.
Recently, Al Gore was asked if the election of 2000 was stolen. "There may come a time when I speak on that, but it's not now," said the beta dog. (I suspect that if Al Gore were found bleeding in an alley, he'd answer the question, Who shot you? with "There may come a time when I speak on that...").
- Forward it to everyone on your e-mail list.
- Blog it, if you've got a blog.
- Send some love to the DCCC.
You'll be glad you did.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
- The announced deficit is the fifth largest in American history.
- The announced deficit is only slightly less than the $318,000,000,000 deficit last year.
- This is the third year in a row that the Bush Administration has mysteriously announced a giant deficit projection in the spring and then come up with a lower actual figure in the summer. It's called the expectations game, and it's a BS public relations scam.
- By 2011, under Bush's influence (even though he will leave office in 2009) the total federal debt will have doubled from what it was in 2001.
- It is not clear how much of the spending for Iraq is included in these figures.
- The government is still milking the Social Security surplus to make its current accounts budget look better.
The Concord Coalition, strong deficit hawks all, sounds the warning:
"Before supply-side advocates give credit to the tax cuts for the increase in revenues over the last two years they first must acknowledge that tax cuts bear some responsibility for the extraordinary three-year decline in revenues from 2001 through 2003," said Concord Coalition Policy Director Ed Lorenzen. "Much of the recent increase in revenues is a result of revenues simply rebounding from the lowest levels as a percentage of the economy since the 1950's," Lorenzen said.
Concord cautioned against drawing an inevitable connection between tax cuts, economic growth and higher revenues. For example:
-- In the five years following the tax increases of 1993, annual real economic growth averaged 3.8 percent. In the five years since the tax cut policies began in 2001, annual real economic growth has averaged 3.1 percent.
-- In the five years after the tax increases of 1993, annual revenue growth averaged 8.3 percent. In the five years after the tax cut policies began in 2001, annual revenue growth has averaged 4 percent.
"These numbers certainly do not establish that tax increases are better for the economy than tax cuts, but they do establish that the tax cuts enacted over the past few years are not necessarily needed beyond their expiration date to ensure economic growth. The best fiscal policy is one that balances spending and revenues at a sustainable level over the long-term," [CC Director Robert] Bixby said.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
But he did not create the oil; and his taking left succeeding generations poorer to that extent. The oil he extracted, they will not have. The industry he helped create has been a source of jobs and financial wealth. But it also has created a large and growing burden of fouled air and water and land that will take perhaps equal wealth to undo, if ever it can be undone. Should not his own fortune help pay?
Then there’s the social assist that helped make Rockefeller’s oil so valuable. Where would his industry have been without the massive public outlays for railroads and then highways; and without the military protection of the sea-lanes? (You thought the Sixth Fleet was in the Persian Gulf to protect democracy in the region?) Where would it have been without the many discoveries and inventions that enlarged the market for oil, and that arose from the public investment in schools and research institutions? The federal patent system played a large role as well.
For all this and more, it is not unreasonable to ask compensation from the heirs of large fortunes derived from oil; and the same applies to fortunes from other sources as well. “I personally think,” said Warren Buffett, “that society is responsible for a very significant portion of what I’ve earned.” Buffett has pledged to give most of his estate away; and he supports the estate tax.
That is one reason for an estate tax that has nothing to do with class resentment or envy. Another is philanthropy. That wealthy people devote a portion of their holdings to the public weal, is a tradition of which we Americans can be justifiably proud. In many countries, perhaps most, support for good causes comes much more from government, if it comes at all. This tradition is something the estate tax encourages. It does so not just by way of crude financial reward (contributions to foundations are exempt from the estate tax), but also by creating a way for the topic to come up in the first place. Estate lawyers have told me that they value the tax for this reason. They see the harm that large inheritances can do to young men and women; and the turmoil that large fortunes can cause within families.
Monday, July 10, 2006
And then send some love to Weller's Democratic opponent, and the next U.S. Representative from the Eleventh District of Illinois, John Pavich.
Found here, courtesy of Jack Huberman on HuffPo. My favorites, with Huberman's comments mixed in:
■ "I mean, let's face it, we didn't have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I'm not saying we should bring it back; I'm just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark."
■ "You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed."
■ "Feminism was established to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream."
■ "What if [Fidel] Castro shows up and says I endorse Kerry? The Black Caucus would like that...." "Castro's the kind of guy that Kerry would probably lionize." In the December 2004 issue of Cigar Aficionado, Limbaugh lionized Cuban cigars, whose flavor the French-loving, Castro-economy-supporting, East-Coast elitist compared to Bordeaux grapes.
■ "The answer is to go out and find [drug users], convict them, and send them up the river." "All of us who accept the responsibilities of life and don't destroy our lives on drugs, we'll pay for whatever messes you [drug addicts] get into." All this was before Limbaugh admitted he was addicted to opioid painkillers--which he allegedly purchased illegally--and that he had spent a month at a drug rehab facility. "There's no hypocrisy" in his previous remarks, he said.
■ Democrats "don't like God," "hate this Constitution," "hate freedom," and "hate this country."
■ "You don't hear the Democrats being critical of terrorists." Democrats "celebrate privately" the terrorist bombing Madrid in March 2004. "[W]hat's good for Al Qaeda is good for the Democratic Party [and] for John Kerry." "[W]e know what [Al Qaeda] want: they want Kerry, they want the Democrats in power."
It says something bad about America that a son of a bitch like Limbaugh is
A. this prominent in our public life
B. listened to
He is as sick and evil a man as there is in public life, a male Ann Coulter (although I may have been redundant in that last remark.) That the Republican "base" (and they are pretty damned base) considers him a hero tells you everything you need to know about why we need to throw these idiots out of power ASAP.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Meanwhile, funding for abstinence-only programs that provide no health services has catapulted from near-zero to almost equal Title X. It's no surprise then that low-income women feel the heel of this particular anti-woman boot.
Among higher-income women, in contrast, unintended pregnancies and abortions have declined by a significant 20 percent. They can afford the rising costs of birth control including very effective newer methods such as injectable contraceptives. They have greater access to uncensored information on the Web and the wherewithal to drive across town to get their prescription filled when their neighborhood pharmacist refuses.
Restrictions on access fall most heavily on young and low-income women who are the most vulnerable, have the fewest resources with which to advocate for themselves and are thus politically speaking invisible.
Birth control frees women to forge their own paths by separating sex from procreation. This strikes fear into those who, underneath it all, oppose the increased social power women attain from expanded equality and justice. Proof of this?
James Leon Holmes, nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Arkansas, says it straight out in an article: "It is not coincidental that the feminist movement brought with it artificial contraception ... To the extent we adopt the feminist principle that the distinction between the sexes is of no consequence and should be disregarded in the organization of society and the Church, we are contributing to the culture of death." His stated solution is that " ... the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband."