Friday, November 07, 2003

Bush successfully Ends Bipartisanship In Washington 

Bush at the moment enjoys a popularity rating of 38%, according to the DNC blog. This required drastic action. So Bush has followed through on his campaign pledge to end bipartisanship in Washington once and for all with a radical new policy statement: He will not to listen to anyone except Republicans.

"Given the increase in the number and types of requests we are beginning to receive from the House and Senate, and in deference to the various committee chairmen and our desire to better coordinate these requests, I am asking that all requests for information and materials be coordinated through the committee chairmen and be put in writing from the committee."

Says them! From now on, RNC chairmen- including the Docudrama Fact Checker In Chief- will now be in charge of reading and editing queries from Democrats intended for the White House. I presume this is to make sure that the questions are smart, eloquent, skeptical and challenging enough to serve the debate that is vital for Democracy to function.

It's funny that histories most passive, spineless Democratic Party (yes, that's two links)- one that tries to win campaigns by agreeing with him- is being asked by the President to shut up. Imagine if there was actually an opposition party? Would Bush drop an A Bomb on Cambridge and San Francisco?

Anyone who thinks Bush is not taking his orders from the far right of his party need only consider this as a nod to the strategies of Conservative (Oops, I meant "totally fair and unbiased") talk show (Oops, I meant "news show") host Bill O'Reilly (Oops, I meant "Ezzolino di Romano, tyrant of Padua's Marco-Polo Buddy in the Seventh Circle of Hell"): "If you see [Sen. Tom Daschle] for me, senator, tell him to shut up. For me. You can be nice."


In Biased Liberal Media news, NPR received a 200 Million dollar endowment- the largest of any kind in the history of non profit organizations according to an NHPR chairman who I don't quite believe- came from, of all places, Joan Kroc, wife of Ray Kroc, who made his money flipping burgers as the founder of McDonalds. On that note, the Onion has a great interview with Ira Glass, who makes me feel better about liking "Joan of Arcadia."

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Arise, Ye Wretched Of The High School Extracurricular Clubs! 

From CNN: "The Young Republicans Club plans to have students in black T-shirts with the word "Evil" bowing before a statue of Saddam. Other students in club T-shirts plan to chase the "Evil" students away with silly string, then topple the statue."

Since chasing people away and tearing down a statue is pretty much the only thing we've managed to do over in Iraq, this float would seem to be "historically accurate." But lets face it, people. Parade floats based on war are totally "Docudrama", and I am surprised that the RNC chairman has not yet, in his zealotry for the full historical accuracy of all entertainment based on history, insisted on running this parade float by historical analysts. You know, so we can have a "complete" picture of the war.

I humbly offer the following suggestions: The kids in "evil" tee shirts run to another float with a paper mache statue of Osama Bin Laden (provided by those liberals in the debate team). Meanwhile whoever drives the "Iraq" float leaps out of the car, letting it careen into the audience in an oil-and-tax-dollar fueled explosion.

Then, the president of the Young Republicans Club can explain that it was all cool because the schools are open, and that news reports of the Homecoming Game are biased by the liberal media.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Defining Our Terms 

Gary Hart, a letter writer to the editorial page of New York Times, (I'm not sure if he's "the" Gary Hart) points out that Will Safire- and many of the Iraq War's advocates- are defining the way we talk about the war by positing a model of "democracy versus terrorism" when it should be "internationalism vs unilateralism." I would go so far as to say that the language which limits our discussions of these matters is largely taking place within a soundbite saturated environment. It used to be that it "won't be the best ideas that win, it will be the most succinct." Even this is old news; but now I think there may be a new phenomenon: it's not just the most succinct ideas, its the most succinct binaries. Even the conflict has to be compressed to two faces shouting at each other. So you have it: Fox News vs CNN, Liberals vs Conservatives, Republicans vs Democrats, etc.

Historically, progress through compromise has never come from the opposites, or from perpetuating the idea of mutual exclusives. It comes from- cue harps, babies with wings, and the vague scent of incense and marijuana- "working together." But no one chooses to "work together" with sworn enemies without the work of a mediator. That role of mediator is getting lost in the noise of "diminished idea time" in the media and the strategies of both parties to fight each others soundbites with more soundbites. Mediation requires complex thinking; a willingness to expose opportunities for compromise, and the bravery to jump through the imaginary boundaries separating the two parties- even when they are both basing the entire identity of their movement on the petty maintenance of them.

One of the worst possible binaries in our political system is the separation between the American Left and the vast sum of religious moderates. When the left- I am talking Marxists, Greens, and the like- shun and look down on religion because of history, it doesn't accomplish anything. The chest beating thump of "Religion is the opiate of the masses" is really poorly understood by the left, maybe it was poorly understood by Marx. In all actuality, the aims of humanistic religion and of evolved Marxism (not tyrannical communism) are similar. Just as dogmatic religion is dangerous, so, too, is dogmatic leftism; and the far left call for the death of religion is one of its worst evolutionary leftovers.

Think of it in terms of the "Southern Strategy", which gave power to the right by dividing the south by race. Now it seems we are starting to see a division through religion- not atheist vs Christian, as it has been, but of a dogmatic view of religion vs a humanistic one. Unfortunately, the media- the leftist media as well- is whitewashing things, so that Fred Phelps erecting a monument to celebrate the murder of Matthew Shepard isn't a rare abomination coming out of religion, but "one more sign" that religion is wacky; or that the ten commandments in a courthouse lobby is enough to write off all Christians. It isn't, and we have to be careful that we don't let the right define it as a matter of Godlessness vs Religion when it is a matter of Secularism vs Imposed Religion. We have our energies wrapped up in one more religious war than we need already. Secularism is first and foremost the right to choose religion and embrace God- which must leave room for the choice not to. The battle over religious values and morality legislating individuals rights stems from Aristotles idea that government should mold character. The left believes in the same thing: But it must embrace the right to choose ones morality rather than have it enforced, and it has to encourage tolerance and skepticism as ethical concepts. It must argue that all ethics, or lack of ethics, stem from choice- and choice cannot be legislated.

With that in mind, I'll end with a quote from Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Christian Mystic whose poetry reads like a manifesto you might find in any leftist zine at the anarchist bookstore, for that matter, a blog that quotes Noam Chomsky:

"Commerce is supported by keeping the individual at odds with himself and others, by making us want more than we need, and offering credit to buy what refined senses do not want. The masses become shackled, I see how their eyes weep and are desperate- of course they feel desperate- for some remedy that a poor soul feels needs to be bought. I find nothing more offensive than a god who would condemn human instincts in us that time in all its wonder have made perfect. I find nothing more destructive to the well being of life than to support a god who makes you feel unworthy and in debt to it. I imagine erecting churches to such a strange god will assure the endless wars that commerce loves."

Dean Comments On Flag and Race 

Yes, I am just cutting and pasting a press release, because I think it's brilliant.

NEW YORK--Democratic presidential candidate Governor Howard Dean, M.D., today made the following remarks here at Cooper Union:

"We're at a space today that's rich in our nation's history, a place where citizens have gathered for more than a century to debate the great issues of the day. From this platform and from this very podium Abraham Lincoln spoke nearly 150 years ago as a presidential candidate and when Lincoln came here, he did not shy away from talking about the greatest threat that our republic faced at that time which is the terrible institution of human slavery. I will not shy away today either.

"The issue of the confederate flag has become an issue in this presidential race. Let me make this clear. I believe that we have one flag in this country, the flag of the United States of America. I believe that the flag of the Confederate States of America is a painful symbol and reminder of racial injustice and slavery, which Lincoln denounced from here over 150 years ago. And I do not condone the use of the flag of the Confederate States of America. I do believe that this country needs to engage in a serious discussion about race, and that everyone must participate in that discussion. I started this discussion in a clumsy way.

"This discussion will be painful, and I regret the pain that I may have caused either to African-American or southern white voters in the beginning of this discussion. But we need to have this discussion in an honest open way.

"In 1968 the Republican Party embarked on a strategy to divide white people from black people in the south just as they were divided when Abraham Lincoln stood at this podium 150 years ago. That is intolerable. Ending that is what this campaign is all about.

"I am determined to find a way to bring white Americans and black Americans--as Dr. King said--to the same table of common brotherhood. As I said, we have started in a difficult way, but there is no way to escape the pain of this discussion. To think that racism was banished from the face of this country--even after the success of the civil rights movement is wrong.

"Today in America, you have a better chance of being called back for a job interview if you're white with a criminal record than you do if you're black with a clean record--never having been arrested or convicted. Institutional racism exists in this country not because institutions are run by bigots or racists, but because of our unconscious bias towards hiring people just like ourselves. I am determined we will overcome this. I am also determined that we will not leave anyone behind in this discussion--no matter what their color, no matter where they live.

"I understand Senator Edward's concern last night that we not have people from the north telling people from the south how to run their states--but we all need to understand that we are in this together and that it will be a difficult and painful discussion, and feelings will be hurt. And what we must do is that people of good will must stay at the table.

"If we are ever to vanquish the scourge of racism left over from 400 hundred years of slavery and Jim Crow, only 40 or 50 years ago [did] the Civil Rights Movement begin to see relief from that. We can't think it is over; we must have the dialogue Bill Clinton promised us; we must continue that dialogue, and we must all be at the table. Many of the people in the African American community have supported what I have said in the past few days, because they understand. Some have not, so I say, to those, I deeply regret the pain I have may caused. Many of our white supporters have understood, but to those who do not, I regret the pain that I have caused. I will tell you, there is no easy way to do this. There will be pain as we discuss it; we must face it together--hand-in-hand, as Dr. King and Abraham Lincoln asked us to do.

"Because this is about taking back our country and when white people and brown people and black people vote together in this country, that's when we get social justice in America."


Republican Sweep today. In the few elections that were held, Kentucky and Mississippi elected Republican Governors. Most frighteningly, I am told that a republican won the mayor's seat in San Fran-God-damned-cisco.

Some good news from Ohio, however:
Hayden, Ohio: "The founder of the Aryan Nations white supremacist and anti-Semitic group garnered just 50 votes out of about 2,100 counted in Hayden's mayoral election Tuesday." (Source: AP)

Cleveland Heights, Ohio: A ten point victory for "Domestic Partners" Legislation for both Gays and Straights in the suburb of Cleveland Heights. This revolutionary bill, however, "would not be binding in courts, governments, hospitals or private companies", leading me to wonder just what the hell it is good for. (Source: AP)

The guy being spied on for being a democrat out in Philidelphia won, too.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Rock The Vote 

I don't know if anyone saw the debate on CNN last night, but Dennis Kucinich made a thirty second ad that was seriously the geekiest thing in political history. Kucinich started with some very early 80's style hip hop scratches and, then it overlapped with a guy saying "Dennis Kucinich" into the Casio PST-100 so you can push the key and start the sample? "Duh-duh-duh Dennis Kucinich! (wicka wicka wicka) Dennis Kucinich!" I really hope he can put the mp3 up on his site sometime.

Meanwhile, Dean didn't apologize for saying that ignorant people deserve to have their children educated, in spite of the fact that Al Sharpton is black. Or as they say, "for using a divisive symbol". What Edwards, Kerry and Sharpton demanded an apology for wasn't anything Dean ever said. I agree that there's no reason for Dean to apologize for the projections of losing candidates, but he also didn't address race in a really sincere way. Everyone agreed he wasn't a racist; but he didn't slam dunk it, either. Edwards said it was stereotyping southerners- which isn't what Dean did. Kerry said it was an irresponsible and divisive comment- when it was the opposite. And Al Sharpton called it racist- which it wasn't, but saying that made sure that there were a ton of minorities in the audience who didn't clap after the stuff Dean said.

Clark didn't join in to the chorus. I respect Clark more than the other guys because he's earning his way to #1 instead of alienating enough people that he becomes #1 by default. Good points for Clark on talking really earnestly about gay rights and gays in the military- speaking out about don't ask, don't tell - that "everyone has a right to serve." He made good points on Cuba and embracing Cuba; instead of alienating it because alienation strengthens the resolve of rogue states. Clark also dressed up like a bohemian poet, and Kucinich wore the same thing. (How embarrassing!)

Kucinich, who rode into the debate on a winged unicorn descending from the third moon of planet Nader, made the strangest attempts ever to appeal to the youth. Not to mention the rap track, but Kucinich's habit of screaming at the audience as a means of exciting them just rung more hollow than ever in this forum, particularly his charge that "If you want to rock the vote, you've got to rock the boat!" followed by a ding and a pause before people clapped politely.

The quote of the night for Kerry: "I Eat What I Kill." Lots of good ideas coming out of John Kerry these days.

Mourning Every Loss, Honoring Every Name 

By way of Mahablog:

"We mourn every loss," the president said. "We honor every name. We grieve with every family. And we will always be grateful that liberty has found such brave defenders." GW Bush, 11.03.03

"We mourn every loss. We honor every name. We grieve with every family. And we will always be grateful that liberty has found such brave defenders." GW Bush, 10.09.03

Monday, November 03, 2003

21st Century Ideas vs 20th Century Politics 

Wesley Clark and Howard Dean both announced some interesting political moves today that I am excited about. One, Wesley Clark is taking up "wireside chats", sort of an interactive update on FDR's "fireside chats" except it has a "w" instead of "f" because it's cyberpolitics! Meanwhile, Howard Dean is taking some tips from the political stratagem of the Beastie Boys by doing the media backwards, taking his cash from the net and investing it in a half hour TV infomercial to air all over Iowa to spread his message and explain his positions. The ad cost $70,000 to produce and air, one has to wonder how much Karl Rove is paying FOX news to do the same thing for GW04.

While the two front runners are busy coming up with ideas and communicating with people, the campaigns who aren't Clark or Dean are getting together to figure out how to stop people from being enthusiastic about it. When the Service Employees International Union- representing 1.6 million janitors, service employees and health service workers- announced earlier this week that they would be endorsing "Dean or No One", the big three non-front-runners got together to complain about it. "The announcement prompted top aides to Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry to convene a conference call during which they discussed whether Dean's endorsement could be blocked." (From the AP).

Also, Bush's approval ratings are the lowest they've been since September 11th 2001. And Republicans are starting to get nervous.

Early bets are being taken: A Dean Nomination means Dean/Clark 2004, a Clark win means Clark/Edwards.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

McClellan Soundbites 

Mokhiber: Earlier this year, General (William) Boykin said the following: "George Bush was not elected by a majority of voters in the United States. He was appointed by God." Does the President believe that God played any role in getting him to the White House?

Scott McClellan: Again, the President has addressed that matter.

Mokhiber: Not whether God played any role in getting him to the White House.

Scott McClellan: The President has addressed that matter and I'm not going to go back through it.
-From a White House Press Briefing, 10/29/03

Chomsky Soundbites 

NYT: How would you explain your large ambition?

NC: I am driven by many things. I know what some of them are. The misery that people suffer and the misery for which I share responsibility. That is agonizing. We live in a free society, and privilege confers responsibility.

NYT: If you feel so guilty, how can you justify living a bourgeois life and driving a nice car?

NC: If I gave away my car, I would feel even more guilty. When I go to visit peasants in southern Colombia, they don't want me to give up my car. They want me to help them. Suppose I gave up material things -- my computer, my car and so on -- and went to live on a hill in Montana where I grew my own food. Would that help anyone? No.

NYT: Have you considered leaving the United States permanently?

NC: No. This is the best country in the world.

- Noam Chomsky in the New York Times Magazine, 11/02/03

Gephardt Objects To Dean's "Educate The Ignorant" Plan 

Listening to Dick Gephardt, you'd think that Howard Dean is not only too liberal to beat GW, but also, that he's secretly conspiring with rednecks to inspire a return to days of the Confederacy. Dean says, "white folks in the South who drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too." And now suddenly, all the democratic candidates who aren't in a #1 position are labeling him a racist, remarkably coinciding with the endorsement of Dean from Jesse Jackson Jr. Including Al Sharpton, a bitter rival of Jackson: "If I said I wanted to be the candidate for people that ride around with helmets and swastikas, I would be asked to leave." Sharpton said. Well, how exactly do ignorant people stop being ignorant, Mr Sharpton?

Now I know that if a Republican made this statement, I would be offended and perturbed- but that's because Republicans have ridden a divisive race card since the days of segregation. When you have a candidate who had to wear a bullet proof vest in his home state because he stood up for Civil Union legislation when only 40% of his constituency did, you lose the option of saying the man doesn't care about minorities or the oppressed. Not only that, but he's actually doing something remarkable by reaching out to this particular brand of Southerner. One that most liberal, New Englanders like myself usually simply ridicule for their ignorance, and Dean is saying that these people's children deserve an education, too. Apparently, equal rights works for Gephardt, as long it's not for ignorant people he doesn't like or agree with.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?