Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Relative threats - tsunami versus Vioxx

The Drudgereport uses two ! and one ? to exclaim that as many as 45,000 people may have been killed by the tsunamis. For a little perspective, let's remember that Dr. David Graham, a Food and Drug Administration researcher, notes that as many as 55,000 people died from taking Vioxx.

Vioxx -- a drug no better than aspirin or ibuprofen at controlling arthritis pain. Vioxx -- yet another drug, like HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), relentlessly advertised on TV, something that no other nation like ours allows.

Killer tsunamis are rare. And the truth is that people can do little to protect themselves. Drug scandals like Vioxx are becoming quite common. And the sad truth is that U.S. citizens are supposed to have the power to change the way their governmente behaves, but that power has been abdicated to the corporations.

What does the mainstream media do about these relative threats? Reuters has dispatched its newsgathering minions to airports worldwide in the hope of finding new amateur footage of the waves rolling in to feed the story for a few more days.

That same media machine ignores people like Ralph Nader who tried to tell us the truth about Big Pharma. The only time he's allowed on TV is to answer the question about whether he is just a spoiler.

My goal is not to denigrate the victims of the tsunamis. It is to remind us that Scott Peterson and killer waves are not the real threats we face, though you wouldn't know it if you rely on mainstream media to help you figure out what matters.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Supporting soldiers/glorifying war

If the Left learned one thing from Viet Nam, it was not to hold the soldiers accountable for the idiocy of their commanders. Watching CNN on Christmas Eve, there was an unrelenting succession of heartwarming stories about our soliders in Iraq, told with compassion if not reverence for our "brave men and women" putting their lives on the line for us.

While showing us the lives of the footsoldiers caught up in our war machine is admirable, the media barrage risks going beyond storytelling to glorifying war as a way to solve problems. Commentators seem hell-bent on reiterating the government line that the solders in Iraq are saving us from having to fight terrorism here, though the lack of attacks on our soil in the intervening years since 9/11 may instead be evidence that al Qaeda is not the international juggernaut we once supposed.

How refreshing amidst all this propaganda about war to find the Washington Post article on the Christmas truce of 1814, when Allied and Axis forces at the front line spontaneously put down their arms and celebrated together. As a survivor said, had it been left to the front-line troops, the war might well have ended there.

The article speculates about why there have been few cases since -- the advent of impersonal modern warfare and the death of the idea that the enemy are also "gentlemen." Yet my job shortly after graduating from high school in 1962 was to research a local educator. Doing so meant scouring the microfilms from seven local Jackson, Michigan, newspapers from 1900 to 1930. The Kaiser and the Huns were hardly treated as gentelemen. In fact, there were barely considered human.

Yet there is a worrisome difference, it seems, when the enemy is of another race. Beginning with Korea, then Viet Nam, and now Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a sense that it is easier to abuse, torture, and kill people with a different skin color. The previous century was the bloodiest ever in terms of civilians as well as soldiers killed in political conflicts. It would seem the media would serve us better by honoring our soldiers without crossing the line into pro-war propaganda, particularly as communication and transportation technology remind us how small and diverse a world we really share. Wouldn't that be a suitable Christmas message?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The answer: 4 minutes 36 seconds

And the question?

How long was I able to shoot video at the subway station at Reagan Airport in DC before the cop showed up to ask me what I was doing?

"Is it against the law to shoot video here?" I asked.

"It's legal as long as you don't use a tripod," he responded. Huh?

On my return trip, I hauled out the trusty videocamera at the airport in Detroit and succeeded in scaring the hell out of my fellow travelers. I left my camera case open and walked 15 feet away to shoot people on the moving walkway. By the time I returned a minute or two later, my seatmates had demanded that the gate attendant get a security guard to come check me out. "Everyone's a junior security expert today," he whispered to me.

For a country that has not suffered a terrorist act since 9/11, we sure are jumpy.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Kerik's nanny problem

Joining Zoe Baird, Bernard Kerik has a "nanny problem"that is at least part of the reason he withdrew his nomination to become head of Homeland Security. And again our immigration policy highlights the problems and the hypocracies.

Kerik long ago joined the wealthy elite (he also made $6.2 million on his Taser stock options - the real scandal) whose membership often includes seeking to save a few bucks by hiring an undocumented nanny. To save even a few bucks more, Kerik also failed to pay the requires taxes on her wages.

While he waxes eloquent about how she loved his kids, the truth is that he apparently liked child care on the cheap and he also likes an employee who dares not ask for much without risking deportation. So we again get a glimpse of how the rich are still willing to screw over the poor just to hang onto a few more dollars they will never live long enough to spend.

We also get a lesson in how the millions of undocumented workers who live among us drag down the wages at the lower end of the wage scale.

Charting an ethical and moral course on immigration is no easy matter. Listening to CNN's Lou Dobbs hammer home the anti-immigration theme each night often means that you find yourself accepting parts of the argument, at the same time you want to take a hot shower to wash off the stink of finding yourself in the company of nativists like Pat Buchanan.

If you open the U.S. borders to all comers, the result would be a surge of millions of the most desperate and unskilled workers escaping oppression everywhere else. Earlier this year, when Ralph Nader spoke at Michigan State, a Communist Party member challenged him to adopt an open border campaign plank. The ever-cerebral Nader looked at the young man like he was promoting belief in a flat earth. Yet there is no denying that the millions of undocumented workers already here serve as a stick to keep low-wage workers from asking for more, though chucking them out is not only unfeasible but inhumane.

What we have is the worst of both worlds. The Federation for American Immigration Reform says that there are at least nine million undocumented workers living among us. Bottom line is that we are not going to deport them all. Deny them driver's licenses and other benefits of our society and all you do is harass them and make their lives more miserable while they hang our drywall and take care of our kids. Auto insurers might enjoy be delighted to avoid paying claims on uninsured drivers, but you will not find that families who have been here for decades will opt to go home just because you make their lives tougher than they already are.

We need a mix of immigrants with various skills from all over the world to fulfill the American dream. When we demonize those who do so by hook or by crook instead of waiting in line, we are forgetting that these are the people with the courage, the brains, and the tenacity we need. The challenge becomes how to accept if not welcome them without encouraging an influx of newcomers who outstrip our economic and ecological carrying capacity.

Friday, December 10, 2004

We Like Mike for the People's Choice Award

Visit Michael Moore's site and follow the link to vote for Fahrenheit 911 for best picture in the People's Choice Awards. Mike is actively campaigning for the award since the right wing has been trying intimidate the Academy Awards into ignoring his movie. As with voting in Ohio (the joke used to be Chicago), vote early and vote often.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

T-Shirt Hell & Rolling Stone's ad policy

No one has t-shirts more offensive (or funnier) than T-Shirt Hell. Juvenile perhaps, but who could resist: "I threw the cup at Ron Artest" or "I bought Christopher Reeve's wheelchair on eBay." My current favorite is: "I support stem cell research -- but only as a byproduct of my support for killing babies."

So I was expecting that TSH's problems getting their second ad into Rolling Stone would involve something really egregious, something that would offender damn near everyone -- instead click here for the story.

Corporate wussies is right.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Child murder in Texas: Is this progress?

Again we have a mother who murders a child in the throes of post-partum depression. And again I fear that her fellow citizens will want to burn her at the stake.

More than 30 years ago, I lived outside Jackson, Michigan, near a woman who had murdered three of her children, slowly, with a knife, while suffering post-partum depression. Yet in her case, as I wrote in Lansing City Pulse, the courageous local prosecutor chose not to prosecute her.

In this era, with toxic right-wing radio, would he be able to withstand the outcry? Is this progress?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Onward Christian soldiers

Past quote from Rep. Ernest Ishtook who is responsible for the clause that would allow Congress to paw through our income tax returns: "The message is really very clear, and if I have a message today for the Republican Party, it is that the most dynamic issues, the winning issues and the cutting edge issues of American politics today are moral and cultural. They are not fiscal and economic."

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Online Clinton Library

Wonkette has some great comments on the ceremohy in Little Rock.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Why the surprise?

So Bush bumped Colin to install Condo and told her to clean house. The Dems are not only surprised but horrified. Horrified I can understand. Surprised, no.

Only the Dems think that there is intrinsic virtue in bipartisanship. The Bush folks have a world view beyond just winning, so they are eager to make it happen whenever they get an opening. The Dems forget that the job of the opposition party is to make a case for a different path. Make the case well enough and you win the next election. Then when it is your turn to govern, you push like hell to change the course of the ship of state to further your view.

What's broken is that we have Dem party leaders who forget that Bill Clinton's tepid DLC Republican Lite strategy did not win the hearts and minds of the people. It worked only when Ross Perot siphoned off Republican votes in far greater numbers than Ralph Nader ever cost Al Gore.

Hoping for another corporate whack job to play spoiler is not a winning strategy. Standing for something other than corporate greed and fear of heaven and hell at least offers us a choice.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Politics makes strange bedfellows

No wonder John Edwards has such a bright future





Saturday, November 13, 2004

Boardrooms/congregations a haven for right-wing reactionaries

Conservative pundits continue to froth about the Chronicle of Higher Education study that showed most faculty on college campuses lean to the left. David Horowitz, president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, is therefore pushing universities to adopt "intellectual diversity" (political diversity) as a goal.

Yet even without any research, I can safely say that most corporate boardrooms in the United States are "havens" for right-wing reactionaries, as are the congregations of fundamentalist churches. Where is the outcry for ensuring diversity there?

Years ago, I was taunted by one of our community's right-wing tax resisters about why universities and the media are so dominated by left-wing thinkers. Because you have to be smart to have the job perhaps?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Is Peru in Europe?

Yahoo reports that gays in the military in Peru now have a Constitutionally protected right to have sex, inside and outside their barracks. How heartening that Peru is more enlightened than we are.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Thinking with the little head again?

The Smoking Gun offers the details of the $9 million palimony suit that Coco has brought against Bill Maher. She alleges various kinds of nastiness and assures us that he promised to marry her and have kids (though he has made his reputation on TV denying that he would ever do either).


The unhappy Coco
Bill (Maher) & Bill (O'Reilly). Maybe they can kiss and make up and form a little support group?

The lesson to be learned in all this is that blue state guys think with the little head just like the red state guys do, even though they think they are smarter.

"Centerfold model and former flight attendant" -- no doubt they met at a foreign policy discussion or a night class in quantum physics.

Precisely who are women with brains supposed to date if both the red guys and the blue guys prefer bimbos? Why is it that many bright and otherwise enlightened males inevitably get the hots for women whose IQ rarely registers higher than than the mean temperature in Fairbanks.

Brilliant and beautiful single women over 40 have good reason to worry that their chances of marrying are less than contracting ebola (and, yes, the there is some equivalence there), while watching some of the smartest men drive right into the ditch when choosing a mate.

Anyone have any insight into this phenomenon?

How Christian of him & sore winners

Bob Jones III, of the eponymously entitled university, wrote an open letter to George Bush after the election, urging the president not to give an inch to those nasty liberals "despise you because they despise your Christ." How Christian of him.

And how would you like to sit down to dinner between Alan Simpson and Zell Miller -- maybe put Andrew Sullivan in the seat across from you. Simpson and Sullivan graced Bill Maher's show last Friday. Simpson did a full paranoid meltdown about how us blue state people are evil for mocking the good people in the country (good people are apparently defined as those who routinely dine on Bob Jones' God-fearing bilge).

Then Sullivan went ballistic about Noam Chomsky as an opportunistic and rapacious millionaire who rips off Europeans who pay the big bucks for his "anti-American" rants. Wonkette and others did a good job of bringing him down a peg or two for his ass fondling antics during the credits.

Then Zell Miller lit into Maureen Dowd, whom he called Maureen Loud and a "hussy from New York," on Don Imus' MSNBC morning show. What are these guys so mad about? They won.

Can you imagine what these sore winners would have done if they lost?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The lessons of Goldwater & Rove

When Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in a rout far worse than the one suffered by John Kerry, the Republican Party faced a choice -- adopt more of the Dems mainstream positions or continue to make the case for convervatism. Karl Rove merely inherited the legacy of decades worth of conservatives who have worked hard to make their case and win converts.

Yet today we see the Dems on the verge of taking the opposite course. Instead of energizing progressives and helping them find a way to make their case and win converts, the Dems are demonizing people like Michael Moore who could be their salvation. We have already wasted decades on Republican Lite ideas like the Democratic Leadership Council. It's time for people who care to take back what's left of the party (pun intended), or to forge a new party of their own.

Dumping on Mike & dumping Terry

Why has it become so fashionable to use Michael Moore as a whipping boy for the Democrats' loss? Mike knows how to put together a coherent narrative, combining humor and insight, which is something that the Kerry campaign never did, for all of Bob Shrum's supposed eloquence. Mike galvanizes people with a populist message, which is something that the Dems dearly need.

The only ray of sunshine coming out of the recent debate is that there is word that Howard Dean may replace Terry McAuliffe as head of the Democratic National Committee. The end of the Clintons' bloodless neoliberal reign cannot come soon enough for me.

According to Alexander Cockburn's book Dime's Worth of Difference, it was McAuliffe who put the screws to Howard Dean's campaign. Cockburn argues that McAuliffe wanted to squash Dean in case someone else might follow his example in raising money on the Internet independent of the party. For people like McAuliffe who doesn't stand for anything but winning, a candidate who takes a principled stand on the war as Dean did, whether it's a majority position or not, is dangerous.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Calculate points to get into Canada - you need a 67

This website allows you to calculate your point score for immigrating to Canada. I'd go, but I can't speak Canadian.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Politics is not sports

I dimly remember hearing Chris Matthews and Craig Crawford expounding in the wee hours of the morning how the Dems need to do more to court Southern, god-fearing, gay-baiting Bubbas if they are ever going to win again. Yet that reduces rooting for the Dems to the political equivalent of rooting for the Yankees.

Poor Ron Reagan tried to make the argument that the Dems won't win until they actually stand for something. But I fear that the party hacks see the world only in terms of winning or losing. Need to join the witch-burners to get back in the game? No problem, in their mind.

It's going to be a long four years until the next go-round.

Post-mortem - Part 2

YOUNG PEOPLE: The youth vote last time, 17%. The youth vote this time . . . 17%. Does this mean that P. Diddy, with his Vote or Die t-shirts, will do the right thing and self-immolate? (The over-60 crowd actually increased.)

THE BLOGOSPHERE: It turns out that the Internet is great for raising money($80 million for Kerry's campaign) and lousy for getting people off their collective asses. This is the message from Howard Dean's bubble, from the MoveOn.org rallies in Miami where Cher and Rosie O'Donnell ended up with embarrassing small crowds, and now the Kerry surge that wasn't.

Meanwhile, in fundamentalist churches natiownide, ministers were preaching about the evils of homosexuality from informational packets produced by right-wing groups organized by the Ralph Reeds of the world.

As a practical matter, how can the left compete with fundamentalist churches where the faithful get together at least once a week, often more, to reaffirm their "values"?

NEW "CENTRIST" WISDOM: Brian Williams, the new Tom Brokaw, says that the Dems are already re-thinking a way to attract the born-agains -- that the left must stop patronizing of people of faith. Yeah, great -- let's jump on the creationist bandwagon.

Religious right rules

The loathsome anti-gay "defense of marriage" initiatives in 11 states mobilized the born-again mullahs to bring out the faithful.

And yet again we have a Democratic candidate who relied on attracting undecided votes by adopted "centrist" positions. The Democratic Party needs to get the message before we slide into a full-blown theocracy, with no separation of church and state.

Bye bye, Terry McAuliffe. Bye bye, Bill and Hillary. Does anyone honestly believe that Howard Dean would have done worse?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Detroit News has cool blog page

The Detroit News blog contains stories from bloggers around the state. You can also post on their polling place wrapup about what you found at the polls. Very cool, DetNews!

Cliches in the making - Part 1

Lester Holt, MSNBC, on learning that turnout is high: "It looks like apathy will be the big loser tonight."

Thanks to Tricia

Tricia Heinz of Utah agreed to swap votes with me, so I cast my vote for John Kerry here in Michigan and she voted for Nader for me there. My friend Ray thinks this is all too cute, arguing that a duopoly offers no real choice at all. While I cede the point, there is some hope an energized left might be able to persuade Kerry to undo at least some of the erosion of our civil rights.

Like Ralph, I was appalled to find how ugly the Dems could get in trying to stamp out any competition. But maybe the answer lies in working from within? I noted with alarm that all of the candidates running for our Township Board were Republicans. So my plan is to run against them as a Dem or a Green the next time.

Links from Zenzi

Before the election, here are some sites that may be of interest.

The League of Women Voter's website for information on all candidates and measures on your ballot, voter rights, etc:

Info on voting rights & hotline number for problems:
http://www.electionprotection2004.org/ (People for the American Way Foundation)

For advice on how to protect democracy, MoveOn.org's inspirational ads, and election protection card for printing out (& potentially distributing):

Information about each state's laws on being able to leave work to vote:

Not the most neutral of names, but also interested in protect voter rights with on-line reporting (probably underfunded with not enough servers, so report elsewhere if possible or in addition):

See a hysterical and educational (well, maybe) play in the spirit of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, "43 Plays for 43 Presidents" on Nov 1 at the Carter Center (Jimmy saw the play last time it was in town but he may go again):

Political Eminem video that rocks (with dial-up option):

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Donald chimes in

Bush in the boardroom

Does a Kerry win will guarantee a never-ending DLC strategy?

In Slate, Chris Suellentrop argues that Karl Rove's strategy of energizing the base will be branded a failure if Kerry wins. Conversely, that means that Kerry/Clinton/Democratic Leadership Council strategy of going to the center while exploiting "small differences" to lure the "median voter" would be vindicated. And this means that the Dems will embrace the Terry McAuliffe Republican lite approach forever.

In my mind, if the Dems do win tomorrow, they should thank their lucky stars that they did. Throwing at least a little more red meat to the party faithful on our side of the spectrum could have resulted in a blowout. But with candidates like Kerry, we will never have the chance to find out.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Power failure - literal and figurative

Count us among the 272,000 people in Michigan who lost power this weekend. It was truly a three-dog night, illuminated only by little battery-powered lanterns. A metaphor for the power failure felt by the left? Which of the two Yale Skull and Bones pro-war candidates do you prefer?

Friday, October 29, 2004

You can run . . . and you can also hide

There is no little irony in the fact that George Bush once applied his "you can run . . ." rhetoric to Bin Laden and now applies it to Kerry. Perhaps once Wednesday morning dawns, George will be able to spend all of his time searching for Osama, just as O.J. continues to hunt the real killers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

BBC reports FL Bushies plan secret black vote challenges

In a story that has not yet broken in the US, the BBC reports there is a document that shows the Republicans in Florida have a secret plan to intimidate black voters by challenging them when they try to vote. Though the new laws allow challenged voters to cast a provisional ballot that is sorted out later, not only does this slow down the voting process in black districts on election day, there are armies of Bushite lawyers who will try to claim victory before any provisional ballots can be counted.

No wonder arry Setzer (on Wonkette) said when he was arrested for trying to run down Katherine Harris that he was just exercising his "political expression."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Online VotePairing for Nader

Ralph Nader deserves my vote. Not only does he have a track record of speaking truth to power, he continues to do so today, as the only anti-war candidate we have.

At the same time, I live in one of those second-tier battleground states that drives Slate nuts, as it shifts from red to blue to purple (or grey in their case). What if my pitiful little vote really could make the difference between four more years of born-again macho bravado and a Boston brahmin? Can I really stand four more years of "he can run . . . but he cannot . . ."? (I shudder at the thought.)

So I have decided to opt for the political version of having my cake and eating it, too. I signed up at VotePair where they will now match me with a Dem in a solidly red state whose vote literally doesn't count and we will agree that I will vote Kerry while they vote Nader for me.

That way, Kerry gets what could be a precious vote in a battleground state, while my counterpart in one of the horrid Bush states can translate an otherwise useless vote into a vote for Nader. Maybe a groundswell of such votes persuades Kerry to stop running as Republican lite and become more progressive? Hmmm, investing my belief in the Easter Bunny might make better sense (at least I might get some chocolate out of the deal).

I suppose there is really no hope that Kerry will become radicalized again once in office. Did you see the frail Mr. Clinton gain strength yesterday hammering conservative themes? Both he and Kerry are card-carrying Democratic Leadership Council members. You remember the DLC, don't you? It'st he group that has ruined the Democratic Party by pandering for corporate cash? You could tell that Clinton was almost sorry he had passed welfare "reform," so that he didn't have his own welfare queen to kick in the hope of scaring up a few more suburban votes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Here we go again

In my previous post, I talked about how Florida Republican Katherine Harris depressed the Democratic vote in 2000 by sending polling places an intentionally flawed list of supposed felons to remove from the rolls. Now we see Bush's brother Jeb pulling the same trick (click here). Does anyone know when it was that we decided to become a Banana Republic?

Provisional ballots - the election night nightmare

David Boies -Courting Justice
David Boies' new book Courting Justice
How many of you think the election will produce a solid winner on election night, raise your hands? Now think again. Remember these two words -- provisional ballots. Keep them in mind while watching Tim Russert tote up the votes in the battleground states with his grease pencil and whiteboard -- these are the ballots the election officials must give you to fill out if you think you were wrongly purged from the voter rolls. In battleground states, Republicans are engaged in trench warfare to ensure that few, if any, provisional ballots are ever counted.

Republicans know that there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, so anything that suppresses the overall vote is peachy keen with them. (That's why election day is not a national holiday or held on a weekend -- the goal is to make it harder for working-class people to get to the polls. And again, I ask, why have the Democrats refused to fight for these reforms?)

Better yet for the Republicans is when they can suppress an entire category of voters. In Florida last time, Republican operatives passed out flyers in black churches that said you couldn't vote if you had a parking ticket. Ed Rollins let slip the fact that Republicans routinely funnel money to black preachers to depress voter turnout, only to find that the truth is not a defense against bi-partisan attacks.

In 2000, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was warned by the company she hired to purge the rolls of convicted felons that her requested approach would knock thousands of eligible voters off the rolls. Harris then ordered them to use the flawed formula anyhow. After all, that was the idea. The fewer the merrier in Republican eyes.

After the last presidential election debacle, provisional ballots were endorsed as a reform that would ensure voters cannot just be turned away. The rule now is that any voter who is rejected can request a provisional ballot that must be kept on hand by law until the outcome of the election is certified. In a tight race, the determination about the validity of those thousands of provisional ballots in battleground states could make the difference.

That's why the Republicans are fighting so hard to make this reform as useless as possible. In some places, Republicans are instituting rules where a person who picks the wrong precinct is simply not told that he is registered elsewhere and that is used as justification to discard the ballot.

For all the rhetoric about how we want free and fair elections, the Republican tricksters are out there wreaking havoc wherever possible. The height of hypocrisy is having Republican operatives fund efforts to put Nader on the ballot -- then the court fights delay printing absentee ballots -- and then having the Republicans spin the delay as a Democratic plot to deny our brave soldiers the vote.

David Boies, who fought for Gore the last time, has a new book detailing what happened -- along with an army of lawyers on both sites just itching for a fight. Forget putting on the coffee. Unless it's a blowout, we won't know squat on November 3.

The rise of the gummer revolutionaries?

When Bonnie was a hippie
I hope this time we can dress warmer
Facilitating a discussion last night after a campus showing of Control Room, the documentary on Al Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq War, it was clear that those who stayed were at least over 40, maybe mostly over 50. Without a draft to compel them to pay attention to this war, younger people today have better things to do on a Saturday night than talk politics.

Looking around the group, it seems clear that my generation wants another shot at the -isms -- imperialism, materialism, fundamentalism. Are the radicals of the Sixties ready to emerge from their chrysalis of raising families, building careers and paying mortgages? Are we up to the challenge of battling the establishment again? When I was lining up interviews for my anti-Drug War Movie, I found myself talking again and again to Boomers over 60 who had taken an early retirement to work for causes they cared about. There's the retired teacher fighting for medical marijuana. The retired police detective trying to end the drug war.

One man last night talked about what we should have learned from Viet Nam, singling out a slick military PR official in the movie named Lt. Rushing as a prime example of a "REMF" (a Rear Echelon M-----F-----). Rushing is the smiling fascist who sells the world the war as liberation, not occupation. He's the superb actor who knows how to stay on message while pretending that he's listening to the other side.

One woman talked of our own media's collusion -- CNN & company tell us the number of U.S. soldiers killed every day, yet they never even estimate the number of dead Iraqis.

Imagine what a force a band of energized gummers could be! We would have the time in retirement to fight for the unpopular causes that others won't touch. Many of us have also gained skills and even clout far beyond what we possessed in the Viet Nam era. A Woodstock-type love-in might not be a sight I would be eager to see, but I for one am eager to dust off those love beads and make one last effort to change the paradigm from war to peace, from fear to freedom, from unrestrained greed to caring for the planet.

In this election, the question is, which of the two war candidates do you prefer? We can do better than that if the duffers get off their duffs. Age of Aquarius? How about the age of Social Securitarians? It's time. It's time. Let's just hope it's not too late.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No pearls from Shrummy?

I thought the only thing Bob Shrum was supposed to bring to Kerry's table was singing rhetoric. So why nothing at the end with any lyricism or lilt? Bush's godawful mush about the cowboy painting at least offered some feeble attempt at offering an inspiring image. Kerry just repeated same stuff, different day. Kerry makes Nader look warm and fuzzy.

Bush sure loves No Child Left Behind

Whenever he was trapped, Bush cited the No Child Left Behind act as the solution. Ask him about jobs, he tells you that NCLB is really a jobs bill. Outsourcing? NCLB will is the answer. Raise the minimum wage? Don't bother because the next generation is getting all this great education. NCLB and a few Pell grants and we can fix global warming as well.

Dress code? Thought code?

Same red ties with tiny figures. Same suit, same flag in the lapel, same white shirt. Same patronizing attitudes toward the little ladies. Why no women on the ticket, boys?

Same stuff, different day

I have yet to hear anything that I did not hear during the last debate. I know what was is George Bush's back -- it is the string you pull to get him to say the same thing.


I am old, so I remember a time when Bobby Kennedy, a patrician if there ever was one, became radicalized by seeing the devastation that poverty wreaked on the people who lived in Appalachia. Today instead we get two Yale skull-and-bonesmen who never spend any time with people who are struggling. They have never seen up close what it's like to live in public housing, what it's like to come home to a trailer broiling in the heat, without quite enough food to keep the kids happy.

Both men traipse through the countryside shielded by their respective bubbles. The Bush people even go so far as to handpick the crowds so that George can mug and whinny and issue one-liners without anyone telling him he hasn't a clue.

Here were are a half-hour into the debate and Schieffer has given both men softballs that they have bobbled. Not because they don't have the facts, but because they don't understand the impact of policy on the lives of real people. The issue for most displaced workers isn't a Pell grant, it's extending unemployment benefits and insurance so that they don't end up on the street.

Atheist that I am, all I can think is - god save us from them both.

A little help from our friends?

According to the Financial Times of London, Germany "might deploy troops" to Iraq if circumstances change. Just as Don Imus is ranting about how no country in Europe would be dumb enough to do so and that Kerry is therefore lying, this new article appears. Imus, of course, says that he's a Kerry supporter, but he takes every opportunity to trash him. In the latest Newsweek, Imus also says Bush will win because he's so much better at connecting with people. With friends like these . . .

Monday, October 11, 2004

Answering my own question

In my previous post, I asked whether Abu Ghraib will be mentioned at all during any debate. I will now answer by own question, since it offers further proof that we now have a one-party system with two wings.

It is easy to see why Bush will avoid any mention, but why won't Democratic "challenger" Kerry take Bush to task? It can only be because Kerry fears the those security Moms whose votes he wants are now willing to tacitly condone torture as a way to keep us safe. We don't want to say it out loud, but go ahead and waterboard Sheik Kahlil Mohammed and any others who don't look and talk like us. A country so willing to give up its own civil rights can hardly be expected to worry about theirs. And John Kerry who once had our respect for being willing to tell truth to power now panders with the rest of them.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Abu Ghraib forgotten?

I have been waiting for someone -- moderator or citizen -- to ask a question about Abu Ghraib. But it appears we may get through all four debates without anyone holding Bush accountable for tortures committed on his watch. Does the "new normal" mean we simply don't give a damn?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Watching the Debates with Chris Matthews

Why do I continue to watch Chris Matthews on MSNBC? I suspect it’s because I want to see the moment live when Chris finally slips into a full-blown testosterone-induced psychotic break. (Hide the pointy objects.)

Watching Chris provide instant analysis of the debates is like watching a serial killer on the couch talk about his daddy.

Like much of America (the part that scares me), Chris speaks from the gonads rather than the brain. Instead of an authentic blow-by-blow account, round by round, as MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann does with his liveblogging, mixing style points with the content points, Chris cares only about strength versus weakness -- Who’s your Daddy? Who strutted the most? Who shouted loudest? Who threw the best manly punch?

The only damper on Chris during the first debate was that Bush’s arrogant performance made it harder for him to fall in love with Bush (as he does again and again). But within seconds after the vice-presidential debate ended, Chris made it clear that Darth Vader had won handily by bitch-slapping the Breck girl.

The meaner Cheney got, the more Chris “respected” him. I cringe watching the tortured Mr. Matthews play out the psychodrama of his upbringing, where his Catholic guilt and his undoubtedly anguished relationship with father obviously set the stage for his adult love/hate of all male authority figures.

But just about the time I feel sorry for Chris for exposing himself like this on TV (and it's clear he worries a lot that his is smaller), I remember that he surrounds himself with men on the panel by choice.

Last night, Chris sparred with “objective analysts” like Ben Ginsburg, Pat Buchanan, and Ron Silver. (Can you imagine having dinner with that crew?) For hours, the only woman on screen was Andrea Mitchell, normally a competent woman who begins to stutter uncontrollably like a domestic violence victim waiting for Chris to assault her whenever she opens her mouth.

Apparently, Chris’ idea of a fair, balanced, and complete panel consists of a succession of male Republican hacks and one lone female reporter. Does Chris really believe that Andrea somehow represents both gender balance and a voice for the left? How many Lefties do you know who get the hots for Allen Greenspan? (Andrea's married to him.:

Speaking of looks on a person’s face, I saw Matthews go blank when another woman reporter said that Bush wasn’t manly but rude when he shut down Charley Gibson. Shouting, cutting off anyone who challenges you, these are the reasons Bush is dangerous, not reasons to revere him.

I watch Matthews and his fellow phallus worshippers in the same way I watch the hurricanes that periodically threaten our coast – because it is important to keep an eye on them in case you have to evacuate. Canada O Canada.