Friday, June 30, 2006

SAVE THE BILL OF RIGHTS a proposed amendment to the Constitution

Congress shall make no change to any of the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States without complete consensus of the House of Representatives and the Senate. No change to the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States can become law without the consent of every state legislature given.

I don't know about you but this week was entirely too close for comfort. We need a much higher standard than a super majority of the Senate to protect our most basic freedoms. I am entirely serious about this proposed amendment to the constitution. It would be worth hearing the Senate debate on it and politically enlightening too. If they are going to keep attacking the Bill of Rights I want them to have to answer for it.


You've heard the question, why are working class people hostile to the left, the side who have brought them the five-day week and just about every economic benefits they have? Why do they think that we are elitist snobs? Well, some don't. Contrary to the Republican medias' line there are lots of working class people who do favor the left and are quite aware that we are the ones who support them. You might even want to prepare yourself to be stunned, there is no exclusionary principle that keeps working class people from being genuine, full-fledged, leftists. But we do have a problem with those who don't trust us. For starters, they are too often too many for us to win.

Like most everything favoring conservatives, a lot of working class hostility to the left is founded on a lie. As a life-long leftist from a left leaning, working class family I know that leftist snobbery is a lot less common than asserted. The policies are the best proof. Those are generally working class friendly, or used to be before the beltway triangulation fad took hold. But I'll tell you up front, there is way too much class snobbery on the left and unless it is dropped the charge will stick like 100% polyester on a humid day. The problem for the left is real, the political results are plain. It's not an easy issue to define so a complete analysis will take too long. We need to fix this quick.

Stop to consider how a remark or exclusion makes the recipient feel and if the perceived motivation for it requires the slight. Sometimes the slight is unintentional, sometimes given out of habit. I can guarantee you that things like correcting grammar or spelling, especially while ignoring the substance of what was being said, can buy you a life-long enemy, mocking religion even more so. I'm pretty thick skinned about my spelling, most people aren't. If there isn't any problem with the sub-standard usage or religious issue it's just not worth the price to point it out. To make it more complicated, sometimes it is worth it. I don't know when the cost of a grammar issue is a bargain but would fight for evolution to the end. One is formalism, the other is truth. I assume we can all agree that mocking taste in clothes and entertainment is clearly not worth the price.

Attacks from the likes of the blog trolls are the time to get the brass knuckles out. That's not a class issue. It's one of those brawls mentioned here a couple of weeks back and just about anything goes.

For some it's not as much a style issue as it is a problem of courtesy or respect for perceived inferiors. If that is true for someone it goes a lot farther down to the real commitment to the commonly held leftist agenda, I don't trust them. But if that isn't the case it's a matter of changing a bad habit. Getting it right without perceived condescension isn't always easy but, again, unless the necessary skills are mastered any slights will be taken as confirmation of the worst stereotypes. It paints us all. Common politeness, not dismissing the point that is being made, asking politely for clarification when needed and showing respect will get you a lot farther than the most brilliant and factual correction even when coolly delivered.

It's a question of what results you want. You want us with you or against you?

Thursday, June 29, 2006


The people who have built a career through expertise in the dismal and tedious Electoral College might be more to be pitied than censured but buying them that heart's desire of so many professors, a perpetual lesson plan, at the cost of democracy isn't a bargain for the rest of us. If they want to defend the indefensible thing then they should really have to do it, not just be allowed to mouth the unwarranted assertions of its merits. Unless they come up with something new, taking into account modern reality, they should get the hook.

The Electoral College is now an active evil in our system. With modern technology and the demonstrated intentions of the Republican Party it is not just an amusing eccentricity of the Constitution, it is clearly a means of stealing elections. While an election by popular vote could be stolen, it is a lot harder to steal the entire country than it is one or two states. Keeping it is an invitation for them to steal another one.

Through computers and the dedicated study of manipulation, every potential weakness in the system can be exploited by those who want to rule without the consent of the People. Richard Viguerie's activities have proven beyond a doubt that computers alone have changed things forever. Unsurprisingly, the law is still pretending that it is 1787. It isn't. Those and other technological changes uproot every traditional assumption about the security of our democracy. We are witness to a technology based coup. With the last two presidential elections, the executive powers asserted after Sept. 11th, the Bush II regime gathering power to itself and the demonstrated willingness of his new court majority to allow him to get too close to absolute power, that is what we are seeing unfolding in front of us every day.

Once the office is stolen no president is going to be impeached. That alleged safeguard is a myth. The Republicans in the Senate didn't have the stomach to convict Clinton after the Republicans in the House impeached him on trumped up charges, much as many of them wanted to. Since now Harding, Nixon, Reagan and now two Bushes haven't even been impeached we can relegate that asserted protection to the make believe box.

After the experience of the past ten years, anyone who pretends that the Electoral College has virtues that supersede government of the People and by the People should be regarded as too quaint to take seriously.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I've got less time for writing today and tomorrow so it's going to be a bit of light posting. While I'm not expecting the kind of panic we go into when digby doesn't post for a couple of days, I just thought you should be informed.

It could be worse. On my WP is a draft based on the, soi disant, Marilyn vos Savant's wisdom implying the natural basis for the pay differential between women and men due to body conformation. But I didn't have the heart to post it. I'm not that hard up for short subjects.

I hope you will check in because I've got Friday off.

What the heck. Hey, Mar, how much do you get paid for all that heavy lifting at taste of the tabloid? How much do the people who clean the offices get?

The Bill of Rights being secured, for now, by one vote in the Senate is time for a sigh of relief. But that moment will pass pretty quickly. Think about the fact that 66 Senators are prepared to cut a piece out of the First Amendment and that a majority in the house are too. The second thought doesn't make you feel much relief does it.

This was a game of chicken played by the Republican Party for their political gain. That the party of constitutional "originalism" feels safe in treating the most important part of the Constitution like a stupid teenaged boy treats a jalopy should end their philosophical pretensions but don't count on our "free press" to note this plain fact. They might mention it in passing if they give one of those many speeches they get bribed for making but it won't find it's way into their alleged news.

The most important question is why the Republicans have every reason to believe this will work for them. That answer is plain, Americans are taught to revere the flag and they are kept in ignorance of the Bill of Rights and equally important Civil Rights provisions of the Constitution. Far too many Americans are either entirely unfamiliar with these guarantees of freedom or they have been made suspicious about them through the outright fascistic presentation of them on TV. How many TV programs present the Constitution as a guarantee of freedom as opposed to a collection of loopholes that allow dangerous criminals to go free? That would be really interesting to know.

If I had the power to change the way American History is taught it wouldn't be taken chronologically it would be taken up in order of practical importance. The "Age of Exploration" - "Piracy" would be more honest- would be a detail not what eats up the first month. September and maybe October would be taken up with what really matters, why anyone should really be proud of their country, the way we have made progress in securing freedom and justice for all. You want to bet that even the most mainstream look at those topics would cause the Republicans and their front groups to flip out? Any syllabus that included only the words of the most moderate Republicans of the past on those topics would be too far left for them. Republicans are the party of Jesse Helms, not of Abraham Lincoln. They're not even the party of Ike today.

Freedom doesn't just happen, if there is anything we could learn from recent history that's it. Freedom has to be cultivated and protected like tomatoes in Maine in May. The Pledge of Allegiance hasn't done it, it is useless and could be a hindrance to protecting our freedom. That is what the Republicans in the Senate have really proven by using the flag as a campaign balloon. Like a balloon it either gets popped or the air empties out of it. The rights provisions in the constitution are the only things keeping it from being a used toy, a colorful piece of debris on the floor at a party convention.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Do you think that your political positions are morally superior to positions you've rejected? Sounds strange when you put it that way, doesn't it. Why would you hold a position you weren't convinced was morally superior? Only two possibilities come to mind, unthinkingly following tradition and practicing self-interest divorced from morals. There are some positions that seem to be adopted by reason alone but since just about everything government does has an effect on the well being of someone, those certainly have a moral dimension, thought about or not.

The first post on this blog claimed our right to believe the moral superiority of our political positions and their firm base in reason. We have to stop cowering in conditional statements and apologetic poses of false modesty. Those are ineffective, weak and are not honest. It's not our personal virtue that is at question, it doesn't all come down to us. It's that our political positions are firmly grounded in the common good, reason over superstition, generosity over greed and facing that large parts of our law favor the wealthy few over the rest with no basis other than that they have the power to bend the law to their liking. If anyone doesn't agree that our positions are superior we should require better arguments than "that's the way it is" and "you're self-righteous" because that's about all there is to most of it.

The fear of asserting the moral superiority of liberalism is that we'll be as obnoxious as William Bennett, that moral exemplar of the right, and the rest of those modern moral exemplars who lecture us continually while enjoying lives that would make ancient Roman aristocrats blanche. Now that Ann Coulter has joined that number there is no doubt that morality or even sanity are not requirements to march in with them. There are people who like to lord their own superiority over other people but they are mighty few on the left as compared to those on the right. Conservatives certainly haven't suffered any ill effects from their being moral nags.

Of course, if we stand behind our convictions they will accuse us of self-righteousness. They do now even when there is a total absence of any assertion of righteousness on our part. As mentioned this is in the face of the tidal wave of finger waving everyone but the wealthy gets from the right wing axis of drivel. They'll do it anyway but why should we listen to them? Are you afraid of annoying conservatives? If one of us gets too full of themselves that 's the time to tell the person to cut it out but it's no reason to stop believing in our positions.

Conservatives, as always, make the mistake of thinking that morality is all about them, an adornment of their sacred selves. That's how they see it and they think that's the way everyone does. But that's their problem, not ours.

People on the left have some great examples to follow. There is no doubt that Martin Luther King had a deep knowledge of his moral failings. There isn't a great moral leader who isn't aware of their flaws. And there were people like J. Edgar Hoover to remind him if he ever forgot. But can you doubt that he had absolute faith in the rightness of his beliefs? He put his life, the lives of his family and friends, the bodies and lives of countless people on the line for those beliefs over and over again. And no one knew more about what that really risked than he did. He knew from experience that some day the attacks he and his family had survived would likely end in one that would kill them. He knew what that looked like, he had seen it with his own eyes. Keeping on with that knowledge doesn't come without complete conviction.

If we don't have the courage to believe in the morality of our positions, we won't ever have the courage to change anything.


I just heard something truly rare, an excellent report on NPR's Morning Edition. Kristin Gillespie (and I couldn't find the spelling so please understand, it's radio) had a report about slave labor in the garment industry in Jordan.

When the industry official was asked about the obscenely horrible working conditions he said that it wasn't what they wanted but that it was what the American Market forced on them. He used the magic phrase "everyday low prices". Please go to their website to see if it's available in audio, it isn't as of this hour.

Please NPR, more of this and less of Inskeep giving the Republican talking points. Even Juan Williams wasn't doing that this morning.

How about this slogan Everyday low prices means everyday slave labor.


I just spent fifteen minutes reading a thread on MyDD speculating as to whether someone meant a piece as satire or not. Ok, so I am exhausted and it should have taken me five minutes to read it but I kept forgetting what they were talking about.

The Point? Isn't it satire only if people know it's satire? Has the truly destructive effect of blogs been that you read so much nonsense, so much outright bilge, so much unintentionally funny stuff that you can't tell if it's margarine or butter?

In other words, are blogs making us as stupid as Republicans?

Sunday, June 25, 2006


The Civil War dead
Painted the house
ashes of roses.
The parlor, olive.

The girl went out,
Took off her shoes
And ran through
the June weeds.
None of them grey.

LADY IN THE DARK or Contempt of Court
A mystery for the clueless

If you heard her on Diane Rehm's show last Friday it seems Sandra Day O'Connor just doesn't see where the attacks of the courts come from. Well, Sandy baby, did you miss that the most vicious attacks are coming from Republicans, members of your own party, from your own region? You don't notice that the Bush regime you installed has done some of the worst damage to the court's reputation, that the little king isn't satisfied with the sweeping powers you've given him? I thought you were supposed to be smart.

O'Connor's appearance on the show was so witless you wonder why she bothered.

Let's handle the worst, first. The unmentionable ordure in the court was Bush v. Gore, an action unprecedented and baldly partisan. O'Connor has been widely quoted on election night 2000 as having expressed dismay over Gore being declared the winner before the cabloids triggered the putsch. Her part as one of the Bush Five leaves me in no doubt that she acted as a Republican to crown a Republican who lost the election. Since their actions usurp the will of the majority of Voters in that election, coronation is the only word for it. Everything about Bush v. Gore stinks from its beginnings in Jeb's dukedom onward. Much as the allegedly non-binding ruling attempts to pretend, it is a decision that changed us permanently. If there is any justice in history the Bush Five will have written that as their own epitaphs. I'm never going to let it go unsaid.

The empty praise of O'Connor during the Alito hearings was not derserved by her record. From civil rights to non-establishment* to the most infamous coronation mentioned above, she usually acted as a Republican tool whose only virtue was that she felt it necessary to cover her acts with weasel words. Many of her celebrated fence sittings didn't drive progress back as far as Thomas would have but they tended to turn it back. Her absurd opinion in the execution of minors, mentioned by her on air, is an example. She didn't agree with the flat ban because she thought that seventeen-year-olds should be eligible to be killed, or was it sixteen-year-olds too? Only on issues of women's rights, something she had experienced personally, is her record sort of good. Conservatives can't see much past themselves. History will say that she was the first woman on the Court but that doesn't put her beside Marshall and Brandeis. She belongs in a bin closer to Taney.

For most of the past sixty years the Supreme Court could depend on the respect of liberals, who tend towards the law abiding to begin with. The Warren Court and its courageous decisions finally upholding the rights of black people and others and taking due process seriously built up an enormous reservoir of good will for the courts. But that has been emptied by those after him. Today the show of respect for the court from the left is based on habit and unthinking etiquette, not on the honesty or integrity of the rulings by the ascendant majority or the lower courts. And a lot of us are breaking lifetime habits in the face of the most partisan courts we've known. I don't respect a court like the one we have today, I won't defend it against attacks from their own side. If they don't like the rudeness and threats from the right, they've made their bed.

* It's interesting that those wanting to insert the Ten Commandments into our law don't rail against her and Rehnquist's opinions on church-state matters. Both of them clearly called for the pro-forma mention of God as a part of what they absurdly promote as "civic religion". If that isn't taking the Lord's name in vain, the Commandment itself has no meaning. It would be interesting to see what other Supreme Court rulings, outside of death penalty issues, openly call for the violation of Commandments as an act of the state. I can't think of any. If their "civic religion" isn't an establishment of religion, that phrase is meaningless too.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The recent denunciations of the old media against the blogs are too furious and too coordinated to be coincidental. They've been grousing about this among themselves in a very serious manner indeed. This is the popcorn hull in their teeth that they can't get out and can't live with. Well, unless Congress kills it off they'll just have to get used to it, it's not coming out.

The accusation that the blogs are any one thing are another and that there is a blogging community that has any kind of hierarchy is a charge only someone who had no experience of it could make. The blogs of the left, not so oddly the ones that have them shook, are too large in number, too amazingly varied and too independent for the charges brought to come near the mark. Most of the political blogs are free to their owners, some sweat equity not withstanding. Anyone can get a blog if they've got a computer and an internet connection. It's the exact anti-matter to the corporate media. Largely anonymous, if chosen, and without credentials, whether one succeeds depends entirely on the ability to write or produce something that people want to see again.

So, the panicked and most unjournalistically unsourced ethics charges against blogs and blogging........

They might as well take out ethics charges against paper.


Among the common folly about the Electoral College is that it "favors small states over big one". Bollocks. What it does is allow candidates to ignore small states that aren't expected to give them its electoral votes. Why waste resources listening to a state that won't vote for you on the chance that it will give you four electoral votes? But it's even worse than that. The winner-takes-the-whole-state system also allows candidates who know they have a state sewn up to ignore it. Why waste resources to secure a sure thing?

And there is still another disadvantage for small states. If two states are close, one with a handful of electoral votes and one with twenty-six, which would you concentrate on? Glowing in the attention they get every four years, E.C. experts never say just how this favors small states before the TV anchor nods affirmatively and goes on to why Democrats should give up.

Without the Electoral College everywhere matters, every vote counts in every election. That forces candidates to pay attention to all possible supporters in every state. An uncommitted Voter in Oklahoma would have as much value to a Democratic candidate as one in Massachusetts. If their vote always counts then they have equal value to the candidate and voters everywhere would be listened to. There wouldn't be an incentive to ignore Voters as there is with the Electoral College.

Direct election of the President would go a long way towards curing toxic regionalism. A liberal Democrat in New England has more in common with a liberal Democrat in the South than they do with the right wing Republican next door. If the large numbers of Democrats in the South and elsewhere had their votes count, then entire regions couldn't be written off and stigmatized because more Republicans happen to vote there. Giving the vote to the states instead of the People, what the Electoral College does, forces a choice on individual voters as much as if someone gagged them and forced their hand to cast a vote contrary to their intentions. It presents the force of their vote to the candidate not of their choice. It isn't just non-democratic, it is actively anti-democratic.

The problem isn't "the South" it's the Electoral College that disenfranchises progressive southerners. If they knew that their votes count, that their region wasn't lost to progressive politics, I'll bet my life progressive action would increase there. I know Southern leftists. They don't turn Republican, they don't tend to let empty theory overcome the practical, and they fight. Leftists need them. The Presidential election is the only national election. It should overcome regional divisions and bring the country together but not with the present system in place.

Do you worry that this unity carries a danger of demagogues using an alleged mandate to seize power? You mean like what the Electoral College and the Bush Five have given us already? None of the elections settled under it have produced good presidents. The Electoral College should have been junked the first time it threw an election into the elected House. Now that five very unelected Republican justices have taken it upon themselves to appoint a president it's essential. Kill it now or they'll develop the habit.

Friday, June 23, 2006


And I'm sure that Markos would be glad to hear that if he even knew it existed.

I keep hearing about that Soros money but.....

Maybe if I got PayPal.


What happens if "more speech" doesn't protect us from fascism? "Even more speech"? There comes a time when you have to face the reality that they use these failed theories of the left to take over everything. They use the same language the left uses to produce the laissez-faire media that has been their most successful tool of oppression. Unless fairness and standards of truth are imposed on the electronic media, the media that actually counts, it will always be a tool of wealth.

Another question

Can a state that gives public radio and TV money enforce its own fairness requirements to or exceeding the dead and lamented FCC fairness doctrine? They certainly could make it a requirement of funding. This question came to me yesterday morning as I heard the thinly veiled promotion of a Republican candidate in my state on our public radio station.

These are open questions and I don't know what the answer is. Any ideas?

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I just read on James Wolcott's blog that he's never seen "Valley of the Dolls".

Great, just another thing to be jealous of him about.

Oh, wait. Just checked. It's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" he's never seen. Me neither.


If you ever need your spirits lifted fast you could do worse than to play a copy of the CD "Mercedes Sosa in Argentina". While you do keep in mind this was recorded from return concerts after her exile during the dirty war, when the fascists killed 30,000 people. There is some evidence that she performed under the threat of assassination by the still active fascists who are always threatening to make a comeback of their own. You can understand why at the end of Hermanos when she sings that of all her family that the most beautiful one is named Liberty the house erupts in cheers.

Beginning with the famous Cuban lullaby Drume Negrita and going directly into Silvio Rodriguez' intricate anti-imperialism and the great poetry of Violeta Parra the disc is a demonstration not only that great art can be political but it is as often is not. It smashes the crock of 'art for art's sake quite definitively.

From all of the great songs sung by Mercedes Sosa I'll mention two in particular. Solo lo Pido a Dios by Leon Geico, sung with Charly Garcia, is a prayer to not fall into indifference. "The only thing I ask of God is that I not become indifferent to pain, that dry death not find me an empty solitude who didn't do what needed to be done. " The mix of Sosa's earthy artistry and Garcia's rock sensibilty joined by the entire audience is anything but ironic or apathetic.

And there is also Maria Elena Walsh's La Cigarra, the cicada. "So many times I've been murdered, so many times I've died but I'm still here revived,". The audience wasn't in any doubt as to what that song meant.

Thinking about how Mercedes Sosa and so many other people in Latin America have endured and kept on through a lot worse than a lousy week of Supreme Court rulings and the media turning tricks for their pimps might not make me want to sing in the sun after a living death, but it pulls me out of myself long enough to stop being depressed.


If you heard the proposal that Laura Nero's song "Save the Country" be made the national anthem you might think it was a joke, and it was, sort of. But only because it won't ever be done. Not least of all because it's too much fun to sing. National anthems aren't meant for fun, I guess. And you can't imagine people marching in formation to it. Too bad, it really would be a great democratic anthem, if not a Democratic one.

The first line has the word "People" which is notably missing from the present one, not even down in the verses no one ever sings. It's an invitation for the People and the Children to come down to glory through change, specifically to Martin Luther King's vision, nothing wrong there. She points the way to get there too, harnessed fury for justice. That's something to remember while in the middle of the hand wringing and despair that hampers the leftist blogs today. Approaching three times the age Laura Nero was then I've got to admit that it's astonishing how wise it is and how well put. And then there's that vocal line. Feeling mystified admiration for someone that young is one of the more pleasant advantages of getting old.

You wonder how she had the time if she researched, Sweet Blindness and Stone Soul Picnic. It could be that those songs were written as much from creative imagination as from a bottle. Songs on all kinds of subjects were pouring out of her at the same time. Again, as a geezer, I'm jealous. I have an idea what that might have been like but it'll never happen to me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Atrios has a post featuring some of the schizdom of Ann Coulter. I select only one of the several selections:

Anal sex, oral sex, fisting, dental dams, 'birthing games' --- all that would be foisted on unsuspecting children in order to protect kindergarteners from the scourge of AIDS. Page 175

Well, on June 7th in response to a Republican troll this blog said:

The most rapid and massive campaign of sex education in the history of the country was when Henry Hyde and the Republicans on his committee released the full details of Bill Clinton's affair. Teachers I know said that almost overnight children down to the lowest grades were talking about oral sex in ways they'd never heard before. The cabloids and even the broadcast networks repeatedly gave every detail about oral sex and semen stains in prime time for any child to hear. I don't remember any complaining from the right wing clergy or the Peroxide Aryan Sisterhood then.

What else can I say?

A note for Wednesday.

I posted my piece for this morning last night because it looked like we might lose electricity here. I will try to post again toninght. But until then.....

Tired of being told that nothing we try can possibly work? Tired of being told that everything we do will backfire. Me too. So I'm instituting a new


No one is to discourage leftists from acting on the basis that it won't work or will backfire without giving an alternative plan of ACTION!

Anyone who doesn't is a concern troll.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


"Men like to substitute words for reality and then argue about the words," Edwin Armstrong, inventor of FM transmission*

That is one of the wisest sentences ever spoken about the law. Referring obliquely to the lawsuits and court rulings handing his inventions to people who couldn't even understand the science behind them, Armstrong said precisely how our judges and legal scholars do those things that earn them the contempt of millions.

That's the how of it, the why is to uphold the profit of their patrons. Judges say the stupidest things in the most elegant language in service to corporate oligarches. The excuse is "originalism", "federalism" or whatever fashionable verbal distraction has been cooked up in the interest of privilege and wealth.

But it's not all sherry and aphorisms at the top. This week's ruling on wetlands was inconvenient for John Roberts, the Chief of the Republican majority. Anthony Kennedy went off program, issuing an opinion producing less than the full gutting of wetlands protection laws that his patrons wanted. Kennedy's opinion holds the balance on the issue until Bush and the Republicans appoint another hack. No doubt Roberts, being the very model of the Republican golden boy, wants to deliver as fast as he can and get the pat on the head he craves.

In the year after Hurricane Katrina, for their empty words to endanger the entirely real and vitally important wetlands is nothing short of a crime against the People of the United States. Even as they make national security an excuse to suspend the Bill of Rights they will allow developers and others to destroy the environment, leaving us all in peril. Remember the dead in New Orleans if you think that's overblown.

It would be interesting to know how the legal thinking of those taking what is clearly the ascendant position will leave what's left of the natural barrier protecting the Gulf Coast and other areas. I mean an accurate scientific assessment based on physical facts, not Bush science, not judicial bushwah. Now, wouldn't that be a really interesting legal analysis, for a change. The real world has such a way of making it all so real.

Through the PR environmentalism like what now could sadly become know as Blue Smoke Hawaii, look for more permits to plunder. The Reagan-Bush legacy will be more distruction of wetlands and as sea levels rise we will see more of what last summer brought. Say good-bye to many more people, species and maybe the entire biosphere. With their dying gasps, turning blue, these robed hacks will be consulting the Federalist Society over the best way to cover environmental plunder in the age of gigadeath.

* My thanks to Tom Lewis and Ken Burns for pointing out this revelatory quote in their "Empire of the Air The men who made radio,".


Molly Ivins' most enduring statement might turn out to be her observation that everyone in Washington DC ends up saying the same things. One of the same things today is that the Senate Judiciary hearings for Supreme Court Justices have become a Kabuki dance. What do you think the chances are that even three of the parrots of the DC press corps knows anything about the high art of Kabuki? Given that within the past year we have been witness to two of these shows and what those were like I'd like to suggest we pass up the obvious "theater of the absurd" designation and go straight to "charades".

But charades isn't the right word either. In charades while the player says nothing they make gestures that are designed to get the audience to say what the player is thinking. In these hearings there were a flood of words and few gestures, give or take a staged bout of tears, and the exercise was to make the audience NOT say what everyone in the room and beyond knew was the subject of the play.

Roberts and Alito lied every single time they verbally mimed the pose of not having made up their minds before hearing a case. These kobe cattle were bred and hand raised to provide the most predictable results. They were nominated into the entirely predictable and safe Republican hands to be put on the court to join Scalia and Thomas to gut the Bill of Rights and Civil Rights amendments and to continue the Republican handover of the country to the oligarches and their corporate properties.

Everyone in the room knew they were lying. Such press as had any knowledge of the Court and things judicial knew they were lying though I'm prepared to conceed that the cabloid clack might not have even known what the Court was. The large majority of us who listened to the entire farce knew they were lying. And now the lies will continue as they do exactly what everyone knew they would do. The very rare times that one of them has a bit of a woozy stomach and does something slightly unpredictable will be held onto like a life raft to prove the myth of judicial independence but that won't happen very often.

The lesson for the left is that Earl Warren is dead. He's been dead a good long while now. We can stop pretending that the Supreme Court is going to be anything but the hand maiden of the corporate oligarchy. If we are going to fight this its going to be through the ballot and if not there God save us.

Monday, June 19, 2006


I read on the blogs that Ann Coulter, the one who the conservatives are all trying to convince us to stop talking about, has achieved scriptural status. I read, though haven't stopped laughing long enough to check out, that Fred Phelps, everyone's favorite rabid hater, has placed the Fifth Book of Ann in every pew. And in his church "pew" has never been a more appropriate word for it, epecially when graced with Ann.


Tuesday, my summer job starts. It's a rather odd job with several weeks off but the daily postings might either come at night or be delayed. Sometimes it might be only a short piece but I hope it will make it worth your time to check it out.

I might, sometimes, repeat a post in better form. Looking over some of those there were some pretty bad howlers, especially the ones from before I got the spell checker to work. One typo was particularly hilarious. I've corrected some of those.

Anyway, I thank you for doing me the honor of reading this blog and hope to continue providing a public utility for leftists, liberals, Democrats, and other progressives who want to make real progress and leave "Ain't it awful," behind.


You laugh at her, I laugh at her, we all laugh at Ann Coulter and have since her nicotine reeking dementia was made a major part of our political discourse by the Republican media. Now that even she knows she crossed the line there's word she's trying to reposition herself as a comedian. Yeah. She's a regular Totie Fields.

After the six minutes that it takes for her act to get boring there is Rush and Mona and Bill and Blanquita and Michael - Savage, Medved, Novak, -.... and the rest of the conservative clowns that are the brain trust of the the trademarked "party of new ideas". Funny thing that their media doesn't get the joke, isn't it. They're all about entertainment all the time. Seems that they've got other jokes to tell.

No matter what we do, no matter how we do it, no matter how much sense it makes, the Republicans and their media ridicule everything about us. If we don't' do anything they do us the favor of making stuff up to ridicule us with. When they can't make the charge of irrationality and kookiness stick they ridicule us for being pokey brainiacs and ineffective sticks in the mud. They do it to drug the political atmosphere to ensure that Democrats and leftists will not be taken seriously and so destroy any chance of us being a danger to their hold on power. Since we don't and aren't likely to have control of the media, what can we do to counter this obvious campaign to turn us into a late-night joke?

We can stop feeling so self-conscious about it. They're the idiots. We can trust our own judgment and the facts that support it. Another Michael of the crackpot right has said that footnotes don't lie even as he lied about his. If we check ours for accuracy why not trust them? We can use them to expose their undocumented lies as we present our facts. One word about show biz, though. Always keep a number of your facts in reserve as needed. Don't put it out all at once. Timing, remember.

After our arguments are sound, I say we just keep repeating them. Throw them constantly right into their smirking faces. Don't let them change the subject. Don't let them make you stop giving your message by playing on your self-consciousness and sense of politeness. They didn't sell their enormous lie that the press was liberal without constant repetition. We should give truth at least as much of a chance, shouldn't we?

We have to vary the delivery to keep the attention of the public. All of us have had our ability to concentrate compromised by too much TV. Most people don't go for long and complicated explanations. The given conditions of effective public information are the only paper we get to write our arguments on and it's strictly one side of the page only.

If the sell-outs on late night keep laughing, we can turn it around and laugh back. Few of them are that far removed from Dennis Miller, than who there is no bigger joke outside of government in America today. Here is the chance for leftists to get creative. Their stock and trade is ridicule and caricature. Turn it around. Find their weak spots, get under their skin. Some of the greatest minds in TV had debilitating weakness and we're not talking great minds here. Jay Leno is no Jack Paar. He's not even Steve Allen. Is this nice? No. But TV isn't a nice place these days and, thanks to them, that's how it is in the medium where we have to get our message out. They made fun of Jimmy Carter for being nice, remember.

Before ending maybe I should clear something up. Though I didn't think her act was very funny and there was that time she dissed Abbie Hoffman on Carson, Totie Fields was mightily courageous in her tragic decline. Coulter is no Totie Fields.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


If anyone can explain to me how to insert the line from Blogroll into my code I would be eternally grateful. I hope it's just a matter of copying the code provided by Blogroll and pasting it into Blogger without any thing else but have been trying to do it without success.

I really am a kindergartener when it comes to these things, that wasn't a joke. You can be assured that the experience has been sufficiently humiliating.

Please get in touch with me at or in this comment thread.


The past two weeks have held a rather startling lesson. If my e-mail and the responses it's gotten on comment threads are any indication, the plain statement of the supremacy of the People in a democracy seems somehow strange, even far out. Assuming Republicans aren't readers of this blog, that is something I never thought would be found among people on the left.

Thinking about it, though, the out-right statement that leftists hold the basic tenets of democracy as a given isn't repeated nearly often enough. It might be best to begin by considering why we are going to all this bother, anyway.

If we don't believe that the People are the only legitimate and best source of government then we had better say so now. We are on the edge of so many disasters that there isn't time to waste. If we don't believe that the People are the best hope of getting it right, avoiding the distortions of self-interest and the greed-based society, then the only logical thing is to dump democracy and try for a benevolent despot. But experience proves that there isn't any such thing as a benevolent despot. All despots, all non-democratic governments are held in place by violence and thuggery. A very few, such as Tito in Yugoslavia, find it in their interest to suppress ethnic bigotry but almost all of them use racism and bigotry as their primary organizing tool. In very few middle eastern countries it is in the interest of the despot to allow women to be human beings while using ethnic violence. In most the total suppression of women replaces it or rides in tandem.

As a sometime subscriber to The Nation and a few other leftist magazines I've seen some of the more spectacular apostasies of the past forty years. Not having the leisure to go into it and without the interest of the professional left I haven't poured over their writings this week but my impression is that the leftists who turned never exhibited a firm belief in popular supremacy. They all seem too refined and sophisticated for that quaint idea. Maybe that's the key to what made them turn quisling. Maybe it's a line of hypertext in their program that allows them to click and instantly show what seems to be a totally different document, though really a part of the same book. It's happened often enough so someone who does have the time might check it out.

Given the number of these treasons and the character of those who didn't turn, I wonder if this isn't it. Martin Luther King, the greatest American leftist of my lifetime, was ridiculed by the flashier leftists who didn't have any use for his Beloved Community* and his ideals. His critics became fashionable and progress in civil rights stopped rather abruptly. The usual explanations are that King tried to extend the movement Northward and the war in Vietnam but some of the explanation might lie in those who were ascendant at the same time. The number of those who turned conservative must mean something.

Something happened. Some combination of factors stopped the progress. It's not any one thing but it is clear that without a solid basis of belief in the People, even if it's in their unfulfilled potential, the agenda of the left will die. It can't be said often enough. This is an idea that has to be an explicit part of everything we do.

* See: THE PEOPLE DIVIDED, Monday June 12, below.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


If you know a super volunteer who might help with the voters list project please ask them to post their suggestions.

By "super volunteer" I mean anyone who gets the job done. Often it's someone who knows how to teach other people to do the work, someone who cuts through the impractical to achieve the practical and who isn't pushy enough to drive other voluteers away. They usually aren't the most visible person in the room.

Please tell your super volunteer that we need their help.


Thanks to terri who posted an excellent comment on Echidne of the Snakes, I am starting an effort in participatory practicality.

I would like you to share your experience.

How is a voters list used to increase Democratic turnout at elections?

What is the most efficient way you know to put one together?

Please post your suggestions in the comments here or below. I will include some of them in future posts on this topic.

I was going to interview our local super volunteer on this but when I called her just now, she was out volunteering.

This feature will be posted from time to time as a practical service to Democrats and progressives. I don't think we'll be giving away anything to Republicans, they contract out this kind of work.


You have to admit some liberals are strange. Some get up on a soap box and that turns into their whole universe. One of the oddest of these ducks is the process liberal. You can tell one by it's call, "I'm not interested in the outcome, I only want the process to be honest,". And so it's time to rip out another weak plank from the platform of The Code of Liberal Ethics before someone else steps on it and gets hurt.

This might pinch some toes but Fred Wertheimer is the great example of process liberalism. Some of you know that I've got a bone to pick with him over his teaming up with Newt Gingrich to get Jim Wright ousted, ending the only real opposition that the Reagan-Bush administration ever faced. In the most supreme political irony of our age, Fred and Newt sank him over a BOOK DEAL that by Gingrichean standards was chump change. Even if Wertheimer's motives were pure, in theory, this act marks him as the archetype process liberal due to it's pettiness, the enormous benefit it brought to Republicans and the damage it did to Democrats. You remember, Wright was replaced by the tragically ungifted Tom Foley who obsessed over marble floors in the elevators and lost the house to Newt Gingrich. I don't believe that was what Wertheimer wanted but it wasn't any surprise when it happened.

Process liberals bask in their own purity knowing that they are welcome on any talk show in the country and will seldom be asked a tough question or get pinned down on anything they say. They go on and answer all of the reverently posed questions about the latest sins of Democrats. They predictably bleat out their dismay over these venial sins which, they decree, must carry the penalty of eternal damnation. In the process they sell out the real progressive agenda that doesn't end in process, it ends in results, in making peoples' lives better.

They say "the ends don't justify the means" on the rare occasion someone questions their judgment. But that phrase was invented to counter people who wanted to use means that involved killing people and doing serious injury. Dictators' ends don't justify their means. But the left in the United States won't start doing that, no matter what the temptation. The left will use the untidy and imperfect process of government to defeat Republicans' lies and theft. If there is some minor naughtiness involved it's a small price to pay for child nutrition, healthcare, jobs creation, Social Security and other such benefits to humanity as the notably impure Democratic majorities of the past have produced. Remember the "post office scandal"? Looks penny ante after Bush II, doesn't it.

The sentimental attachment we have for these process liberals is rather strange itself since they haven't produced much and they've prevented much good. That the Republican media values them isn't any surprise, it should be an indictment against them. They wouldn't be asked on if Republicans didn't like the results.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Getting rid of the Republicans is the first step to getting election reform or any other kind of reform. They believe that politics has only two goals, to get power for them to steal everything, to use hate and lies to get power so they can steal everything. Since this revelation came to me* it has never failed in the analysis of Republican actions.

* It came to me while listening to a Democrat talking about Republicans' alleged principles on an issue. Democrats wastes time if they don't cut through the lie of Republican principle and keep their eyes on Republican actions.

The only principle Republicans really hold is to take all the principal, that's why they want the Capital.


The use of the House and Senate as a part of the Republican elections campaign this year ranks as some of the most irresponsible and immoral politics of recent times. Considering a lot of recent time included Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay, that's saying something.

The primary feature of Republican bills as election platform includes blatant blackmailing of Democrats. They either bring up bad bills worded for full political use or they add bad things to vitally important measures. Either way Democrats are damned if they do or damned if they don't.

The poison add- ons pinned to bills essential to supplying the troops shouldn't work for Republicans, they are blatantly political and they are an insult to the women and men that the Republicans have sent to fight an illegal and futile war of conquest. But never underestimate the lengths the Republican media will go to to lie and give cover to the most obscene acts of their chosen party.

Democrats don't have the power in Washington to stop it. So they have to vote for these things in full expectation that the Republican sound boards, what used to be called the free press, will use their votes to really support the troops against them. Tim Russert probably has his dialogue in draft right now.

What should Democrats in the House and Senate do? Throw up their hands? Give in? Not when there's a better way.

If the President can issue signing statements based on the force of his having been elected, well, the Democratic members of the Congress can too. Whenever they are forced into voting for these bills they should issue signing statements stating that they were forced into signing and that they fully reject the Republican political add-ons. They should be written in the clearest language so that they will be understood by the average voter and they should fully condemn the cynical and irresponsible action of the Republicans.

Any individual member of the Congress has been just as elected as the President, usually more so. Any one of them can issue an individual signing statement at the time the bill is adopted by the full house and publish it for their constituents. The Democratic leadership could issue a signing statement for the caucus. Any coalition of Democrats can issue one. If they can shame a few Republicans into signing it with them, so much the better.

If the Republicans and their mouthpieces ridicule these signing statements, which they will, Democrats should do it anyway and use full and plainly stated honesty as their weapon. Could this be an idea that is so crazy it just might work? I don't know but triangulation hasn't. And that's a lot crazier.

If the Republicans are going to use government as a branch of the RNC then the Democrats have few options. What they've done in the past hasn't worked very well. They need new tactics.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"The Dems" is us.


Dear Senator Schumer,

I see that you have made statements in support of Joe Lieberman, going so far as to hint that the DSCC might support him in an independent bid in opposition to a Democratic candidate who wins the nomination in Connecticut. To use a formerly amusing signature line, What were you thinking?

A Democratic Senator in charge of the Campaign Committee has no business threatening the Democratic voters of any state over who they might give THEIR nomination to. No matter how long he has been in the Senate, Joe Lieberman doesn't own the seat, the voters of his state do. And no matter what his status in the party he doesn't own the nomination, the Democratic voters of his state do. I don't know why you said what you did but consider these simple truths to be a refresher in Democratic Civics, section 101. Dictates from above are just too, too Republican.

You have 24 hours to fix the damage your statement has done, 48 at most. It was a pretty bad screw up so I'd suggest strong remedies. Nothing short of an apology to the Democrats of Connecticut and a reaffirmation that their voice is the voice of God to the leaders of the party will get it done.

You could make yourself famous by taking these long lost truths back into currency if you start now. Look on this as a golden opportunity, it well could be. That would do much more for your reputation than upholding the silly pose of Senate comity that makes most of the nation retch.

Until the nomination is set, I would suggest that you steer clear of these kinds of things from now on. Certainly keep quiet about them in public. And it would be a good idea to tell your staff to shut up too. Loose lips sink ships.

yours in hope of Democratic victory,



I've got some unexpected personal business to take care of. And the blogroll is giving me some headaches. I will try for a substantial post later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Answer to a question on a thread at Eschaton which HaloScan will not post:

Has the time-space continuum settled down? Moe Szysal

Dramamine junkie,
The land shifts, the bed pitches,


Bush has told what is the whopper of the day.

" ours is a transparent society ".

If there is a bigger lie told today, please let me know.


What if they lose? What if the congress investigates the crimes of the Bush regime and those are stopped? What if things go back to normal? After what we've seen the past forty years, if things can go back to normal it won't be a blessed relief, it will be a disaster. Our recent history proves that we have fatal problems in the foundation of the American government.

Our elections have to be fixed, not just returned to c. 1964. We have to secure the vote, from before it is cast to counting to reporting the results to their fulfillment. No elections official, secretary of state, or judge can ever be allowed to prevent another legal ballot being cast or counted or made to count. The sleazy behavior we've seen from every level from elections clerk to Supreme Court and the Executive wouldn't be tolerated in a real democracy. A democracy needs it to be an impeachable crime for a Supreme Court Justice to say that a Citizen of the United States does not have a right to vote. That is a fundamental contradiction of the role of the court in a democracy. Anyone who believes that has no place on our court or in our government.

The media, and today that means the electronic media, have to have their self-interested biases exposed and it's pollution scrubbed out of our politics. They have to be forced to perform the public service they promised, including standards of fairness. Broadcast stations must provide real news, including local news, which has to be unbiased and fair. And as a comment here yesterday said, without diverse ownership of the media, they won't serve the entire public.

The cable "news" channels have betrayed the publics trust even more flagrantly than broadcast, spreading lies effective enough to start the most idiotic and dangerous war of our history. We will pay the cost of their lies for decades, in blood as well as money.

They also aided the Bush putsch of 2000 and the earlier scheme to remove a genuinely elected President on trumped up charges and lies. Pretending that a rogue cable industry isn't a danger to freedom has to stop. Anyone who defends them on their crimes against democracy is a dupe or a profiteer. Put them under the same public service requirements as broadcast media. Media passes itself off as the voice of the people, then let them show it by putting the public before their investors and owners.

Recent history proves that self-government can't depend on leaving it to chance. Laissez faire democracy dies and the death is never a natural one. It lets the powerful and wealthy swamp the Peoples's voice almost all of the time. In the same comments mentioned above, it was pointed out that the Supreme Court rulings making corporations artificial people made that all the more true.

Our government is always presented as having three branches, those are where almost all of the pitiful efforts at reform are concentrated. And that hasn't worked, we have the most dishonest government of our lifetimes. Putting patches on the process to make it a level field is unrealistic to the level of willful blindness. Powerful interests have power. They will always win when they have equal access to the process and own the media. The handful of examples where individuals or small groups win over the big guy make for sentimental TV movies, using them as proof that the system works is calculated dishonesty.

If the People are neglected then it all goes wrong. They won't even show up to vote. That step isn't a naive social studies lesson that you stop thinking about after the test in fourth grade. You don't go on to the higher study of civics and leave it behind. There is nothing higher in a democracy that the People, there is no act of government more important than their Vote. Abraham Lincoln, one of the real founders of the country we live in today, gave the formula for it. You know it by heart. He didn't mention the congress, the executive or the high church of the judiciary. He said that the enormous sacrifice of the American People in the Civil War was so that government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from the earth.

Any aftermath of the Bush II disaster that doesn't include changes to these laws will be just the beginning of the next time. Not securing the Vote, the will of the People; and forcing their own chosen responsibilities on the media, the only guarantee of an informed and realistic Vote, is a welcome mat for the next would-be dictator. Any liberal, leftist, Democrat, independent, even "moderate" Republican who lets two years go by without enacting real electoral and media reform had better beware. It's just a matter of waiting before the same coalition of corporate interests, bigots, oligarches and haters tries again. They might be as slow and stealthy as they were this time, buying up media, using it to spread lies that "more speech" can't drown out, but they'll make a come back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


If I could do it, opinion polling would be banned in the United States. You might be shocked to hear someone on the left say that, someone who just posted a piece about free speech. But not even free speech absolutists favor all speech, deceptive advertising of dangerous products is an example. As practiced by the media, opinion polling is one of those products. It is a danger to democracy.

Opinion polling is usually dishonest to some degree. It asks a small number of people questions that are leading or limited, calculated to give results within what is acceptable to the company paying for the poll. Given their contempt for the plain facts in their news reporting, do you believe media corporations would regularly release information harmful to what they see as their corporate interest? It is a rare day they willingly do.

One sure sign that their purpose isn't really research is that they use phone polling. It is a truth universally held that phone polling is significantly less likely to give you an accurate result than other methods. And that was before we found out how interested the NSA is in our phone calls. How many fewer people are likely to tell the truth to an unseen stranger from who knows where and Lord knows what for about topics of controversy today?

But even if you are not skeptical of the motives and methods behind it, there is an even more important reason to think opinion polls are destructive to democracy. Democracy rests on the reasoned judgment of the voting public. It rests on facts they have available to them and the truth they derive from the facts. Polls deal in opinion, not in fact.

Polls divert us from the facts, they prevent us from finding the truth. Nowhere is this clearer than polls of the general public on questions requiring scientific or historical information. When facts are required for an opinion to matter, entirely uninformed opinions are better called guesses or, more literally, prejudice. What someone who couldn't give a two sentence definition of natural selection thinks about "Darwinian Evolution" might be interesting to a marketing campaign, as fact it is less than worthless. I wonder how many people who would give you a ready opinion on the alleged greatness of Columbus could tell you much beyond 1492 and the names of the boats. I wonder if a lot of them could tell you that much. If the media spent its time on facts instead of fancies, people might know.

Polls make up an increasing and alarming part of what passes as news today. I couldn't find figures but wouldn't be surprised if the time spent on polls rivaled the time given to real news. I am certain that taken together, polls eat up more news time than almost any really important story.

The alleged news divisions of media companies don't tell us why they have replaced the reporting of facts, the news, with junk like polling and, worse, "predictions". It's obvious usefulness for pushing an opinion is my guess but I tend to be suspicious of people with a profit motive. Even a more charitable explanation, that polls are cheaper than reporters and reporting, would be damning evidence that the news media has sacrificed it's prime reason for existence to the bottom line. The recent abomination of asking their in-house pundits for predictions is bound to be even cheaper and the results even more predictable. It's certainly boring.

TV and even radio are very profitable businesses. Broadcast media uses public property, the air waves, to do business and used to have some, though too few, requirements to serve the public. Since the Reagan administration those have fallen to a level that is criminal.

But cable and other media use up an even more important, though unconsidered, type of public property. I propose that we consider the increasingly limited time the American Public has to inform itself to fulfill it's all important civic responsibilities a property of the public. Our time is a property even more important than the air waves and unlike that, they can't squeeze more time into what there is. An uninformed public can't govern itself. If it can't despots and pirates are only too happy to step into the breech. It really is a matter of life and death.

"News" companies should have a much stricter requirement to report real news and so serve the public good. Fairness has to be imposed on them because they will always serve their own interests otherwise. Cable's role in selling us the Iraq war by selling its audience lies is my first but far from last exhibit. A deceived public is a dangerous public and a public in danger.

They won't go back to just the facts unless they are forced to and the first thing we can do about that is to tell them what to do with their polls.

Norman Soloman has done a lot of reporting on polls. You can read more of his work at:

Anticipated rejoinder: It's bound to come up. What about print? You can find news in text sources, it's still available, especially on the internet. It takes less time to consume print since you can read faster than someone can talk. Text based nonsense is easier to pass over and takes less time to review for junking. I wouldn't change the status quo, except to make mail rates more favorable to newspapers and journals.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Well journalists are apparently able to criticize bloggers w/o talking to us and finding out what's inside our head, so I imagine that turnabout ought to be fair play. Hecate Malificent

I've done an indepth analysis of the "journalists" attitude towards the blogs. I have come to the unshakable conclusion that it is a matter of the whores not being able to stand the girls who put out for free.

Hecate's unique and interesting blog is at


Blow a trolls tiny little mind. Don't follow them down the fork in the road they want to take. Refuse to go along and watch the fun. Stay on your chosen path and enjoy the confusion as the little rat runs around the maze trying to keep up with you.

They're not that smart. The smart little Republicans are all making real money somewhere else. And there aren't that many smart Republicans. Would they have let Douglas J. Feith* run anything if there were more of them?

See remark in "Nestlings". He's another fine product of Georgetown and Harvard.


In politics the words "my people" come up sometimes. Not as much now, but still too often for some of us. The phrase often translates, "my people are more important than yours,". You can understand a little of it. Targeted people being fixed on the interests of their own group is a natural reaction. But not if it's exclusive. First, it's not just. Second, the interests of one group are usually linked with those of other groups. Exclusivity is stupid politics. There are chances to make things better that are lost if groups stay to themselves. And that doesn't just stand for groups. A single person can take effective action to advance the interests of an entire group which they aren't identified with.

The idea that sprang up in the 60s, that people couldn't "really" care about people in another group was, thankfully, not universally adopted. - But let me take this moment to thank traditional psychology for letting us all know how we "really" feel and how, at bottom, we're "really" all a bunch of selfish swine. - A lot of people saw that it wasn't true and that it was an injustice in itself. But the attitude was too common among groups on the left. It led to a lot of the self defeating fragmentation that started in bad feelings and ended in our mutual weakness. The effects on people who identified with two or more groups was particularly bad. To be rejected by a group you don't identify with is bad enough, but to have your own reject you?

Empathy turned into a dirty idea around the same time. "Bleeding heart liberal" was the test marketed slogan for it. Why this stuck is impossible to work out. Was it 60s macho, the cool but sexually uptight, tough guy type presented as a hero, the man who would kill you if you cared about him as the only "really" honest man in town? You can see why conservatives like that. There isn't any percentage in caring about other people. But why would the left adopt it? Fear for their sexual identity? Fear that needing help would mark them as weak? Why isn't as important as the effect. No one wanted to accept help from other people because it was suddenly humiliating to do so. Being empathetic made you a loser. Those are neuroses for the right, not the left.

In most of the successful work for civil rights a coalition of different groups made the margin of victory. You remember 'VICTORY' don't you? Groups came together out of shared interests but also on the even stronger bases of empathy and justice. Sometimes it took overcoming disagreements to get it done. There are conflicts in interests between groups but groups have internal differences too. And groups that have major differences in some ways have common interests in others. Coalition politics need maturity and patience. Even more than that it requires clear-eyed realism. But most, it requires empathy. That is the weapon the right tries to deprive us of when they ridicule us about it. Why we should listen to them on that when we know they lie about everything else is a mystery. We don't have to give it up. The only thing we have to fear is letting them make us weak that way again.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


My friends, a troll on Kevin Drum's blog has brandishd another weapon from the trolls armamentarium. I have been accused of conceit.

The late John Kenneth Galbraith didn't have much use for the virtue of modesty. He held it to be overrated. He might have been right about that, but more practically, when a leftist lets modesty get in the way they don't fight aggressively for the leftist agenda.

My fellow leftists, please, make the same sacrifice I have. Put aside that most charming of personal traits, demure modesty. It has no place in a brawl and politics is a brawl. If someone, even your inner liberal angel, scolds that you are being immodest, consider it to be a noble and worthwhile sacrifice for the cause. If your angel keeps bugging you, promise it you'll try to cut down on the use of the first person.

Conservatives, motivated only by greed and hate, have much to be modest about. But you don't see them hiding behind the couch.

EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW: Lies over the door to the Supreme Court

Plessy v. Ferguson. What would your reaction to that phrase be if you didn't know the decision was a racist lie? If the pretext of the decision had been true, if it had maintained or established real equality would it be a stain across our history? It wouldn't come right after Dred Scott on the list of infamous Supreme Court injustices. Equality for black people in 1896 was a lie and the majority in Plessy knew it was a lie as they told it.

I second the nomination of Buckley v. Valeo to join that list of shame. That decision makes a pretext of upholding free speech rights while clearly endowing the rich with superior speech rights. It says that money equals speech.

If money equals speech then you can count it, you can figure out how much speech someone has. It only takes the simplest math. With p being a person and M being the money they have. p(M)= Speech owned by p. Or, more simply, 1xM=Speech. p is a person and always equals 1. M is a variable, it depends on the amount of money p owns. As M increases then the total speech owned by p increases. Buckley v. Valeo makes it possible for the first time in our history to calculate the amount of free speech someone has.

It might be lost on our brilliant Supreme Court and the scholars who support this monstrosity but if M=O the free speech owned by p is zero. Maybe they are so busy rearranging legal Platonisms that they don't know what happens when you multiply one by zero. Or maybe they do understand and the outcome doesn't bother them. And that wouldn't surprise me anymore than that it is a Buckley who has his name attached to it.

The law being an ass, it is possible for someone to support this awful decision on theoretical principle while ignoring its horrible results. At least one of our greatest Justices, Marshall, did support it. I wonder if he would have if he knew what it would lead to. But that any of the self-proclaimed "originalists" could support it is stinking hypocrisy. The founders held that all people have equal speech rights under the law. Yet the plain result of Buckley v. Valeo not only distributes the right of free speech unequally, it also theoretically blots it out for the dispossessed. I say theoretically but can anyone looking at our politics since this decision honestly deny that this hasn't been the clear result?

I don't have much M but I'll be damned and in the fires of hell before I'm going to be silent about this.

TROLL LORE previously seen in a thread on Kevin Drum's blog

The trolls here are trying to take advantage of several traits that the left uses to defeat itself.

1. Liberals, leftists, Democrats have to be 100% pure or they are lepers. Any Democrat who is only 99 44/100th percent pure must be dumped. The reason I wouldn't mind seeing Joe lieberman dumped isn't because he's dirty, it's because he's an ineffective traitor.

2. People on the left tend to be very intelligent and creative with wide ranging interests. It's easy to get us off track and off message. That's the meaning of the sudden departure in the thread below to gay marriage. Let me blow that part of this concerted Republican effort for you. The trolls are using a strategy written for them by someone higher up which plans to change OUR subject.

3. When all else fails, call the leftist hysterical or something else and hope you can use our anger to get us off message. Now that you know that they can't do it to you anymore. (Let me add here that "conspiracy theorist" will be used against me for #2.)

I've done the threads of leftist blogs. I've seen them in action. They're not that hard to figure out.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

beyond commentwhoring


Look: Ann Couter is a puppet. An act. A useful instrument. Richard Scaife pulls the stirngs and the slutty, nervy Ann dances and sings.

posted on a thread at Hullabaloo by chris

His good looking homepage is:

Can I add that she's the Madame to O'R's Flowers?


The Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with rights. All men are given equal rights. You shouldn't forget that the reason they put it that way was because they were declaring, once and for eternity, that kings and nobles didn't have the extra, God given, rights that they claimed.

Equality was an excellent grabber, the part of the document you remember even if you never go to the list of grievances. Thomas Jefferson's intentions were good, he really did believe it. Some of the others who signed the paper thought so to, though some, not so much. Practice was a different matter. The equal rights of slaves, women and the landless were breached immediately and continually until those groups insisted on their own equal rights. We've come a long way, thanks to them. Now, before we start going backwards, it's time to settle up on some more of these equal rights before some new claims of "rights" swamp us.

A president is a citizen with rights equal to those of the most destitute bum on the street. Equal rights. His office doesn't give him more rights. Equal rights are endowed by the creator, or for the secularists among us, by the fact of birth. Even a massive majority of the voters can't increase those. It can allow privileges and it does. It is foolish when those are more than necessary to do the job and that point was passed a long time ago. Since September 11th the country has gone temporarily all gushy and monarchic and has given Bush and Cheney massive perks and dangerous privileges, but those aren't rights. A president isn't drafted and they aren't crowned. They are given a job and our giving someone a job doesn't confer rights, it assigns freely requested responsibilities.

The recent news about the massive intellectual con job to impose one-Republican-man-rule on us uses the language of rights to describe the sleazy framework of power grabs which the likes of Samuel Alito have spent their careers erecting. But it's an effort that starts with a lie. Being president is a job, it's a responsiblity. It doesn't give George W. Bush the right to replace the enumerated responsibilities of the legislature with pieces of paper that members of the Federalist Society have handed him to sign. Anyone who says they believe that the legacy MBA, who never managed anything except into the ground, understands these signing statements is a liar. That goes for anyone who uses that pretense as an unstated premise in a discussion.

This effort, hatched in well appointed sitting rooms in law schools and other charming venues, is one of the dirtiest plots against democracy in our history. The plotters are all genteel and have clean fingernails so they sell well on TV. They are even well coached for mini-dramas with the help of senators of their own party to sway public opinion. They've got the stage craft down and with our winner-take-all, set term system temporary deception is good enough for their purposes. So we can't waste any more time, we have to call the plot what it really is right now. It is a power grab to to destroy the rights and freedoms of us all for the benefit of a privileged elite. We have to say it over and over again with enough variation to hold the attention of a distracted public.

You would think that this kind of power grab would alarm our press a lot more than it has. A very few of them like Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe do a service to American as great as any Thomas Paine ever did. But the electronic media, the most influential part of the media, while mentioning it seems to be unenthusiastic about saving democracy. What I've seen and heard goes from what passes as "balanced" to outright propaganda favoring the plot.

This is a defining issue for the media. By their acts you will know them. Our democracy hasn't been in this kind of danger since the Civil War. Not the movie, not even the documentary. The real thing, here, now, real.

Those who support the power grab or who play the "balanced" game aren't going to defend rights that they have no interest in exercising. That's the only logical conclusion you can come to. They aren't a free press. They are an infotainment venture that can get along just fine under a dictator. They might even hope that a dictator will increase profits for their parent company and so the value of their stock options. Have I gone too far? Just look at how they sold us Alito, the architect of despotism.

You will be able to tell who the real free press is because this issue, if lost, will spell their deaths. Maybe literally in the fullness of time. Real members of the free press will fight this with all they've got. It is time for the owners and employees of papers, stations and in the new media to expose it. The President and the Republican party are destroying democracy. The evidence is so thick that only someone with a head even thicker will deny it. The only chance we have to defeat them is here, now.

Friday, June 09, 2006


but why are all these people posting on the comment threads telling us to stop talking about Ann Coulter just after she has made herself into poison? Could this effort to change the subject be less than sincere?

Error message:

The link I had hoped to post at the bottom of the last post didn't work. It references the article "The Architects of War: Where Are They Now" posted at Think Progress. The link can be found on I will attempt the link again later. See also: The forum held at the Kennedy Library a while back with those brilliant and always correct men, Kissinger, Haig, Sorensen and Valente.


It also occurs to me that it would be instructive to look at the case of someone who really did suffer for something they did in office. Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General under Bill Clinton really did suffer for doing the unforgivable in office. She told the truth. The media response to that tells it all.


What would happen if you made a mistake at work and someone got killed? You know that you would lose your job, your friends. There wouldn't be any question of getting a good reference. Your personal life would fall apart, you would be a pariah. And that assumes that you escaped criminal prosecution. You might be lucky to escape several years in prison. That's the way life is when you screw up royally. That's the way your life is when you screw up. It's not that way for the rich and connected. The ones who are in a position to really screw up royally.

It's hard to think of a single person in the federal government who has advised doing something that has turned out to be a total disaster, costing hundreds and thousands of lives, who has paid a real price for it. A lot of the time they advise going ahead into disaster when there are people who strongly advise against it. A lot of times the people advising caution are experts in universities; great scholars of long standing with decades of study, who have taken the bother of learning the languages. In many cases they, unsurprisingly, turn out to have known what they were talking about. The DC policy wonks who gave the bad advice typically work out of that intoxicating mix of theory, wishful thinking and the nest feathering that has nothing to do with the subject of action. It has everything to do with their speaking and dinner invitations.

And when they get it catastrophically wrong what happens to them? They get promoted. The invitations don't stop. They're still dining among the Sulzbergers or the Grahams. They often end up with seats at the very same universities where the real and unheeded experts work. They are still consulted by the media in preference to the real experts. Connections count for more than book larnin' with our great and free press. Eventually, now resting on their laurels as a "scholar" of the subject, they go back into the government.

In retirement a few of them pen their memoirs. A few of those will, the tide of opinion making it prudent, express their belated regrets for their tragic mistakes. They were victims of fate, no one could have done any better under the circumstances. I don't know about you but I think honor would have been better served if they had sat silently and taken their lumps from history.

But here is the real question. What are we to these people? Those of us who get killed in their disasters, those of us whose relatives and friends get killed, those of us who pay? Does it even register with the media, the heads of departments, the corporate boards, that these people have climbed on the bodies of real, bleeding people to rise to the top? Does it begin to dawn on them that they have proven themseves to be bunglers and thugs with nothing to teach the world except as bad examples? And YES, I do mean the Kennedy school at Harvard and Georgetown.

These are rhetorical questions, sadly. The answer is clear in their actions. We are nothing to them. To them We the People are things to be used and suckers to be milked. We are those who are to be gulled into paying for it. And don't get me wrong. I'm not just talking about we the working class of America. "We" means those of us on both sides who end up dead and destitute because of this March of Folly.

They will keep killing us as long as we let them, for as long as we allow the media to cover up for them. If they were exposed and their presence at those elite dinner parties became just a bit outre, a key part of the daisy chain of corruption would be broken.

We have to make criminal negligence a crime and a shame for the plutocrats and their publicity hounds. And by we, I mean we the used.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


How do you talk to people about politics? How do you get them to listen to what you're saying? If you read a piece posted here about wonk talk you know I advocate Democratic spokesmen talking about things like national health care in simple language. Cutting out the jargon and policy talk. I stand by what I said then. Last weekend there was a discussion of how the left talks to other people. I repeated some of the points I'd made here but had to admit that I wasn't particularly good at it. When being inconsistent it's a good idea to let them know you are aware of the fact before they can tell you. I said that people who were good at it should be the voice of the Democratic Party.

But later I thought that it wasn't good enough. I had to make an effort myself. And I have started. Some of you have urged me to go shorter and gave me other sensible suggestions. I'm trying to do just that. It's like starting a new language, not easy. It's still in the experimental stage. The results aren't ready for posting.

My reason for starting this blog was to go beyond just giving you the news. We know enough about what Republicans are doing to destroy democracy and lives across the world. We don't need an excuse to act. The focus here is about how to act more effectively, to do what can be done now. One of the most important parts of that is talking to the huge part of the population who are uninvolved. If we can get even a quarter of those people out and supporting us, we will win. That job starts with telling them our ideas in the clearest and most engaging way possible.

So, I am declaring myself open to your ideas again. Do you think that the comments format is too hard to use? A leftist blog just can't be without reader participation. Proclamations and talking points handed out from headquarters? That's just so Republican.

This is a public utility. Not to everyone, I will not make myself useful to conservatives. I can't stop anyone from reading it but this is a service to the left, to liberals to Democrats who want to make parts of the progressive agenda into law, making lives better. If I'm doing anything useless or going off on a tangent tell me to get back on line. I thank you for your advice and for doing me the honor of reading my posts.

Blogger is having some trouble this week. I don't know what that is but it has seemed to have had only minimal effect here so far. Maybe simple living accounts for that. But there might be disruptions. My intent is to post at least every morning but if that isn't possible please check back later.

Also, I seem to have caught what's going around. This round has really unpleasant dizziness as an added attraction so light posting is likely.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I would like to thank the fine blog

for reminding me of this wonderful online resource for those of us who like to see how Republicans keep themselves so moral.

I bookmarked it under Quick Searches. Something that is so useful to understanding our Republican one-party state.

anonymous said...
It's a parents right to tell their kids.

You say a parent has a right to tell their kids about condoms. No. That isn't a right it's a responsibility. Parents who don't tell their children what they need to know to keep themselves from dying of AIDS are negligent. As negligent as parents who refuse to provide them with medical treatment. What they need to know to keep themselves safe goes a lot farther than "just say no,". Children don't just say no. A lot of the time they say yes. Even children who have been told only to say no and kept entirely ignorant of condoms say yes. Parents have no right to pretend that there is no chance that their children will have sex. Refusing to provide them with realistic information about protecting themselves from HIV isn't a right, it's child endangerment.

Even if a parent does provide their own children with complete information not all parents do. You know that most don't. A child brought up in ignorance or with bad information about condom use just might be the one who gets your child to say yes. And you won't be there to stop it. You have a resonsiblity to your own children to make certain that everyone they might have sex with knows the full truth about AIDS prevention. Most of them won't get that information from their parents and with what conservatives and Republicans have done to politics most of them wont' get it at school either. Even if they do get it at school that isn't the best proven way to change behavior. Like it or not TV is the most effective way of spreading effective information. It's where most people get their information. So the information has to be accurate, complete and repeated as many times as is needed to cut the rates of HIV infection in this country.

It is too bad that there was no monitoring of the experiment that has been run in this area. The most rapid and massive campaign of sex education in the history of the country was when Henry Hyde and the Republicans on his committee released the full details of Bill Clinton's affair. Teachers I know said that almost overnight children down to the lowest grades were talking about oral sex in ways they'd never heard before. The cabloids and even the broadcast networks repeatedly gave every detail about oral sex and semen stains in prime time for any child to hear. I don't remember any complaint from the right wing clergy or the Peroxide Aryan Sisterhood then.

Me? I was disappointed to hear about the affair, though it certainly wasn't any of my business. Liberals tend to be a bit sensitive to the airing of other peoples' dirty linen in public, you see. But I have to confess that I was more disappointed to hear that he didn't wear a condom for his wife's, his partner's and his own protection. I'm also disappointed that, having thrown the kitchen sink at Bill Clinton, they didn't throw that at him too.

All might not be lost, however. If David Broder is to be believed, not a mistake I usually make, the experiment is going to be rerun as he has declared Mrs. Clinton's private life to be in season for the Republican bedroom monitors. They should keep better records this time.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Maggie Gallagher balanced by the mild mannered Brooking's stylings of Jonathan Rauch. Who are they going to have balance the Aryan Nation? Armstrong Williams?

I hate it when Diane Rehm has voice trouble.


Black? Angry? Tenor? Anyone who could stereotype the enormous diversity of energetic, complex and great jazz from the early sixties like that doesn't have a clue. Get someone who knows what the hell they're talking about. Someone who gets beyond "Goodbye Porkpie Hat". Charles Mingus was one of the greatest composers in any medium.

NPR, you really don't much like music, do you.


You have heard the announcements, it was 25 years ago that they figured out that a new health disaster was beginning. With time they would name it AIDS and learn that it was caused by HIV but in the beginning they just knew that a uniformly fatal disease had emerged. Twenty-five years is long enough for the anniversary to seem dowright nostalgic with old names and faces appearing on TV. Researchers and doctors who haven't been seen since Donahue was on daytimes. Progress is reported on many fronts though at best some of the worst symptoms can be kept down for a while. I won't go into the details of the side effects and expense of the drugs required. Even "Secrets of the Dead" had an interesting piece about genetic immunity to the virus. I won't watch cable anymore so am not sure if the maudlin parade of name victims has been a staple of the coverage.

Twenty-five years into a pandemic with effective uniform mortality and there are still 40,000 people contracting HIV infections in the United States every year. For the love of God, there are still babies being born here with HIV infection. Teenagers are often mentioned as a group at major risk of new infection.

Twenty-five years and there isn't real condom education on TV. The medium that uses a third of every hour to sell everything else in the world with sex with programs to reinforce the ads for the other two thirds. You can sell anything with sex in the United States except responsibility and life.

In the same years that health scientists were begging the United States to begin comprehensive promotion of effective condom use, there has been an effective veto on condom advertisements and education by the clergy, their allies in the conservative movement and the Republican Party. They have kept condom education out of TV in the United States. And while they were doing that they made Rupert Murdoch a citizen of the United States. The "dirty digger" of the infamous "Sun" tabloid, the Aussie T&A peddler was put on fast track for citizenship in the Reagan years so he could start buying media companies and plying his trade in low grade smut and right wing politics. I've got to eat breakfast or I'd go into his being installed as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory during the same period. So it's not the sex they won't let on TV. Mr. Page Three, yes. Condom education? You willing to bet your life on seeing it here?

It is twenty-five years past the time when the United States should have ditched the faith based tire biters and put real education about condoms in the mass media. And mass media is the only effective means of mass education we have. How many people can tell you who this fifteen minutes' American Idol is as compared to the number who can tell you where Athens has been for the past 2,500 years? Every week that clergymen or Concerned Bottle Blonds of America delay the airing of real, effective, science based AIDS education thousands will die. They are the angels of preventable death. Completely informed and totally unconcerned, they are worse than the ignorant Moslem clergy who are responsible for polio outbreaks in Nigeria. There is no question that their veto of condom education and the full index of lies and distortions they replace it with are responsible for many times more dead Americans than the attacks of Sept. 9th. And that's just here. The bodies they've left lie around the world.

Condoms are the most effective way to prevent new HIV infections. They are safe, inexpensive, simple to use and when used consistently, people live. But they will not be used without a massive education and public relations campaign. They have to be made acceptable, even fashionable. Their use has to be made as every day and habitual as brushing your teeth and using deodorant before you go out on a date. Our media could do that. They can sell anything. If they can get Americans to try sushi they can get them to save their lives. Think of the possibilities, think of what those geniuses behind the Geico ads could do on the subject.

Will it ever be done? Will it be done in time for your children or grand children to learn how to save their lives? Twenty-five years and they're still talking in generalities and nice words that Michael Powell would have approved. The TV discussion I've heard is worse than it was during the Reagan years. Clearly, the conservative establishment and their corporate media are going for gold.

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