Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Off speaking truth to weakness today, just time for another raw comment whore. From a thread at Digby's Hullaballo

Despite what probably seems like a truism to you, there is nothing special about your religious beliefs that makes them unassailable or inviolate. If you bring it into political play, expect people to react to it. If the risk of being possibly offended is too great, then keep it at home. It's not really that hard to grasp.

John Lenin, since I didn't identify any religious beliefs I might or might not hold this has nothing to do with what you are responding to. I have no trouble with any rejection of my beliefs and never try to inject them into political discussions. My post isn't about me at all, it is about how the left can consolidate and advance.

This response is typical of the Dawkinsites, it assumes much more than the evidence supports, not unlike much of Dawkins scientific work.

However, I do believe that he and much more so Harris, who Dawkins is on record of admiring, are actually calling for the end of any toleration for peoples' religious beliefs. My point is that even if that is desirable, something I don't happen to believe, it is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

Their program of converting the human species to atheism is not going to happen, it is a folly.

So, short of installing an anti-democratic rule by Dawksinsites religious believers are going to vote, they are going to have those votes informed by their religious beliefs and to how those will be impinged on by whoever is elected. We have decades worth of evidence that they are anxious about the effects of anti-religious office holders, whipping up those anxieties is one of the main features of Republican success.

The left has to deal with the world as it is and as it is going to be, not with the world as imagined by Dawkins and Harris. The work of the left, including saving the species, is too important to indulge their cults.

olvlzl The Heretic

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Raw Commentwore from Eschaton

I know I should know this but it escapes me at the moment: who is Chris Matthews?
Snow, Ordinary Thinker

He's only a bird in a gelded rage,
A pitiful sight to see.
You may think he is snappy
And free to dare,
He's not, he pretends to be.
It's sad when you think of his wasted life.
For news cannot live en-caged.
But his cred was all sold,
For some GE gold.
He's a bird in a gelded rage.

Time to Change The Country’s Media, It’s Stinking Filthy

Now that the Congress is changing hands the corporate media has rediscovered that old fashioned virtue, responsibility. Mara Liasson had a piece this morning echoing what has to be the most arrogantly hypocritical quotation of the year:

Democrats are “beginning to understand that with victory comes responsibility’. Spoken by that paragon of the same, George W. Bush

Shorter Republican establishment:, "The Bush mess is going to be blamed on Democrats who don’t have the authority to clean it up."

In the past two decades we watched them play political ping-pong, going after Bill Clinton to destroy his presidency with lies and insanely wild speculations presented as if they were true. The people who spread the lies knew they were lies, they aren’t stupid, just corrupt. They lied for the Republicans every way they could possibly have come up with. Then, once the Bush II regime had take office with Republicans we were all supposed to operate on blind faith in them. During the period of the most rampant corruption, eg. Cheney’s secret energy meetings, the media did their covering up for them.

Since Democrats are fairly secure in their prospects to take over the House and just barely set to administer the Senate, responsibility is back in style in the DC based press. This back and forth depending on who is in power has happened often enough for some enterprising social scientist to write a definitive paper on the subject. The Press Requirement That Democrats Get It Right 100% of The Time, Republicans Can Screw Off Big Time, how’s that for a prospective title?

Don’t bother trying to change the corporate media, they are a pack of liars for hire. The only thing to do with the DC press corps and other Republican mouthpieces is to destroy their credibility and to build a real news system apart from them, one in which the corporate benefit of the medium is not the message.

Arianna, Kos, Atrios, you other successful organs of the new media, we need a real reporting capability. The old, dishonest, corporate model of news won’t ever give us that again. We need reporters to go to Washington, to learn facts, to get two independent sources for those facts to show them to a real editor who has news ethics and then to publish the facts no matter what they show. And that means hiring real reporters and real editors, not the show boats, not the people who are going to get asked on The News Hour or C-Span.

Before we continue, cut the ‘opinion journalism’ crap. If the ‘opinion’ doesn’t get two independent sources of verification then it’s not journalism, it’s dishonest.

The United States will not be a democracy until The People have the facts. Air America’s mistakes should teach you something, you need to put together real funding before such a thing can start up. NPR should show you that there has to be an inviolable fire-wall between funding sources and the news function.

Ethical lapses were the downfall of NPR as a news organ, they started schmoozing at the start. They should never have hired Cokie Roberts or Linda Wertheimer. Once you start down that road of insider access you are doomed to become a bunch of shills. Reporters, editors, executives of a news medium should never, ever socialize with their subjects they shouldn’t ever aspire to become part of the in crowd. Anyone who does should have no say in any part of a news operation. Owners, well, I don’t think that a real, continuing news operation should be controlled by an owner or a family of them, even the best owner gives out and the family falls away from it’s origins. A not-for-profit structure without celebrity or would-be patrons on the board is safest though nothing in life is entirely safe. No one who is not deeply committed to democracy and the ethics of news should be involved no matter how much money they have. I.F. and Esther Stone did more news of importance than just about any two corporate news operations during his day.

I have a deep bias towards radio as a model, but not American radio. If you want to look at a good news operation, CBC Radio One’s The World At Six is one of the best, though it used to be even better. An internet broadcast could include visuals but film footage is a lousy way to get information about most news. The number of words consumed per second goes down too fast when you have to worry about film. How much have you actually ever learned from watching a Fred Weisman film? The number of words per second will never be as high as it is for reading text but it is easier to listen than it is to sit and read and the information is contained mostly in those words. That is why I think a radio model makes the most sense.

Matt Drudge, the Republican gossip monger, is the media’s favorite blogger. You are never going to be able to compete for that position, not unless you start up as initiators of Republican lies and he’s got a head start. Starting our own news service is the only way we are going to get more traction in the real world.

Troubled Youth, The Green Party At The Age of Majority

ohn Eder, the only Green State Legislator in Maine is listed in Wikipedia as the highest office holder in the history of the Green Party of the United States*. I was truly sorry to read that he had lost his reelection bid. I like John. He’s smart and daring and has a future in practical politics. The Greens should have a presence in the Maine Legislature, more than just one person. I would love to see a Green caucus that could hold the balance of power in coalition with progressive Democrats and such independents as might constitute a leftist block. This time John Eder’s constituents in Portland didn’t see it that way, electing a Democrat to replace him. But his loss and his position as the Green holding the highest office after twenty-one years of dedication, hard work and great expense by Green Party members all with wildly disproportionate publicity forces a number of questions.

Why would rank-and-file Greens continue allowing the show candidacies favored by their leadership when it has proven to be counter-productive? Nader in 2000 was certainly enough for any sane person to learn that a Green Presidential candidate can only serve to put the worst president in the history of the country into place. That is the only political result that Greens have achieved in a presidential election, certainly not what they hoped for.

This year’s Green candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, Carl Romanelli, with the clear and gloating financial help of Republican fat-cats, came one court ruling away from risking the return of Rick Santorum to the Senate. As we have seen that would have made Dick Cheney the deciding vote in a dead-locked Senate. Instead of Leahy running the Judiciary Committee it would have been Arlen “Rubber Stamp for Roberts and Alito” Specter again. And that’s only one committee in the Senate. It’s time for Green Party Members to force their leadership to stop playing pretend before it contributes to the extension of Republican control of the United States.

In the election just concluded, two Greens who ran for governor are listed on the national party’s website as their great successes. Rich Whitney in Illinois got 11% of the vote, Pat LaMarche, again in Maine, got just under 10% of the vote. Clearly neither came close to being elected.

In Maine, my home state, it seemed for a time that Pat LaMarche and the two other “third- party” candidates on the ballot could have succeeded in only one thing, insuring a victory by the paleo-Republican, Chandler Woodcock over the Democratic Governor, John Baldacci. Along with the certain negative direction for the environment and possible overturning of recently passed gay rights legislation, that a Woodcock administration would bring; his victory would have brought the end of Dirigo Health, Baldacci’s attempt at expanding health care to all uninsured Mainers.

I wonder how many Greens are uninsured. I wonder how many of them are not fully-covered, white-collar workers who aren’t dependent on the minimum wage. That certainly wouldn’t have been raised by a Chandler Woodcock with a veto pen anymore than a Republican controlled Congress would have. And to top it off, LaMarch wasn’t even the top vote getter among the not-a-chance, “third-party” candidates in the race, Barbara Merrill getting much more than double her percentage of the vote. Though she did swamp People's Hero Phillip Morris NaPier** who got about one-percent.

While I would never downplay the honorable, very important and often thankless job of serving in local government, the Greens have not even had much success on that level. In the figures available for this election they have had a grand total of 38 wins listed on their national web-site.

Greens who look at the glossed over election figures touted as such a great success by the parties leadership should really ask themselves if they are getting their time and money’s worth. Clearly not. I don’t see that they have ever gotten close to a thousand office holders nationwide, thought I haven’t had much luck finding those figures. Why not trumpet the success by the numbers?

Non-Greens should look at the Green’s seldom mentioned electoral record to see what the twenty-one years of struggle by Greens in the United States has built. Those who hope for a national third party should seriously consider, with all that work and hype and the history of failed third-parties here, if that is anything but a romantic pipe-dream.

Am I suggesting that Greens give up? Not at all. After twenty-one years they should grow up. Greens are not a national party, there is no chance that they will win national office without a lot of ground work taking decades. They should stop wasting their supporters’ time, money and hope on these stupid, counter-productive, show candidacies. Getting on the ballot doesn’t matter much when there is no chance that it’s going to win you any elections. Study the electoral history of those states where Greens have been on the ballot if you doubt that is true. One, only one state legislative seat in one of the Greenest states in the country and that in one of the Greenest cities in the country, now lost.

When they first started in my state I was hopeing that Greens would present a real alternative to the, then, failing Democrats. Tip O’Neill, Tom Foley and a host of other ineffectual leaders had me tearing my hair too. The Greens’ decision to have a radically decentralized structure gave me hope that they were going to build from the grass roots, though I knew that any leftist political meeting that ran on the basis of consensus wouldn’t work.

How did such an allegedly decentralized party start down the path of nominating that black hole of ego, Ralph Nader? Someone too conceited to even join the party that honored him with its nomination? Who was responsible for encouraging Romanelli in his Republican financed, Republican enabling spoiler campaign? Anyone in the leadership of the party who was enthusiastic about those is just too stupid to listen to, they should be replaced with people who have a clear head.

Greens, look at where you have actually had some success on the local level. Build in those places, get more than one person on the local bodies and make certain that they do a good job. That is where your resources and time will get you the success you deserve. Work with progressive Democrats and independents to form an effective power base. Get the people their money’s worth of vital services, educate their children, make their streets safe and then you can ask them to trust you with larger responsibilities. If you have built strong bridges with the Democrats in your area they might sometimes agree to not run a weaker candidate against a stronger Green one. They might also nominate a Green who looks like a safer bet. It’s certainly worth trying. Look at Sanders in Vermont. What has the present strategy gotten you?

A state legislature is the logical next step but only if your candidates can win. Don’t run against anyone if the results will be an even worse candidate has a good chance to win the race. That is the Nader-spoiler model, it will only win you enemies who could have been your allies.

I began this by praising the daring of John Eder. I should have said intelligent daring. In their wrap up of the elections the U.S. Greens include this statement:

Strong antiwar vote in favor of warhawk Democrats shows a disconnect in U.S. politics; only Greens offered an antiwar platform; Greens warn that Democrats in Congress will do little to reverse Bush's foreign policy

Democrats? Since it was the Green candidate Nader who helped put Bush in place to wage his war of conquest this prediction presented in the form of fact isn’t daring, it’s intolerable arrogance. It is dishonesty of Rovian proportions. There would be no Iraq war if Bush had not eaked out a stolen election with the aid of the Green candidate that year.

You’re not going to be forgiven another spoiler on the national level or even on the State level. One more of those, the now strained friendship is over. On their website the U.S. Greens anticipate their presidential bid in 2008, for crying out loud. Read the links to their own web site paying attention to the numbers of successful candidates, many of those winners of non-partisan elections. You’ll see what I mean.

* Here is the election summary for the year 2002 on the Green’s national website.

Greens Continue Growth in 2002.

The Green Party had a successful Nov 5 election day and elected more Greens in 2002 than any previous year. With some results still coming in, we have elected at least 71 people this year and have a new officeholder count of 170. We achieved our main goal of electing someone to a state house - John Eder in Maine. We elected our first people in Texas and North Carolina. Tuesday's election was a defeat for the Democratic Party, but not for the progressive values that they hide from. Nonetheless, our government has moved to the right and our challenges are greater than ever. This country needs a political party that confronts those challenges directly and the Green Party is ready to stand up to the challenge.

Notice the hostility is directed towards Democrats and not Republicans, that is a continuing feature of Green discourse. After six years of Bush II it’s gotten absurdly old. Also notice the number of office holders and people elected.

** His legal name, I kid you not. Actually he was both entertaining and not as crazy as this sounds. His being on the ballot shows how easy it is to get on here, however.

Post Script: In the comments to this piece when it was posted at Echidne's blog last weekend some people missed the point. I'm not calling for the end of the Green Party I'm calling for them to learn from their mistakes and to stop repeating them. The United States needs a party of the left, one that doesn't need to compromise with a conservative wing, it need a successful party of the left, though, not one that does dumb things like run Naders and Romanellis and waste its resources running candidates that don't have a chance of winning. I really meant it when I said that John Eder should have won his race and might have if the futile show governor candidate hadn't distracted people.

Getting on the ballot as an official party is a pretty useless goal if you aren't going to win. Most of the Green's success has been in non-partisan elections, if I can ever find that part of their website that had those numbers again. That should give them a good idea of just how important offically getting their name on the ballot is to them. Wouldn't it make more sense to give that up for more seats in local governments where they can show what they can do and use that to build from the bottom up? What have they got to lose? No seats at "higher" levels of government, that's for sure.

So, I wish such Greens as can face the future realistically well and hope that they will fix their party and really influence real politics. The part that comes after the printing of the ballot.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Just a Second, Before You Go Getting All Palsy Across the Aisle

I want to know who stole the money, how much they stole and I want it back in the American People’s Treasury where it belongs.

There is going to be a real downturn in the economy, the Democrats in the House and maybe in the Senate need to document the full scale theft of everything the Republicans stole over the past six years. They need to be able to hold up the guilty and the evidence of their guilt for the People to see. We need to document it and get it back. From Haliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater, wherever . We need to prosecute where possible and nail the hides of those corporations to the fence as a warning to others who would try to rob the American People.

We also need to be able to explain how this wholesale theft happened and who was holding the door open for the crooks to come in and steal everything, including the credit cards.

Democrats have won control of the congress, they have to fulfill their obligations for oversight as specified by the Constitution. They should be happy to do their duty, they asked for the responsibility.

Another thing, The Voters. The Voters have to be taken care of. We have to get rid of those stinking, vote stealing machines and replace them with a National Ballot for the four federal Constitutional offices. All across the country, one form of ballot, one way to mark it, one way to count it. The United States will never be a safe democracy without that. We have to spend more on the most important part of government, THE ROOTS than we do on the frills and perks of the Executive branch and the Courts.

The People, The Vote, they should always be capitalized. The People are the supreme power in the government. Their Vote is the supreme act of government. Never again should a Supreme Court “justice” have the ability to say that The People have no right to vote. No judge, no “justice” no “chief justice” holds their office with any legitimacy except that derived from the results of The People’s Vote. Never again should any court or corrupt Secretary of State have the ability to steal an election for their party. And yes, that means the Republican Party in all its corrupt infamy.

And in the culture at large, nothing, no joke no entertainment should ever belittle The People or The Vote. Nothing that discourages the vote should be allowed to go unchallenged. We have had the benefit of the cynical belittling of both over the past six years. That isn’t a job for The Congress, that is a job for all of us. Democracy dies in a cess pool of cynicism. It can’t survive in the filthy spew of Murdoch style entertainment. We need a new birth of clear-eyed, strong-willed idealism free of lying sentimentality and wishful thinking. We need to change the culture of cynicism. Democracy, decency and our lives depend on it.

Blog Party Of One

So far, I think things have gone nearly as well as could be expected.

Race hustler Michael Steele was crushed like a rancid Hydrox. Mike DeWine and Ken Blackwell got their asses kicked. Chris Chocola got privatized. J.D. Hayworth's bloated red face turned purple, then blue. God told Katherine Harris to go fuck herself. Carol Sherwood will get to spend more time with her husband. Curt Weldon has plenty free time to consult with his defense team and psychiatric professionals. And the remains of Rick Santorum's career were passed around by the Santorum children and then buried ....

Have I ever told you that Roger Ailes Blog is my favorite?

Rebirth of Possibility

A quick post before I go to bed.

The most important thing to do is to use the facts of this election to put maximum pressure on all of the "moderate" Republicans. Even conservatives like New Hampshire's Gregg and Sununu can be pressured, BOTH OF THE NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICANS LOST THEIR CONGRESSIONAL SEATS YESTERDAY!!!!!! That is something we never expected here on the border, not in our wildest dreams.

The House Democrats should cement their gains and use the investigative powers to root out Republican corruption and hold it up to the light. If they should happen on some information that could force a Republican or two to resign, so be it.

They MUST use their new power to pressure the media for fair coverage, a few telecommunications bills could do it if they hold hearings on fairness and community service. The stinking electronic, broadcast and cable media are the entire basis of the Republican rule by lying strategy that has done so much to destroy democracy. Media reform is essential, if it isn't taken up vigorously, unrelentingly and effectively we can never push our agenda forward.

And we begin today. This isn't the final victory, it's just one battle that could turn the war either way. But for the first time in twelve years Democrats in The People's House have the power of subpoena. Due to some of the dead wood of the past being swept away that power is in the hands of people who just might be rude enough to use it to save this country.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This Is The Most Trusted Trade Policy Expert In Our Media?

Norman Soloman has a followup to his fine recent parody of Tom Friedman.

The would-be-thinking man's John Stossel, said this:

Supposedly rigorous about facts and ideas, Friedman has prostituted his intellect. During a CNBC interview with Tim Russert in late July, the acclaimed savant made a notable confession: "We got this free market, and I admit, I was speaking out in Minnesota -- my hometown, in fact -- and guy stood up in the audience, said, ‘Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you'd oppose?' I said, ‘No, absolutely not.' I said, ‘You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade.'" ......

Tim Russert didn't bother to pursue the fact that one of the nation's leading journalists had just said that he fervently advocated for a major trade agreement without knowing what was in it. "But beyond Russert's negligence," David Sirota wrote at the time, "what's truly astonishing is that Tom Friedman, the person who the media most relies on to interpret trade policy, now publicly runs around admitting he actually knows nothing at all about the trade pacts he pushes in his New York Times column."

What's even more astounding than that is that the New York Times hasn't put it's harlot pimpernel on pubic notice to fact check or at least not to brag about the fact that he doesn't on national TV.

The NYT. The NYT . And people are asking why journalism is in decline.

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