No Fear of Freedom
Salty langwich spoke here.
Ya been WARNED!
  
Anti-right rants from an obnoxious lumpen proletarian. Aiming to Arm the Choir.

February 29, 2004

The Bushy Boys' Selective Definition Of Terrorism

Terrorism? What terrorism?, by Dave Neiwert, looks at what the government does or does not choose to call terrorism, and how their choices hurt Americans. Any Muslim hostility, a course, is terrorism. Also:
-- An administration official -- the education secretary, no less -- declaring the National Education Association a "terrorist organization."

-- The chairman of American International Group referred to lawyers who are opposed to Republican plans for tort reform as "bar terrorists."
On the other hand, someone sends a mail bomb to the black director of Scottsdale's Office of Diversity and Dialogue, is definitely not a terrorist. The ricin attack on U.S. Senate offices, definitely not terrorism. Apparently the actual guidelines are: If yer either a Muslim or oppose administration policies, yer a terrorist. If yer a white, right wing extremist plotting the overthrow of the gummint, yer not. But there's nothing political about, even if Dave seems ta think there is.


posted 10:11 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Calvinist's Hate The Poor. I'm Not Making That Up.

The Worker Worthy of Hire, a post by Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway, discusses the evil Calvinist influence on American thinking in the context of the grocery strike and a comment on Calpundit.
There is a pernicious Calvinism in our culture, a piece of bad theology which has infected the secular, popular culture and it damns the ordinary working man. Kevin's commentor was probably an upper middle class white guy who has no clue about how hard it is to make a living in this counry if you don't come out of that upper middle class white culture to start with.

Every group and every culture has a myth about how its society works. America has one, too, the land of utter opportunity where anyone willing to work hard can be a John Edwards, a millworkers son, and aspire to the presidency after acheiving millions in personal wealth.

[snip]

The facts look a little different. If you have an average IQ, about 100 on the Standford Benet exam, you are unlikely to have a lot of success in higher education, and probably won' t have a stellar high school career.
She's got a lot more, but that IQ thing caught my eye. All this happy, Horatio Alger horseshit about working hard and getting a good education or you deserve to suffer not only crappy-ass jobs but crappy-ass pay for the rest of your life effectively amounts to saying, "Fuck average people. They ain't good enough." Well, oddly enough, I don't agree. I happen ta think average people deserve decent lives. A course, opinions're like assholes, but if you actually believe in that viciously elitist claptrap, then SAY IT! Quit packin' it in bull patties and pretendin' that it's high minded. God I hate elitists. I would gladly kick the crap out of every one I meet, 'twere it only legal. Half-educated, Social Darwinist dickheads.

Thanks to Allen at The [Truly] Right Christians for the tip.


posted 9:39 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Greenspan's Broken Promise: Social Security

The Social Security Promise Not Yet Kept
Since 1983, American workers have been paying more into Social Security than it has paid out in benefits, about $1.8 trillion more so far. This year Americans will pay about 50 percent more in Social Security taxes than the government will pay out in benefits.

Those taxes were imposed at the urging of Mr. Greenspan, who was chairman of a bipartisan commission that in 1983 said that one way to make sure Social Security remains solvent once the baby boomers reached retirement age was to tax them in advance.

[snip]

So what has happened to that $1.8 trillion?

The advance payments have all been spent.

[snip]

[C. Eugene Steuerle, a tax policy advisor to President Reagan] said that voters were promised in 1983 that the federal debt would be paid off with the surplus Social Security taxes.


The average deficit through the Raygun, Bush I, and Bush II years has been $191.2 billion a year and it looks like we're facing an average of around $500 billion a year for the next 10 years. Clinton's average deficit was $24.1 billion, lower than the Democratic average, and you can probably lay that at the feet of Raygun and Bush I. Just in case boomers are wondering who spent their retirement money. But, ya know, iss really the Demorats fault.

And don't talk to me about Democratic Congresses. The staggering runup in the debt coincided exactly with the ascendancy of the pseudo-conservative "Reagan Republicans" and has continued under every Republican president since, reaching nose-bleed heights under Bushwa.
Mr. Greenspan told Congress earlier that Mr. Bush's tax cuts should be kept in place. The biggest beneficiaries would be the top 400 taxpayers, whose average income in 2000 was $174 million each. They paid 22.2 cents on the dollar in federal income taxes and, under the Bush tax cuts, would have paid about 17.5 cents.

Over all that year, Americans paid 15.3 cents on the dollar of income in income taxes, but many middle-class Americans paid a larger share of their incomes to the federal government than the top 400 when both income and Social Security taxes are counted.
Gee, Mr Re-poob-li-CAN, tell me again about those tax the rich radicals. Don't sound like the rich're hurtin' any ta me.


posted 11:13 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Magical CEOs Not So Magical After All

I almost didn't read the bidness section today yet, once a gain, I'm glad I did.

For the Boss, Days of Sweat and Fumbles

"Now Who's Boss?," TLC's new reality series, for once based on an idea I actually like, puts corporate leaders to work for five days in rank-and-file jobs in their companies. How dey do?
"The truth is, we would have been fired from every job we undertook," Mr. Flax said. "We were completely incompetent."
Now, folks is gonna say, "They're not trained for those jobs. That's not what they get paid to do." Yeah, that's right. But here's my attitude. If you think you're worth 100 or 200 or 500 times as much as the average employee, and that's the kind of money CEOs get today, you better be able to fly and fart perfume, buddy. Or at least spin straw inta gold.

This system is obviously screwed up. We have extreme inequality in this society, and extreme inequality is unhealthy, both socially and physically. Nobody is worth 500 times the average workers wages. Ya bring that up and the dingbats come at ya wit' their usual dualistic bullshit. "Life's not fair. Inequality is natural. You can't make things perfectly equal." Well no shit, dipwads. Notice how they present a false choice: It's either allow extreme, irrational, runaway inequality; or coerce extreme, irrational, absolute equality. As though there is no possibility of a rational option in between. I suppose for extremists there isn't.


posted 10:26 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Anti-Govt, Anti-Regulation: Ya Been Eatin' Lead Paint Chips?

"Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem," said Ronnie da Raygun.

Agencies Brushed Off Lead Warnings
The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers rejected warnings from consultants who said as early as 1994 that lead contamination was a serious threat because of the way the two agencies were managing the water supply, according to records and interviews.

[snip]

Of the 6,118 tests WASA conducted last summer, more than 4,000 came back with lead levels above the federal limit of 15 parts per billion. About 157 homes had water with lead levels of more than 300 parts per billion, a toxic content so high that it has astounded water quality experts.
It appears there's plenty of blame to go around on this, but one thing I do know is this problem screams for more gummint, more regulation, not less. And if you believe that monopolistic privatizing of the water supply, as is happening in South America and elsewhere, would have prevented or solved the problem, then you must sprinkle fairy dust on your fruit loops.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:
Approximately 434,000 U.S. children aged 1-5 years have blood lead levels greater than the CDC recommended level of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.

Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body. Because lead poisoning often occurs with no obvious symptoms, it frequently goes unrecognized. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma, and even death.
Hmm, don't those problems seem to disproportionately affect minorities?
Children of some racial and ethnic groups living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead. For example, 22% of black children and 13% of Mexican-American children living in housing built before 1946 have elevated blood lead levels compared with 6% of white children living in comparable types of housing.
Whaddaya t'ink da chances are that minorities are more likely to live in housing built before 1946? Or 1978, for that matter. I just thank God, every night, that the US never regulated lead paint, because regulation is evil:
The major source of lead exposure among U.S. children is lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust found in deteriorating buildings. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. However, approximately 24 million housing units in the United States have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.
Certainly there's such a thing as too much government, too much regulation. Now, am I gonna hear a chorus from the ideo-doofuses (I believe that's pronounced doo-fuh-sees.) on the right that there's such a thing as too little? I don't remember Ronnie "The Fabulist" Raygun ever sayin' so.


posted 7:28 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 28, 2004

What's Bush's Strategy In The "War" On Terror?

Kerry Says President Is Weak on Defense

An' about damn time, sez I.
Democrat John F. Kerry charged Friday that President Bush sent troops to war unprepared and pursued policies that have undermined the U.S. military and the nation's safety -- one of his harshest attacks yet on Bush's national security credentials.

[snip]

"Far too often, troops have been going into harm's way without the weapons and the equipment they depend on . . ." Kerry said. "Families across America have had to collect funds from their neighbors to buy body armor that is state-of-the-art for their loved ones in uniform, because George Bush has failed to provide it."
Man, that sendin' American soldiers into battle unprepared has been drivin' me nuts. I've repeatedly emailed my Congress critters about it. What's the fuckin' excuse for that? I'd at least like to hear one.

The Bushies struck back.
"Today, John Kerry ignored the real progress being made on all fronts of the war on terror," Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said in a written statement.
Ummm, what progress would that be, Steve? Uhh, lessee, gimme a sec . . . Oh. I know. Now we're safe from the WMDs Iraq didn't have. These jackasses think they're gonna run on Resident Wimpy's (I would gladly pay you in a generation for an unnecessary war today.) magnificent record on national security, and I think Kerry should shove that shit right back in their faces. It looks like he's going to.


posted 11:20 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

10 Years In Prison For Thought Crime

Now you see why I call 'em Repukelicans: Cause they're about as welcome in a democracy as vomit at a dinner party. And much harder to clean up. David Grenier, anarchist, reports that Repukelican Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri has proposed a bill, the pertinent parts of which read as follows:

State of Rhode Island
In General Assembly
An Act
Relating to Homeland Security
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

11-43-12 Advocating anarchy or unlawful destruction of property. -- Any person who shall willfully teach or advocate anarchy . . . or opposition to organized government, or any person who shall become a member of or affiliated with any organization teaching and advocating disbelief in or opposition to organized government . . . shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or imprisonment not exceeding ten (10) years, or both.
Grenier has a copy of the full bill on his site. The parts I cut out involve stuff I think should be against the law.

I know what you're thinking. Nothing to get upset about here, this is patently unconstitutional, and it is, and The Common Man reports that the bill has been withdrawn to be rewritten and re-introduced.

And yeah, I doubt the bill would have stood up as written, but what made him think he had the right to try to pass such a law? Are you sure such a bill won't stand up after another four years of Bushbug and his probable appointments to the Supreme Court?

How many more years of far right Republican dominance can this country stand? How long before America comes to resemble the wild Canuckistani's (Adam Yoshida) wet dreams? Carcieri himself is certainly anti-freedom and democracy, and nobody knows what the rewritten bill will look like.


posted 9:47 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Welcome To Oceania

Perpetual war, perpetual surveillance. Juan Cole writes, in We may as Well Just Record all our Telephone Calls and send them to Maryland, of the agreement between the British and American versions of No Such Agency that allows unhindered spying on citizens of both countries with no need for a warrant or for suspicion of criminal activity.

Dear heart thinks our phone is bugged. If she's right, it must be a result of my political exceptionalism. I'd find it kinda darkly amusing. See, I don't talk on the phone except to make doctors appointments or refill prescriptions. Which means all they're hearing are dear heart's conversations, over half of which are with mentally ill people. Even I can't bear listening to these people. Everything said on our phone is innocuous, though a lot of it sounds a little odd, not to say exasperating. I figure whoever has to listen is either going out their mind with boredom, or going out of their mind trying to break the non-existent code.

An intriguing sidelight to the story that Cole mentions is that Hans Blix was bugged everywhere he went. The Bushies knew what he was saying in "private" conversations. Did they know, from that bugging, that Iraq had no WMDs?

What bothers me about these kinds of revelations is the reaction of the public. It seems like it's, "Eh. Well. Doesn't surprise me. Ain't no BFD." I got a feelin' that if we found out there're little cameras and microphones hidden in our TVs, the reaction would be the same. No BFD. I got a nasty suspection that most people know we don't live in a democracy and that, too, ain't no BFD ta them.

We're living in Orwell's 1984 and nobody cares!

I'm just a twisted freak screaming in the wilderness, and nobody's listening. Don't think that'll stop me, though. I plan to go right on screaming anyway, at least until the people wake up or I lose my voice.


posted 7:15 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Nader's Not The Enemy, Corporatism Is.

An Enemy of the People, by John Chuckman. I totally disagree with him about Nader's campaign being worth the risk, and I'd quibble on a couple of other points, but overall Chuckman has written a cogent essay delineating the kind of elitist, corporate government that has evolved in America. It explains, at least to me, why so many "liberals," such as Nicholas Kristof, say such seemingly stupid things. They're part of the second tier of the elite, and few people at that level honestly even think about, much less care about, the rest of us, the proles. Well worth a read.

posted 2:38 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 27, 2004

One Marriage Threat Or Another

Rep. Seaborn Roddenberry of Georgia, on introducing an anti-miscegenation amendment to the Constitution in 1911.

Intermarriage between whites and blacks is repulsive and averse to every sentiment of pure American spirit. It is abhorrent and repugnant. It is subversive to social peace. It is destructive of moral supremacy, and ultimately this slavery to black beasts will bring this nation to a fatal conflict.
I'm one a those natural born dog fuckers that dared ta marry a black woman, an' I predict more of tha same sort a disaster that I, an' dear heart, bless her, have brought upon America if same-sex marriage is accepted. Atrios be da man, Goddamnee.

Too bad Roddenberry's dead, cuz I got a broken baseball bat that was made fer his asshole.


posted 5:43 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Tell The Repukes Whatfer 'Bout Tha 9/11 Commission

I'm liftin' this motherfucker wholesale from Kevin Hayden at The American Street, an' I hope he don't mind. This is important. Kevin also has a link to what Gary Hart said to Deb Norville, case ya need encouragement.
Dear Representative _________;

Initially, the president opposed the creation of the commission. After the will of the people became clear, he changed to a position of support. It took a year to get the process started. It has taken numerous efforts for the commission to overcome resistance in the Pentagon, the White House and State Department to gain access to materials necessary for their work, even though the White House permitted a journalist previous access to some of those documents.

Now that 9-11 Commission needs a two-month extension to properly complete its work. The president supports that. The Republican Speaker of the House has refused.

This is an issue above politics. As an American, I believe we need to have this investigation completed properly. As a caring neighbor, I think the families of nearly 3,000 victims deserve to know exactly what happened and why. It would dishonor the dead to do any less.

As a citizen, I want to know how a band of renegades and rogues and murderers were able to penetrate the defenses of the strongest military in the world and successfully strike one of its major command centers at the Pentagon. Though the guilt falls on the murderers and the people who supplied, funded and sheltered them, I want to know why not a single person in our intelligence agencies, military command or appointive office has been held accountable for anything at all when there is a significant body of public evidence that indicates a number of errors were made.

How else can we know what occurred and how we might prevent future occurrences? How can we have confidence in the leadership we have in the present war against terrorists when our president can not even lead the Speaker of the House to grant sixty more days to complete this job properly?

The Speaker's response lacks reason, lacks conscience, lacks compassion for the families and does a disservice to us all. I encourage you to use your good office and all means at your disposal to persuade Representative Hastert to grant this extension. It is imperative to our trust in our government that complete disclosure and full accountability occur in this matter.

Respectfully;
You can contact your Senators and Representative here.

UPDATE: 'Pears like this sucker might be won. Billmon reports:
Reversing course, House Speaker Dennis Hastert has told the commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks that he will not oppose granting it the 60 additional days it requested to file its report.
The move came after Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman launched a bipartisan effort Friday to force House Republicans to extend the deadline.
I sure don't always agree with McCain, but he's like a throwback to the days when it was honorable to be a Republican. Lieberman, too. Whaddaya mean, Lieberman's not a Republican? Are ya crazy?


posted 4:59 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

"The Passion of The Christ" Dissected

I don't try to make any secret of my admiration for both Dave Neiwert's intellect and his writing. Orcinus gotta be my favorite blog, an' I read a lotta blogs. This, The Passion of Mad Max Beyond Braveheart, may be the best review of Mel Gibson's movie you'll ever read. I can't say for sure, cuz I ain't seen tha movie, an' I ain't a'tall sure I wanta. What I might be capable of in extreme anger and what I wanta see, in a dispassionate mood, on tha moovee screen is two very different things. It's long, it's intellekshul, but it's very interesting and has good links to boot. An' it bust's Mel's bullshit big time.

posted 4:38 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Dying For Insurance Industry Profits

Looks like the grocery strike here in SoCal is just about over. Since one of the major issues in the strike was health care, I figger it's time to take a look at the giant clusterfuck we call the US health care system. If you think this is a long post, it's drawn from a seven article series in the San Francisco Chronicle that every American ought to read.
More than 43 million Americans now lack health insurance and account for as much as $130 billion in annual economic losses resulting from poor health or early death, according to the influential Institute of Medicine in Washington.

[snip]

"It's conservatively estimated that 18,000 adults die every year because they don't have insurance," she observed. "That means at least 1,500 people will die this month and about 50 people are dying today, as we speak."

[snip]

"We're already spending enough money each year to pay for a national health plan," Hellander said. "The problem is that we're throwing a lot of that cash down the drain."

[snip]

The United States squanders more money every year on health care bureaucracy than it would cost to provide medical coverage for the 43 million Americans now lacking insurance.

[snip]

But if a national health care plan like Canada's were implemented in this country, the researchers found, administrative overhead would be slashed by about $286 billion.
That's just administrative savings. Because of access to primary and preventive care, we'd also save on emergency room and hospitalization costs.
In 2002, the California Health and Human Services Agency asked the Lewin Group, a prominent health care consulting firm, to evaluate nine different proposals for expanding coverage in the state. The proposals included reforms similar to Bodaken's [Blue Shield] plan along with establishment of a single-payer system.

The Lewin Group concluded that only a single-payer system would guarantee universal coverage and control future costs, while also reducing health care spending by as much as $7.6 billion per year through economies of scale.

[snip]

UCSF's Grumbach says the time will come when taxpayer-backed universal coverage is seen as the only true solution to the state's health care woes. It won't be tomorrow, though, or the day after.

"It could take 10 years," Grumbach said. "But the current system is so bloody awful and so many people are suffering, something eventually has to happen."

[snip]

. . . one of the best kept secrets in the United States, according to the American Hospital Association, is that 80 percent of our emergency rooms are overcrowded and the average wait is four hours.

[snip]

a single-payer system would reduce the burden on emergency rooms by providing everyone with primary care in physicians' offices and outpatient facilities.

[snip]

Last week, the independent Institute of Medicine, affiliated with the prestigious National Academy of Science, urged the United States to adopt universal health coverage by 2010.

[snip]

Unlike HMOs, which eat up to 35 percent of their revenue with administrative overhead, advertising and profits, single-payer systems such as Medicare or the Canadian health system direct 97 to 98 cents of every dollar to health-care delivery.
The major reason we don't have single-payer in the US is the powerful, and very well financed, opposition of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. When we do get it, it will be because of the support of all the other industries that can no longer afford to pay for a broken system. Ain't it grand livin' in a "democracy?"


posted 1:24 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

God's Supreme Court Justice Above Reproach

Scalia Took Trip Set Up by Lawyer in Two Cases
In a written statement, Scalia said: "I do not think that spending time at a law school in which the counsel in pending cases was the dean could reasonably cause my impartiality to be questioned. Nor could spending time with the governor of a state that had matters before the court."
No. Nor could having sons employed by law firms representing the litigant (Florida, 2000), nor could hangin' out with the litigant (Cheney). I'm guessin' nothin' could give anyone reasonable cause to question Scalia's impartiality.
Federal law says that "any justice or judge shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might be questioned."
Whatever happened to the venerable concept of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety?


posted 11:26 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Let The Mass Bloodletting Begin

Susan Sanford, copy editor at the Jasper Daily Mountain Eagle, and, apparently, one of those nasty-mean evangeli-fundies, approvingly quotes tha Bible in her opinion piece:
"If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." Leviticus 20:13.
Oookaayy, but all I gotta say is, if Christians get ta kill homosexuals, then, equal rights under the law, right? I get to kill anybody who crosses my religion, which I pretty much just make up as I go along. I figger I'll start with tha coveters and tha usurers. It'll be open season on rich folk. This could get ta be quite a bloodbath.

Thanks to Ungodly Politics.


posted 9:00 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Boomer Retirement: Another Disaster Waiting To Happen.

Baby boomers face retirement squeeze

Sorry, gotta say it. No shit, Sherlock. Greenspan wants to cut Social Security and:
Evidence is mounting that the other two pillars of retirement security - private-sector pensions and personal savings - are no longer adequate to ensure that most Americans will have enough to live on when then retire.

[snip]

"Tens of millions of Americans are seriously underprepared to meet their financial needs in retirement," says Benjamin Stein, of the National Retirement Planning Coalition. As many as 40 percent of Americans have saved almost nothing for retirement, he told a congressional panel Wednesday.
I've known that for many years. The reason for it seriously undercuts much of the right wing's silly personal responsibility arguments. They say people should put aside money to cover their own retirement and healthcare and God knows what all else, and not rely on government or their employer. Only one problem. It's a should'n all over people argument. Should don't mean shit in the real world, though I can understand why dingers don't know that.

The problem with the seemingly logical argument that people should prudently provide for their own needs is that it ignores the fact that most people just aren't made that way. Most people spend most of their money. It's human nature. You can should all ya want ta, ain't gonna change a thing. When you make an argument that ignores human nature, it can be logical as all hell and still be totally unreasonable.

Most people need somebody ta take the money for those needs outta their paycheck before they get it. That's why pensions and health insurance work and prudent self-provision doesn't. A course, doin' that would cut into discretionary spending, which would cost corporations money, at least in the short term, and all they care about is the short term. Maybe that's why the corporatist conservatives are opposed.

I'm never married to a single approach to a problem. I'm willing to entertain solutions other than Social Security, f'r instance. What I am utterly unwilling to do is pretend there's no problem and do nothing, which seems to be the usual right wing "solution."


posted 8:15 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Who Qualifies As A Bisexual, Anyway?

Eugene Volokh has a post up that quotes numbers from a survey on sexuality. It's notoriously difficult to get accurate information on this stuff, but he says this is the best he's seen. The differences between reported attraction and reported sexual activity are startling. F'r instance, 0.6% of men report being attracted to both genders and 3.1% report attraction to either mostly same gender or only same gender, but 25% of those who'd had some same sex partners reported having partners of both sexes within the last year alone. Going by this survey, apparently I'm freakishly straight. Who knew? Check it out, I found it fascinating.

posted 7:21 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 26, 2004

Wal-mart Nation: Coming To A Job Near You.

Real near you. In "the opinions of 10,000 executives, board directors, and securities analysts, the "in-the-know" people," Wal-mart Stores Inc. is America's most admired company.

posted 10:19 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Mercury Pollution Action Alert

At the request of its friends in the energy industry, the Bush administration has directed the EPA to weaken a proposal that would have required strict limits on mercury pollution from power plants. Exposure to mercury causes neurological and developmental problems in fetuses and small children.

Why we must Protect our Kids from Mercury. Send a message to the EPA via MoveOn.


posted 9:40 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The Coming Terror Campaign -- For President

In Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid, Dick Morris outlines how he thinks Bush should run his campaign. What makes me nervous is I don't think it will work, unless . . . . . . there's another terrorist attack on US soil. I know that sounds paranoid, but the thing about people who are sure they're doing THE RIGHT THING is they can justify any means. You ever seen Bush or Rove show any doubt?

posted 9:16 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

I Found It! I Found The Real Pornography!

I think Digby at Hullabaloo has found the real reason for Clear Channel booting Howard Stern.

posted 8:29 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Seeing Through Right Wing Bushwa

Dave Johnson at Seeing The Forest has a great take on cutting Social Security and Medicare to close the budget deficit:
[Alan Greenspan] is saying that the SAME money is better for the economy when given to rich people than when use to meet the needs of regular citizens.


posted 8:14 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

When He Talks, O'Leilly Exposes His Radicalism

Stumbled across this splendid bit of nonsense from the O'Really Factor:
Last year, Michael Moore made a spectacle of himself at the Academy Awards by bashing the president. Moore will answer questions, but when he does so, he exposes himself as a radical.
Here's his eveedense:
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL MOORE, AUTHOR: I believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share of taxes.

O'REILLY: Which is what?

MOORE: And I believe that they should pay those who work for them a decent and livable wage.

O'REILLY: OK, but what's fair share of taxes? What do you say? I mean, I'm paying 50 percent now.

MOORE: Yes, so am I.

O'REILLY: OK, is that fair or?

MOORE: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: All right, more?

MOORE: Yes.

O'REILLY: Should I pay 60?

MOORE: Yes.

O'REILLY: 70?

MOORE: Yes.

O'REILLY: 80?

(END VIDEOTAPE)
So supporting 70% taxes on the rich proves your a radical. The top tax rate on those married, filing jointly, and making $400,000 and over was 91% from 1954 to 1963, when that wild-eyed radical JFK cut it all the way down to 70%. You probably remember, either from experience or from school, what a hotbed of radicalism the US was in 1954.

Actually, the next door neighbors did think it was a hotbed of radicalism, and we thought they were a couple of far right, John Bircher drunks with very strange children. Mostly because they were. They'd be part of the mainstream today. Whadda fuck?!

UPDATE: In reply to a commenter: Yes, it was the marginal rate. But how many people understand marginal rates today? I'm bettin' even fewer understood them in 1954. Today's right wing would call you a radical if you advocated a 91% or even a 70% marginal rate today, too, including O'Leilly. The tax code was rife with loopholes in those days, but that doesn't change the fact that the majority of voters at the time thought rates as high as 91% on the very rich (whose effective tax rate, sans the loopholes, still would have been very high) were completely fair. Were they radicals?

There are probably some good arguments that marginal rates that high ain't a good idea, but here I'm only discussing whether advocating high tax rates on the rich automatically proves you're a radical. That's the argument O'Leilly made, and I think it's silly on its face.

Further, the top marginal tax rate in 2003 was 35%, so there's no way in hell Moore and O'Leilly are paying 50% in income taxes. They pay other taxes as well, but so do we all.

I don't think the fact that they were marginal rates fundamentally changes my point.


posted 7:28 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Moonie Rag Feeds Extremism, Racism To Mainstream

In Transmitting extremism Dave Neiwert examines the Washington Times role in the process. As far as I'm concerned, that Times is racist as well as right wing and extremist. I run in to so many people who think that what passes for the battle between left and right in this country is just a political tiff between two equally unreasonable sides.

They don't realize that the battle is between the moderate left, the center, and maybe even the moderate right, and a bunch of far right wing nutjobs and the people who've been unwittingly dragged well to the right by them. They think it's completely fair to compromise by just splitting the difference between the two. It's as though if the political spectrum ranged from Ted Kennedy to Stalin, they'd just split the difference and call it even.

Dave Neiwert at Orcinus is one of the best at exposing this crap to the light. Now expose your friends.


posted 5:35 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Middle Class Takes Another Big Hit

Settlement Near in Grocery Strike

If the stoy is true the corporations have won and the workers have lost, accepting cuts in health benefits and a two-tier wage structure that will destroy worker solidarity and make the next contract even harder to bargain. I'm not blaming the workers. I'm impressed they've lasted so long. Welcome to Wal-mart Nation.

Tip via Calpundit via Atrios.


posted 4:06 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

My All-Time Favorite Dinger Photo



I wonder what he has against the Moran family?


Thanks to Dave Neiwert at Orcinus.


posted 3:05 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Actual Pentagon Report On Climate Change

This purports to be the actual Pentagon report on the Greenpeace website, and it ain't pretty. In fact it's a much bigger threat than terrorism.


Dingers are gonna emphasize that it's only a plausible scenario, not a prediction of the future, so a couple of snippets:
With at least eight abrupt climate change events documented in the geological record, it seems that the questions to ask are: When will this happen? What will the impacts be? And, how can we best prepare for it? Rather than: Will this really happen?
And:
Alternative fuels, greenhouse gas emission controls, and conservation efforts are worthwhile endeavors.
Well, who didn't know that last part? Wait, I know, I know. F'right wingdingers!


posted 2:21 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

It's Been A Political Football, Denny.

9/11 investigation doesn't get 60-day extension

Booshwa waited 14 months to establish the commission, delayed its work with six months of negotiations over viewing the president's daily intelligence briefings, and now Dennis Hastert says the commission can't have another 60 days to complete its work cuz we gotta have those recommendations posty-hasty in order to prevent future attacks. Well, that and:
"he doesn't want this to become a political football...and fodder for the presidential campaign."
The question I constantly ask myself is, "What if Clinton had done this? How would the dingers react?." Oddly, I ask myself that just about daily, often several times a day. I'm certain Dupont scientists are feverishly studying Bush's skin samples, cuz teflon sure never worked liked this.


posted 11:59 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The Corporate Media Comments On Gay Marriage

The state of our unions
President Bush wants a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage. But what, exactly, would it preserve? Traditional marriage already has been transformed, not by gays and lesbians who want in, but by straights who want out.
The "traditional marriage" pseudo-conservatives love to go on about faded away long ago. Basing marriage on romantic love, f'r instance, is a recent development. Marriage, like everything else, evolves over time. The pseudo-cons typically engage in what we philosophical Taoists (I'm not saying I'm a good one.) like to call pushing the river. They try desperately to hold back change, but you can't push the river, and you can't stop change. You try, you drown.

On another front, the article quotes two right wing think tanks without mentioning their political leanings, I guess cuz their readers don't need to know:
Like spinach, marriage is good for you. In a report released last week, Maggie Gallagher of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy says that people in long-term marriages "live longer, healthier lives with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower rates of mental illness and emotional distress. (They) make more money than otherwise similar singles and build more wealth and experience ... than do single or cohabiting couples with similar income levels."

And it's good for kids. David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, a think tank that studies family issues, calls marriage "our society's most pro-child institution. ... If you want kids to do well, then you want marriage to do well."
Maggie Gallagher is president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which gets money from the John M. Olin Foundation, the Institue for American Values is connected to the Scaife Family Foundation. Both are numbered among the "four sisters," the most notorious of the right wing funders. Right wing think tank studies and reports start with a proposition they intend to support come hell or high twistin' 'n lyin'. They are totally unscientific, sort facts to suit their purpose, and don't face peer review. Yet, USA Today blithely reports their claims without qualification.

Dingtanks regularly argue as though correlation equals causation, a common fallacy. Gallagher's report is basically sayin' marriage makes people happier, etc., therefore we should encourage marriage. How do ya know it's not the other way around, that happy people are more likely to marry and stay married? How do ya know the conditions are even related? Ya'd need a lot more info ta make a rational decision. A course, dingtanks aren't interested in rational decisions.

Maybe I'm givin' 'em too much credit, but I don't think the dingtankers're that dumb. I think they use that phallacy because most people aren't attuned to spotting it. It's another form of subrational argument.

I don't believe the corporate media!


posted 11:22 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The Passion of THE Christ

In case you were confused about which Christ Mel's talking about. I've seen a few reviews, most recently the one at Salon, all of which seem to emphasize the amount of blood and extreme brutality. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, called it pornographic. Kinda puts me in mind of Jim Carroll's song, "Catholic Boy."
I was a Catholic boy,
Redeemed through pain
And not through joy.
On'y Mel's not a Catholic boy, though the Salon review repeatedly refers to him as though he is. Orcinus' Dave Neiwert has done yeoman work on this, some of which is here. I owe the following to Dave.

Bill Berkowitz wrote in Working for Change:
Some Traditionalists operate within the Church; others belong to a faction, the Society of Saint Pius X that has been excommunicated en mass for disobedience to the Pope. Its far right views include conspiracy theories that the Catholic Church is controlled by liberals as a result of an ancient conspiracy of Freemasons."
Jean Rosenfeld, a Senior Research Associate at UCLA's Center for the Study of Religion:
Since Gibson's father is a Holocaust denier and Gibson is funding the building of a Pius X church, I think it is fair to assume that they are not mainstream Catholics.
Mel Gibson's pretty obviously a member of a heretical cult that was excommunicated en mass from the Catholic Church. An' his dad, Hutton Gibson, is obviously a pretty strange cookie. Whether Mel is too, well, he's not very forthcoming on the topic.


posted 8:33 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Sick Fun With The Evironment

Try juxtaposing this, America's new coal rush:
At least 94 coal-fired electric power plants - with the capacity to power 62 million American homes - are now planned across 36 states.

[snip]

Apparently, economic concerns are trumping environmental ones in utilities' plans.
With this, Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us:
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
Burning huge amounts of dirty coal is good for climate change, idd'n it? We're a bunch a damn energy drunks and if we don't change our ways we're gonna die.

UPDATE: For those die-hard dingers who're thinkin' the Pentagon story is just that left wing Guardian/Observer makin' up lies again, Gyan from Lens, which appears to be still under construction, tips me that another left wing fishwrap rag has the same story. Fortune. Ya can't read the whole thing unless you subscribe, but the opening's pretty good and it reinforces the Observer story. Good on ya, Gyan.


posted 7:21 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 25, 2004

Justice Or Coverup?

GCHQ whistleblower cleared

Katherine Gun, the British translator whom Freepers, in their typically high-minded way, thought should be hung for treason, was declared not guilty on the first day of her trial when the prosecutor declined to present evidence against her. She had revealed a US request to the British government for aid in an alleged "dirty tricks" campaign to spy on UN delegates during the runup to the Iraq war. It's likely that the UK government has things to hide which might have come out at her trial such as, some believe, the Attorney General advising the government that the Iraq war was illegal.

Tip O'The Tam to The Common Man.


posted 9:37 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Refuseniks Added to Sidebar

Ya know, Jews had legitimate grievances, but their grievances were against Europe. The Palestinians have paid the price for others sins. It was their damn land, and the Jews invaded, and there's been trouble ever since. What the hell would you expect? When 1248 Israeli forces refuse to serve, including pilots and elite commandos, I gotta think Israel is wrong. So keep an eye on the Israelis whose consciences will not allow them to serve in the Jewish jihad against Palestinians. Democracy is not the only measure of a nation's worth.

UPDATE: To be clear, I'm not condemning Israel, I'm condemning their current policies toward the Palestinians. I'm also not condemning Palestinians, but I do condemn suicide bombing. Hope seems to be limping rather than springing within me on this, but I don't see how it gets any better unless the two sides come to some sort of reasonable accomodation of each other.


posted 4:46 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Creationists Will Have To Exercise Creativity

Using Computers, Scientists Successfully Predict Evolution Of E. Coli Bacteria

Well, there goes the old "evolution isn't science because it doesn't conduct predictive experiments" argument. Anybody want in on the pool guessing how long it'll take Creationists and Intellegint Designers to invent a new objection "proving" evolution is an unscientific theory?

Tip via Ungodly Politics.


posted 9:02 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Just Another Damn Bushwa Horror Story

The Bushies do so many evil things it gets tiring, if not boring.
U.S. Scientist Tells of Pressure to Lift Bans on Food Imports

A senior scientist at the Department of Agriculture says its scientific experts have been pressured by top officials to approve products for Americans to eat before their safety can be confirmed.

[snip]

The senior scientist said department researchers had been pressured by [Agriculture Secretary Ann M.] Veneman's office to approve cattle from Mexico at risk of tuberculosis, pears from China with fungus problems and, in August, boneless meat from Canadian cattle, calves, sheep and goats, as well as hunters' kills.

Ms. Veneman, a former food industry lawyer and lobbyist, has former representatives of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other industry groups among her top staff members.
'Member the good ol' days when corporations were satisfied with jus' buyin' gummint? Now they is gummint. We has met the enemy, an' he don't look like most of us anymore.
Critics of the department say it also uses unscientific testing standards that protect industry. Many experts say, for example, that its mad cow tests do not ensure that beef is safe. The testing is voluntary, samples only 40,000 head of the 35 million head of cattle killed annually and lets slaughterhouses influence which animals are tested.

[snip]

Last August, as Ms. Veneman offered to lift the ban on boneless beef from Canada, she said that a "thorough scientific analysis" had been done and that "our experts have determined that the risk to public health is extremely low."

The department scientist said her statement "really frosted me — that she said said we'd done it when I knew in fact that we hadn't."
Turns out by "our experts" she meant Canadians. Was there an annexation I didn't hear about? Anyway, iss not like a spend a lotta time worryin' 'bout mad cow. In fact, it's way down near the bottom of my list of "Things likely ta kill me," somewhere near gettin' smacked by a meteor, but that's not the point. The point is, if they're screwin' around with this shit, what else're they doing?


posted 6:53 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Bushwa Giveth While He Taketh Away - Media's Thinktank Failure

Debate Over Exporting Jobs Raises Questions on Policies
Programs for worker retraining and education will require political commitment and financing. Many labor experts note that the 1,200 two-year community colleges, which do much of the nation's worker training, are an important educational resource for retraining people for new jobs. President Bush, in his State of the Union address, proposed a $250 million initiative for community colleges.

But by cutting federal financing for other occupational education and job training programs at community colleges by roughly the same amount, the White House's budget effectively undercuts President Bush's promises.
Course, he brayed about the giving, but not the taking away. The article also says:
And many analysts are much more worried that proposals for government curbs on the use of offshore workers are the advance guard of an unfortunate drift toward trade protectionism.

"The impulse is understandable,'' said Clyde V. Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington and a former trade negotiator. "But it would be nice in a campaign year to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot if we can."
Some say the Economic Strategy Institute is centrist, some say mostly conservative. Prestowitz was a trade negotiator for the Raygun administration. He's a former CEO, and his institute gets 34% of its funding from corporations and 33% from foundations. The rest is generated internally. That's about all I could track down in an hour and a half of searching. It's interesting how difficult it is to trace thinktank funding. Of course, ESI's "non-partisan." They all are, no matter how far left or right. Otherwise they lose they're tax shelter.

"Conservative" thinktanks outspend left of center thinktanks by at least 2-1. Because donations are tax free, the tax payers are subsidizing the propaganda with which they are assaulted. FAIR reports, based on a Nexis search:
Number of Media Citations by Ideology

Conservative or
Right-Leaning 12,141 47%

Centrist 10,552 41%

Progressive or
Left-Leaning 3,204 12%
The left-leaning figure is down from 16% in 1997, and left-leaning thinktanks are labeled as such more often than right-wing thinktanks. In 1997, the extreme right wing Heritage Foundation was cited without a label 68% of the time. Ahh, fair and balanced. Just like Faux News.


posted 5:24 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 24, 2004

"Activist" Judges Must Die!

Adam the Violent posts President Bu$h speaks out against human rights, more of his usual gude stoff. The prez sez big majorities are opposed to gay marriage, so those damn "activist" judges better fall in line. Adam sez big majorities opposed a few other t'ings as well. He links to BooshWhopper's speech. I thought I'd just link to a few other decisions of "activist" judges in order to remind one and all of the horrible damage they've done.

Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917) (USSC+)
Establishing equal access to housing

Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948) (USSC+)
Equal access to housing

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (USSC+)
Equal access to education -- separate but equal does not work
http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm


Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955) (USSC+)
Brown v. Board of Education upheld for all states
http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm


Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964) (USSC+)
Equal access to accommodation
http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm


Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964) (USSC+)
Service in a public establishment must not discriminate
http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cases/topic.htm

I imagine big majorities supported all the evil bullshit that nasty-ass "activist" judges struck down back when, too.


posted 6:33 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The Constitution Don't Mean A Good Goddamn Act

Dave Neiwert, posting at The American Street, alerts us to the latest far right, anti-democratic, theocratic push to dominate America. Zell Miller, far right Democon-artist, and his Republican cohorts, have a spiffy idea for an new law. All it does is destroy America as we know it.

Constitution Restoration Act of 2004
A BILL
To limit the jurisdiction of Federal courts in certain cases and promote federalism.

[snip]

(1) AMENDMENT TO TITLE 28- Chapter 81 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

`Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.'.
Why would I call this anti-democratic? Simple. There's much more to a real, functioning democracy than 'majority rules.' One of the most important parts of that more is protecting basic rights, especially the rights of the minority. Lose that and you lose democracy. All ya got left is mob rule.

These yahoos are relying on their own interpretation of Article III of the Constitution to claim that the judiciary is subordinate to the legislature, not independent. All that does is turn 200 years of settled American law on its head. Are they right in their interpretation? Hell, I don't know. If you only read Article III, it seems like they could have a point, but:
These two principles--the preeminence of the Constitution and judicial review--were not explicitly provided for in the Constitution but are supported by various types of constitutional argument.
Anyway, I don't care. I'm not gonna worship a document regardless of the consequences. Talk about idolatry! Let me tell ya what the consequences of this law will be. In the name of the Constitution the Constitution will lose all meaning.

If Congress can tell the courts what they can and can't review, then not a single thing in the Constitution is safe. Not protections, not rights, not nothin'. If they can forbid the courts to review an officer's acknowledgement of God, then why not forbid them to review Jim Crow laws? Why not forbid them to review anti-sodomy or anti-miscegenation laws? Why not forbid them to review laws banning public dissent?

Every single one of our rights and protections will be swingin' in the political wind. If the majority of politicians in Congress decide they don't like blacks or browns or yellows or reds or gays or protesters or even mere dissenters, those groups better bend over and kiss they're asses goodbye. No review.

Neiwert's links are freaky. The Christian Dominionist plan to take over the world.

UPDATE: Just a clarification in response to a commenter. My main point is that these right wing yahoos are intent on destroying constitutional democracy. Even if they're unlikely to succeed, knowing their intent should help people understand what kind of evil bastards they are.


posted 5:11 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Why Unions Ought To Matter

Waayyy back on Feb. 19, Jeff Alworth wrote in Labor Follies:
There's a growing divide in America's workforce between the haves and have-nots. That's not news. But increasingly, it seems to be the unions who have forgotten which side they were on. Once defenders of the exploited little guy, now unions represent a skilled professional class of worker. As the underclass in America balloons, labor's influence wanes. 2004 may mark the first year when that was true in politics as much as society.

Union membership is sinking like a stone, from 13.3% to 12.9% last year alone (unless otherwise mentioned, all these statistics come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

[snip]

There are a number of parallels between the Democratic Party and labor unions. Both became beguiled by wealth and comfort, drifting away from their mission of serving the poor and hardworking. Both became elite institutions, turning away from their broad support among the people. And both have paid dearly in declining power and membership. For both, the answer is the same: go back to serving the people.
As I wrote in the comments of his post, the decline in union membership and power has a great deal more to do with figleaf labor laws than with "elitist" unions. Other western countries haven't experienced the precipitous declines in union membership that the US has.

There's an OECD chart here, chart 5.1 on pg. 7, that shows the startling differences of unionization rates, and even more startling differences in number of workers covered by collective bargaining agreements. It's for 1990, but it'll do for comparison purposes. France, for instance, has lower union density than the US, but a far higher percentage of workers covered by bargaining agreements. All the western countries do.

Try organizing a Wal-mart today. Go ahead. Try. Jeff thinks unions have forgotten the little guy? Then why did a union, I believe the UFCW but I won't swear to it, keep organizers outside the doors of a Wal-mart store 24 hours a day? The problem is it's impossible to organize a company like Wal-mart under today's labor laws. Impossible. I've worked on a union organizing drive. After the captive meetings companies are allowed to hold, which are used to spread company lies, after the implied threats and intimidation, after a few die-hard pro-union employees lost their jobs, we got our asses kicked. And it cost the union a small fortune.

If the Employee Free Choice Act were to pass, we'd see a startling increase in union organizing activity and in successful new bargaining units. Wal-mart's ass'd be grass, I gar-own-tee. You can email your representatives in congress and ask them to support the EFCA, which calls for card checkoff elections, mediation and arbitration when necessary, and stiffer penalties for company's that take revenge on pro-union workers, here. Do it for you karma. You'll feel better.

All this may matter even more than we think it does. William Greider, in The Soul of Capitalism, describes what some unions are trying to do:
Organized labor is widely disparaged as a weak and anachronistic force in American life but, in one important matter, the labor movement is the vanguard. Union leaders, the forward looking ones at least, have a vision for transforming the nature of American capitalism and are actively pursuing important elements, not through the usual political channels, but in the capital markets.
They're trying to use capital that belongs to the workers, the pension funds, to further the workers real self-interests and, thereby, communities' interests as well. Greider reports $400 million in union-managed pension funds and trillions in public-employee funds.
"It's very much a capitalist project, it's not socialist or revolutionary," says Ronald Blackwell, head of the AFL-CIO's corporate affairs department, which includes its Center on Working Capital and the Office of Investment. "It's a project to improve capitalism through direct intervention."
It's a chance to make capitalism more socially responsible, to reduce the ugly externalities like pollution, and to spread it's benefits more widely instead of pouring more and more cash into the coffers of the richest 1% who have no fucking need for it. If we had more unions, we'd have more capital to work with, not to mention a greater democratic voice for workers. Greider's book really is a must read for progressives. The things he writes about, things that are already working on a small scale, have enormous potential to change the world for the better.


posted 4:16 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Wal-mart: The Employer Of The Future

Move over, Enron. Wal-Mart is the new punching bag.
Still, while not defending any illegal acts, Mr. [Richard] Hastings [retail-sector analyst for Bernard Sands] and others say some of that ire may be misplaced.

"Those are complaints that should be directed toward government," Hastings says. "It is not the purpose of Wal-Mart to provide 'public goods' like clean air and clean water, and make sure that everyone has a well-paying job." Whether healthcare should be the responsibility of industry or government, he says, "is an argument that needs to take place, [but] Wal-Mart [should] not be put at the center of that argument."

The potentially disruptive side effects of Wal-Mart's sway over supplier chains merit watching - but, again, by government, Hastings adds.
I guess iss jus' my imagination, but I could a swore dingers and corporate apologists spent the last 25 or 30 years, at least, arguing that all that stuff was none a gummint's bidness. Deregulation! Free markets will provide! Well, so far, what they've provided is obscene executive pay packages, an obscene redistribution of wealth to the top, and nothing in the way of public goods like clean air and water, healthcare, or decent wages. And Hastings is right, even if he is probly talkin' outta both sides a his mouth. The private sector never will provide those things. That only leaves gummint, don't it? Libertarians?

The greater Wal-mart's success, the more every other bidness is going to use them as a model. Always low wages, always. Ya know that Wal-mart keeps a squad of union busters at the ready at all times in Bentonville, Arkansas? Somebody anywhere in the empire so much as whispers the word "union," and they clamber aboard the corporate jet, fly to the store or distribution center in question, and commence to stompin' the shit out a that menace. Cuz unions is evil, bidness men is good.


posted 8:28 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 23, 2004

Anger Not An Agenda. Fiscal Irresponsibility Is.

Bush Launches More Aggressive Campaign
Changing his campaign tactics, the president said the November election presents "a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving this economy forward, or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people."
Sure, my policies will lead to draconian service cuts and economic disaster, but restoring taxes on the rich -- that's unconscionable.


posted 6:00 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Maybe This Is Why We Elected The Buckpasser-In-Chief

Apparently, Bush has a lot of company. "Making Good" and "The Cheating Culture:"
Researchers say we're breeding a nation of
cheats, scammers, egotists and buck
passers. But when researchers interviewed a
group of young actors, scientists and journalists,
guess who came out looking best?
Salon again, butcha only have ta watch the ad once per day.


posted 5:40 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Call Tech Support. Now!

Capitalism's efficiency in action: "We don't support that"
We're not here to help fix your computer.
We just want to get you off the phone.
A tech-support slave tells his hellish tale.
It's Salon, so you know the drill.


posted 5:17 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Rod Paige Calls NEA "Terrorist Organization"

Jesus H. Christ on a muthafuckin' crutch! Is there no level these bastards won't sink to?

Rod Paige Criticizes Teachers Union
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday.

Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige's remarks about the National Education Association.

"These were the words, 'The NEA is a terrorist organization,'" said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.

"He was making a joke, probably not a very good one," said Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania. "Of course he immediately divorced the NEA from ordinary teachers, who he said he supports."
Oh, it was a joke. Almost as funny as Annie Coultergeist's "jokes." The man who helped destroy, while pretending to improve, Houston's school district made a ha ha.


posted 1:47 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Another Unwashed, Hippie, Peacenik Bitch

An excerpt from an interview with retired Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski:
You gave your life to the military, you voted Republican for many years, you say you served in the Pentagon right up to the outbreak of war. What does it feel like to be out now, publicly denouncing your old bosses?

Know what it feels like? It feels like duty. That's what it feels like. I've thought about it many times. You know, I spent 20 years working for something that -- at least under this administration -- turned out to be something I wasn't working for. I mean, these people have total disrespect for the Constitution. We swear an oath, military officers and NCOs alike swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. These people have no respect for the Constitution. The Congress was misled, it was lied to. At a very minimum that is a subversion of the Constitution. A pre-emptive war based on what we knew was not a pressing need is not what this country stands for.

What I feel now is that I'm not retired. I still have a responsibility to do my part as a citizen to try and correct the problem.
Ratboy's Anvil has the whole scooby, and ya better read it, or I'll kick yer ass. You'll thank me, I swear.


posted 1:05 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

The Corporate Media: All The News That's Fit To Bury

I been reading newspapers a long time and I've figured out a few of the ways the news is slanted without actual censorship. First, try counting the number of times information is sourced to government officials or right wing think tanks (frequently not labeled as such) or party officials. You'll rarely see any information sourced to liberals or progressives. And they have several methods for burying the news.

They write misleading headlines that don't reflect the story, a violation of one of the most basic cannons of journalism. A lot of people just skim the headlines. They write stories where the most important information is buried deep in the last few paragraphs, because most people don't read the whole story. Then there's story placement. During the run-up to the Iraq war, the national papers would regularly place stories that supported the administration's case on the front page while well-reasearched investigative stories that might have undermined the case were placed on pages like A19 and A21. Lots of people don't get that far in the paper.

One of the most common ways to bury a general interest story, though, is to put it in the business section. Mostly only business people and investors read the business section, yet labor stories, which just might be of interest to the average worker who doesn't read the business section, are usually placed there. This is why I always read the business section. This is among the most egregious examples I've found:

Bush to Revisit Changes in Medicaid Rules

Don't believe the NYTimes.com> Washington label at the top. If you go to the home page you'll find it listed in the business section, just as it was in my newsreader. I defy anyone to demonstrate to me that this is legitimately a business story. Ain't a fucking thing in it about business. It's general interest, and important general interest at that. The headline is a subtle lie. It should read "Bush to Revisit Cuts in Medicaid," because that's exactly the effect the "Rules" changes will have.

Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. Don't Believe The Corporate Media. . .


posted 9:30 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 22, 2004

So You Think Terrorism's Our Biggest Problem, Huh?

If we are destroyed, the Pukelicans have destroyed us.

Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

[snip]

The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists.

[snip]

As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

[snip]

Already, according to [report authors] Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.

[snip]


'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.

Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said.

[snip]

Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.

'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.' [But Bush said we needed an energy plan that encourages consumption.]
Well, shit, I'm wrong again. I said before that your kids would be telling your grandkids this but, apparently, it's gonna be you tellin' your kids and grandkids. "Thank the right wingers, like Bush, who denied the problem, kids. Thank the corporations that funded the lies because they placed more importance on money than human life. And don't forget the corporate media, kids, who were complicit in hiding the truth from the people."

I know this is gonna be tuff, what with dealing with ecological disaster compounded by economic collapse an' all, but I hope the people of the future, if there are any people in the future, find a way to bring the dead back to life. Then they can dig up all the right wing scumbag liars and all the lying corporate carbuncles on humanity's ass, and bring 'em back, and then fuckin' kill 'em again. Painfully. Or maybe just force 'em to live in the world they destroyed.


posted 10:46 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Another Slogan That Should Work

At the ever-expanding risk of proving my own self a fucking idiot, another great slogan for the left has occurred to me. Once again, it's not mine. I don't claim to be an original thinker. This one comes from Conceptual Guerilla's Strategy And Tactics, and if you haven't checked out his site, you should. He used ta be a trial lawyer, he knows how to argue. The man's sharp. I'm gonna try to promote a couple of phrases from his page, DEFEAT THE RIGHT IN THREE MINUTES. Sounds too good to be true, don't it?
. . . the right has been pounding their slogans out into the public domain for getting on forty years.

So you need a really good slogan -- a "counter-slogan" really, to "deprogram" the brainwashed. You need a "magic bullet" that quickly and efficiently destroys the effectiveness of their "drum beat". You need your own "drum beat" that sums up the right's position. Only your "drum beat" exposes the ugly reality of right-wing philosophy -- the reality their slogans are meant to hide. Our slogan contains the governing concept that explains the entire right-wing agenda. That's why it works. You can see it in every policy, and virtually all of Republican rhetoric. And it's so easy to remember, and captures the essence of the Republican Right so well, we can pin it on them like a "scarlet letter".

Is there really a catch phrase -- a "magic bullet" -- that sums up the Republican Right in such a nice easy-to-grasp package. You better believe it, and it's downright elegant in its simplicity.
I believe he's right, but we gotta be prepared to hammer it, just like corporate media. Here it is:

Cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives, cheap labor conservatives. . . .

You have your assignment, chilluns, now run with it. Spread the word. And now a couple of bumper stickerish suggestions.

Should Workers Vote?
For Cheap Labor Conservatives?

Had Enough Yet?
Of Corporate Feudalism?


UPDATE: Wait, wait, this is better.

Corporate Feudalism.
Had Enough Yet?


OK, maybe someone out there can figger a way to shorten those up. I'm not that great at pithy.


posted 8:25 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

A Media Slogan We Can Use

I have been a critic of the idea that the left should use the same kinds of bumper stickerish sloganeering, repetition, and P.R. bullshit that has worked so well for the right on the grounds that real life is more complicated than that, plus most such phrases are lies. However, I just popped to a two word phrase we can use to counter a two word lie of the right if everyone will just constantly repeat it. It's certainly not my creation, but I would really like people to bear down and use it constantly in the same way that the right has used liberal media, liberal media, liberal media, liberal media . . . .

OK, here it is:

Corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media, corporate media . . . .

The beauty of it is it's true, it's fair, and, because of those two attributes, it'll work. We've kind of already started, but everyone's got to use it constantly, over and over and over. And over. And then some more. Repetition is everything here. Don't get tired, don't get bored, don't go looking for something new to replace it because it's trite. Think as though you have the dull, stubborn mind of a dinger. Relentless as the tarantula.


posted 5:28 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

GOP Sez Dems Weak On Defense; Defense=Economy Too

Kevin Hayden at The American Street discusses in depth the Dems vs. Repukes on defense in Foreign Perception of the Democrats, Pt. 2.

Short version: Repukes are perceived as stronger on defense because of their pronounced, though largely ineffectual, aggression and the fact that they've managed to get at least over 30 times as many Americans killed per year as Democrats over the last 27 years. Oh, yeah, that and hellacious P.R. As usual.

I got a little different take here. The Pukes are saying John Kerry is weak on defense because he voted against gargantuan defense and intelligence budgets. A pretty good chunk of that money is basically corporate pork, of course, but who cares? Gotta have a strong defense, right? What's a little pocket change? Well . . . .

Over the last 41 years, Democratic presidents have averaged deficits of $25 billion a year. Republicans have averaged $131.6 billion a year. Ah, you say, but most of the Republicans have come in recent years when the economy, the government, and, above all, deficits have been bigger. Fair enough. The average deficit through the Raygun, Bush I, and Bush II years has been $191.2 billion a year and it looks like we're facing an average of around $500 billion a year for the next 10 years. Clinton's average deficit was $24.1 billion, lower than the Democratic average, and you can probably lay that at the feet of Raygun and Bush I.

Why all the deficit numbers? Now, ya know I'm gonna tell ya. After the Repukelicans have bankrupted America, how will we pay for defense? Hmm? What I want to say to the Pukes is, "It's still economics, ya dipshits!" Jus' a pleasant thought for a Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE: Found part 1, The Foreign Perception of the Democrats Remains, and it's a great examination of how the media were turned into a propaganda arm by the Booosh administration.


posted 3:25 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

What Don't The Global Warming Know-it-alls Know?

Great Barrier Reef Faces Major Coral Destruction
Australia's Great Barrier Reef will lose most of its coral cover by 2050 and, at worst, the world's largest coral system could collapse by 2100 because of global warming, a study released on Saturday said.

The study by Queensland University's Center for Marine Studies, commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, said that the destruction of coral on the Great Barrier Reef was inevitable due to global warming, regardless of what actions were taken now.
The entire Great Barrier Reef is going to die due to global warming. That's just one of the bad things we know are going to happen. I can virtually gar-own-tee they's bad things gonna happen that we don't know about yet. There's a good chance at least one of them will be really bad. Someday, as they look out over a blighted world, your kids can tell they're grandkids (assuming humans survive that long), "Thank the right wing, corporate apologist nutjobs who just wouldn't listen to the scientists, kids. If only they weren't dead we could put them on trial for crimes against humanity."


posted 1:25 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Naaderrr! You're A Stupid Son Of A Bitch!

Ignoring Democrats' Pleas, Nader Announces Run for White House

Jesus Christ, man, if you wanted so badly to be abused, why the hell dincha go to a dominatrix and leave the rest of us out of it? You got the money.
He said he wanted to challenge what he called the "two-party duopoly" in American politics in which both the Democrats and the Republicans are "ferociously competing to see who's going to go to the White House and take orders from their corporate paymasters."
Obviously, this silly fuck doesn't read my blog. Either that or he has the chutzpah not to b'lieve me. You cannot challenge the two-party system without substantially changing the way we elect politcians. We only have two rational choices. 1) Work within the Repukelican party. OK, I think we can write that off as deranged. 2) Work to change the Democratic party back into the party of the people, not the powerful. (Yeah, I know Al said the same thing, but I actually mean it.) "Those aren't our only choices. We can build a third party movement." Yeah. If you know somebody what can walk on water, maybe. Cuz it'll definitely take a miracle.

I'm beginning ta think this muthafucka has gone over ta tha dark side. I have a plan, in case anybody missed it and is intersted: For Progressives: What We're Gonna Do. (3rd post down.)


posted 11:06 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Jesus said, "Don't Do Nothin' Fer The Poor."

This is from a letter sent to H&R Block by Consumers Union:
According to your website, a Refund Anticipation Loan takes approximately two days. If the same consumer filed her taxes electronically and had the funds deposited directly into her bank account, she could receive the funds in approximately ten days. Therefore the consumer pays these high fees to receive her refund eight days earlier. According to a recent report by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) and Consumer Federation of America (CFA), the fee for a RAL for a $1,900 tax return, the average federal tax return in 2000, is $74.95. The interest rate on such a transaction calculated as an annual percentage interest rate is 149.9%.
One hundred and fifty percent! Square that with the Bible, dingers. You read the Bible literally until it conflicts with some other dearly held mythology like, f'r instance, capitalism. The H&Rat Bastard tax preparers are plumpin' their profits by fuckin' low wage workers. But iss OK, cuz I remember Jesus sayin, "Screw the least among you, for God don't like 'em much anyways."

ACORN has a petition to stop these practices which reads, in part:
Arranging to loan people the money they are owed back by the government for a week or two at triple digit interest rates is predatory; aggressively promoting products which skim off hundreds of millions of dollars which are supposed to go to low wage workers is unconscionable.
I just became the 599th person to sign. We can do better than that, peebles.

Sign the petition and spread the word. Purty please. And have a look see at ACORN. They're doin' good work, and doin' it by organizing.


posted 8:39 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Coming Attraction: Predictable Campaign Lie On Jobs

The Bush-Rove Perpetual Campaign Machine is already revving up the lie that the economy, especially the jobs picture, is much better than it appears. They're going to try to claim that the payroll survey is screwy so we should really trust the household survey. Only a couple a wee problems with that. Two Tales of American Jobs:
The puzzle is the enormous divergence between the two surveys that are used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure job creation and unemployment. The payroll survey, which is based on a monthly poll of 400,000 employers, shows a loss of more than two million jobs since 2001. The household survey, based on questions posed to people in 50,000 households, shows an increase of more than 500,000 jobs over the same period.
Those employers are big employers with lots of employees. Those households represent very few actual workers, relatively. The payroll survey uses a vastly larger sample. That's probably one reason why a big majority of economists consider the payroll survey more accurate. The Repukes prefer the household survey for a better reason, though. It makes Bush look better.
If the payroll survey is correct, Mr. Bush is on track to be the first president since Herbert Hoover to complete a term in office with fewer jobs than when he started. If the household survey is correct, Mr. Bush can claim credit for creating jobs despite the blows of a recession, terrorist attacks and two wars.
The first since Hoobert Heever! Thass purty bad. The payroll survey shows a loss of 2 million jobs under Boosh, the household survey shows a gain of half a million. Did I mention that the household survey is based on self-reporting? You always get the best info that way, cuz peebles always tells the troof. One prominent Republican economist had this to say:
"I wish I could say the household survey were the more accurate,'' Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, said in his testimony at a House hearing on Feb. 11. "Everything we've looked at suggests that it's the payroll data which are the series which you have to follow.''
I bet he does wish it. An' if wishes was fishes . . . The Fed made some adjustments to the household survey, and many of the jobs disappeared.
The good news for the job market is that both surveys are now pointing to increases in employment. The bad news is that, compared with previous economic recoveries, both measures suggest that job growth remains well below par.
They worked, dammit! The tax cuts worked! Well, if your rich, anyway. Don'tcha love readin' tha bidness section?


posted 7:32 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Attacking Gay Marriage On "Traditional" Grounds

Seem ta me they's only t'ree ways ta attack gay marriage: 1) It causes actual harm. 2) It's against [whoever's] religion. 3) Tradition. Marriage has always been defined as one man and one woman.

Dealing with them in order:

1) The harm argument: Shouldn't opponents have to demonstrate that with significant evee-dense? If they could do that, wouldn't we all have heard about it by now?

2) Religion. Doesn't matter. Ours is a secular government by design. The first amendment guarantees freedom of religion. Really, it guarantees freedom of belief. So why shouldn't people be free to believe that gay marriage is bang-on, square-up, okey-dokey, fine and dandy without the secular government discriminating against them on religious grounds? Besides, there's no actual religious consensus on the subject, although even if there were, it wouldn't change my argument.

3) Tradition. Dumb argument on at least two grounds. Doesn't surprise me a bit that the far right thinks it's a great argument. Why ya t'ink I calls 'em dingers? Not that tradition is necessarily a bad thing. It should be respected, but it should also be looked at with a critical eye. First, marriage hasn't always been defined as one man and one woman, only mostly. There have been many other forms of marriage. There're still plenty a polygynists in the world today, some in the Middle East, some in Utah, some in other places as well.

Second, monarchy was traditional, feudalism was traditional, the subjection of women was traditional, treating children as property was traditional, slavery was traditional, torture was traditional. Even today, the treatment of women in Muslim country's owes more to tradition than to Islam. I'm pretty sure I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Should we bring back every horror that was once considered traditional?

So where's another rational, logical defense of forbidding gay marriage? Huh? Cuz I sez, bring it, meat! I'll knock that motherfucker right outta tha park!


posted 6:59 AM by Phaedrus | Link | |

February 21, 2004

No Child's Ass Left And Other Unfunded Mandates

'No Child Left Behind' Hurts Schools - Democrats
Democrats charged on Saturday that President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" law is wreaking havoc in U.S. schools by imposing new educational burdens without paying for them.
Ain't jus' Democrats, pibbles. I know of Repukes in Utah and other states that are also bitching.
[Arizona Governor Janet] Napolitano said the president's federal budget was pushing billions of dollars in spending requirements onto state and local governments.

"We are finding it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to rely on the current administration to help us tackle our states' challenges. In fact, the administration often causes them," she said.

She said nearly $1 billion in federal funding for homeland security and bioterrorism response efforts had been cut, leaving local police and firefighters without the training and equipment they need to keep communities safe.
You get a big ol' tax cut (if your rich) and the tax burden devolves onto the states, nearly all of which have a regressive tax structure that puts the tax burden on the non-rich. Poof, yer tax break's gone. Thankee, baBushka. We the people are so much better off. And we get improved homeland security as well. Be still, my beating heart.


posted 6:23 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

Prezeedent Boosh Embraces Culture Of Death!

Bush Dog Put to Sleep Due to Health Woes

But putting ailing, suffering people out of their misery at their own request is completely wrong and totally evil and will result in the extinction of the human race.


posted 5:16 PM by Phaedrus | Link | |

For Progressives: What We're Gonna Do

Saw a commenter the other day who said, roughly, "If I waste my vote on a Democrat, it will be at the last minute, in the voting booth." This is a big issue. Word is Nader is gonna declare his candidacy Sunday. Listen carefully. If you cast your vote for anyone other than a Democrat in November, or in any other election year, you're insane. Okay, probably not clinically, but practically, you're insane.

If you cast a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Repuke, because you're too pure of heart to "waste" your vote on a nasty-ass CorporaDem, let me tell ya what you're gonna do. You'll cast half a vote for the Repukelicans and their proto-fascist wings (and I hope that makes you feel as bad as it should), and shoot the other half a vote straight into oblivion. Unless you're a right winger, not voting for the Democrat is worse than wasting your vote.

Ain't gonna be no third party movement creating a paradigm change in American politics. There have been at least a thousand alternative party movements and, best I can recollect, only one ever succeeded in supplanting a major party. And the Whigs fucked up pretty bad. I know the Dems are fuck ups, but it's a mighty thin reed to place all your hopes on the Dems fuckin' up as bad as the Whigs did.

Progressives say, "Oh, but the Dems are awful and the Publicans are worse. Whatever can we do?" Well, first, they've made a key point, though I don't know if they know it. The Repukelicans are worse. I don't want to hear any crap about how if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you're still voting for evil. Of course you are, but if you only get two choices, the lesser of two evils is a no-brainer.

So we're stuck with the Demorats. That's the bad news. Here's the good news. The "movement" conservatives who exert such a powerful influence over the GOPukes today started exactly where we are today. In 1964, after Goldwater's crushing defeat, the right wing pseudo-cons were battered, defeated (so we thought), and wandering in the wilderness. They had virtually no power over the more or less honorable GOP of the time. They were right where we are now. Being pseudo-cons, though, they didn't know they were beaten. Their limitless optimism blinded them to the barriers in their path.

The far right pseudo-cons didn't set out to build their own party, they set out to get their hands on the levers of power in the Republican party, and they did. Not overnight, not over a few years, it took decades, but they never quit. Relentless as the tarantula.

Okay, they had advantages we don't have. Dull intellects aren't easily distracted or dissuaded. They had a far right money spigot flowing day and night for all those years. That spigot's still wide open and there is no left wing counterpart.

Nevertheless, they have shown us the way. First, we need to work within the Democratic party. Instead of working to build an alternative, we have to transform the Democrats into an alternative. Don't tell me it can't be done. The pseudo-cons did it.

So how are we gonna do that? First, we rid ourselves of the notion that corruption is the problem. Corruption is the reality, a natural part of politics and therefore gummint. We rid of ourselves of the notion that politicians are corrupt because they're greedy or evil.

Most politicians aren't in it for the money. Most could make more in the private sector. The money from the legal bribery that has become the basis of our political system doesn't, for the most part, wind up in the pockets of politicians. It winds up in their campaign chests. Senators aren't rich because they're Senators, they're Senators because they're rich.

What drives politicians is the need to get elected. Most politicians are in it for the power. That ain't necessarily a bad thing, either.

Here's the story I heard about Huey P. Long, the "Kingfish" of Louisiana. It may not be true, but it illustrates my point. Huey Long was a radical, he wanted desperately to help the common man. Hell, Huey P. was the common man. The first time Huey P. ran for office, he got beat by the corruption of his opponent and he said, "That ain't never gonna happen agin." I don't know if they say agin in Louisiana, but what the hell. Huey decided that from then on he'd be the most corrupt politician in every race, not because he was evil, but because if he didn't get elected he couldn't do what he wanted to do. How'd it work out? There's a verse in a Randy Newman song where the Kingfish says:
Who built the highway to Baton Rouge?
Who put up your hospitals and built your schools?
Who takes care of shitkickers like you?
The Kingfish do.
Power is neither good nor evil, it's a tool. If you're too pure to tolerate any corruption, you need to read Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals.

Course, the fact we don't have, and we prolly ain't gonna have, that money spigot is a serious obstacle. The way to overcome that obstacle is with numbers.

We can have the people, but to get 'em we're gonna have to become a movement instead of a loose collection of single issue splinters. That means we're gonna have to prioritize issues. That doesn't mean abandoning any important issue, it means putting some issues on the backburner until we have the power to do something about them.

We can have the people, but to get 'em we've got to appeal to them on bread and butter issues, not the boutique issues of the week. Lemme tell ya somethin' 'bout us lower class workin' folk. It's not that we don't care about boutiques, it's that we actively resent and even hate them. Not the boutique itself, and not the boutique issues, either. What we hate is the pretension, and what we resent is that we can't afford it. Bread and butter issues are the only issues the bottom 40% can manage to eke out time or energy enough to care about. And don't tell me what workin' folk should care about. Should is bullshit. I'm tellin' you what is.

That brings up another point. Ya can't talk down ta workin' folk. Tellin' 'em what they should care about is talkin' down. Everybody has a sense of dignity, no matter how hard the bosses try to take it away, and everybody knows their own real needs.

We can have the people and the Democratic party, but it's gonna take a lot of people who are willing to accept reality and willing to work. It's gonna take organizing on the street and organizing within the party, and it's gonna take bringing those two organizing efforts together.

Ya might think it's gonna be awful hard to drag the Democratic party away from the corporate tit. Well, it is gonna be hard, but not as hard as you think. Politicians want to get elected, but they want to get elected because they want power.

What I'm talking about is the Democrats only chance to ever wield power again. If they listen to the DLC and keep trying to beat the corporate Repukes by being corporate Repukes Lite, I guarantee they will condemn themselves to powerless, minority party status from now unto eternity.

What we've got to do is show the Democratic politicians that, though we can't deliver money, we can deliver votes. The only way we can deliver those votes is by organizing, informing, helping and caring about the middle and lower classes. "But the lower classes don't vote." No, why should they? Who represents them? Besides, they're busy. Absentee ballots would help with the last. Representation would take care of the rest. We have to convince that they will be represented.

This is the only way the Democrats will ever have real power again, and the only way non-bread and butter progressive issues will ever be seriously addressed.

A lot of left/liberals and progressives (if there's a difference) are friggin' dilletantes. Many, many say, "Ooo, we must save the snail darter, we must save the spotted owl," and then focus all their energy on that. And it's a terrible mistake.

Am I saying such issues are unimportant? Of course not. I'm saying single issue politics is self-defeating. It splinters the left and dissipates what power we have, and we don't have enough as it is.

We've got to come together as a movement and we have got to learn to prioritize. I think environmental issues are enormous, life-and-death issues. Environmental problems threaten the well-being of all mankind. So the environment should be our number one issue. Eehhhnnnttt. Waayyy wrong. I'll explain.

Why do you think most progressives are affluent (And, like Barbara Ehrenreich, frustrated by what they see in the poor.)? Ya know I'm gonna tell ya.

Take a not entirely proven case that all mankind faces ecological disaster in the not too distant future. Gather up your undeniable facts and figures. Now, sell it to a man who don't know where his next meal is comin' from. If you can do it, get a sales job. You'll surely get rich. Most progressives are affluent because it's the affluent who have the luxury of being progressive.

The economic problems in this country are so severe, and getting worse so fast, that improving the economic situation of the majority has to be our number one priority. Does that sound crass, materialistic, greedy? Eehhhnnnttt. Waayyy wrong again. I'll explain.

If we can subtantially improve the economic lot of the bottom 60% in this country, and limit corporate power in the process, yer gonna be surprised how much easier it will be to deal with all the other issues near and dear to progressives. It's amazing how much more magnanimous people become when their figurative bellies are full. But a starving man around food is about the greediest creature alive. Economic improvement for the majority will be both a good thing in itself, and a means to a multiplicity of ends.

You can quibble with the details, you can quibble with my whole plan. If you think you got a better plan, I got Dumbo ears. I'm listenin'. But I'd think it's pretty obvious by now that what we been doin' ain't workin'.










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The Me What I Am

I took the name Phaedrus from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Not that I'm as smart as that Phaedrus, but I am a ghost. Sort of.

I started doing odd jobs at a motel when I was 14.
I lasted one day at a McDonald's, quit,
lasted a lot longer at Taco Bell.
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I'm not a Marxist, but I am a genuine member of the lumpen proletariat.






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