November 19, 2007 archive

Your World, According to the Right (Four Fables)

This Essay is no big deal.

I simply had a few moments before the markets closed — as I watched the Dow crumble along with the Dollar — so I thought I would read a few blogs on the Right and see what they’re talking about today. I like to read the Right Wing blogs when they discuss the economy. The Right thinks America has a grrrreat economy. Most of the time, it’s really pretty funny (gawd they’re dumb) but overall, their “optimism” can be a soothing balm after a big dose of reality.

Anyway, I noticed four “busy” topics over there I thought I would bring back here. (Plus, I’ve added a little note on each about how your fellow-voters see America and your place in it):

Some House Backers of Thompson Are Starting to Lose the Faith

Several House Republicans who endorsed Fred Thompson for president now say that they are frustrated with what they view as an apathetic campaign, and at least one regrets having committed to the former Tennessee senator.

“I think he’s kind of done a belly flop,” said an estranged Thompson backer who indicated he will not pull his public support before the “Super Tuesday” primaries. “We’ll just wait till after Feb. 5 because I think he’s going to get beat.”

The disaffected members of team Thompson say that he has failed to put to rest whispers that he is unwilling to campaign hard enough to win the presidency.

“He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it,” another dissatisfied Thompson backer told CQ Politics. “I can’t see me bailing on him, but there’s some frustration.”


Typical Right Wing Reaction: “I started reading the article, but I stopped because it was a crock.”

U.S. Prison System a ‘Costly Failure’  

The report calls for a major overhaul of the US justice system.

The US prison population has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to the taxpayer, researchers say.

There are more than 1.5 million people in US state and federal jails, a report by a Washington-based criminal justice research group, the JFA Institute says.

Inmate numbers are projected to rise by 192,000 in five years, costing $27.5bn (£13.44bn) to build and run jails.

The JFA recommends reducing the number and length of sentences.

The Unlocking America report, which was published on Monday, also advocated changing terms of parole and finding alternatives to prison as part of a major overhaul of the US justice system.

“There is no evidence that keeping people in prison longer makes us any safer,” said JFA president James Austin.


Typical Right Wing Reaction:  “Liberals want prison reform because their base is mostly felons.”

I Want Olbermann to Cover Pretty Bird Woman House

Olbermann’s contact information

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Artwork by Tigana.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of the main television media ignoring American Indian issues in general, and I’m even more sick and tired of conservative personalities spewing their racist venom towards American Indians. I think Olbermann would cover the critical issue of Pretty Bird Woman House if he were asked to by enough of us, but let’s look at some spewing of racist venom towards American Indians by conservative personalities first after a generalized observation of mine.

Crossposted at Native American Netroots

The Missed Opportunity

Some may not believe this, but I have been bending over backwards trying to become a solid supporter of Barack Obama. I really do believe he has a bundle of political talent and generally holds sound views on most issues. But as I have written since 2006, he has simply failed to be the type of Democratic politician we need in this political climate (See my many posts on Obama for more detail.)

Recognizing this problem, Matt Yglesias defends Obama:

I also think I should take my hat off to Hillary Clinton’s campaign — I think this has been less a failure on Obama’s part, then cleverness on Clinton’s. She’s managed to position herself on foreign policy issues in a way that signals her differences with Obama very clearly to the tiny community of specialists while completely blurring them to the broader audience of voters. I’m not sure how this can be overcome . .

I am sure how it can be done and should have been done for the past year at least – by leading on the issues NOW. As Markos writes:

I don’t know how many times I’ve written this, and maybe I’m just wasting my time, but rather than talk about leadership, Obama and Clinton could actually shows us what that leadership looks like by fighting to prevent the Senate from capitulating on Iraq.

Honestly, Yglesias, like too many Left wonks, has been oblivious to what Congress can do on Iraq. It is a terrible blind spot. For them, if it is not in a position paper, Foreign Affairs article or “big speech,” it as if it does not exist. Look at his lament:

I’m not sure how this can be overcome, but I’m sure it can’t be overcome by having writers further obscure the differences by focusing primarily on what a good job Clinton’s done of obscuring them.

The basic reality is that each and every time the candidates stake out a position on something, Clinton takes a less-liberal line. Then each and every time Obama starts getting traction with the argument that Clinton is too hawkish, she backtracks and makes the argument that there’s no real difference here. And it’s true that if you look at any one thing with a microscope, the “no difference” argument can be made to stick. But it’s the pattern that matters . . .

This is, in a word, absurd. There are no substantive differences on what to do NOW, despite attempts by Yglesias and others to pretend there are, among the Big 3. The only candidate who has made real differences on these big issues has been Chris Dodd – by leading NOW.

Unfortunately, Dodd just seems unable to get any traction. Partly because writers like Matt Yglesias pay no attention to what the Congress can do on Iraq. Maybe they would if OBAMA leads in the Senate NOW.

Four at Four

  1. The Independent reports Here it is: the future of the world, in 23 pages.

    This is the key document on climate change, and from now on you can forget any others you may have read or seen or heard about. This is the one that matters. It is the tightly distilled, peer-reviewed research of several thousand scientists, fully endorsed, without qualification, by all the world’s major governments. Its official name is a mouthful: the Policymakers’ Summary of the Synthesis Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment. So let’s just call it The Synthesis.

    It is so important because it provides one concise, easily-readable but comprehensive text of facts, figures and diagrams – in short all the information you need to understand and act on the threat of global warming, be you a politician, a businessman, an activist or a citizen (or for that matter, a doubter)…

    For all but the most perverse of sceptics, it ends the basic argument. And it also urgently warns that the risks are greater, and possibly closer in time, than was appreciated even six years ago, when the third assessment was published.

    Because all governments adopted The Synthesis by consensus (after a week’s negotiations in Valencia), it means they cannot disavow the underlying science and its conclusions (although it does not commit them to specific courses of action).

  2. One such impact of our changing climate, reports the Washington Post is the Threat to farming and food supply. Higher temperatures from climate change ” — along with salt seepage into groundwater as sea levels rise and anticipated increases in flooding and droughts — will disproportionately affect agriculture in the planet’s lower latitudes, where most of the world’s poor live.” India with a possible 40 percent decline, Africa with a possible 30 to 50 percent decline, and even Latin America is likely to suffer a 20 percent decline in agricultural production. “The United States will experience significant regional shifts in growing seasons, forcing new and sometimes disruptive changes in crop choices… A recent study… concluded that wheat growers in North America will have to give up some of their southernmost fields in the next few decades… That means amber waves of grain will be growing less than 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, and Siberia will become a major notch in the wheat belt.”

  3. Trying to reduce the source of climate change is causing dilemmas for many communities. For example, The Oregonian reports in Oregon and Washington state Emissions goals set; now comes hard part. The states “set aggressive goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but actually meeting those goals could prove much tougher — and more costly — than leaders expect.” The area is booming and coal-fired power plants provide 20 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s electrical supply. “The challenge will be even greater if salmon protections further limit operations of hydroelectric dams… That sets up a troubling Catch-22, in which salmon suffer as global warming raises river temperatures, forcing extra protections that reduce the amount of electricity from dams. If the lost power is made up by coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, they’d release more greenhouse gases that add to global warming.”

    Another pair of tough choices is confronting Fort Collins, Colorado. The New York Times reports that A deeply green city confronts its energy needs and nuclear worries. Two proposed energy projects could help the city meets its goal “to produce zero-carbon energy… one involves crowd-pleasing, feel-good solar power, and the other is a uranium mine… Environmentalism and local politics have collided with a broader ethical and moral debate about the good of the planet, and whether some places could or should be called upon to sacrifice for their high-minded goals.” But, “the solar project… plans to use a new manufacturing process [that] will use cadmium – a hazardous metal linked to cancer – as part of the industrial process.” and the uranium mine would “drill down through part of an aquifer”.

    While The New York Times reports that Chinese dam projects are criticized for their human costs. “Chinese officials have admitted that the dam was spawning environmental problems like water pollution and landslides that could become severe… The rising controversy makes it easy to overlook [that] the Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest man-made producer of electricity from renewable energy… The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Dams are much cleaner producers of electricity, but they have displaced millions of people in China and carved a stark environmental legacy on the landscape.”

  4. Lastly, despite the realty of our changing climate, don’t expect corporations to willingly change their polluting ways. The Guardian reports We’ll fight you all the way, airlines warn EU over carbon-trading plans. “British and other European governments face a long diplomatic battle if they push ahead with plans to include airlines in a European emissions trading scheme, the global aviation body has warned. The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said 170 countries opposed a proposal… to make all airlines flying in and out of the European Union subscribe to the EU emissions trading scheme. Non-EU airlines are lobbying their governments to reject the move, arguing that it will impose billions in extra costs on an industry that makes a global profit of just $5.6bn (£2.7bn)… Carriers have until 2011 to join power stations, refineries and heavy industry in the trading scheme, an integral part of the EU’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its 27 nations by 20% by 2020.”

This is the afternoon’s open thread.

The President as Baseball Manager

In baseball, the objective truth is the best managers only allow your team to win three or four more games a year – out of a total of 162 games played during the regular season.

The athletes on the field are the ones who determine the outcome of the game. After all, there are only so many times you can pull the old ‘double switch’ to your advantage in nine innings.

If your pitchers are on their game, and your hitters do a good job of keeping their eye on the ball, you’ll have a good chance of winning on any given day.

Luck and responsibility

Reading the comments in OPOL’s diary, last night, I was struck, once again, by the sheer dumb luck with which some of us have been blessed. Some, in that thread, discussed their experiences in prison, and it made me wonder how many of us have made mistakes, in life, but managed to avoid serious consequences from them. How many of us have done things that shouldn’t be illegal, but are, without getting caught? How many of us did not live through an era when the government could have grabbed us off the streets for not being willing to go fight a war that never should have been fought- and where we had to choose how to protest and oppose that fact? Luck. But it goes beyond that.

One of the things that seems to define we Democrats, liberals, and progressives, as opposed to the Republicans and conservatives, is that we understand the concept of luck, or random chance. Many Republicans and conservatives tend to think they are entitled to their good fortune, and a good portion even seem to think their good fortune was ordained directly by the Divine. Those who do not have good fortune seem to think they are being punished, or that they can pray or do some sort of penance, to essentially buy good fortune. That’s a fundamental difference between the way they perceive reality and the way most of us perceive it.

To believe you are entitled or ordained to have good fortune is to believe that others- the vast majority of the people on the planet- were entitled or ordained to have bad fortune. It obviates the need for social responsibility. If the good goes to the just and the holy, then those denied the good deserve what they get. It’s actually a pathological way of viewing the world, yet it is taken for granted as legitimate.

When I was thirty years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a type of cancer that has a high survival rate, but it meant I had to undergo brutal chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In the midst of those treatments, when I was bald and frail and in constant pain, a friend asked if I ever wondered “why me?” The thought hadn’t occurred to me. As I told my friend, the thought had actually struck me: why not me? One in three Americans will, at some point, contract cancer. Some of it can be traced to clear causes, and some can’t. It’s random. It just is. Why not me?

Many of us have been very blessed in life. Many of us have had very mixed luck. Many of us have had terrible luck. Many of us have been struck by true tragedies or traumas. I would like to say that we all deserve the good, but I’m more of a realist than that. None of us deserves the good, and none of us deserves the bad. Life is not about just desserts. Life is about what we learn, what we think, what we feel, and what we do. All we can do is try. Try to be better people. Try to make this a better world. Try to muddle on, despite life’s many setbacks.

I do believe that one of the things that defines most Democrats, liberals, and progressives is the recognition that we are all in this together. Those who are more fortunate have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. We all have the responsibility to try to make this world a better place for all, just for our briefly having been here. I think that’s one of the basic reasons why all of us are here, on this site. We have many personal differences, many angry arguments, and many differences in background, lifestyle, taste, and fortune. But we all want to make the world a better place, for everyone. From issues of war and peace, economic and social justice, environmentalism, and everything else, the core of our ethos seems to include the concept that no one is entitled, and no one is ordained. Unless we all are. Either way, it’s up to us to make it happen.

This can be a cruel, cold world. Only we can make it warmer and more welcoming.

Pony Party: Gift Giving

Cross-posted from Top Comments in Orange.

Though I love the festive nature of the holiday season, I’ve come to lament the never-ending frenzy of consumerism that begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends on New Year’s Day. In years past, we’ve given gifts that were made locally or obtained through fair trade practices (at least, to the best of our knowledge). Not surprisingly, these were typically hand-made gifts, rather than the mass-produced melts of plastic available in stores geared toward the masses. This year, rather than get caught up in the consumerism/consumption game, Mr Pickle and I have decided that all of our gifts – given and received – will be charitable donations.

Follow me on the flip for more.

Ending The Iraq Debacle Is Up To the House

I have long said this. Today, I am proven right:

Senate Democrats appear ready to omit Iraq withdrawal timelines from a supplemental spending bill in hopes of clearing in December funds for the troops — but House leaders have no intentions of following suit.

Good for Speaker Pelosi and good for House Democrats. Now who do we have to worry about? The eternal capitulation leaders, Hoyer and Rahmbo. Watch out for them.

Up to 15,000 Dead, 1,000,000 Homeless in Bangladesh

From the Telegraph

Up to 15,000 people were killed and seven million lives left devastated by the cyclone in Bangladesh last week, aid agencies have said as the full extent of the disaster became clear.

The Bangladeshi Red Crescent Society, the country’s main humanitarian group, said that more than 3,000 bodies had already been recovered from villages shattered by Cyclone Sidr’s 150mph winds.

While the official death toll remains low, Save the Children last night said that it feared that 15,000 people could have died while the Red Crescent estimated around 10,000.

Not Alone

BushCo has been Robbing the Cradle of Civilization for more than four years.  His government of the war criminals, by the war criminals, and for the war criminals has the blood of half a million Iraqi men, women, and children on its hands. They have been robbed of their very existence, and the land that was the first to experience the dawn of human civilization has been plunged into the darkness of barbarity.  

Iraq is known as the cradle of civilization, with a record of culture going back more than 7,000 years.  It was there, in what the Greeks called Mesopotamia, that life as we know it today began: there people first began to speculate on philosophy and religion, developed concepts of international trade, made ideas of beauty into tangible forms, and above all, developed the skill of writing.

Fourteen-thousand Friedman Units after human civilization emerged in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, a tribe of Neo-cons also managed to develop the skill of writing, and scribbled this.

The consequences have been horrific. The human suffering inflicted by that blasphemy of democracy they call Neoconservatism has horrified a world that once looked upon America with admiration and respect.  Iraq is not free, it was never meant to be.  Endless war is the Neo-con agenda, oil is their Holy Grail, and Iran is their next target. They wage their wars from TV studios, so they haven’t experienced the human suffering they are responsible for, they haven’t been subjected to the dehumanizing brutality of this war of conquest they have unleashed.  

But many others have.  Many others have walked down that dark road, and have paid the price.  The cost of that journey can be seen in their eyes, and in the eyes of everyone who still has a conscience and tears to shed for the innocent:  

Novak Needs to Resign

(Cross posted at DailyKos)

I saw this over the weekend and filed it in my “dead issue” mental file.

But, today, it is still there!

My question is: why would anyone believe anything that Novak writes anymore? The man should not even be allowed to write a column, even from a jail cell.

He traitorously outed a CIA spy and experienced no charges or reprimand. Now he publishes a little gossip rag and someone actually believes it!!!!! He should put up and shut up. If he has proof, surrender it. If he knows who is planting this trash, expose them or else cease and desist.

Pony Party, NFL Round-up

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