The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. - Bertrand Russell
6:00am: OK campers, rise and shine! And don't forget your booties 'cause it's cold out there today!
I wish to thank LLC and Journal Communications for this blogging opportunity...it has been an education.
However, for me to stay would be akin to repeating Bill Murray's character's mistakes in the movie "GroundHog Day".
I do not wish to participate in, nor validate, dialogues involving consistently uninformed opinions and slanderous invective from a couple of self-righteous fools (Jim Hayett & Amy Geiger-Hemmer) over and over and over again.
Real discourse involves listening...something of which these radical, fascist morons are incapable. I validate their stupidity with my presence on this site (Have I been TOO descriptive...?).
REAL Conservatives are worthy of respect..they simply look at things differently than Liberals; yet we are ALL Americans.
Locally, despite his bewildering denial of climate change, we have our own Al Neuhauser, who presents his opinions thoughtfully and gives thoughtful responses.
At the national level we have Ted Olson who, despite winning Bush v. Gore for the Republicans, is a man of great principle and is taking his belief in individual liberty, human rights and dignity all the way to the Supreme Court in his defense of Gay Marriage.
I look forward to seeing those still interested in actual intellectual exchange, mutual listening, SOME silliness, and better citizenry through discourse, at my new blog:
Spinoza's Disciple http://spinozasdisciple.blogspot.com/
6:01am: Something is different. Anything different is good.
I had such hope 1 year ago.
Obama gave me that hope….and now he has killed it.
I honestly thought that Obama would be a true progressive and, with a focus on health, education and energy, would help a moribund America reclaim its leadership role in the world.
Instead, it looks like, for the foreseeable future, the world's leadership role will belong to the dynamic and growing European Union, with China providing everyone cheap goods (...until its sex-selective abortion practices and skewed-to-the-male population imbalance results in the same thing you get every time a mammal population has more males than females; increased aggressiveness. Look for a land war in Asia in the near future).
America has become the modern Rome…with excessive military commitments, high income disparity and economic stagnation.
It did not have to come to this.
IF Obama had used the bully-pulpit to decry the abuses of the last 8 years, and remind people that popular policies are not always good policies…
IF Obama had castigated the pre-Depression economic mentality of the Republicans and reminded people that the private sector can only thrive with sound rules, regulations and boundaries put in place by a strong yet cooperative public sector…
IF Obama had hired Paul Krugman or Paul Volcker for Treasury instead of Tim Geitner...
IF Obama had presented his stricter banking rules in January, 2009 instead of January, 2010…
IF Obama had offered a focused, progressive message on health care outlining the private sector economic benefits of a public sector health insurance program, instead of letting Congress perform its legislative sausage-making in public…
IF our political culture had not been so corrupt, with politicians running on fear and dollars...
IF the media had not surrendered its First Amendment duties in pursuit of profits...
…we might not still be the Second Rome.
A president has a brief window of opportunity at the beginning of his or her administration to spend political capital. The ruthlessness of the corrupt American election cycle demands nothing less.
But Obama didn't.
I wonder if Obama can see the barbarians at the gate…like Marcus Aurelius before him...
Finally...here is a little something to make you laugh...before you start to cry.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Indecision 2010 - The Re-Changening|
(I am going on hiatus now, at the beginning of these Dark Ages...I shall return at the beginning of the Renaissance...which if history holds, will be in about 1200 years.)
Today's Supreme Court decision regarding campaign financing and political contributions is an interesting one…because I find myself agreeing with both Justices Kennedy and Stevens.
Justice Kennedy states, ""Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy -- it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people -- political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence."
Justice Stevens, dissenting, states, "The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case."
Last Summer, I wrote a piece on this…and I include it below for your consideration. Considering the volatility of the political environment right now, perhaps it has a chance of passing.
Let me know what you think...
If I have written this correctly, and I doubt it, then the following proposed amendment to the Constitution would have the following effect:
- Citizens could only contribute to their candidate for Representative, their candidates for Senator, and their candidates for President or Vice President (or more precisely, their "Electors").
- Citizens could contribute as much of their own money as they wanted to said candidates.
- Citizens could not contribute as part of an organization, union, PAC or other such group...only individual contributions would be possible.
- Vast, non-individual person sums spent on campaigning would be a thing of the past.
- Politicians could concentrate on legislation, not campaigning for funds.
- Campaigns would be more courtly, less denigrating to all involved, and less insulting to the citizenry.
We elect individual people...it's time they were restricted to individual contributions...and ONLY from those whom they propose to represent.
I present, for your consideration, an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The right of individual citizens of the United States to contribute, financially or otherwise, to any candidate in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall be restricted to those candidates providing direct representation.
The right to contribute, financially or otherwise, is restricted to individual citizens. No organization, private or public, may contribute to any candidate, nor may individual citizens act in conjunction for the purpose of contribution.
Primary residency is to be considered authoritative in determining a citizen's candidates providing direct representation.
Here's Jon, calling Fox News out, as usual, on its hypocrisy...ENJOY.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Fox News Covers Scott Brown's Victory|
The Republicans are rejoicing in their candidate's victory in Massachusetts tonight. Senator-elect Brown constitutes the 41st member of the Republican Senate Caucus, and thus cloture on any vote necessitates 60 votes to end debate.
Obviously, the Republicans plan on blocking Health Care Reform.
Do the Republicans realize their actions are unconstitutional?
Here are the facts regarding the filibuster:
First, Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states: "Each house may determine the rule of its proceedings." The Senate rule in question, Senate Rule 22, determines that a 60-vote supermajority is needed for "cloture," or the end of debate.
Second, The Constitution requires supermajorities in only a few special cases: ratifying treaties; ratifying constitutional amendments; overriding presidential vetoes; expelling members of Congress; and impeachments.
Third, Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution expressly says the vice president is the presiding officer of the Senate, and should cast the deciding vote when senators are "equally divided".
Fourth, Article II, Section 2 grants the President the authority to appoint officers, "with the advice and consent of the Senate."
FINALLY…Article I, Section 5, Clause 1 states that "…a Majority of each (house) shall constitute a Quorum to do business."
Let me address each point in order.
First, while each House may determine its "proceedings," Senate Rule 22 is merely a procedural rule. Before 1975, the rule required 67 votes for cloture, and a filibuster actually necessitated a senator to speak until they literally keeled over from exhaustion. Senate Rule 22 does not appear in the Constitution, and unlimited debate did not exist until Vice President Burr presided over the Senate in the early 1800s. The revised Rule 22 in 1917 was meant to stop unlimited debate, but the revision in 1975 does not require senators to keep talking; there is in fact no debate.
Second, in the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton or John Jay defend a particular supermajority rule, but they do so at great length; it is as if there is an obvious sense of guilt over the departure from majority rule.
Third, the "procedural" filibuster does an "end run" around this constitutional requirement, which presumed that only truly contested bills would be tied. The filibuster disenfranchises the vice president, eliminating one of the vice president's only 2 Constitutional functions. Indeed, Federalist # 68 specifically argues against a sitting member of the Senate being the presiding officer in place of the vice president. The vice president was obviously viewed as part of the system of checks and balances on abuses by the Legislative Branch.
Fourth, there is no rationale for a filibuster when the Senate acts under Article II. The Senate's role is to accept or reject presidential nominees, not to delay what is fundamentally an Executive Branch function…that is, filling office vacancies. As Professor David Crockett of Trinity University, San Antonio has said, "It is inappropriate for the Senate to employ a delaying tactic normally used in internal business…the construction of legislation…in a non-legislative procedure that originates in a co-equal branch of government."
Finally…why would the Constitution state that only a majority is needed to constitute a quorum to do business? Obviously, the Founding Fathers were concerned about no-shows for a number of reasons…not the least of which was the time it took for the first legislators to travel by horse and buggy to reach the capital.
The bigger reason, however, was to keep a minority from walking out and blocking a majority vote. In Federalist #75, Alexander Hamilton dismissed supermajority rule for a quorum: "All provisions which require more than a majority of any body to its resolutions have a direct tendency to embarrass the operations of the government and an indirect one to subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority."
It is illogical for the Constitution to preclude a supermajority rule with respect to a quorum while allowing it on an ad hoc and convenient basis anytime a minority wishes to block a vote. However, that is EXACTLY what Rule 22 does.
For the record, I hate the filibuster, whether used by Democrats or Republicans. The House and Senate produce legislation, and we must respect the results of elections and the effect those election results have upon the laws of our country.
For the record, a majority of House Members and Senators support Health Care Reform.
A Republican minority wishes "…to embarrass the operations of the government" and "…subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority."
For the record, Republicans are acting unconstitutionally.
P.S. Anyone who says "Naa-Naa-Boo-Boo, we don't care…we stopped the Democrats, YAY!"…has proved my point, and elevated the mis-use of power over the rule of law.
(A large amount of credit for the collation and elucidation of these arguments against the filibuster belongs to Thomas Geoghegan, Kevin Drum from Mother Jones, and William Kristol from The Weekly Standard.)
I invite all to discover what they are, politically.
At http://www.politicalcompass.org, my results are Economic Left/Right: -6.25, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36.
In other words, I am a Left Wing Libertarian.
There are no wrong answers to this quiz. Simply take the test, and report your results in the comments.
The state of political dialogue in this country has reached a new low.
One need look no further than the pages (or web site) of Living Lake Country to know this is true. Indeed, I myself have forsworn any further discussion with 2 bloggers...because, as Barney Frank stated to a LaRouche supporter at a health care town hall meeting last year, arguing with them would be like "trying to argue with a dining room table".
In this heated political environment, absolute positions are taken. Abortion is always wrong. A woman's right to choose abortion is inviolate. The right to bear arms is inviolate. The prevalence of guns in society leads to killing. Government is the problem. Capitalism is the problem.
Those who take these absolutist positions do not understand the nature of the world around them. Or, understanding its nature, they simply battle for political advantage (a recent fivethirtyeight.com analysis shows that it is politically advantageous for Republicans to uniformly oppose President Obama...leading to the conclusion that their opposition has less to do with good policy than trying to win back Congressional majorities, at any cost, including cost to the nation).
Science, at its most basic level, states that the act of observiing disturbs the observed. That is, you can measure a particle's speed, or its position, but not both simultaneously.
There is an absolute reality, or truth, to the Universe; it's just that we never get to see it.
Hence, probability and nuance enter the scene. Probability and nuance are the enemies of simplistic banter, quick sound bites, and easy political phrasing.
The Founding Fathers hoped for an informed electorate to guide the Republic. Indeed, there are informed persons on either side of the political divide today; one need only witness Ted Olson and David Boies standing arm-in-arm for Gay Rights in California to know that divides can be bridged.
But to do so requires thought, concentration, and the ability to listen, REALLY LISTEN, to the opposing viewpoint, without denigrating all liberals as liars or all conservatives as neanderthals.
We can transcend the politics of loud hatred, but we must work together. Democracy is a neverending journey, not a destination to reach nor a status quo to maintain.
Recently, I wrote how former President Bush was NOT responsible for 9/11, but did share responsibility with his predecessors for not solving systemic problems of information-sharing between U.S. intelligence agencies.
I apologize for my error.
You see, I COMPLETELY forgot about the August 6, 2001 classified memo, presented to President Bush, entitled, "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S.".
So, logic dictates that Bush is indeed at least partly responsible for almost 3,000 American dead that day.
Also crying, "Out, Damn Spot!" is Condoleeza Rice...who, through her craven lying in order to ingratiate herself to Bush, has blood on her hands.
"I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile." (This lie was told by Condoleeza Rice to the American people on May 16, 2002.)
George W. Bush himself was given a one-and-a-half page briefing on August 6, 2001. That briefing informed him that Osama Bin Laden's organization was capable of using a hijacked American airplane to conduct a major strike against targets within the United States. Furthermore, a month earlier, the Bush Administration was informed that terrorists had concocted plans to use airplanes as missiles. The truth is that experts did predict that terrorists would use hijacked airplanes as missiles, and those experts told George W. Bush about the threat. George W. Bush sat around and did nothing about it.
When the Bush Administration was confronted with evidence that Condoleeza Rice had lied, and that George W. Bush had received a briefing warning of terrorist plans to use hijacked airplanes as missiles against American targets, Condoleeza Rice said that Bush got the briefing because he had been so concerned about the elevated terrorist threat levels during the summer of 2001. (This lie was told by Condoleeza Rice to the American people on March 25, 2004.)
The Central Intelligence Agency has revealed that the terrorist briefing was in no way solicited by George W. Bush. Instead, the Central Intelligence Agency created the brief without any expression of interest from Bush because they thought that the matter was so critical that the President needed to be aware of the terrorist plans without further delay. The truth is that, in spite of the elevated terrorist threat levels just before September 11, George W. Bush did not bother to ask the CIA to be briefed about the methods Osama Bin Laden could use to kill Americans. Bush was on vacation on his dude ranch that month.
Embarrassed by reports of Bush's lack of preparation for attacks by Osama Bin Laden, Condoleeza Rice said, "In June and July when the threat spikes were so high we were at battle stations." (This lie was told to the American people by Condoleeza Rice on March 22, 2004)
When the Clinton Administration got information about high threat levels for terrorist attacks, Bill Clinton ordered his officials to go to battle stations. Bush's anti-terrorism chief Richard Clarke has revealed that George W. Bush never ordered anyone to go to battle stations, even though the reported threat in the weeks before September 11, 2001 was much higher than anything ever reported during the Clinton Administration. Furthermore, George W. Bush ordered that a program to monitor Al Quaida suspects within the United States be discontinued. The truth is that Bush not only failed to order anti-terrorism officials to battle stations, he lowered America's protections against terrorism just as the terrorist threat was reaching record levels.
"Our [pre-9/11 NSPD] plan called for military options to attack al Qaeda and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets, taking the fight to the enemy where he lived." (Condoleeza Rice told the American people this lie on March 22, 2004)
The commission studying the context of the September 11 attacks found that the NSPD plan referred to by Condoleeza Rice in fact had no military component. Commission member Gorelick has stated, "There is nothing in the NSPD that came out that we could find that had an invasion plan, a military plan." George W. Bush's own Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, admitted to the commission that Condoleeza Rice's claim was completely inaccurate. When Armitage was asked, "Is it true, as Dr. Rice said, 'Our plan called for military options to attack Al Qaida and Taliban leadership'?", Armitage replied "No." The truth is that Condoleeza Rice knew that what she was saying was false. She just made up a claim in order to cover up the failure of George W. Bush to take adequate steps to protect America before September 11, 2001.
Per this penultimate truth, it also seems that all the wing-nuttery regarding Clinton and his lackadaisical approach to terrorism is also totally incorrect.
By the way, the Center for American Progress collated these truths and lies. Before some idiot claims that this is a liberal think tank, let me remind said-idiot that the CAP merely collated this info…it's all in the public record.
Finally, enjoy this Hardball excerpt…it's what got me thinking about this in the first place.
I was driving to work earlier this morning, and heard an interesting piece on NPR.
The discussion centered upon the almost bombing of the NorthWest Airlines flight to Detroit...and what security measures could have been improved.
In addition to increased communication between international intelligence agencies, to say nothing of improved sharing of domestically gathered intelligence, one fact stood out: the ease with which someone can obtain a U.S. Visa.
In the United Kingdom, Visas are not gathered by an immigration/naturalization agency; Visas are granted by MI-5. MI-5 is responsible for domestic security and intelligence (James Bond is part of MI-6), and to support its domestic security mission, MI-5 maintains overseas offices in nations of, shall we say, "interest".
If we did the same thing here in the United States, the FBI would be granting Visas, partly dependent on information it gathered overseas.
Having the FBI be the granting authority for VISAs makes sense to me for two reasons. First, the obvious security benefits that come with a mature, crime-fighting organization considering national security as 1 of the criteria for receiving an American Visa. The second benefit would be the reinforcement of terror suspects as the criminals they are, not some glorified "War on Terror" soldiers.
Of course, the UK has a different governental system that we do....monarchical/parliamentary democracy...the so-called "Westminster" system of democracy. Power is more centralized in the national government than in the U.S., and policy and legislative decision-making is easier (imagine no Senate...or one that was a rubber stamp like the House of Lords). I do not think that those aspects of the UK political culture are necessarily worth emulating. Well, maybe the neutered Senate idea is OK...
But having a security service be the gatekeeper for Visas? In this case, I think America should listen to its mother.
Now....anyone want to discuss El Al's record of terrorist hijacking (only 1...EVER...42 years ago) and the proficiency of its security measures?
So, while the Bush Administration started a justifiable war with limited effort in Afghanistan, and let Osama bin Laden escape from Tora Bora...
And while the Bush Administration launched an unjustifiable war with no post-invasion plan in Iraq, creating a wonderful terrorist-recruitment campaign...
George W. was also laying the groundwork for last month's failed NorthWest Airlines terrorist plot.
First, the Bush Administration never solved the inter-agency rivalries that have plagued U.S. intelligence services since their inceptions. The CIA still guards its secrets...ditto NSA, FBI, Treasury, et cetera. Putting all these agencies in the same evidently useless department without solving these rivalries was a downright sin.
Second, the Bush Administration dropped the ball on Yemen. This is what happens when you put all of your terrorism fighting eggs in 1 basket (Iraq), and do a poor job on the work that matters (Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, etc.).
The Bush Administration faced systemic problems when it entered office. It did little to bend the system over 8 years to improve "the system". After a while, a presidential administration "owns" the system. If Obama doesn't fix things during his term in office, then he, too, will share blame.
9/11 was not Bush's fault...but NorthWest Air 253 almost was.
2 nights ago, sitting around the Miller Inn at the end of the brewery tour, my South African cousin and her husband had a news question: Why so much coverage of the failed plane bombing?
I found it ironic that 2 residents of Johannesburg, perhaps second only to Detroit as the most crime-ridden city on Earth, were incredulous at our American fear-mongering.
"We don't get it...why does your news focus so much on these criminals? They've been stopped, the plane landed....why the fuss?"
"Why do you Americans do this to yourselves?"
THAT is an excellent question. My answer, to the 3 people who read my blog, and to my cousin 2 nights ago was and is: FEAR is a terrible thing to waste.
The news media benefits by whipping up a frenzy of potential loss of life....that's good for advertising revenue.
The Republican Party benefits by whipping up a frenzy of potential loss of life...that's good for (Republican) advertising revenue (political contributions).
Well, I'm calling them as I see them...our media and the Republican Party are mostly cowards.
Lock your door. Buy that gun. Don't talk to strangers....and buy an iPhone!
Welcome to the American Culture of Fear.
By the way...yes, the intelligence on this matter could have been handled better, and yes, Secretary Napolitano suffered from Athelete's Tongue in her mealy-mouthed Sunday morning statements.
But President Obama should be recognized for his gargantuan effort to destroy the American Culture of Fear.
The phrase "War on Terror", thankfully, is not a series of words pouring daily from the lips of Obama Administration officials, like it did from the fear-mongering Bush Administration (seriously, what ELSE did they have to run on?).
President Obama recognizes that, like Europe, we are best served by treating these criminals AS criminals. If we treat them as "soldiers" in a "war on terror", we elevate them...and that only serves their needs.
Implicit in my cousin's questioning, by the way, were 2 acknowedgements.
First, my South African relatives, living in the crappiest city on Earth, do not live in fear, nor do they dwell on fearful things. They have better things to do with their lives.
Second, acts of terror have always been around, will always be around, and pretending we are waging a "war on terror" does nothing useful. Fighting to reduce crime DOES do something useful. Again, Europe is a model for this type of crime control; witness the decimation of previous nihilistic movements, like IRA, ETA, Red Brigade, and so forth...
If we don't live in constant fear, perhaps we can learn from talking to each other...instead of being horrified of some made up Socialist or Fascist conspiracy (I can't remember what day Obama is supposed to wear his lederhosen instead of his Mao cap...).
Cowards huddle in fear. They look for signs of trouble. They fear "The Other".
Americans should shun this Culture of Fear...it demeans us....and if we follow the Republicans, that's exactly what we will get.
Real Americans face this world head on...courageously...without fear.
We have better things to do with our lives.
Unable to prevent a bill in the House, and faced with impending passage of a bill in the Senate, Michelle Bachman and some of her fellow Republicans are praying to "God" to change the minds of senators supporting Health Care Reform.
I think this says several things about Bachman and her fellow "religious" Republicans:
- It shows their utter desperation, pure and simple. It looks like the Democrats will pass Health Care Reform, and all the Republicans have left is the literal "Hail Mary" (pun fully intended)
- It shows the Republicans to be utterly shameless, and without morality, in their approach to government. To them, it's about power, not good policy.
Allow me to expand on this second point. Prayer is a personal, meditative exercise. It's purpose is to communicate with something greater within or without you…to transcend one's personal existence and achieve contact with something greater, something external to oneself.
Prayer could said to be an act of transcendence and compassion.
Using prayer to ask for the defeat of legislation debases prayer…and religion. As Jim Morrison said, "You cannot petition the Lord with Prayer!"
Now, in the highly unlikely event "God" DOES change the hearts of Congress on Health Care legislation, I recommend the following:
- The Democrats need to form an Office of Prayer…so they too can lobby "God" for their pet projects
- It's time to rescind the Establishment and Free exercise clauses from the Constitution…and ask "God" which form of devotion He/She/It prefers…and pass legislation forcing His/Her/Its will on all U.S. citizens
- It's time, as Frank Zappa put it, to "tax the churches". The U.S. Catholic Bishops have already made their case for taxing the churches with their interference in the Health Care debate regarding abortion…if they want to affect legislation, the least they can do is help pay for it.
Praying against...or for...legislation is demeaning to the truly religious...and un-American.
No, it's not perfect….nothing ever is.
But here is what is in the Health Care Bill:
- Insurance companies would be prohibited from denying health coverage based on a pre-existing condition
- Insurance companies would be prohibited from canceling insurance for the sick
- Financial aid would be provided to those who do not get insurance through their employers
- Tax breaks would be given to small employers that do provide insurance
30 million uninsured Americans would thus receive health insurance coverage, and with some serious cost controls and budget deficit reduction measures to boot! That's wonderful!
History shows that flawed social insurance programs improve over time. Social Security and MediCare have improved in their coverage.
Those who want more in this bill should not let emotion blind them to the fact that the benefits mentioned above are real.
Those that are skeptical of this bill should think about what it means to lose or not have insurance, and think of our fellow citizens who are less fortunate.
In the long-run, we Americans are better if we show a little compassion towards each other, and pass Health Care Reform. It's in all our interests.
Ah, 'tis the season…and in our house, that means the obligatory viewing of "A Christmas Story".
I won't condescend here and repeat the storyline of this much-loved holiday classic…but an episode within that movie gave me pause to think about our current political culture.
In "A Christmas Story", Ralphie is tormented by Scut Farcus, a bully with green teeth and yellow eyes (He had yellow eyes!). Ralphie has no alternative but to walk home, every day, pass Scut and his "toadie" Grover Dill…and receive a taunting, or worse.
Of course, Ralphie stands up in the end, and Scut is revealed as the coward he is.
Bullies are cowards.
In our own political world today, we are replete with cowards…from former Vice-President Cheney who received 5 deferments lest he go to VietNam with his classmates, to former President Bush who staunchly defended the Gulf Coast from invasion during that same period….to the Republican members of Congress who rightly fear for relevancy (How CAN you run for office and simultaneously proclaim Government is the problem? Does anybody else see a logical inconsistency here…?).
Oh, the Republicans HAVE stood up for Right, courageously, in the past…and we can all thank them that Slavery no longer exists.
However, since 1865, except for the progressive Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan's forward-thinking 1986 Tax Act (c'mon, the Soviet Union was the walking dead…you know it, and I know it…) Democrats have:
- Saved Capitalism from devouring itself by implementing the New Deal
- Cleverly maneuvered ourselves with Lend-Lease to the UK and throwing down that taunting gauntlet to Japan to, oh, SAVE THE WORLD by waging World War 2
- Eliminated poverty amongst the Elderly with Social Security
- Extended the lives of the Elderly with MediCare
- Extending Voting Rights to African Americans
- Defended the rights of Women to be equal to Men
In each case above, Republicans were staunch in their opposition; Republicans opposed the New Deal, Social Security, MediCare, Voting Rights for African Americans….and we sure don't want to worry the little lady with equal rights. Best go back to the kitchen and fix me a turkey pot pie, honey…
Here is the fact: Republicans represent fear, and fear of change; Democrats represent hope, and change for the better.
The current health care debate raging within Congress is a study in hope and fear. Don't change anything, the Republicans say…let the corporations devour our economy (they are paying for our re-election, anyway).
But, like Ralphie, the Democrats keep walking home…that is, they keep coming back to the health care debate. Why? Because they need to get home…and home is where every American can have access to non-Emergency Room health care, where families do not go bankrupt over medical costs (we are the only industrialized country where that can happen), where employees can go from job to job and not fear losing their health care, and in the process, impede our economy.
By the way, I find it interesting that a former editor of the Harvard Law Review turned down the easy path and did NOT go into a large law firm, or lobbying firm, after graduating, but went to work in the South Side of Chicago.
Barack Obama evidently has no fear.
Being a constitutional scholar, he understands that our system is incremental…and so we taking baby steps home toward Health Care for everyone.
The alternative is to be fearful of change…and to be a coward, like the Republicans.
I choose hope…for a change.
Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1513
I wish to make a political observation.
In 2006, Liberals, affronted by Joe Lieberman's support for President Bush's War in Iraq, supported the insurgency candidacy of Ned Lamont. Mr. Lamont won the Connecticut primary...forcing Senator Lieberman to run as an Independent in order to secure re-election, which he did.
Senator Lieberman never forgot this slight by Liberals in the Democratic Party. Caucusing with the Democrats, he needed only to wait to take his revenge...and now he extracts his pound of flesh...and there is NOTHING Liberals can do to stop it.
Senator Lieberman has an interesting policy resume; he co-sponsored the 1990 Clean Air Act, voted "No" on a Constitutional ban of Same-Sex Marriage (rated 88/100 by Human Rights Campaign), has an "F" from the NRA and a 90% rating from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, supports Stem-Cell Research, and opposed amendments criminalizing flag-burning.
In addition, Lieberman is unwavering in his support for Israel...and concludes that any threat, however pathetic in comparison, like Iraq, must be neutralized. Iraq "threatened" Israel...therefore, Saddam Hussein must be destroyed. But for this one policy position, of which Senator Lieberman was NOT the lone supporting Democrat (Hello, Senators Clinton, Kerry, Reid...), Liberals attempted to destroy him....and failed.
There are still many good things in the Health Care Reform Bill before the Senate that deserve passage:
- Requiring most people to have insurance...and helping those that have trouble paying for coverage
- Creating health insurance exchanges, with 4 different kinds of plans from basic to premium
- Barring insurers from denying coverage or charging people because of pre-existing conditions
- Ending separate rates because of gender
- Limiting how much more an insurer could charge for age
But Liberals can forget about the "Public Option"...it's dead.
Hubris comes with cost (Good-bye, Republican Congress...)...and I admit my own fault on this score. But for Liberals and their bloggers like Huffington Post, FireDogLake, DailyKos and others to supplant Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senatorial Primary....only to see him win re-election...AND expect him to continue to support their most cherished health care position is naive in the extreme.
If Liberals had crushed Lieberman, Senator Lamont would be supporting the Public Option. If Liberals had given Lieberman the same, consistent treatment they gave Clinton or Kerry, it is possible Lieberman would be supporting the Public Option.
Ignorant of the nature and use of political power, Liberals took the short-term view, and did not consider the possible outcomes of their actions.
Senator Lieberman is now avenging himself of ligher injuries.
In 1987, then Vice-President George H.W. Bush proclaimed, when asked as to the equal citizenship and patriotism of citizens who are atheists, responded, "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
I PARTIALLY agree with Dr. Richard Dawkins, speaking at TED in 2002 (www.ted.com), when he states that "...religion is corrosive to science. It teaches people to be satisfied with trivial, supernatural non-explanation and blinds them to the wonderful, real explanations that we have within our grasp. It teaches them to accept authority, revelation and faith instead of always insisting on evidence."
I say I PARTIALLY agree with Dr. Dawkins...because not ALL people who are religious subscribe to a simplistic, literal interpretation of religious belief or texts; Francis Collins comes to mind. Today, unfortunately, most religious people do.
In his speech, Dr. Dawkins went on to reference a meta-analysis performed by Paul Bell for Mensa of 43 studies carried out since 1927 on the relationship between religious belief and one's intelligence or educational level.
Of the 43 studies, all but 4 showed an inverse correlation. That is, the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious.
In another study performed in 1998, a poll was conducted of the "cream" of American scientists...those who had been honored by the National Academy of Sciences. 7% were religious (personal deity), 20% were agnostic....and 73% were atheists.
A different study showed that the more religious the parents, the less intelligent the children.
Let's get back to George H.W. Bush and his bigotry. Mr. Bush felt safe in his bigotry because he knew most people revile atheism....and no wonder. If most people base their sense of personal worth and life purpose on their simplistic religious beliefs, then those that reject religious belief will be rejected themselves. Atheists "threaten" them, because atheists dismiss their religious beliefs.
So, our top scientists and intelligencia, by virtue of their philosophical position regarding the nature of the Universe, are barred from any possibility of election to public office if they were honest about their lack of belief.
Americans, in their insecurity, ignorance and fear, bar the best and brightest from running the nation. Political opportunities in this country are loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest.
What a country!
It's the Holiday season…so, whether you're a Christian, or lit the Hanukkah candles last Monday evening, or are getting ready to celebrate Winter Solstice…or just marvel at the Universe within which we reside….make merry!
Revel in your myths.
Religion IS Myth…but my meaning is not meant to be pejorative.
Myth, or "Mythos" as defined by religious scholar Karen Armstrong, is
"…a story that was not meant to be historical or factual but expressed the meaning of an event or narrative and encapsulated its timeless, eternal dimension." Myths are timeless. Derived from the verb "muein" meaning "to close the eyes or the mouth," it is related to "mystery" and "mysticism".
The opposite of Mythos is Logos, defined by Dr. Armstrong as
"…reasoned, logical and scientific thought". Stoics said Logos referred to the underlying rational, ruling processes of nature.
I bring this dichotomy to people's attention, this difference between Mythos and Logos….because most of us have lost this understanding.
People of the pre-modern world, the Ancients, understood this difference…but that all changed during the Renaissance. Logos, with the power of the printing press, scientific inquiry and technological achievements behind it, started its march forward, culminating today in Quantum Physics, Evolution and the power of the sun almost within our grasp.
This rapid advancement of Logos, or Science, gave people new tools within which to move in the world…and changed they way they thought about the world forever. Armed with this rational mindset, people turned their eyes toward Mythos, or Religion….
…and drew all the wrong conclusions they possibly could about what Religion has to say. It has been said that the foundation of the 3 great Western monotheisms is Compassion. Compassion is an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.
But applying Logos to Mythos will not lead to Compassion. The tools are complementary…however, when one builds a table, one does not use the hammer AND the screwdriver simultaneously…you could hurt yourself.
The Ancients did not read their religious texts literally; they sought out the meaning to be gleaned from the story, the truth that could be divined. And in doing so, achieved a sort of Ecstasy…they were able to "step outside of themselves" and expand their spiritual awareness. They could then better understand others….and become compassionate.
Some of us Moderns read the Bible literally…with devastating consequences. People are scourged for the sex they have, the food they eat…or simply, who they are. Such is the outcome of a literal interpretation of texts. Those that "believe" literally are missing the point of a lengthy, confusing, at times contradictory text…they also are not reading the Bible as originally intended. The Bible was written by men inspired by God…but they were men, and men, however holy, are fallible. How can one expand spiritually, step outside of oneself…and become more compassionate, if one persists in using a screwdriver to put in a nail?
How can children compete with success in a modern world dependent on technology, when parents teach them that the world is less than 6000 years old, that evolution is wrong…that homosexuals are to be shunned…or worse?
When one reads the Bible, or any religious text literally, one finds oneself more often than not agreeing strongly with statements that are already personally held beliefs. One then picks and chooses from this contradictory text (which of the 2 Creation myths do you prefer in Genesis, for example?). A person's bias becomes one's guide to the Bible, and along that path lies fear of those that are different…and idolatry. Selfish, insecure, fearful….understanding of others is cast aside….and compassion lost.
Science is Logos…and is a tool for understanding the world around us. Religion is Mythos…and a tool for understanding ourselves, and through Compassion, others.
So I say, revel in your Myths! Become Ecstatic! Show Compassion toward others!
There are 2 bloggers who persist in commenting on my blog, perhaps with the expectation that I would respond.
"Tain't happenin', Buckwheat.
Let me re-post my position...on August 21 of this year, I commented in both of their blogs:
Friday Aug 21, 2009 2:13 PM
Jim, if Obama and health care reform fail, it's because , as Eugene Robinson has put it, the Republican efforts to obstruct, delay, confuse, stall, distort and otherwise impede the reform agenda that Americans voted for last November have had measurable success. Democrats try to be logical, yet stay too cool. Today's Republicans have no logic, but plenty of death panel passion. Republicans are sheep, and easy to herd...Democrats are cats....smart, yet hard to coordinate.
If Obama DOES fail, he will share some responsibility with you...and Amy....and others who have some delusion of an America that never existed; that cannot accept a Black in the White House (unless its Uncle Tom Alan Keyes), and are blinded by ideological hatred.
Don't bother responding. You are a fool. I am done with you.
Friday Aug 21, 2009 2:18 PM
Ah, like Sean Connery once said on "Jeopardy": "Rough...just the way your mother likes it."
You are a blithering idiot. I'm done arguing with you and Jim. You NEVER have anything intelligent to say.
But don't worry...in 40 years, you'll be a member of a minority...one that better pull itself up by its bootstraps, dammit.
And as the Republican party stump shrinks to Arkansas and parts of the white trash mountains of Tennessee, perhaps America will get real reform. Of course, by then it will be called "Los Estados Unidos" by the majority population.
Suck on that demographic log...beeyatch.
That is my position. I encourage both of you to assume the position.
If you peruse your blogs, you will notice that I have not posted to them since August 21. If you peruse my blog, you will notice I NEVER respond to either of you. You are beneath contempt. After all, I'm a liberal...one of you even implies in his blog title that liberals do nothing but lie. Why WOULD i engage you whatsoever?
You have every right to your opinions...I have every right to ignore it for the steaming piles they are...
So, feel free to post comments on my blog (I can't control the comment content), and clog it with your effluvia...I will never respond.
And, if perchance we EVER bump into each other in public, don't bother saying hi to me. My verbal response will be immediate, cathartic and vindictive.
You may now return to your know-nothing circle jerk.
President Obama has stimulated us...and the verdict of economists across a wide political and ideological spectrum leaves me titillated.
Obama found a frustrated, prone economy, depressed and lacking in any excitement, and has stimulated it to the point that, while not erect and screaming with production, is at least moaning with expectation...
And what does one do in such a situation? I usually say, "Don't Stop!"
There are some, let's call them prudes, who believe that stopping with such stimulation is the ideologically (or morally correct) thing to do. That would only leave our economy depressed...and frustrated...and a little blue.
No...we want more...job programs...infrastructure creation...foundations for a better, more productive private sector...
Oh, yes...stimulate me, Mr. President...more...more...MORE!
This nation is founded on laws, not upon men.
Aside from trying to avoid paying our fair share of taxes to protect the Empire (boy, some things NEVER change, do they?), this country was founded so as to vest political power in the will of the people (plus three-fifths of all other persons), not in the personal will of some potentate given power by virtue of birth...and therefore, chance.
As so eloquently stated by the serf addressing Arthur, King of the Britons, in "Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail":
"Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!"
We Americans pride ourselves on that "mandate from the masses"...in our own peculiar, federalized way...through our implementation of, modification of through legal recourse, and respect for the Constitution of the United States.
We are a nation of laws...and the laws must apply to everyone...or they mean nothing, and we are simply engaging in mob rule and acts of vengeance, not justice.
Believe me, as someone whose former work colleague permanently stopped off at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I can relate to revenge fantasies...my favorite involves Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, Yankee Stadium, several of Michael Vick's less-tame dogs and LOTS of bacon grease...
However, if we apply the same justice to these people, like Khalid Sheik Muhammed, that we would apply to ourselves, we undermine the terrorists by calmly and rationally treating them like the petty criminals they are. Striking out emotionally or acting hypocritically with "rendition" and "water-boarding" and military tribunals helps recruit more terrorists, justifying their own irrationality.
It may come to pass that, during the course of these trials, one of the terrorists is found not guilty, and released. That is what can happen in a court of law. It would be emotionally and politically traumatic.
The price of revenge, however satisfying emotionally, is the soul of our nation. If we do not try these criminals as we would try ourselves, then the terrorists have already won...and our Constitution means nothing.
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