Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Montana: No, Not Joe

I've been doing my best to follow the progress of Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer. He's had a lot of positive press and has won some important battle pushing some positive legislation. Looks like it's paying off:
Schweitzer had a positive job approval score of 57 percent (9 percent rating his effort as "excellent" and 48 percent as "pretty good") and a negative score of 33 percent (26 percent as "only fair" and 7 percent as "poor"), with 10 percent undecided, the poll found. Schweitzer enjoyed higher grades from women, with 60 percent giving him a positive job approval score, compared with 54 percent from men.

...Bush had a 53 percent positive score (20 percent "excellent" and 33 percent "pretty good"), and a 47 percent negative grade (17 percent "only fair" and 30 percent "poor").
I have to admit, I'm pretty excited about what Schweitzer has been doing thus far--of course the Democratic state legislature helps. But this poll is great. Even in the so-called "red states" where Bush had large support, the voters are starting to reject the Republican agenda.

I'm also excited about this guy becoming Governor of New York. (Who, btw, has had some nice words about Phil Angelides' role in fighting AIG.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Summer Reading Lists

I hope this post is somewhat interactive. Campus progress posted summer reading recommendations and blogs elsewhere have asked for recommendations. I love to read and would be interested in other people's suggestions for summer reading. I'll get things rolling.

  • God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis. This is a good book for perspectives on the progressive Christian movement. It's much longer than it should be, but still worth the time to read it.
  • No god but God by Reza Aslan. I'm just about finished with this very interesting book. It provides a historical context about the Koran and Islam generally. Well written and short enough to finish quickly.
  • Living History, the Hillary Clinton auto-biography. A nice departure from all the right-wing vitriolic "accounts" of this controversial figure. I enjoyed it more than her hubby's book.
  • My Life, the Bill Clinton bio. Extremely long winded and rather boring for the first third (which is about 300 pages). Once he finally gets to discussing the presidency, it is rather engaging.
  • Perfectly Legal by David Cay Johnston. Eye opening and informative. I'd be surprised if you don't have any reaction after reading it.
  • Blinded By the Right by David Brock. An easily readable account of the "vast right-wing conspiracy". The beginning provides caution to liberals who are over zealous--they led to his conservativism. Also part of the reason that I'm skeptical of a lot of anti-Bush stuff coming out these days.
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. A discussion on how American history is taught in high school. Great for those, such as myself, who were unable to take many history classes as an undergrad. Since reading this, I've developed a huge fondness for history.
  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. There are four books in the series and are all hard to put down once you get started. You can finish all of them in a week if you tried.
  • Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle. A novel about two couples: one an upper middle class liberal couple; the other illegal immigrants trying to survive.
I've got a few books in my queue, but I'm hoping you all give me some others to add to it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Mandate Schmandate

Not that anyone here needs convincing that Bush doesn't have much of a mandate, but the latest Greenberg poll provides even more evidence. It does have some interesting tidbits:
Progressives are positioned to become champions of a family threatened by economic pressures – ranging from stagnant wages and health care costs, loss of retirement security and lack of time to raise children. Voters at present are more drawn to those family priorities (52 percent) than one that emphasizes “family values,” focused on gay marriage and abortion, the culture of sex and violence and kids not learning personal responsibility (38 percent).
Since the early 70s, the average family works 20 more weeks per year. That's 800 less hours to spend with the family and take care of the children.

What's even more promising is that we are starting to reject the principles of the "ownership society":
Finally, voters are looking at all the uncertainty around them and lean toward a worldview that emphasizes community and opportunity over self-reliance and individualism. We know from focus groups that voters actually value both community and self–reliance but when forced to choose, a small majority (52 percent) want an America where people pull together and pursue policies that expand opportunity and prosperity for all, not just the few. Just 41 percent are content with a focus on self-reliance, limited government and low taxes so business and individuals can prosper.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

House Parties...

Yesterday evening I spent three hours welcoming and thanking 30 or so wealthy Silicon Valley Democrats at a house party to raise money for a Democratic cause. It was my first fundraising event and I had been briefed in advance that there would be a lot of money changing hands and that the people attending the party would be some of the most influential people in the Valley. Originally I thought I wouldn't mind the whole situation, but now that I think about it, the whole scene was very wierd. By wierd, I mean uncomfortable. After leaving, I kept wondering, will the candidate be beholden to these influential and wealthy executives? When these men and women reach their state-imposed limits of $23,000, will there money be transformed into special favors?
I had never had any strong feelings about campaign finance reform; but after seeing the ease with which these millionaires wrote $1000-$10,000 checks, I thought to myself, there must be something motivating them besides simply how great the candidate is. Does social justice motivate them to contribute? Or does the hope of having a representative that supports their causes worth giving up a few grand?

Perhaps I am too cynical. Maybe there generous people are motivated to cure the inequalities of this world. Maybe this candidate really does have a solution to California's problems...I guess only time will tell whether or not taking large donations from the high tech millionaires and billionaires of the Sillicon Valley will influence policy in the future - not to mention the outcome of the election.

They're at it Again...

OK, if you're Karl Rove and the facts are damaging the credibility of your party and movement, what's the best way to save yourself? Remove the credibility of the messengers. I mentioned not too long ago my apprehension about the Newsweek affair, but now it seems as though they are going after the Washington Post.

I hate sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but I'm significantly frightened by the trajectory our nation is heading in. According to Reuters, there was more than one source for the Post article:
The Washington Post, citing accounts given by federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported that Rumsfeld had given the military authority to take the action, if necessary, against the diminutive Cessna 150 that had wandered into restricted airspace over the Washington area.
Of course, a Pentagon spokesman (read spin doctor) denies the charge. And, surprise, surprise, Scotty McClellan is having a fit.

This appears to be an attack on "anonymous" sources. Now, since whistle blower safe gaurds are weakening, if anonymous sources are not used, we have no check on the government at all. I hope I'm just being paranoid, but this reaks of a Karl Rove move.

Draft Warren

I don't always get a chance to read TomPaine.com these days, but since I mentioned Warren Beatty's speech on Schwarzenegger a while back, I was interested to see what he had to say this time around. Since it's pretty obvious that Mr. Beatty watched the Hardball Episode when he was here at Stanford, I'd like to take credit for him mentioning "girly men" and "stooges":
But now that he's a politician, I say, why not rise to the higher levels of that calling, rather than denigrate your fellow politicians, calling them "stooges" and "girly men" and "losers." They give years of their lives to public service in the legislature of what is intended to be a representative form of government, where public policy on decisions affecting 38 million people's lives are adequately discussed — not a government by ballot initiatives financed by huge advertising monies that bypass a careful examination of a bill by the people's elected representatives.

Can't we accept that devotion to the building of the body politic is more complex and a little more sensitive than devotion to body building? Does that make me a "girly man"?
Even if I'm not responsible for his use of "girly men" and "stooges", I'm glad someone is taking Schwarzenegger to task on it. I know people in Washington and Sacramento who work really hard. I also know hard working people--who make our economy work--that are struggling financially and trying to provide for their children. So it is offensive to me when someone calls these people "stooges" or "girly man" to demean them, even it it a joke.

I think Beatty nails it on the head with his "Schwarzenegger Republican" comment, but I liked his Lloyd Bentsen:
Bipartisanship? We don't have it here. And let's not mistake the exploitation of the name of one of the greatest liberal families in American history for bipartisanship. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Governor, you're no Kennedy Democrat. [My emphasis]

Stop trying to milk the illusion of bipartisanship. You are a conservative Republican who likes to have a few Democrats around for show.
I threw the last two sentences in because I think it will be important in the upcoming gubernatorial primary--at least it would be if I were involved in the Angelides campaign (hint hint).

As a fellow "girly man", I'd love to see Beatty run for Governor. He'd immediately be a close second on my list. A few reasonable policy position papers and he might even be number one. I especially like his strong union support! (More on that later.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Judge Fight Not Over

Just because the filibuster is safe for now doesn't mean that the battle is over. The three judges that will get votes forced on the Senate are not the best that our country has to offer. Take a hop on over to NARAL Pro-Choice America to find out why they are bad for choice. Of course, this debate really isn't about choice. These judges are extreme "corporatists"--putting corporate America ahead of Americans. People for the American Way has more info. Democracy Now had a good discussion last Friday, check it out.

There is slim possibility that we can avoid having some of these judges confirmed. There are some moderate Republicans who may vote against some of these judges. Even getting only one or two GOP Senators will be an important symbolic victory. Though I'm inclined to think the only reasonable possibility is Arlen Specter, it is worth getting our friends and family to contact all the same senators we contacted to save the filibuster.

Monday, May 23, 2005

FILIBUSTER DEAL

SENATE REACHES COMPROMISE

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Porn Star for Lt. Governor?

Since I've been reading Reza Azlan's No god but God--a great book so far--I forgot to throw my $0.02 worth on the possibility of Schwarzenegger having a porn star, Mary Carey, as his Lt. Governor:
Carey's boss, hard-core porn producer Mark Kulkis of Los Angeles, has ponied up $5,000 for two tickets to a National Republican Congressional Committee event called the President's Dinner and Salute to Freedom. Kulkis, who locked in his tickets by credit card yesterday, tells us he will take the 24-year-old Carey (real name: Mary Cook ) as his date.
What does Ms. Carey plan on doing?
Contemplating a run for California lieutenant governor next year, the voluptuous actress says she hopes to network with GOP officials here. "I'm especially looking forward to meeting Karl Rove," she cooed in a statement. "Smart men like him are so sexy."
OK, no crass jokes because it's too easy--and I promised to play nice.

Oh, and Greenspan says beware the housing "froth".

Friday, May 20, 2005

Because people need to know...

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

Some people were rather upset over allegations by Newsweek of desecrating the Koran. I wonder how they'll respond to murder. The Times today has a detailed report of some of the interrogation techniques which led to multiple deaths of Afghan inmates in American facilities.
Last year I did a project on Abu Ghraib prison, before many of the details about the treatment of prisoners had been released. One could only imagine what was going on within its walls. Honestly, I couldn't bring myself to imagine it this bad.
By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

To torture and murder people, not even presumed guilty, but presumed innocent, is horrible beyond description. And the fact that high level officials knew about it - that's beyond words.
I wonder about the ramifications of this type of activity. Have our standards towards the treatment of prisoners changed and will they stay that way? Will this set the precedent that the United States condones torture? Will the people of our country, who cling so strongly to our American principles, let this prison remain open and allow these procedures to remain unchecked? We are struggling not only to win with our bombs, but to win the hearts and minds of people in this region of the world. I would like to challenge the Commander in Chief to do a better job. And I would like to apologize for my government and military engaging in these types of acts. For what it's worth.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Santorum: Democrats are like Hitler

Ah, how refreshing it is to see that a tone of civility has been restored in the Senate. Here's how Sen. Rick Santorum characterized Democrats' opposition to destroying the filibuster:

"....the audacity of some [Democratic] members to stand up and say, 'How dare you break this rule?' It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me?"

You're right Rick, that's EXACTLY what it's like...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I smell a veto brewing...

President Bush is the first president since like Millard Fillmore never to veto anything, but it appears as though that is soon going to change.

Republicans moderates in the House have succeed in getting Speaker Hastert to agree to a vote on a bill overturning Bush's prohibition on federal funding for stem cell research. The bill has a whopping 199 co-sponsors (a bill only needs 218 votes to pass) so it's probably a sure bet unless Republicans manage to do something fishy like attach a poison pill amendment. A similar bill also has strong support in the Senate (should have enough to overcome a filibuster), and Republican Orrin Hatch says he can manage to bring it to the floor over Frist's objections.

Bush has pledged to veto. My bet is even if the Democrats decide to shut down the Senate in the wake of the nuclear option, they'll let this bill go through, if for no other reason then so they can see the headline in the paper the next morning and watch his numbers tank some more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Making the Most of the Situation

You have to love how the White House, Republicans and right-wing like to scapegoat. I hesitate to mention the coverage of the Newsweek "retraction" since it's so bad. I'll leave that to Brian Montopoli. It's so much easier to blame the SCLM (So Called Liberal Media) for the "recent" demonstrations in the Muslim world than to mention the three and a half years of failed policy in Afghanistan and prison abuse (with photos to prove it). This incompetent Administration can now blame their 3.5 years of gross failure on one sentence (too bad Bush can't be held responsible for his one "yellow cake" sentence).

Interestingly, the last sentence in the front page article in the Washington Post had another possible reason for demonstrations in Pakistan:
Pakistani officials were stung last week when a cartoon in the Washington Times depicted a U.S. soldier patting an obedient dog labeled "Pakistan" after the capture of a senior al Qaeda leader. Dogs are considered unclean by many Muslims.
Of course since this is a right-wing media source they are off the hook.

The Post has FOUR different articles online about this and only ONE mentions that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Meyer, said that the recent demonstrations have nothing to do with the article. Or that the "retraction" is not a retraction of the content, just about the identity of the source. Don't believe me? Check for yourself:
Last Friday, a top Pentagon spokesman told us that a review of the probe cited in our story showed that it was never meant to look into charges of Qur'an desecration. The spokesman also said the Pentagon had investigated other desecration charges by detainees and found them "not credible." Our original source later said he couldn't be certain about reading of the alleged Qur'an incident in the report we cited, and said it might have been in other investigative documents or drafts. Top administration officials have promised to continue looking into the charges, and so will we.
This is a concerted effort to discredit the media generally, make no mistake. There is almost NOTHING that this administration is doing right and the facts are showing that. The only way out of this for the right-wing is to try to discredit the messengers. I don't say this lightly, but our democracy is in a lot of trouble.

Calling All Bloggers

Do you have what it takes to blog? There are a couple national opportunities to give it a try. First, the College Democrats of America are looking for a blogmaster. It would be a good opportunity to work with the CDA. I have to warn that there may be a level of bureaucracy because you may have to get many things approved to post--you are representing the national CDA and by extension the DNC. So no cursing (you know who I'm looking at).

The other opportunity is through Campus Progress. They are having a summer blogathon complete with prizes, including a chance to blog for the highly visited Think Progress blog.

Of course you can always start posting here. It can be fun, even if no one writes comments and is a good exercise.

If you are interested, I recommend reading the article.

Monday, May 16, 2005

So I'm Finally Going to Comment on Our Filibuster

As my first post to our beloved blog, I wanted to write a little bit about my experiences with the Filibuster. I am not one to stand around speaking in front of people, but doing the Filibuster - standing in front of that podium - was awesome. I told many as they passed by that I was single-handedly saving the filibuster and sitting around in White Plaza while everyone spoke at noontime was great. I wasn't really listening, but I don't think the words were really the point, it was more about the noise, although it was quiet noise. I'm rambling now, but, I think the feeling of success that we all felt was not unwarranted. It was great to get comments on our blog from organizers at Princeton, they recognized that our efforts were all that mattered. A poll on CNN this morning said that only 1/3 of Americans are following the Filibuster story. Hopefully our actions on campus raised the level of awareness at Stanford above the national 1/3. I will now end my rambling with a simple wish, that we make more noise in the future!

Put On Your Boxing Gloves

I heard Bill Moyers speech in St. Louis on Democracy Now this morning and it was great. If you haven't read or heard it yet, I recommend checking it out. He was angry but still eloquent. My favorite line: "They might compel me out of the rocking chair and into the anchor chair."

It's great to see him fighting back. You can see pictures of Stanford Dems fighting back at the filibuster. (Make sure to send me pictures so I can post them on the web.)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Income Distribution

Reading Kevin's post about income inequality and browsing through the Paul Krugman article he cites inspired me to take another look at the Piketty and Saez article on income distribution. It's pretty striking and figured I'd pass along some of the information they unearthed.

This first figure is the share of income received by those in the 99.0-99.5, 99.5-99.9, and 99.9-100.0 income groups:

As their share of income goes up, that of everyone else has to go down. In fact, real wages for the middle class has stagnated over the last 30 years or so, while the richest .01% has increased over 5 times. Now I'm all for capitalist incentives, but worry, as Krugman does that we may have a society "whereby a small group of wealthy but untalented children controls vast segments of the US economy and penniless, talented children simply can't compete." If we want to stay economically competitive, then we should help promote our best and brightest, not just those born into wealth. This isn't class warfare, it's just common sense.

Since we seem to love to hate France these days, it's worth seeing how we compare:

Oh, and by the way, France has health care for all.

Friday, May 13, 2005

More Medicaid Madness

If you've read either of my posts on Medicaid, you'll probably realize that for the moment I'm a little obsessed with the issue. Partly because I'm rediscovering my own personal morality of late (as I was working on an article). It's also because I think our treatment of hard working Americans who are struggling to keep up reflects a lot on who we are as a country at this time--and history will judge us accordingly.

Sadly, more bad news on the Medicaid front. In Missouri, their '06 budget plans to cut 90,000 people from the program:
"This leaves 90,000 Missourians living below the federal poverty level without access to health care. Improved revenue from economic growth alone will not reach the level needed to provide basic services to Missourians."
It's about priorities. (I'll get on Schwarzenegger's case over Medi-Cal later.)

Some will like to say I'm trying to increase the "welfare state", but they probably forget to mention the corporate WELFARE that is taking place now that United Airlines is defaulting on their pensions. (What's worse is that the CEO of United is trying to bully the workers to prevent them from striking. But don't get me started on that road.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

An abdication of duty

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to send John Bolton's nomination to the full Senate, but without a recommendation. However, what's most outrageous about the situation is the action of Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH).

Before the vote today, Voinovich said he had "come to the determination that the United States can do better than John Bolton." Not only that, but Bolton was "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be." For a final nail in the coffin, he asked "What message are we sending to the world community? We have sought to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, and of bullying those who do not have ability to properly defend themselves. Those are the very characteristics that we are trying to dispel."

So to sum up Voinovich's thoughts, Bolton is basically the WORST possible United Nation's Ambassador. BUT, then Voinovich said he had no right to "impose my view" on the full senate, and thus he wouldn't vote against sending Bolton's nomination to the floor. Excuse me, but what is the point of even having committee hearings if you can come to the conclusion that a nominee is absolutely unqualified and would do a horrible job in his potential post and then vote to let his nomination proceed nonetheless? Voinovich's logic renders the committee process a completely futile waste of time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Filibuster Stories Go Here

Got any filibuster stories? Post them here.

Quick update. As Bobby menioned, there is a passing reference to the Stanford Filibuster. We put our Filibuster for the Filibuster flyer on our website and will include photos as soon as they are available. If you take any pictures you want on the web, feel free to send them to me.

Check out the Stanford Students for Choice filibuster flyer and make sure to read Marie's earlier post.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Filibuster for the Filibuster

To all those who signed up to help with this event, thank you. I'm excited and you should be too. I wanted to post this, Bobby wrote it, and it will be our talking point at the podium from Noon Wednesday May 11th to 1pm Thursday May 12th. Please be at White Plaza as much as you can. Post any ideas for the Filibuster here!!

We rise today to assert the most fundamental of the democratic principles laid out by our nation’s founders: the right to speak.

For the last four years, President Bush has appointed reactionary judges to fill lifetime vacancies in the federal judiciary. While many of these appointments are vastly out of the mainstream, Senate Democrats have typically deferred to the President’s choices—over 200 have already been confirmed.

But a mere ten of President Bush’s nominees are simply too openly hostile to the progress this country has achieved over the past five decades. They are aggressively anti-civil rights and completely unsympathetic to racial discrimination lawsuits. They are unapologetically opposed to Roe v. Wade and to laws aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. They pride themselves in their opposition to further victories for gay rights and they consistently side with big business over hardworking American consumers and workers. These few ideologues are single-mindedly fixated on forcing their radically regressive agenda on a tolerant America. Just like the Republicans blocked over SIXTY of President Clinton’s nominees in the ’90s, Democrats have used the filibuster tactic to block these ten (and ONLY these ten) from receiving lifetime appointments.

As I stand before you, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the rest of the Republican majority in the Senate prepare to detonate what they themselves have called the “nuclear option,” a tactic that would exploit a loophole in Senate procedures to unilaterally eliminate the filibuster. Over these ten nominees out of 214, Senator Frist is prepared to reverse two centuries of Senate tradition and eliminate any hope for bipartisan cooperation in our nation’s capital. The right of the filibuster was designed to make the Senate a more rational, deliberative institution that would rise just a little bit above raw partisan politics. But Frist’s crusade is purely partisan politics. He seeks to subvert the will of a clear majority of Americans who support the right of unlimited debate, the right of women to choose, and the right of millions of lesbian and gay Americans not to be relegated to second-class citizenship. Frist ultimately has his sights set on packing the Supreme Court will ultra-conservatives as Justices Rehnquist, O’Connor and possibly others retire in the near future. This catastrophic outcome cannot be permitted.

And so, every single Senate Democrat along with a few sensible Senate Republicans like Senator John McCain and Senator Lincoln Chafee have stepped up to defend the time-honored traditions of compromise and minority rights in the Senate. For as long as we manage to stay standing, we intend to support their cause. All night and all day, one of us will remain here at this podium, proudly reciting the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, our IHUM reading, some Dave Barry column we thought was funny, or whatever else we feel like spewing. We urge you to join us as we exercise and assert the right for even the minority to speak about whatever they damn well please. Sign up to take your turn up here at the podium, or come over and we’ll get you the information you need to write a letter to your senator asking them to vote with John McCain and Lincoln Chafee to support the rights of the minority. We know that we will not win every fight for every cause. But we will speak.

And with that, I return to our regularly scheduled tirade of random bullshit.

Ten Steps Backward In New Hampshire

What do you do to people who have no source of income? Charge them for Medicaid:
Under the New Hampshire proposal, families with no income would have to pay $10 a child per month, up to a maximum of $30. Families who have some income but are still in the lowest category would pay as much as $20 a month, for a maximum of $60.
The rationale:
Supporters of the proposal say tough fiscal times demand tough solutions. They argue that making the poor pay would make them thriftier health care consumers.
Personally, I never understood the "making health care harder to obtain will remove frivilous trips to the doctor and save the system" argument. These people have yet to show me decent evidence that the frivilous trips to the doctor are really part of the problem--as opposed to say the large percentage of costs dedicated solely to administrative causes.

And of course
"Five dollars to a poor family is like $100 or $500," said Franklin, a Democrat. "It is not that they do not care for their children, it is simply that they do not have the money."
Compassionate conservativism at its best if you ask me. I'm beginning to despise conservativism more and more every day. As the battle heats up over judicial nominees, I have to ask where the Christians are who claim to value life. If they read Matthew 25 and took it seriously, they would be making a fuss out of this. Sadly, valuing life doesn't seem to be important if it's not politically advantageous.

Simple solution: Change the 35% marginal rate back to 39%. While you're at it, restore the free loader estate tax cut.

A Step Forward For Healthcare in Maine

Maine's Democratic Governor, John Baldacci, has just expanded the state's Medicaid coverage to include up to 10,000 more people.
Parents whose income is between 150 to 200 percent of federal poverty -- or $29,000 to $39,000 for a family four -- are now eligible for Medicaid coverage. The money to cover them will come from the Dirigo Health fund, which has about $47 million left in it from a one-time pot of aid provided to the state by the federal government.
When Bush had a projected surplus in '01 he chose to give most of it back to the super rich--less and less will be going to the middle and upper-middle class thanks to his trickery with the alternative minimum tax.

To me, this is an example of priorities. If Bush's response and actions represent conservativism, I want nothing to do with it. If increasing the number of people in poverty and without health care is conservativism, than I want nothing to do with it. I'm glad to see some people, like Gov. Baldacci, having the courage to give a break to those most in need. Balancing a budget at the expense of the vulnerable is morally reprehensible. You don't even have to go to church to have that view.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Too good to be true.....

To deviate from anything of substance, I came across this quote from Tom DeLay a couple days ago. I'm not even going to try to comment on it, because any joke I make wouldn't do it justice...I'll leave the punchline to Jon Stewart.

"Just think of what we could accomplish if we checked our pride at the door, if collectively we all spent less time taking credit and more time deserving it," DeLay told the group. "If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."

What a difference 36 seconds make...

From The Washington Post:

"It's all done in a bipartisan way with significant Democrat votes."
-- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) on Wednesday, discussing recent achievements by House Republicans

"We have an opportunity to enact a broad comprehensive reform agenda, and, regardless of the efforts of the minority party, we're going to seize that opportunity."
-- DeLay, 36 seconds later

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Speaking of Talking to God

It seems as though you can't go to church if you are not a Bush Republican. Sometimes is seems as though no one who goes to some of these churches is bothering to read Matthew 25 anymore. As someone who has read the Christian Bible at least half a dozen times, I can say quite definitively that there is no mention of it being a sin to vote for John Kerry or Democrats. It seems as though it's more convenient to preach something that's not in the Christian Bible than the ~3,000 references to poverty that is referenced. It's important to practice what you preach, but it's also important to preach more than what's convenient--the same goes for non-religious people.

On another disturbing note, I finally saw a commercial for the new Star Wars movie. Seventy five percent was fancy graphics and 25% was actual plot line. I had been holding out hope that this last one would be better than the previous two, but it seems as though I was wrong.

Friday, May 06, 2005

When the President Talks to God

Thought you might enjoy this little clip...
Bright Eyes

Thursday, May 05, 2005

UK elections

OK, I could talk about the closeness of the Labour win over in the UK, but I'm not British and it's their business. But I'd like to point those who haven't seen it yet some of the adds the three major parties have.

Something to ponder: Is the "progressive-indexing" Bush proposed for S.S. really so progressive? I mentioned previously how I was shocked that Bush is being called a Robin Hood. The more you delve into the subject, the more you find out how sinister the proposal is and how it will fit nicely into the anti-government strategy. I'll give my not so subtle take on the issue if anyone cares to read about it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Practice What You Preach

Ron Sidler provides food for thought:
[B]efore evangelical political activists develop grandiose plans to transform America—or liberals succumb to fears of some new Dark Age—we need to ponder some painful facts. (My emphasis)
On the surface, after reading this article (and the many others like it), it is easy to laugh and point out hypocrisies. But why not focus on the issues. For instance:
In the last ten years, several million of the most devout American evangelical youth have signed the “True Love Waits” pledge to abstain from sexual activity until marriage—but a massive recent study found that 88% had broken their promise.
We should be working on ways to reduce unwanted pregnancies and STDs amongst evangelical youths who apparently have more time to get some than I do these days. If you have been following the papacy you probably know that the Catholic church is moving more and more towards wanting acceptance of birth control. Why not quote this statistic next time you are in a debate to make your case stronger.

I think this is a huge part of the problem that's been exploited ever and over again by the Republicans:
And when it comes to racism, Lord have mercy. In a Gallup poll survey on how people respond to having a black neighbor, evangelicals were more racist than everybody else.
This is an issue that I don't know how to address. I can personally say that racism is very real in this country, but we are going to have to figure a way to beat it. I have a haunch that working with church leaders is a great way, and probably necessary--you can't legislate anti-racist sentiment. Heck, religious people of all stripes helped join in the fight for civil rights legislation. Unfortunately, we seemed to have lost our motivation since then.

Of course, there is promise:
In mid January, over one hundred evangelical leaders wrote to President Bush urging him to do more to empower poor people in his second term. Last October, the National Association of Evangelicals (the largest evangelical network in the U.S. representing 30 million evangelicals) adopted a new document as its official framework for its political engagement. “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” warns against uncritical patriotism, condemns one-issue politics and insists that “faithful evangelical civic engagement must champion a biblically balanced agenda”-defined in this document, not only as promoting religious freedom, strengthening the family and protecting the sanctity of human life, but also as seeking justice for the poor, protecting human rights, seeking peace and caring for creation.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Gem from dinner conversation

Friend: [...] Race isn't a real thing. It's socially constructed. If everybody stopped believing in it, it would cease to exist.

Kai: Socially constructed things can be real. The dollar and the constitution are both socially constructed.

Friend: Yeah, but as we move away from the era in which race was traditionally defined, people will stop believing in it. It won't have any meaning anymore.

Kai: Under this administration, you could say the same about the dollar and the constitution.

Praise for the Administration

I knew if I looked long and hard enough, I could find something Bush is doing (or allowing) that I thought was the right move. I almost skipped an NYT article about increasing prosecutions for safety violations:
This new approach addresses a chronic weakness in the regulatory system - the failure of federal agencies to take a coordinated approach toward corporations that repeatedly violate the same safety and environmental regulations. The E.P.A. and OSHA in particular have a history of behaving like estranged relatives. Yet the central premise of this unfolding strategy is that shoddy workplace safety often goes hand in hand with shoddy environmental practices.
From the looks of it, it seems sensible. One way to reduce workman's compensation bills is to make sure that your workplace is safe and your workers are properly trained.

So, at long last: Good work, Mr. President! Please follow through.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Rifts in the Conservative Coalition, Part II

You should definately all check out this great NY Times op-ed by Frank Rich. It references a new book about "South Park Conservatives" (written by a conservative who apparently thinks South Park is the Comedy Central equivalent of Rush Limbaugh...I knew I never liked that show...) to demonstrate an increasingly expanding rift between the two factions of the Republican party on polar opposite sides of "the culture wars." If the idea of a book about "South Park Conservatives" doesn't interest you enough in the article, perhaps these snip-its will:


Though heavenly angels decree that "God intended Kenny to die" rather than be "kept alive artificially," they are thwarted by Satan, whose demonic aide
advises him to "do what we always do - use the Republicans."



And so Big Brother can intervene to protect our kids from all that geriatric Holocaust porn.



Of course "South Park" is also on this hit list: the Parents Television Council, the take-no-prisoners e-mail mill leading the anti-indecency charge, has condemned the show on its Web site as a "curdled, malodorous black hole of Comedy Central vomit."

Gee, I wonder what kind of ratings The Daily Show gets from the Parent's Television Council....