Thursday, August 25, 2005

John McCain in 08? Not So Fast

GOP "moderates" like to throw in token votes against the party every now and then. Of course, when they can really make a difference with their votes they are, ultimately, beholden to their special interests--or at least their true conviction. Check out John McCain on "intelligent design":
As the Gallup Poll noted, McCain has a generally consistent conservative voting record but forged a national reputation after a series of notable breaks with fellow Republicans.

On Tuesday, though, he sided with the president on two issues that have made headlines recently: teaching intelligent design in schools and Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who has come to personify the anti-war movement.

McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes "all points of view" should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.
A lot of Democrats like to support "maverick" GOP candidates (we almost elected the Schwarzenegger clone, Steve Poizner here in AD21) because they say a few nice things. Before rushing to do that it's worth taking a look at who really controls their votes and where their priorities truly are.

Don't Let It Reach 2,000

Kevin Drum has been talking a lot recently about a pubilicly stated exit strategy (most recent, here). As I mentioned a several weeks ago, I agree.

Contrary to the Bush Administration's ludicrous assertions that war critics do not want the U.S. to win the "war on terror" or create a stable Iraq, we're merely asking for a plan to exit promptly and successfully. I don't understand the logic that says if you want a plan for success than you are aiding the enemy and supporting terrorism. Shouldn't we be sending a message that we know exactly how and when we are going to destroy the enemy rather than merely "staying the course"?

If you're a shareholder, wouldn't you expect the CEO to develop a concrete strategy for success? Who wants to invest in a company with no clear objective other than to "stay the course". That's utter incompetence and those who chose to invest in that company are directly responsible for the repercussions. Similarly, supporting a president and not demanding a clear plan because he is a "nice guy" is irresponsible and dangerous. Our priority should be with the troops, not with a failed policy of a "nice" president. (Note to Democratic Leaders: "Support the Troops, not a failed policy". You can even add: "of an ethically challenged GOP that discloses the identity of covert officers".)

I was going to discuss a political strategy, but I'm much more than a little angry that the media is allowing Bush and co. to go around in their choreographed spectacles spewing utter garbage about me not wanting to "win the war on terror" or saying I'm supporting the enemy--or that I want an immediate withdrawal of our troops. I don't support terrorism and I never have. I'm just asking for a winning plan to bring our friends and family back home. Anyone who says otherwise is a LIAR and should publicly apologize. You can criticize my plans, but don't question my commitment to the lives of the troops.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Real John Roberts

No, I'm not going to analyze Roberts' record. Rather, I'll just take Bush at his word when he said he would like a judge in the Scalia or Thomas mold. Essentially, Bush wanted to nominate an extremist (think Condi, Bolton, Wolfowitz, etc.) so we're foolish if we think he has done otherwise. His legacy to this point is going to be an utter failure in the history books, but nominating an extremist who will overturn civil rights, consumer protection and environmental protection laws will give him some of the Reagan appeal. This is where Roberts will have a big effect since O'Connor was the swing vote on these issues (Roe will most likely be safe 5-4).

Of course, for those who think Roe is the only important issue, make sure you read what Jane Hamsher tells us (via Kevin):
And for all those people who are sitting around deluding themselves that Roberts is going to get on the court and do a Souter, Senator Wyden said, "There is no doubt in my mind that John Roberts will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Emperor Is Starting To Look Naked

As the saying goes: You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. That rings quite true with Bush's policies of late. The American Research Group has the Bush's latest approval ratings and as you can see, they are quite bad:
While it's true that no one really cares for Bush's policies except hard core Republicans (over 70% of Indies and 80% of Dems disapprove of Bush's performance), the public is not willing to run to the Democrats just yet.

Dems need to better articulate their legislative agenda. We need our leaders to highlight the health care crisis, job and economic crises, and education crises (more on those if I have time). We also need Sen. Feingold and Gen. Wes Clark to prod the Dems to push for a real plan to hand over a stable Iraq (definitely more on that). While he's at it, Clark needs to continue talking about Foreign policy matters such as Darfur.

And of course, my raison d'etre: poverty. John Edwards is trying to get to work on that. They really need a kick in the rear so sign up and tell them to keep bringing up the issue.

Monday, August 22, 2005

How Stanford Ranks

No, I'm not talking about the boring old U.S. News rankings, but the first ever Washington Monthly College Rankings:
While other guides ask what colleges can do for students, we ask what colleges are doing for the country.
Apparently, Stanford fares pretty well in both surveys.

And Stanford students are pretty happy:
Happiest Students
Overall, how happy are you?

1. Stanford University
2. Whitman College
3. Brown University
4. Southern Methodist University
5. Rhodes College
Can't speak for anyone else, but I'm pretty happy. Of course, I don't know if grad students count.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Globalization of Unionization

Whether we want it to happen or not, globalization seems inevitable. Personally, I have no qualms about that, economically or morally. However, I think it's critical for labor to stop trying to prevent globalization and start organizing with a strategy to be effective in the new global economy. That said, it was interesting to read about union globalization:
A global coalition of unions is launching an unprecedented campaign to organize workers around the world at US retail giant Wal-Mart, seeking to bring a new level of globalization to the labor movement.

The Wal-Mart campaign was set to be officially launched at a meeting in Chicago Monday of Union Network International (UNI), a group that includes 900 unions in some 140 countries.

The campaign aims to draw from labor organizations around the world to pressure Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer and largest private company in terms of revenues, and a frequent target of unions for driving down wages as well as prices.
I was particularly encouraged by the statement of UNI general secretary Philip Jennings: "Our message is that unions are adapting to a borderless world."

Even an ardent free fair trader such as myself can value workers rights. It's time that free trade and protectionist Democrats in the U.S. work together to find solutions to the challenges posed by globalization rather than sticking to their respective corners and bicker at each other. The goal should be worker protection, human rights, and the environment not free trade or protectionism in and of itself.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Intelligent Design

Lost from the radar screens of late is the ID debate. But, as Nature reports (subscription required if off campus), the
Kansas State Board of Education has decided by six votes to four to include stronger criticism of evolution in its high-school biology curriculum. Science advocates fear that the move paves the way for 'intelligent design' — the idea that an intelligent creator shaped living things — to reach the classroom.
Nature has previously reported on ID and the article is worth browsing.

The basic criticism amongst scientists is the lack of scientific rigor that ID "scientists" use to "demonstrate" their conclusion. As Bruce Alberts points out in the second article, just because we can't explain everything now, doesn't mean we won't be able to in five or ten years. Yes, that is one of the central justifications that ID advocates use. I have a deep interest in both Science and Theology, but would not waste my time on a course on an ID curriculum. Even theologically or philosophically, I don't find ID well argued.

But the role of ID advocates appears to be much bigger than just trying to promote a new way to do science. The Commonweal Institute discusses the issue here.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

More on the Estate Tax

I realize I am preaching to the choir when I criticize attempts to repeal the free loader estate "death" tax, but I figure it's worth bringing up every now and then. On Friday, I very ineloquently stated that the estate tax debate is one that Democrats can easily win. Today, the New York Times ran a similar article on how the estate tax is only applicable to a handful of people:
opponents of the estate tax have already achieved a remarkable political feat by building broad public support for abolishing a tax that currently affects only 2 percent of all estates.
But there's more:
And while opponents contend that the estate tax is a "double tax," many of the earnings that are subject to it were never taxed in the first place.
I'm not against true estate tax reform to assist small businesses, but current GOP attempts serve to do nothing more than give handouts to "very wealthy" people, especially since a large portion of the estate has never been taxed (see above). Anti-estate tax proponents have yet to demonstrate a real "small farm" that has been forced into bankruptcy, yet the continue to use this argument--remember the "welfare queen"?

To end the rant, Democrats need to stand strong on this one. The facts are on our side and the American people are desparate for Democrats to start taking more strong and visible stances. (Head on over to Democracy Corps for some insight.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

A chance for Democrats

The battle over the free loader cut estate tax cut is one that Democrats can easily win with the VAST majority of Americans approving. Plus, it can be used to help small businesses. The Post has an interesting article on the current debate. (See also, David Cay Johnston.)

Labor Grows a Spine

This isn't labor as a whole, but it's pretty shocking. The European labor movement is much stronger than the U.S. so I don't expect anything comperable here.

A lot of people say that unions are "special interests", but almost every single American worker these days owes much of the benefits that they have--40 hour work weeks, no child labor, safe working conditions, vacation time, sick leave, ...--to labor unions. If you want to get rid of all those "perks", fine. But if you think any of them are important, thank unions. And thank Democrats. We wouldn't have any of them without organized labor or Democrats.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stop This NOW!

The New York Times reports on a disturbing trend in Africa:
"It is like it is a normal thing for women to be treated by their husbands as punching bags."
In Zambia, nearly half of women surveyed said a male partner had beaten them...

In South Africa, researchers for the Medical Research Council estimated last year that a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours - the highest mortality rate from domestic violence ever reported, they say. In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, domestic violence accounts for more than 6 in 10 murder cases in court, a United Nations report concluded last year.
What stumps me is that there is supposed to be a rise in Catholicism and Evangelism in Africa these days. Yet we still have appalling numbers like this. And you have Biblical statements like this:
"For God's sake," he added. "You are the head of the home as the man. You must have a home that is submissive to you."
Again, I don't mean this to criticize religion, but I hope the churches make a strong statement against this soon. Especially since they are supposed to be active in Africa.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Message This

I just finished reading Jim Wallis' op-ed in the New York Times and it sounded vaguely familiar. I particularly agree with Wallis' that focusing on "framing" rather than what's being framed is a mistake:
The operative term among Democratic politicians and strategists has become "framing." How to tell the story has become more important than the story itself. And that could be a bigger mistake for the Democrats than the ones they made during the election.
Wallis mentions that "somebody must lead on the issue of poverty, and right now neither party is doing so." For a while, I've been trying to get progressives/Democrats to take up the issue of poverty reduction.

If we want to attract some of the religious people back, we must champion the important moral problems such as poverty. While we're at it, lets attempt to propose a strategy for withdrawing from Iraq and make reconstruction happen!