Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tired Of The Same Old Results, Progressives?

Then read this.  Take it seriously.  And then do what he says.

If you take nothing else that Obama says seriously, take this seriously:  You ARE the change you seek.

And Another One Bites The Dust

First Frank Rich, now Bob Herbert.  I've followed his work ever since he wrote for the New York Daily News.  I wish him well, and hope he publishes his book soon.  So few writers are as devoted to being a voice for the voiceless.

There's Just ONE Problem With American Exceptionalism

The Framers didn't believe in it.  Let a good conservative make this point.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An Inchcape Rock For The 21st Century

"Inchcape Rock" is a poem by Robert Southey that retells a legend based upon a rock off the Scottish coast, that was a danger to sailors in the days of wooden ships.  According to the legend, a pirate deliberately sunk a bell that had been connected to the rock to serve as a warning to sailors.  Later, his folly was turned against him, as his ship crashed against the rock during a storm, sinking the pirate, his crew and his ship.  You can read Southey's poem here.

I'm reminded of this poem by the recent absence of air-traffic controllers at the airport named after Ronald Reagan, who launched his Presidency (the first with a former union leader in the Oval Office) by busting PATCO, the then-controllers union.  As the linked story shows, we are only a few lucky breaks--and maybe, just one--away from a modern-day re-enactment of the tragedy in the legend.

Only, in this case, the pirate is long-since dead, and had the rock named after him.  And the people who would be killed by his piracy won't be members of his crew.  They'll be innocent people who were promised by the pirate that he would fix all of their problems with simple solutions that would cost them nothing.

Nothing, that is, except their lives.

I'm inclined to savor life's ironies.  But, in the event of a tragedy, I don't think I could savor this one.  The idea of fatalities at an airport named after Ronald Reagan due to a lack of air traffic controllers should make us remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, on the subject of slavery:

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."

It's Not Just Me Saying It!

Even some unlikely sources are saying it, like this one.

And it's OK to say it.  Taxing the rich forces them to put their money for work for the rest of us.  It's the only thing that can save all of us now.

The Bad News, And The Good News

On the one hand, Scott Walker seems determined to end constitutional government in Wisconsin.  On the other, not all Christians are conservative enough to defend it.  Take a look.

Obama Is Lucky In His Enemies ...

... and Tim Pawlenty is a case in point.  But what makes this story about his cap-and-trade flip-flop especially worth a look is this quote, from the comments section:

"If you're a Democrat running for office, flip-flopping is a sin.

If you're a Republican running for office, flip-flopping is a way of life."

Obama is lucky:  the Republican field arraying against him seems to almost be working to re-elect him to a second term that, as of this point, he has not fully earned (IMHO).  He needs to learn to fight before he compromises; it makes the compromise easier and less painful, as Indiana Democrats recently proved.  But the rest of America is deeply unlucky, as long as this sort of doublethink is acceptable for one side and not the other.

For me, it's not the conservatism.  It's the hypocrisy.  God will not bless America if it continues.

Eighteen Pictures Worth Thousands Of Painful Words

This link will take you to a photo essay in The New York Times that is part of their coverage of the centennial of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire.  Many of the photos are contemporary, and some are in color (although they look like they may have been hand-tinted).  In any case, they are a powerful reminder of why workers will always need to fight, simply to be treated like human beings.

I grew up thinking that such horrors were consigned to the history of a less enlightened era.  Sadly, we are proving today that enlightenment is easy to throw away, once it has been corrupted by venality. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Real Reason Gas Prices Are Soaring?

Casino capitalism, the kind you get when government steps out of the picture and greed takes center stage, sacrificing long-term needs for short term gain.

Don't believe me?  Fine.  Believe this.

It Takes Money To Support Values

Modern conservatism rests in part on the foundation that you can make the working class overlook their economic interests by appealing to allegedly shared cultural values.  Marriage, supposedly, is one of those values.

But not anymore.

Note to conservatives:  economic values equal cultural values.  Take some of the money out of your own pockets, and put people to work.  If you did that, there would be no need for a federal stimulus package.  Government grows in part because of the vacuum that your appetite for power creates.  Makes you wonder--or, at least, it makes me wonder--which party really needs big government more:  Democrats, who want to help the less fortunate, or Republicans, who want to help themselves and need big government so that they can distract the unfortunate and get them to turn against themselves.

Maine Used To Be A Sensible State

That was back when it produced Republicans like William Cohen, as well as Democrats like George Mitchell.  Unfortunately, it's no longer that kind of state.  It's just elected a governor who claims that his state's labor department should not have a mural representing workers, because it's too "one-sided."

Huh?  It's a labor department.  It's one of dozens of state agencies that represent and address the needs of different constituencies, including businesses.  Take a look.  This is fascism masquerading as an appeal to diversity.

The irony is that, according to the linked article, one person compared the mural to the indoctrination tactics of North Korea.  In fact, the removal of the mural is a better comparison to those tactics.  Repressive regimes make their opponents disappear.  The removal of this mural is, essentially, one small step in that direction.  You may want to wait around and see how many other steps LePage wants to take.  But his defense of his actions is so inherently dishonest that I wouldn't bet on moderation.

Well, THAT Didn't Take Long!

And the nicest part is that they've done it all by themselves.  Hopefully, this is an early sign of better things to come.

One Small Step For Stanley Fish ...

... and one giant leap for unions and America.  Let's hope this is a sign that workers in this country are waking up, and learning who their oppressors really are.

"Just be real and face facts the way they are."

I wish that thought could become the official U.S. motto overnight.  Not that I don't like "E Pluribus Unum."  But both phrases relate to our status as an immigrant nation and, while the former has been completely forgotten by the Tea Bags, the latter has been recently uttered by an unlikely source:  a conservative state legislator in Utah backing a bill advocating comprehensive immigration reform within the state's borders, including a path to legal status for the undocumented.

The bill, which you can read about here, would ask for a waiver from President Obama to establish such a policy.  Doing so would, admittedly, rest on constitutional ground that is shaky at best.  But that's exactly why Obama should (and won't do) it.  Doing it would invite a confrontation with the GOP House over the issue of CIR--at which point Obama should just tell them to pass the bill that Dubya (in one of his few sane moments) tried to get enacted.  He will have forced them to engage the issue on terms they could not refuse, without effectively conceding that they have no motivation in life except an insatiable appetite for power.

Mr. President, if you really want to win the future, pick a fight or two.  That's the only language your opponents understand.  You're the son of an immigrant.  Do the right thing, and stop letting the extremely right do their thing.

A Few Clarifying Comments From Vice President Stephens

Never heard of him?  Well, that may not be surprising.  He was never a Vice President of the United States of America.

He was, however, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.  In that capacity, he offered a stirring defense of the Confederate constitution and its formal preservation of the institution of slavery, going so far as to concede that slavery was the cause of the Confederacy's formation.  So much for the standard-issue, latter-day right-wing defenses of secession as being concerned with states' rights.  Lest I be accused of offering this information without proof, I invite you to click here.  I doubt, however, that this information, being factual in nature, will do much to influence the views of those who prefer to believe, rather than to think.

Frankly, this is why Obama could sit in the Oval Office for four years doing nothing but twiddling his thumbs, and still have a historic Presidency.  The presence of an African American in the Oval Office simultaneously exposes the hypocrisy and racism of contemporary American conservatism.  Why has it transformed its views on deficit spending almost overnight?  Because a man they believe to be an inferior being, based on the color of his skin, is doing it.  And it doesn't help matters that he has, in fact, done far more than twiddle his thumbs:  he has co-opted them on issue after issue after issue, from health care to taxes to the Middle East.

I mean, seriously.  If you were a closet plantationist, yearning for the restoration of the Old Ways, wouldn't this get under your exceedingly white skin?  Thought so.

Thanks, Vice President Stephens, for helping us to understand this.  You may be dead but, sadly, the same cannot be said of the Old South.  Let's hope and pray that it never finds a way to rise again.