Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Do I Think The Democrats Will Pick Up Senate Seats?

Here's one reason.  It's why I also think Obama will carry Arizona.

Here's another.  Good luck, Bob Kerrey.

And here's one more.  Thanks, Senator Snowe, for proving you have a conscience.

Everything Is Politics To The GOP

Especially oil.  To them, the Keystone pipeline isn't about jobs, or energy security.  It's about oil profits.  That's  why they're willing to sacrifice America's breadbasket to ship Canadian oil overseas.  Here's the proof.

Occupy Our Homes?

Taking the movement mainstream and into our homes?  I like it!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The GOP War On Voting

That such a war is going on is no surprise.  It's when they're honest about the fact that they can't compete on a level playing field that it gets really disgusting.  Take a look at the second paragraph of this.

Too Big To Jail?

Until Obama and the Democrats, individually and collectively, grow more of a spine, this is never going to change.  And, if it doesn't, we have no chance of regaining our democracy.

Want To Help "Crowdsource" The Government?

Tired of insiders always working on the inside?  The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is giving you a chance to do something about it.  Take them up on it!

Does It Matter If They're Only Theatres?

Yes, it does.  Theatres and arenas are the lifeblood of our common culture; they are the places where we learn to laugh, cry, cheer, boo, love and hate together.  If we lose that, we lose what little connection we have to the larger society around us.  Electronic media isolates us; live media unites us.

I've believed for a long time that we should have a national policy designed to promote the preservation, construction and operation of theatres, especially historic theatres.  Some kind of tax credit should be given to smaller theatres to help them convert to digital showings of films.  The role that these theatres play in economic development, from Times Square to town squares, more than justifies the cost of doing so.

Now I REALLY Believe In Miracles!

Even more amazing, Pat Roberson, whom I loathe, is responsible for this one.

I'm still looking for the flock of pigs hovering over Hell, filling up ice buckets.

It's Not Obama's Fault!

Even the conservative New York Post says so (although Crudele, to be fair, voted for Obama, but he's no knee-jerk liberal, either).

Why is there a surplus of oil, and high gas prices?  For the same reason that there's a surplus of corporate cash, but high unemployment.  The 1% will do ANYTHING to get rid of America's first black President.  Even destroy America.

Don't let them get away with it.  Go hybrid.  Carpool.  Walk or pedal to the store.  Use mass transit.  AND vote Democratic.  Maybe it'll drive them so crazy, it'll destroy them instead of the rest of us.

Real patriots can only hope.

Socialism Does NOT Equal State Ownership

Socialism is worker ownership; the name was perverted by conservatives like Hitler and Stalin who slapped it onto the names of their tyranny.  But true socialism does work; just ask anyone connected to a cooperative.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Or an idea whose time is overdue?  You decide.  Personally, I think the answer lies very much in two facts cited in the article:  (a) Martin Luther King, Jr. was in favor of it, and (b) it would very much suit the populist case that the President wants to make.  Indeed, if anything would make him a "post-racial" President, this would certainly seem to be it.

I have no doubt that the segment of the African-American community that focuses on the need for reparations would object.  But (I write this on my knees, because I have no business slighting the injustice of racism) I have long thought that the pursuit of reparations is the pursuit of a fantasy, and I say this for one reason only.  In the civil justice system, compensatory damages are meant to return the plaintiff to the status they would otherwise have had they not been injured in the first place.  Most legal experts agree that, except for the most minor of cases, this is ultimately an exercise in guesswork. 

And three to four hundred years of racism is anything but a minor case.  Who knows what the individual life of every African-American would be had that racism never occurred?  Do you measure it by life in Africa, itself infected with the remnants of colonialism?  Do you calculate the present value of the old plantations, and divide it up by the number of descendants of slaves?  Do you do that on a per capita basis, or do you divide it up by families?  If the latter, do you account for the fact that some siblings had more children than others?  What about lines of descent that died out?

I write all of this to illustrate the complexity of the problem, not to sugar-coat its essence or demean its impact.  Ultimately, all we can do with the past is to learn from it, and use its lessons to make today the foundation of a better tomorrow.  I believe class-based preferences can do that; I'm hoping that the President will believe that, too.

Exciting, Or Scary?

You decide.  Personally, I think finding ways to expand our resources in a shrinking would should be encouraged as much as possible.  Until we invent warp drive, we've only got one planet and, assuming we don't burn or dig it all up first, we might as well learn to make the most of it.

Here's another, less frightening way to do exactly that.  Personally, this gives me more hope for the future than I've had for a while.

Damn Straight, Harry!

I've believed that Obama should do this for a long time.  The power to advise and consent is not the power to delay and obstruct; indeed, the latter tactics can reach the point of treason.

And as for Senator Mike Lee?  He's been in Congress for just over a year, and he and his fellow Teabags have long since blown past that point.  You love the Constitution, Senator?  Read the damn thing!

As I've Said Before, It's Not "Either/Or" ...

... it's everyone working together, and it's call democracy.  It can be applied to conservation.  In fact, it can be applied to anything.

Red Voters, Blue Benefits

Or, to paraphrase a Christmas song, let there be peace on earth, but don't let it begin with me.

I have a marvelous idea:  how about letting it begin with the people who can afford to pay for it?  They benefit from being citizens of the richest country in the world.  It's about time for the price tag to match the merchandise.

Occupy the 1%!

How To Solve The Immigration Problem?

Sell access to the United States to the highest bidders?  Why not?  Given the extent to which filing fees have gone up, we're pretty much doing it already.  And, since the immigration system is self-supporting through filing fees, maybe that would create a budget for enforcement big enough that people would stop fretting over whether we're "tough enough" on "illegals," assuming that there would be any "illegals" under a system like this.  (Probably, there would be.  There will always be a need to keep out those who would put individuals or whole populations in harm's way, and those people will always try to find a way in to do harm.)

I'm not sure I'd make the system as simple as writing a check.  There should still be some evidence of actual or potential employment or, more generally, some set of skills and/or assets that would ensure that the person was not automatically going to become a public charge.  Then, too, there's the question of how big a check to require:  I think this should be means-tested, based on the person's resources and plans for using them.

In any event, as FDR said, "try something," and this might be worth a try.  It can't be worse than the status quo.

Why We Need More Women In Politics

I rest my case here.  And it doesn't matter that he has since backpedaled on the issue.  He's a Republican.  He'll come up with something else.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

At Least He Can Admit A Mistake

Thanks, Cal Thomas.  And thanks, as well, to Rachel Maddow.

Why I Think Elizabeth Warren Will Win

Right now, it doesn't look good for her.  But, apart from the fact that she owns the economic issue, her opponent still has the ability to shoot himself in the foot.

The Measure Of A Climate Hero

Perhaps it can be found by his or her willingness to take personal risks for the truth.  Take a look.

Divide-And-Conquer Politics

It's the only kind of politics that really works for Republicans.  Maybe, just maybe, it can finally work for the Democrats as well.

At Least She Can Admit A Mistake

I'm talking about the actress who starred in a racist attack ad against Senator Debbie Stabenow by Pete Hokestra, her likely opponent in the fall.  You really have to wonder what level of self-loathing inspired her to denigrate not only herself, but millions of Asians and Asian-Americans everywhere.  Hey, I'm a struggling actor, too, but there are lines I won't cross.

But, as I said, at least she admitted publicly that she made a mistake.  Which is more than can be said for Hokestra; even now that the ad has been denounced by everyone, and has given Stabenow a double-digit lead over him, he's still defending it.  In the process, he illustrates the number one reason for voting every Republican out of office:  the inability of its office holders to admit to a mistake, even an obvious one.  Do you want your national and economic security to be held hostage to that characteristic.

On the other hand, looking at this commercial in purely political terms, it could be a gift to Democrats; it's already sown the seeds for a national backlash.  Thanks, Hokestra.  The first syllable of your last name is well-earned.

The Catholic Church Can't Stand Itself

That's why it's in revolt from within.  This comes to you courtesy of my friend John Tierney's blog, Sense and Nonsense.

These Are Not Your Father's Republicans

Or, for that matter, your grandfather's Republicans.  At least they were more progressive than today's GOP.  Even, surprisingly, the President who preferred being a Supreme Court Justice.

Conservatives Are Thieves

Or, at the very least, they are thieves when they take money intended for homeowners, and use it to pay for their own mistakes.

Faulkner Was Right, Part 2

A year ago, I posted thisHere's something else along the same lines.  The sad thing is that divide-and-conquer politics based on race works.  How much longer will it continue to do so?  Hopefully the next election will be the beginning of the end.

To Boycott, Or Not Boycott, The "Avengers" Movie

This article from got my attention recently.  I confess to being a huge fan of Marvel Comics, going back to my childhood, and "The Avengers" in particular.  As a consequence, I've been looking forward to the release this spring of "The Avengers" film.  However, I have to admit that the author, who is likewise a huge Marvel and "Avengers" fan, makes a good case for boycotting the film, based on the undeniably shoddy treatment of artist Jack Kirby by Marvel and Stan Lee.  If your a comics fan, and a Marvel fan in particular, you're already familiar with the story of how Kirby was forced to sign over the rights to his work without any meaningful compensation.  The article itself contains links to articles that describe this treatment in greater detail; I've decided to share some of them here, and here.

Kirby's cause (at this point, sadly, the cause of his children) is certainly worthy of some form of public pushback against Marvel, as well as Disney, which now owns Marvel and its roster of characters.  I'm kind of skeptical, however, as to whether an "Avengers" boycott would be the best way of doing so.  All that would do is deprive everyone--including, potentially, Kirby's heirs--of profits from Kirby's work.  After all, Disney doesn't have to make Marvel-based movies; Disney has its own roster of characters.

My recommendation?  Occupy the "Avengers" theaters.  Go see the movie, preferably dressed as your favorite Avenger (Giant-Man, in my case, even though he isn't in the film;-().  And after the show, stage a protest in the lobby, demanding that Disney/Marvel treat the King the way he deserves.  Negative publicity is much more effective than the disengaged silence of a boycott.  And, in this case, it could be a lot more fun.  Thoughts?

Lies Frustrate Democracy

Democracy only works when the debate is honest.  And when one side is perpetually dishonest, even in the fact of good news, democracy may not have a chance.  Unless we recognize that, when we want to throw the bums out, the majority of the bums sit on one side of the aisle.

And Do You Want Further Proof That Socialism Works?

Look at the NFL.  If only MLB was as smart.

It's Too Late, Conservatives

Turns out that we already have socialized medicine.  The only real problem is that we need more of it, because it works.

The Politicization of Impeachment

The impeachment provisions of the Constitution were designed to protect the government and the nation from "high crimes and misdemeanors."  Thankfully, in 1974, there was a Democratic Congress with enough spine to take on a President who was truly guilty of such offenses, by obstructing justice in the investigation of an effort to hijack the 1972 Presidential election.

But to the Republicans, the only such offense truly justifying impeachment is the existence of a Democratic President.  The existence of a second-term Clinton Presidency, and the desire to achieve payback for Nixon's impeachment, led them to pursue Clinton's impeachment over charges that did not even begin to rise to a Constitutional level.  This process nearly cost the GOP its House majority in 1998, but it was politically successful in other ways.  It lead a sufficiently bullied President to spend the final two years of his Administration largely caving to Republican demands, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act.

Which is probably why they may be thinking about a rerun if Obama wins in 2012.  Of course, the success of such a strategy largely depends on two things:  whether they control Congress, and whether Americans think rolling back the Bush tax cuts is an impeachable offense.  Neither of those propositions in guaranteed.

But Norquist's willingness to float this idea says as much about the political and intellectual bankruptcy of the modern GOP.  Shame on the majority of us if we give in to it.

Why World War I Resonates

That's the title of this opinion piece recently published in The New York Times.  Frankly, it should resonate, because it was the war in which the balance between heroism and blood tipped decisively in favor of the latter, thanks to the introduction of modern technology.  Science, also, does not make war less likely; it only makes it more ruthlessly efficient in snuffing out the lives and hopes of entire populations.

Only we can make war less likely.  I sometimes wonder if we have the will, as well as the wit, to not simply sue for peace, but (ironically) to fight for it.  I hope so.

Catching Up In February

Well, between auditions and my practice, it's been a busy month, which in turn is why I haven't posted anything until now.  But that doesn't mean that I haven't been paying attention to what's going on.  And there has been, to put it mildly, a lot going on, especially as the Presidential race begins to heat up.

A few random comments, before I post and comment on some links, both old and new:

  • As encouraging as anything else has been this year was Obama's SOTU address.  Granted, it was the usual Presidential "wish list," and more blatantly political that I would have expected (or thought wise, on one level).  But it told me that he had a road map to Election Day, and it told me that he had finally given up on being nice to the ones who want him (and, by extension, the country) to fail.  And his handling of the contraception controversy shown more commitment to progressive values AND more political savvy than almost anything else he's done.  I remember that, during his campaign, he went through several periods where he was on a learning curve and then, just when it would look like he would fall off completely, he would "get it" and then get other things right.  Apparently, he's now done that with his Presidency.  And, now that it appears that the economy may be picking up some real steam, his re-election prospects are starting to look better.  Which, of course, is driving his opponents crazy.
  • And speaking of the Republicans , I'm beginning to think the GOP has the biggest death wish in the world.  Whether it's the idiocracy that comprises their presidential nominees, or the no-less idiocracy that comprises their majority in the House, they seem bound and determined to move the United States back into an eighteenth century of their imagination.  Their proposal to let employers refuse any kind of health coverage on the basis of a "moral objection" of their choosing is but one example; employers are the last cohort in this country that should be allowed to define morality.  With the obvious exception of (again) the House majority, which insisted on adding to the extension of the payroll tax-cut extension a  provision requiring unemployment benefit applicants to undergo mandatory drug testing.  Then again, never mind Congress; what the GOP is doing at the state level is even worse.  Take a look here.  As well as here.  And, for that matter, here.
  • On the other hand, I am really proud of my Governor and state legislature.  This is what can happen when you have a real governor, instead of a blimp.
And now, on to some more specific thoughts ...