Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Damn Right!

Count me squarely on GG's and Digby's side.

I don't harbor the same antipathy towards Kevin Drum that some do - hell, our nation needs MORE reflective thinkers, willing to chew an issue the required 33 times before lightly swallowing it with all politeness and decorum.

But what we have here is strictly a case of Democrats once again not understanding the American people, then making bad guesses based on the worst of those fears.

Do we really believe Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public view such events through a multitude prisms, meticulously weighing theater with policy, interested in hows of such an action comes to pass? Do we really think Republicans win elections - to say nothing of debates like this - because most Americans are xenophobic cowards, pissing their pants out of fear that someone would dare throw a brick of kryptonite known as "accountability" at Furious George?

Please don't mistake that as indictment against the American public; the non-blog devouring, knowing who Charlie Cook is, public. Quite the contrary. The American public is perfectly capable of parsing complex issues and coming up with the right answer. However - and I hate myself for framing the "liberal elite" this way - most Americans don't have the luxury in their daily lives of endless mewing, constant fretting over perception, and the like. They can't generally afford to paralyzed into inaction. When the foreman needs that frame up today - you do the best you can and get it done, even if you KNOW it's a job that should take 2 days. When the bell rings in the morning, class has to start, even if the projector ate the film on the Great Depression. When injuries from the bus accident pour into the emergency room - it doesn't matter if it's time for a shift change, you get to work.

In short - most Americans don't have the luxury of cocktail party philosphizing about how the world went wrong and bemoaning the fact that everyone else won't do something about.

I'm no reactionary. I believe in thorough analysis of an issue. I don't believe we should make kneejerk responses.

But you know what?

Damn it all, there's --- BIG profanity time --- MOTHERFUCKING time for action!

If it's not now, when?

Americans won't respect democrats until democrats start respecting themselves and until democrats start respecting the ability of the American people to know that civil liberties can be protected while still protecting the nation from terrorists.

We gasp in awe at a president and his advisors who routinely embarrass and contradict themselves... who lie... who break promises... who show less and less evidence of basic competency. But no one holds him accountable?

Why?

BECAUSE THE GODDAMN OPPOSITION PARTY WON'T DO IT.

Stop being such a pussy. It's that simple.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Get Bonded!

Democracy Bonds! Get 'em now and support a 50 state strategy.

If you stumble across this lonely little blog -- go here to contribute.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

So I'm back...

And no doubt the servers and google indexing algorhythms missed me, even if my fictitious readers did not.

This is why. While I've long thought of myself of an active participant in democracy - at least, so far as recognizing the majority of names on the ballot each November (sad but true, that likely puts me in the upper quartile or higher of American citizens) - it wasn't until Howard Dean and 2004 that I started scarfing down blogposts, watching Crossfire, Hardball, and the like, and sending what meager financial help I can afford into the fray. Hell, I've even volunteered on an election day.

I suppose I've evolved over the past 2 years - I can't stomach Vidiot poli-blather on CNN or MSNBC much anymore (is there any greater waste of medium potential than cable news?).

But damn it all - I keep ending up the losing side. First Dean, then a near complete debacle in November (with only Barack Obama spoiling the shutout). Then Paul Hackett came tantalizingly close. Now Ciro Rodriguez. This isn't a pity post -- there are certainly many volunteers, partisans, and candidates that put forth more and consequently, hurt more.

Sure, Kos is right - we can't get discouraged. We're starting with almost nothing and taking on a corrupt, detached, and unresponsive system.

Beyond that, though -- I can't get past the idea that such a small number of people make the choices for so many. To be sure - there's every chance if primary turnout was 75% and election day 90, we might have gotten slapped even worse.

However, when you read the usual Reichwing sites, when you listen to Tom Tancredo and watch him win reelction, when you see the sleaze ooze from Tom Delay's office, but again see him continously elected --- Changing minds isn't going to get it done. Too many hearts are probably lost for good.

It's that huge number of the uninvolved and non-voting. Those cynics that insist "what's the point?". The hopeless that don't even both. If there's a way to snag 10% of them -- progressives will never lose another election.

I just have no idea how to do that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fish in a barrel

Getting such a late start, there's little I can add to what's already been said on better blogs concerning King George II's SOTU address.

Go read Kos, TPM, or Thinkprogress if you want the lie-by-lie, crap-by-crap, meaningless point of blather by meaningless point of blather breakdown.

Let me just say -- BOO!!!

Wake me when this embarrassment is gone.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What's mine is mine

Glad to see the 70 trapped miners in a Saskatchewan mine have all been safely extracted. It's inevitable - and happens in every report I've seen on the event - to have this incident compared to the tragic event at the WV Sago mine.

Obviously - I don't know nearly enough about mining techniques (specifically, the differences in mining for coal vs. potash), and only slightly more about mining safety regulations in the US vs. those in Canada, but I couldn't help marvel at the idea of "safe rooms" and how relatively easy it seemed to have been for the 70 Canadian miners to reach safe areas where they would be secure until rescued. Certainly understanding that the use of safe rooms may simply be more appropriate in huge potash mine as opposed to the smaller Sago mine, the question is whether this use of "safe rooms" is a requirement under Canadian mine safety regulations, under US regulations - and if there's some sort of size threshhold or other means that require their use. From what I can tell - the Sago mine looks it was a long, thin, 2 miles versus the 18X12 mile Saskatchewan mine.

Forget the cost, I'd just want to know if it was physically feasible in a mine like the Sago mine. If so - and I grant that's one HUGE if - why wasn't there one at the Sago mine? If the answer then does have to turn to cost, my next question is whether "cost prohibitive" means the profit margin shrinks a point or 2 -- or makes the whole operation unprofitable.

There are probably plenty of answers to be found at the MSHA's special site set up for the Sago tragedy...

But I'd like to wax on the larger philosophical point.

We don't like to talk about it, but the idea of safety costs vs. the bottom line is analysis that virtually any industry undertakes. Outside of public safety employees (police, fire, rescue teams, etc) -- most of the private industries that have high rates of casualties - not just death, but injury or otherwise - could certainly be made 100% safe. Setting aside costs - it's entirely possible to get ore out of the ground without putting anyone's safety at risk. However - certainly, the costs would be so prohibitively high as to prevent any ore mining... so the cost of increased safety gets balanced against the bottom line on a balance sheet.

It's not "an outrage" in and of itself - ever since the days when our loinclothed forefathers went after larger animals with stones, spears, and arrows, there's been some degree of danger in many of the industries nominally necessary to maintain our civilization. We make this tradeoff somewhat 'automatically'.

Nor am I laying the fault at the feet of the capitalists - as much as our free market treats labor and lives like any other resource or commodity, state-controlled economic systems can and have done far worse. With no avenue for change - union organizing or a court system to seek recompense, miners (or loggers... or commercial fishing vessels... or you name the industry) would be even less safe.

I accept that risk is inevitable. I accept that in the end, we make a decision on how much safety we can afford. I even accept that a free market certainly enjoys more mechanisms to improve this safety than any other.

What bothers me is that we allow this conversation to take place in board rooms and stockholder meetings, and increasingly -- the two single largest mechanisms for making that analysis public and giving the common worker a chance to weigh in, organized labor and the court system, are increasingly under attack.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Perfect

Jacob Weisberg absolutely nails it nothing to add but go read it.

NOW!

Archduke Scalito ascended

Kos is right, it's over. Frankly, I think it was a pretty good showing just to keep the final nail away from the coffin Dubya has built for civil liberties as long as they did.

As I commented there, I understand the issues, I understand what's at stake, I understand what Justice Alito means. Hell, there's a damn good chance that I'll living under a Thomas-Scalia-Alito triangle of judicial whackery until I retire... and by then, I may have to deal with one of the fucking twins deciding she too has matured, just like her daddy.

It's a hollow thing to sit (smugly?) back as America faces a future where a president - any president - can stretch a terrorist attack, with the proper congress and legislation (or hell, skip the legislation), into Nixon's wet dream... or worse.

Today it's your phone call or e-mail, but what if tomorrow it's your gun?

Democracy wasn't built around rash actions undertaken when emotions run high. Sometimes that's an enormously frustrating thing - it's why it took 71 years and the Civil War to start treatment on the cancer of slavery, then some odd hundreds years reduce it to a sometimes still lingering scar. It's the tradeoff we make - the right to change our national policies in exchange for the time and effort it takes to do so.

The problem with the Thomlitilia is that despite their supposed reverence for a strict interpretation of the constitution, they'll defer to a president when he decides he can handle doing the job of another of our three branch besides his own. The scariest - and probably (hopefully?) least likely - result of this trio, together with whomever from Kennedy, Roberts, or Souter they can bring along, will defer to only certain presidents.

The first option is enough for me to believe a third mistake is being added to SCOTUS.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sad grasp at a claim to being hip

Check out Nice Peter, a Chicago band that I described to friends as the result of They Might Be Giants and Weezer having offspring that was then abducted from the hospital by Tenacious D, abandoned, then ultimately adopted by Frank Zappa.

In particular, I highly recommend visiting their page of MP3s and giving "The Bush Song" a listen.

Repealing Godwins Law

Sadly, the Wikipedia lists no methods for repealing... or maybe more accurately, none of the formula to be used to disprove Godwins Law. I say sadly because like the bloated traditional media that graced post one here, it's fast outliving its usefullness, gets terribly misused, and has become the purview of country club commentators still wicked impressed over replacing LOL with RDF.

I'm not attacking the basic premise that comparing whomever to Hitler isn't pretty strong evidence that you're out of real ammo in any given argument - but the whole embargo on using historical comparisons, even from the most villified and evil regimes, in discussions on current events really needs to end.

Bush is Hitler?

No, he's not.

But just like Franklin Roosevelt's plan to pack the Supreme Court was utterly defeated -- by a democratic congress that had just upped its majority, not to mention attacked by his own Vice-President, no less -- the alarming power grabs that are becoming everday exposes with this administration need to be confronted. Since the President's partisans in congress aren't especially interested in checking his abuses, and the senate recently became obligated to allow Bush's every whim free passes onto the bench (unless, of course, the radical right finds those whims more fanciful than fanatical) -- perhaps words like 'Nazi', 'fascist', and yes -- 'Hitler' might become necessary to wake you from your stupor. I mean, come on people, even would-be Supremos like Michael Luttig are aghast that the bastards keep getting away with making it up as they go along.

While my imaginary readers take the above paragraph out of context -

Let me strongly assert that I do not think Bush any more a fascist than I do FDR - the fury over the NSA bullshit isn't about undoing some terrible wrong turn into fascism, it's about screaming at the seemingly oblivious driver that the signs say "bridge out" - so hit the damn brakes, jackass!

It's irrelevant whether he's a madman hell bent on killing us both, or a frustrated driver that missed the sign -- you sure as hell don't sit quiety while you careen into the river.

The evils of any totalitarian regime are virtually never spotted, or at least - challenged, before it's too late. Moreover, sometimes even the groundwork for that evil isn't laid by the regime that ultimately brings it to life. We rely on our laws, our constitution, our balance of powers - once upon a time, even a working '4th estate' - to guard us against such rises. FDR was looking to circumvent a branch of government by cronying it up. He needed this to bypass previous losses of the NRA and the AAA to SCOTUS decisions-- the first of which included novel ideas like minimum wages and work hour limitations, the second of which isn't a whole lot different from today's farm subsidies.

His opponents hurled charges of fascim, of Roosevelt as a dictator. Even years later, it's not too hard to find credible historians, politicians, and commentators that would call Roosevelt's New Deal -- and not just the stricken bills -- remarkably similar to fascist economic systems... and guess what - there were different degrees of state economic control to both.

I feel quite secure in believing that Franklin Roosevelt was no fascist, no dictator -- but thanks to the patriots that rejected the plan, we never had to find out for sure.

That's the power of checks and balances -- that regardless of party, no branch cedes its authority no matter what the situation, and I'd think the tumult of the 1930s economic and geopolitical realities were every bit the frightening situation to those that experienced it as the GWOT is today.

Even at the time - without the hindsight of watching the results of the Nurmberg Laws, the Night of the Long Knives, the Enabling Act play out in Germany - America and its elected representatives smelled something fishy and ulitmately rejected it.

Bush isn't Hitler - but the lack of physical jackboots no more entitles him to the governing vestments of totalitarianism than even the best of intentions did FDR.

Hell, at least Roosevelt had the courtesy to work within the system to launch a grab for expanded presidential power in the form of a bill debated in congress and among the American people.

It's a relatively open-and-shut case that the NSA spying violated provisions of FISA - and I've yet to see a credible legal scholar that buys the argument that the AUMF allowed the president to flout the law. He's using it as a flimsy get out of jail free card.

What we have is clearly a grab for increased presidential powers... just like Roosevelt... and yes, just like Hitler.

That doesn't make Bush = Hitler -- but as Americans, we have the luxury of never having to take that chance with him ---- or any of his successors.