For The Trees

Who is our economy FOR, anyway?

About the Authors:
Dave Johnson
John Emerson
Richard Reich
Thomas Leavitt


Recent Posts:
Moved to Seeingtheforest.com
This Blog Has Moved
Democracy Arsenal
Thought Crimes
Think Progress
Bill Bradley Describes VRWC in NY Times Piece Toda...
Blog Change Coming Friday
How the Liberal Media Myth is Created
Interest Rates
Finally Leaving Blogger


BEST OF STF:

Dave's:

Articles not at STF:

The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors

On the Right and their communications infrastructure:

Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
Getting Rolled

Other:

You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Get Active
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Moon Bush
Ralph Nader is a Scab


John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
Bandar Bush
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Zizka Sampler


News Sources:
AlterNet
BuzzFlash
Common Dreams
Cursor
Drudge Retort
Information Clearing House
Smirking Chimp
TruthOut
What REALLY Happened

Links to Other Weblogs:




4/04/2012
 



Moved to Seeingtheforest.com

Seeing the Forest is now located at seeingtheforest.com




4/01/2005
 



This Blog Has Moved

This Blog Has Moved to seeingtheforest.com.

Please help out. If you clicked a link that brought you here, let the referring site know that they have an out-of-date link and ask if they might change it to seeingtheforest.com. THANKS!




3/31/2005
 



Democracy Arsenal

Democracy Arsenal, a new blog from The Security and Peace Institute:
" The Security and Peace Institute was formed in 2005 as a joint initiative of the Center for American Progress and The Century Foundation. The Institute works to advance a responsible U.S. foreign policy based on strong defense, collective security, capable international institutions, and effective promotion of democracy and the rule of law. SPI supports fellows, sponsors research and convenes foreign policy conferences and meetings."



 



Thought Crimes

Those Evil, Terrorist Loving "Libruls"

(Thanks to Oliver Willis)


 



Think Progress

Been to Think Progress lately?

How about Smirking Chimp? BuzzFlash?




3/30/2005
 



Bill Bradley Describes VRWC in NY Times Piece Today

Sounding like a Seeing the Forest regular, in A Party Inverted, former Senator Bill Bradley today describes how the Right has built a network of organizations that have become the foundation for the Republican Party, and how this structure supports their candidates outside of the election cycle. This is a must-read!
To further the party's ideological and political goals, Republicans in the 1970's and 1980's built a comprehensive structure based on Powell's blueprint. Visualize that structure as a pyramid.

You've probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations - the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance - form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.

The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid - the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there's the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.
He describes how this structure supports candidates. The Republicans have this massive structure in place so it doesn't really matter who they run. As I have said here, just look at who they run and tell me they are better candidates!
At the very top of the pyramid you'll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.

It is not quite the "right wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don't want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they're paid well and believe, I think, in what they're saying. True, there's lots of money involved, but the money makes a difference because it goes toward reinforcing a structure that is already stable.

To understand how the Democratic Party works, invert the pyramid. Imagine a pyramid balancing precariously on its point, which is the presidential candidate.

Democrats who run for president have to build their own pyramids all by themselves. There is no coherent, larger structure that they can rely on. Unlike Republicans, they don't simply have to assemble a campaign apparatus - they have to formulate ideas and a vision, too. Many Democratic fundraisers join a campaign only after assessing how well it has done in assembling its pyramid of political, media and idea people.

There is no clearly identifiable funding base for Democratic policy organizations, and in the frantic campaign rush there is no time for patient, long-term development of new ideas or of new ways to sell old ideas. Campaigns don't start thinking about a Democratic brand until halfway through the election year, by which time winning the daily news cycle takes precedence over building a consistent message. The closest that Democrats get to a brand is a catchy slogan.
This understanding of how much the Right is doing outside of the election cycle that directly affects elections is so important to get. From Win or Lose,
The Right's machine is not oriented around the election cycle, it is constant, yet this is why they win elections. Their organizations provide a drumbeat of propaganda all year, every year, working with the latest PR and marketing techniques, utilizing the latest research into the psychology of persuasion, exploiting the latest trends, etc. Because its marketing is constant, their politicians have it easy -- they just show up and echo the ideology that this machine has been pumping out and ride along on the rest of the resulting public opinion. Their politicians are almost interchangable, their work having been already done for them by the organizations, they have only to show up and say the right things and they have an automatic base of support.

Moderate and Progressive politicians, on the other hand, have to develop their positions each election cycle largely on their own, and communicate their ideas themselves. Everyone blames the Democratic Party for lack of vision, lack of marketing, etc. when the problem really is that there is not a comparable network of moderate and progressive ADVOCACY MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS organizations that are OUTSIDE of the party apparatus, supporting it, feeding it ideas, foot soldiers and voters.

Organizations on the Right, like the Heritage Foundation provide talking points, training, media skills, and most important, farm teams -- EMPLOYMENT for thousands of "foot soldiers" for the Right! Almost everyone on the Right is paid, and paid well (which serves to buy their loyalty to the core group of funders, their ideology and their goals.) They follow a long-term approach, which is why recruiting lots of young people and finding them paid positions as foot soldiers is an important part of their operation. Eventually these people will become activists, candidates, etc. And by having an employed stable of professional pundits, speakers, activists, etc., they are able to bring their "wurlitzer" to bear on any issue at any time, as necessary.

So the question here is why doesn't "our side" have a similar infrastructure in place? I've spent a lot of time studying this problem and have developed some theories. And I have some ideas about how to begin to counter what the Right is doing.
Now go here and give them some money so they can fight the Right, here to study up on what has been happening to us, and here to read up on Progressive Infrastructure to give "our side" a voice.


 



Blog Change Coming Friday

On Friday Seeing the Forest is going to switch over to its new site. That site will be at Seeingtheforest.com.

The blog you are reading now is located at seetheforest.blogspot.com, and I currently have a "redirect" set up for Seeingtheforest.com that sends everyone here. On Friday we leave Blogger and blogspot (and all the problems) behind for good. I will change the "name servers" for SeeingtheForest.com to point to the new blog. Many of you won't have to do anything because you'll just be sent to the new location automatically. But people who have bookmarks set to "seetheforest.blogspot.com" will continue to come to this site. I suspect that most blogs that link to Seeing the Forest are linking to that incorrect address. So if you find yourself wondering why Seeing the Forest is not being updated, it is because you are looking at the old blogspot site, missing out on all the fun.

I know that some of you fear change, and a few of you can be very excitable, so I have worked hard to make sure the new blog looks just like the current one. (Yes, I messed up a perfectly good template to do that. Over time I promise to make it look better. But I just had to get away from blogger before anything else!) And I know that many of you depend on Seeing the Forest for your very life essence. Yes, I recognize and respect and shoulder the tremendous responsibility that you have entrusted me with. With which you have entrusted me. So I will make sure that there are posts here on Thursday and posts there on Friday, and continuity of the flow will be assured. AND I will make sure that anyone who comes here to the blogger location will be able to get to the new location. On top of that I have made sure that all the links and archives at the new location are correct. So you can find old Seeing the Forest posts to read on slower days, and relive better times.


 



How the Liberal Media Myth is Created

Everyone should read eriposte's series at The Left Coaster, How the Liberal Media Myth is Created. I insist.

The series covers how this myth is created using:
Part 1, "tone" of media coverage
Part 2, "catch-phrases" like 'right-wing extremist' v. 'left-wing extremist'
Part 3, "newspaper headlines"
Part 4, "topics" covered
Part 5, "think-tank" citations
Part 6, surveys of journalist ideology or voting preferences




3/29/2005
 



Interest Rates

For a one-year CD I can get 3.16%. But that is lower than the current inflation rate AND gas is up to $2.35 a gallon and rising fast around here, housing prices up 20% last year. WTF? The government is telling us that it is wrong, just wrong, to try to save money.




3/28/2005
 



Finally Leaving Blogger

I been bloggered so long it looks like up to me.

I'm finally going to leave Blogger. Oh my God they give bad service!!!!!!

I signed up a Moveable Type account at LivingDot, and will start the process of getting to know the new software and setting up a blog template. I'll switch over soon. Not sure how to handle the last two-and-a-half years of archives... but I'll figure it out.

If you have Seeing the Forest bookmarked or blogrolled, make sure you are using "seeingtheforest.com" as your bookmark and not the "http://seetheforest.blogspot.com/" address. Seeingtheforest.com will always point to the current Seeing the Forest blog.

P.S. I have been trying to post this since last night but Blogger keeps crashing.


 



Insulting Bloggers

The National Press Club Welcomes ... Jeff Gannon?

You've heard of Jeff Gannon. He's the right-wing male prostitute that the White House was using as a shill to deflect critical press questions. Well, now the National Press club is including him on a panel (1st paragraph only) as a --- BLOGGER!!! And, of course, they aren't putting any actual bloggers on the panel.
Yes, the same day that the prestigious Washington, D.C., journalism organization plans to present a lunch talk by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, it will also allow the former White House reporter/sex site operator to be on a panel discussing bloggers and online journalism.

Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, resigned his job with the conservative Talon News last month after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to male escort Web sites.
Responging to this, The Agonist has organized An Open Letter To The National Press Club
Members of The National Press Club,

We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, The Brookings Institution hosted a panel that originally included no liberal political bloggers and yet while including numerous conservative political operatives in the event. We registered our protest and the Brookings Institution's response was simply to invite a few liberal political bloggers to attend, yet not sit on the panel, as we had originally insisted upon.

Today, however, we are faced with an entirely new situation that is more insult than misrepresentation. The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, nee Guckert has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

Therefore, we the undersigned bloggers, respectfully but firmly insist that a serious political blogger such as John Aravosis, of Americablog.org be included on the panel to fairly and accurately represent our industry and us. Mr. Aravosis has agreed to our request that he serve on the panel as our representative and is available should such an invite be forthcoming.

This situation is simply unacceptable. We will push back against the growing bias and sloppiness we see in the mainstream media as it concerns serious political blogging. If we do not we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not, we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story. If we do not we leave it to others to define us and defame us.

Please call Julie Shue at the The National Press Club and politely insist that they include John Aravosis of Americablog.org at their event. Here are there numbers: 202-662-7500 or 202-662-7501.

Sincerely,

Sean-Paul Kelley, http://www.agonist.org
DCMediagirl, http://www.dcmediagirl.com
Ezra Klein, http://ezraklein.typepad.com
Echidne of the snakes, http://www.echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com
Amanda Marcotte, http://www.pandagon.net
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher, http://www.BuzzFlash.com
Matt Stoller, http://bopnews.com
Democratic Underground http://www.democraticunderground.com/
Lindsay Beyerstein http://majikthise.typepad.com
Shakespeare's Sister, http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com and http://www.bigbrassblog.com
Bob Brigham, www.SwingStateProject.com



 



Housing Bubble/Crash

Putting Stock in Property,
"This is more exciting than a mutual fund," Boome said. "It feels safer too. You buy a piece of dirt, you feel you'll always have a piece of dirt."

[. . .] They're cashing in retirement funds, selling stock and taking out second mortgages. They're pouring the money into real estate, often in distant states, often without seeing the property.

"Markets are ruled by either fear or greed," said Robert Campbell, a San Diego investor who has written a book on timing the real estate market. "At the moment, it's all about greed. Huge numbers of people are buying in at very high prices."

Economists have been wondering for at least a year if real estate is in a manic phase that will end unhappily.
Angry Bear: Housing: Speculation and the Price-Rent Ratio

I was going to link to and quote from a number of recent articles, and then I found Housing Crash Blog, and its links to recent articles on the subject. So just go there.




3/27/2005
 



Moderates, Academics, and Democrats

Recently on Kos and MYDD there's been a discussion of the left blogosphere which traces back to an old post by Kevin Drum. The gist of the discussion is here:

If you remove Atrios, the left blogosphere is neatly divided into two mutually-linking spheres: the moderate/intellectual (academicky) types - Drum, DeLong, Yglesias, TPM, Tapped, Crooked Timber - and the left activist types - Kos, MyDD, Digby, Left Coaster, Pandagon (only this one surprised me a bit). Even at the modest 5-link level, none of these blogs link to anyone on other side.
Here are a few points I'd like to add to the discussion:

The moderation of the journalists (TAPPED, Marshall) has a lot to do with the fact that the career path for committed, aggressive liberal Democrats is pretty puny. What you see on TV, on the talk shows, and on most of the newspapers is almost entirely conservative Republicans, centrists of both parties, and apolitical professionals. Beyond ideology, ambitious journalists can't afford to offend important people in the biz, even if they are egregiously dishonest, and from time to time all of them make a point of saying nice things about whoever they think is the least loathesome guy on the other side of the aisle.

Bob Somerby is the person they don't dare to be. Recently he applauded a statement of Josh Marshall's about the dismal state of reporting on this issue or that, but pointed out that Marshall had failed to name any names.
Somerby is almost always right, but he names names and has made too many enemies.

The people at TAPPED have slammed Somerby whenever they've gotten the chance, and lo! -- Nick Confessore just got hired by the New York Times.

I think that the collegiality of academia, combined with excessive doses of Orwell and Gandhi, tend to incapacitate academics for the kind of gutter fighting you need when you're facing Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Grover Norquist. I think that the habits and ways characteristic of academic institutions are the problem, and I think that many of these habits and ways are also characteristic of the various other kinds of large institutions where Democrats tend to make their careers. The Republicans hire semi-criminal entrepreneurs, and it works for them.

Finally, Ivy-League whiz kids bring a lot to the party, but I think that they're too influential. They tend to have a pretty limited class experience, and even the ones who come from non-elite backgrounds can be careerists intent on escaping from their past. To put it simply, I think that the Democrats should hire more people from SW Texas State and fewer from Harvard.

Before I get accused of being a know-nothing Maoist-Populist wrecker, I don't think that anyone should be purged because of their background. But I do think that there's been a skew in the Democratic Party which should be corrected. The Democrats' populist roots are still featured at Roosevelt-Kennedy nostalgia fests, but are not very evident in the party's real-time activities. Republican populism is fake, but it works.

And finally -- as always, I think that the big fact of today's political world is that there are no good guys on the other side of the aisle, and that Democrats should quit looking for them.

(Temporarily out of retirement).


Update - Also Ian at Blogging of the President


 



Nuclear

I wonder if global warming and world oil demand mean it's time to re-think nuclear energy. In my opinion the consequences of getting our energy from fossil fuels are greater than the risks from nuclear energy.


 



Funny, or Scary?

Here is an example of the kind of e-mail you get when Fox News gives out your blog's name:
No wonder you sound like a liberal faggot - you look like a queer.
And, many of you have seen the kind of comment that they leave:
Kerry lost not because he was a bad candidate, but that he represents bad ideology. Dave Johnson lives in a state that other than voter fraud in King County would probably be a red state. Funny how the blue states are mainly on the least coast and the party there is made up of limousine liberals, sissies, and union thugs. The left coast is made up of faggots, baby killers, and religion haters. Dave Johnson must be a queer.
They are from the same guy, who identifies himself as a "Colonel." But they are a few days apart - that's what creeps me about this one, coming back later and finding my picture. For the record I live in California, not Washington, and do not write comic strips. I was a video game designer 20 years ago. (The reporter was very nice and hard working and made an honest mistake with that.)


 



Government DID Help Saudis Leave After 9/11!

New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis After 9/11
The episode has been retold so many times in the last three and a half years that it has become the stuff of political legend: in the frenzied days after Sept. 11, 2001, when some flights were still grounded, dozens of well-connected Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, managed to leave the United States on specially chartered flights.

Now, newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.

The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.
The key for me line in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 movie was: Imagine how the press and conservatives would react if, after the Oklahoma City bombing, we learned that Bill Clinton had helped get Timothy McVeigh's family out of the country.




3/26/2005
 



Whiskey Bar: The Passion of Terri

Show me the way to the next Whiskey Bar
Oh, don’t ask why
Oh, don’t ask why

Just go read.


 



Financial Ruin

From this story about housing prices in the SF Bay Area, House buying: receding dream:
"With Bay Area home prices rising steeply over the past two years, most buyers have opted for adjustable-rate mortgages -- often with the option of ``interest-only'' payments -- to ensure affordable monthly payments.

In the first two months of 2005, 82 percent of people who bought homes in the nine Bay Area counties and Santa Cruz County got adjustable-rate mortgages..."
The "For Sale" signs are sprouting like mushrooms. It probably won't be long now.

How many of you remember the Savings and Loan crisis, and the root causes?




3/25/2005
 



Republicans Set Up Phony Front Group to Testify at Hearing!

The story is at THE BRAD BLOG.

Apparently the Republicans set up a phony front group to testify at a Congressional hearing on voting rights. But what really makes this story good is the pictures in the blog post.

(Through Oliver Willis.)


 



Advertising Money Subsidizing the Right, Moonies

I visited the Moonie Washngton Times to see this story, Conservative Web site, Heritage split. At the top of the page, at least when I visited, was a large banner ad that said, "Now Hiring," from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with a Department of Homeland Security logo. Clicking the ad took me to this page.

How much do you think the TSA paid the Moonies to put the ad there? Did they pay normal rates? Double? Have you seen ads like this in non-right-wing media? WHO is the TSA trying to recruit by advertising with the Moonies, and why?

I checked NewsMax, and didn't see any government-paid ads, but you might be interested to know that NewsMax brags that Sears, Hitachi, Citibank, OfficeMax and Purina advertise with them.

WorldNetDaily has University of Phoenix, Cisco Systems, Xerox, Blockbuster.

Drudge has NetFlix, Monster.com, Starbucks, EarthLink, Sprint...

You might want to really think about whether those companies deserve your business.


 



IMPORTANT NOTICE

Important Changes to Your Citizenship Agreement - Please read and retain for your records.:
[. . .] SECTION 11
The Rule of Law section of the Agreement remains in effect, except that it no longer applies to Us. It may also, from time to time, cease to apply to Contributors above a certain level (see Schedule G, attached).

SECTION 13
The Cruel and Unusual Punishment section of the Agreement is unchanged, except that "unusual" is amended to read "unusual in Texas."





3/24/2005
 



Cursor's Media Transparency

It's a good idea to check in regularly at Cursor's Media Transparency and see what they have going on.

Also, scroll down. The articles stack.


 



Right-Wingers, Read This

TalkLeft: Did Congress Really Want to Save Terri Schiavo's Life?
Meanwhile, former Senate majority counsel Julian Epstein was on Larry King tonight. He said Congress didn't really want to save Terri Schiavo's life. He was faxed a draft of the legislation in advance and said he told Congress staffers that the law wouldn't work, but that there were options that could work. He said Congress could easily have assured the reinsertion of the feeding tube by writing an automatic stay into the law -- or by creating new evidentiary rules. Congress' refusal to do so, Julian says, means it knowingly passed a half-hearted law that wouldn't work.
They once again got the political use out of the Christians without giving the Christians anything. How long can they keep that up? Apparently, forever.


 



Norman Spinrad: corporate publishing oligopoly dooming science fiction novel

Just read the latest "On Books" column for Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, written by Norman Spinrad (author of, among others, the classic SF novels "Bug Jack Barron" and "The Iron Dream"). In it, he details the sorry state of science fiction publishing (one look at the lousy design of the IASFM web site is worth a thousand words on the economic state of the industry... not to mention the lack of interior illustrations in recent issues), and a very sad and woleful tale it is. Major publishers count themselves lucky to distribute 15,000 copies of a "mass market" publication. Small press publishers deem 1,000 copies a major success.


"Major publishers seem to be in the process of dropping literarily ambitious science fiction from their SF lines. I see the best minds of my generation and the ones that followed surrendering into small press publication in order to be published at all, or adapting their talents to fantasy, or in my case historical fiction–to earn a living, to be sure–but also to reach a readership of any meaningful size."


The ultimate result, in his view, will be the death of "science fiction" as we know it... and the loss of our society's primary vehicle for cultural transformation. Here's what he has to say on the subject:


Science fiction can envision not just technology and science beyond that presently existing in the universe of the reader, but cultures evolved beyond our own, and create a belief in the reader that such things are possible, indeed must demonstrate that they cohere with the realm of the possible in order to do so.

And if one believes that something is possible and it really is, one can be moved to attempt to make it so. Thus science fiction is not only a visionary literature that can transcend the culture in which it is created, but a transformational literature that can, and has from time to time, evolved those cultures onward.

An inherently revolutionary literature, in the macrocosm and the microcosm. For while it is said that no consciousness can comprehend a consciousness evolved beyond its own, science fiction readers are gifted with that comprehension all the time by writers who create such fictional characters. And by inhabiting the consciousness of such characters, armed with the belief that they exist in the realm of the possible, cannot readers aspire to attain the next level?

A revolutionary literature. A visionary literature. A transformational literature.

The one and the only.

[...]

If you have no means of imagining and communicating a vision of something above and beyond the present state, you end up with a culture with no means of even conceptualizing it, let alone calling it into being.


You can log one more negative side effect of corporate consolidation and media monopolies... the potential death of our culture's ability to evolve and respond to new challenges.

This from someone on our side of the fence - he participated in unauthorized street protests during the Republican National Convention last year (just before he wrote this column). There's a hint, earlier on, that perhaps some of the small press publishers can grow themselves into "independent" publishers... perhaps the answer to the call to revolution he ends the column with is for us, the readers, to set up our own self-contained economic ecology (much like the Christians have done).

Santa Cruz's resident curmudgeon columnist, Bruce Bratton, has written for three weeks straight about Jennifer Nix's challenge to major figures on the left, Sleeping With The Enemy, asking why folks such as Michael Moore, Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower choose to make fortunes for media conglomerates rather than helping small independent publishers such as Chelsea Green (her company) grow... even writing these authors and getting no response from any of them.

Its a serious question... how addicted are we to the corporate culture we inhabit? Can we really envision an alternative? One for which we'd honestly be willing to put our money where our mouth is? If folks as eminent as the ones Bruce mentions in his column can't do so, what does it say about the chances of the rest of us?

--Thomas Leavitt




3/23/2005
 



Dear Progressive Bloggers

You're doing it again. You're not seeing what is really going on. You are missing the bigger picture. You are looking at trees and missing the forest. Do you really, after all this time and all these defeats, think the Right is stupid?

You mock the Republicans for blatantly acting politically, and ignore that they ARE ACTING POLITICALLY. In other words, they're acting in the way that will in the long term gain them more support for their candidates and issues.

You mock their politicians for flocking to this because of a Republican talking points memo telling them this will gain them a political advantage, yet you do not see that THIS WILL GAIN THEM POLITICAL ADVANTAGE.

You're nitpicking details and ignoring the larger narrative. They are "trying to save this poor woman." They are "defending this poor woman's family." Meanwhile, you are pointing out discrepancies in the finer details. "What about her husband?" you ask when they talk about her parents. "She can't feel pain," you say, when they accuse Democrats of starving her to death. How many people hear that they are trying to save this poor woman? Everyone. How many people, over time, will pay attention to the nitpicking details?

You THINK what the Republicans are doing is unpopular with the public because you see the issue details in the polls and think they matter. Polls say people wouldn't want to live if they were in her situation. Polls say the state should have precedence over the Feds. But have you seen polls that reflect the larger narrative that the Republican machine is spreading? Do the polls ask if Republicans are trying to save this poor woman's life, while Democrats are trying to kill her? What do you think those polls would say?

You point out how hypocritical the Republicans are being without thinking about WHY. Stop arguing details, getting all caught up and pinned down. Start arguing the larger narrative.

Tune in to Limbaugh. Go read the Right's press. They are escalating this. Ask yourself why.

And watch your backs.

Update Never mind polls showing the public thinks Congress shouldn't interfere, feels they would want to die in the same situation, etc. Those are narrow issue points. WE ALREADY KNOW that we win on issues. But they win on the larger strategic narratives. We know all these things and here we are doing it all over again.

We're arguing the details of their lies instead of reaching the broader, general public with a larger narrative that reinforces public acceptance of the benefits of underlying Progressive values.





3/22/2005
 



Contrasts

August, 2001, Bush receives a memo titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," leaves for vacation.

March, 2005, Bush receives a Republican strategy memo saying "This is a great political issue, ... and this is a tough issue for Democrats," flies back from vacation for emergency Congressional session.

Party over country.


 



Mike's Blog Roundup

At Crooks and Liars


 




Digby,

We're immersed in information because we travel the blogosphere. So we understand about the Right and what it is doing and how. We've all read Brock's book The Republican Noise Machine, for example, and analyzed it and talked about it and written about it and seen examples of what he's talking about and writen about them and read about them on other blogs until it's just second nature to all of us. We see it now.

I think people outside of the blogosphere are way behind us in this understanding. Many opinion leaders are some of the worst, most misinfored, most susceptible to Washington dinner party conventional wisdom. But maybe not so surprisingly, since they are the first TARGETS of the huge Right-wing propaganda operation. Of course Washington dinner party converation is exactly where such a propaganda effort would place much of its focus. But some - just some - are starting to see it.

So we should cut them SOME slack, but I think we also owe it to them and to the country to get the information to them. I think we all need to make an effort to reach them, the Friedmans and the Liebermans and the public, with the information about the Right's $400 million-per-year network of propaganda organizations and HOW they operate, and repeat this over and over.

When the Germans and the Soviets started bombarding US with their propaganda, the government went to the media and taught them about what was going on, and how to spot it, and how to defend against it... We need a similar national-scale effort NOW, because now it is the government, under the control of a malignant political party that is merging with the state, and using the power and resources of the state to consolidate Party power...


 



Must read material...

Toward a Unified Theory of Black America


 



Church Accused Of Political Activity

The IRS is accusing a church of violating its tax-exempt status for engaging in political activities.

Read the next line only if you are sitting down. They are making the accusation because of an appearance by a Democratic candidate. Yes, you heard me right:
"The IRS has notified a Liberty City church that it is under investigation for possibly engaging in political activity -- putting its tax-exempt status into question.

The probe is related to an appearance last October by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several black leaders, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson."
The agencies of the government are being used to enforce a one-party state. Churches and religious leaders publicly support the Republican Party with impunity. Catholic Bishops and Southern Baptists tell their flocks it is a sin to vote for Democrats, but this is allowed.

And just to drive the point home, the government investigates a church because it allowed a Democrat to speak.

The IRS is also investigating the NAACP for political activity. Not the Heritage Foundation, Cato, American Enterprise Institute, or any of the 500 other organizations in the "conservative movement" network, financed to the tune of $400 million a year, that are the core of the Republican Party. Nope, not them.

Next it will be jobs. If you are a Democrat you don't get hired, don't get promoted, etc...




3/21/2005
 



Visit A New Blog

Visit a random webog from the loooongggg "Links to Other Weblogs" blogroll a ways down the left column here. There are so many good things to read, and it is such a great community of Progressive bloggers. Don't get stuck in a rut.

Of course, come back here every day.


 



Been There?

Been to The Sideshow lately?


 



Oh My God!

Not to echo Atrios or anything, but HOLY CRAP! A "conservative" pundit is writing about the corruption of the conservatives!

Update - McCain Blocks DeLay Investigation


 



test

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Bloggered

IF you knew to scroll wayyyyy down the page, you are seeing this. I have no idea why Blogger does this sometimes.


 



Good Blog Summaries

Good places to visit:

The Daou Report

Peek: The Blog Of Blogs

Cursor Media Patrol


 



Bring The Troops Home?

Is it really a good idea to bring these guys home, where the Republicans will be making up stories about how treasonous Democrats and Liberals betrayed them, and hate them, and are working with terrorists to kill their families?

Warning - the video is probably too disturbing for most of us. (American soldiers in Iraq killing a dog for fun.)




3/20/2005
 



Bloggered Yet Again

As you can probably see, the site is bloggered yet again...


 



Great Animated Cartoon

At skippy the bush kangaroo.




3/19/2005
 



Drives Me Crazy

See the updates at the bottom of this post.

I am upset by the tone of John's post below.

I just got home from a very long day, and will get some sleep and think about what I want to say about it.

Update It was the language, directed at a person, that bothered me. John addressed this. Everything is OK now.

Also, I think (hope) Kevin's post might have been misinterpreted. But misinterpreted or not, Kevin quoted and did not address Milbank mentioning "a press that brought the Clinton scandals to light". GOOD LORD, THERE WERE NO CLINTON SCANDALS!!!! Just one guy got a blow job. That's it! After all of the accusations and investigations - investigations that distracted from real issues and threats - not a SINGLE accusation turned out to have any merit at all, and not a SINGLE member of the administration was found to have done anything wrong! The investigations were so thorough and the members of the Clinton administration were so clean that one guy was found to have overbilled clients years earlier, and was sent to Federal prison for a long time for it. That's the whole thing.

Saying there were "Clinton scandals" is a right-wing talking point. It is part of a strategic campaign of lies to discredit legitimate government and pave the way for the right-wing/corporate takeover of the country that we have seen occur. Aside from anything else in the post, Kevin should have picked that up and called Milbank on that. Milbank should have understood what he was saying. These are the kinds of things we should all be aware of now.

I can't address the rest of what Kevin was saying because I'm not sure what he was saying. Kevin drives me crazy that way, but I have learned to give him the benefit of the doubt because he IS on our side.

Update Digby writes about the Clinton Scandals aspect of this:
The Clinton scandals were contrived political character assassination that were investigated to the tune of 70 million dollars by numerous Republican congressional committees and Republican special prosecutors and WERE PROVED TO BE WITHOUT MERIT!!! The mainstream press were not muckrakers, they were willing whores and shills for a partisan agenda. They obsessed over a decades old land deal, the firing of some employees in the travel office, some bozo in the basement reading FBI files and Clinton's sex life among many other trivial charges. None of them came to anything. These facts are clear.

[. . .] (And I mean right wing generated gossip because it's clear that they will not breathlessly pursue a Republican sex scandal with equal fervor even when it features a gay prostitute in the conservative White House press room who plastered pictures of his erections all over the internet.)

[. . .] It's been clear for more than a decade that the mainstream media responds almost unthinkingly to the deafening sounds of the right wing noise machine and now seems paralyzed by the power the Republican establishment exerts over it.
So here we are. We all watched the media go after Clinton - who ran the most honest, public-serving, dedicated and intelligent government possibly in our nation's entire history. We all watched them repeat and echo every single accusation and lie, no matter how ridiculous. And now we all watch the very same media provide cover for outright theft of the country's savings, absolute corporate crony corruption, even wars of aggression and torture. But it's the way it is and how long do we continue to whine and complain about it before we start DOING something about it?

John is right, they have taken over, with The Party increasingly using the power and resources of the state to enforce one-party rule. The country is drifting toward corporate fascism and the question is how repressive and violent might they get toward us, the enemy within?

But the Soviet Union fell, and Marcos, and the Shah, and other entrenched one-party states have fallen. So we can't give up hope. We have to try to inform the public and resist the Right's takeover as best we can. Giving up really is not an option, in my opinion.


 



WHY I QUIT

Below (slightly edited) is what I wrote in response to this post by Kevin Drum, in which he said "I continue to believe that on a list of problems with the American media, ideological bias barely cracks the top ten." (Remember, guys -- in theory, Kevin is on our side.)

This kind of post is why I think that Kevin is worthless, and a good part of the reason why I gave up on blogging, the Democratic Party, and the US.

Kevin thinks what he thinks, and he's always thought what he thought, and please don't disturb him with reality.

The Washington Monthly has had this attitude written into its charter for decades. No one connected with that journal is allowed to think differently. (Though Kevin already thought that way and isn't being coerced.)

Kevin, you ******, ********* ***** ** ****, it's NOT SYMMETRICAL. And everyone knows it's not, except you and other ****** of your ilk. There's a hefty conservative media in this country, and there's a big moderate / neutral media in this country, but there's only a puny liberal media. A little radio, almost no TV or cable, and no national newspaper.

Kevin doesn't see this because he thinks that he is the real left and that everyone to his left is just plain crazy.

It's hopeless, guys. Bush won, and Kevin hasn't even noticed yet.

P.S.

I just realized that part of the problem is that Kevin is unable to understand the idea that there could be "neutral bias" or "centrist bias". To him bias is only right / left bias, and he's very happy that the left is as feeble as it is, because that means half the bias is gone.

P.P.S.

Someone whose opinion I greatly respect (Dave Johnson) believes that I went over the top when I described Kevin Drum as " * ********* ***** ** ***** ". Probably he's right. I spent a year trying to get Kevin's attention via civil communication, and it proved to be a waste of time, so I escalated.

I basically think that the game is over and that we're headed for a one-party state, and in that context I found it infuriating to read Kevin playing the same old moral-parity game and worrying that liberals might start acting as mean as conservatives do. Most of the Democratic Party seems oblivious to what's happening.

So is this an apology?

Who cares? The game is over. Bush won and we lost. He's going to remake the world, and we're going to sit and watch.



 



No More IMAX Movies About Science

A New Screen Test for Imax: It's the Bible vs. the Volcano,
The fight over evolution has reached the big, big screen.

Several Imax theaters, including some in science museums, are refusing to show movies that mention the subject - or the Big Bang or the geology of the earth - fearing protests from people who object to films that contradict biblical descriptions of the origin of Earth and its creatures.
Thanks to The Blogging of the President.




3/18/2005
 



Have You Been?

Have you been to Social Security -There Is No Crisis LATELY?


 



The American Street

Friday Funnies at The American Street.


 



Bloggered

Bl;ogger has been acting up for about a week, and it is very difficult to post. Bear with us.




3/17/2005
 



Recommended Read - Too Much Stuff

I recommend reading Daily Kos :: Everything I Own, Owns Me:
"My 'stuff' makes claims on me daily. And my stuff, and your stuff, is in danger of destroying the world as we know it. Does that sound melodramatic? Follow me after the jump for a view of the real impact 'stuff' has on us--both personally and globally."
Lots there to think about.


 



Conservative Pundit Hall of Fame

Over at Democratic Veteran go see the "Conservative Pundit Hall of Fame."
"Conservative Pundits we salute, who have enlisted and are in Iraq or Afghanistan now as members of the US Forces"
It's in the right column.


 



Electronic Voting

Daily Kos :: Ghost in the Machine: a collection of e-voting facts. Go scare yourself.


 



Life Disruption

Our landlord is selling the duplex we have lived in for 7 years. We have been given a 60-day notice to move out because the realtor says it will sell quicker if it is empty. (An empty rental as compared to one with tenants?)

We have landscaped the yard, and have a vegetable garden. We have two dogs, so it will be hard to find a new place to live. Our whole life is disrupted.

My wife's mother, in England faced a similar situation. Her landlord wanted to sell. But England has some remnants of "socialism" so the landlord was required to relocate them into a similar home, with similar rent, and pay the moving costs. The idea was that accepting rent for providing a home brought an obligation to actually provide a home.

Welcome to America, where money talks and people don't matter.




3/16/2005
 



Republican Jihad

Bush gives the International community the finger: Paul Wolfowitz to run World Bank.

Bush gives the Mother Earth the finger: ANWR open for drilling

Update: Here's the roll call for the vote on ANWR - note that 7 Republicans (plus Jeffords) voted to remove ANWR from the budget bill... but three Democrats didn't: Akaka and Inoye from Hawaii (what's up with that?) and Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. Those three votes made the difference ... party discipline would have shifted the vote from 49-51 in favor, to 52-48.

If you're a D in Hawaii or Louisiana, I suggest you complain, loudly. If you're from a state with a Republican that voted to preserve ANWR, call your Senator up and praise them, enthusiastically.


 



NJ Sec. State Gets Uppity

Politician's Speech Sparks Racial Furor At High School.




3/15/2005
 



Fox News: Highly Opinionated (really)

[One for the "media literacy" file. -Thomas]

An Opinionated Network

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 14, 2005; 7:05 AM

In covering the Iraq war last year, 73 percent of the stories on Fox News included the opinions of the anchors and journalists reporting them, a new study says.

By contrast, 29 percent of the war reports on MSNBC and 2 percent of those on CNN included the journalists' own views.

These findings -- the figures were similar for coverage of other stories -- "seem to challenge" Fox's slogan of "we report, you decide," says the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

In a 617-page report, the group also found that "Fox is more deeply sourced than its rivals," while CNN is "the least transparent about its sources of the three cable channels, but more likely to present multiple points of view."

The project defines opinion as views that are not attributed to others.

Full text at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A33008-2005Mar14?language=printer


--Thomas Leavitt


 



Boycott Talking Points Memo

I'm boycotting Talking Points Memo until Josh Marshall returns. And Josh has some explaining to do when he returns. Here's what's written there today:
I actually agree with Marshall [he is not referring to Josh Marshall - dj] and the DLC on the suicidal purity of the Democratic party’s left wing, embodied by the Howard Dean movement and its fanatical internet contingent...
This is written at a blog?

Update - 1) It's a guest blogger. 2) I have nothing against Josh Marshall and will start reading his blog again when Josh returns and the insulting and divisive guest blogger is gone.


 



Bloggers

Get this on your blog.


 



Christians Demand To Be Only Religion In Schools

American Family Association of Michigan demands schools not allow students to mention Wicca.




3/14/2005
 




The piano solo from John Coltrane's My Favorite Things.


 



The Next Hurrah

The Next Hurrah


 



Run Against DeLay

What Chris says. Word.


 



Blogging

gapingvoid: good for you?


 



He's Gone

Delia, oh, Delia Delia all my life
If I hadn't have shot poor Delia I'd have had her for my wife
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

I went up to Memphis And I met Delia there
Found her in her parlor And I tied to her chair
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

She was low down and trifling And she was cold and mean
Kind of evil make me want to Grab my sub machine
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

First time I shot her I shot her in the side
Hard to watch her suffer But with the second shot she died
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

But jailer, oh, jailer Jailer, I can't sleep
'Cause all around my bedside I hear the patter of Delia's feet
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

So if you woman's devilish You can let her run
Or you can bring her down and do her Like Delia got done
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone
And
I remember one night, Tex and me
Rappelled in on a hot L.Z.
We had our 16's on rock and roll
But, with all that fire, was scared and cold
We were crazy, we were wild And I have seen the tiger smile
I spit in a bamboo viper's face And I'd be dead , but by God's grace

Drive on, don't mean nothin'
My children love me, but they don't understand
And I got a woman who knows her man
He's gone.


 



Party and State Merge

Will anyone go to jail for this?

You might not realize it yet but what you're looking at on this web page is the scariest thing that has happened in America in a very long time. It's the government telling you to support The Party.




3/13/2005
 



Stop Fake News

Start Change Now -> Stop Fake News: "Please send an email to the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department and ask them to Stop Fake News. "


 



Government Spent $254 Million Promoting Bush's Re-Election

From this story, Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News:
Some reports were produced to support the administration's most cherished policy objectives, like regime change in Iraq or Medicare reform. Others focused on less prominent matters, like the administration's efforts to offer free after-school tutoring, its campaign to curb childhood obesity, its initiatives to preserve forests and wetlands, its plans to fight computer viruses, even its attempts to fight holiday drunken driving. They often feature "interviews" with senior administration officials in which questions are scripted and answers rehearsed. Critics, though, are excluded, as are any hints of mismanagement, waste or controversy.
One specific example is the effort to promote Bush's scam Medicare bill. Note how the taxpayer-funded ads were coordinated with Bush campaign themes:
Her Medicare report, for example, was distributed in January 2004, not long before Mr. Bush hit the campaign trail and cited the drug benefit as one of his major accomplishments.

The script suggested that local anchors lead into the report with this line: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare." In the segment, Mr. Bush is shown signing the legislation as Ms. Ryan describes the new benefits and reports that "all people with Medicare will be able to get coverage that will lower their prescription drug spending."

The segment made no mention of the many critics who decry the law as an expensive gift to the pharmaceutical industry. The G.A.O. found that the segment was "not strictly factual," that it contained "notable omissions" and that it amounted to "a favorable report" about a controversial program.

And yet this news segment, like several others narrated by Ms. Ryan, reached an audience of millions. According to the accountability office, at least 40 stations ran some part of the Medicare report. Video news releases distributed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, including one narrated by Ms. Ryan, were shown on 300 stations and reached 22 million households.
Marketing people know that $254 million buys a lot of exposure. This reported $254 million is only money spent by the government on pro-Bush PR. It does not cover pro-Bush announcements, etc. by agencies of the government. And all this is on top of the $3-400 million per year spent by the Right's network of think tanks, which was also outside of the reported Party $300 million-plus campaign spending. It also does not include the 24-hour-a-day Republican AM radio machine, Fox News, Republican newspapers, etc.


 



Blogger Suckitude

Everything Lambert says.

Except I can't seem to get this to post. Maybe you'll eventually see it, unless it crashes. Or several times if it duplicates itself.

Google: a company that refuses to provide any customer support whatsoever. Actually, that's pretty much ALL Silicon Valley companies, no?


 



Skank Bolton

I've been grousing to myself, as I so often do, about yet another Bush appointment: John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. This was announced after Rice swept across Europe full of protestations that the U.S. would turn over a new leaf, and work respectfully with others. Well, that didn't last long. Bolton! Only a punk would nominate Bolton.

Now I read a story that lends substance to my churning and inchoate disgust. This article recounts the sorry history of the biological weapons treaty. Work on an enforcement mechanism for this treaty began in 1995. After initially signalling support, the Bush Administration sabotaged it at the 11th hour, sending Bolton, after six years of work, with the message that the U.S. did not support an enforcement protocol. This was really about the U.S. claiming full freedom to do any and all work on bio weapons which it chose. Academic experts were horrified and predicted a bio weapons arms race. Here is where it gets interesting:

A year later, China discovered SARS and tried to hide it. Three months later, terrified of the possibilities of its spreading throughout China and the world, it notified the World Health Organization, which immediately organized an emergency response on a scale unprecedented for any new illness. The WHO, too, was obviously terrified.

SARS was brought under control, but within the WHO, suppressed by pressure from a certain superpower, was an analysis of the SARS virus showing it to be an artificial creation designed to kill fast and furiously.

The conclusion was that it had somehow escaped from a military lab, which explained why, for three months, the Chinese authorities had hoped to counter the threat, ultimately in vain.

In the end, the Chinese were only too happy to have the analysis suppressed, and the superpower in question averted a major worldwide debate on the need for a bioweapons treaty with an enforcement mechanism.


I wish this were only about Bolton! Clearly he is a substantial contributor to the decline of international cooperation. Unfortunately the real story is the resulting decline in security which effects each one of us.


 



Chomsky - LINK FIXED

My mother sent me a pointer to this...


Elections Run by Same Guys Who Sell Toothpaste
LINK FIXED!!!

[...]

The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste. They show you an image of a sports hero, or a sexy model, or a car going up a sheer cliff or something, which has nothing to do with the commodity, but it's intended to delude you into picking this one rather than another one. Same when they run elections. But they're assigned that task in order to marginalize the public, and furthermore, people are pretty well aware of it.

For many years, election campaigns here have been run by the public relations industry and each time it's with increasing sophistication. Quite naturally, the industry uses the same technique to sell candidates that it uses to sell toothpaste or lifestyle drugs. The point is to undermine markets by projecting imagery to delude and suppressing information-and similarly, to undermine democracy by the same method.

[...]

--Thomas Leavitt




3/12/2005
 



Fighting Back: Narrow Issues vs Core Values

In 'I Have a Nightmare', Nicholas Kristoff writes about the essay "The Death of Environmentalism," seemingly without having read it to the end. Kristoff writes that the environmental movement lost credibility by making alarming claims that haven't come true. He writes,
"The Death of Environmentalism" notes that a poll in 2000 found that 41 percent of Americans considered environmental activists to be "extremists." There are many sensible environmentalists, of course, but overzealous ones have tarred the entire field."
Is Kristoff unaware that there is a well-funded right-wing movement in this country that uses lies, smears and humiliation as a primary tactic to sway public opinion? "Extremist" is the wording the Right uses to discredit environmentalists, and Rush Limbaugh uses to describe environmentalists on his 20-some-million-listener radio show. No wonder 41 percent of Americans use the word! But Kristoff unintentionally echoes the "conventional wisdom" of the Right's smear campaign -- it's environmentalists' fault people think they're "extremists" because they scream "the sky is falling" like Chicken Littles. It's like saying "if only Jews [blacks, gays, women, etc.] didn't act that way people wouldn't hate them."

What I took from the "The Death of Environmentalism" was that the authors think money spent promoting environmental issues might be better spent, in the current climate of public attitudes, on fighting the Right at a deeper level, promoting core Progressive values to the general public, to foster development of a sustainable political coalition to elect candidates who support environmentalism.

Read the essay, judge for yourself. From its conclusions:
While it's obvious that conservatives control all three branches of government and the terms of most political debates, it's not obvious why. This is because environmentalists and other liberals have convinced themselves that, in politics, "the issues" matter and that the public is with us on categories such as "the environment" and "jobs" and "heath care." What explains how we can simultaneously be "winning on the issues" and losing so badly politically?

[. . .] Conservative foundations and think tanks have spent 40 years getting clear about what they want (their vision) and what they stand for (their values).

[. . .] Environmental groups have spent the last 40 years defining themselves against conservative values like cost-benefit accounting, smaller government, fewer regulations, and free trade, without ever articulating a coherent morality we can call our own. Most of the intellectuals who staff environmental groups are so repelled by the right's values that we have assiduously avoided examining our own in a serious way. Environmentalists and other liberals tend to see values as a distraction from "the real issues" -- environmental problems like global warming.

[. . .] If environmentalists hope to become more than a special interest we must start framing our proposals around core American values and start seeing our own values as central to what motivates and guides our politics. Doing so is crucial if we are to build the political momentum -- a sustaining movement -- to pass and implement the legislation that will achieve action on global warming and other issues.
Read the entire essay. It represents an important turning point in Progressive thinking about promoting narrow-interest issues v.s. core values.


 



Square Liberalism: Ibsen's"Enemy of the People"


The plays of Henrik Ibsen dominated European drama for half a century, and to this day much of theatre can be thought of dialectically as "anti-Ibsen". James Joyce in his teens was an Ibsenist who taught himself Dano-Norwegian in order to read the plays in the original, and in the stories in Dubliners (to say nothing of some of his youthful works) you can still see signs of Ibsen's realism -- though without Ibsen's reformist message.

According to Kenneth Rexroth the slang word "square" came from "squarehead" -- the seaman's ethnic slur for the relatively-stodgy Scandinavians among them -- and Ibsen was the squarest person in the world. For him right was right, truth was truth, and if there's a problem, something should be done about it.

The Enemy of the People was probably Ibsen's squarest play. Doctor Stockman, a highly-respected M.D. and community leader in a small Norwegian town, discovers that the mineral waters of the town's soon-to-be-opened health spa have been made toxic by bacterial contamination. He starts to get the word out and proposes a solution, but as the play progresses, his friends and allies -- including the moderate reformists and liberals -- turn against him one by one. At the end of the play he stands alone, having been officially declared "an enemy of the people".

Recently the dramatist Christopher Hampton retranslated the play. From his Introduction:

"However sympathetic he feels for Dr. Stockman's cause, Ibsen is too subtle and profound a dramatist not to know that there are few figures more infuriating than the man who is always right. Stockmann's sincerity, naivety, and courage co-exist with an innocent vanity, an inability to compromise and an indifference to the havoc caused in the life of his family and friends, as well as his own, by his dogged pursuit of principle."

Hampton is wrong. Ibsen was a square, and he wrote the play to show that Doctor Stockman was right, and that his cowardly, corrupt, thuggish enemies were wrong. Everyone in town except Stockman was willing to market a toxic health spa to sick people. An Enemy of the People is a square play. Partly for that reason, it may not be Ibsen's best play -- but "the moral of the story" is absolutely clear.

Like a parson bowdlerizing Shakespeare, Hampton felt the need to misrepresent Ibsen in order to make him palatable to the cynical modern audience. I have speculated elsewhere that we may now be living in a post-ethical age. I didn't say in so many words that I think that this is a bad thing -- but it is.

Democrats and liberals have found it very difficult to make a strong moral statement to the voters, and this is because the so-called Left has been dominated by a combination of shrewd, careerist inside players, and hedonistic personal liberationists preaching relativism. It should have been possible to achieve tolerance and diversity without making moral relativism into an absolute principle, but that's the strategy that ended up being chosen.

The outcome has been crippling. There are square arguments for liberalism, but in the world of today, only the cynical Rovian right can to appeal to squares.

(Note: This is a cross-post from my less-political site, Idiocentrism.com. I'm still in retirement.)




 



Framing vs. Fencing

Daily Kos :: Framing vs. Fencing: A post-Lakoff analysis. Everybody go read. There will be a test this week.




3/10/2005
 



Blow To Small Business Creation

I predict that the new bankruptcy bill will have a damping effect on the formation of small businesses, and this will be one more blow to job creation. This bill makes it just too much of a risk to borrow money to open a laundromat or buy a Subway sandwich franchise.

I have a friend who is a dentist. He has been hoping to one day open a practice with his wife, also a dentist. But that takes money. Hearing about the bankruptcy bill, he said this might just clinch it that they won't be opening that private practice. This is what got me thinking about the effect this could have on a national scale, scaring people away from their dream of one day having their own independent business.


 



Gonna Get Smeared

Evangelical Leaders Swing Influence Behind Effort to Combat Global Warming.

First we'll see stories at NewsMax, GOPUSA and Drudge, then hear them repeated on Limbaugh's radio show, smearing each of these religious leaders and mocking them in a humiliating way. Then there will be a closed-door meeting in the White House from which the leaders will emerge, apologize in front of news cameras saying they made a terrible mistake, that Bush is a glorious leader and prophet. A month later they will all be found dead of suicide with multiple gunshots to the back of the head and body. News reports will say that "liberal bloggers" were responsible for the whole thing.


 



Radio that doesn't suck lives!!!

Last week, I wrote about Mark Morford's column on the overall suckiness of corporate radio, All Hail The Death of Radio. I mentioned that I wrote him about KPIG, a local radio station that is definitely NOT corporate radio. Well, apparently I wasn't alone in the impulse to tell him about radio that doesn't suck, because this week he posted a kind of a mea-culpa: And Now For Some *Real* Radio.

In it he says, "...I never really fully understood, fully comprehended, fully had crammed into my thick iTunes-drunk P2P-dazzled skull before I decried the mad sad corporatization of the airwaves, is just how many vibrant alternatives exist."

And then passes on the collective recommendations of his readers (along with info on how to tune in via the 'net, if possible).

--Thomas Leavitt

P.S. Guess whose recommendation was number two on his list? :)




3/09/2005
 



Saddam Capture Another Lie?

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction:
"A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

'I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced,' Abou Rabeh said.

'We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed,' he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: 'You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting.'

'Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well,' Abou Rabeh said."



 



If Programmers Were As Smart As Longshoremen

BAD ATTITUDES: If Programmers Were As Smart As Longshoremen
I’ve often said that if programmers were as smart as longshoremen, they’d have a contract as good as longshoremen. They don’t, in part because they’re proud of their weakness. They’re proud that they don’t stoop to organizing. Nosiree, these are libertarians, who would not consider acting as a group. That, after all, would hurt the super-rich scumbags they work for. And since everyone expects one day to be in the position of the exploiter, they certainly don’t want to restrict the exploiter’s actions now. Even if they’re currently the exploited.
Through corrente.




3/08/2005
 



Do Dems Ban "Pro-Life" Convention Speakers?

The subject of whether Democrats "ban pro-life speakers" at their conventions is going around again. This originated after anti-choice Pennsylvania Governor Casey was not allowed to address the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he refused to endorse then-Governor Clinton for President. No More Mister Nice Blog has a great post on the subject, and he uses the magic words: "conventional wisdom." Kevin Drum has recently written about it, as have Atrios and Digby.

It so happens that the myth that "Democrats don't allow pro-life speakers at their conventions" came up at a dinner party at the home of some strongly Christian friends just before last year's election. These friends tend to be Democratic voters, but had been getting handouts and magazines at their church, designed to persuade them to vote Republican.

One thing my friends had heard repeatedly was particularly influential. They were saying they were likely to vote for Bush because "Democrats don't allow pro-life people to speak at their conventions." I also hear this repeated all the time, and it has become "conventional wisdom." You probably know that the Republicans usually add that Republicans are the party of the "big tent." In fact, you probably hear this repeated word-for-word, because that's how these things work.

The "Democrats don't allow" and "Republicans are party of big tent" seems to be a powerful, influential combination for persuading potential voters. But I didn't realize just how powerful an effect these words had on people until that dinner party.

So I did some research... Here is the record:

Pro-Life Democrats speaking at the 2004 convention:
Two members of Democrats for Life were among speakers at the party's convention. Rep. Jim Turner of Texas was speaking in the context of his role as ranking minority member of the Homeland Security Committee. Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island introduced Ron Reagan [also "pro-life"], who spoke in favor of embryonic stem-cell research.
2000 Convention: The Catholic Herald:
"Eight years after he was denied a forum at the Democratic convention, the late Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey was given a few moments in the national spotlight. On the closing day of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the governors two sons got the chance to make their fathers points about the sanctity of life.

[. . .] With just a few sentences each, the brothers, two of eight siblings, described their father as "a proud, pro-life Democrat" who "believed every life, born and unborn is sacred. That's why he was a Democrat," said Robert Casey Jr.
Invocation by Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, At the Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles, Monday, August 14, 2000: (Other Catholic archbishops declined invitations to speak in 1984, 1992, and 1996.)
"I welcome you to the "City of Angels" with all its vibrant religious, ethnic, and racial diversity. I come to this great convening out of respect for our nation's democratic traditions. I come as a pastor, not a politician; an advocate of values, not candidates.

[. . .] As you gathered your people into the land that was promised to them, you called them to heed your voice and follow your commandments. These commandments are at once simple and profound: To love God above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We have been called to "choose life" and to "serve the least of these."

[. . .] In the span of just three weeks, our nation's major political parties will have gathered at their conventions to select their candidates for the upcoming presidential campaign. We pray tonight that your Spirit will inspire all candidates, regardless of party, to embody in their words, actions, and policies values that protect all human life, establish peace, promote justice, and uphold the common good. For it is in you, O God, that we trust.

In You, O God, we trust that you will keep us ever committed to protect the life and well-being of all people but especially unborn children, the sick and the elderly, those on skid row and those on death row.

[. . .] We make our prayer in your name.

Amen.
1996 Democratic Convention, Congressman Tony Hall of Ohio:
"Mr. Chairman and fellow Democrats, I have the high honor of speaking to you today about an issue that's very dear to my heart, the needs of the vulnerable in our nation, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the children, and the unborn. The moral test of government, Hubert Humphrey said, is how that government treats those that are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick.

[. . .] I'm a pro-life Democrat. I'm one of about 40 Democrats in the Congress. And many of us have felt left out by our party's position on abortion for many years. But this year is different. For the first time, the Democratic Party has included in our Platform a conscience clause on this divisive issue. It says, "the Democratic Party therefore recognizes that individual members have a right to abide by their conscience on this difficult issue and are welcome participants at every level of the party." The Democratic Party is indeed the party of true inclusions. And it is the party where every American can feel welcome and at home. We Democrats believe that our government and our whole society will be judged on how we treat the least of these among us. So we renew our pledge to be a voice for the voiceless and we reaffirm our commitment to the principle that public service is not an end in itself but rather a means to serve others. With God's help, let us make the United States the compassionate and tolerant nation it was established to be. Thank you very much."
So the fact is that the Democratic Party conventions HAVE had so-called "pro-life" speakers, including the 2000 invocation by a Catholic Archbishop (who is obviously against abortion) talking about protecting "unborn children." And the fact remains that Gov.Casey did refuse to endorse the nominee that year. Add to this that his kids were allowed to give a "pro-life" speech at the next convention. Democrats simply do NOT "ban pro-life speakers." But they DO ban speakers who refuse to endorse the nominee.

As my dinner-party friends can testify, the story carries great weight in persuading people to not support Democrats, by convincing them that Democrats are elitists who ban "pro-life" speakers - banning people who are like them - while Republicans are inclusive "big tent" people - embracing people who are like them. So it is greatly to the benefit of the Republicans that the lie continue to circulate. Repetition is the key to making people believe things. This is an "urban myth" that is useful and powerful so it continues to be repeated.

This is another example of the use of repetition of simple phrases to create "conventional wisdom" or what we call "truisms." Such conventional wisdoms include phrases like "Social Security is going broke," "He gassed his own people" and "Children trapped in failing public schools."

Finally, let me remind you of the Seeing the Forest rule: when Republicans accuse others it probably means it is something they are doing. From a pre-convention Washington Times (a pro-Republican newspaper) story,
More than half the Republicans in the House have signed a formal complaint to President Bush about the failure to give prominent conservative, pro-life party members even one prime-time speaking role at the Republican National Convention.
(All emphasis in the quotes above was added.)

Update - Paul Waldman adds, "Just a couple more – David Bonior (then House Whip) and Harry Reid have both spoken at a few."


 



Remember These Names

Chris at MyDD says, "Remember these names." Well said.

These are the Democrats and so-called "moderate" Republicans who voted to let the bankruptcy bill go forward:
Democrats
Biden-DE; Byrd-WV; Carper-DE; Conrad-ND; Johnson-SD; Kohl-WI; Landrieu-LA; Lieberman-CT; Lincoln-AR; Nelson-FL; Nelson-NE; Pryor-AR; Salazr-CO; Stabenow-MI

"Moderate" Republicans
Allen-VA; Chafee-RI; Collins-ME; Hagel-NE; McCain-AZ; Snowe-ME; Specter-PA; Voinovich-OH
Remember these names.


 



Surprise: America's priorities not on radar of Republicratic Party

The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) just release the results of a poll on the budgetary priorities of the average American citizen. Just to show you how profoundly out of touch the leadership on both sides of the aisle in Washington is, let me ask this question: when was the last time you heard a spokesperson or even a leading light of either party suggest cutting the "defense" budget by anything approaching 31% (the overall average amount)?(*1*)

Who would think from the natterings of our pundit class that 65% of the American public (Democrats and Republicans alike) would favor cutting the "defense" budget and redirecting a significant proportion of the resulting savings into social services and deficit reduction efforts?!?

I found out about this via an article on Truthout (my mother sent it to me this afternoon).

Here's the article's sub-header: "Would reduce deficit, cut defense sharply, and increase spending on education, job training, renewable energy, veterans."

Sounds like a program I could get behind!!!

This is all the more astounding, considering the ongoing effort by The Mighty Wurlitzer to confound and confuse the American public. It appears all they've managed to do is confuse and confound our political ruling class and the media elite that cover them... but, on the other hand, I guess that's all they need to do, right? At least until those of us at the bottom of the political food chain start voting people out of office on a regular basis.

If there is a single politician in Washington who has suggested reallocating our budgetary priorities in the manner outlined in this article (or anything even reasonably close), I'd like to know... because I certainly haven't seen anything to that effect. My guess is there isn't. Even among the "progressives".

Regards,

--Thomas Leavitt

*1* The Green Party's platform in both 2000 and 2004 called for cutting the "defense" budget by 50%; here's the relevant language from the 2004 platform: "Our defense budget has increased out of all proportion to any military threat to the United States, and to our domestic social, economic and environmental needs. The United States government must reduce our defense budget to half of its current size. The 2005 defense budget is estimated at around $425 billion, and that does not take into account military expenditures not placed under the defense budget."

Take a look at the Green Party's platform, and see what you think... even though I don't agree with all of it(*2*), I think there's a ton of stuff in there to like and that is far more in alignment with the values of the average American (exclusive of a few hot button issues) than not.

*2* I think the "steady-state economy" stuff is based on the faulty assumption that economic growth is dependent on the ever increasing consumption of natural resources, as a technologist, whose career has been built on automating systems to enable more to be done with less, I think I have plenty of evidence to argue otherwise.




3/07/2005
 



The Truth About TV News: When Opinion Dominates, Everything Becomes Opinion

Unless we’re careful, we who are charged with reporting the news could lose sight of truth as our ultimate goal. We could end up in a world where, implicitly, none of us — not the audience and not the reporters — even believe any longer in the truth. (see full article by David Westin in CJR)


 



The UN Ambassador

President Bush has nominated "hardliner" John Bolton to be Ambassador to the United Nations. "Imagine Jerry Falwell being placed in charge of marriage in Massachusetts."

This is where Bush has apparently been getting his ideas about how the country should work with the rest of the world. (Hint: scroll to the lower right hand corner.)

Just a coincidence, look at who provides the core funding of the modern right-wing "noise machine" that put Bush into office.


 



Bankruptcy Bill

Talking Points Memo - Special Bankruptcy Edition Blog -- a separate blog just for the bankruptcy bill.




3/06/2005
 



Credit Cards

In case you haven't heard, there's a new bankruptcy bill making its way through Congress. Read up on it here, here and here.

Kevin Drum points out that:
"Bottom line: credit card companies now make half their profits from penalties and late fees. They actively seek out customers who are likely to miss payments and end up in a penalty fee spiral, and they make a fortune from them."
"And where does the bankruptcy bill come into this?
Credit card companies want the ability to make risky loans, but they also want federal protection that protects them from bearing the risk that goes along with making those loans. That's a pretty cushy setup, as long as you can buy yourself enough politicians to make it happen. Apparently they can."
He also writes here about amendments offered by Democrats, that Republicans voted down, and other details:
"The poor get shafted, the very real crisis of medical bankruptcy is ignored, the rich are allowed loopholes that let them off the hook, and credit card companies can continue on their merry way knowing they won't have to pay the price for their own folly."
I stopped using credit cards several years ago. It's AMAZING how good it feels to be free of monthly payments and interest charges. Why would I want to contribute to the machine? If I can't just pay for something I just don't buy it. (Yes, I drive an old beater.)




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