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:




4/07/2003
 



Prosperity?

SOMEthing is just around the corner, but maybe it isn't prosperity.
WASHINGTON - Confronting new fears of recession, the Federal Reserve is refining an emergency economic rescue plan that includes further interest rate cuts and billions of dollars in extra cash for the banking system.

The Fed's effort would be aimed at pulling the country out of a nosedive that has seen 465,000 jobs evaporate in just the past two months, raising fears among economists that the weak recovery from the 2001 recession is in danger of stalling out altogether.
Great.
Because of this, some economists believe the Fed will not wait until its May 6 meeting to put its plan into effect, opting to cut the federal funds rate through an emergency conference call, possibly as soon as this week.

However, other analysts argue that the Fed will likely wait, hoping that the favorable tide of the war will bolster markets in coming weeks and restore confidence.

"I think they will hold off cutting rates again to see if an early, successful conclusion to the war has the desired effect everybody is hoping it will have," said Zandi.
Right, the war will end "early" and everything will be roses. Never mind record levels of public, corporate and private debt. Never mind record low saving rates. Never mind record concentration of wealth. Never mind that all the new jobs are exported to other countries.

Tax cuts for the rich, program cuts for the rest of us, and wars -- all laying on a bed of propaganda to keep the sheep in the corral so they can be sheared. Yep, that's a real prescription for prosperity, all right.




4/06/2003
 



Jobs In A World With High Unemployment

A friend sent me this e-mail she had received:
Our company is developing web sides for several companies last four years in
Bangladesh and wants to explore selling Bangladesh website development services to the whole world. We are offering to recruit our company as the web development part of your company.

We think if you make a business relationship with us you will be able to make more profit than what you do now or you can start a new web service business to your country.

We can say that our service charge is the lowest but the quality is very high.

Property of a Corporate Package:
---------------------------------------------------
This package contains the following features:
=> Home Page
=> 9 Normal Link Pages.
=> One Feedback Page.
=> Necessary Logos, Graphics and Animation

Development Tools
---------------------------
=> HTML
=> Macromedia Dreamweaver
=> Microsoft FrontPage
=> Macromedia Flash
=> Adobe PhotoShop
=> Adobe Illustrator
=> JavaScript
=> VB Script
=> ASP/PHP
=> Access/MySQL Database
Here comes the punch line:
Total Time for the Job: Two week

Development and Designing Cost:
==================================
Total cost of the web site design (Eleven pages) US $100
Additional per page Normal US $10
Additional per page ASP/PHP/Database Related US $35
Great prices, right? Every company in the country is being approached by hundreds of businesses around the world with offers similar to this. Many of them much more credible than the business that sent this e-mail. What this means is many fewer new U.S. web design jobs from now on. The same is happening with customer service jobs (both e-mail and phone centers), programming, and many other fields. They even have shops set up for analyzing medical x-rays. And yes, they are good. These are competent, educated people. India is graduating more engineering students each year than the United States and their schools are very good.

What is going to happen to American standards of living? We enter this new era of globalization with incredibly high levels of national, corporate and personal debt.

The problem with unregulated globalization is there are no protections against exploitation, and our world has pre-existing unemployment, forcing everyone to "race for the bottom" by trying to outbid those poorer than themselves. So Mexico is losing jobs to Thailand, which is losing jobs to VietNam, which is losing jobs to China and Bangladesh, where many people work for just enough to survive (or less).

Meanwhile, because of the job loss, people everywhere can afford less and less, so the volume of trade drops along with prices and wages. AND the countries with no environmental regulations, worker protections, etc. have an economic advantage over those that care about their people and the earth. It is a recipe for a race to the bottom, with now winners except those who start out with the most. Short-term they benefit from paying lower wages -- until the customer pool dries up. But, of course, they've made a killing by then. What matters is getting that corporate jet next year, not killing of your industry five years down the road.

If you pay attention to right-wing ideology (and I do) then you know they say that if someone will work for less than you, they should have the job and you should not, period, end of story. If they will work without health insurance, they should have the job. If they will work on a machine that might cut their hand off, and you won't, then they should have the job. They say the only criteria is corporate profit.

I do believe that people in other countries have every right to jobs. I don't think it's right to say that just because they are not Americans we should protect our industries. However, there are beneficial ways to accomplish world economic growth. Those who, like me, are "opposed to free trade" are asking for worker safety protections, international minimum wages, the right to form unions, environmental protections - things like that. For that we are marginalized, scoffed at and called "anti-free-trade" fanatics. Why? Because those things threaten the short-term profits of the big corporations.

Imagine if people in other countries were paid enough to purchase the things we make. Imagine what would that would mean for our prosperity as well as theirs! If they could buy refrigerators made here, and the shoes made there brought them enough to live better, what a world we would be making. This is what I want, and the anti-globalization people want.

Update - I just saw this story, which says it all, Tax Returns Taking Passage Through India. From the story:
The accounting industry has recently begun using the burgeoning India outsourcing and technology markets to process American clients' returns. In some cases, the work being performed is replacing tasks of U.S. accountants.
What did I just tell you?

Style note - OK I used all caps for one three-letter-word. I couldn't help it. Blow me.




4/05/2003
 



Why Did We Do This?

The justification for war with Iraq was that they have weapons of mass destruction and will use them against us. If they find chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, perhaps history will see this as a somewhat justified takeover of another country. So far they have not found them, and Iraq has not used them.

If they do not find them, what are we doing there? How will history record this takeover of a country that did nothing to us?

But here in America, Bush will be wildly popular for killing and injuring tens of thousands of the people who attacked the World Trade Center, whether they actually did or not. This LA Times poll tells the story. (Remember, to understand the message the right is spreading, don't listen to the words, instead find out what the intended audience HEARS.)
Nearly eight in 10 Americans now accept the Bush administration's contention — disputed by some experts — that Hussein has "close ties" to Al Qaeda (even 70% of Democrats agree). And 60% of Americans say they believe Hussein bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a charge even the administration hasn't levied against him.
That's eight in ten! Where are people getting their information? I think historians will see this as an important story. Democracy relies on the informed consent of the citizens. If the citizens are this badly informed we have already lost our democracy and the world is in great danger. The right can plant any idea into the public mind, cause an attack on any country to take their oilfields or whatever they have. I think we are in for a very rough period.

Update - Daily Kos agrees with me, therefore they are billiant. Apparently not brilliant enough to link to Seeing the Forest, however, but I link to them so I guess it works out about even. Right?

Note that I still have not used all caps, bold, italics or any other device to break up the pain text. I do not know how long I can hold out.




4/04/2003
 



Kerry Fights Back Against Republican Smear Attempt

From Kerry Lashes Out at Republican Criticisms:
"The Republicans have tried to make a practice of attacking anybody who speaks out strongly by questioning their patriotism," the Massachusetts senator said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I refuse to have my patriotism or right to speak out questioned. I fought for and earned the right to express my views in this country."

...

"I watched what they did to Max Cleland last year," Kerry said. "Shame on them for doing it then and shame on them for trying to do it now."

Kerry also mentioned recent GOP criticism of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who said Bush's diplomatic efforts had failed "miserably" because he didn't secure a U.N. resolution for the war.

Following a speech to the New York State United Teachers convention in Washington, Kerry said, "I'm not going to let the likes of Tom DeLay question my patriotism, which I fought for and bled for in order to have the right to speak out."

...

Kerry said Republicans have no right to criticize him when they are cutting funds to veterans hospitals.
It's good to hear this!


 



Using Akami?

Does your company's website depend on Akamai Technologies? Here's the kind of cusomter service you should expect from them.


 



Voting Machines

Are American elections fixed?
Might it be possible that, due to GOP control of computer voting machines, the electoral ""fix"" is in, and that as a result nothing short of a revolution will ever budge the Republican Party from control of the Congress and the White House? In other words, is it not conceivable that our ""democracy"" is more than ""threatened""––it is in fact finished, done for, kaput? And we are not even aware of it?
And, in case you missed it, I wrote about a voting machines story in the Washington Post the other day.


 



No More NYTimes Archive

The New York Times online archive is no longer free. Any NYTimes stories and commentaries linked to by this weblog that are older than 30 days now display an abstract, and ask you for money to see the rest of the piece. This will dramatically affect weblogging.


 



Iraq's Weapons

It strikes me that the arguments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are a lot like the right's accusations during the "Clinton Scandals" of the 1990s. It was a pre-ordained assumption that the Clintons were guilty of something, and that an investigation was required to find out just what it was. The lack of any evidence of wrongdoing was proof of a coverup. Every new disclosure was infused with sinister connotations. In the end it turned out that not one single accusation was true - it was all made fabricated as part of a campaign to destroy Clinton's presidency. The blowjob was not related to the initial accusations in any way.

I don't know whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not. But have seen no evidence that they do, and I know that inspectors found no evidence. Gas masks found with Iraqi army units is not necessarily as sinister as it seems. Iraq was attacked with gas by Iran, so this would be standard equipment. And the U.S. has said they will be using CS and CN gas.

I have seen many discussion of why the Iraqis haven't used chemical weapons yet. Perhaps the non-use of chemical weapons isn't part of a plot to draw the forces closer and then gas them, and isn't part of a propaganda plan to increase sympathy. Perhaps the non-use is because they non-possess. We'll see.

Update - "Coalition" forces also have not yet found documents linking Iraq to 9/11.

Update - "Coalition" forces have encountered resistance from Iraqis they are supposedly "liberating."

Update - "Coalition" forces have not yet validated any other pretenses for this war, either. However, the oil fields have been secured and campaign donors are getting contracts to manage the oil fields and rebuild Iraq. So the operation is successful regardless of further events.

Note to the commenter on the Hullabaloo piece below - I didn't use caps, I didn't use bold, I didn't use italics, and there are no exclamation marks in this piece. I think it looks like a lot of plain text that non-academics might choose to skip over. Yes, I used to be in marketing.


 



You Could Be Next!

UK Doctors Advised on Ethics of Circumcision

Guess what disappeared.

(Remember, this is a blog, deteriorating in reverse chronological order.)


 



You Could Be Next!

SARS death toll rises as Singapore woman dies



 



YOU Could Be Next!

More Companies Cut 401(k) Contributions

Retirement plans, "disappeared."


 



YOU Could Be Next!

Businesses Cut 108,000 Jobs in March

Programmers, secretaries, and others, "disappeared" form cubicles and offices.


 



YOU Could Be Next!

Free Mike Hawash!

A programmer at Intel, in Portland. "Disappeared."





4/03/2003
 



A Comment I Left At Hullabaloo

I left a comment after this piece at Hullabaloo, Quisling Chalabi. It restates things I have written recently, so I'll repeat myself again. (Edited to make me look better, of course.) (Actually, completely reworked, but still sort of based on the comment.)

Hullabaloo wrote:
"If Democrats operated like Republicans, every single Dem would be pounding the neocons at this moment. Salon would do a story a day. Bill Press would enlist Pat Buchanan in a rousing denunciation on each show. The backbench firebrands in the congress would hold press conferences. Oppo researchers would distribute literature about the wacky neocons to every journalist on the beat. "
My thoughts:

I don't think it is about about Democrats and Republicans.

In my opinion the Republicans are now just an extension of the Scaife/Coors/Bradley, etc.-funded web of ideological think tanks and advocacy organizations -- Heritage, Horowitz, Federalist Society, etc. -- that call themselves "movement conservatives." They have this magnificent "message amplification infrastructure" in place - the "Wurlitzer" - that is able to move the public more and more to the right, and their politicians just rest on top of that. I think that is really the key to understanding what is happening to us so I'll repeat it. The "Wurlitzer" moves the public more and more to the right, and their politicians just rest on top of that.

Messaging and activities are coordinated at the "Wednesday night meetings." The organizations and people are unified because it ALL depends on the Scaife/etc. money, and, more importantly, because discipline is brutally enforced, often by ruining anyone who doesn't toe their line.

Moderates and progressives, on the other hand, do not have any system (which I call "infrastructure") that is designed to reach the general public with messaging designed to move them back from the right, bringing UNDERLYING PUBLIC SUPPORT for their organizations and elected officials across the board. So while it appears to be the fault of a Democratic Party that can't muster a counterattack, it really is something else.

I think the fault lies with the lack of understanding on the moderate/progressive side of the role of having an "infrastructure" in place, reaching out to the general public, supporting their elected officials, candidates and organizations. The right has been doing it for some time, providing us with a a model. (We can, however, skip the ruining-lives-of-those-who-don't-toe-the-line part.)

It isn't the party that accomplishes this -- it's the web of ideological organizations and funders that do the "advance work" of messaging that sets up the public environment that UNDERLIES the party. The problem is that "we" don't HAVE one.


 



What Is The White House Hiding?

Thinking it Through wants to know what is the White House hiding?


 



The Dean Speech

Here is a link to online video of the Howard Dean speech at the California Democratic Convention. After it loads into RealPlayer, slide the bar over until the counter reads 24:28, which will skip you past the Edwards speech.

If you watch this speech you will understand why you are hearing more and more about Howard Dean's candidacy for President. You'll see that there is hope for the next election AND for making real progress on the issues that we care about after he is elected. Watch this speech and even you Greens will want to vote for Dean!

I will support whichever candidate the Democrats nominate, because we need to win and start to repair the damage the right is doing to the country and the world. (Well, I admit that if Leiberman is nominated, even I might be tempted to vote Green.) But right now, among the announced candidates, I have come to support Dean. Watch this speech and you will see why!


 



Who Is Our Economy For?

Jobless Claims Highest Since April 2002:
WASHINGTON - New claims for unemployment benefits shot up last week to their highest point in nearly a year as businesses made work forces leaner amid a muddled wartime economic climate.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications jumped by a seasonally adjusted 38,000 to 445,000 for the week ending March 29. That represented the highest level of new claims since the week ending April 13, 2002.
Yesterday's news was Factory Orders Dip, Worst in Five Months, and the stock market was up 215. This news is even worse, so the stock market will probably go through the roof today!

Update - In addition the services sector has pulled back big time! Services Pull Back Sharply - Report:
The pull-back in services, coupled with data this week showing contraction in manufacturing, a hefty drop in factory orders and a big jump in jobless claims, have revealed a grim picture of the economy's health as U.S.-led forces approach Baghdad.
Meanwhile, did anyone see the report on ABC News last night about all the older workers who are losing their pensions because the companies did not properly fund the pension programs, or are going out of business, or converting the pensions to a "cash" plan?

Who IS our economy for, anyway?




4/02/2003
 



Dean Meetup

I just returned from a Howard Dean "Meetup" in San Francisco. (They happen monthly in many localities -- you should go -- see the Dean Meetup icon on the left, below the blogroll and BuzzFlash headlines.) There was a very good turnout. They played a tape of Dean speaking to the California Democratic convention, and I have to tell you that speech was one of the most inspirational speeches I have seen in a very long time! Dean CAN win, and if he wins he CAN return our country to us. I'm tired now, and will try to write about the meetup tomorrow.


 



Sane?

Read this USA Today story, Strain of Iraq war showing on Bush, those who know him say and tell me if Bush is sane.
Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day. His history degree from Yale makes him mindful of the importance of the moment. He knows he's making "history-changing decisions,"

...

"He knows that we're all here to serve a calling greater than self," Evans says. "That's what he's committed his life to do. He understands that he is the one person in the country, in this case really the one person in the world, who has a responsibility to protect and defend freedom."
(Thanks BuzzFlash.)


 



We Urgently Need Our Own "Message Amplification Infrastructure"

There is a story in Salon, Daschle's SOS, about the right's response to Tom Daschle's criticism of how Bush's failure of diplomacy got us into a war, and an e-mail Daschle sent out asking for people to speak up for him:
As the war abroad continued to escalate last week, the nation's leading Democrat requested help for someone else under attack: himself. In response to Republican criticism, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's reelection committee sent out an e-mail last Thursday to union presidents and other supporters asking for them to "take the time to defend Senator Daschle from his critics."

The e-mail, obtained by Salon, noted that after Daschle "criticized the Administration's diplomatic efforts, the conservative attack machine went into full swing." On March 18, right before President George W. Bush issued his final ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Daschle told an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees audience that he was "saddened, saddened, that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to go to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
One paragraph in particular jumped out at me:
In many ways Daschle's note is symbolic of a larger problem for the Democrats: They need to both support our troops, lest they be painted as less than patriotic, yet they also need to point out the president's missteps, raise funds and prepare for the 2004 elections. This can create awkward situations -- ones that Republicans, better organized and funded, can easily exploit.
I think the "larger problem for Democrats" is that the right has a comprehensive, widespread "message amplification infrastructure" in place to repeat their message, pound on anyone or anything they don't like and promote anyone or anything they do like, AND MODERATES AND PROGRESSIVES DO NOT! This is the larger problem for Democrats - and Greens -- and moderates and progressives and environmentalists and anti-war activists and organizations of all stripes!

The right's infrastructure has been called, among other things, "The Mighty Wurlitzer." This message amplification system repeats and repeats messages and literally shouts down any opposing opinions. (I say 'literally' because I have seen too many cable news shows where the right-wing spokesperson literally uses shouting as a tactic to drown out whatever an opponent tries to say.)

This infrastructure enables the right, on a moment's notice, to trot out a string of supposedly independent "voices" -- organizations, websites, TV networks, talk-radio shows, experts, scholars and pundits -- to argue their side of any issue. This is why I call this an "infrastructure" -- because it is issue independent, and it is "turnkey," meaning it is in place and ready to go on short notice regardless of the issue! The right's "think tanks" prepare talking points and briefing papers that are widely faxed and passed out and downloaded. They crank up their in-place network of talk-show hosts, pundits, officeholders, etc., and give them their instructions, and away it goes. And they prepare articles and commentaries that are printed in their web of magazines and newspapers. This message amplification infrastructure completely overwhelms the efforts of moderates and progressives to get their own messages out to the public.

Look at the result of their use of this message amplification system. Who can deny that we have an imbalance in our national discourse? Think about the bizarre and terrible situation our country is in: The government focuses on tax cuts for the rich while we have greater and greater deficits, the health care system is falling apart, our education system is badly underfunded, even our roads and bridges are in need of repair. We are not even funding our anti-terrorism efforts, yet the government's focus remains tax cuts for the rich and doing favors for the corporations that fund the right! Among other obvious results of this imbalance, we have an unelected President, and we are in an unnecessary war promoted by the right's web of organizations and media. People who object are called "unpatriotic," and even face severe economic consequences, like the Dixie Chicks and France. I attribute this imbalance to the right's domination of the national discourse, and that domination is the result of their powerful message amplification infrastructure.

Nothing like this messaging infrastructure is in place for moderates and progressives. Yes, there are organizations and think tanks that address specific policy areas. The Economic Policy Institute and the Sierra Club are examples. But these are not linked, not coordinated, and do not draw on a common network of pundits, talk shows, and advocacy organizations.

We must put such an infrastructure together for moderates and progressives!

So how do we accomplish this?

1) Recognize the need for it, and inform others. This is the beginning of the process! Read this article about how the right developed the idea of forming their infrastructure (written from the right's perspective).
Envious conservatives watched the powerful liberal coalition of academics, think tank analysts, members of Congress, White House aides, interest group officials, and journalists run much of the business of the nation's capital and wondered: "Why can't we put together an operation like that?" And wondered some more. Yet the answer was clear: there was no conservative alternative to the Brookings Institution, the catalyst for many of the legislative successes of the liberals during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Well, the 1960's Brookings Institution was nothing compared to what the right has built since!

We need to understand how the right has been so effective, and realize that we must set up a similar coordinated infrastructure that OUR leaders and organizations and institutions can draw on to get their messages out. Think about this, tell others about it. Write about it.

2) We must get this funded. Do you think this would be too expensive? Well, here is a surprise -- there is more money available on the moderate-progressive side than there is on the right! Yes, this is true. There is a great deal of private money that is given to environmental causes, civil rights, social justice, housing for the poor, economic opportunity for disadvantaged, and so many other programs that would be considered moderate/progressive. Much of this is done through a system of philanthropic foundations and organizations -- a system set up over the last 100 years since the time of Carnegie and Rockefeller.

But we now live in a world where the things we care about are under organized attack, and the moderate and progressive organizations and institutions are not set up to defend themselves and their programs! Who would have thought that there would be an organized, well funded attack by ideologues who believe that helping the poor and protecting the environment and things like that are bad? But this is what is happening, and philanthropists need to understand that there has been a change in the public environment, and begin funding an infrastructure to counter this.

The problem with traditional philanthropy is that the public environment of support for these programs has been changed by the efforts of this right-wing message amplification infrastructure. The nature of traditional philanthropy, with its "program funding" is under attack. Program funding, which came about as a way to best apply limited resources, is no longer as effective. In business terms, there is a poor return on investment (ROI) resulting from the effects of the right's attack operation. For example, $5 million put into a "save the redwoods" project is wasted if one right-wing judge rules that the trees can be cut, or a right-wing government rules that the best way to fight forest fires is to remove the trees! Wouldn't it have been better to put $500,000 into an infrastructure that generally counters the right's attack, working to bring public support back toward the center, so that the other $4,500,000 could be effective? This is how the right has been so effective - by building a message amplification infrastructure - and we should fight back and counter their attack.

If you know people who give money to organizations, or people who work at philanthropic foundations, please talk with them about this problem of the goals of traditional philanthropy being under attack, and how to respond.

Important - read also Don't Blame the Democrats.

There is more coming on this subject!




4/01/2003
 



Why I Am Not A Green

Light blogging? Well it isn't working out that way. (I've noticed that the best way to get the writing going is to actually POST that you aren't writing much...)

After posting that there would be light blogging, I read the most recent comment to the Biden to Peace Movement , "F%&K You!" piece from the other day. Here's is most of the comment:
The least significant of the two points, is the longtime stance he just cited by linking to his archive, that "Ralph Nader is a Scab". After Clinton and Gore cut everyone off welfare in 1996; stumped for the "Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty" act that same year; after Al was instrumental in selling vast tracts of Federal land to oil companies; after they failed to do anything about CAFE mileage standards for eight years; (look up Senate Resolution #98 of 1997 if you think Al's participation in the Kyoto treaty was anything more than a joke); after Al's steadfast support of Star Wars; Joe Lieberman's steadfast support of Tort "Reform," etc., etc., etc., well I'm sorry but I believe it was the Democrats who walked away from my picket line and not vice versa. That march continues to this very day. (I'm going to enjoy listening to the Democrats in 2004, trying to convince me that Joe Lieberman is our only hope to restore world peace and fight corporate corruption.) But that's a minor point.

The more important point is, a realistic analysis of Ralph Nader's impact on the 2000 shows that this fixation on blaming the Greens for "throwing" the election is without merit. Sure, Ralph got 2.8 million votes nationwide, and 98,000 in Florida. But according to CBS and MSNBC exit polls, roughly 10% of self-described "Democrats" VOTED FOR BUSH in the 2000 election, nationwide -- and roughly 12%, NEARLY ONE IN EIGHT, in Florida (again, CBS and MSNBC).

Crunch those numbers and you can see: FIVE MILLION Democrats voted for Bush nationwide, almost twice Nader's total, and 350,000 Democrats voted for Bush in Florida, nearly four times Nader's number. So isn't this fixation with blaming Nader, shared by MediaWhoresOnline and Eric Alterman, among many others... isn't that just a smokescreen that lets Democrats ignore their own failures?

Oh by the way, 8% of Republicans, nationwide and in Florida, voted for Gore, but I assume the Democrat's don't have a problem with that. So we have to ask the question, why were Republicans 92% confident in their candidate, while Democrats were only 90% confident (or, in Florida, 88% confident) in theirs??

This is not just an abstract statistical quirk for me. One of my own immediate family members, for example, describes herself as a "Democrat," but in 2000 she voted an all-Democrat ticket with Bush at the top. Since that time, she's become a Bush convert, listening to Fox news all the time, boycotting the French, and so forth.

Which leads me to the opinion: as Jim Hightower says, when you raise a hunger for steak among the voters, they're going to pick the sirloin over the ground chuck every time. When Democrats track to the Right, in a largely vain effort to pick up that elusive "undecided middle," they do NOT project an image that they are reasonable, bipartisan, open to democratic compromise. The message they project, to a sizeable chunk of the voters at least, is that they agree with the Republicans on crucial issues and are simply not being sincere about their opposition. Therefore the "undecided middle" votes for the people who project more conviction, and we end up with a situation like we did in November 2002.

It is the weak-kneed Democrats (exempting the strong-willed ones, like the late great Wellstone, or Jesse Jackson Jr.), who are the ones, in my opinion, who end up getting Republicans elected in close races. Not the numerically less significant Greens.

Get that 10% number down -- even a couple of percent!! -- before you accuse me of breaking solidarity.
THIS is my biggest problem with the Greens. I haven't heard ANY Greens put that kind of energy into attacking Republicans and their policies, EVER! This comment is entirely about things that happened in the past, and reads more like a Republican anti-Democrat tract than than about how do we accomplish those progressive goals that we share!

Many Greens spend more time and energy attacking Democrats than they do trying to get their agenda passed. WHO BENEFITS from this kind of campaign against Democrats? The environment? The poor? Iraqi civilians? Civil rights? The economy? Workers rights?

Let me confess a sin - I used to be registered as a Green, and I voted for several Green candidates. But for me, politics is about achieving certain goals -- protecting the environment, keeping peace in the world, bringing opportunity to the disadvantaged - things like that, things I call progressive goals and believe that Democrats and Greens share. These progressive goals are very important to me, and I look for the best way to get things done, to accomplish these goals.

Initially I registered and voted Green to "send a message to the Democratic leadership" but eventually I realized that voting Green was actually threatening my goals by "splitting the vote" and I changed my registration back to the Democratic Party. Yes, I understand that some Democrats took corporate money and voted in ways I think were destructive to the overall cause. But I think it is more important to work toward my goals than to punish those Democrats for being less than perfect.

Today I look at politics as an emergency! I lived through Nixon and Reagan, and now I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to study the right-wing movement, so I understand that the right is no longer engaged in anything resembling a democratic contest. I believe that today we face a terrible threat. My experience and study has led me to believe that many on the right are itching to round up people like me and put us into camps - or worse. Just spend a minute reading Ann Coulter or Michael Savage and you'll understand what I am talking about. And this is on top of the terrible destruction they are bringing to all of the things that I care about so much - the environment, world peace, opportunity for the disadvantaged, civil rights, corporate corruption, concentration of wealth, even basic civility! Some of the people in this government are the same individuals who helped Nixon subvert the electoral process, and who helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile, leading to the horrible repression that followed. Many of the people in this government are the same individuals who helped Reagan subvert the Constitution, and helped bring about the "secret wars" in Central and South America that brought death and torture to so many. ALL of the people in this government come out of the nasty, ultra-partisan "movement conservative" smear campaigns and destruction of our judicial system that occurred in the 1990s. These are not people who care for a minute about democracy or rights or community or civility or YOU!

Today we face a real threat to our liberties and possibly even our lives, and I don't CARE what some Democrats did in the 1990's, I want to work in the most effective possible way to fight them, and to accomplish the progressive goals that I care so much about! This is why I am no longer a Green.

Now to address some specifics in what the commenter wrote. The anti-Democrat facts in the comment are just wrong! An example - there would be no Kyoto treaty if Gore himself had not flown to Kyoto to persuade the attendees to vote for the treaty! I remember that, and if the writer had been working to achieve the goal of protecting the environment from global warming, the writer would be ready to acknowledge Gore's contribution - as do all major environmental organizations!

How does it help Nader's argument if some Democratic voters voted for Bush? Doesn't this reinforce why we need those people who really understand the issues to hold solidarity, so we can accomplish those things we agree need doing? Is the writer unaware of the propaganda effort the Republicans put out to blur the distinctions between themselves and Democrats (assisted by the Greens)? OF COURSE a lot of people are persuaded to vote Republican! That's the battle we are in if we want to get anything done to help the environment, the poor and peace on earth! The Greens should be fighting alongside those who share their overall goals, not assisting those who want to destroy everything the Greens say they stand for.

Update - I should have added sooner - I was at my talk on blogging, which went very well - that I think a solution we can all agree on is preferential balloting, also known as instant runoff voting (IRV). IRV lets you select a first and a second choice. If no candidate gets 50% the candidates with the lowest number of votes are eliminated and the SECOND choice on the ballots for those candidates is used. Here's how this works - If this had been in effect in Florida Nader and Buchanan (and others) ballots would have their second choices applied (most likely Gore and Bush). The Nader votes would have been applied most likely to Gore. The Buchanan votes would have been applied to Bush (or Gore in Palm Beach because of the mistakes). With IRV voting people can "vote their conscience", but their vote would COUNT TOWARD candidates who SHARE their values, instead of working against candidates who share their values. It helps everyone and is much more democratic than what we have now.


 



Light Blogging

I'm having one of those periods where I'm not writing much. Maybe I'm spending too much time read other blogs! Also, I'm giving a talk on blogging today and that's eating up time. So I guess I must declare this an official Light Blogging day.




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