Wednesday, January 31, 2007

May Have!?

This morning I saw an AP article that bore the headline, "U.S. may have botched training of Iraqis". The article itself described in detail exactly how we had botched the training of the Iraqi police and judiciary. Why is it so hard to write a headline that actually reflects the content of your article. May I suggest, "Testimony shows U.S. botched training of Iraqis".

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Great Leaders

I once again today heard the presidents apologists saying that great leaders like FDR and Churchill did things that were not popular because they were the right thing to do. They make the claim that our presidents stubbornness in the face of public opinion makes him great.

I would like to remind these people that it is not necessary and sufficient to stand steadfast in the face of opposition to be great. One must also be right.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We Are The Government

We are the government. It is acceptable for us to provide whatever level of services for ourselves collectively that we see fit. If we decide collectively that the time for anything to be done it will be. Currently the increase in the minimum wage favored by the vast majority of Americans is stalled in the Senate because they think we are not paying attention. Prove them wrong. Write you Senator and let him know that you urge him to support this legislation, clean with no amendments. Do not just send an e-mail they get ignored. Do not send your letter to his DC office it will never get there thanks to the regulations in response to the Anthrax scare. Send it to his office in your state. A staffer will read it, and if it is hand written it will be taken into account.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Punditocracy

I have spent the past couple of evenings listening to the pundits say that there is no alternative available in Iraq other than the presidents surge or immediate pull out. What about talking to Iran and Syria? The Iraq study group suggested that the only path to an outcome other than humiliating defeat was through talking to the other players in the region. Is the memory of everyone really so bad that they cannot remember that?

It seems that president Bush is ready to do whatever it takes to win as long as he never has to talk to anyone he does not like.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The National Conference on Media Reform

I attended The National Conference on Media Reform here in Memphis this weekend. It was chance that I attended but I am so glad that I did. I got to hear speaches on this issue and others by many that I admire and came to admire by hearing them this weekend. Bill Moyers, Helen Thomas, and Sen. Bernie Sanders had earned my respect before and I realy attended just to hear them speak. Some of the other guest were uknown to me but earned my respect among these were FCC comissioners Copps and Adlestein, as was Rep. Markey.

I care about many issues. The war, healthcare, income distribution, political coruption, and global warming are among them. But I am now convinced that the issue that keeps all these problems from being solved or even discussed is the problems with our deregulated media.

You can hear Mr. Moyers remarks here It is a fine speach and summs up the relevance of this issue much better than I can.

I will be thinking about things I heard at this conference and posting on them, but I wish to think about them and work on the posts to make sure I say exactly what I mean rather than just wipping something out.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

FCC blues!

What a Great Day

I spent the day at the National Conference On Media Reform. I got to hear Bill Moyers give a well reasoned and passionate speech about the dangers of media concentration restricting the free flow of ideas. Not only that I got to hear it in a hall full of people who gave celebrities a polite smattering of applause while thinkers who can communicate got an ovation. Bill moyers quoted a poem that I will find the text for and post tomorrow. It was truly stirring.

I got to see FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein speak on the importance of our issue. Then later he joined the blues band on stage and joined in. And let me tell you he was no dancing bear.

The conference attendees would crowd the hall to hear a speech and then go outside to talk while the bands played. It was great to see that many people who have rejected the idea that ideas are boring.

In between I go to attend an anti war rally here in Memphis. We had a great turn out and will only get better. Now it is off to sleep and up in the morning to do it again!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Good Protest In Memphis!

About 50 people showed up to oppose the 'surge'. The numbers will only grow.

Islamic Terrorist

NOT!!!!!! The bombing of our embassy in Greece should serve as a reminder that:

  1. Not all terrorist are Muslim.
  2. Terrorist are not a group. They are those who employ the tactic of terrorism.
  3. Terrorism is not an enemy it is a tactic used by the weak against the strong.
  4. If we were evil and stupid enough to kill every Muslim in the world there would still be terrorism.

Failure Will Lead To Consensus

One of the guests on Talk of the Nation today said that he thought that the presidints plan was almost sure to fail. He continued saying that he favored it none the less because we will not achieve a national consensus to withdraw untill it fails. He was sure to mention that he regreted that it will cost us many lives while we fail inorder to achieve consensus.

I could usnderstand saying that it will take the failure of this poicy to bring us to consensus. The leap from that to supporting the policy is however unfathomable to me. How does one support a policy one thinks will fail in a spectacularly bloody way?

That is the kind of shit that makes me want to scream.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Mother Asked

"how many deaths is it going to require before we've honored the deaths of the ones that have gone previously?"

Bush and his apploogist tell us that it will be a disaster if we pull out now. I want to know how is that any worse than the disaster we are going to leave when we pull out after his next failure of policy/strategy, or the one after that?

Bush Is Still Deluded

He still thinks that the war is winnable if we hang on and send just a few more men without a change in strategy. He rejected all the advice that had even a minimal chance of bringing about success and instead embraced the insanity of more of the same and hope it turns out different this time. More men in Iraq wont make him any more competent as a leader or diplomat and that competence is what has been missing from the get go.

A busy week

Tonight I hosted the MoveOn Operation Democracy district council meeting. This weekend I am attending The National Conference for Media Reform here in Memphis. Friday we have a rally to oppose any escalation of the war in Iraq.

The shirt says it all

Get one at

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

It's the Incompetence Stupid!

What are the chances that President Bush will wake up competent today and make any change in strategy that will affect the outcome in Iraq? The problem is not the troop levels. The problem is the incompetence of the civilian leadership starting with the president himself. Short of a miraculous injection of competence sending even a million men would be a waste of lives that would not help us win.

I will listen to the president tonight. I expect to be disappointed as usual. He will propose half measures that will do nothing but get more good men and women killed for no improvement in the situation.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Beiden, Obama, Clinton, or Edwards in '08

I am so impressed with the slate of Democratic candidates for '06 so far. I will be glad to work for the general election campaign of any of them. The average quality of the Democratic candidate is way up this cycle. I had hoped Biden would run in '04. He could have beat Bush like a drum. Obama is simply the finest political orator to take the stage in my lifetime. (Kennedy was assassinated the year before I was born.) Edwards is in the right place on the economic issues like no other. I am slightly less enthusiastic about Ms Clinton because she seems to calculating and not true enough to herself, but if she can beat this field then she will have earned my respect for her as a candidate. It will be so good to have some one to vote for rather than voting against the other guy for a change.

NBC figured it out.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Not Global Warming????

I saw it on the NBC evening news Friday, and intended to post about it but it slipped my mind. It slipped my mind until I went to watch the online video of Meet the Press. That was followed by the story from Friday where Dennis Feldkin (?) from NOAA denied that the current warm weather in the northeast has anything to do with global warming. He claimed it was due solely to El Niño. I know that there is an El Niño weather pattern this year, but how can he claim with the certainty that he displayed that that pattern is totally independent of climate change?

Areas of the northeast are having the warmest winter on record. Have there not been El Niño years before this? Why is this one which according to the expert is a moderate El Niño having a stronger effect on the weather than other El Niños? Why for that matter are we experiencing more El Niños and fewer La Niñas? Might that have something do with global warming?

I am sure that Mr. Feldkin will keep his job by sticking to the party line, but is he being honest?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bush is still Bush

Again this week our president is demonstrating his pigheaded denial of reality and refusal to acknowledge even those lessons he has been beat about the head with.

He attached a signing statement to a bill saying that he reserved the right to read our mail for the duration of the long war. Does he not realize that there is a new sheriff in town. Surely he does not think that he is going to continue to receive the pass on oversight that the GOP gave him for the past six years. Hell, even the GOP is going to want to reign him in and keep him from damaging their party and the nation any more than he already has.

He announce to the world that the hanging of Saddam was justice being served after a fair trial. This demonstrated once again for anyone in doubt that our president does not understand the meaning of the concepts 'fair trial' and 'justice'. It is not a fair trial if there is an open season on your lawyers. Justice is not served by denying anyone their rights to appeal. It is not justice when you are turned over to your enemies to be taunted at your death rather than having the orders of a court carried out in a professional manner by the agents of that court.

He rearranged the deck chairs on the ship of state to get rid of critics in the military again. Did he learn nothing from his experience with Gen Shinseki? Even after all the failures it has caused him, he keeps surrounding himself with the yes-men. Will he ever learn the value of dissent? Will I ever quit being surprised by his constancy in the face of repeated disaster?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Social Security Crisis

On my way home from work I heard one of our Senators repeating the lie that there is a Social Security crisis. This is just another Weapon of Mass Distraction. There is no Social Security crisis. There is a projected shortfall in a couple of decades. This is not a crisis. Not when there is a simple solution that could be implemented with a bill that is considerably less than one page long.

All that needs to be done is remove the cap above which the tax is not levied. This would eliminate the shortfall and have the added advantage of making this a flat rather than a regressive tax. If in a few more decades this proves to be insufficient then just make all income subject to the tax instead of limiting it to wages.

The real crisis the Senator is worried about is his fear that the electorate will start paying attention to some of the real issues that will be affecting their lives much sooner than his false crisis and make him and his coworkers in the senate start earning their checks for a change. As long as we swallow his fear mongering without question he is on easy street. The minute we start really paying attention to the issues his gravy train stops. We are in charge of this nation. He knows that and it would be a real crisis for him if we figured it out.

The Abortion Lie

The big lie about abortion is the false dilemma we are posed that assumes that one is either Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. This does not reflect either the reality of the situation or the opinions of the vast majority of voters. Relatively few of us fall either into the camp of those who believe that abortion should be prohibited in all cases, or that of those who believe that it should be allowed without regulation.

There few among us who would force a woman to carry a monster that had no chance of survival to term just to prevent an affront to their God. If anyone thinks they can justify forcing a woman to carry a fetus with acephalia, or cyclopea to term they are delusional. For examples of some of these defects look here Tell me if you would force your daughter to carry one of these monsters to term. If the answer is no then you are not Pro-Life.

There are a slightly larger number of people (but still a tiny minority) who would resist any effort to regulate abortion in any way. Most of these people have fallen for the slippery slope fallacy. They believe any attempt at reasonable regulation is the foot in the door for prohibition. If you believe that any level of regulation is acceptable, parental notification for example or restrictions against aborting viable fetuses that could live if delivered at the time of the procedure, then you are not Pro-Choice.

Those of us that fall outside these tiny minorities want abortion to be available but with reasonable regulation. All other areas of our lives and health care are subject to regulation why should this one not be? There is only one answer; it is in the vested interest of the extremist and the politicians who count on their votes to prevent a reasonable debate about what sort of regulation is appropriate. This sort of false polarization around an issue that the majority agrees on does not serve us well it only serves those who would divide us rather than unite us. It serves those who would rather have a sound bite than a reasoned and reasonable answer.

Why Heretic

Heresy is the crime of thinking for oneself and making one's own choices rather than just accepting what is handed down by authority. As a heretic I try to commit this crime on all issues. If I accept the conventional wisdom I hope it is because I have become convinced of the position on its merits and not because of some vestige of the herd mentality.

We are all too ready to accept authority in place of reason. We respond to appeals to emotion while disregarding those made to reason. We accept the baseless assertions of reporters and pundits that one candidate or the other is liberal or conservative without finding out his/her position on the issues that actually affect us. We accept it when it is asserted that the media is liberal even though it is owned by powerful corporate interests. We accept that liberals are the elite even though conservatism increases with wealth. We accept that we should decide which candidate to vote for based upon likability rather than policy positions.

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
Albert Einstein

When questioning an assertion do not ask "Says who?" That is a request for an appeal to authority. Ask instead "Why do you believe that?" Accept only reason. Be a heretic.