Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

So I am taking a hiatus from this blog, at least for a few days (a mental health break). Truth is that I am not sure what I am getting out of this anymore, other than a way to catalog my thoughts and vent my political frustrations by putting them on cyber-paper. And I've been doing this since before the 2004 election, which is a pretty long time. Is there a next level to take this to? Anyway, while I figure that out, feel free to leave feedback or chat amongst yourselves. And thanks, as always, for reading.

'Big Government'

I just finished reading the cover story for U.S. News and World Report-- 'The Return of Big Government: A bulked-up uncle Sam is coming back to deal with housing, healthcare, Social Security, and more'-- and found it extremely lacking. Several pages long, the whole thing could really be boiled down to a few paragraphs. Government bad! Markets good!

The article seems to focus more on perceptions and abstracts-- mostly on tax cuts/rates-- rather than on specific points and programs and what they do, and if they work or not. It takes a very black-and-white position on the debate (voters have rebelled against the "high spending, confiscatory tax rates, and heavy regulation that were the negative legacies of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society"... right, because the Reagan-era overreactions to those issues have had no negative legacies at all!), exactly the grounds that conservatives want it debated on (the government steals your money canard). This is not a surprise, as the author-- James Pethokoukis-- is a very partisan, free-market conservative (see here).

A discussion of the gray would be nice. Regulating markets isn't exactly nationalizing industry, you know.

Big government is not always bad, and smaller government not always good, and vice versa for both. I can certainly think of areas where 'Big Government' has been good-- New Deal-era initiatives (minimum wage, labor protections, the GI Bill, etc) which we take for granted-- and areas where it is bad-- creating redundant new agencies like Homeland Security, pork-barrel spending, etc. And I can think of areas where limited government is good-- the type of privacy stuff that social libertarians support, no bailing out every failure people run into-- and areas where it is bad-- no oversight or regulation of corporate behavior, etc.

The caricature that this debate often presents itself in is quite present in the comments to the article. Don from OH argues from the right that we need "jobs returning to America" (apparently, the government can't do that, but somehow passing the 'Fair Tax' will), and tells the government to "Cut spending, not my paycheck." AKA, the aforementioned 'government is stealing my money canard'. This comment by Mandy in CO is perhaps nearer to my take-
"For the past two decades Americans have been lectured about the miraculous ability of the free market to solve all life's problems. We were going to trade health care, consumer rights and environmental protections (oh, only in the short run of course; it would all come out right in the end) so that the U.S. economy could flourish unhampered by any pesky oversight.

Well, here we are in 2008. Where do we begin: health insurance more difficult to get than ever, polluted water supplies, dirtier air, a compromised food chain, lead tainted toys, financial institutions run like casinos with rigged roulette tables, credit card operations run like Mafia extortion schemes, highways and bridges crumbling, unsafe airplanes whose maintenance has been outsourced to third world countries flying overhead ... Oh, and the economy itself is headed for the dumpster.

One of the key tenets of the free market system is supposed to be the connection between risk and reward. What we have here is a system where 90% of the rewards go to 2% of the populace and 100% of the risk is being assumed by everyone else."

I think this perfectly hits on the hypocrisy and deceit of 'small government', as argued by the Reagan Republicans.

As their proposed solution to the overhyped Social Security crisis (gut it, privatize the whole damn thing) shows, their instinct is always to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And yet their smaller (and less effective, as the Katrina aftermath illustrated) governments somehow keep producing bigger deficits than those of Democratic leaders. Odd.

One more (related) hypocrisy can be found in this chart I found via Andrew Sullivan-


Yes, this lengthy USN&WR article mentions Social Security and Medicare a bit (though the two are funded separately through specific taxes... the real, general pie looks more like this), yet has not a single mention of military/defense spending, which takes a bigger bite out of that pie than anything else. Lamenting the impending return of responsible big government without discussing the massive entitlement that is the war in Iraq and other military expenditures (mostly defense contractor pork, etc) is the height of hypocrisy. President Clinton was famously chided by the right for cutting defense spending when he came into office (hey, the Cold War was over) in order to get the country's fiscal house in order... which he did, while simultaneously running a more effective military than his predecessor has. And yet our politics has made the idea of reining in this spending-- not to even get into the debate over whether we should ever leave Iraq-- such a taboo, that neither of the Democratic candidates will pledge to do so.

We need to put our fiscal house back in order again, yes, but that is done by electing people who care about competence and efficiency, not about labels and size and anti-government fearmongering. We also need to start paying down the deficit. Maybe this means cutting some (unnecessary) spending, maybe it means, yes, raising taxes. Ultimately, what matters to me most about government is not its size, but whether it is serving the interests of the public, or serving the interests of a limited few.

To the extent that Americans have been very frustrated over government, it is based on a feeling that government is corrupt, and no longer works, or is wasting money (the #1 issue in the 2006 midterm elections, according to exit polls, was corruption)... not a question of big or small. Pethokoukis semi-concedes this at the end, stating "Big government? Small government? Maybe all Americans really want is a bit of effective government." It's a shame he wasted so much breath before figuring that out.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Howard Dean to Superdelegates...

...Situation critical, please start endorsing ASAP.

[Related reading: Superdelegates Unswayed by Clinton’s Attacks (NY Times)]

More Odds and Ends

Yea, this will be a real big pile of news/commentary. Buckle up and head in...

Sen. Obama responds to Wednesday night's debate in good humor, noting it's an example of the broken system he wants to change. Meanwhile, George Stephanopoulos tries to defend his performance (a flashback's in order).

And Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards were all on The Colbert Report last night.

Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum looks at the three candidates' views on presidential power, and who'd be most willing to scale back the abuses of the Bush years. Guess whose statements were most and least reassuring?

A lot of people are digging into the details of the McCain economic proposals I blogged about on Tuesday, and it's even worse than I thought. Besides just being more poorly disguised corporate tax cuts and a pander-rama, the idea of a 'gas tax holiday' is also a disaster in terms of the environment, and investment in our crumbling infrastructure. Also, his earlier promises of balancing the budget? Yea, fuck that, he says.

Meanwhile, the Senate's housing bill is also a poorly disguised vessel for big business tax breaks.

Speaking of the environment, President Bush's latest overhyped speech on global warming was just another farce.

PBS' "Frontline" highlighted universal healthcare systems in five capitalist countries this week in a show called 'Sick Around The World'. Another excellent piece that will affect nothing.

Something is happening in California regarding gay marriage. Something good? Maybe.

Finally, another case that's more farce than fear fizzles out in the serious war on terror.

Quote, The Natural Processes of Free Competition, Unquote.

The internet is so damn awesome. I found this audio from the 1948 election in which a dirty liberal named Ronald Reagan is giving a campaign pitch for President Truman and the Senate campaign of future-VP Hubert Humphrey. He also speaks out against the greedy, dishonest economic policies of the Republican party.

Note that one of his complaints there was that while corporate profits had doubled (up 200%), worker wages had merely gone up... by one quarter (25%)! Americans today would kill for such inequality. While corporate profits are up by thousands of percent, workers are likely to see merely a 1 or 2% wage increase over many years. All thanks to policies enacted by recent Presidents like you-know-who.

I wonder when exactly it was that he stopped caring. Clearly he underwent a complete 180 in his personal and political principles between 1948 and 1964 (when his support for Barry Goldwater cemented his status as a conservative hero). He'd hardly be the first guy to get a little conservative in his old age, but Ronald Reagan became conservatism, and of a variety that had previously been relegated to the fringes in the post-war era. At the risk of being cynical (who, me?), I believe that some dishonesty and corruption by power and money may have played a part.

Reagan famously did say, in the early 1960s, that "I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me." But that's clearly not true. If anything, both parties are far more conservative-- on matters of economics, and maybe also everything other than civil rights/tolerance-- than they were back then. The words spoken by 1948 Reagan were those of a proud FDR Democrat. So what did he mean... the party wasn't progressive enough for him anymore? Clearly not. No, the Democratic party did not leave anyone. That infamous quote just proves the dishonesty of his transformation.

Moreover, this audio shows how, 60 years later, we're still fighting the same battles, only from a much worse position now, thanks in no small part to leaders like Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

Here's an interesting discussion from PBS' The McLaughlin Group this past weekend. The frustration of ol' Mr. McLaughlin himself on all the lies that we are being fed on the neverending occupation of Iraq is the most entertaining part. "Everyone is lying to the American people about Iraq," David Corn sums up at one point.

Also worth noting for the propaganda being regurgitated by Monica Crowley and Pat Buchanan. I look forward to watching these continued discussions/circle jerks for many years to come.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the Iraqis continue to stand up abandon their posts. What a fun war.

Debate Post-Mortem: Darn That Liberal Media!

I hadn't planned to blog about the Democratic debate at all, but I am just beyond pissed tonight. Remember how conservatives couldn't figure out why Democrats refused to participate in a Fox News debate? Tonight's trainwreck on ABC is the answer.

Over the course of two hours, the moderators-- Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos (the latter of whom literally took question cues from Sean Hannity)-- focused not on the serious crises we face, but rather on an endless assault of right-wing talking points. In the first hour, all that was asked were "questions" about... Bittergate, Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, sniper fire, and flags pins and patriotism. That was it. Hour two brought more fair and balanced questions as to why Democrats would be mean to Gen. Petraeus by asking for a withdrawal plan, why we must nuke Iran before they get to Israel, why Obama wants to ruin the economy by raining on George Bush's tax cut parade, why the two candidates hate guns so much, how Obama wants his daughters want to steal someone's college admission slot with affirmative action, how to make gas cheap and plentiful, and who can destroy who more (and I am only barely exaggerating how each of those questions were framed).

And while Sen. Obama looked like he just trying to survive a mugging (and not doing the best job of it), Sen. Clinton gleefully played along, hyping up the anti-Obama rhetoric, with a few Giuliani-esque 9/11 references thrown in for fun. All this in the "debate" before a primary we have been told is about looking out for Joe Lunchpal.

This debate represented everything that is wrong with American politics today in two painful hours. In his on-point liveblogging, Andrew Sullivan sums it up by stating "Gibson and Stephanopoulos are clearly part of the problem in this election and part of what has to be reformed... It's pure Rove, sustained and hyped and sustained by Stephanopoulos and Gibson. It's what they know; it's easy; and it will generate ratings. It is not journalism."

And it is only April. Can our collective intelligence really take another 7 months of this?

If you missed it, thank the lord video should be online somewhere in the morning. In the meantime, read more mindblown live-blogs (with factual rebuttals to the moderators ignorance) from Mother Jones, Americablog, the Philadelphia Daily News, Reason magazine, and Talking Points Memo.

[UPDATE: TPM has put together a video highlight lowlight reel for your amusement.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

John McCain... Maverick!

The Associated Press decides to look past the media's false narrative of their hero Maverick McCain and discovers a shocking secret... he is actually a Republican!-
The independent label sticks to John McCain because he antagonizes fellow Republicans and likes to work with Democrats.

But a different label applies to his actual record: conservative.

The likely Republican presidential nominee is much more conservative than voters appear to realize. McCain leans to the right on issue after issue, not just on the Iraq war but also on abortion, gay rights, gun control and other issues that matter to his party's social conservatives.

They elaborate...
Besides the war, McCain agrees broadly with Bush and other conservatives on:

_Abortion. McCain promises to appoint judges who, in the mold of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, are likely to limit the reach of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion... McCain voted repeatedly to ban federal funding for abortion; he once voted against Medicaid funds for abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

He voted to require parental consent for abortion and voted to criminalize anyone but a parent crossing state lines with a minor to help get an abortion. McCain also supported a ban preventing women in the military from getting abortions with their own money at overseas military hospitals.

"I am pro-life and an advocate for the rights of man everywhere in the world," McCain told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. "Because to be denied liberty is an offense to nature and nature's Creator."

_Gay rights. McCain opposes gay marriage. True, he does not support a federal ban on gay marriage on grounds the issue traditionally has been decided by states. But McCain worked to ban gay marriage in Arizona. He also supports the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and he opposed legislation to protect gay people from job discrimination or hate crimes.

"I'm proud to have led an effort in my home state to change our state constitution and to protect the sanctity of marriage as between a man and woman," he told CNN in March. "I will continue to advocate for those fundamental principals of our party and our faith."

_Gun control. McCain voted against a ban on assault-style weapons and for shielding gun-makers and dealers from civil suits. He did vote in favor of requiring background checks at gun shows, but in general he sides with the National Rifle Association in favor of gun rights.

...And concludes-
His conservatism could be a problem for McCain — particularly if this November's contest is as close as recent presidential elections, which were decided by independent-minded voters in the center of the political spectrum.

But he might avoid this problem to the extent people know him as an independent-minded politician. And many do view him that way.

Yes, many do view him that way... all thanks to our friends in the liberal media.

For instance, and speaking of the Associated Press, they had their annual luncheon event in Washington, D.C this past Monday. At the event, Sen. Obama was taking some questions. One of them, "delivered via AP chairman W. Dean Singleton, was related to Afghanistan, our troops in Iraq and the threat posed by, as Singleton put it, 'Obama bin Laden.'" Oops, sorry, Sen. Osama Obama! Sen. McCain was there too. Apparently, "after his speech, the moderator brought out McCain’s 'favorite treat' — Dunkin Donuts with sprinkles and 'a little coffee with a little cream and a little sugar.' The moderator then laughingly added, 'I think we’re set for the hard questions.'"

Yessir, this is going to be one super fun election.

Something Happened On The Way To That Place, They Threw An American Flag In Our Face.

Yes, it remains truly absurd to insist that many Americans-- from small towns and big towns-- might be bitter about the economic betrayals that have occurred over the last 30 years. Just a bunch of commies who don't realize that they are one stimulus check and a trip to the mall away from salvation.

Here's a story that a bitter friend of mine sent my way-
Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases.

With the new pricing system, insurers abandoned the traditional arrangement that has patients pay a fixed amount, like $10, $20 or $30 for a prescription, no matter what the drug’s actual cost. Instead, they are charging patients a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, usually 20 to 33 percent, which can amount to thousands of dollars a month.

The system means that the burden of expensive health care can now affect insured people, too...

...[T]he result is that patients may have to spend more for a drug than they pay for their mortgages, more, in some cases, than their monthly incomes..

What a great system. Free-market health care at its finest.

People have also been bitter-- for many years now-- about outsourced jobs, and industries. But manufacturing jobs are not all that we're outsourcing as part of our growing one-way globalized trade economy. We're also outsourcing our messes (and maybe even our bitterness!)-
The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices down from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even in parts of India.

This synchronized global slowdown, which has become increasingly stark in recent months, is hobbling economic growth worldwide, affecting not just homes, but also jobs.

And it's news like that which, in turn, is causing further bittiness at home-
- Americans' confidence in the economy fell to a new low, dragged down by worries about mounting job losses, record-high home foreclosures and zooming energy prices.

There is also the growing problem, here and abroad, of food price inflation and shortages.

Anyway, my point here is that this country-- and and in turn, the rest of the world-- is facing some serious problems... many of which (years of bad policy and neglect) are the doing of the leaders we've elected. And instead of debating how we're going to repair the damage-- let alone create new eras of prosperity-- we're freaking out over semantics and watching pundits pretend they know thing 1 about small town America.

The past few elections have been decided by varying degrees of stupidity and sideshows, something which Americans were supposedly upset about, but not really. And yet we find ourselves-- in the midst of major economic collapse and global strife-- falling into those same traps. All of which makes the Republicans very much un-bitter.

[*Note: Subject title is lyrical reference to the best song on Billy Joel's 1982 album, The Nylon Curtain.]


A solid piece from Tom Tomorrow this week-


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Video Smörgåsbord

I watch a lot of political/news videos (I need help). Now, I share them with you...

Jon Stewart weighs in on this latest brouhaha and the circus that is the Democratic primary. Seriously, this is the best take on this whole thing I have seen so far... just spot on.

Stephen Colbert, meanwhile, is in Pennsylvania all week long.

Larry the Loophole presents... The War on Greed!

The trailer is out for Ben Stein's new pro-intelligent design 'documentary' and if all the reports I've read are true, this is the world's funniest comedy. The whole thing is basically just a big creationist hissy fit.

In the second installment of the Hardball College Tour, Chris Matthews spoke with John McCain in Philadelphia. You can watch it on YouTube... here, here, here, here, and here.

Finally, in a classic 'New Rules', Bill Maher asks liberals to take back the word 'elite'.

Checking In With Pennsylvania

Yesterday, I mentioned my gun-owning, religious, bitter brother who lives in rural Pennsylvania. Instead of me just talking to myself here, I figured I'd check his pulse on this race so far. Below is our correspondence...

My question:
"Since the Democratic primary has taken over your state, I'm curious how you Pennsylvanians are feeling about all this... which candidate are the folks out by you tending to support?"

"I hear alot of Hilary support. Very little Obama. She is born and raised out here. As far as predjudices against black people and women, it appears the predjudices against black people is stronger. Is Barak looking to illegalize abortion?

I then emailed him back, with some fact-checking and other general comments. But this initial response seems to me a solid (expected) indication of how rural Pennsylvania is feeling. And it's fucking depressing as hell.

John McCain's Voodoo Economics

I've seen some bloggers referring to John McCain as 'huggy bear', but that is just immature and childish. I prefer Pander-Bear. Yes, John McCain-- after previously deciding that no policy was the best policy regarding the economic woes-- has been working feverishly to show voters he too gives a crap. And the results have been almost parodies of what you'd imagine politicians say during election years-
John McCain called Tuesday for the federal government to free people from paying gasoline taxes this summer and ensure that college students can secure loans this fall, proposals aimed at stemming the public's pain now from the troubled economy.

In the longer-term, the certain Republican presidential nominee said he would double the tax exemption for dependent children and offer people the option of choosing a simpler tax system...

Let's ignore the idea that Congress would ever enact the proposals-- good or bad-- of a presidential candidate from the opposition party in an election year, and move on. The article notes that McCain believes that this would all have "a trickle-down effect, and 'help to spread relief across the American economy'". 'Relief', of course, being code for tax cuts. I'd also add that most college students have no problem securing loans, it's the paying them back after graduation in an unstable job market part that tends to be the financial burden.

I am reminded once again that the Senate GOP leadership proposed a similar panderfest ($100 checks for gas money!) in the summer of 2006, and the country-- including many Republicans-- told them to go frak themselves. I mean we're already getting a fancy stimulus check. So we've already been bought off, thankyouverymuch.

Also, Newsweek tells me that Mr. Maverick's a serious environmentalist. So why's he encouraging more gas use?

No proposal is complete, of course, without an attack on ones opponents-
He also argued that Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton would impose the single largest tax increase since World War II by allowing tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 — and that McCain voted against but now wants to make permanent — to expire.

Yes, going back to the tax rates of the 1990s-- an age of economic doom and shanty towns-- is a nightmare this nation cannot afford. Because god forbid the peace and prosperity of the Bush years were ever to end.

[PS- As McCain proposes more tax cuts for the solution to all our nation's woes (interesting, has this been tried before?), I am also reminded that it's that 'marxist' Barack Obama who has been encouraging Americans to be more responsible citizens. Ahh, political stereotypes, are you ever not bullshit?

PPS- As little as he knows about the economy, he knows even less about foreign policy.]

Not 2004 Anymore.

Some people seem to be hand-wringing about-- whether his point was correct or not-- how people will take what Obama said... because that is the big deal here, because voters vote based on perceptions and feelings. All true.

But is this story really even a big deal? I'm not convinced. Even the Drudge Report-- long the pulse on what BS story the right is focusing on at any given time-- was focusing more on Hillary than Barack. My cyber-journeys at places like the National Review and other conservative websites found some jokes, but no real hyping. This is one of those things that someone like Sean Hannity will run into the ground (when he's not insisting that Obama is a terrorist-sympathizer black nationalist), but that no actual person will care about. Will we really still be talking about this in October?

Still, that didn't stop Sen. Clinton from playing the ultimate concern troll. Echoing every GOP stereotype and talking point, she lamented that Obama is an elitist who is out of touch with regular Americans. Regular Americans like her. She said these perceptions are why Gore and Kerry lost their respective elections... and that is why she is in full pander mode, acting like vintage Bush, circa 2000. The word is that she was even handing out "I'm not bitter" buttons at rallies-- like the GOP handing out purple heart band-aids at their 2004 convention-- which apparently didn't go over well with crowds, many of whom are quite bitter. The fact that it is not still 2004 has eluded this campaign.

Moreover, her pandering has given Sen. Obama just the opening he needed to hit back (and this is getting more play on Drudge-ish sites now than the original flap). Notice also that he uses the opportunity to speak out against John McCain... aka the GOP candidate that the Clintons are ignoring in lieu of regurgitating conservative talking points.

One reason that John Kerry lost in 2004 was that every time the GOP threw some BS issue at him-- like the easily debunked Swift Boat vet story-- he decided it was best to ignore it (hey, voters know better, right?). He took the punches, and didn't hit back. Made him look not only weak, but also made some voters think the criticisms must be legitimate. Sen. Obama is no John Kerry. He is not taking these punches, he's hitting back. And while victory in November is hardly assured by any means (people loves ol' Maverick John!), it's that which gives me hope, and it's why I know that it's not 2004 anymore.

[UPDATE: Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic has what is the best take on all this I've found.]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Odds and Ends

Did you file your taxes yet? If not, you, umm, better get on that. Here's news...

The Pope has come to America and, as usual, all those pesky molested youngsters are the elephant in the room. But hey, he's gonna pray at Ground Zero, so whatever. Maybe he can use his divine powers to get them to start some fucking work down there.

Call off the protests, hippies... China's cleaning up its act: "Construction will halt, heavy industries will close, and even spray painting will stop in order to clean Beijing's polluted air for the Olympics— an issue that suddenly has taken a back seat to political protests." Clean that air? Better get started a decade or so ago.

Meanwhile, in Italy, parliamentary elections yield... the return of Silvio Berlusconi?!

In other international news, Jimmy Carter is not backing down from his plans to meet with leaders of Hamas during his upcoming diplomatic trip to the Middle East, despite criticisms.

What is wrong with America when our disgraced monster of an ex-Attorney General can't find anyone to hire him?

Finally, the DNC intends to take on John McCain full throttle: "The Democratic National Committee is set to file a complaint in federal court against the Federal Election Commission, saying the regulatory agency has failed to act on a request to investigate and take action against Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential-nominee-in-waiting, for reversing his decision to use public money in the general election."

Have Republicans given up on FISA and telecom amnesty?

According to Glenn Greenwald, that seems to be the case for now. He quotes an article in The Hill reporting that the House GOP leadership plans to "transition away from passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and earmark reform to 'stop the tax hike' [and other economic issues]."

Yes, it seems that with a) their fearmongering campaign not gaining them any traction, and b) the economy in the shitter, that the GOP leadership is willing to let the (perfectly up-to-the-task) FISA law remain on the books, instead of pushing for the revised bill that President Bush and telecom lobbyists have demanded. All that talk about how if said bill wasn't passed yesterday that the terrorists would be here tomorrow and kill us all in our sleep is revealed to be the empty political garbage it was.

See? It's not always bad news.

Gonna Die in a Small Town. That's Probably Where They'll Bury Me...

I just wanted to add my take on the latest faux-scandal that the media is obsessing over because the important stories are, like, way boring. Yes, nothing makes an election more exciting than a hyped-up 'culture war' issue because seriously if we have to hear about Iraq or the Olympics or recessions one more time, we'll all just kill ourselves.

I think many agree that the point Sen. Obama was making is accurate, if poorly worded (guns and religion become wedge issues, but hardly began in bad economies). Understandably he might not be bringing his a-game to a private, casual fundraising event in California. That this has become a 'scandal' is a reminder of how ridiculous the media makes politics (Obama drank orange juice at a diner... what a weirdo!!).

But not only is the point that he's making apt-- as someone with a gun-owning, religious, and very bitter brother who lives in rural Pennsylvania, I can vouch it is-- it's hardly a new point from Obama, or Democrats in general.

Here's Obama a few weeks after his Senate victory in 2004, making the same exact points-

And here's Bill Clinton himself last December making a similar point-

I'm glad to see that-- despite the necessary clarifications-- that Obama isn't being forced to back down or apologize for his honest remarks. Yes, phrase things a bit better next time, but keep making the point. Because these bitter, f'ed-over small town voters are crucial voters for us in the Fall. These voters had previously been the Democratic base, until the 1980s when the GOP began mastering the art of using social/cultural wedges to pry them away (abortion, gays, immigrants, etc). Democrats have to directly confront those wedges used to get so many to vote against their own economic interests. Most voters appreciate honesty, so give it to them.

Staying in Iraq Forever, Continued

As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.

AP: Iraqi government dismisses 1,300 soldiers and policemen after Basra fiasco

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekend Video Theatre: Fair and Balanced Edition

Can you believe that Fox News has only been with us for 12 short years? It's been a fun ride. And while the network looks to the future as their hero George W. Bush nears his exit, the Daily Show's John Oliver decides to look back at the history of this great network. Enjoy and/or weep for American journalism.

Greening The Economy

The issue about creating "green-collar jobs" has come up a lot during the Democratic primary-- both our candidates are actually pretty solid on this front, I'm happy to say-- but I really haven't covered it much (I'm not an expert, and don't intend to play one here). But this article at The Washington Independent is a good read. This is clearly the right direction to be heading in, unless you're one of those people who believes that inefficient and destructive practices are good for the economy and the environment.

Harnessing the Sun: Future of Green Jobs--
Two Massive Solar Projects Promise Cleaner Energy and New Jobs

Sadly, I haven't seen a whole lot of this type of thing around here (though NYC is a big, dense place... maybe it's hidden), but I have in my travels. Saw a lot of wind farms flying into Boston last summer, saw a lot of solar panel-powered buildings on my recent visit to San Diego, etc. It was encouraging. I look forward to (hopefully) getting the kind of leadership to really make stuff like this a national priority. The weak tea stuff passed by Congress-- backwards ethanol mandates, politely asking the auto industry to get to 35mpg in a decade or so, etc-- just won't cut it.

Finally, Earth Day is coming up. I'm looking for some local activity to do. Any suggestions?