Nov 30, 2004

Another Important Lesson In "Compassionate Conservatism": Let Them Suffer And Die In Pain!

They don't like what you do; you do what they like.
Why should the federal administration and the Supreme Court allow Angel McClary Raich (click on the link to read her story) to use medicinal marijuana when such an act is in clear violation of conservative values? Just Say No To Drugs. Under any circumstances. Even if this is the only medical way to alleviate suffering, and, in the case of Angel, to make her life a bit more bearable.

The good thing is that she resides in California which allows the medicinal use of marijuana. The bad news is that she lives in the United States under conservative government that believes its moral authority supersedes pain and suffering. Besides, what kind of message are they sending if they allow ..marijuana to be used? My god, such a moral decrepitude! Not here in this (dis)United States of America! No, those "drug addicts" should suffer. Angel's inoperable cancer and a dozen other diseases mustn't get in their way of a sound moral policy.

The sky is the limit for "compassionate conservatism". Besides, who needs science--a faulty and imprecise tool? Science doesn't have all the answers, look, there are gaps in the theory of evolution. They can fill in the gaps, or, better yet, offer another "theory", that of creationism. Yeap, they want to promote Dabya's kinda intelligence in our schools! They've got all the answers by divine right. Stem-cell research, you ask? We don't need that!

Never mind that we live past 30 and in better health because of science! By they way, Canada de-criminalized the use of marijuana, like many European countries have done already. Are they going to hell? All I know is that many more Americans will be going to Canada, more often! Like I said earlier, Bush won the Armageddon election--prepare to be stoned (however you take this)!

Nov 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving. The Humanist Approach

It is indeed a time to give thanks for all the goodness we have in our lives, but it is also a time to remember the others who have very little or nothing at all. Those fellow humans who, at the dawn of the 21st century, don't have enough to eat, no secure shelter, and whose basic human rights are denied. Many Americans have been generous, but we haven't done enough. One needn't to travel far to see real suffering taking place. Unfortunately, our government doesn't seem to realize that you don't need bullets to fight some battles, and that some wars are not won by military muscle but by kindness and generosity. Putting the true meaning into ThanksGIVING and helping others to self-fulfillment is a moral value worth upholding.

Nov 23, 2004

The Tyranny of the Majority: Republicans in the Congress

George Orwell's "1984" Revisited in 2004
A new poll came out today showing that Americans chose Bush over Kerry because they found him "more likeable", although they remain ambivalent about Bush's agenda and his performance thus far! I thought that we were voting on the issues and the better manager to get us out of this mess! Ah, well, I guess it's politics of the lowest common denominator.

I expect a revival of Newspeak under the one-party government we're establishing here. The House Republicans, especially House Speaker Dennis Hastert and his Republican Whip, Tom Delay, under the newly acquired "mandate rules" are expected to rule with an iron f(r)ist. This fist doesn't feel too painful you say? Well, not if you're numb enough already. Just follow the movements of the snake charmers and you'll be all right. Trust them... Relax, relax! They've done it before, trust them. Now, close your eyes, this won't hurt!

Bills are decided in advance before put to a floor vote in our U.S. Congress. The committees meet in secrecy, no debate is allowed and the bills come out so quickly that "our" elected officials don't even know what's in the bill they're voting for. Those bills that manage to get bi-partisan support, like the one about the voting machine's paper trail, and the overhauling of our national intelligence agencies, never see the light of day as they are not allowed to come to a vote!

It was about values, they said. I agree, it was about values as in m-o-n-e-y! Accenture, the technology company that received $10 billion in contracts from Homeland Security, is a proud member of the ultra-patriotic community which asks you and me for sacrifices in the name of our national interest. Its lobbyists, who wear the American flag on their lapels, spent $2 billion, for ..lobbying. Meanwhile, the company has a P.O. Box and a fax machine in ..Bermuda where its "headquarters" sans personnel is located! Cool!
The House Appropriation Committee voted 35-17 (in a bi-partisan attempt to close some of the corporate loopholes like this) to strip Accenture of the $10 billion contract, but, oh-my-g-o-d what happened?.. The wise gatekeepers (DeLayed corruption charges) never allowed our Congressmen to vote on the bill! Heil to the chiefs! Com'on now, salute; extend your hand straight out!

The millions of people who voted for Mr. Bush have to accept responsibility for re-electing him and for all the goodies that we'll receive under his reign . He had a 4-year record and a message of what he wanted to do in the next 4 years; he got re-elected, unfortunately. So, those who "broke it", now own it! Deal with it! Don't blame me; I voted for Kerry.

Nov 20, 2004

Harry Reid To Succeed Daschle

Harry Reid of Nevada * is going to be the new Dem chief in the Senate after the defeat of Tom Daschle who narrowly lost his re-election in the red state of South Dakota. He, along with the other 43 Dems in the US Senate, will try to withstand the ultra-conservative tide to be unleashed by Bush in the next 4 years.

Reid, described as a populist liberal, stands at odds with most people in his party by opposing the woman's right to reproductive choice.
NARAL gave him a 29% rating in 2003. He also in favor of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. Ok, so he's not the big liberal we'd like to see. The ACLU gave him only a 40% rating in 2002. I just hope that the Demos don't try to become more conservative. Instead, they should move the center back where it was, to the!

For more detailed information on Harry Reid's Senate record, You be the judge. Reid has voted right (read: correctly) on a host of other issues. Check it out.

Now, both sides in the Senate are talking reconciliation and willing to work for "the common good"! Really? Apart from a sound-bite, what does this mean? I ask, what common ground can you have with someone who wants to limit your civil rights? Just give him some of your rights?
How about that bigot who just got elected to the US Senate from Oklahoma--who wants the death penalty for all doctors performing abortions for any reason at any stage of pregnacy?!!!! Should we compromise and kill only those doctors operating after the first trimester? You be the judge.

Of course, life and politics is about compromise, but not a compromise on fundamental human rights. Remind me, who said, "extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice"?...

* A very interesting article on Why Bush Scored in Nevada, by Sasha Abramsky, is published in The Nation. Read it on line, but this is a great weekly magazine to subscribe.

Nov 15, 2004

The Future Begins Today

Get active, for your sake, and for the sake of the next generations!
photo by GP

The period of mourning may not be over for the progressives, but it's time we face reality and move on. There is plenty of time to analyze the results and the causes that led to the win of the "evil forces". Yet, there is no time to waste. Not only we have the obligation to stay true to our beliefs but we have to establish a long-term strategy. We can become the dominate force in the Democratic Party and not allow it to "move to the center", but rather move the "center" closer to us!

We have to start controlling the language of the debate, and re-define the terms liberal and conservative. It may take longer than we'd like, but changing the minds & hearts of Americans requires effort and time. It's an investment for the public good.
We can become the "fundamental Americans" by reinforcing the role of the political progressives, especially at the local/state level.

There are efforts that started before this election and there are progressive groups that will continue their activism for the years to come. Get involved. If you have such an organization, please email me and I'll post it here. I listed Howard Dean's organization which has local presence and it's expanding. Here's another starting point in New York , to get you going.

In New York, finally, we see some positive change at the state level. The monolithic, "strong leadership" (read: authoritarian) politics are being successfully transformed by progressive politicians like Eric Snhneiderman [NYS Senator], despite the punitive resistance of both the Republican and Democratic parties in Albany. We must recruit progressive candidates like Eric, thus shifting the balance of power and the debate. It's not easy, but it's not as hard as you think. Entrenched power survives on the apathy of the people.

We are in a cultural divide, but we can't give in to the politics of regression and to a vision of the past. The blue states can indeed become a safe heaven for openness, a tolerant society, where fundamental rights to privacy, education & healthcare are promoted. The change can begin in our backyard and spread to all America. As liberals who uphold the value of caring about our "neighbor" will share our successes with the rest of the world. Our cosmopolitan attitude, our liberal ways, and our support of the scientific method have already produced envied results. History is on our side!

Nov 11, 2004

Our Moral Values: We Fight For Humanism, More Freedom & Democracy!

In This Cultural Divide Our Values Will Transcend This Election

This is a re-posting of a reply I wrote after being criticized for being too harsh on "the opposition." I feel that we are in a great cultural divide right now, and this is no time to surrender our principles in the spirit of unity. What we're fighting for is for more civil rights, more openness, more democracy, and for our country to remain a beacon of hope, an envied & admired leader in the world community. The powerlogs claim a mandate to radically transform our society, while the theologs make assertions that cannot be proven. We will not stand for such.

The progressive community suffered a blow, and it's OK to stand up and fight! Why is not OK to fight for more personal freedoms, for a more equitable distribution of the nation's wealth, for separation of church and state, for our country to be a respected leader in the world community?.... These values are good not just for the liberals, but for all people. Why should we make truce with those who want to make us pray to their god, follow their religious practices in our private lives, don't want us to love and sleep with whomever we like, and, for goodness sake, are opposed to science?! All those people ( perhaps as much as 30% of the electorate) indeed voted for Bush! Did they not? Today the Evangelicals declared that Bush rode on their coat tails! They argue that their religious agenda must be implemented now.

No, not all Republicans or those who voted for Bush are "bad people." I do think that most are well-meaning Americans, and even if we disagree with each other they accept that disagreement is allowed and it's healthy for our political system. They, and all the fiscal conservatives who voted for Bush, should re-examine the partner they're going to be sleeping with, and, how their vote empowered the fundamentalists, the totalitarians, and those with apocalyptic views.

We are going to fight, and we are going to fight hard for our rights, for the rights of all Americans, because even those " bigots, the anti-intellectuals, the selfish rich who vote their pocketbooks, those intolerant theocrats, the simpletons who care more about their guns than their children's healthcare, the arrogant morons with a microscopic worldview" would not like it if they were a minority in a Moslem theocratic state! Would they? That's why they fail to see that an open, liberal society is better for them too. Unless, it's their way or the highway!

America is a conservative nation. When Lyndon Johnson signed The Civil Rights laws said that the Democrats would lose the South for a generation.... Well, it turned out to be much longer than that. Simply put, giving rights to Blacks was resented in the South, was it not? Can anyone dispute that there is still racism in the 21st century America? Can anyone dispute that millions of our fellow citizens are bigots, narrow-minded, and intolerant? Can anyone dispute the fact that overtly-racist politicians (like David Duke) garner huge amounts of votes?! Can anyone dispute that if you don't go to church, are not a devout Christian you are considered "un-American" by those "pious and moral" citizens of ours?

No, unfortunately, they are not just a few of them here and there. Who elected to the US Senate that bigot from Oklahoma--who wants the death penalty for all doctors who perform any abortion at any stage? The answer is, the majority of Oklahomans who voted on November 2nd, that's who!

Please let's be realistic. If you don't attack those who want to limit personal freedoms, those who want to impose a theocratic state, those who want a closed society and are against science.... Then , we better pack up and leave for Canada or Europe. Surrendering our country without a fight is not recommended. There is still hope. At the very least we must do all we can. It's the right thing. Our values are worth fighting for.

Why not call on those hypocrites who wear their religion on their sleeves but use it only for selfish reasons? Why not call on those who wear the American flag on their lapels, while they spill American blood to enrich themselves? Why not call on those "uber-patriots" who talk about sacrifice when themselves sacrifice nothing?

I want my kids to grow up in a country where people are judged by their actions not by the color of their skin. Where love is love. Where they realize that there is a world outside our borders. Where they are taught history and true science. Where, even though they may not come from a wealthy family, they'll be given the opportunity through access to free education and healthcare to advance their lot. I don't care if you call this left or right, up or down, east or west.... I want my kids to promote freedoms, scientific inquiry, and lead a happy life through personal responsibility and real choices!
Let's do it the "Jesus way": Teach tolerance, love thy neighbors different as they may be, and help the sick and less fortunate of our society! Jesus didn't have just a personal relationship with God. He also acted! And, he taught that your faith means nothing if you don't actively care about and for your fellow humans.

Nov 10, 2004

Clinton For Chairman Of The Democratic Party

I know many of you are promoting Howard Dean for the next leader of the Democratic Party, and I agree he'd be a good choice, but let's think about this for a moment. Howard can be more useful to us, the progressives, if he stays un-attached, and un-hindered by the obligations and the delicate balances the party chairman has to play with.

However, the Big Bubba, is the best choice. He loves politics, he has a high profile, he can raise tons of money, he can organize the party--yes, I know, it's like herding cats in the Democratic party--and he knows how to speak plainly to those who found Kerry too snub, too intellectual, and too confusing. Oh, and Bill knows how to win elections.

As for Howard, I propose that he keeps working with his progressive organization, Democracy For America , (this is a good thing that you may want to be involved with) and, why not, run for Senator. Gosh, we do need more US Senators like him.

What you ask, how about Hillary 2008?....

Nov 4, 2004

Apocalypse Now...and Later!

Prepared To Be Stoned (however you take this!) Bush Wins The Armageddon Election!

If only we had a little more to paint Ohio blue.... Time for the Blues now?.

Today I came home from Cleveland, Ohio. The drive back was the longest, toughest, and most disheartening I've taken in my life. I had to listen to the biggest Dick Cheney's boasting about them having a mandate, and control of all branches of government.

I gave it all to affect change and turn this country around from the destructive path Bush has chosen. I drove thousands of miles, gave up thousands of dollars in paid work, slept on the floor & in my car, soaked by rain, dried up by the wind, and rode an emotional roller coaster. I don't regret it; I'm just very tired and devastated, because I take this defeat personally.

What I was predicting as the "October Surprise", that is, the Jesus factor--what Jesus would vote--turned out to be the November surprise! The religious fundamentalists flooded the polls and voted for their "moral values".

We in the reality-based community have to accept reality despite it being quite unpleasant now.The euphoria of de-throning the neo-cons and amidst the incredible mobilization of the progressive forces, we came to believe that change was finally at hand. We broke down the numbers, examined historical trends, we hoped those things would bear out our hopes. It didn't happen. Bush trumped historical currents, and tradition. Unless, of course, the election was stolen--and I'm not making this argument now, because I don't have the proof for such.

Numbers are just a tool, interpreting numbers and people's opinions is as much as art as science. I was wrong along with many others, much smarter than me, who made an educated prediction that this election was to bring change and Kerry into the White House. Zogby, Harris polls and others called this election for Kerry as well.

Unfortunately, this America is much more conservative than we'd like or even expect. Even had we won this election, the undercurrents reveal that this country remains a conservative stronghold. Clinton (no big liberal) never got more than 50% of the popular vote. Yes, we could have won it this time too, but only if the "other side" was disinterested and unmotivated. When the stakes were high, we saw the result.

Howard Dean got it right. Much of the country is mainly concerned about the three "Gs"... god, guns, and gays! The Republicans are pushing the right buttons, and get millions of Evangelicals, god/hell-fearing fundamentalists to vote against their own economic interests. The most brilliant move by the Republicans was to put the anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballots, in all swing states! It was shocking to see that Bush had more support from the lowest economic strata than Kerry!

I guess that a lot of people are happy that Tom and Harry cannot walk down the aisle. I mean burning in hell should be avoided at all costs--besides all the good rewards come after you die, right?!!! So, vote away...

The Democratic party has been losing ground in the last 15 years, becoming a minority national party. If it were to bounce back, it would have to become more conservative. Otherwise, if it sticks to its more liberal, even secular proposals, and try to change the hearts and minds of the electorate, then it will have to accept the minority status for a long time to come. The other alternative is to find someone who speaks in plain terms (hense avoid complicated matters), has the image and basically appeals to the hearts not the minds of the voters.

More bad news are to come for us liberals who are concerned not only about the economic standing of the poor and the middle class, but are concerned about social values and a progressive path. Bush will most likely get to appoint several justices to the Supreme Court. He will leave office in 4 years, but they will remain on the bench, shaping the social agenda for generations.

It's easier to undo or form anew an economic policy, but it's much harder to bring about social and legal change. Many of the important steps that this country has taken were achieved first through the courts. For example, it was the Court that decided desegregation was illegal, and women had a reproductive choice.

Our only hope is , gasp, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector, who said today that he would oppose Bush's appointments of justices with are "too conservative"--whatever this means. Spector who barely beat his Democratic opponent, will be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. We'll see. Our only other hope is the 44 Democratic senators who may put up a fight on civil rights issues and to block radicals from being appointed to the Supreme Court. On this we should work very hard to gain seats in the Senate 2 years from now.

Basically, we don't have many good choices available to us. Some liberals have threaten to live the country, or have proposed ..secession of the northeastern, west-coast states, or to leave politics forever, and other desperate acts. I don't think these are good choices.

We happen to be in the minority, but true liberals, especially the secular ones, have always been in the minority in these United States. Get used to it, because it will not change in our lifetime.

I admit that I'm not in the best of spirits these days, but after I got past the initial shock and caught up on some much needed sleep, I decided to keep on fighting. What else can I do? Paul Wellstone used to say that life belongs to those who are prepared and willing to fight for it!

I'm going to keep on fighting to bring about new ideas in the political discourse, to promote reforms for more democracy and personal freedoms, support science in schools and the scientific inquiry The more you keep your head out of the water the more of a fighting chance you've got. The alternative to me is to sink to the bottom and die, something I'm not prepared to do.

Lastly, there is some good news! We have each other. Even our minority has strength in numbers. Yeah, gaddamit! There are millions of Americans like us who have similar aspirations about a just and free society, millions more who are politically moderate.

The bigots, the anti-intellectuals, the selfish rich who vote their pocketbooks, those intolerant theocrats, the simpletons who care more about their guns than their children's healthcare, the arrogant morons with a microscopic worldview, well, they can have their; we can never be under the same tent with them.

Of course, there are common threads across this beautiful land of ours--a land that belongs to ALL of us--that unite us all. But, dissent is healthy even though it is labeled unpatriotic by the small-minded. Through a civilized debate and an exchange of ideas society moves forward. We will keep being a pain-in-the-ass. What we seek it's good for them too!

So gather your strength and join in. It's going to be a hell of a ride. Do not drink apathy's poison. I like the smell of armageddon in the morning!

Nov 2, 2004


Often, As In Getting Your Friends & Family To Vote Too!

I just wanted to keep you updated with news from the "front lines", more specifically, Cleveland, Ohio, where things are hot but looking very good for Kerry. I got the chance to observe the campaign up close, and to go to the Election Eve Rally in downtown Cleveland, where the crowds were delirious for Kerry. Yet, most importantly, I've seen such enthusiasm in the Buckeye state that is unprecedented, at least in recent memory. Four years ago, Al Gore pulled out in mid October, and the state went to Bush. This year we're taking it back.

I've seen people from far away states and even Canada converging here to volunteer for the Kerry campaign. This commitment to ged rid of the neo-cons and turn the country around is intensively strong. As of now, early on election day, there are signs of a massive turnout of voters, many of whom are "new" voters. The mobilization is amazing too, and this time every voting place is being monitored by Voting Rights teams, lawyers, and other people who are going to make sure that our vote will count! This is grass-roots effort and being smart about it too.

Now, take pride in your activism and joy in the fact that this time your efforts will be rewards with a win of the progressive forces. Let me give you da facts why this is a done deal.

No incumbent president has ever won re-election with such low numbers (and I won't go into details here--they readily available) on Wrong/Right direction of the country, consumer confidence, polling under 50%, economy, etc. Also, (a fun factoid) when the Redskins lose the Sunday before the election, the incumbent loses too! Ohio has voted for the winner all but 2 times (last time Ohio got it wrong was way back), and no Republican has won without Ohio!

Boy, I can't wait for January 20th, 2005. Today we're telling the Bushies that are sitting ducks!

Thank you for being a member of the reality-based community and for supporting the progressive forces. HOPE IS ON THE WAY!