Dec 24, 2006

Have a Great Holiday Season. Enjoy Life, a Moment at a Time.

Without further ado, these are some pictures I took over the years in and around New York.

PS. I could have spent more time writing, and tweaking stuff here on Blogger (to post more pictures in a better layout) but between the liberal libations available this season and the nice weather, it didn't happen! [Did you know this page looks different in IE and Firefox?!! I use both] I'll be posting sporadically until year!

PS2:You could click on the image for a better picture! I'm outahere...

Dec 23, 2006

Conservative Talking Heads Offer Dung to American Consumers

Warning: Ingesting Without Chewing Leads to Atrophy of the Brain and Loss of Clear Vision

Are we having a good national dialogue in this country? Well, depends where you go and what you read/watch/listen, but there are too many people out there who make tons of money by spewing venom and provoking the worst emotional responses. Obviously, there is an audience, of the lowest common denominator, because an extremist is marginalized if his message doesn't find willing ears and narrow minds.

There are idiots on all sides, in every political & social segment, but why is it that the worst, most hateful rhetoric comes from the Conservatives and the theocons? Why isn't there a ..liberal equivalent of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Culter, Savage, Beck, Robertson, Falwell, Boortz, etc, ? Because, the liberals & progressives tend to be a lot better B.S. detectors! We are critical thinkers for the most part. Those persons who claim to be part of the "righteous ones," who think they've have "high morals" are indeed the ones who are the most hateful mongers that walk in the gutter. It wouldn't be all the worrisome if they were promptly ignored, but they do matter because they have millions of Americans who agree with them.

Media Matters put together some highlights (rather, lowlights) of the ..dung served to millions of Americans in 2006 by those media barons, who, ironically, also decry America's the lack of .."moral fitness." So, do you want to know who'd sodomize their mothers, push Jewish children into the oven? Who's more gay, Clinton or Gore? Why to exterminate all barbarians? What animation movie has a homosexual subtext? Who looks like Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence? No, I'm not making this up, these are comments on shows with millions of viewers/listeners. [click on the link to find out] By the way, all this nonsense about the "War on Christmas" was the creation of that hypocrite [pictured] to generate ratings and distract attention from that sexual harassment case...

A democracy usually falters & falls from within. Likewise, the worst enemy is ourselves; we've often inflicted more damage on our country than our enemies on us. The dumbing down of our society, that simplistic ignorance and primitive emotional responses, Big Brother policies, the encouragement of cynicism about our public life, all are obstacles to a better life, a safer country, a forward-looking nation, and a enhanced culture of life!

Happy Holidays (Festivus?) to all.

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." Stephen Colbert

Dec 21, 2006

New Jersey Takes a Progressive Step in Legalizing Same-sex Unions

Marriage Meant Different Things in the Good Ol' Days--when Women were Considered Chattel

As expected, Gov. Corzine signed a law legalizing civil unions. New Jersey now joins Connecticut and Vermont as states that provide equal treatment for all of their citizens under the law. This is a great step forward, even though it shies away from calling a civil union by its true name, marriage! Of course, language is important, so I hope that the commission--which will be formed to study the effects & application of the new law--will find that the the words marriage, spouse, parents, should be extended to same-sex couples as well, and that the NJ Legislature will follow suit.

Several years ago when this issue first surfaced, I was of the opinion that winning the actual rights of marriage should be the primary aim; the language would follow as a de facto once full, equal rights were won. This is a socially conservative country, more so than other advanced countries. Even very Catholic Spain, for example, has recognized same-sex marriage. But, in the US, there's a totally different story. This is a very emotional issue for many Americans, so no argument solely based on reason can win the day. Yet, if certain language were to be put on hold until specific legal rights were to be won, I'd say this would be the way to go. Language would be easier to adjust once there would be a legal basis for it. I understand that the wrong language may create confusion and a re-creation of the "seperate but equal" status, but I believe it's easier to push for the same legal rights first without being distracted or delayed because of language. I don't see it as an "either-or" issue, I'm just thinking how to best achieve the same goal of total equality. Obtaining equal rights is essential and the strong foundation on which to built a greater understanding and acceptance by the community at large.

During a course I taught last semester, some of
my students conducted interviews--primarily in Westchester, NY--about this issue, and a pattern emerged: the word marriage triggered emotional responses in rejecting it as an option for homosexual couples, while the civil unions term was more acceptable. "My marriage will be worthless if gays are allowed to marry," was a response shared by many older interviewees. This emotional response is not ..rational. Others' actions shouldn't invalidate what you do, but that's beside the point. Popular support is important in moving the country forward. Although most Americans oppose giving the full benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, the good news is that those under 30 are overwhelmingly in favor! Westchester County, for those of you not familiar with it, is a northern suburb of New York City, very affluent and treads Republican, but most conservatives in the Northeast would be considered very moderate (and unacceptable) in the very conservative states where Republicans rule today.

In the US there are several states that have passed or are in the process of passing constitutional amendments explicitly prohibiting marriage, civil unions, and spousal benefits for same-sex couples. Unless the (conservative) Supreme Court finds otherwise (very doubtful), marriage will remain in the realm of the states. I hope that more states join Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Vermont in giving long-awaited and rightful legal recognition to all citizens. This will demonstrate that doing so is not a threat to society. As a matter of fact, marriage has fared better in Massachusetts where there are fewer out-of-wedlock births, lower teenage abortion rates, and the lowest divorce rate in the country!

Now that the veep's daughter, Mary Cheney, is pregnant, will the socially conservatives realize that love is a good thing? Gays and lesbians are capable of loving just like anybody else. Mary Cheney has been with her lesbian partner for 15 years--much longer than many heterosexual couples--and their child will benefit from a loving relationship between his/her parents! I can't think of a good reason why Mary's partner shouldn't be recognized as a parent, and a legal spouse with all the rights and benefits the rest of us enjoy.

Dec 13, 2006

Knowledge is Attainable. But, Willful Ignorance is Unbecoming of the Human Spirit. A Need-to-know Option?

Who's Excited About the Journey in the Pursuit of Knowledge?

I believe in education, that is, where there's a pursuit of knowledge through inquiry, critical thinking, and the scientific method. I really abhor the attempts of dumbing down, aplenty in our society. We're not producing enough critical thinkers, and people who, put it simply, can connect the dots! We're losing the distinction between an opinion and a fact. Yes, there are many theories our there, but a theory--in the scientific definition--is a collection of evidence that point to a specific conclusion. Some theories are indeed conjecture but if are based on informed opinion and are an extension of established facts then they can be very helpful in furthering our understanding. On the forefront of knowledge--when blazing new paths--mistakes are possible, but that's why a scientific theory is strong--because it allows the possibility of revision once better facts are presented. Weak theories are the ones that are "closed," not subject to proof or amendment. Theories based on feelings (especially of the supernatural kind) and unverifiable opinions are not very useful in the pursuit of knowledge. Those theories based on fiction (or, delusion) are for entertainment purposes only. I do like entertainment, fiction, and the other joys of life, but it would be intellectually dishonest to always identify the comforting with the real. I also understand that this view may be quite unpopular on occasion.

Yes, it is possible to know things about the natural/physical world. We know that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around. This is a fact, along with the facts of the theory of evolution, the laws of physics, etc. We know how to date stuff, we dig and unearth fossils and other archaeological treasures; we know the properties of light, we can measure the distances in the cosmos and the expanding universe, we've stared into the heavens and we understand that we're looking back into the past! We've examined the DNA and the human genome. We've documented historical events and can face up to reality of the human condition, from the most beautiful & creative side to the worst behavior of our species. But, the key has been: we want to know! And, not only the things that may be pleasing & comforting to us. We follow the evidence wherever it leads us. That's very exciting--at least to those who appreciate the discovery and the journey of getting there.

Sadly, many among us don't really care about finding new things and expanding knowledge. They may believe that they've captured the absolute truth and all there's to know! Of course, they are not interested in the truth that lies outside their own narrow horizon framed by feelings. Thinking is an active process and requires effort. Obviously not every idea or statement we utter is fully developed or sound, but we should recognize it as such. When people say "I think" they truly mean, "I feel" which usually is void of any rational process. Others are deliberately sinister in manipulating the ignorant and perpetuating dumbness for their own personal gain--just look into politics, religion, and almost every other human activity.

One of the unpleasant things we know is that millions of humans have been intentionally and systematically killed because of their color of their skin, religion, ethnicity, origin. The Holocaust did happen and we do have indisputable proof. We've seen the corpses, we've seen the torture, we've seen the horrors, and the survivors--most barely alive when rescued by the Allies. We have the testimony of fascists/nazis, and all the proclamations for a pure race and how the "sub-human" races must be exterminated! Yet, just the other day, "scholars, PhDs, historians, politicians and white supremacists" gathered in Tehran, Iran, to raise questions about and basically deny the Holocaust. It was there that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said "the Zionist regime will disappear soon... thus, humanity will achieve freedom."

Surely, this guy is an idiot, but he is a dangerous ignoramus for he's preaching hate and calls for extermination of people he doesn't like. Now, who's more likely to fall prey to this kind of rhetoric, the educated or the ignorant? Those who have a broader horizon or those with a microscopic point of view? In a previous post on this blog [link to the post here] I advocated for a world-wide effort to educate the children of the very poor. Education is the key to a better & safer life, and it will help reduce conflicts and future wars.

We should not neglect our own people here, because there's much ignorance and bigotry in our own country. Remember David Duke, the founder of the Louisiana Knights of the KKK? [He's also known as Dorothy Vanderbilt--his pen name under which he advised women on vaginal exercises, fellatio, analingus, and anal sex] He attended the Tehran conference too, how could he not to? I'm not going to discuss the absurdities he spreads, but I'm going to ask: how is this possible that this person can gather 44% of the vote in a state-wide race in these United States of America? This is not marginal, unless we accept that the lunatic fringe has become mainstream in some parts of our country!

As we enter the long race for the next presidential election in 2008, there are several names being mentioned, but I'd like to ask whether the country could possibly elect someone like Barak Obama or Hillary Clinton? I know that politics has to do with issues, personalities, vision, party affiliation, etc. But, can a black man or a woman be elected to the highest office of our land today? Can Americans elect a President without paying attention to race and gender? I don't think we have a definite answer; although, because we don't know, it bothers me. Doesn't the absence of a unequivocal answer reveal something about the US?

Dec 12, 2006

Warning: This is about Sex! Could Politics be far Behind?

Just Say NO to Anything that has to do with Sex! Why didn't God Invent a Better Way?..

Today (12/01) is world AIDS day and faith groups in the US are urging the Bush administration to cut AIDS funds because they say we place too much emphasis on preventing AIDS (and other venereal diseases) without ..banning sex! Oh, and because we don't give most of the money to faith-based groups that preach the abstinence-only dogma. Never mind that this dogma doesn't work! Never mind that the US has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. Never mind that our kids that take "the pledge of abstinence" have higher rates for oral and anal sex! And, when they do have vaginal intercourse, they're less likely to use contraception! The states drenched in Biblical, born-again Christianity have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion! The "godless, hedonistic" Massachusetts. by comparison, has one of the lowest rates of teenage pregnancies, and the lowest divorce rate in the union! God works in mysterious ways indeed!

Is there anything we can do to fix the problems? Well, yes and no. Yes, if we employ a realistic approach, hire competent people to run educational and prevention programs, and begin to develop a healthy attitude towards sex. No, as long as sex is seen as a perversion and a vice to be resisted, then we won't make much progress in reducing teenage pregnancies, abortions, and venereal diseases. If we keep electing people to powerful positions that have an aversion to science and reason! Elections have consequences on a wide range of issues that affect our lives. This president has been promoting ignorance and rewards incompetence since he took office. Perhaps he doesn't know any better. Perhaps he's such an extreme and passionate ideologue--without the passion that rests on knowledge and the facts--that he wants only like-minded people around him.

In the name of national reconciliation and moderation after the last election, president Bush picked Eric Keroack, a theocon, to head the federal office that finances birth control, pregnancy tests and a host of other important health care services for the poor. Keroack is affiliated with a group that strongly opposes birth control! Yes, birth control! When he speaks at abstinence conference, Dr. Keroack says that having sex with multiple partners alters brain chemistry in a way that makes women not to want to form bonding relationships! Oh, you women don't worry. He's a quack-doctor, and as such his theories are complete pseudoscience.

Keroack's group, A Woman's Concern, gives pregnant women "counseling"--which basically means they try to convince women not to have an abortion. When I say "convince" I don't mean by reason and providing proper medical information, but rather by condemning abortion (in all cases), and by falsely claiming that abortions will most likely result in breast cancer! [These outrageous claims appear on the group's website] Isn't illegal to make false medical claims? Misleading advertising about ..toasters is illegal, how about our health? Yet, we all know that if a misleading or even utterly false claim is cloaked with religion then the law looks the other way.

So, what is it about sex that makes many people uncomfortable? After all, aren't we all here because of sex? Why is it sinful to engage in this activity (between consenting adults) outside some very narrow religious prescriptions? I see, it is because of religion that the human body and carnal pleasures have been identified as "unclean," "evil," etc. Somehow, a few men, a very long time ago, decided what sex should be all about; that men should have many more sexual privileges, the females should be subjugates and more harshly punished for indiscretions. Those men decided that sex-for-pleasure most certainly will land the transgressors into eternal damnation.

Keroack's group (one of many) has an issue with the sexual act. It doesn't like it! Sex for pleasure is a deadly sin. I wonder if they self-flagellate themselves after having impure thoughts... A Woman's Concern is really ..concerned about "the drugs or devices" that are "demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." Ergo, no contraception even to married women!

I'm starting to adopt Richard Dawkins' stance that we have to be more aggressive when it comes to the arguments promoted by persons who want to impose their own unscientific absolutism on the rest of us. We have to call their arguments for what they are: personal, unsubstantiated, and dangerous beliefs. We have to tell our leaders that we expect professional competency from the persons appointed to important positions. Persons who have such extreme ideological, non-reality based beliefs should be avoided. They can exist happily in their own private sphere not make policy decisions for the commonwealth. And, yes, there is a difference between opinion based on non-evidence and opinion based on facts. It is a sign of ignorance to believe that the Earth is the center of the universe, and, I suppose, a person has the right to remain ignorant if so desires. But, applied ignorance is deadly--as we've already seen in the AIDS epidemic.

UPDATE: British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the Vatican to "face up to reality" on condoms & AIDS: "
I think that the real key to it is education. That is about two things: educating people about sex when they are young, but also making sure that if people are sexually active, then they are taking protection. There is a big debate about this; how far are you going by saying to people, 'take protection with you'? Are you encouraging young people to have sex?" Mr Blair added: "You should try to encourage people to be responsible, but you should recognise that, if you are sexually active, it's better to be sexually active and responsibly so."

Dec 11, 2006

UN's Kofi Annan Thinks Bush is Near Sighted! Well, He's Wrong!

Bush Thinks "History Will Get it Right" After He's Dead! (He's convinced but not convincing!)

"This country has historically been in the vanguard of the global human rights movement. But that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles."

Outgoing UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan in his speech at the Truman Library.

I wanted to note the last speech of Secretary Annan and how true his statement rings. As I've said before on many occasions, we cannot give up all those things that made us strong in order to defend ourselves from our enemies. Otherwise, we'll become like our enemies and we'll lose our edge. It's no accident that open societies, where people enjoy liberty and personal freedoms, tend to be more successful than other states where Big Brother rules. Democracy is a continuous process, an evolving education, an opportunity to self-fulfillment. Trust has to earned, leadership has to be exercised responsibly, and common values have to be cultivated.

G.W. Bush waisted the opportunity of the century, after 9-11, when the world was behind the US. This man--devoid of any historical knowledge, disinterested in world affairs, fanatical in his absolutism, incompetent, and corrupt--has divided our friends and united our enemies. I hope it has become evident that elections do have consequences, and they are not about electing a folksy person we'd like to have a beer with...

"No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others," Mr Annan said, urging the US to respect human rights in its "war on terror. " But, I'm afraid that stubborn frat boy in the White House isn't listening...

I think Mr. Annan is right about a far-sighted US leader in the Truman tradition, but he's wrong about Bush's near-sightedness. The latter is divorced from reality altogether! Only he can see the US winning in Iraq.

Nov 25, 2006

The White House Remains Embedded in a State of Denial. Is the Media Waking up?

Despite the White House's state of denial, the civil war has exploded in Iraq and the US is losing control day by day. Soon, we won't have any control, and, may I dare say, Iran has more control in Iraq today than the US! Like any problem to be remedied, it all starts by correctly identifying the root cause, and the greater the problem the greater the necessity to leave the state of denial. I wonder if Dickey Cheney--who as recently as last summer reaffirmed his "last throes" claim--still believes that Iraq has "turned a corner"? You know, turn a couple corners and you can be heading back... I don't think this is progress.

The media--a very important component in a democracy--has today sniffed the winds of change and is now focusing more on the destructive aspects of the US involvement in Iraq. The White House misled the American people and the Congress while the media was complicit in this crime by failing to investigate the administration's claims and ask the tough questions. I think had the media presented a more accurate picture (factually and in depth) the public would have demanded an end to this war of choice much sooner. The war was a big issue in this election, when it should have been the deciding issue in 2004. I don't know how many lives would have been saved but the last two years haven't done anything to improve the situation there.

Some "deciders" claim to have divine knowledge and they are just instruments of their God

I do think the truth was known prior to the last election but most Americans weren't paying attention on, say, the 9-11 Commission's report, and on other accounts of how we got into the war. Although the availability of the facts was not the problem in my opinion, the media failed in the dissemination of the facts. Cheney's "last throes" statements weren't only laughable but should have been the basis of totally discrediting BushCo's Iraq policy. Further, most (except those with relatives in the military) Americans have not experienced any sacrifice or their lives directly affected by this war. Stick this magnetic ribbon "Support the Troops" on the car [bumper stickers are too hard to remove later] and as usual; our leaders even suggested that consumerism was a form of good patriotism!

This situation cries for more pubic media, like NPR, PBS, and PRI, because the commercial media wants ratings regardless of how to obtain them. In addition, all commercial media is owned by big corporate interests whose priorities are how to get preferential treatment from the government not how to get to the truth. A sociologist at Penn State, Andrew Lindner, showed that embedded reporting influenced war coverage--and this was what the government wanted us to see. Reporters' movements were controlled by the military resulting in less access to the Iraqi people and eventually downplayed the effects of the war on Iraq. They developed a closer relationship with the soldiers that protected them and the stories that came out reflected this bias. The news coverage was more about human-interest stories of the Americans fighting over there. Throw in a generous amount of propaganda--like exporting democracy and liberating people--and you've got a nice package for mass consumption. Lindner found out that most Americans (and the media?) bought Bush's "Mission Accomplished"! Of course, reality often has a nasty habit of slapping you out of your state of denial, but usually not before much ill has taken place. It has and it stings. Staying the course now would be the definition of insanity--hoping the same conditions that have produced the current results will produce different, more favorable results in the future!

Update, 11/27/06: Since the election of 2004, the media has covered more stories about the killings in Iraq, Americans aren't really aware of the full picture there. CNN Iraq correspondent, John Roberts, says the media "can't fully capture the scope" of this horror. We may hear of what's going on, but daily body counts and the number of violent "incidents" only reveal part of the story. "The place is a mess. It's an absolute mess. There is nowhere you can go in the Baghdad area as a Western journalist without an escort, where you could feel safe from being kidnapped, shot at, whatever. The amount of death that's on the streets of Baghdad for U.S. forces and for the Iraqi people is at an astronomical level..." Roberts says. And, several media (including the New York Times) have been editorializing in choosing what & how to cover this conflict. Check Media Matters for more on this.

People don't just die, they are blown off, burned alive, tortured with power drills, and are killed because of their ethnic & religious affiliation. We sanitize the war, because its unpleasant reality is disturbing; it's no accident that the White House is trying to hide the extend of the death and destruction. Do people learn from history and past mistakes? It's doubtful as they repeat the same mistakes. Even the Vietnam lessons
(not exactly ancient history) have been forgotten today!

Nov 19, 2006

The Republican Party Represents Authoritarian Policies, Totalitarian Views

Opinions & Facts,Though not Mutually Exclusive, not Identical Either!

I admire people who don't give up in the face of obstacles or after experiencing setbacks. However, this perseverance is admirable only if the goal is attainable and the choices wise. President Bush has elevated stubbornness and futility into a political philosophy when it comes to his policy in Iraq. He not only wasted the opportunity of the century--when most people and countries were sympathetic to us after 9-11 and supported the US fight against terrorism--but he's the leader of an increasingly diminishing segment of our society that wants to "stay the course." What's this course? Honestly I don't know--and I doubt Bush knows either--other than never admitting a mistake despite the terrible consequences, and keep praying for a ..miracle.

The Baker study group on Iraq will be a political compromise I dare to guess. It will try to offer cover for everyone, so I don't think we'll learn anything new or that it will show us a path to victory. Of course, Bush, on his trip to Vietnam, quoted another ..architect of "victory", Henry Kissinger, that "we'll win unless we pull out"! Whatever. This man, who until he became president, hadn't been outside our country and never had any interest in world affairs, has done so much harm to US interests and must be stopped. The American people perhaps don't own the actions of their
leaders, but they are responsible for the ones they elect--and elections do have consequences! Sadly, we lack historical knowledge and the idea of civic duty hasn't gotten much traction with many, many Americans. [Watch this clip of Richard Dreyfuss who makes some excellent points]

I don't understand how any sane person--besides the ones who benefit from the skewed economic policies--would be a Republican today. Oh, all right, I forgot to mention the theocons--those who want a theocracy established here in preparation for the Rapture! OK, those who are under many impenetrable illusions qualify to be a Republican too. I would welcome an honest, rational, non-corrupt Republican party that would offer new ideas and competent people to implement those policies. This would serve as a counter-balance to the Democratic party. But, that Republican party would have to elevate the quality of the dialogue and see its interests as the interest of most Americans! At this point, this is in the realm of fiction. Not science fiction mind you, because this Republican party has an aversion to science and reason!

This is the party that loves power and unquestionable authority. It's what linguist George Lakoff describes as the "strict father approach" [as compared to the Democrats' "nurturing mother
approach"] where those individuals who need to exercise power and those who want to be guided come together. It also has a totalitarian vision, that is, absolute truth can be obtained [and the GOP holds the truth with a capital T] through obedience and faith--not faith only in religious terms but also faith in the leader/decider/vanguard party/Big Brother/ideology, etc. Obviously, both models may be necessary for a society to function but the trick is to know where to draw the line and how much of a dose to take--much like medicine, too much it can kill you, the right amount can cure you! Of course, getting the right dose depends on knowledge & responsibility.

Good change happens when people are ready for it or when there's leadership that introduces it to the people and the latter see the benefits of change. Unfortunately, the Republican party still wants to appeal to the lowest common denominator, play the game of the emotional buttons, draw
support from bigots, foster intolerance, and continue with its strategy of extreme polarization in the hopes of energizing its shrinking base. Let's see, they just elected Trent Lott and Mitch McConnell to leadership positions in the Congress. Who are they? Lott likes racial segregation and dislikes civil rights. McConnell wants to see more theocons on the bench & in government.

In the last 12 years since the GOP took control of Congress, we've seen a considerable attempt to dumb down America. From Bush on down, science [i.e. evolution, environment, medicine] and scientific inquiry pale in the face of the elite's economic interests and dogma. As long as there's someone somewhere holding a view contrary to scientific facts, Bush and his fans will say that "there are two sides to a story!" Right... Any unqualified opinion is equated with facts in this bizarro world. We've also seen that incompetence (never mind mediocrity) gets you positions of power in the Congress and the government, and there's a good chance that, if you combine incompetence with loyalty to Caesar, you'll get you promoted; it could possibly get you a medal too! How can you really argue with someone who says, why worry about global warming and other environmental disasters when "God is up there"?!! Ignorance is one thing, but applied ignorance is dangerous.

And, please don't tell me about the "maverick" John McCain! This man has flipped-flopped more times than Flipper! But, rhetoric and a constructed image sometimes is more important than substance in our politics. Yeah, the guy who has a ranch and can have a beer with us is more qualified that someone who knows his stuff but talks in a way we have to pay attention to understand him! After all, many of us decide at the last minute how to vote after watching those ..informative political ads! If I didn't care about the quality of our political discourse, I'd argue for another ..Republican party, Faux News channel, and lots of ..swiftboating. You know, to treat the GOPers with some of their own ..koolaid. Anyway, I'm sure many Americans are saying good riddance to the thecons and the brand of conservatism that has seriously damaged our republic. Hopefully, the lunatic fringe will be sent back to the margins of our society again.

Now, let's see why "the wicked witch of the West" Pelosi and her agenda hasn't solved our problems already...

PS. I think you'll enjoy the links in this post, so click on!
The sketch above from xkcd

Nov 10, 2006

A Justified Case of Schadenfreude--And it's Guilty-Free!

What to do next?

Schadenfreude means pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune, and I have to admit this week (after the election on Tuesday) I'm full of such guilty-free pleasure. Well, now we know that there's been a backlash against Bush's policies and the Republican majorities that enabled the "decider." Obviously everybody tries to assign specific meaning to the outcome of this election, and there are a few interesting trends, but this election is far from being a historic national re-alignment--that is, not yet; it will depend on what happens next. It seems to be, though, a re-affirmation that the Northeast and the west coast are indeed very blue. The old South is the remaining bastion of conservatism and we see that the winner can achieve governing national majorities without having a majority of the South's delegation. This, perhaps, will free the Dems to push a more progressive agenda without having to pay homage to a conservative ideology and the politics of the South. The progressive states can lead the way and show the rest of the nation that there's much to be gained by being a cosmopolitan and tolerant society.

President Bush is the biggest loser today, and I'm glad to see that his frat-boy mentality, his stubbornness to recognize reality, and his presiding over a disastrous incompetence were defeated at the polls. His name was not on the ballot, but his policies were. I'm not convinced that the Democratic alternative would have fared as well if the Republicans had been more competent. For example, had the Iraq war--a
wrong war of choice, and a bad foreign policy choice--been conducted with a degree of competence, I dare to guess that Americans would be supporting it today. This is a great opportunity for the Democrats and the progressives to steer the country forward, but only if they exhibit good government skills and make the sweep in 2008. As Paul Krugman said, we could see the end of "the movement of conservatism--the potent alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right."

The new Democratic leadership will have to run Congress in a more democratic way--giving more rights that the Republicans never considered giving the minority, because the GOP never accepted the legitimacy of the opposition.
After Bush "won" in 2000, he talked about a mandate; same with the GOP that swept Congress in 1994. In 2004, Bush won by 2% and claimed imperial powers; Congress went along with it. The Dems won by larger margins this year, but they should not repeat the arrogance of the Republicans and of the lunatic fringe that had captured power. Solidifying the Democratic gains in 2008 [a very good prospect] will help our country and the GOP in the long run for this will force the Republicans to re-examine the efficacy of their divisive politics and may lead to a resurgence of the moderate Republicans--the most endangered political species in the last 12 years.

President Bush has lots of power--as any president does--but the most important power a chief executive has is the power to convince! The sitting president seems more and more as a sitting duck that even Dick Cheney can hit. This president has not done good for us, for the world. He wasted the opportunity of the century to make the US a true leading force for positive change in the world--a change that enhances the quality of life when it matters--by improving the human condition and reducing violence.

We liberals & progressives see the world as a marketplace of ideas, of individual freedoms, that representative government has a role to play in protecting the commonwealth, and that the culture of life means policies that giving people opportunities to realize their own potential.
President Bush wasted the world's good will toward us after 9-11 and in turn he managed to divide our friends and unite our enemies. Inadvertently, his failures gave the Dems the chance to govern.

This century is still young but we Americans have to show more maturity in selecting our own leaders
and hold them accountable. In a country were there's too much political indifference, those of us who accept the responsibility of political activism and civic engagement have an important role to play: keep our representative government accountable, improve & contribute to the political dialogue, and be the change we want to see!

Nov 9, 2006

Being Ignorant of the Past Condemns the Future

Weapons of Mass Deception was a great book about the deception [remember, it's illegal to intentionally give false information to and to mislead the Congress] that led our country to the Iraq war & occupation. This new book,
The Best War Ever, hopes to remind Americans about the similarities between this war of choice and the Vietnam war. We seem to be repeating terrible mistakes of the past. Unless we as a nation become more critical, educated about the issues, and willing to question our leaders, we'll continue to be exploited by the warmongers and Big Brother.

Editor's note: I meant to publish this earlier, but remained as a draft for several days because I got busy with work and the elections. It's worth a look. Click the arrow to play the video.

Nov 6, 2006

Vote For a Progressive America, For a Enlightened & Nicer Future

The Nature of Our Polity (part 2)

Facilitating incompetence and enabling morons to do more damage is irresponsible! If for nothing else, there has to be a change of the guard in our Congress after this election because the worst of our fears have materialized under this Republican leadership. We cannot change the nature of our politics unless we change the people we send to Washington DC. And, there has to be a price to be paid by those who steal & waste our money, violate the Constitution, and put our country in grave danger.

Is it all about incompetence? Well, the so-called independent voters who move back and forth should definitely be concerned about the condition and direction of the US. Many who in the past voted for the Republican party have very little to be happy about today. The theocrats and the very socially conservative people may like what they've seen thus far of the Republican agenda; they are not going to be convinced to switch or support "secular" candidates. On the other hand, all the scandals have dampen their enthusiasm and will affect their turnout on election day. If Bush doesn't have a tape of Osama bin Laden endorsing his ..friends the Democrats, I don't see how the latter will lose the House. The Dems are also poised to win the Senate if they net a 6-seat margin--I'd be more confident of a Democratic senate if the Virginia and the Missouri races were in blue states (like New Jersey where Menendez will win).

I'm a believer in that our politics reflect our people, even if much of the ills we see today result from people's apathy. Unfortunately, this country is more conservative than we hoped for, although it can be moved towards a more progressive direction. Liberalism is good polity for most people, because it provides the best possible conditions for individuals to realize their potential. We just need to articulate our ideas better, in a more clear way, and to make the Democratic party a true alternative to the conservatives--change it from"Republican-Lite". We have to realize that some 20-25% of the country will never be convinced, because they believe the hold the truth with a capital T. Those who believe that we're in the end of times, [check the Rapture Index for fun!] have little concern for reason, global warming, the environment, and see the conflicts today as the prelude (if not the prerequisite) of Rapture.

We have to send the lunatic fringe back to the margins, because it doesn't represent traditional American values. We progressives have stronger ideas so we should begin to talk about them. Intuitively, we tend to talk about the rationale of public policy, the vision for the future, and use complicated reasoning--all those things are good, but there's a place & time for them. We have to learn how to speak to the audience and to American values. How many people know, for example, that Liberalism was the ideology/movement that replaced the Old Regime (ascribed status, religious conformity) and that even modern Conservatives have adopted liberalism's values, as articulated in our Bill of Rights?

A positive attitude is needed, much as the concept of positive freedom, therefore, we have to offer an alternative to the Conservatives. They talk about values and ideas either in the abstract or in terms that contradict the principles upon which our country was founded. I understand that most of Americans are sick and tired of this failed & incompetent regime and the failed occupation of Iraq has lots to do with the dissatisfaction. Yet,we have to offer a positive alternative if we are to move the country forward. These are some of my reasons for voting for the Democrats:

  • America stands for individual freedom and due process of law. We should not give up those rights & privileges that have made us strong; if we become like our enemies, then they'll win. Giving up something very specific for something undetermined is not a good idea. Suspending Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights shows that we are not sure of ourselves. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave must remain so and not surrendered to the politics of fear--and to the War on Terror that takes place everywhere and has no end! This is the legacy of Bush & Co not of America!
  • We need to leave a healthy planet to our children and future generations. Republicans are not willing to use the government to exercise oversight to benefit the public good. Their actions (or inaction) have resulted in polluted land, air, and water. As long as there's someone, somewhere that has an opinion contrary to the known facts, BushCo will tell us that "there are two sides to a story!"
  • We should stand for meritocracy and egalitarianism, and one way to express this is through equality of opportunity and a strong social safety net. After all, being part of a very wealthy nation there should be dividends for the commonwealth. We are not strong when we run a huge deficit. I haven't seen anyone having the upper hand with a banker who holds his lien. Having to pay debts means less available money for other things.The Saudis, the Chinese, and other foreigners own much of our national debt. We were told that there wasn't enough money for a universal health care system, but we ended up paying up to a trillion dollars in a war of choice! Access to education has become costlier in the last 5 years (more so than in the last 30) because state and federal subsidies are cut. Where is this equality of opportunity our country was known for? Public services are needed for the ..public, not the very wealthy. From the bankruptcy bill, to Medicare, to transportation & infrastructure, to libraries, to Internet neutrality, to health care (includes preventive care) available to all citizens, are some of the things we should be concerned about. We should act to enhance the quality of life when it matters. "A culture of life" is something we progressives can easily understand.
  • Change without forethought is foolish, but we have to embrace the scientific inquiry and progress. We give value to our actions and we have the ability to do harm and good. Stem cell research is very promising, as all the science that tries to explore and understand who we are and the cosmos around us. Perhaps this isn't what some people are looking for, but everyone has benefited from the advances in technology and medicine, not to mention the exhilarating experience of accumulating knowledge. It's time we stop with this nonsense of debating what science is and what kind of it we should be teaching in our schools. Science is one thing: empirical evidence, testing, re-testing, observation, open inquiry, and open to revision when better evidence or a theory come along! Sadly, there are many Republicans who do not accept ..Enlightenment!
  • We have to elevate our polity from the gutter, from bumper-sticker issues, pushing of the emotional buttons, and cynicism. Dumbing down our society isn't good for our freedom, our way of life, and our future well-being. We have to demand to be treated as responsible adults--not deferring judgment to Big Brother. We should demand honesty from our elected leaders. A progressive attitude means critical thinking, tolerance, respect for evidence and appreciation for science.
Look around and examine which candidates come closer to your ideals, priorities, and expectations. We as a progressive human beings have an obligation of civic duty. We care enough not to be cynical and indifferent; we know enough to make an informed decision.

IMPORTANT RESOURCE ON ELECTION DAY: VOTER ASSISTANCE HOTLINE, 1-866-OUR VOTE. Call for help if you notice a problem at the polling station BEFORE you cast your vote.

Nov 3, 2006

Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives. Where do YOU Fit in?

The Nature of Our Polity. (Part 1)

The Republican levies have broken and it seems there will be a flood next Tuesday. Just six months ago, the margins between the two parties and the seats in play today (both in the House & Senate) would have been unthinkable. I don't believe the country is becoming more Democratic but rather it's the corruption and the incompetence exhibited by the party who has controlled the Congress and the White House that will result in such a reversal of political fortunes. We are far from being in an Age of Enlightenment, but this can be an Enlightenment Age for our country. We have to turn America from the Dark Ages back to a progressive path and into the future.

It matters a great deal who is in charge, who holds the megaphone and sets the national agenda. Politics reflect the people involved and our elected representatives reflect our common attitude. We have to learn to be more sophisticated in our political expressions--no more picking people because they appear to be nice, photogenic, or because we'd like to have a beer with them! We should examine the important issues and be willing to expend some effort in doing so. The days before an election should not be a period of learning about the issues. You can't possibly expect to be educated by watching political ads or even the "debates"--which are more like press conferences. Usually, there are too many people who--even if they're presented with two different choices, like in 2004--can't seem to make up their minds and they end up voting without serious consideration. Again, negative ads and void-of-substance ads exist because they work on impressionable minds

I often find people who are frustrated by politics because of the corruption and the cynicism. But endemic corruption happens when we hire idiots & crooks to manage our affairs, and when we stop paying attention. Politics can be frustrating because they can be disappointing--I know, I've been there many times. That's because we're a huge country and we have a plurality of strong preferences. As I say in the classroom politics is like ordering and dividing a pizza pie; the group has to compromise if its members are going to eat!

I also understand that gradualism isn't very attractive. A person shouldn't give up his idealism or stop trying to get to the ..promised land, but since we have to move collectively, progress can be painfully slow at times. If we lived around the Civil War era, for example, freeing the slaves would definitely
have been a good thing to do. Right? But, we'd die before we could see blacks emerging from racial segregation and achieving equal status in American society. Yet, even though many millions of people didn't get full rights as Americans, escaping bondage was surely a progressive step. And progressive steps we must take today, the faster the pace the better.

Yet, why are so many people averse to change? What is it to be conservative? What's to conserve? Are most humans conservative by nature? I think so. First, the view a person has about himself and others has to do with what he thinks human nature is. Human beings are imperfect, but the question is, what is their potential. Most conservatives believe that humans are marked by original sin--in some sense, theological or psychological. The story of Adam & Eve reveals something fundamental about human nature, literally or symbolically.

The conservatives think that human beings are not as good or as intelligent as we think we are, and that we can't govern by the light of reason since we, for the most part, are weak and impotent, unable to control our passions. Which brings us to innovation... Change is risky, change is tiring, change presents a threat to the status quo and to the "known devil." Conservatives since Edmund Burke have argued that "every new generation is a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches." It's no surprise that modern conservatives (especially the ones infused with religious fervor) speak of the need to "promote the moral fitness of America" and speak of "known truths"--absolutism! E.J. Dionne once observed, a liberal democratic society presents a certain challenge to the religious people, because they believe, fundamentally, that they have the truth with a capital T.

The conservative disposition is rooted in human nature, and I think it has correctly identified a large segment of American society. The reality of the frontier is long gone, and along with it the spirited people who, as Alexis De Tocqueville observed, established democracy in America from the bottom up because they got involved in the affairs of their village, town, state, country. Many people are more prone to being lazy than energetic. If they find an acceptable situation that get things done and the world still goes on, they are not going to be looking for trouble! They are reluctant innovators and when they accept change it's because it's inevitable!

We progressives are facing a huge challenge in pulling our country forward. I think we have an obligation to get involved and articulate our progressive values and show the rest of our fellow countrymen that liberal democracy is the best system for it's self-correcting and affords the individual the best chances for reaching his full potential. The blue states have a tradition of promoting the "three Tees": Technology, Talent, and Tolerance. Changes in these three spheres demonstrate to the conservative red states the benefits of progress. For example, the commonwealth of Massachusetts didn't collapse after it recognized same-sex marriage. This state has the lowest divorce rate and a lower rate of teenage pregnancies, and abortions than the Bible-belt states!

What makes certain persons to want to question, to re-evaluate the past & the present, explore new horizons? I maintain that change requires forethought, inquiry, imagination, courage to step forward and courage to admit your own mistakes. The courage to think for yourself and not defer judgment and responsibility to a "decider", or Big Brother. Liberals appreciate the conditions of freedom because we have the courage to break the chains of perpetual (and childish) dependency. Exploring new ideas, evaluating competing arguments, challenging the "true & tried" is not harmful but it is what an enlightened and sophisticated mind does.

I understand that identity is an important component in the psychological makeup of a person and it has a very high value--so much that people go to extremes to maintain & reinforce their sense of identity. The group, culture, their "true & tried" ways provide comfort. The more things a person accepts without critical thinking, the less likely to be tolerant of challenging views, less adventurous, and more conservative!

Progressives place a premium on science and the scientific method--the best tool of inquiry we have. We liberals accept responsibility and can handle the truth, even if it's unpleasant at times. We like being adults and we demand to be treated as such by our leaders. Yes, we are all imperfect--and we don't want to see a forceful attempt to remake human nature--but we have a positive attitude in that we believe in the potential we humans have to be compassionate, create greatness, blaze new paths, and promote & enhance life.

I know, this long essay may not be on the menu of the fast-food consumption of politics these days, but I think you come here because you appreciate some intellectual stimulation. I opened up the comments section--though all have to be approved by the moderator--because no trolls are allowed here. (Part 2 in a couple days.)

Oct 29, 2006

The Godless Hedonists, the Gays, the Liberals, the Terrorists (& their Friends the Democrats) are all Against Motherhood & Apple Pie. Now Vote!

We should demand a new menu, but we must develop a discriminating taste first!

We like to complain, right? Americans say they don't like negative ads, but why are the negative ads out there? Because they work! But why do they work? Because Americans don't really pay attention but in the last minute and they don't know much about the issues. At best, during a high-polarized presidential election, maybe half of the eligible voters participate. This extremely critical election [I think it's about representative government, rule of law, and progress] will be decided by a rather small minority of voters.

That's why we have a plethora of personal attacks, and ads that have nothing to do with reality. It's like the attraction of an accident that everyone slows down to watch. Let's face it, for most Americans politics is boring or perceivably irrelevant to their lives. OK, there are many people who are disgusted with the quality of our politics, but I want to ask them what have they done to improve it? Ignoring it? Acting like a tourist in one's own country?

What can an average citizen do? There are many activities that even if they're small cumulatively though they make a big difference. Volunteer for a worthwhile cause, write a letter or email to our elected representatives and to a media outlet, talk about politics (yes, why not?) and raise awareness about an important issue, vote, but, at the very least, be an informed citizen. I'm not saying that we have to know everything or the minute details of a plan, but we should know enough to make an informed and responsible decision when we hire the people to do a job of governing! Voting for someone because that person has a "ranch" [don't laugh, some NASCAR guys said they'd vote for Bush because "that dude has a ranch"... that's all they needed to know! Apparently the fact that dude didn't know anything about ranching and had bought the "ranch" a couple weeks before the election wasn't important] or that he seems like a person to have a beer with are not good reasons!

Isn't logical to say that, if the people are
truly disgusted by the negative ads, couldn't they elevate the quality of our politics by making sure that those ads had no impact? The politicians and their consultants know what works today and they use those means! Surely the menu available isn't all that appetizing, but don't just blame those who feed you crap if you're willing to consume it! If people (at least the ones that ..bother to vote) base their decision on a few glimpses of the TV ads and cursory look at the selected but irrelevant issues presented to them by the politicians, then how are things going to change for the better? In other words, ignorance breeds incompetence and we end up electing morons to decide very important issues that affect our lives. Guess who benefits from and who's hurt by the dumbing down of our society? Perpetuating cynicism and apathy works well for the powers that be.

We have a bumper sticker mentality, we respond to the pushing of our emotional buttons, and we don't want to spend the time analyzing the important issues. "Support the Troops" magnetic stickers are on millions of American cars, but what does this really mean? Is anyone against the troops? Is really anyone against his/her own country? Come on now! Though after the initial stance of ..supporting the troops, the next steps would require engaging our grey matter and investing some time examing the facts of this war of choice! But, who has the time to do that?.... That's why the country re-elected GW Bush in 2004 and less than a year later the majority of Americans began to see that they had been lied to and that the war was a bad mistake! OK, it's good to change your mind, but what Americans discovered after the election was actually known before the election--though many Americans ignored the facts and were "swiftboated" by the misleading ads.

Those who are regular readers of this blog know that I'm very much in favor of improving our commonwealth through civil discourse, civic responsibility, and enlightenment. I do believe that we need to elevate our national dialogue, whereas persons like O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, etc, would be laughed out of town because their merchandise would be totally worthless. Yet, those vile and intellectually dishonest individuals have millions of followers that buy the garbage served. I know, there's a dictum in politics: don't offend the people! That's not my intention, but without a sizable mob behind him even the ..Antichrist would be irrelevant--especially if his power derived from the hordes obeying him.

The quality of our politics depends on the quality of the people involved, so in a democratic society we, collectively, get what we deserve. I'm not saying complaining about gutter politics isn't good, but it has to be followed by specific steps to improve our polity. Yes, sometimes tar & feathers are needed for the scoundrels (and there are many out there), but it's rather frustrating to hear someone complain after his car was destroyed when he was the one that gave the car keys to a blind man.

Oct 21, 2006

Help End This War: The Republican War on Science

I'm willing to bet that most of you who read this blog would not have been able to do so if it weren't because of science. Yes, advances in technology have made this activity possible, you know, like electricity, technology, and ..leisure time. Yet, most importantly, science has extended life and enhanced its quality considerably. Not so long ago, 40 was "old age" and many people died long before that for a variety of causes, primarily from diseases and because we were unable to treat what today we consider minor injuries.

The ones who believe in nonsense and are anti-science have been around for ever--but they should be the lunatic fringe. Unfortunately, the lunatic fringe is nor marginal anymore as it has captured power--and the Republican Party have been a conduit. I think it's rather emabarassing that we have so many ignoramuses in our 21st century America. If for nothing else, we cannot afford to elect anyone to any considerable position of power that doesn't believe in the scientific method & inquiry. Being ignorant is one thing if your actions don't have much effect, but applied ignorance is deadly! There's so much at stake when it comes to moving our country forward by making wise decisions that affect our commonwealth and, being a superpower, the whole world. Progress is good; we owe it to ourselves and the future generations. The say politics is local but that's not always the case.

Watch this video and vote to end one war--the Republican war on science. We can't elect anyone who has enabled or will enable "the decider." The ignoramus-in-chief, in his 6 years in office, used his veto power only once: to stop stem cell research! Republicans like him are bad for our health!

We have to win this war. By the way, we liberals realize that not every war should be fought with bullets and intimidating force but with ideas and by doing good!

Oct 9, 2006

Reform is Possible Only if the Public Wants it. Apathy & Cynicism Works Against Us!

Question: Who Owns Our Government?

The majority of Americans now give the Democrats the advantage on major issues. Will this translate into a serious victory in a few weeks time? By serious, I mean a change of the Republican guard in the Congress. It took a major scandal like Congressman Mark Foley’s pedophilia and the Republican cover-up to make many Americans pay attention. This scandal is simple and torrid, unlike the Abramoff [learn more about it here] scandal/bribery/Republican corruption, which is “boring” and with too many details.

Most of our citizens don’t pay attention, even if they end up being screwed by those they elect to power. If both chambers of the US Congress change over on November 7th, it will definitely be a momentous event and a significant change. Yet, despite the importance of this and the inflated rhetoric surely to follow, most Americans won’t be part of this decision, won’t exercise their right to vote, because they don’t know or care enough. I’m willing to bet, that fewer than half of eligible voters will cast ballots in this midterm election. Some of them will base their vote on false impressions & inadequate information, while others will vote against their own interests--when they can least afford it. Multi-millionaire Bill Clinton can afford to vote against his own economic interests for example, but I'm disappointed in that the majority of Americans want to give Paris Hilton a tax break--one that will only benefit the top 1%, the super rich.

At any rate, like the Electoral Vote poll tracking [updated daily, check on left sidebar] indicates, the Dems are ahead slightly. Of course, with a great deal of gerrymandering in the redistricting, the “safe” congressional districts may be immune to even a wide national popular uprising. Democracy can produce non-democratic results; our Congress today is not a democratic institution. Dennis Hastert--the disgraced Speaker of the House (and his former Majority Leader Tom Delay who faces serious criminal charges)--has said that he only cares about the majority of the majority! The other party, representing half of the country, doesn’t matter to him! Sometimes, even his own party doesn’t matter if it wants to produce legislation that the Speaker doesn’t like!

Currently, on the War on Terror, Dems have a +7 points advantage. (This has changed since another recent poll that had given the Repubs the edge) Interestingly, the students I polled at the university where I teach, favor Repubs over Dems as the party with better ideas & policies to deal with terrorism! It's alarming that the young generation is not aware of past historical events regarding threats to democracy, and is not sensitive to the importance of safeguarding our civil liberties.

Anyway, on the Iraq War, the Dems have an advantage of +7 points. On Moral Values, they have +6 points; on Immigration, +9; on the Economy, +22; and, on Healthcare, +33 points advantage! But, don’t count your eggs until they hatch on the night of November 7th. I’m not a pessimist, on the contrary, but two years ago, while working for the Kerry campaign in Ohio, we were elated to see negative numbers (admittedly not like these) against Bush and his prospects for re-election. Unfortunately, Bush won the approval of the majority of the voters. It was of little comfort that only a few months later, most Americans began to realize that they had been misled into a war of choice not of necessity. And, it is the people who keep paying for this mistake in large sums of money and blood.

The Republicans have failed to produce policy that would benefit most of the people—
if this is the aim of representative government. The enablers and "the decider" have led our country into dire straits whose negative consequences will be felt for many years to come. We’ve paid dearly for the mistakes and the incompetence of our elected leaders. We deserve better, but we don’t deserve anything if we are not willing to put some effort towards improving our commonwealth. Reform is indeed possible but only if the public wants it!

The Republicans like government despite their rhetoric! They use it to accumulate power and redistribute our nation’s wealth, usually from those who don’t have much to those who already have a lot. And, the government's size has increased under Bush. Ronald Reagan once said that the scariest thing for Americans to hear was, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Well, I’m sure the energy giants (including oil), and the pharmaceutical companies, for example, are very happy to hear this announcement, because it was the government that gave them huge benefits—never mind the talk about the marketplace (free competition) economics! The persons who wrote our national policy on energy and Medicare reform came from those industries! Many went back to work for those industries. Where do you think Rice, Rummie, Dick will go after they leave their posts? It’s a revolving door of corruption and our Congress is totally dysfunctional and unwilling to fulfill its role in our checks & balances political system. We’re not paying attention either. At least we should fire those who act in our name and not in our interest, but before we do that we have to know what's going on!

For many people life isn't easy, I do understand this. Daily pressures may not leave us much time or energy to devote to politics. However, the fact is that we bear the consequences of the bad decisions made by those we hire to take care of our nation's affairs. We simply cannot afford to be ignorant and apathetic. The scammers have been laughing behind our backs for far too long.

You see, Republicans and all those who want to scam the public love the status quo of ignorance and people not paying attention. It's no accident they foster the dumbing down of our society. As proof I offer the horrible quality of the political discourse, the bumper-sticker mentality, and the pushing of the emotional buttons by many politicians. They want to perpetuate cynicism and apathy. This makes it so much easier for them. Sadly, collectively we comply.

Oct 2, 2006

We Can't Trust Republicans With Our Children

A guide to political messaging for this election.

Any person who votes for any Republican this election will vote to keep the current Congressional leadership in place. If you like what you've seen, then, by all means, vote Republican! But, it's clear, they don't love America... especially our children!
A variation of this theme should be used in all races the last few weeks before this critical election. This is my advice.

Since 2006, the Republicans have been in control of the Executive, and both chambers of the Congress. We have to remind people of this--and don't tell me that they know, because I teach at a university and if many students don't know I assume much of country doesn't either! Then, it's a simple connection between the enablers and the decider(s). Let's chase the evil-doers where ever they are! [Obviously, there has to be a different strategy for state-wide, and local races. Phil Angelides,for example, should concentrate on framing "Aanuld" as a concervative who doesn't represent the state's progressive tendencies. The Terminator isn't responsible for Bush but Congress is!]

1. We can't trust Republicans to educate our children. If equality of opportunity is still part of the American dream, then it has become dimmer. Funding to education (including ancillary programs & services, such as libraries) has been cut. Standards and quality have been sacrificed in order to conform to the monstrous No Child Left Behind program--which has meant move children forward but leave their brains behind. The cost of getting a higher education (grants, loans, interest on student loans) has risen dramatically.

2. We can't trust Republicans to help the 9 million children that have no health insurance. Millions of children live in poverty in one of the richest countries in the history of the world. We witnessed in horror the plight of the children in New Orleans (along with their "under-privileged" parents) drown and starve for days. Over a year later, many are nomads in their own land. Since 9-11-01, more American children have died because of malnutrition, inadequate health care (if any), and from preventable accidents and violence than the terrorist toll.

3. The Republicans don't care about the qualtiy of the air, food, and the environment. The Republicans are bad with your food, water, and the air you breathe! The children are particularly vulnerable to polluted air, water, and dangerous environmental hazards. Leaving public health to the good will of the market forces is not a good way to protect and enhance the common good. Without regulations, supervision, and inspections, e-coli will more easily contaminate spinach again, the last fish will be taken out of the water, and the last tree will be cut down. Besides, some things aren't supposed to be profitable, like, libraries, schools, hospitals, because certain services promote the commonwealth. After all, being part of a civil society should have as many benefits as possible for the greater number of people.

4. We can't trust the Republicans with our children in the military. It's very irresponsible (if not outright crazy) to take a country like the United States into war on a pack of lies. This cost of war has been enormous. The burden is not shared equally, but it is the younger and the poorer who're being killed over there. Incompetence at the highest level of our government has cost America thousands of young lives, and have made us more open to terrorism! War profiteering is not a victimless crime. Not only they sent our troops to an unnecessary war (invasion of Iraq) and exposed to them to unnecessary dangers (occupation of Iraq), but they did not give them the proper body armor to protect themselves! Just the other day, several generals of the joint chiefs testified that they receive 47 reinforced armor vehicles (when they need thousands) a month, while in WW2 our country could build & deliver 20,000 aircraft a month!

5. While they talk about morality and are busy accusing the Democrats of not loving America, the Republicans harbor paedophilia. As you must have heard by now, Republican Congressman Mark Foley is a paedophile, but the problem is that the Republican leadership knew about it and of his inappropriate advances towards a minor but the Republicans chose to cover it up! Politics above morality. [Interesting point to hightlight: Sex between two consenting adults was deemed worse by the Republicans than the sexual advances of a Republican Congressman towards a teenage boy!] The culture of corruption--whose scope and breadth is unprecedented--of the Republicans now shows that their priorities are not about morality and the love of America, but of money, power, and utter selfishness. They clearly hate America!

In a traditional fashion and a return to the "ole good ways" these people deserve some frontier justice. If the involved Republicans and their supporters in the media had any decency, they should have disappeared from sight, or ran out of town covered in tar and feathers. This is not a time for the Democrats to rejoice as their chances of taking over Congress are improving day by day. This is a very serious situation. Obviously you need power to make things right: correct the mistakes, re-allocate the resources available, re-establish new priorities, punish the crooks, and plan for the future. But, I will not be surprised if the Dems screw this up. They're prone to doing something stupid to divert the public attention from the real & burning issues and have the nation focus on unimportant distraction! What could they do, you ask? I could list several possibilities here but I don't want to tempt fate....

Update: I couldn't resist to include the following gem. Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House--one of the Republican leaders who knew and covered up this latest scandal--is also the one responsible for running the House as a personal fiefdom and for passing the student strip search bill. Hastert bypassed the committee and brought it to the floor where it passed by voice vote, so the constituents wouldn't find out how their rep voted!

The Abramoff scandal has more legs folks. By the way, although I don't normally use certain terminology (ie. "hate America," "evil doers"), it's fun to use others' language to further highlight their hypocricy! Also, wouldn't it be nice to find out with whom male prostitute Jeff Gannon (a.k.a. James Guckert) slept during his many visits (hundred or times) to the White House? Somebody has to be debriefed and spill the beans!

Update 2: This Jon Stewart video is hilarious and to the point! Worth spending the time watching it if for nothing else but for an "explanation" of the Foley scandal. Oh, and btw Republican Senate leader Bill Frist now believes the Taliban [you know the ones that supported Osama Bin Landen and that we invaded Afghanistan to overthrow] should come back to govern there! Frist also hates America! We knew that Fox News didn't care about the truth--even if hiding the truth is not good for America--so this conservative propaganda machine had the Foley sexually-explicit emails but chose to protect a Republican pedophile rather than some underage pages on Capitol Hill. Yeah, "no big deal" or, in other words, what's a few innocent victims' importance as compared to the great work the Republicans have been doing for America! It's a "vision thing"!