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"!