Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Brian Doyle is a writer in Portland, Oregon, whom I first encountered as the author of this beautiful essay reflecting on 9/11/2001.
I just came across another essay he wrote from 2005: A Sin. He has a rare gift for expressing the dignity of humanity, even when he is confessing his own sins. He is an amazing writer.
You may have noticed my Electoral Vote counter (courtesy of electoral-vote.com) in the upper right. Things are looking pretty good for Obama right now, and he is becoming competitive in some surprising places: Georgia?
Something enormous is happening in the country when a deep-red dixie state that George W won in 2004 by almost 20 points (58% to 41%) is now a tie between Obama and McCain.
Dave Neiwert at Orcinus is participating in a discussion at a new blog at the Progressive Book Club called The Author Roundtable. Dave has done great work identifying the activities of Right-wing hate organizations. The topic this week is On the Violent Language of the Right
Monday, June 16, 2008
Here's the unvarnished truth: Republicans took advantage of their time in office to massively enrich their friends, and as a bonus, they ran up such a colossal federal debt that repairing the damage will require at least 8 years to repair.
These will be 8 years of (hard to sell) austerity, during which it will be hard to both pay interest on the National Debt, pay down the principal on the National Debt, and also pay for social progress (such as National health care or poverty alleviation programs.)
This was deliberate, premeditated vandalism. Republicans hate it when the government has money, because that enables Democrats to make people's lives better with that money. The country's fiscal situation before Bush took office had the Republicans panicked: had Gore taken office and stuck to his "pay as you go" discipline, the entire national debt would have been paid off by mid-2006.
Had that happened, the government would today be running a surplus. But, Gore didn't take office: Bush did. And the moment he did, he set about the project of (deliberately, I believe) saddling the country with such enormous, crushing debt that no progressive initiative could be fully funded for years, perhaps decades, after he left office.
As Paul Krugman said in today's column:
Looking at the tax proposals of the two presidential candidates, it’s remarkable and disheartening to see how effective President Bush’s fiscal poison pill has been in restricting the terms of debate.
Interest payments on the national debt last year were $406 Billion. That would fund national health care, poverty alleviation programs, reviving our national passenger rail system (this particularly is an urgent priority)...
But, no: Republican vandals made good and damned sure that no money could be spent for these things - and all so the country club set could add a helipad to their yacht while continuously screwing their workers. Awesome job, Republicans.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Jim Kunstler is the author of several books on suburbia, particularly the associated crises, both material and spiritual, that owe themselves to the this peculiarly American way of arranging life.) Pay attention to what he says about rail transit.
Here's an interview with him:
Glen Hiemstra, Futurist.com in studio with James Howard Kunstler, Author of "The World Made by Hand" from Glen Hiemstra on Vimeo.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
That is not to say that there were not good points to be made in "electability" -- but her spokesmen made them shabbily. In the end, it was not an argument that could convince.
But Clinton would never have been in such a position had she not fallen behind to begin with, and that is where I think the more damning mistakes of her campaign lie. If I could wrap all critique of the Clinton campaign up into a single sentence, it would be this: her campaign did not campaign.
In this, I think her early anointing by the media did her campaign a disservice. She campaigned as the frontrunner from the outset, and as a Democratic frontrunner at that, and the age-old Democratic mandate for running campaigns has been one of excruciating timidity. The goal of most recent high-profile elections, the Kerry campaign included, the Gore campaign included, and several dozen other campaigns besides, has not been to win, but to simply avoid losing.
Towards that end, no large issues are addressed with too much passion, and no stances are taken with too much vigor, and for the love of God nobody is made to feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. It is playing to the middle writ large, and in crayon, and with big block letters. The goal is to assemble the broadest coalition possible -- by saying nothing that could possibly offend anyone. The premise is to appeal to "independents", and "centrists", and most of all the "undecided", that group of people so uninterested in politics that they cannot fathom the difference between the parties, but who allegedly can be mobilized into action if only you do absolutely nothing that will get them the slightest bit worked up. It is a cynical, wretched excuse for leadership, but more to the point it provides absolutely no room for error: it is an all-defensive strategy. If your opponent is a block of wood, incapable of making any positive plays on their own, you may pull it off; but if your opponent scores any point, you are left unable to answer it.
Obama, bless him, has noticed the poverty of the "not losing" approach, and is doing everything possible to win.