Monday, November 20, 2006

Oh, c'mon

Did you hear? We had a tsunami hit California! I'm not sure how anyone could have missed this catastrophe. Crescent City must have been devastated by the, oh wait, does that say a 6 foot wave? What the?! How on earth does a 6 foot wave merit this much attention? And hold your breath, people; there were reports of "surge waves" of 1 to 3 feet! Yikes! How are that brave city's denizens able to carry on? Let alone those poor Japanese people threatened by the massive 16 inch wave. I can only imagine the terror as people watched it roll in. (Is that it? No, it's gotta be that one! No, here it comes. No, that was the wake of Hiroshi's jet ski. This has to be the one.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Where do we go from here?

Stopping the Republican onslaught against humanity and Democracy was the goal of this election, and we succeeded beyond most sane predictions. So what do we do with our newfound and unexpected control of the entirety of Congress? One of the many problems the Democratic Party has faced over the last 25 years or so has been their notoriously free and open debates on what kinds of policies they should pursue. This healthy political self-criticism has been used by the right-wing as one of their strongest arguments that Democrats don't stand for anything. The truth is, they've been right, but the actuality is that this isn't a weakness--it's just that if Democrats didn't have internal debates about policy, there wouldn't be any anywhere else. Since 1994, at the very least, the Republican Party has been in the business of stifling debate and purging dissenters, both within their ranks and, since 1994, in the country as a whole. Hard core ideologues have run the Party into the ground (finally); it took the failure of our occupation of Iraq and the very real threat of nuclear disaster (along with global warming and a host of other issues the Republicans are completely unable and unwilling to handle) to awaken our populace out of its right wing controlled media induced coma.
So for a few years, at least, the Democrats must speak as one; the Republicans have succeeded in confusing the public into thinking debate/ideological flexibility = weakness for a political entity. Until we can prove (yet again) to that public that only those who believe in the power of government should govern in a democracy, internal debates will have to occur behind closed doors, even if that process itself is anti-democratic. Publicly announcing a concise (and easily understood) legislative agenda and then passing each individual item on that agenda (whether vetoed or not), with the support/compliance of all Democrats in Congress, instead of arguing the merits of every single point of every single bill (which is what Congress should be doing), is necessary to show a doubting public that we do indeed know what we're doing and most importantly, how to do it.
What should be on that agenda? I think the most important initial moves the Democrats must make are restorative, since if any mandate exists from the results of the election, it exists to reject Republicanism. So let's listen to the populace for now: 1) restore the progressive taxation policies that have been the hallmark of all of this century's economic booms; 2) restore the public's faith in the voting system by pushing for verifiable, non-partisan, and honest balloting; restore the public's faith in campaigns in general by passing a campaign reform bill with teeth; 3) restore the world's faith in the US by getting us the hell out of the Middle East; 4) restore the public's (presently misguided) sense of faith in the media by overturning decades of abusive deregulation laws and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, thereby reinstating the Fourth Estate to its proper place as objective watchdog; and 5) restore the public's faith in government itself by once more reasserting the Constitutional independence of the legislative branch, making actual oversight (and its investigatory corollary) of the other two branches a major mission of Congress once again.
If we do these things, and even more importantly, publicize the fact that we are doing them in order to restore truly American values to our government, we can derail any right-wing fantasies that Democrats are out of touch liberals with no vision. All of these policies sit nicely within a vision of a fairer government and electorate, and once we convince the public that this is all that the Democrats have ever wanted, the shrill voices of nutjobs on the right will fade away into the vast nothingness from whence they derive their ideas. Once we reduce/eliminate the fear our public feels of its own government we can then more easily persuade the populace that debate over other policies is a good thing, since it is through discussion and compromise that we have achieved most of the great things we have ever done. (And the rest have all come about because of progressive legislation passed in the teeth of intransigent opposition to the benefit of all--the ending of slavery, the passing of anti-trust/monopoly laws, the creation of Social Security, the Voting Rights Act, etc. Once the public trusts Democrats to do the right thing again, we can then begin to pass laws that broaden our rights or allow us to rejoin the family of nations--elimination of anti-gay legislation, creation or restoration of federally funded education and health care, adherence to international laws and compacts like Geneva and Kyoto, federal funding of stem cell research, federal funding to wean us off oil, etc.--without the threat of being misunderstood as serving special interests (an old guard Republican strawman) or being the only party of wasteful bureaucrats (a Reagan-era accusation that has been employed ever since).
Seems so straightforward, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Well, this is nice, isn't it? Taking back the House--and quite possibly the Senate, too!--from the forces of evil feels pretty darn good. Having them get rid of Santorum and (hopefully) Allen makes me proud of the majority of Pennsylvanians and Virginians once again. And while Connecticut and Tennessee fell short, one can only hope that the poisonous climate of American politics has truly peaked. Rectifying the excesses of Republican misrule, though, will take fortitude, and many years of law changing and overturning. While this process may look just as partisan, as the Democratic Party cleans the Augean stables of garbage and corruption left behind by 12 years of severely diseased governance, it will really represent a return to a semblance of the sanity of decades past. And while I might hope for a resumption of policy making that Americans forsook in 1980, I don't think that will happen anytime soon, unfortunately. Too many people out there have been deluded for far too long into thinking Reagan was a good guy with a vision for American values for us to reclaim the ground lost in the 1980s for a long time to come.
The spin from the media on yesterday's resounding Republican defeats is already deafening. On MSNBC and CNN, commentators were busily proclaiming that incoming Speaker Pelosi will "have to" reach across the aisle and work together with Republicans to get anything done--even though the House Democrats now have a larger majority than the Republicans ever did there--lest she and her colleagues "overreach" and be punished by the electorate like the Republicans just were. Uh huh. It simply doesn't register with these clowns that the message sent yesterday wasn't that we need bipartisanship, it's that the majority of the voters in the majority of districts and states now believe that the Republicans as a whole are incompetent, corrupt, or worse. We don't want bipartisanship, we want a different set of policies--a new direction for the country away from the garden path we've been led down by Smirky and his lockstep goons in Congress. Now all we have to hope for is that Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader (!) Reid, and the rest of the Democrats can remain resolute in ferreting out the secrets hidden away by unconstitutional executive orders and actions to expose the frauds and felonies perpetrated against the American public over the last 26 years. (Oh yes, Dutch and Poppy, this means you and your doings during the Iran-Contra days, not to mention what's been going on since 2000.)
Overreach? Hardly. The Democrats in power need to show the public that they, and only they, have the best interests of this country at heart and in mind, as they seek to reestablish the rule of law and equality of opportunity so long denied us. If any Republicans want to recant their evil ways and join in the purge of evil, fine; but we should force them to play on our turf, utilizing our policies, abiding by our agenda, and using the rules laid down by the Constitution. This isn't hardball politics. This is simply the way things should have been done all along. The Democrats in Congress, if they pursue justice along these lines, have an easy method by which to sell their actions to a public drowning in right-wing spin and media dishonesty, because the facts will bear out the hidden horrors of Republican malfeasance. The truth shall set us all free; we just need to work a little bit to find it. That work has just become possible, and we have the next two years to show the public what they have been missing for the last twelve. Go to it, Nancy and Harry.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Checking in with politics and the media

I am really scared these days. Even while Democrats all over the country--heck, even in Idaho!--are showing impressive poll numbers, with takeover of the House and Senate hovering between possible and probable depending on the hour, seemingly. My fear, though, takes the form of a rational paranoia, if you will, concerning electioneering fraud. When the Master of Evil Karl Rove says on NPR that the interviewer (while questioning Rove on what losing either or both houses of Congress might mean to the Administration) is "entitled to [his] math", while Rove is "entitled to the math", that scares me. I don't buy that Rove is simply keeping a stiff upper lip for the benefit of his troops. What that statement told me is that these guys know they aren't losing, because they have rigged the game. Everything else is playacting for the rubes. And those rubes are us.
While interviewing the Lord of Darkness (backstage edition) might have been a coup for Robert Siegel personally, the absence of any balancing voice betokens NPR's complete co-optation by their Administration overlords. Siegel is supposed to be the reporter, not the Democrats' champion, so his presence alone means nothing. That he came across--to me, at any rate--as a sputtering buffoon ("B-b-but the polls I've seen say your wrong! Why won't you comment? Waaaah!") instead of a journalist ("So, Karl, are you claiming that all of the polls the public sees are wrong? Why are you seeing other, and different, polls of Congressional races? Aren't you supposed to be a representative of a separate branch of the government, representing the whole country? Are the taxpayers paying for these other polls?" etc.) makes his voice even more shrill and inconsequential. Just the way the Evil Forces want things.
This is what right-wing control of the media sounds like, folks. All of the familiar places where you used to get your "information" (let alone commentary) are seriously compromised in favor of the Republican Party, and if you are relying solely on the mainstream media--and even public radio--for your hard news, you are no longer well-informed, no matter how many versions of the same story you read/hear. I mean, sometimes they make their obeisance to the ruling junta obvious, such as when NBC refuses to air an ad--an ad, for Chrissakes!--for the Dixie Chicks' new documentary, because it "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush." I'll let you all count the ways this blatantly partisan (and fundamentally stupid--what are Bush's numbers at this point? That's right, that'd be using my math, not the math . . .) behavior violates the Constitution or various FCC regulations. But most of the time, the media is more subtle in its iniquity, like when an interview with the supremely partisan architect of all that is wrong with America today airs without a legitimate challenge from anyone to provide even a whisper of another side to the story. Oh, wait, that's not subtle either, is it?

First, there's this

More health fun: mom had a blood clot form in her gut and lost a couple feet of intestine last night. The pain is excruciating, and the morphine that she gets makes her nauseous. Not a pleasant choice to have to be making every 10 minutes (which is how often she gets to push the button for more dope)!
My brother-in-law is a doctor, which is a pretty handy thing to have in the family, without a doubt. Unfortunately, this meant that the doc who operated on mom (who had previously spoken with my b-i-l) called him before coming to talk to me in the waiting room. This was unfortunate only because she then went straight into another surgery without talking to me at all! Good thing I had my cell phone with me (and it still had juice), so I could talk to my sister 700 miles away and find out what was happening in the next room. Grrrr.
I was apparently Mr. Invisible last night; no one came to get me to escort me into post-op, which is how it's supposed to be done at that hospital. I had to call the nurses' station desk to find out what was expected of me. I felt helpless and frustrated and pretty pissed off, until they told me to come on in. Then I got to watch my mom lying in bed visibly pulsating in pain. And this is a woman who gets migraines fairly regularly and simply deals with them sans drugs. Not a great day/night.