Political And Other Miscellany From A Stout Democrat In Dallas Texas.
"Politics is the only game for adults." --from Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

THE BABY AND THE BATHWATER?: Is it a counsel of despair, or merely a devil's advocate piece to stir creative thought?

The recent history of the Democratic party has been one of craven retreat from the principles of protection of individual rights, support for the working classes, assistance to the disadvantaged and afflicted, sound stewardship of the environment, and a strong national defense based on economic cooperation and diplomatic alliances.

–Instead of leadership, we have an aristocracy of bench warmers so interested in retaining their own (shrinking) slice of power that they will compromise on any issue, no matter how critical (yes, Senator Biden, I damn well mean you!); ....
Ponder or respond at "A Modest Proposal".
THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST: Perhaps the first daughter made a slip at the reinaugural.
Jenna Bush's Longhorn salute during her father's inauguration festivities caused a stir in Norway, suggesting that Austin and Oslo are two cities separated by the same hand gesture. "Sjokkhilsen fra Bush datter," read an outraged headline on Norwegian news Web site Nettavisen. Translated: "Shock greeting from Bush daughter." ...

The "Hook 'em, Horns" that Bush flashed when The Eyes of Texas was played at the Black Tie and Boots gala Wednesday was misconstrued by some in Norway as a sign of the devil used by a musical scene that terrorized the country in the late 1980s and early '90s. ... The country has long been a hotbed of death metal, a subgenre of music with a sordid history of church burnings, murder, inadvertant bludgeonings (with sheep skulls), pet sacrifices and sundry behavior best described as anti-Christian.
Read it HERE. Naturally, you would expect a Houston paper to pooh-pooh the possible darker meaning of this. But some think they know the real truth in Rome:
"George W Bush's blood lust, his repeated commitment to Christian beliefs and his constant references to 'evil doers,' in the eyes of many devout Catholic leaders, bear all the hallmarks of the one warned about in the Book of Revelations--the anti-Christ."

...people close to the pope claim that amid these concerns, the pontiff wishes he was younger and in better health to confront the possibility that Bush may represent the person prophesized in Revelations. John Paul II has always believed the world was on the precipice of the final confrontation between Good and Evil as foretold in the New Testament.
Read it HERE.
THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSIAH: All this time we've assumed that Bush The Lesser was just doing a reverse spin on George Orwell. Who knew he was even literate enough to be channelling an even older novel. Read the details at "W and Dostoevsky". (Thanks to The Light Of Reason.)
A REMINDER WE SHOUDN'T NEED: Read Tom Engelhardt and Jonathan Schell writing on "What Is Wrong With Torture".
Cuba is to restrict its people from enjoying the delights of its most famous export when it bans smoking in public places next month. Cigars are as synonymous with Cuba as whisky is with Scotland but from 7 February smoking will be prohibited in theatres, shops, restaurants, buses, taxis and other enclosed public areas. The government will also ban cigarette vending machines and bring in an age limit of 16 for buying tobacco products.

More than half of Cuban adults and a large proportion of young people smoke. But despite President Fidel Castro’s reputation as a revolutionary who was rarely without a cigar in his mouth, he did in fact quit the habit in 1986.

Cubans have in the past been encouraged to smoke by their government. Anyone born before 1955 gets four packets of non-filtered cigarettes as part of their monthly ration of basic foodstuffs at a special discount price of around four pence each. The regular price is around 15p a pack.
Read it HERE.)
One of Poland's best known newspaper editors has been fined $6,500 (£3,457) for criticising Pope John Paul II.

A court in Warsaw found Jerzy Urban guilty of insulting a head of state by writing a satirical article on the eve of the pontiff's 2002 visit to Poland. ...

In his article, titled Walking Sadomasochism, Mr Urban referred to the Pope's frailty, describing him as "the Brezhnev of the Vatican" and an "impotent old man". ...

Opponents of Mr Urban, who attended the trial, shouted "too little" when the fine was announced, the agency reports. Prosecutors had requested a 10-month suspended prison sentence.
Read it HERE. (Thanks to A Sense of Urgency.)

Friday, January 21, 2005

JUST ADDED TO THE BLOGROLL: A new site has been put up by people disgusted at the spinelessness of establishment Democrats against the theocratic and corporacratic reactionaries who are transforming this country into a de facto tyranny. Go read why they are celebrating the possibilities of one leader showing just a little guts: PRESIDENT BOXER.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

NOT SEEN ON TV: You can see some pictures of inaugural demonstrators at Rox Populi's "Signs of Dissent", or laugh at what is really going on behind the scenes at American Idle.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS: I got this timely note yesterday.
Dear Friend,

I extend to you my condolences on the occasion of tomorrow's international day of mourning for the United States Constitution.

David Van Os
On the other hand, there's good news for today from a new report in Nature.
Can a drink a day prevent mental decline? The finding that older women who consume moderate amounts of alcohol score better on cognitive tests suggests that it can.

An investigation has revealed for the first time that the brain can benefit from consumption of both beer and wine. ...

They found that the women who had the equivalent of one drink a day had a 23% lower risk of becoming mentally impaired during the two-year period, compared with non-drinkers.

It made no significant difference whether they drank beer or wine, the researchers report this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
So, people, drink up today in memory of a beautiful dream which lasted a little over two centuries. It's too soon to know if we can get it back, but it certainly merits a little stimulation of our cognitive functions. Maybe if there had been more widespread drinking before election day, we wouldn't be in this mess again. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

TO COIN A WORD: The Poor Man gives us this new term at "Paul Krugman Doesn't Get It".
Pointing out that the President is mendacious misses the point, which is that, after four-plus years of lying, he received more votes than any presidential candidate in history. His lies have the imprimatur of the people. He is mandatious.
NUCLEAR PUTDOWN: It's easy to miss good ones on sites which have a LOT of content, even ones which I usually read every day. Fortunately I found this Platonically perfect bit of dialogue from World O'Crap linked on another blog.
Our gun-stockpiling, newslist-lurking Mystery Guest was indeed Dr. Professor Mike Adams, as Bill S. said. While Dr. Mike sounds increasingly nutty with each of these "letters" he shares with us, I imagine that the guns have to suffer through a whole lot worse.

(Mike: "Colt, that snotty lunchroom cashier looked at me funny today, undoubtedly because I'm a conservative. But someday we'll make them all pay, won't we, Colt? It's just you and me against the world!" The Gun: "Mike, I think we should see other people.")
(Her post was at Who Said It?; I spotted it quoted at Vox Popoli.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

QUOTED WITH NO COMMENT: According to Kerry at 100 monkeys typing,
There's apparently a coup underway for the chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party. At first glance, the details seem legit but the methods suspect.
ABOUT FACE: In Britain,
WD40 is not a chemical normally associated with combating illegal drug use. ... Avon and Somerset police are advising Bristol bar owners to spray the household cleaner and lubricant in their bathrooms to stop cocaine use.

The spray puts an "invisible film" over toilets and basins that absorbs the cocaine when any tries to snort it off them. It instead turns it into a congealed mess. The advice comes just a few days after BBC Wiltshire reported that a pub owner in Swindon was spraying it on toilet seats because anyone who then tried to snort cocaine off them got a nose bleed.
Read it HERE.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

GUT DEFORM: Michael Bérubé eviscerates a bad man when he's down, at "Tucker Carlson disemboweled by CNN".
TOUGH LOVE: With Reagan's El Salvador man (and here's how that worked out way back then -- thanks to julia) already in place in Iraq, and "the Pentagon" (a group euphemism for deniability purposes) now "considering" (i. e., sending up a trial baloon to see what they can get away with) starting Death Squads in Iraq, Jesus' General has found a great bumper sticker to remind people what's brewing, and the perfect person to put in charge. Remember, folks, this is being advocated in our names by the same people who gave us Abu Ghraib after the next Attorney General unlocked the door. Do you have a valid passport ready?
Specialist Charles Graner Jr is the first soldier to go on trial on charges related to the Abu Ghraib jail scandal, which came to light last year with the release of demeaning photographs of prisoners, including pictures of naked inmates apparently being paraded on leashes and being stacked in piles.

The lawyer defending him at the court martial in Texas, Guy Womack, said: "Don't cheerleaders all over America make pyramids every day?" He added: "It's not torture."
Read it HERE. (Found at Andy matic.)
DITCHING THE DEADWEIGHT: Any Sullivan explains a big part of the Democratic party's problems at "Fire the Consultants" -- "Why do Democrats promote campaign advisors who lose races?"

Saturday, January 08, 2005

SHUFFLING THE DECK CHAIRS: It is highly likely that John Kerry actually won Ohio and thus the electoral vote, but had it stolen by Republican election software companies. Barring that theft, he would be the President-elect. Such a year 2000-style "victory", taking office even though he got fewer votes, would cripple him for four years. Nevertheless, he did win, and the self-flagellation of the Democratic Party establishment is sickening.

Only one Senator (Boxer of California) had the guts to stand up against this Ohio vote theft this week, and even she denied any desire to overturn the results. Meanwhile the "leaders" of the party, in and out of Congress, were falling all over themselves to disclaim any connection to this wimpy semi-questioning of the Emperor's New Mandate. They are all too busy trying hard to sell out everything the party stands for to appeal to conservatives, in the foolish belief that the reactionaries will stop abusing them if they just lay down and surrender. This is not just suicidal strategy, but intellectual and moral hara-kari as well.

The short-sighted Democrats who sold out their constituents' interests for corporate special interests feeding the arsenic triangle of fundraisers, consultants, and pollsters, all dedicated to ignoring the uninspired Democratic base voters in favor of "swing" voters, districts, and states, have given us almost total Republican control of both Texas and national government. Now these vermin are squabbling among themselves over who gets to be the captain of the vehicle they have transformed into a modern Hindenburg, when it slowly falls from the sky.

This cancer is metastasizing rapidly. The Senate Democrats have already sold out women's rights, choosing an anti-choice leader to replace the South Dakota Super Wimp. Those cowards' next step will be to slightly raise one dubious eyebrow as they watch Bush's next Attorney General be confirmed with no real struggle, thus sanctioning in the eyes of the world -- and the International Criminal Court, if he hadn't refused to join it -- all of the tortures of Iraq, Guantanamo, and the other nations where the CIA has dumped prisoners for even more serious "interrogations".

Now serious contenders for national party Chair are actually running on the need to appeal to those who want to put women in prison for deciding what to do with their own bodies. They aren't even bothering to fly to Munich to appease the unappeasable; they want to send the theocrats an invitation to infiltrate our own homes, and a first-class ticket to make the trip. Opposing this nonsense is a move to make Howard Dean head of the DNC instead. The downside of this is that he would then be co-opted by that Cerberus of professional pols who have delivered us to today's evil. He could do far more good keeping up the pressure on those scum from the outside. Our local ex-Mayor Ron Kirk, no stranger to corporate apologies himself, has apparently dropped out of Chair contention in favor of our local ex-Congressman Martin Frost.

I've never been wild about his record in Congress, though he is clearly within the mainstream of the party. If you want a full discussion of what's right and wrong about his votes -- including some very, very, wrong votes for a potential Chair of the party to have cast -- then check out a local Dean activist who is on his case, at annatopia's "The Truth about Martin Frost, part one". My real objection to him is that he was the prime architect of the foolish losing strategy of the party in the nineties and since here in Texas -- concentrating on a few swing races in a few swing districts and letting the statewide candidates die of resource starvation just to protect incumbents by not challenging the worst of the Republicans. Anna may have more to say about that on her site later; I and a few others like David Van Os have been complaining about it for years.

If that is all the Democratic Party is ever going to do, then it will continue to have a handful of people in office from gerrymandered districts, but it will be like a dinosaur whose distant brain has not yet gotten the message that its heart has already stopped. This house of pastel cards could be shattered by the first good shove, by anyone with an intelligible agenda and the moral certainty to advocate it with no apologies. With luck, this might come from some brand new political movement transforming it within. The classic example was how the Populists almost replaced the Democrats until people like Altgeld and Bryan (and Hogg, here in Texas) incorporated some of their ideas. Without luck, the party itself could become just as extinct as the Whigs, who disappeared when they chickened out over expansion of slavery, allowing the new Republicans to take over instead.

Some people are trying to put together proposals for such a movement to transform the party. Needless to say, they do not include writing off women's right to control their own bodies, like those would-be uterine Chamberlains of the DNC. Here's a four point summary from one such blooming flower:
# We can feed everyone.
# We can provide everyone with medical care.
# We can educate everyone.
# We can reward excellence.
You can ponder that entire effort at "A Platform for a Party of the Left". As for the substance, Bucky Fuller was saying society could afford all these things forty years ago, and our capacity is only greater now -- once we remove that parasitical cyst of militaristic subsidized corporatism. Don't be cowered into tremulous apologetics by the word "Left", because it is clear the Delays and Roves and Norquists of the de facto coup d'état will condemn even the most moderate opposition as extreme leftist radicalism. Instead of quivering in fear like the intimidated Dixie Chicks, we need a dash of Patrick Henry, updated to read "If this be liberalism, make the most of it."