Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day and Politics

I told myself last night I should try and remain totally apolitical if I decided to post today, Memorial Day. I had hardly begun to browse my RSS feeds when I knew I couldn't do it, at least not totally.

My faith in the moral fiber of my government was shaken by the decision to go to war in Iraq - shaken not lost. My remaining hope is that the hawks have learned lessons their pride won't let them confess. So, I have to at least acknowlege my feelings about this war even in the context of memorializing real heroes.

I think in modern times war is always avoidable. It cannot always be avoided since no one party to a conflict holds all the power to desist. We can,though, set the threshold of necessity much higher than we did before invading Iraq. That is the least and the most we can do for those who have fallen in defense.

Working to insure as few Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines as possible give their lives in service to us is to do them the greatest honor possible.

For those who have already died while "following the lawful (sic) orders of those appointed over them", I love you; I bless you; you are deserving of all honor and glory in our memory.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

War Crimes and Our Job-Scared Media

"Well, sure it's a war crime...but this is just rehashing old news". At least that's the perception Attaturk over at Eschaton gets from the MSM about the mounting evidence of the American/British conspiracy to promote war in Iraq.

On the heels of "memo-gate", which gained little American media traction in the leadup to the recent British elections, this latest piece of news makes the case for conspiracy seem a whole lot more solid than the joint U.S./British case for Iraqi WMD.

It looks like the BushCo repression of the media is reaching new levels of effectiveness. I still believe the majority of the American press possess personally progressive views. But they, like all of us, have to make a living.

There appear to be few remaining in the established press willing to risk career suicide by pointing out the blatant manipulation employed to take us to war.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Oh Say Could We See?

Unless the Center and Left gain some traction and quickly turn it into momentum, we may all wonder, as Eric Alterman laments below, where the hey our country went. Some see and hope that traction coming with the moderate coalition of Senators that temporarily staved off the filibuster fight this week.

I think it is just as likely their wad's been spent, and we all know their party leadership is working hard to rope them into their respective herds.

Call me shrill, ideological, or whatever you like, but I think we’re losing our Constitution, our civil liberties, and in many significant respects, our country. When future historians look back on this period, they will wonder, most of all, I think, how we let it go without a fight.

So go fight the good fight, somehow, somewhere. Better with a bang than a whimper.

Back From Oblivion

Not quite oblivion, but I was unexpectedly off the internets for most of the week. I'm back and catching up on RSS feeds.

Hopefully I'll get posting for real later today.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Let's Be Liberal Ree-formers

I watched Oh Brother, Where art thou? again the other night, and the message that came through this time from the Coen brothers’ serious bit of silliness is that what we need is a "ree-form candidate". Heck, we all need to be ree-form candidates, or at least ree-form advocates.

I sometimes want to join the call for a new form of liberalism. But for me, it isn't so much a new form as a new focus. I want to start filling the glass again by talking about what we need to do as well as what we need to stop.

Jobs, healthcare, deficits all call for planning, organization and action. There's got to be a better way, so let's define ours, talk about it and start pushing it.

E.J. Dionne lays out some good-to-big ideas for where to start in the Washington Post (registration required) today.
The challenge, he argues, is to indemnify those who may find themselves on the losing end of the transaction. This points to a number of big policy ideas: wage insurance, to ease the transition from one job to another; broader earned-income tax credits, to push up the wages of the lower paid; pension portability and incentives to help lower- and middle-income Americans put away money. Above all, it means guaranteed health insurance in some form, an idea increasingly appealing to companies in a competitive world market that want to take health care costs out of the prices of their goods.

Alan Stewart Carl at The Yellow Line even provides us with some encouragement from the center with today's Can Democrats Find a New Form of Liberalism?

So I'm ready. Lead on. Someone. Please.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Fate of Newpapers

It is an exciting time to be a news junkie!

Jarvis at Buzzmachine is asking the right questions about the blogosphere vis-a-vis the MSM, specifically newspapers. For one, how is the revenue going to get where it needs to be in order to support news gathering for the online media? We're still short that and some other critical answers.

That's why eRobin at American Street may also be right in thinking big newspapers will survive.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Times Talks About Class in America Today

I can't bring myself to blog on the goings on in the Senate today. I watched about 5 minutes each of 4 debaters, and couldn't go on.

So...I came across the beginning of a new series in the NYTimes. It is pretty good, and seems to be a balanced look at our social and economic divisions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Moyers' Timely Response to Tomlinson

Bill Moyers' speech yesterday to the National Conference on Media Reform could not have been more timely if it were planned to coincide with the Newsweek apology/retraction fallout.

He was speaking in response to Kenneth Tomlinson in the context of political content on PBS. But in doing so, he succintly described the folks now using the Newsweek mistake as ammunition to further their existing agenda.

...[P]eople obsessed with control using the government to threaten and intimidate; I mean the people who are hollowing out middle class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class to make sure Ahmad Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil; I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into Karl Rove’s slush fund; who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets; I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

Everyone of us concerned about a better informed democracy would do well to heed Moyers' call (granted it's among many yesterday and today) for accuracy in reporting. But it is going to be really tough, and will take all our moral courage, to continue to hold those in power to account considering their own assaults on the truth.

Moyers' lays out examples of the administation's blatant use of propaganda to further its goals.

Without a trace of irony, the powers that be have appropriated the Newspeak vernacular of George Orwell’s 1984. They give us a program vowing no child will be left behind, while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged children; they give us legislation cheerily calling for clear skies and healthy forests that give us neither, while turning over our public lands to the energy industry.

I have frequently disagreed with Moyers, and I admit I haven't missed him greatly in the six months since he left PBS. But, this talk was right on time, and worth a full look.

Olberman Blasts McClellan

I love the way Keith Oblermann dreams. If only this one could come true.

Newsweek and the Corp-of-Hypocrites

Newsweek is being rightfully pounded for getting a 'gotcha' story wrong. It deserves to be lambasted by nearly everyone with a concern for media issues and the ongoing unrest in Afganistan and Iraq.

But the hypocrisy of the administration hacks jumping into the fray, is too, too much. I had begun to believe that Condi, Rummy, Scotty and the crew were without shame. Now the proof is everywhere. They are casting stones at Newsweek when their sins of the same flavor are so much grander in scale as to dwarf the harm any mere media outlet could cause.

Keeping their mouth shut would gotten me on their side for a change. Accurate or not, obviously the Newsweek piece was not properly sourced and I, and importantly even more of the blogosphere, would be angry just at them.

Instead I'm amazed, yet again, at the chutzpah of the Bush corp-of-hypocrites and furious at their hubris.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Jesus and Liberal Christians

I have struggled a while at living with my liberal politics and trying to behave in a christian manner towards the fundamentalists on the right. See I too am a Christian, but tolerance, peace, and social justice are the dominate values I have learned from Jesus. I often feel at a disadvantage when my principles come under attack by idealogues evangelizing religion and politics under the banner of Christ.

Jeff Jarvis, too, feels it's time to stand up be counted. But he, also, seems to be at a loss as to exactly how to proceed. Toe-to-toe, chapter-and-verse would be a fun way to proceed, but I'm not sure what it would produce. Read The Reformation, continued for his interesting statement of our dilema.

I am seriously searching for a productive way to make standing up for liberals of faith my mission or ministry if you will. It really is important to me. How important? Well, I'll just say that I wish I found Randy Reynolds' parody of Candidate Jesus a lot more funny and a lot less chilling.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Infomercial to Cry For

I laughed 'til I cried. Now I can't stop crying. Matt Miller guesting for Maureen Dowd at the NYTimes (regreq)nailed me with this brutal satire.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Tennessee Salute

This is my own, my native, state. Irises and hummingbirds are wonderful. My blood runneth orange. How'm I doin' SKB?

Another Big Business Subsidy

I believe in the capitalist economic system. I believe that in a capitalistic system there must be effective checks on the profit motive. Human nature demands it. Otherwise how is the little guy ever going to participate in the American Dream except as a token?

The Small Business Administration is supposed to help, but does it really? Read the small ways the government subsidizes big business here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Iraq is Not Vietnam

It really is wrong to call the ongoing violence in Iraq another Vietnam. What is correct, however, is to say lessons learned in Vietnam are playing a role there.

Timothy M. Phelps writing in Newsday describes an insurgency that saw a successful campaign of attrition fought against the U.S., and set a strategy in place that could do it again.

What lessons did we learn?

Stuck on the Gerbil Wheel

I can't get off! I rant and rave about rampant consumption. Then spend like there's no tomorrow.

This is the root of my hypocrisy. Materialism is where my thoughts and actions diverge most dramatically. My guilt rose in my throat today when Neddie at American Street asked the Great Question. To me, the question boils down to -- "How much is enough?"

It reminded me of a visiting African minister that came to preach at my white, conservative, Episcopal church a few years back. He stunned the upper middle class congregation by asking this great question in the context of his life experience in sub-Saharan Africa.

How much is enough? A lot less than most of us are indoctrinated to believe.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Whoa There, Religious Right

Alan Stewart at The Yellow Line distills some pundits from the right as they push-pull their religious compatriots towards the center in his piece Conservative Columnists Try to Temper the Religious Right.

Check it out.

Evangelicals and Militant Secularists

Yesterday was National Prayer Day -- and Cinco de Mayo -- and Holocaust remembrance Day -- but I digress from my digression.

MSNBC's Connected presented both the inclusive and exclusive (Christian) perspective on the prayer observance. What stood out to me was once again an evangelical Christian defended exclusion by stating he was "not ashamed". Huh...?

I hear the same excuse -- it can't be a reason, right? heaven forbids reason -- for allowing evangelical influence in government. Christians are not ashamed. Okay...? Your point, please.

What David Brooks calls militant secularists are not much better. Militants of both extremes remind me of amateur method actors. They seem so insecure about their positions (performances) they're constantly compelled to describe their motivation.

"Mixing religion and government is dangerous. It's frightening!"

"I am not ashamed of Jesus!"

Just tell me what you believe, then lay out your facts. Discuss the feelings behind it with your theatrics coach.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Lost Faith in Bolton

Last night listening to Chris Matthew's stammering away again about the Bolton nomination (transcript should show up here soon) I was frustrated again that no one seems to draw the most logical conclusion from the congressional testimony.

Everyone seems to agree that Bolton berated a couple of analysts who couldn't support his dire warnings about Cuba's WMD program. His intention to have them fired remains in question.

What Bolton freely admits, however, is that he lost faith in these career public servants because they disagreed with him. Now everyone seems to agree that the analysts were correct and Mr. Bolton was wrong.

The direct result seems obvious. By his own standard, everyone should now have lost faith in John Bolton.

Plus, we don't have to have him fired. Just, please, don't give him the job.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Runaway Media Story

I actually heard a woman interviewed on Today proclaiming that Jennifer Wilbanks victimized the whole nation by getting cold feet days before her wedding.

Hello! Who is responsible for the reaction of law enforcement to an apparently well-to-do presumed victim, the jilted groom-to-be? My wife and I were married in a small county courthouse in East Tennessee with only a handful of our children in attendance. I wonder what she would have been liable for had she hit the road a few days out? Should Jennifer be responsible for more?

Her actions in Duluth were inconsiderate, rude, and selfish. But criminal?

How is she responsible for the ever-prurient national media?

And really, who forced that poor woman in the Today show interview to watch?

Now there's our guilty party!

Make Hay(den) on May Day

Kevin Hayden gives an overview of values in the recent history of our foreign policy over at American Street.

I had half-formed an objection when I realized how defensive I was being. I almost suggested to Kevin that he not stigmatize his spot-on article by referring to May Day in the title. But I'm among the first to insist on truth and accuracy in our political discourse so, while I personally have no issue with the reference, I worried briefly that others might. Shame on me.

If May Day was an inspiration for this reflection, why not say so.