Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The following is a draft. It might not provide the most exciting reading, but I would invite comments from anyone interested in helping us generate a platform that can connect with as many Oregonians as possible! Thanks in advance!

Proposed Platform of the Democratic Party of Oregon – Draft 7 – 11/29/05

In our lives as Oregon Democrats we hold multiple roles. Whether rural, urban, or suburban, we are family members, neighbors, workers, U.S. citizens, and part of the global community. We must take responsibility for the needs, survival, and dignity of the coming generations. Our political philosophy must embrace all our roles, with their rights and responsibilities.

Oregon Democrats insist we can live according to our highest ideals. We work towards economic and social justice for all. We must govern ourselves to promote the Common Good. The well-being of Oregon, our nation, the global community, and future generations depends on implementing a just and farsighted vision.

As Oregon Democrats, we recognize that the citizens of our state and our country ARE the government. We will fight any forces that try to limit our freedoms or take the power that rightfully belongs to “We the People”. The Bill of Rights and associated civil liberties are not subject to the convenience of the government nor momentary security considerations. They are the enduring standard of our liberty. We commit to helping our hard-working citizens regain their rightful role in this country, in this government, in this 230-year-old Democracy (Republic?).

1) Oregon Democrats: Our Responsibilities and Rights as Individuals and Family Members

As Oregon Democrats, we hold a fundamental belief that all citizens must be able to achieve personal security for themselves and their family. No matter where they live in our state, people must have access to the products and services necessary for a healthy and productive life. A Living Wage is a critical step in laying the foundation for self-sufficiency. We respect the inherent human dignity of each person, regardless of differences in race, religion, or other aspects of their individual identities.

Shelter, Food, Health Care, and a Living Wage: Securing the Basic Necessities of Life

Human Rights: Guaranteeing Equal Rights for All People

2) Oregon Democrats: Our Responsibilities and Rights as Members of a Community

As members of our local, state, and national communities, we recognize the benefits we have received through our communities and commit to paying them back. We embrace the Social Contract that binds us to other members of our communities, a contract that asks each person to contribute for the good of all. As rural, urban, and suburban Oregonians, we recognize our common interests and shared responsibilities. We demand that government function with fiscal responsibility that does not burden future generations with debts created by a “borrow and spend” economic policy. We reject policies that practice class warfare and perpetuate stark divisions between a privileged few and the majority of working Americans. We move beyond self-interest and focus on decisions made for the Common Good of both present and future generations.

Public Education: Taking Responsibility to Prepare the Next Generation

Revenue Policy: Paying a Fair Share and Endowing Future Generations

3) Oregon Democrats: Our Responsibilities and Rights as Workers and Business People

As workers and business people, we are instrumental in creating our country’s wealth. We work in many trades and professions, and include farmers, ranchers, union members, business owners, professionals and trades people. We demand respect and adequate reward for our efforts. We insist that our economy be managed to sustain local jobs and businesses, and embrace long-term sustainability over short-term profits. We demand that corporations also function as ethical members of the community, contributing to values beyond shareholder profit.

Business and Economic Development: Creating a Sustainable Economy that Enriches Everyone

Forest, Field and Range: Supporting Oregon’s Small Farmers, Ranchers and Foresters as They Provide from the Land

Labor: Ensuring that Hard Work Is Rewarded and Includes Retirement Security

4) Oregon Democrats: Our Responsibilities and Rights as Active Citizens

As Oregon Democrats, and U.S. citizens, we are committed to the ongoing task of sustaining our democracy. We are guided by the principles this country was founded on. Our government was created to reflect the will of the people. We are committed to extending and deepening freedom, equality and democracy. We will be vigilant in protecting our freedoms as outlined in the Bill of Rights. Reform of our election process is crucial, as the right to vote is the foundation for all our other rights. In order to be a shining example of Democracy to other countries, we must hold our system to the highest standards.

Election Reform: Opposing Privatization of The Vote and Guaranteeing Transparent Elections that Reflect the Will of the People

Public Safety, Justice, and Civil Liberties: Preserving Our Personal Freedoms, While Ensuring our Safety

Government Reform: Demanding Honesty, Integrity and Competence in Government

5) Oregon Democrats: Our Responsibilities and Rights as Global Citizens

As Oregon Democrats, we recognize that we have responsibilities beyond our national borders. As citizens of a powerful nation with global impact, we must find common cause and pursue rational cooperation with other nations. We recognize that our security and our moral standing as a nation depend on adhering to the Rule of Law. Globalization has entrusted all of us with a responsibility to be knowledgeable stewards of the planet. In economic relations with other nations, we support Fair Trade principles, through which we maintain the highest standards for labor rights and environmental protection. We lift our eyes beyond national self-interest and affirm the principle of global cooperation, working to ensure the survival and well-being of present and future generations.

Ecology and Natural Resources: Providing for Our Needs, While Preserving the Earth

Energy and Transportation: Practicing Conservation While Tapping Human Ingenuity to Fuel the Future

Foreign Policy and National Security: Engaging the World through the Strength of Diplomacy, Justice, and the Rule of Law

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Oh, those poor persecuted little neoconservatives! A nice article about the plight of these poor souls is found at the link above, which I found at Muttering Jam (see my list of blog links below)!


Go to the link and take a listen. Brian McConnachie provides a hilarious laundry list of reasons why ID may not be so intelligent after all... ! Fun stuff.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Snave's note: I am including this article for those who missed it... it seems already as if nobody is mentioning this one anymore. It had a shelf-life of about one day, and its half-life has seemed to be even less. Due to that, my guess is this is something the White House and Great Britain's leadership desperately didn't want the Arab world to know about. I believe this one could actually be bigger than it seems.

Press Warned over Jazeera Bombing Report
Reuters (London) 11-23-05

The British government has warned media organisations they are breaking the law if they publish details of a leaked document said to show U.S. President George W. Bush wanted to bomb Arabic television station Al Jazeera.

The government's top lawyer warned editors in a note after the Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Monday that a secret government memo said Prime Minister Tony Blair had talked Bush out of bombing the broadcaster in April last year.

Several British newspapers reported the attorney general's note on Tuesday and repeated the Mirror's allegations, which the White House said were "so outlandish" they did not merit a response. Blair's office declined to comment.

Al Jazeera, which has repeatedly denied U.S. accusations it sides with insurgents in Iraq, called on Britain and the United States to state quickly whether the report was accurate.

"If the report is correct then this would be both shocking and worrisome not only to Al Jazeera but to media organisations across the world," the Qatar-based station said in a statement.

The story would also be a shock for Qatar, a small Gulf state which cultivates good relations with Washington.

The Mirror said the memo came from Blair's Downing Street office and turned up in May last year at the local office of Tony Clarke, then a member of parliament for Northampton. Clarke handed the document back to the government.

Leo O'Connor, who used to work for Clarke, and civil servant David Keogh were charged last Thursday under the Official Secrets Act with making a "damaging disclosure of a document relating to international relations".

The Mirror said Bush told Blair at a White House summit on April 16 last year that he wanted to target Al Jazeera. The summit took place as U.S. forces in Iraq were launching a major assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

The paper quoted an unnamed government official suggesting Bush's threat was a joke but added another unidentified source saying the U.S. president was serious.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "We are not interested in dignifying something so outlandish and inconceivable with a response."

The attorney general told media that publishing the contents of a document which is known to have been unlawfully disclosed by a civil servant was a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Kevin Maguire, the Mirror's associate editor, said government officials had given no indication of any legal problems with the story when contacted before publication.

"We were astonished, 24 hours later, to be threatened with the Official Secrets Act and to be requested to give various undertakings to avoid being injuncted," he told BBC radio.

Al Jazeera said that, if true, the story would raise serious doubts about the U.S. administration's version of previous incidents involving the station's journalists and offices.

In 2001, the station's Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The United States has denied deliberately targeting the station.

Snave's other notes: April of last year... let's see, that would be 2004... things weren't going so well for Bush's plans (or lack of plans) in Iraq at that point... I wonder, what was Blair's argument? Maybe he told Dumbya that he thought inflaming the Arab world even further would not help the cause in Iraq? Maybe it was something like that, although it seems like Blair would get some good P.R. by letting the public know he had actually talked Bush out of doing something. Bush, on the other hand, with his poll ratings low as they are, probably didn't want anything more in the press that Democrats could pounce on. My bet is that the White House applied the pressure for the British government to suppress this story.

Why would Democrats pounce on this one? Or why should they? As I see it, if this story was to be emphasized and harped on by the media, Bush would be portrayed as a "mad bomber" in the press here at home and by a number of Democrats. Bombing Al Jazzeera could also be seen as a sort of "expansion" of the Iraq war into the rest of the Middle East. At a time when the war is gradually becoming more unpopular, Dumbya probably doesn't want the public thinking he wants to expand the war. But maybe that IS what he wants. And if he does, maybe the public needs to know about it. But that is probably why people suddenly AREN'T hearing about it anymore, here or abroad. Can we safely wager that the U.S. media has been similarly warned by the White House not to perpetuate this story?

Friday, November 25, 2005


From reading this weblog, most people might not guess that I am a devoted sports fan. Just about everything is about the various miseries we see in our national political scene. SO, time to change gears to matters of less consequence:

In order of preference, I adore the following sports and teams:

1. Major League Baseball - I am a hardcore MLB stat-head and Seattle Mariners fan (the Pacific Northwest's only major league baseball team). I also like the Chicago Cubs (I've followed them since the late 60's, and Kit is from the Chicago area), the St. Louis Cardinals (I've followed them since the late 60's, and they are one of my best friends, Martin, lists them as his favorite team), and the Minnesota Twins (used to watch them on TV when I was a kid, back when they had some of my favorite players of all time, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Tony Oliva).

2. College Basketball - The Oregon Ducks (I went to UO and graduated there), the Eastern Oregon University Mountaineers (I went to EOU my first two years of college, and it's in La Grande, where I live), and the Gonzaga Bulldogs (just because). UO and EOU have rosters loaded with young players who are very talented. Eastern Oregon University is a small state-run school of about 2,400 students; they play at a level called NAIA. Their games are fun to watch, and this year they have what could be the best team they have had in years. They usually win about 30% to 40% of their games, but this year I'm thinking it may be more like 60% to 70%. I follow the womens' teams at both schools also.

3. College Football - the Oregon Ducks and the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers (see above reasons) - UO is ranked #8 in both major college polls this week (the AP poll and the USA Today coaches' poll). They have an outside shot at getting invited to one of the top four bowl games this year. I say an outside shot because they will be competing with a much-higher-profile team, Notre Dame, for one of the final bowl invites. From the end of professional baseball's World Series until the end of the college football season, I eat, live and breathe Oregon Duck football! I'm on pins and needles as I wait to find out which bowl game they will go to, and the announcement is supposed to be made December 4th.

EOU has had a history of miserable, losing football but during the past two years they have finished with winning records and have been ranked in the NAIA "top 25" polls from time to time. Things seemed to be looking up, but they fired their coach under mysterious circumstances. He led them to two consecutive winning seasons, so it must have been something icky behind the scenes, or maybe a tiff with the athletic director that got him his pink slip. Looks like the team may have to go into "rebuilding mode" again. Arrgh.

4. High school basketball - Of course it's the La Grande Tigers again! While I never did go out for football, I did go out for basketball every year. I was a good shooter, possibly one of the better in my class, but my game was strictly one-dimensional... I could shoot well, and I wasn't bad on defense under the boards despite being built like a toothpick, but if I ever had to dribble or pass the ball I was like the Human Turnover. The school kept a dozen players on the team every year, and I was usually one of the later guys getting cut. I know there are a number of smaller high schools around the area where I could have played and played often, because I had some excellent games against those schools during our summer league games. I ended up playing massive amounts of intramurals, church league and city league games from the time I left high school until I turned 42, at which time my knees and back could handle it no longer.

But that's more than plenty about my unrealized hoop dreams... this year's Tigers have a chance to do well at the state level. They have a couple of tall kids (6'7" and 6'5") who are aggressive on both offense and defense, an excellent point guard, and a great supporting cast of kids who can shoot, defend and push the ball up court. I'm anxious for their season to begin, as it should be loads of fun to go watch them play! The girls have had excellent teams for the last decade or so, and they usually go to the state tournament.

5. High school football - The fighting Tigers of La Grande High School, of course! They have made it to the "final eight" teams in their class (Oregon level 3A) this year, and last weekend they won their first state playoff game in 13 years. I will be glued to the radio when they play Phoenix, OR this weekend! The year I was a high school senior (in the fall of 1974) the Tigers won the state football championship. I didn't play... I was in the top 1/4 of my class for speed, and I could catch the ball well... but I was 6'1" and weighed only 140 pounds... I didn't want to get tackled because I probably would've been broken in half like a matchstick. I was in the marching band anyway, and we got to travel to all the playoff games that were on the road. It was a blast!

6. National Football League - Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions (I liked them when they had Barry Sanders, I still like them even though they suck recently, in part because they sometimes have Joey Harrington at QB), SF 49ers (loved 'em when they had Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice).

7. National Basketball Association - I've soured on the NBA during the last five years or so, and a large part of that is that I have been a Portland Trailblazers fan for over 30 years... that has been good, but lately it has not been good due to the doofii the team has used. Talented doofii, but doofii nonetheless, so much that it makes the team tough to cheer for at times... Even though it seems like a number of their players get in trouble with the law, I am still a devoted fan and I hope they can get things turned around. I also follow the Seattle Supersonics, as I lived about an hour or so from Seattle for 5-6 years and got to see some of their games.

8. Roller Derby - This used to be so cool to watch on TV. Where did it go? I guess it kind of closed down around 1973. The Bay Area Bombers were always my faves!

Sports I don't care about one way or the other:

Ice Hockey.
Field Hockey.
Soccer (although I did play soccer in college... and it was a blast to play it! Our team went 6-3-1 at EOU, and we even beat some NCAA schools: Boise State, Portland State, Washington State! I just think it's not very much fun to watch).

"Sports" I detest:

1. NASCAR. Noisy, fuel-wasting, and strongly associated with the political conservative element. I think people watch it simply in the hopes of seeing a wreck. What's exciting about watching cars go around and around on a racetrack? I guess I just don't get it.

2. Professional wrestling. I used to love to watch the local wrasslers on Portland's Channel 12... "Portland Wrestling"! What a great show. It was a laugh a minute! Nowadays, with all the glitz and glamour, it's merely a shell of what it used to be in simpler times.

3. Professional poker. Watching other people play cards? I don't see the excitement in that at all. I think it might be more fun to watch paint dry.

4. Professional boxing. This used to be somewhat enjoyable when there was only one organization, when there was a unified title. Now it seems like there are so many organizations that have heavyweight champions it is impossible to tell who's the best. Louis, Ali, Frazier, Patterson... all classic boxers, eventually replaced by the likes of "Iron Mike" Tyson. How far this mighty sport has fallen...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans - unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing."

Since when can too much education be too much of a good thing? So, if we keep people from getting too much education, they will vote Republican? And I always thought education was a GOOD thing...

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

What a bunch of crap! "Liberals" simply didn't see the need to run stampeding around the Middle East like a wounded elephant running wildly through a circus... the left demonstrated more moderation and restraint than the right-wingers. Therapy and understanding are GOOD things, Karl... maybe if you could get some therapy you would gain some understanding and you wouldn't be so damned mean. Anyway, saying that "liberals" only wanted "therapy and understanding" for the attackers is a load of crap, and Rove knows it.

"Somebody gets to be smart and somebody gets to be dumb. If we win, it'll be because of the president. And if we lose, it'll be because of me."

Wrong... that should have read, "if we win, it'll be because of me. And if we lose, it'll be because of the president."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year? Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Because Durbin dissents, he puts our troops in danger? How? What a bunch of baloney. Durbin is simply disagreeing. Because people in our country will exercise their right to speak out in dissent, does that make them traitors? Or that they don't "support our troops"? Come on, Karl...

"We will f**k him. Do you hear me? We will f**k him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever f**ked him." (to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him)

Uh-oh. Maybe I went too far in some of my earlier comments about you, Karl! Have mercy on me!


Move could signal an end to long-distance train service

Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON -- The firing Wednesday of Amtrak President David Gunn could make it easier to eliminate cross-country train lines and turn over the deteriorating Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston to private hands.

Gunn had resisted Bush administration calls to privatize its track in the Northeast and eliminate long-distance lines that serve rural America but don't pay for themselves.

But those steps might not be any easier to achieve now that the company's governing board, made up of Bush appointees, has gotten rid of Gunn. Some members of Congress said they'll be even more reluctant to endorse White House calls for change.

"The board's decision today provides a degree of uncertainty that does no one any good: the people who ride Amtrak, the people who work there and for us in Congress who want to reform [it]," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a former Amtrak board member. "His departure is not going to convince anyone in the Senate that selling off the Northeast corridor is a good idea."

Federal taxpayers have contributed about $29 billion to Amtrak since it was created in 1971. Its trains operate in 46 states and carry more than 25 million passengers a year.

Amtrak Chairman David M. Laney announced Wednesday that David Hughes, the railroad's chief engineer, would run the quasi-public company while the board conducts a national search for a replacement.

Laney said Amtrak needed "a different type of leader who will aggressively tackle the company's financial, management and operational challenges" than Gunn, who had headed transit systems in New York City, Toronto and Washington.

Gunn's firing comes less than a week after a report by the Government Accountability Office criticized Amtrak's financial management. The report accused the company of approving contracts that mushroomed far above their initial amount, spending $2 for every $1 in revenue from food and beverage service, and giving top executives bonuses without spelling out why they had earned them.

But the GAO also gave some praise to Gunn, who has boosted ridership, cut Amtrak's work force and discontinued some of Amtrak's money-losing pursuits since he was appointed in 2003. He also earned bipartisan praise from Capitol Hill. Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi called Gunn's dismissal "a step backward" for the nation's passenger rail system.

Lott was the prime author of a measure the Senate passed overwhelmingly last week authorizing more than $11 billion over the next six years to reduce Amtrak's debt, fix its tracks and keep it operating.

Gunn had said -- and lawmakers such as Lott and Carper agreed -- that the federal government has an obligation to provide a national rail network, even though some cross-country lines cost more than $100 per passenger in federal subsidies.

Gunn's departure means it's going to be easier to confine rail service to California, the Northeast and regions of the country where passenger traffic is highest, lamented rail advocate Jim RePass, president of the National Corridors Initiative Inc.

"The administration has decided to accelerate the end of long-distance service because that's the fundamental goal," he said.

Tom Till, who headed the now-disbanded Amtrak Reform Council, which Congress set up to suggest ways of improving passenger rail, said it's too early to tell what this latest step means for the future of passenger rail.

Paul Weinstein Jr., chief operating officer and senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, said firing Gunn is part of the administration's agenda to eliminate -- not reform -- Amtrak. But the move might backfire, he said.

"It's going to worsen the relationship between the Congress and the president," he said. "It's almost as though the Bush administration has decided to declare war on Congress through Amtrak. Whether that makes sense politically? I don't think so."

Snave's notes: Of course the best way to bankrupt something that is subsidized is to remove all of its funding. Amtrak has certainly been losing money, so what difference will it make to just take away ALL of it's money? It will still be a money-loser no matter what, right? Arrrgh.

I found the above article because I was interested in learning more after hearing an interview with Gunn on NPR yesterday... sheesh. He said the Bush administration had even flat-out SAID they were going to bankrupt Amtrak. Let alone expand it...

I guess we wouldn't want to become too much like Europe, where national mass transit systems are a given. Here in the U.S., fewer people taking the train means more people will be taking cars, and that does not hurt the auto industry as much.

Bush obviously doesn't like Amtrak, so he can replace Gunn with someone who will oversee the destruction of the organization... that's kind of like sending the anti-U.N. John Bolton to be our country's U.N. guy... or it would be like putting former pro-oil-drilling folks in cabinet posts that have bearing on environmental issues...

The lesson this may teach many Americans (or the lesson it may reinforce) is simple: if you don't like something, wreck it.

Friday, November 18, 2005


There is a lot of great stuff like this picture of Tucker at . Check it out!

The following is from Tucker Carlson, on

Why we can't abandon Iraq immediately (Tucker Carlson)

"It's one thing when Nancy Pelosi attacks the war in Iraq. Pelosi is from San Francisco, and she represents her constituents well. Just about every word that emerges from her mouth is shrill, amusingly leftwing and easy to ignore. Jack Murtha is another story entirely. The Pennsylvania congressman is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, hawkish on defense and a 37-year veteran of the Marine Corps. It's impossible to imagine him shopping for soy milk at Whole Foods. He is not for the Transgender Amendment.

"But he is for an "immediate" withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. As he put it in an emotional statement on Thursday, "continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America." Notice the wording: Murtha is not arguing, as so many on the Left do, that the U.S. is unworthy of bringing democracy to Iraq (War for Oil! Abu Ghraib!). He is arguing almost precisely the opposite: The war is bad for us. It's a compelling position. It may even be a conservative position. Ultimately, I think it will be a winning argument. In the meantime, here are two problems with what Murtha said:

"An immediate withdrawal would cause Iraq to become Somalia in about a week. There would be chaos and civil war. Many thousands would die. Turkey, Syria and Iran would immediately move to fill the power vacuum in the country. The region would become more unstable than it already is. The White House says it is impossible at this point to withdraw from Iraq safely and with honor. As frustrating as it might be, the White House is right.

"Also, a small but I think significant complaint: In his speech today, Murtha attacked Dick Cheney as someone who received "five deferments" in Vietnam. This is true, but unfair. The implication is, if you didn't serve, you've got no right to send others to die in battle; only war heroes get to make war policy. There's an emotional appeal to this argument, but it doesn't hold up if you think about it. For one thing, it wasn't long ago (I remember it vividly) that the Democratic Party lionized Vietnam War resistors as moral heroes. When did that policy change? For another, what about Bill Clinton? And Sandy Berger? Not to mention the countless women in foreign policy posts -- Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice -- who've had no opportunity to serve in combat? And finally, we have civilian control of the military for a reason. We choose our commander in chief by election. This past election, the voters preferred a man who did not serve to a man who did. Get over it.

"Keep those e-mails coming to "

Talk about spin... sheesh... time for some fun dissection:One obvious fallacy/strategy he uses is the name-calling (Pelosi being "shrill"), and another is insinuating that John Murtha is a better person than Pelosi because she is from San Francisco and he is from Pennsylvania (assigning negative characteristics to S.F.) and because he thinks Murtha wouldn't be in favor of a "Transgender Amendment" (insinuating that transgendered folk are bad people, or that people who might support the rights of transgendered folks are also bad).

There is also the name of Bill Clinton being inserted... that's certainly a tired old horse. I think there are a lot of Americans who would like to see Bill back in the White House. The use of his name in an article like this is simply for arousing anger among those for whom the mere mention of Clinton creates the need for attendance in classes on anger management.

Maddy Albright and Condi Rice could have enlisted in the military had they wanted to, and had they made careers of it they might have seen combat. Tucker suggests that maybe they didn't get that opportunity because they are women? Heh... The poor things! They never had the opportunity! Scheise....

Not all on the Left view America as unworthy of bringing Democracy to the Middle East... some may, but certainly not all do. Carlson's fallacy here is suggesting that "if one is like that, all are like that". By saying the Left tends to think America is "unworthy" of the job, he is also suggesting indirectly that the Left does not love America, we do not believe our troops are capable, and that we don't "support the troops". At this point, I must stoop to cheap name-calling and say "Tucker, you are a disingenuous, manipulative jerk!"

He says many of us on the Left support the idea that "If you didn't serve, you've got no right to send others to die in battle; only war heroes get to make war policy." Well, I will counter that by saying that many on the Right seem to support the opinion that because some of us are not in the military (or never have been) and because we disagree with the president, our opinion means squat. I beg to differ with that. My taxes help support our military budget, which in my opinion, is bloated far beyond proportion. There are lots of others like me, and our opinions count. Sorry to have to say it Tucker, but... not only are we real, we also vote!

Carlson says: "An immediate withdrawal would cause Iraq to become Somalia in about a week. There would be chaos and civil war. Many thousands would die. Turkey, Syria and Iran would immediately move to fill the power vacuum in the country. The region would become more unstable than it already is."

The fallacy here is the use of fear to help readers bypass their critical thinking skills en route to agreeing with him. Where is his evidence for his fear-based statements? He has none. How does he know those things will happen? He doesn't know they will, but fear is a great manipulative tool, as the Bush administration and GOP have shown us during the past five years.

"The White House says it is impossible at this point to withdraw from Iraq safely and with honor." He says we can't withdraw our troops "safely"... so, if we withdraw our troops we are putting them in harm's way? I don't get that one. And isn't "honor" a great word for stirring readers' emotions? Okay Tucker, tell us when it will be possible to withdraw with "honor". How do you know when that time is nigh?

"As frustrating as it might be, the White House is right." Hmmm. I might have to agree with Tucker somewhat here, at least in principle. I wouldn't want to leave the people of Iraq high and dry, really... I do believe that our presence there now may be what is saving a lot of them from getting killed. Mostly, I think it is our country that created the mess in Iraq, and I think we need to help clean it up as much as we can before we leave. We were an uninvited guest to begin with, and we while we did rid Iraq of a cruel dictator, the Bush administration has caused loads of instability there (and don't say I don't support the troops, that I think the troops are jerks or that they are at fault for the Iraq mess, because I love 'em. They follow their orders, which they are required to do, and those orders come from the top.) Still, that doesn't mean I think our troops need to be there a couple of years from now, or longer than that. Let's see some strategy for ending our occupation of Iraq and for getting our troops out of harm's way as soon as possible. That is what I think a lot of conservative pundits and GOP leaders DON'T want us to do. I believe they think that as long as we are at war, people will be afraid to change course and vote for the other party.

"This past election, the voters preferred a man who did not serve to a man who did." Well, at least Carlson is admitting that Bush didn't serve... that must count for something. But in regard to the other part of his statement, I still have to wonder about whether or not voters really did prefer Bush.

"Get over it."

Like, you mean we should ignore the dire condition of our country's leadership and ignore our concerns... and our dissent will go away? Sorry, Charlie. We are here to make life miserable for the likes of you.

'Nuff said.


“The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone — but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history." - Vice President Dick Cheney, referring to Democrats and to those who disagree with the administration's Iraq policy.

“I like guys who’ve never even been there, that criticize us who’ve been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments, have never been there, and send people to war and then don’t like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done.” - Rep. John Murtha, D-PA, referring to Vice President Dick Cheney

“I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them.” - Murtha, referring to George W. Bush and the GOP

Snave's note: Here is what Murtha had to say about the Iraq War, from his website at . It's a bit long, but it is a good read.

War in Iraq
The Honorable John P. Murtha

(Washington D.C.)- The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, “the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency.” General Abizaid said on the same date, “Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy.”

For 2 ½ years I have been concerned about the U.S. policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait – the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when U.S. forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction – but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a U.S. intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the U.S.

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being “terrified” about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.

To create a quick reaction force in the region.

To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.

To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

Snave's notes: Sure, Murtha is a Democrat, but I feel that what he says goes way beyond partisan politics and enters the realm of well-reasoned criticism. The guy was in the military for what, 37 years? He has seen a lot in his lifetime, and from his experience I believe it is more than likely he knows about that of which he speaks. There's no way conservatives who don't like his criticisms should be able to get away with calling him names like "traitor" or "Liberal Girlieman", but they're going to try.

"It’s a very hostile environment and I don’t think its going to ease up, but Congressman Murtha is standing his ground — and he brings all his background and all his credibility with him.
When Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona speaks about torture as a former POW, people listen. Some Republicans told me privately Thursday that when someone of the stature of Murtha steps out like this, you have to pay attention." - Tim Russert

“I won’t stand for the swift-boating of Jack Murtha.” - Sen. John Kerry, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, who himself was mightily "swift-boated" headline: "Rally To Support Iraq War Draws Hundreds". The rally, in D.C., drew about 400 people. Why is it that anti-war rallies are drawing people in the thousands?

“September 11 is losing its power to shape views on foreign policy.” - Lee Feinstein, deputy director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

“You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression on Iraq. Once the public sours on a war, they don’t unsour, and the consequences for the president’s foreign policy are that the revolution is over.” - Lee Feinstein

BushCo. must be sweating bullets... all of this dissent is coming at the time the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Council on Foreign Relations has released results of a large-scale opinion poll. Among the results (from
-- All categories surveyed agreed that the U.S. image abroad has declined since 9/11 — including half of Republicans.
-- 42% of Americans polled now believe the U.S. should mind its own business internationally, up from 30% just prior to 9-11-01.
— Most of the public believe there hasn’t been another terrorist attack in the United States only because we’ve been lucky. Just a third say it’s because the Bush administration has done a good job protecting the country.
— The general public overwhelmingly believes post-9/11 restrictions on visas for foreign students are worthwhile, but majorities in five of the groups of opinion leaders say they go too far.
— Americans in general say reducing illegal immigration and fighting international drug trafficking are much more important than opinion leaders do.
— The public largely believes U.S. mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was the result of misconduct by U.S. soldiers, while solid majorities in five of the eight groups of opinion leaders say it was the result of official policies.

The entire results are at .

"Republicans suffered a poor showing in off-year elections this month, and with next year’s midterm races approaching, the survey suggests that candidates allied or identified with Bush could have a struggle on their hands. Overall, 51 percent of Americans in general disapprove of Bush’s handling of foreign affairs, and 57 percent disapprove specifically of his handling of Iraq." - Alex Johnson of MSNBC

Even with all of this, I have to say I agree with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that if we were to suddenly bail on Iraq it would probably lead to anarchy there. I just want to see some kind of coherent strategy for getting us out of there. I don't think that's too much to ask. In my admittedly less-than-humble opinion, the time for making things up as they go along has ended for the Bush administration. Our country and our troops deserve much better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005



It was a fun evening. We drew a crowd of 80 to 100 people, and many of those good folks got inebriated and danced up a storm! You had to be there!


I took a politics test at OK!Cupid... I am:

You are a

Social Liberal
(73% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(8% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Persona Test


Snave's note: I wonder why we haven't heard more about Scooter Libby's novel. I'm sure the Religious Right (which is neither) would want to know what kind of person has been Dick Cheney's closest advisor for so long. Anyway, the following contains some words, phrases and images which might be shocking to some. Consider yourself forewarned! Many thanks to sister Christine and brother Jeffrey for alerting me to this hilariously embarrassing prose!

Scooter's Sex Shocker
Lauren Collins, The New Yorker

Of all the scribbled sentences that have converged to create the Valerie Plame affair, the most remarkable, in literary terms, may belong to Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s recently deposed chief of staff. “Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work—and life,” he wrote in a jailhouse note to Judith Miller. Meant as a waiver of confidentiality, the letter touched off the sort of fevered exegesis more often associated with readings of “The Waste Land” than of legal correspondence. For even more difficult prose, however, one must revisit an earlier work. “The Apprentice”—Libby’s 1996 entry in the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel—tells the tale of Setsuo, a courageous virgin innkeeper who finds himself on the brink of love and war.

Libby has a lot to live up to as a conservative author of erotic fiction. As an article in SPY magazine pointed out in 1988, from Safire (“[She] finally came to him in the bed and shouted ‘Arragghrrorwr!’ in his ear, bit his neck, plunged her head between his legs and devoured him”) to Buckley (“I’d rather do this with you than play cards”) to Liddy (“T’sa Li froze, her lips still enclosing Rand’s glans . . .”) to Ehrlichman (“ ‘It felt like a little tongue’ ”) to O’Reilly (“Okay, Shannon Michaels, off with those pants”), extracurricular creative writing has long been an outlet for ideas that might not fly at, say, the National Prayer Breakfast. In one of Lynne Cheney’s books, a Republican vice-president dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress.

It took Libby more than twenty years to write “The Apprentice,” which is set in a remote Japanese province in the winter of 1903. The book is brimming with quasi-political intrigue and antique locutions—“The girl who wore the cloak of yellow fur”; “one wore backward a European hat”—that make the phrase a “former Hill staffer,” by comparison, seem straightforward.

Like his predecessors, Libby does not shy from the scatological. The narrative makes generous mention of lice, snot, drunkenness, bad breath, torture, urine, “turds,” armpits, arm hair, neck hair, pubic hair, pus, boils, and blood (regular and menstrual). One passage goes, “At length he walked around to the deer’s head and, reaching into his pants, struggled for a moment and then pulled out his penis. He began to piss in the snow just in front of the deer’s nostrils.”

Homoeroticism and incest also figure as themes. The main female character, Yukiko, draws hair on the “mound” of a little girl. The brothers of a dead samurai have sex with his daughter. Many things glisten (mouths, hair, evergreens), quiver (a “pink underlip,” arm muscles, legs), and are sniffed (floorboards, sheets, fingers). The cast includes a dwarf, and an “assistant headman” who comes to restore order after a crime at the inn. (Might this character be autobiographical? And, if so, would that have made Libby the assistant headman or the assistant headman’s assistant?)

When it comes to depicting scenes of romance, however, Libby can evoke a sort of musty sweetness; while one critic deemed “The Apprentice” “reminiscent of Rembrandt,” certain passages can better be described as reminiscent of Penthouse Forum. There is, for example, Yukiko’s seduction of the inexperienced apprentice:

"He could feel her heart beneath his hands. He moved his hands slowly lower still and she arched her back to help him and her lower leg came against his. He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger. . . . One of her breasts now hung loosely in his hand near his face and he knew not how best to touch her."

Other sex scenes are less conventional. Where his Republican predecessors can seem embarrassingly awkward—the written equivalent of trying to cop a feel while pinning on a corsage—Libby is unabashed:

"At age ten the madam put the child in a cage with a bear trained to couple with young girls so the girls would be frigid and not fall in love with their patrons. They fed her through the bars and aroused the bear with a stick when it seemed to lose interest."

And, finally:

"He asked if they should fuck the deer."

The answer, reader, is yes.

So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. “That’s a bit depraved, isn’t it, this kind of thing about bears and young girls? That’s particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring,” she said. “God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans.” Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven’t taken much to sex writing. “They usually just get caught,” she said.

Snave's other note: If you crave more of this kind of humorous writing, there is more about it at .

Thursday, November 10, 2005


From Associated Press, as of today:

WASHINGTON - House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday.

They also dropped from the budget document plans to allow states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts — regions currently under a drilling moratorium.

The actions were a stunning setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil development, and a victory for environmentalists, who have lobbied hard against the drilling provisions. President Bush has made drilling in the Alaska refuge his top energy priorities.

Still, the Senate has included ANWR drilling in its budget bill and GOP leaders will push hard for any final House-Senate budget bill to include it.

If the House bill passes in a vote set for Thursday, the two chambers would appoint negotiators to work out differences between the bills. Senate Republicans could insist the ANWR drilling proposal be reinserted into the House bill, forcing a new vote by the full House.

The House Rules Committee formalized the change late Wednesday by issuing the terms of the debate when the House takes up the budget package on Thursday.

The decision to drop the ANWR drilling language came after GOP moderates said they would oppose the budget if it was kept in the bill. The offshore drilling provision was also viewed as too contentious and a threat to the bill, especially in the Senate.

Protection of the Alaska refuge from oil companies has been championed by environmentalists for years. The House repeatedly has approved drilling in the refuge as part of broad energy legislation, only to see their effort blocked each time by the threat of a filibuster in the Senate.

The budget bill is immune from filibuster, but drilling proponents suddenly found it hard to get the measure accepted by a majority of the House. That’s because Democrats oppose the overall budget bill, giving House GOP opponents of drilling in the Arctic enough leverage to have the matter killed.

The move in the House was yet another setback for Bush, whose Social Security overhaul also has stalled in Congress. At the same time, his presidency has been troubled by mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq, the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and the investigation over the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.

Twenty-five Republicans, led by Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, signed a letter asking GOP leaders to strike the Alaskan drilling provision from the broader $54 billion budget cut bill.

“Rather then reversing decades of protection for this publicly held land, focusing greater attention on renewable energy sources, alternate fuels, and more efficient systems and appliances would yield more net energy savings than could come from ANWR and would have a higher benefit on the nation’s long-term economic leadership and security,” they said.

The moderates knew they had leverage, given the narrow margin of GOP control of the House. It only takes 14 Republican defections to scuttle a bill, assuming every Democrat opposes it.

Still, removing the Arctic oil drilling provision could incite a backlash from lawmakers who strongly favor it, which is a big majority of Republicans. House and Senate GOP leaders are likely to push hard to get the ANWR proposal back into the bill in negotiations on a final document.

Marnie Funk, a spokeswoman for Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said that Domenici considers the ANWR provision, which the Senate approved, “one of the most critical components” in the budget package. “He is committed to coming back to the Senate from the conference with ANWR intact,” she said.

GOP leaders, led by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., also agreed to drop a plan to allow states to waive a 24-year ban on drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and open a contested tract off the Florida Gulf coast to oil drilling. Several Florida Republicans opposed the plan.

The overall bill is a Republican priority. The Senate passed a milder version of the bill last week that would curb the automatic growth of federal spending by $35 billion through the end of the decade. The House plan cuts more deeply across a broader range of social programs.

In a concession to lawmakers upset with a spate of cuts to social programs, GOP leaders bowed to pressure from Cuban-American lawmakers from the Miami area to loosen new restrictions on food stamps benefits for legal immigrants.

Immigrants who are disabled, over the age of 60 or applying for citizenship would be exempt from proposed rules extending the eligibility period for food stamps from five to seven years.


Besides wanting DVDs of "Sin City" and the new Beavis and Butthead collection, and maybe a nice shirt or two, I don't really want a lot for Christmas this year. Nah... all that giving and receiving of presents is overrated. Here's what I really want:

I want a more open government, one without all the secrecy, one without hidden prison camps around the world, one that doesn't advocate torture, one that will only use the troops when we NEED to, one that won't invade another country unless we're actually provoked into it, one that will try to build a budget surplus instead of spending as if it believes Armageddon will happen tomorrow, one that isn't trying to hasten Armageddon, one that listens to scientists when they have things to say about the environment and about issues like stem cell research, one that will keep tight standards for clean air and water and not relax those standards so that polluters can make more money, one that is serious about finding an alternative to fossil fuels, one that doesn't just save its tax cuts for rich donors, one that lets women decide what to do about their own health issues, one that is not systematically attempting to defund public education in order to privatize it, one that doesn't bend over for big oil and the auto industry and pharmaceutical companies and the tobacco industry, one that wants health coverage for ALL Americans, one that is ready to respond to disasters, one that will try to make our borders and ports safer, one that won't be peering into my private matters, one that isn't afraid of gays and lesbians, one that doesn't view everything in terms of dollar value, one that isn't just all about power and control, one that doesn't use fear generated by war and terrorism for political gain, one that will not try to co-opt religion and the flag and patriotism in a phony manner, and one that will, most importantly of all, be of the people, by the people and for the people. Is that too much to ask? AIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Blogger ate my original post, so I will revise this later. For now, I can say that what I mostly did was list some of the forward steps the Democratic party made yesterday... small steps, granted, but I believe that what happened in the Virginia gubernatorial race, what happened with the school board in Dover, PA, and what happened to all of Schwarzenegger's ballot measures in CA indicate that things are looking up for the left. I think the race in VA was somewhat crushing for the Bush camp, as the GOP candidate seemed highly representative of Bushviews. In PA the Dover school board saw a big turnover as something like eight Intelligent-Design-supporting Republicans were tossed out in favor of Democratic candidates; Kansans, take note, and take back your state school board! The defeat of the CA ballot measures may help CA rid itself of Arnold... at the least, it suggests he needs to at least pretend to be more moderate in some areas if he wants to get re-elected as that state's governator. California Dems might need only to run a moderate candidate who preaches fiscal responsibility without being draconian, and who supports public employees... and things could quickly get sunnier in the Sunshine State!

Sure there was the Texas ban on gay marriage, the "progress" the Kansas school board has made introducing Intelligent Design into the state's science curriculum, GOP mayoral candidates won in NYC and San Diego, and the Kansas state school board has made great "progress" in its effort to get creationism into the science curriculum... but I think Detroit decided to re-elect an incumbent Demo mayor who was in all kinds of trouble before they would elect a Republican. And I believe Minneapolis elected a Democrat mayoral challenger, unseating a Bushcore guy in the process.

Yes, I admit these victories involve issues/contests that are relatively local, but hey... they will get into the news and people will know that Democrats aren't dead and that we are nowhere near rolling over or bending over. It is the beginning of a trend, the start of something big. Now we just have to keep the momentum going! Can we do it for the next full year?


(This is a oldie-but-goodie by Michael Kinsley. It appeared in the Washington Post 08-07-05. Thanks to friend Joe for sending me this article!)

It's true that the Republicans are the party of ideas and the Democrats are the party of reaction. Republicans set the agenda, and Democrats try to talk the country out of it. But the Republican Party is hardly the Institute for Advanced Studies. The GOP uses ideas like seasonal sports equipment -- taking them out when needed, then scraping the mud off and stuffing them back into the garage until they are needed again.

Remember term limits? The flag-burning amendment? The balanced-budget amendment? Each of these has had a moment or two of glory, when Republican politicians, conservative TV and radio hosts, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page all decided simultaneously that implementing this idea was vital to the survival of Western civilization. Polls soon showed a majority of Americans agreeing with them. The idea seemed unstoppable. It had the winds of history behind it.

And then the winds died, and the idea went away. I still can't quite figure out how we have avoided trashing the Constitution with an idiotic amendment against burning the flag. But the failure of all these hot-button issues, in stunning contrast to the success of the party that has ridden them to power, suggests that for the Republicans, ideas serve politics rather than the other way around.

The so-called flat tax is another hobby horse of the right that swept the nation, then got swept away. But someone forgot to tell Steve Forbes, the amiably blank-faced magazine heir who ran for president on the issue in 1996 and 2000. Now he has a book out, "Flat Tax Revolution: Using a Postcard to Abolish the IRS." It's getting the full fair-and-balanced treatment -- that is, unashamed, open-throated puffery -- on Fox News and other conservative outlets. So even though the idea looks pretty dead right now, a stake through its heart might still be prudent.

The flat tax is a game of three-card monte that deliberately confuses the issues of simplicity, fairness and the total tax burden on society. A simpler tax system would be a very good thing: good for the economy and good for our sanity. But progressive tax rates -- higher taxes on higher incomes -- aren't what make the current system so complicated. It's as easy -- even easier -- to multiply by 40 percent as it is to multiply by 17 percent. Multiple tax rates require one extra calculation, but it's only subtraction. Even Republicans can easily do it -- or hire someone to do it for them, if necessary.

The complications come in defining and calculating income. Some of the complications are unavoidable, because people and companies have complicated affairs. The day may come when you can file your income tax on a postcard (millions come close even today, with the sorta-simple 1040EZ), but that day will never arrive for Steve Forbes. As for the unnecessary complications, most of them were not put there by people or interest groups pushing for higher taxes and bigger government. Quite the opposite: The complications are mostly special rules for people or companies trying to lower their taxes.

The nub of Forbes's proposal is this: Everybody would pay an income tax of 17 percent, with most deductions eliminated but enough basic exemptions so that a family of four would owe no income tax until it had income of more than $46,000. Of course this family would still pay the FICA Social Security tax. FICA, which starts at dollar one, is already a bigger burden than the income tax for most people. But it tops out at incomes of $90,000 and doesn't apply to investment income at all. But that's just fairness talking.

Forbes figures that almost everybody would pay less under his proposal than under the current system. And just to make sure, he would let you opt to calculate your taxes under current rules, if you prefer. So everybody would pay less. That is swell. But it has nothing to do with the flatness or otherwise of the tax system. You could just as well combine a tax cut with a proposal to release all the animals from the National Zoo. People would like that, too. A simpler tax system would be very nice. But find me some folks who would choose a flat tax over the current system even if it meant that they would pay more, not less. Then I'll be impressed.

And if everyone gets a tax cut, where does the money come from? Do you really have to ask? It seems that no amount of recent experience can put a dent in the wonderfully convenient belief that you can raise tax revenue by cutting taxes, because lower taxes inspire people to work longer and think harder, yada yada yada. Debate on this quickly becomes theological, so let's note only that tax rates were higher than they are now when Steve Forbes had the inspiration to be born into a wealthy family, and higher still when his father, Malcolm, first built the family fortune.

Next idea, please. Or, heck, why don't we take term limits out for another spin? It's been a while.

Snave's note: I agree with everything this article says. And although I would never burn a U.S. flag, I see no real reason to tinker with the Constitution... it seems to me like it is a good document as is.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Paul isn't dead. In fact, he is far from it! And I know because I had the privilege of being in the same room with him for almost three hours last night (8:30 to 11:30) while he played an incredible concert, so good it verged on the improbable! He had a five-member band, including himself; he mostly played his Hofner bass but he also played a sunburst-finish Les Paul guitar and a Yamaha concert grand piano. His guitar players were young and energetic, great musicians who had good voices. One of them played bass when Paul switched from bass to another instrument. The keyboardist provided string and brass effects as well as piano and organ, and he also had a good voice. The drummer sang too, and he was a real character. Paul was in great voice for a guy his age, and he performed with loads of energy. The show was just about three hours in length, with no breaks other than the few minutes prior to the first and second encores.
The show took place at Portland's Rose Garden, the arena where the NBA's Portland Trailblazers play (when they aren't in trouble with the law). Thus, being the kind of facility it is, the Rose Garden has fairly lousy acoustics, but the sound was better than that of some shows I've seen in gyms. Our $85 seats were of the nosebleed variety, and they were such that we were looking at the right hand end of the stage from slightly behind it, from WAY up. Not to worry, there was a video screen facing our way, and it showed us what the people out front were seeing. It was actually kind of cool because we got to see the show from two angles this way... and besides, we had our binoculars. I had forgotten Paul plays left-handed, so right away I got confused when I was trying to figure out how he was playing some of his bass lines and guitar licks...

Paul seemed to be in great physical shape, and he didn't seem to tire until late in the show. He wore a sweater or jacket (I don't remember just which) early in the show, removed that and wore the long-sleeve light blue shirt underneath, and then word a red "No More Landmines" t-shirt for the encores. I was wondering if he would ever break a sweat, and he finally did during the final 8-10 songs. He very much enjoys being in front of a crowd and being a showman. He told little stories about a number of the songs, and was constantly making amusing faces, making gestures, and generally being animated.

Here are at least some of the songs Paul and his band did, in no particular order:


Jet - I never liked this song a whole lot, but it sounded GREAT live. Paul on bass.

Live and Let Die - complete with explosions, jets of fire on stage, fireworks, etc. Pure pop bombast! Paul on bass.

Let Me Roll It - One of my favorite Wings numbers, and it sounded fantastic. Paul can still belt it! He played guitar on this one, doing the song's signature lick.

Too Many People - Another Wings favorite of mine! Paul on bass.

Band On The Run - This sounded amazingly close to the way it sounds on the record... great lighting and stage effects. Paul on bass.

They did about a minute of Hendrix' 'Foxy Lady' as an instrumental, with Paul playing some surprisingly hairy licks on the guitar!

From Paul's SOLO material:

Maybe I’m Amazed - I came to hear this one, and he played it just for me (and everyone else!) It's one of my favorite songs ever. Full band, Paul on piano. A few minutes of sheer ecstasy!

Flaming Pie - I hadn't paid much attention to the album from which this song came, but it is a nice tune.

4 songs from his new CD, including English Tea (Paul on piano), Follow Me (great anthemic tune, with Paul on bass), Fine Line (Paul on piano) and Jenny Wren (spare, acoustic tune with Paul on guitar). The new stuff is good. My friend Dave has been enjoying the new album, and it has received favorable reviews... I may have to check it out!


Magical Mystery Tour - This was the show's opening number. When the band started playing this one, I could tell they were a tight unit and that the evening was going to be very special! Paul on bass.

Please, Please Me - Paul was the only Beatle on stage, but when they did this song, I was listening to the Beatles. Paul on bass.

Follow The Sun (with five different endings!) - Another great Beatles tune, Paul on bass again. They stopped at the end, waited about five seconds, played the last lines of the song again, stopped again, etc. The crowd was having a blast, and so was the band.

Blackbird - Paul all alone on the acoustic guitar. Another song I came to hear!

Yesterday - I came to hear this one too, and he did it on the acoustic with the keyboardist providing string effects. It was his first encore number.

Fixing a Hole - Paul did a nice solo version of this on the piano.

Eleanor Rigby - Paul on piano, keyboardist doing the cello and string stuff. I'm not sure just why, but I find Eleanor Rigby to be one of the funniest songs ever written. It's so full of despair and gloom that it's unreal! Kind of like an Edward Gorey thing come to life... It sounded SO good!

Drive My Car - I nearly passed out when they did this song. Another one of my all-time favorites. Paul on bass.

Penny Lane - I was so ecstatic I thought I would faint. Whimsical psychedelic sunshine at its finest. Paul on bass.

For No One - Paul on piano, with assists from the keyboardist. Beautiful song.

I’ll Get You - The keyboardist is also a harmonica player, and he helped this song sound like we were all there together in the early 60's. Paul on bass.

Good Day Sunshine - Paul on piano, fantastically replicated song.

Got To Get You Into My Life - Paul on bass, and singing it with all the high notes. This one was a real crowd-pleaser. If I recall correctly, this one got into the charts a couple of times, one time being after the Beatles broke up.

I’ve Got a Feeling - This one sounded GREAT, with a big beautiful wall of guitar sound. Paul stretched his voice out on this one, and one of his guitarists sang the Lennon lines perfectly.

The Long and Winding Road - Paul on piano, nice arrangement. Some people thought this song was sappy, but I always found it very moving.

Till There Was You - A surprise from the Beatles' early early years. Paul on bass.

I Will - Solo acoustic guitar piece by Paul. Another one I came to hear!

Back In The USSR - The band was pretty loose on this one, but hey, it was another one I was hoping they would do, and it was GREAT. Paul on bass.

Hey Jude - Paul on piano, about seven minutes worth like on the record, but with lots of call-and-response stuff with the crowd. What a showman Paul is... !

Get Back - I came to hear it, and they did it! Such a fantastic song... I MUST see if I can get the guys in our band to do this one. Paul on bass.

Helter Skelter - Of all the songs I came to hear, I was most pleased that they did this one. It is one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs. I like stuff that's dark and noisy, and Helter Skelter is both. Paul on bass, and lots of faithful work from his guitarists. I didn't want them to finish this one...

She Came In Through The Bathroom Window - The crowd loved this one! Paul was on bass again.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (reprise)/The End - These last two ended the show, and they were done as a medley. The keyboardist provided the bass part, and Paul traded lots of lead licks with the other guitarists during an extended jam on the middle part of The End.

Kit and the girls and I had a wonderful, wonderful time. We will remember this as one of the best shows we have ever seen! We went to see one of the remaining Beatles, just because... and we wound up seeing a guy who can still sing and play extremely well, and who still knows how to make himself, his material and his crowd come alive, all in ways that inspire.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


If you haven't gone here and signed the petition yet, please do so now! I just did.

Thanks to Sheryl for the link!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


What was the name of the POTUS' most recent Supreme Court nominee? Was it Alito or was it Scalito? Could "Scalito" be Spanish for "Little Scalia"?

I fear this nomination will serve several purposes:
1. It will reunify the GOP to some extent by bringing the fringe elements back on board, and
2. the resulting conflict will bog our government down just enough that the GOP will start calling the Democrats the "party of obstruction" again, letting the right-wing spin machine get back into gear, and
3. worst of all by far, an approval of such a nominee would shift the Supreme Court significantly to the right, possibly for decades.

Supposedly a doctrinaire conservative nominee is what the righties wanted, especially the religious folks who want to overturn Roe v. Wade. Harriet Miers was probably one of them, but they just couldn't be sure, so she stepped down and a known quantity was chosen as her replacement. I think that for them, it mostly boils down to abortion, but I don't understand why the Republican party itself should want to end abortion rights. If they do, what will the "Religious Right" (which is neither) have to harp about? I guess if these far-right Republicans felt like they had rid America of abortion, they might next try to rid America of homosexuality, or institute a state religion. Does Bush feel he has to kow-tow to those folks? If so, that's pretty sad... but I think there is more to it than that.

While this new nomination does look like it could help the GOP quite a bit, I nonetheless see it as an illustration of the kind of bad shape the GOP finds itself in these days. I think Bush knows that if he didn't nominate someone with extensive ultraconservative credentials, he could have had the nut wing splitting off from the Republican party and causing lots of damage to the GOP in the 06 and 08 elections by forming their own political party, running their own candidates, etc. Who knows what those folks might do? Many of us lefties suspect they will do whatever it takes to advance their vision of a theocratic society, or at least a society that is less tolerant of things different from them and their ideology.

The "Religious Right" (again, which is neither) forms a minority of the Republican party voters, but it is an extremely vocal minority. The GOP needs that part of the electorate to push them over the top in lots of elections, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So, in what looks like a purely political move, we get a nominee like Alito. Someone who, at age 54 or 55, probably has 20 or 25 good years ahead of him, maybe more... Plenty of years in which to help swing the country's political pendulum far enough to the right that it gets stuck out there somewhere.

On the other hand, while it seems logical that the nomination of Scalito would be a purely political move, I have to doubt that it was purely political in nature... because Bush himself is one of those from that far-right section of his party for which he seemingly bends over. We can speculate about motives all we want, but I think it gets down to this fact in the end.

The thing is, he isn't just bending over for America's conservative religious fundamentalists, he IS ONE OF THEM... and it is the rest of us who are ASSUMING THE POSITION.