Monday, March 29, 2010

in this instance, the Founders were "socialists" ...

Our Founders realized that a healthy work force was essential to our economic health and growth. It was for this reason that, in July of 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law an act “For the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” establishing the Marine Hospital Service.

This Federal government socialized healthcare insurance was funded by a tax that was withheld from the sailor’s pay, and then turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. This first payroll tax amounted to slightly over 1% of the sailor’s wages. An injured or sick sailor would make a claim, his record of payments would be confirmed, and he would be given a “chit” for admission to the local hospital. Some of these healthcare facilities were private, but in the larger ports Federal maritime hospitals were built.
A year later, in 1799, the hospitals were opened to members of our Navy, until its own were established. (In 1936 the Merchant Marines were declared an auxiliary of the Navy during times of war and emergency, until then, they were always private employees.)
As America grew, this system was expanded to the inland ports along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and others. It eventually became our Public Health Service, led by the Surgeon General.
So suck it, Beck. 

Calls Increase for Pontif's Resignation

We said it here almost first.  Now several other editorials, human rights activists, scholars, are calling for Benedict's resignation.

Others are insisting this is just more anti-catholicism.

Categorical anti-Catholocism (as opposed to just run-of-the-mill critique of religion) is absurd and dangerous.  Likewise, the attacks on Benedict about Hitler Youth participation are unfair. The criticism and call for his resignation based on him having information about sexual crimes in front of his face and doing nothing about them are perfectly fair. They would be fair for any head of state and are even more appropriate for a leadership position with global spiritual and material influence (there is an "embassy" to the Vatican in practically every city and town in the U.S.). Is there anti-Catholic sentiment out there that will be played over this? Yes, and I'm willing to sever out of any general or nonspecific criticism of the church and only talk about the sex crimes issue.

To say the Pope should not resign, at this point, is to grant him a moral and organizational exemption solely based on his religious status. This is an acid test for the role of religion in the public square internationally. Benedict's reduction of this dialogue to "petty gossip" only raises the stakes, because it demonstrates a metaphysical and moral arrogance that discredits what little moral authority the Catholic Church still has.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't miss us--12-2 PM mountain time

Shared Sacrifice Weekend 3/27/2010 - Shared_Sacrifice on Blog Talk Radio: "Open discussion, the week in review, and more discussion about the way forward for independent progressive media. Gary Barkley and Matt Stannard co-host this weekly American conversation. Call in. Stand up. Speak out. 347-327-9615."

saturday morning: reports from a pathological period

From broken windows to euphemistic "pay them a visit" posts to a cut gas line, heaping spoonfuls of racism and dashes of homophobia, there has been a mild (and I mean historically really mild) upswing in violent rhetoric and action. (I mean mild: somewhere, anti-labor thugs and whoever threw the Haymarket bomb are chuckling at the MSM's shocked reaction to all of this). Some Tea Partiers are denouncing violence, which is laudable but also takes the edge off their message. Ultimately the Tea Partiers are not smart enough to understand the political space that transcends the violence/reformist dichotomy. They can't conceive of a nonviolent revolution (which is one of the reasons their symbols are from the agitation that culminated in the Revolutionary War).  BTW-Time's Alex Altman is right to say that GOP leaders are winking at the violent reactionaries in their attempts to run some kind of reverse politicization play against Obama and the Democrats over all of this.

Sarah Palin's trip south is interesting on many levels: It is another instance of what an opportunist she is. It obviously makes no sense ideologically, since J.D. Hayworth's ideology is identical with Palin's. Hayworth is willing to say what McCain's handlers cringed at from Palin during the election (although he felt compelled to disavow birtherism). Palin's very presence on the ticket was meant to mobilize the Hayworths. And, Palin's self-identification with various Tea Party causes suggested that she had signalled that her relationship to the institutional GOP --precarious throughout her political career-- was permeable. My own interpretation: Sarah Palin is contemporary conservatism. Pulled in a thousand different ideological directions, she shrugs her shoulders and follows the money.

Really, MSNBC? Special coverage of the McCain & Palin event today? What a sad statement on the state of mainstream media. I'm all for critical journalism about prominent political personalities. But in this case, you're just feeding the dying, angry beasts. Isn't there some tent revival or carnival freak show you can cover somewhere? How about a rerun of To Catch A Predator?

Monday, March 22, 2010

morning thought breakfast

R.O.I.: Is Socialized Medicine Bad for Your Wealth? -

From WSJ's Brett Arends:
Socialism, or social democracy, or whatever else you want to call it, doesn't seem to have hurt stockholders overseas too badly. Over the past 10 years, according to MSCI Barra, stock markets across socialized Europe have produced total returns of about 2% a year in U.S. dollar terms, according to MSCI Barra. The figure for France is just over 2% and for left-wing Britain and Holland nearer to 3%. Pinko Denmark has boomed by 10% a year. Meanwhile, here in the land of the free, investors have made zero.

Friday, March 19, 2010

collapse inevitable, engage anyway

Chris Hedges's new Adbusters essay, "Zero Point of Systemic Collapse," is a must-read, and not just because it supports my ongoing suspicion that capitalism, like feudalism, won't last forever.  Certainly the best article I have seen in a long time, and I agree with so much of it that it's unseemly to take issue with it.  I especially agree with this:
...the exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group is what ultimately made fascism and the Holocaust possible: “The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people.” The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. It uses fear, as well as hedonism, to thwart human compassion.
We will have to continue to battle the mechanisms of the dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity.
The problem is that Hedges also says this, which I agreed with at one time, but that seems terribly dichotomous and oversimplistic now:
All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance. It means turning our energies toward building sustainable communities to weather the coming crisis, since we will be unable to survive and resist without a cooperative effort.
Everything there is true except the quick, almost unthinking dismissal of "reform."  I don't think it means the same things to the same people, but after riding the "reject reformism" train for ten years or so, it starts to seem as oversimplified as the "embrace reformism" streetcar.  Engaging institutions, even dying ones (perhaps especially dying ones), is unavoidable for virtually everyone in society.  Our material positions put us there.  I have to demand that the state assist me in providing medical care to my children, and the idea that fighting for single payer health care (however futile that may seem in the United States) is a distraction is silly and condescending.  On the other hand, we have to understand how the system is collapsing (Hedges's essay does an excellent job at this) to understand both the limits of reformism and the necessity to engage it precisely because it is crossing various economic and historical thresholds.  If the system will inevitably "collapse," any new arrangements will be based partly on old arrangements.  Stakes claimed, battles fought and won, fifteen minutes before the collapse, will constitute the building blocks of new projects.  That's not "pro-reformism."  It's dialectical, historical reasoning.

An interesting read, too, in the context of the fallout over the abandonment of "progressive" health care reform, particularly the jettisoning of a public insurance option that enjoys between 60 and 80 percent public support.  Having listened to Democrats who actually favor the current legislation, to Democrats and other progressives who say it's better than nothing, to socialists who say it will make things worse (an empirical question I'm not discounting), I agree with everyone.  It isn't enough.  It's a start.  It's a distraction.  It's a payoff.  It will help some people.  It will inspire some people.  It will make some people complacent.  It's a step forward and a step backward.  More importantly, I want to see what lessons we're capable of drawing from all of this, particularly in the context of the system decay described by Hedges. 
And in other news, the "American people" are not against health insurance reform.  They aren't. In fact, the more conservatives are against it, the more the other 75% of the public is for it.  Tell your friends and neighbors.  Especially the conservatives.

Peter, or Pilate?

Last night I recorded a short podcast calling for Pope Benedict to resign.  The mainstream media is beginning to report just how close Benedict is to the Catholic sex abuse epidemic. I am not Catholic (I was for a while but that's a long story), nor do I believe the Pope posseses any unique divine authority (either everyone has it or nobody does). I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, though, and I also recognize that the Catholic Church is a political and social entity, as well as a voice (however divided) in the public square. Catholics form a part of the interfaith coalition that includes my fellowship. And not a single sex abuse survivor, nor a single rank-and-file Catholic, deserves anything less than an end to Ratzinger's rule. The man covered up the rape of boys. Demanding shared standards of public and institutional accountability is important as we struggle to replace centuries of arbitrary and hypocritical authority. I would be interested in listening to anyone who thinks these standards should not apply to the pontiff in this case.

And no, I am not buying the desperate and vague denials from Church authorities and In the fantastically unlikely scenario that Benedict wasn't aware of both incidents and subsequent actions that had already reached the level of scandal, then he can hardly be trusted to oversee the world church--unless, like Greg Kadra does in his regurgitation of's defense, you minimize, by rhetorical omission and a casual re-post, the human beings involved in the scandal.  If you take sexual abuse seriously, you demand the resignation of every Catholic official from the Archdiocese of Munich on down at the time these rapes were continuing with impunity, in the midst of loud complaints.
...the practice of protecting offending priests at the expense of the victims reportedly involved the Pope himself. When he was an archbishop in Germany, at least one known offender was moved from one parish to another. A Germany psychiatrist told the New York Times in a story published Friday that he repeatedly warned the diocese Benedict then headed about the priest in question. "I said, 'For God's sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,'" the psychiatrist, Dr. Werner Huth, told the Times in a phone interview from Munich.
If you're a halfway decent leader, you step down even if your chief deputy is willing to go down for you.  (That close, but not a whit closer?  Really?)

On last night's podcast, I read from this Times Online story and this excellent short post by Andrew Sullivan (with whom I frequently and enthusiastically disagree). This is not merely about the magnitude of what was covered up. It's about justice--procedural, legal, organizational, international, and theological. If this Pope continues to sit, no one should be surprised if the decay of the Catholic Church shifts into overdrive.

Several Popes have resigned. Apparently a Pope "can't be fired," but I bet that's not categorically true. By the way, Federico Lombardi--I know you're just doing your job, but that job is to spin in order to protect your boss from accountability in a child rape epidemic. And it's the height of unChristian cynicism to blame those who are criticizing Ratzinger-Benedict, to treat this as a PR war, dude.  If religious institutions feel justified in demanding a suspension of normal rules of public discourse and conduct, demanding their special metaphysical status, to be afforded special rights in the public square, why do they so often act like run-of-the-mill corrupt corporations?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Late Morning News -- March 17 2010

Everyone is talking about the NBC/WSJ poll showing 51% want a clean sweep of Congress, that most who want such a sweep don't care which party replaces which, and in fact respondents favor split government. The attending blogger on this at Daily Kos is right to say this isn't just about health care reform, pointing out that a slight majority actually favors the deeply flawed current version of this unstable construct called "the legislation." But certainly the gutlessness, cowardice, and callousness of Congress on the health care debacle has caused the public to see these elected representatives in a negative light across the board. The disapproval of Congress reflects waves of public realization concerning the way in which even self-professed politicians of the people can be bought and placed under overwhelming ideological control, to a degree that many Americans were hitherto unaware in a concrete sense.

For me, the far more surprising result of the survey was how overwhelmingly good Obama came out. His approval-disapproval spread is 12 points and he's the only entity in the survey who hits 50% approval. These results show that the past year has culminated in a slam-dunk for Obama. That seems weird to say, but 50% of the respondents like him, and no other individual or collective comes close to the love that's being showered on him. More evidence, perhaps, that the right wing backlash, however loud and volitile (and bordering on actual violence) is the sound and fury of maybe 25-30% of the public at most.

But to be surprised at Obama's resiliency is one thing. After reading too much Kos, I start to get tired of the cheerleading. Obama is interesting. The space surrounding his existence has some political potential. But his presidency occurs in a context of severe economic downturn and austerity, meaning that part of his job --part of what's gotten him that above-average approval rating-- is to convince people that we're all in this together. But we are not all in this together. We're all in this, but not together. Various authors at The World Socialist Web Site have consistently pointed out how the solutions of the Obama administration have essentially been corporatist in nature, which means not only that corporations are getting bailed out but that the working class is paying for it. This morning, the International Committee of the Fourth International released an analysis of the Greek debt crisis whose narrative begins with the Lehman Brothers collapse and culminates in global banking institutions "making an example" of Greece. The socialists believe that "it is patently obvious that the most powerful global banking institutions have strategically singled out Greece to set an example for the entire European working class. With its small economy—just over 2 percent of the European Union (EU)—and high indebtedness, it was an ideal target." In These Times' great "Working In These Times" blog often posts articles about working class resistance to these wealth transfers. The most recent is David Moberg's coverage from Tuesday of protests going on in 100 cities, organized by the AFL-CIO, challenging "the nation’s six biggest banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Morgan Stanley."
The federation’s 3 million-member community affiliate, Working America, will join in the protest by recruiting passersby at ATM machines of the big banks’ branches in 12 cities to pose for pictures with handmade signs–bearing messages like “where’s my bailout?”—that will be posted on a special website. The campaign—getting citizens to tell banks “I am not your ATM”—is part of the overall AFL-CIO effort to pressure banks to stop refusing to pay its share for job creation, to stop fighting financial reform, and to start lending in their communities to create jobs.
Moberg's article is sandwiched in between a post about the growing foreclosure crisis and the closing of Toyota's only unionized plant in America. If you juxtapose these stories of crisis and resistance to the way in which Obama has come out on top in a struggle to enact incredibly incremental, conservative, pro-corporate health care reform, all the while being shouted down as "socialist" by white people with guns and susceptability to absolutist violence, it's hard to escape the conclusion that we're driving through the fires.

For me, the picture that emerges is one that screams for pluralist, independent progressive thinking, a perspective that puts the needs of the dispossessed above, and blatantly above, the needs of those whose wealth-hoarding and reckless grabs have resulted in this latest wave of immiseration. With all due respect to the Democrats' (mostly) sincere attempt to convince the corporatocracy to take a deal, the Democratic leadership seems incapable of describing the social and moral vision of material justice. Obama seems completely unimaginative on the question, using circular arguments to dismiss alternatives to markets, thoroughly sold on a corporatist utopia containing an amorphous and unsupported social responsibility. He believes, and his fellow functionaries believe, that a solution can be forged that convinces the dispossessed, the working classes, the one-bad-day-away rank-and-file, to live with the inequalities, and disproportionate crisis impacts, of the present system. 

I am still intrigued by the Yes Magazine/Alternet piece by Fran Korten, with and on economic Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom.
Ostrom’s seminal book, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, was published in 1990. But her research on common property goes back to the early 1960s, when she wrote her dissertation on groundwater in California. In 1973 she and her husband, Vincent Ostrom, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. In the intervening years, the Workshop has produced hundreds of studies of the conditions in which communities self-organize to solve common problems. Ostrom currently serves as professor of political science at Indiana University and senior research director of the Workshop.
Particularly interesting is her gentle refutation of Hardin's thesis that the commons could not be efficiently managed.
People say I disproved him, and I come back and say “No, that’s not right. I’ve not disproved him. I’ve shown that his assertion that common property will always be degraded is wrong.” But he was addressing a problem of considerable significance that we need to take seriously. It’s just that he went too far. He said people could never manage the commons well.
Certainly a softer refutation than the one offered by Ian Angus, also worth a read. But Ostrom's genius, and her acclaim, should be important to us now because thinking about "the commons" figures so prominently in a more sustainable and egalitarian future. Professor Ostrom is studying genuinely shared economies and their accompanying political institutions. Such investigations are increasingly mainstream, and not just in academia.

Is anyone else getting calls for bills that aren't yet due, bills that have already been payed, sometimes with fudged or trumped-up additional charges? I keep getting calls from a credit card account, my cell provider, and the cable company. The credit card account calls from several different numbers (with several different area codes) as if they're either really, really subcontracted to the point that they have different subs doing the same thing, or they are trying to confuse clients by calling from unrecognizable numbers, or both. On the rare occasions I do talk to agents on the phone, they want my payments early and often, or they inform me something hasn't been paid, until I point out to them that it has, at which point they don't so much apologize as act as if it's their job to harass me for making my payments on time. Are these companies desperate for cash infusions and/or fearful of defaults? Is it really profitable for them to have so many people making so many superfluous phone calls? Even their harassment of people behind on their payments can't be that profitable in recovering those payments, can it? An associate of mine completed a statistical and rhetorical analysis of harassment from collection agencies, which she has given me permission to publish at Shared Sacrifice, but her extremely valuable research is limited to collections, rather than this more recent, strange, proactive process that I'm on the receiving end of now. And seriously, I am getting more calls while _not_ behind on payments than I did when I was terminally in debt 10-15 years ago. Weird.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Glenn Beck's Threats toward Jim Wallis

Well, Reverend Jim Wallis sent a non-confrontational letter to Glenn Beck objecting to Beck's condemnation of "social justice" and inviting the talk show host to a constructive, Christian dialogue.

Here's Beck's response, via radio:
So you go ahead and you continue to do your protest thing, and that’s great. I love it. But just know — the hammer is coming, because little do you know, for eight weeks, we’ve been compiling information on you, your cute little organization, and all the other cute little people that are with you. And when the hammer comes, it’s going to be hammering hard and all through the night, over and over…It’s weird how people all over the world have been sending me stuff. It’s weird that way, Jimmy.
Wallis remains committed to dialogue.  As one Media Matters reader expressed about Beck's radio response, "That last one minute or so is extremely unsettling. Creepy-voiced threats and blatant promises of reprisal: who is in support of this? Is there no one listening at Goldline?"

Sweet Jesus, Beck.  You really do need a hug.

Update: Beck's scrambling, facile response; his pseudo-Mormonism; his charitable fellow saints

Joel Campbell at the Mormon Times has an hour-old post on Beck's latest responses to the "social justice" debacle. The Mormon Times seems as yet unaware that Beck has also openly defied LDS church leaders (I strongly support leniency on their part) by instructing his listeners to omit information on their Census forms.

Beck's producer says:
Like most Americans, Glenn strongly supports and believes in 'social justice' when it is defined as 'good Christian charity...Glenn strongly opposes when Rev. Wright and other leaders use 'social justice' as a euphemism for their real intention -- redistribution of wealth.
But here's the problem: Glenn Beck lacks the legitimacy or authority to tell religious organizations, theologians, and rank-and-file church members how to enact their version of a just social order.  It's really that simple.  And the fact that anyone chooses to subsidize his tasteless and unsupported counterproselytization makes the subsidizers worthy of ridicule and contempt.  Churches that practice "social justice" are more concerned that the poor receive help effectively and in ways consistent with various spiritual missions, than whether the agent of change is private or public.  In fact, absent arguments that public aid is less efficient or effective than private aid, the entire notion of a categorical rejection of government-based social programs simply because they are government-based is a profoundly arrogant form of deontology that literally places a label and an ideological slogan between the suffering subject and those wishing to help them.  And that kind of moral abstraction leads to dehumanization, ethical complacency, and ultimately genocide.  Beck and his fellow McCarthyites could instead spend their corporate-subsidized air time laying out the case against the efficiency of public service and the feasibility of more effective private services, but such private infrastructure doesn't exist, and they know this.  So Beck could spend his time actually trying to build private institutions that were completely non-governmental and efficient distributors of goods, but of course he won't.  We've already covered the contradiction upon which his political education rests. 

Scrambling, Beck himself says:
Now, I wasn't aware that God had politics. I would like to again join all of the liberals in suggesting we have a separation of church and state, that maybe there's a problem when your preacher stands up and starts telling you who to vote for, how to vote, and what the government should look like. Now, I know there are churches that do that. I don't attend them. I don't like them. You can do that if you want, but if you want to make sure that God's politics aren't America's politics, you know, that would probably be a good thing to check into those words of those churches. Because I don't think God has politics. I think he has the truth.
This is unconvincing. He would never categorically condemn church leaders making recommendations on policy absent his concern with "leftist" religion.  And Beck himself has come out against the very "church and state" interpretation he now invokes. In fact, questioning that separation is the bread and butter of pundits like him. It also basically contradicts the very political position outlined by his producer. The fact that he's now appealing to the apoliticality of God merely means that most of his original message has been stealthily withdrawn.

What's really happening is that Beck is panicking, knowing he's gone too far. Meanwhile, my Mormon communitarian scholarly friend Russell Fox is ready to laugh at Beck and forgive him. He writes:
But I do feel bad for Beck himself. ... and I say that not just as a believer myself, but also as someone who, in watching clips of the show, keeps feeling that Beck himself, probably like Gritz, seriously needs a hug.
Which is fair enough, I guess, until someone gets an eye poked out, or suffers some other kind of material harm because of this clownish demagogue. Still interested to see if he ends up like Bo Gritz or Sterling Allan. Beck is basically those dudes, except with his own national radio and TV show, which makes it less likely that church authorities will gather the resolve to take him on unless they were convinced he was really hurting the Mormon brand.

Some NY clergy back domestic abuser for State Senator because of his stance against gay rights

I hate to say this now, after getting sucked into the fight between Glenn Beck and religion. For while I've always been concerned about religious issues, my concern has lately been focused on the encroachment of unwarranted metaphysical absolutism on the public square. I have taken Habermas's (and others') concern with justification, both ethically and epistemically, and applied it to the tendency of religious institutions and political conservatism to close off channels of public deliberation by stuffing theological cotton into the public mouth. And I must sound like some kind of unhealthily obsessed high schooler now...or simply a skipping and repeating CD.

So what I hate to say now, about the churches backing "Senator" and convicted domestic abuser Hiram Monserrate for New York State Senate, and doing so solely because he has taken a categorical stand against homosexuals and homosexuality...well, this is the problem with too much religion in the public square, with religion as a constituency in itself, and with the advantages it enjoys, both economically and in terms of political psychology. This willingness to disregard who Monserrate is, and merely view him as a vehicle for advancing a spiritual agenda...and the kind of thinking involved in prioritizing that agenda over concern for domestic violence...that moment in the thought process where one says preventing same-sex marriage or stifling the "gay agenda" is more important...there are more ways to express this absurd, malevolent metaphysical error than I possibly could write. 

Monserrate has no chance of winning, which makes the endorsement by that bloc of churches a kind of ugly lost cause, like a KKK rally whose counterprotesters vastly outnumber the fifty middle aged fat dudes in robes shouting into bullhorns about the white race.  The entire episode makes New York look like a hateful, brutal place on top of its recent reputation as political corruption central.  As Newsweek put it:
Sen. Hiram Monserrate was convicted last year of assaulting his girlfriend and was kicked out of the state Senate. Maybe in Iowa that would end your political career, but not in New York, where Monserrate is running to reclaim his seat, an effort his supporters prepared for by distributing flyers that accused an opponent in the upcoming primary of being a pawn of "mega-rich gay fanatics.
Check out how pleased with themselves these homophobic ministers are about their efforts to prop up the candidacy of a dude who beats his girlfriend:
Yes sir, the ministers are involved. Not directed from the churches, but we are requesting volunteers from churches and I’m calling the ministers to send volunteers,” Diaz said. “We organize tens of thousands of people in front of the governor’s office. You know, this is the church. This is the movement. It’s a movement, and we’re going to put a movement behind Hiram Monserrate.

As the kids today say, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Glenn Beck defies Mormon Authorities

For a while, we have asked: Where will he overreach? After his "social justice" remarks offended millions of Christians, including notable Christian leaders, as well as many of his fellow Mormons, I began to wonder what would happen when Beck stepped over the lines he has himself drawn in his own spiritual life. Now it appears that Brother Beck is issuing orders to his listeners that are in direct contradiction to the pronouncements of LDS General Authorities and the First Presidency.

Beck is telling his listeners not to answer certain Census questions: "Today they are asking the race question to try to increase slavery. Your dependence on the master in Washington. No way, don’t answer that question."  Speaking for himself, Beck says he would rather pay a fine than answer Census questions.

The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, is unequivocal in calling for the entire Census to be answered accurately.

The Census Bureau will soon deliver census questionnaires to every household in America. We urge all members to respond to them in an accurate and timely manner. It is an important obligation for all citizens to be counted in the census.
When Beck took a dump on mainstream Christianity with his "social justice" remarks, it was still possible for him to differentiate (in a way most churches view as arbitrary and obsessively anti-government) between "private" and "public" service to others.  Granted, it wasn't a distinction he originally made (he originally told us to leave any church that had the phrase "social justice" on its web site, even though this includes his own church), but it allowed him to equivocate and weasel out of his original sweeping pronouncement. 

But the Census thing is different.  His church leaders say answer the Census.  Beck says don't.  So how long before conservative Mormons call Beck to repentance?  Or even stop watching and listening to his swill? 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some Questions about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

1. How were director Tim Burton and writer Linda Woolverton unaware that this misconceived and undifferentiated sequel would inspire confusion in those unfamiliar with the original stories, and contempt in those familiar with them?

2. Am I failing to pay proper homage to Burton's Costner-like ambition?

3. Who determined that contemporary audiences needed or deserved irony in place of absurdity, sexual innuendo in place of childlike innocence, and Tolkeinesque battles between good and evil in place of the aimless (if allegorical) political nonsense of the originals?

4. (And even so, wouldn't it have been a better idea to have Peter Jackson direct this _Lord of the Teacups_ interpretation?)

5. While writing the introductory scenes, did Woolverton stop and consider the threshold required to produce an introduction even as close in elegance and brilliance to "Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?'"

6. Concerning replacing mathematicians with crazy entrepreneurs and moralizing about gender equality by having Alice open up a trade route to China...WTF?

7. Was the farewell scene between Alice and the not-really-very-Mad Hatter more or less emotionally affecting than Gigli?

8. While still stinging from paying a days' wages for this crazy new movie experience, was anyone else profoundly unimpressed by the new 3D? Anyone else have the feeling that the entertainment industry thinks all we need are more shiny things?

9. Who told Anne Hathaway she had a part in a Billy Idol video?

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Mormons Distance Themselves from Beck

No doubt Beck will pull back, making a distinction (as he's done in the past) between private charity and THE GUVMENT! But by then, millions of Christians and hopefully the smart Mormons, at least, will have become iredeemably suspicious of his hateful, irrational rhetorical snake-oil.

Christians Urged to Boycott Glenn Beck - The Caucus Blog -
"Philip Barlow, the Arrington Professor of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University, said: “One way to read the Book of Mormon is that it’s a vast tract on social justice. It’s ubiquitous in the Book of Mormon to have the prophetic figures, much like in the Hebrew Bible, calling out those who are insensitive to injustices. “A lot of Latter-day Saints would think that Beck was asking them to leave their own church.” Mr. Barlow said that Mr. Beck’s comments were particularly ill-timed because just this year, the church’s highest authority, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, issued a new “Handbook of Instructions” to church leaders in which they revised the church’s “three-fold mission” and added a fourth mission statement: care for the poor."

"the rudiments of hatred are present everywhere"

An oldie-but-a-goodie in recognition of the Mississippi high school that would rather cancel a prom than allow a same-sex couple to attend.

Here's to the state of Mississippi,
For underneath her borders, the devil draws no lines,

If you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.
Oh the fat trees of the forest have hid a thousand crimes,
The calender is lying when it reads the present time.
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of,
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of!

Here's to the people of Mississippi
Who say the folks up north, they just don't understand
And they tremble in their shadows at the thunder of the Klan
The sweating of their souls can't wash the blood from off their hands
They smile and shrug their shoulders at the murder of a man
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

Here's to the schools of Mississippi
Where they're teaching all the children that they don't have to care
All the rudiments of hatred are present everywhere
And every single classroom is a factory of despair
There's nobody learning such a foreign word as fair
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

Here's to the cops of Mississippi
They're chewing their tobacco as they lock the prison door
Their bellies bounce inside them as they knock you to the floor
No they don't like taking prisoners in their private little war
Behind their broken badges there are murderers and more
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And, here's to the judges of Mississippi
Who wear the robe of honor as they crawl into the court
They're guarding all the bastions with their phony legal fort
Oh, justice is a stranger when the prisoners report
When the black man stands accused the trial is always short
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the government of Mississippi
In the swamp of their bureaucracy they're always bogging down
And criminals are posing as the mayors of the towns
They're hoping that no one sees the sights and hears the sounds
And the speeches of the governor are the ravings of a clown
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the laws of Mississippi
Congressmen will gather in a circus of delay
While the Constitution is drowning in an ocean of decay
Unwed mothers should be sterilized, I've even heard them say
Yes, corruption can be classic in the Mississippi way
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

And here's to the churches of Mississippi
Where the cross, once made of silver, now is caked with rust
And the Sunday morning sermons pander to their lust
The fallen face of Jesus is choking in the dust
Heaven only knows in which God they can trust
Oh here's to the land you've torn out the heart of
Mississippi find yourself another country to be part of

Thanks, Phil Ochs!

More Beck Garbage

After he was revealed to be stupid and inconsistent in his attacks on taxation and simultaneous embrace of public libraries, Glenn Beck launched into a tirade on his show about how public libraries should only be funded by private donations. Of course, in such a world, there'd be no guarantees he'd have had access to the "free" books he lauded in his CPAC speech. A better example of the inconsistencies and wishful thinking of conservative ideology would be hard to find.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brother Beck

Lots of people on the right are mildly embarrassed and irritated by Glenn Beck, but they tolerate him precisely because he angers people on the left. It's that kind of visceral politics that we miss out on when we focus solely on a pundit's accuracy, argumentative abilities, and adherence to amorphous "journalistic ethics." Some people on the right believe Beck's paranoid politics. But I suspect many on the right don't. They simply enjoy the fact that he's out there, reclaiming public space for conservatism in whatever form is possible, antagonizing overly sensitive liberals in the process. Conservatives who personally avoid watching Beck see him as a necessary shock warrior (as they do Ann Coulter), a soldier who has to go do disgusting things behind enemy lines that the patriot tacitly supports without wanting to know the details.

But while I am not surprised that conservatives are enabling the Skousenian  Beck, I am a little surprised that we haven't heard more from centrist, progressive, and liberal Mormons (UPDATED, SEE BELOW), particularly in the wake of Beck's recent attack on mainstream Christianity. It seems to me that Mormons ought to be terribly concerned about their fellow member Beck's rhetorical violation of the Latter Day Saints' 11th Article of Faith: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." For while Beck isn't physically interfering with the exercise of religion (in this case "social justice," found in institutional Catholicism and American conservative Judaism, along with countless Protestant churches), his tone of disrespect and obvious attempt to counter-proselytize is contrary to the spirit of the article.

Beyond the interpretation of that article, Mormons concerned about the public face of their Church might take exception to Beck's reappropriation of the conspiracy theories of post-McCarthyite W. Cleon Skousen, complete with Ezra Taft Bensonite Mormon trappings. By delivering this to a public largely oblivious to its theological antecedents, Beck is pulling an Orson Scott Card in the political sphere: picking and choosing Mormon folklore to create a fictional universe. But while Mr. Card is a political cad, people enjoy his fantasy and science fiction and don't confuse it with reality. Beck tells his viewers and listeners that his hateful trash is reality—a reality that’s being hidden from them by evil people that need to be eliminated.  Does it really not bother any critical-minded Saints that one of their Brothers is churning their culture into genocidal trash?

Maybe not.  Maybe even progressive and moderate Mormons are as hesitant to criticize Beck as they are to criticize Skousen or Benson.  They know he's dangerous and full of shit, but he's family.  My old friend Joanna Brooks makes a sound case for linking Beck's politics to Mormon culture (if not doctrine), from the divinization of political and historical figures...
Mormon Church President Wilford Woodruff (1807–1898) declared that George Washington and the signers of the Declaration of Independence appeared to him in the Mormon Temple in St. George, Utah in 1877, and requested that he perform Mormon temple ordinances on their behalf. Many Mormons also believe that Joseph Smith prophesied in 1843 that the US Constitution would one day “hang by a thread” and be saved by faithful Mormons; this idea was given new life in the 1960s by former US Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who cited Smith’s 1843 prophecy from the pulpit while speaking as a member of the Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Beck's practice of crying on his shows...
Finally, Beck’s oft-ridiculed penchant for punctuating his tirades with tears is the hallmark of a distinctly Mormon mode of masculinity. As sociologist David Knowlton has written, “Mormonism praises the man who is able to shed tears as a manifestation of spirituality.” Crying and choking up are understood by Mormons as manifestations of the Holy Spirit. For men at every rank of Mormon culture and visibility, appropriately-timed displays of tender emotion are displays of power.
...something far more significant in the process of emotional manipulation than many people imagine. Brooks' and Knowlton's observation about the crying phenomenon provoked much irritation among my male Mormon friends. But I think it irritated them because they know it’s true. This is the way conservative Mormons argue about public issues:

C.M. Government-run welfare programs are socialistic and offend Heavenly Father. We waged a war in Heaven over this. Satan loves socialism and government welfare.
You. (offer up a variety of counter-arguments)
C.M. The spirit of contention is also of the Devil. I don't want to argue with you. (tears welling up in eyes, sniffling begins) I know this is true. (Voice breaking) I know it.
You. Okay. (walk away feeling emotionally confused and intellectually frustrated)

Beck's anti-Christian screed will have one unintended consequence that I'm sure will make my Mormon friends cringe: It will further distinguish Beck's adopted religious tradition, Mormonism, from Christianity. The rest of the religious public sphere has roundly condemned Beck. The normally peacemaking Jim Wallis was harsher than I think I've seen him:
...since the Catholic Church, the Black Churches, the Mainline Protestant churches, more and more Evangelical and Pentecostal churches including Hispanic and Asian-American congregations all consider social justice central to biblical faith, Glenn Beck is telling all those Christians to leave their churches. Of course, Christians may disagree about what social justice means in our current political context -- and that conversation is an important one -- but the Bible is clear: from the Mosaic law of Jubilee, to the Hebrew prophets, to Jesus Christ, social justice is an integral part of God's plan for humanity. Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck. I don't know if Beck is just strange, just trying to be controversial, or just trying to make money. But in any case, what he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show.
Meanwhile, a Jewish blogger succinctly responded: "In a functioning civil society, people take care of each other."

The religious backlash Beck's lecture incurred won't matter to him, because while liberal Mormons are in constant dialogue with other cultures, conservative Mormons wear their provincialism with a badge of honor, conservative Mormon converts doubly so.  Ironic, too: Beck himself is a poster child for social responsibility. He's a "refugee mormon," one of many broken, addicted, burnt-out people who join the LDS church late in life. He suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. And he is responsible for the single most absurd gaffe I've ever seen come from the gaffe-prone hatemongers: a singularly absurd statement that kicked his ideological foundation out from under him--his proud admission that he learned to hate progressivism, including taxation, while reading books in the public library. "Books," he said, "are free."

Which brings to mind a third reason Mormons should call out Beck: The glory of God is intelligence, and Beck is really, really stupid.

Beck’s number may be up eventually anyway. He’s prone to overreach, and has a lot of awkward moments. Sponsors run from him like the kid at school who smells like pee. And he is even less concerned about precision and accuracy than your average hatemonger. The other day, he recruited fallen congressman Eric Massa, believing Massa’s desperate statements that his Democratic colleagues had set him up in a sex scandal as retaliation for being uncooperative on health care reform. Massa embarrassed Beck by refusing to validate the implications on the air. At Daily Kos, Jed Lewison writes: "Beck may be on top of the world right now, but if keeps on being this sloppy he's going to experience the same career arc as did Morton Downey, Jr.: a fast rise...followed by an even faster fall." Maybe after his star falls, Brother Beck will make a great Sunday school teacher in his local LDS ward. But I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll turn Jack-Mormon.

Update: I knew as soon as I asked why progressive Mormons hadn't spoken out, at least one progressive Mormon would demonstrate that, indeed, the response has been plentiful and thoughtful.  Thanks for correcting my charges of silence. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

On hearing about Roy Ashburn

It must be terribly frustrating to be a right wing anti-gay crusader. I mean, assuming you're not a closet queer, odds are that at least a few people in your organization are. You're thinking, 'Who's gonna be the next person to be picked up for DUI with a gay prostitute? Who's the drug addict who plays with boys? Who's gonna solicit an undercover cop? Or boys on the net? When's the next big, shame-revealing revelation going to be? Is there any way you can sniff them out, get them away from your ranks, maybe purchase some kind of Hypocrisy Insurance? Can you tell by how ambitious they are? How militant? How nervous? Can you tell by looking at their crotch? Their eyebrows? If you pray for an answer, will God tell you which one of your colleagues are closets?

Oh Christ...what if it's you, and you don't know it yet?

Alternet has a nice "hall of fame" article here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Obama doing "better job" than Bush on national security? What the hell does that even mean?

Does it mean that Obama is doing a better job scamming the public on the necessity of massive troop deployment, international "realism" and a functioning neoliberal death machine? One with a human face?

Poll: Obama doing better job than Bush on national security

Posted using ShareThis

The "Clash of Civs" Scam: SharedSacrifice on Blog Talk Radio

SharedSacrifice on Blog Talk Radio: Dr. Tahir Ul-Qadri, a highly respected, conservative Islamic theologian, has issued a comprehensive fatwa condemning terrorism. This won't change the minds of those in the non-Muslim or Muslim world who benefit from mutual fear and violence. Call in. Stand up. Speak out. Call-in number is 347-327-9615.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Time to start following Intrade on this...

"Will 'Obamacare' become law?"

Price for Will 'Obamacare' health care reform become law in the United States? at

Tahir Ul-Qadri Delivers: Watch Who Doesn't Like the Message

The first thing you need to know about people who tell you there’s a clash of civilizations between the “Western” world and the “Islamic” world is that they are empirically, historically and textually wrong. The thesis was wrong when it was initially advanced, and its wrongness continues to be demonstrated by everything from global forum experiences full of "palpable desire among conferees to cooperate, communicate, and explore new policy changes to fix the gulf that has clearly divided America and other Muslim states since 9/11," to United Nations reports punctuated by former UNSG Kofi Annan, who put it simply "The problem is not the Koran or the Torah or the Bible. The problem is never the faith, it is the faithful and how they behave towards each other." Even world opinion studies, which are "bad news for radio shock jocks and clash of civilization theorists," prove capable of distinguishing between conflicts and conflict. As I wrote last year:
The progressive evolution of spirituality and faith, their integration into democratic institutions and egalitarian ethics, exercises a moderating effect on them. It helps translate the literal into the metaphorical, helps adherents understand the way in which a story, passage, or symbolic account might provide psychological and sociological insight for individual and collective understanding. When religions turn to literalism (and almost inevitably thereafter turn to violence), or more accurately, cling to the remnants of the literalist world into which they were born, it's often because of the re-imposition of material scarcity, the exploitation of one group by another, and the tendency of the powerful to treat others as means rather than ends. Where love is allowed to flourish, it flows.
The second thing you need to know about Clash-of-Civers is that they benefit personally (sometimes financially, sometimes merely from inflating their self-importance) from creating the perception of such a clash—even to the point of facilitating and/or encouraging localized, contingent manifestations of it, and then using those violent manifestations of mutual misunderstanding as validations of their durable theory. Their urgent desire for their theories to be true renders them ahistorical: As James Wiles points out, at a minimum, "every practice of Muslims, which we today denounce as barbaric, was de rigueur for Christianity at or before the time of the Reformation."

It's that desperation that will inevitably greet the recent fatwa issued by Dr. Tahir Ul-Qadri, condemning terrorism. Qadri has stayed on message for a decade, criticizing Wahhabiism, condemning 9/11 right out of the gate, and punking Osama bin Ladin.  The media is presenting this fatwa is both a transcendence and culmination of his work. It has a sense of unprecedented authority and finality: Qadri says his tract “completely dismantles al-Qaeda's violent ideology.” The document refers to Al Qaeda as "old evil with a new name". Pipeline News reports that "Some observers of these efforts have labeled them as having been crafted more for public consumption than anything else. Tahir ul-Qadri's declaration does appear to be a bit different however, if for no other reason than the sheer length of his exegesis." Muqtedar Khan says it could have an impact for several reasons:
It is comprehensive, direct, and does not dodge any issue. It has come at a time when there is very strong abhorrence for terrorism, specially in Pakistan, and it will strip terrorists of what little legitimacy they might be still enjoying in the eyes of Muslims who fear that Islam is under attack by Western powers. Dr. Qadri is ... well ensconced in the traditional Islamic heritage...the mainstream of Muslims in Pakistan and in the Pakistani diaspora ... Dr. Qadri's 600-pages fatwa is ... encyclopedic ... accumulates all the various jurisprudential positions advanced by Muslim scholars and jurists of different schools and provides a comprehensive overview of the various normative and ethical limitations that derivatives from Islamic sources have placed on the legitimate use of force.
So while the Fatwa itself is to be celebrated, the fanfare surrounding it raises a few important questions, particularly for those concerned with peaceful relations and anti-imperialism. The declaration has a sense of being designed and deployed by the West at a particular time and place, and that context might weigh against the larger importance of the declaration. As Kenneth Burke might have put it, the scene outweighs the act. This isn’t just a theoretical problem: As one comment notes, the fanfare 

plays on a widely-held (and sometimes willful) misperception that Muslim leaders have not spoken out against Islamist violence. Large numbers of Muslim leaders have denounced violence, suicide bombs, 9/11, 7/7 and many other bloody attacks by Islamist radicals (check out a long partial list here). But since there is no real hierarchy in Islam, non-Muslims don’t know who has the authority to speak out and Muslims often challenge the authority of those who do. Many of these statements end up unreported, like the trees nobody hears falling in the forest. But if a news story is written with the “first ever” tag in the lead, it gives the false impression that no other Muslim leader has ever done anything similiar before.
This is important.  The list of Muslim leaders who have condemned terrorism is pretty damn long.

Another important question: Do insurgents have the right to use violence to resist occupation? Does the outcome of history change this question? Some interpretations of the fatwa say Qadri argues that terrorism is not permissable even when facing "foreign aggression."  I personally and politically agree with this, but many thoughtful people will find this problematic. They will argue, and not without some justification, that such a position risks giving a free pass to the very non-pacifistic imperialist interests that tend to drag us into invasions and occupations that serve the interests of, to put it euphemistically, much more pragmatic interests than the faithful, articulate opinions of Qadri and the millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. An ethical problematization of insurgent violence is important in a conversation about the legitimacy of occupation itself. Both sides of such a debate have important things to say.

Finally, it's important to remember that nothing will satisfy the incompatablists, the essentialist scriptorians, and the Huntingtonists. That's because, consciously or unconsciously, they want war between the West and Islam because that war is their ideological lube, and often their material bread-and-butter.

Friday, March 05, 2010

taking on the Pentagon with a handgun and other crazy-ass ideas

The Pentagon shooter is dead, but the spin hasn't even begun. In the scramble to figure out who this guy is (Hollister CA? Austin?* Pot conviction? Truther? Avenging comrade to a murdered soldier? Fan of Austrian liberterian economists? Techno-geek?) the intertubes are going nuts.  Evidence so far also suggests that Bedell believed the assassination of JFK was a coup that culminated in September 11, that market creativity could change the world for the better, and that pot should be legal (even a broken clock is right twice a day I guess, and this guy's actions, opening fire on guards at the Pentagon, seem irredeemably broken).

If this is John Patrick Bedell's Amazon wish list, it says certain things about what he was thinking over the past decade, but then again, it says inconclusive and often paradoxical things. It includes Hitchens' case against Kissinger and the Black Book of Communism. Our character (which is all he is so far, and coulda been created anywhere, by anything, like a hologram) comments that the Black Book chronicles "the crimes of governments." Bedell's alleged profile at Amazon says "I'm interested in a lot of things, including: photons, molecules, and their interaction; biomolecular analysis and manipulation; microfabrication; CMOS integrated circuit design; DNA and quantum computing; economics; history; and biography." No word yet on whether the FBI will start rounding up sad, boring people.

My guess is that, still desperate to pin a crazed shooting on the democratic, progressive left, conservatives will find more ammunition here than they did in their ridiculous attempt to make the crimes of Amy Bishop political terrorism.  The conclusion of, however, is that Bedell is more blatantly libertarian than Austin suicide flyer Joe Stack:
The views implied and expressed by this John Patrick Bedell so far are almost doctrinaire libertarian, if there is such a thing. Libertarians have long championed the decriminalization of drugs, focusing closely on marijuana in part because it has long seemed the “drug most likely to” achieve decriminalization first. A J.P. Bedell found on Facebook who strongly resembles the man in the photo posted with Bedell’s arrest documents was at one point part of a Ludwig von Mises Facebook group – which is only indicative of a passing interest in Mises at best, but it’s worth noting that Mises, an Austrian philosopher and economist who died in 1973 is considered a major influence on modern libertarianism.
I don't know that this makes him the "crazy teabag offshoot" Mediaelites implies he is in the title of the piece, but it's likely he saw himself as fighting for a cause. What he didn't see is what the psychotic political terrorist never sees: the futility of fighting the system violently and individually (in this case invading the Pentagon with a handgun) rather than taking the infinitely more ethical, effective, and intelligent leap of establishing dialogue and solidarity with the millions of others frustrated and hungry for change.

*The Underview should get credit for raising the Austin question...  He's listed as living in Austin in that cryptic, alleged Amazon profile... ooh! Connection to Joe Stack? Probably not, but hey, we can start the meme!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

quote of the day

Froma Harrop: "How interesting that consumer confidence rose in Canada last month, while it fell sharply in the United States. Canadians know that if a family member falls sick, the family won't lose their house to medical bills. They know that a layoff won't leave them uninsured. That's a huge pillow of security."

An Important Reminder

The mainstream media is trying to make you feel like a freak. Conservatives want you to feel like Joe Stalin's bastard love child. "Moderate" Democrats are hemming and hawing and shaking and asking you not to make waves. And liars are lying, lying lying. But you're going to stick to your guns. The majority--a consistent, confident majority--of Americans favor a public health insurance option. That is the truth. Some trendy postmodernists and flashy former White House Baudrillardians might try to convince you that we live in a "post-truth" world, but we don't. Some stuff is true and verifiable.

The overwhelming majority across the nation in every single poll taken, without exception, favor the public option. The media has desperately tried to pick apart various polls to make it appear that a majority of Americans oppose the very idea of reform, but moderate, balanced commentators have deconstructed the doublespeak of the MSM, while reminding us, once again, that public health insurance enjoys the support of the majority across the board. The majority of Americans support a public insurance option even in polls that distinguish that option from separate opposition to the President's plan specifically. The majority of Americans have had no problem with a government run public option since last summer.

What does the mainstream media do?  Climb in bed with conservative Republicans and conservative think tanks.  Orrin Hatch lies, with the help of the non-fact-checking Washington Post. Mike Enzi, who admitted he would oppose any reform by any means necessary, calls the White House plan, which doesn't even include a public option, "polarizing." The Heritage Foundation lies.

The spin on Blanche Lincoln and her new progressive challenger, Bill Halter, is that Lincoln was forced to vote against HCR because of the attitudes of her constituents. This, too, is a lie. Lincoln is in bed with big insurance, and her constituents want a public insurance option. From the PCCC:
PUBLIC OPTION: Arkansas voters favor a public option 56% to 37%. Independents favor it 57% to 32%. Democrats 83% to 12%.
2010 GENERAL ELECTION: If Lincoln joined Republicans in filibustering a public option, 35% of Independents would be less likely to vote for her, 10% more likely. (Over 3 to 1). Among Democrats, 49% to 7% (7 to 1). Lincoln is only 2% ahead of Republican Gilbert Baker (41% to 39%), a net drop of 5% since last month's Research 2000 poll.
2010 PRIMARY: 57% of Democrats say they are not sure if Lincoln should be the Democratic nominee again, or want someone new. If Lincoln joined Republicans in filibustering a public option, 48% of Democrats would be even less likely to support her in a primary.
Nevertheless, the mainstream media continues to call the public option a "liberal" demand in the context of this upcoming primary. That's a deliberate misrepresentation. It's time to ask what stake mainstream media outlets have in preventing a public insurance option.

You're not crazy, and you're not alone. The next step is taking to the streets for public insurance, including revisiting the Single Payer option.  Desiring a public health plan, Single Payer or otherwise, is not insane.  It's rational.  And it's not "unpopular."  It's mainstream.  Say it loud, to everyone around.  Public health insurance is mainstream. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

speaking encryptically

9. would change the direction of politics
13. and then own the soul of politics itself.
4. as well as "spontaneous action"
6. but I am not disagreeing with it
10. ...and potentially improve the lives of millions.
7. Some kind of way to break the hold of the rich,
1. I've heard different people,
11. A corporatocracy is worse than run-of-the-mill political tyranny.
3. saying we need a "revolution"
12. A corporation can own your soul as a worker
2. completely independent of each other,
8. even momentarily, a snapshot of a revolution,
5. I am not saying it