Archive | August, 2010

Exit Strategy

Bob Herbert:

One of the reasons we’re in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting from the wars. So we keep shipping other people’s children off to combat as if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention. Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long.

A Tragedy in Two Acts

Hat tip to John F. Drew Westen:

The question today is whether Democrats can channel the populist anger we are seeing around the country this late in the game. The answer is that we’d better try. Having recently tested messages on economics and jobs, including how to talk about deficits and taxes — widely assumed to be Democrats’ Achilles Heel, particularly now — there is little question that if Democrats and progressives from center to left simply say what they believe in ways that are evocative, values-driven, and speak to people’s worries and anger, many stand a good chance of surviving November, particularly when their opponents have nothing to say other than warmed-over rhetoric about cutting taxes to millionaires and multinationals and fiscal restraint except where it cuts into profits of their campaign contributors. Even the most evocative boilerplate conservative messages fall flat against honest messages that speak to the need to get Americans working again. And on issue after issue, no message is more resonant right now than one that sides with working and middle class Americans and small business owners against special interests, big business, and their lobbyists.

But actions speak louder than words, and Americans want to see action. It may be too late for the kind of jobs bill we should have seen a year and a half ago, but it isn’t too late for Democrats to go on the offensive against the Republicans — virtually all of them — who opposed extending unemployment insurance to millions of Americans who were thrown out of work by the Republicans’ corporate sponsors. It isn’t too late for Democrats to contrast their support for the highly popular aid to state and local governments that just saved the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police all over the country with Republicans’ desire to throw them out onto the street. It isn’t too late to make a voting issue out of the bill the Republicans are stalling that would give small businesses a fighting chance in an economy stacked against them, and to make clear that one party stands for small businesses, which create 75 percent of the new jobs in this country, and the other party stands for big businesses that outsource American jobs and offshore their profits to avoid paying their fair share of American taxes. It’s not too late to pass a bill that would limit credit card interest rates to a reasonable percent above the rate at which credit is made available to credit card companies. It’s not too late to pass the first badly need “fix” to the health care reform act to demonstrate to Americans that Democrats mean it when they say this was just the first step, namely a law that stops insurance companies from increasing their premiums by 40 percent while cutting the size of their networks by 50-75 percent, which violates the principles of affordability and choice that were so essential to efforts to sell health care reform to the public. It’s not too late to vow to change the rules of the Senate to prevent the use of the filibuster to give every special interest veto power over every important piece of legislation. It’s not too late to introduce legislation that’s been on hold in both the House and Senate to guarantee fair elections, so that the voice of everyday Americans is heard over the voice of the special interests that finance political campaigns.

On every one of these issues, a strong populist message trounces anything the other side can say. But Democrats need to play offense. They need to take up-or-down votes on bill after bill, including those they expect the other side to block, knowing that every one of those votes has the leverage of a campaign ad behind it. They need to change the narrative from what sounds to the average American like a whiny and impotent one — “the Republicans won’t let us do it” — to a narrative of strength in numbers shared with their constituents. And they need to make every election a choice between two well-articulated approaches to governance — and to offer their articulation of both sides’ positions and values.

That leads to a final point. What Democrats have needed to offer the American people is a clear narrative about what and who led our country to the mess in which we find ourselves today and a clear vision of what and who will lead us out. That narrative would have laid a roadmap for our elected officials and voters alike, rather than making each legislative issue a seemingly discrete turn onto a dirt road. That narrative might have included — and should include today — some key elements: that if the economy is tumbling, it’s the role of leadership and government to stop the free-fall; that if Wall Street is gambling with our financial security, our homes, and our jobs, true leaders do not sit back helplessly and wax eloquent about the free market, they take away the dice; that if the private sector can’t create jobs for people who want to work, then we’ll put Americans back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and schools; that if Big Oil is preventing us from competing with China’s wind and solar energy programs, then we’ll eliminate the tax breaks that lead to dysfunctional investments in 19th century fuels and have a public-private partnership with companies that will create the clean, safe fuels of the 21st century and the millions of good American jobs that will follow.

That’s what Democrats stand for. It’s time they said it.

Allegedly. I often wonder what the Democrats stand for.

Smug

As someone who’s studied reincarnation a hell of a lot longer than anyone in Tristero’s comments section, I have to say this really pissed me off. (I put this in the same category as the reviewers who attacked Liz Gilbert’s book — without having actually read it. Nice “scientific method,” there!)

One of the guys the Times reporter interviewed is Brian Weiss M.D., who I know something about because my best friend took me to one of his workshops last year. You know what? It was pretty damned interesting. Because he said in order to accept the concept of reincarnation, you first have to understand that there is a non-material force that connects everything. So he had everyone in the workshop trade random items with the people sitting near them, and guided them through a meditation.

There were a lot of interesting results, but two in particular I remember: One in which a teen-aged girl sitting next to a stranger held the woman’s ring and gave her a message. She told her that Mary (not her real name) was watching over her, that she’d died in a violent accident and wanted the woman with the ring to tell her mother that she was okay.

Turned out the ring had belonged to the daughter of her best friend, who died in a car crash. The girl’s mother had given the ring to her friend, telling her she wanted her daughter to watch over her. There were some other details that escape me now, but it was pretty compelling — and the woman who owned the ring was just astounded.
Continue Reading →

Site Meter