Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The latest absurity to come out of the White House is that it is somehow treasonous for the New York Times to report that we've been monitoring financial transactions to try and catch terrorists. What the fuck? Don't they think that, maybe, the terrorists are cognizant of the fact that we're tracking them in any way that we can, legal or not? Give me a fucking break! Plus, our government mentioned this as one possibility way back in 2002. It was public domain then. Why is it some big damn secret now? Am I missing something?

What's even more frustrating is that the Democrats continue to lack the spine to stand up to the GOP blueprint (see Feinstein cow-towing to the Flag Burning Amendment nut jobs). They do not have much of a vision because they can't agree. And so you have armies and legions of mindless platitudes marching across the teleprompter in search of a point. Gone are the days when Clinton methodically pointed out that trickle-down economics (and how Bush learned from that playbook, repeating one's own coined terms for things like Supply Side) doesn't work except in a vacuum.

Sigh.

Howard Dean acted like Jon Stewart (and the studio audience) should have been awestruck by his door-to-door campaign when he appeared on the Daily Show last month. Stewart said "So the Democrats are now as powerful as some of the Jehovah's Witnesses." And when Stewart asked him what the Democrats planned to do differently than the Bush administration and the GOP, Dean said "Aha! I thought you might ask this." And he pulls out a door hanger, the kind that Chinese restaurants and pizza joints from the neighborhood litter your front porch with and says, I shit you not: "You hang this over the doorknob if nobody's home" as if this was some earth shaking new concept that no one's ever heard before. And when Stewart said "You are SO not going to win in November," my heart sank, because he's right.

The people (some homo sapiens, many more homo erectus) that voted for Bush will always show up to the polls. People with common sense are spooked because they don't think that Democrats can do anything better except raise their taxes for everything. The Dems need to figure out a dumbed down way to cut through that bullshit.

George Lakoff's excellent Don't Think of an Elephant is the closest we get, but even that falls short of articulating the vision. Lakoff points out how to present the message, and even hints at some what the message should be, but there's not a lot of meat and potatoes. Before we know it, we'll wake up one morning and realize that we're looking at the kind of inequality we saw in the 19th Century.

The one bright spot, with that in mind, is Warren Buffet's astonishing announcement earlier in the week. I can only hope that is some kind of a leading indicator for what ended up happening as a result of the "robber baron" era of the late 19th. The only solace I take is that our time is not unlike the turn of the last century.

We're about due for strong, articulate leadership that can bring us back to an era of common sense progressivism. Take T.R., who would have been a Democrat in a different age, we won't like everything he (probably not she yet) will say, but if you agree that the right to life means basic healthcare for all people, not saving a zygote in a test tube; if the right to liberty is best sought by scientific analysis of the problems of our time by coming up with hypotheses based on facts and observations, where we then come to conclusions, not blind faith and superstition where you come to the table with an all-encompassing, preconceived belief that you then pick and choose whatever facts, true or not, fit that theory; and the pursuit of happiness means to stop letting the powerful consolidate their power and instead take common sense measures to level the playing field so that everyone has at least a basic opportunity to get ahead, or even stay afloat--in other words, if you want the middle class to survive, and to finish the job that the civil rights movement started, then we need someone like a T.R to present a blunt version of the aforementioned before it's too late. Consider this draft one, with more to come.

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