Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prop 8 Irony

Anna Barnes over at Smile Politely's splog pointed out this news item: The Courage Campaign created a parody logo of the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 official logo. Here are the logos:

Proposition 8 lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to the Courage Campaign saying that the two logos are “substantially indistinguishable.”

Hmm. A family with 2 moms is pretty much the same as a family with a mom and dad?  Yeah, that's what we've been saying for some time now.  And what Prop 8 made illegal. 

Thanks, Prop 8 lawyers, for your affirmation of gay marriage.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Supreme Court's Blow to Democracy

As if money and corporate influence don't already control too much of government policy, the Supreme Court, in a radical and astonishing display of judicial activism, has decided that corporations now have the rights of individuals.

New York Times Editorial:

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.


The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate.


In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the ruling not only threatens democracy but “will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” History is, indeed, likely to look harshly not only on the decision but the court that delivered it. The Citizens United ruling is likely to be viewed as a shameful bookend to Bush v. Gore. With one 5-to-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority stopped valid votes from being counted to ensure the election of a conservative president. Now a similar conservative majority has distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections.

Full text here.

As I noted in last week's Smile Politely column, the balance of power in this country is not just the three branches of government. The main struggle for power is between industry and government. The Supreme Court has now decided that industry can legally buy government policy.  It's a great victory for profit in this country, but a huge blow to the common good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jesus Rifles

Colbert has a hilarious take on those rifles with the Bible verses on them:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Too timid

Drew Westen lays the blame of yesterday's defeat on Obama and timidity:

It is a truly remarkable feat, in just one year's time, to turn the fear and anger voters felt in 2006 and 2008 at a Republican Party that had destroyed the economy, redistributed massive amounts of wealth from the middle class to the richest of the rich and the biggest of big businesses, and waged a trillion-dollar war in the wrong country, into populist rage at whatever Democrat voters can cast their ballot against.
What happens if you refuse to lay the blame for the destruction of our economy on anyone--particularly the party, leaders, and ideology that were in power for the last 8 years and were responsible for it? What happens if you fail to "brand" what has happened as the Bush Depression or the Republican Depression or the natural result of the ideology of unregulated greed, the way FDR branded the Great Depression as Hoover's Depression and created a Democratic majority for 50 years and a new vision of what effective government can do? What happens when you fail to offer and continually reinforce a narrative about what has happened, who caused it, and how you're going to fix it that Americans understand, that makes them angry, that makes them hopeful, and that makes them committed to you and your policies during the tough times that will inevitably lie ahead?

The answer was obvious a year ago, and it is even more obvious today: Voters will come to blame you for not having solved a problem you didn't create, and you will allow the other side to create an alternative narrative for what's happened (government spending , deficits, big government, socialism) that will stick. And it will particularly stick if you make no efforts to prevent it from starting or sticking.
and more criticism of timidity from Joseph Palermo:
The Obama Administration cut far too many deals with the same corporate special interests that have dominated Washington since the Reagan years. Obama watered down his agenda. The Democratic base stayed home. The Republicans were energized beyond belief. And the Democratic candidate in a Democratic state lost the "Lion of the Senate's" seat.

Millions of Obama voters -- me included -- naively believed that he was going to stand up to corporate special interests in behalf of working people. He didn't. People do not like wimps who compromise their principles to stay in power.

The jubilant folks at FOX News et al. are correct that the Massachusetts election today has national significance -- but not for the reasons they claim. They think people are upset at "government" but they're really upset (whether they know it or not) with corporate control of government, which makes corporate interests synonymous with the national interest. The Democratic Party has been hollowed out by the same kinds of corporate interests that own the Republican Party. Progressives believed that after eight miserable years of George W. Bush and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression we had an opportunity to create a stronger social safety net. But Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, and Joe Lieberman put the kibosh on that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy MLK Day

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

        -Martin Luther King, Jr. (1965)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Irrational Fear

I have a new Smile Politely column up: Rational distrust vs. irrational fear.  It's about health care, government, and capitalism.

Yes, I generalize too much in my writing.  It's always been a problem. And by "always," I mean there has never been a time nor a piece of writing that didn't suffer from it. 

Dang. I did it again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Avatar Depression

I love Avatar. I've seen it twice now, once in 2D and once in 3D. It has such a mesmerizing quality to it that both times it stuck in my brain for days afterward.

Actually, that's not quite right. It stuck in my emotions or somewhere in that nether region of the self that is neither soul nor mind nor body. There is something about that movie that tugs at me.

Apparently, a lot of people are feeling this way, and many of them are crazy:

James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.
It then goes on to quote a guy who wants to become Na'vi so much that he fantasizes about comitting suicide and then waking up on the planet Pandora.

I definitely understand the strong connection to the movie. Committing suicide as a way to visit Pandora? Not so much.

But for a movie whose storyline is Pocahontas and the Lion King meet The Transformers, one of the things that it gets right is human nature.  Where unimaginable riches exist, there will always be people willing to crush entire civilizations to get to them. And there will always be people who stand in the way, even though in real life they usually get crushed by tanks.

I have some advice for those who dream of Pandora:  Dream of Earth's rainforests instead, while we still have them.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Good Ole Days

With the new year here, there’s no better time to look back at the good ole days and reminisce:

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