Friday, June 29, 2007

Proud to be Liberal

This piece by Theodore C.Sorensen is long, but I will print it in its entirety because it is that important. This is why I am proud to be a liberal, this is what America should be about. I, too, would like to hear my Democratic nominee for President read this acceptance speech.

On the 15th of July, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy accepted his party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. In his remarks, made at a moment of high tension in the cold war, Kennedy asserted that the United States was at "a turning point in history" and called on his listeners to be "pioneers" in a "New Frontier" of "uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus."

Collaborating with Kennedy on the speech was a thirty-two-year-old aide named Theodore C. Sorensen, to whom Kennedy was known to refer as his "intellectual blood bank." With Sorensen’s help, Kennedy would earn a reputation as one of American history’s great orators and provide a bold new vision for the nation.

Today, we are at another moment of high tension, the result of a disastrous war abroad and division and drift at home. Like Kennedy, the next Democratic nominee, whoever he or she might be, will have a similar opportunity to form a new vision for America and to reestablish its moral leadership in the world. To encourage such boldness of thinking, we, too, tapped Kennedy’s intellectual blood bank. We called Theodore C. Sorensen and asked him to write the speech he would most want the next Democratic nominee to give at the party convention in Denver in August 2008. We requested that he proceed with no candidate in mind and that he give no consideration to expediency or tactics—in other words, that he write the speech of his dreams. Here is the speech he sent us.

There will be more debates this fall. I hereby notify my Republican opponent that I have purchased ninety minutes of national network television time for each of the six Sunday evenings preceding the presidential election, and here and now invite and challenge him to share that time with me to debate the most serious issues facing the country, under rules to be agreed upon by our respective designees meeting this week with a neutral jointly selected statesman.

Let me assure all those who may disagree with my positions that I shall hear and respect their views, not denounce them as unpatriotic as has so often happened in recent years. I will wage a campaign that relies not on the usual fear, smear, and greed but on the hopes and pride of all our citizens in a nationwide effort to restore comity, common sense, and competence to the White House.

In this campaign, I will make no promises I cannot fulfill, pledge no spending we cannot afford, offer no posts to cronies you cannot trust, and propose no foreign commitment we should not keep. I will not shrink from opposing any party faction, any special interest group, or any major donor whose demands are contrary to the national interest. Nor will I shrink from calling myself a liberal, in the same sense that Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, and Harry Truman were liberals—liberals who proved that government is not a necessary evil, but rather the best means of creating a healthier, more educated, and more prosperous America.

They are the giants on whose shoulders I now stand, giants who made this a better, fairer, safer, stronger, more united America.

By making me your nominee, you have placed your trust in the American people to put aside irrelevant considerations and judge me solely on my qualifications to lead the nation. You have opened the stairway to what Teddy Roosevelt called the "bully pulpit." With the help of dedicated Americans from our party, every party, and no party at all, I intend to mount that stairway to preach peace for our nation and world.

My campaign will be based on my search for the perfect political consensus, not the perfect political consultant. My chief political consultant will be my conscience.

Thank you for your applause, but I need more than your applause and approval. I need your prayers, your votes, your help, your heart, and your hand. The challenge is enormous, the obstacles are many. Our nation is emerging from eight years of misrule, a dark and difficult period in which our national honor and pride have been bruised and battered. But we are neither beaten nor broken. We are not helpless or afraid; because in this country the people rule, and the people want change.

True, some of us have been sleeping for these eight long years, while our nation’s values have been traduced, our liberties reduced, and our moral authority around the world trampled and shattered by a nightmare of ideological incompetence. But now we are awakening and taking our country back. Now people all across America are starting to believe in America again. We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America’s proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace.

The American people are tired of politics as usual, and I intend to offer them, in this campaign, something unusual in recent American politics: the truth. Neither bureaucracies nor nations function well when their actions are hidden from public view and accountability. From now on, whatever mistakes I make, whatever dangers we face, the people shall know the truth—and the truth shall make them free. After eight years of secrecy and mendacity, here are some truths the people deserve to hear:

We remain essentially a nation under siege. The threat of another terrorist attack upon our homeland has not been reduced by all the new layers of porous bureaucracy that proved their ineptitude in New Orleans; nor by all the needless, mindless curbs on our personal liberties and privacy; nor by expensive new weaponry that is utterly useless in stopping a fanatic willing to blow himself up for his cause. Indeed, our vulnerability to another attack has only been worsened in the years since the attacks of September 11th—worsened by our government convincing more than 1 billion Muslims that we are prejudiced against their faith, dismissive of international law, and indifferent to the deaths of their innocent children; worsened by our failure to understand their culture or to provide a safe haven for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees displaced by a war we started; worsened by our failure to continue our indispensable role in the Middle East peace process.

We have adopted some of the most indefensible tactics of our enemies, including torture and indefinite detention.

We have degraded our military.

We have treated our most serious adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, in the most juvenile manner—by giving them the silent treatment. In so doing, we have weakened, not strengthened, our bargaining position and our leadership.

At home, as health care costs have grown and coverage disappeared, we have done nothing but coddle the insurance, pharmaceutical, and health care industries that feed the problem.
As global warming worsens, we have done nothing but deny the obvious and give regulatory favors to polluters.

As growing economic inequality tarnishes our democracy, we have done nothing but carve out more tax breaks for the rich.

During these last several years, our nation has been bitterly divided and deceived by illicit actions in high places, by violations of federal, constitutional, and international law. I do not favor further widening the nation’s wounds, now or next year, through continuous investigations, indictments, and impeachments. I am confident that history will hold these malefactors accountable for their deeds, and the country will move on.

Instead, I shall seek a renewal of unity among all Americans, an unprecedented unity we will need for years to come in order to face unprecedented danger.

We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons.

If I am elected president, my vow for this country can be summarized in one short, simple word: change. This November 2008 election—the first since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president’s nor the incumbent vice president’s name will appear on the national ballot, indeed the first since 1976 in which the name of neither Bill Clinton nor George Bush will appear on the national ballot—is destined to bring about the most profound change in the direction of this country since the election of 1932.

To meet the threats we face and restore our place of leadership in the free world, I pledge to do the following:

First, working with a representative Iraqi parliament, I shall set a timetable for an orderly, systematic redeployment and withdrawal of all our troops in Iraq, including the recall of all members of the National Guard to their primary responsibility of guarding our nation and its individual states.

Second, this redeployment shall be only the first step in a comprehensive regional economic and diplomatic stabilization plan for the entire Middle East, building a just and enduring peace between Israel and Palestine, halting the killing and maiming of innocent civilians on both sides, and establishing two independent sovereign states, each behind peacefully negotiated and mutually recognized borders.

Third, I shall as soon as possible transfer all inmates out of the Guantanamo Bay prison and close down that hideous symbol of injustice.

Fourth, I shall fly to New York City to pledge in person to the United Nations, in the September 2009 General Assembly, that the United States is returning to its role as a leader in international law, as a supporter of international tribunals, and as a full-fledged member of the United Nations which will pay its dues in full, on time, and without conditions, renouncing any American empire; that we shall work more intensively with other countries to eliminate global scourges, including AIDS, malaria, and other contagious diseases, massive refugee flows, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and that we will support the early dispatch of United Nations peacekeepers to halt the atrocities in Darfur. I shall make it clear that we do not covet the land of other countries for our military bases or the control of their natural resources for our factories. I shall make it clear that our country is not bound by any policies or pronouncements of my predecessor that violate international law or threaten international peace.

Fifth, I shall personally sign the Kyoto Protocol, and seek its ratification by the United States Senate, in order to stop global warming before it endangers all species on earth, including our own; and I shall call upon the Congress to take action dramatically reducing our nation’s reliance on the carbon fuels that are steadily contributing to the degradation of our environment.

Sixth, I shall demonstrate sufficient confidence in the strength of our values and the wisdom and skill of our diplomats to favor communications, negotiations, and full relations with every country on earth, including Cuba, North Korea, Palestine, and Iran.

Finally, I shall restore the constitutional right of habeas corpus, abolish the unconstitutional tapping of private phones, and once again show the world the traditional American values that distinguish us from those who attacked us on 9/11.

We need not renounce the use of conventional force. We will be ready to repel any clear and present danger that poses a genuine threat to our national security and survival. But it will be as a last resort, never a first; in cooperation with our allies, never alone; out of necessity, never by choice; proportionate, never heedless of civilian lives or international law; as the best alternative considered, never the only. We will always apply the same principles of collective security, prudent caution, and superior weaponry that enabled us to peacefully prevail in the long cold war against the Soviet Union. Above all, we shall wage no more unilateral, ill-planned, ill-considered, and ill-prepared invasions of foreign countries that pose no actual threat to our security. No more wars in which the American Congress is not told in advance and throughout their duration the true cost, consequences, and terms of commitment. No more wars waged by leaders blinded by ideology who have no legal basis to start them and no plan to end them. We shall oppose no peaceful religion or culture, insult or demonize no peace-minded foreign leader, and spare no effort in meeting those obligations of leadership and assistance that our comparative economic strength has thrust upon us. We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.

In the final analysis, our nation cannot be secure around the world unless our citizens are secure at home—secure not only from external attack, but secure as well from the rising tide of national debt, secure from the financial and physical ravages of uninsured disease, secure from discrimination in our schools and neighborhoods, secure from the bitter unrest generated by a widening gap between our richest and poorest citizens. They are not secure in a country lacking reasonable limitations on the sale of handguns to criminals, the mentally disturbed, and prospective terrorists. And our citizens are not secure when some of their fellow citizens, loyal Islamic Americans, are made to feel they are the targets of hysteria or bigotry.

I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines.

In my administration, I shall restore balance and fairness to the national tax system. I shall level the playing field for organized labor. I shall end the unseemly favors to corporations that allow them to profit without competing, for it is through competition that we innovate, and it is through innovation that we raise the wages of our workers. It shames our nation that profits for corporations have soared even as wages for average Americans have fallen. It shames us still more that so many African American men must struggle to find jobs.

We will make sure that no American citizen, from the youngest child to the oldest retiree, and especially no returning serviceman or military veteran, will be denied fully funded medical care of the highest quality.

To pay for these domestic programs, my administration will make sure that subsidies and tax breaks go only to those who need them most, not those who need them least, and that we fund only those weapons systems we need to meet the threats of today and tomorrow, not those of yesterday.

The purpose of public office is to do good, not harm; to change lives, help lives, and save lives, not destroy them. I look upon the presidency not as an opportunity to rule, but as an opportunity to serve. I intend to serve all the people, regardless of party, race, region, or religion.

Let us all, here assembled in this hall, or watching at home, constitute ourselves, rededicate ourselves, as soldiers in a new army. Not an army of death and destruction, but a new army of voters and volunteers, in a new wave of workers for peace and justice at home and abroad, new missionaries for the moral rebirth of our country. I ask for every citizen’s help, not merely those who live in the red states or those who live in the blue states, but every citizen in every state. Although we may be called fools and dreamers, although we will find the going uphill, in the words of the poet: "Say not the struggle naught availeth." We will change our country’s direction, and hand to the generation that follows a nation that is safer, cleaner, less divided, and less fearful than the nation we will inherit next January.

I’m told that John F. Kennedy was fond of quoting Archimedes, who explained the principle of the lever by declaring: "Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world." My fellow Americans—here I stand. Come join me, and together we will move the world to a new era of a just and lasting peace.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Puff the Magic Commenter

This post is in response to comments made by that master debater, Fred Dooley, author of the hilariously named Real Debate blog. Fred responded first to my post titled "Wrong Again", in which I chastised local former radio host, Jessica McBride, for comparing herself to that tub of malprofundity, Rush Limbaugh, and to man puppet, Ann Coulter. Fred took issue first with my comments that Limbaugh's inelegant spoof of David Ehrenstein's "Obama the Magic Negro" op ed was inherently racist. He asked why I did not condemn Ehrenstein's piece in the same manner as I condemned Limbaugh, reminding me that Ehrenstein is black.

Hmmm. Let me type this slowly for Fred and his friends so they can understand (mind you I type slowly anyway). Ehrenstein's piece was indeed provacative. He spoke of white liberal guilt and its need to replace the "highly sexualized black man" with a benign figure, someone like Scatman Crothers or Will Smith.

But for goodness sake, it was an opinion piece ... and fyi, well written. Make up your own mind, but don't dance around and tell me that Ehrenstein and Limbaugh are somehow related in matters racial.

Limbaugh and his parody ... it had nothing to do with opinion. It had everything to do with satisfying that little itch that can't be scratched publicly, so distract the viewers with a little song and dance. Digby said it best back in April 2007.

He [Limbaugh] knows his audience and what they are thinking. And that little ditty "Barack the Magic Negro" will stick --- not in the minds of the liberals whom Ehrenstein claims see him as the great assuager of liberal guilt, but by racist creeps who just love to snigger and snort over the word "negro." Dittoheads know exactly what Rush is about here no matter what kind of patently absurd nonsense he spews about liberals putting African Americans up on auction blocks. Everybody's in on the joke.

And that's exactly what it was ... a sordid, awful and petty little joke by a petty (in stature, not girth) little man. It did not contribute anything to society. Racists never do.

I'll let another, the Illusory Tenant (who is fast becoming a fan favorite), tackle the McBride issue (which I thought I did well, but you know the old saying about short people, Fred). He lays bare McBride's silliness and abject inability to make a coherent point because she fails to do the leg work.

Regardng my other post, titled "Oh, the Injustice" ... Fred accused me of being silly for searching for a gotcha moment. The moment, in his mind, the juxtaposition of Oshkosh gun shots and Juneteenth violence. They're not the same he roars.

Again, his argument, while welcomed because blogs are for the most part compiled of opinion pieces with invitations to comment, missed the point. Hmmm. Follow the keystrokes again. I was not comparing the degree of violence, I was comparing the coverage. The post had nothing to do with the amount of violence that occurs in the respective counties, it had everything to do with white conservative bloggers spending an incredibly inordinate amount of time on black issues. I understand why ... it plays to the dittoheads among you.

Wow, Limbaugh really was a trailblazer. Even as far back as the 1970s when he once told a black caller: 'Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."

Fred, if the shoe fits ....

Helen Thomas: American Hero

Here is a link to an interview of veteran White House correspondent, Helen Thomas, by Glenn Greenwald, author of the blog Unclaimed Territory. Thomas is one of the few, if not the only reporter, who stands up to this administration. She refuses to ask the easy questions and does not let the administration off the hook when it tries to provide the pat answers. At the end of the interview, she had this to say about her relationship with the administration

I always say to them -- who are you? We pay you. You are working for the American people. It doesn't mean we're antagonistic. It means we care about this country, and care about truth. And I honestly believe we will be better off when we face the reality of what we've done.

To those on the right who say those who question policy are traitors, that those who refuse to accept the lies spread by this administration are in league with the enemy ... shame on you. You are the ones who care only about yourselves and not one wit for your country. But then, isn't that the conservative agenda anyway (paraphrasing JFK) ... "Ask not what I can do for my country, ask what is best for me."

Don't Spare the Bombs

Jessica McBride and Ann Coulter have much in common. Both are women. Both conservative. And both wish the war in Iraq to continue, damn the consequences to the people of Iraq. More here from Coulter (from Tuesday "Hardball" edition), whom McBride has been defending of late.

"We need to be less concerned about civilian casualties...we bombed more people in Hamburg in two days ... I'd rather have their civilians die than our civilians... we should kill their people."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cluck Cluck

Elizabeth Edwards called into MSNBC's "Hardball" on Tuesday to speak with Ann Coulter and ask her to discontinue her personal attacks on her husband, John Edwards ... and discontinue her personal attacks in general. Coulter's response was to belittle Edwards for calling and accused her of stopping her from speaking.

Typical of Coulter and conservatives in general. Asking for civility from them is akin, in their minds, to shutting them up. Following is an interesting part of the exchange between the two, with Chris Matthews moderating:

Edwards: I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of that boy who died. My children participate -- these young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.

[Applause from the crowd]

Matthews: Thank you very much Elizabeth Edwards. (Turning to Coulter) Do you want to -- you have all the time in the world to respond.

Coulter: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.

That's the best Coulter could do. When confronted by someone, rather than enjoying the security of long distance attacks, Coulter is like our local former radio host, Jessica McBride ... a clucking chicken.

Boy Genius

Again, apologies to Tom Tomorrow. Click on image to enlarge.

Wrong Again

Still smarting from her ouster at WTMJ for being a really bad on-air personality, Jessica McBride cannot resist comparing herself to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter in an effort to lend some sort of weird legitimacy to her blogging efforts. She says this about recent comments by Coulter:

She was clearly making a satirical commentary on the double standard that exists when it comes to the media's reaction over perceived liberal and conservative "offensiveness." She was clearly pointing out that since Bill Maher received far less criticism than she did for his comments on Cheney, joking about assassinations by terrorists has apparently been declared fair game by the MSM (her implicit point, which the AP just proved, is that she could never get away with saying what Bill Maher and liberals get away with saying).

But the MSM either don't get it or choose not to get it, just like they chose not to get Rush Limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro" parody or why I asked Eugene Kane if it was a crisis and mocked him for not being willing to come on my show to answer tough questions (if I'd only played crickets instead of a chicken...). Mark Belling had it right when he said that the liberals and media go after conservative humor first because it's harder to defend and easier to misconstrue. They misconstrue it by reporting the humor without the humor or the underlying political/social point.

Leaving aside the fact she has a real problem if she cannot see the inherent racism in Limbaugh's inelegant spoof, and she really, really has a problem if she continues to think her final episode on radio had anything to do with serious journalism, McBride inadvertently (and humorously) makes the point for liberals about conservative humor. She's right: Conservative humor is harder to defend.

Answer: Perhaps it's because conservative humor that relies on making threats, relies on racism, relies on the death of a little 4-year old to score political points is just not funny.

As much as this pains me to write: McBride, you are no Limbaugh or Coulter. While both share the same egomania with you, they actually have talent, even if it is used for vile purposes.

Oh, the Injustice

I swear they get together and have posting parties. How droll.

Patrick McIlheran and Jessica McBride unite to provide more evidence they just don't get it. They take turns pounding the keyboard to provide statistical evidence that Mike Plaisted was wrong and there really is more violent crime in Milwaukee than in Oshkosh. Problem is, the piece that Mike Plaisted wrote about the "Guns of Oshkosh" had nothing to do with the amount of violence that occurs, but rather with the perception that conservatives are really interested only in all things "black people." Look at McBride's site and over 50% of the last 20 posts have to do with either African-Americans or Hispanics. I suspect some of her outrage is because so few live in the Town of Merton, her home residence. Heck, they get escorted out by gunpoint and with the help of a snarling dog just for fishing.

As for Paddy Mac, let me say this even more slowly so he can understand: Plaisted was making a point about the lack of coverage by conservative bloggers, he was not playing a numbers game.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fair is Fair

Just got back from camping (well, yesterday afternoon). Didn't have to defeat the hungry bears, as dad29 suggested in the previous post. They have all successfully pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, completed their internships and now have productive jobs ... won't have to ply them with money to keep them happy, ala liberal policy-making, right daddio?

Still, the four days of camping were a blast. This is an event that has been going on for nie 30 years ... a group of friends from before high school. We don't so much camp, we bring our electrical equipment to the woods. I brought a blender for margueritas ... you get the picture. However, my kids and I did sleep in a tent that I put up all by myself. We even survived a rain storm successfully. Ooooh.

Anyway, back in town and I see the Fairness Doctrine argument has been going all ga-ga in my absence (see this from Jay Bullock not only for his excellent comments but as an easy means to see all the other arguments flowing from the blogsphere ... so I don't have to). As I rocked my baby daughter to sleep this morning, I started scooting around the Internet and found this piece by the Anonymous Liberal. It exactly says what has been rocking about in my thick skull for the past week ... the irony that the free market skreed by conservatives somehow doesn't apply to the supposedly "liberal" media. Somehow, free market forces are the entire reason for conservative talk radio dominance, yet the free market argument doesn't apply to the other media. Rather, because of their "obvious liberal bias" (lol) they are viciously handing it to conservatives. Read the article below ... it's good.

This week the Center for American Progress issued a report documenting the severe imbalance between conservative and liberal political talk radio (over 90% of programming is conservative) and postulating that structural factors such as consolidation of ownership and syndication practices are at least partly responsible for this imbalance.

The reaction from the right was swift and dismissive. Among right-wing bloggers and pundits, the suggestion that anything other than normal market forces explains the dominance of conservative talk radio is greeted with instant mockery and scorn. As Ed Morrissey put it:

Rather than run crying to the federal government, progressives may want to find out why their shows don’t attract listeners. It’s a market, just like any other in broadcasting. If liberal talk shows attracted listeners, then advertisers would line up to sponsor them.

Now putting aside the question of whether Morrissey is right about the radio market, can anyone spot the astounding bit of cognitive dissonance embedded in this claim? If the phrase "liberal bias" popped into your head, then congratulations, you're smarter than the average conservative blogger.

Yes, the people who insist that conservative dominance of talk radio is purely a product of the market and mock any suggestion of structural imbalance are the very same people who complain endlessly that every other form of news media is plagued by "liberal bias." According to conservative gospel, the "mainstream media" is dominated by liberals who continually foist their liberal views upon the public.

But, you ask, why doesn't the magic of the market work in the television and print industries? By Captain Ed's logic, shouldn't conservatives stop "crying" about liberal bias and just come up with better ideas? After, it is a market. If conservatives would just come up with material that people liked, the advertisers would flock to them, right?

It really is amazing. A central tenet of the modern conservative worldview is that all sorts of structural imbalances in the news media unfairly disadvantage conservatives. This is supposedly why they had to go and create Fox News, because everything else was dominated by liberals. But when it comes to talk radio, they insist that only market forces can possibly explain the situation, that any suggestion of structural imbalance is crazy talk. Is a little bit of intellectual consistency too much to ask?