Politics: November 2002 Archives

... at least in a few papers, after today's strip.

I love Aaron McGruder.

US wartime intelligence believed the Nazi salute may have been copied from American cheerleaders, rather than Mussolini's fascists.

Arguing that this city faces a far more perilous world than once imagined, New York's police commissioner wants to toss aside a decades-old federal court decree governing the limits on police spying and surveillance of its own citizenry.


To infiltrate lawful political and social organizations, police must establish a suspicion of criminal activity and gain the permission of a special three-person authority.

This three-person authority consists of two high-ranking police officials and a civilian appointed by the mayor. Civil libertarians argue this is hardly an onerous burden for law enforcement.

-- from the Washington Post

There is also a small article in the NY Daily News on this today. I find it disturbing that there is no article on this in the NY Times.

Do you trust the NYPD to police itself?

Santorum has told the White House that, during the debate over welfare reform, he will fight for a provision to allow religious groups to discriminate against certain people -- gays, for instance -- when hiring if they don't share their religious beliefs. "I will make that stand," Santorum said.

James Ridgeway in the Nov. 13 Village Voice:

Power may be wielded to advance ideology, but more often, ideology is a front for the simple protection of power. Bush may pose as a Texas wildcatter, a Bible-thumping Christian zealot, a war-ready patriot, and a champion of the common man. But in reality, he's a blue-blooded New England Methodist who dodged the draft by joining the National Guard and pledged for Skull and Bones at Yale. And he's never had anything remotely like an ideology, with the possible exception of the 12-Step Program. If Bush succeeds in spite of an elitist pedigree, it's because he heads—and epitomizes—today's Republican Party. This is a party that wields the money and power of Big Business, shrewdly woven into a populist, patriotic ideology designed to appeal to a country so desperate for passionate ideals that in return it will give them the license to rob their pensions and send their children to war.

Those who fail to fall for all this are left feeling powerless and depressed, wondering where to go next. The answer is not terribly hopeful, but it is very simple—and it has nothing whatsoever to do with party politics. Take every opportunity to oppose the power structure: March on Washington, go on strike, organize a boycott, start a resistance radio station, take to the streets with the anarchists. If you are looking for models, they are all over the rest of the world: the East German Christian opposition to the Honecker police state that led to the toppling of the Berlin Wall, the massive Czech uprising, the South African overthrow of apartheid, the protests in Seattle. Don't wait for the Democrats to do it. Do it yourself. Stand for something.


He gets extra points for the Mark Bingham remark at the end.


I'm not sure if "admire" is the right word, but I'm impressed with what the Bush regime can get away with. They've appointed a man who orchestrated secret bombing during the Viet Nam War, and can't travel freely overseas at the risk of being arrested or subpoenaed for his role in helping Pinochet's Chile kill its opponents, even in the U.S.

Interestingly, the NY Times hasn't mentioned Chile once in connection with Kissinger in yesterday's article on his past or today's editorial, which argues that he's not a very good choice.

I've always felt that Haider's popularity in Austria was more about frustration with the corruption of the decades-old Red-Black coalition/divide-up-the-spoils-system than a real desire for a neo-Nazi party. Well, his party's popularity plummeted in the latest election.

I recently came across the weblog -- in English! -- of a lefty Austrian, living in Vienna, who is worth reading if you care about that part of the world. I know I do.

I'm glad to see Scott and Andy are pissed off about the joke our country has become.

I can't decide how much I want to even write about politics at this point. The American people have had the right to vote for many years, a right for which many people have died, a right people in East Timor walked days to exercise, but they can't even be bothered to vote or pay attention to what's going on beyond the crap they see for 5 minutes on the 6 o'clock news. The last election's turnout was 40% or less.

I'm not going to have children, so I'm not going to have to worry what the world looks like in 50 years. I'm in my mid-30s but I doubt I'll live another fifty years. I don't understand how people can vote for a party that stands only for 10,000 or so rich people, environmental degradation, and fundamentalist religion. As I said, people have the ability to vote or pay attention if they want, and they have relinquished that privilege. They would rather choose a president based on which one to have over for a visit than on self-interest. Were people really voting for those things? Half of the voters were, plus right-wing control of the courts for a generation.

A lot of my friends don't seem to understand why I'm such a Europhile. They look at what happened during World War II and immediately decide that Europe isn't for them, particularly Jewish friends. Grab a clue, people. We are gradually marching towards a fascism that combines religious fundamentalists (including those who advocate "conversion" of Jews) with corporate power, and with no significant protest from any quarter. The fascists of Italy, Spain and Germany had political prisoners -- Dachau was built as soon as the Nazis came to power for political prisoners. Our leaders don't have to bother. They don't even have to suspend voting. They win anyway, and the fact that about 20% of the possible voters put them into power seems to convey some legitimacy. Why shouldn't they act like they have a mandate? It's obvious that not enough Americans are opposed to them to even bother voting.

My other argument regarding the USA vs. Europe is that the USA is giving up all of the things that are in its favor -- our constitutional protections and our Bill of Rights. The right to privacy and freedom of speech have not always been priorities in the democracies of post-war Europe. Those restrictions, however, are combined with a social compact with the government to provide a welfare state that has made Europe one of the best places to live in the world, with good public services, nearly universal access to healthcare, and much lower levels of violence. The regime we have now is preparing to revoke one end of our country's understanding of its citizens' relationship to their government without giving us anything in return. They are proposing a police state -- we should not be seeing the phrase "secret court" in headlines -- combined with a Darwinian capitalism that cares nothing for anyone but those who are rich and powerful. We are rolling back the New Deal while shredding the Bill of Rights. Who will protect us from corporations that knowingly create defective products, or lie about the drugs they sell us, or abuse their employees? No one.

If New York didn't exist, I would have left the USA long ago. It's one of the few redeeming features of America at this point, and the fact that it's the likely target for future terrorist attacks is depressing, when we represent what is good and diverse and pluralist in our society. I don't think I can really turn off my desire for reading newspapers and watching what's happening in politics, but a certain amount of inner emigration is attractive.


See James for his take on this too.

I wish more of our allies would speak the truth about our duly-selected president.

Yes, the picture is real.


Yes, that's an actual quote from a new media campaign linking conservation with godliness.

"We are under a commandment to be faithful stewards of God's creation," said Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, an umbrella organization of Christian and Jewish groups. "This is a crisis in God's creation at the hands of God's children."

Leaders of many groups within the partnership have signed a letter to the Big Three's chief executives asking for improvements in fuel economy. They say they have a biblical mandate to be good stewards of God's creation and a responsibility to the poor who are especially harmed by pollution. And they decry supporting "autocratic, corrupt and violent" governments that produce oil.

I think the more likely outcome, if there a lot of such ads, is that it will lower the power of religion, but not oil. This country manages to combine one of the highest rates of believers in God in the rich world with a depressing lack of concern for anyone less fortunate.

Another good thing from the world of religion this week: Nuns arrested during protests against the formerly-named School of the Americas.

See Mattitude, I do show this side too.

If I see one more member of the Liberal (ha) Media talk about whether Nancy Pelosi is too far left for America, I'm going to scream. Who is the House GOP Leader? It's Tom DeLay, a man who attacked my alma mater (Texas A&M) for failing to teach creationism.

Good write-ups on this may be found from Joe Conason and No More Mr. Nice Blog.

It's not on the front page of any newspapers here, but there was a huge demonstration in Florence yesterday protesting war with Iraq.

Good pictures: 1  2

His latest column.

All these years later, I didn't realize there was an election this week until the Sunday before. On election day, I was in neighborhoods where they should have been calling out Carl McCall's name. There was no sound. Then I realized that this silence was right, that there was no election. McCall was the candidate, but he did not ruin the politics here. It was shameless Bill Clinton who used the Democratic Party and left it with a hyphen. Not because of his trailer camp sex, nor his lying under oath to a grand jury. Rather, he merged the Democratic Party with the Republican Party. The Democratic-Republican Party. He left the Democrats with no issues, no purpose, no aim, no desire for anything except keeping the job. Do whatever the Republicans do. They want a tax cut that can break us? Good. Vote for it. They want a war? Of course. Let's kill.

This is an interesting page from the Media Reform Information Center.

Number of corporations controlling the vast majority of all news media:


I guess the Republicans are waiting until the number is one -- and it's Rupert Murdoch's Fox News -- to stop whining about the "liberal media".

From the NY Times:

New York City registered what may be a record low in voter turnout on Tuesday, with an estimated 34.2 percent of registered voters casting their ballots. The last time city voters came out in similarly low numbers was in 1990, when 38 percent of registered voters voted. New York State may also have reached a new low with an estimated 40 percent of voters casting their ballots.

I'm not sure if I'm even a big-D Democrat anymore, but I just signed the world's shortest petition -- "Terry, you're fired!" -- at AngryDems.com.

A party that will not criticize the incumbent president cannot defeat him, now or two years from now. A party that has nothing to say about unfair tax breaks, a vanishing surplus and a looted economy cannot expect anyone to listen when it asks for votes. A party without passion or vision is hardly a political party at all. Even in their righteous defense of Social Security, Democrats too often sounded as if their chief concern was to preserve their own institutional position. Today the future looks grim for them because they blurred the purposes of their partisanship.

-- Joe Conason in Salon



Here is a good election day post from Open Letter.

It reminded me of something I had in the back of my mind. I knew there had been at least one reason why I had some negative feelings about Paul Wellstone:

Whatever can be said in favor of Wellstone's record has been said by the editors of The Nation, the leaders of NARAL, and indeed by the editor of Open Letter. But the crude contempt the Democratic Party leadership shows for the historical record will also now be inscribed on the same historical record. Paul Wellstone's votes for the Defense of Marriage Act, the Afghanistan war, and the Patriot Act reflected the rightward drift of his own party. That party is dominated by the Democratic Leadership Council, which even Wellstone never troubled to deny.

Not to encourage Dan, but Alternet has a good article titled Are Young People Too Smart to Vote?

Other necessary changes include instant runoff voting, Election Day as a national holiday, Election Day voter registration (Prop. 52 on the California ballot) and public financing of elections. Not surprisingly, nations that employ these practices enjoy much higher rates of voting among all people, including young people, poor people, and others who are left out of our political system.

More than adults, young people seem intuitively to recognize that our political system is broken. And they register their awareness on Election Day by not bothering to participate in what to them is a pretty meaningless exercise. So when you see the low numbers for voter turnout this time, don't think of it as apathy. Think of it as the wisdom of youth.

I think Instant Runoff Voting is a great concept. It's already used in a number of places.

How does it work? Voters rank candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3 and so on. It takes a majority to win. If anyone receives a majority of the first choice votes, that candidate is elected. If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next choice candidate listed on the ballot. The process of eliminating the last place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. With modern voting equipment, all of the counting and recounting takes place rapidly and automatically.

If we used it everywhere, I could vote for the Green or Working Families Party candidate, and put the Democrats' candidate second. It would allow me to register my desire for alternative parties without being a "spoiler".

The Democrats didn't even field a candidate against Senator John Warner or Representative Tom Davis in Virginia.

A hilarious parody of an actual Peggy "Thousand Points of Light" Noonan's WSJ column, in which she imagines what Paul Wellstone would say (from heaven) about his memorial service, appears here.

Remember how outraged all of the right-wingers were when the firemen booed Hilary Clinton at one of the 9/11 memorial services one month after the event? Right, I don't remember them doing that either.

Goodness that woman is scary. It's amazing that real reporters (such as the late Daniel Pearl) work for the same newspaper that puts out that editorial page.

Link via RubberNun.

If you're not crazy about my Vote Green idea, there is still something you can do to try to make politics better in NY State. Vote for the Democrats, but vote for them on the Working Families Party line.

I just added Eschaton to my list of favorite blogs. I've been reading him for a while after finding a link on David E's Fablog.

He mentions a purely election-oriented weblog here. That's where I found this lovely story:

Unless turnout is ridiculously low, there is no way that voters in Broward county will have enough time to vote using the new touch screen machines. It is estimated that it should take on average 15 minutes per voter. There are 987,000 registered voters in the county. There are 5765 machines. With, say, 500,000 voters turning out that means 86 voters per machine. With polls scheduled to be open for 12 hours, that means that just over half of voters would have time to vote - assuming an even distribution of voters across machines. Election officials in Florida have declined to allow paper ballots to supplement the machines in case of long lines, and two congressmen are taking it to Ashcroft and possibly to federal court.

I can see why some weblogs I read refer to that state as Hell Florida. Couldn't we just give the state to Cuba?

Despite a shortage of qualified Arabic linguists in the intelligence and defense fields, the Army has fired a significant number of trained language specialists from the military’s Defense Language Institute, or DLI, in Monterey, Calif., because they are gay.

It's already too late to donate.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from November 2002.

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