Saturday, June 12, 2004

Government of, by, and for the privileged few

From an excellent E.J. Dionne column:

"[T]he voices of American citizens are raised and heard unequally," declares a task force of the American Political Science Association. "The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government. Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent." [emphasis mine]

You'd better ask yourself if this is what you want -- and if it's not, vote for John Kerry; contribute to the Kerry campaign and progressive organizations; and make your voice heard.

Remember, the interests of the privileged will never be neglected -- and certainly not by George W. Bush:

This is an impressive crowd. The haves -- and the have-mores. Some call you the elite. I call you my base.

It doesn't get any clearer than that. Still don't believe me? Surf on over to and follow the money. Just one example: Take a look at how much the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to the Bush campaign -- and then ask yourself if it's any coincidence that Bush's vaunted Medicare prescription drug legislation prohibits Medicare from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to obtain lower drug prices.

Googlebomb alert

More Republican dirty tricks: a bogus "Democratic National Convention" Web site. (Imagine, if you will, what Nixon's dirty tricksters would have done with the World Wide Web.) Here, for your convenience (and to join other bloggers in defusing the bomb), is a link to the real deal.

Friday, June 11, 2004

The thinking person's candidate

From the Boston Globe:

''I haven't had a lot of exposure to Kerry, but I'm just becoming more and more impressed with his level-headedness and common sense," said Christina Lee Brown, a Republican who attended a Kerry event and fund-raiser in Louisville, and who is cofounder of an interfaith group that sponsors lectures and a popular annual festival. ''For example, his interest with Senator McCain in campaign finance reform -- I think that's desperately needed to stop wealthy people from swaying elections. He just understands the complexity of all the challenges more than Bush appreciates."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Enough already

I've ignored the pomp(osity) and circumstance as much as humanly possible, but there's no avoiding it altogether. As a former president, Reagan was entitled to a state funeral. Lying in state at the Capitol is fine (although appropriating Lincoln's catafalque is a bit much). But copying John F. Kennedy's funeral right down to the riderless horse and the planes in the "missing man" formation is just ridiculous.

Kennedy was a sitting president and commander-in-chief. The man was assassinated while in office -- you can make a good case that he died in the service of his country. Reagan had been out of the White House for 16 years -- but I guess Nancy was determined to stage one last Hollywood production. (Hell, maybe it is appropriate. Reagan wasn't really a president, but he played one on TV.)

In my view (and I'm certainly not alone in this perception), Franklin D. Roosevelt was America's greatest president. He led us out of the Depression, and he almost succeeded in seeing us through WWII before his strength gave out. Yet I'm reasonably certain that FDR's funeral was not as elaborate as this one. Eleanor Roosevelt was never pretentious.

Gallup's got good news

Over at Donkey Rising, Ruy Teixeira's got the latest Gallup poll results. While it's much too soon to put too much faith in these numbers, I do think it's encouraging that even after a deluge of dishonest attack ads from BC04, the situation keeps looking up for our New England patriot.

Kerry leads Bush by 5 points among RVs (49-44), up from a 2 point lead in [Gallup's] May 21-23 poll. It's also interesting to note that, for the second straight poll, Gallup's LV numbers (a 6 point, 50-44 lead for Kerry) closely match their RV numbers.

Gallup helpfully provides a solid red/purple/solid blue breakdown of the Kerry-Bush RV matchup. That breakdown shows Kerry with a very healthy lead in the solid blue states (57-37) and Bush with a surprisingly modest one in the solidly red states (48-44). And, most critical to Kerry's electoral chances, he replicates his national lead of 5 points in the purple states (49-44)....

[Bush's] worst ratings are in two domestic areas of potentially large significance to November's outcome: energy policy and prescription drugs for seniors. In both areas, he receives identically abysmal 33/58 ratings. The energy policy rating suggests that high gas prices are indeed hurting Bush politically and the prescription drugs rating indicates that the new discount drug cards are not--despite the predictions of various Republican operatives--improving public perceptions of Bush's performance in this area.

Not a lot of good news here for the current occupant of the Oval Office. No wonder Republicans have been floating the idea of a Reagan death bounce for Bush. Nothing else seems to be working.

Maybe Bush really can't fool all the people all the time. Senior citizens certainly haven't been suckered by the drug card scam. Some of the yuppies out there could learn a thing or two (or twelve) from their elders.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Had it up to here with hagiography?

If you're sick to death of hagiography and revisionist history, here's the antidote. (From Christopher Hitchens, of all people -- what's this world coming to?)

I only saw him once up close, which happened to be when he got a question he didn't like. Was it true that his staff in the 1980 debates had stolen President Carter's briefing book? (They had.) The famously genial grin turned into a rictus of senile fury: I was looking at a cruel and stupid lizard. His reply was that maybe his staff had, and maybe they hadn't, but what about the leak of the Pentagon Papers? Thus, a secret theft of presidential documents was equated with the public disclosure of needful information. This was a man never short of a cheap jibe or the sort of falsehood that would, however laughable, buy him some time.

The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing. Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Iraq: The financial cost

A friend sent me a link to the Cost of War Web site, which features a running total of taxpayer dollars spent on the war in Iraq, as well as information on how that money could have been used: the number of preschoolers who could have been enrolled in Head Start, the number of four-year college scholarships that could have been awarded, and so on.

Pretty sobering stuff -- and mind you, this is just the financial cost. There's no way to quantify the human cost in terms of death and suffering.

Bush: My base is 'the haves -- and the have-mores'

I have a love-hate relationship with Michael Moore. All too often, his valid criticisms get lost in the uproar over his intemperate public statements. This time, however, he's performed a public service.

Some time ago, I read about a GOP fundraising dinner at which George W. Bush told the audience, "This is an impressive group: the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."

Moore's got that priceless moment ON FILM, and you can see it in the trailer for his new documentary, "Fahrenheit 911." Do yourself a favor and check it out.

I don't want to hear one more word about what a "regular guy" George W. Bush is. The film clip demolishes that myth once and for all. It shows the real Dubya -- firmly aligned with the wealthy and powerful, and installed by them to serve their interests. There's a class war going on, all right -- and the middle class is losing out to the well-heeled.

I wish or the Media Fund would get hold of that film clip, make an ad out of it, and plaster it all over the airwaves between now and November.

Rumsfeld departs from the script

Like the estimable Oliver Willis (who found this item on the Chicago Sun-Times Web site), I can't believe Rumsfeld said it. Talk about letting the cat out of the bag...Rummy just liberated the mother of all cats and her entire litter of kittens.

The United States and its allies are winning some battles in the terrorism war but may be losing the broader struggle against Islamic extremism that is terrorism's source, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Saturday.

The troubling unknown, he said, is whether the extremists -- whom he termed ''zealots and despots'' bent on destroying the global system of nation-states -- are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them.

''It's quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this,'' Rumsfeld said at an international security conference.

I hope the "liberal media" doesn't let this get lost in the current tsunami of sentiment over Reagan.