Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Iraq Forever—Not!

Just received an action alert from MoveOn asking for signatures on a petition to halt the Administration’s scheme to keep a large permanent presence in Iraq.

President Bush is quietly negotiating an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep our troops there indefinitely--an agreement that could include permanent bases and a massive military presence for years! Bush is trying to tie the hands of the next administration to keep us in Iraq for the foreseeable future.

If we let them get away with this it will seriously hamper hopes for future withdrawal by a subsequent administration.

Click here to sign the petition.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Civil Liberties Under Attack

Thanks to x4mr over at “Sustainability, Equity, Development” for sounding the alert on an extreme danger to our civil liberties. The danger lies in HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

“Violent Radicalization is defined as the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.” – x4mr

Hop over to “Sustainability” to read the post and comments. This is chilling stuff. Gabby and Raul and 402 other House members voted for it. Don’t these guys think about this stuff before they vote?

As for me, I expect I’m a candidate for investigation since I am heavily into Violent Radicalization. But then so was Mr. Jefferson:

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.It is its natural manure."—Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who Cares?

I mean who really cares about any of the Democratic presidential hopefuls? Do you? I’m not sure I do. Out here in the progressive blogosphere everyone wants a Democratic president but we don’t seem to care very much just who the candidate might be. Any Democratic president will do just fine, and any candidate can do it. Oh yeah?

The only candidate who stands solidly for Progressive values is Kucinich yet we read no passionate defense of him from the left, nor do we read any debates between supporters of the other candidates. Ho Hum.

In August 15,000 trade union men and women gathered in Soldier Field (Chicago) to hear our collection of “Luke Warmwaters” make their pitch. As John Nichols writes, in an excellent article in The Progressive,

“Dennis Kucinich delivered applause line after applause line—connecting with the crowd on ideological, political, and emotional levels that the other candidates could not begin to reach.”

Not a single union subsequently endorsed him.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Most American Holiday

Thanksgiving!…When a nation of tubbies gathers around the groaning board to overeat with every relative within striking distance. You don’t necessarily like all those people, but what the hell they’re family, and they’re not usually annoying while they’re packing it in and packing it on.

That’s Thursday, but Friday is really the big day. Black Friday! When food abuse is followed by credit abuse. Eat more than you need, spend more than you have. Makes a fellow proud to be a ‘Murican.

Oh well, Season’s Greetings to y’all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Smart Car

I was happy to read an article in Salon announcing the full scale launch of Mercedes’ Smart Car. I saw my first Smart Car a little over a year ago in Lisbon. When I got home I priced what was available then and found that by the time required safety features like air bags were added the price had popped up to around 15 K.

I suspect this was due to the after-production cost of adding the government-required features. With those features added by Mercedes in the factory the reported base price will be $11,600.(Lots of luck to you buying one at that price.)

Small cars have always appealed to me and I have never felt unsafe diving one, or been bothered by fairly pedestrian performance. I’m just not a car nut. When I dream high performance I dream of sophisticated motorcycles, however impossible the dream. (A street legal high-p
erformance sidecar would be nice the next time I have a spare 35 grand.)

My first car was a 1948 Crosley, in which two friends and I took a post high school road trip. The Crosl
ey story is quite remarkable as are the engineering details of this nice little car. The picture comes from a great Crosley web site.

Like nearly half the world I owned a VW Beetle in the
60’s, but what was probably a more interesting vehicle was the slab-sided Citroen 2cv, affectionately known as the Deux Chevaux. It was very popular with adventure drivers who really loved the little car in back country conditions. (Front wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension.)

And now, the Smart Car. There are a number of critical comments posted on the Salon article, but my own observation is that the shorter length (8.8 feet long -- a whopping total of 106 inches. It's 5.1 feet tall and just as wide) won’t do you much good in locations where the parking is marked off and metered for bigger cars. I doubt that Rita, the lovely meter maid, is going to let you get away with nosing two Smarts into one space.

40 MPG doesn’t seem too hot a ticket, either. My full sized 2003 Corolla gets about 32 in the city and has been known to sip gas at the rate of 39 to 40 mpg on the interstates.

I think I’d rather own a Mini.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Not Voting Today in Tucson

I’m not voting today, even though I’ve lived in ‘Tucson’ for 35 years or more. ‘Tucson’ is in quotation marks because although my life is centered in the city, and my mailing address says Tucson, I’ve never actually lived there—I’ve lived in the Catalina Foothills.

For nearly all of those 35 years I have favored annexation by the city. For the same 35 years my fellow Foothills residents have resisted annexation, willing to live as political eunuchs rather than risk an uncertain tax future.

But Tucson is the dog that wags the foothills tail, and they have given up all say in Tucson affairs, for instance important issues like water and development, that directly affect their own well being as well as that of the entire community.

Too bad.

Monday, November 05, 2007


At a party a week or so ago I was surprised to find a significant undercurrent of pro-Kucinich support. Of course we were a sizeable group of Foothills liberals. Either there were no conservatives present or, if there were, they were cowed by being so outnumbered. Most of us were either actively supporting or reluctantly resigned to one of the big three Democratic candidates but “Oh, if only…if only…”

So today, in Salon, I read Rebecca Traister’s article, “Stop lying to yourself. You love Dennis Kucinich.” Consider the following paragraphs from Traister’s piece:

You are lying to yourselves. In a quest for an "electable," "not insane" presidential candidate, you are willfully overlooking the candidate who actually comes closest to representing the things in which you really believe: justice and peace and the basic freedoms that should be afforded to every American, regardless of race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation or galactic origin. In an effort to distance yourself from the squish of the Birkenstock and the stench of the patchouli, you have convinced yourself that compromise and pragmatism light the path to the White House. And you are correct. But still, before walking listlessly down the aisle toward our impending union with tepid centrism, let's rip our clothes off for one final, ill-advised fling with ideological honesty.

If you believe in universal, single-payer healthcare and that campaign finance and electronic voting are corrupt; if you hate the Patriot Act and believe it erodes civil rights; if you believe that gay people should have the same rights as straight people, that America should rejoin the Kyoto Protocol and take steps to halt global warming, that we should invest in alternative fuel sources, that our water and air need to be protected from pollution and overuse, that the government should reduce the amount of money it spends on war and instead work to improve the country's education system, and that going to war in Iraq was a terrible and tragic mistake, then (snip)…

Dennis Kucinich is our man! If he can't do it, well, that's because we're all chickenshit and condemned to a future of our own making. Yay, Dennis!

And after you read the article, take the quiz. Dare ya!

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Pillory for Hillary?

I am not a Hillary fan—she’s not really my kind of Democrat. That said, I find the piling on of the last debate distasteful and counter-productive.

Frankly, I think her response to the driver licensing of illegals was perfectly sensible. The state of New York does have an interest in knowing where the undocumented are, and absent any sensible immigration legislation by the federal government this may be a step in that direction.

On the issue of personal correspondence in the Clinton Archive the suits’ claim to be ‘shocked…shocked by this lack of openness’ is disingenuous. Unless of course they are willing to release their correspondence to be picked through.

C’mon, guys, tell us in detail how you plan to set things to rights and solve some of the nation’s problems. Let’s have those details and a debate about their merits.

Class War

It’s not fashionable to raise the specter of class warfare in America. It is especially frowned upon by the forces that have been most successfully waging it for the past quarter century. It is the war that dares not speak its name, if I may borrow the phrase from another context.

The war is one of Capitalism’s most successful projects, being fought not by those who control the means of industrial production, but by those who control the means of financial production…the great web of financial institutions, banks, merchant banks, brokerages, insurance companies, mortgage companies and real estate interests.

These are the “New Capitalists.” The old capitalists controlled the material means of production, the great factories that produced the cornucopia of consumer goods that were America’s pride and the envy of the less fortunate. They made money by transforming raw materials.

But where the old capitalists produced consumer goods, the New Capitalists produce only money, the precondition for the production of which is money itself. I intend to return to this theme in future posts. For now let me observe that most of us are victims of this class war, victims of an exploitation that is so subtle that we’re not only unaware of it but have already largely lost it.

I started thinking about this after reading a paragraph in a Judith Warner NY Times article, “The Clinton Surprise. She cites a new set of data from the I.R.S.

“It showed that America’s most wealthy earn an even greater share of the nation’s income than they did in 2000, at the peak of the tech boom. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, the Wall Street Journal reported, earned 21.2 percent of all income in 2005 (the latest date for which these data are available), up from the high of 20.8 percent they’d reached in the bull market of 2000. The bottom 50 percent of people earned 12.8 percent of all income compared with 13 percent in 2000. And the median tax filer’s income fell 2 percent when adjusted for inflation (to about $31,000) between 2000 and 2005.” (Italics mine)