Democrats & Liberals Archives

January 2005 Archives

January 31, 2005

Fair and Simple Tax System

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, is introducing a proposal to overhaul the American tax code today. While the proposal wouldn't satisfy everyone, I think it's much better than what we have and much better than what President Bush proposes.

» Continue reading "Fair and Simple Tax System"

Posted by LawnBoy at 11:50 AM

So, What's It All Mean?

Well, the voting went better than expected. Only about 44 people were killed, I didn't see any figures on the wounded.

Of 14.2 million eligible voters, an estimated 8 million (56%) - mostly Shiite and Kurdish - voters went to the polls. The numbers have been changing fairly quickly, from 72% down to 60% of registered voters, so it'll be interesting to see what the final "official" number will be. Most Sunnis apparently abstained.

» Continue reading "So, What's It All Mean?"

January 29, 2005

Moving Forward

[I posted this on my own blog back on November 6, but it still seems relevant.]

America has made a grievous error.

I'm not going to spend much effort analyzing why. As Matthew Yglesias notes, "these things are multicausal. Elections are complicated."

» Continue reading "Moving Forward"

January 28, 2005

Serving the Kool-Aid

Watching and reading Republican responses about the upcoming Iraqi election, I've been disturbed by some of the attitudes. I mean, I can understand the hope and good wishes conservatives have for the election. But there is a difference between hope for the best and denial of the worst. There is also a difference between that same hope and the refusal to see a problem.

I would give anything to see these elections go off well, to sit back in six months and laugh at how seriously I took the dangers. But that doesn't mean convincing myself of something that's not the case.

» Continue reading "Serving the Kool-Aid"

January 27, 2005

Some More Outrageous News

Those on the right that were justifiably outraged by the news that Armstrong Williams was paid to promote Bush's policies, hang on. Williams said that there were others and guess what? This time, at least, he telling the truth. A syndicated columnist named Maggie Gallaghar was also busted as a shill for Bush.

» Continue reading "Some More Outrageous News"

Posted by William Cohen at 12:13 PM

January 26, 2005

Judiciary Democrats Unite Against Gonzales

In a new display of backbone, every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against forwarding Alberto Gonzales' name to the whole Senate for confirmation. The equally united Republican contingent overtook the nays, so that by a 10-8 vote Gonzales will go before the Senate for consideration. That's right, the author of the apologia for the relaxation of the definition of torture who referred to the Geneva Conventions as quaint, now will be judged on whether he is qualified to serve as our nation's chief law enforcement officer.

» Continue reading "Judiciary Democrats Unite Against Gonzales"

Bush's Other Election

On Sunday, President Bush will hold his Iraq election over the misgivings of just about everyone from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to Iraqi President Gazi al-Yawer.

If you're not sure who the candidates are, you're not alone. I just saw an Iraqi Sunni on CNN say he was going to write in George Michael, the singer, because he knows absolutely nothing about the newly returned expatriates who are running for office in his country.

» Continue reading "Bush's Other Election"

January 24, 2005

WWVCD?

I'm about to finish up Von Clausewitz's On War, and I reached the famed quote that talked about war being policy carried out by other means. The context surprised me. What he meant is that the character of the government's policy and the character of the military conflict are inseparable.

In short, the quality of the war follows from the quality of the policies of the government fighting it.

» Continue reading "WWVCD?"

Accountability

$300 million US dollars were secretly taken from Iraq's central bank. In a "To Catch a Thief" moment, Ahmad Chalabi (himself a fugitive from Jordanian justice, as well as Cheney's primary WMD intelligence source and Bush's pick for Iraqi president), accused the Iraqi Defense Minister of shady dealing, leaving the Iraqi national security advisor to lament, "I am sorry to say that the corruption here is worse now than in the Saddam Hussein era."

» Continue reading "Accountability"

January 23, 2005

Dissonance reduction, American-style

Psychologists use the term "cognitive dissonance" to refer to the icky feeling we all get when we realize that we are doing something that is inconsistent with our beliefs. We get ourselves out of this jam by coming up with thoughts that reduce the dissonance. Suppose you lose your temper with a cashier. If you can convince yourself that she was lazy and not doing her job, then you feel better. This column by Katha Pollitt has a good example.

» Continue reading "Dissonance reduction, American-style"

Posted by Woody Mena at 4:07 PM

The 'Future Of Social Security' Focus Group

It's interesting, that just today I happened to see my first commercial from one of the Conservative groups (Progress For America) footing the bill for Bush's Social Security propaganda campaign (incidentally, it was during CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports). In my opinion, it captures perfectly why the distortions and manufactured crisis by the administration and The Right are not the only major flaws in the President's plan.

» Continue reading "The 'Future Of Social Security' Focus Group"

January 22, 2005

From satire to reality in six easy months?

A rather clever satire from last summer was Mole in Our Midst which argued that only one theory explained "the vast wasteland that George W. Bush has made of American governance". Bush, the author suggested, was a double agent for Iran. His social agenda is set by the Iranian mullahs, and his foreign policy has destabilized Iraq and Afghanistan, and hence left power vacuums on either side of Iran - which greatly benefits it, and no-one else in particular. Quite amusing.

» Continue reading "From satire to reality in six easy months?"

Posted by William Cohen at 2:46 PM

Myths of Leadership

The movie Hero, directed by Zhang Yimou, stands as one of the most beautifully shot, acted films of the last few years, in addition to having some of the most excellent and memorable action sequences since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came along in 2000. But quite a few western critics had misgivings about the subtext and message of the film. Simply put, the film is a kind of apology for concentrated dictatorial power. Not surprising considering the source of the movie (Chinese made), but it got me thinking about the nature of how we regard politics in our culture. We are somewhat better than the Chinese, but only somewhat.

» Continue reading "Myths of Leadership"

Hotel Rwanda

I just saw Hotel Rwanda. Excellent movie. The kind that stays with you long after the sticky stuff comes off the soles of your shoes.

One of the interesting things about the movie is, though United Nations troops are the sole representatives of the world outside Africa, the movie places blame for not stopping the genocide right where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of Britain, the United States, France, Germany, and all the other UN member nations that would not authorize the use of force.

» Continue reading "Hotel Rwanda"

January 20, 2005

Honest George Will...

The Red Team on this site and elsewhere have mostly been following the lead of George Bush in attacking Social Security: recently phrases like "Ponzi scheme", "crisis", "failure", "unsustainable", and even "economic fascism" have been tossed out with reckless abandon. A little fact-checking shows that this assessment is (at the very least) wildly pessimistic. It doesn't take much of a cynic to suspect that the current push to "fix" Social Security is driven less by any real sense of "crisis" than by politics. » Continue reading "Honest George Will..."

Posted by William Cohen at 2:24 PM

Big Whoop

Another inauguration. Remember how the presidents and their families would get out of the car and walk along Pennsylvania Avenue? Remember how in 2001, when Bush tried it, security hustled him back into the car and sped the rest of the way to the White House because people were pelting him with rotten eggs? Good times... Good times.

» Continue reading "Big Whoop"

January 18, 2005

Strategic Interests

Good strategy is like good engineering- it channels and diverts forces in such a way that a positive result comes of the structure. Like most engineering, though, there is planning, and then there's reality. Intentions count for nothing if they are not followed through with results.

Now we hear about a possible attack on Iran on WMD sites. I know, the information may not be dependable, but we all know that Iran is on this administrations hit-list. Let's pose a hypothetical: What if we go through with this?

» Continue reading "Strategic Interests"

January 17, 2005

Desert Two

Seymour Hersh lifted the veil on covert US missions into Iran for the purpose of reconnoitering WMD sites in preparation for a possible strike.

I don't know who leaked the info to Hersh, but action should be taken to find out and charges brought. I can't think of a better way to encourage Iran's nuclear ambitions than to make that information public.

» Continue reading "Desert Two"

January 16, 2005

Act Now to Enhance Diversity of Ideas

Not too long ago, a Red Team editor made an eloquent argument for political diversity on college campuses. I applaud the goal of diversity of ideas, and I don't want to see this important point get lost - particularly since there appears to be second, unremarked subclass of America that also lacks diversity. » Continue reading "Act Now to Enhance Diversity of Ideas"

Posted by William Cohen at 3:35 PM

Their Hand Set Against All

As a man in my mid-twenties, I have lived through three eras of American history. My childhood coincided with the declining years of the Cold War. My Adolesence spanned the years of prosperity, and as an adult, my time is that of the post 9/11 era, the War on Terrorism.

My experience of the Cold War made me familiar with the old saws about Democrats and Liberals being weak-willed traitors. Through the years of the peace of the next decade, I would believe that slander laid to rest. I would be disappointed to discover otherwise.

» Continue reading "Their Hand Set Against All"

January 14, 2005

Selective Outrage

It reminds me of a behind-the-scenes article I read in Newsweek, describing the wildly contrasting moods of the Kerry camp versus the Bush camp, in the waning moments of the first Presidential Debate on October 1, in Florida. The buzz and mounting exhilaration of Kerry staffers concluded with high fives all around, while the practiced stoicism of Karl Rove greeted the press of 'Spin Alley', with his carefully worded 'debate analysis' already cerebrally spell-checked.

» Continue reading "Selective Outrage"

After "Politics of Truth" comes "Truth or Politics?"

From todays WP, via Yahoo:


Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank. Iraq provides terrorists with "a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills"

» Continue reading "After "Politics of Truth" comes "Truth or Politics?""

Posted by William Cohen at 3:57 PM

January 13, 2005

The Politics of Scientific Truth

In responding to Jack Matel's post across the way, I hit upon a subject that has long been of concern to me: political interaction with scientific matters. We are a high-tech, scientific culture at heart, and such matters are incredibly important to our society.

The idea in Matel's post is that somehow Anti-Americanism was the root of the refusal of needed polio vaccine in Nigeria. But even if that's the case, the real issue is much more complex.

» Continue reading "The Politics of Scientific Truth"

January 9, 2005

The Rubber Hits the Road

After the election, there was a lot of quibbling on these pages about whether Bush had earned a mandate. Although I was an active participant in these debates, in retrospect I realized that there is really only one standard of whether a presidential candidate wins an electoral mandate: whether he is so popular that members of Congress are afraid to challenge him.

» Continue reading "The Rubber Hits the Road"

Posted by Woody Mena at 10:35 AM

January 8, 2005

Clear Intent

Yesterday, I was among 3 million Kerry supporters who received an email from the Massachusetts Senator, where he stated unequivocally that there is not enough evidence of election irregularities in Ohio that would change the outcome in his favor. I cannot emphasis the significance of this statement enough, for if the singular mission and goal of those of us alleging fraud, official misconduct and voter suppression in Ohio was to negate George Bush's victory, our efforts must and should end here.

» Continue reading "Clear Intent"

January 7, 2005

Social Security: Minor Shortfall, or Major Rip-off?

Politicians are a species with a famously short attention span; usually 2, 4, or 6 years at most. So when a politician starts talking about problems that are 10, 20, 40 years away, watch out - chances are, he's trying to pull a fast one. Which is exactly what's going on with the so-called social security "crisis".

» Continue reading "Social Security: Minor Shortfall, or Major Rip-off?"

Posted by William Cohen at 6:02 PM

January 6, 2005

It's Not a Dessert

President Bush is trying to push his "tort reform" scam. This is something the insurance companies have wanted for a long time. It seems like every year they complain that "frivolous" lawsuits are going to put them out of business, yet every year they make record profits - a 1,000% increase last year alone.

» Continue reading "It's Not a Dessert"

January 4, 2005

Trial Balloons

A number of months ago I seriously considered sitting down and grinding out an essay advocating an unconditional and unequivocal withdrawal of U.S. forces, from Iraq. As I pondered and wavered, we were making the transition from former Bush Treasury Secretary John P. O'Neill reprising the role of John Dean, into the Rovevian Inquisition of Richard Clarke.

» Continue reading "Trial Balloons"

January 3, 2005

Fast Mover

With the time and focus on politics I spend here, people may not know that my main passion is not politics. It's storytelling. It's movies and books.

Well, I thought it might be an interesting experiment to do a story on a political subject. See if I can get the sense of my political points across in a way more subtle than a statement of principles. The subject will be a familiar one for my readers. The setting won't be...

» Continue reading "Fast Mover"

January 2, 2005

Get out of our way if you don't like complaints

Looking over at the right-hand column, I see that three of the last four postings from Team Red have focused on one issue: the injustice and inappropriateness of criticism of the government. They say "the left sees something sinister in every piece of good news", "get out of the way if you just want to complain", "the liberal press has mastered the art of lying", and so on. Elsewhere, progressive criticism of the government has been called everything from whining to high treason. » Continue reading "Get out of our way if you don't like complaints"

Posted by William Cohen at 5:56 PM