Monday, January 31, 2005

The First Amendment is really not a big deal.

Amazing story on MSNBC: A study of high school students revealed an alarming attitude:

The First Amendment is really not a big deal.

We all know the state of our education system (started prior to No Child Left Behind but accelerated since). So I guess I wasn't too suprised by the ignorance of high school students.

That 3/4 of them didn't know flag-burning was protected or 1/2 thought the government could regulate content on the internet makes you just you shake your head, maybe even laugh.

However, what's chilling is that:

  1. Only 83% said unpopular views should be allowed to be expressed in the media.

  2. 1/3 thought the 1st Amendent went too far in guaranteeing people's rights

  3. 1/2 think that the government should APPROVE stories before they are printed in the media


you want to know why it's important that we retake control of our media & schools again?

because it takes a long time to wear people down, but once you do, they accept it & will accept less & less.

i'll give you an analogy (hopefully it doesn't come across as silly -- hang in there):

i always used to love eating out in the states. then i moved to canada. i could not BELIEVE how good everything tasted there. & you can really taste the difference. bread w/ butter (oh, so that's the big deal), chocolates, etc....

i know this sounds silly & i risk being panned, (esp., in light of the 1st Amendment) but the reason things tasted better up there is a both logical & alarming: they don't use as many artificial ingredients, hormones & pesticides up there. So the ingredients that make up our foods is more pure, healthier & just tastes better.

canadian foods spoiled me. when i moved back to the states, i really don't enjoy eating out as much as i used to -- the butter is solidified transfatty oils, & chocolates gritty & powdery (& yes, they're made at different factories). i don't eat at mcdonalds or i feel bloated or sick.

i switched to organics b/c they matched the tastes. think about that: I HAD TO SWITCH TO ORGANICS TO GET THE SAME QUALITY & TASTES THAT REGULAR FOODS HAD UP THERE!

& i used to eat this stuff all the time & think it was the greatest. but that's b/c i grew up with & had gotten used to. i in effect didn't know any better.

so what's the point of this silly analogy?

well, how do you think we arrived to the point where we could accept products & ingredients in our foods that causes diarrhea, increase stomach acidity, can actually put burns on the walls of our intestines, and of course cause cancers?

the food industry has added or taken away various ingredients to improve their manufacturing, product lifetimes, and margins.

& it wasn't a right-wing conspiracy. yes, i've read about some of the more conscious ingredient changes corps used. but more than anything else, it was a simple attempt to make more profits -- which is understandable (unless someone can prove otherwise).

& this happend slowly, in increments & we didn't really feel it till we were conditioned to accept less & less & accept more dangerous materials into our bodies.

& that's what's happening here. these students have conditioned to accept less & less & that's dangerous b/c they will be the voters of tomorrow. they will be the ones will not blink when the Patriot Act is made law & added.

& they will be the ones who will understand why it is important for the government to censor any stories in the press.

Senator Byrd (D-Va) is pushing that students should be taught the Constitution. This may be one issue that conservatives (true conservatives who I have a great deal of respect for, not religious freaks) & progressive can agree on & legislate. The country is going to lose a great leader & a great scholar of the Constitution when Byrd leaves us.

georgia10 bemoaned the loss of our free press, the 4th Estate. here's how it happens.

we need to take back our schools & press.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Seriously. Why can't Hillary run?

Some of you are terrified by the prospect of Hillary running in 2008, winning the nomination & getting trounced by the Republican candidate. Hell, the Republican spies among you -- YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE -- may be salivating!

Can we say President Jeb Bush??? God -- I'd be filing my immigration papers to Canada on Nov. 3!

But I don't think that's going to happen.

No, it's not that I believe Hillary is going to be President. Frankly, I rate her chances pretty low to even win the nomination -- about 25%.

But that doesn't mean she can't or shouldn't run. I mean, not having a snowball's chance in hell of winning didn't stop Liebermann, Dean (in the beinning), & a billion other Democrats from running in 2004.

& frankly, Hillary has a much better chance in my opinion to win the nomination than did those candidates when they started their campaign.

So why should she bow out? She's got ambition like the other guys & believes she can make her country better too!

Now, again, I'm not saying I'd vote for her or like her chances -- low in my Vegas books still. But you don't know the future. Events can change. Iraq, the economy, the weak dollar can all add up to people looking for a new direction.

And Hillary is more politically savvy & articulate than people may be giving her credit for. Add to that having as a husband one of the most gifted politicians since Reagan (yes, dammit I said it!) who can advise her & have the balls to correct her (which Kerry did not have) -- & I think you can build a solid enough portfolio for a winner.

& don't forget with Clinton, you get a large number of people who would love to re-live the pre-9/11, Internet booming 90's.

My main satisfaction would be to see a serious female candidate push the envelope open a little further. Even if she doesn't win, she will seed the ground for the woman who will finnally bring that goddamn glass ceiling crashing down.

& that's without winning the nomination (provided she does well like Edwards).

lastly, she gets a lot sexist shit. Let's be honest about that. Yeah, she's liberal & that upsets people -- but the fact that she's a woman who "doesn't know her place" gets her alot of shit & a big target on her back.

Anyone who's had to deal with that & do it with the class & skill that Hillary has demonstrated SHOULD BE APPAUDED!

Alot of men would've cracked.

So, go ahead -- disagree with her. That's ok. I have. But let's support her & let her run. If she's too "left", the process will filter her out, just as it did (rightfully or not) with Dean.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I was and am one of those that understood the pragmatic need to confirm Condi Rice as Secretary of State -- yes with strong disagreement & reservation & delay even but nonetheless & unfortunately an "ok, she's your choice but a sorry choice" yes.

I found the toughness by the Dems towards rice exciting in the possibilities of a strong Democratic & progressive party.

Having said that, I would like to see Gonzales clearly rejected for Attorney General for several reasons:

  1. First & foremost, as others have perfectly stated, a clear rejection of Gonzales sends the world a very clear signal that we do not & will not condone torture.

  2. I don't like how Rove architect this nomination to woo Hispanic voters. It's pandering & insulting to any minority. As a minority, I DO understand the symbolic & emotional statement it makes, but we have better Hispanic, black & minority leaders out there -- let's find them.

  3. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me an attorney general who can justify the legality of torture is not a man who (IMHO) understands the system of law.

    He definitely doesn't understand the spirit of the law & should not be the man who pushes our legal agenda.

  4. When we finally catch a terrorist, do we really want a guy so judicially challenged & incompetent as Gonzo to handle the case?

    His rulings and legal opinions (including torture) were judicially weak & over-turned repeatedly. How can such a weak lawyer successfully prosecute a terrorist?

Rice simply had the political strength to overcome a strong Democratic fight. I do not think Gonzales as strong & his connection to torture makes him politically liable.

Therefore, we can do the right thing here.

As a minority myself, I want a Hispanic & other minorities at high offices -- including the Presidency one day (soon!). But there are better, more qualified minority candidates than Gonzales, who are more knowledgeable, more experienced & who would place more loyalty to the country than to their party & boss.

Gonzales, by justifying & CONTINUING to justify torture, most probably did cause the deaths of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of those below him. That along with his poor judicial skills make he a danger to civil liberties & our personal saftey.

It's that simple.

Defending Joseph Biden

I respect the opinions of those who felt Joseph Biden was weak & hypocritical for voting for Rice during the Senate Committee’s review of her nomination -- especially when he was so highly critical of Rice. His argument that he was being deferential to the President was suspect. So perhaps the criticism he has received is justified. It is at least worth understanding.

I however did find his questions very tough & his knowledge of the Iraq war formidable. He definitely came across knowing more about the war than did Rice. He put holes in her credibility right from the start – WITHOUT looking partisan.

This was important because it gave him & the other Dems credibility to continue their attacks on Rice & the Bush Administration. Biden’s ability to seed doubts concerning Rice’s integrity into the audience made the testimony & tough questions of his fellow Dems on the committee that more effective.

Boxer, for all her AWESOME ass kicking, would NOT have been so effective if Biden hadn’t done such a good job of putting holes in Rice’s numbers & statements without looking like a partisan sore loser.

For instance, disproving convincingly Rice’s & the administration’s assertion that there are some 100,000 to 200,000 trained Iraqis ready to protect their country.

Using their own people & #'s, Biden made a convincing case that there were only 4000 trained Iraqis & of those NONE were ready to actually prepared to protect their country.

This was an incredibly important point because having 200,000 trained Iraqis was the condition the Bush Administration has said it needed to withdraw our forces.

Which means at this rate we’ll NEVER get out of IRAQ!!!

It also showed that either (a) the Bush Administration is lying about it’s numbers, or (b) that it doesn’t know it’s numbers & is therefore incompetent, or (c) BOTH!!

The hole that Joseph Biden put in Condi Rice’s credibility & in turn the Bush Administration’s was TITANIC BIG! And he did without giving up his own credibility, without looking like a partisan bully, which would have turned the audience (American conservatives & mainstream voters) against the Democrats right from the beginning.

And, we don’t get enough chances to speak to Red/Pinkish voters right now – so let’s take advantage of the chances we get.

So, to summarize, I have always found Biden to be an informed, sharp critic of the Bush administration. He was one of the few Dems who effectively backed-up Kerry in the 2004 campaign (GAWD – remember the so called “War Room”??).

So let’s give him some benefit of the doubt & appreciate his toughness & service so far.

It’s a shame & ironic. Kerry had Biden to be his Secretary of State & Biden showed that he would have been a good one.

What could’ve been (& may be in 2008).

Judging the Rice Senate Commitee Democrats: Getting things done

Concerning the performance of the Democrats on the Senate Committee over-seeing Condi Rice's Secretary of State Nomination:

First of all, you can NOT look at the Democrats individually. This was a team effort. You know that they got together & came up with a game plan. Yes, there were individual agendas & concerns -- but each one seemed to have a role.

Barbara Boxer was definitely the attack dog. Joseph Biden seemed to be the moderate that opened the hole in Rice's credibility through which Boxer, Kerry & all could jump through.

So let's judge them as a team & view them from a team perspective. Then, we can look at them individually.

I didn't see enough of Barak Obama to make a complete judgment. however what I saw of it supplemented with tapes & transcripts I’ve collected, I thought he did well.

I thought he came out light & showed his lack of experience in foreign affairs. that's to be expected I think -- he IS a freshman senator after all. however, I also think he showed his incredible gift of poise, class, intelligence & power of personal story. I look forward to his journey.

I think the expectations on him are too high. we want him to be a superman & save us from the evil bush monsters. & I think that summarizes the reaction to the Dems I’ve seen.

We want them to be Superheroes but frankly Superheroes don't exist.

So we have to get things done using ordinary human strength. that means it's going to take time, we're not going to be able to just overpower evil, & that sometimes we will have to decide our priorities b/c we can't save everyone at once.

& it means sometimes coaxing people along who aren't moving as fast as we want them to.

The mess that we've gotten ourselves into (maybe SOME of us didn't do it but we're here together) -- that mess is not going to be fixed overnight.

It's gonna require patience on our part & constant vigilance (the price for democracy is vigilance, right?)....

As for John Kerry, I don't think his No vote on Rice was empty sop for his former constituency. For one thing, it's obvious he's running again so he looks at us as his current base.

Secondly, he asked very tough, detailed questions, which showed his knowledge & basically put holes in Rice's credibility.

He asked very sharp & critical questions I thought but didn't knock her out (not quite a Boxer knock out but a solid articulate one which he either pulled back from or wasn't able to land)

As for his motivations concerning the No vote: is he belatedly rectifying his Yes vote on the Iraq war or simply trying to not put himself in the same position to defend a "Yes" vote in 2008? could be. maybe he meant it sincerely or maybe it was a political move.

My humble opinion is that Kerry is both a politician & a man who sincerely cares about his country. I think his vote was sincere but I think the politician in him did calculate the political impact of his vote as well.

but you know what? does it matter? if he continues to act & vote the way we want, isn't that a good thing?

As for Joseph Biden, I respect the opinions of those who felt he was weak & hypocritical for voting for Rice when he was so highly critical of Rice. his argument that he was being deferential to the President was suspect. so perhaps the criticism he has received is justified. it is at least worth understanding.

I however did find his questions very tough & his knowledge of the Iraq war formidable. He definitely came across knowing more about the war than Rice did. He put holes in her credibility right from the start – WITHOUT looking partisan.

This was important because it gave him & the other Dems credibility to continue their attacks on Rice & the Bush Administration. I have always found him to be an informed, sharp critic of the Bush administration.

Again it was a team effort & this team worked really well. It was very refreshing to see Democrats so forceful & out-playing the Republicans political – we have seen the opposite to often lately.

In terms of toughness (1-6 performed well IMHO):

  1. Boxer
  1. Boxer
  1. Boxer :-)
  1. Biden
  1. Kerry
  1. Dodd/ Sarbanes
  1. Obama, Chafee, other Dems...
  1. the harsh lighting
  1. the chemicals in the carpeting

# 10 - 10,000,000. the butterfly flapping its wings in china.

& lastly -- & I DO MEAN LAST -- in toughness:

The Republicans for being the rubber stamp the American public needed to ensure our safety.

Thanks for looking out for us, guys!

Recession means that people's incomes, at the employer level, are going down, basically, relative to costs, people are getting laid off. Bush

Why Voting Yes to Rice Does NOT = Weakness

in no way do i want Condi Rice as sec of state. but i think there is the issue of winning the battle vs. winning the war.

frankly i thought she should've been fired a long time ago for 9/11. she failed completely us.

an expert in russia, she was completely unprepared for the middle east & suffered from an arrogance that she really did not need to prepare any more. & we suffered the consequences with 9/11.

what's scary is that AGAIN it appears to me that she's under-prepared for the position of sec. of state. she has already undercut her position by alienating many of the countries she would have to deal with (venezuela, iran, north korea, etc...). she was antoganistic during the hearings to any view that deviated from the administration & furthermore, she never displayed any independence, the sense that she could EVER disagree with the admin & bush when she really needs to stand up to them (errr, like, say IRAQ!!!).

in effect she's still acting like an NSA head & not with the diplomacy of a sec of state. not exactly what you want in a sec of state.

so how do you vote FOR that??

frankly i would not have. & heck, maybe a good substitute for the yes vote would've been to abstain in protest.

but we couldn't cocoon ourselves here in this single nomination. let's look at the facts.

she was going to win the nomination. period. the political strength of the repubs combined with her impressive resume, her intelligence, her impressive public speaking skills, & of course the symbolic emotional appeal of being a black woman (& yes, it is there) -- all these combined to build an absolute win for the repubs.

to fight that the dems risked

  1. looking like sore losers,
  2. coming out of a bruising battling INCREDIBLY politically weaker,
  3. had/when they lost, the Dems would've found future battles that much more difficult (e.g., Gonzo), &
  4. alienating the public which does NOT like consistent losers.

so we had to look tough -- BE TOUGH -- without looking petulent in front of the audience (the conservative & mainstream & liberal americans) & we had to do this without undercutting our already diminished political strength.

to do this, we had to be informed & ignore political differences & be focused on non-partisan issues of national security.

& politically, we had to sow into the audience seeds of doubt concerning rice's credibility (& in turn bush's admin) all while looking open & fair to her -- seeds that we could continue to water & grow during the 2nd term.

& that is exactly what i think the dems did.

they came across much more informed & knowledgeable about the issues than did rice -- they had quotes from her, data from the field trainers, had flown to iraq to collect information all kinds of stuff that basically made rice look like a school girl being sternly lectured by her prof.

& they did it while looking like they took the high ground to the audience.

& yes, rice will be approved, but now they can be tough & heck abuse her (like the delay till next week)...

it was a very good, politically savvy start to a long war. the dems came out stronger not weaker from this.

& NOW that they approved her, they can go after Gonzo without looking like obstructionists.

Recession means that people's incomes, at the employer level, are going down, basically, relative to costs, people are getting laid off. Bush