Thursday, April 28, 2005

There And Back Again, Again 

As if we needed more evidence, Republican arrogance continues to make clear exactly why the total focus of both the Democratic Party and its liberal/progressive grass roots must be on mounting a national campaign to change the leadership of congress in 2006, and that the basis of such a campaign should be the manner in which, after only a decade in office, this Republican congress is totally out of control because it continues to confuse leadership with an endless grab for more and more raw, naked power.

I refer to this little gem from The Raw Story. You may have already encountered it.

I say "little," because compared with the total performance of the Republican congress, changing the summary description of amendments to a bill on the House floor submitted by Democratic house members to make it seem as if all such amendments were proffered with the explicit purpose of protecting child molesters, even though those summaries, please remember, will become part of the congressional record, and are straight-up lies, must be considered minor. The major lies being told by Frist, Hatch, et al, after all is said and done, are about American history, about constitutionality; those lies present a false version of both, a false version of what the Republican party position was on confirming appellate judges when Bill Clinton was President, sixty of whose nominations never even made it to committee, despite the fact that the "vacancy crises" about which the President is now so concerned had been proclaimed back in by the late nineties by no less than Chief Justice Rehnquist. Only ten of Bush's nominations have been rejected. If Clinton had got his fair share of appointments, there would be no crises, and Bush would have had far fewer vacancies to fill. Who really created the vacancy crises?
Finally, Bush accuses Democrats of creating a "vacancy crisis" on the courts by opposing his nominees. Republicans claim Democrats have abused the Senate filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds, in most cases, the first-term records of presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. "Does that sound like a crisis? Only if you failed math really badly," Reid said.

Still, stuffing words falsely into the mouths of your duly elected colleagues does seem worthy of note.

The invaluable "edwardpig" will tell you exactly why and how here; not only does he suggest letters to the editors of newspapers resident in the state which loosed James Stensenbrenner upon us all, the estimable blogger provides names and addresses to make the task easier, along with a lot more information confirming the original story, and some inspiring words about why it's important to get this story told beyond the confines of blogtopia (coined, let us remember, by that canny bush kangaroo, skippy). Don't confine your reading to this one post; if you haven't visited the edwardpig site in a while, do yourself a favor and read everything you've missed. The pig named edward is really good.

Al Gore made a wonderful speech on Wednesday, in support of a day of demonstrations across the country, organized by MoveOn.org against the nuclear option being threatened by Senator Frist, the Republican Party and its most right-wing supporters. You need to read it. Gore identifies what's at issue here; the rule of law.

I'm personally sympathetic to the arguments by Nathan Newman and others that the filibuster has been much more useful, over the years, to conservative forces than to progressive ones. Perhaps if some compromise could have been worked out where Democrats would have agreed to a majority vote on a portion of the ten disputed Bush judicial nominees in exchange for getting rid of the filibuster for legislative as well as for conformation purposes, it might have been worth a try. But not with this Republican Party, which, drunk with their own power, is incapable of compromise even when it sees compromise as being in their own interest. They simply don't know how to do it.

Gore makes the kind of Burkean conservative argument of which the right in this country is not longer capable. Go read.

Echidne of the Snakes, everyone's favorite goddess, has all kinds of great stuff to up, but I'd like to call your attention to a real find she made of an astonishing example of Christian Evangelical advice to parents about how to bring up children. An extreme example, no doubt, but not essentially different from Dr. Dobson's approach. What underlies all the advice given is the perceived need to destroy the will of a child; will being constantly equated with willfulness. This is an utterly totalitarian view of the true nature of goodness in human beings, i.e., the bending of the individual will to an all-encompassing ideology from which there can be no dissent. I'm sure you can see the ramifications. Echidne has the link to the entire article; you should read the whole thing.

Also, please don't miss Echidne on Katha Pollit on Andrea Dworken. Echidne also has important information about taking action on ANWR here.

More discussion this week about how Democrats can talk about what they stand for; that's not what interests me here, so much as the comments thread this post by Kevin Drum provoked, filled with an astonishing hostility on the part of left leaning commentators to unions and the union movement.

I don't propose to mount a counter argument here; instead I suggest a trip to "Confined Space" where Jordan Barab continues to do God's work on earth. Bet you didn't know today is Worker's Memorial Day, 2005. Jordan tells you all about here, and here. This is not fun reading, but its a mindful perspective by which to evaluate the negative attitudes to the union movement that have been deliberately drummed up over the last three decades, and have begun to take hold even on the left.

I suspect none of us visit here as often as we should; if that includes you, read everything current not yet archived, You'll find about what its like to be a worker at Residential Center, about an important AFL-CIO summary of the state of life and death health issues for workers today, how Bush's Labor Dept is playing down and dirty to undermine unions, what congress is and isn't doing about Asbestos exposure, to name but a few. Remember, even though the number of unionized workers is smaller than non-unionized workers, the issues are the same for both.

In regards to ANWR, here is a sublime essay by Terry Tempest Williams, one of our great prose stylists, who will tell you why, in the deepest sense, that Arctic place most of us will never come close to visiting is central to what Williams calls "the open space of democracy." If you're interested in joining that discussion of the relationship of language to making successful arguments on behalf of a progressive agenda, "Ground Truthing" is one not to be missed. I'd be especially interested in your reactions to Williams language and style of argument, either in comments, or by email.

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