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March 22, 2007

Re: Conservatism and Healthcare

[Re: Conservatism and Healthcare, 3/22/2007]

You wrote, “And, yes, I do believe that if we can achieve universal coverage without socialism or government control of doctors and hospitals, it is ultimately a victory for conservative principles.”

Take credit if you need to, but every proposal I know of, including Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's (D) and the one's working their way through the Oregon legislature, spearheaded by former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) are built on these same principles.  No one I know of proposes socialism or government control.  Yet all of the credible proposals I've seen, except for Arnold's, and there are lots!, have been proposed by by progressives, not conservatives.

Happy to have you with us.

I think you mistake pragmatism and free-market as somehow only belonging to conservatives, and miss a great deal of how the political landscape is really structured these days.

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March 21, 2007

In Utah, an Opponent of the ‘Culture of Obedience’

This is an excellent bit of framing.  The “Culture of Obedience” helps focus on vast majority of conservatives/Republicans, rather than the few leaders.  It helps focus on the weakness of conservative philosophy that leads to authoritarian figures gaining power, which is then exercised beyond measure (McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan, Bush) given the unquestioned belief in their own rightness and deservedness of power.

Re: In Utah, an Opponent of the ‘Culture of Obedience’ - New York Times:

“There’s a real resistance to change and an almost pathological devotion to leaders simply because they’re leaders,” he said, in describing fellow Utahans who do not share his views and who in large numbers support the president (and gave him 72 percent of their vote in 2004). “There’s a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that’s worse in Utah than anywhere.”

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Loaded Orygun: Jefferson Smith Talks Bus and Bigger With MyDD

A quote from Jefferson Smith of the Bus Project from interview at MyDD, as picked up by ...

Re: Loaded Orygun: Jefferson Smith Talks Bus and Bigger With MyDD:

Our enemies aren't certain political party operatives. Our enemies are apathy, greed, and selfishness.

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Clip: Dems Find Buzz for Energy Independence Reforms Elusive

Now here's an idea for shaking up political expectations: have the Democratic candidates for president agree on an Energy Independence Policy, not offer mildly differing policies.

Re: Dems Find Buzz for Energy Independence Reforms Elusive:

Because most Dems are in general agreement about measures to promote energy independence, there is an enormous opportunity for the candidates to get behind a unified statement that will define Dems as the Party of hope, in stark contrast to the GOP's lack of a credible policy for energy independence.
It shouldn't be all that hard for Dem candidates to unite around a common agenda that includes tougher CAFE standards, more investment in mass rail transit, increased tax credits for hybrid cars, alternative energy development -- an energy independence package that benefits Dem candidates and strengthens the party's image.

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Re: “Freedom Is About Authority”

[Re: “Freedom Is About Authority” - 3/21/2007]

Gak!  What was it about your quote of Guiliani's “Freedom Is About Authority” that made me sick?

(1) - It did nothing effective to dispel the thing he claimed it wasn't -- about oppression --, but really (2) it is such a perversion of the ideals of this country that one wonders how we let people like that get away with it.

No one I know and have ever known (and I'm now almost 50) has ever supported his false extreme of “anything goes” -- maybe I was just too young to appreciate the 60s, but hell, most people alive today weren't either so let's not fan that dying ember as if it is somehow determinative of today's world -- it was just a strawman put up there to knock down in order to support his own opposite view (classic discussion manipulation technique).

His definition of freedom is nothing like Thomas Jefferson's ideals of personal liberty and shared responsibility to government -- that is, our freedoms end when they impinge on others.  To that extent, we all accept “authority” to enforce those societally agreed on limits, but at the same time the important part is that authority is itself strictly limited in scope.

His quote reminds me of Orwell's 1984.  Actually, it reminds me of something more recent: George Bush's, “When we're talking about war, we're talking about peace,” [REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HOMEOWNERSHIP] Guiliani is saying, “When I talk 'freedom', I mean acceding to authority.”

There is a world of difference between saying that freedom has limits if we are to have societies of more than one person and saying that acceding to authority is most important and freedom is what is left over.

This is the very slippery slope that repeatedly dooms conservatives.  By making authority out to be the arbiter of freedom, conservative groups self-select for authoritarians that exemplify that, resulting in the promotion of Joe McCarthy's, Richard Nixons, Tom Delays, and George Bushes to power in their organization.

While I have much sympathy for the “prudentialist” and “doubter” conservatives, they have developed no real ability to counter those trends since the very prudential and doubting attitude leaves them in the Rovian dustbin of history, much as I appreciate your efforts to change the  direction.

[Update -- more followup here.]

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American Tragedy ... Unnoticed

Last week must surely mark one of the great American tragedies, in large part because it slipped by unnoticed as such.

Last week Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (aka “KSM”) had his secret “military tribunal”, which redacted transcript was made available.  Now, we all generally believe he is guilty of planning (“masterminding”) the 9/11 attacks and were glad he was apprehended.

We deserve to see justice on the true perpetrators, especially the leaders of the attacks: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden.

But, we are being robbed of a sense of justice by the American history created by President Bush and abetted by Republicans since 9/11: (1) Foreign kidnappings, rendition of prisoners to countries that torture, American torture of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, our own use of torture and (2) our specific treatment of KSM -- how he was detained and tortured and because of the cloud hanging the “tribunals” due to their secrecy, use of coerced testimony, inability to provide defense and lack of Habeous Corpus.

Instead of bringing a sense of justice by bringing a key perpetrator to a lawful conviction by public trial and hearing the evidence and rending a verdict, the US is skulking around in secret places, with a few people, with the accused not allowed a lawyer, and releasing edited transcripts and video snippets.

As with Jose Padilla, Zacarias Moussaoui, John Lindh, etc., the process and treatment have led to unsatisfying conclusions.

We have apprehended some of the bad guys, but we mostly have a bunch of badly-intentioned goofs and a lot of overblown rhetoric about how bad they were.

But the scales of justice weren't balanced and Lady Justice peeked under blindfold to secure the pre-ordained results.

Perhaps Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's eventual “military trial”s will be different, but at this time, there is little reason to believe it based on past behavior and the fact that we've only gotten to this preliminary stage after holding him for four years.

Americans are left without a sense of justice being done.  And we are much the poorer for it.

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.
-- Dwight Eisenhower

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March 20, 2007

Clip: Why Conservatives Can't Govern

Re: TomPaine.com - Why Conservatives Can't Govern:

What is it about conservative administrations that lead them into disgrace and indictment? Incompetence isn’t at the core of these scandals—ideology is.

Conservative presidents—from Nixon to Reagan to Bush—believe in the imperial presidency. They assume that in the area of the national security, the president operates above the law, or as Nixon put it, “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” They operate routinely behind the shield of secrecy and executive privilege, with utter disdain for the law. So Reagan spurned the Congress when it cut off funds for his loony covert war on tiny Nicaragua. And Bush trampled the laws to set up the torture camps in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and elsewhere. Each would seek to keep their lawlessness secret; and that would foster lies, obstruction of justice and ultimately disgrace.

Second, conservatives are acutely aware that they represent a minority, not a majority, position in America. From Nixon to Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, they play politics and exploit America’s divides with back-alley brass knuckles—from Reagan’s welfare queen to Bush’s impugning the patriotism of Georgia Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam War hero who literally sacrificed his limbs in the service of his country. They excel in the politics of personal destruction, as Democratic presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and John Kerry discovered. And in the grand tradition of the establishment in American politics, they are relentless in seeking to suppress the vote, particularly of the poor and minorities who would vote against them in large numbers.

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The Shame of Republican Senators - Alberto Gonzales

As the fallout of firings of Attorney Generals continues to proceed, we shouldn't forget how we got here.  It was one thing for President Bush to nominate Alberto Gonzales, a man who advocated torture, isn't sure about the constitutionality of the filibuster and doesn't think there is a constitutional right to Habeaus  Corpus in the Constitution.  But it was another for the Republican-controlled Senate to approve his nomination two years ago in the face of clear knowledge of his constitutional incompetence and Bush loyalty-first approach to life.

As I wrote at that time, Gonzales should have been rejected on grounds of an incompetent understanding of our Constitution, an evident unwillingness to uphold his oath to the Constitution over personal loyalties and of lying and evasion to Senators while under oath.

The question for Democrats is, how to ensure that neither John Woo nor Alberto Gonzales hold a position of responsibility in any future administration?

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March 07, 2007

Advance renewable energy in Oregon

The following is an email exchange with my State Senator regarding SB373 to create a Renewable Energy Portfolio standard for Oregon electric utilities.

Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 10:52 AM

Dear Senator George,

I am writing to urge you to vote for SB 373, creating a Renewable Energy Standard for Oregon. Dependence on fossil fuels threatens our economy, while climate change threatens our environment. Oregon possesses abundant renewable resources to tackle these serious energy problems.  It's time to start doing just that. SB 373 is a practical, solution-oriented achievable law with multiple economic and environmental benefits.

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Continue reading "Advance renewable energy in Oregon" »

Re: The Daily Dish: A Political Katrina?

Hard to argue when conservatives see themselves and Republicans like this:

Re: The Daily Dish: A Political Katrina?:

The eclipse of old-style, limited government, realist, inclusive conservatism by the new pro-torture, left-baiting, homo-hating, debt-building, war-losing apparatchiks of the Rove machine could lead to most moderate Republicans and Independents voting Democrat or staying home next year. Of course, many things can happen before then. I've learned not to make predictions. But this feels to me like an implosion. Part of me wants to help rescue what's left of the right; part of me thinks that the only way to rescue the right is to allow it to continue committing suicide. Only once the GOP wakes up and realizes it has become a nasty rump of Dixie will some see how deep the damage of the Bush years goes.

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