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June 28, 2007

Re: A 'no' vote on Fox News snub

To the editors -

When Scott Collins equated politicians “snubbing” Fox News to President Nixon's political “enemies list”, he totally missed the point of what Nixon's enemies list represented: Nixon used the power of the government to attack those perceived enemies and cover up the crimes committed.  That is an abuse of the public trust, illegal and the remedy was impeachment.

But when a candidate for office choses not to appear in certain forums, even if they keep a list of which ones they do and don't favor and even if a group of  them agreed, there is still nothing illegal about it, and it most certainly does not involve the abuse of “enemies” by using the apparatus of government from the power of their elected office.

Every figure chooses their forums all the time and snubs others.  Examples:

The White House has snubbed and condescended to Helen Thomas of the White House press corps for years, but Collins hasn't equated that to Nixon's impeachable offenses.

Bush and Cheney interview with right-wing talk show hosts, but when have they ever been on with a progressive talk radio show host like Ed Shultz?  Never!  There may be a “no appearances” list or not, but that still doesn't make it illegal or equivalent to Nixon's enemies list unless they use the apparatus of government to actually go after them.

What Collins displayed is a common conservative distort-and-distract technique: take a general similarity between two things and use that to conflate them by ignoring the salient differences between them in order to destroy the person they don't agree with: if Nixon had a list and person A has a list and if Nixon committed crimes and was impeached because of his list then [distortion] person B must be a criminal too! and [distraction] we should talk about their “criminality”.

In this case, the purpose of the distortion is to distract from the real issue raised by the “snub”: that some Democrats think there is no point being on Fox because Fox's political bias will simply be used to insult and demean them as people and be used to distort their messages in order to further Fox's own opposing political agenda.

So, the actual controversial issue isn't, as Collins would have it, that “snubbing is happening!”, the issue is what the snub what pointing out: Fox News is a political wolf in news clothing.

SHORT FORM:

When Scott Collins equated politicians “snubbing” Fox News to President Nixon's political “enemies list”, he totally missed the point of what Nixon's enemies list represented: Nixon used the power of the government to attack those perceived enemies and cover up the crimes committed.  That is an abuse of the public trust, illegal and the remedy was impeachment.

But when a candidate for office choses not to appear in certain forums, even if they keep a list of which ones they do and don't favor and even if a group of  them agreed, there is still nothing illegal about it, and it most certainly does not involve the abuse of “enemies” by using the apparatus of government from the power of their elected office.

Every figure chooses their forums and snubs others, just as Republicans appear only on right-wing talk radio but never on progressive talk radio like Ed Shultz.

The actual controversial issue isn't, as Collins would have it, that “snubbing is happening!”, the issue is what the snub what pointing out: Fox News is a political wolf in news clothing.

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June 19, 2007

Re: Scalia and Torture

[Re: Scalia and Torture]

You wrote, “This celebration of lawlessness is not conservative. It's something much more radical.”

It isn't the Bush “exception” to conservatism; it isn't Christianist.  So what is it?

It may not be your definition of a conservatism of doubt or even perhaps the conservatism of old (pre Reagan).  But I would argue that it is a fairly common example of the modern American conservatism which venerates power and the powerful (by their definition) and a certainty in their own correctness.  There may be leanings from Christianist behavior flowing here, but I think that Christianist behavior is simply reinforcing the modern conservative worldview founded on a fundamentalist, dogmatic worldview -- there's no answer to “when are taxes low enough?”, if it was good to cut them once it proves they must only go lower; government is the problem ... always; etc.

The modern conservative era, from Goldwater on, was founded on “insurgency” principles: ideas designed to get power, but not to govern well.  It contains the seeds of its own destruction: if government is the problem, then how can you run government well? -- you can't, so you turn to cronyism and corporatism (government is just your tool for getting more power); if government is the problem, then how to redress the problems of the free market, such as lack universal healthcare or global warming since these come from the problems of the free market.  Etc.

Reagan conservatism contained these same seeds -- government is the problem; Iran-Contra hubris of the president being above the law; adopting Heritage Foundation blueprint for taking over government, etc.  Then Gingrich and Delay instituting the K Street shakedown and ruling from a “majority of the majority”.  It was more benign then, but it was merely a matter of degree and timing and control of congress.

This is modern conservatism in full flower and in all its “glory”.

To create a conservatism that doesn't contain these problems, I would argue is impossible: many of these characteristics were true of the old Democratic Party of the Civil War era when it was the conservative party.  Eventually “reticence” become “fear of change” which becomes externalized as fear of others (blacks, gays, Democrats, whatever for the times) and “tradition” becomes respect for authority which becomes authoritarian.

Conservatism is fundamentally flawed as a governing philosophy for a liberal democracy.

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June 07, 2007

Clip: Are These Trade Agreements Free or Fair?

A great summary of the problem with recent “free trade” agreements.

Clip: Carl Pope: Are These Trade Agreements Free or Fair? -  The Huffington Post:

... deals have not been about free trade for some time, but about trade managed for the benefit of multinationals.....

What do I mean by saying these agreements are unbalanced? Well, if a signatory to a typical trade agreement violates the patent protection rights of a US drug manufacturer to provide cheaper life saving medicines for its population, the drug company can bring a legal action against it. But if the same country brings down drug prices for import into the US by using forced labor, a union can't do anything about it.

Certain laws -- those which protect businesses -- are given a special priority, and companies can use trade agreements to sue governments for cash compensation if a pesky environmental or public health measure stand in the way of their profits. Neither unions nor environmental groups have the rights given to businesses to make sure that worker's rights and the environment are protected

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June 05, 2007

Measure 37 bill clears Ore. Senate

Re: Measure 37 bill clears Ore. Senate:

The Oregon Senate today set the stage for a November showdown on Measure 37 when senators approved sending to voters a scaled-back version of the land-use law voters approved in 2004.

“It is critical for agriculture that we find some solution,” said Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, in a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on the bill last week. “If this isn't it, then we'll find out at the election and we'll have to get back to work.

”We've got the ultimate public hearing. It's called an election.“

Nice framing.

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Re: In the White House, Pardon Is A Topic Too Sensitive to Mention

Re: In the White House, Pardon Is A Topic Too Sensitive to Mention - washingtonpost.com:

Barely an hour after the sentence was handed down, the conservative National Review posted an editorial on its Web site headlined “Pardon Him.”

Pardon Libby ... Impeach Bush

June 04, 2007

The Daily Dish: Damn

Re: The Daily Dish: Damn:

Obama has the ability to pitch liberalism to conservatives and independents. That's a skill the Democrats would probably be wise not to throw away.

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