Perfect: The Enemy of Better

I was speaking with a few of my progressive friends last evening when one mentioned that another friend of ours, who twice unsuccessfully for Congress, decided he was disgusted with the local, state, and national Democratic Party (not without justification), was quitting the party.  This is a common theme among progressive Democrats who are frustrated with the records of "Republican- lite" members of Congress and the largely uninformed electorate that vote on the basis of slogans, or for who the press deems the "person you'd most like to have a beer with." While I understand their frustration, I believe their all-or-nothing approach (either the party is completely progressive or no better than the Republicans) is a recipe for disaster in the long run. This belief is the best chance the Republicans have to establish a permanent majority, in spite of holding views that are reprehensible to a clear majority of Americans.

The Democratic Party finds itself in better place than the Republicans were situated after the landslide of 1964.  Barry Goldwater, a right-wing radical that was totally out of touch with the electorate was routed by Lyndon Johnson.  Fast forward 40 years, and one with Goldwater's views would be slightly right of center (roughly in Hillary Clinton territory).  Sixteen short years after that rout, we elected the first of 3 out of 4 fascist presidents.  How did this happen in such a short period of time?  Certainly not by the conservatives leaving the Republican Party because they felt abandoned and frustrated.  To their credit, and our chagrin, they systematically started from the ground up by developing think(less) tanks that completely changed the political language of the country.  As a result, they took over government in spite of being ideologically out of touch with the voters.  They convinced America that greed was good, corporate profits were always a good thing (as median wages decreased), that Jesus wouldn't give money to a beggar because the beggar need to learn to stand on his own two feet (whether or not he had feet), that the clean skies act actually cleaned the skies, etc. etc. etc.

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A Freakin' Wall? Are You kidding Me?!!!!

The Bush approach to illegal immigration (more accurately illegal employment), while it has a small chance of passing in congress, is doomed to failure. The cornerstone of this policy is a wall, a freakin' wall! Walls don't work; they never have and never will. A wall, whether built to keep people out or keep people in, is a sure sign of a failed policy. Unfortunately, the Bush approach to the immigration problem is moronic and simplistic, and as is characteristic of his thinking process, is a today's bottom line approach. It does not even consider the root cause of the problem, and is thus doomed.

The conservative approach to every problem is punitive:

  • People are addicted to illegal drugs - declare a war on drugs, build jails, and put 10% of the population in jail.
  • Terrorism - declare a war on a concept, suspend civil liberties, build jails and torture chambers in foreign countries, and attack someone...anyone.
  • People are crossing our borders illegally to earn a living and feed their families - build a wall, arrest them, and deport them until their survival instinct gets the best of them, and they come back.
Do you see a pattern here? The conservative approach to illegal immigration is doomed just like that approach to all of our other problems.

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Where HAVE all the Leaders Gone?

I just finished Lee Iacocca's new book, Where Have all the Leaders Gone?.  While some of his views are off the mark, likely a product of his long association with the corporatocracy, most of what he writes is dead on.  

To illustrate his main point, one must look no further than the recent capitulation by Congress on the Iraq war funding bill.  The followers in Congress effectively snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory on this one.  After demonstrating the fact that Bush would get no more money to support his epic failure, they proved that a stubborn fool could prevail over more thoughtful individuals who lack the courage of their convictions.  While it is understandable that, considering the considerable effort in time and money that they risked to get to Congress, members of Congress would desire to be re-elected, I believe that many of them are misguided in their means of accomplishing this goal.

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Iraq Showdown: Don't Stand on the Sidelines

The coming showdown between Bush and Congress regarding the Iraq war supplemental funding bill and the deadline for withdrawal will be a monumental occurrence in US history.  If Congress has the fortitude to refuse to pass a funding bill without mandatory withdrawal, the President will have no choice but to sign the bill or leave the troops without necessary funding.  In this case, it will be quite evident that Congress is the branch of government that is supporting the troops.  For that reason it is incumbent upon us, the American people, to take a proactive part in the coming events.

Many members of Congress, especially some of the newly elected Democrats, have taken what they perceived to be significant political risk in supporting the leadership and attaching a time table for withdrawal to the supplemental funding bill.  My Congressman, Jason Altmire, voted for the timetable in spite of a formidable number of calls and letters imploring him to break with the leadership and vote against the resolution with a time table.  After his vote, he stated he was gratified by the positive response to his vote.  We must not stop now!  We must continue to flood Congress with calls, letters, and e-mails urging a take-it-or-leave-it stance, again insisting that any supplemental funding bill have a time line for withdrawal attached.  The purists among us may insist that anything short of immediate withdrawal is inadequate.  While I personally share that view, the reality of the situation dictates that a more pragmatic stance is presently more realistic.  No matter where one stands on withdrawal, the present state of affairs is certainly an improvement over the state of affairs before the election.

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Clintonomics Revisited

As a supporter of Bill Clinton in the 1990's, I have stated many times to Bushies that I voted for Bill twice, and would vote for him again in a heartbeat. I also stated many times that I longed for the days that the worst thing the President lied about was a ____. That being said, if Bill ran today, I would likely vote for one of his opponents in the primary, but would give him my unconditional support in the general election. Why would I vote for the great communicator's opponent in the primary, even though he would likely smash any opponent the republic party would feed to him? The answer is simple; times have changed.

The decade of the1990's was a time that marked the beginning of the end of a period of a conservative wave in American politics. The general "I've got mine, screw everyone else" attitude of the Reagan/Bush years was still very much alive, "today's bottom line" corporate hacks like Jack Welch were lionized in the media, the inevitability of a world economy was almost universally accepted, and the idea that the private sector always did things more efficiently than government was widely accepted as common sense (obviously these were the pre-Halliburton days).

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A Scandal A Day: It's no Coincidence

It started before day one of the Bush Administration: stealing the election in Florida, under the supervision of Jeb Bush, and has been steadily increasing since. As a matter of fact, it started long before George W. Bush even came onto the national political scene: the Iran Contra Scandal under the direction of George HW Bush and Neil Bush's involvement in the Savings and Loan grand larceny in the 1980's. One can even go back to Prescott Bush and his long involvement with the Saudi royal family and their terrorist friends. Essentially, they are the powerful and the entitled, and the world is their candy store.

After W(orst ever) took office, the scandals have slowly but steadily increased. Pertinent examples of the scandals of this administration include, but by no means are limited to: formulation of energy policy by oil executives, forcing Paul O'Neil's resignation for having an opinion, lying (not misleading) to congress to start an illegal pre-emptive war, outing Valerie Plame to avenge her husband's "unpatriotic" behavior, the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman fabrications, Abu Gharaib, the selling of Iraq to the highest bidder (Halliburton, Blackwater, etc.), Katrina, Spying on Americans, Alberto Gonzalez, and Robert Mueller. I could go on, but any recap would be incomplete; if hundreds of books can't do this administration justice, one blog post certainly can't.

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The Fallacy of Tort Reform

Not a whole lot new has happened, which gives me the opportunity to do what I like best.  Having been accurately depicted by George Will as a narcissist who believes that people actually care about my ramblings, I will ramble on, today about tort reform.  Being an anesthesiologist for almost 20 years, I have been involved in medical malpractice and personal injury cases, both from the defense and plaintiff's sides.

Regarding medical malpractice, as a physician, the overwhelming majority of my colleagues have bought the line of the AMA that tort reform equals caps on non-economic damages.  I am not one of those.  History has shown, in California and more recently in Florida that this is not the answer.  In California, caps instituted in the late 1970's had little effect.  The malpractice crisis continued until the late 1980's, when insurance reform was instituted, and insurers refunded $70 million in overcharges.  To this day California malpractice premiums are below average, but not because of caps.

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New Website Chronicles NW PA Congressman's Transgressions

An interesting article in the Sharon (PA) Herald refers to the web site recently funded by Steve Porter, who unsuccessfully challenged the morally challenged Phil English in the PA-3 Congressional election last month.
http://www.sharon-herald.com/cnhi/sharon herald/homepage/local_story_352220407.ht ml?keyword=leadpicturestory
The web site can be found at http://www.dumpphilenglish.com/

The site succeeds where the Northwestern PA media has largely failed: in pointing out English's persistent failure to effectively represent this district, by repeatedly supporting the Bush anti-worker agenda has crippled this economically depressed district.

Phil's transgressions, which are detailed on the site, include his fifth rank in all of Congress in the acceptance of privately funded travel, totaling $181,000.  This included a trip to Saipan, an American territory described as a cesspool of prostitution, abortion, and textile sweatshops by Connie Chung in a May 1999 20/20 episode with Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.  It seems that Mr. English is ardently anti-abortion, unless that abortion is forced on a Saipan sweatshop worker.  

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And the Winner is...You

This will be a short post because, quite frankly, George Will said it all.  I was watching "This Week with George Stephanopolous" when the Time person of the year was discussed, and the winner is you.  George Will's response was quite predicatble, and shows just how much Time hit the nail on the head with the choice of the people (i.e. bloggers) as the person of the year.  Will stated "It's about narcissism, which is why the mirror is absolutely perfect.  So much of what is done on the web is people getting on there, writing their diaries as though everyone ought to care about everyone's inner turmoils."  I guess George Will's inner turmoils are the only one's that warrant people caring.  It seems like the narcissist-in-chief is appropriately threatened by others who have finally been given a venue to suggest that there are opinions outside of the corporate media.
Joe
http://americanmajority.blogspot.com

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George W. Bush... Great President, or Greatest President Ever?

Being a fan of Stephen Colbert, I have on numerous occasions seen him ask his guests the question:  George W. Bush, great president, or greatest president ever?  After watching Al Gore's movie last night and discussing global warming and other pertinent issues with a few friends who I met working on the last election, it occurred to me that we could thank George Bush for many of our recent accomplishments.  Most of us were part of the sleeping masses, voting against those who supported the Reagan agenda, but doing little else politically.

Being the most obviously terrible president since Hoover, and one could make the argument since the last King George in 1776, there are signs that W woke up a sleeping giant.  Looking back earlier in the 20th century and Herbert Hoover's broken promise of a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage, the great depression opened the eyes of the masses, resulting in 20 years of Democratic presidents, and over 50 years of Democratic congressional domination.

As the memory of the great depression dissipated, and those of my generation and younger only have memories of our parents and grandparents relaying their horror stories, a smooth talking actor was able to convince enough people that by making the rich richer, we all would benefit.  Because he was "likeable" (although I personally always hated the bastard) he was able to sneak his destructive policies into the mainstream with minimal resistance.  

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Diaries

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