Thank you for everything. Your work here--the royal "your" includes Matt--gave me ideas, direction and focus. The 2004 elections sent me into a serious real depression, and this site has been therapy by showing the way to political change and the specific accomplishments and opportunities that mark the coming of that change. I've tried to plug in where I could in my own small ways.
Best wishes at the new site, and I will be stopping by.
Here, here...good post. It is exactly my hope that MYDD and the blogosphere will give the American polity a hard push to the left.
And I like the previous two comments--fertik and randomnonviolence. They are two halves of the whole progressive vision: Random articulated the values, and fertik articulated the real-world goals (though I would have added science-based environmental policy to capture the issue of global warming and environmental degradation).
The American people will respect us more for explaining our political goals in terms of our values, ala the Rockridge Institute.
I'm with writer James Howard Kunstler, whose most recent book (The Long Emergency) lambasted alternative fuels as a solution to the Peak Oil issue. The evidence that is available so far about alternative/renewable fuels supports his thesis: that there is no substitute for oil and that the alternatives are either unrealistic, or tend to accelerate environmental degradation and climate change. Look at ethanol here,here,here, and here.
Neoconservatives and other right-wing types love to point out inaacuracies in the Democrats world view, so you need to address the contradiction of asserting that global poverty produces terrorism and then looking at empirical data that David Brooks quotes here:
We have learned a lot about the jihadists, from Osama bin Laden down to the Europeans who attacked the London subways last month. We know, thanks to a database gathered by Marc Sageman, formerly of the C.I.A., that about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science.
Whether they have moved to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, England or France, these men are, far from being medieval, drawn from the ranks of the educated, the mobile and the multilingual.[...]
I pride myself in understanding my opponents' criticism, and I don't have a response to these observations that allows me to hold onto a belief that it is global poverty that produces terrorism.
On questions of values, it embraces 'tolerant traditionalism,' honoring traditional moral and family values while resisting attempts to impose them on others.
I recoiled at the use of the term "tolerant traditionalism" in reference to support for religious practice. The subordinate phrase (honoring...) spins away from the implications of the language, but one of the most important advances in the Western democratic tradition came when James Madison made it his personal mission at the Virginia convention to excise the word "tolerate" from the first amendment to better establish freedom of religion.
Although it is not clear that the members of the Virginia convention knew that they were doing it, they had, by Madison's amendment, removed freedom of religion from the purview of what lawyers today call "legislative grace"--with the implicit assumption that waht is thus given can be withdrawn by the power that grants it--by making the fundamental philosophical claim that freedom of "conscience," or belief, is not a matter of toleration, forbearance, or gift, but rather what the Declaration of Independence, issued a little over a month later in Philadelphia, would call an inalienable right, equally possessed by all. That was new.+
I know this is a subtle point, but religious chauvinism is a force in American politics right now, and I am suspicious that "tolerant traditionalism" is a coded hat tip to it.
Anybody who didn't get around to Glenn Greenwald this week, he had an outstanding piss-take column on the latest round of right-wing lynch-mobbing.
The hysteria over the Pew poll about American Muslims continues unabated, with the focus now on the finding that while 80% of American Muslims oppose attacks on civilians in all cases, 13% said they could be justified in some circumstances. The "discussion" illustrates some standard failings of our political discourse.
Michelle Malkin went to National Review to proclaim that the poll "should be a wake-up call, not another excuse for the mainstream media to downplay the threat of homegrown jihad." Mark Steyn said it demonstrates the existence in America of "a huge comfort zone for the jihad to operate in," and Jonah Goldberg warned how "significant" this is. On CNN last night, Anderson Cooper was horrified -- just horrified -- that "so many" American Muslims would support such violence.
The University of Maryland's highly respected Program on International Public Attitudes, in December 2006, conducted a concurrent public opinion poll of the United States and Iran to determine the comparative views of each country's citizens on a variety of questions. The full findings are published here (.pdf).
One of the questions they asked was whether "bombings and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians are sometimes justified"? Americans approved of such attacks by a much larger margin than Iranians -- 51-16% (and a much, much larger margin than American Muslims -- 51-13%):
A rather substantial 24% of Americans thought that such attacks are justified "often" or "sometimes," while another 27% thought they were justified in rare cases. By stark contrast, only 11% of Iranians think such attacks are justified "often" or "sometimes," with a mere further 5% agreeing they can be justified in rare cases. Similar results were found with the series of other questions regarding violence deliberately aimed at civilians -- including women, children and the elderly. Americans believed such attacks could be justifiable to a substantially higher degree than Iranians.
As Kenneth Ballen noted in The Christian Science Monitor in February of this year, Americans express greater support for "attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria." Make of that what you will -- and its meaning is debatable -- but those are just facts.
Leave aside the question of whose political causes are just and whose are unjust, because it is irrelevant to the discrete issue at hand. It is simply a fact that Americans generally -- at least as much as any other country in the world -- believe in the justifiability of violent attacks on civilians in pursuit of political goals. That is how people like John Podhoretz can come right out and say things like this in The New York Post and have virtually none of his mainstream political comrades bat an eye: What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?
I'm off to watch The Ox-Bow Incident starring Glenn Greenwald as Henry Fonda. No wait...
Having read the comments in Kerry Truman's Action Alert yesterday, I disagree with the commenters who imply that the onus for change is on us to choose to eat less meat (the Republican "take personal responsibility and don't look to the govt. to solve your problems" frame. As Pollan describes the situation above, this is a public health crisis that can be very effectively addressed through policy changes in the farm bill.
It's nice to eat less meat, but it's better to tell your congressional rep to get involved in the farm bill.
As a small organic CSA farmer, I can vouch for the importance of the CSP and EQUIP, which funded an incredibly important irrigation expansion project that doubled the acreage I can grow on from 7 to 17 acres. However, the application process for EQUIP funds is competitive, and I was successful only because my farm is surrounded on 3 sides by environmentally sensitive wetlands, and because I am a new farmer (by govt. definition, less than 10 years in the occupation). Many, many other farms that applied did not get funded for their projects in my central Massacusetts county, nearly all of which sell what they grow locally in the Boston metropolitan region.
Michael Pollan has written very effectively about the importance of greater national political involvement in the "farm bill," which should more aptly be titled the Food Bill:
Most important, the farm bill determines what crops the government will support--and in turn what kinds of foods will be plentiful and cheap. Today that means, by and large, corn and soybeans. These two crops are the building blocks of the fast-food nation: A McDonald's meal (and most of the processed food in your supermarket) consists of clever arrangements of corn and soybeans--the corn providing the added sugars, the soy providing the added fat, and both providing the feed for the animals. These crop subsidies (which are designed to encourage overproduction rather than to help farmers by supporting prices) are the reason that the cheapest calories in an American supermarket are precisely the unhealthiest. An American shopping for food on a budget soon discovers that a dollar buys hundreds more calories in the snack food or soda aisle than it does in the produce section. Why? Because the farm bill supports the growing of corn but not the growing of fresh carrots. In the midst of a national epidemic of diabetes and obesity our government is, in effect, subsidizing the production of high-fructose corn syrup.
What about if you wrote as if you were writing a post on mydd --with all of the strength and self confidence and intellectual clarity that are in you daily writing -- then added an anecdote if you want for the beginning and/or end?
Speaking is aweful, bu the self-consiousness is the only barrier, I suppose.
Sounds like the stuff of a great radio essay. I've been advocating that you and Chris try your hand at writing some essays for NPR. Every evening I turn on NPR Here and Now to hear yet another radio essay from some right wing think thank. The latest was from some guy who said the the only thing Wolfowitz was guilty of was good intentions, and not anticipating that the bad old liberals would stoop to anything to get him, etc...
... the report was produced by Third Way. Third Way has long argued that Democrats need to appeal more to white, male, rural and upper-middle class voters. Is it any wonder that they produced a report showing that when Democrats won, they did just that? As Chris Cilizza writes:
Read any survey sponsored by an interest group with something of a jaundiced eye. Third Way is a centrist Democratic group that advocates policies aimed at growing the party beyond its traditional liberal base. As such, it's not terribly surprising that this study suggests potential for luring more votes from voter groups outside the normal Democratic constituency.
DIdn't Howard Dean say something about appealing to these guys without compromising our progressive principles? We know the rightwingers, DLC, Third Way et al will try to frame white men out of the traditonal liberal (progressive) base, but we shouldn't help them.
By extension, I wonder whether the success of blogs among wealthy, well-educated whites coincides with a lack of community organization for the same people that hasn't reached the same tipping point in minority communities. Maybe I'm wrong, and I certainly don't have any scholarly evidence to back this up, but I consistently see as one of the virtues of blogs the power to unite people across wide geography.
Lucas threw this out. Interesting point--white males have been drifting Republican in droves for a long time, and I've often wondered if the diversity-conscious Democratic party of the 1980s deconstructed them so much that they became alienated and left--despite an affinity for a number of progressive issues and values.
The blogsphere has created spaces where white males can be at ease as liberals and progressives and contribute to a greater progressive victory. I know this gets back around to some of the earlier criticisms of Chris's diversity posts are you talking about white male only clubs?), but I thought this might be an important point.
I disagree with Chris on first principles as others here do: valuing and seeking diversity is inalienable from the definition of progressive at this point in history. It's not my purpose here to defend that, so I won't go into it here.
I also disagree with his notion of what MYDD is: Chris's attempt to assert a specific subject focus (election analysis) is arbitrary and defines away some of the site's most important accomplishments--such as the Google bomb project and MYDD's leadership role in scuttling the Fox News/Nevada debate.
The notion that MYDD is a tight little central committee of insiders twiddling away in the background doing analysis is ludicrous. You have alot more effect in the political world than that.