• comment on a post On James Carville over 4 years ago

    I cannot support a party whose membership includes people like James Carville

    I don't get the logic of not supporting person A (let's call him Al Franken) whom we really like because there's another person B (let's call him James Carville) whom we really can't stand.

    In short run, this likely means handing over power to the GOP

    The "pox on both your houses" philosophy which you are advocating now also played a role in the razor close 2000 election.  I won't argue that there was necessarily a spoiler effect just because Nader received many thousands of Florida votes and Gore lost by about 500 in the official count. What I do know with certainty is that this razor close election was followed by eight hellish years of Bush/Cheney.  I know with certainty that the "short run" can be too brutally long.

    Bernie Sanders may be the model to follow if you just can't stand the party label anymore.  In the early years, he was a perennial candidate for statewide office, running under the "Liberty Union" label, a quirky party with a socialist/libertarian bent that still exists in Vermont.  I don't think the Liberty Union party has ever had any electoral success.  And so for many years, Bernie was just this kid with wild hair, the sort of perennial lefty candidate whom you feel sorry for and you know will never be elected to anything.  Then he got smart.  He chucked the party label, set his sights lower - ran for mayor of Burlington instead of statewide office, as an independent, and with the support of a new Burlington progressive party, at the time called the "Progressive Coalition" (now the Progressive Party). Won by 10 votes against the longtime Democratic machine, and then did such a good job that he was re-elected 3 more times.  (Currently the Burlington Progressive Party has gotten long in the tooth, having replaced the Dems as the machine that everyone loves to hate.)  So Bernie actually gained credibility, and a springboard for higher office, while bucking the party labels.  Unlike other folks (e.g., Nader, Perot) who run for higher office on celebrity or money alone, never having served in elected office, Bernie gained so much credibility, that the Democratic Party stopped fielding candidates to run against him. They worked with him, instead of against him - and vice versa.  It's also instructive that the incumbant Republican whom Bernie beat when running for Congress had made the fatal mistake of supporting federal gun-control legislation - while Bernie played the much safer position (in a rural state like Vermont) of opposing such legislation.  So if there is a path for success for progressive/lefty candidates outside the Democratic fold, Bernie is a good role model.  Buck the Democratic label, but don't try to run on a third party label. Cut your teeth in office at a local level before setting your sights higher.  Stick to the bread and butter issues that matter most (even if gun control really is a good cause.)  And get a hair cut.  :-)

     

  • This is a repeat with some edits of a comment I wrote on this topic some months ago...

    Biggest concern: 

    MyDD currently doesn't work well (or even at all) in older versions of some browsers, for example in IE version 6, the text in the main (center) column is chopped off by the left column.  Websites can't expect users to all have the newest version of browsers; and if they do expect that - putting the burden on the users rather than the programmers - then site traffic will definitely suffer for it. It's not a coincidence that the most popular websites work well across a broad range of older and newer browsers.  [Adding: to test this, I just now visited a random sample of websites, using version 6 of IE, and they all worked fine: DailyKos, Firedoglake, Huffington Post, OpenLeft, Eschaton.  MyDD fails this test.]

    Smaller concerns:

    - The center column is wider than it needs to be. Currently users have to expand the browser to full screen in order to read all the text in MyDD's right column.   Many users (including me!) like to use apps in windows that don't take up quite the whole screen.  Take a look at DailyKos for example - you can still view all the text even if you don't expand the browser to the whole screen. 

    [Adding: I'm using the browser's (Firefox or IE) default zoom level; it's certainly possible to fix things by zooming out, but that's an additional step. I prefer websites that have a narrower footprint to begin with, so I don't have to zoom out.]

    - Last time I tried to write a diary with images, I gave up; never could get them to work.  Maybe that feature is fixed now, or there is some non-obvious trick to get it to work; I haven't tried it since a couple weeks ago.  [Now it is months since I've tried it; is it working yet?]

  • Indeed it is.  And though it is a very clumsy phrase to use in a Passover message, it would be much clumsier in a Yom Kippur message.  Accentuate the positive!

  • comment on a post MyDD5 update & back over 4 years ago

    Biggest concern: 

    MyDD currently doesn't work well (or even at all) in older versions of some browsers, for example in IE version 6, the text in the main (center) column is chopped off by the left column.  Websites can't expect users to all have the newest version of browsers; and if they do expect that - putting the burden on the users rather than the programmers - then site traffic will definitely suffer for it. It's not a coincidence that the most popular websites work well across a broad range of older and newer browsers. 

    Smaller concerns:

    - The center column is wider than it needs to be. Currently users have to expand the browser to full screen in order to read all the text in MyDD's right column. Many users (including me!) like to use apps in windows that don't take up quite the whole screen.  Take a look at DailyKos for example - you can still view all the text even if you don't expand the browser to the whole screen.  This could be handled easily - in the top menu, just chop out some of the unused space to the left of the word "Home" and to the right of the phrase "Live Feed".

    - Last time I tried to write a diary with images, I gave up; never could get them to work.  Maybe that feature is fixed now, or there is some non-obvious trick to get it to work; I haven't tried it since a couple weeks ago.  

    - Minor aesthetic issue: In the right column, the first diary title has no decoration, but the rest are all italicized. (Missing end-italics tag after the first comment counter line?) 

  • "From the time President Truman signed the executive order for integration in 1948, it was five years before that process was completed," Gates said. "I'm not saying that's a model for this, but I'm saying that I believe this is something that needs to be done very, very carefully."

    If he's not holding that up as a model, why did he mention it? When the wheels of justice move slowly, isn't that ALWAYS a bad thing? Levin's point about how opposition could be "inflamed" is a standard red herring for supporting delays or denial of equality for gay Americans.  I remember the very same argument being made by the editors of my state's largest newspaper, back when marriage equality was first being debated here (when the Baker decision required our Legislature to decide between granting marriage equality or creating a parallel system).  Last year, when the Legislature decided (with no Court order this time) to enact marriage equality, following years of grassroots activism in support of the basic concept that separate is not equal, that same newspaper acknowledged that it had been wrongheaded in its editorial a decade earlier.

  • on a comment on On Haïti over 4 years ago

    "May he and you rot in hell" is ad hominem too.

    I'm not familiar with Aaron Burr but I was suprised to see you referring to another poster with this tone. You usually write in a calm voice.

    I think both of you are going way overboard in attacking each other. Each of you has presented some personal knowledge and some historical facts about Haiti and Clinton, none of which is really in dispute here - particularly you Aaron really have chosen not to examine fact-by-fact Charles's argument; you've simply said, essentially, "We'll here's what *I* know about Haiti, and therefore you're an ignoramus.  And you worked in finance once, therefore you have no standing to write on social/economic justice issues."  You talk about what it means to be a true progressive. It would seem to me that among the traits progressives should possess is the ability to calmly converse and keep an open mind to each other's perspectives and experiences and knowledge base - and therefore maybe learn something from the other person - even if you don't arrive at the same conclusion on every aspect of a subject.  

  • I said they were evil, so I have no good expectations about them.  I wish we'd just kill the evil, but if that's not going to happen, it's better to increasingly share the burden of that evil (assuming the tax hikes are progressive), than to not do so. All other things being equal.  Right?

  • comment on a post More problems with the Senate health care bill over 4 years ago

    The only difference is, taxpayers will be covering a greater portion of the cost.

    I think Nate would argue that if the burden will in this case involve more redistribution of wealth (i.e. more taxes), that should not in itself constitute a good "progressive" reason to knock the bill.  In other words, even though we ALL agree insurance industry costs are an unnecessary evil that could be done away with if we had a single-payer public system, given that we don't have a single-payer public system, increasing taxes to spread the burden of paying for this evil is better than not doing so.    

  • on a comment on Barack Obama has got to go over 4 years ago


    I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations - that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.

    And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize - Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela - my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women - some known, some obscure to all but those they help - to be far more deserving of this honor than I.

    But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries - including Norway - in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.

    Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict - filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.

    ...

    America's commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.

    The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries - and other friends and allies - demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali - we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.

    Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant - the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.

    Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America's commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.

    I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.

    ...

    That's a fraction of his acceptance speech, which runs more than 4000 words. It is a lengthy, cogent argument appropriate for a person of such stature - a president of the United States - standing on the world stage to accept an honor of such stature - a Nobel Peace Prize.  So it would be grossly unfair to suggest that you should, in a blog comment, make your own counter-arguments with the same degree of substance and humility. I did want to quote from his speech a bit, however, to point out that it actually is not at all dismissive of your point of view; it addresses it head-on.

  • on a comment on 2009 Corruption Index over 4 years ago

    Ah, but from her tone, I think what my wife was implying was that Ukrainians refer to their country as "Ukraine," not "the Ukraine," and prefer others do the same.  (She's out of town at the moment so I can't confirm that! :-)

  • comment on a post 2009 Corruption Index over 4 years ago

    Russia tied with such notables as Sierra Leona, Ecuador, Timor-Leste, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the Ukraine.

    The other night I happened to say "the Ukraine" and my wife corrected me: "It's Ukraine," she said, "not the Ukraine."

  • on a comment on Bill Clinton v. George W. Bush over 4 years ago

    According to the Census Bureau's most recent data (link), during George W. Bush's presidency, the poverty rate rose 1.9%; in absolute terms, the number of people below the poverty line rose 8,248,000 (including nearly 2.5 million children [link]). During Bill Clinton's presidency, the poverty rate dropped 3.5%; the number of people below the poverty line fell 6,433,000 (that included over 3 million children.)

    Since the time that the Census began tracking the poverty rate (1959), the only administration that beat Clinton's on this measure is Johnson's, when poverty fell 6.61%, or 11,047,000 people.

  • comment on a post NY-23 poll-- Hoffman leads, one week out over 4 years ago

    I emailed a friend from the Dean campaign who lived in the CD (across the river from Burlington)

    the river?!

    :-)

  • It doesn't have to be either-or.  Members of Congress can maintain decorum and hold presidents accountable. Remember Watergate?   Jettisoning civility really isn't a necessary means for members of Congress to uphold the oath to the Constitution that they've all sworn to.

  • on a comment on Presidential Address Thread over 4 years ago

    he will sign it as long as it doesn't add to the deficit

    To be fair, his point was that not adding to the deficit was a necessary, not a sufficient, requirement for his signature.

    But I found his description of the plan confusing. He said 95% of small businesses would be exempt from having to buy insurance.  Sounds like a lot of folks. Well, maybe the employees could take advantage of the public option, but that would be available as part of the "exchange" that won't go into effect until 4 years from now. And so...

    in the meantime, for those Americans who can't get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it's a good idea now, and we should embrace it.

    Well that's sounds like it covers only certain folks and isn't comprehensive insurance.  What comprehensive affordable coverage is there for the average Joe and Jane?

    I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road - to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.

    But that's not what the moment calls for.

    Anyway, I did like the part where he said every American citizen will get a "Health Security" card, just like we now have a Social Security card, which will guarantee us all coverage.  That part was clear and easy to understand.

    Oops, wrong speech.

    What Obama said folks will get are tax credits (maybe), an exchange (someday), a mandate (or an exemption).

    Oh, the contortions our politicians will go through to avoid the "radical" change to a simple to understand public insurance system!

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