Saturday, June 14, 2008

Conservatism and "The Commons"

I am of the Left. Let us get that out of the way now. Liberal, Progressive, call me whatever you want, but this is what I am. I am proud to wear this badge, and I have arrived at it after many years of careful thought and rationale.

I believe in Democracy. Not some mere idea of "freedom," as loaded a term as that may be (freedom from WHAT?). No, I believe that the role of Government is to serve the people. I believe in those classic ideas first laid out by the Greeks and later perfected by the Founders, the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes, and the New Deal coalition. Mine is a proud tradition. To lay claim to it is to say that one is Soldier, one is Samurai. It is a belief that the Good of All is the Good of One. It is a belief in what the Greeks would have called the Commons.

It is a simple philosophy: Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Heal the sick. Teach the young. Right the Wrong.

Mine is a proud philosophy, and I champion its ideals vocally. It is a philosophy that champions debate, that holds high the respect for diverse backgrounds and opinions. It embraces this cacophony of voices because, implicit within its folds, lies the assumption that All Voices Are Heard. No one voice is any less of value than the others. As such, though I may be the classic Liberal, I acknowledge and respect the need for the Conservative viewpoint. My best friend is a classical Conservative. I admire and respect his views enormously.

Still, I believe that, much as Light and Dark exist in the Way, so too do Conservative and Liberal philosophies exist in the Commons. Each serves a vital function. The Liberal seeks to shed aside those old practices which may have given way to Injustice over time, while the Conservative seeks to shield against the slow erosion of the Commons.

But what happens when, like a lupine T-Cell that turns against its host body's tissue, one viewpoint turns against the Commons which is the very lifeblood of Democracy?

I have a problem with modern Conservatism. At best, I find it seeks to morally justify selfish pursuits, and at worst it seeks to destroy the Commons outright. Some mind find this dramatic, so allow me to explain. Conservatives I know--even conservatives here--tell us that our freedom is under attack by government, and I believe them. But what I cannot accept is that such attacks come in the form of amesty to illegal immigrants, come in the form of protests against war, come in the form of a woman's right to choose, come in the form of a poor man's right to aid.

When I hear a conservative these days talk about Justice, about Freedom, I have to laugh. Why? Because these same individuals would deny rights to others that they claim for themselves. They would deny the same opportunities to others that they themselves, either by birth or by education, have come to take for granted. They would justify tax cuts for the wealthy and an expansionist foreign policy. They would champion "Freedom" for citizens of other nations, while denying it to those here at home. They would deny a woman her right to choose when, where, and how she gives birth, but then they would deny her the assistance that IS HER RIGHT by the Commons in order to give that child a healthy upbringing.

Do you not see this? Do you not see how the flesh turns against the flesh? When one half of that seal turns against itself, what is to be concluded but that such a philosophy is now corrupted, has become morally bankrupt? Can such a philosophy have any more role in the Commons, or must it, too, be shed, like all the other Injustices?

So when a conservative here tells me that I am wrong, that I am not patriotic; when a conservative tells me that my beliefs harm democracy, I must confess not to mere disagreement, but to outrage. For it is the Conservative that today threatens Democracy; it is the Conservative that threatens Justice, threatens the Common Good. For it is no longer interested in the Common Good. No--it cares now only for itself.

And such a belief system can have no place in a healthy democracy. It must be torn down and made anew. It must be rendered unacceptable. It must be EXPUNGED.

Conservatio delenda est.

Read more!

And Now, For The Asshole's Take On Things . .

Who else is sick of the endless Tim Russert coverage?

Grow fucking up, you high school heathers - it's not about you and how you feel. I'm sick of seeing you on panels and in studios pouring your heart out about a man who at the end of the day was an overpaid political commentary hack with skills and kindnesses no greater or lesser than 1/2 of the politically inclined Internet. I'm sick of watching the exaggerated tears of adolescents whom are more shocked that one of their own can die early and young than they are of the actual passing of someone they were acquainted with.

I grieve for his family and friends, but the countless stories and memorials in your broadcasts are unwelcome and unflattering.

While you've gone all angsty and internal, thousands are still being flooded out in the Midwest, The Supreme Court finally pulled it's head out of its ass for a moment considering alien rights, another earthquake has hit Japan, and the Middle East continues to slowly kill itself.

It's not about you and it's not about one of your alphas giving up the bone unexpectedly.

Read more!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Goodbye, Tim, Rest In Peace

Tim Russert dies, at 58.

I am very sad; it is strange that someone who comes into my living room via the TV feels like a part of the family.

Read more!

Bullshit (At Least That is How I See It)

I was simply going to post a response in this thread over at home base but I’ve decided that it merits its own discussion.

Turkana’s premise is that this primary season has taught her that the blogosphere is unfair:

“We all have our biases. We can only try to be honest, and to be as sure as is possible of our sources. But too many bloggers and too many commenters have no interest in fairness. Coming to realize that has been one of the great disappointments of the past six months. And this is a subject about which I will not stop writing.”

Over the last several years of reading [left-leaning] blogs, I have yet to find a post that includes a perspective from the right so that the post can be “fair” to George W. Bush. In fact, this pseudo “fairness” is one of the problems with the corporate media. In their attempt to appear fair, they insist on including an “opposing viewpoint” even where an opposing viewpoint is not necessary.

There are times when reporting demands that only one view be represented, when that view is on the side of truth and justice, law and order, reality and non-reality. When the reporting is on torture what the viewer or reader need know is the truth about what our government is doing - we do not need to know that some right wing tool advocates torture. This supposed fairness mucks up the reality that torture is wrong and that we absolutely do not support torture in the United States of America. Torture is against US law and International Law. Torture is against everything that this Country has ever stood for. However, in the myth of “fairness” on the teevee, the pundit shows do not do strait reporting and instead offer up some asshole who argues in favor of torture.

I am certain that the pundit shows could find some asshole to argue in favor of white supremacy, child molestation, rape and the skinning of puppies. In the theory of fairness put forth by Turkana – this would be necessary, but this avoids the real fairness that we need concern ourselves with; true morality and actual justice.

What Turkana does in her post is to turn upside down the premise of the original article: that ‘bloggers have more freedom to report the truth because they are not dependent on building relationships with their subjects in order to have access to them for reporting purposes.’ She completely ignores what the article is about and instead posts her own [new] view of the Internets based on her feelings. This is why the post is bullshit – not because she does not have a right to feel the way that she does, but because she posts it as fact instead of the subjective feeling that it is:

“Because this primary season saw the collapse of credibility of some major bloggers, as they repeated or invented lies, and engaged in blatant smear campaigns. In many ways, the blogs are now as unreliable as is the corporate media. It's not only a problem when corporate media reporters get too close to their subjects, it's a problem when bloggers get too caught up in their passions, and become mere petty propagandists.”

To “prove” that this is feeling, let’s take one of the supposed Lies and Smears from the primary campaign.

Bill Clinton was making a racist comment when he said, after the South Carolina Primary, that ‘Jesse Jackson won the primary too and Barack Obama’s win was no different.’

Reporting that this was racist or not racist was subjective reporting. Either way was a lie or propaganda. True, unbiased reporting would have reported the quote only and left it up to the reader to determine if there was anything untoward about it. Because there was no memo from the campaign to explain the intent behind what was said, to blog either Yes it was racist or No it was not racist are both unfair reporting.

But that is what blogs do – blogs interpret the multitude of information out there. That is why there are Left Wing and Right Wing blogs; they write on the information from a Left or Right point of view.

To paraphrase something that I heard David Sirota say,

‘The Internet allows people to reality shop. There is no longer any way to have an argument with someone because people are working off of a totally different set of facts.

I have long argued that I can find enough documentation to argue both sides of any argument. We all can. This simple truth necessitates that we all have the intellectual and emotional honesty to realize that when we read, we are reading through our own particular lens of reality. If this primary season has taught us anything other than it is our own reality that has changed our minds about bloggers who we once trusted, that it is somehow something outside of ourselves, that we bear no personal responsibility for how we see things, then we are in deep trouble.

A whole lot forms our outlook on life, there are as many facets as to how we perceive and relate to reality as there are molecules and atoms in the Universe. Hopefully we can take the knowledge gained from this primary season and realize that we don’t need to find more people who see reality exactly as we do but instead we need to have more compassion and understanding for our fellow human beings.

That is why I call bullshit on the piece over at home base, because it supposes that there is a superior and an inferior way of seeing things. That there is something wrong with the people who do not see it the way that ‘I’ do, rather than the more ‘reality based’ supposition that if ‘I’ have a problem with ‘you’ [especially one that did not exist before, when we saw things the same way] that there might just be something wrong with ‘me.’

(But, that is just my subjective feeling about it; me calling it bullshit does not mean that it factually is bullshit.)

Read more!


A total of 3,200 homes were flooded, thousands of people lost and up to 18,000 were at risk of losing power, and dozens of flood-stranded residents were rescued by boat Thursday as Iowa's second-largest city staggered under the surging Cedar River.

Floodwater covered an area equal to 100 city blocks, said Mike Goldberg, Linn County's public information officer.

"Our rough estimate is 9,000 people are displaced because of evacuation," he said . .

I know the area - the homes affected in this low-lying area are early 20's-30's era homes in what's was the Czechoslovak section of town, but are now the lower-income neighborhoods.

A 110-mile stretch of I-80, from Des Moines to the Eastern Iowa border has been closed. So efforts by the less afflicted parts of the state in the Central and West are hampered in moving East.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When The Water Hits The Spillway

Coralville is just North of Iowa City and the University of Iowa.
The Cedar River runs through Waterloo-Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids (natch).

Essentially, the eastern half of the state, which has gotten more rainfall than the rest, is having another Flood of The Century. All of it will feed into the Mississippi, and the water surge will overwhelm the river states to the South over the next few days and weeks.

This will seem catty - but considering the voting patterns of that section of the state, I wonder if the Federal government and FEMA will make disaster assistance as much of a priority as they did with New Orleans.

Read more!

Unicorn Sighted!

Well, kinda.

I have a good friend working for NASA who blogs with Livejournal, and she posted her approval of Kucinich's recent impeachment resolution.

We here at L'n'LPD all shout, About fucking time!, whenever Kucinich does this, even though it's futile. The worst part is that we wish there were other Congressmen to cheer, much less someone who's actually committee member with real weight . . .

But interesting to me is not the original post but this in the comments:

6/10/2008: 07:56 pm Tuesday (UTC)

Skimming through the articles, it seems like half of the points are just as justifiable against members of congress and the previous Clinton Administration. Especially where it concerns spying, war declarations and other such acts.

Ultimately this is a lot of daft posturing and really a waste of time for congress. I'm not sure, if that's a good thing or not at this point. But if they spend time on this and not on stupid wealth re-distribution plans, then hey.

Well, by golly! It's that rare beast, Conservative Libertarius Extremus! Notable for its propensity to automatically defend itself against current events criticism by rearing on it's hindquarters and invoking a Clinton. And this specimen then does a beautifully rendered counterattack with wealth redistribution. Maginifcent!

This specimen then takes another shot at being the last word following a weak assertion by a well-meaning other poster.

6/10/2008: 08:32 pm Tuesday (UTC)

The problem is that half of those things cited, Congress (both sides) is up to it's NECKS in. Wasteful spending in Iraq. You want wasteful spending, lets cut the earmarks that EVERYONE in congress plays with. Obama himself got to send what was it, $100,000 to his own church through Federal ear-marks on appropriations bills?

Misspending of funding? Bill Clinton, used appropriations budget money for the Military to pay for the Balkans campaign (does Kucinich think that's an illegal undeclared war?). That is to say, he wanted to do the intervention, Congress blocked him (which I think was wrong, but that's not the point), so Bill used the funding that the military had allocated for purchasing new systems and training budgets and instead used that capital for the costs of the peace keeping missions.

One could probably make an argument that the then 2003 state of body armor and protected vehicles other vehicles were a direct result of the Clinton Administration's decisions on defense spending. To hang THAT on the Bush administration is just utterly specious. It is, technically an argument more on long term planning.

Frankly, what congress needs to spend time on is working out a new budget, fixing a lot of criminal law problems and maybe perhaps addressing the strange balance of tariffs and funding the have for big agro which is in part why they're blocking the new drilling bills.

Lovely, just lovely. I feel like Marlin Perkins. Earmarks and pork are like honey to these beautiful creatures, and Libertarian can rarely resist them. Then follows with another textbook Clinton that is fantastic in its length and breadth. Once finished, the political beast then strides off in the satisfied rhythm of criminal law reform, tariffs, and budgetary abstractions.

After nothing but Hillary and Obama Whackadoodles for the last few months, I find my self giddy!

Read more!

Monday, June 9, 2008

All This Will Happen Again

1993 was 15 years ago. We have been living in its shadow all spring. Three times, the Skunk River has risen into flood stage this spring and early summer. This last time it inundated the football field, golf course, and city park in my little town. But so far it's been a mild annoyance for most - those whom aren't bailing out their house.

In 2 days, we shall see if the planning and money spent in the intervening years since '93 is enough to stem the hell that Iowa was sacked with in that horrid Summer. The rivers in Central Iowa will crest Tuesday morning. 1993's greatest component was the freak rain 6" surge that occurred at the same time as the flood waters arrived in Des Moines, Iowa City, and the rest of central and southern Iowa.

The current weather forecast is bipolar - the National Weather Service is predicting rains in central Iowa starting Tuesday night while predicts 'an afternoon shower' Wednesday. The other meteorologists all fall in between.

If Iowa escapes, which seems likely at this time, those communities downstream of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers will be in flooding danger over the next few days and weeks.

The Iowa damage has already occurred however - As you read this, 30,000 people are cut off and without water and electrical power in Mason City. As this dailyKos diary notes, "Bush is about to lose another city." Our National Guard is depleted in manpower and equipment. FEMA isn't even being talked about.

Most of the damage has already been done - the corn & soybean crops are ruined. The current prediction is somewhere between 30-50% has been lost because of flooding. Most of the fields in my rural area have some amount of standing water in them, water that has already killed the seedlings and now just waits for a week of sunny days and winds to make them finally go away. Meanwhile, they become breeding pools for mosquitoes.

Food prices worldwide have already been rocketing upwards. But the screw just got tightened another full turn.

Read more!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The. Real. Deal.

h/t The Field

Read more!

The Times They Are A Changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

For the first time ever, Bob Dylan endorses. He endorses Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. Wow.

Read more!

Before You Shift to McCain...

May I remind you of what it is you risk.

So you're bitter. I get that. You wanted this, you fought for it, who knows how much work you put in? I can totally sympathize. You feel robbed. I would too. You probably feel angry. I would too.

But remember what's at risk? Are you seriously telling me that you would vote for the opposing candidate, all to spite the party? Are you telling me that, because one woman didn't get the nomination (despite a GROUNDBREAKING campaign), you're willing to inflict revenge on the rest of America?

This is madness.

You would vote for a man who cares NOTHING for the rights you have fought to secure. You think this man cares about your treatment in the workplace? You think this man cares about your daughter's right to information on safe sex? You think this man cares ONE WHIT about what you choose to do with your body? You must--otherwise, why would you commit political suicide like this?

This man is poison. He will do nothing to secure your cause; if anything, he will only harm it. If you truly care about your rights, about the rights of ALL Americans, you will see the truth in this. This is the danger of identity politics--the danger of groupthink. If you help elect this man, we will be set back thirty years. You will have proven to the world that WE, as Americans, do not deserve the freedoms we trumpet. You would speak for all of us, and your words would doom us to more of the same.

Do you really want this on your hands? Do you truly want to throw away what you've worked so hard to earn?


Then do what is RIGHT.

Read more!