Wednesday, July 19, 2006

MoveOn's "Taking 'Red Handed' EVERYwhere" campaign

Maybe I complain to (and about) so much because I'm a member. When I signed up, my hope was to help advance genuinely progressive policies in government. What a naïve hope that was!

From a July 11 message from Eli Pariser [ Political Action] to members:

Right-wing Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT) is kicking her campaign into high gear this week. Her strategy: distance herself from the bad decisions she's been a part of (like Iraq), and hope to eke out a win under the radar this November.

It ain't going to happen. Starting next Monday, we're deploying our organizers to manage new on-the-ground visibility campaigns with MoveOn members in EVERY competitive Republican district.

Because officeholders of all parties are only human, there will probably always be some who earn the label, "lap-dog of the administration." Through weasel words and PR maneuvers, some are now attempting to create "distance... from the bad decisions" where no such distance exists. Avoiding responsibility and blame-shifting are certainly nothing new to Washington.

Likewise, other officeholders (again, of all parties) are doing their level best -- against all odds -- to be responsible public servants. They aren't afraid to call "bad decisions" exactly what they were: decisions they would make differently now -- not out of political expedience, but because they've learned something. Such experience is valuable.

MoveOn cites "Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT)" without specific explanation, and then (predictably) launches into "we're deploying our organizers... in EVERY competitive Republican district."

Presuming MoveOn isn't assigning some coded meaning to "competitive," it sounds like they're targeting anyone wearing the GOP armband -- regardless of the merit of that person's service. Such blind "Us and Them" approaches to politics poorly serve all Americans.

Where else is this brand of thinking abundant? The Middle East.

Silly me, I thought democracy was a renewable resource. Exporting democratic principles doesn't require us to import narrow attitudes and ancient conflicts in exchange.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Re: MoveOn's "Campaign for an Oil-Free Congress"

Next to pointless.

  • The worst offenders -- poster children for this kind of corruption -- will make a straight-faced photo op out of "taking the pledge," then continue to offend as if nothing had happened! How many genuinely bad boys (e.g., DeLay, the Enron execs) have professed complete innocence even as they were being cuffed?
  • Any middling offenders who retain a shred of conscience simply won't take the pledge. Instead, they'll attack its proponents as wrongheaded (as in "cut and run") and provide spin cover for each other.
  • Minor offenders aren't the problem.

Something folks at the grassroots can do that is guaranteed to shake up the oil lobby is dramatically reduce consumption.

Big Oil can throw money at Congress all they want, but as their profits dry up, so does their power to buy influence. What they are selling is a commodity -- and they have stockholders to please, too.

Do the math.

P.S. Do I think Americans will do this? I'm not betting on it -- yet. But history has shown that there is a point beyond which Americans cannot be pushed.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

In addition to sound bites from the Judiciary Committee's interrogation of Samuel Alito, I listened to some of Minnesota Public Radio's live coverage of this, um, event.

Unlike several other senators, Russ Feingold did not, in my opinion, see this as an opportunity to grandstand for the media. I thought his questions were to the point, appropriately framed, and respectfully delivered. I continue to proud to be one of his constituents.

Alito's replies suggested a man concerned more with the soundness of judicial process than of alignment with predetermined outcomes. I believe his responses showed more openness than Justice Roberts' did. I was a little disappointed that he did not show more bravery to defuse the CAP flap, but since Senator Kennedy's minions were unable to produce CAP-specific dirt that would stick to Alito, this appears to be a relatively small amount of water, and long under the bridge.

Given the present administration's focus on predetermined outcomes, with contrived, cherry-picked, after-the-fact justification (other than "9/11"), my guess is that Justice Alito is probably as sound an appointee as we are likely to get from President Bush. Therefore, I wrote to Senator Feingold to vote for Justice Alito's confirmation -- unless he is aware of a better (and politically feasible) potential appointee.

My belief is that a careful and process-oriented Justice (regardless of location on the left-right spectrum) is preferable to an outcome-oriented one carrying a political agenda. Once the robes are on, a Justice is no longer beholden to the President.