The ever-vigorous and creative Dr. Lawrence Lessig has led in creation of a new movement-site and advocacy group: Change Congress attempts to coordinate and stimulate the many efforts out there, to reform our national legislature in profound and permanent ways. (Some of which are similar to my “Suggestions to Congress” published last year.) Do at minimum watch Larry’s very vivid and informative web-talk.
If you lack time, skip to about 2/3 of the way in, where he gets beyond the introductory background and really gets to a series of excellent points, from there on.
A Big Pill For That Ostrich of Yours -- “Reasons For Conservatives to Vote Obama.” And this article is in The American Conservative, no less! Unlike that sad journal’s usual reflex apologias for a burgeoning aristocracy, this article by Andrew J. Bacevich gets right to the point... that the GOP has not been led by true conservatives for many years, but by men who have reversed its fundamentals, at every turn. Between the lines, he yearns for the re evaluation and possible redemption that his movement might only achieve in the wilderness, after suffering a well-deserved electoral rout.
”...it quickly becomes apparent that the Republican Party does not represent conservative principles. The conservative ascendancy that began with the election of Ronald Reagan has been largely an illusion. During the period since 1980, certain faux conservatives—especially those in the service of Big Business and Big Empire—have prospered. But conservatism as such has not.” Amen. Don’t just point your ostrich to this article. Read it to him or her, aloud. And remind him where you found it.
Alas, we are already hearing the refrain about McCain. “He’s not THAT kind of conservative. He’s one of the good ones!” Hence, his recent speech, calling for America to pull back from unilateralist international adventurism, sounds like a dramatic improvement... until you realize that conservatism has always featured wild, manidc-depressive swings, between fervid interventionism and sullen retreats into grumbling isolationism. With the nation’s world popularity at an all-time low, having thrown away all of our alliances and goodwill, it is only natural to see the depressive phase come out, and for conservatives to change the color of their garment. Expect to hear this line - ”Yes, a pack of jerks have steered the ship of state into into the jaws of Scylla. But that crazed veer wasn’t really us at the tiller. Let our team steer again! In the opposite direction! Away from Scylla!”
As Charybdis licks its chops.
For a pithier approach, always tune in to This Modern World.
See also a very inspiring (if biased) account by a man who knows Obama very well. The picture painted is a voracious intellect, genuinely interested in looking at issues from all sides.
The LA Times issued an editorial, March 23, laying out the degree to which the US Army is being demolished, by the very same lunatics who most-loudly shriek “support our troops!” The article only brushes the surface of an issue that I have been raising since 2003 and that the Democrats ought to make their own... if they had any sense.
”In 2006, the percentage of Army recruits who were high school graduates (82%) was the lowest since 1981, and their scores on the military's aptitude test were the worst since 1985. The number of "moral waivers" issued to those with criminal records more than tripled since 1996, to 8,500 in 2006. Worse, the number of recruits with felony convictions was up 30% in 2006 compared with 2005. And the Army apparently stooped to social promotion: 94% of recruits graduated from basic training in 2006, compared with 82% in 2005.
Keeping the all-volunteer Army at full strength in wartime hasn't been cheap, either. The cost per troop soared to $120,000 in 2006 from $75,000 in 2001. And to keep reenlistments up, the Army had to pay retention bonuses of $735 million in 2006, up more than eightfold from the $85 million paid in 2003. Even so, officer shortages are a problem, and at the rank of captain, the backbone of the command structure, the Army is at 60% strength in Iraq. Moreover, for the last year it hasn't had the 3,200 troops needed to fill a brigade designated as militarily "required" for Afghanistan.”
This is not to say that our field forces aren’t still adaptable and adapting. The officers and noncoms are struggling heroically with a near impossible mission, where most of the money that should be used supporting them, or re-building Iraq, has flowed instead into the open maws of Bush-crony service contractors like Halliburton and KBR, operating on “emergency” clause contracts that evade all normal accounting and bidding rules (arguably the chief and foremost reason for the State of Emergency, in the first place.) And still, despite all that, our skilled professionals have been doing their best. Gradually, new doctrines have developed on the ground and islands of peace and goodwill really are being nurtured. One can oppose the madness that plunged us into this war, while still being proud of the men and women who are turning a national catastrophe into a mere bankrupting debacle.
Still, will anyone, any time, mention the credibility issue? Even if we are now committed to stay in Iraq and clean up our own mess, should the job be left in the hands of a cabal of corrupt fools, who kissed Saddam for decades, then left him in place to oppress Iraqis for 12 years, then ousted him in the stupidest of all possible ways? McCain and Limbaugh will try to corner Democrats by asking “what’s YOUR exit strategy?” The answer has got to be “Cleaning up may be complex and costly... but the first step is to peel off of our national tiller the hands of those morons who steered us onto rocks.”
==== AND NOW, MISC POLITICAL MATTERS =====
The Pentagon abruptly canceled plans to post online a new report (and also canceled a related background briefing) that concludes the lack of a link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda. DOD is also now refusing to e-mail out copies of the report, and is only making it available in physically mailed CD-ROM form upon request.
Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.
DCCC has unveiled their second "Red to Blue" list for this cycle:
Kay Barnes (MO-06)
Anne Barth (WV-02)
Darcy Burner (WA-08)
Robert Daskas (NV-03)
Steve Driehaus (OH-01)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Christine Jennings (FL-13)
Larry Kissell (NC-08)
Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24)
Eric Massa (NY-29)
Gary Peters (MI-09)
Mark Schauer (MI-07)
Dan Seals (IL-10)
These are moderate democrats running hard (and well) in current GOP-held congressional districts. It’s nice to see at least three Blue Majority candidates on this list-Darcy Burner, Dan Seals and Eric Massa. (I know Massa and recommend him!) Check and see if you are near any of these districts! If so, helping these people will probably be an even better use of your time and money than contributing to the national campaigns.
And if not? Then look around. Some nearby race for Congress or State Assembly may be just the ticket. A way for your own small efforts to really matter.
Got enthusiasm? Always consider my support for Obama to be BOTH enthusiastic and accompanied by an asterisk* that arises out of wariness toward any bright, hopeful thing that seems to have come upon us a bit suddenly. (The silver lining? He comes with fewer political IOUs than any candidate in US history. At least, to our knowledge. And, as Sean Connery said in a Kevin Costner film, “If you want an apple that’s not rotten, pluck it from the tree, before it spends much time in the barrel.”)
Anyway, having said that, here’s the enthusiasm part -- Get your Barack “stuff” here! It’s also the way to make a small contribution.