Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

Laughing At or Laughing With?

The tax cut extension “deal”. Sigh …

I hear the laughter. Either Republicans in Congress are laughing

  • at both Obama and the middle class

or

  • with Obama at the middle class

Which is it?

Based on Obama’s professed admiration for Reagan, the people he chose for the Bowles-Simpson catfood commission, and the inclusion of the payroll tax “holiday” in this deal, it’s the latter: Obama is laughing with Republicans at the middle class. Either way it’s galling.

Watch (or read the text of) Keith Olbermann’s special comment on this. He nails it.

Call your representative and senators. Will the Democrats in Congress eventually fold? Probably. But at least you’ll be able to say you tried to do something about it.

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Pie Sizing and Slicing

A January 9, 2007 piece titled Why Income Equality Matters by Charles Wheelan, Ph.D., writing as The Naked Economist on Yahoo! Finance, is a fascinating read, especially in light of the current credit crunch and bailout and the upcoming elections.

I’m particularly intrigued by this part:

There’s a very interesting strain of economic research showing that our sense of well-being is determined more by our relative wealth than by our absolute wealth.

In other words, we care less about how much money we have than we do about how much money we have relative to everyone else. In a fascinating survey, Cornell economist Robert Frank found that a majority of Americans would prefer to earn $100,000 while everyone else earns $85,000, rather than earning $110,000 while everyone else earns $200,000.

Think about it: People would prefer to have less stuff, as long as they have more stuff than the neighbors.

The point — and this is still a nascent field — is that a nation may be collectively better off (using some abstract measure of well-being) with a smaller, more evenly divided pie than with a larger pie that’s sliced less equitably.

This point, according to Wheelan, constitutes one of two reasons to be aware of income inequality in the US, the other being that “Income inequality doesn’t motivate anything good when there’s no hope of sharing in the pot of gold”.

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The Plague of PTSD

As a peace activist, I am disturbed by how little attention the media and the public give to the plague of PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder.

I’ve had a partially written post about PTSD in my Drafts folder for months. I’m moved to finish it after reading a New Yorker magazine article to which I was linked by Karen Porter, founder of Chester County (PA) Peace Movement, in an email to the movement’s mailing list. The article, published this past Monday, is “The Last Tour: A decorated marine’s war within” by William Finnegan.

My regular readers (all half dozen of you), I suspect, know what PTSD is. Here’s how Finnegan describes it:

It has been called by different names—shell shock, battle fatigue—in different eras, but P.T.S.D., in its combat form, has been around for as long as war has. Odysseus and his men had it. Although [PTSD sufferer Travis] Twiggs used the word “paranoid” to describe his mood when he was Stateside, the more accurate term, used by P.T.S.D. researchers, might be “hypervigilance”—a normal adaptive strategy for surviving combat, except that the “on” switch is not easily turned off. Dr. Jonathan Shay, a P.T.S.D. specialist, thinks that even calling it a disorder is misleading: P.T.S.D. is an injury. There are degrees of damage, ranging from standard combat stress, which can be treated with a few days’ rest, to full-blown complex P.T.S.D., which is very difficult to treat, let alone cure. It is best understood, though, as a psychic wound, one that can be crippling, even fatal, in its myriad complications.

A CBS News study in 2005 found the suicide rate for veterans is twice that of other Americans.

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Placing Trust in Obama

This wonderful picture was posted on Daily Kos by DK user InsultComicDog.

At first glance, I thought Barack Obama didn’t seem particularly happy to have been asked to pose — or that the camera caught the candidate blinking.

But upon second look I have to agree with the perceptive interpretation of DK user Anna Luc:

Yes, His closed eyes are those of a man praying for the grace to deserve the trust in that child’s embrace and that father’s face. In that moment I see Sen. Obama’s totally [sic] awareness of the responsibility he has taken on. [emphasis mine]

I fervently hope Obama is elected — and proves up to the challenge. The country is in the crapper and needs a leader badly. The McCain-Palin alternative is unthinkable.

And have you heard the latest economic news? To make Obama’s task potentially much more daunting than it already is, the crooks and incompetents in the Bush administration have started to try to stampede a massive Wall Street bailout bill through Congress. The bill would give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson authority to buy hundreds of billions of distressed mortgage-related assets without any Congressional oversight whatsoever.

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FiveThirtyEight: 11%(!) Chance of Obama Winning EV, Losing PV

cross-posted as a diary at Daily Kos

OK, I know in this post/diary I wrongly put the focus on the election results themselves rather than how we Obama supporters can improve his chances of winning in these last 49 days. But this is important …

Have any other regular readers of FiveThirtyEight.com (DK user poblano, aka Nate Silver) noticed the projected chance of Obama winning the electoral vote while losing the popular vote has shot dramatically upward in the past several days from three or four percent to 11.42%? That’s a pretty significant possibility in my opinion.

I suspect the Republicans have contingency plans in place for this scenario just like they did in 2000. That is, I suspect the GOP and their enablers in the media would try to influence public opinion in favor of overturning the Electoral College result. Remember their plans in 2000? You might not because, of course, it was not George Bush but Al Gore who won the popular vote — and then all hell (Florida) broke lose.

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Can I Get Some Delaware Pride Goin’ Here?

Given my Delaware ties, I’m just darn near thrilled about Barack Obama’s choice of Delaware senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

Get this Obama-Biden sticker free from MoveOn.orgWhat Delaware ties you ask? Well …

  • I lived in Delaware from 1957 to 1988 except for college in the mid ’70s and three years as a swingin’ single in the mid ’80s. During those absences, I lived, as I do now, in nearby Chester County, Pennsylvania.
  • My wedding was in Delaware and Mrs. QC is a native Delawarean with even deeper ties to the state than I.
  • I have a master’s degree from the University of Delaware and I have been a big fan of that school’s football program for most of my life, having attended upwards of 50 games.
  • Sussex, the only one of the three Delaware counties in which I’ve not lived, has been the site of several family vacations, with its wonderful beach towns — Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick Island.

Paradoxically, I wouldn’t want to move back to Delaware — at least not to the most-populated county, New Castle, which is where I grew up. It just doesn’t hold much appeal for reasons I’ll not go into here.

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All Election Tradition — Broken

I was thinking recently about a peculiar part of the television coverage of Election Night 2000 and decided to try to find video of it. Here it is. I apologize for the poor quality, but it’s all I could find.

Was this just a bad dream? Unfortunately, no. Toby Rogers on Sanderhicks.com [emphasis mine]:

One [sic] election night 2000 … he [sic] Bush family … had quickly moved from the Four Season Hotel in Austin to the Governor mansion when the networks called Florida for Al Gore. In an unprecedented move the Bush family broke all election tradition and allowed TV crews to film them back at the Governor’s Mansion. Shadows, floodlights and flashbulbs danced around the Bush family as W was ending a ridiculously staged phone call with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. “Yeah..good. Call me when you hear something? Thanks.”

I was nauseated, figuratively speaking, when I saw this live. As I view it on video today, it’s a chilling moment in American history. How creepy … with Poppy and Barbara sitting there.

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Our Main “Industry”

One of the cool things about Daily Kos (DK) and Scoop, the blog-on-steroids platform on which DK runs, is how one can flag and retrieve comments. For example, here is a strand of comments on kos’ post titled “Bowing” to Mr. 28%. Odds are I am the only user out of DK’s millions who has thus far requested a page with just this strand.

I was able to retrieve this strand easily because I had previously “recommended” two of the four comments. (If you are logged in to DK, a “Recommend” check box appears next to each comment. There is also a “Recommend” button for each post.)

Anyhoo, here are some money quotes from the comments I recommended that I think do much to explain how we in the US have come to have such a great view from our boats of the banks of Shit’s Creek. (In case you haven’t read Kos’ post yet, it’s about yesterday’s capitulation to Bush on FISA by the Democrats in Congress; “Mr. 28%” is Bush.)

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Ohio as Icing on Obama’s Victory Cake

Ohio quarterNo, I’m not calling the 2008 Presidential election now for Senator Barack Obama, my candidate of choice. There’s too much time remaining. Too many things can happen. (And I’m not confident there will even be an election.)

What I’ll do here is point you to Sean’s June 16 post on the FiveThirtyEight.com electoral projections blog titled “538’s Battlegrounds as of Mid-June“, provide a little commentary, and do one of my favorite things — play with numbers.

Here is the short version: Assuming Obama wins all of the states in which he presently leads in the polls, except for Ohio, he would have 297 electoral votes (EVs), 27 more than is needed to win the election.

OK, if you’re game for some arithmetic, stick around. As an enticement I’ll eventually point you to FiveThirtyEight.com’s projection of the outcome of the election in terms of percentages and explain why the current numbers are better than it sounds for “The Big O” and are likely to improve barring unforseen events.

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The Philadelphia Debate and Big Media’s Dumbing Down of Americans

do not let big media dumb you downThere is a lot of talk on and off the ‘net about the ABC News Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton debate a couple nights ago in Philadelphia, the last debate before the important, but probably not critical, Pennsylvania primary now just four days away. The consensus at the progressive political sites I frequent — and in the nearly 20,000 (at this writing) comments about the debate at ABCNews.com — is the questions chosen by moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos did not address most of the issues of pressing concern to ordinary Pennsylvanians and their fellow Americans. Furthermore, the consensus is most of the questionable questions, if you will, were directed at Obama. “Appalling”, “degrading”, “debacle”, “execrable”, and “tabloid” are among the common choice words debate viewers have used to describe it at ABCNews.com.

Here is a sampling of blog posts and debate reviews critical of ABC’s handling of the debate:

I agree with these criticisms. Some organizations — MoveOn.org and the non-partisan Free Press — have started campaigns to formalize public displeasure with ABC News. I’ve lent my name to these campaigns and I encourage you to join me.

So what’s going on here?

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