Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Go Go Wall Street!

Just in case it wasn't enough to give taxpayer money to Wall Street executives in the form of 1.6 billion dollars in bonuses (since they've done such a bang-up job), the banks have decided that they don't even have to tell us where the rest of the bailout money went.

The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings? And what's the plan for the rest? None of the banks provided specific answers.

One more time, for those who missed the lesson: if you're starving and your kids can't afford to go to school, money from the government is welfare and therefore bad. If you're costing your investors millions and taking home millions more in bonuses, money from the government is a "bailout" and therefore not only good, but necessary.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Who's Got The Mandate Now?

After the election, a number of Republicans were bitching that Obama didn't really win by THAT much, since he only had 62 million votes, which is about what Bush got in 2004.

Of course, tallying so many votes takes time, and now we see Obama with over 68 million votes - and counting. Check out fivethirtyeight for the details.

And some fun facts compiled by Open Left:

When the final totals are made, there will have been 26 million more votes in 2008 than 2000. That increase is in excess of 100% of the nation's population increase during the last eight years.


Obama received votes from the second highest percentage of the American population ever. With another million or so votes to count, currently 22.62% of the population voted for Obama. The all-time leader was Reagan in 1984, when he received the vote of 23.09% of the population. With up to another million votes to be added, Obama might still pass that total.


If Democrats win both of the outstanding House seats, and squeak out one of the remaining Senate seats, then there will be exactly the same number of Democrats in the House and Senate combined--316--as there were in 1993-1994 (note: this number includes Sanders as a Democrat on both occasions, and Lieberman as a Democrat on this occasion)

Although I don't REALLY count Lieberman as a Democrat anymore, and I don't think anyone else does either, other than Harry Reid.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Well here's something I think is worth sharing.

Be honest with yourself - do you see the parallels between pirates and corporations?

Civics quiz

So how much do YOU know about American government and history?

Here's a simple test to allow you to find out how you do on the basics. It's a broad range of questions, covering most of the fundamental elements of American government since the revolution.

My score:

You answered 31 out of 33 correctly — 93.94 %
Average score for this quiz during November: 78.1%
Average score: 78.1%

Look closely at that average score - that's the average score attained by those taking this test on the internet, which means that score represents a self-selecting cross-section of America. In other words, NOT a statistically accurate representation of the average population.

To get that, the group that administers the exam tested about 2,500 randomly selected Americans - including quite a few elected officials - to see where we stand. The results are not good:

The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%.
But the group that scored the lowest?

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.
Democracy without education cannot last long. It's not just a good idea to teach yourself about your nation and your government - in a democracy, it's your job.

Go to it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Talk about refreshing. Here's Barack Obama on torture and Gitmo:

CBS: There are a number of different things you can do early on pertaining to executive orders.

OBAMA: Right.

CBS: One of them is to shut down Guantanamo Bay. Another is to change interrogation methods that are used by U.S. troops. Are those things that you plan to take early action on?

OBAMA: Yes. I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that. I have said repeatedly that America doesn’t torture, and I’m going to make sure that we don’t torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain America’s moral stature in the world.

Part of what makes this country great is our willingness to aim for the high ground. Democracy is a concept that could never take off without that desire to aim for something better. Further, it is rooted in the notion of human equality and decency. Without that fundamental underpinning, Democracy must begin to fall apart.

By contrast, a nation that tortures has abdicated that fundamental respect for human rights by deciding that certain people don't deserve them, that certain people are less human than the rest.

That is not my America.

This is a nation defined by ideas, not by borders; and one of those ideas is the belief that all men are created equal.

Thank God Obama has embraced this most basic of American beliefs.

Oh, and for all those hardcases who talk about Army training being tougher than the torture being used on these detainees - fuck off. You can stand up to waterboarding when you're voluntarily submitted? Great. Why do you get submitted to it? Because the Army wants you to show that you can stand up to enemy torture. BECAUSE IT'S TORTURE.

This country is better than that. If we can't win without betraying our ideals, then we can't win at all.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Last Thought

Related: Roger Cohen's article.

The time for hatred is over. We are ruled by fear no more. Let us trust our neighbours, and care for them as they care for us. Let us be one nation, under God, indivisable once again. Let us stand united rather than fall divided. Let us be, once again, America united.

The Constitution of the United States sets forth how our government is going to work. The preamble tells us why: in order to form a more perfect union.

This is a nation founded on the simple premise that mankind can make the world a better place. This progressivism, this optimism permeates the American character. We are Americans, and we face the future boldly - and we face it together.

On September 11th, the world joined us in unity. We didn't just lose that unity - we threw it away.

On November 4th, 2008, we took it back.

Welcome home, America. It's good to have you back.

[quote]Rosa Parks sat in 1955. Martin Luther King walked in 1963. Barack Obama ran in 2008. That our children might fly.[/quote]

What You Could Have Done To Us

Ok I'm sorry, but if you build an entire party on the premise that ideas are bad and reactionary yearning for the past is what you're fighting for, that science is wrong because it's not in the Bible and the only credential that matters for leadership is how folksy you are, then Sarah Palin is exactly what you deserve - and that's what you got.

Conservatives have some strong ideas. But so long as you embrace Bush/Palin style idiocracy, you're never going to get those ideas a fair hearing, and admit it - you won't deserve to.

Conservatives, take your party back. Don't let this blatant and willful ignorance dominate your discourse.

I look forward to the day when we can have a legitimate discussion of our different solutions and world views once again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Save Esha

My good friend Matttbastard has been working hard on a very noble cause, and I'd like to take this opportunity to lend him some support from my little slice of bloggerland. If you're interested in finding out more about Esha Momeni, and doing something to help, you can find more information at For Esha and at Mr. Bastard's blog, Bastard.Logic. I'll also ask that you sign the official petition, offered here, for her release from custody. The folks running the petition have asked that you NOT sign other petitions for her release - many are poorly worded and with such a sensitive subject this can do more harm than good in that area of the world.

Thanks in advance for your help. It may not seem like much, but every bit counts. A tidal wave is nothing more than raindrops working together.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes. We Did.

I had high hopes for today. I was ready and eager to get caught up in the excitement of election day fervor.

Instead, I'm physically and mentally tired, busy, and facing a mountainous workload on a variety of fronts over the next few hours, days, weeks, and months. I just can't muster the energy to be excited, which is itself disappointing.

But there is something. Something is different.

As I am too tired to be excited, so I am too tired to reach for truly inspirational writing. What I want to say - about the prospects for our nation, for our lives, and for our future - is simply out of reach.

But there is something.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. I was looking for enthusiasm, excitement, even just relief... but no. None of those.

But there is something.

Today is November 5th, 2008; today is the day I have been looking forward to for the last four years; today is the first day I will face with the sure and certain knowledge that this nation is reaching for the future with a steady hand and hopeful heart at the helm.

Today, I'm proud to be an American.

Today, America is back.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


John Edwards always said there are two Americas, and I'm afraid I'm part of the much bigger one which has to work for a living, so after I vote in the morning I'll be busy working until quite late in the day. This means I'll probably miss most of the election coverage, which is a shame as it's one of my favourite things to be involved with.

I have confidence in the outcome, however.

I have a couple of friends texting me updates during the day - feel free to join them, I'm a news junkie so any info is appreciated. :D


Monday, November 3, 2008

Eugene Debs - American Hero

I had a busy weekend, and a busy week ahead of me, so the posts have been fairly sparse. So to make sure you have some reading material, here's a link to an excellent post at Progressive Historians about Eugene V. Debs, one of my heroes. Definitely worth checking out:

Progressive Historians: History For Our Future

Vote Harder

Election day soon - I thought it would never get here. I want to say that I'm sick of all the campaigning, but I'm really not - I've thoroughly enjoyed this whole campaign. It'll be a little sad to see it end. But then we can get to the hard work of fixing this place up.

Some important things to remember on Election Day - know your rights. You have a RIGHT to vote. Don't fall for any tricks, from either party, to prevent you from doing so.

Here's a fairly short video from the Obama campaign pointing out some of the most common techniques used to keep people from voting:

One important thing they point out - I expect the Republicans to challenge Tuesday's result as "vote fraud" after the election. They think of America as a conservative nation, and can't imagine actually losing honestly. So please note that they've so far managed to come up with zero instances of vote fraud actually occurring, and most assuredly no examples of a widespread campaign to "steal" the election. What they HAVE done is tried hard to keep people from voting based on technicalities - even their own Joe the Plumber wouldn't be able to vote if some of their initiatives had gone through (thankfully, the Democrats challenged that initiative and maintained access for Joe and thousands of others).

Please vote. It's a right, a privilege, AND a responsibility. Don't shirk it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who Needs Irony...

... when you've got people like this:

These people want to ban a book about the dangers of banning books.

I remember when I first went off to university, talking with my roommate about her classes, and she mentioned that she didn't really like biology because the teacher kept talking about evolution. I laughed at first, because I genuinely had no idea there were still people out there that didn't accept basic science.

In much the same way, I continue to be shocked by examples, like this, of just plain egregious ignorance. This isn't being dumb - this is willfully deciding to stop thinking, which is a much more dangerous beast.

For those who, somehow, live in America and yet still aren't clear on this: censorship never works. Oh sure, you may have some temporary effect with it (see: modern China) but you cannot beat it. The genie does not go back in the bottle. You cannot stop people from thinking. It is the entire premise of what makes us human beings, and we will not let it go lightly.

When knowledge is free, so is humanity.

America United?

Yesterday I posted about a group of McCain supporters firmly rounding on an extremist in their ranks and booting him out of their rally, including one of McCain's own campaign heads. To me it was a very positive sign of the campaign changing its tone and looking for a more high-minded competition. It seemed like McCain's campaign was really putting Country First and stopping the red meat appeals to the remnants of the neo-con base.

Unfortunately, we may never know.

The story being a positive development and good news, you'd expect the McCain campaign to take full advantage - set this off in the media and let it garner the good will it deserves. It would generate free publicity for McCain (something he desperately needs right now) and maybe polish up the campaign's tarnished reputation. Just one problem - it would piss off the people like that guy who got ejected, who think Obama is a terrorist (I mean look at his name!) and a socialist and awfully dark when you compare him to a "real" pro-America American. But honestly, who even wants people like that in their party?

Well... I can think of at least two.

The McCain campaign is refusing to let their own campaign manager speak about his extremely positive actions for fear of angering their fundamentalist base. These people are the core of the party - say what you like about conservative ideals, the fact of the matter is that these people drive the Republican vote every election. And John McCain, maverick that he is, can't afford to piss them off.

It's truly unfortunate - here was a great opportunity for McCain to reclaim his honour, lock up the red meat and put country first in his campaigning as well as his service, and - for whatever reason - he passed on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Deep Breath


Stop what you're doing, and breathe deeply. Just relax.

Now imagine yourself, sitting at your computer chair. You're reading the news, and you see that there's some tension in the Middle East. Worrisome, to be sure. But you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

Your son or daughter is a few months away from graduating high school, and he or she has just been accepted to their first choice university. You know the bill is going to be pretty steep, but you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

A major economic bubble has just popped, and your industry could be affected. You know you might need to rely on the social safety net to get through this, even though you didn't do anything wrong. But you're not worried -

Barack Obama is President.

You're sick of being lied to. You're tired of being ashamed of your country and embarassed by your leaders. You're angry at the way the Constitution has been shredded and your rights trampled on. You're pissed at the way Wall Street has been allowed to run roughshod over the economy. But you're not worried anymore -

In 14 more days, Barack Obama is President.

Take a deep breath, and relax.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

America United

It's all too easy to focus on politics at its worst. Make no mistake - this nation was founded on ideas and ideals. We lose sight of that sometimes, but it's embedded at the core of what makes America the nation it is.

I often talk about "taking America back." The simple fact is, this nation has been hijacked - our dreams deferred, our government corrupted, our ideals subverted - and we have allowed it to happen. But not any more. Conservatives, Progressives, Libertarians, you name it - we each have our vision of America's future, but we also each have an intuitive grasp of the ideals at the core of this nation. It is this grasp of ideals that Neo-Conservatism never quite got the hang of - because, by definition, one cannot appreciate a Constitution like ours while still maintaining Neo-Conservative beliefs. Inalienable human rights? Trial by jury of peers? A nation of laws that apply to all citizens? This is the very antithesis of Neo-Conservatism, which is nothing more than authoritarian fear-mongering writ large. We on the Progressive side understand this, by and large. Now, at last, the genuine Conservatives have taken the blinders off.

And it's especially nice to see it in action.

A note about posting quantity - you can expect this pattern to continue, of one or two posts a day during the week, followed by no posts on the weekends, as I'm often out of town at that time.

A note about posting quality - you get what you get. No complaining allowed. :P

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Shared Faith

I've decided to convert to Barack Obama style Islam.

That is, I'll only be Muslim to people who blindly accept whatever their leaders tell them is true.

Don't worry, I'll be skipping the Jihad bits and all that. I'm only going to keep the best parts of Islam.

That's right - I'll be doing my religion Allah carte.

The Way It Ought To Be

At the start of this campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama promised to run a different kind of campaign. And to be honest, I believed them - I had high hopes for Obama and great respect for McCain.

Unfortunately, as we've seen, that's not how it panned out, with the McCain campaign ad buys for the past week 100% negative and been focusing on just about everything but the economy and important issues - good old Republican character assassination at work. Despite running a much more positive campaign than most in recent history Obama's not guilt free either - he backed out of his pledge to take public financing (although I can accept the argument he's made that small donors represent a truer form of public financing, I also think it sounds an awful lot like the rationalization it is).

Wouldn't it be nice if both candidates could sit down and treat each other like human beings, disagreeing vibrantly but rationally on their stances on the issues but faceing each other like two reasonable and patriotic Americans, with good humour and good character? Wouldn't it be nice if that could happen?

Well, it still can - and does.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm certain there is plenty of post-debate coverage out there, so I'll make this short and sweet. This was definitely the best of the three debates - Scheiffer was an excellent moderator. I watched the debate on MSNBC and followed the always excellent liveblogging at CFLF - you can check it out here if you missed the debate and want a blow-by-blow.

Final analysis? I hesitate to declare an out and out winner; but with no game changers that I saw, Obama is the winner by default, as McCain needed to really shake things up. It was apparent that he knew this going into it - he started the night off on fire, and turned in some of his best debate performances of his career for the first half hour. But Obama played it out with what I've been calling the statistics rope-a-dope - he doused McCain's fire with sound policy and consistent references to statistics, facts, and procedures. This just absorbed McCain's punches, no matter how solid, and by 10:45 McCain's fire was gone.

Once Obama settled into a groove, he came across as polished and presidential - he had a policy response ready for every question, and he had some decent counterpunches for some of McCain's attacks, although again, the focus seemed to be on draining McCain's energy with solid policy prescriptions.

And looking at the snap polling, it appears to have been astoundingly effective, far more effective than I'd expected. I'm seeing polls showing an Obama win at 58 (O) - 31 (M) from CNN and 53-22 from CBS... those are huge numbers!

Without a knock out punch from McCain, I expect polling to either stabilize or continue to trend towards Obama over the next few days.


Not that long ago, the Conservative movement was in the midst of a revolution. It was redesigining itself to fight what it saw as bloated government, excessive entitlement and the encroach of a "nanny state" of welfare and social programs.

To combat this, some very intelligent people got together and started working to counteract liberal acadamia with conservative think tanks, and began work on a series of powerful new ideas that would eventually revamp the political scene entirely, culminating in the landslide ascent of Reagan in the 80's.

One of the key components of this new Conservative movement was William F. Buckley and the magazine he founded, the National Review. This was a magazine that cherished conservative thought and rational discourse.

Unfortunately, like much of modern American Conservatism - at least establishment Conservatism - the NR has become intellectually bankrupt, equating education with elitism and rational discourse with treason.

Example given: William Buckley's son, Chris Buckley, wrote an article a few days ago criticizing the modern American Conservative movement for being anything but conservative in its views and actions. The response from the NR was immediate - Chris Buckley is a traitor! How dare anyone criticize the Right!?! He must go!

So, today, the NR accepted Buckley's resignation.

To be fair, Buckley said he's not sorry to go. His own words:

"While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case."

The conservatives are right about one thing - their movement certainly has been betrayed. But it's not people like Buckley that have betrayed it.


So! After years of abusing my Purerave journal with political discourse, and almost a year of fairly consistent blog reading, I've finally made the leap to a dedicated blog.

There's plenty of great blogs out there, and I don't really expect to cover any new ground - politics is something I'm passionate about, but I'm a regular guy with a regular full time job and a whole host of hobbies, so time is rather short. So expect my thoughts and analysis on a variety of political and philosophical topics on a part time basis. I'm out of town most weekends as well, so this will definitely be a catch-as-catch-can blog.

That said, I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the world, and I'm interested to see your thoughts as well - comments will always be open to the public at large, and rational disagreement is encouraged.

Best wishes to you all!