June 03, 2006

Hoisting Democratic supporters by their own “you’re voting the party, not just the individual” petard

“Run ’em up the flagpole and salute” Democratic candidate supporters often use an argument like this, especially in the Northeast, about supporters of moderate Republican candidates such as, say Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee. That argument, heard on sites like Daily Kos or Texas Kos, is that, even though we’re not a parliamentary democracy, still, you’re somewhat voting for the party, not just the man. In other words, a vote for Lincoln Chafee is not just a vote for Lincoln Chafee but for Bill Frist.

Well, I’m going to do the verbal judo and from a more progressive perspective, apply the same thing to Democratic candidates. Here in metropolitan Dallas, why would I vote for Eddie Bernice Johnson when not only has she failed to actively oppose the war in Iraq herself, we have House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already promising “no impeachment” if the Democrats get control of the House? Why would I vote for Barbara Radnofsky for the Senate when a majority of Senate Democrats voted to approve the nomination of Mr. Unconstitutional, former National Security Agency head Gen. Hayden, to head the CIA?

There are Green options in both cases: Esther Choi in District 30 against EBJ and Herschel Tomlinson for Senate.

I can vote for individuals and a party in the record and in principle against the invasion of Iraq and against aiding and abetting American spymasters. What about you?

What's up with Media Matters dropping a tracking cookie on me?

When running SpyBot on my home computer earlier today, I discovered that Media Matters had dropped a tracking cookie on my hard drive.

Can’t be a password cookie, or SpyBot would have lumped it with all my other password cookies. And SpyBot identified it as a tracking cookie.

No thanks, Media Matters. After progressive organizations huff about National Security Agency spying?

Progressive and independent thinkers need scientific and intellectual rigor across the board

A couple of things, one recent on a blog, another an ongoing issue which involves some degree of generalization, but not, I believe, stereotyping, will illustrate my point.

The generalization first.

I made my first contribution to a political party, rather than an activist group or an individual candidate, earlier this year. That party? The Green Party.

Green Party members in particular, and "greens" in general, insist that President Bush and BushCo should take note of the vast amount of scientific evidence and modeling underscoring the fact that man-made global warming exists and is a growing problem.

BUT, when it comes to something like, say, alternative medicine, scratch a "green," or more likely a Green, and you're likely to see a stereotypical New Ager get uncovered. There's little to no scientific evidence in favor of most the more benign forms of, and claims about, alternative medicine/healing, and plenty of empirical evidence and logical deduction against the more extreme claims.

Now, the more specific instance.

A post at The Oil Drum yesterday discussed a Grist interview with Michael Pollan, author of "The Carnivore's Dilemma." In reader comments, people discussed his idea about whether high-fructose corn syrup, especially as tied to government subsidies, was that much to blame for obesity, and whether from the perspective of a group like The Oil Drum, he couldn't have done more to address the energy investment in modern corporatized agriculture. All well and good.

But then, one reader, whose handle I won't mention, essentially became religiously evangelical about a vegan diet and lifestyle. That's fine, too, if you don't make claims either for vegan eating or against a meat-inclusive diet that either aren't scientificially substantiated or have actually been disproven.

However, he proceeded to do just that.

Again, intellectual rigor cannot logically be compartmentalized.

If done so un/subconsciously, it calls for a person to increase one's self-awareness.

If done so consciously, it's hypocritical.

May 31, 2006

Protesting Exxon-Mobil

I got up early this morning to be a protestor at the Exxon-Mobil shareholders' meeting in Dallas. We had about 40-50 people show up to protest, contacted through Expose Exxon and other activists groups. (I get e-alerts from so many different environmental groups I'm not sure which one first reminded me of the shareholders meetiing, but I think it was the Union of Concerned Scientists.)

I didn't think to bring my camera, just my placard, so no pics. Since you can't capture the essence of Exxon's deceit with just one sign, I had messages on both sides.

The first, re Exxon's recent ads smearing Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," namely the one that calls CO2 "life."

It said: "We call CO2 'global warming' and Exxon 'the hot air behind warming.'"

The flip said said "ExxonMobil hides the truth under a thick lying oil slick."

At my newspaper office, our printers all have 11x17 paper capacity to print galley pages for proofreading, etc., so I didn't even have to go through the work of using magic markers or whatever to make the sign sides. I just oriented 11x17 pages horizontally, with nice 200-point lettering, and tiled two of them on top of each other, then stabled and taped them down to a sheet of cardboard.

If only one shareholder of enough shares listened to the message, we accomplished something. Or, if one cab driver or pedestrian in the area was inspired to become more politically active, we accomplished something.

That said, there's one shareholder I was warned about who actually comes up and tries to talk you out of what you know is factual information, and who comes from at the far edge of Exxon's stance, even.

Anyway, I hadn't been at a protest for more than a year, so I was feeling a bit of withdrawal, and it was good to be there just for that reason.

May 30, 2006

Harry Reid: Ethical butterfingers once again

As if taking Jack Abramoff client Indian tribes’ money weren’t enough, as if having former staffer Edward Ayoob, who had gone to work for Abramoff, throw a fundraiser for Reid at their offices weren’t more than enough, Reid apparently couldn’t keep his boxing gloves mitts off free fight tickets.

And, yes, I know John McCain is really the Schmuck Talk Express but paying full retail price for equivalent tickets himself was the straight talk.

As the AP reports it Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Mark Ratner graced Reid with the free tickets, including to at least one championship fight, while working on legislation that would have federalized boxing standards. Given the number of prizefights in Vegas, it’s disingenuous for him to say, “Anyone from Nevada would say I'm glad he is there taking care of the state's No. 1 businesses.”

That’s the whole problem, Harry. You’re taking care of business in an apparent direct quid pro quo. As the story notes, numerous Congressional ethics-watchers say this was a clear and obvious no-no.

But Reid, who still refuses to return the Abramoff client money, unlike other Dems such as Sen. Byron Dorgan, apparently has learned life in Nevada all too well.

As for the Democratic party, true, he’s been better than Daschle at standing up to Bill Frist. Some trade-off, though, for him to deal himself more ethical black eyes.

Paul Kiel at Talking Points Memo insists this is just the latest attempt by John Solomon to bipartisanize Congressional corruption. He does have a point that Congressional regs allow donations from governmental bodies, as the NAC is. And he notes that in one major Abramoff issue, Northern Marianas Islands sweatshop owners and wage levels, Reid voted against Smiling Jack.

BUT, but, but, there’s two ways of reading all of this. One is of an “unbought, unbuyable” titan of the Senate, who just happens to be a bếte noire of one particular reporter. Or we could have a “take the money and run” double-dealer who has no problem making himself unbought. It’s all in how you look at it, isn’t it?