Friday, February 29, 2008

Thanks for the E-ward, Suzanne!

Suzanne from TwoTonGreenBlog (who also hosts and/or moderates Late Night at Firedoglake) has been kind enough to tag me with an Excellence in Blogging award, which I will be happy to pass along. Suzanne has a great heart, a feisty spirit, fabulously eclectic taste in music and a 'take no prisoners' point of view (which no doubt comes in handy as a mod!) She has become a friend who helped me get through losing one of my beloved cats with a sympathetic shoulder and a listening ear.

I will be passing this on to:

Rainbow Demon from Coffee House Studio - a wild ride you'll never forget
Texas Betsy from Head-On Radio Network - an inexhaustible fount of up-to-the-minute info
Mutant Poodle at Mutant Poodle - one of my homies, smart and informed
Phoenix Woman at Mercury Rising - writes at Firedoglake; this is her own blog
Quaker Dave at Quaker Agitator - a unique perspective
The folks at Les Enrag├ęs - great group blog
Distributorcap at distributorcap NY - a man brave enough to watch Dubya on TV (more than I can do!)
Station Agent at Ice Station Tango - because Canada is not far enough
Comments from Left Field - where my blogfather lives
Catherine from PovertyBarn - commentary from a SF perspective (take that, BillO!)

You all rock.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday's "Hooterville Hall O' Fame"

Mixing it up with old friends and new:

Karlo at Swerve Left
Mock, Paper, Scissors
ddjango at P!
Preemptive Karma
Cap'n Dyke, Lesbian Pirate Queen and Rogue Blogger
Lydia Cornell

and a hearty Hooterville 'hi' to TomCat from Politics Plus!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

'Inspiration', 'Cult of Personality' A Crock? Tell It To St. Ronnie!

(cross-posted at the Smirking Chimp)

It seems that Barack Obama is drawing heat from the right and the left because he's 'inspirational'. John McCain says about Obama's message, "It's no more than an eloquent, but empty call for change." Hillary Clinton touts her own experience and toughness as superior to Barack Obama's call for unity and optimism.

The point seems to be that Obama's message of hope and inspiration that has galvanized so many Americans (even a few Republicans, or 'Obamicans' as they're now known) is a bunch of hogwash, and that Obama's appeal is superficial and insubstantive. 'Hope'? That's nothing to base a presidential campaign on!

While the Republicans are busy vilifying Obama for his inspirational speeches and call him an 'empty suit' and a perpetrator of the 'Cult of Personality', they seem to have forgotten about the Ultimate Republican Hero, whom the Repub candidates have practically come to blows over as they each claim to be the 'absolutely most Reagan-y'. John McCain called himself a 'Foot-soldier in the Reagan Revolution'. The basis of Ronald Reagan's appeal (to both Republicans and the 'Reagan Democrats') was that, instead of endlessly droning on about the problems we faced as a nation and the unpleasant medicine we'd have to swallow if we wanted things to get better like that grumpy old Jimmy Carter did (gosh, who wants to vote for someone who tells you things you don't want to hear? Conserving energy? Turning down our thermostats? Yuck!), Reagan burst forth like sunshine from behind a cloud and pooh-poohed away all those worries with a dismissive wave of his hand as he told Americans not to believe their lying eyes or their dwindling bankbooks, but to cheer up; because we were the Best Nation Ever™, and to say otherwise was tantamount to treason.

And who didn't want to believe him? Americans were tired of sacrifice and penny-pinching, inflation and gas lines, hostages and humiliation. So when Reagan promised that he was going to wipe the slate clean and make Americans proud once more, he held out something that could not be quantified or qualified - he held out hope. He told Americans what they wanted to hear, not what they needed to hear, and his 'feel-good' rhetoric catapulted him into the White House. His emphasis on supply-side economics (or 'voodoo economics' as his future VP Bush Senior called it during the race for the nomination), the idea that 'deficits don't matter' and complete rollback of the New Deal went unchallenged in the desire to put the 'bad stuff' behind us.

Reagan, however, really was a 'tabula rasa' - an actor who could be counted on to do his corporate masters' bidding with zeal and true belief, which was how he got Americans to trust him. The public can sniff out inauthenticity, and, as an actor, he immersed himself in the biggest role of his career until he really did believe. A former Democrat, former New Deal supporter, former labor union president (Screen Actors Guild), Reagan’s years with GE as not only a television host but a traveling ‘good-will ambassador’ for GE, changed his viewpoint as he spent the bulk of his time with corporate and defense contractor honchos and became convinced that government regulation was interfering with the free market. He was passionate, as are most born-agains, and the sincerity of his convictions resonated with the electorate, winning him a whole new constituency of ‘Reagan Democrats’. Believing as he did that government was the problem, not the solution, he cut off funding for arts and education, busted unions (beginning with the air traffic controllers strike, which caused a sharp upturn in airplane accidents), and slashed programs to assist mothers, children, and minorities, while pouring money into defense and running up huge deficits.

Yes, old Saint Ronnie was quite the salesman, and his customers just couldn't get enough of the snake-oil. Reagan was groomed and prepped by the political star-makers of the right to be the popular face of their movement, and in that sense he was a brilliant success. He got a laugh when he said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'” Actually, to me the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “An actor with Alzheimer’s was once our Nation’s President”. But I digress. His witty little quips and avuncular folksiness obscured the fact that he was launching a war against the middle class and the poor, and putting forth the incredible idea that 'Government is the enemy and Big Business is your friend."

Reagan was, indeed, the triumph of 'style over substance', and it was the force of his personality that earned him the label "The Great Communicator". But he has been ensconced in conseravtive minds as the greatest president ever, while ostensibly 'running the country' in the throes of Alzheimer's.

Barack Obama is far more qualified to be President than Reagan ever was. Like Schwarzenegger after him, Reagan was an actor who had been recruited by big money interests to lend their on-screen persona to the agenda of the big businesses who, for obvious reasons, could not be elected on their own recognizance. Obama has the drive and the charisma, but he also has the goods. He's his own man, for whatever that's worth.

This may be what drives the Repubs crazy. The purpose of an empty suit is for it to be worn by someone else. They have deified Reagan for the same thing that they are crucifying Obama for - for inspiring, uplifting, instilling hope in the hopeless. But when you compare the two, there's a difference. Reagan's feel-good, yay-America, look-at-the-pretty-birdie-over-there rhetorical sleight-of-hand was meant to distract Americans from reality while the real operatives did their work behind the scenes. Obama is a gifted, passionate and persuasive speaker who has touched a nerve in America. But he has also spent his lifetime involved in public service. He is highly educated and skilled. Whatever else he may be, he is not a mouthpiece for those who would rather stay in the shadows and pull strings from behind the curtains.

I am not saying this, by the way, as someone who is particularly under the sway of Obama's charisma. He was not my first choice Democrat, or my second. I think he is a good, qualified candidate whom I will support if he becomes the Democratic nominee. But I do not discount the power of the Obama phenomenon, and anything that motivates young people to get excited about a candidate and get involved in the electoral process is something worth paying attention to. The biggest problem I think we face as progressives is apathy, and Obama is shaking people up in a way that hasn't been seen in a generation. Hopelessness breeds apathy and disengagement, and to inspire hope and energy and involvement in people who have been on the sidelines politically is a gift, not just to Obama's campaign, but to the whole (small 'd') democratic process. We all owe Obama a 'thank you' for that.

Republicans like McCain who worship Reagan for his 'hopeful, uplifting' optimism are the same ones who sneer at Obama's message. The self-described 'foot-soldier of the Reagan Revolution' now says, “to encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.”

Yeah - a platitude like "Morning in America".

I guess that 'inspiration' is only useful to Republicans when it is a smokescreen instead of a searchlight.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Belated Wednesday Weekly World News - Atlantis Found!

(I normally post this on Wednesday, but my little daughter got a last-minute slot for the eye surgery she's been waiting for when there was a cancellation, so everything's been on hold for yesterday and today. It was successful and she's resting at home and being spoiled by one and all!)

(Read over at Eli's Multi-Medium...)

The Lost Continent of Atlantis Has Been Found - and it's the Answer to the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis!

DUBUQUE, Iowa -- In an astounding discovery, a scientist has announced the most amazing archaeological find of the twenty-first century - the Lost Continent of Atlantis!

Dr. Oliver Icklemyer, an archaeologist at the University of Phoenix, unveiled his astonishing news at a recent press conference in Dubuque, Iowa. First mentioned by Plato in Timaeus around 360 B.C., Atlantis was a magnificent continent-sized island empire which was destroyed in 9000 B.C. in the span of 24 hours by earthquakes and floods, and was subsequently lost in the bottom of the ocean, its advanced civilization lost forever - or so it has been believed. For centuries the location of the fabled Atlantis has been hotly debated, but Dr. Icklemyer has stunned experts by claiming that Atlantis is actually about half a mile out from the Jersey Shore.

"It stands to reason," the professor modestly explained. "When I connected the dots - 'Atlantic Ocean', 'Atlantic City', 'Atlantis' - it all fell into place."

And now, the Lost Continent of Atlantis has not only been discovered, but will soon be inhabited once again for the first time in eleven thousand years - by the victims of the Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis!

The White House is hailing this as a 'win-win'. A spokesman for the Administration is quoted as saying, "This is a red-letter day for the Americans who have lost their homes due to fraudulent and deceptive marketing practices by banks and mortgage brokers. Each and every family that has been bilked out of their house will receive, practically free of charge, a beautiful 1/16-acre plot in the exclusive Atlantis: Phase II 'lifestyle community' subdivision - and an air tank for each member of the family! Every home is equipped with running water. There are recreational activities galore, including fishing and swimming."

Already real-estate developers are scrambling to get first dibs on this remarkable bonanza of untapped investment potential. An unnamed real-estate mogul calls it the real 'final frontier', saying, "Space, shmace! That's so last century! You wanna talk about your 'Manifest Destiny' - this is it, baby!" He plans on changing the name to 'Trump-lantis'.

In a statement to the Weekly World News, the President's mother Barbara Bush notes,"And so many of the people in Atlantis here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thoughts on Blog Amnesty and the Mainstream Media

(cross-posted at The Smirking Chimp)

I enjoyed last week's Blog Amnesty. I don't get to spend a lot of time reading and commenting on other people's blogs, certainly not as much as I'd like, so it was a great opportunity for me to expand my blog horizons. Like many people, my life is filled up with family, work, friends and obligations, and I always feel 'behind the eight-ball' in regards to keeping up with my favorite bloggers, and discovering new blogs. Having a designated 'Blog Amnesty Day' made it easier to do that.

It also got me thinking about the phenomenon of blogging, and how it differs from the mainstream media. In the wake of the consolidation of media that has been going on for the last 20 years, blogging has stepped up as the 'adversarial' press envisioned by our founders in the First Amendment. The fact that bloggers are mostly unpaid and uncontrolled has freed them to a large extent from incestuous relationships with those they are supposed to be covering for the people. As the lines between 'journalism' and infotainment have blurred, it has become more difficult to separate truth from opinion on television, which is still where the majority of Americans get their news.

For many years, news was not obligated to support itself financially. A company fortunate enough to get a license to use a portion of the broadcast spectrum had practically a license to print money. As the spectrum is limited, only a lucky few were able to obtain these licenses. The broadcast spectrum, however, is a part of the 'commons' - common resources belonging to the people of the United States. No corporation is allowed to own the airwaves; they may only rent space on the spectrum. In return for the great privilege of being allowed to rent this access to the people of the United States for a trifling sum, the broadcast companies were expected to 'donate' news coverage as a public service. This news coverage was expected to adhere to strict journalistic standards, and was not to be responsible for 'paying its own way' through ratings and advertising, unlike other television and radio shows. However, in the last few years this has been dropped - but no one saw fit to inform Americans of this.

'News' is now expected to hold its own, financially and ratings-wise against entertainment - sitcoms, gossip shows, game shows, reality programming, night-time dramas, etc. - although its purpose is not entertainment. What has been true for other entertainment programs (that they are chosen by the networks to maximize ad revenue and target the advertisers' preferred demographic - young white males) has now been required of news, resulting in info-tainment rather than the obligation to inform the public. This means (and has meant for a while now) that the media and the press, specifically protected by the First Amendment for the purpose of advocating for the people rather than the establishment, are now beholden and obligated to the very institutions they have been entrusted with criticizing. But, somehow, no one got around to telling us that. Many people are still under the misapprehension that what we see on television news is unbiased, and must be by law. "They're not allowed to lie on TV!"

The reason that the press is singled out in the First Amendment is that they were expected to be advocating for the people who do not have access to the information that has an impact upon their lives. Can I be in Washington in the halls of Congress every day? Can you? I can't be where the decisions are being made. That's what the press is supposed to do for me. But when it's more important to sell products than give me unbiased information, my rights as a citizen are being infringed upon. The press is protected only upon the assumption that it is advocating for me; doing what I cannot do. The press is supposed to be adversarial, not complicit with power. But that is not the case any more.

One more time: the press is supposed to be adversarial to the powers-that-be.

That concept has been stood upon its head, and never more egregiously than during the Bush Administration. As media become more consolidated and power over it concentrated in a mere five corporations, the idea of media independence is a thing of the past. Opinions are being disseminated by only a handful of people, all in the same club.

Blogging has become a powerful antidote to the consolidation of media. While it is not always appropriate to call it 'journalism', it has become a voice for the voiceless. It is able to take an adversarial position precisely because it is mostly unpaid and therefore uncontrollable, and with the wide variety of opinion available, it's possible to compare different points of view and come to your own conclusion. If you read something that sounds like BS to you, you can search for other articles on that topic and see what the other arguments for and against it are. No one is prevented from saying anything they want, no matter how false or misleading or vile, but it has to stand up to the scrutiny of the rest of the blogosphere and will stand or fall upon its merits.

And, unlike traditional media, the aim of blogging is not to contract, but to expand. Blogroll Amnesty is a great example of this principle, and as some of the so-called 'A-list' blogs become more and more exclusive, and closer to the issues and people they cover, the rest of the blog community seeks to become more inclusive. Instead of jockeying for dominance and pushing little blogs aside, the spirit of the blog community attempts to broaden the range of voices. And a blog is judged on its own quality, rather than how much money has been put into it. If you have something to say that resonates with other people, you will find an audience.

To me, this is the democratic way, and closer to the meaning of what the First Amendment was written for. No, most of us aren't 'journalists'. But everything we say is subject to public scrutiny and debate, and if a post is flawed, you can be sure that someone will point it out. The beauty of blogging is that nothing is just accepted as gospel. If you want to make an assertion, it will not be uncritically swallowed. And any commenter worth paying attention to will have to demonstrate his or her competence in order to be taken seriously. It's a self-correcting system - a true 'meritocracy' of ideas.

It's also a community of people, personalities and relationships. We are often partisan and biased, but as humans the partisanship and bias are on the table, not hidden under a mask of false 'impartiality'. Then you can consider the source in making your decision as to whether you accept or reject that person's argument.

I treasure the friends I've met through blogging - people whose paths I would never have crossed in my daily life. I'm proud to be a citizen of Blogtopia, and I love the fact that it's our ideas and writing that give me and my cohorts a seat at the table, not money or influence. The very fact that I have gotten a book publishing contract from someone hearing something I wrote and e-mailing me out of the blue, and not because I 'knew somebody', had the 'right contacts' or was high-profile in any way, is a testament to the collective power of blogging. It wasn't the number of 'hits' on my site (which aren't huge), or advertising, or anything else but doing the work. 'Wingnut welfare' notwithstanding, so many of us are getting our voices heard based on our hard work and commitment to speaking out, instead of novelty, nepotism, notoriety or the lowest common denominator.

Your voices count. And we are changing things - not overnight, but we are changing things; you can be assured of that.

So, write on, my brothers and sisters! Enquiring Minds want to know!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bat Boy to Dick Cheney: "Don't You Love Me, Daddy?"

Over at Eli's -

Bat Boy To Dick Cheney: "Don't You Love Me, Daddy?"

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia - In the small mining town of Ticksville, West Virginia, population 357, a lonely little boy cries for the daddy he’s never seen. While other little boys he knows have fathers that play catch, take them fishing, and coach their Little League teams, this little boy has never known the love of the man responsible for bringing him into the world.

A fatherless boy is not unusual in this impoverished mountain town; a succession of unfortunate mining accidents has seen to that, and the difficulty in finding work in this once-booming area has driven many men away from their families in search of bigger and better things. But this particular boy is not like other boys, and the father he has never seen is not like other fathers.

This little boy’s name is Bat Boy, and his mother now claims that the father he has never seen is Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Little Bat Boy, part human, part bat, first gained national attention when he was found in a West Virginia cave in 1992. At first thought to be an abandoned orphan, his mother, Susan Boy, was subsequently located in a bar in Morgantown three weeks later, where she had “stopped on the way home from work, and just lost track of time.”

Professional recycler Susan Boy has refused to comment on the subject of her son’s father up until now, but in a sensational statement has named Vice-President Cheney as the real father of Bat Boy.
“I never wanted to make no trouble for Batty’s pa,” she said in an exclusive interview with the Weekly World News. “I figured my boy had enough unwanted attention as it was, and him and me have always made our own way. It ain’t that unusual round these parts to be a single mom anyhow, and I always told him his daddy was a no-account drunken bum. That seemed to satisfy him for a while. But now that he’s older, he’s askin’ more questions, and since his daddy is almost done being Vice-President, I think my son deserves to know who his father is.”

Ms. Boy asserts that there is no financial angle in seeking to reunite Batty with his dad. “I never asked Dick for no money. Even when times was tough, me and Batty had our pride. But it broke my heart to watch poor Batty trying to ‘prove himself’ to a daddy he’s never known. All he ever wanted was a father’s love, and I think it’s time he had it.”

Susan Boy claimed to have had a long affair with the Vice-President in the late seventies and early eighties. “We met in a bar in Morgantown,” she said. “The chemistry was undeniable after five boilermakers, and Dickie put me up in a motel room for the next four years. He came to see me every time he could get away from that ball-busting harpy he was married to.”

She asserted that the real Dick Cheney was very different from the public’s perception of him. “He was just the sweetest thing,” she said. “Always bringing me flowers and Jack Daniels. He’d cry and cry about how no one really understood him except me. He was always crying around me, now that I think back on it. You might not know it, but my Dickie was a very emotional guy. Sometimes all he’d do when he came over would be to stay up all night, crying and cleaning his shotgun. He was sensitive like that. I think he could only be his real self around me.”

She claimed that one of the great disappointments of Cheney’s life was that he never had a son.
“I loved Dickie so much that I decided to make his dream come true and give him the son he always wanted.” But by the time she found ot she was pregnant with Bat Boy, she said, Cheney was “long gone. Lynne found out about me, and threatened to make a public spectacle and destroy his career if he didn’t break it off with me. It broke both our hearts, but I knew he was destined for greatness, so I let him go.” By that time Susan Boy was pregnant and homeless, and took up residency in a deserted cave.

“Times was hard, all right - real hard. But somehow I managed to get by and make a home for Batty. When he was born, it was all I could do to keep from calling his daddy and telling him that his fondest wish had come true. But I knew that I had to keep our secret.”

She kept that secret for twenty-five years, but now she feels that it’s time to break her silence.
“Batty did everything he could to impress his dad - he even joined the Marines and was a war hero in Iraq. He only did it hoping to make his daddy proud.”

She believes that the Vice-President will be proud when he meets his son at last.

“I just know that Dickie will be crazy about him,” she says. “What father wouldn’t be proud of a son like Batty? He’s a big celebrity now in his own right who made his own way without any help from his father, unlike those sorry coat-tail-riding daughters of his. He tried to make the second one into the son he never thought he’d have and look how that turned out. And the older Batty gets, the more you can tell that he’s Dickie’s son. He’s never without his shotgun, and he cries a lot, too.”

Bat Boy has a message for his father, too. “Daddy, I love you,” he said in a statement to the Weekly World News. “All I ever wanted was to make you proud of me, Daddy. I don’t want your money. Just a phone call, a hug, a father-and-son hunting trip - that’s all I want from you. I don’t need anything else - just my Daddy’s love.”

Both Bat Boy and his mother are willing to undergo DNA testing to prove that the Vice-President is Batty’s father. “Any time, any where,” says Ms. Boy. “Dickie, do the right thing. Don’t lose out on the love of the son you always wanted! If you need me to kick Lynne’s dried-up old ass, I will. I’m here for you, Dickie!”

When contacted for a response by our reporter, Vice-President Cheney neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, but in a statement said, “Go f*** yourself.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Feature - Monday Is Hooterville Hall O' Fame Day!

Blogroll Amnesty Day was so delightful that I have decided to make it a regular feature here at Hooterville. Every Monday, I'll welcome the new additions to the blogroll. How does one get included in the Hall O' Fame, you may ask? Easy as pie. You just request to be added, or comment and leave your blog address. A link back is appreciated but not required. Nothing could be simpler here at Hooterville, where 'simple' is our middle name!

And with that, let's kick off Monday Hooterville Hall O' Fame Day by welcoming Boxer Rebellion, ThePoliticalCat, Mad In the Middle and One Pissed Off Veteran!

Don't be shy about reminding me, as ThePoliticalCat did - I'm forgetful sometimes. And if you have linked to me and by some gross oversight I have not linked back, please know that it's just that - a gross oversight. Remind me and I'll fix it immediately.

Happy Hall O' Fame Day, y'all!

Update: Say hi to Bridget from ShortWoman (gotta love that name! There must be millions of envious 'shorties' out there that wish they had gotten that web name.)
Speaking of great names...the s.n.a.f.u. principle
Please welcome my homie from FL - RonD is the Man in the Street
and fellow bucolics from Heaven on the Hill

Bush is the Symptom - Conservatism is the Disease

As many of us have predicted, the Republican presidential candidates are in a knock-down, drag-out battle to claim the mantle of 'the most conservative ever'. McCain, indeed, is labeled by the other candidates as a 'liberal', the pinnacle of epithets. 'Pedophile' would not be a more derogatory, insulting term. You might as well call him a 'Satanist who bites the heads off of blastocysts' and get it over with.

Conservatives revere and revel in the label 'conservative' in a way that liberals ceased to do in the sixties, when conservatives began blaming liberalism for every evil under the sun. Before that, the majority of Americans self-identified as liberals; liberalism represented the things in society that Americans valued - equality, diversity, making sure that everyone had a chance at the "American Dream". The economic programs that gave us a middle class - strong unions, the GI Bill, Social Security, Medicare - are liberal programs. Liberals believe that you can't sacrifice people so that corporations can grow fat. Liberals know that the 'trickle down theory' is, as Dubya's father once rightly said, 'voodoo economics', and that the only boats that a 'rising tide lifts' are yachts. Liberals believe that we as a nation have a responsibility, not for, but to all of our citizens (there's a difference) and that government is not the enemy, but 'We the People'. It's not 'them', it's 'us'. But when conservatives, backed by the limitless coffers of Big Business Republican think-tanks who saw their vision of conservative financial and social dominance slipping away, decided to attack liberalism as the symbol of all that's wrong with America, liberals did not challenge this assertion and it became part of the national narrative without liberals quite knowing what happened.

So, while statistics show that the economy does better under Democratic leadership and worse under Republican leadership, conservatives brag about belonging to the party of 'fiscal responsibility.' While Republicans accuse Democrats of being 'soft on terror', their party and their President have increased and encouraged terrorism by attacking and occupying a sovereign nation without the resources to defend themselves, and created terrorism where there was none before. While Republicans consider themselves to be the party of Morality and accuse Democrats of having no values, in the most egregious examples of 'do as I say, not as I do', the overwhelming majority of sex and corruption scandals have involved Republicans, not Democrats. The party that supposedly believes in 'small government' inevitably bloats it to unprecedented numbers. The party that harps upon Personal Responsibility seems congenitally incapable of accepting responsibility for its failings, always blaming them on others.

Please note that I am not giving Dems a free pass here - no one can be in politics and keep their hands perfectly clean - no one. It's the way the system is set up. But the ones who claim to be more moral than everyone else because of their high religious principles and who are constantly pointing their fingers at others seem to be the ones that are doing every immoral thing they condemn others for.

And these are the people who are proudly claiming the mantle of conservatism.

For those conservatives who have reluctantly admitted that the Bush Administrtion has been, shall we say, less than stellar - is the reason for George W.'s failure as President simply that he is not conservative enough? Is that his problem? For the true believers, conservatism never fails - it is only failed.

Somehow, with a Republican president, complete Republican control of Congress, and a majority of conservative Supreme Court justices - as well as a religious right that has been calling the shots in Washington for almost eight years - conservatism has not been given a real chance!

Please pardon me if I'm not hopping on that particular bandwagon. Yes, the party with absolute control of everything, that left Democrats completely shut out and voiceless for six years and when they got the tiniest sliver of a majority back, filibusters them into irrelevance without a murmur of dissent - that party has not had a fair shot at giving conservatism a chance.

I beg to differ, comrades.

We have had the implementation of unfettered conservatism for the past twenty-five years. In my upcoming book the Price of Right I've set myself the task to make clear why it is not just George W. Bush that is the problem - it is the ideology of conservatism itself.

Bush is the symptom; conservatism is the disease.

Even as liberals debate conservatives, we cede them the ‘rightness’ of their basic tenets, which I think is a mistake. I hope to show that conservatism – both social and economic – is detrimental to a democratic society. By ‘conservatism’ I do not mean prudence and moderation - which is what many people take conservatism to mean – but the political and social meaning which includes the myth of the ‘free market’, the elimination of as much regulation and taxes as can be gotten away with, the myth that privatization is the best way to deal with society’s needs, and that government is in itself a bad thing. The (usually) unspoken corollary to this is the ‘Conservative Golden Rule’ – he who has the gold makes the rules. In other words, the people with money and power are the best and most deserving – simply because they have the money and power! This is a strongly-held belief of many people, but it is not acceptable to say in so many words, so there are many euphemisms to describe it - ‘meritocracy’, ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’, ‘reverse discrimination’, and so on. Conservatism’s message is connected to some very powerful societal myths that resonate deeply in the subconscious mind, making it easier to believe in the myths than the facts.

But America as a nation was built on liberal and progressive values, rather than conservative ones. If by ‘conservative’ you mean the status quo – keeping things the way they are, rather than changing, then conservatives would be the Royalists and liberals would be the Revolutionaries. The United States of America was not founded by people who did as they were told by the authority in power – in this case George III, who considered his power directly God-given. In fact, every significant advance in this country for the betterment of its people – freedom for slaves, women’s rights, child-labor laws, civil rights, the American 20th-century middle class itself – came about as a result of liberal ideals and policies.

For much of the 20th century after World War II, American values were liberal values. The New Deal gave us the American Dream – a thriving middle class. But the paradigm began shifting in the sixties, when the plan to rebuild conservatism intersected with the disappointment of Vietnam, which put a damper on what it meant to be liberal. Powerful changes were beginning, but they were under the radar of American consciousness.

We began feeling the rumbles of this seismic shift in the late seventies, when Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority injected politics into religion, ushering in the so-called “Reagan Revolution”. The admixture of moral righteousness with conservative economic tenets begat a Republican mindset that allowed for little or no consideration of other points of view. With this new majority, conservatives could afford to ignore the bipartisanship which would normally force it to mitigate or dilute its objectives. The liberal view became, not just incorrect, but morally flawed as well in the eyes of this new political meld, the Christian conservatives. Each group had its own reasons for criticizing liberalism before, but, fused together as a political unit, the two groups reinforced each other’s beliefs synergistically. Traditional liberal values such as tolerance, diversity, empathy and compassion became evils to be rooted out instead of solutions to the ills of society.

This set of 'values' insists that "Government is the enemy and Big Business is your friend." They believe, incredibly, that tax cuts plus borrowing and spending equal prosperity! The sad truth is that our government (and the rest of the world) is run, not by Democrats, or even Republicans, but by multinational corporations. These corporations want Republicans in power because they fit the most easily into the authoritarian nature of conservatism, and are thus much easier to bend to their will.

I don't believe that most conservatives (our family and friends, many of whom are affected as adversely as the rest of us by unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism) understand what their policies really mean in terms of the economy, the so-called "War on Terror", jobs, education, health care, the deficit, civil liberties, and our relationships with the rest of the world. But, as most people know by now, the Republicans have been positioning themselves for this complete takeover of government for forty years. It has been carefully planned and massively funded. And the way they have captured the hearts and minds of the American fiscal and religious conservatives was not an accident. It has been done by playing into the deepest wants, needs, and fears of people who are the most comfortable with authoritarian structure. It has been done systematically through the use of language and framing, and using the same subliminal techniques that advertisers use when they want you to choose their product over a competitor's; not because of inherent differences between the products, but by applying motivational 'triggers' which have nothing to do with the product itself. That's where the media comes in, The average American, who works harder and longer for less and less, sits down for an hour, exhausted, in front of the television set and takes it on faith that what he or she is seeing on the news is true. And when the narrative is skewed to promote the ideas that those in power wish to have the public believe, most people are not in a position to judge how much is true and how much is spin. The line between 'news' and 'commentary' has been completely blurred to boost advertising revenue, and the American people - you and I - are paying the price.

George W. Bush certainly is the worst president in American history, but he could not have achieved that distinction without the conservative philosophy that says "What's good for business is good for America." It is conservatism that has created the monster that is George W. Bush, not the other way around.

I believe it is time for liberals to call themselves liberals, and be proud of being liberal. It is time to stop ceding conservatives the moral high ground and start pointing out where conservatism has had a direct and destructive effect on the United States and the rest of the world.

Conservatism is inherently anti-democratic. Conservatives do not believe that all men (and women) are created equal. Conservatives believe that some people are more equal, more deserving, more entitled than others, and it's the fault of the 'others' if they are shut out.

Folks, the principles that our nation was founded on are the exact principles that conservatives oppose! We as liberals need to begin pointing that out. Nothing would make me happier than to see a Democratic candidate boast about what a liberal he or she was. That would give me hope for our country.

Remember - Bush is only the symptom - conservatism is the disease. Let's work togther for a cure.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Wednesday Feature at Multi Medium!

I've been graciously invited to write a Wednesday feature over at Eli's blog Multi Medium, which focuses on the role of media in our democracy, and why it is so imperative that it be held accountable to its First Amendment duty as truth-teller instead of the propaganda arm of the powers-that-be. Eli also is a front-pager over at Firedoglake.

I will be carrying on a feature that, alas, due to the demise of America's greatest newspaper, is in short supply these days. But America deserves to know the truth, no matter how few media outlets have the sack to tell it.

I am speaking, of course, of the Weekly World News, "The World's Only Reliable Newspaper."

Ever since its inception in 1979, it has been my dream to write for this forthright and formidable paper, to which I subscribed for many years. Although the WWN is no longer with us, Eli has allowed me to live that dream. Each Wednesday I will be bringing you the news no other paper has the courage to print courtesy of Eli's "Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging" feature. In the spirit of the First Amendment, it is my great privilege to carry on this tradition.

Check out the first installation here!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Gig Alert - Sunday, Feb. 10

Hi all - here's more info about my Sunday night gig at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks.

It's basically a songwriter-in-the-round thing, with people in groups of 4 doing a round-robin for 45 minutes. I'll be going on between 9:00 and 9:45, then at 11:00 there will be a free-for-all jam with all the performers.

If you get there too much past 9 you'll miss me, so come early - the show starts at 8, and I'll be there listening to everyone else. The $5 cover is going to help special-needs kids, and it's going to be an amazing show. I hope to see you there. Just look for the big ol' blonde with the pink glasses!

(double-click on the flyer to see it full-size)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Mea Culpa

I'm so ashamed.

The lovely and talented Jon Swift, who has done yeoman's work on Blogroll Amnesty Day (actually Blogroll Amnesty Weekend, but 'BAW' just doesn't have the same punch) had to email me today to request a place on my blogroll. My only excuse is that I thought I already had; and while I was busy adding my many new friends whose acquaintance I have made due to hard work on Jon's part (as well as a lovely link on his post), I overlooked his own excellent and insightful blog.

So I would like to make a public apology, Jon, and beg your pardon. I am not worthy. You are now firmly ensconced in the Hooterville Hall o' Fame.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bedlam for Bozo, or, Repub Debate at the Reagan Library

Wow - just wow.

I don't watch much Repub stuff firsthand, just because it's so damn crazy-making.

I'm watching the debate on the TV, and it's just plain nuts.

John McCain thinks we're better off now than we were eight years ago. Things have been peachy except for just lately - low unemployment, plenty of new jobs, a booming economy. Everything's been swell - except for the...the, uh sub-prime...uh - the housing problem. But he knows the answer to that - make the Bush tax cuts permanent! Look how well it's worked so far. Smoove, John!

Mitt Romney doesn't think that we are better off, but he wouldn't dream of blaming it on Bush. No, it's that lazy Congress that's been screwing up everything. "Facts are stubborn things" - name checking the Gipper. I'm the most conservative - John McCain is a liberal! The 'ultimate conservative', he calls himself. No more free rides, you lazy health freeloaders! Health care=creeping socialism.

Huckabee - no, I'm the most conservative! Even though Rush hates me, I can't afford to diss him. Hey - I'm here! Looky over here! I'm the conserviest! I hate the Democrats the most! He does talk about infrastructure. Bridges falling on people, and parents can't get to their kids' soccer games!

Ron Paul - hello? Who? He wants to talk but keeps getting shunted aside - "We'll get back to you, I promise!" Going on about "faith that the market works". Great. Faith-based economics - a Repub staple.

They're all going on about states' rights. Great - until a state claims a right they don't like, like medical marijuana or right-to-die - then listen to the tune change.

One thing I have to say that I would give anything to hear from our side is the pride they take in being conservative. I would love to hear liberals and progressives each try to out-progressive the other. I'd like to hear them bragging about how liberal they are. I'm proud to be a liberal, and I wish other liberals would stand up and say that, too.

McCain - I was a foot-soldier in the Reagan Revolution! (get it? Soldier? Warrior?)

Mitt Romney - the Bush Revolution - when Bush came into office, he was fighting off a downturn. Thank God Bush cut taxes and gave us these glorious eight years! What alternate universe does Max Headroom live in? Yeah, who needs all that crummy old peace and prosperity that Clinton dumped on his successor in the White House?

Huckabee on immmigration - build a fence - a big fence! Quickly!

(other candidates eyeing him and smirking)

Looking out on the crowd at the Reagan Library, it's pretty much what Rick Nelson used to call a 'skull orchard'. Dour and silent.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

February's Hooterville Post Office Newsletter

Hi friends and fam,

February is an interesting month this year. This first weekend coincides with Blog Amnesty Day, where bloggers link to off-the-beaten-path blogs and spread the linky love to encourage each other, get to know writers they wouldn't have known about, and keep the blogosphere from becoming 'corporatized' - dominated by a few huge blogs and off-limits for all practical purposes to the lesser-known or smaller blogs, like what has happened to our national media. And we see what happens, at least in the political arena, when media consolidates. I do read a few large blogs, and some of them, like Mike Finnigan at Crooks and Liars, make a point of calling attention to a few smaller blogs every day. They've been nice enough to give me a shout-out every once in a while, and it means a whole new bunch of people who have never read my stuff before. Of course, then it's up to me to give them a reason to come back.

But, in all honesty, I do like having a small blog. The main reason is that I can get to know every commenter that drops by for a visit, and I like the sense of community that it brings. I don't get troll-bombed. I don't get into flame wars. I can keep my place the way I like it - friendly, supportive, passionate about the issues I care about, snarky and fun sometimes - and I don't have to worry about pleasing (or pissing off) a bunch of different people or jumping through hoops to get my 'stats' up. I can curse if I need to - or not. I'm not looking for confrontation. And the readers and commenters I do have I consider friends. There are other blogs that thrive on the rough-and-tumble of battling ideas, but that's not my thing. Of course, I'm interested in other points of view than my own - I'm just not looking for drama. In the wide, wide world o' blogs, there's something for everyone and you can find a fight if you're looking for one, but that's not how I roll. I take my fights where they'll make a difference - in the real world. As Digby says, if you don't like what you read, you're free to go elsewhere.

*So What's Up With the Book?*

About my book - right now, it's being edited - that's all the news I have. It's a strange feeling to have finished with a year and a half of work, and then be in limbo - my part is done for now, and I'm not sure what to expect next. I still have this nagging feeling that I should be working on it - force of habit, I guess. And something about not working on it makes it feel as if it no longer exists. When I have any more news about it you all will be the first to know. Right now, it's available for pre-order on Amazon, and I keep going there to look at it and say to myself, "I have a book! I have a book!" I may just faint when I have it in my hands for real.

February is also Black History Month, Valentine's Day, President's Day. There's a meeting on the 7th for the San Fernando Valley chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, if any locals would be interested in checking out this fine organization. Email me for info.

* Gig Alert * Gig Alert * Gig Alert *

Gig alert! On February 10, I've been invited to participate in a Songwriter's Night at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks, for a great organization called Livin' the Music. They raise funds and awareness for a charity called the Lili Claire Foundation, which helps children with neuro-development conditions. The $5 cover goes directly to the Lili Claire Foundation. I hope to see some of you there - it's a little more notice than the last gig!

You can find out more at and

And of course, can't forget Super Tuesday. I was working at the Musicians Institute the day of the Democratic debate in Hollywood at the Kodak Theater - one block from my school. They had Hollywood Blvd. cordoned off and choked with satellite trucks - then across the street from us they were giving Suzanne Pleshette a posthumous star, which is always a major clusterf***. Sucked to be you if you were driving in Hollywood that day. I didn't really want to go to the debate anyway because it's still too soon after Edwards suspended his campaign for me to be interested in another Thrilla in Manila. But I'll be voting Tuesday and then after work heading on over to my local Drinking Liberally to hang out with my liberal buds and holler at the big-screen TV.

So, in conclusion - have a great February! Vote early and often! Come out to see me at Cozy's! Link to some bloggers that could use a boost if you blog. Support the Constitution - call your Congresscritters and don't let them roll over for telecom immunity. Show your love on V-Day - if you don't have a valentine, take yourself out and be sweet to you! Stand up and be somebody!

Or something like that.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogroll Amnesty Blowout!

Blue Gal sent me a heads-up that this weekend is designated as Blogroll Amnesty Weekend. It's a long story, and I'll let Skippy and Jon Swift tell you the details, but suffice it to say that it's the time of year that we give linky love to blogs that are smaller than we are. Now, you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find a blog with less traffic than mine. I don't advertise, I don't have a tip jar, I don't use tags or keywords and time constraints don't allow me to network and comment on other blogs as much as I'd like to. But, like Skippy, my policy is that I will link to anyone who links to me. In fact, I'll go further - I link to anyone who comments and leaves a website to link to!

I feel that the beauty of the blogosphere is that it doesn't matter who you are or how high-profile your blog is, there's a place for everyone. If you have something to say, there's a very good chance that there are readers out there to appreciate it. My blogroll has a few big kahunas on it, but that's because I read them and get something out of them, and would like to pass them on to others who might enjoy them also. I don't expect them to link to me. But we little blogs can help each other out by trading links, which is the coin of the realm here in Outer Blogistan.

I'm going to list a few of my favorites (it doesn't necessarily mean that they have less traffic than I do; I have no way of knowing!) and if you're not on my blogroll yet and would like to be, please leave your info on a comment.

Library Bitch
Welcome to Pottersville
Political Teen Tidbits
TexBetsy's Blog

That's just a start, but feel free to peruse my blogroll, and if you'd like to be added there's always room at Hooterville!

Update: Meet my new friends!

Bad Attitudes - good writing!
The Crone Speaks - a sharp liberal, feminist blog
The Democratic Daily - the name says it all
Moue Magazine - a new and interesting blog
Kittywampus - another cool new blog with a great name (luv the kittehs!)
politickybitch - acerbic, aware and awake in San Diego
OB Rag - kickin' it old-school style, also from San Diego
Dyre Portents - a radical moderate! And a Texan!
Ragebot - my old friend Kvatch from Blognonymous with a fierce new blog