2010 Election: Senate Results

2010 Elections: House Results

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
—Orson Welles

The story never ends, and it’s the story of our lives and our children’s lives, and so on and so on.  In hopes that it will inspire you to think about the never-ending story of how politics shapes our world, here is the November edition of the Carnival of Progressive Politics.

Civil Liberty

Steven and Debra at The End Times Hoax present If God Says Civil Government is Oppressive and Opt-out Ode to the Beltway TSA.

Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane’s Political Madness offers Pat-Down Put-Down.

Economy

Ella Moss at Zodiac Times comments On Taxes, Unions, Jobs, and Dangerous Politics.

Health Care

Eric Gargiulo at Health Bill News asks Is Obama Health Care reform Entirely Good? and posits that the Multi-state lawsuit to stop Health Care Reform is a Gamble.

Salty at The Salty Blogger presents It’s the Mandate, Stupid!

Politics

Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane’s Political Madness presents Alpha-Political Verse: Election 2010.

New Polity offers A Tribute to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Systems Thinker thinks about National  Popular Vote.

Ben Harack at Vision of Earth ponders How can you deliberately change your society?

Ophelia Keith presents Breaking News! about the rich, and asks Are We, Too, Not the Sons and Daughters of Revolution?

Race

David W. Trevino at  The Arrow and the Rose gives us From South Carolina, Obama as “President Negro”.

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That’s all for this edition. Future carnivals are on  hold—as is this blog—while this writer pursues a completely different project.

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As always, I do not necessarily agree with all writing on a contributor’s blog. If a post appears here, it is because I consider it worth reading.

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I wish us all happy endings upon happy endings.

The Word Killers

November 16, 2010

We’ve all heard about Frank Luntz, the man who taught the GOP to speak so that the sheep would listen. He now runs a company called The Word Doctors, which describes itself as “a powerhouse in the profession of message creation and image management.” The company describes Luntz as “one of the most honored communication professionals in America today.”

So Frank Luntz is an honored message creator and image manager. Honored by whom? Well, the web site lists among its corporate clients Disney and McDonalds and Pepsi. And a Psychology Today article claims that Luntz “gives us valuable insights on how subtle shifts in word usage can mean the difference between success and failure.”

Whether we like it or not, American politics function as a battle, and battles are all about success and failure. Frank Luntz and The Word Doctors know that—and take ample advantage of it for personal gain. According to Time magazine, via The Word Doctors, “If words are a weapon, Frank Luntz is a Samurai.”

So, let me get this straight: The Word Doctors is a powerhouse and Frank Luntz is a Samurai. It sounds like an action movie coming soon to a theater near you. Actually, the work of Frank Luntz and his disciples is near you, all the time. I got a swift, subtle reminder of that just the other day.

George W. Bush was on television promoting his book. Compared to the major lies Matt Lauer let slide by, this was a small moment, but it struck me—maybe because I had recently re-watched Fahrenheit 9/11 and been moved by the footage of protesters on GWB’s inauguration day. When Matt Lauer asked Mr. Bush about those protesters, he replied, “This crowd of activists were, you know, trying to disrupt and ruin the inaugural parade for others.”

“This crowd of activists.” Activists. What hit me like a slap across the face the minute he said the word was how ugly he made it sound. We all know what the GOP has done to the word “activist.” “Activist judges.” I knew it, but still it floored me, because it was so casual, so off-the-cuff.

The definition of the word activist (noun) is as follows:

an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, esp. a political cause.

“Activist” has no intrinsic character, good or bad. One may find the cause for which the activist advocates good or bad, but Mr. Bush used the word “activist” in a way that made the word “activist” bad. And I personally resent that.

Activists make up Margaret Mead’s “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” who can change the world. The activists Mr. Bush spoke of were American citizens vigorously asserting their right to free speech, at a time when they felt that their right to vote had been maimed and debased by a group of thieves. Were they trying to disrupt and ruin the parade? I wouldn’t say that. I’d say they were trying to get out the message that the parade was a sham.

If the Bush inauguration protesters were activists, so are the Tea Partiers, and so are the Operation Rescue folks. They advocate for causes, don’t they? But would Mr. Bush call them activists, in the same faintly disgusted tone I sensed when he was speaking of the people who held up signs expressing their feelings about his rather strange road to the White House?

Doctors heal. I don’t find the Frank Luntz kind of message creation healing. I don’t think perfectly healthy words should be turned into sickening weapons for personal gain. If you disagree with my opinion, perhaps you can get a Word Doctor to rewrite my post. Maybe some “subtle shifts in word usage” can transform my message into one in which Mr. Bush is not a word killer.

After November 2, 1010, we may need each other even more than we do now. So, let’s bond over these insightful posts, and for the sake of all that is good, let’s vote for Democrats on the 2nd. Here is the October edition of the Carnival of Progressive Politics.

Civil Liberty

Sam at The Devil’s Advocate presents Pot for Thought.

Steven and Debra at The End Times Hoax discuss The Manhattan Trophy Mosque Issue.

Education

Ella Moss at Zodiac Times offers American Education Reform.

2010 Elections

Monika Kocur at Ka-Bloggy is a new carnival participant who says Vote for Me.

Divided We Stand United We Fall maintains that “None Of The Above” kicks ass in Nevada Senate debate.

Michael Wolf at letters2america asks What will the Republicans do to us next?

Darwin’s Money presents I was Diggin’ the Tea Party . . . Until They Went Batshit Crazy.

Environment

Greg Laden enlightens us about Public perceptions of energy consumption and savings.

Ben Harack at Vision of Earth advocates Personal and social change for a green energy future.

Ron Delfs at Environmental Science Degrees lists Presidents with the Best and Worst Environmental Records. This carnival usually rejects “list” posts, but this one contains some useful talking points for your next personal debate about the environment.

Chris at Life As A Human proclaims At Last, a Human Right to Water.

Health Care

Jodie Reed, the Teadrinking Mom, joins the carnival with Health, wealth, and happiness.

Politics

Ella Moss of  Zodiac Times presents Reality Check.

Men of Messages offers The Gossip Empire.

Recurial delivers Tea party vs. evolution.

Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane’s Humor Blog presents Open Limerick To The Anti-Government Crowd and Yet Another Limerick Ode to Christine O’Donnell.

Jodie Reed of Teadrinking Mom tells of Fall-ing Mama Grizzlies.

War

Carl Mitchell at My Humble Opinion asks if The “War is Making You Poor” Act has a chance.

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That’s all for this edition. The next carnival will be posted here at My Political Side on November 21, 2010. Submissions will be due by November 20, 2010 and can be sent via this link.

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As always, I do not necessarily agree with all writing on a contributor’s blog. If a post appears here, it is because I consider it worth reading.

This blog began as a page on my other blog, The Expanding Life, where I write about the life of our family: no school, lots of learning, plenty of intellectual and creative stimuli, and more than our share of love and laughter. I wanted my readers there to understand why I occasionally wrote about things political.

Then, my political side grew, as I became the Democratic Party Editor for BellaOnline.com. I wrote essays I was proud of for that site, but I eventually came to believe that an online gathering place for everything from soap opera fans to car racing devotees was not the best place to pursue a serious discussion of politics. BellaOnline.com does what it does very well; it was not the right place for me to do what I do (however well I do it).

That’s when this blog was born. I wanted a place of my own to store my essays, and I wanted to write more of them. It’s been a confused journey. I read voraciously about politics, and I often wondered why I want to write about it at all: so many others tell it so well that I see no place for myself. I enjoyed writing my book and film reviews, but I didn’t see that as my main role here, either.

Looking for a friendly place to send my posts to get more exposure, I found none, and so I began the Blog Carnival of Progressive Politics. It really took off; others must have been seeking the same kind of haven I sought—a place to write and read about true liberal values, such as civil liberty, environmental protection, clean energy, and compassionate policy-making. Organizing the carnival each month was a joy for me, but I still wanted more from this blog.

Recently, I received a carnival submission from a blog that has a bona fide perspective. It made me see that what I’d been doing here—poking around with posts, trying to find my way into this blog of mine—had been a very unfocused attempt to write about politics from my perspective. The problem: I hadn’t defined here what that perspective is.

Until now:

  • I grew up in the projects (government-subsidized public housing).
  • My father was chronically disabled from the time I was born until he died when I was twenty-three years old.
  • My family lived on Social Security disability checks.
  • We had no savings.
  • We had no car.
  • My mother took impeccable care of my father every day.
  • We lived in a town with a main street and local businesses galore.
  • I went to college on Pell Grants (they were called Basic Educational Opportunity Grants then) and state scholarships.
  • My husband and I have schooled our child at home, for mostly political reasons (not wanting to turn her over to the capitalist, consumerist culture at large).
  • I was raised Catholic, but the only Biblical thing that ever stuck to me was The Beatitudes.
  • My first ideas about human relationships (i.e., politics) were formed by my much-older sister’s Pete Seeger and Peter, Paul, and Mary albums.
  • The first presidential campaign I followed was the McGovern campaign in 1972. I was fourteen years old.
  • My first-ever vote, at age eighteen, was for Jimmy Carter for president.
  • If Bill Clinton could have run for a third term, I would have voted for him. I’d still be voting for him, if I could. In my opinion, my president’s personal life affects me no more than my dentist’s personal life affects me. Both are people I pay to do a job. I wouldn’t change dentists because mine was unfaithful to his wife. I’d only change dentists if mine destroyed my mouth. (And no, to anyone contemplating a cheap joke here, Bill Clinton did not destroy this country. I’d give that prize to Ronald Reagan.)
  • In 2000, I foolishly assumed Al Gore would win the presidency.
  • In 2004, I worked for John Kerry, but not hard enough.
  • In 2006, I “called for change” with MoveOn.org and felt the power of activism for the first time.
  • The experience of learning these things from a professorial Bill Clinton at Radio City Music Hall in the summer of 2008 deepened my understanding of the world I live in immeasurably.
  • In 2008, I worked with MoveOn councils to help elect Barack Obama.
  • In 2010, I became an elected official, a Democratic county committee woman.

So, that’s who wrote My Political Side. Not some anonymous book reviewer, or would-be opinion columnist, but a poor daughter of parents who never owned their own home, an honor student who couldn’t afford to pay for college without the government’s help, a woman with 1960’s sensibilities who has participated in 21st-century campaigns, and an American who wants her country to allow the meek to inherit.

My Political Side is not just my left side. It’s my most personal side—the real me, formed by my experiences. Now, I’m going to focus on writing a book and let this blog stand as a personal and historical record, however small. Thank you for reading here.

Over the Cliff: Book Review

October 13, 2010

I am very grateful to PoliPointPress for sending me a copy of Over the Cliff: How Obama’s Election Drove the American Right Insane. You see, I watched it all happen, but I didn’t write it all down. Luckily, authors John Amato and David Neiwert did, so there now exists a permanent record of the post-2008 craziness without which the upcoming Rally to Restore Sanity would be unnecessary.

Not only do Amato and Neiwert provide documentation of the journey over the cliff; they also contextualize and explain the reprehensible far-right GOP tactics used to attempt to discredit President Barack Obama during his first year in office: the “birther” attacks, the health care town hall disruptions, the “czars,” and the Tea Party—a “grassroots” movement that one could say sprang fully formed from the head of Dick Armey.

And let’s not forget Fox News. While many of the tactics described in Over the Cliff are standard operating procedure for the GOP (e.g., drumming up racial prejudice and culture wars), the fact that, as the authors put it, “Fox had declared war on the Obama White House from the day of the president’s inauguration,” is a postmodern addition to the American Right’s list of vile deeds. The book discusses the “greatest hits” of falsehoods deployed by Beck, Hannity, and O’Reilly, as well as others of their ilk, and—in doing so—does us all a great service.

Once you’ve read Over the Cliff, you can no longer say that any of the atrocities against truth and democracy it outlines didn’t happen. The book tells the real story behind each GOP fabrication, thereby exposing the ultimate insanity of the party’s actions. In the face of that insanity, any progressive-minded American can only be inspired to fight back, which is what Amato and Neiwert want us to do.

Over the Cliff ends with this entreaty:

The millions of ordinary people who elected Barack Obama president need to be called back to the fray, engaged anew, and empowered to take the nation down another road, one that guides us far away from the cliffs of fear.

What beautiful words to read as we approach November 2, 2010. So, please read, think, and VOTE. Let’s not allow this election to end in a cliffhanger.

President Jimmy Carter on the roof of the West Wing in 1979, announcing that solar panels would be installed there.

I keep thinking it’s the 1970s. High school boys have long hair again, just as they did when I went to high school in the 70s, and the clothes in the junior department look like the clothes I wore to high school. But it goes deeper than fashion. Our country is currently embroiled in 70s-like divisions over such social issues, as gay rights, and over energy conservation, as exemplified by the above picture of the solar panels placed in the White House roof by President Jimmy Carter and removed by President Ronald Reagan, whose administration cited cost efficiency as the reason at the time.

Thirty-five years after I graduated from high school, I expect the fashions to return; I don’t expect the bigotry and ignorance of an energy crisis to persist. Bill McKibben recently wrote this about the those iconic solar panels, and National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Michael Mitchell had this to say today about the GOP’s plan to filibuster the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:

To the GOP: Enough is enough. There’s political gamesmanship and there’s just plain lying.

Enough is more than enough—with the Muslim-hating, gay-hating, and climate-change-hating. And I could do without the platform shoes again, too.

Now, in all its glory, here is the September edition of the Carnival of Progressive Politics.

Civil Liberty

Divided We Stand United We Fall presents Of Maxims and Mosques and Monticello and Mojo.

New Polity calls for Death to Capital Punishment.

Jordy Clements at Omaha.net brings us Facebook Prompts About-Face, a story about the power of social media.

Economy

Michael Wolf at letters2america writes that we “have to continue to prime the pump, despite the Republican’s hand wringing over a debt that they created most of.”

First, let’s kill all the bankers comes from Steve Snyder at Socratic Gadfly.

Jerry Ashton at Written Off: America and Americans presents Rich Get Richer—Poor Get Poorer.

Immigration

The Concert for Equality comes from Jordy Clements at Omaha.net.

Politics

Safa Samiezade’-Yazd makes an impressive carnival debut with Remembering 9/11 in a Post-Columbine World at Politics for Change.

Michael Wolf advices us to Look to Congressman Weiner at letters2america.

Raithie at Teenage Atheist presents My Thoughts on the Ground Zero Islamic Center.

Barbara Boxer: The Right Choice for California is the message from New Polity.

Madeleine Begun Kane at Mad Kane’s Political Madness gives us  Radical Verse and My Dream for Glenn Beck . . . and America.

Women’s Eye on Media reports that Celebrities Take to Twitter to Celebrate the Overturn of Prop 8.

Red State Progressive presents The Ralph Nader Smokescreen and Progressive Americans.

Steve Snyder at Socratic Gadfly claims Ambinder right on cons, wrong on libs.

War

Andrew at SwiftEconomics.com presents Bringing Back Military Slavery.

Miscellaneous

Scott Neigh writes about how Challenging Masculinity Is About Much More Than “Unloading This Junk” at A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land.

Susan D. Jones presents The importance of immunization.

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That’s all for this edition. The next carnival will be posted here at My Political Side on October 21, 2010. Submissions will be due by October 20, 2010 and can be sent via this link.

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As always, I do not necessarily agree with all writing on a contributor’s blog. If a post appears here, it is because I consider it worth reading.

Last August was all about health care reform, and this August is the summer of the Mosque (that isn’t really a mosque) at Ground Zero (that isn’t really at Ground Zero). My opinions about all this hoopla are mirrored by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek magazine.

How I wish for a “Cone of Rationality”—like the “Cone of Silence” on the television show Get Smart. When issues spiral out of control, as this one has, the cone could drop over everyone involved, and rational thought would occur.

Rational minds would then most certainly agree that:

The Constitution guarantees the right of the Cordoba Initiative to construct a house of worship on private land without any interference from the government, “Muslims” as a whole did not attack “us” on 9/11, Feisal Abdul Rauf is a well-respected, progressive imam with a history of performing outreach for the Bush administration, and even if the project was a “ground zero mosque,” celebrating its construction would demonstrate an admirable commitment to the founding ideals that we are supposedly fighting for Over There. At a time when Islamophobia appears to be on the rise, in part because xenophobia always tends to get louder during periods of economic uncertainty, liberals and progressives should be forcefully making the case for tolerance and liberty.

The above slice of beautiful rationality was written by Alex Pareene for Salon.com.

In keeping with the idea of  “forcefully making the case for tolerance and liberty,” I now present the much-delayed, but worth-the-wait July/August edition of the Carnival of Progressive Politics.

Civil Liberty

This category is perhaps closest to my heart, and so it warms my heart to have a large number of posts to include.

Andrew at SwiftEconomics presents Slipping Gay Marriage Through the Back Door.

Jordy Clements at Omaha.net explores freedom of speech in Funeral Draws Protestors.

Strange Bedfellows in the War on Drugs comes from JP at Veritas Ground Zero.

At ChaosBogey,Nandini Ramachandran presents Via Media, a study of the term “subverting democracy” from a critical media stance.

Sarah Certa at Here & Now declares Good news: Iceland legalizes gay marriage.

William Jones at Libertarian Stoner questions whether Dispensary Owners Actually Support Prohibition.

Woman Tribune presents St. Louis Adds Gender Identity to Anti-Discrimination Protections.

Economy

At a clown who cried in the alley, JS discusses Obama’s Economic Record.

Tim Chen at NerdWallet presents The Durbin Debate, complete with results and “a nifty infographic to spell it all out in pictures.”

Environment

Just 4 the Planet presents Gulf Crisis and Time for the USA to Step Up to the Plate Over Climate Change.

Immigration

On Omaha Event Reviews, Jordy Clements discusses The Concert for Equality.

Politics

Andrew Hall at  Laughing In Purgatory presents Introducing Laughing In Purgatory University!

Joseph A. Pinkley warns of The Evil of Extreme Individualism at Critiquing Humanity.

Madeleine Begun Kane offers The Birth of Lunacy from Mad Kane’s Humor Blog and Refudiating Sarah from Mad Kane’s Political Madness.

From Michael Wolf at letters2america comes a discussion of What would the Christian right do?

Phil for Humanity sets forth The Pros and Cons of Socialism.

War

Andrew at SwiftEconomics presents Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

Michael Wolf at letters2america asks Where do we go next in Afghanistan?

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That’s all for this edition. The next carnival will be posted here at My Political Side on September 21, 2010. Submissions will be due by September 20, 2010 and can be sent via this link.

*****
As always, I do not necessarily agree with all writing on a contributor’s blog. If a post appears here, it is because I consider it worth reading.