An Open Letter to Democratic Leaders
Friday, July 28, 2006
Dear Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, Dr. Dean, Mr. Emanuel (cc: Mr. Lakoff)
It is 9:02 a.m. and I'm doing a slow burn. Last night and again this morning I googled six for 06 and you wanna know how many results i got on the first page? That would be zero.
Why? Because no one cares. Or more precisely because you said something people care a great deal about in a way no one cares about. In your first 24 hours out of the gate you left Google still thinking six for 06 has something to do with the month of June.
Did you come up with this in a vestry meeting? Is this insipid campaign calculated to avoid upsetting the older parishioners? Well guess what: you are the older parishioners. You preside over something that might be characterized by copping a line from Bono: "Religion is what's left after the Spirit has left the building."
six for 06 . . . I hope you didn't pay good money for that.
If you want to gain control of Congress, here's the idea to beat:
You Broke It; You Bought It
You broke Iraq. You failed in due diligence. You rushed to judgement. You caved in -- I can't believe I'm saying this about the Congress of the United States -- you caved in to peer pressure and bullying. You allowed yourselves to be taken in by people who are either fools or liars or both. And look what happened! Look what's happening! The future will judge you harshly. Now get out the way and let's get busy fixing this awful mess.
While we're at it, let's hear some mea culpa from Democrats who were and are complicit in this outrage. If you want us to trust you, admit your error. Francis Fukuyama is lighting the way on this; walk in that light.
You broke the economy. You can't hide behind market corrections at the beginning of the new decade and you can't hide in the rubble of 9/11. You hate working Americans. Prove that you don't. You have kissed the golden hams of speculators. Prove that you haven't!
Someone has to stanch the hemorrhaging of America's middle class and working poor. Get out the way; we're coming in to clean up your economic mess -- again.
You broke the treasury. Your tax cut emptied the US Treasury into the the accounts of the wealthiest citizens. The sacking of America continues and you do not care. There is no money for the remarkable succession of rainy days we have experienced and are forecast to experience into the middle distance. Your mothers would be ashamed of you. We certainly are. Step aside; we're coming to restore order to the House (and the Senate).
You broke health care. On your watch, the delivery of American health care has gone from mediocre to become a national embarrassment. It will take us a decade to unravel this because you tangled it so completely and because those who profit from the confusion will fight us every day until they figure out they're either going to have to join us or go find other work.
You broke the separation of powers. You have given this administration too much, too often. They are running roughshod over the Constitution of the United States and it is your fault. As a consequence you also broke American foreign policy. The Bush Doctrine is an abrogation of two-and-a-half centuries of mainly good faith dealings with our global neighbors (I don't mean to overstate this; we have been on the dirty side on many occasions -- some of our current problems owing to that fact -- but we did those things in secret because we knew they were shameful). Now you have ratified the Bush Administrations claims to act with impunity. No one has to tell a reasonable person what the postmortem on that is going to look like).
You broke the balance of our government. We are coming to restore the equilibrium.
You broke national security. You signed off on cronyism and deadly incompetence. You allowed the Administration to dismantle highly professional federal agencies, driving legions of our most qualified civil servants out of government and replacing them with rank amateurs. FEMA is the poster-child for America's crippled capacity to respond to crisis. Is there any evidence we are better off today than before the Department of Homeland Security swallowed up 22 reasonably high-functioning professional agencies?
You allowed the Administration to dismiss the wisdom of Pentagon and State Department professionals. You buried their expert testimony in committee. With rare exception, you failed to air true assessments of US military capability in public for the benefit of lawmakers and the public you serve.
Prior to 9/11 you routinely dismissed the findings of commissions you appointed to study national security. Post 9/11, you routinely dismiss the findings of commissions you appointed to study national security. You haven't done your job. You're finished. Get out of the way.
You broke Congress. You used the rules to rewrite the rules and crush open and honest governance. If you were a business operating this way in the state of New York you would find yourselves settling with Attorney General Spitzer for billions rather than have the extent of your misdeeds exposed in a court of law. But you are not a business; you are elected representatives of the people of the United States of America. But not for long. Make way: Mr. Smith is coming back to Washington.
Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, Dr. Dean, Mr. Emanuel; you can see where this is going. Six for 06 is all but meaningless in the face of what we have to say about the direction the Republican Administration and Congress are taking America.
Your colleagues on the other side of the aisle broke faith with the American people. They broke it; they bought it. It is up to you call them to account for that in public and in private every day between now and November 7.
For what it's worth, gentlemen and madame, I think it's time for you to push or pull or get out the way.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I've been thinking about how the whole WWJD thing peaked and tanked and how maybe that has to do with overexposure and me-tooism. Or maybe it went away as America's Evangelicals embraced their hellbent intention to endorse a political course they and everyone else could see falls well outside what Jesus would do. Sometimes it's just easier to not ask the question isn't it.
Lately it occurs to me that what bothered me about the co-opting of Charles M. Sheldon's idea was how little it really mattered what Jesus would do since it turns out no one ever intended to take it literally, right? Because how would we know? How would we know what Jesus would do? Certainly not what Sheldon's characters came up with in 1896. Those people were practically socialists by the time the book ended. The kind of people who believe the parts of the Bible that even a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King could embrace. Wrongheaded love-your-enemies stuff that cooler minds have determined is totally impractical in these modern times which, bless his heart, Jesus could not possibly have foreseen. In fact, there is scholarly evidence that, were he alive today, Jesus would sit in with the kill-your-enemy-and-degrade-his-infrastructure-to-the-point-that-a-cease-fire-is-unnecessary crowd. You can look that up. It's written between the lines where so much of the more sophisticated Evangelical theology lies. Complex times demand flexible thinking but you didn't hear that from me.
Just to finish the thought, and I'm a little embarrassed about this, I've begun to suspect that the answer to the WWJD conundrum may be less obvious than we hoped, inasmuch as he didn't leave much of a list and nobody cares much for the list he did leave. Maybe – and I'm just thinking out loud here – maybe the only way to figure out what Jesus would do is learning to trust the father – his father, I mean – the way he – Jesus, I mean – trusted the father.
I admit this may not be widely accepted as it creates an awful lot of work and leaves room for what may prove to be unacceptably high risk.
Parading the Ten Commandments on the back of a flatbed may turn out to be a more popular gesture – I'm ready to concede this – though I for one would like to lose the Roman numerals which are decidedly old school and more than a little, you know, European.
Of course, if the alternative is Arabic numerals we know that's not going to fly so . . . Sorry I brought it up.
at 10:14 PM
Monday, July 24, 2006
Susan wonders why we heard such a ruckus last spring when Americans of Mexican heritage expressed their solidarity by waving Mexican flags but none last weekend when Americans of Israeli heritage expressed their solidarity by waving Israeli flags.
We agreed there must be a perfectly rational cause because, really, when have people been anything but rational?
at 11:20 PM
Thursday, July 20, 2006
MoveOn is organizing Just Desserts parties on July 31st to give Republicans what they deserve.
I think Republicans deserve better government. I think Republicans deserve the end of congressional cynicism and and a firm check on presidential hubris. I think Republicans deserve a return to the American ideal.
I fear the Democratic Party is autistic, but I believe there are people in and around that party who can give Republicans what they deserve (and I don't mean Mr. Lieberman of Connecticut).
Come on everybody; let's start giving Republicans what they deserve this fall and see if that doesn't do everyone a little good.
at 8:05 AM
Monday, July 10, 2006
One of the places I haven't been yet is the TED conference (technology|entertainment|design) that's gone on in Monterey every February since 1984. Maybe 2008; 2007 is sold out, but I'm still young. Meanwhile Chris Anderson and the TED Foundation are offering the TEDTALKS as free downloads.
One of my favorites from 2006 is the talk on creativity by Sir Ken Robinson (it's 20 minutes long and worth every second as far as I'm concerned).
at 9:54 PM
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Mister Speaker, why do you hate America?
The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute and the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
say that, adjusted for inflation, the value of the minimum wage is at its lowest level since 1955.
A separate study by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2005 an average chief executive officer in America "earns more before lunchtime on the very first day of work in the year than a minimum wage worker earns all year."
The Economic Policy Institute's Jared Bernstein says your tireless effort to repeal the estate tax while sandbagging an increase in poverty-level wages is "vicious class warfare against working families."
I agree. America is Americans – an ungodly number of whom have on your watch slipped into poverty even as they work full time.
Why do you hate America, Mr. Hastert? Just answer the question.
at 2:36 PM