Nobody But Gore

David Michael Green makes a convincing case for  a Gore presidency, starting with a sober assessment of the mess we’re in:

It is truly a dark hour for America, and all roads lead to the same explanatory address: the country has been hijacked by a movement of regressive kleptocrats who have not governed well in large part because their intention never was to govern well – but rather, instead, to liquidate every asset from the beast before then dumping its tattered carcass in a fire sale. There are no parallels for this in our political history. Only the leveraged buyout does it justice. Think of this as the Gordon Gekko model of governance. Woo-hoo.

Bad as things have gotten, only Al Gore has the experience, passion, and commitment to really push for solutions, rather than political expediencies.

Lord knows I’ve had my heart broken by too many politicians not to be a bit cautious. Moreover, the old Al Gore could sometimes make Bill Clinton look positively liberal. But nowadays I think a Gore presidency would very likely be different. I think it would be bold enough to end the war, to seriously address global warming, to create a real universal national healthcare program, to begin re-balancing the distribution of wealth in the United States, to restore the Constitution, to appoint progressives to the federal courts, to restore America’s participation in international institutions and its reputation in world opinion, to implement a full-scale alternative energy program, as well as job development, stem cell research, and a whole lot more. I think the majority of the American public already wants all of those things, and it might be very easy to achieve them under the combined circumstances of a completely failed conservative experiment, a clearly articulated progressive vision, and a bold agenda-setting president showing aggressive and fearless leadership in pointing the way.

Which I think is precisely why Gore, the non-candidate, inspires such over-the-top ridicule from conservatives and the press. His capacity to expose them and their lies, to put a label on their failures, and to chart a path toward a popular politics of potential watershed magnitude, makes him nothing short of a regressive’s nightmare. This could be the second coming of FDR, not only politically and ideologically, but in terms of a generational-scale realignment, much as the New Deal coalition dominated American politics for forty years.

No wonder they’ve already started savaging him, even while he says he has no plans to run. Like a hurricane gathering energy at sea, they recognize his potential.

And like a Potemkin village on the shore awaiting the storm’s devastation, they also recognize the complete vacuousness, and therefore the utter vulnerability, of their own project.

Michael Sky

Bush’s policies are accelerating climate change

Joseph Stiglitz,  chief economist at the World Bank from 1997 to 1999, and current chief critic of globalization, on why today’s G8 meetings will accomplish nothing regarding climate change:

So far the United States has refused to join other industrialized nations to find a reasonable solution to protect the climate. There are serious efforts in every industrialized nation to do something about protecting the environment — just not in the United States. I want to see the heads of state in Heiligendamm confront President Bush and say: “We need an international set of regulations, and you, as the world’s most powerful man, have an obligation to be part of it!”

The problem, as ever, our my-way-or-the-highway President.

Talking is always good. But President Bush has proven to be extremely obstinate in the past. His guiding principle has always been that his policy would ultimately prevail, no matter what the issue — and no matter how his policies affected the rest of the world.

Michael Sky

Opus at Salon

Nice Sunday morning surprise to find old friend Opus now a Salon regular. The first cartoon comes with an interview with Berkeley Breathed, and this take on Bush:

Bush has given us a gift: far from not taking himself seriously, he’s become the only human being on the planet that thinks he’s not just uniquely competent … but brilliant in his strategic, heavenly inspired prescience as to how the world works. This hilarious — also arguably homicidal — self-deception is what makes him a comical figure. Literally, it’s as if — I mean this with the utmost respect for both the office and the man — my 5-year-old boy Milo was running the free world. Milo believes himself equally as shrewd in spotting who the bad guys are in any movie and declaring the complex strategy to deal with them: “Blast ’em all!”

Michael Sky

NCLB: ‘Too Destructive To Salvage’

It’s time to say in a national newspaper what millions of teachers, students and parents already know: No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is an appalling and unredeemable experiment that has done incalculable damage to our schools — particularly those serving poor, minority and limited-English-proficiency students.

It’s a stretch even to call the law “well-intentioned” given that its creators, including the Bush administration and the right-wing Heritage Foundation, want to privatize public education. Hence NCLB’s merciless testing, absurd timetables and reliance on threats.

Let’s be clear: This law has nothing to do with improving learning. At best, it’s about raising scores on multiple-choice exams. This law is not about discovering which schools need help; we already know. This law is not about narrowing the achievement gap; its main effect has been to sentence poor children to an endless regimen of test-preparation drills. Thus, even if the scores do rise, it’s at the expense of a quality education. Affluent schools are better able to maintain good teaching — and retain good teachers — despite NCLB, so the gap widens.

Alfie Kohn | USA Today 

America is not Bush

One characteristic of the Bush administration’s false premises, and perhaps the one that has most damaged the nation’s reputation, is that its idea of America and its notion of American exceptionalism — Messianic and Manichaean — is the only idea of America. But there is another idea of the country, which began even before the country was a nation, before America became the United States, a nation under law. John Winthrop said (and has been cited by Republican and Democratic presidents since) that we must be “as a city upon a hill.” The next sentence is: “The eyes of all people are upon us.”

We must be unblinkered and unillusioned, conscious of “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” as our Declaration of Independence put it, with the sense that America never is alone or isolated — and not ultimately because we are scrutinized by others but because we understand ourselves and our history. America can begin to recover its reputation in the world only through self-recovery.

Sidney Blumenthal | Salon 

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty

Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation’s call to “global leadership.” It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent.This is not some great conspiracy. It’s the way our system works.

In joining the Army, my son was following in his father’s footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Yet he was the better soldier – brave and steadfast and irrepressible.

I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving his all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.

Andrew J. Bacevich | The Washington Post

Impeach them all

I held off on this because I thought the process was both legally unjustifiable and politically futile. I believe it is still the latter. The difference is I don’t care any more that it is. The Comey testimony — coupled with the astonishing arrogance it takes simply to ignore congressional subpoenas as though they were something someone slipped under your windshield wiper — pushed me all the way over the edge.

The president spied on Americans and thereby broke the law. Repeatedly. The president was told he was breaking the law by members of the Department of Justice who had no reason to lie to him on the subject. (John Ashcroft noticed, for pity’s sake.) The president knew he was breaking the law so he sent the White House chief of staff and the White House counsel out to behave like Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. (Sorry, Andy Card. I liked you when we were both young and ambitious in Massachusetts, but it’s off to Allenwood for a spell until you come clean.) The clean-up crew failed, and he kept breaking the law anyway. Repeatedly.

They spied on their political opponents. They used their steroidal view of executive powers to justify it in their tiny little minds. That’s what they’re hiding. I have no doubts any more that the administration has committed more crimes than we know. And every day they remain unpunished — hell, every day they remain in office — we become more deeply complicit in their offenses. It’s time to govern ourselves again.

Charles Pierce | Altercation 

Why Bush hasn’t been impeached

To this day, the primitive feeling that in response to 9/11 we had to hit hard at “the enemy,” whoever that might be, is a sacred cow. America’s deference to the shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later approach is profound: It’s the gut belief that still drives Bush supporters and leads them to regard war critics as contemptible appeasers. This is why Bush endlessly repeats his mantra “We’re staying on the attack.”

The unpleasant truth is that Bush did what a lot of Americans wanted him to. And when it became clear after the fact that Bush had lied about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, it made no sense for those Americans to turn on him. Truth was never their major concern anyway — revenge was. And if we took revenge on the wrong person, well, better a misplaced revenge than none at all.

Gary Kamiya | Salon

U.S. Imperial Ambitions Thwart Iraqis’ Peace Plans

Al Fadhila’s peace plan was not the first one offered by Iraqi actors, nor the first to be ignored by the Anglo-American Coalition. More significant even than proposals made by Iraqi political parties are those put forth by the country’s armed resistance groups — the very groups that have the ability to bring a halt to the cycle of violence. Comprehensive plans have been offered by the Baath party that ruled Iraq for three generations, The Islamic Army in Iraq and other major armed resistance groups and coalitions. The plans vary on a number of points, but all of them shared a few items in common: the occupation forces must recognize them as legitimate resistance groups and negotiate with them, and the U.S. must agree to set a timetable for a complete withdrawal from Iraq. That’s the key issue, but Iraq’s nationalists see it only as the first step in the long path to achieving national reconstruction and reconciliation.

But these plans are unacceptable to the Coalition because they A) affirm the legitimacy of Iraq’s armed resistance groups and acknowledge that the U.S.-led coalition is, in fact, an occupying army, and B) return Iraq to the Iraqis, which means no permanent bases, no oil law that gives foreign firms super-sweet deals and no radical restructuring of the Iraqi economy. U.S. lawmakers have been and continue to be faced with a choice between Iraqi stability and American Empire, and continue to choose the latter, even as the results of those choices are splashed in bloody Technicolor across our TV screens every evening.

Joshua Holland and Raed Jarrar | alternet.org 

The Assault on Reason

It is too easy—and too partisan—to simply place the blame on the policies of President George W. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America’s public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason—the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power—remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.

American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas.

It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong. In 2001, I had hoped it was an aberration when polls showed that three-quarters of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on Sept. 11. More than five years later, however, nearly half of the American public still believes Saddam was connected to the attack.

Al Gore| Time Magazine