Archive for February, 2006

Episode 8: The Game

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

In our first seven action-packed episodes, we spent a spirited evening at The Last Chance Democracy Café discussing economic inequality and the damage it’s doing to our democracy. (Hey, it was a lot more fun than it sounds.) Many more such evenings are to come. But first, a small detour to visit the worst train wreck in the café’s brief history.

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café:
The Game

by Steven C. Day

No doubt about it: “Lie George” wasn’t one of my better ideas.

I got it from the old college drinking game, “Hi Bob.” Except in Lie George, instead of watching reruns of The Bob Newhart Show, the players watch George W. Bush give a speech. Then every time he tells a lie, someone yells “Lie George” and everyone takes a drink. It sounded like great fun.

We began playing for the first (and as it turned out the last) time during Bush’s State of the Union speech on Jan. 28, 2003.

Forty-five minutes later, someone called 911.


The First Annual Liberal Bloggers Vanity Photograph Awards!

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

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The first-generation systems started in 1979 with Japan, are all analog and include AMPS and NMT.

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India expects to reach 500 million subscribers by end of 2010.

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He applied this patent to “cave radio” telephones and not directly to cellular telephony as potter harry free ringtone is currently understood.

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All European, African and many Asian countries have adopted ringtone program system, GSM, which is the only technology available on all continents and in most countries and covers over 74% of all subscribers on mobile networks.

You’ve gotta give George W. one thing, the man’s got timing!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: Bush is finally going to use his first ever presidential veto to uphold a decision that he didn’t actually make himself, or even know about, and which, as it turns out, was made in direct violation of the law, and, which, as fate would have it, is broadly opposed by even his own party.

Man, with timing like that it’s a wonder the man ever fathered two daughters, let alone got himself elected president.

Awful decisions (a/k/a invading Iraq) can have awful consequences

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

I guess sometimes it’s best to think about the possible consequences before lighting a match in a fireworks factory

Don’t you wish the grownups really were in charge in this country?

Update: Here’s what Juan Cole, a blogger who is also an expert on the subject, thinks about what is happening in Iraq.  It isn’t good.

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Episode 7: Time Grows Short

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

During our first six episodes, we spent a quiet (well, not always that quiet) evening at The Last Chance Democracy Café. We watched Zach, the café’s newest customer, meet Horace, Winston and Tom, three of its oldest and certainly most notorious regulars. And we listened in while these Three Wise Men mentored Zach on the subject of economic inequality and the damage it’s doing to our democracy. But all good things must, as they say, come to an end, and so it was with this evening in the lounge.

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café:
Time Grows Short

by Steven C. Day

“Spiro says it’s almost two o’clock,” said Horace looking at his Spiro Agnew watch (Horace likes wearing it because it reminds him that there was once a time when they actually prosecuted a crooked Vice President.) “We should really try to sum things up for Zach before closing . . . It’s the least we can do considering how politely he’s listened to us wag our tongues all evening.”

As if to prove Horace right, the automated sound system squawked on to announce last call. At about the same time, the lights began coming back up and all of the entertainment devises, including the Bushspeak Machine, turned themselves off. I gestured to Samuel, the bartender, to give the table a last round on my tab. Although it’s my café, I keep my own tab since the employees have an ownership interest and I know I tend to give away too much of the merchandise. Samuel nodded and brought the drinks. I don’t think he ever put them on my tab, though. They usually don’t. I probably should insist. But I usually don’t.


Time to bring fighting poverty back into the Democratic agenda

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

In the movie The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984), when the lead character’s girlfriend suggests that he has outgrown his flashy but slowwitted brother, he tells her, “Italians don’t outgrow people. They outgrow clothes.”

Democrats, on the other hand, do seem to outgrow people: They certainly outgrew the poor.

Like so many other Democratic retreats, this one came in response to right wing attacks: As I’ve noted before, for over 30 years, the political right has been waging a propaganda war against the poor.  And make no mistake: It’s been a brutal attack: A war of belittlement, designed to redefine poverty as sin. And not the type of sin you might expect — that of a wealthy society that tolerates bitter poverty among a shockingly large number of its citizens, but, instead, the sins of the poor themselves: People successfully redefined, at least for a time, in the view of a large percentage of the population, as lazy, irresponsible loafers, predominantly black, of course, feeding at society’s trough.

That little of this carefully constructed stereotype has ever been true (many more whites than blacks are poor, a very high percentage of America’s poor work, and among those who don’t work a very high percentage are single mothers) is beside the point: The bottom line is — and when we talk about poverty, it’s the bottom line that matters — the slanderers won. And as a result, the concerns of the poor have largely been relegated to the political dustbin. (more…)

Episode 6: Little Green Pieces Of Paper

Monday, February 20th, 2006

In the last episode, the wise men introduced Zach to a small collection of fabulously wealthy families (a/k/a the vast right wing conspiracy) that for 30 years have been funding extreme right wing scholarship and political advocacy. Most of the discussion, so far, has centered on the so-called Arkansas Project, Richard Mellon Scaife’s personal multi-million dollar get Clinton obsession. But there’s much more to the story.

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café:
Little Green Pieces Of Paper

by Steven C. Day

Are you happy now, Winston?” I asked in a deliberately condescending voice as Molly dropped off the drinks.

“Of course,” he replied curtly. “I’m the easiest man in the world to please. You’ll never hear me complain.”

I had to give him credit. He’d actually managed to say something almost as audacious as the Bush administration’s justifications for going to war in Iraq. I wouldn’t have thought that possible.

Tom brought us back on subject: “As despicable as the Arkansas Project was, it was really just a sideshow for the right wing’s Funding Fathers,” he said. “The real action has been in the intellectual wars.”

Tom looked at Zach, waiting for him to show some sign of agreement.

Zack looked at Tom, waiting for him to say something as to which he’d have some clue as to what he was talking about.

Finally, Zack broke the stalemate. “I’m not following you,” he confessed.

Horace gave Tom a quick “be nice now” look, but he needn’t have bothered. Tom was purring as happily as a kitten locked in a tuna fish vault.

“Let me give you a little background,” he told Zach. “To begin with, you have to give the devils their due here. The Olins, Scaifes, Kochs and the rest . . .”


George W. Bush through History

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

A continuing saga by Tom


1. February 3, 1912, in The Outlook

History: Commentary by Theodore Roosevelt: “I have always thought of our (National Park) Service as an institution, more than any other bureau, engaged in a field essentially of morality–the aim of man to rise above himself, and to choose the option of quality rather than material superfluity.”

If George W. Bush had been there: “I bet we can fit a lot of oil derricks in those places!”
*   *   *

2. October 2, 1945 (the famous desk sign is mailed)

History: Harry S. Truman,
“The Buck Stops Here!”

If George W. Bush (and the Republicans in Congress) had been there,
“The Bucks Stop Here!”
*   *   *

3. July 3 1863 Gettysburg Pennsylvania

History: After the disastrous failure of Pickett’s charge left thousands of Confederate dead on the battlefield, General Robert E. Lee rode out to meet the survivors telling them, “It is all my fault.” 

If George W. Bush had been there: After the disastrous failure of Pickett’s Charge . . . General George W. Bush, safely ensconced in his field tent, sent a subordinate out to advise the troops, “If anyone criticizes General Bush’s decisions he will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

Announcing the winners of The Bush-Truth Game!!

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Winston here, announcing the winners of The Last Chance Democracy Café’s fabulous Bush-Truth Game. (more…)

The Apocalypse in the Room

Friday, February 17th, 2006

I don’t think about global warming nearly as often as I should.  It’s sort of like death — a giant black hole constantly nipping at my heels.  I know it’s out there, but my daily grind passes much more cheerfully when I try not to think about it too much.
Most Americans are this way, I think, which may help to explain why global warming, almost certainly the gravest threat humanity has ever faced (with the possible exception of nuclear war), has had such a hard time gaining more than a tiny slice of the public’s political attention.  It’s just so freaking big, so unimaginably catastrophic; it’s hard to get your mind around it. (more…)