Archive for February, 2006

Episode 5: The “Man” Behind The Curtain

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Now that our brief detour to meet Maggie and Bob is over, we return to where we left off in episode #2. Our story begins as a young college student, Zach, comes to the Last Chance Democracy Café for the first time on a lark. To his surprise, he finds himself being pulled into a lengthy discussion with three elderly (and somewhat tipsy) partisans on the subject of economic inequality and its impact on American democracy. Surprisingly, he finds that he’s enjoying himself.

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café:
The “Man” Behind The Curtain

by Steven C. Day

As Bob stomped away, Zach turned to Winston and Horace and said, “I’m surprised the two of you didn’t help tear into that asshole.”

“Don’t blame them,” I interceded. “It’s a house rule. Only one of the wise men is allowed to debate any one conservative at a time. Otherwise, it just gets to be too much of a slaughter.”

“I can see how that could get ugly,” smiled Zach.

“This isn’t the O’Reilly Factor or the Rush Limbaugh Show, after all,” chortled Winston. “We actually let the other side talk.”

“Which can be kind of cruel to them sometimes, given what they’ve got to say,” said Horace.

At this time of night, the lights in The Last Chance Democracy Café are turned down far enough that it can be hard to recognize people sitting only a few tables away. This gives the place a peaceful quality for liberals and a conspiratorial look to conservatives. Needless to say, I’m satisfied on both counts.


Needed — The Poetry of Persuasion

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

As a lawyer, there’s a lot about the movie The Verdict (1982) I don’t particularly like, even as I bow respectfully to Paul Newman’s superb portrayal of Frank Galvin, as a down-on-his-luck and up-on-the-bottle lawyer. For one thing, the film’s representation of the litigation process is a crock. To give just one example, Galvin’s dramatic closing argument would have been objectionable in a court of law from start to finish.

Yet, here of late, as I’ve been trying to find some way for liberals to tap into the ocean of discontent rising within the American electorate, I find my mind drifting back to Galvin’s words during that courtroom speech, (more…)

George W. Bush through history

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

A continuing saga by Tom . . .

Chautauqua, New York, 1936

History: Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.”

If George W. Bush had been there: “Bring it on!”

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Episode 4: Bob

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

When last we met, we told you that we would be taking a brief detour to meet one of the café’s true “angels” and also one of its true “devils.” Last episode we met the angel. Guess who’s up now?

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café: Bob

by Steven C. Day

To the muffled chorus of a dozen “oh shit’s, Bob walked into the lounge. “I see you commies are back,” he scowled at the wise men. Scowling is Bob’s one true gift. He works in scowls much as Picasso worked in oils, Mozart in concertos and George W. Bush in deficit spending — a true master of his craft.

Bob’s a Republican, which in itself is no big deal. The Last Chance Democracy Café has quite a few Republican regulars. We always try to be accommodating to them — you know, by talking slowly and not using too many big words. Some of our Republican customers live close by and treat us as their neighborhood bar, overlooking our politics. Others simply love a good argument and know they’ll find one here.


Surviving Alito: No more Federalist Society Supreme Court justices, period

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

This time the sky really is falling

For over 30 years many of us on the left have been doing what has, no doubt, been at times a somewhat tiresome Chicken Little imitation over the threat posed by Republican appointments to the Supreme Court.  Well, guess what?  With the confirmation of Samuel Alito, this time the sky really is falling. 

No one doubts that Alito will move the Court’s already conservative center of gravity further to the right.  Even Senate Republicans, who spent most of the confirmation process pretending the nominee was as bland and unthreatening as a dish of tapioca pudding, always happily admitted this.  But much more is at play here.  

Alito, Scalia, Thomas and (almost certainly) Roberts really aren’t judicial conservatives at all, a descriptive that implies at least some element of judicial restraint; they’re movement conservatives — political and cultural activists on a mission to radically remake American constitutional jurisprudence, not as an end in itself, but as part of a greater crusade to remake America itself in fundamental ways. (more…)

What Ann Coulter would say about Cheney’s itsy-bitsy little hunting accident if the roles were reversed

Monday, February 13th, 2006

Clearly what’s needed to save the Supreme Court is another of those Cheney-Scalia hunting trips.

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Episode 3: Maggie

Monday, February 13th, 2006

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Contest Time!! Play The Bush-Truth Game!!

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Winston here, announcing a really swell new Last Chance Democracy Cafe Contest!!

It seems that George W. Bush has now been caught in a couple more of his simply adorable little white lies, this time involving two extraordinarily petty matters: First, it seems that Bush & Co. were — let’s see, how can I put this politely — shall we say lying through their collective fu*k**g teeth when they claimed in the aftermath of the New Orleans debacle that they were “caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.” 

And then, second, it seems that Our Greatly Beloved And Wise Leader may have misspoken, ever so slightly mind you, when he suggested that no one in the upper levels of his administration, such as, say, Mister-One-Heartbeat-From-The-Presidency himself, were in any way involved in leaking top secret information in order to harm Traitor Wilson, or otherwise to bolster El Presidente’s slumping political standing.

So Bush lied?  Yawn. 

The sun also rose in the east, the moon orbited the earth and Rush Limbaugh had nothing intelligent to say.

As they say: So what else is new? (more…)

Episode 2: A Matter of Money

Friday, February 10th, 2006

When last we met, The Last Chance Democracy Café’s newest customer, Zach, had stopped by in search of a few laughs. Instead, he found himself in the company of three elderly partisans discussing economic inequality and its impact on American democracy — a conversation that could easily drive a man to drink. Fortunately, there was a lot of that going on, too.

* * *

The Last Chance Democracy Café:
A Matter of Money

by Steven C. Day

When you first enter The Last Chance Democracy Café, you pass under a large neon sign that reads, “Patriot Act Free Zone.” That earned a visit from the Secret Service.

“We have been told that subversive comments about the Bush administration have been made in this establishment,” said Agent Green haughtily.

“I certainly hope so,” I replied.

Agent Green wasn’t amused. Her partner, Agent Carlson, looked mostly bored. The two questioned me for about 40 minutes (Winston was there as my legal representative). Ultimately, they concluded that I pose no threat to the life of the president. They could easily have added that wet paper bags have little to fear from me.

“These are dangerous times,” said Agent Green as she was leaving.

“Thank God we have our constitution to see us through them,” I replied, shaking her hand.


Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Horace here — well recuperated from my heart attack and subsequent surgery, and ready to offer a few thoughts on an important question raised by several readers in response to Steve’s unsettling vision, in Episode 47, of a future in which freedom has disappeared from America.

They ask: What can we do to make sure this never takes place?

A good starting point, I think, is to remind ourselves to resist going over the top. True, American liberty can be harmed in even the best of times, but it probably runs a serious risk of being destroyed only in extremely bad ones. And right now, while times are bad in a many ways, especially for society’s less fortunate, they aren’t that bad. In fact, they aren’t even close to being that bad.

George W. Bush is a man who hates freedom: He may not realize it himself, but he does. He was born in the wrong age: His true destiny was to be the dauphin, idiot son of an absolute monarch, assuming power by the Divine Right of Kings and then screwing things up in the name of the Lord, without ever needing to even pretend to answer to anyone else.