It's time for yet another graph showing a correlation relating to the amount of a state's votes which went for Bush in the 2004 election.
Morgan Quitno Press publishes an annual state-by-state ranking based on 21 health factors. Healthier states have a higher score (this year, Vermont was the healthiest state, with a score of 22.67) and unhealthy states a lower one (lowest was Lousiana with -20.95). If you take these scores (not the rankings, but the scores the rankings are based on) and plot them against voting percentage for Bush, there's a correlation: generally, the more a state voted for Bush, the more unhealthy that state is likely to be.
On Justice Sunday, I vow to passionately pursue true justice for all. I will fight for the rights of the oppressed and minorities. I will fight for people of every race, creed, color, ability, sexuality, gender, religion or lack thereof, class, and political affiliation to have a voice and a place in our democratic process, guided by the principle my rights end where yours begin. I will fight for an honest national discourse. And I will not be deterred by those who claim to have cornered the market on faith. I acknowledge the potential for goodness and wickedness in all people, and I will not bow to those who seek to harm any of my fellow Americans for any reason, even if they come carrying a cross and wrapped in a flag. The stars and stripes represent us all, and my voice will be heard. For all.
That flag, and all it stands for, represents a struggle for freedom, for equality, for the rights of all, and I’m taking it back. It’s my fucking flag, too, and it doesn’t belong in the hands of those who would ignore the two most important words in the oath which we use to pledge our allegiance to that for which it stands. Liberty and justice for all.
MyFriendRoger pointed me to Chris Bowers' work developing Congressional Loyalty Scorecards (posts here and here). What Chris found isn't too suprising: the Republicans got better loyalty from their caucus (97%) then the Democrats got from theirs (81.6%). This combination -- of Republican coherence and Democratic dissent -- is what allows the Republican agenda to fly through the House with little traction for opposition.
Just to state the obvious, if the Democrats are going to fulfill their role as the party of opposition holding back the retrogressive Republican tide, they're going to need greater loyalty from their members, and it's well within our rights to give or withhold our support to sitting Democratic Representatives based on their voting records. -- that's essentially what I've done in the Senate with Lieberman and, before him, Zell Miller.
No one expects a Democratic Congressperson to be a zombie, blindly following the orders of the party's leaders without thought -- we leave that to the Republicans -- but at this point in time, we need people in office who understand the damage that this country can sustain if the GOP agenda is pushed through in full, and who realize what doing the right thing means.
Personally, I was happy to see that my Congressperson, Carolyn Maloney, is apparently one of the "True Blues", the 93 Democrats who, along with one Independent, consistently voted against the Republican agenda.
Adam Gopnik has a very interesting article on John Brown in the current issue of The New Yorker. I found several things in it that resonated with the times we're living in.
Here's an extended excerpt:
Brown — along with certain radical characters of the black abolitionist movement — shared with the slaveowners a romantic ideology of personal honor through violence. “Our white brethren cannot understand us unless we speak to them in their own language; they recognize only force,” Brown’s friend the black radical James McCune Smith wrote, using words that no Garrisonian abolitionist would have trusted but which Brown grasped and admired. “They will never recognize our manhood until we knock them down a time or two; they will then hug us as men and brethren.”
One need only compare Brown’s attitudes with those of the other key voices of the decade to see how important this difference was. Abraham Lincoln, in the eighteen-thirties, was grappling with the same realities — the explosions of violence centered on the anti-slavery disputes — but, in his first important speech, to the Springfield Young Men’s Lyceum in 1838, he took a radical position against the Southern cult of honor and redemption through violence. Lincoln insisted that salvation for America lay only in extreme proceduralism: “Passion has helped us, but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.”
It is hard now to grasp the cultural authority that the code of passionate honor — with its elaborate rituals of feuds and duels — seemed to give the South in that period. Not merely the political edge but the poetic priority seemed to lie with the feudal and honorable South against the commercial and mouthy North. (It was a cultural advantage that persisted right up through, and perhaps beyond, the Atlanta première of “Gone with the Wind.”) Brown, though, understood it because he felt it. He set out, in effect, not to convert the South to Northern values but to convert the Northern abolitionists to the Southern codes of honorable violence. He was a virus that was to prove deadly to the Old South, because at some deep level he shared its DNA: its assumptions, its literature, and even some of its values—particularly the value of dying heroically for a cause over living honorably for one, and the companion value of forcing other people to die heroically for their cause, whether they quite wanted to or not.
Brown’s acceptance of this feudal ethic forms the general background to his murderous night in Kansas on May 24, 1856. Brown was brought to Kansas by his sons, who had learned their father’s creed by heart. “We must show by actual work that there are two sides to this thing and that they can not go on with this impunity,” Brown declared, after watching his fellow-abolitionists quake and tremble in the face of violent pro-slave mobs. He assembled a party of activists, including four of his sons and a son-in-law, armed them with swords, and marched them toward the little settlement of Pottawatomie Creek. Brown had his men bang on the doors of pro-slavery households, pretending to be lost travellers in order to get the men outside. There he ordered them cut to pieces, watching impassively as his sons and other followers did the work. (He seems to have executed one man, James Doyle, himself.) Five men were murdered in this manner.
Reynolds, without wanting to excuse it, goes to great lengths to set the Pottawatomie massacre in its context — pro-slavery thugs had been routinely beating and intimidating and killing anti-slavery activists, and, until then, the anti-slavery side had seemed too timid or frightened to defend itself. Yet Brown’s motives for this act remain murky. The psychiatrist James Gilligan has argued that acts of violence are always rooted in feelings of shame and humiliation that can be expiated only by the destruction of someone who was a witness, in some sense, to one’s shame. Brown in Kansas at first might seem to be without this cue to action—he was neither implicated nor particularly humiliated by the vigilantes — until one realizes that the real trigger was something that had happened two days before in Washington. There, as Reynolds reminds us, a South Carolina congressman had beaten Senator Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, nearly to death with the gold head of his cane for daring to speak out against the pro-slavery forces in Kansas and, in a feudal manner, for criticizing a kinsman of his. Sumner, though no pacifist, had been unable to defend himself. (His feet seem to have got caught under his little desk.)
This assault was put forward, instantly, as crowning proof of the difference between the Southern honor culture and the Northern procedural one; a Northerner could talk trash, but he couldn’t stand up for himself. Brown, one of his sons said, “went crazy — crazy. It seemed to be the finishing, decisive touch.” It was not a cool evaluation of the potential uses of violence in Kansas but the transferred sense of humiliation that he felt on behalf of Sumner that drove Brown crazy and into the massacre.
Brown emerged from the massacre not bloodstained but magnified in the eyes of his enemies. Before, the anti-slavery forces had had only contempt for the abolitionists. Now they were scared to death of John Brown. He was able to win a minor skirmish with government forces who were out to get him simply through the fear his name invoked.
Brown did not claim particular glory for the Pottawatomie massacre but he did not cover it up, either. What makes him a typically American idealist is not his lust for killing — he was eager to avoid murder if he could — but his indifference to human life lost on the way toward his ideal. Like our current idealists in power, he didn’t want to kill, but he didn’t want to count the dead he did kill, either. He shrugged off the dead men in the dirt, even as one of his sons went mad at the memory.
That's the point that Hunter makes in this post over on Daily Kos. It's an important point, so I'll repeat it:
Current national politics has almost nothing to do with policy.
So, let's go forward from there with some additional points:
Due to Republican hegemony and arrogance, the Democrats essentially have no role in governance at this time.
Bipartisanship and interparty cooperation only makes sense when both parties are committed to it -- when only one party is, it's not cooperation, it's submitting yourself for exploitation.
Under the current circumstance, there is nothing like a "normal" political process. The process is: they deal, you acquiesce.
Developing detailed counter-policies is therefore almost a complete waste of time, since there is little or no way to influence the development of policy.
What's left is to accept and embrace the only role really left for an opposition party: obstruction, obstruction, obstruction.
What makes it all the more attractive is that stopping or slowing down what the Republicans are attempting to do -- roll us back to a pre-New Deal society (or, as Kevin Drum referred to it today, a Dickensian one) -- is, in itself, a valuable and important thing to do.
For all these reasons and more, the reactive, obstructionist, oppositional posture is really the only one available for the Democrats, as well as the right thing to do.
Postscript: Looks like Chris Bowers has a similar take on things.
Update (4/26): Eliot Gelwan has some interesting comments here. He's concerned that obstructionism may come back to haunt us with the voters if the opposition isn't a principled one. (More from Eliot here.)
Also, take a look at what Harry Reid is planning as a Democratic response should the Republicans drop the nuclear bomb -- not the kind of straightforward obstructionism I've been counseling, and not shutting down the Senate, but the combination of an interesting tactical move (setting aside the traditional minority party deference which allows the majority party to set the Senate's agenda) with the presentation of a fairly comprehensive Democratic policy program, which the GOP will be forced to vote down.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.