The Better Rhetor

Saturday, January 18, 2003
President Hypocrite

Bush comes out against racial preferences in college admissions.
Bush admitted to Yale as result of preference program that favors children of privilege.

Bush tells youth in American military to prepare to fight, kill others, and die themselves.
Bush himself ducked draft.

Bush rules that managed care organizations can limit and restrict coverage of emergency services for poor people on Medicaid.
Bush himself, born into wealthy and powerful family, enjoys a lifetime of superior health care.

President Millionaire

The usual adroit skewering from Frank Rich (registration req’d.).

Opposing Pickering

Matthew Yglesias offers thoughts on Pickering, racism, and the role of the opposition.

New Planets Swimming into My Ken
(Better and Best Blogs, cont’d.)

You knew about these already. But I’ve just discovered: The Sideshow, The Watch, Skimble, and
Joe 6 Pack’s Elegant Blog.

Democracy lives, despite the day. These are blogs worth reading.

Friday, January 17, 2003
The Martin Luther King You Don’t See on TV

From Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon at FAIR.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" -- including economic rights. For people too poor to eatat a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

Read more.

Take me right to the Dump Ashcroft campaign!

Can do. Click here.

Talk About Speaking Truth to Power:
The Indefatigable Russell Mokhiber

from Ari & I
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer

Wednesday, January 15, 2003 - 1:15 PM

by Russell Mokhiber

Mokhiber: Ari, last week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that soldiers drafted to service in the military "added no value, no advantage, really to the United States armed services."

The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has called this an "egregious slur" and a "grave insult to the memory, sacrifice, and valor of those who lost their lives in Vietnam."

One Vietnam Vet, Thomas Bohan of Rochester, New York, said this: "As a draftee who spent a year of his life in Vietnam, I would like to suggest that perhaps my inferior service to our country wouldn't have been necessary if those proud, flag-waving patriots like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the cowards had come forward to enlist. I would like to see Secretary Rumsfeld repeat his speech in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day." Does the President agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that soldiers drafted to service "added no value to the United States armed services"?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, Russell, Russell. I'm honored that you chose, in the face of the Rumsfeld briefing at the same time as mine, to come here. But I'm sure that if you took the entire text of what Secretary Rumsfeld said to Secretary Rumsfeld and asked him -- I'm sure if you looked at the entire context of what Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would have thought twice about taking any one statement. I think if you looked at everything Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would get a very, very different picture.

Mokhiber: I have a second question.

Ari Fleischer: No. (Ari moves on).

We all Get a Piece!
(Don’t We?)

Nathan Newman provides the following nugget:

M$oft Dividend- $75 million Gates tax cut

Microsoft announced its first ever dividend of 16 cents per share and a 2-for-1 stock split.

For Bill Gates, who personally owns 611,749,300 shares, this will give him a dividend $97.9 million.

Normally, this would be taxed at a 38.6% rate, but with Bush's new tax plan, Gates will save and the Treasury will lose $38 million.

A $38 million tax cut for the richest man on earth, while almost half of all tax filers would receive less than $100 in benefits.

Can’t wait to get my hands on that c-note! Wonder if I’ll be bumping into Bill at the boat shows.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Now This. . .

This is what I call a rant! The Poor Man speaks. Thanks to Digby.

Take Me Right to the Dump Ashcroft Campaign

With alacrity! But my links and archives are in open revolt and refusing to do my bidding. So, please, scroll down for the full, twisted story.

The Trojan Judge

We have been reading, via the excellent PLA, how some have warned that the Pickering nomination is a kind of elaborate masquerade, a Trojan Horse intended to deflect attention from other judicial nominees bearing the Official Karl Rove Seal of Approval. Pickering, in this thinking, is meant to distract from the candidates the White House really wants, such as the ultra-conservative Priscilla Owens. Thus, Conventional Punditry has it, the Democrats may not fight the Pickering nomination, or ought not fight the Pickering nomination, on the theory that political capital is a limited resource and should be expended judiciously. Forget about Pickering and go after the other, even more dangerous nominees.

Here at the Better Rhetor, we are far (very far) from the levers, gears, and mechanics of power. And we can imagine this sort of thinking making sense in, say, the translated works of Sun Zi or some other ancient discoursing on how to wage war strategically—the kind of thing that self-described Captains of Industry rip-off from time to time to make themselves look profound in their fawning autobiographies. And we do not doubt that Karl Rove has no end of clever machinations with which to whip-saw his feckless opposition

Nonetheless. We want to go on record as saying we disagree—we completely disagree—with the idea that Senate Democrats ought not fight the Pickering nomination. We think they should fight it, and fight it for everything they’re worth. Pickering is yet another of those GOP Ghosts, a judge whose record is besotted with racial antagonisms and "hostility toward key principles and remedies that now safeguard civil rights". Forget the federal judiciary. He belongs in a museum on America’s shameful treatment of African-Americans.

So the Democrats should fight. And fight hard. And when they’re finished fighting Pickering, they should turn to Owens and fight that nomination, too. And they should continue this way, fighting each and every one of these right wing appointments, one by one, until they've lost or brought forth a different slate of nominees. Democrats are supposed to be the opposition, for Heaven’s sake. So oppose! If they've forgotten what that means, they can simply recall how Republicans managed to stall Clinton nominees for years and years. We like the way Liquid List put it:

If coal miners can work miles underground, choking on coal dust everyday, and firefighters can rush into burning buildings, then the Democrats can rally to defeat right-wing judges.

Again, we at the Better Rhetor are far (really, very, very far) from the gears, fulcrums, and engineers of power. But we do understand that when you see an obvious wrong, you oppose it. You do not paralyze yourself with timorous calculations and too-clever stratagems. Not if you really mean to accomplish anything in the time you have.

What Would George Smiley Think?

Apparently, that our government had gone insane. (Thanks to Talk Left for the link.)

A Truly Better Rhetor

We read this a while ago and have been meaning to note it. For all of our fulminations against the weasels, frauds, and ruthless people on the other side, we nonetheless believe that rhetoric has the power to heal, connect, and make whole. We are probably soft-headed that way. Nonetheless, every so often we come across an example of a truly Better Rhetor, one whose ideas restore faith in the seeking. Here, from Coherence Theory of Truth is such an example:

Reach and say howdy to a Liberal or Conservative (depending on how you swing)

Alright, maybe I'm naive, but it occurs to me, why doesn't each blogger reach out and communicate with one blogger on the opposite side of the aisle. Argue some issue(s); try to find some common ground. Try to get fundamental about what issues are "must-have" for you (you must get Roe v. Wade overthrown; you must have U.S. leadership on environmental issues). Try to tone down your ego. Don't swear or use ad-hominems. Argue about where we are in 2003 and whether we're heading in the right direction. Have fun.

Let's get 50 bloggers from each side to do this for a month. Then we meet at a blog friendly conference (somewhere sunny) and talk some more. Maybe it would be good.

Well said, and worth doing. Who are those on the other side worth engaging?