Posts Tagged ‘Progressives’

The Thinker

Can I kick the DailyKos habit?

Some habits are hard to break. Smoking. Drinking. Whoring. Eating dark chocolate. (Okay, I don’t know about the first three.) Another bad habit I have developed is going to snarky political web sites. While there are plenty of them out there, arguably DailyKos.com is the snarkiest of them. I wish I could break my addiction to DailyKos but there I am many times a day, obsessively reading the site.

Giving up DailyKos is much easier said than done. I go to it all the time, not so much to read comments (who has time for that, although plenty of people do) but to get the political news I care about. Only it’s always delivered in the most ultra-sarcastic of tones. For a site that supposedly celebrates the diversity of people and values skills like critical thinking, it sure paints all Republicans with the same whitewash. Granted that as a class Republicans seem to be all cut from the same cloth. And yet there is variety among Republicans and conservatives. What is almost universal about Republicans in office is they are almost all intensely weird. But arguably they are no weirder than the denizens on DailyKos. Like, um, me? Am I one of the damned?

You have your socially conservative Republicans. You have your fiscally conservative Republicans. You also have your libertarian-leaning Republicans. Of course, most lately you also have your Tea Party Republicans. They are quite a bit different. On DailyKos though they might as well all be wearing identical Ku Klux Klan robes and burning crosses. They are all portrayed as bizarre, which is obvious from the way they are characterized in posts and captions. They are objects for derision and for our entertainment, so weirdly and objectively wrong that they occupy a unique zone of utter wrongness, not even fit for scorn although of course the scorn is ladled out in extremely generous portions.

Birds of a feather, perhaps? DailyKos’s dirty secret is that its denizens are objectively just as weird and bizarrely opinionated, just in the other direction. I don’t hang out much on conservative websites like redstate.org. I doubt though that their arguments get as heated as they do on DailyKos. Few posters will be taking socially conservative positions on DailyKos, mainly because they are not suicidal, but boy they sure do a lot of arguing about nuances on stuff that just does not matter. The really egregious flamers eventually get banned. Arguments can be both enlightening and disagreeable at the same time. Overall they are a passionate bunch, but they can often take great offense over differences in opinion that really are quite minor. So mostly I read the articles and skip the comments. Who needs all that indigestion?

So why do I bother? I bother simply because the site has political news that is very topical. I bother because they raise a ton of money for progressive candidates, and were instrumental in getting candidates like new Senator Elizabeth Warren elected. I visit because they may be super snarky, but they are endlessly reading polls, assessing candidates and digging into dry facts about various politicians’ political war chests. These things matter in the long run. If you are trying to field better progressive candidates you have to know a ton about your candidate, the competition, and the state or district’s demographics. They have done the research, they have some top notch analysts and they endlessly comb the political news of the day for the nuggets that really matter.

Too bad there is so much chaff in the wheat. Today Marco Rubio’s “water” incident is all over DailyKos. In his response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, this rising star of the right drank from a bottle of Poland Springs while water on camera, without using glass and subsequently grimaced. There is today endless hilarity and comments about this on DailyKos, as if it mattered. I guess it gives them something to talk about, even though Obama’s speech was far more relevant and interesting than a minor imaging mistake by a rising Republican star. Yeah, I watched the clip, and then I tuned out the subsequent discussion. It doesn’t matter at all, except to the super politically charged progressives on DailyKos.

I also look and read most of the recommended diaries. Some of them turn out to be piffle, but about fifty percent of the time they are topical and contain relevant news I generally haven’t seen elsewhere first.

For the most part though, DailyKos is a 24 hour a day carnival show for hypercharged progressives that is chock full of snark and antipathy. Yet, I haven’t found a satisfactory alternative. What I want is a site without the snark but with similar content. I need a site like this where Republicans don’t need to be endlessly lampooned and skewered. Most Republicans simply have to open their mouth. It’s usually the same as putting their foot into it anyhow. However, Republicans are not stupid. They just have wildly different opinions and ways of seeing the world than I do. They may be declining as a political party at the moment, but they are generally astute at where they place their time and money. They know how to gerrymander with the best of them. Like it or not many of our most successful people are hard core Republicans. They may have flunked the course on empathy but they have figured out how to succeed financially and professionally. Their perspective is one that I largely don’t share, but it is one worthy of tolerance, especially from a community that calls itself progressive. (I make exceptions for the Todd Akins among them.) It’s not necessary to say they are wrong about something. Usually it’s simply a matter of documenting what they say and do and let the record speak for itself.

Clearly I haven’t found the site I am looking for, although I like sites like ThinkProgress.org somewhat better when it comes to the tone of their material, but not as much when it comes to variety and depth. At some point though I need to go cold turkey and quit DailyKos. Maybe I just need to read real news sites again, like CNN. Too much partisanship and analysis is probably not a good thing. Preaching to the choir can be fun, but like smoking, drinking, whoring and dark chocolate it’s probably not too healthy.

Wait a minute. Dark chocolate is healthy. Pass me another bag of dark chocolate M&Ms.

 
The Thinker

The wrath of Kos

Four years ago, I warned about The Power of Kos. Most people who pay attention to politics know who Kos is. Kos (pronounced “Kohs”) is a nickname for Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the original creator of the phenomenally successful political blog site, Daily Kos. While many were responsible for the rise of the political blogosphere, arguably Kos is its chief spokesman and ringmaster. In fact, I expect that on November 5th, the Washington establishment will wake up to realize that Markos Moulitsas Zúniga is the new Karl Rove. President Obama will be one of a host of politicians that will be anxious to stay in Kos’s favor.

Election Day is still three days away but from all the early voting going on it doesn’t take a political scientist to figure out which way this election is going to go. Democrats are going to win and win big. It will resemble the 1974 election, in which Democrats benefited disproportionately by voters in a sour mood over Watergate. In that election, Democrats picked up 49 house seats and 3 senate seats. This time Democrats are unlikely to pick up 49 seats. Most political experts expect a 20-25 seat gain. My intuition tells me it will be thirty or more House and 8-9 Senate seats. On the other hand, in the 1972 election, Democrats lost 13 House seats, while in the 2006 election Democrats picked up 31 House seats. The impact of the 2006 and 2008 elections combined is likely to be much larger than the impact of the 1972 and 1974 elections combined.

There is a difference though between winning and winning big. Winning big reflects two factors. The first factor is a generally high disgruntlement with the ruling party. While Democrats currently control the House, in effect no one controls the Senate, which has had the predictable effect of gridlock. The second factor is focus and organization. While certainly the Democratic congressional and senatorial campaign committees have had more money than usual this cycle, the progressive blogosphere, overseen by ringmaster Kos, will in hindsight be seen as instrumental in the upcoming Democratic surge.

Kos is one of the founding members of ActBlue, a grassroots Internet-driven fundraising organization that focuses on progressive candidates. ActBlue is proof that the Netroots have real power. Since 2004, ActBlue has raised over $81 million dollars for progressive candidates. More recently, Kos created Orange to Blue, which allows the Daily Kos community to give directly to candidates that Kos recommends. Currently Kos’s Orange to Blue initiative has raised $2.3 million dollars from about 24,000 individual donors.

What Kos and his community do is help tip the balance in close races. They pay special attention to lowly House races that rarely get the attention they should from the DCCC. Orange to Blue acts like a shot of adrenaline to a lackluster progressive campaign that nonetheless has a compelling candidate. The funds that it provides allow the candidate to get its message out in a larger way. In 2006, the blogosphere was arguably instrumental in the election of Senators Webb and Tester to the Senate. Arguably, without its support the Senate would not have turned blue in 2006.

2006 was just a warm up for 2008. It is hard to say exactly which candidates will win this time around because of fundraising through the progressive blogosphere. If Al Franken wins the Minnesota Senate seat, Orange to Blue can take at least partial credit for the victory. If you want to see how much power Kos actually leverages Tuesday night, check out whether Ronnie Musgrove wins the Senate race in deep red Mississippi. Also, check the results in House races where Republican incumbents are favored but their Democratic challengers are within the realm of possibly defeating them. These include Bob Lord, running against John Shadegg in AZ-03, Gary Trauner who is trying to win Dick Cheney’s old house seat in very conservative Wyoming, and Darcy Burner in WA-08. If these seats flip to the Democrats, the extra fundraising push from ActBlue and Orange to Blue are probably responsible.

Kos is of course an unusually politically savvy individual. What makes him especially valuable is that he is ruthlessly pragmatic. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, for example, is hardly the sort of liberal senator that many progressives would have preferred. Nevertheless, he was right on enough issues and more importantly electable to the voters of Virginia for the blogosphere to help fund his campaign. Kos is also a very high energy individual, fast on his feet, focused and relentless. He knows how to get his readers to open their wallets.

The liberal blogosphere wants to donate to worthwhile candidates. Most of us though do not have time to independently examine all the potential candidates and their positions. However, we do trust Kos’s judgment, particularly since he demonstrated his instincts were sound in the 2006 election. This makes giving to Kos’s preferred candidates a good bet.

I think it is interesting that Karl Rove and Kos have dueling columns in Newsweek. The choices are quite appropriate. For many years, Rove has been the Republican’s ringmaster. Kos (whom many in the Democratic Party still look down on as a lowly blogger) is now arguably the Democrats’ ringmaster. Both are the brains behind their party’s successes. Rove’s star is fading and is likely to diminish altogether after this election. As for Kos, his star is likely to soar into the stratosphere.

I have been known to be unduly optimistic, yet I expect the Republican Party is going to wake up on November 5th and realize they have been run over by a truck. The size of the early voting going on in so many states indicates unusual interest in this election. The only question is which way the election will tip. On the House and Senate side, unquestionably it will tip toward the Democrats. On the presidential side, barring some last minute news event that is hard to fathom, I do not see how Obama can possibly lose. I expect he will get at least 350 electoral votes and a majority of the popular vote.

Voters are screwed and angry. An extraordinary vengeance against those whose monumental misjudgments caused so many calamities these last eight years is about to be unleashed. Whipped up in part by ringmasters like Kos, my feeling is that this election will be a blowout for progressives. It will leave the bean counters wondering how they missed the size of this surge. If it happens as I expect, I will give most of the credit to the brilliant Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.

 
The Thinker

Give a little love and simplify your life

My Dad has simplified his life to fit into a two-bedroom apartment. At age 81 and a widower this all for the best. Even so, his two-bedroom apartment is more than he needs. The spare bedroom is great for guests, but he does not get many of them. Since my mother passed away three years ago, he has been reducing his life even more. Her clothes were donated shortly after she died. Her plants proved too burdensome for him to care for, so they are gone. Also gone are any sign of holiday decorations, except for the smattering of Christmas cards that he places in a basket.

I hope long before I turn 81, assuming I make it to that ripe age, I have simplified my life too. My wife and I make periodic attempts. When they succeed, they amount to de-cluttering us to where we were a few years ago.

There is a burden to possessions, but its burden was not clear to me until this weekend. I helped my friend Renee sort through the property that her mother had left. Renee’s mother died unexpectedly last month at age 68. Both Renee and her mother could be forgiven for thinking that her mother would live longer than she did. I am sure though that if Renee’s mother had any inkling that she would not have survived to age seventy, she would have dramatically simplified her life. For in dying unexpectedly she left Renee with both a staggering amount of grief and a staggering amount of possessions. I did not realize just how much stuff this was until this weekend when a host of her friends and I went through the arduous process of helping her try to sort it all out.

Somehow, in spite of her grief, she and her son James managed to have a memorial service for her mother in South Carolina, empty her condominium and move her possessions to two storage units at a new ezStorage in nearby Reston, Virginia, all within the space of less than two weeks. We spent today simply trying to inventory their contents in order to identify any damaged items. There were close to ten of us going at it all afternoon, and we only made a modest dent in the pile. Her mother apparently was not afraid of living large, and seemed to have plenty of money. Her career took her to over eighty countries. Seemingly, in each, she found some exquisite piece of furniture or artwork to send home. I never met her mother, but clearly, she was no K-Mart shopper. I was just stunned by both the volume and the quality of her furnishings. She had a vase that was made in 600 A.D. She kept exquisite hardwood furniture handed down for generations that looked nearly new. Her art collection included dozens of truly stunning paintings from all over the world.

Nor was she afraid of the 21st century. She had a large high definition television, computers and all sorts of electronic gizmos. She also had many books. She also owned lots of other amazing stuff I cannot mention because my mind could not embrace its vastness. Her mother’s belongings filled up one of their biggest storage units, floor to ceiling, packed tight, as well as a smaller unit that was similarly packed so tightly it was hard to imagine where they could add a deck of cards.

No wonder Renee looked frazzled. It is not easy being the only surviving child when your last parent dies. The challenge becomes particularly large when your parent is also well moneyed and likes to buy things. Simply sorting through all of her stuff will take years. There are literally thousands of items, all of which need to be categorized and appraised. Most of it will end up sold at an estate sale. Once the estate sale is complete, Renee will never have to worry about money in her retirement.

Also left behind: a year old purebred Rag Doll feline, a sort of final living link to her mother. The cat is now living in Renee’s house, which is also full of birds. The cat needs a new home but the birds need to be protected from the cat’s predatory instincts. For now, the cat lives in her bedroom while she tries to find it a home. She would prefer to give it to someone she knows, so she can check up on it from time to time.

I do not expect to meet my maker at age 68 like Renee’s mother, but I do hope that by age 68 I will have gotten rid of most of my junk. Since that is only 17 years away, I had better start soon. We have walls full of books that we will never read again. We have dozens of cans of paint we will never reopen. I have warranties going back to the Reagan administration. We have three bikes, only one of which is ever used. We have three DVD players, all in perfectly good condition. We have seven computers but only three people actually living in the house.

All these possessions should feel liberating but increasingly they feel like a ball and chain, making my life overly crowded and confusing. Judging from my neighbors, my life is relatively de-cluttered. At least my garage actually has a car in it. Many of my neighbors leave their cars in their driveways and use their garage for storage.

Ideally I would leave this life about the way I entered it: naked and without a possession to my name. That seems unlikely, but what I can do is give my daughter (who like my friend Renee will someday be sifting through my effects) more time to grieve for my parting, and less time having to deal with my possessions. I think my father understands this, and I now realize that by simplifying his life, he is actually showing us great love.

Thanks, Dad.

 
The Thinker

MoveOn.org is betraying the progressive cause

Back in July 2004, I took MoveOn.org to task for what I thought was a serious lapse in judgment: pressing the Federal Trade Commission to go after Fox News for promoting itself as “fair and balanced”.

I agreed with MoveOn that Fox News was neither fair nor balanced. What disturbed me was the group’s attempt to use the power of the government against Fox News. Frankly, its attempt gave me the willies and was very Big Brother-ish. Had they succeeded what ghoulish precedent would this have set? Would some future FTC go after the New York Times for, in its judgment, not serving all the news that it thought was fit to print? Would the government assume it was now permitted to decide whether any media outlet was covered by freedom of the press? I thought MoveOn “got” liberal values. We liberals welcome a diversity of opinions and perspectives, even when they do not agree with us. The last thing we want is the government mucking up our freedom to hear different points of view.

Somehow, Eli Pariser, the current executive director for MoveOn, read my little blog entry and left this pithy little comment:

Liberals like to think that ABC, NBC, etc. are in fact ‘fair and balanced’ while citing Fox as the source of distortions. Emphasis on one bit of information while ignoring other salient bits is the hallmark of the liberal media and something you are obviously unable to admit. Pundit my ass!

More recently, MoveOn published its now infamous “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” ad in the New York Times. The good news is that the ad succeeding in garnering a lot of attention. The bad news is that the ad was very counterproductive. It was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. No less than the Senate of the United States, when it could have been doing things like ending the war in Iraq, instead overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the advertisement. Rather than helping to facilitate an end to the war, it caused Republicans to circle the wagons. It also gave moderate Democrats a reason to be very wary of embracing change.

It did not have to be this way. The ad could have been just as effective without being inflammatory. For example, it would have shown President Bush next to General Petraeus and asked, “President Bush: Why are you making this patriot a scapegoat for your failed policy?” The ad was factually correct. Unfortunately, it pinned the tail on the wrong donkey. MoveOn does not appear to have anyone in charge with sufficient political shrewdness to know when they it has stepped over the bounds of good taste and decency. In doing so, it undercuts both our desire to end the war and gives pause to moderates who might be leaning toward progressive causes.

Has anyone on the MoveOn staff actually served in the military? I have not, but I have spent nine years in the Pentagon working with soldiers from airmen to four star generals. One thing I know without a doubt: while the military is overall a conservative group of folks, they faithfully and slavishly follow orders. As much as MoveOn would like to paint him as such, General Petraeus is not a politician. He is a military officer. He was directed by his chain of command to implement a policy. His job is to salute and do the very best he can to make the policy work. One can quarrel with his methods, but not his patriotism. Policymakers should be taking the rap for a failed policy. Generals can and should be held accountable for failing to properly execute their mission. They should not be tarred for the policy itself. Failure for the policy belongs squarely on President Bush, not General Petraeus.

At the time, I said:

This campaign with the FTC is just mean spirited harassment and worthy of Bill O’Reilly at his worst. MoveOn.org in this case should just shut up. In fact, it should do more than that. It should admit this campaign was a mistake and a serious lapse in its judgment. And then it should, well, move on.

MoveOn did not take me up on my suggestion. This latest ad three years later shows they have learned nothing in the intervening years.

Since I wrote that first blog entry, I have given an additional $350 to MoveOn and its political action committee on the hope that cooler heads were prevailing. No more. If MoveOn is still not savvy enough to know when certain lines should not be transgressed they deserve neither my money nor my support.

Instead, I will give my money to organizations that, in my judgment, have the maturity of vision to know how to promote solid progressive candidates and causes and know how to persuade people rather than inflame or antagonize them. If I have any spare cash left over, I will be giving it to organizations like Progressive Majority and Emily’s List rather than MoveOn. Perhaps some day saner heads will prevail at MoveOn and I can give money to them again. Right now, that day appears to be far off.

 
The Thinker

The Return of Government of, by and for the People

Today marks the welcome and long delayed return of sane government.

Admittedly, it is just one branch of government that has regained its sanity, but it is a start. For many of us the end of our long, national nightmare did not occur when President Nixon resigned. It happened on November 8th when voters threw the Republicans out of both houses of Congress. Today, as a new Congress was sworn in, government of, by, and for the corporation and special interests came to an abrupt end.

While I felt the political earthquake coming before the election, I was still nervous whether its size would not be enough to dislodge Republicans from both houses of Congress. It was, but just barely. The Senate, where Democrats are in control by a single vote, still does not quite feel like it is in Democratic hands. This is because Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota remains in the hospital, after brain surgery. While his recovery appears to be proceeding normally, he has a long way to go before he can actively participate in the Senate. If he cannot serve, you can bet that South Dakota’s Republican governor will appoint a Republican to his seat. In this event, the Senate would split 50-50, effectively putting Republicans in charge since Darth Vader, a.k.a. Dick Cheney would become its deciding vote. Due to Senate rules, it takes 60 votes to pass any controversial bill. However, by being in the majority the Democrats will be able control the chamber’s business.

This afternoon found us with a new Speaker of the House who was, for the first time, a woman. Nancy Pelosi is going to surprise many people. Republicans will be the most surprised. They see her as a far left liberal. While that may be true, that does not mean that she will govern as one. She understands that if Democrats want to retain power their impact must be broad and mainstream, rather than serving a narrow constituency of supporters. This is a lesson the Republicans never quite grasped.

It has been a while since government truly worked on behalf of the average Joe. Except for a brief period when Democrats captured control of the Senate, it has been twelve years with a Republicans Congress. Until 2001, we had President Clinton to reign them in. Not that it has been easy. In 1995, Republicans interpreted their majority status as a reason to close the federal government. Over time, their Contract with America became inconvenient to their true mission: maintaining power for themselves and their friends. Term limit promises and rules about not accepting gifts from lobbyists went by the wayside. During this decade all pretenses were dropped. Time after time legislation was passed that gave great benefits to fellow Republicans, and screwed the rest of us.

The Republican Congress and President Bush gave new meaning to the word “chutzpah”. In the House of Representatives, Democrats were effectively locked out of legislative process. All sorts of tactics were used to diminish their power, including enacting rules that excluded them from bill markup sessions. Over in the White House, President Bush signed bills into law with accompanying signing statements. In many cases, these statements explicitly contradicted the purpose of these laws in the first place. He is still at it. On December 20th upon signing the Postal Reform Bill, he said he would interpret the law as giving him the power to open people’s mail without a warrant, even though it gave him no such power. I hope that one of the new Congress’ first acts will be to bring a case to the Supreme Court to test their constitutionality. It is hard to imagine anything more unconstitutional than the president refusing to abide by the law of the land. At least when President Nixon broke the law, he knew he was doing wrong.

What were Americans smoking during the last twelve years? Virtually everything that came through Congress was framed this way: if it was good for Republican interests, let’s do it, and the fiscal consequences did not matter. Consequently, we got obscene tax cuts for the rich and favors for corporations and special interests of all kinds. We got faith-based initiatives on the taxpayer’s dime. We got politicians more concerned about the feelings of fertilized blastocytes than people who lost everything in New Orleans. The most progressive thing Congress did was pass a Medicare prescription drug bill. However, it did not do it until it made it easy for drug manufacturers to keep their profits high. Instead of carbon caps, we had meaningless voluntary quotas on carbon emissions. Throughout these years, while Congress kept increasing its salary it could not find a way to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour. This is a wage so niggardly that you can earn it and be well below the national poverty line. It was selfishness run amok.

Today meant a fundamental change in this sort of wrong and selfish thinking. It may be that after a long spell in power the Democrats may go back to the kind of corruption that deservedly got them thrown out of office in 1994. On the other hand, perhaps Democrats have learned a lesson. A hopeful sign is that the House Democrats, as their first act, will prohibit representatives from accepting gifts from lobbyists.

Granted, after twelve years of Republican rule there is so much fundamentally messed up with the country that all the needed changes cannot occur overnight. The Republican Congress’ contempt for the American people, if it needed any more proof, was evident in their lame duck session. They left town without even bothering to complete passing fiscal year 2007 appropriation bills. However, a new day is dawning in Washington. Congress appears to be ready to be a government of, by, and for the people again. It may be that in 2009, a Democrat will be in the Oval Office too. In that case something quite remarkable will have occurred: two branches of government will have changed hands in just two years. Looking toward the 2008 elections, it is hard to see how President Bush can fail to be a drag on any Republican nominee. In the Senate, the number of Republicans up for reelection is much higher than the number of Democrats, which suggests that Democrats will build on their majority. In the House, it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to chip away at the Democratic majority in only two years. Most likely Democrats will increase their majority.

The fact is that the country is changing right under the Republicans’ noses. Unless Republicans reinvent themselves as a kinder, gentler and more moderate party, they are likely to keep losing seats. The 2006 election proved that the times are a changing. The Midwest is turning blue. Even the Rocky Mountain States are turning a shade of purple. As Generations X and Y age and discover their political power, they are unlikely to model the Republican Party’s values of narrow mindedness, xenophobia and a cultural monotheism. They are growing up in a different America, which is culturally diverse, and where Caucasians will no longer be in the majority.

I believe that history will show that in the first half of this decade that the Republican Party reached its political zenith. Its hold on the majority has always been tenuous because it so steadfastly worked against the people’s interests. Despite Tom Delay’s attempts at gerrymandering, the demographics no longer favor the Republican Party. America’s future is colored blue.

 
The Thinker

The chickens have come home to roost, at last

Occam’s Razor likes to peer into the future. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. Overall though my ability to prognosticate is good. After all not many like me were predicting prior to our war in Iraq that it would turn into the insurgency that it did.

My timing can be off though. Perhaps I see trends too early. Clearly, after reelecting Bush a year ago Americans are now having buyer’s remorse. Had the election been held even a month later the presidency might well have flipped. However, shortly after last year’s election, I pointed out that Bush had set in motion events that could not be stopped. His comeuppance could not be forever postponed.

Events in 2005 have cascaded into a crescendo of bad news not just for Bush, but also for Republican rule. Bush’s approval ratings have tumbled even further, averaging recently at around 37%. While we will have to wait a year to find out the damage done to the Republican’s hold on Congress, we might get a hint from scattered elections this month that another political earthquake is coming.

One sign that should be very worrisome to Republicans is that Tim Kaine (a Democrat) won the governorship here in reliably red state of Virginia. It took a lot for Democrat Mark Warner to win the governorship in state four years ago. To win he had to convince Virginia voters that he was both a good ol’ boy and was not a liberal.

As governor Warner defied conventional logic and proved that even in a red state voters will support pragmatic taxes increases. Working with minority Democrats in the state assembly and a handful of moderate Republicans he was able to pass a modest half-cent increase in the state sales tax. As a result serious money started flowing into urgently needed transportation projects. In addition Virginia schools were able to receive desperately needed additional aid to keep up with growing population and testing demands. His pragmatic approach found wide support across the state. Arguably Tim Kaine, the former Lieutenant Governor, rode on Warner’s coattails. He won the gubernatorial election by more than five percent against his Republican opponent, Jerry Kilgore. More astonishingly, solidly reliably counties like nearby Loudoun County voted solidly for Kaine. Kilgore’s antitax message rang hollow and seemed shrill. Virginians are returning toward embracing pragmatic government again. Apparently good schools and roads are more important than paying a half a cent more in sales taxes.

Kilgore found that being a Republican was no longer much of a selling card, even in Virginia. He avoided President Bush, who wanted to campaign with him in the state, until the very end. His one campaign appearance with Bush shortly before the election seemed to seal his defeat. Yes, even here in the reliably red state of Virginia, more people disapprove of Bush than approve of him. The result of these elections suggests Bush is now toxic. In addition Republicans are being viewed by voters with jaundiced eyes. Apparently even Republicans can interpret poll number and are sobering up. They realize they may be out of office next year if things don’t change. Consequently we are witnessing serious fractures of the Republican machine in Washington. Despite all the odds, the budget cuts proposed by fiscal conservatives, which targeted the poor by cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, could not win over moderate Republicans. The bill could not even pass by removing the requirement for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is an amazing denouement for a party that just a couple months ago believed it could ram through congress pretty much anything its leadership wanted.

I do not need to spend much time restating Bush’s problems because most of you keep up on current events. Bush has been carpet bombed since his reelection. From the deepening quagmire in Iraq (for which we have no realistic exit strategy), to his surreal and deadly mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, to skyrocketing gas prices, to fumbled Supreme Court nominations, to indictment against Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scotter” Libby, Bush is more than wounded. He has had limbs blown off.

Americans are in a surly mood. The economy is doing okay, but the benefits are not trickling down to them. For the average American, expenses keep exceeding income. The new expenses are costs we can do little to trim back. As a result the middle class continues to shrink. Many, like my wife who managed to find a new job recently, will work for much less than they made in their last job. While many find their income is down, necessary expenses like health care, gasoline and home heating oil keep skyrocketing. We wonder how much longer the American Dream will be available. And we wonder why we are allowing the dream to slip away. Why did we elect people who did not serve our interests, but instead slavishly served only the interests of those that funded their campaigns? This anxiety is reflected in rather disturbing consumer confidence statistics.

The voters are sobering up. Over the last five years our country has been raped and pillaged by Republicans. What we are witnessing is the intense anger, and even hatred, of those who were disenfranchised. We no longer have a government that even makes a pretense about serving the common good. It serves those who support Bush and the Republican Party and gleefully shafts the rest. Both the president and the Congress are drunk on power. More tax cuts for the rich in a time of soaring budget deficits? Until recently, this was not a problem. Weaken air pollution laws as a response to hurricane relief? Sure, why not? Cry over Terri Schiavo’s brain dead body, but let senior citizens drown to death in New Orleans’ nursing home? Not a problem either. After all, they couldn’t vote and beside they were not one of their kind.

I do not think this situation will improve. I think it will continue to get worse. I hear people say that at 37% approval ratings, Bush has reached his floor. I don’t think so. I think it will go even lower in the months ahead. Bush is now in the rapids and he is losing control of the ship of state. The time is ripe for a change in congressional power, and we should see it in the 2006 elections. It remains to be seen though whether Democrats are savvy enough to fully capitalize on the moment. As I suggested Democrats need a new Contract with America. It is painfully clear at this point what one party Republican rule has delivered misery for the average American. A clear vision for the future should turn the House of Representatives back to its traditional Democratic Majority. With only a third of the seats up for grabs in the Senate in 2006, it is less likely that Democrats can take that chamber too, but it is not outside the bounds of possibility. Bereft of the public trust, Americans have little choice but to embrace an alterative or to suffer through even more disastrous mismanagement of their government.

A stiff wind of pragmatism is beginning to sweep across America again. It will be good to feel it again. It has been sorely missed.

 
The Thinker

Government is the price of progress

Some years back I read a review of the book Children of the Depression. I purchased the book, which is full of glossy black and white pictures documenting ordinary life for children in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The pictures were found in the archives of the now defunct Farm Security Administration. In their raw and unvarnished form, they detail the heartbreaking daily poverty of ordinary Americans living through those times, with an emphasis on how the lives of children were affected.

Both my parents lived through the Great Depression. My paternal grandfather was a civil servant, so my father was only tangentially affected by it. My mother, born in 1920, had her entire life view shaped by being young and in a desperately poor family during the Great Depression. Looking through Children of the Depression, I can see that world through my mother’s eyes.

Here are a few snippets from my mother’s autobiography that gives you some inkling of just how awful and life was for her during this time:

When Dad lost his job, that was the end of meat in our diet every day. Now it was depression soup (a mixture of oatmeal, onions, water, salt and pepper).

How did we keep warm? I’m hazy here but I do believe welfare gave use some coal, but not enough to keep our drafty house warm. We are not proud of this, but we stole some from the trains that would pass near us. A few blocks to the east of us the train had to slow down to make a turn and the older boys would hop atop the coal cars and when they would get within blocks of our house, they would toss coal off as fast as they could. When the train would slow down they hopped off and gathered their booty in burlap bags and carried them home. Things got so bad at times the boys would hop a night train and go out early to pick it up.

There is much more to her story. Her family depended on sporadically available charity clothing and food. She routinely missed the first few weeks of school because she had to earn migrant labor wages in the fields harvesting the crops like sugar beets. Holes in her shoes were left unfixed, and she used cardboard insets instead. Naturally, there was no money for doctor visits, drugs, dental care or therapy. She was just one daughter in a family of twelve supported by an immigrant father. Her father, who emigrated from Poland, dropped out of school after the third grade. During better days, he was employed as a butcher.

Leafing through Children of the Depression, you can see that my mother’s tale was wholly ordinary and one of millions. Many people dealt with much worse than she experienced. While her family’s house was sold at auction, they managed to evade being thrown into the streets. They were eventually able to pay off the back taxes and reclaim their house. Therefore, unlike many in America during the Depression, they did not have to live the vagabond life. Such was life in Bay City, Michigan and much of America in the 1930s.

As bad as the Great Depression was, it could have been much worse. While modern welfare benefits were unknown, there were surplus food and goods that the government sporadically made available for the poor. My grandfather eventually found employment as a laborer helping to construct a bridge over the Saginaw River. This was just one of the many projects funded by President Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress during this period that succeeded in putting many chronically unemployed people to work. The government did not choose to stand on the sidelines while so many Americans suffered so deeply.

A couple days ago, I learned about the Otto Bettmann book The Good Old Days – They Were Terrible! It describes life in the 1880s. By comparison, the Great Depression seems wonderful. A diarist on DailyKos summed up some of the key findings, which include:

FOOD: Adulteration of foodstuffs was problem and conventional practice in the 1880’s. Alum, copper, and sulphur were often added to bread flour for preservatives. Coloring for candy was often toxic, sickening children and adults alike. “Bogus butter,” a mixture of animal fats, calcium, or potatoes (whatever was on hand) was bleached and processed in disgusting conditions and repackaged by merchants and labeled as butter. Canneries operated under filthy conditions, and the process itself often was proven detrimental, through the use of chemicals added to preserve. Slop fed to cows often made the children sick

SANITATION: Cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, Helena Montana, Leadville Colorado, generally suffered from putrid conditions. The air stank, refuse filled the streets, garbage and food refuse was dumped everywhere, the waste of humans and animals alike trickled through crowded streets. Unhygienic conditions on the streets were matched by interior conditions in workhouses, orphanages, factories, asylums, hospitals, and farmhouses. Life in the country did not proved an escape from unsanitary conditions; private wells were often contaminated by close proximity to barns, privies, and household refuse. Many homesteaders lived with farm animals in their homes during winter months.

Yes, this was just a bit of the way things were actually like during those glorious, wonderful days of laissez faire capitalism. They must have been wonderful, because I hear modern current conservatives brandishing obsolete slogans like Thoreau’s “the government that governs best governs least”. I have to wonder: we are aspiring to return to days like this?

While that is unlikely, we do see more and more steps in this direction. We saw it emerge in recent times with the election of Ronald Reagan, who appointed people with open contempt for the general welfare. Of course, we also find ample examples of it in our current administration. We see it in its hostility to raises in the minimum wage. We see it in its refusal to create meaningful increases in vehicle fuel economy. We also see it in its inability to acknowledge honestly that global warming is largely a result of human activity. While our president makes inane statements about prosperity like “We’ve got to make the pie higher”, in actuality he is very deliberately making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Because of his tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the rich, when necessary commodities like gasoline rise in sharply price, those of lower incomes bear most of the pain.

Economic conservatives these days seem very much out of touch with reality. For one they seem to assume that liberals and progressives are against capitalism. They think that we embrace unbridled socialism as utopia here on earth. Except for a few liberals on the fringes, this is just plain wrong. Progressives like me understand that capitalism is a vital ingredient in social progress. However, capitalism is just one force that enables the promotion of the general welfare. The other part is government, which has the duty to promote the general welfare.

Centuries of unbridled capitalism have demonstrated beyond argument that by itself capitalism does not lift all boats. Instead, unbridled capitalism gives power to the wealthy. Moreover, by restraining government so that it does not do much to help the general welfare, it perpetuates the class system. Our social security system was created by the government because the private sector could not provide it and it was needed. Nor would free markets ensure that all laborers could earn a living wages. Capitalism does not care a whit if human beings are forced to live in tarpaper shacks or whether communities have modern sewage systems. Capitalism is simply a means that helps to maximize profits for the owners of the company. As is amply evidenced in the hallways of Congress and state legislatures across our country, businesses will petition endlessly to shift the costs, risks and burdens of industry off them and onto anyone else. They call it “being more competitive”. When you hear those words, beware!

Just as unbridled capitalism is not ideal, neither is unbridled socialism. Capitalism is a necessary engine for progress, but it must be constrained so it becomes win-win. Companies need to make profits, but also need to be constrained to ensure some of the profits indirectly improve life for all Americans. In addition, the government needs to give capitalists the maximum freedom to earn those profits consistent with allowing its benefits to affect the commonweal. This is, at its heart, what the economic aspects of the progressive movement are all about. It should not be the least bit controversial. It should be “No duh!”

Economic conservatives need to sober up. Libertarianism is simply not a workable philosophy in our modern world. We need agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, otherwise we are back to snake oil salesmen and unsafe food. We need the EPA, if for no other reason than capitalists need consumers around to buy their products. While there are perhaps some agencies whose missions are of dubious value, the vast majority have survived because they are involved in vital regulation and monitoring. This enables both the general welfare and provides a platform so that entrepreneurial behavior can continue to flourish.

Those who pine for the 1880s are sadly misguided and recklessly foolish. Except for the J. P. Morgans of the world, most of humanity lived short, sad and miserable lives. Ironically, China is becoming a case for why progressive government is needed. While some income levels in China may be creeping up due to largely unchecked capitalism, lifespan is decreasing from the resulting unchecked pollution.

Like it or not we now live in a far more complex world. Unless we all become like the Amish, the combination of increasing populations and quickly evolving technologies will make it inevitable that government will need to expand. If you object then to be consistent, you should give up your computer, cell phones and automobiles, none of which would be as cheap, safe or work as well without necessary and relatively benign government regulation. Like it or not, our complex and modern world and growing government is here to stay.

 
The Thinker

Needed: A Leave Sharing Law for All

When it comes to giving employees time off, American employers are way behind the rest of the industrial world. American employers are not required to give employees any vacation. When I worked for Montgomery Ward I was entitled to a week of vacation a year. Considering how little they paid me I was amazed they gave me any time off with pay at all. At least it didn’t cost them much.

The de facto minimum vacation for full time salaried workers in the United States these days is two weeks. Some employers force employees to draw from a block of leave to be used for both sickness and vacation. Longer-term employees usually get three weeks of vacation a year. But from inquiring my friends I have found that it is pretty unusual for any private sector employee to accrue much more than three weeks of vacation a year these days. Non-profit and educational organizations are often the exception.

Other countries are much more progressive than the United States. Argentina, hardly one of the top industrial economies, mandates a minimum of two weeks of vacation for each employee. The European Union requires at least four weeks of vacation, but it is often more depending on the country. For example, France requires at minimum of five weeks of vacation. Spain requires at least thirty calendar days of vacation a year.

Federal employees like myself have what now seems to be very generous leave policies. During the first three years of employment you earn four hours of leave every two weeks, which translates to about two and a half weeks of vacation a year. From years four through fifteen you earn six hours a pay period, or close to four weeks a year. If you hang in beyond fifteen years you earn European levels of vacation: eight hours a pay period. This is a bit over five weeks of vacation a year. But federal employees also earn sick leave: four hours every two weeks. Unused sick leave accrues from year to year. Because of my accrued sick leave from over twenty years in the civil service I am well prepared financially for a long-term medical problem.

However not all civil servants are so fortunate. I have an employee who is dealing with major medical issues in his family. The situation is unlikely to improve in the short term. Not surprisingly he has exhausted all of his sick and annual leave, yet still he has to provide care to his very sick wife and manage his children. Fortunately the Family and Medical Leave Act allows him to keep his job while he take care of his family. But for most employees this would also mean his income would also stop.

Fortunately the federal government goes the extra mile and offers civil servants leave sharing. Basically it allows employees who are dealing with major life crises and have exhausted all of their leave to petition their colleagues for help. Those coworkers who choose can give the employee some of their leave.

This is one of those progressive and painless ideas that should be law. In our increasingly expensive world many people are living closer to the margins. Such is the case with my employee who bought his first house only a few years ago. He has just started building assets. I encouraged him to apply for leave sharing and he eventually agreed. While there is no guarantee that other employees will donate their leave, he is well known and respected so he is already getting significant donations. And unfortunately he will need it and more. I am hopeful that the many generous employees where I work will keep contributing their leave to him until his crisis has finally passed.

Leave sharing in the federal government is not automatic. A physician must document the need. The employee must apply for it. And the employee’s supervisor has the right to reject his request. Of course few supervisors are so heartless. The leave can only be used to deal with the care he needs for himself or his family.

What leave sharing amounts to is a fairly painless way for someone dealing with major family problems to keep their financial head above water. Even with leave sharing financial solvency is no guarantee. Major medical issues often bring hospitalization and other costs that can leave an employee deeply in debt or even in bankruptcy. But having a steady income coming in during the emergency and the promise of a job when the crisis is over can be a godsend.

I had one coworker who donated his leave to my employee immediately. He told me that a few years ago he had major back problems. They had him immobilized for many months. He burned through all his leave too, even though he had plenty of it. He too had the leave sharing option and fortunately his coworkers came through for him too. He told me he would have become bankrupt now without it. Now that he is in a position to return the favor and he does so gladly. “I donated some of my hours,” he told me. “And I will give him more leave if he needs it.” I agree. And so will I.

Not surprisingly, leave sharing was not an idea that came out of a Republican administration. Rather it was an initiative of President Clinton. It was an outgrowth of the Family and Medical Leave Act, passed into law by a Democratic Congress back in 1993. The following year Clinton issued regulations that created the federal leave sharing program. At the time of course there were the usual blathering that the FMLA would leave the United States less competitive. Happily twelve years later the skeptics have been proven wrong. The public has warmly embraced FMLA. Those employees who work for progressive employers that offer leave sharing have even more for which to be grateful.

I hope some future (and doubtless more progressive) Congress passes a universal leave sharing law. It is really a no-brainer. By keeping many people out of bankruptcy, it is good for the nation’s creditors. It saves the government money by keeping many of these people off welfare roles or from drawing food stamps. And in fact it really doesn’t cost employers anything. Leave costs just shuffle from one employee to another. It usually saves employees money because long term employees are more likely to have leave to donate, and they tend to cost employers more money. But most importantly leave sharing can be an enormous source of comfort for people who already have their hands full dealing with tremendously challenging personal problems.

 
The Thinker

Needed: A New Contract with America

Is that the earth that I feel moving beneath my feet? Probably not. But those of us with sensitive political ears can feel the political earth beginning to shift. It’s just a faint tremor at the moment. It could be nothing. Or it could be a sign of a coming political earthquake.

Those into reading political tealeaves will find plenty to read lately. They may mean nothing but collectively they suggest a trend. For example last week a handful of Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives came together to sponsor a bill. It requests that the President set a timetable for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq starting in October 2006. This particular resolution will doubtless go nowhere but it may be a harbinger. What is important here is the precedent. It makes it easier for others with similar feelings to voice them.

And these nervy Congressmen are simply echoing the opinions of the majority of the American people, who are queasy about the whole Iraq war in general. The American people have turned against the war. It remains to be seen whether these opinions have sticking power. But it is reasonable to assume that they will. There are no short-term expedients that are likely to change the fundamental situation in Iraq. And the situation will be that Iraq will remain an anarchistic mess, with insurgents having the upper hand controlling the country.

Even Bush’s political adviser Karl Rove will have to feel queasy at some of the latest polls. For example, a recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that Bush’s approval rating at 42%, one point from an all time low. When you look at the numbers for other questions Americans were asked in this poll you can see the bigger cracks in the pavement. 45% of Americans say going into Iraq was the right thing versus 51% who say we should have stayed out. This is the first time in this poll that the public has decisively flipped on the Iraq war.

On Bush in particular the news is not good. 56% of Americans disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy. 51% disapprove of his handling of foreign policy. 59% disapprove of his handling of the War in Iraq. 62% are upset about his attempts to reform Social Security. Democrats are trusted 48% to 31% to come up with a better plan for saving Social Security. Overall 61% of Americans say that Bush does not share their priorities for the country.

So the news is not good for Bush, even though our economy is not in recession. The sole area where Bush gets higher marks is in his overall handling of the campaign against terrorism. Here he gets 52% approval and 40% disapproval. But Congress’s ratings are in the toilet. 71% of Americans say Congress does not share their priorities.

Political prognosticators like myself who are wondering if there is a political earthquake coming in 2006 and 2008 look at two factors. First, is this a transient shift or a permanent trend? It is difficult to say for sure. The American people don’t have much trouble drifting toward apathy as Election Day approaches. When that happens the turnout is depressed. And when that occurs the status quo is likelier to be maintained. Second, can Democrats successfully translate general unhappiness into new political power? That is also problematical. A coherent and widely embraced Democratic message is needed.

But it can be done. Ironically the Democrats have an ideal model to follow: the Newt Gingrich Contract with America. In 1994 the Contract flipped the House of Representatives from Democratic to Republican. With incumbents virtually certain to win reelection in normal years, it takes a mighty effort to convince voters to change the status quo. That is why the time has come for Democrats to organize much the same way that Gingrich organized Republicans for the 1994 elections.

The House of Representatives can be switched back from Republican to Democratic. To succeed it requires only a moderately pissed off public. Fifteen seats need to flip from Republican to Democratic in order for Democrats to regain the majority. Before the 1994 elections Democrats ruled the House: 258 to 176. After the Gingrich revolution Republicans ruled 230 to 204. It was a stunning election. Forty-four seats shifted, over 10% of the total seats in the House! Only fifteen are needed to change things in 2006. This is very doable with the right message and the right organization. The Senate is less likely to flip. Republicans control the Senate 55 to 44. However it only takes one house of government to flip Democratic and to bring back divided government. And that bollixes up much of the neo-conservative agenda. So as Democrats our focus needs to be on the House of Representatives. 2008 of course offers the opportunity for a presidential election and for the Democrats to retake the White House.

So if this broad discontentment against the President and Congress can be maintained and if the Democrats can present a new coherent plan for America that addresses the actual concerns of moderate America then Democrats can at least begin to move back into political power. On the surface this should not prove that hard to do. Republicans have proven themselves no friend of the middle class. Poll after poll shows that the public understands that Republicans are shifting wealth away from them and into the upper classes. And they don’t like it.

What is needed now is leadership. It is heartening to see liberal blog sites like DailyKos.com come up with a progressive vision for America. Such a vision should clearly contrast what the Democrats will do if given power with what we can assume the Republicans will do if they remain in power.

The difficulty will be coming up with a coherent message that will attract moderate and independent voters. Progressives will be gung ho on issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage. These are important and defining issues for Democrats, but they need to be reframed. Kos did a good job of doing it. However in order to gain political power these issues should not be highlighted. The seven plus or minus two rule should be used. This is the number of different ideas we can keep in our mind at one time about a particular area. Democrats need to focus on items that moderate and independent voters care the most about. This is not a time to be shrilling for gay marriage. We should not be against it, but it should not be highlighted. Pragmatism needs to be the order of the day.

If we let him Howard Dean, the current chairman of the Democratic National Committee, can help us focus on what is important for Democrats to win. It’s important to concentrate on a few important factors that will swing independent voters. If I had to name some I would name universal health insurance, living wages, secure borders, respect for international law and environment-friendly policies as some of them. But these issues should be research driven and focus group tested. And once we have positions they should be hammered relentlessly and embraced widely by Democrats. The contrast of the Democratic vision with the Republicans record should be crystal clear.

But the key to winning this election is also attitude. Newt Gingrich had and continues to have plenty of attitude. Howard Dean has attitude too. Although their philosophies are different Gingrich and Dean are really two of a kind. Having an attitude can be a good thing when leveraged at critical moments. Voters pick up the larger context from attitudes that are poorly expressed in words. The context is simply this: Republicans have bungled big time. It is time for people grounded in real life to run the government again. And this is best communicated through attitude and simple slogans. If we are looking for leadership I trust that Howard Dean will be able to distill it for us into a simple message. We need to be wise enough to trust him.

 
The Thinker

Leaning Left in Academia

From yesterday’s Washington Post:

College faculties, long assumed to be a liberal bastion, lean further to the left than even the most conspiratorial conservatives might have imagined, a new study says.

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The disparity is even more pronounced at the most elite schools, where, according to the study, 87 percent of faculty are liberal and 13 percent are conservative.

Is this a surprise? Not to me it isn’t. Aside from the fact that most college professors and I share a lot in common politically, this is really one of those no duh sort of news stories. Because of course there is a rather natural correlation between education level and liberalism. And as long as our education levels mean something, it’s going to stay that way.

Why? Because you don’t become a learned professor by being a simpleton. You have to look at things from many points of view. You quickly learn that things are not simple at all. Rather the world is a very complex place. That is the perspective you are almost certain to have if you survive the ordeal of completing a PhD. If you want to take your PhD and become a college professor then you are expected to continuously expand your knowledge and research your subject area. If you make it to the ranks of tenured professor without being able to win any debate on its merits something is seriously wrong.

I hate to break it to most conservatives but they are not exactly embracing of the world’s complexity. Rather they see simple solutions as a general panacea to complex problems. Conservatism is not about embracing change, it’s about keeping things simple and ideally identical to the way things were before. (Note: neoconservatives are not conservatives. They sure aren’t liberal but they definitely are okay with the idea of change.) Liberalism is about understanding existing models and either improving them or finding better models that solve a broader set of problems.

If you have a PhD you are not going to arrive there embracing the notion that your area of study requires no further research. Instead you are going to be predisposed to try new things and experiment in new areas of both basic and applied science. If you have a PhD not only are you learned, you are curious by nature. You are not cut from the common mold; you embrace your uniqueness and revel in your intellect. And as a scholar you naturally want to be an agent for change. Liberalism is simply a philosophy of embracing change in ways that advance the quality of life of mankind. It’s really a wonder that only 72 percent of college professors describe themselves as liberal.

This is not a problem that needs to be fixed. Embracing quotas for college professors based on their political ideology would be a stupid idea, unless of course you think promoting incompetence and stifling curiosity are good ideas. One thing is for sure: people married to the past didn’t accomplish mankind’s greatest advances. They believed in the future and they believed in the power of positive change. They learned from experience that tolerance was a virtue and that to seek out different points of view was invigorating. Good ideas, like steel, improved with refinement.

So let’s be thankful that we have so many liberal professors. Without them we would be in an academic dark age.

 

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