Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My kind of Republican

I don’t usually post twice in the same day, but lately I get excited when something sane happens.

I was reading the Howey Political Report and enjoyed Brian’s article about Senator Richard Lugar’s reaction to the latest government scam-o-rama. As you read this clip, savor Lugar’s comments and remember what sane Republicans used to sound like:

“The U.S. House passed the 2007 Farm Bill Friday, with U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar calling it ... ‘a severe blow to taxpayers, most farmers, rural communities, the environment, and U.S. prospects to export products. The House bill fails to reform an expensive and broken farm subsidy system. It will send more money to a few select farmers, while continuing to ignore the vast majority of American farmers. The President is justified in stating that he would veto this legislation. When the U.S. Senate considers farm policy later this year, I’m hopeful to build a coalition to advance legislation which allows ALL farmers to assure up to 85 percent of their net farm income through a government backed whole farm insurance program. In addition, ALL farmers would have IRA-type savings accounts to cover the balance of any losses. These reforms would also substantially increase rural development, research and deployment of energy from diverse biomass sources, conservation, and nutrition programs, while saving all taxpayers billions of dollars.’ Lugar said that a broad coalition of humanitarian assistance advocates including Bono, Bread for the World and Oxfam; conservationists such as the Environmental Defense; and obviously taxpayer advocate groups all support ending 70 years of inequitable farm subsidies.”

Bono? Bread for the World and Oxfam? 70 years of inequitable farm subsidies? Richard Lugar, you are my hero.

This makes me proud to be from Indiana.


Up to my old tricks

Back when I lived in Indianapolis, I found the formula for getting my letters to the editor published in the Indianapolis Star fairly regularly. It was rewarding as hell to see my liberal views on the printed page and know my words were poking the noses of the redneck brigade over their morning coffee.

Lately, I’ve been fired up about the BP refinery expansion that will increase ammonia and sludge in Lake Michigan. I called the governor’s office and left a snarky comment, and so did some friends who read my blog post about it, in the best crashing the gate fashion. I finally fired off a letter to the editor expressing my embarrassment to be from Indiana where the governor permits this backsliding in cleaning up the Great Lakes. I was pleased—but not surprised—they printed it.

The best thing about newspapers these days is their Web component, and it satisfies my inner sociologist to sift through the comments people make about stories and letters. So far in the comments about my letter I’ve been called a “liberal sissy” and someone suggests I consider moving to California. (God, I consider that all the time!)


Monday, July 23, 2007

Too much Mitch

One of the politicians I most love to hate is the governor of my (former) home state of Indiana, Mitch Daniels. Or “my man, Mitch” as he’s known by our deranged Decider, G.W. Bush.

Mitch has gone on a rampage of selling off state assets such as the Indiana Toll Road to his corporate cronies. (Excuse me: if a road is lucrative enough to be bought, why must its potential be siphoned off to private interests?)

But now Mitch and his henchmen at the Indiana Department of Environmental (mis)Management have done something that amazes even me. They’ve given permission for a BP refinery in Whiting to increase the amount of sludge and ammonia they dump into Lake Michigan by nearly 2000 pounds a day. This in return for 80 promised new jobs.

I’ve often wondered about the priorities of Hoosiers. The state has a mere 30 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, and at one time it was a pristine ecosystem of dunes with unparalleled biodiversity. Today it’s a sprawl of oil refineries, steel mills and power plants surrounding a state park. And now they intend to dump a ton of shit into the lake every day for eighty jobs.

This undoes years worth of progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Holy f**king sh*t!

This just in:

BAGHDAD (AP) - ”The U.S. military is weighing new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup if President Bush thinks his "surge" strategy needs a further boost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.


A satisfying read

One of the most puzzling questions about modern-day America for me is why the lower classes—those just barely scraping by—have come to identify themselves as Republicans, voting time and again against their own interests. Why are they convinced it’s noble to send their children off to a war to defend oil companies, do without access to healthcare, give tax breaks to billionaires and watch their meager jobs be outsourced by big corporations? It’s self-destruction, plain and simple, but why?

Yesterday while at my local Barnes & Noble, a book practically jumped off the shelf into my hands. Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War is so good I started reading it the minute I got home, and finished it up by this morning. (Most books I don’t even finish.)

This book offers some of the clearest insights into the way these people think and behave I’ve ever come across. (What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America was a good start, but this book is eminently more readable and insightful.)

Most importantly, the book shows how the Democratic party has alienated its natural constituency, and offers some ideas for how the party might reclaim it. If I didn’t think the Democratic party had already thrown in with the corporate interests, I’d be doing my part to reach out to my Scotch-Irish bretheren to educate them. I’d put on a plaid shirt and go to a fundamentalist church next Sunday and ask some uncomfortable questions.

But it’s probably too late anyway; America is too far down the drain.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence day, please

I wish I could declare Independence from the country that the United States has become.

Traits of our people like the greedy, self-centered splurge of wasteful acquisition, mostly of plastic junk.

Or the willingness to overlook truths staring us in the face, convincing ourselves that the USA can do no wrong.

The guns and violence and crack and death in cities like Philadelphia and Indianapolis—and whoa—even little Carbondale, Illinois.

The hateful political rhetoric fostered by a corporate media that has led to angry, knee-jerk reactions and too many tense Thanksgiving dinners.

The willingness to keep electing leaders who take their marching orders from big Oil and big Pharma while ignoring the needs of the citizens. (Hillary Clinton?)

The ever-widening gap between the have mores and the have nots.

Farm bills that hand out subsidies to millionaires and encourage an unhealthy diet that leads to obseity and diabetes (and drugs from Lilly.)

The wars we wage on people we consider our inferiors.