Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kerry had the JoeMo

Have I already recommeded that everyone read Alexander Cockburn's post-election analysis yet? If not, go there now. And while you're at it, read at least 25% of the articles in Don't worry, they're not all about the tiresome topic of this past election. Though in regards to Cockburn's work, hopefully if you find this article to be snotty and overly snide by half, as one J-friend did, please look past this as much as you can into his research.

One of his most important points, in my opinion, is the fallacy of Kerry as the Senate's "#1 Liberal." My friend pointed out that perhaps he was farther right over his lifetime record -- with decades to be in Senate, he'd doubtlessly made lots of votes out of political pragmatism that would push him right (she doesn't believe that he should be blamed for the political pragmatism that she correctly points out is necessary to maintain high elective office, and that in the Prez's office he would've wielded his newly gained power for good -- needless to say, we disagree). But I found an important point -- the analysis of Kerry putting him in the middle of the increasingly-conservative Democrats (though not to the right of middle as I may have claimed at some point) was *only* from the 108th Congress -- i.e. his past term in the whole. The "most liberal" label apparently is only based on a slim cross-section of issues. Source material here. (Ed's note -- just checked that website -- with the end of the term, it appears Kerry is the 21st most liberal senator out of 48 Dems -- 10 or so places ahead of Joe Lieberman, who may be the best known as a hawkish Dem, though around 30th place he has many lesser-known senators below him; Miller of Georgia is as "liberal" as a Moderate Republican based on votes; Nelson of Nebraska is the most conservative of the remaining 47 Dem Senators from this term. The website's methodology is somewhat complex, it was developed by someone at the University of Houston, apparently. It (the methodology) seems kosher to me from casual glance -- also on Kerry, his attendance record for votes was 8% this year -- ok, duh, election year -- but was 36% in 2003, missing many crucial close votes that Cockburn lists in his article. Primary sources of analyses over at UH again; second source, on Kerry's attendance, for the Intelligence committee here on FactCheck.Org. On a sad side note, my freshwoman Dem Senator, Debbie Stabenow, is farther right than Kerry, in between him and Lieberman I think...)

So 21st most liberal senator, not quite as inspiring. And this is just for his most recent term -- my friend may have been right that his older, pragmatic votes may slip him farther right (and then the question would be over what that means for the Kerry of today -- would he have continued his random walk towards farther Left? (Ed's note -- I, for one, don't think so...).

I hope this doesn't seem like crowing -- it's not. I feel this is an important debate -- just like in 2000 when I was telling people Gore wasn't all that great or much better than Bush (which still inspires righteous indignation; Gore's boss, who most people think is more liberal, is still estimated to have killed more Iraqis than Bush in his first 4 years (remember Desert Fox and non-UN sanctioned bombing, plus the trade sanctions?). If, as the many articles I have read and linked to here for you all, are correct (and no one I know has disputed their research, just the interpretation of it, or rather, said "well, you can't think Kerry actually meant it [when he said all of those Right-ist things]") then not only do we need to keep agitating, WE need to do our homework as much as any of the least-informed Red Staters who we unproductively deride and whose mind we hope to change. If WE, too, are voting against our interests -- and experts like Chomsky and Zinn are buying into it too -- then we need serious, serious re-evaluation, including re-evaluation of this past election. Obviously, I don't think the argument is resolved, though my immense respect for Chomsky and Zinn has not made their arguments seem any less weak to me. But we must sort this out, and quickly -- if the ABB/Centrists are right, and we need to focus on just eliminating the Republican advantage at all costs, then we must convince those of us (i.e. me) of this on the facts (and not on "well, obviously they don't mean it when the spout right rhetoric -- possibly, but a flimsy basis for a political strategy). If those of us who believe that you can't support change by supporting those who oppose real change -- especially if they are only slightly less opposed to real change than their competitor, or in some ways more hawkish, cause more casualties, or are worse for (at least some of) the environment -- are correct, we need to convince more of the Center-Left to follow us out of the party, or at least into voting ONLY for those in party that represent enough of our views to be more clearly distinguishable in rhetoric AND reality than the Imperialist Republi/Crats.

So far, I've never heard an argument for Kerry refuting the facts as laid out, that seem to me to show that he -- and his would-be sherpa guide to centrism, Bill Clinton -- have not been almost as bad as Republicans in some areas and rather worse in others. At best, I would think this averages out to a close call -- one should not easily have been assumed to be a "big damned difference."

Let the argument continue... and tell me where I'm wrong. I can change! Really! All I ask is, you know, facts.

Extra bonus J-Continuum update
Other random cool stuff at Counterpunch, highlighted here for your satisfaction:
Cuba's Response to AIDS: A Model for the Developing World
Reviews Cuba's program and tremendous success at controlling AIDS (0.7% infection), and uncovers (what appear to be) the facts on the forced sanitoriums -- i.e. quarantine -- of those infected with AIDS. In any case, these sanitoriums are now voluntary (since 1993) and reportedly were always places providing food not rationed (as it is for the rest of the country) and counseling in depression and nutrition for those infected. Everything about it now is completely voluntary, and Cuba's program seems to be working -- apparently the model is so successful, the World Bank has sent a rep to Cuba (the US didn't) for their AIDS conference, saying (as reported by Edwin Krales in the article linked above)
...their view is that economic disaster is a fate worse than socialized medicine. She suggested that the developing world adopt Cuba's medical model as the strategy for fighting the pandemic.
. (Though my cynical side says to my rational side that if the World Bank supports it, there's got to be a secret evil catch to their (the WB's) intentions.)

Kerry's Enablers: The Clinton Cult Factor
Good article further analyzing the Clinton/Kerry axis of using Centrist Politics to make things Worse

Debating a Neo-Con
A GREAT article by a self-described "burned-out commie vet emaciated with an amoeba". He only provides a summary of the Neo-Cons argument -- assumedly because it breaks no ground -- but his amazing and excellent comments should be required reading for anyone who wants to learn about this whole "Changing The World" thing.

Why do they laugh at us?
A good, if somewhat light-weight, article on the growing derision of America -- gone are the Stupid Pols, Greasy Pakistanis, and Jibbering Chinamen -- the Ugly American is apparently the new joke the kids will be telling on the playgrounds in the rest of the world. (Though he doesn't use the term Ugly American, just to note. All ire at the term should be directed at me alone.)

Failing the Test of History in Iraq
Pretty self-explanatory -- reviewing why, in the light of history, our (government's) plans for Iraq não da (lit. "it won't give" -- it won't work or it won't be worth it in Portuguese jiria, mais ou menos).

And with that, I'm getting the hell to bed -- as should you. Sleep and dream of an organized, informed, determined Left.

"Rest well. And dream of Large Women.
--Westley to Fezzik in "The Princess Bride"

**ps. in case the title is cryptic, it's in reference to the fact Kerry is almost as conservative as Joe Lieberman, whose horrible primary campaign was waged with "JoeMentum", apparently.

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