What happened to debate?

I wanted to do something flashier for my 500 post, but I didn’t have any flash availalbe.  Instead, I’ve had the radio on the brain.  Specifically NPR.

On my way into the office this morning, I heard Rep. Boehner’s interview with Steve Inskeep.  This part caught my eye:

via Boehner: GOP Must Offer ‘Better Solutions’ In 2009 : NPR.

“We’ve never gotten into the debate and the discussion about the consequences of trying to deal with it, and how expensive it will be and the changes it will make to our society,” Boehner said. “And the fact that if we don’t have our industrial partners around the world engage with us, what does that mean in terms of job loss in the U.S.?”

He also was upset about the $400 million to NASA to study Global Warming:

“Remember, the goal of the stimulus package is to preserve jobs and help create new jobs in America,” Boehner said. “And I don’t know how giving NASA $400 million to study global warming is going to meet the goals.”

Mr. Boehner, I’m here to help you.

First, a little context.  First, we haven’t had the debate about Global Climate Change because the science was squelched over the past eight years.

This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming.

This explains why we need to spend more money on research.  We do need information from a source less biased than the American Petroleum Institute.  Then, armed with this newer research, the nation can use the stimulus package to lay the foundation for a more sustainable future.  You know, green jobs, green services–21 century stuff, not industrial revolution stuff.

As for debate itself, I think you are presenting the issue in a rather lopsided fashion.  You question presupposes two things:   That to do any work on this issue will hamper growth of the economy and that the economy is more important than the environment.  To the latter, I have to whole heartedly disagree.  Granted, if climate change is as dangerous as I believe it is, Business and Industry will make a killing on the technology they will develop that will be necessary to maintain our standard of living–but what kind of living would that be?  As to the former, history has been pretty clear that the development and implementation of new technology is an engine of economic growth.  Of course, when this occurs the old guard is typically set aside.  In this case, the Old Guard had very powerful allies in Congress and the White House.  These very same forces played a tremendous role in the early days of the Bush administration, when Cheney held closed door sessions to create our energy policy.

However, this is a new administration.  While I applaud the idea for debate,  I honestly think it is at least twelve years too late (astute readers will do the math and realize I’m critizing Clinton as well), but at least by calling for debate you are recognizing that this is an issue that should be looked at.  A debate, with properly funded studies, conducted by scientists not hampered by politics, would be beneficial to the nation.  A debate used to stall implementation of policies that would have a negative impact on Big Oil and Coal, however, is not a debate.  That, Mr. Boehner, is bullshit.  Let’s keep the bullshit out of the debate–as methane, a product of bullshit, is pretty bad for the environment.

As to be expected, I watched (and twittered) the VP debate. All of last week, the expectations for Palin and Biden dropped–the better to wow us with. While the Wall Street Journal’s on-line poll says Biden won, the majority of the Pundits (Newsweek included) say Palin won because she didn’t implode.
Let’s look at this for a second.

By answering questions without looking like a complete idiot, (unlike her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson) she won? By not inserting her foot into her mouth, as she has before, she “held her own” against equally gaffe-less Biden?

If we are setting the bar that low, I think I should be blogger of the fucking century.

Sarah Palin is the Vice Presidential Nominee of the Party of Lincoln. She is supposed to be the best they have to offer. She should be providing with distinct and specific plans on how her party is going to lead the US out of the shit-storm we’re in (and we created). Instead, she did well because she didn’t screw up as bad as she had in the previous interviews.

If we are to set the bar this low, why isn’t Biden considered the winner? He stayed concise, didn’t condescend to the “folksy new comer,” attacked McCain and elaborated on the Obama-Biden Plan. Biden destroyed the idea of McCain’s “maverick” nature. He also didn’t ask a guy in a wheel chair to stand up and didn’t forget to cite his sources. By the exceedingly low Palin standard, he won. By presidential standards, he clearly won.

The idea that Palin’s held her own, even when she avoided answering the questions in the debate, is mind numbing. All she did was her typical “Hockey Mom” attacks. She did not spell out how the Republicans are different this year. She did not give us a plan of the economy. She continued to demonstrate stunning deficit in foreign policy knowledge. She stuck to her talking points like a trained news anchor–which she was–but she couldn’t expand her answers.

She didn’t look like an idiot on stage. The only way this argument makes sense if it is in context of our current president. At least she looks more presidential than the village idiot from Crawford.

Open Thread: Bastard Rules and Regulations

Given the debates during the open threads, I think I am going to have to establish some sort of rules for discourse. These rules would only apply to Open Threads. If I post something “inflammatory” and its not an open thread, I don’t expect the rules of debate to apply. There may be some exceptions–But i’m not sure what they may be. Given the communal nature of a blog, I’m inviting everyone and anyone to help flesh them out.

So what should these rules be? Should there be any rules that are universal to the blog itself?

Best Dream Ever

Op-Ed Columnist – Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com.

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!


In TV Land, I wouldn’t be so god damn unhappy or cynical.

You keep using those words…

…and I’m not sure what you mean. In fact, if the debate on the Panic post is any indication of the matter, we appear to be differing over the nature of the terms.

In his fantastic book, The Conscience of a Liberal, Senator Paul Wellstone discuss the nature of our country’s politics. Are we “left, right or center?” Wellstone cited all sorts of data on the issue, ending with his belief that our country is “Center-Left.” In effect, when asked about the issues, American’s lean Center Left.

When asked to self-identify, American’s appear to have interesting answers. Lewis cited the poll where in 60% of American’s identify as conservatives (page 16). Yet Fifty Five years ago, President Eisenhower was identified with so-called Liberal Causes. What happened?

In fifty-five years, Liberals got a bad rap. Even Saul Alinsky mocks them. What does liberal even mean anymore?

For that matter, what does Conservative even mean anymore? Frequent readers (and friends) have identified them as fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and straight up conservatives. Even I’ve said I have a fiscally conservative approach–and I don’t think anyone would confuse me for a potential Republican voter. (That being said I have voted for one big ticket republican before. It was a local election, and I voted against my union endorsed candidate for president because he was a tool. So is his son…but that’s a post for a different time.)

I have heard various pundits (and read a number of op/ed pieces) that suggests that the main difference between the Left and Right is a question of basic human character: Leftists believe that people have a tendency towards benevolent/generous behaviors while Rightwingers believe that people tend towards selfish/greedy behavior. Therefore, leftists don’t have an issue with “big government” because, with the right (leftist) people in power, government will work for the betterment of society. Rightwingers will want to limit government because they only have their own interests at heart. Thomas Frank discuss this on Bob Edwards Weekend.

What’s your take on this idea?

On like the Belief article, I’m going to post my first thoughts here. As an aside, I am still working on the belief post…Flickr ate it.

I’m not sure about this. I first this heard Thom Hartmann and David Horowitz debate this on Air America, and it appeared that they agreed on the issue. Hell, they were more explicit, using terms as “good” and “bad.” Then on Bob Edward’s show, Thomas Frank made the argument that because conservatives think that people are inherently selfish, they wreck government agencies so that the private sector can fix it. Agencies have too much power, so the concentrated power inherent in the private sector somehow limits bad people being in control. At least, I think that was the argument.

Obviously, political philosophies are significantly more sophisticated than, “people are good/people are bad.” However, I do think that there may be some merit in this idea. I do believe that provided a level playing field and all the information, most people will do the right thing. The less level the playing field, the harder it is to be altruistic; however, I have seen families living in abject poverty reaching out to their neighbors to help them.

And yet, at my job I have seen horrible things that people have done to each other. I have met kids who have been failed so thoroughly by society that they never had a chance to be anything but “bad.” I have also seen a few kids, given all the opportunity in the world, turn out to rotten to the core. Some would even use the term evil to talk about these kids…

All in all, I think that how people see others–inherently good, bad, smart, stupid, selfish, whatever–helps form the basis of their political ideology. It doesn’t explain all of why I believe what I believe, but it is a good start to it.