Monthly Archives: October 2008

Confusion over the word ‘liberal’

(letter in Daily Local News, 10/31/08)

One of the biggest errors in some circles in recent years has been the notion that the word “liberal” is somehow an unacceptable, harmful or negative term. Doesn’t everyone remember from school days or grasp of American history that almost all of our nation’s founders and framers — Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, etc. — proudly referred to themselves as being educationally, religiously and politically liberal?

Our nation’s foundational documents — the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights —all emphasizing liberty and equality in society and government, were in those times and even today considered to be liberal, progressive, and forward-looking.

The four great presidents whose profiles are carved on the side of Mount Rushmore —Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt — were also in basic concepts liberal, Washington in the Revolutionary War against King George III, Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and Theodore Roosevelt in leading and being elected president in the Progressive Party. Countless of this country’s important writers, reformers, and innovators are part of “the great American liberal tradition.”

Before individuals get sidetracked on unfounded and mistaken discussions, it might be helpful to look at and study again our nation’s history and greatest leaders. Otherwise we may be debating or arguing in the dark without adequate knowledge that any reliable source such as an encyclopedia or even the Internet can provide.

In an election season, or any time, let’s not be misled or confused by errors or distortions which more accurate information would productively clarify and resolve.

David W. Long
West Chester

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Filed under Progressive movement

The Triumph of Ignorance: How Morons Succeed in U.S. Politics

AlterNet
By George Monbiot, Monbiot.com
Posted on October 31, 2008,

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the United States come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic, I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The United States has the world’s best universities and attracts the world’s finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan’s response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter — stumbling a little, using long words — carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said, “There you go again.” His own health program would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks. Continue reading

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Filed under Progressive movement, Values

Water bond issue on the ballot

email from Penn Future, 10/30, regarding the bond issue that will be on the ballot next Tuesday:

Next week’s election provides critical opportunities to make Pennsylvania’s health, environment and economy top priorities in the coming year. Your vote on November 4 could mean the difference between taking swift action on global warming and gaining the many benefits of creating a clean energy economy or not. Your vote could mean the difference between clean water for Pennsylvanians, or continued pollution from failing sewage and stormwater systems.

By voting YES on the bond question appearing on every ballot in the state, Pennsylvanians can reduce pollution and help clean up outdated water, sewage and stormwater systems by approving funding for the Water and Sewer Systems Assistance Act. The proposed $400 million bond will provide loans and grants to assist local municipalities with the costs of improving and repairing Pennsylvania’s aging infrastructure. Vote YES to help ensure healthy waterways.

Take the pledge to support Pennsylvania’s health, environment and economy.

Need to know where your polling place is? Have other election-related questions? Visit the Pennsylvania Department of State’s online voting information and resource center to get all the information you need.

A great way to learn more about the election and the impact it will have on the issues that matter to you, register to attend PennFuture’s Election Forum 2008: Big Change or Small Change.

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Filed under Environment, Energy, Science

Joe the Plumber plans a new career

On the road in Ohio, 10/30/08. Sources close to the McCain-Palin campaign today confirmed rumors that Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, would be the Republican team’s first choice for Treasury Secretary.

“We believe in very ordinary folks getting things done,” Sarah Palin commented. “Why should the economy be run by someone who has a license in economics?”

In line with his sudden national role, the Republican National Committee announced it is dispatching Palin’s hair specialist and wardrobe consultants to work with Wurzelbacher, at an estimated cost of $149,000.

Wurzelbacher, however, expressed his willingness to serve either campaign in any capacity. “If Barack needs me, I’ll run his Treasury too,” he said. “Or get those White House showers running better, whatever.”

The same sources revealed today that Bob the Carpenter, whose true identity is being kept secret until the day before the election, is being considered for a new post as Secretary of Home Building and Repair.

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Filed under Satire, US President