Polish Man Awakens From Nineteen Year Coma

Reuters reports on a Polish man who awoke from a coma and found a change for the better:

A 65-year-old railwayman who fell into a coma following an accident in communist Poland regained consciousness 19 years later to find democracy and a market economy, Polish media reported on Saturday…

“When I went into a coma there was only tea and vinegar in the shops, meat was rationed and huge petrol lines were everywhere,” Grzebski told TVN24, describing his recollections of the communist system’s economic collapse.

“Now I see people on the streets with cell phones and there are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin.”

Now envision a man awakening from a coma in the United States last year. He would see a government which has taken on many of the features of Poland and the Soviet Union of that era. He’d see greater centralization of control unter a dishonest leader, the free market system replaced by one of corporate welfare and collusion with government, a foreign policy which seriously harms the country, and even a news outfit which looks incredibly like Pravda. If the Republicans were able to remain in power, in another nineteen years we might be difficult to distinguish from Poland of nineteen years ago.

The Decline in Support For the Democratic Party

Ramussen reported yesterday that the number of people identifying themselves as Democrats has declined. The poll received more publicity for finding greater drops among Republicans, but that should be no surprise. The Republicans have undermined the security of the country, abused power, and shown they are incapable of responding to emergencies, from 9/11 to Katrina, regardless of how much warning, and are on the wrong side of virtually every issue. With this record, the decline in those identifying themselves as Republicans is to be expected. Explaining why fewer identify themselves as Democrats is a far more interesting issue.

When the story broke yesterday that the number of independents has jumped to an all time high, even exceeding the number of Republicans, The Moderate Voice was wondering if this was a sign of victory. Chris Bower played down the results, noting that Democrats maintain a large margin over the Republicans, especially if the direction a voter leans is considered.

The question remains why, after abandoning the Republican Party, an increasing number of us remain independent rather than identifying as Democrats. Sure, I voted straight Democratic in 2004 and 2006, but that does not guarantee I’ll vote Democratic in the future. While the Republicans do not currently offer a viable option, the possibility remains that a sane group will retake control of the party. If not, development of a viable their party which can actually win will become inevitable.

Many Democrats fail to recognize the contribution of independents and moderate Republicans to their Congressional victories. Repulsion at the recent policies of the GOP does not mean support for all Democratic positions, especially if they try to look back towards the New Deal as opposed to the future.

In many cases, the problem is not with the policies of Democrats but how they describe them. Republicans have beaten Democrats in the rhetoric war. Contrast Ronald Reagan’s promise to get government off our backs with Hillary Clinton’s “we’re all in it together society.” For those in need of the government safety net, this may be attractive. For the rest of us, the old joke holds that among the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

To a certain degree this comes down to rhetoric. Modern Republicans, rather than getting government off our back, support far greater government intrusion in our lives. They claim to be capitalists while supporting a system of government and corporate collusion which is as far from the free market as the positions of Karl Marx. Once the specifics of Clinton’s economic views are seen, they may or may not be cause of alarm.

Using such language also suggests that Hillary Clinton failed to learn an important lesson from the failure of her health care plan. HillaryCare failed not simply because of the Harry and Louise ads, but because the plan was distasteful to a majority of Americans. Most Americans will support a necessary social safety net, but don’t want a net so big as to strangle us all.

With the front runner for the Democratic nomination not looking very appealing, for many reasons beyond those alluded to above, it is necessary to look at the other choices. The promise everything to everybody and the heck with the cost economic policies of John Edwards hardly look like a viable option. Democrats need to move beyond the New Deal coalition and promote liberal ideals without alienating the affluent voters who might otherwise support them.

Very few Democrats really get this. John Kerry, with a long history of support for small business, got it, but by the time this message was filtered through his political handlers it became incomprehensible. Bill Richardson may get it, but he can’t get his message out. Barack Obama just might get it too. He has often made statements which show he looks beyond the Democratic orthodoxy, but it is difficult to evaluate him without a clearer idea of his policy goals. Obama would probably make a better President, but perhaps a poorer candidate, if he spent another term in the Senate before running.

A third party may or may not turn out to be the solution for independents. It will be far easier for a third party to become successful with the benefits of the internet for fund raising, national publicity, and even local organizing. The main obstacle might be that independence from the two main parties does not mean we all have the same views or goals. Just as neither of the two parties completely represents the views of many independents, there is no guarantee that any of the alternatives being discussed, including Michael Bloomberg and Unity 08, will do any better. Still, with fewer and fewer identifying themselves as Democrats, it is not safe the party to take the votes of independents for granted.

Kerry Again Proven Right On Importance of Law Enforcement In Stopping Terrorism

Another terrorist plot, this time at John F. Kennedy International airport, has been prevented. Once again we see that John Kerry was right and George Bush was wrong on fighting terrorism. This plot was stopped by law enforcement, which George Bush didn’t have a favorable view of back in 2004:

“Kerry said, and I quote, ‘The war on terror is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation.’ (Audience boos.) I disagree. I disagree….. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. With those attacks, the terrorists and supporters declared war on the United States of America — and war is what they got. (Audience applauds.)

If only there was some basic police work after George Bush read those warnings that bin Laden planned an attack in the United States involving the use of planes.  Many of the 9/11 terrorists were already on a State Department/INS watch list. Once the terrorists on the watch list were identified, others could have been easily identified as they were using the same address or frequent flier numbers as those on the list. Unfortunately George Bush didn’t become a believer in police action against terrorism until after the 2004 election.

A Modest Proposal For Beheading Journalists

AP reports that an Islamic group in the Gaza Strip threatened to behead female TV broadcasters if they don’t wear strict Islamic dress:

The threat to “cut throats from vein to vein” was delivered by the Swords of Truth, a fanatical group that has previously claimed responsibility for bombing Internet cafes and music shops.

Beheading a woman simply for not wearing a headscarf is both wrong and sounds like the waste of a good sword. There are many far better reasons to behead journalists. Offenses for which we might consider beheading journalists include:

  • Spending a career repeating the claims of government officials as fact without checking on the accuracy. Every journalist covering the run up to the Iraq war is in danger of losing their head here.
  • Claiming to be “fair and balanced” when you are actually a Pravda-style propagandist.
  • Limiting coverage of politics to the horse race without discussion of the issues.
  • Using Matt Drudge as a source. Goodby Mark Halperin.
  • Equating a yes vote on the IWR as support for the war ultimately waged by George Bush.
  • Reporting a controversy over global warming without noting that the only significant counter opinion comes from the petroleum industry and their lackeys.
  • Being Katie Couric (with or without headscarf) when your network has a tradition of real journalism stemming from Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
  • Failing to provide a male heir to the throne. (Ok, I’ve been watching too much of The Tudors.)

Gates Looks For Root Causes of Terrorism

Does Robert Gates really work for George Bush? It doesn’t sound like it based upon some of the comments in a speech he recently gave in Asia.

While George Bush prefers a cowboy foreign policy, Gates wants to do it with a little help from our friends:

In particular, the challenge posed by terrorists inspired by radical ideologies cannot be overcome by any one nation — no matter how wealthy or powerful,” he said, alluding to U.S. efforts to build a lasting coalition.

With George Bush, we have Mission Accomplished. Gates is unwilling to say who is winning the terror war.

A member of the audience later asked Gates whether he thought the United States is winning the terror war.

He cited areas of progress, including the elimination in late 2001 of Afghanistan as a haven for al-Qaida. But he also said the Islamic extremists have managed since then to expand their recruiting grounds.

“On the negative side of the ledger, I think we have not made enough progress in trying to address some of the root causes of terrorism in some of these societies, whether it is economic deprivation or despotism that leads to alienation,” he said.

Root causes? Economic deprivation? Imagine how Dick Cheney would have gone on the attack if John Kerry said such things. Or if he said this:

He called for more “creative thinking” to address the root causes of Islamic extremism, but he added that even those efforts will not be the complete answer to winning what he called a long war on terrorism.

Cheney would have twisted this to mean that the whole Democratic war on terror would consist of nothing but a bunch of liberals sitting around thinking. That does’t fit in well with the Republican view of the war on terror, which combines an attack on a country which was not involved, along with Jack Bower torturing anyone who might have some information for him.

Finally things return to what we’d expect:

On Iraq, Gates spoke positively of the Bush administration’s new troop buildup and counterinsurgency effort.

There’s only so far that you can go in disagreeing with the boss.