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September 12, 2003

The Soul of Capitalism

That's the title of William Greider's new book, which seems to be getting slightly lost among the avalanche of recent "George Bush Sucks and I Hate Him" releases. Having recently become reacquainted with the difficult but painfully necessary task of publicizing a new book myself, I asked him if he wanted to write a few words about it for this site, and he graciously consented. So without further ado, I give you Bill Greider:

So why would anyone want to read about "The Soul of Capitalism" when George W. Bush is the ripe target? Why daydream about a "moral economy" when the existing one is tanking? Reasonable questions. My short answer is: progressive forces are never going to gain real traction in American politics until they develop a much larger vision of the future. The right has its agenda. Left-liberal activists have been on defense for so long many have lost the capacity to think this way. They are unlikely to revive the Democrats' reform tradition until they can tell a more ambitious (and radical) story about what this country can become.

Essentially, that's what my new book tries to do. The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy offers people -- especially young people whose minds aren't wholly owned by establishment thinking -- a basis for genuine optimism. A new way to think about reshaping American life. A casebook for transforming the economic order in fundamental ways -- big ideas and actions neither Dems nor Republicans would presently touch. Yet plain-wrapper citizens are already working on them in various ways. Winning victories toward the day when a new social reality emerges to generate new politics.

Are we truly free when most Americans work in a "master-servant relationship" inherited from feudalism? If we are so wealthy as a nation (and we are), why are so many people confined and trampled in their lives, feeling desperate amid the abundance? And does our prosperity really require business and finance to wantonly destroy nature, not to mention families, communities, our deepest human values?

The book confronts such questions, not as theory, but in concrete reality. It explains the sources of the destruction and injury, the gross inequalities that emanate from a steepening pyramid of power. It describes the goals and strategies of Americans working to create a different, more humane reality. Yes, politics and government play a hand, but the discontents originate mainly within capitalism. Until the economic system is profoundly altered, government is reduced to impotent reformer or willing collaborator.

All this may sound intimidating, but people are not as powerless as they imagine. Deep change always originates with a brave minority. Think of the civil rights movement. Never won an election, yet changed the nation. I hope to help people rediscover their courage, show them the leverage points where they can find their power.

--William Greider

The Man in Black
Well you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well there's a reason for the things that I have on
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin' in the hopeless hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times
I wear the black for those who've never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said
About the road to happiness through love and charity
Why you'd think he's talking straight to you and me
Well we're doin' mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there oughta be a man in black
I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in morning for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men
And I wear it for the thousands who have died
Believin' that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believin' that we all were on their side
Well there's things that never will be right I know
And things need changin' everywhere you go
But till we start to make a move to make a few things right
You'll never see me wear a suit of white
Oh I'd love to wear a rainbow every day and tell the world that everything's okay
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things're brighter I'm the man in black

(Via Kos's message board)

Ann Coulter: idiot or scheming psychotic genuis?

August reports, you decide.


September 11, 2003

My god

If you want a visceral reminder of the worldwide goodwill so arrogantly squandered by the Bushies, go take at look at these photos. (Via atrios.)

Hey Columbus Ohio people

There are some cities in which the various papers will fight each other bareknuckled for the right to run my cartoon. And then there are cities in which I can't get arrested.

As I've mentioned previously, my cartoon was dropped from Columbus Alive a few months ago due to "budgetary considerations"...(update: I got my facts wrong here and unfairly maligned the editor of the paper as a result. I'm deleting it here and apologizing above.)

Many of you suggested I contact The Other Paper; unfortunately they tell me they're not interested in picking up new cartoons at this time. If you live in Columbus and would like to see the strip in print there again, might be a good time to drop The Other Paper a friendly note and let them know how appreciative and grateful you'd be if they picked it up. (And it still wouldn't hurt to to write Alive and let them know what a terrible mistake they made. If you're so inclined.)

And anyone who wants to spearhead a Bring Back Tom Tomorrow movement in Columbus--you know, flyers, protest marches, civil disobedience, that sort of thing--gets my undying gratitude and, I don't know, a signed book or something.

In happier news, I'd like to welcome the Louisville Eccentric Observer to the Tom Tomorrow stable of client papers.

Further proof that Dick Morris is evil incarnate

From his New York Post column:

The White House must realize the temptation the president's low ratings pose for Gore and Hillary, and understands that if Bush's numbers keep sinking the pressure for one or both of these heavyweights to run may prove irresistible.

So Karl Rove et al are scrambling to raise Bush's numbers in the crucial next 40 to 50 days, during which Hillary and Gore must make their move or watch the filing deadlines for the primaries pass them by.

Hence the speech to the nation on Sunday, the TV movie about Bush on the same night and the focus on the 9/11 anniversary, all designed to raise the president's polling and keep the big guns out of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes.

Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success.

The solution for Bush is to put terrorism back on the front burner by high profile and aggressive action against Iran and/or North Korea. It's not necessary to wag the dog, but Bush should wag his tongue and raise the profile of these two remaining threats to our security. (Emphasis added.)

Via Uggabugga.

Two years, cont'd.

From Neal Pollack, via Atrios:

Yes, that's right. CAPPS II, the program you sort of heard about this spring and early summer when it received a modest amount of scrutiny in Congress, is underway. This week, in conjunction with a creepy computerized reservations company called Galileo, Delta Airlines became the testing ground for an almost unthinkable violation of our civil rights.

(T)o summarize, if you book a ticket through Galileo, the company will send your information to the federal government, which will then open up a file on you, run a criminal background check, and determine, based on whatever information you've accumulated, if you're a "threat." They will then assign you a threat color for when you get to the airport. If you're "Green," then you'll pass through security as normal. "Yellows" will undergo additional background checks. "Reds" will never be allowed to fly again.

The government isn't legally obligated to tell you how you've been classified or why. The Transportation Security Administration doesn't even require that any of the private databases they use to "screen" people contain accurate information, just as the Justice Department has exempted their warrant database from being accurate.

Go to Neal's site to read the rest, and to follow the links. And you can go to this EFF page to take action. In the meantime, I'd like to suggest boycotting both Galileo and Delta Airlines. Who's with me?

One of those little news stories that somehow seems to sum up everything
ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. -- Police are searching for a man who paid for $150 in groceries at a Food Lion grocery store with a $200 bill.

The man walked out of the store with his groceries and $50 in change before the fake bill was discovered Sept. 6.

The bogus bill -- the U.S. Mint does not print a $200 bill -- bore the image of President George W. Bush on the front and had the White House on the back. It also included signs on the front lawn of the front lawn of the White House with slogans such as "We like broccoli" and "USA deserves a tax cut," Roanoke Rapids police said.

Instead of being labeled a Federal Reserve note, the fake bill was marked as a "Moral Reserve Note." The bill bore the signatures of Ronald Reagan, political mentor, and George H.W. Bush, campaign adviser and mentor.


Update: via an alert reader who does more research than the reporters who wrote the story, here's a source where you can buy $200 George Bush bills. They're not exactly the same ones as pictured, but they do have the same signs on the White House lawn.


It’s a beautiful fall day, much like the obscenely beautiful day two years ago when the world turned inside out in a matter of minutes. And as in the weeks which followed 9/11, they seem to have changed the flight patterns over Brooklyn, so that planes are now coming in low enough that you can almost make out the airline logos painted on them, and the low roar as they pass overhead sets off sick-making memories of those days when every plane made you cringe and hold your breath slightly, straining to listen for that terrible sound of metal-on-metal, like a flatbed truck bouncing over a pothole somewhere in the distance—except a flatbed truck the size of New Jersey.

And when I took the dog out last night, I noticed that they’ve turned the "Towers of Light" back on.

And it all comes rushing back: what it was like to be here that day, and what it was like in the months following, waiting for the other shoe to drop—a continuing sense of unease which eventually becomes such a familiar companion, you can’t quite remember living any other way.

And we’ve recently learned what we already knew, on some level: that the fumes spewing out of the wreckage—the fumes that lingered in the air over my neighborhood in Brooklyn for weeks—were, contrary to EPA lies at the time, incredibly toxic. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone—when dealing with politicians in general and this administration in particular, cynicism is the only rational response.

And now the administration which has so cynically used the attacks of 9/11 to pursue goals the PNAC crowd had been fantasizing about for years beforehand will try to use the war on terror to maintain their grip on power for another four years. The Democrats will try to point out how ineptly the Bushies have handled these past two years—Osama bin Laden is, after all, still apparently alive and well and sending us video postcards, while we’ve committed massive resources to conquering a country whose sum and total involvement in the events of 9/11 resides entirely in the fertile imaginations of the easily misled--and those Democrats will be portrayed as hating the West, hating America, all for stating the truth, assuming they have the courage to do so.

But this country’s split pretty evenly down the ideological divide, and I think that refrain will ultimately prove self-defeating—the average American who happens to lean toward the Democratic side is going to grow tired, at a certain point, of being told that he hates his country and wants the terrorists to win.

At least, I sincerely hope so.

(Edited marginally for clarity.)

Two years

This is where we are now:

Rumsfeld said the 660 or so men held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base are imprisoned not as punishment but "to keep them from going back and fighting again and killing people." He said most would be held until the global war on terrorism is over - a fight that Rumsfeld has said could last years, if not decades.

The defense secretary said he expects some suspects to be tried before military tribunals but prefers that most continue to be imprisoned indefinitely.

Via Talk Left.


September 10, 2003

Meme watch

Headline for a column by George Melloan in the print edition of Tuesday's Wall Street Journal op-ed page:

Bush Parries a Terror Attack, From the Democrats

But I thought that was the point

Rumsfeld, a couple of days ago:

The people who are going to make this country are the Iraqi people. They are going to provide for their political future. They are going to provide for their security future. Simply flooding the zone with two or three times the number of foreign forces that are here, it would increase the number of targets for the handfuls of criminals and the handfuls of terrorists, for the handfuls of Ba'athist remnants.

He clearly hasn't been reading the right wing blogs.

Via Billmon.


Tan, rested and ready, Sullivan has returned from his leisurely August vacation to once again cheer on the troops for doing such a great job as, well, bait. He posted this Monday:

The extra beauty of this strategy is that it creates a target for Islamist terrorists that is not Israel.

The next day, thirteen people were killed and dozens more wounded in two separate suicide attacks in Israel.

This is the thing: this absolutely delusional idea that terrorism is a zero sum game, that there are a static number of terrorists which can be kept busy, and therefore away from us. (Leaving aside, for the moment, the sheer depravity of that very concept—that our troops are best utilized as bait, to keep the bad guys occupied.)

But don’t imagine that ongoing attacks in Israel will dissuade the proponents of "flypaper." The concept has no grounding in reality to begin with, so it’s certainly not going to be disproven by, you know, reality. For that matter, don’t imagine that another attack on US soil would change their minds. If that happens, they’ll just blame you and me, for criticizing the President, encouraging the terrorists with our disunity.

And round and round and round it goes.

Afterthought: anyone capable of referring casually to these people as "flypaper" is a walking moral abyss.

Update: Even more good news for Andrew.

The moral relativism of the right

This says it exactly:

The anti-Michael Moore backlash is now underway, I notice. And about time too. I have to own up to following the herd and believing the disinformation spread about him. He's fat! He's hairy! He looks pleased with himself! He lives in a nice house! How can he possibly have anything to say about important issues? We watched Bowling for Columbine last week and although Moore does try to tie too much together, and in his enthusiasm turns out to have relied on some news material that has since been proven to be inaccurate, I still wonder how anyone with a functioning consciousness could come away from this film thinking that he's just the left's equivalent of Ann Coulter*. I feel deeply ashamed of myself for taking the word of vacuous twits and not going to see the film when it came out so that I could make my own mind up.

*Recap: Moore gets angry because kids get shot, Coulter gets angry because liberals get to write for newspapers. Yeah, they're really both as bad as each other.... (Emphasis added.)

Via SullyWatch.


September 08, 2003

Increasingly difficult to stay ahead

Reality, hot on the heels of satire.

Shorter George Bush

The invaluable Billmon nails it:

"Iraq is now the central front in the global war against absolute evil, but it's not so important that we have to roll back any of my tax cuts, send more U.S. troops to Iraq or do anything else that might make swing voters slightly less likely to vote for me next year. Thank you and God Bless America."

All the world's a stage

Only saw a bit of the 9/11 movie, but I've got it recorded, and I suppose I'll have to force myself to sit through it sooner or later. As for the "real" president and his little appearance last night--well, he reminded me of the guys who come on the subway car and begin their spiel:

Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to disturb you, my name is George W. Bush and I've had a run of bad luck, can you please find it in your hearts to donate eighty seven billion dollars...

Oh, and Europe, old friend, old pal? About that "freedom fry" business? Just kidding!

Afterthought: the oddity of casting Timothy "That's My Bush" Bottoms in the 9/11 movie has been widely noted. But there was another particularly inspired casting choice: Condi Rice is played by the actress who is best known as the scheming wife of 24's President Palmer, a character who spent the second season of the show conspiring with wealthy oilmen to start an unnecessary war in the Middle East.


September 07, 2003

For your viewing pleasure tonight...

...you'll have to choose between the fictional president on Showtime's 9/11 docudrama, which airs at 8:00 pm EST--or the somewhat-less-fictional president who plans to address the nation at about 8:30.

I suppose most sane people would simply ignore both, but for a political cartoonist, this is pretty much the definition of a dilemma.

Last word

Snopes has updated that 9/11 page again, and this time they've included an apology to Michael Moore. It took a little prodding, but they did the right thing, and as far as I'm concerned, the matter is finished.

Afterthought: unless they pull something like this again, of course.


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