Sunday, February 28, 2010

Now There's a (Fledgling) Coffee Party

This morning I logged into Facebook and saw that Tamar - of Mining Nuggets - had discovered and become a fan of the Coffee Party Movement. I looked at their website and watched their founder's video (why is she outside in the snow?); but I have misgivings.

I like the ideal I think they represent - that the function of the government is to represent the will of the electorate and that it is the responsibility of the electorate to be engaged participants in the process - but I liked the idea of the One America organization sponsored by John Edwards' campaign and that wound up going nowhere (as did he). (In fairness to the One America movement, that provided the impetus toward community involvement that has led to my continuing participation with the American Red Cross.)

If I were to parse their Mission Statement, I don't want to see "cooperation in government" so much as I want to see "collaboration..." I want my representatives to work collaboratively with other people's representatives to find practical solutions to the problems before them.

I also reject the call to "support leaders..." because, with the exception of some people in the Defense Department and the American Red Cross, those people aren't my leaders; they're my representatives. Let's not forget who votes for whom in the elections.

If the Coffee Party movement is simply a counter movement to the Tea Bag movement then it's probably a cute idea but not something I want to make time for. I think the bigger issue is that I must compete for the attention of my representatives not only with the other voters in my legislative district but also with the Democratic or Republican Party who bring nothing to the table but their corporate self-interest; and I'm not okay with that.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Journalism Isn't What It Once Was

I'm no journalist but if my boss sent me to report on an earthquake, and I sent back reports from 200 miles away from the earthquake, my boss would fire me.
As a long-time resident of California I got used to reading the stories "from Sacramento" from San Francisco. Heck, I've been to Sacramento and I understand.
My sister down in San Diego County has been having fits ever since they started getting their "local" weather reports from Los Angeles. I'm not crazy about getting my local weather from Greenville.
I'm just saying that there was an 8.8 earthquake more than ten hours ago just north of Concepcion, Chile, and the media are still reporting on how upset hotel tenants are in their modern accommodations in Santiago.
Can't catch a flight? Can't pool your cash and rent a helicopter? Can't rent a jeep somewhere?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

While You Were Watching Something Else

While the media were focused on the non-productive "summit" on Health Care Reform, WLOS in Asheville ran a small piece I saw only once disclosing that last night the Senate had a) passed a one-year extension of the "Patriot Act" b) without any of the new privacy protections approved in the Judiciary Committee. The extension was passed by a voice vote which means any Senator is free to lie his ass off about whether he or she voted for or against it.

According to this AP story, the Democrats were acutely aware that any extension had to pass by Sunday and that any debate would expose them to criticism through the 2010 election cycle, so they simply caved in and passed it on to the House.

I don't know what to say about this right now. Rain wrote a really great rant yesterday that mirrored some of my frustrations at that time. This takes me past that. At their worst the Republican Party seems to represent Libertarians, Teabaggers, NeoFascists, the Religious Right, and even has a new moderate. I have no idea who the Democrats represent other than the Democratic Party.

It is sad but true that there is almost always a good reason to say "no" to anything. The Republicans have learned that simply being the Party of No is working for them. The prison at Gitmo is still open, the Patriot Act is alive and well, there is no Health Care Reform, and the economy isn't really doing that well on Main Street; and all of this when the Democrats had a super majority for most of the year. This was supposed to be a good year for them.

I know that getting the public to reason is a challenge - perhaps impossible. Getting the information out to the public so that they can make reasoned decisions probably is impossible. That there was so little coverage of the Senate's passage of this extension is disturbing. Watching the Party of No and the Party of the Inarticulate battle it out ad nauseum is just incredibly frustrating.