Ok. Here is the timeline. Merck puts Vioxx on the market. Merck does not let people know about the risks. Merck pulls Vioxx off the market because of potential risks. FDA puts Vioxx back on the market. Insane? Or FDA? Is there a difference? After a couple days of hearing, the FDA not only voted to keep Vioxx's competitors, Celebrex and Bextra on the market, they voted to put Vioxx back in, after its maker took it off. Just goes to show you how much in the pockets of the pharma industry this administration is, when they put back into market a harmful drug that has been pulled by its own maker! These people are so corrupt that they would blatantly and openly look out for corporate profit over the public interest - public health interest, no less. You could die from taking these drugs, for crying out loud. Oh, they have a justification: that Vioxx's benefits outweigh its risks. WHAT? The risk is it can kill you, the benefit is it will kill your pain. So the benefit outweighs the risk how? Let's say somebody comes up with a drug that in 70% of the cases means some relief from some ailment. In 30% of the cases it is guaranteed to cripple you for the rest of your life. Surely, the "benefits" outweigh the "risks." Let's just allow it on the market, right? How about just following the philosophy of anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Let these "medicines" continue to kill. This is so disgusting. These people have no compassion, no respect for life, not even the slightest idea about human dignity.
I am tired of reading articles - since Gov. Dean's election as DNC chair - that keep talking about how this was about moderates vs. left-wingers, and how the "moderate" wing of the Democratic party is now worried because of Dean's liberalism. In answer, I say this: the DNC chair is not a leftist, he is a populist. This Times Online article is a great representation of how pathetic the right wing media - and the right wingers in the media - are. Describing Howard Dean as an "ardent secularist" is so out of the blue that it's hard to understand if it's a pre-planned lie or just a Dumb & Dumber statement. No one has talked more about the need for Democrats to reach out to the religious community; no one has more forcefully inserted that the Democratic values are far more consistent with religious morality than the Republican divide and conquer politics. Then the article makes a carefully crafted statement of lie; that Howard Dean made clear that the future of the party lies with liberal activists rather than moderate Washington establishment. Now there is little one can say at first look, but the fact that they are calling the Washington Democratic establishment "moderate" speaks to the media's spin machine. Howard Dean's victory is a victory of the activists over the establishment; but not all activists are flaming liberals, and the establishment is insane (literally; they keep doing the same exact thing over and over and expect a different result every time), not moderate. But the people on the ground doing the work deserve to have a better organization and to be rewawrded for their hard work. The people deserve a voice in their government. And the people who built the Democratic party deserve to have the party stand for and with them, not run away from them. Moderation does not mean taking 27 different positions in 22 weeks; it doesn't mean running around trying to take a position that offends nobody. Let me give you an example of what that kind of media type moderation shows up in articulating a vision: Children are precious so we must help them do everything they can and achieve whatever they are capable of and reach their potential, so we need to spend money on education but I don't want to be called a liberal so Bush's tax cuts have to stay intact for most people and we need to provide healthcare for children but I don't yet know where to find the money; I am not raising your taxes, or yours, or yours or yours, mainly because I am afraid of losing votes. Get it? Yeah, me neither. Moderation is about bringing people to the table, letting them offer ideas in a friendly forum instead of a hostile situation, building a result oriented approach by setting a definitive goal. Moderation is NOT about making every last person happy. It IS about finding common ground in our common humanity, and working together to solving a problem. The common ground, however, must be found within the bounds of our principles. It is NOT moderate to let Bush drill in only half of the Alaska Wild Life Refuge. It IS moderate to instead focus on conservation and alternative energy and feul (which are both common grounds). A common ground is not a middle ground, necessarily. We have to also remember that sometimes you cannot find common ground: mostly because right wingers begin from this ground: big corporate interests over the public interest. This is diametrically opposite to the founding principles of America. And trying to compromise on these kinds of stuff is not just foolish, it's dangerous for the country. Principled people and moderate leaders are not in some sort of inevitable conflict. In fact, the Democrats' favorite moderate Republican, John McCain, is a very principled (conservative, but principled) man. He finds common ground on things like the Patient's Bill of Rights and Campaign Finance Reform because he starts (on those issues) with deeply held principles, not with deep-pocketed moneyed interests.
(Image credit: The Associated Press) Everybody is talking about it. The blogs are swarming with it. People are jubilient, and consultants are a little nervous. Gov. Howard Dean, M.D. has been elected the chair of the Democratic national committee by acclamation. It happened this morning, the last day of the DNC winter meeting. Wow. Mr. Chairman. Governor. Doctor. Howard. Dean. After Dean was formally elected by acclamation, he came on the stage to not just a standing but a spontaneous ovation, and warmed our hearts and ignited our spirits with a moving, rousing speech as if nothing had happened. He gave hope, and he empowered people. He will be traveling all over the place now, especially in the south and in the west to soar up the Democratic message, the progressive agenda and the populist ideal. I already know that Dean will be by far the strongest chairman of the Democratic party. The grassroots are ready to support Howard Dean, and we are ready to take the lead. We are constituents too, and the establishment cannot silence us on anything, even policy. Some may cry because Howard Dean's win means the loss of big huge concentrated power and money bases for the Democratic party. Instead the power will now be challenged to everyday people. That is something Washington consultants won't understand, but for them we have a message: don't let the door hit you on your way out. For Democrats to win, the ordinary people must win. The reverse also has never been truer than it is now. And Democrats are not going to win or gain any power if they do not give it to the people that it belongs to in the first place. A populist, pro-justice, pro-liberty, pro-responsibility message can and will win everywhere.
I am blogging about the DNC Winter meeting that is about to start in about 4 1/2 hours. This is where Howard Dean is going to be elected DNC chair. Yeah, I am going to be watching it on C-Span, and I will blog just for the heck of it.
I am talking about a self-proclaimed "liberal" peace activist. I am in this group planning this thing. I can't say out in the open what it is yet, and those of you that know me in real life might know what this is about, and I am going to ask you not to go spread this around. This is my rant; let me have it. Well so anyway, I am in this group planning this thing. And this is a self-proclaimed peace activist. And it's a woman. So there, I eliminated half of the possible choices out there. First, she tried to mess up the event by unilaterally shoving down everyone's throat a speaker that most people had never heard of, nor was that speaker supposed to be the focus in anyway. Anyway, a lot of opposition rose, and she pulled back. Now she is up with another nice idea: let's have for $100 tickets an unnumbered number of people get in for free at her discretion. So I said no. We could let people in for free if they deserve it, but everyone planning the event ought to be able to vote on who can do so. She started lots of bs lecture about generosity. I in effect told her to cut the crap and get to the bottom line. She thought I was bringing up a power struggle, she probably doesn't realize that what she is trying to do is called a power-grab. Well we will see what happens with that. I am not going to let her get away with letting people in for free at her, and only her, discretion; I will tell you that. I will make a promise: I will release on this blog the entire blow by blow of everything that has happened and that will happen once this event is successfully carried out. I might have to hold back certain names and so on; but we'll have the full story here. The names will be changed not so much because of their privacy (since these are all common names, you can find 30 of them in any city of 3000); that will be to protect my identity. Of course those who already know me and will be reading will know, and I am asking you to protect my privacy.
Since it has become clear that Howard Dean is going to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the House and Senate (especially the House) Democratic leaderships have repeatedly warned Gov. Dean to "leave policy to us." Huh? Leave policy to you? You who lost 10 elections in succession, you who are more interested in being Republican lites than true Democrats, you who are too afraid and ashamed to stand up, you whose policy is to take the Republican approach and then only water it down a little? Goodness gracious! Of course, Gov. Dean has made a very very smart move by assuring the Congressional leadership that specific policy matters will in fact be left with them. This move might have left some of his supporters baffled. But folks, there's Howard Dean's genius. This is a classic framing hiararchy we're dealing with: values, principles, general policy directions, and specific policy. For those of you who read George Lakoff (for those of you who haven't, READ IT NOW!), where does specific policy land in this hiararchy? Dead last. That's why Dean said he will leave it to the legislators, when he does the more important work of laying out a Democratic vision and a set of unifying but uncompromisable values and principles, and plays a large role in setting general policy directions the Democratic party takes. That's how you win elections. Dean will take control of the top two (values-vision and principles) and exert influence on policy directions, building a clear Democratic message along with the grassroots, while the legislators meddle in the details. That is brilliant. And we can only hope that the beltway boys keep missing the point.
If I got a dime for every time I have seen a news article/TV report/Radio report equate "inclusion" with "centrism"... well, I wouldn't be writing this blog entry if I got a dime for every time I saw that, I'll tell you that. So what's this deal with inclusion and/or/vs. centrism? Does being a "centrist" party for the Democrats mean that it is also more inclusive? Does being inclusive necessitate being "centrist" - which too often is a code-word for Republican-lite (which is sad, really)? If you think about it logically, inclusivity is not only not the same thing as centrism, the Democrats' constant shift to the right is actually costing the Democratic party voters and supporters. In fact when in the Democrats' drunk madness of moving to the "center" they decide to abandon long-held traditional Democratic values - which are also dearly held American principles - the party becomes more exclusive, not inclusive. That is because people loyal to the party rightly feel sick to their stomach, and they decide to leave. In addition, people aren't stupid. They see a party that stands for nothing (except for "we should move here or there") and wisely avoid joining. So the Democratic party loses both its traditional loyal supporters and new people. Who's left? Washington's hollow powerhouse, and the people who are caught into this game of "Be a Republican to beat a Republican." This is not to say that Democrats ought to become the party of the far left wingnuts. There is no reason why Democrats cannot support ingenuity, entrepreneurship, business and small, effective government. But we cannot abandon our core values and principles. What are these? Equal rights, responsibility and strength, protection, empathy, community, honesty and fairness. We need to stand up for universal healthcare because it is about family, community, and our social responsibility to each other (never mind it also means higher productivity for the work force). We're the party that protects medical privacy and reproductive freedom for men and women. We reject bigotry and discrimination in all their forms. Because we believe in fairness, we support labor's right to strike a fair bargain with their employers. We believe in preserving our ultimate inheritence - this planet - and protecting it for future generations. We believe in affordable public education because fairness directs that no one be denied equal opportunity to succeed. We believe in the strength of our ideas, and we honor the strength and contributions of those who wear the uniform of this country. And because we believe in fairness, strength, and honesty, we believe that the force of our weapons must not be used in a dishonest manner. Our soldiers fight to protect our freedoms and rights around the world; the least we can do for them is protect their right to not be used for a political agenda here at home. On these basic values and principles, we are a united front. And on these fronts we need to be united. Nobody is insane enough to call for all Democrats vote in lockstep in all votes, but the principles that borne the party cannot be abandoned. Other than where it clashes with our deeply held moral beings as Democrats, it will be crazy for anyone to expect that Democrats will vote in lockstep. If Democrats take these principles as given, and spoke out with the courage of their convictions, it would not only keep the loyal Democrats in the party, it will show people who are outside the party that the party has a moral convictions. People can identify with that because most Americans are also people of convictions. And they all believe in protection, liberty, equal rights, fairness, community, and honesty. As they say, the "swing voters" will swing towards those who take a stand rather than those who hang in the middle. And that's what "moving to the center" essentially means: essentially, try to find a position, not a principle that supposedly lands you in the "mainstream." Guess what, we already have mainstream principles. We just need to stop cowering and showing that we do. Otherwise, inclusivity will never become a reality - even if Democrats moved so far to the "center" they'd fall off the face of the earth. The way to win is not to play the game on their turf. You see, "centrism" does on inclusivity make.
Yeah, I know. Donnie Fowler has now dropped out and endorsed Howard Dean for chair. Terrific. But I think my experience about Fowler's experience bears a post. I posted to Donnie's campaign website a comment on one of his blog entries. Basically, he had taken it upon himself to announce Rosenberg's departure from the race (on Monday or Tuesday, when Rosenberg had not yet dropped out) and the top "news" link on his site takes you to a story where the state Democratic Chair exec. committee recommended Fowler over Dean. But it doesn't mention the further development that the exec. committee got their faces rubbed when the full body of the ASDC voted overwhelmingly to reject their recommendation and endorse Dean. Thus putting that story on the top gives a false impression to an unsuspecting visitor about Fowler's support level. I wrote on a comment asking him to stop misleading people like this and to stop announcing other people's departure from the race when they have not done so. I also said that such behavior was immature. I did not use a single bad word, or fowl language; I was very respectful. This morning I go to the site, and not only has my comment been removed, but my login has been blocked. Interestingly enough, they had kept all the posts from apparent Deaniacs calling him names that stink to high heavens. What's the deal with this guy? He can take that, but can't take a little reasoned criticism?
Ok, let's get something straight first. I like Donnie Fowler. I like what he says, I even like his position that Iowa and New Hampshire probably does not deserve all the power to decide who a party's nominee is. But he is now getting a little nasty and fowl. After Howard Dean earned the endorsement of the state Democratic Party chairs on Monday and on Tuesday the AFL-CIO decided to remain neutral rather than have a divide on a Frost-Dean split, Donnie Fowler put a new spin on it: "The AFL-CIO denied Dean their endorsement" said Fowler, as though the whole AFL-CIO was expected to endorse Dean. I should mention that the SEIU is endorsing Dean (they are awesome!). I think Donnie is forgetting his place and is overreaching in his (and his father's) powergrab effort of the DNC. Knowing that he most likely cannot win the chairmanship anymore, Donnie is getting hostile. About to lose his chance at being the anti-Dean (thus repeat Iowa 2004), Fowler is taking it out by breaking the environment of stability. Howard Dean has yet to say one bad word about any of his adversaries. I think Donnie will be best advised to stop making stupid and hostile comments and taking potshots at Howard Dean. He will do the Democratic party a lot of service to not make this into personal bickering. This bigger than Donnie Fowler; and this is bigger than Howard Dean. This is about the future of the political party that brought us social security, kept America safe in two world wars, protected the environment, defended the rights of women and minorities, and is now on the verge of itself becoming the permanent minority party. This is about the future of America and what kind of a country we want to have. This is about whether we will have change and whether the Democratic party will be the proud vehicle in which that change arrives. Taking cheap shots at Howard Dean does not help that. Donnie clearly has a lot of skills that can be put to good use, and we are going to need those skills. When (and if) Howard Dean is chair, he will need to work with Donnie. The question is, will Fowler return to an atmosphere of respect and get off his high horse?
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