Sen. George McGovern, 1922-2012: a liberal sorely missed

I voted for George McGovern. After his astonishingly lopsided defeat at hands of Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon in 1972, I got the bumper sticker, too: Don’t blame me. I’m from Massachusetts. Two years later, Nixon waved goodbye to his corrupted presidency from the open door of a plane, a man ironically liberal by today’s Republican standards.

No one could accuse McGovern of being unpatriotic in his profession of liberalism and progressivism. He knew the horror of being shot at: He flew dozens of missions over enemy territory in a B-24 Liberator during World War II. He knew the blood and treasure cost of war — any war. That deeply informed his opposition to the Vietnam War, the beginning of a series of American tragedies of undeclared, costly, and divisive wars of choice.

In today’s New York Times, David Rosenbaum reflected on McGovern’s liberalism.

To the liberal Democratic faithful, Mr. McGovern remained a standard-bearer well into his old age, writing and lecturing even as his name was routinely invoked by conservatives as synonymous with what they considered the failures of liberal politics.

He never retreated from those ideals, however, insisting on a strong, “progressive” federal government to protect the vulnerable and expand economic opportunity while asserting that history would prove him correct in his opposing not only what he called “the tragically mistaken American war in Vietnam” but also the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

McGovern’s only 17 electoral college votes came from my home state. And we’re proud of it. Notes Joseph Kahn of The Boston Globe:

We may not always pick a presidential winner or put forth a candidate (Dukakis, Kerry) capable of taking the Electoral College by storm (Romney gets his chance next month). But we’re as maverick-y as any when it comes to voting the courage of our convictions. And to seeing through the political chicanery of a candidate like Nixon, who’d barely deigned to speak McGovern’s name during that campaign and who would resign in disgrace two years later.

George McGovern was an irreplaceable, progressive American politician. I can only imagine the sadness with which he must have viewed the decades-long descent of American politics into rancor and empty rhetoric.

If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, Senator McGovern, please hurry back.

Castro and Miami's Cuban community and what the hell was Ozzie Guillen thinking?

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen recently lost his freakin’ mind. He told Time that

I love Fidel Castro…I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that [SOB] is still there.

Predictably, the world then stopped spinning on its axis.

Nota Bene #124: I'm a Doctor, Not an Engineer

“I don’t believe in this fairy tale of staying together for ever. Ten years with somebody is enough.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #118: VOTE!

“I am not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #95: STFU

Gonna try something different Continue reading

Afghanistan: Obama at the crossroads

Election fiascos and strategy deliberations continue, while Pakistan’s army is laying waste to South Waziristan. The deliberations are of the utmost importance; more important and more pressing than health care reform. This is Obama’s second strategy review in nine months. He cannot, politically or strategically, continue on such a pace. That means that the decisions made can be expected to indicate overall policy for the rest of his term, if not longer in the way that policy develops a momentum of its own.

There’s no question that the election was rigged, but the low voter turnout is more dangerous to government legitimacy than the fraud. Just five years ago Afghanistan held an election that defied expectations: women voted in large numbers, old men cried after voting for the first time in their lives, polls had to stay open late so that all who wanted to vote could, and it was peaceful. In effect, we’ve been moving backwards.

Continue reading

Why Michael Vick should be allowed to play football

by Josh Sternberg

Michael Vick could be the best thing to happen to the American reputation in quite some time. His heinous acts of violence and horrific judgment were undeniably stupid. But the lesson learned is not about dogfighting or about why individuals do stupid things. It’s about the nature of our society.

America can show the world that we are not only a nation of law, but also a society of forgiveness – that someone could commit a crime, spend their time in a rehabilitation facility and come out to be a productive member of society. We all have made mistakes, some larger than others. But in the end, we all subscribe to the belief that if we make amends, the past becomes just that: the past. Continue reading

America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?

Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.

Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.

Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.

Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Continue reading

Nota Bene #41

Links of the Week (as opposed to the Weakest Link):

Stop the presses: John McCain tells the truth. Laurence Vance at explains: “In an interview with 60 Minutes in 1997, McCain mentioned the confession his North Vietnamese captors forced him to write: ‘I was guilty of war crimes against the Vietnamese people. I intentionally bombed women and children.’ The truth, of course, is that what McCain wrote under duress is actually an accurate statement.” Continue reading

Is Azizabad the new My Lai?

By now you’ve probably heard about our airstrike in Afghanistan that ganged more seriously agleigh than any that preceded it. “A United Nations human rights team,” Carlotta Gall reported in the New York Times, “has found ‘convincing evidence’ that 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in [US] airstrikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Friday.”

She continues: “Mohammad Iqbal Safi, the head of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the government commission, said the 60 children were 3 months old to 16 years old, all killed as they slept. ‘It was a heartbreaking scene,’ he said.” That might seem obvious to us. But he may have intuited how inured the American public is to such news and was only trying to drive the point home. Continue reading

A progressive for our times

Let’s say this guy was running for president on a third-party ticket:

  • proven track record for getting country out of wars
  • strong foreign policy diplomat who forged stronger relationships with powerful developing (and enemy) nations
  • implemented the first significant federal affirmative action program
  • dramatically increased spending on federal employee salaries
  • organized a daily press event and daily message for the media
  • oversaw first large-scale integration of public schools in the South
  • advocated comprehensive national health insurance for all Americans Continue reading

The pin question

by Djerrid

On April 16, 2008 ABC hosted the 20th Democratic debate in Philadelphia where the infamous “pin question” came up. In an alternative reality, this was Obama’s response.


NASH MCCABE (Latrobe, Pennsylvania): (From videotape.) Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don’t.

MR. GIBSON: Just to add to that, I noticed you put one on yesterday. But — you’ve talked about this before, but it comes up again and again when we talk to voters. And as you may know, it is all over the Internet. Continue reading

Quotabull: "We shouldn't have to give employers complete control over our private life so they can save a few dollars on medical care."

You get used to listening to that Alvin and the Chipmunks voice.

— New York state Gov. David Paterson, who is legally blind, on the special tape recorder he uses to listen to long articles or books played “at speeds so fast, it is difficult for others to comprehend”; April 21.

We shouldn’t have to give employers complete control over our private life so they can save a few dollars on medical care.

— Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, which advocates for employee privacy, on a report that Whirlpool Inc. “suspended 39 workers who signed insurance paperwork claiming they don’t use tobacco and then were seen smoking or chewing tobacco on company property”; April 23.
Continue reading

Is Obama the new JFK?

Something big happened a few nights ago in Iowa. Barack Obama began the evening as one of the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination and by the time people went to bed he was John F. Kennedy.

This might sound like hyperbole – and to be sure, the race is far from won – but if the results we saw in the Hawkeye State last Thursday are replicated in New Hampshire and beyond, then what we are seeing may be a defining shift in American politics and culture. The key factor is the emergence of the 75-100 million strong Millennial Generation as a political force. Let’s look at some of the evidence.

The Young Voter PAC’s roundup provides ample data for consideration. Continue reading