Tuesday, May 30, 2006

MoveOn.org Becomes Irrelevant

I received this today from MoveOn.org, which has essentially become a 527 group for the Democratic Party. Sigh. Such potential, wasted...

The Subject Line: "Which 3 big goals should we fight for? Vote today!" Note the list below. Helllloooo?!? Our country is killing, abusing, torturing, poisoning, and raping people in Iraq!?! Perhaps you've heard? Helllloooo?!?

1) Stop the war 2) Troops home 3) Cut Pentagon budget.

We're not going to make real progress on anything--not healthcare, education, transportation, environment, nada--until we derail the Imperial War Machine. Period.

If the "left" of the Democratic Party won't even demand an anti-war position, then why should the DLC bother? MoveOn.org seems to be saying: "We don't mind the Empire, we just wish it smiled more."


--- "Ben Brandzel, MoveOn.org Political Action" wrote:
Subject: Which 3 big goals should we fight for? Vote today!

Dear MoveOn member,

Last Thursday, nearly 10,000 of us came together in over 600 living and dining rooms to talk about the goals we share for our country. Each party was asked to find the big, positive ideas that we most want to focus on together in 2006. Thousands of inspiring options have poured in, and now it's time for the entire MoveOn membership to pick the final three.

From now until Wednesday night at 11:59 PM, you can help decide MoveOn's new official 3-point positive agenda. We've compiled an online ballot with the 10 most popular ideas from last week's parties. You can read what other members have to say about each issue, add your thoughts, and cast your vote for the final three, at:


We'll announce the official results Thursday morning, starting with a campaign to spread the word about the three positive ideas you select. Then, all year, we'll look for key opportunities to work together to turn these ideas into reality.

Our new positive agenda won't be our only focus, of course. Together, we'll still work to bring the troops home from Iraq and stand firm against radical Republican initiatives. But our 3 big positive goals will help show the nation what we're for, not just what we're against.

Here are the top ten big, positive goals for America that are on the ballot today (in random order). Which three do you most want to offer the country?

* A living wage for all
* Global leadership through diplomacy
* Verifiable, accurate elections
* High quality education for all
* Balanced federal budget
* Health care for all
* Publicly funded elections
* Preserve our natural resources
* Energy independence: clean, renewable sources
* Restored constitutional rights

Why narrow it down to the top three? It's about clarity. We want every voter to understand by November what progressives will do for our country--and 3 big ideas is about as many as most of us can easily remember at one time. And it's about focus. We can only fight so many battles and together we must pick which ones to put first.

Of course, there is no single voice for the vast progressive movement, but we each have an important role to play. Selecting a postive agenda is a critical decision for MoveOn and the more members who help to make it, the better the choice will be.

Please take a minute to think about the changes you care about the most--and the vision for the future you want to share with America. Then, go online and cast your three votes today, at:


Thanks for all you do.

--Ben, Matt, Eli, Carrie and the whole MoveOn.org Political Action team Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yeah! The "truth" (sort of) about The Da Vinci Code

Message sent today to National Public Radio in response to today's report, Religious Groups Respond to 'Da Vinci' Movie Release:


It will be interesting to see how religious people will use First Century sources in their attempt to refute the purported errors in The Da Vinci Code. Especially interesting as NO source from that era actually confirms the existence of Jesus at all. What we know of this figure is entirely revealed in gospels--canonical, gnostic, and apocryphal--written no earlier than 70 AD.

It would be interesting if NPR would interview a prominent atheist on their view of the phenomenon of The Da Vinci Code, say for instance Sam Harris (author of the best-selling book, The End of Faith) or Brian Flemming (filmmaker, The God Who Wasn't There.)

But I guess I shouldn't hold my breath waiting for NPR to do that, should I?

Paul Dorn
San Francisco

Paris?!? Oh my gawd, maybe I really am an elitist!

Bike advocates, environmentalists, skaters, greens, and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts have recently been pushing again for "Healthy Saturdays" in Golden Gate Park. This measure would expand the present Sunday and holiday closure of the eastern 1.5-mile portion of Golden Gate Park to Saturdays, which has been in effect since 1967.

The current Sunday and holiday closure is the most popular attraction in the park, and is the most successful program offered by San Francisco's Recreation and Park Department, affectionately known by locals as "Wreck the Park". At almost no cost to taxpayers. Simply by putting up barriers to traffic, this usually bleak road is transformed into a magical space filled with a diverse smiling mass of skaters, bikers, joggers, walkers, dogs, kids, grandparents, and others.

One would think that an enlightened city government would leap at any opportunity to expand access to such a great community building amenity. But San Francisco city government has never been known for enlightenment. Toadying to wealthy elites, yes. Enlightenment, no. Anyway, for almost 40 years many have pushed for a Saturday closure, and have always failed, usually because of opposition by the beau monde supporters of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, located in Golden Gate Park.

The most amusing aspect of the current discourse is the attempt by these aristocratic supporters of the de Young, joined by loathsome Examiner derriere busser Ken Garcia, to pose as populists, painting bicyclists and skaters as elitists attempting to selfishly control the park for their own interests. Precisely what the de Young has been doing for more than 100 years!

Long ago I rebutted this nonsense. I was very involved in helping to draft Proposition F, a petition qualified grassroots measure on the November 2000 ballot in San Francisco. Sadly, it failed. Hence, the need for the present effort, which may be more promising. Having already made countless polemic contributions in support of Saturday closure over the years, I won't waste space rehashing the argument.

However, I've been negligent in my blogging recently, and want to share the following letter to the editor, which I ghost wrote for my wife, and which the Chronicle has apparently chosen not to print. She is a far, far superior writer; hence she is far more occupied than I am, and kindly allowed me to draft something to the San Francisco Chronicle under her name. (The paper had published another letter of mine, shelving me for a period on its pages.)

May 9, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94103

RE: Healthy Saturdays in Golden Gate Park


Each summer since 2002, San Francisco's sister city of Paris has closed more than 2 miles of the Georges Pompidou expressway along the banks of the Seine to create "Paris Plage."

An artificial beach complete with trucked-in sand, changing rooms, umbrellas, volleyball nets, a swimming area, and food stands, "Paris Plage" attracts more than 2 million visitors each year to a space usually occupied by up to 200,000 vehicles a day. Once considered hugely controversial, "Paris Plage" is now one of Paris' top summer attractions.

If Paris can close a major traffic corridor in the heart of its downtown for a month every year to provide space for outdoor recreation, then San Francisco can easily close a short stretch of park roadway during weekends for the enjoyment of city residents and visitors.

It's shameful that exaggerated anxiety over motorist convenience prevents kids of all ages from enjoying safe, healthy recreation on weekends in Golden Gate Park. ("Healthy Democracy" 5/9/06)


Marianne Skoczek
San Francisco