Saturday, November 16, 2002

In perusing The American Prospect's weblog (TAPped) I see that a gun distributor has been found liable in Miami for the death of a teacher who was shot in a classroom by one of his students. (read story here).

I don't mind that manufacturers and distributors of so-called "Saturday Night Specials" are held accountable for crimes committed with their instruments. I don't really see much use for these gadgets except shooting humans. The interesting part to me is that, according to the article, the student who actually pulled the trigger drew no liability whatsoever from this jury for shooting the teacher.

That's ridiculous.

The gun is a nasty implement of death, true. Those who manufacture them and make them available to all and sundry and say "guns don't kill people" are kidding themselves and others. But dammit, in the final analysis, it was the kid who shot the teacher. Nobody made him do it. Nobody -- you should pardon the turn of phrase -- put a gun to his head and made him shoot his teacher. The silliness of the jury in allowing him to escape civil liability boggles my mind.

Yet these are the same panels of good citizens we entrust to put our murderers to death?
Nebraska's Democratic Party is dead. The only candidate the Democrats have in any office of any sort above county level is Ben Nelson, and it's just a matter of time before he bails on the Demos and becomes a Republican. He might as well; he meets all the criteria for membership (pro death penalty, anti-choice, pro-big business, boring). Even Terry Moore, the High Muck-a-muck of Nebraska organized labor, bailed on the Demos this year. From his standpoint, he was smart to do that: the Demos have no clout of any sort in this state.

Now the Lincoln Journal Star ( has offered a few areas on where the Democrats can take stands to fill gaps left hugely open by the GOP. I am not always a fan of the Journal Star, although I think Gordon Winters is the last remaining true journalist over there. Nevertheless, I recognize good ideas when I see them. A couple of quotes from the article:

"One area in which the Republicans need help is protecting the environment. For inexplicable reasons the GOP consistently underestimates American concern for the quality of its air, water, soil, natural beauty and wilderness."

"A second area in which the Republicans need help is in tax policy. It's one thing to want low taxes and small government. Even many Democrats now espouse this philosophy. The day of seeking governmental solutions to every problem was over long ago.

"But it's quite another thing to put tax policy and corporate oversight in the hands of plutocrats. America is great because its system allows a person to work their way from poverty to wealth by dint of effort, genius and discipline.

"The system needs to be protected from those who would permit the country's wealth to be concentrated in a permanent aristocratic class, which makes most of the country's investment decisions. "

I'd add farm policy to that. Twice now recently the GOP has gotten "farm bills" through Congress which have done nothing but help the big agricultural processors and corporate farming entities, and left family farm states in the dust. Farmers are still pretty sore about that. The newly-elected AG has made it clear that he has no interest in enforcing the Family Farm amendment. The current AG only did so around election time. Eventually those farmers will realize that it's all well and good for the GOP to be "pro-life" but if it's anti-farm, that hits a lot closer to home. The Democrats need to be there when he comes to that realization.

Boys and girls, these are traditional Democratic areas. More importantly, they get back to the liberal roots of the party, which is where the DNP needs to be. This state is awash in football analogies, so here's one: to win, you go where they other guys ain't. We can't fight for the right or the center because it's firmly occupied. We have to hold the left. And we need to make our own definition of what the left is! We may be surprised how many people stand with us. Remember, this is the state that gave us William Jennings Bryan, one of the original Populists.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Oh gads, another blog!

I read the Lincoln Journal Star ( ) every day and read the Omaha World Herald ( ) irregularly. Inevitably I drive to work ranting and raving about something. As if that wasn't enough, I listen to NPR. Among the three of them, I find something about which to spit out three or four good paragraphs.

But for now, let's just say that here you can look for random rants with a decidedly progressive twist. I am for:

- people over corporations
- people over bureaucrats
- people over politicians
- people responsible for themselves
- corporations answerable to people
- governments answerable to people
- real competition in business

I am against:

- laissez faire business, especially international trade without responsibility to labor
- religious bigotry of all shades
- government endorsement of religion, especially in schools

That's a good start. I welcome feedback, although I reserve the right to ignore it or, if it's nasty, to respond in kind.

Lincoln, Nebraska
Welcome to my first attempt at a blog. Please be tolerant as I utter the same sort of inane cliches that everyone else utters while stumbling about learning the fine art of bloggery.

I'll try to avoid being repetitious and stick to progressive topics of interest in the Midwest, especially Nebraska.

Stephen Charest