Saturday, July 31, 2004

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention: Part II

Previously I had delved in the Bolshevik character of the current administration, whereby they combine ideological fervor, maximalism (careful! apparently a "difficult word") and tactical ability. The 70s and 80s right-wing sovietologists (alumni of The Committee on the Present Danger and the like) who populate the civilian leadership of Defense apparently stared so long into the abyss that it stared back into them.

Well, "tactical ability" with regard to domestic enemies, at least; the domestic opposition is only now starting to seem less hapless than the Cadets and Social Revolutionaries, while the real, dangerous opposition abroad is taking advantage of the administration's incompetence.

However, a confession: I'm not so irate as my choice of words (and poor choice of title) might suggest; I don't hold neoconservatism entirely in low regard. The central metaphor ("Bolshevism") of this series obscures the real difference between neo-con academics who shape foreign policy and the men of low animal cunning (DeLay, Rove) who push the administration's domestic agenda.

For instance, I know one neo-con professional analyst personally. He's a thoughtful, socially liberal fellow who considers himself a "Scoop Jackson Democrat" and is almost apologetic about his political orientation. I think he was mistaken about the Iraq war, but my disagreement is respectful and I endorse these words of Timothy Burke:

"It’s no accident that some Marxists, some liberals and many neoconservatives have found the war attractive, because they all derive tremendous intellectual strength from unversalist frameworks. This I find laudable and important and I recognize many supporters of the war who take this approach as intellectual cousins. (Those who do not share this commonality, like those parochalists and chauvinists on the American right who have endorsed brutality at Abu Ghraib, I recognize no connection with.) "

But, in another way, the metaphor is quite correct. Neo-con academics (e.g. Fukuyama) belong in one class, neo-con officials quite another. Perle and Wolfowitz not only have a Bolshevik intellectual heritage, but wield power like Bolsheviks -- with arrogance, with unshakable certainty, with belief in the necessity of extraordinary measures undertaken by a small vanguard. "Maximalism" is here applicable; no compromises with the opposition can be made, nor any departure from the new design of Permanent Revolution. "Ideological fervor" is quite accurate; realistic intelligence assessments can be brushed aside if they don't comport with ideology.

As a consequence, where we could have taken action with international goodwill and a truly multinational force -- with Pakistani peacekeepers, for instance -- we are mired in an Occupation on which the Iraqi people have soured, for which we have insufficient troops, and which promises for Iraq, at best, a Shiite theocracy or strongman government. I was prepared to laud Bush if his threats were designed to force Hussein's immediate compliance with inspections (which they did.) I would have endorsed regime change over a time frame (no imminent threat, remember -- we knew that even then) in which a humanitarian case could have been made and an international force assembled. No, the choice available wasn't between Bush's war and complete inaction, as war supporters like to argue. The war as it was undertaken leaves us with a difficult situation. It could have been otherwise.

This Prospect article outlines the response of a hypothetical Gore administration to 9/11, which would have, it argues, included an eventual Iraq intervention. It's worth a read, but it appears to have been closed to all but subscribers. Well, it argued that, in some respects, foreign policy views in the US have converged -- and I'd endorse that argument, with the additional caveat that some very key, possibly intractable differences remain, as the previous year has shown.

Vote Kerry if you want an administration that will pursue and dismantle terrorist networks vigorously, that will mend relations with allies, and which will make some attempt to reach out to a despairing Middle Eastern populace. (I say "some" because on this point I'm a bit pessimistic -- I don't think Kerry has the will or ability to make headway on Palestine, which I think is key for peace in the region.) You can expect from Kerry "muscular liberalism," not isolationism.


Friday, July 30, 2004

A Few Reactions to the DNC

I haven't posted in at least a week and a half, because my summer job is killer, and I can't wait to get back to doing philosophy. I'm going to the beach for a few days though, and I wanted to say something about the Convention.

In general, I felt very positive about it, or, rather, I felt as positive as I possibly could in light of a few caveats about the general state of American political discourse. That is to say, although I was very happy to see that George W. Bush might very well be defeated by someone at least slightly left-of-center, I still have something of a bad taste in my mouth. If I sound overly negative, I'm not trying to be, I'm just raising a few issues.

Vietnam. While his military service definitely should be held up to the highest respect, and it is a useful lens with which to compare the young Kerry with the young Bush (i.e., there is no comparison, and any intelligent person should see this), it seemed like the war itself was being somewhat romanticized. I believe Bob Novak on Crossfire brought up Kerry's 1971 testimony and the line about "butchering innocent people" and explicitely said that it was a very unpatriotic thing to accuse his countrymen of doing. In a word: BULLSHIT! This is just more supporting-our-troops means supporting-the-war equivocation, and it's really starting to see how "intelligent" people could do it with a straight face. Every person who is historically aware at all knows that the Vietnam War was a very bad thing. We should never have been there in the first place. Which brings me to my beef with the Democrats. Everyone seemed very reluctant to come out and say that the war was a bad thing, which is why Kerry is twice the hero for being and anti-War leader after coming home. Of course, everyone knew this, but for PR purposes they gave his war record a much bigger stage than his peace record. There is no contradiction, even if filth like Bob Novak want you to think so.

Also, I'm an atheist, so lots of God-talk unnerves me when tied to politics, but I understand the political necessity. Kerry, towards the end of his speech, said something about not having God on our side, but being on God's side. This seems just completely empty to me, but it got huge applause. It is just as epistemically problematic to claim to know what would put us on God's side as to claim that God is on our side. Also, "With God on Our Side" by Bob Dylan is one of the greatest anti-War songs in history.

Of course, with the Republican Party, and particularly with the Bush Administration, these concerns are amplified one-thousand fold, so don't expect me to do anything other than vote Democrat accross the board anytime soon, unless there is a really great leftist candidate running a winning campaign.

But maybe not many people were watching anyway and these are small things. Ed Brayton has a number of blogospheric reactions that are very good. I defer to him for now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Still at the Convention, Lookin Good

All i have to say is this. Barrack Obama is amazing, amazing, amazing. His speech was so good and so sincere. I was blown away. He is going places, its almost too bad he doenst have a republican chalenger so Barrack can tear that foolish mortal a new one.

My favorite line of his speech was when he said that his parents named him Barrack Obama and that its a testament to this nations progress that even though his name is so ethnic he is not automatically out of contention. I dont have the speech in front of me although i hear you can go to www.dems2004.com and check it out, especially go to that site if you missed his or clinton's speech altogether.

Ted Kennedy was, as always, a red-faced sack of awesome. I do enjoy the Kennedy family, except for that biatch Shriver and her Governator Hubby.

I think my favorite part of the convention is to watch all the people dancing (or making their bests attempts at what may be considered dancing). They are all so goofy and silly and they don't even care that theyre on TV. I mean, I know i cant dance, so i dont. But these people just rock out all the time and prance about off-tempo and inspite of the beat. It just shows you how much fun everyones having.

The Democrats are going to win. Theres no doubt about it. We're taking the WhiteHouse, and the Senate, and the House....maybe not the House. word up.

Monday, July 26, 2004

YEAH BOSTON!

Live from where the action is its your friendly neighborhood democrat in the thick of things in boston, baaahhston, or yankee hell. Let me tell you that i am 30 feet from the fleet center and in the press room amongst the writers of the washington post and ny times, as well as knight ridder and the dialy kos. its a good crowd indeed. I ran into Mr. Mclaughlin of the simillarly named Group and Jesse Jackson of Illinois and illegitmate fame. It fills my heart with imense joy to walk the streets and see nothing but KerryEdwards signs and buttons and thongs and diaphrams.....or something. I just watched Al Gore reanimate himself and cried becuase if he had half of the presence he just showed on stage in 2000, we would not have to have ranted and gnashed our teeth for the last four years. Its been a long and awful time dealing with the current admin and walking around boston and dealing with the capable and (dare i say it) organized DNC volunteers i can feel it my bones that we will see a change in the WhiteHouse. Thats all for now as i must go back to work. You may address me as Mr. Specialty Press Youth Coordinator Sir. WOOP!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Top 5 reasons I am voting Against George Bush

Although I feel the E.W.'s paralysis of choice and fear of belittling the grand scale of Bush's actions by itemizing them, while speaking to my friend, an undecided voter, he proposed that I, rabid liberal, list the top 5 reasons for why I am voting the way I am voting. He said he was getting his rabid republican/conservative friend to do the same. I told him that I would rather give two lists: Top 5 Reasons Against Bush, and Top 5 Reasons for KerryEdwards. Here is the Top 5 reasons I am voting against George Bush this coming election (whenever I say Bush, unless I say otherwise, I am referring to all that is his administration):  

1. George Bush's Foreign Policy  

Well, This is pretty broad but I think partitioning out each grievance would be at the expense of the scope you get when its all under the same heading. This scope reveals that all of these horrible decisions are not in vacuums but are all parts and pieces of an overarching, dangerously short-sighted foreign policy. What am I talking about? This:

  • Asinine war in Iraq; the idiocy and danger of this irrelevant war is more evident each and every day. If you don't know what I am talking about inquire within, because there really is too much to innumerate here (books are being written about parts of this War and its botched "Peace")
  • Diplomacy is for Sissies Doctrine: Colin Powell is the least traveled Secretary of State in US History, but it doesn’t matter because the only way we've fostered any new relationships is by opening our checkbooks. We've marginalized the United Nations, a boy that has done some much good in its 60 years or existence. We’ve alienated every ally we've once had (including Britain after Blair gets kicked out). The results of which are no more evident than the current situation in Darfur. The estimated million Africans dead offers the world its first truly altruistic opportunity since Rwanda. But because the US has spread itself so thin militarily and cannot respond as effectively it must resort to calling for internat'l help. But since the nations that are in a position to help have been continually told to fuck off for the last three years there is little inertia to enter into a US led mission. Its a pity people are dying because of this petty difference and if I were in charge of France of Germany I would have already intervened, but it shows that there are consequences for actions and I guarantee if the US had not gone into Iraq (at least without the UN's support) the rest of the world would be tripping over itself to help and I would support that military action with every fiber of my being.
  • Ridiculous Military Ventures; From the 'tail-hook Mission (un) Accomplished' stunt that cost tax payers $ 3 million extra for the jet when the carrier was safely within helicopter range even though Bush ordered the carrier be stalled for 3 days (3 days those troops lost the chance to be with their families for no reason other than W.'s dress-up party) to out recent adventure in the Orient (for more info click here) to Ridiculously Untested and Horribly Expensive Missile Defense (which will be 'operational' in a month or so despite failing every test except for the one where the MDef. team were given the coordinates and trajectory of the enemy missile, even then they missed but not by much....hopefully we will scare potential enemies with the bill).
  • Blackmailing poor countries out of their rights (as given by the WTO) to purchase generic AIDS drugs the only way poor countries can hope  to combat the disease where generic drugs cost $200 per patient compared to $10,000 for brand name. The US has renegotiated trade agreements with countries which mitigate debt if they refuse to buy the drugs, these countries cannot afford to pay the debt they owe so they cannot do anything but accept. FUN!

2. George Bush's Fiscal Policy

Once again a broad reason but with many examples linked to systematic policy not freak occurrence. This is how this admin. thinks.

  • Tax cuts, Tax cuts, Tax cuts. No matter who you talk to, there is little sound economic theory behind supply-side/trickle-down economics. It’s a sham, and has always been a sham, sugar coated in words like 'stimulate economic entrepreneurs' and 'create jobs.' But the reality is that it does neither. What is does is give rich people more money (which they don’t spend) and takes away funds from social programs designed to help the population that need them, badly.
  • Tax cuts despite 2 wars that have thrown us into billions upon billions (soon to be trillions) of dollars in debt and threaten the economic viability of this government for future generations. Today we rely upon 2 billion dollars a day of foreign investment to maintain the status quo of operations. That is simply an unacceptable amount of reliance upon foreign aide when we have the resources to pay that 2 billion but have squandered more and more of it every year of this president.
  • Continued support of outsourcing labor while instructing companies how to avoid paying workers overtime compensation. The Dept of Labor released a document to companies telling them how they can avoid paying workers overtime under the new laws that were written to "protect the worker.” Also the Admin lobbied for a series of legislative initiatives that would basically prohibit certain workers for being eligible in the first place for overtime while allowing the managers to require workers to work said extra hours at regular wage.

3. Deceit, Deception, and Depravity in the Whitehouse

This is a topic where I don’t know how or where to begin. That being said this list is inadequate because I just can't keep track of every example. I will try however to give examples from every year of his presidency.

  • Energy Commission: Cheney had a gathering of Energy Execs (including Ken Lay) from the major corporations to draft the energy policy of this administration. It locked the doors and withheld information on what happened and who was there in what capacity. Very important questions especially because it’s illegal to withhold that (Freedom of Information Act is the relevant law I believe). The Sierra club took Cheney to court and before the trial was to be brought up in the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia took a completely benign duck hunting trip with the Cheney for no reason at all other than to kill ducks and in no way did they discuss the upcoming trail....right. (Also that trip was paid for by taxpayer money which is also illegal.) Surprisingly enough Scalia did not recuse himself, and the Supreme Court sent the decision back down to a lower court, basically assuring that it won’t get decided until after the election.
  • Stone walling of the 9/11 commission: Bush and his counterparts in the legislature did their damndest to stop the 911 commission from being formed, being non-partisan, and having access to sensitive information. He did not allow any of his Whitehouse to be interviewed under oath until he gave in to public pressure even then he delayed the interview every time. He lobbied for a sooner deadline, withheld documents, and anything he could to make sure they didn’t find anything they could blame him for. It was disgusting, and no one really talks about it anymore.
  • Abu Gharib and the Dept of Justices defense of Torture. We replaced rape rooms with sodomy cells. And don't buy that this is a few bad apples, this goes straight to Rumsfield and the Command in Iraq (possibly even to Bush himself). 94 incidents reported cannot all be random, there’s systematic problems and a culture of torture created by our disregard for the Geneva Convention in Gitmo (interrogators form Gitmo were flown into Iraq, not to mention the hundred of privately contracted interrogators which is flat out illegal because they are not under the jurisdiction of international law since they don’t technically represent a state). Simply stated, this has endangered our troops and will continue to endanger them in future conflicts. No longer can we expect any of our enemies to adhere to the Geneva Convention. Pray for any of our future POWs. 
  •  The Dept of Justices refusal to seriously investigate any charges against the Whitehouse. Valerie Plame was an undercover agent in the CIA and was outed by a "Senior White House Official" which is a TREASONOUS OFFENSE! No indictments, subpoenas [sp?], or interrogations on the record. The actuary that determined the cost of the Medicare/Prescription drug Bill was forced to lie to Congress about the actual cost by his superior who threatened to fire him if he didn’t. Not only is that superior not being investigated, he now has a job working for a major Pharmaceutical company that received major kick-backs from the bill he made his actuary lie about. Ridiculous. An FBI translator, Sibel Edmonds, double checked a bunch of translated documents that were translated by a fellow officer and found that "Intercepts relevant to the terrorist plot, including references to skyscrapers, had been overlooked because they were badly translated into English" and not only that but the translator that did that poor job was also a "a member of an organization with ties to the Middle East that was a target of an FBI investigation." She blew the whistle on this and tried to get her message to her superiors and five months later, flagging what she said were several other security lapses in her division (such as hundred of un-translated pages that were label impertinent that contain specific information about terrorist attacks and mentions 911 related information), she was fired for no reason. Attorney General John Ashcroft has ordered that information about the Edmonds case be retroactively classified, even basic facts that have been posted on websites and discussed openly in meetings with members of Congress for two years as well as prohibiting her to testify in court.  Cover up? No way!
  • Inquire within for further examples...I don’t have the stomach to keep writing about this without murdering people.
4. Politicizing of Science
  • The Administration has gone out of its way to twist science to match and support its politics.
  • The administration used politically tainted science to influence federal institutions that regulate food and medicine, conduct health research, control disease and protect the environment. 
  • The Bush administration went against scientific consensus by posting a fact sheet on the National Cancer Institute's website that implied there is not enough evidence to rule out a link between abortion and breast cancer. Which is false, completely false.
  • Bush appointed marketing consultant Jerry Thacker, who has characterized AIDS as the "gay plague" and has described homosexuality as a "death style"—to the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS in Jan. 2003
  • When the Food and Drug Administration recently decided against making emergency contraception available over-the-counter without a prescription, it ignored the recommendation of its own expert advisory committee and staff scientists

There are simply more examples than I can name here but in general, the federal funding for research and development (that totals over $100 billion dollars) is expected to be conducted independently and objectively. Yet the Bush Administration has:

  • obstructed ongoing research by threatening political scrutiny of projects that concern social conservatives;
  • obstructed agency research when the results might conflict with the Administration’s agenda;
  • undermined outcome assessment, both by creating easy-to-reach performance measures for politically favored programs and by eliminating programs that identify effective initiatives that conflict with the Administration’s ideological agenda;
  • blocked publication of research that may upset an affected industry.
5. The Baggage that comes with Voting Bush: Ashcroft, Rumsfeild, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perl, Frum, etc. 


Yes, if you don’t see a difference between Kerry and Bush, or between the Dems and Republicans, here are some tangible answers to what voting for Bush means beyond his own incompetencies and policies.

  • Ashcroft

John Ashcroft...wow, where to start?

How bout something small like under he erased about half of a study that criticized the diversity of his department. An internal report that harshly criticized the Justice Department's diversity efforts was edited so heavily when it was posted on the department's Web site two weeks ago that half of its 186 pages, including the summary, were blacked out. The deleted sections showed the department's record on diversity as "seriously flawed, specifically in the hiring, promotion, and retention of minority lawyers." The unedited report, completed by the consulting firm KPMG, "found that minority employees at the department, which is responsible for enforcing the country's civil rights laws, perceive their own workplace as biased and unfair."

Or maybe something insane like Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that he will issue new gender-persecution regulations limiting battered immigrant women seeking asylum in the United States. Immigration and women's rights groups have expressed concern that Ashcroft does not support regulations proposed by former Attorney General Janet Reno that would have allowed battered women to be considered for asylum. The decision stems from a case involving Rodi Alvarado, a Guatemalan woman whose husband threatened to kill her if she returned home. Alvarado was granted asylum by Reno, who reversed the INS' original decision. Ashcroft is reportedly reconsidering the decision to grant asylum to Alvarado, who could be forced to return to Guatemala.

Hmm how about something more racist like The Justice Department announced the Absconder Apprehension Initiative, targeting immigrants from Middle East nations against whom deportation orders are outstanding. The department seeks to apprehend and interview Middle Eastern citizens. Or how Ashcroft has systematically undermined Affirmative Action (but that’s no surprise considering his fantastic record on diversity hiring).

Or you could consider the origins of the Jose Padilla case. "There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May 2002. But on June 6, 2002, Colleen Rowley gave devastating Congressional testimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft) before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conference and announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead of featuring Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirty bomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadly radiation. Since then Mr. Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" with no legal rights. But Newsweek reports that "administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention — that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological `dirty bomb' — has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used in court.'"

Or you could remember the example of Ashcroft's cover up of SIbel Edmonds shocking discovery that the FBI fired her for blowing the whistle about their incompetence.

Or keep in mind that he was held in contempt of congress when he refused to turn over Dept of Justices memos concerning torture his department prepared for the White House almost two years ago. Fortunately, his stonewalling didn't work: The Washington Post has acquired a copy of the memo and put it on its Web site.

Or you could just keep it simple and be enraged by the PATRIOT Act or the DOJ's defense of Torture. It’s up to you.

And as always this list is simply a tip of a huge iceberg. If you want more examples or you don’t think these examples are all that bad, please let me know and ill hook you up.

  • Cheney
The Ashcroft part has taken about 30 minutes so I'll keep the remaining ones short. Cheney while CEO of Halliburton illegally dealt with the regimes of Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria (in Libya they sold materials that although useful in oil industry could be used to make nuclear weapons!!). They have botched the reconstruction of Iraq and overcharged the military by billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars that they receive with no competition.
Cheney has lied repeatedly about the Iraq-Al'Quaeda connection in the face of the 9/11 Commission Report that categorically denies such relationship ever existed.
And, of course, he also may very well be a card carrying brain-eating zombie. Who knows these things?
  • Rumsfeild, Wolfowitz, Perl and the NeoCon Cabal.
Completely F---ED UP the War in Iraq, the post-war transition, the War in Afghanistan and its post-war transition, and forced generals who (correctly) predicted that the US needed a larger amount of troops in Iraq to retire. Oh and of course the Carrier Invasion Force to China exercises. The Cabal started its own intel gathering office (Office of Special Plans) which gathered uncorroborated intel on the WMDs in Iraq. They all also lied about Iraq-Al'Quaeda relationships. Oh yeah Wolfowitz and the Cabal has wanted to invade Iraq since 1992 an even made an attempt to lobby support for invasion by blaming the Oklahoma City Bombing on Saddam. They do not have a sound understanding of history and they want to dominate the world militarily. THEY NEED TO GET THE F OUT!
  • As with the majority of Bush's Appointments he has a cabinet that is filled with industry executives and special interest members.
Tommy Thompson the Secretary for Health and Human Services is a former TOBBACCO EXECUTIVE and Stock Holder with Phillip Morris!!!!!!!


Spencer Abraham the ENERGY SECRETARY had the most contributions and connections with Car companies like Ford and Chrysler and has continued to defend Car Co.s from a fuel economy standard.

This is just a taste! Go to this site http://www.opensecrets.org/bush/cabinet.asp for the complete picture. Opensecrets is nonpartisan site that documents where and who is involved monetarily in politics and business.

Some Honorable Mentions include:
Social Program Photo Ops (over the course of the last 3 and some years, Bush has flown around the country and visited social programs such as AmeriCorp and Jumpstart, had his picture taken and said some nice words and within the month the funding for everyone of them has been cut or rolled back, but the pictures are nice I hear),
The Environment (its hard to make people care about this if they don't already. Its really important and Bush is doing his darndest to destroy it as much as he can but no one seems to care),
Corporate Welfare (self-explanatory, monetary transfers and the incest of politics and corporations spawning the current pork-barrel offspring),
De-Regulation (FCC, EPA, ADA, and many others have had their missions subverted to push deregulation of industries like big Parma),
Industry-Military Complex (it has never been worse than in this admin where Def. Dept appointees retain their jobs at the Boeings and Lockheeds that they left while also working for the govt, they know which side their bread is buttered on),
Domestic Policy-NCLB (not just NCLB, the under funded piece of shit that it is, but also the HealthCare initiatives rammed through that might as well be an free money machine for big Parma, as well as other examples) ,
Erosion of Civil Liberties (PATRIOT Act: the FBI can now read your library history without a warrant thanks to Johnny A, etc.)....

As you can see, there are certainly more than 5 and I could probably rant about why W is the worst president in history till my fingers fell off but this it the most important that popped into my head as I was writing this. Like I said, itemizing them out may not be sufficient in illustrating the sheer scope and range of douchebaggery that infests every single aspect and individual in the Bush Whitehouse.

This is probably the most mentally and emotionally draining thing I've done since laboring through 40 pages of an Ann Coulter book. This top 5 is the tip of the iceberg there’s so much more shit in the details and so much more that I don’t even know about, I'm sure. But it’s a depressing start.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

W hy George Bush is going to win again

sorry, but the glass is half empty

you guys arent going to like this, but it has to be said

john kerry is going to lose to george bush in 2004and if you feel differently youre welcome to bet a case of guinness otherwise

some of you have...

chances are, if youre reading this blog, youre thinking, theres no way bush can win againi mean, the guys fucked everything up.  everything.  and lied about it.  how can the american people be so stupid to re-elect this power hungry neocon?

in short, Faux Newselections arent decided based on facts, or ideology.  people dont vote their moral conscience, or vote based on their economic standing.  people vote on emotion. 

to this day, ronald reagan is revered as one of the best presidents of all time.  the man was completely incompetent, and towards the end certifiably senile.  yet he could wave the flag and give the communists the finger like no other.  and so he is remembered as great. 

bush lacks reagan's charisma, but you dont need to be brad pitt to out-charisma al gore or john kerry.  simply put, george bush has too many american flags on his side to lose.  the fact that john kerry is a decorated vietnam war veteran and bush is a de-facto draft dodger is irrelevent.  he kills brown skinned people, and thats all that matters.

america, at its base, is a racist nation.  we only did away with dejure segregation 40 years ago.  thats only 20 years better than south africa.  after 911, ameica wanted to kill towelheads.  and bush obliged.  most americans thought iraq had something to do with 911 because they blame all arabs for 911.  most americans dont care whether iraq had WMD, or beat women, or posed a threat, because they just wanted to see an arab nation punished.  if it werent for the new york times, we probably would have never heard of abu ghirab.

which brings me to the real power behind bush's re-election campaign.  Fox News.  america is a segregated nation.  segregated between liberals and conservatives like never before.  if youre reading this blog, youre most likely a liberal.  liberals read blogs like this, hang out with other liberals, read the new york times, and are convinced kerry will win because their liberal friends outnumber their conservative friends.  conservatives are the same way, in that they only hang out with other conservatives, get their information from the same news sources, and even listen to the same music.  not that there's anything wrong with kenny chesney... its groupthink on a massive scale.  nobodys mind has been changed since the last election, and the trenches have just been dug deeper.  the bush supporters still outnumber everyone else. 

there is a war going on right now, an information war between the major news outlets, to determine the future of america.  fox news fully recognizes this, and is actively trying to get george bush re elected.  abc, cbs, and all the rest dont realize theyre in a war, and are still trying to be truly "fair and balanced".  Fox is going to win, because only fox understands that a battle is being waged and how high the stakes are.

bush is going to win.  john kerry is a french speaking liberal from massachusetts, who has the official endorsement of al qaeda.  george bush is the candidate for patriots, for true americans, for christians, and for people who like seeing brown skinned heathens die.  end of story. 

http://www.moveon.org/fox/

http://boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2004/07/20/fox_news_slogan_challenged/

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,126452,00.html

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

One Saddam with another?

Allawi, personally and with his own pistol, executes 7 prisoners without blinking an eye, the US media kills the story. The reporter is award-winning, the story is slightly HUGE, but will you hear it on TV? NO WAY!

Here it is:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0716-01.htm


Dem prospects may be brighter than you think (barring electoral "disruption")

Ted at Crooked Timber has an interesting collection of quotes from around the blogosphere which suggest just that.  For anyone paying much attention to polling data, which Daily Kos has in abundant supply -- half of the reason I visit there -- this should come as no surprise; key states such as PA and FL have tilted towards Kerry recently, and Bush's numbers have degraded even in the likes of AZ and NC.  Conventional wisdom is that those latter states will ultimately go for Bush but may require the diversion of resources. 

In the comments, Utah's Matt Weiner (Pitt philosophy '03)  links to a study by Princeton molecular biology prof Sam Wang that gives an astonishing 98% chance for Kerry.   Damned lies and statistics, etc.;  I'm not sure there's that much reason for optimism (even with Edwards on the ticket, heh) but it's an interesting page nonetheless.

The same page gives information on PA-6, the district in which I'm registered, where Gerlach faces a stiff challenge from Lois Murphy.  Republican redistricting (some might call it gerrymandering) transformed this district from the combination of Berks and Schuylkill counties into a salamander that starts in the Philly suburbs and extends into Reading.  (Thus Berks is split into several districts.  The former PA-6 incumbent, Blue Dog Dem Rep. Tim Holden, pulled out an upset victory over Republican Rep. Gekas two years ago in PA-17.) 

Barely a few days after the '02 election,  I sat in a computer lab next to a girl whose father, as I overheard, was Gerlach... the man against whom I voted.   If you want another, less interesting, coincidence, Dr. Wang has on his homepage material on the two photon method, with which someone in my lab was working before he decided he couldn't pull off his project without ordering expensive equipment. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention: Part I

Often when pressed for a reason for my loathing of the Bush administration, I experience something akin to the paralysis of choice: where to begin when I oppose Bush policies nearly in toto entirely?  To choose one topic would place undue weight upon it; my interlocutor partner in conversation would not leave with the full sense of my disdain for this presidency. Thus I was initially at a loss for what to research and discuss in this, my first post; and so instead of articulating detailed policy differences, I will paint the administration in broader strokes, trying to capture just what it is that separates G. W. Bush from his less noisome noxious predecessors.

The relevant circumstances can be divided into those that this nation faces externally, which make the stakes much higher than before, and those peculiar to this administration.  If it were not for the former, I doubt I would consider this presidency quite as squalid -- recall those halcyon days when our greatest concerns were Gale Norton and arsenic drinking water rules, and when Bush's ratings were dipping below 50 and the Democrats seemed poised for midterm gains.   Bush had achieved (read: damaged) very little, with, for instance, his faith based initiatives program collapsing in ignominy and John DiIulio leaving bitterly.  Recall DiIulio's complaint that "Mayberry Machiavellis" ran the White House, where everything domestic is subordinated to "the political arm." 

That brings us to the character of the administration, the (we hope) final recrudescence of the long degeneration of the Republican Party.  In 1964 Goldwater, having seized the nomination from the Northeastern liberal wing, went onto lose by wide margins, but his candidacy was one early success of the long march of the elements of what Kevin Phillips called "The Emerging Republican Majority" through the Party.  Nevertheless, Goldwater, however right wing, is someone I can respect; he would lament that the fundamentalists would gain so much influence, and his closest contemporary is that other Arizonian, John McCain.  Reagan would gut social programs and bring the country further right, but he had the statesmanship to initiate arms control dialogue with the USSR; his genuine desire for disarmament I can also respect.  Bush fils, in comparison, presides over a crew of Machiavellis* and ideologues.  Republican demagoguery (as with this "Federal Marriage Act") is blatant, with domestic policy the site of cynical politicking (including the cronyism and giveaways.) 
 
How, you ask, can the administration simultaneously be accused of ideological fanaticism and cynical political opportunism?  The answer is twofold: the latter can occur quite apart from the former, even in the same policy area (underfunded and unjustified Mars program vs. neocon "full spectrum dominance") and the latter can complement the former (tax breaks for the potential donors!)  While I could easily excoriate the likes of Grover Nordquist** for fanaticism and opportunism in domestic policy, in Part II I think I will focus on the area in which ideologues have the greatest influence, foreign policy.  
 
Please excuse the problems with this post.  It seems scattershot, but it was a cathartic exercise.  Narrative flow will receive more attention in the next, hopefully.

* - though I mean no disrespect to Nicolo, a real small-r republican   

** - Might I note that Nordquist is simultaneously an ideologue and an excellent tactician and opportunist; David Brock reports that he often quotes a dictum of Lenin, "probe with bayonets for weakness!"  The Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyist influence on the current "vanguard" is an odd and interesting subject




Somebody at CIA made a typo...

Mood: Terrified and Skittish, like a chihuahua
Music: Van Halen – Poundcake
 
It seems that no news is good news lately.  In addition to the U.S. military posturing off the coast of China (Operation Summer Pulse ’04…sounds like a goddamn Jerry Bruckheimer production), my “main mang” Gee Dubs said today that the U.S. is investigating the possibility of a connection between the Iranian government and September 11.  Now, ordinarily this might be the point at which I would go off half-cocked about the Satan-worshipping neocon cabal embarking on another conspiracy in order to stick their collective dick into a new hornets’ nest.  Based on past performance, this could very well turn out to be true.  That, however, is quite far from being the worst thing about this announcement.  The possibility that there could be one of those actual, based-in-reality-type connections (unlike the one that seems to have turned out to exist between Iraq and al Qaeda) along these lines seems quite real to me.
 
According to a number of mainstream news sources (although I haven’t yet seen anything on FauxNews…strange…), the 9/11 Commission Report will have something to say about this possible connection.  Exactly what, well, that varies from news agency to news agency.  At the very least, the report reportedly offers evidence that many of the hijackers passed through Iran during the 11 months prior to the attacks.  Speculation as to what else might be posited or affirmed in the report ranges widely, with the most extreme claims alleging that Tehran knew some shit was about to go down prior to 9/11.  God forbid that is true.  If we find cause to believe that the government of Iran collaborated with, provided aid to, or even turned a blind eye toward al Qaeda in regard to the terrorist attacks on our nation, we are fucked.  If you don’t think the American public will support a war against Iran on these grounds, I encourage you to think harder.  We (and by “We,” I don’t mean me; I mean Congress and most citizens) supported the most recent Iraqi adventure on some fairly fucking tenuous connections.  And by tenuous, I of course mean nonexistent.  I believe that public opinion would demand a war if such a connection were to be made public.  Hopefully we’ll all be little more critical of claims made by the President and the intelligence community this time around, if it should come to that…
 
If the government of Iran collaborated with al Qaeda or had pre-knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the possibilities are endless.  Even the most devout lefties among us, excluding the out-and-out pacifists, should be hard-pressed to oppose retaliatory measures against a foreign government that conspired to cause or allow an attack on US.  With our military spread as thinly as it is, we’d need to drastically scale back forces on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan (a move that would be disastrous and tragic), hope for a monumental influx of volunteers, or resurrect the draft.  Oh yeah, and Iran actually DOES have a nuclear program, whereas Iraq DID NOT.   I'll bet Wolftits and Rumnuts have big fat chubbies over this new twist.  Someone please tell me why this assessment is incorrect, because this is some of the scariest news I’ve heard in a while.  And THAT, my friends, is saying something.
 
P.S. - If the title of this post doesn't make sense to you, I am better than you, end of story.
YEAH WE'RE GOING TO INVADE IRAN !!!!!! TAKE THAT FREEDOM HATERS!!!!
 
Just as the recruitment coffers of bin Laden and Al Zarqawi are bulging we are on the way to implement a strategy so bold its genius. Make every Islamic person desperately want to join terrorist group (thanks to our continued inflamation of and incursions in the Middle East)  thus cuasing the existing infrastructure of groups like Al'Quaeda to be inundated with volunteers and overwhlemed by the sheer number of people wanting to join them. They will be forced to turn back surplus volunteers simply becuase they have no place to put them and not even close to the neccessary number of belt bombs for them to utilize. THATS WHEN WE REALLY STRIKE!
 
sigh or something. If there is a God, Bush will not be in power come February.

Fascism is closer than you think...

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"
Wallace wrote a fantastic peice which is worthy of review and is paraphrased and discussed here. But I came across one quote that is amazingly rellevant for today:
" The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination..."
  Let us discuss the relevance to today's Gay Marriage rhetoric, its intentions are clear distract the public from the real issues. There is no way that the Bushies are going to get FMA or any of its incarnations passed, but they know that too. They are just attempting to shift focus off of whats important. Iraq. The Economy. Our Security. Responsibility.  All of these issues are party to enormous criticism leveled on the Bushies and they dont like it. But one sure way to divert attention from crises is to play on this countries prejudices. Hitler did it, Mussolini did it, Bush is trying to. (Bush is not Hitler nor would a ammended constitution be anywhere close to the Holocaust, but tactics are tactics, Bush is very close to being Mussolini II though) 
 
The growing corporatism today in America, with the majority party squarely in the pockets of corporations, is but an uncomfortabley few steps away from Mussolini's Chamber of the Fascist Corporations, the body of legislature made up entirely of corporations (giving the fox the keys to the coop but instructing him to guard those chickens!!). Walace wrote:
"If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. ... They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead."
 


Hmmm. Haliburton, Enron, Coch. Those all are posterboys for that description.
"American fascism will not be really dangerous," Wallace added, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information..."

Shit. Fox NEWs.....AHHHHH, CHENEYS SECRET ENERGY COMMITTEE. Thats the real coalition of the willing (arbatragers) that Bush does not want you to see.
 
4 more years and we could be looking at a one party military-theocra-bananacy. 4 more years and Tom Delay won't even have to go through the motions of concealing/laundering illegal corporate money.
 
If we don't stand up to this shit we are screwed.
 

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Why is Rick Santorum involved in everything stupid?

I'm sure we all know that gay marriage will bring on the decline of Western civilization. Duh. What we didn't know is that Ricky is also a creationist, and by creationist, I mean one of the most ignorant people in America. Check this out:
When Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania introduced his amendment to the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, he suggested, for example, that “where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy and should prepare the student to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.” This language sounds very innocent; even Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts commented positively about it, hedging later when he discovered that Santorum’s amendment was itself a Trojan horse that would get ID past the gatekeepers of the public school curriculum.

The Santorum amendment, which was ultimately removed, is a good example of how the Wedge strategy works. It goes like this: Santorum, a conservative Catholic, adds an innocent-sounding amendment to a major education bill one day before the Senate is to vote. The timing and seemingly innocuous language make it difficult for anyone to get too worried. It passes, and public school teachers are required to prepare their students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject of evolution. Public discussion of evolution in America, however, is basically the century-old “Darwin-versus-the-Bible” debate. To be informed about this debate requires knowledge of this controversy, which would require knowledge of the various objections that have been made to evolution. The most sophisticated of these objections, and the only ones produced by credentialed scholars, are primarily those of the ID movement. So, when biology teachers in public schools are looking for materials to “teach the controversy,” the first thing they will encounter is a full roster of materials on ID replete with Web sites, recommended textbooks, instructional materials and impressive guest lecturers.
The actual article is a little too generous to the ID movement, I feel. This is courtesy of the Panda's Thumb, linked below.

Also notice the Orwellian title of the "Better Education for Students and Teachers Act." It's no wonder that Europe, as of this year, has started producing more scientific literature than the U.S., with all the anti-intellectualism in this country. (Yea I know, why don't I just get the hell out if I hate it so much? I love America. If there is something I hate, it's anyone hell-bent on destroying the greatness of the Republic. That includes the imperialists, and the theocrats. I hate them because I love America so much.)

Friday, July 16, 2004

WWIII in 7 Easy Steps

Well it was boud to happen sooner of later. So let me provide some easy steps in case you happen to aquire the rule of a sovereign nation that has geopolitcal clout, big economy, and big military (prefereably a military that has won WWI & II):

  1. Alienate Former and current Allies.
  2. Make sure any medium of conflict resolution be made irrelevant. 
  3. Build troop numbers in every continent on the globe.
  4. Engage in open or clandestine operations to overthrow regimes you dont like.
  5. Build up unprecedented force near the 2nd most powerful country in the world, point all your guns the right way.
  6. Accidents happen....trigger fingers itch.
  7. Fight!

Well, hmmm. Lets go through the list shall we? 

  1. Alienate and Antagonize Former and current Allies. CHECK

Um lets see here: France, Britain (after Blair is gone), Germany, Spain & the EU, Jordan, India, Brazil & most of Latin America, Canada, Turkey, New Zealand...and the majority of the smaller countries we've bullied trade agreements from.

But on the bright side we do get El Salvador and Poland, Uzbekistan and Honduras, Australia and Romania, and of course Iraq and Afganistan (!!!). We'll be ok 

    2. Make sure any medium of conflict resolution be made irrelevant. CHECK

UN? Fuck them,  what the hell have they done the past 50 years? Not a goddamned thing I'll tell you that. ICC? More like IC-Lite, becuase this country isnt going to outsource its security to some court that only every single other nation on the globe has agreed to abide by and we have American judges on. (Israel is currently run by douchebags so even though theyve signed the statute theyre not going to listen...sigh)

    3. Build troop numbers in every continent on the globe. CHECK

Thats right we have a military base or troops on every inhabited continent on the globe plus a Navy that is continually patrolling "trouble regions." U-S-A, U-S-A!!

    4. Engage in open or clandestine operations to overthrow regimes you dont like. CHECK

Hmm, just off the top of my head: Iran, Argentina, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, Afganistan....... 

    5. Build up unprecedented force near the 2nd most powerful country in the world, point all your guns the right way. CHECK AND 1!!

Double Bonus Points if this country is also solidly and irreplacabley linked economically to over 58 other nations, including your own. But its OK, China, we're just excercisin', baby. You know we need our excercise, we're the fattest nation in the world!

   6. Accidents happen....trigger fingers itch.

I mean its really only streching. You know how hamstrings and 7 carrier strike groups get...you dont strech and you might accidentally pull a trig...ahem...muscle.

Dont be at all concerned that 1 strike group consists of at a minimum, the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or 10 squadrons and a total of about 85 aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship. And that we only have 12 of them total and 7 of them are in your backyard pointing all of our guns, planes and scowls at you...haven't you played Risk? Just becuase you point your cannons at Kirkukst doesnt mean you won't attack Japan...i mean goddamn! Chill out! Just becuase it looks like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings doesn't mean you have to be a whiny bitch, damn

Why are you building up your forces? Obviously you're gearing up to attack TAWIAN! Well we wont hear of it! DEMOBILIZE IMMEADIATELY OR EL...cough cough oh youre strechting too, huh? ....WELL THATS JUST WHAT THE NAZIS SAID AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!

   7. Fight!

Hey where did everybody go? Dont you see the [insert nationality, religion, color]ese hate us becusae of our freedoms? If youre not with us then your with the evil doers....

 

OMG LOL!!!!1111 We're so close! Why havent we started firebombing Beijing yet?!?! Hey winning 2/3 world wars aint bad!


Yay! Arms Race with China!

Not only do we not do diplomacy. We actively threaten the other most powerful nation in the world, so that they step up military spending. Unbelievable. Except, very, very believable. Thanks Ryan for the tip.

In Defense of Kerry

In a recent comment Kevin writes:
At the end of the article Dean says his group is a "grassroots organization that supports socially progressive and fiscally responsible political candidates." If we take a prominent issue from Dean's campaign (as well as Kerry's), health care as a "right" for all Americans, we can easily see the contradiction in this statement. To accomplish this progressive goal it will take an absurd amount of money, and for a true "fiscally responsible" candidate this amount of spending is unacceptable. This speech about the cost of health care by John Kerry (http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0510.html) fails to mention how he is going to lower the cost of health care in detail. There are a lot of "glittering generalities" (a phrase Pat should appreciate from AP Government) in the speech. Kerry suggests that everyone visit his website to get the details - so I did, and I have been hard pressed to find any details. It's fairly obvious why the details are left out - the voter wouldn't like them very much.
...Some Americans are dirt poor, so the only affordable price for them is $0. The government will provide the entirety of the coverage for these people at that low, low price, and the rest of us will pay for it, not just those making over $200,000. After the Bush tax cuts are repealed in Kerry's utopia, there will be more tax hikes - for the vast majority of wage earners. I really don't think this is a stretch. He won't be able to afford his plans without a high-percentage raise in the income tax, as well as the many other forgotten taxes.
...Since many Kerry supporters are merely anti-Bush and subscribe to the mantra johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway, I would expect a healthy criticism of plans like universal health care, especially from the "fiscally responsible" candidates that will receive the support of the good Dr. Dean.
First, let's deal with what comes last, the alleged attitude of Kerry supporters that we all think he is a "douchebag" and that we are just voting for him because he is an alternative to Bush. Or, in more precise terms, we are a bunch of communists and we hate him (Kerry) but we couldn't stand the sight of another four years of the fascist, Bush. Something like that. Of course, the Republican talking point right now is to emphasize that Kerry and Edwards are "outside the mainstream" and "the first and fourth most liberal senators in Congress." Kevin's reference to Kerry's general douchebaggery is almost certainly taken from the website John Kerry is a Douchebag but I'm Voting for Him Anyway. Indeed, Kevin probably was referred to the site by me. However, upon more than a facile glance, it is easy to see that there is more than a bit of irony to the title:
John Kerry is a douchebag, but I'm voting for him anyway. Well, not really. That is to say, he's not actually a douchebag, or not nearly as much of one as what the media, George W., and even perhaps John Kerry himself have made him out to be. It seemed that every time I saw, heard, or read something about Kerry, his doucheness factor increased. It wasn't until I did just a little research on my own that it became clear that most of these occurrences could be explained as lies, deception, media excess, or simply poor campaigning strategy.
...I feel it is important to “clear the air” regarding some of the doucheier things that Kerry has done, been a part of, or been accused of doing. All of them have simple explanations, and in the end, stack up to almost nothing. When compared with his personal accomplishments, track record, and agenda, these instances prove to be nothing more than a spec of dirt on the bottom of his shiny, hopefully-soon-to-be-presidential shoes - when compared with the deeds of George W. Bush, they are naught but the sneeze of a field mouse against the sulfur and brimstone furnace-blast of unholy hell.
Essentially, John Kerry is not at all a "douchebag," and, indeed, he is actually a man of extremely impressive character who is, alas, like Al Gore, not one hell of a campaigner. The aforementioned website does a great deal to combat his image as a "douchebag." So there have been a few stunts (Jay Leno motorcycle entrance) and sometimes an inability to say perfectly reasonable things in clear language (sounds like a lawyer trying to worm his way out of something even when what he is trying to say is great). A lazy media that is just given to repeating unhelpful, thoughtless mantras, coupled with an agressive and totally unscrupulous campaign strategy by Karl Rove, leaves us with a huge impression of John Kerry as someone who "flip-flops" on every issue because he is incredibly indecisive, not to mention vain and "super liberal," "way out of the mainstream," whatever the hell that means. John Kerry is an excellent candidate for President, he's just not that great a campaigner.

I feel that this post is long enough for now. I'm gathering a bunch of information on the respective health care plans of Kerry and Bush, and my next post will present my findings. Needless to say, Kevin is more or less dead wrong in his assertions. Also, I have not forgotten about the "What is a Conservative?" post, I am just in the process of reworking my argumentative strategy. It will be along shortly.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Backgrounders for HIV/AIDS

      If you would like to learn more about HIV/AIDS, I have included the following resources for your perusal.
General Information.
UN efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.
Facts about AIDS.
Frequently Asked Questions about HIV/AIDS.
More Information. 

Marriage and the Government, Modern Science?

On my last post, about the issue of gay marriage and its debate in Congress, i recieved and interesting coutner argument from a "Non-Denominational Chirstian" or to pick a name out of a hat that is probably not anywhere near to his real name, Casey. If you, like me, are too lazy to scroll down and read his comment here are the relevant quotes:
"The majority of social scientists agree that a man and a woman are distinct and important to the raising of children."
I'm not sure if this is factual or relevant, but for now lets assume that its both.
He says he is aware of "some studies have been made on same-sex couples," but he adds "those who conduct them are members of the homosexual agenda, and thus bring a strong element of bias to their work." Of course, he does not comment on his own bias involved in his selection of "facts," but his bias is obvious and I don't feel he is obligated to depreciate his argument if there is no intent to decieve.
"Their findings suggest redefining marriage could very well undermine the social structure that works, albeit far from perfectly."
On what grounds? How was the study conducted? What was its hypothesis? What are the relevant facts? Who conducted the study? Do they have an agenda? Who doesnt have an agenda? What evidence is there that out social structure works? How can you call this anything more than a subjective (easily biased) report based upon qualitative data that can be interpreted differently?
Why can there be only one social structure? Isnt change ineveitable and underway? If so, shouldnt we seek to adapt and embrace the inevitable rather than persecute its innocent messengers?
"Point taken, we are in the midst of a marriage crisis, given the high levels of divorce in this country. However, do we want to risk putting more strain on this institution?"
I disagree that allowing gay people to have a recognized union a strain on any institution. And the solution to your perceived crisis is not upping the proverbial poll tax or reenforcing a new grandfather clause.

And finally:

"As long as the findings of social science case studies point to heterosexual unions as the best method of raising children, lets have our legal system support it."
I assume "Casey" understands that homosexual relations can't produce offspring, which means hes talking about adoption, i hope. Since i can't comment on whatever science hes talking about with out some details beyond the generalities he provides, i am forced to offer simply my own opinion. Adoption is preferable to abortion, the orphans/wards of the state are continually lost in a reportedly horrible system and denied many building blocks that they will need to account for later in life as a result of not having a family. If there are more avenues for those children to be out of the foster homes and into real ones i say unless there is quatitative proof that a gay family is inequipped to raise children (which there isn't and can never be without tools that can measure the intangible) you cannot litigate against it.
Just becuase certain heterosexuals find it icky to see two dudes kissing, it is not a value judgment on the character and worth of the people that make up that smooch. NO one will convince me that homosexuals are incapable of raising young, and no one can say truthfully) that every heterosexual family produces the best results in the young they raise.

That being said, I think this gets a little off the point of Federal involvement in the institution of marriage. Adoption, which is predominantly run by the private sector, is close to irrelevant (of course there is the argument concerning the series of court decisions that could eliminate the irrelevance if gay unions are recognized federally but let me get to that in second). I personally believe in a gay person's right to marry anybody they choose, but as far as politics are concerned i would not support a bill garrunteeing that right if it uses the word marry. Civil unions, on the other hand, carry none of the religious baggage associated with the term marriage and i would whole heartedly support/vote for actions protecting homosexuals couples' right to be recognized if they are willing to accept that responsibility to each other and the law.
Furthermore any actions to deny members in the affected segment of the population, or anyone in the citizenry, the right to love another person is morally, ethically, and legally unjust. If two people can legally love eachother why can't two others?

As i said in the original post, despite your personal (or religious, "gag-reflex"ional, etc) feelings regarding the issue, the legal grounds based upon our Constitution are not there. Pretty up the words any way you like, use (junk) science to progress your agenda, utilize scriptures all you want, to deny any person natural rights as defined by the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the U.S. is discrimination on par with what produced the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's. That movement also had its detractors, wondering about the adverse societal effects of intergration and interracial marrigaes (dilution of racial purity), but as we look back we can see that African Americans deserve equal protection and opportunity under the law and so do Homosexual Americans.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Bush And Sex

     The world health establishment is currently gathered in Bangkok for the 15th annual International Conference on AIDS. There, the United States and its key ally Uganda stand virtually alone in touting abstinence as an efficient, effective counter to the rapid spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
     To give credit where it is due, Uganda has, over the course of the past decade, reduced its infection rate from thirty percent to six percent. Despite the fact that the program succeeded largely because of a heavy emphasis on condom usage, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni opened the conference by challenging the role condoms in the spread of AIDS, and instead once again pushing for abstinence as the primary means of controlling this epidemic. The Bush Administration has touted a similar plan, as over one-third of the money earmarked for combating AIDS is dedicated to faith-based groups providing abstinence education.
     Unfortunately, this is an unsound plan for making significant in-roads against the spread of AIDS. AIDS is caused by the HIV virus, a retrovirus with no known cure or vaccine. It is not caused by welfare queens, the collapse of the modern family, or surprisingly enough, gay marriage. In short, this virus does not discriminate on the basis of political affiliation, ideology, or quality of worldview. It is rather, quite happy to commandeer the immune system of any human person, cannibalize that person's T-lymphocytes for the purposes of its own replication, and slowly eat its host to death.
     There are, however, a suite of behaviors that lower the risk of being infected with the HIV virus. And certainly, abstinence, like the use of condoms, is one of them. But a measure of rationality must be applied here; will people really just stop having sex? Can people really stop having sex? The sex drive represents one of the most primal and animal forces that govern the behavior of humanity. Because it was evolutionarily beneficial to have a strong desire to procreate, the sex drive has been selected for and integrated into the human psyche at a very basic level. The blood-brain barrier is permeable to non-polar molecules, leaving the brain vulnerable to the influence of steroid hormones. People are going to have sex. It is difficult to be more blunt.
     Teaching people about the proper use of condoms and other STI prevention methods will not cause otherwise pure and chaste children to have wild, promiscuous sex. No more than seatbelts cause people to drive more recklessly due to a false illusion of safety. No more than physician-prescribed programs of diet and exercise cause patients to pursue hard drugs because they now have health to spare.
     The entire concept of abstinence being an effective counter to AIDS is predicated largely upon two notions. Firstly, the institution of consensual sex. Do all partners in the world have right of refusal for sexual relations? Do all partners have an equal share of power or leverage in a relationship? Is it fair to assume that every event of possible disease transmission is composed of two people that are the same age, ethnicity, employment status, socio-economic class, level of maturity, ad nauseum? The answer to the somewhat nauseating questions listed above is a resounding "no." Clearly, these conditions are not met. Clearly, there are people who have no choice in their sex lives. And the key point upon which abstinence hinges is choice.
     Secondly, the belief in island immunity in favor of herd immunity. The idea of island immunity is a relic from a simpler time, when the United States was largely isolated by land and sea from the rest of the world. Crop blights and influenza outbreaks did not transfer from Europe as readily, if at all. With globalization, the resevoir of infectious disease is now the entirety of humanity. The "herd" is now the population of the world. The spread of infectious disease relies upon so many interactions between so many agents that it is very difficult, even with the most advanced computer, to accurately model such events. However, events in other regions of the world are not fundamentally disconnected from the United States. Rather, they are inexorably linked. An AIDS crisis in Africa means an AIDS crisis in the world means an AIDS crisis in the United States. Thus, an unwillingness to fight AIDS in other countries with the safe and effective method of condom usage negatively impacts the public health of the United States.
      These two premises form a dangerous combination, one that threatens to leave our generation to face a world even more fearful of and less equipped to deal with the spectre of AIDS. To ignore the plight of others even at direct detriment to one's self is ridiculous. To leave global health up the choice of those who often have none is irresponsible in the extreme.



Today's links...

  • This
  • is a great article by one Dr. Dean. Yes, that Dr. Dean. While I was never a huge fan of him as a candidate, he is turning into one hell of a post-candidate. And one topic that I will come back to again and again is the importance of science.

    What's a Conservative? (What is a Liberal?) Part 1.

    This post will be mostly schematic, and for that I apologize. I will follow up with more in depth posts (i.e. facts, figures, arguments). Right now I just want to sketch a (somewhat) iconoclast treatment of the perceived political dichotomy in this country, that of "liberals" v. "conservatives". There was a time when "liberal" meant Smithian economics, and the protection of individual liberty (at least for citizens). Conservativism, on the other hand, essentially meant monarchy (where available), support for the actions of the state, resistance to change. Liberal ideals and liberal philosophy (Locke, etc.) essentially drove the American and French revolutions (as the first such revolutions), and it was the conservatives in the British colonies who opposed the American Revolution. To his lasting credit, George Washington did not initiate a French-style Terror against them and they were incorporated into the new United States. It is interesting to note that the first great conservative thinker, Edmund Burke, was reacting against the liberalism of the French Revolution. That's just historical background, and we only want to pursue what happened to these two concepts in the United States, so we will leave Europe behind. If we take slavery as a fundamental issue in the nineteenth century, we can see how the "conservative" and "liberal" positions were defined there. In general, the most conservative believed the institution should not change, the moderates believed that it should be phased out over time, and the liberals wanted and end to it-immediately. It is not hard to see, in retrospect, where morality lay. Were just going to look at social issues, because I will need to do a little more poking around before I can say anything more than schematic about economic issues. So take Reconstruction. An essentially liberal time and one of the best times in American history, because for the first time liberals were truly in power, they were running the government responsibly, and making good on the idea that all men are created equal. The backlash to Reconstruction was a conservative backlash, because Southern whites were insulted by the idea of blacks being equal, so after the North helped them get back on track economically, they pressed the North to abandon Reconstruction. Thus, a century of Jim Crow carried out by conservatives and tolerated (as usual) by wimpy liberals (for a while, fortunately in 1932 we actually got a good man elected, and hats off to his uncle for not being a racist). So one cannot read the history of American conservativism without also reading the history of American racism. I am not insinuating that today conservativism = racism, but it is undeniable that today's meteoric rise to the head of government of "conservatives" is built on the "Southern strategy" engineered by Nixon and still in play of courting Southern whites in the wake of the civil rights movement. There are other factors, and I will get to them in my next post. This is enough for now, much more to be said.

    Marriage under attack but not by who They would have you believe...

    At my friend's house the other day, me and a few of my friends got into discussing the issue of gay marriage. It was a good group consisting of 5 people including me: Me, 1 progressive, another progressive religious person, and two seemingly politically unaffiliated but highly devout nondenominational evangelicals. Recipe for explosives debate, i know, however our enduring freindship made this conversation as freindly as conversation gets with the occasional spike in emotions. My comments here draw largely from that discussion. Where ever i use the term God, The Church, or anything of that nature it is an inclusive term describing all views of GOd and all religions that exist to glorify theirs.

    The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) comes to a vote in the senate sometime today and will surely be defeated (barring Rick Santorum's aides bursting into the Senate with automatic weapons and holding them to the domes of every Democrat and many Republicans). The strategy in bringing FMA to a vote is to get every senator on the record either for or against gay marriage. Even though a large number of Senators are against Gay marriage, they will be unfairly targeted by the Religious Right (TM) for voting to preserve the Constitution. But FMA aside let us look at this issue.

    Why am I for Gay Marriage?

    I am not pro-Gay Marriage. I am pro-Civil Union.
    (I'll explain the difference in a second)
    There really isnt a rational, factually founded argument against allowing an adult access to the hospital bed of his life partner. Giving two committed adults the ability to make a life together should be something this country strives for; not attacks. Respecting an individuals inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness is one of the cornerstones of this nation. And sexual orientation is protected by this stone, therefore not allowing due process, equality, and equal opportunity under the law for people whose only perceived offense is protected by the documents written by our Founding Fathers is tantamount to slapping those same Fathers in their respective (and respected) faces.

    This is discrimination.
    I am against any discrimination based upon race, sex, creed, or orientation, and this most certainly is a discriminatory action. This country recognizes that there should be no restrictions or discrimination based on gender. Therefore heres an example:

    2 adults want to marry and are allowed to => they recieve all the benefits and responsibilties of their choice.

    2 adults want to marry but are not allowed to => they recieve none of the benefits despite their willingness to live up to the same responsibilites.

    The only difference between these two situations is the genders of the individuals involved. Is that fair? Is that legal? I don't think so.

    If you change Gay Marriage to Black Marriage or to South Paw Marriage, there would be no way this issue would be discussed as a serious issue that our representatives in the legislature should spend time on(except for in certain claverns in Illinois and Tennessee). And especially becuase we live "in this post-9/11 world" there are hundreds of thousands of more important issues to discuss.

    But the Bible says...
    Yes the Bible alledgedly is against homosexuals and homosexual marriage (I say allegedly becuase i myself have not read all of it). However, this country is also founded on the seperation of Church & State as well as the Constitution garuntees freedom of religion -- thus freedom from religion. So just becuase the Bible says something is not grounds for laws and restrictions in this country.

    However this is a fundamental reason why any religious/devout person should be against federal regulation and control over a fundamentally religious institution. Marriage is a word representing a union of love recognized and blessed by God (in any religion). If any church does not see it fit to marry two people based upon their religious beliefs, then that is at their choice and has always been their choice! But bringing in the government to enforce or encroach upon their right to decide weakens any further choices they make. It is a crutch the church doesnt need.

    Though this point is arguable or perhaps irrelevant to different people, another stronger point is: the government has not protected the sanctity of marriage ever. If two people who do not love each other want to get married (for whatever reason) they can as long as they are of opposite sexes. They get all the same benifits of health insurance, joint tax filing, hospital rights, sponsorship of immigration etc. Despite the fact that they do not love eachother (a fundamental part of marriage) they are able to use the system and the institution for its benifits. This happens today and has nothing to do with religion and it cheapens marriage, but i ask "why does it matter at all the sex of the individuals?" The law approves of this union despite the parasitic nature of it, what grounds then does it have to deny recognizing two others that love eachother as much as or more than any other couple for their committment. If a man a woman can get married and divorced as many times as they want to why can't these same rights be extended to all adults?

    Although I personally support the rights of homosexuals to marry, I argue that the government shouldnt even be discussing it. What the government should be debating is the rights of gays to have civil unions that hold the same rights as heterosexual unions under the law. Taking marriage out of the picture takes the religious constraints with it and allows for a real discussion and a real look at what America values. America values intergration and equality, religion and personal freedoms. But the FMA is a slap in our faces, it tells us that we do not have the right to live as we choose and it demotes a substantial portion of our citizenry to second-class status just like the 3/5ths rule did years ago.

    Thus, I believe that by supporting this push for Federal regulation of marriage, the Rick Santorum's in the House & Senate are the ones responsible for threatening the sanctity and the institution of marriage by taking jurisdiction away from the churchs, mosques, synagouges, temples (and the context of religion) who are the only entities who have the specific right to judge this issue. They rip away at the relevance of The Church by not respecting it or staying out of its affairs.

    And they also attack the Constitution of the United States of America by attempting to add to it a document (FMA) that both disrespects the spirit of our the Constitution while contradicting its most fundamental portions.

    Whether or not you personally believe that a homosexual has the right to marry another on whatever grounds, you should be protected from someonelse's contary beliefs if those beliefs infringe upon your pursuit of happiness and your rights as a citizen of this country. You have that protection, just as every American does.

    See the FMA for what it is: a wedge issue that attempts to split the swing voters in favor of Geroge Bush and a devious assualt on our nation's most revered document.

    See the congressional Push for legislation prohibiting Gay Marriage for what it is: disrespectful to God, His Church and The Constitution.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2004

    Todays Links...

    A great editorial by Ray McGovern a former CIA analyst for 27 years

    Paul Krugman's latest on Tom "the Hammer" Delay....hopefully his career fizzles like the former MC's.

    Rob Cohen's latest asking "do you feel safer today?"

    Read'em and weep.

    Irony and Ike

    "Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations...Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad...Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties...[T[hreats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only...In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together...As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow...Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield. Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose."

    A Republican President said that on his last day in office. Amazing. I suppose I should say something about being new to the Blogosphere, but I would rather just pretend like I've already been doing this for a while. Should be fun.

    Responsibilty is a pretty word in an Administration that doesnt seem to own a Dictionary

    "The culture of America is changing from one that has said 'If it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else' to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life."
    George W. Bush (last weekish)

    It seems to me that if there ever was a more hypocritical statement that this i have yet to come across it. The current US Regime : accepting responsibilty/consequences for actions :: teddy bears : causing huriccanes off the coast of Florida. I think the most telling example of this adversion is the fact that not a single person has been fired for the tragedy that was 9-11. Or for the incompetence surrounding Iraq (except Tenet but Ill get to that in a second). Or for lying to the Legislature about the Actual cost for the Medicare Bill.

    Wheres the consequences for actions Mr. President? Sure Tenet has resigned under pressure of CIA bashing studies from a partisan comittee looking to pass the buck away from the like-minded executive branch.
    That study not only decided not to investigate (until after the election when it wont matter) the use of CIA intel in the Admins case for War but it also questioned its jurisdiction to even comment on that aspect (possibly releasing the Admin of any consequences for thier actions during the runup to war where every single one of the upper echelons lied). Despite the fact that the Intel Committee is the only congressional committee that could possibly have that other than the 9-11 Commission which has been sytematically stymied by the Stonewalling Bushies (before intense public pressure demanded they comply, to which they only barely ever have).

    All in all Bush's rhetoric makes me wish i had a never ending supply of forks to stick into my eyes...

    Forgive this first post my clarity will improve with time. i swear.