As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Keep Talking, Dobson

Dude, I think Air America should just start broadcasting James Dobson's speeches at this point. Because you just make yourself look like a fool when you attack Spongebob Squarepants as part of "the gay agenda":

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian groups accuse the makers of a video starring SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney and a host of other cartoon characters of promoting homosexuality to children.

The video is a remake of the 1979 hit song "We Are Family" using the voices and images of SpongeBob, Barney, Winnie the Pooh, Bob the Builder, the Rugrats and other TV cartoon characters. It was made by a foundation set up by songwriter Nile Rodgers after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in an effort to promote healing.

Christian groups however have taken exception to the tolerance pledge on the foundation's Web site, which asks people to respect the sexual identity of others along with their abilities, beliefs, culture and race.

"Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity" within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement released Thursday.

That's right, by the way, Dobson has a problem with a "tolerance pledge." Democrats, as you know, are the party of tolerance. Republicans are the party of demonizing cartoon characters.

The majority of Americans will read this story and laugh their asses off, just like they did when Jerry Falwell called Tinky Winky a "gay role model." I knew when "moral values" got raised to such stratospheric heights that the Christian right would start making fools of themselves. Looks like it's begun.


Michael Powell Stepping Down

This is actually really big news. I have no faith in the President's cabinet appointments, but the Congress' bipartisan slamming of Powell's relaxed media regulation reforms had to be a wake-up call that America does not want concentrated media ownership. This is one of those issues on which Democrats are undeniably supported by broad swaths of the public. Unfortunately, it's in Big Media's best interest not to report on it.

We obviously need an FCC Chair that isn't insanely poking around for any sign of indecency in everything, even Athenian statues. But we also need a voice committed to broad media diversity, to independence of broadcasting, and all of the other implementations that will reduce the impact of Corporate Controlled Media in America. Go here and sign the petition to ask for a new chair that recognizes these needs.


Fun With Human Tragedy

Hey kids! Play the tsunami game! You see, a tsunami has just hit FEMA Beach and has rearranged a few things (like 200,000 bodies). Please put the 9 objects back where they belong (like in the mass grave) to see the cyber-prize (there is no cyber prize, just shame and disgrace)!

Never mind the horribly bad taste, exactly why is FEMA trying to market themselves to kids anyway? What purpose does that serve?


Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Untamed Fires of Freedom?

That was a motif from the Inaugural speech. That the fires of freedom are spreading around the world.

An unfortunate image, don't you think? I guess that's what Shock and Awe was. The untamed fires of freedom. I guess that's what killed that wedding party in Baghdad. Fires of freedom. I guess that's why, according to some report, 100,000 Iraqis have perished. They were just consumed by the fires of freedom!

Freedom. Something that burns everything in its path, causing destruction, mass death, and tragedy.

Yeah, that sounds apt.


Um, that means he IS a divider

Hat tip to Tom Tomorrow for this one. Go visit.


Look on the Bright Side

The Bush term of office is now MORE than half over! There are less days left in this Administration than have passed!

And you know today's shot. No work getting done today.

Plus all those holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, long weekends.

And the last two weeks will probably be spent packing up.

So really, there's only a year and a half or so left! Chin up, we can handle a year and a half! the way, the biggest cheer in the crowd during the Inaugural speech was when a "No War" banner was pulled down. Nice.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Germ of an Idea

After seeing a report on port security, it seems to me there's a way to conflate keeping our ports safe, buying American, or raising revenue from big business.

We all know that port security is woefully incomplete. A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security shows much of the (paltry) money supplied in grants for protecting ports is squandered on low priority problems rather than actual vulnerabilities. This was at least a minor issue during the election campaign. And both candidates agreed that nuclear proliferation was the biggest issue facing American security; basically, the prospect of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons. When the port and container security issue was brought up in the debates, Bush complained, "I don't know how we're going to pay for all this... there's a huge tax gap."

This was an opening that has not nearly been exploited enough. The President is unwilling to pay to protect America. Well, there are 2 solutions that don't raise taxes on ordinary Americans (not that it'd be a problem if they did; I believe my security is worth paying for):

1) Raise quotas and/or increase incentives for American manufacturers, so that we are less reliant on the nation's ports to deliver practically every good to market. This can be framed as a security issue. American manufacturing makes Americans safer. The National Association of Manufacturing could run with that one.

2) Add a "security tariff" to importers, specifically designed to pay for port security grants. This will increase competitiveness from stateside manufacturers, and give multinationals less incentive to purchase/manufacture everything from overseas.

These basically play out as corporate taxes and protectionism, but tying them to national security is a way to get them sold to the public. The decline of the manufacturing base will eventually catch up with this country as it has with all consumer-based societies in history. Here's a way to stop the bleeding. Or, here's a way to strengthen ports without it being paid for by taxpayers.

I don't know, I'm working on it...


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Pro-Life (so they can make us money)

Via August J. Pollak, I saw one of those wingnut arguments that actually has the power to snap your head off its vertebral moorings and send it spinning into the atmosphere:

SAN DIEGO, January 17, 2005 ( — A leader of the US’s largest denomination of African-Americans said that America’s Social Security woes are a result of abortion — because baby boomers aborted so many of those who would otherwise be supporting them in their retirement.

“Part of the problem that we're seeing now with Social Security has to do with the fact that 40 to 50 million people who have been killed through abortions have not taken their role as productive citizens,” Church of God in Christ Bishop George McKinney said, as reported by the AP.

What's more, the article cites an op-ed from the Washington Post that, while not specifically linking Social Security to abortion, does link it to the falling birthrate:

There are many reasons birthrates are falling, but Social Security itself is likely a major cause because of the raw deal it creates for parents and the enormous subsidies it provides to non-parents," Phillip Longman explained in his op-ed in the Washington Post on Sunday, January 9. “So long as Social Security effectively penalizes people for having the very children the system requires, it contributes to a downward spiral of falling birthrates leading to higher and higher tax rates.

Are you trying to say that the falling birthrate is A DIRECT RESULT of Social Security? That new families doing their family planning think "Hmm, if we don't have a kid, we'll get all that free Social Security money from somebody else's kids!"

That's ludicrous. If anything, families may be having less kids (particularly lower and middle-class families) because of the supreme difficulty, in the supply-side dominated economy of most of the past 30 years, to afford it.

As for the unborn children who would have kept all the seniors and baby boomers fat and happy for the next several decades, it's one of those arguments that is so stupid you get lockjaw trying to refute it. It's like linking veteran's benefits to global warming. It's also an argument that could be made to practically anything, good or bad:

Crime: "If it weren't for abortions, there'd be 50 million more potential murderers and rapists on the loose!"
Iraq: "If it weren't for abortions, we'd have 50 million more potential National Guard recruits! We wouldn't have this shortage!"
Tort Reform: "If it weren't for abortions, we wouldn't have 50 million more potential lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits!"
Abortion: "If it weren't for abortions, we would have 50 million more people in the world arguing against abortions!"
Abortion (the other way): "If it weren't for abortion, we would have 50 million more potential high-risk teenagers about, some of whom might want to get an abortion!"

I used to think that wingnuts could argue anything, but now I'm convinced!

By the way, this George McKinney, who made the comments, endorsed Bush in 04 (no surprise) because of his stands on abortion and marriage. He was recently nominated for Chaplain of the US Senate, according to his bio. The Church of God in Christ apparently has 5.5 million members. He also said this:

Bishop George McKinney, General Board member of Church of God in Christ, in A-P interview McKinney says abortion is a modern 'holocaust.'

It makes it hard to be religiously tolerant, doesn't it?



The DNC fight had better end with Howard Dean in that chair, because maybe it'll give Democrats a spine implant in Washington. Why does every Dem opening statement at the Condi Rice confirmation hearings, for example, begin with "You will be confirmed, Dr. Rice"? Does that need to be said?

It's a small point, but I just feel like we're seeing the return of the lying-dog Democrats, and it's up to the Democratic constituency to not let that happen. It has nothing to do with Rice, though outside of Barbara Boxer I don't feel that anyone held her to any kind of proper account for her role in the series of national security gaffes during this administration. It's about being an opposition party, it's about not being cowed in the face of the Republican monolith. Sen. Reid of Nevada has been better than expected, but his efforts (like bringing out FDR's grandson to protest his use in a pro-Social Security privatization ad) seem short-lived. The "status quo" candidates for DNC Chair being pushed by the likes of Pelosi and Reid include Tim Roemer, who voted against the Clinton budget bill and for the Bush tax cuts; and Martin Frost, who ran an entire campaign last cycle as a giant blowjob for President Bush (and he lost, by the way). The DNC Chairmanship is a partisan position, a position where you can advocate why your party has better ideas than the other one. It's not the role for an equivocator, a sellout, and certainly not a member of a right-wing think tank.

I can't stomach four more years of playing patty-cake. So far I've seen exactly one Senator (Boxer) and a handful of black Congressmen (Conyers, Tubbs-Jones) willing to be opposition Democrats. We need strong voices, both in and out of government, articulating progressive policies, not a group of suits twisted in knots.


Monday, January 17, 2005

More Adventures in Asia Minor

Without a foothold in the halls of power, at least we have Seymour Hersh to raise alarm bells about who's next on the Axis of Evil takedown list: Iran. The article in this week's New Yorker suggests that high-level officials are staying out of the European nonproliferation talks with Iran, hoping they will fail so the military can begin to march to Tehran. And guess what? We're going to be greeted as liberators over there too!

The government consultant told me that the hawks in the Pentagon, in private discussions, have been urging a limited attack on Iran because they believe it could lead to a toppling of the religious leadership. "Within the soul of Iran there is a struggle between secular nationalists and reformers, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the fundamentalist Islamic movement," the consultant told me. "The minute the aura of invincibility which the mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse"--like the former Communist regimes in Romania, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said.

We know how well a limited attack worked last time. As I've discussed before, limiting the attack is a strategic tactic, a false hope by the political arm of the Administration to minimize the effect on our soliders, increase public support, and allow for multiple pre-emptive attacks at once. "Light and lean" can handle many wars on all fronts (and when I say handle, I mean "not handle at all"). And it demeans how effective our enemies can be by running in there with pitifully small forces to do the job. Respect for the enemy is a fundamental tenet of war. We don't even believe our enemies are strong enough to beat themselves.

But the more terrifying prospect that Hersh brings up in his article is the absence of any check on the power of the Pentagon:

George W. Bush’s reëlection was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control—against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism—during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way.

The hubris of this government is insane. After totally botching the War in Iraq, the President now places unparalleled power in the hands of the very group most responsible for the botching. And Bush is using the 51% "mandate" as proof of his righteousness; he is vindicated on Iraq, because, well, you re-elected me. The myopia of that statement is, quite frankly, frightening. He's gone from an "era of responsibility" (2000 Inauguration) to an "accountability moment" (2004 Election)... now that's some shrinkage in the size of government right there. An era to a moment in just four years.

By the way, the Administration response to the Hersh article has ranged from flat denial to attacking Hersh and his sources to saying "we plan for a lot of contingencies." Classic.


Vote __________

The papers of record on both coasts are telling us how democracy is playing out in Iraq: under cover of darkness. First from the New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 15 - The threat of death hung so heavily over the election rally, held this week on the fifth floor of the General Factory for Vegetable Oil, that the speakers refused to say whether they were candidates at all.

"Too dangerous," said Hussein Ali, who solicited votes for the United Iraqi Alliance, a party fielding dozens of candidates for the elections here. "It's a secret."

And then Mr. Ali and his colleagues left, escorted by men with guns.

A similar story in the Los Angeles Times, only with the particular emphasis on violence against women:

BAGHDAD — It is a measure of how unsafe it has become for women seeking office in Iraq that one, in a moment of grim humor, joked recently that she was afraid her husband would find out she was a candidate.

Aside from about a dozen women with established national profiles, female candidates in Iraq's upcoming elections are running in secret, forced underground by the threat of violence.

Is it really wise to hold elections for candidates that are too afraid for their lives to even acknowledge that they are, in fact, candidates? How will that possibly get better once they have to, if elected, show up for work and deliberate on an Iraqi constitution.

Bush apologists hope that once the elections are over the insurgency's back will be finally broken. Of course, they've said that so many times with so many different tipping points I don't know how these claims can be realistically trusted. It's clear that, once the elections are over, the assembly will have a huge target on its back. Unless the parliamentarians continue to stay underground while governing. And how exactly would that be considered representative democracy?

The insurgent's presence is simply stronger than the military one at this point, thanks to the gross negligence of the Administration's postwar "strategy".