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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Within the past 24 hours, I have interacted with not one but TWO people who say they do not believe that human activity is responsible for causing global warming. Only one of them was overtly hostile to the idea, spouting the old, discredited line that we are simply in a normal "cycle," and the opinion of the scientific community be damned (this is someone who works as a disability analyst, mind you-her primary credential for being so cocksure of herself on this issue is apparently that she can read and parrot dated right wing propaganda.) The other one stated that since "not everyone agreed" with the IPCC report-and gave me one or two names of dissenters-he thought the facts were "cherry picked" to support the argument that we were the cause of global warming (this is a guy who has no use for George Bush so I feel a little more charitable towards him. However, he is still a moron.)

Since Christmas, I have interacted with someone who told me he believes there were WMDs in Iraq. He seemed a little surprised when I told him that even those cretins at the White House admitted that there were no WMDs. Unlike my ignorant but literate acquaintance in the first example, I'm not sure he even knew where to get information...

I've already posted the example of the person who thought that stem cell research was "killing babies."

Although I've never personally interacted with her-thank God-Laura Bush thinks that there's only one bomb a day going off in Iraq. She also thinks Condoleezza Rice can't be president because she's a single only child. The only remark in the world that could make me defend Condoleezza Rice...of course she can be president! What does being single have to do with anything? She can't be president because she's a lying fuck, but not because she's single!!!

What in God's name makes people so stupid? Everytime I was exposed to one of these clearly incorrect statements-humans don't cause global warming, Saddam had WMDs, stem cells are pre-born children-I felt like I had lost 5 points off my IQ. Is it catching?

I'm not talking about ideology here. You don't have to be an intellectual midget in order to be a conservative-in fact, to come up with a lot of their lies and spin requires one be cognitively functional at a pretty high level (I actually tend to agree with Ann Coulter's statement that the most intelligent people are either liberal or conservative). I'm talking about ongoing belief in a position that has been thoroughly discredited, as reflected in the old Will Rogers saying: "It's not what he doesn't know that scares me. It's what he knows for certain that just ain't so." It usually isn't because the person espousing the discredited belief is completely ignorant of the facts (although sometimes that is the case, as is possible with the guy who was so sure about the WMDs). Where does it come from?

I don't know. Is it conceit? That only you can figure out the truth, despite the evidence and the more reasonable beliefs of those around you? This seems a likely culprit in the case of the stupid global warming woman and the stupid stem cell poster.

Is it laziness? Simply too much work to change your opinion about something, in spite of overwheming evidence that you are wrong? In the case of the stupid global warming woman, I doubt this, considering the ferocity with which she delivered the discredited anti-global warming argument. But in the case of the WMD guy, that may be true.

Sunk cost bias? Have these folks devoted so much time and energy into this irrational and stupid belief that nothing short of a nuclear explosion will shake them from it? Again, it seems to fit the global-warming and stem cell stupid people, and possibly the less hostile but equally stupid global-warming guy. I'm sure the WMD believer had invested a lot in his belief as well, but it just didn't seem like it was a personal matter to him, more of an uninformed matter.

Religion? Does the belief in something in which there is absolutely no basis of evidence of any kind make you inherently stupid? Sam Harris seems to think so, but I disagree, although I don't think it makes you any smarter. But religion seems to be one of those rare things that can be compartmentalized in terms of how stupid it makes a person. Anyway, I only know the religion of two of the stupid people above, and one of them is Laura Bush.

Or do they just think the rest of us are morons?

So, what do we do about stupid people? Do we try to talk to them about why they hold the ideas they do, as if we thought they could learn something? Do we prohibit them from smoking? From scaring small children? Do we ask them to colonize so they don't give stupid to the rest of us?

It's something to ponder as I sit down to watch my first Red Sox game in five months, a spring training affair in Florida...I'm stupid, I know, for living in an area where we have winter six months out of the year, when I know there's warmer places elsewhere.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Strom Thurmond Still Speaks and It's Still Ugly

Ok, I've got to admit I don't know the political persuasion of Ellen Senter, a niece of the erstwhile senior senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, may he rest in eternal damnation. But I do know it must be some form of the Jackass Party. Calling this woman an idiot is an insult to idiots. She has got to be the stupidest person on the planet. Not only is she unbelievably stupid, she is also jaw-droppingly racist (in the Scarlett O'Hara way). How else to explain this beauty when she was commenting about the Rev. Al Sharpton's claims that his family was linked to the Thurmond family through slavery? (Are you sitting down?)

"I doubt you can find many native South Carolinians today whose family, if you traced them back far enough, didn't own slaves," Senter, of Columbia, South Carolina, told the Daily News.
She added: "And it is wonderful that (Sharpton) was able to become what he is in spite of what his forefather was."

Yeah. I can feel your eyes widen through the monitor. Didn't I tell you?

Where to begin? First off, as the ignorant, arrogant Ms. Senter is clearly not aware...native South Carolinians were CHEROKEES!!!!! NOT ONE NATIVE AMERICAN SOUTH CAROLINIAN WAS NAMED THURMOND!!!!!!! What the hell, does she think you only count as native if you stepped off the boat from somewhere else? Earth to Ms. Senter, the Webster dictionary definition of "native" is, "of indigenous origin, growth, or productions." Honey, that ain't you or your come from interloper stock, just like the rest of us caucasians, you pompous ass.

Secondly, what's that asinine crack about his "forefather"? That Sharpton's forefather was a slave is certainly not a poor reflection on him, (although it is a poor reflection on the Thurmonds). But the insidious underlying assertion, of course, is that his station in life was all he was fit to ever be anyway. Of course, this means that none of his descendents could be expected to amount to a hill of beans, since they all carry that same "slave" gene with them-you know, the one that makes you stupid and shiftless and only fit to do a white cunt's bidding. Too bad for Al he didn't have the good sense to have white genteel grandparents, then maybe he could have really made something of himself...but, you know, he did well to come as far as he did. Considering the unfortunate circumstances of his ancestry, that is.

Come to think of it, Denzel Washington has done pretty well, too...and Bob, and look at Keith Ellison! Whoda thunk it?

The state of ignorance, arrogance, and racism is alive and well in the US. What's sad is, I bet Ms. Senter would tell you she doesn't have a racist bone in her body, and that a lot of her best friends are black. With jobs!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

So...Is Aggression Only Bad When it Speaks Japanese?

"I want you to tell them: 'It's time for you to turn off the TV and stop playing Game Boy.... I don't want to have to raise money in Hollywood all the time."
Barack Obama, speaking to a Democratic crowd in Austin, Texas.

I live in the bluest area of a blue state, and yet our one daily paper-the Portland Press Herald-remains intransigently conservative. It's pro war-the editorial page editor remains unwavering in his assertion that overthrowing Saddam was in and of itself a worthy goal-and peppers it's pages with articles by right wing neanderthals like Jonah Goldberg.

Well, on this day before the Oscars, the right wing goon currently being represented as a reasonable voice to consider on the editorial pages of the Press Herald is James Pinkerton, usually found on the panel of "Fox Newswatch." Originally printed in his Newsday column, Mr. Pinkerton is apparently upset that Clint Eastwood's "Letters from Iwo Jima"-a portrait of the WWII battle from the point of view of the Japanese- is being considered for an Academy Award tonight. What pisses James off is not this particular movie-although he is definitely bristling at the portrait of Japanese soldiers as actually human-but the fact that Eastwood feels that war in general is a futile exercise. Seemingly not understanding the irony behind his words, Pinkerton haughtily states:

"Yet, wars frequently resolve vital issues-that is, international ambition, aggression, and conquest."

Ummm, James? but then he proceeds to dig himself even deeper.

"Japan, for example, began dreaming of dominating Asia in the late 19th century. First, it took over Taiwan and Korea; then, it defeated Russia. Starting in 1931, it attempted to conquer all of China. And in 1941, of course, came Pearl Harbor. Had America not defeated Japan, all of Asia and the Pacific might still be bowing down to the Rising Sun."

Ok, let's think about this, which Pinkerton obviously didn't before he began his diatribe proving how war is sometimes necessary to defend oneself against aggression and imperialism. He provides the perfect argument for ongoing resistance to the American occupation of Iraq. After all, the US invaded Iraq (aggression) in March of 2003 under false pretenses to cover an actual agenda of "spreading democracy" in the Middle East and implanting west-friendly puppet governments so we could access their oil (international ambition). We deposed Saddam Hussein in the process (conquest).

(But then, of course, a funny thing happened on the way to the empire...)

Think of the second paragraph from an Arab/Muslim perspective in a few years:

"The US began dreaming of dominating the Middle East in the late 20th century. First, it took over Iraq; Starting in 2007, it attempted to conquer all of Iran, and, of course, Syria. Had the insurgents and jihadists not defeated America, all of the Arab/Muslim world might be bowing down to the Stars and Stripes."

Hmmm...finally, Pinkerton ends his column with the following flourish:

"No amount of retroactive Hollywood political correctness can ever detract from what was done there. By Americans -- also known, in that battle, as the good guys."

Easily rewritten by Muslims as:

"No amount of retroactive Hollywood political correctness can ever detract from what was done there. By Americans -- also known, in that battle, as the bad guys."

Because in their eyes, the good guys will be the ones fighting the aggression, international ambition, and conquest thirsted for by the United States.

Thank you, Mr. Pinkerton, for your compelling argument against allowing us to continue our imperial aggression against sovereign nations, done in much the same manner for which you chastise the Japanese. The insurgents will need only point to your ideas-aggressive imperialism must be stopped in order to preserve important culture and way of life-as a rallying cry for their relentless acts of bloody sabotage against our servicepeople.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Tony Blair's Ride

With apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

Listen, my children, if you can bear
To the rise and fall of Tony Blair
Elected in Britain on Labour's back
Screwed over that country because of Iraq
Where he's now pulling out, in disgrace and despair.

He said to his friend, "George, do what you will!
Then I'll be your able and willing schill
Jump-start this war in Iraq, if you can-
And between you and me we'll be stopped by no man!
You'll hit them first with your bucket o'lies
And then you and I will just have to devise
A way to keep going the fear and alarm
From every mansion to every farm
So all will support our warfare with Saddam!"

Then Tony sent 46,000 troops
While the Britons began to divide into groups
Of those who believed, and those who opposed
But the channels of discourse had mostly closed.
At first it was fun! Saddam was thrown out!
Silencing those who'd expressed any doubt
Of the ethics of starting this pre-emptive war
That shock-and-awe show that one couldn't ignore
Hadn't those naysayers been such a bore!

What happened next? Well the reason for war
Was exposed as a fraud, and Tony a whore
For the bloodthirsty lies of new King George-
That feast of untruths upon which we still gorge.
The Britons were dying, Iraq was a mess-
So Tony decided he must reassess
His plan, before all was TOTALLY lost
"Pretty much a disaster," he told David Frost
Was fighting King George's war worth the high cost?

Apparently not, so early this year
He threw in the towel, and made it clear
That the Britons were finished. The war was a bust.
King George now stood alone in bloodlust
Well, except for Dick Cheney, whose take
Was this was good news! Tony wasn't a snake!
But Britain's finally conceded defeat
There should be rejoicing on Downing Street!
They're going out as they came in-with deceit.

Listen, my children, if you can bear
To the rise and fall of Tony Blair
Who left his best friend, George, holding the bag
When he said it was over and waved a white flag
And pulled out of Iraq in disgrace and despair.

Best Quote of the Day

"When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know you've probably got some big problems."-
Barack Obama, referring to Dick Cheney's pathetically spun assertion that the decision by the British to pull troops from Basra is a sign that things are going well in Iraq.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Plight of the Blastocyte

I spend some time on what is ostensibly a sports message board. However, as it is an open forum with no restrictions on membership or what can actually even be discussed there, the topics often stray far from the doings of the Red Sox. Being that we are primarily New Englanders, that off-topic is very often politics. Although it drives some other members batty, I really enjoy this aspect of the board. It exposes me to a broad cross section of political ideas I might not otherwise encounter frequently, given that a) I live in a blue area of a blue state, and b) most of my friends are of a blue persuasion. What never ceases to amaze me is that these people can espouse some of the ideas they do-in public, no less, albeit under the security cloak of an internet screenname-and still retain enough brain power to feed themselves. It's remarkable, (although also very unfortunate).

Today we got a special post from one of the most braindead far right regulars on the board (someone who has stated without shame that s/he believes that AIDS was brought to America by men having sex with monkeys-I am not making that up), a sexually ambiguous poster who calls itself turn2jeter (right wingnut and a Yankee fan to boot..oh, the humanity!) In response to a post about federal funding for stem cell research, turn2jeter remarked, just like it was a proclamation from the NIH:

"Fetal stem research has been conducted for over a quarter of a century with not much positive coming from it. However, stem cell research used from other means (not killing a baby) have found some success."

Ok...I swear this is an actual post on a Red Sox message board.

I get where s/he got the concept of stem cells being a "baby," because that's what the right wing media insists that they are, and if you're stupid you buy it. All one has to do is going to and see it borne out before your very eyes. Blastocytes suddenly become "pre-born children." Blastocytes! And nowhere is there any mention of the fact that the stem cells to be used for research are otherwise headed for the dumpster. The prolife crowd conveniently obfuscates that fact. The embryos in question come from two sources: either they are created in a lab by implanting human DNA into a donated egg, or left over from fertility treatments. In both cases, the extra embryos necessarily created by the process are destroyed. They have absolutely NO CHANCE IN HELL OF ENDING UP A BABY, and every chance of being incinerated.

So, what is the right wing really against in this case, anyway? The research? What purpose does it serve to be against the research? Not doing the research is not going to result in any more "human life" because these particular clumps of cells are going to end up as ashes no matter what. So, my best guess is that the US Taliban is actually against the process of invitro fertilization, the only process by which many otherwise infertile couples can have a baby. Hey, James Dobson! Tony Perkins! Look at that new mother! There's your real culprit! The murderous bitch! Here's a sign for you to picket outside her door-



Ludicrous, isn't it? But if the truth be told, those doctors and social workers and parents-to-be are the real offenders of the pre-born blastocytes, and if the right weren't so monumentally politically motivated by this issue, they would be agitating for the immediate shutdown of every fertility clinic in the US.

But that was only one idiotic point made in this moron's post. The other is that stem cell research has been conducted for 25 years with no results, but other stem cells have shown enormous promise. Well, of course that's utter nonsense. It's only been since 1998 that James Thomson's researchers at the University of Wisconsin isolated and grew stem cells from human embryos, not until 2000 that other researchers began finding that stem cells found in the brain are apparently able to form other kinds of cells. And while nobody is disputing the potential of adult stem cells to help provide insight and treatment for illness, their existence and usefulness in research vs that of embryonic stem cells has been distorted by the right wing media, in direct contrast to statements from scientists who ought to know what they're talking about, like those at the Mayo Clinic: "Researchers believe that adult stem cells may not be as versatile, durable or healthy as embryonic stem cells are. The problems with adult stem cells are that they may not be able to be manipulated to produce all cell types, which limits how they can be used to treat diseases, and they don't seem to have the same ability to multiply that embryonic stem cells do. They're also more likely to contain abnormalities due to exposure to environmental hazards, such as toxins, or from errors introduced into cells during replication."

Opponents of stem cell research really have only one target in sight-control of the sexual behavior in women. Once we get stem cells classified as people, how can we continue to support abortion? And once abortion is no longer available, women will stop having sex.

It's ridiculous, I know. But that really is the bottom line here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Right Wing Haiku

President McCain?
Exposed erstwhile "maverick" and
Sad Falwell suckup.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Alan Colmes Unleashed?

Just got "The Smirking Chimp" (see link on sidebar) delivered to my email, and the first thing I opened was this unusually tame liberal look at Alan Colmes, famed pussy of the liberal persuasion of "Hannity & Colmes" on the Fox News channel. Steve Young paints a sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered Colmes, fighting the good fight to get his progressive point across in a boiling sea of neocon neanderthals, who deride him regularly with remarks that he's their "favorite liberal."

Now, I am not one of those who believes that Colmes is a Fox plant. I believe he is a genuine progressive, albeit one with an exceedingly high tolerance for bullshit and a maddening philosophy that to get ahead, you've got to get along, even if it's with the likes of goons like Newt Gingrich.

"I believe it's better to put out fires with water, not with more fire," says Colmes when asked why he doesn't adopt a more aggressive approach akin to the pitbull style of his cohost.

Which in and of itself is not a bad philosophy, actually. Done well, and in the right context, it can be very, very effective, as the success of Al Franken's show and books attest-bury them with facts, as well as evidence of their own deception, and let your arguments stand on their own. The problem with it in Colmes' case is that it is neither done well (Colmes is far too conciliatory), nor is it in the right context. This is an important point that seems lost on him, as well as, apparently, Steve Young, the Chimp's blog author.

The point of "Hannity & Colmes" is not to compare liberal arguments to conservative ones. Nor is it even to compare Hannity to Colmes. Remember, we live in a bizarro world where the electorate freely admits that John Kerry and Al Gore are smarter and make better points, but they still elected George Bush. Why? Because-at least until recently-they liked his bravado. His machismo. His ability to project that he is correct in any situation, and to dismiss any opponent with a smirk. No, the point is not to compare viewpoints, but to compare what the voting populace apparently finds more compelling-styles of leadership. With conservative Hannity cast as the arrogant fire-breathing dragon and liberal Colmes as the calm, thorough Professor Milquetoast, it really doesn't matter who makes the best intellectual argument or how much Fox ensures that each commentator is given equal time (in fact, the more time spent on Colmes, the better, in this model). The impression the largely illiterate, gum-chewing, tobacco-spitting audience of Fox is left with is that conservatives are bold and decisive (with larger cocks) and liberals are (sexually inadequate) intellectual weenies.

So Alan Colmes can continue to delude himself that he is "bringing a liberal voice to Fox in a style that reaches many with a conservative mind-set that would otherwise never hear it." The fact is that in doing so he is also cementing the image of a cautious, conciliatory weasel that Ruport Murdoch is so eager to have broadcast into millions of homes every night.

Thanks, Alan, and oh, by the way, I hear that John Doe #410 at the LA County Coroner's office returned your call and is willing to fill in for you next week (couldn't do a much worse job than Chuck Norris, I suspect). He shouldn't miss a beat. Your listeners will never be able to tell the difference.

Fallout From Fox and Feith

For committed neocon ideologue Doug Feith, last weekend's interview on "Fox News Sunday" should have been a monumental wake up call that there is no honor among thieves. If I were him, I would be seriously watching my back right about now. He is clearly being set up to take the fall for this whole Iraq war disaster, and who better to set the stage than Fox and their hatchet man Wallace? And while Feith's precipitous fall from grace has been a grimly compelling spectacle, it is less than satisfying-something akin to having Peter Pettigrew in shackles while Voldemort continues to wreak havoc unabated.

So, what's a disillusioned neocon to do? Again, if I were Feith, I'd realize I'm being hung out to dry here and it's time to abandon ideology if I don't want to end up the Bill Buckner of Iraq foreign policy. Here's just a few pearls of advice:

Call up Henry Hill and say, "I'm going to have a little problem I think you can help me with. How do you cut a deal for witness protection, because I'm going to have a target on my forehead the size of Jupiter when I'm done."

Cozy up to Bob Woodward, and tell him you know what the president knew and when he knew it.

Employ Bryan Keefer full time to counteract the lies and innuendo that will be launched full throttle as soon as you start to tell the truth. It won't be pretty. You better also get yourself a prescription for Prevacid and Xanax.

Of course, if all else fails, you could always check yourself into alcohol rehab and blame the drink. But just think of how much more satisfying laying the blame where it belongs would be.

After all...they're trying to destroy you, Doug...and they certainly will, if you let them.

It's up to you now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Price of Success

When asked recently about what really went wrong in the administration's pre-war planning, White House press secretary Tony Snow remarked, with a completely straight face, “I’m not sure anything went wrong.”

Then, of course, we all remember Prick Cheney's assertion in the interview with Wolf Blitzer a couple weeks ago: "We have had enormous successes in Iraq."

So, according to the Misters Snow and Cheney, things are apparently going exactly as planned in Iraq. It's been a mistake-free success.

I'd hate to think, then, of what it would look like if it were a fucked up colossal blunder.

Labor Pains

Over the predictable objections of the Bushies, and the less predictable objections of my own senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Senate Homeland Security committee voted to give airport screeners the union and whistle blower protection rights already enjoyed by other federal employees. The administration apparently feels that by having basic union protections, airport screeners would interfere with the ability of TSA to respond to terror attacks. That, of course is an insult to both the screeners and their supervisors. There are millions of unionized workers, including nurses and firefighters, whose jobs require them to be available and flexible in times of crisis. Unionization does not strip them of that responsibility, but it DOES ensure a fair and orderly process during that crisis time. To assert that collective bargaining rights would empower the employees to blatantly disregard real security threats is absurd but typical of the anti-labor bent of this White House.

In a similar vein, The Employee Free Choice Act is a bill pending before Congress that would take steps to reestablish employees' rights to unionize their workplaces. Labor issues are an issue near and dear to my heart-as a current member of the MSEA, and union steward in a former position, I have seen firsthand how true the motto "United We Bargain-Divided We Beg" is. But this administration, with corporate cocks in hand, have made it their own personal mission to deny worker rights and consolidate the money and power in the hands of their management cronies. It is estimated that every 23 minutes a worker is fired or harassed as a result of union activity; there are also estimates that over 90% of employers have forced employees to listen to anti-union diatribes. I can attest to the former by direct personal experience. A year or so ago, at the large multinational corporation where my middle-management suck up ex works (I won't say the name of the company but just think Ted Turner), a union movement was underway and the brass was in full panic mode. My ex would detail to me the utterly unbelievable brainwashing tactics the heavily resourced company was pulling on the workers, primarily fear mongering horror stories of how much worse off the unionized workers of the same company at different locations were (never mind, of course, that actual data proves that to be a fallacy nearly all the time). And my idiot ass-kissing company stooge ex was proud of his company's efforts to drive the organizers out! There was a lot of screaming matches over that one. It's no wonder we parted ways.

Even though the bill has strong bipartisan support , the Chimp in Chief has promised to veto it (He says it's because he wants to "defend their [workers] right to vote yes or no by secret ballot and their right to fair bargaining" which is complete horseshit. I will never understand this president's support among white working men. Never!) It is unlikely the Senate will garner the 2/3 majority needed to override the veto (how fitting that this president has seen fit to veto only two bills in six years-stem cell research and union organizing protections, both of which were designed to benefit some of the most vulnerable members of our society). But although the Corporate Culture of Cronyism that exists in this administration has won this battle, there is good reason to believe that this bill, or a version of it, will live to fight another day when hopefully a more amenable and receptive administration takes hold in 2009.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Vote for Cervical Cancer?

The US version of the Taliban-the Christian right-has for a while now been opposed to a new vaccine that immunizes young women against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus which a) causes cervical cancer, and b) is sexually transmitted. Gardasil, a product of Merck & Co., claims to protect against 4 types of HPV, including the two types that cause most cervical cancers. Statistics show about 20-40 million people are infected with HPV and around 3,700 women die of cervical cancer in the United States alone each year. That's a lot of sickness going around. Right wingnuts are opposed to the vaccinations because they say it would give young women a sense of false security about how protected they are from STDs and cancer and thus encourage promiscuity (yes, read that again, slowly).

I'd like to take a poll right here and now about how many of you ladies even knew HPV existed when you lost it (my unofficial guess: less than one tenth of one-half of one percent), if you did know about HPV you knew it led to cervical cancer, or if you knew that were thinking, gee, I might get cervical cancer when I'm 57. I'd better hold off until I meet "the one" and just pray the man I saved myself for hasn't been exposed, passes it on to me, and kills me anyway. With 20 million people infected, the chances are not slim that might to hell with it! Take me, take me now!

I think you get my point. Teenagers and young adults are still engaged in the sort of magical thinking that allows them to believe what happens to others doesn't happen to them, and even if it does, they'll be far too old to care. Getting cancer in their fifties has about as much relevance to them as does the last king of Scotland. It's certainly not worth giving up a sexual experience for.

So is the background defining the little drama unfolding in Texas these days. Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Feb. 2nd issued an executive order stating that beginning next year, all sixth-grade girls will receive the vaccination. As one would expect, the state legislature is up in arms about it. Many note cynically that this may have much more to do with Perry's cozy relationship with Merck than an altruistic desire to protect women from cancer, but Perry is holding firm. "Providing the HPV vaccine doesn't promote sexual promiscuity any more than providing the Hepatitis B vaccine promotes drug use," the governor said. "If the medical community developed a vaccine for lung cancer, would the same critics oppose it claiming it would encourage smoking?"

Ouch. Take that, sex police. As usual, nobody took him up on that point because there really is no argument against it, and it's irrelevant to the right's argument anyway. They couldn't care less about smoking; they may care a little about illegal drug use but not every day. What really fries their asses is the knowledge that there are women having sex out there. The fact that they can't control and contain women's sexual behavior drives them mad, to the point where they will withhold information and put lives at risk with their policy initiatives, like abstinence-only sex ed. There is a special place in hell for people who put lives at risk in order to further ideological agendas (and a particularly special place if you happen to be president while doing so, but that's another post).

Anyway, I digress. In order to fight what the right wing perceives as this overwhelming support of unbridled promiscuity, the legislature, led by Rep. Dennis Bonnen, a Republican, has fallen back on what has been a trump card in the past-the idea that the government can't coerce these types of decisions. In a press conference yesterday, Bonnen stated:

"We want families to know the one here is against a family studying the facts for themselves and deciding this is the right thing to do. What we don't want to do is tell them that we know better than them."

Rep. Bonnen conveniently forgets that the government tells families every day that they know better than them. For one, the state of Texas, through their abstinence-only sex ed policies, tells families that it is morally wrong to teach their children about birth control and condom use; on a more mundane level, it tells families that they have to provide for a minimum amount of schooling for their children. It certainly tells families that unless there is a documented reason not to do so-including a religious reason, which Gov. Perry's order also provides for-it is mandated that "each student shall be fully immunized against diphtheria, rubeola, rubella, mumps, tetanus, and poliomyelitis."

Hmmm...the last documented case of fatal polio in the US was...well, we were declared polio-free in 1979. Diphtheria has affected about 50 people in the US the past 15 years. Compare that to HPV, which currently infects 20-40 million Americans and kills 3,700 women a year by way of cervical cancer. Rep. Bonnen, where's the biggest risk here? Are your children more likely to get polio-a mandatory vaccination I assume you support-or HPV?

It should be noted that the state of Texas-in which I give thanks every day I do not reside-has a great opportunity to be a trailblazer in a public health issue which should be of great importance to all women and the men who love them. For once, you guys...take a stand and do the right thing. Show the world you're about more than hating immigrants and celebrating lethal injections. Do the right thing by the girls of your state, and watch the rest of the country follow your lead.

For once, you could even be ahead of California on a big issue.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Gee, tell us what you think, Tim. Don't hold back!

For those of you who don't follow sports closely, Tim Hardaway, formerly of the Indiana Pacers, raised more than a few eyebrows with this little rant on "790 the Ticket" radio show, hosted by Dan La Batard. The conversation came about after former NBA player John Amaechi came out as a gay man several weeks ago.

Now, clearly Hardaway is an idiot, and thankfully without the ability to influence public policy in this matter. Additionally, his diatribe is protected speech-the ACLU would go to the mattresses defending his right to hateful, homophobic rhetoric, as they should. What's interesting to me in this case is the nonchalance and disregard for consequences with which the words were uttered. He has obviously expressed these feelings before and been rewarded for the effort-"yeah, Tim, we'll get those fucking faggots tonight!" followed by a round of yuks and high-fives and head butts.

The issue to me is less about professional sports (which has actually been struggling with the issue for a few years now, as this SI article reveals) than it is the reflection of societal attitudes about homosexuality. Professional athletes rarely suffer significant consequences for their behavior, and thus many of them, like Hardaway, put no restraints on it. So Tim Hardaway only acknowledged what millions of less privileged Americans think but are hesitant to give full voice to (well, not all of them are hesitant-there is a Baptist group that currently believes that every soldier's death is God's retribution for the acts of gay people and lets that view be known by mocking soldier's families at their funerals). Instead, they hide behind quaint phrases such as "special rights" and "preserving the sanctity of marriage" to cloak the fact that the majority of them, in fact, hate gay people, are repulsed by them, and think they don't belong in the US or the world. At least Hardaway was arrogant enough to be honest about it.

Tim Hardaway's words should serve as a wake up call to those of us committed to civil rights for all. We are far less evolved on the issue of sexual orientation than we think we are.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Cost of Sacrifice?

Once again, the writers of The National Review are exposing their neocon-loving, war-mongering, nation-building, soldier-hating selves for all to see. It would be funny if it didn't have such tragic consequences. This time, it is Mark Steyn (a guy who, btw, thinks that all secular social-democratic states will be extinct in his lifetime) , in response to a Washington Post article describing John Murtha's plan to give Army troops who have already served in Iraq two years at home before an additional reployment, making this breathtakingly insensitive remark in the NR's blogsite "The Corner":

"Everybody appreciates that overseas services is tough on troops’ families but what army has ever mandated "two years at home" between deployments in an ongoing war?"

Gee, Mark. That only seems fair, considering that the Pentagon has recently declared open season on the National Guard, now saying that those reserve troops-not even the full time military-are on tap to serve far longer than their original 24-month deployment limit. Huh. Funny how I didn't see smoke coming out of your ears when we broke our contract with our citizen soldiers on that little point. But then, what's a few more months or years in a quagmire, right?

It's also damned decent of you, Mark, to acknowledge that overseas' deployment is "tough" on families. Stand-up thing to do, acknowledge their sacrifice and then throw it back in their faces. I bet it's also VERY easy to back the Pentagon's assumption that a soldier is nothing more than a means to an end when you can mark your own personal sacrifice in tax breaks and a magnetic ribbon on your SUV that says, "Support Our Troops."

No Need to Apologize, Barack

Barack Obama, on a recent campaign trip to Iowa, remarked that, "We now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted." He immediately apologized in New Hampshire on Saturday, saying that he "misspoke, " that he meant to criticize the administration's handling of the war, not those serving in the military.

I'm sure Fox Noise (as Olbermann is fond of calling them) is salivating over this, although as far as I'm concerned, channel 41 (our local Fox station) doesn't exist on my dial.

But my bigger point is, what did Obama have to apologize for? What did he say that isn't absolutely true? The facts are out there for all to see:

1. We were deliberately misled into war. There never was any "mission" beyond securing the Iraq oil reserves. If a despot was overthrown in the process, so much the better, but it is beyond clear that there WERE no WMDs and no links to Al-Qaeda, and that the administration knew it when they fed it to us. Democracy in the region was only a means to an end.

2. Even if the war did in fact have some basis in securing the public good, the extent to which it has been mismanaged is jaw-droppingly apparent to any who have been paying attention (two good books on the subject: Fiasco by Tom Ricks and The Assassin's Gate by George Packer). The administration behaved as if soldiers lives were throwaway-operating under mind-blowingly stupid assumptions, providing inadequate numbers in the wrong places, and then poorly outfitting them, without a clearly defined mission so they would at least know when they won.

No basis for the invasion. No direction after we went in. No regard for the well being of the men and women in uniform.

It's time we in America stopped being so freakin' politically correct about this. Our soldier's lives have been wasted on a misadventure begun on a lie and with no end in sight, and we should be FURIOUS about that and screaming it from the rooftops. It's no different than if they had been asked to follow lemmings into the sea. They would be just as dead, and perhaps for even a more NOBLE purpose-at the very least, they did not die to feed the gargantuan ego of a madman more concerned with being right than being prudent and responsible with the lives of people he has never met and probably doesn't care to.

American lives have been wasted in Iraq, and until we accept that over 3,000 of our soldiers have died for no good reason except they were asked to, the prospects of righting that wrong are grim. That, btw, is not the fault of Barack Obama. That is the fault of this commander in chief and it is high time we faced up to that fact.

Barack, you were right the first time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

He's Good Enough, He's Smart Enough....

Bad news for talk show fans but good news for progressives in Minnesota. Al Franken today made formal what everyone had been suspecting for some time-that he is planning to make a run for the US Senate seat formerly occupied by progessive icon Paul Wellstone, and currently held by conservative-come-lately Norm Coleman.

Franken, a Harvard graduate and formerly the liberal host of "The Al Franken Show" on the progressive radio network Air America, cited his belief in a strong central government's power to make lives better for the people it serves as the motivating factor behind his decision to run.

"That's what progressives like me believe the government is there provide security for middle-class families like the one I grew up in, and opportunity for working poor families like the one [my wife] grew up in."

Norm Coleman fell into the seat when Wellstone conveniently died in a plane crash prior to the 2002 election. As a Republican in a blue state, Coleman is considered vulnerable, and a cynical Minnesotan might view his dramatic break with the president over the troop surge in Iraq as perhaps just a bit contrived, considering that Coleman has been one of the Senate's primary White House suck ups of recent years-he seems to have a particular fondness for the intestinal tract of Karl Rove. Still, the numbers indicate he won't necessarily be easy to unseat-in January, Coleman's approval rating among his constituents in Minnesota was 55% with 35% in disapproval.

It should be here noted that my sister Lori (see photo above, painting her toes) a former resident of the city of St. Paul, begins to wretch whenever she hears the name Norm Coleman.

Good luck, Al! I don't live in Minnesota and thus do not have the power to cast a vote for you, but just know I would if I could. And thanks for tapping Thom Hartmann to replace you (as if anyone ever could)!

I Can't Believe He Actually Said That!

" trumps peace."
George W. Bush

Mr Bush, I Have a Complaint

In fact, I have a whole boatload of them. I'm mad as hell, and I'm NOT going to take this anymore!
Let me be frank: I am what's commonly known as a "secular progressive." In other words, a proud liberal who believes the Bill of Rights is not a throwaway document, that we as a nation have been sold out to corporate interests, and that we were deliberately misled into a war of choice by bad men with dollar signs in their eyes and grandiosity in their hearts.
This blog is dedicated to ensuring that we Americans never, ever make as gruesome a mistake as George Bush again.
The lengths the right wing (including President Bush) will go to confound, obfuscate and outright lie to advance their own ideological and financial interests has really been nothing short of absolutely astounding. Global warming is an excellent example of this. For years, the right wing (including the White House) has denied that the problem exists because of the threat it poses to the interests of their corporate cronies Big Oil (ExxonMobil has spent millions funding groups that will parrot the party line). Not enough study, they say; climate change is part of a typical cycle based on the the output of the sun; there needs to be far more evidence and debate before spending billions of dollars to tackle a problem that exists only in the mind of Al Gore and a few crackpot greens.
Well, as we all know, a report issued by the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris on February 2 put the issue to bed once and for all. Yes, there is significant climate change; yes, it is man made; and yes, our existence is threatened because of it. Although long term detractors-like our old friend ExxonMobil-immediately begin looking for ways to smear and discredit the report's findings, the damage to their cause was done. Almost overnight it became fashionable to be a global warming hawk. Everyone from the psycho Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Policy have weighed in on what they think needs to be done to stem the (literally) rising tide.
Now, all this would be interesting if not exactly blogworthy due to the fact that all this information can easily be found at the click if a mouse-there is really no new information contained here. But the rather drawn out point of this blog is not how horrible the right is on matters of not only our national security but our national survival-we knew that-but the occasional look we get into their maggot-ridden souls when, in a moment of defeat and weakness, they lay before us raw and exposed.
So global warming becomes just a pawn for us to peer into their wretched, greed-driven empty suits. There is no way out now: global warming is a fully documented international calamity, and to deny it is to risk losing any and all credibility. So in between the old spin (it doesn't exist) and the new spin (as yet undetermined) Jonah Goldberg-the pariah of the National Review who thinks Iraq would be better off it were ruled by a protege of Augusto Pinochet-gives us a rare, unvarnished look at what was really driving those fervent denials about the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
It's not about "junk science." It's not about needing more study to make informed decisions.
It's about the money, as he admits in an article posted on the ninth of this month. "In the history of trade-offs" crows Goldberg, "never has there been a better one than trading a tiny amount of global warming for a massive amount of global prosperity."
I have to hand it to Jonah. The audacity it took to print a piece like this, on the heels of a death blow to the right wing spin machine, is really remarkable. I'm not sure, if he were given a second chance, that he would choose his words in quite the same manner. What this article essentially did, in one unguarded, frustrated moment, was prove all we know of the right wing mentality to be true-about everything, not just global warming.
It's not about humanity's survival. It's not about taking care of our elderly and our poor. It's not about preserving our way of life from threats of all comers.
It's about the money...and how best to keep it concentrated in the hands of a very few, which, in turn, concentrates the power. Clearly, Mr. Goldberg and his cronies feel that limiting greenhouse gas emissions does not work towards advancing that goal.
Yes, we knew that. But it was nice to hear them admit it.