Friday, February 11, 2005

Eason Jordan Said The Right Thing

Glenn Reynolds seems to have diarrhea of the mouth with this whole Eason Jordan-gate thing.

But if Reynolds's accusations are correct, it might mean that Jordan was being a responsible journalist

First, I don't think this really is a story.

It might be a story if Jordan's words had been stated publicly or on TV or in an interview or *somewhere*, but since his alleged statements were made at a private panel and explicitly off the record, it looks like Glenn is really digging here to make it a scandal.

A lot of journalists HAVE been killed by USA troops (I assume unintentionally, covering a war is dangerous), but when the military investigates these occurrences, they refuses to release their findings. Why?

What if twelve journalists really were deliberately killed by the military? What sources could their accusers use to back their claims if the most useful documents are kept secret? Why does the military keep these documents secret? How else could one dig-up information to get at the truth?

If the military is killing journalists, someone of Jordan's caliber can't publicly talk about it, and can only have off-the-record conversations (with friends, fellow journalists, or whatever) until he has access to the first-hand sources to back his point.

Since Jordan was off the record, he wasn’t reporting on murders committed by USA troops, but privately engaging in a dialog on the subject, and referencing whatever rumors or off-the-record statements he had heard.

But his comments were still made in private and off the record, I see nothing for Reynolds to be up in arms about.

If this really is a story, I find it hard to believe that CNN doesn't have people on the inside who would help them out here in getting leaked copies of such reports (assuming his words aren't being taken out of context).

Someone really should file a Freedom Of Information Act request for copies of the militaries investigations into Journalists' deaths in Iraq. These documents can’t possible be kept secret for reasons of national security.

Reaching Republicans - an update

Regarding the ideas on abortion and birth control from my last post, it looks like NARL today is backing me up on this one. [hat tip to Drum]

Also about my last post, I've changed my mind on one thing:
After some discussion on Kos, I'll back the ACLU on fighting the term "under god"'s being in the pledge of allegiance. As an atheist I don't worry to much about such symbols, but my integrity is the most important thing I have and if I'm making a pledge to something, it better be the truth. In making a pledge "under god" I would be a liar.
Plus, the words "Under God" weren't even part of the pledge until the 50's when they were inserted to distinguish us from the evil god-less communists during the cold-war, a cause that has passed.

But I still think we can win support for the ACLU from conservatives based on cases where The ACLU fights for all peoples rights, and not just those of liberals.

Some examples from Kos (sorry I don't have links to primary sources, but nobody reads this blog anyway so who cares):

It was the ACLU that defended the right of young girls to distribute candy canes with Bible verses attached at Christmastime before school, when the school tried to stop them.

...the ACLU defended a teen's right to have her have the entry of a bible passage in the school yearbook.


Some might still denounce the ACLU specifically for the "Under God" thing the same way some people cast their vote in the presidential vote specifically on the abortion issue, but I think we can win some of the more rational thinkers here.

Wolfy

I just caught Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on C-Span giving a token speech about Foriegn Policy.

Whenever I see his esteemed boss Donald Rumsfeld talk I roll my eyes and think of what a complete and utter moron he is.

Wolfowitz seems to be the Cheney to Rumsfeld's Bush. He speaks better, is quicker on his feet (forgetting that deplorable episode where he didn't even know how many US soliders had died in a war that he was the principle architect of), and seems vastly more intelligent than Donald. I wonder if the Force Rumsfeld To Resign Petitions that are floating around in left of center inboxes should be required to add to the list Paul Wolfowitz. In my mind he is far more dangerous.

I'm still not quite sure how neo-conservatism is supposed to be an evolution of Trotskyism (permanent revolution by invading countries?), but I am sure that after Bush finishes out his second term Republicans won't be able to dump the neo-con (neo-cons hate it when you call them neo-cons!) bunch fast enough. But that's in four years.

I can't even fathom what harm can be done.

But as far as good news goes in the world, FINALLY, something that is worth celebrating over.

Howard Dean will be (barring anything crazy) elected Chairman of the DNC tomorrow. This my friends is a good start.

And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Yet.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Turning Republicans Rational

This weekend I had an in depth conversation with an intelligent and coherent Bush supporter.

I picked up some new insight and understandings, along with ideas on how to better convince these people to adopt my views, and how to inform them about where they are being mislead by the Republicans in areas that we already agree though it isn’t as obvious as it should be.

I’m not sure how easy it would be to sell these ideas to the masses since the masses don’t really pay much attention to politics, but trickle-down thinking might work out on the subjects of Abortion, Civil Rights, Religion, Gay Marriage, and Social Security.

Let me break it down:

Abortion

You shouldn’t try convincing someone that abortion isn’t murder, this is a very emotional issue that most people just won’t budge on. People who feel strongly about abortion one way or another will vote for whichever politician backs their view, regardless of how great or horrible the politician’s qualities are in other areas.

But I think Democrats can make some headway even with Pro-Life’ers, it just will take a little educating and maybe some minor policy tweaks in areas that I’m sure we can all agree on:

Countless studies have shown that realistic sex-education about condom use increases condom use without increasing sexual activity, and that "abstinence only" programs don’t work. Republicans will say that this simply doesn’t make sense, because thinking about it logically, it really doesn’t. We have to show them why it is true, and find a way to frame the issue so that the overall Democrat position would actually lead to a net reduction in abortions without actually making them illegal or difficult to obtain.

An outright legal ban on all abortions would cut back on the amount of abortions, but seriously, Bush has had four years to do it and the political climate didn’t let it happen. This is largely due to the fight we’ve been putting up, which we must not cower from, but if we can convince Pro-Lifers that making it illegal wont work and that they should try something new, we will come out with a pretty good compromise.

Here are some statistics to back this up:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/12/6/145758/107

A few abortion foe’s told me about how there are a lot of teens especially in urban black communities who don’t use any sort of birth control and have had five or six abortions without thinking anything of it. This strikes me as sort of gross, I can’t imagine birth control (by way of condoms or at least the pill or an implant) being less comfortable than an abortion. If this is a myth it needs to be widely debunked. If it is true, we really need to do something about it (making birth control options more easily available, education, whatever) – most of these urban areas are largely democratic where we already have the power to implement such programs.

Let me clarify that I don’t think we should cave one inch on abortion. They should be easy to get, and treated as a regular medical procedure that a woman has no reason to be embarrassed about. But we should do more to prevent pregnancies in the first place so that less people need to get abortions, kind of like preventing cancer through sun-block before it has to actually be treated.

While you’re at it, apply these ideas to the morning after pill, and global efforts to fight AIDS (by promoting abstinence only programs instead of condom use in Africa they are directly murdering thousands of people. We need to call them on this.)


Civil Rights and The ACLU

Every republican I spoke with strongly disliked the ACLU, but when I listed off the specific things the ACLU fights for, they were strongly agreed with. They thought the ACLU was ridiculous for mounting legal challenges on the words “Under God” being in the pledge of allegiance and the presidential confirmation.

Is this true? If it is, the ACLU really needs to focus on things that actually matter. If not, we need to debunk this and loud! There is no reason for the ACLU to be a strictly Democrat organization, the things they fight for are things an overwhelming majority of Americans will agree with when properly framed.

The only issues I know for certain that the ACLU strongly supports that a significant chunk of our population does not are gay marriages (which I will get to in a moment), and abortion (which I have just addressed). For the sake of strengthening the ACLU’s arguments all around, I think they should back out of back out of Abortion and leave that fight to organizations like Planned Parenthood. I don’t think we should back off on abortion, but I think the ACLU in specific should, it will be well worth the supporters we will pick up in other areas to better protect our civil liberties all around.


Religion

We are generally branded as a bunch of bitter atheists who are out of touch with God. I’m personally an atheist, but I don’t think religion has to be absent from the Democratic platform, especially when nearly all Democrat social ideas go along with morals preached by every major religion there is (including Christianity). The Republicans have hijacked the word “moral” to mean “anti abortion. anti homosexuality, and anti-profanity” while leaving out a whole slew of moral issues like dealing with poverty, the death penalty, education, and even economical issues and ethics.

We must stand firm by the constitution in not letting the government respect one religion over another, but we should be using the bible to fight for our social programs when our audience is the religious just as we use statistics and science to justify our social programs when our audience is academia.

Kos wrote something really tight about this recently but I can’t find the link, maybe later...


Gay Marriage

I don’t understand why, but there is far greater objection to the word “marriage” than to the granting of legal rights to gay couples. Since the Republicans I spoke with weren’t homophobic, they supported gay rights, just not the word “marriage” which they gave extra “moral weight” to. The compromise that everyone agreed on was for the government to stop using the M word all together and exclusively grant civil unions (regardless of gender), leaving the semantics game up to the church.

This would probably have to be passed on a state by state level, but I think it is well worth it and would do a lot of good.

As for dealing with the homophobic, we should keep trying to reach them, but really will just have to wait for the majority to die off like Racists a few generations back. These are some deep-rooted beliefs comparable to those on abortion that are really hard to change.


Social Security

There isn’t much for me to say that hasn’t been said by Marshal, Drum, Kos, or just about any Democrat blogger out there. It took a lot of explaining, but I was able to convince everyone I spoke with that there was no crisis and that the presidents plan was a horrible one. We just have to educate the masses in easy to understand terms.

====

Since I usually blog about parties and rock-n-roll this is a pretty long post, so I’ll shut up here.

I really don’t care if the people in power label themselves as “Republicans” or “Democrats” or “libertarians” or whatever, these are all just labels. I do care about what they do with their power, how good their ideas are for America (and the world), and about their leadership qualities. As it stands, Democrats best reflect my views, but I would love for the Republicans or anyone else to embrace a little common sense here.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Good Golly

The State is Strong.

Just when I thought Republicans couldn't get any cornier than proudly pumping flip flops in the air at the mention of John Kerry, they manage to surprise me with their blue ink stained fingers. Apparently this had something to do with the people voting in Iraq, something none of them actually did anything for besides voting for a war because the President of their Party told them to.

Where is the REAL Republican party? You know, the one for adults?

A lot of people have commented about the boo's and hissing from the Democrat side of the chamber.

It does strike me as bad form.

But few people deserve it more than George.

Perhaps Republican lawmakers would not boo and hiss at John Kerry had the outcome been a bit different. Perhaps they would have. I don't know, and to be brutally honest, I don't particularly give a flying fuck. I care about that about as much as I care about the Rapture, who I don't care about at all. I do know that for all his pandering and annoying traits like riding motorcycles and not being energetic, John Forbes Kerry deserved better from this country. And I know that he didn't spend the last four years promising to be a uniter, but by being the ultimate divider. I know he didn't piss away a surplus. I know he fought in an unjust war, but didn't start one under pretenses that get flimsier with every passing day. There is a reason why the noble words of the President ring very hollow for the minority party and for about 48% of us who took the time to vote. The President we waited four years to replace is now at the halfway mark, and he has not changed at all. Everything about him is reckless and haphazard, everything but the campagin he ran. That was genius. But on other things he falls short.

The standard raving liberal talking points, health care, education, foriegn policy, the whole litany. To be sure, some people oppose Bush just because he is Bush. That is unfortunate. There are so many valid, rational, real reasons to oppose him. Besides the fact that he lies about just about everything under the sun, even harmless needless lies (remember the second debate and a certain reference to a lumber compnany?), his policies are making YOU and I less safe. I will level with you. I don't know shit about the economy, how it works, why it works, any of that. I have only a vague resistance to the Privatization of Social Security, and that has a lot to do with the fact that I don't trust this Administration to do what is right for Americans. That is not to be mistaken for knee jerk resistance. They have a proven track record. Likewise, health care is not my expertise nor am I particualrly angry about "outsourcing", because god damn it, no job of mine will ever be outsourced. Maybe to robots, in the future, but not to developing nations. The true debacle of the Bush presidency has to do with foriegn policy, which shows his failings as a statesman.

Lofty childlike rhetoric about how everyone wants to be free is not going to cut it. After September 11th there were candlelit vigils in Tehran. Tehran, IRAN. Yasir Arafat gave blood. The French declared, "Today we are all Americans." The world stood with us as it never had before and never would again. It was a moment to dream of, a moment to set the world right, to move forth in a new direction. It was a moment for us to understand why things were the way they had become. Why 19 men would willingly crash jets into buildings. Instead we lashed out. But we didn't even lash out PROPERLY. The invasion of Afghanistan was something I had wanted ever since I heard about the Taliban. I hate to admit my hawkish tendencies, but I like the visercal thrill of smiting evil. I like the feeling of justice being done. Everyone does, I expect. But then we find out that Bush didn't even want to go into Afghanistan? He wanted to head straight for Iraq. It was only Colin Powell (now dead in the water) and Tony Blair who convinced Bush that it would be tantamount to disaster to go into Iraq without first at least making an effort to neautralize Osama Bin Laden (a name we haven't been hearing much). Now what are the results of Bush's daring Middle East (faith based) initiatives?

Basically, everyone there hates us. More than they already did, if that is possible. In Iraq a bunch of people voted for near anonymous candidates. In Pakistan our ally Perverz Musharraf still wears his uniform, a proud reminder of the military takeover we've overlooked in the name of Democracy. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai is one bullet away from being a swell memory, and near as I can tell, is pretty much the Mayor of Kabul, as warlords (both pro and anti Taliban) control most of the provinces. Syria and Iran are now antsy to figure out with of them the US will invade next. Turkey is eyeing the Kurds. The intifada in Israel is still very much a reality. Saudi Arabia remain our best buds, my favorite ally that doesn't allow women to drive cars.

Basically, everything is nearly exactly the same. The faces may have changed in some cases, but not the tyranny.

Bush supporters will say that this is just a first step. That history will vindicate his vision. That peace is on the way. I doubt it. But to be chillingly honest, I hope I'm dreadfully dreadfully wrong about this whole thing. I hope I'm just falling prey to my latent "hatred of America" gene. If the Middle East really does change for the better, in a real substantial way, and it'll take more than a few elections to convince me, then I will not be partisan in my joy.

This is one of those things where I say, please, let me be wrong.

But I don't think I am. Maybe my details are sketchy and my analysis amateur, maybe there is more depth to the situations that I ignored or that I am simply not aware of.

Or maybe I know for a fact Republicans would not support this war if it was started under a Democratic Administration. Maybe that is what sickens me.

Democrats, Republicans, Independents...We have more work to do.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My Favorite Thing Ever. . .

...is when I hear Republican Congressman talk about the smashing success of the Iraqi elections! And when they say "Shiite", "Sunni", and "Kurd" and you can see the internal struggle to remember which group believes what and which group lives where in the country (and then their subsequent refusal to admit they are intermingled at all!), and even how those terms can be called misnomers, as the vast majority of Kurds are "Sunni" themselves.

Where were these Congressmen and pundits and radio blowhards during the long hot 90's? I don't remember any of them wailing about the injsutices being done to the Iraqi people.

I'm not trying to villify Republicans and leave Democrats alone.

Democrats obviously didn't need to loudly complain about Iraq during the 90's. They had 8 years of relative easygoing, with the exception of you know, murder conspiracies, NAFTA, the Contract with America, Whitewater, Waco, and this thing I keep hearing about, interns and cum stained dresses along with witch hunts that would make the people of Salem blush.

So, really, very few people gave a fuck for a long time, and suddenly everyone cares.

How phony is that? It is phony like the numerous ignored murders that aren't enough to captivate us like Laci and Scott did. It is phony like Rush Limbaugh and his vitriolic drug abuse comments coming back to haunt him. It is phony like my Irish accent, phony like people who switch from Puddle Of Mudd to Xiu Xiu at the approrpriate date, and phony like Sean Hannity existing.

Just remember. These are people in Iraq, real living breathing people. Don't pretend they are your best fucking friends because it is for some reason written onto the party platform.

This election is a step in the right direction. But save the wild applause.

Fucking bitches, I swear.