30.11.04

Liberals are like:

domestic violence victims. Dead right.
Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won’t; we will never be worthy).

And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See them cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.

How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.

First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You don’t do this by responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You also don’t do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less is you don’t resist and fight back. Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 56 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them what you’ve learned, and that you aren’t going to take it anymore. You stand tall, with 56 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell. Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it’s better than the abuse.

We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 56 million strong.

"Blog" #1

"Defenestration" makes the top ten list of Merriam-Webster's websites' most searched words. Interesting.

29.11.04

Numbers

Theo van Gogh was murdered precisely 911 days after the assassination of Fortuyn.

"The first time is happenstance; the second time is coincidence; the third time is enemy action."

A third time and it's time to play some offensive.

27.11.04

Letter to the Editor

Faisal Chaudhry writes of the American and Israeli desire to “reconstruct the ideological framework” of the Middle East situation, while creatively framing the same article with a conversion into a “white” vs. “brown” struggle (Op-Ed, “An Ideology of Oppression,” April 11). At one point, Chaudhry even compares the situation to apartheid. This is a distortion of the fact that most Israelis and Palestinians are indistinguishable physically.

The Israeli government itself is comprised of a great number Sephardic Jews, many of whom originate from Arab countries. The chief of staff of the army, the minister of defense, the minister of finance (who is the new leader of the labor party) and the president of Israel are all “brown.” One might have an idea of the physical likeness between Arabs and Israelis by examining this week’s Newsweek cover on which an 18-year-old female Palestinian suicide bomber and her 17-year-old female Israeli victim could pass for twins.

Israelis and Arabs are historically cousins. Until we accept the fact that we are constituents of the same family, we will blunder in believing that a loss for one “side”—or, as Chaudhry names it, a “color”—is not a loss for all human kind.

Outrageous and untrue finger-pointing is a childish tactic that disregards the responsibility of all parties involved, including Europe, the Arab nations and the United States, along with Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

We must be ashamed of every act of violence and mourn every child as if they were our own. I pray for the safety of all those in the region and hope that we may someday use our unique human assets of language and empathy rather than military technology or propaganda to resolve this conflict.

from Natalie Hershlag to The Harvard Crimson, April 12, 2002.

Cool

Creative Commons Deed

25.11.04

Tolerance

Tolerance is defined by American Heritage as “the capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.” Unity and tolerance are generally considered to be “right” and acceptable to society. Both involve positive interactions between people. However, tolerance comes into direct conflict with the idea of national unification after the 2004 election.

Tolerance is difficult, especially with the pitched ideological battles internationally of Muslim extremism against centrists against groups who have been radicalized against Muslims. In the Netherlands recently, Theo van Gogh, a filmmaker and a relative of the artist Vincent van Gogh, was stabbed to death while riding his bicycle. He had been openly disparaging of Islam and was killed by an extremist Muslim. However, the reaction to the murder was violence and arson committed by xenophobic groups against the Muslim community across the Netherlands. The mayor of Amsterdam said, ''If we are going to get back to who we are, to restore our identity, then what we need to do is be very intolerant to those who are intolerant."
Tolerance is not a way to treat the enshrinement of discrimination in the legal bible of America. In direct opposition to the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage proposed last year, one would hope that there would be enough groundswell to promote a constitutional amendment affirming the innate rights of homosexual persons.

Notwithstanding serious allegations of numerical problems with electronic voting machines, Mr. Bush, with the support of “morals” voters, still garnered a hefty percentage of American votes. Laws that expressly go against tolerance passed by clear voter margins in eleven states on November 2. From where does this culture spring up whose schoolchildren use “gay”, “faggot”, and “queer” as basic expressions of negativity or dislike? This is the culture of morality in the South and elsewhere in Bush Country. Jesusland hates homosexuals; major Christian institutions condemn their lifestyles with no hypocrisy apparent. In many churches, homosexual youth “need to be saved” and brought back to Jesus from their life of sin. Surprisingly, homosexuals (one supposes, complete with their homosexual agenda) have permeated the highest levels of the Republican political machine. Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, is a lesbian. The CFO of the Republican Party is openly gay. And yet Mr. Bush continues to blather his rhetoric proclaiming marriage a “sacred institution.”

Our president has repeatedly posited that negotiations with intolerant people- e.g., Osama bin Laden- would show “weakness” and undermine the worldwide “war on terror.” While Mr. Bush is obviously using enlightened political discourse for his own ends, the question remains: should civil negotiations with the person responsible for the largest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor take place? According to the broad definition of tolerance, it would be just and right. However, after conferring with any sense of sanity, the notion of inviting Osama bin Laden to the White House for grits and eggs (no bacon, unfortunately) seems ludicrous. Nothing would be gained- rational discussions with religious fanatics of whatever stripes are hard to pull off- and the chance for accountability would be gone.

This same principle applies to the hordes of ultraconservative homophobes who came to the polls solely to cast their vote to support discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexual persons. Their votes for Mr. Bush, giving him the lead so securely in Ohio, were purely incidental: right place, right time. Trying to win over this generation of “moral conservatives” is, realistically, impossible through civil discourse. They should be held accountable in the public sector for their beliefs- by simply being left alone to become antiquated.

Tolerance is crucial in a democratic society, but the intolerance of intolerance that Amsterdam’s mayor wants can only be achieved definitively through law. The cultural battle, to win over those who are intolerant, is the more difficult one. It can take generations, as it has in the case of the civil rights movement. Today, homosexuals should be accorded the same rights under the law as all citizens of the United States. However, the cultural battle requires time and exposure- which are inevitable. The question is not if, but when.

Another definition of tolerance is “the ability of an organism to resist or survive infection by a parasitic or pathogenic organism.” Social tolerance of intolerance is unacceptable. The United States of America is now divided along many of the same lines that it has been throughout its history. The gay rights movement parallels- although does not equal in depth and level of atrocities perpetrated- the civil rights movement of the 1960s and even the Civil War. The solution to both of these cultural battles was certainly not an unyielding tolerance. Certain positions, although they must be tolerated under the law, cannot be tolerated in the mainstream culture. As good as actual, self-righteous morals such as “tolerance” sound, they must make concessions when they hit the reality-based community.

Boston Globe
Family Research Council
NY Times
Yet another inept Christian Science Monitor editorial


Update 26 November: Summarization of a Meandering Argument
Basic rights of personal free speech should not be impinged upon by the goverment, regardless of whether it's the KKK or the Communist Party.
The social status quo of speech regarding homosexuality needs to be changed drastically. This can only be done through intolerance of intolerance. "Blue America" cannot socially tolerate "Red America" but cannot ignore them either. A society-changing force, i.e. the mass media, is needed.
Religious fundamentalists are a lost cause. All of them. It's not worth the attempt to bargain with them. Their children and grandchildren are who we need to concentrate on.
Precedents for the above include post-bellum society (not antebellum, where a war got started) and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Strom Thurmond had a black daughter; Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter.

24.11.04

Poppies in Afghanistan

Science Blog::
The annual U.S. Government estimate for opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is complete and shows that approximately 206,700 hectares of poppy were cultivated during the crop season in 2004. Current cultivation levels equate to a potential production of 4,950 metric tons of opium. This represents a 239 percent increase in the poppy crop and a 73 percent increase in potential opium production over 2003 estimates.

20.11.04

The Real Iraq

A Knight-Ridder reporter details the events between two birthdays of hers. Last year she celebratedwith four close Iraqi friends, this year with none- three have been killed, one has left the country.

18.11.04

2004 Election Irregularities

2004 U.S. presidential election controversy - Wikipedia
The most comprehensive summary I've seen raises some big, big questions.

Updated 19 November:

Statistical analysis of voters (vs. election results) says that 130,000- 260,000 extra votes went to Bush in Florida.

Surely 51% of America can't be that stupid. We say that he stole it, again.

17.11.04

Euro

Eschaton quotes CBS MW:
"The euro hit a record high against the dollar at $1.3047 on Wednesday as a wave of dollar selling in the foreign exchange markets took out options barriers protecting yen and the euro levels.

'There's an overwhelming belief ever since the U.S. elections that the dollar has got quite a way to go down,' said Chris Furness, senior currency strategist for 4Cast research in London.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, traveling in Europe, reiterated Wednesday that a 'strong dollar' policy is in the interest of the U.S., but analysts said that the massive U.S. budget and trade deficits are keeping the pressure on the dollar. "

16.11.04

Latest (reported) atrocity

MSNBC and all the others have the story. Remember what Hersh said a few weeks ago?

15.11.04

Justice

Aaron Swartz has a nice summary up about the failures (of which there are many) of the Justice Department and the state equivalents. It comes down to a heady amount of power being wielded by prosecutors and how they can misuse responsibility in really remarkable ways. Confirms most of the bad things heard about cops over the years. Of course all cops are not bad- most are just making a living- but the ease with which lower-income and minority people can be bullied is ridiculous.
Besides the whole forty-acres-and-a-mule thing (which accounts for most of it), this is the reason African-Americans are overrepresented in the prison system.
Canadians "open arms" to underrepresented disaffected Americans.

14.11.04

USPS Carries Everything

from the Bob Jones University Website:
Dear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

...Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.
...
The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III
President

13.11.04

Drugs

Science Blog reports that:
White House says failure of Alaska pot law big public health victory
Commenting on the failure of the marijuana legalization initiative in Alaska, John P. Walters, Director of National Drug Control Policy, made the following statement: ''The continued failure of the drug legalization movement this year sends a strong message that Americans are not willing to allow a small group of politically active billionaires to undermine the progress our Nation has made in driving youth drug use down by 11 percent over the last two years.

Little to no mention of cigarettes and the huge, huge money that backs the tobacco industry, at least on a first reading. But America still blocks Cuban cigars...hmm...

11.11.04

Vanunu arrested

Guardian reports that:
Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu has been arrested this morning by Israeli police for allegedly passing on classified information to unnamed international parties.

8.11.04

Terror versus Reality

Ignorance was readily apparent in Mr. Bush’s election victory- three-fourths of the Republicans who voted for him still thought that there were WMDs in Iraq, that there were terrorist links to Iraq, that Bush supported the I.C.C. and the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. These people simply have not been given a chance by the American stimuli machine to take a look at their own reality.

No one I know has been killed in a terrorist attack or sent to Afghanistan. However, people I know have been sent to Iraq and have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have been in situations of poverty and have had their mail be really, really slow. We don’t need to make up threats of terrorism and nuclear nation-states- we need to face the abjectness of our own reality.

7.11.04

The terror myth

The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and an attempt at Washington, DC were some of the most devastating incidents on American soil ever. These attacks were terrorist acts, pure and simple. And they were the most effective attacks in the history of the world. Even though there have been zero terrorist attacks in the next three years and a few months (disregarding the government anthrax), the American public elected, democratically, George W. Bush.

Somewhere around 113 million people went to the polls a week ago. This was the easiest opportunity for the extremist Islamic jihadist movement to strike. Not one person was blown up. However, I give very little credit to the sitting president of the last few years. Approximately that many millions went to the polls four years ago, and no one blew up then.

However, most of the people who voted for Bush were not high-income SUV drivers who would actually benefit from his domestic policies. They were middle and lower class people who saw terrorism as a threat and Mr. Bush as the man to take on that threat. Terrorism, a few days after Osama bin Laden went on the run, was no longer a threat.

Then came an enormous squandering of international goodwill- the invasion of Iraq and the nationalist insurgency that followed. "Terrorism", actually unconventional asymetric warfare, is certainly a problem there, as it is the only realistic means by which the opposers of the occupation can do battle. Superpowers should start expecting this- it shouldn't be illegal when the forces are this mismatched.

Terrorism will never be a real threat to the civilian population of the United States. Our borders have always been very snug, and the very nature of terrorism is that it typically does not do much harm. Yes, the Sept. 11 attacks were catastrophic by everyone's standards, but far, far more young, capable people are killed by cancer each year. Between nuclear nonproliferation, snug borders, better technology, and much better foreign intelligence-gathering capabilities, America will do fine- if it weren't for Mr. President, who promises outright to limit freedoms, benefit special interests and the wealthy, and continue ruining international relationships. Crawford, we have a problem- and it sure isn't Muslims.

2.11.04

Election Returns

It's a crazy night so far. With friends, I came up with the idea (aided by Zogby's predictions) that this would be a blowout for Kerry... but then we realized that Florida is still in the hands of Jeb Bush and that Ohio was tenuous at best. Now it's turned into a press-reload-every-few-minutes kind of thing. And some prayer, although not for real yet.
Besides Ohio, I'm hoping that Rehnquist stays alive, but in a comatose state so that he can't break the 4-4 tie of the Supremes if Florida turns out a decisive debacle again. However, we are concerned that radical-right neoconservative groups would aid in his passing (a new twist on right-to-die) so that Bush could appoint someone while Congress is adjourned...

The election returns were a bit disappointing, at least on MSNBC. Lots of feel for the scoop but severe cautiousness of getting that scoop, especially after the early-calling disasters in 2000. I distinctly remember staying up and at about 9:30 hearing NPR saying that Florida had gone to Gore. Obviously, that didn't quite happen.

As repeated ad nauseum by the media establishment, this marks one of the "most polarized" elections in our nation's history. I would beg to differ, having heard stories of gunbattles associated with election fever in the Old West, but it is true that the race is very tight. How long can these feelings last after the election? How well has the Republican machine done in their negative portrayals of Kerry? If elected, he will be widely hated before entering office, with approval ratings nearly at Bush's level. Of course, the Republican party itself will have some reconfiguring to do before 2008, win or lose. With pro-choice, relatively pro-gay rights men like Rudy Guiliani and Arnold Schwartzennegar being mentioned as possibles in future presidential elections, the Republican party will be forced to adapt or end up consistantly losing national elections. From the looks of it tonight, Karl Rove's four million evangelicals did not all show up for this election- in fact, dislike for Bush's policies has brought more Democratic voters to the polls. The entire national political conscience could drift leftward, away from the specters of discrimination enshrined in the Constitution and even more tax burdens being placed on the middle and lower classes.

For now, I'll settle for a victory in Ohio. Goodnight.


UPDATE: Jesus.

Election Day Weather

2004 Election Day Forecast

1.11.04

Election spending

Guardian:
"US presidential rivals George Bush and John Kerry have spent more than $600m on TV and radio ads in the run-up to tomorrow's election, making it the most expensive campaign in American political history."

Highlights of the 2004 Election

Never Forget: Internets Vets for Truth

The polls, of course, are undecisive.