Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Culture War Has Arrived

The religious right claim the godless liberal elite in this country are jeopardizing their belief system. They are foaming at the mouth with the opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade or to abolish those hedonistic homosexuals encircling their small farm towns in search of converts. They fear birth control, hate homosexuals wish death upon all those who participate in abortion or believe in a woman's right to choose. This culture war is the difference between imposing a religious set of beliefs upon an entire nation (the right) versus giving people the freedom to make their own decisions (the left). Who are the real elitists here? Who are the ones really being persecuted? The culture war has arrived now that the election has legitimized Bush's presidency. The religous arm of the republican party demands the right to abuse power in the name of God.

The hypocricy: they demonize the left for government programs that "run their life," yet are willing to use the government to impose their religious values on the whole of America. I don't believe in these religious views, that is my right and I'm willing to fight to keep it.

Enforcing Relgious Beliefs on Women Using Birth Control

For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control.

"I was shocked," says Lacey, 33, who was not able to get her prescription until the next day and missed taking one of her pills. "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."

Some pharmacists, however, disagree and refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. And states from Rhode Island to Washington have proposed laws that would protect such decisions [...]

We have always understood that the battles about abortion were just the tip of a larger ideological iceberg, and that it's really birth control that they're after also," says Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

"The explosion in the number of legislative initiatives and the number of individuals who are just saying, 'We're not going to fill that prescription for you because we don't believe in it' is astonishing," she said.

Demonizing Gays in Public School Textbooks
A State Board of Education member stalled a vote to approve middle school health textbooks Thursday by saying the books should condemn homosexuality and make clear that marriage exists only between men and women.

Board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, called for about 30 changes to teachers' and students' editions of proposed health books in grades six through eight.


Leo said that three of the 10 middle school books up for approval would not conform to a state law banning the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages. She said they endorse same-sex marriage by referring to the heads of families as couples or adults instead of husbands and wives or fathers and mothers.

"We're considered a state agency, and we need public acts and records recognizing that marriage is between a man and a woman," she said.

Some of her suggestions, however, go beyond the marriage issue.

One passage in a teachers' edition says that "surveys indicate that 3 to 10 percent of the population is gay. No one knows for sure why some people are straight, some are bisexual and others are gay."

Leo wanted to replace those sentences with: "Opinions vary on why homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals as a group are more prone to self-destructive behaviors like depression, illegal drug use and suicide."

"This is an effort that is both ridiculous and hateful, to essentially try to eliminate homosexuality from health textbooks," said Samantha Smoot, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin group that monitors social conservatism in government.

State law says the board can judge textbooks for their factual accuracy and compliance with state curriculum guidelines. George Rislov of the Texas Education Agency's curriculum division said the guidelines for middle school health classes do not define marriage.

Seeking to Overturn Roe v.s. Wade
Conservatives are inundating those senators with calls and e-mails trying to sway those votes.

One GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee who asked not be identified because of the sensitivity of the debate said his office received more than 1,000 phone calls Friday opposing Specter. The senator said that was the most phone calls on one subject since the gay marriage debate in July.

The current chairman, Orrin Hatch of Utah, is stepping aside because of a self-imposed Republican rule limiting the lenghth of time a senator can head a particular committee.

No one in the Senate has openly opposed a Specter chairmanship, aides said, although several senators have said they wanted to talk to him before he gets the job.

"Very rarely do they speak out against other members," said Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, who wants Specter voted down. Republican leaders "are putting their finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing. This drama still has to be played out."

Abusing Scientific Facts
Women wrongly warned cancer, abortion tied

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Laura Meckler

Nov. 10, 2004 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Women seeking abortions in Mississippi must first sign a form indicating they've been told abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer. They aren't told that scientific reviews have concluded there is no such risk.

Similar information suggesting a cancer link is given to women considering abortion in Texas, Louisiana and Kansas, and legislation to require such notification has been introduced in 14 other states.

Abortion opponents, who are pushing these measures, say they are simply giving women information to consider. But abortion rights supporters see it much differently.

"In my experience, this inaccurate information is going to dissuade few women from going ahead and having the abortion," said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "What it does do is put a false guilt trip and fear trip on that woman."

Falwell Calls for a Revolution

He says he wants a revolution

Seeing an opening after last Tuesday's evangelical turnout, Jerry Falwell reveals his plans: An "evangelical revolution."

From the AP: "Falwell, a religious broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values Coalition will be a '21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority,' the organization he founded in 1979.

Falwell said he would serve as the coalition's national chairman for four years. He added that the new group's mission would be to lobby for anti-abortion conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another 'George Bush-type' conservative in 2008."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Terrorists target blue state cities, but...

This is old news but important to keep in mind.

New York Daily News -

We get $5-a-head for security


Monday, November
24th, 2003 New York, the world's premier target for terror, gets less homeland
security funding per person than virtually any state in the nation.

Man for man and woman for woman, Wyoming
(population 493,782) does better - $38.31 per person, compared with the paltry
$5.47 in counterterrorism funds spent on each New Yorker.
"Every square inch
of Wyoming is as vulnerable as every inch of New York," Joe Moore, Wyoming's
director of homeland security, told the Daily News. "If you say there are no
terrorists in Wyoming, that's just where they'll strike."

So far, though, whatever threat Osama Bin Laden and his
terrorist minions pose for Wyoming lurks primarily in the minds of its
politicians. New York, on the other hand, has been targeted five times and
suffered two horrendous attacks, including, of course, the one on Sept. 11,
Yet New York goes begging while Cheyenne, Wyo. (population 53,200),
now boasts two gleaming, state-of-the-art bomb squad units, special equipment
for neutralizing bombs and a new communications system for its 90-member police
force, said Police Chief Robert Fecht. And the department expects to receive
still more special equipment when a second grant is approved.

Never mind that the bomb squad of
Wyoming's most populous city comprises only three technicians, which it shares
with the police department in Laramie, 50 miles away.
And no matter that the
price tag for Cheyenne's new equipment was only $120,000. The amount represents
a huge percentage of the tiny police department's $700,000 operating budget.
"This is a tremendous amount," Fecht conceded. "It's major assistance."
of the $900 million New York City has determined it needs to counter terrorism,
it has received only $84 million from the federal government so far. Officials
expect to get $75 million more in the next round of funding.

The Fire Department, still staggering
from its losses on Sept. 11, has sought $331 million in homeland security
funding. It has been promised less than $36 million.

The NYPD has determined it needs $261 million. It has received
only $60 million.

"We are doing a lot and
it is costing us a lot - something on the order of $200 million a year in
operational expenses for counterterrorism in the Police Department alone," said
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "We're funding this on our dime."

A purview like no other

New York's first responders must protect
8 million people - as many as 11 million during work hours - day in and day out.
They're charged with protecting the Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank,
the United Nations and scores of foreign consulates. And since 1993, they have
had to secure high-profile trials of 25 terrorists at Manhattan Federal Court,
just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Wyoming has, well, Yellowstone National Park.

Said Mayor Bloomberg, "Precious homeland
security dollars should be based on a complete threat analysis, not doled out
like political pork."

In fiscal 2003, the
federal government provided $3.45 billion for first responders across the nation
through three programs mandated by Congress:

$1.9 billion in state formula grants

$800 million for high-threat urban areas

$750 million in firefighter assistance grants.

Of the three, only the high-threat program takes into account
terrorist vulnerability. And it accounts for only 23% of the total.

The bulk of funding is distributed
through state formula grants, which allot every state - regardless of population
or the actual threat of terrorism - three-quarters of 1% of the $1.9billion pot.

In this Alice-in-Wonderland process, New
York, ranked by the feds as No. 1 in risk of attack, comes out almost at the
bottom - 49th - in per capita funding. New Jersey, 10th in risk, is ranked 42nd
for funding.

As Kelly put it, "More than
80% of the Department of Homeland Security's first-responder funds are being
distributed blind to the nation's counterterrorism needs."

So Wyoming - the least populous state, with no federal risk
rating - gets about six times more per capita than New York. The other small
states also share disproportionately in the bonanza.
Take North Dakota.
Grand Forks (population 70,000) got $1.5 million in homeland security largess.
It now has an armored van, decontamination tents and more biochemical suits than
there are cops to wear them.

The fire
department in Zanesville, Ohio, (population 25,600) now boasts a thermal imager
to find victims in heavy smoke, a test kit for deadly nerve agents and other
high-tech apparatus.
Meanwhile, New York's Fire Department has to make do
with only one fully deployable hazardous materials unit for the entire city.
Inflexible federal rules don't allow state grants to be used for increasing the
specialized manpower needed to create a much-needed second unit.
also has sought $207 million to upgrade its communications system; it has
received $3 million.

"The Fire Department
has to be prepared for things that we never had to be prepared for before," said
Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. "Training and equipment are needed to deal with
chemical disasters, radioactivity, dirty bombs, bioterrorism and so forth.

"But what frustrates those of us with big
departments is that the money is not there for us because the funding is being
dispensed on an equal basis to all the states."

The formula extends to other critical agencies as well. Of the $65
million in homeland security money earmarked for transit systems, for example,
Denver, Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore., got $1 million each.

New York's Metro-North Railroad, which carries 72 million
commuters a year in and out of Manhattan, got nothing. Zero.

Last June, Homeland Security Secretary
Tom Ridge told lawmakers the Bush administration is working on a funding formula
"that better takes into account threats, population density and the presence of
critical infrastructures."

Cuts looming

But the inequity is only getting worse.

In fiscal 2004, the total amount
distributed on the basis of need will decline. High-threat urban areas will
receive about $725 million, a 10% cut, while the other programs will grow to
$2.95 billion, a 10% increase.

There are
three proposals in Congress to change the funding formula, including one by New
York Republican Rep. John Sweeney, whose district extends north of Albany -
hundreds of miles from Ground Zero.

"I am
from a rural area, so you'd think I'd like the current rules," Sweeney said.
"But I think we need to protect the areas that need protecting. We need to take
the politics out of this."

Red State/Blue State/Shut Up

I say shut the fuck up already. Your missing the point and feeding into divisive strategy.

What is Conservativism and What is Wrong With It?

The Destruction of Language

Reason occurs mostly through the medium of language, and so the destruction of reason requires the destruction of language. An underlying notion of conservative politics is that words and phrases of language are like territory in warfare: owned and controlled by one side or the other. One of the central goals of conservatism, as for example with Newt Gingrich's lists of words, is to take control of every word and phrase in the English language.

George Bush, likewise, owes his election in great measure to a new language that his people engineered for him. His favorite word, for example, is "heart". This type of linguistic engineering is highly evolved in the business milieu from which conservative public relations derives, and it is the day-to-day work of countless conservative think tanks. Bush's people, and the concentric circles of punditry around them, are worlds away from John Kerry deciding on a moment's notice that he is going to start the word "values". They do not use a word unless they have an integrated communications strategy for taking control of that word throughout the whole of society.

Bush's personal vocabulary is only a small part of conservative language warfare as a whole. Since around 1990, conservative rhetors have been systematically turning language into a weapon against liberals. Words are used in twisted and exaggerated ways, or with the opposite of their customary meanings. This affects the whole of the language. The goal of this distorted language is not simply to defeat an enemy but to destroy the minds of the people who believe themselves to be conservatives and who constantly challenge themselves to ever greater extremity in using it.

A simple example of turning language into a weapon might be the word "predictable", which has become a synonym for "liberal". There is no rational argument in this usage. Every such use of "predictable" can be refuted simply by substituting the word "consistent". It is simply invective.

More importantly, conservative rhetors have been systematically mapping the language that has historically been used to describe the aristocracy and the traditional authorities that serve it, and have twisted those words into terms for liberals. This tactic has the dual advantage of both attacking the aristocracies' opponents and depriving them of the words that they have used to attack aristocracy.

A simple example is the term "race-baiting". In the Nexis database, uses of "race-baiting" undergo a sudden switch in the early 1990's. Before then, "race-baiting" referred to racists. Afterward, it referred in twisted way to people who oppose racism. What happened is simple: conservative rhetors, tired of the political advantage that liberals had been getting from their use of that word, took it away from them.

A more complicated example is the word "racist". Conservative rhetors have tried to take this word away as well by constantly coming up with new ways to stick the word onto liberals and their policies. For example they have referred to affirmative action as "racist". This is false; it is an attempt to destroy language. Racism is the notion that one race is intrinsically better than another. Affirmative action is arguably discriminatory, as a means of partially offsetting discrimination in other places and times, but it is not racist. Many conservative rhetors have even stuck the word "racist" on people just because they oppose racism. The notion seems to be that these people addressed themselves to the topic of race, and the word "racist" is sort of an adjective relating somehow to race. In any event this too is an attack on language.

A recent example is the word "hate". The civil rights movement had used the word "hate" to refer to terrorism and stereotyping against black people, and during the 1990's some in the press had identified as "Clinton-haters" people who had made vast numbers of bizarre claims that the Clintons had participated in murder and drug-dealing. Beginning around 2003, conservative rhetors took control of this word as well by labeling a variety of perfectly ordinary types of democratic opposition to George Bush as "hate". In addition, they have constructed a large number of messages of the form "liberals hate X" (e.g., X=America) and established within their media apparatus a sophistical pipeline of "facts" to support each one. This is also an example of the systematic breaking of associations.

The word "partisan" entered into its current political circulation in the early 1990's when some liberals identified people like Newt Gingrich as "partisan" for doing things like the memo on language that I mentioned earlier. To the conservative way of politics, there is nothing either true or false about the liberal claim. It is simply that liberals had taken control of some rhetorical territory: the word "partisan". Conservative rhetors then set about taking control of the word themselves. They did this in a way that has become mechanical. They first claimed, falsely, that liberals were identifying as "partisan" any views other than their own. They thus inflated the word while projecting this inflation onto the liberals and disconnecting the word from the particular facts that the liberals had associated with it. Next, they started using the word "partisan" in the inflated, dishonest way that they had ascribed to their opponents. This is, very importantly, a way of attacking people simply for having a different opinion. In twisting language this way, conservatives tell themselves that they are simply turning liberal unfairness back against the liberals. This too is projection.

Another common theme of conservative strategy is that liberals are themselves an aristocracy. (For those who are really keeping score, the sophisticated version of this is called the "new class strategy", the message being that liberals are the American version of the Soviet nomenklatura.) Thus, for example, the constant pelting of liberals as "elites", sticking this word and a mass of others semantically related to it onto liberals on every possible occasion. A pipeline of "facts" has been established to underwrite this message as well. Thus, for example, constant false conservative claims that the rich vote Democratic. When Al Franken recently referred to his new radio network as "the media elite and proud of it", he demonstrated his oblivion to the workings of the conservative discourse that he claims to contest.

Further examples of this are endless. When a Republican senator referred to "the few liberals", hardly any liberals gave any sign of getting what he meant: as all conservatives got just fine, he was appropriating the phrase "the few", referring to the aristocracy as opposed to "the many", and sticking this phrase in a false and mechanical way onto liberals. Rush Limbaugh asserts that "they [liberals] think they are better than you", this of course being a phrase that had historically been applied (and applied correctly) to the aristocracy. Conservative rhetors constantly make false or exaggerated claims that liberals are engaged in stereotyping -- the criticism of stereotyping having been one of history's most important rhetorical devices of democrats. And so on. The goal here is to make it impossible to criticize aristocracy.

For an especially sorry example of this pattern, consider the word "hierarchy". Conservatism is a hierarchical social system: a system of ranked orders and classes. Yet in recent years conservatives have managed to stick this word onto liberals, the notion being that "government" (which liberals supposedly endorse and conservatives supposedly oppose) is hierarchical (whereas corporations, the military, and the church are somehow vaguely not). Liberals are losing because it does not even occur to them to refute this kind of mechanical antireason.

It is often claimed in the media that snooty elitists on the coasts refer to states in the middle of the country as "flyover country". Yet I, who have lived in liberal areas of the coasts for most of my life, have never once heard this usage. In fact, as far as I can tell, the Nexis database does not contain a single example of anyone using the phrase "flyover country" to disparage the non-coastal areas of the United States. Instead, it contains hundreds of examples of people disparaging residents of the coasts by claiming that they use the phrase to describe the interior. The phrase is a special favorite of newspapers in Minneapolis and Denver. This is projection. Likewise, I have never heard the phrase "political correctness" used except to disparage the people who supposedly use it.

Conservative remapping of the language of aristocracy and democracy has been incredibly thorough. Consider, for example, the terms "entitlement" and "dependency". The term "entitlement" originally referred to aristocrats. Aristocrats had titles, and they thought that they were thereby entitled to various things, particularly the deference of the common people. Everyone else, by contrast, was dependent on the aristocrats. This is conservatism. Yet in the 1990's, conservative rhetors decided that the people who actually claim entitlement are people on welfare. They furthermore created an empirically false association between welfare and dependency. But, as I have mentioned, welfare is precisely a way of eliminating dependency on the aristocracy and the cultural authorities that serve it. I do not recall anyone ever noting this inversion of meaning.

Conservative strategists have also been remapping the language that has historically been applied to conservative religious authorities, sticking words such as "orthodoxy", "pious", "dogma", and "sanctimonious" to liberals at every turn.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Values? I Got Your Values Hangin'!!

I refer you to what Joe Conason of Salon fame said about Liberal Values:

"The most basic liberal values are political equality and economic opportunity. Liberals uphold democracy as the only form of government that derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and they regard the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights as essential to the expression of popular consent. Their commitment to an expanding democracy is what drives liberal advocacy on behalf of women, minorities, gays, immigrants, and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.


If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a 40-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights -- you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable -- you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible for Medicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family -- you can thank liberals. If our rivers are getting cleaner and our air isn't black with pollution; if our wilderness is protected and our countryside is still green -- you can thank liberals. If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society -- you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism -- with the support of the American people."

What else is there to say? Conservatism is ignorant, backwards, and hurtful to the public at large compared with Liberalism.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Say it Loud, Say it Proud

I've been looking for the best description of what it means to be a liberal and I think I found a good'n.

What is a Liberal?

What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

You should never be affraid to call yourself a liberal, if you are one. That is numero-uno is taking back this country. The democrats need their moxy back in full and the best way to start is to feel as good about being a liberal as the conservatives feel about being conservative. Ain't nothin' wrong with either, s'just diff'rnt phi-losophies.