Archive for March, 2006
Kevin Zeese on pollster Zogby’s web site calls attention to the potential electoral power of the antiwar voting block [A Powerful New Voting Block Emerges]:
A new national poll shows that a near majority of voters either strongly or somewhat agree with a pledge not to vote for pro-war candidates. This makes the antiwar movement’s potential impact on elections larger than pro-gun, anti-abortion, or anti-gay marriage voters. Politicians will have to pay heed to this new political force.
The pledge states:
“I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or president who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression a public position in his or her campaign.”
The national poll found that 45.9% of US voters agree – 20.1% strongly agree and 25.8% somewhat agree. Among Democrats 67.1% agreed – 33.3% strongly, 59.2% of Independents – 25.3% strongly and even 25.7% of Republicans agreed – 5.5% strongly. The poll was conducted by ICR Survey Research of Media, Pa., which also polls for ABC News, The Washington Post and many corporations and research organization
I would suggest adding to the pledge: “I will not support any candidate who does not make curtailing the unlawful and unconstitutional actions of President Bush a prominent position in his campaign.”
March 25th, 2006
The Bush administration is very concerned about the avian flu danger. Their taking major steps to respond. Most recently, in order to prepare the country, they’re proposing massive cuts in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). What a creative way to respond to a possible pandemic. Who else would have thought of it? [See the Atlanta-Journal Constitution: CDC cuts could hurt bioterror effort. See also the California Healthcare Foundation: President Bush's Budget Plan To Cut CDC, HHS Funding; Increase for FDA, SCHIP]
To be fair, the proposed budget does allocate specific monies for avian flu. But cutting the already decimated public health infrastructure in this country is so far beyond perverse that I can’t think of words to describe it. Only the people who thought up the Iraq war and have a “Plan for Victory” in that war would even consider something so dangerous. This time, it may not be just Iraqis and the small minority of Americans in the Armed Forces who pay the price for their arrogance, incompetence and corruption, but all of us.
According to CHF, among the cuts are:
A 9% reduction in CDC’s budget to $6.9 billion;
A 12.6% spending reduction for public health emergency centers, which distribute medications and vaccines in the event of a bioterrorist attack [and presumably important in the event of a pandemic];
The elimination of a $131 million block grant for preventive health services that address “urgent health problems” affecting different states;
A 6.5% decrease in funding for a Public Health Service program that addresses chronic disease prevention and health promotion, including efforts to prevent and control obesity, to $841 million.
Thanks to Revere at Effect Measure for calling attention to this.
March 25th, 2006
Raw Story has a piece on an upcoming article in the LA Times on Delta Force founder Retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, who thinks that the Iraq war may be the parting shot of World War III. When even warriors are criticizing the war in these terms, we can be sure the situation is as dire as we believe.
Q: What’s your assessment of the war in Iraq?
A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and … pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That’s why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.
We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.
Q: What do you make of the torture debate? Cheney …
A: (Interrupting) That’s Cheney’s pursuit. The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It’s about vengeance, it’s about revenge, or it’s about cover-up. You don’t gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It’s worse than small-minded, and look what it does
March 25th, 2006
We’re seeing the beginnings of an enormous social movement with the rallies for immigrant rights and against the perverse anti-immigrant bill in Congress. Today saw a reported 500,000 in Los Angeles, which, by the usual media reporting standards means between 750,000 and 1,000,000. In any case, that a HUGE rally. To get a sense of the magnitude of the rally, look at the pictures on the LA Times web site and keep in mind that the rally extended for 26 blocks!
And this issue isn’t going away as long as the bill is before Congress. Perhaps these rallies represent a turning point for the country and a reversal of the hopelessness people have been experiencing in the wake of the Bush/Republican steamroller that’s bee driving over us for five long years. Those with the most to loose are showing us the way. I sure hope the American populace will follow.
March 25th, 2006
I can’t resist this on. Barbara Bush “contributed” money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. Just to make sure it went to good causes, she earmarked it, get this, to a company owned by Neil Bush! [Former first lady's donation aids son] Now this company, Ignite!, allegedly an “educational software” company, is really just a way of funneling money from those wanting to buy influence with Neil’s brother.
See Josh Marshall’s explanation:
“Ignite!’s has a unique business model, which works like this. Neil goes around the world finding international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to ‘invest’ in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House.”
Why waste money on those too stupid to get out of the way of a hurricane!
March 24th, 2006
The New York Times has a new article [Earth's warming likely irreversible, scientists say] reporting on new studies suggesting there may be massive effects of global warming in the not too distant future.
“Within the next 100 years, the growing human influence on Earth’s climate could lead to a long and irreversible rise in sea levels by eroding Earth’s vast polar ice sheets, according to new observations and analysis by several teams of scientists.
One team, using computer models of climate and ice, found that by about 2100, average temperatures could be 4 degrees warmer than today and that over the coming centuries, the world’s oceans could rise 13 to 20 feet — conditions last seen 130,000 years ago, between the last two ice ages.”
Yet the Times cannot resist the disingenuous claim that there is considerable doubt in the scientific community as to whether global warming is due to human activity.
“But significant disagreements remain over whether recent changes in sea level and ice conditions cited in the new studies could be attributed to rising concentrations of the greenhouse gases and temperatures linked by most experts to human activities.
Sea levels have been rising for thousands of years as an aftereffect of the warming and polar melting that followed the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. Discriminating between that residual effect and any new influence from human actions remains impossible for the moment, many experts say.”
They fail to point out the that it is extremely unlikely that trends that have been occurring for thousands of years explain the massive changes we have witnessed in the last 20 years or so, or those described here as likely to occur in the next 100 years. After all, the article earlier said “the growing human influence on Earth’s climate could lead to a long and irreversible rise in sea levels.” The study they reported did not talk of long-term natural trends.
Given these potential massive effects, it is very dangerous to feed the corporate-sponsored “all is doubt” view of climate “science.” When the paid doubters no longer exist, many areas of the world will already have joined Atlantis at the bottom of the sea.
March 24th, 2006
Theodore Hamm is already writing the history of our time: The 2006 Democrats, as Seen by Future Historians.
“The destruction of Iraq, the looting of the national treasury, and the unregulated growth of corporate power were not of concern to the Democrats headed into the midterm campaign of 2006. Even though the party had lost ground in three consecutive national elections, Democratic leaders cautioned their candidates against taking a stand on any of the pressing issues of the era….”
March 23rd, 2006
The Dixie Chicks respond to the attacks on them that occurred when they apologized at the beginning of the Iraq war for being from the same state as President Bush. You can hear their song: Not Ready to Make Nice on their website. I can’t wait for the album, Taking the Long Way, to come out in May.
The first part of the song:
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
March 23rd, 2006
Karl Marx warned 150 years ago that capitalism tended to turn everything into a commodity, a form of property, to be bought and sold. Increasingly in recent decades ideas become private commodities, subject to patent or copyright. Even laws of nature, and thoughts themselves, have not been immune to this barbarism arising from the fetish of private property and the (controlled) “free market.”
The Supreme Court today takes up an important case determining whether laws of nature, and thought processes, can be patented. [B Vitamin Case Reaches Supreme Court] While I’m cautious with this court, I certainly hope that the absurd US patent law whereby correlations between measurements and numerous other aspects of nature are patentable. While they’re at it, I hope they strike down patenting of the human genome, as has occurred for 20% of our genes. Where are the religious fanatics who argue that man, and science shouldn’t intrude on God’s realm. Surely patenting laws of nature or the human genome are prime instances of intruding on God’s domain. Or does the right to profit trump all for these folks?
March 20th, 2006
Juan Cole today clarifies al-Sistani’s stand on homosexuality. [I was one of those he refers to as having written him about the issue.] It seems that the claims that Sistani has advocated vigilante killings of gays are simply false. He does, however, condemn homosexuality and, in at least one instance, has urged the death penalty for homosexual activity.
A couple of excerpts:
“Let me begin by saying that the charge leveled by some, and mentioned at Pandagon, that Sistani has called for the killing of Sunnis, is completely untrue. The implication given by exiled gay Iraqi, Ali Hili, of the London-based gay human rights group OutRage, that Sistani has called for vigilante killings of gays, is untrue, though it is accurate that Sistani advises that the state make homosexual activity a capital crime; it is also accurate to call this “sick….””
“The first two fatwas he gave on the subject have to do with adult men penetrating boys. That is, Sistani appears to take as the connotation of lawat that it is an adult man penetrating an under-age boy. Unsurprisingly, he deeply disapproves. The first two fatwas, however, come in response to questions about what this sexual relationship means for later marital relations between the two families. Say a 21-year-old man from Khazraj had relations with a 17-year-old boy from Ruba’i? Then, say the first man’s family wanted to marry him off to a girl from the Ruba’i family. Can they? And to what degree of relatedness? Can he be the husband of his former lover’s sister? The answer is “no.” In contrast, Sistani would allow a man who had an affair with a girl to later on marry her sister….”
“A later fatwa insists that homosexual relations should be punished with the utmost severity, and urges the death penalty. Again, his assumption appears to be that the penetrated partner would likely be under-age, which may help explain his severity. His first two fatwas, however, assume that the punishment will actually be much less severe, even when one of the partners was under-age!”
The whole post is worth reading as it clarifies the historical context of homosexuality in the Islamic world.
March 19th, 2006