Friday, November 01, 2002

The "Vision Thing"

Caption: Now I'm invisible!

Ok, the post two posts down is messed up, and manged to take the Harvey Pitt Post with it. Managed to save my hero-worship bit in Kinsley, so its not a total loss. Ah, well.....such is the life of the instajournalist.
We Admit It; Kinsley is Like A God Unto Us

Should I be ashamed of such endless fanboyism? Here's Kinsley's latest Readme column at Slate regarding the addition of the word 'embryos' to certain governemtn policy guidelines put out by Human Research Protections Advisory Committee. The good bits:

On who the addition of embryos aids politically:

There is no need to say "embryos and fetuses" for the benefit of people who think that the two words mean the same thing. The only reason to say "embryos and fetuses" is to address people who do not think they are the same thing, and to let them know that whatever you are saying applies to both.

On outlawing practices that destroy embryos:

If an embryo is a human being, it is protected not just by the civil rights laws but by ordinary criminal laws as well. Should married couples be allowed to engage in a popular practice that routinely leads to the production and destruction of untold numbers of embryos? Well, there goes sex.

On Bush's capacity for complexity of thought:

In Washington, confusion and calculation are often mistaken for thoughtfulness. The press respects a politician who can't make up his mind. Huge reputations have been built around the comic premise that if you're of two minds about everything, you must be pretty brainy. President Bush, it's true, cannot easily exploit this convention. Widely regarded as having at most one mind, he may find two a hard sell. But on this one he's been trying: On the one hand, embryos are human beings. On the other hand, I'm only acting on that belief in random symbolic thrusts. Solomonic, eh?

As usual, Kinsley cuts through the bull with laser-like clarity. He is so sharp and on that it has become boringly routine to watch him put truth to spin. It's sad that most people only know him from his most public role as the original lefty on Crossfire because he is one of the sharpest pundits working out there.
GOP Continues Happy Tradition of Civil Rights and Voter Rights Abuse

Fascinating piece about the GOP, up to a new form of the same old race card. The article, by John B. Judis posits that new GOP outreach into the black community isn't really about getting black votes, but about supressing black turnout.

For the most part, Republicans this election cycle aren't trying to woo black voters by offering their own solutions to issues such as poverty or civil rights. Rather, they're trying to convince them not to vote at all by sowing cynicism about white Democrats, even implying they are racist. This "depress the vote" strategy becomes even clearer when viewed in conjunction with the GOP's ongoing efforts to subtly intimidate black voters with dubious charges of election fraud. When it comes to race, the GOP hasn't changed nearly as much as it would have you believe.

It's a three-pronged strategy: 1) Accuse Democrats of racism. 2) Create a firestorm of controversy around mostly phantom voter fraud, always targeted on minority communities. 3) Voter intimidation and misdirectgion on election day. Judis offers various historical examples:

GOPAC, the organization made famous by Newt Gingrich and currently chaired by Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, has launched its own ad campaign directed at minority voters. Its first radio ads aired in Missouri and in the neighboring Kansas congressional district where conservative Republican Adam Taff is challenging incumbent Democrat Dennis Moore. One ad about Social Security accused white Democrats of using the system to take money away from black Americans. "You've heard about reparations. You know, where whites compensate blacks for enslaving us?" the ad began. "Well, guess what we've got now? Reverse reparations. Under Social Security today, blacks receive twenty-one thousand dollars less in retirement benefits than whites of similar income and marital status. ... One-third of the brothers die before retirement and receive nothing. ... So the next time some Democrat says he won't touch Social Security, ask why he thinks blacks owe reparations to whites."

This ad was so inflammatory that even GOPAC eventually walked away from it. When they aren't lying in public, they are, behind the scenes, creating the machinery of vote suppression:

The second prong of this year's GOP efforts to suppress the minority vote has been widespread allegations of voter fraud in minority communities. Such efforts go back decades. In 1986, the Republican National Committee (RNC) devised a "ballot security program" that was used in Louisiana, Indiana, and Missouri. It was designed, in the words of an RNC memo, to "keep the black vote down considerably."

And when election day rolls around, there is always the lowest form of vote suppression, intimidation:

In Jefferson County--which is 40 percent black and in the middle of Democrat Mike Ross's district--a group of predominately black voters, who went to the county courthouse to cast their early ballots on October 21, were confronted by Republican poll watchers (including, reportedly, two Hutchinson staffers) who photographed them and demanded that they show identification--even though Arkansas law stipulates that poll watchers cannot ask voters to show identification.

The GOP can put lipstick on their pig of minority outreach, but it's still the same old swine.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

More Fun from the ONDCP

This ad is called Den. Check it out.

I honestly can't believe this ad is put out by people who are against drugs, because the real issue raised by the ad seems to be about guns. In terms of culpability in the scenario, which would you blame: the joint the kids are smoking, or the gun Dad left on the desk?

You start seeing such rediculous ads put out by the Drug Czar, and you can't help but wonder if the Drug War has been infiltrated by pranksters or something. Thanks to the latest efforts by Hutchinson et al, I have changed my position on the War on Drugs; anyone who these ads work on shouldn't take drugs in the first place. So bring 'em on, and leave more drugs for the rest of us.
Talking Points Memo is All Over the South Dakota Push-Poll

Joshua Micah Marshall single-handedly uncovers yet another dirty tricks campaign by the GOP in the form of Arthur Finkelstein; again the 'liberal' press couldn't do the math itself. Check out this, and this, and this, all from Talking Points. The question goes out: will the 'liberal' press go after this GOP trickster? Well, I already know the answer, but it feels good to skewer the liberal media myth again. And again. And again. And again.....

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

It's Official: Walter Mondale to replace Senator Wellstone on the Ballot, GOP Flails About in Response

To the surprise of no one, Mondale is officially the candidate to replace Paul Wellstone on the Senate ballot for Minnesota. Early polls show him also inheriting Wellstone's poll numbers, too. SdB is keeping Minnesota in the Democratic column in its Senate predictions.

The GOP, who bitterly oppose candidates even when they are dead, managed to find fault with the memorial service, apparently never having attended a funeral that was a celebration of a man's life. Pity for them.

Finally, Norm Coleman decides to swipe a page from Doug Forrester's brilliant campaign of calling the opponent old. There's a winning strategy.
Will a Nation Divided Ever Get its Political Act Together?

Interesting article in the Washington Post about the possible trends towards a political majority. The article analyzes whether either party has what it takes to command a majority in the future. The short answer is, "no," at least not for the GOP. Too much emphasis on tactics by either party leads to short term policy that ignores long term majority building. The Democrats, while conducting tactical maneuvers have an eye toward the long term future, the GOP (or at least Karl Rove) do not. Anyway, it's a bit of a lightweight piece, but go check it out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

When Dictators Attack? World's Wildest Inspection Videos? Inspector Idol? Survivor: Basra?

Kurtz over at the Post reports that Fox is trying to make the WMD inspections a reality teevee show.

"This is a serious proposal," Senior Vice President John Moody told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in a letter sent Friday. Having broadcast crews along "would make it easier for U.N. inspectors to do their work and would underscore the credibility of the U.N. mission in Iraq. . . . Viewers could decide for themselves if the inspectors are being allowed to do their jobs."

Already, Roger Ailes is trying to get UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix replaced with that Simon guy from 'American Idol'.....

Monday, October 28, 2002

Dr. Strangehuff or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Poison Gas

Let's assume that the government of Russia had the best of intention, i.e. to minimize harm to the captives, in gassing a Moscow theater to end the recent hostage crisis. Even so their use of a mysterious and lethal chemical weapon should be condemned.

At a time when the possession of chemical and biological weapons by Iraq is legitimately an international issue, neither the Russians nor anyone else should be given a pass on possessing and especially using similar weapons. Without implying a moral equivalence of the Iraqi and Russian cases, it is not innaccurate or fair to now state, as we so often say about Iraq, that the Russians have gassed their own people.

So far the Russians have refused to identify the gas which has killed, to the present, 115 or 116 of the hostages and, presumably, at least some of Chechen terrorists as well. This refusal itself should be the cause of grave concern. As it is obsevers are left to speculate as to whether the use of the gas may be in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention to which both Russia and the US are signatories. It is somewhat difficult to understand how at least the spirit of the convention has not been undermined. The use and possession of such weapons raises such a host of unsavory questions that it seems reasonable that they should be outlawed.

What is the LD 50 of this chemical?

What is the LC 50 for this weapon?

In the case of the latter, the Russians seem to have neared if not surpassed it, given that 15% of the hostages died and another 400 are still hospitalized with 150 of them in critical condition. It won't take many more more deaths to approach a fatality rate of 25%, without prompt medical care it is easy to imagine a rate of 50% or more.

How can such a substance not be a chemical weapon?

How can its possession and use be justified? Imagine it being used on the battlefield...against American troops, or used a method of crowd control by an unscrupulous government. Could its deployers then say well, it doesn't kill everybody?

Would you feel more or less secure if you knew your government had such a weapon and was willing to use it? Against whom could they justifiably use it? Under what conditions?

Are substances such as the one used by the Russians something we really want floating around out there?

All in all it seems the world would be better off without lethal chemical weapons. Whether anyone other than the hostage-takers will be held accountable for the deaths in Moscow is a Russian issue. Whether it is accaptable to have and use chemical weapons is everyone's issue. The world should condemn their use.