Monday, February 28, 2005

Blue states secede

Dear President Bush:

Congratulations on your victory over all us non-evangelicals.

Actually, we're a bit ticked off here in California, so we're leaving.

California will now be its own country. And we're taking all the Blue States wih us.

In case you are not aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all of the Northeast.

We spoke to God, and He/She agrees that this split will be beneficial to almost everybody, and especially to us in the new country of California. In fact, God is so excited about it, He/She's going to shift the whole country at 4:30 PM EST this Friday. Therefore, please let everyone know they need to be back in their states by then.

So you get Texas and all the former slave states. We get the Governator, stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay. (Okay, we have to keep Martha Stewart, we can live with that.)

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard and Stanford. You get Ole Miss.

We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get all the technological innovation in Alabama.

We get about two-thirds of the tax revenue, and you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single parents to support, and we know how much you like that.

Did I mention we produce about 70% of the nation's veggies? But heck, the only greens the red staters eat are the pickles on their Big Macs.

Oh yeah, another thing, don't plan on serving California wine at your state dinners. From now on it's imported French wine for you. Ouch, bet that hurts.

Just so we're clear, the country of California will be pro-choice and antiwar. Speaking of war, we're going to want all Blue States citizens back from Iraq. If you need people to fight, just ask your evangelicals.

Anyway, we wish you all the best in the next four years and we hope, really hope, you find those missing weapons of mass destruction. Seriously.


On a related note, Becca gets mad at me for bashing the evangelical south. She's right, they are part of this country whether we like it or not. And the south is considerably poorer than the north. So can't we find it in our bleeding hearts to be the bigger people and stop the ridicule and just help them out a little?

Not until they take down the confederate flags.

A letter posted on Mattie's Blogger.

By the way--for those who don't have a sense of humor--I will clarify that I share the frustration expressed in the letter at the people who voted for Bush, against their own interests (as did my mother). I don't, however, share the broad sweep of animosity toward southern states, because contained within those states are urban areas vehemently opposed to Bush and his neocon cabal, and other areas where tough, independent-thinking people aren't afraid to speak their minds against Bush's policies. Urban areas everywhere around the country voted against Bush in 2004, just as they did in 2000. Despite the ludicrously simple-minded portrayal of red states/blue states by the media, the battle lines are urban/suburban/rural with particular demographic variations.

Jesus was a liberal

Posted by Hello

The cartoon was featured on Mattie's Blogger.

I've seen "Jesus was a liberal" on a bumper sticker. I won't recommend any place in particular where you can get one. Just do a Google search and you'll find all sorts of bumper stickers and interesting discussion.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The great tragedy of war

I am profoundly troubled by the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. I look into the faces of the fallen, and wonder how their lives might have been different--how their families might have been saved from the pain and difficulty of moving on without a brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, and in the worst of cases, without a husband or wife, especially when they leave behind children.

I don't accept the casual statement that a soldier "died for a good cause," or worse, that a soldier "went out the way he'd want to." What a lucky guy (or gal). We should all be so lucky as to be cut down in our primes, leaving behind loved ones and dependants to fend for themselves.

Of course, then there's the classic phrase that "freedom isn't free." Well, you know what, a lot of the freedoms we enjoy have nothing to do with picking up a gun and kicking around a third world country. A lot of freedoms were earned the hard way, by marching in the streets with a sign, or riding freedom buses, or re-taking control of our neighborhoods from drug dealers. In fact, we earn our freedom every time we go to the ballot box, and yet, tens of millions of Americans neglect that critical freedom, without which our democracy cannot function as it should.

We have to apply our diplomatic resources better. I mean, Iraq is not Nazi Germany, or Hirohito's Japan. Those were good causes, because the stakes were global, and the free world was positively threatened. Terrorists do not threaten our freedoms. They threaten us in comparatively miniscule ways. I don't mean to diminish the tragedy of September 11th. I just question the Bush Administration approach to winning this struggle by invading Iraq.

Invade Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda training camps and dismantle the Taliban regime? Yes. Invade Iraq to find WMD, using cherry-picked intelligence that was questioned even before the war, and to privatize Iraqi industries for the benefit of U.S. corporations? No! I think a lot of Americans would use car bombs against occupiers too if we were invaded by--oh, let's just pick France for the sake of argument--and the French military proclaimed that all our businesses were now going to be run by French companies...and, by the way, we were all fired because contractors were taking our jobs.

The fight against terrorism can't be won by pissing off the entire Islamic world. We need to offer a better relationship--a relationship not tainted by the sense that we want control over a country's natural resources. As Pat Buchanan says--and he's certainly no friend of the left--invading countries like Iraq is not the solution. Invading countries is the problem, and that's the cause of terrorism.

Osama bin Laden doesn't hate our freedoms, he hates that the United States supports dictatorial regimes that suppress freedom. Now, Osama bin Laden may not want freedom for everyone--he wants freedom to install fundamentalist authoritarian regimes which would disallow everyone else's freedoms. Nevertheless, we should not delude ourselves about what our mission is in the world, and how we should peacefully fulfill that mission. We need to drain the swamp that breeds terrorism, not create a swamp that bogs down our soldiers in an unwinnable quaqmire.

Yeah, I know, some people say we have to "finish the job" in Iraq. Really? I'm not so sure about that. There were no weapons of mass destruction. I repeat, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The United Nations succeeded in destroying Saddam Hussein's weapons ambitions. Of course, we knew that before the invasion. I get the sense that we only have to finish the job so that U.S. corporations can make their money. Is that what American soldiers are dying for now?

The great tragedy of war is that those who don't survive never have the opportunity to see how their lives and families would have turned out. They never have the opportunity to say whether it truly was a cause worth dying for, after the fact of their deaths, although the living sure feel free to speak for them.

If you feel as I do, you should see the photo essay, Death of a Responsible Man. Oh hell, you should see it especially if you don't agree with me.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Shallow understanding

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham jail
April 16, 1963

Thanks Shenaaz for the reminder of the special poignancy of King's words today.

How many Bush neocons can say this?

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Right back atchya Dubya!

Johnny Cash gave a concert in 1969 right after singing a tribute to the men who died at the Alamo:

Everywhere we go these days, it seems like, all of a sudden, reporters and people will ask us questions -- ask us questions about things that they didn't use to ask. It seems like everyone's concerned about our national problems, about the war in Vietnam -- as we have long been. And they say things like, "How do you feel about the Vietnam situation, the war in Vietnam?"

I'll tell you exactly how I feel about it. This past January we took our entire show, along with my wife June, we went to Long Bien Air Force Base near Saigon. And--

(loud cheering from the crowd)

And a reporter friend of mine asked, said, "That makes you a hawk, doesn't it?" And I said, "No, that don't make me a hawk. No. No, that don't make me a hawk."

(more cheering, not as loud)

But I said, "If you watch the helicopters bring in the wounded boys, then you go into the wards and sing for 'em and try to do your best to cheer them up so that they can get back home, it might make you a dove with claws."

(wild cheering)

And then he sings a peacenik folk song, "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream."

Later, Cash remarked:

As far as the war in Vietnam is concerned, that war just made me sick. I’m not supporting that war or any other war... Maybe Vietnam has taught us a hard lesson to not be involved in foreign wars. Maybe that’s the lesson we’ve learned. I hope we have.

Hats off to Mark T. for playing Johnny's remarks on WTUL's Folk Show.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Remind me is this moron restoring dignity to the White House?

This is most likely from Bush's days campaigning as governor. I had trouble with the link, but you can find the video here.

Stupid, lazy people

I'm all for taking the dangerous weapons away from the stupid people. Let's start with typewriters.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he applied himself, but he's just lazy.

Margaret Cho, from her "State of Emergency" tour

Thanks to Ji-Taek for finding these quotes.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Spare the kittens

Please think of the kittens

Friday, February 18, 2005

Activist sees broadcasting on the public airwaves as a free-speech right

The tinkering rebel behind Free Radio Berkeley and the local godfather of the idea that broadcasting is a free-speech right instead of something the authorities give permission to do, [Stephen] Dunifer is offering a course this weekend on how to build your own low-power TV station. A simple station is easy to set up and costs only a few hundred dollars, said Dunifer, who is internationally known for his support of locally owned, low-power FM radio as a counterforce to corporate owners’ control of the major airwaves.

Because of the actions of Dunifer and others in persuading the Federal Communications Commission to open up the nation’s airwaves a crack, hundreds of noncommercial, low-power FM stations have gone on the air since 2000. But few of them are under local control, most carry religious programming and hardly any operate in a big city. Much more work needs to be done before media power is broadly democratized, said Dunifer, 53. Low-power TV is the latest thrust in the campaign, which Dunifer sees as global and revolutionary.

“Our whole approach to this is electronic civil disobedience on a mass level,” he said. “They gave us a few crumbs off the table. I’m tired of battling for a few crumbs. I want the whole pie, or cake.”

Under a 1998 federal court order that shut down his Free Radio Berkeley as an unlicensed FM station, Dunifer is in no position to resume broadcasting on his own. But there’s nothing to stop him from offering training and equipment to other electronics do-it-yourselfers. Free Radio Berkeley may have been silenced as a pirate station, but it’s more visible than ever as a pirate flag.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What if we told the Pentagon to hold a bake sale when it needed extra money?

President Bush is asking for $81.9 billion in additional spending before the ink has even dried on the the 2006 $419.3 billion Pentagon budget.

That's like your landlord telling you the rent is $800, and then when you move in, he says he's going to charge you an extra $150 for cleaning expenses.

Why do we keep giving the military hundreds of billions of dollars a year for preparedness, and then when we ask them to do the job we've already paid them to do, they say they need more money?

Notwithstanding the fact that I was opposed to the Iraq War at the first hint of President Bush's neoconservative agenda, I do support the effort to find and destroy Al Quaeda cells. But why should we put up with a shell game in which the Pentagon takes half of our tax dollars for crazy weapons programs, and then tells us it doesn't have enough money to put boots on the ground when they need to be deployed?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Re-take the airwaves

One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, reported Greg Toppo for USA Today ("U.S. students say press freedoms go too far", 2/1/2005).

Citing a Knight Foundation study, 36 percent of students said they were for "government approval" of stories before publishing, and 32 percent said the press "enjoys too much freedom."

Fully one-third of America's next generation is for government censorship of the media.

Meanwhile, Media Matters reports that both cable and broadcast news programs consistently skewed right during the 2004 presidential debates, featuring panels where Republicans outnumbered Democrats, and where Republicans were allowed to speak before, and more often, than their fellow Democrats (Ari Berman, "GOP TV", The Nation, 1/26/2005).

These facts demonstrate once again the myth of the "liberal media." If anything, the media is more conservative and partisan in favor of Republicans (see Eric Alterman's article, "What Liberal Media?") .

Of course, one only has to tune into the hate-mongering ignorance and hypocrisy of self-promoting AM radio talk show hosts to understand that citizens are not in control of the airwaves, nor are they provided with the balanced presentation of issues that is so vital for the functioning of our democracy.

I know what you're thinking: "Don't we have a Fairness Doctrine which forces broadcasters to allow differing viewpoints to be aired?"

We used to. Ronald Reagan saw to killing it back in 1987. Immediately upon the demise of the Fairness Doctrine, AM talk radio programming skyrocketed. What better way to brainwash the American public than to be allowed to froth venom from the mouth 24/7 without any obligation to citizens, notwithstanding the fact that broadcasters "borrow" the airwaves from the public for free. 90 percent of all broadcast hours on talk radio are conservative according to a Democracy Radio survey.

Now, there's legislation pending that would restore the Fairness Doctrine.

Representative Louis Slaughter (D, NY) has introduced H.R. 4710, the MEDIA Act (Meaningful Expression of Democracy in America), which would reinstate the Fairness Doctrine to ensure that broadcasters "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance." There's more about Louise Slaughter in an interview that aired on PBS' Now in December 2004.

There is hope of getting this legislation passed. When citizens protested in the millions after the FCC attempted to relax media ownership rules in 2003, Congress listened. The FCC has given up the fight--for now. The same level of action on the Fairness Doctrine issue could get the legislation passed.

Take a moment to learn more about the Fairness Doctrine, and to sign the petition to get H.R. 4710 passed ( Then, tell your legislators what you think (,

Sunday, February 13, 2005


WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: I don't really understand. How is it the new [Social Security] plan is going to fix that problem?

GEORGE W. BUSH: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Dubya explains the virtues of his Social Security plan,
Tampa, Florida
Feb. 4, 2005

And we let this idiot put troops in harms way? Just like his days as a cheerleader at Yale, he's nothing more than a hack voice for the interests of the rich over the average American. He lets other people put words in his mouth, which he in turn blunders trying to repeat because his feeble, untrained mind can't comprehend.

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote

From September 3, 1967:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

....A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began in January, 1966, to which President Johnson gave his personal commitment when he met Premier Ky and General Thieu, the chief of state, in Honolulu in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta.

February 1, 2005

Thought criminals

If thought is outlawed, only outlaws will have thoughts.