Friday, April 28, 2006

Inalienable Anthem

There's lots of talk this morning about a Spanish version of the national anthem. This version was recorded for use at these immigration rallies that are taking place all over the country. Conservatives are calling it the "Illegal Alien Anthem."

But what, exactly, is the problem here?

First, I'll give the opponents' their moment in the spotlight (courtesy WP):
I'm really appalled. . . . We are not a bilingual nation," said George Taplin, director of the Virginia Chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, part of a national countermovement that emphasizes border control and tougher enforcement, and objects to public funding for day-laborer sites. "When people are talking about becoming a part of this country, they should assimilate to the norm that's already here," Taplin said. "What we're talking about here is a sovereign nation with our ideals and our national identity, and that [anthem] is one of the icons of our nation's identity. I believe it should be in English as it was penned."
First, let's get the obvious out of the way. We are a multilingual nation, regardless of what this guy thinks. Contrary to what a lot of people think, English is not the official language of the United States. In fact, there is no official language of the United States. Look it up. Or you could just go to Target and see for yourself.

But let's think about this for a minute. For those who still think we're in Iraq to spread the democratic ideal (which I don't), I have a hypothesis: If they were to see a group of Iraqis in the street singing, and discovered that it was an Iraqi translation of our national anthem, it would be hailed as a triumph. We'd be winning the hearts and minds.

Now say a group of Iraqi immigrants came to the United States and sang the same song. I have a feeling we'd be hailing it as a sign that our values have worth in all cultures. Same hypothesis.

But now, here we have an extreme reaction to a Spanish language version of the anthem, and I don't get it. I do get it in that I understand what xenophobia is, and the frustration with people violating our laws to come to the United States illegally. I also understand how the former ugly emotion and the latter justified indignation mix in some very bad ways in some people.

But I have a question for all you people freaking out about a Spanish language version of the anthem: what would be different if you woke up tomorrow and found that, for common use, the Constitution had been rewritten in Spanish, along with the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the English language versions were all just documents in a museum. What would be different?

If we adopted Spanish as our first ever official language, what changes?

If we really mean what we say in quoting "The New Colossus" on the Statue of Liberty, if we really believe that freedom is God's gift to mankind, if we really, really believe that all men are created equal and that the ideals of America are inalienable, then nothing changes. Nothing. We are all still Americans.

I don't have a problem with that, and I'm a gringo. What about you?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Energetic Hypocrisy

I love it. More on Bush's hypocrisy on energy from our friends at the DNC:
Cheney in 2001: Conservation Merely A "Personal Virtue"; Rejected Use Of Renewable Energy Sources. "Vice-president Dick Cheney dismissed on Monday night the idea of 'conserving or rationing' as 1970s-era solutions to the US's energy shortages. In a speech in Toronto, Mr Cheney said that 'conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.'... He rejected energy conservation and renewable energy sources as major alternatives...'" [The Guardian, 5/2/01]

Bush in 2005: Bush Called On Americans To Be "Better Conservers." "President Bush called on the Americans today to conserve gasoline and avoid non-essential driving as the average national prices for retail gasoline climbed higher for the first time since they peaked over the Labor Day weekend. ... 'We can all pitch in by being better conservers,' Mr. Bush said .... In addition to urging consumers to cut back to ease the pain of the current supply shortages, he said federal employees should use carpool and public transport and not take non-essential trips." [New York Times, 9/25/05]

Bush in 2006: We Should Support Alternative Fuels. In a speech to the Renewable Fuels Association, President Bush noted that, "it makes sense for this government to spend money on research and development to find alternative sources of energy. I also support biodiesel fuel, which can -- which can substitute for regular diesel in cars, trucks, buses and farm equipment. ... And so we also have got to understand that we got to research not only to find -- to invest in ethanol and biodiesel, but part of a comprehensive strategy is to spend money on researching new battery technologies." [President Bush, 4/25/06]

GOP: Two Free Tanks of Gas Will Fix It

The GOP are losing their damn minds. Now they want to give everyone $100 bucks to offset the price of gas.

These are the same psychos that gave the energy companies $12 billion in subsidies when they were making record profits in last year's energy bill.

Just for the record, at current prices, $100 bucks only gets me 2 full tanks of gas, and I drive a tiny little Honda Civic that gets amazing gas mileage. For larger vehicles, like the trucks the GOP encouraged small businesses to buy through tax breaks, $100 bucks won't fill the tank once.

Get serious, you jackasses. We are not stupid.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Estate Taxes and Paris Hilton

Oh lord, I love the estate tax debate. Listening to Republicans call it the "DEATH TAX THAT WILL EAT YOUR BABIES" and such makes me laugh. Or it would if they hadn't convinced every single farmer in West Texas that he will, or he did, have to pay it. The GOP has turned it into an urban legend..."I knew this guy one time that got completely wiped out by the death tax."

Here's the funny thing, courtesy of Think Progress: You're four times more likely to be hit by lightning than you are to be hit by the estate tax.

And, the campaign to end the estate tax is bankrolled primarily by 18 super-rich families that will net $71.6 billion dollars from its repeal. For the record, they include Paris Hilton.

And it will cost the rest of us 3/4 of a trillion dollars. Again: they make $71.6 billion, while we pay $750 billion. Repealing the estate tax costs us more than ten times what it will make for these 18 uber-rich pansies, and the GOP Congress is going to do it anyway, because, well, Richie Rich is their cruel mistress.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sign Here

I just visited and signed this letter:
Dear President Bush and Vice President Cheney,

We write to you from all over the United States and all over the world to urge you to obey both international and U.S. law, which forbid aggressive attacks on other nations. We oppose your proposal to attack Iran. Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, just as Iraq did not possess nuclear weapons. If Iran had such weapons, that would not justify the use of force, any more than any other nation would be justified in launching a war against the world's greatest possesor of nuclear arms, the United States. The most effective way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons would be to closely monitor its nuclear energy program, and to improve diplomatic relations -- two tasks made much more difficult by threatening to bomb Iranian territory. We urge you to lead the way to peace, not war, and to begin by making clear that you will not commit the highest international crime by aggressively attacking Iran.
You should sign it too.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Bush is Failing Us, Part 7468: Diplomacy and Iran

President Bush and his administration have not only failed to engage Iran for a diplomatic solution to the current crisis, they've rebuked the messengers of previous overtures from Iran for constructive diplomacy for years since the Iraq invasion.

Currently, the U.S. is sitting on the sideline, pressuring other people to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program instead of engaging them ourselves. This is a thinly veiled strategy, a bone thrown to our allies who said "diplomacy, inspections" before Iraq. The plan is obvious: let them satisfy their urge for, you know, rational thought and boring diplomacy, while doing nothing to assist. When they fail to mediate a dispute that is primarily between us and Iran without our engagement, we can lean back, say "see I told you," and press The Button.

By the way, some West Point grads are being told to be ready for Iran deployment in 2007.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bush Sounds French

Specifically, like a frustrated Napoleon. From NYT:
"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best," Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden. "And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."
It's like a four-year-old. With weak parents.

A notable and humorous note later in the article:
The group that has called for the resignation [of Secretary Rumsfeld] includes two retired major generals who commanded troops in Iraq and a retired three-star general who was director of operations on the Joint Staff. Their comments have been criticized by other retired generals, who have said the group risks politicizing the armed forces.
You mean politicizing the armed forces like this?

The War in Iran May Have Already Begun

Great. Just great.

We have to stop this now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mary J. Blige Says God Wants Her Hot and Blingy

“My God is a God who wants me to have things,” the singer tells May’s Blender magazine. “He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. I don’t know what kind of God the rest of y’all are serving, but the God I serve says, ‘Mary, you need to be the hottest thing this year, and I’m gonna make sure you’re doing that’.”
Just so her rhetorical sort-of question doesn't go unanswered, here's the kind of God I serve:
Luke 18:22: Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
Bling, hotness, not so much.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Iran and Syracuse

There's a meme forming about Syracuse/Athens and why it shows the need to invade Iran. Response is thus, originally posted on Crooked Timber:

... from “The 48 Laws of Power”, by Robert Greene, page 305:

“If choosing to ignore enhances your power, it follows that the opposite approach—commitment and engagement—often weakens you. By paying undue attention to a puny enemy, you look puny, and the longer it takes you to crush such an enemy, the larger the enemy seems. When Athens set out to conquer the island of Sicily, in 45 B.C., a giant power was attacking a tiny one. yet, by entangling Athens in a long drawn out conflict, Syracuse…was able to grow in stature and confidence. Finally defeating Athens, it made itself famous for centuries to come.”

Feel free to substitute any superpowers above with current ones, and also feel free to substitute any smaller countries led by demagogues-looking-for-a-fight-with-a-giant-to-enhance-their-own-stature with any modern-day equivalents.

By engaging Iran in the manner in which we have, we have lost the initiative and shored-up a regime once threatened by reformers. Iran’s leadership knew this would happen, and they played us, and if we invade, we bring their plans, not ours, to fruition.

More on World War IV...

Did you know that nukes should be on the table?

Also, apparently, Americans should back a war of choice in Iran because it will lower our gas prices.

The Machine's gears are already grinding...

Friday, April 14, 2006

For Those Who Still Don't Know, FEMA Suxx0rz and DHS is a Joke.

From Post:
...the trailer program consumes more than 60 percent of funds FEMA is spending on housing aid -- even though it benefits about 10 percent of the approximately 1 million households getting help, according to agency data and the Brookings Institution, which tracks recovery progress.

By contrast, a rental assistance program is serving 800,000 families, or 80 percent of households, at about one-third the total cost ... It was dramatically expanded ... after intense pressure from Congress and others who said the administration from the beginning should have taken advantage of such proven programs as low-income Section 8 rental vouchers.

...Frances Fragos Townsend, President Bush's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, reserved some of the toughest criticism for FEMA's mass trailer initiative. She said that it "foundered due to inadequate planning and poor coordination," and she recommended that the Department of Housing and Urban Development take over from Homeland Security in future disasters.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Fourth World War Is Taking Shape

For those who are keeping count, many contend that the Cold War was World War III.

From the New Yorker:
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”
If President Bush is actually planning for an invasion of Iran as the only serious outcome of the current faceoff, it can be said with all seriousness that he has made a conscious decision to escalate the terror attacks on 9/11/01 to a full-blown World War. After Afghanistan, President Bush wrongly decided to attack Iraq, and now is aiming to attack Iran. If this comes to pass, President Bush will have succeeded not in "saving Iran," but in precipitating exactly the kind of conflict warned against in Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.
From a MoveOn email:
By the way, there's a very eerie similarity between what President Bush and his allies are saying now and what they said in the run-up to war against Iraq three years ago:

THEN: George W. Bush, November 12, 2002: "We don't know how close he is today, but a Saddam Hussein with a nuclear weapon is a grave, grave threat to America and our friends and allies.

NOW: George W. Bush, January 16, 2006: "Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world."

THEN: Donald Rumsfeld, September 19, 2002: ". . . No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

NOW: George W. Bush, March 16, 2006: "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran. (Thanks to this post at the Daily Kos for assembling these quotes.)

Get Scared, Citizens

Defense analyst and Washington Post blogger Bill Arkin, who first brought allegations about CIFA’s domestic spying to light, says that in its efforts to trying eliminate waste and better coordinate intelligence activities, “we are creating an American military secret police that is clearly acquiring way too much information and way too much power.”

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ruh-Roh, Republicans, The Sequel

  • Just 36 percent of the public approves of Bush's job performance, his lowest-ever rating in AP-Ipsos polling
  • As bad as Bush's numbers may be, Congress' are worse, just 30% of the public approves of the GOP-led Congress' job performance, and Republicans seem to be shouldering the blame.
  • The public favors Democrats over Republicans when asked who should run Congress 49-33. The 16-point lead is the largest Democrats have enjoyed in AP-Ipsos polling.
  • 69 percent of Americans believes the nation is headed in the wrong direction - the largest percentage during the Bush presidency and up 13 points from a year ago.
  • Bush's approval rating is down 12 points among Republicans since a year ago. Six-in-10 Republicans said they disapproved of the GOP-led Congress.

Democrats Rule, and Fox News is Just Stupid

From Amy Sullivan's article in the Washington Monthly:
So it is that Democrats can be "hopelessly divided" while voting together 88 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly; just one percentage point lower than the vaunted lock-step Republican caucus. They can be "pathetically ineffective" while dealing a humiliating defeat to the president's biggest domestic policy effort. They can be deemed "weak" and "timid" while setting the terms of the debate for pulling troops out of Iraq.
Damn right.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bush Gets Busted

Just so we're clear before we get to the link, I want to recap (thanks to ThinkProgress):
“There’s just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.” [Bush, 9/30/03]

“I want to know the truth. … I have no idea whether we’ll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.” [Fox News, 10/8/03]

“I’d like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information.” [Bush, 10/28/03]
Having said that, what the hell am I supposed to do with THIS?
I. Lewis Libby testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Pun With Headlines: "Tom's Resignation is Too Delayed to Do Any Good"

Too late, Tommy Boy. The cards are slowly dropping to the table, and too many of the chips are in the pot. Resigning now only shouts to the rafters that "Yes, the Republican Party leadership is corrupt!" at the beginning of the campaign season.

The purge in the GOP is hilarious. Their balloon is dropping to the ground and they're frantically throwing off ballast, only to find out everyone in the basket is wearing some kind of strange shirt that says "Sand, 50 lbs." and their policies are written on sheets of lead.

Is There Anyone Out There That *Wants* the President to Pick Up Steam?

MSNBC reports that President Bush thinks Josh Bolton can help the White House be more effective.

Earth to Mr. President: It's not your White House's "effectiveness" that's the problem. It's the direction you're taking the country. If Josh Bolton is even more effective at taking us further into the wilderness you've brought us into, you're going to be even less popular than you are now.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Civil War in Iraq, Still

From the boys over at ThinkProgress:
Civil war watch: “Nearly eight times as many Iraqis died last month in execution-style sectarian killings as in terrorist bombings carried out by insurgents, new US military statistics show.”

Meanwhile, “more Iraqis than ever have been buying, carrying and stockpiling weapons, adding an unnerving level of firepower to Baghdad’s streets.”