Monday, August 28, 2006

The True Face of Abortion Opponents

Sometimes, I gotta concentrate on work a little more than others. So, rather than doing something original, let me just point you toward another blog that goes by the name of Needlenose:
It will be most interesting to hear the reaction of anti-abortion groups to the FDA's decision yesterday to allow Plan-B "morning after" pills to be sold over the counter (limited to those over-18). The most often cited reason for these groups opposing anything related to abortion (clinics, pills, etc.) is that they are doing it to protect the life of a helpless child. But Plan-B contains doses of the hormone Progestin which prevents the release or fertilization of an egg. In other words it keeps a woman's reproductive system out of the reproductive lottery. Thanks to Science the whole raison d'etre of abortion groups is rendered moot.

No released eggs means no fertilization, no fetus, nothing. So this leaves these groups with three options:

1. Concede that science may have finally found a way to eliminate abortions, pack up their bags and go home.
2. Stick their fingers in their ears and go la la la la...
3. Admit that their objection isn't really to abortion, but to contraception -- or better yet, to people having sex.

Some of them are making a valiant attempt at a fourth option: to change the definition of an 'embryo' (i.e. what they're trying to protect) from a fertilized egg implanted in a woman's womb and undergoing cell division to a plain old fertilized egg, just floating around. The idea is that anything that gets in the way of this whole sperm + egg -> fertilization -> implantation -> cell-division process is tantamount to abortion and therefore qualifies as an object of their ire. But it's a real grasping at straws based on a single sentence in the manufacturer's fine print. Besides the FDA's decision to allow over-the-counter sales has let the cat out of the bag. Now they have to take a position that is consistent with the fact that abortion clinics may very well stop performing abortions altogether because nobody needs them any more.

That takes us back to the three options. I'm not holding my breath for #1 to happen any time soon and they can get away with #2 for only so long before they run out of air. Sooner or later they'll have to admit #3 -- that at the root of their objection is that they just hate it for unmarried people to have sex, that their blood starts boiling whenever they picture their daughter getting jiggy with the neighbor's son -- even if both of them are over eighteen.

That, of course, puts them on the same wavelength as the Taliban and the rest of the Sharia-loving crowd -- and if there's one thing that makes these people angrier than women exercising control over their own bodies, it's being compared to a bunch of Muslims.

So thanks Dr. Science, for driving a nice little wedge between these people and their nasty little judgemental causes and ripping away their thinly-veiled morality facade (oops, did I say veiled?)

I don't like abortions either. Nobody does. I wish they could be avoided altogether -- and it looks like they very well may be.

Monday, August 21, 2006

And the Racism Continues...

Let's revisit racism. Yeah, it seems like just last month, I was babbling about our friends with ethnicity issues. (OK, it was just three weeks ago... and... uh... three weeks before that... man, I do go on sometimes, don't I?) But let's see what else has crawled out from under the rock since then.

Our boy Senator George Allen (R-VA) got in a little trouble a while back for displaying a noose in his office and a Confederate flag at home. Well, this time, he was caught on tape referring to S.R. Sidarth, a young man of Indian descent, as "Macaca." He clearly said the word twice, so at least nobody has tried to claim he was misunderstood. Well, nobody but Allen.

His exact words were:
"This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is. He's with my opponent. He's following us around everywhere. And it's just great... Let's give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."
Allen's first answer, when asked about his use of the word "macaca," was the basic defensive response: "I don't know what it means." Then he tried to claim that it was a reference to the man's hair, as in "Mohawk" - oddly enough, a cut that is only barely related to the mullet sported by our cameraman, in that they both involve hair.

Now, blogger Jeffrey Feldman did a little research, and discovered that the word was used by white supremacists to refer to black men (mostly when "nigger" seems redundant, apparently). His links are a little hard to follow: in the face of the controversy, Stormfront seems to have scrubbed their pages, and I somehow didn't feel like logging in to Vanguard News Network.

Mr Feldman also wasn't as careful as he could have been: he was referring to one post in a thread, but gave the link for the mother post it was responding to.

But the word is out there, and it doesn't mean "I respect you and don't object to your skin tone."

Since Mr. Sidarth was born and raised in Fairfax County, Virginia, it seems a little unreasonable of Allen to have welcomed him to either America or Virginia. Perhaps having realized that, Allen met with a number of Indian-American leaders to apologize for being an ass. They weren't impressed. "We expect better from our leaders... We're working toward getting satisfied; it is a work in progress."

Racism seems to be rearing its ugly head everywhere lately. The President dismisses every Muslim in the world as an "islamofascist," and Michelle Malkin, the Queen Bee of pop-culture bigotry, chimes in with a theory that all Muslims are the same and the race war is on.

Where does it lead? Well, in Maryland, we get bigots standing outside the home of Saqib Ali, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, wearing a T-shirt reading "this mind is an Allah-free zone" and holding up a hand-lettered "Islam sucks" sign. That's always a good way to spend your day, right?

In the UK, two Muslim men were forced off of a flight for “acting suspiciously” and “speaking Arabic.” That's all they did. They talked quietly to each other, possibly in Arabic (the news stories haven't established what language they were speaking), and they didn't proceed directly to their seat. So they were obviously terrorists, right?

A British man named Azar Iqbal, travelling to Disneyland with his wife and three children, was detained at the Atlanta airport, questioned about whether he knew anything about a terror plot, told that "we didn't ask you to come to America," and denied entry into the United States. Because, after all, nobody of Middle Eastern descent would take their children to "the Happiest Place on Earth," would they? Everybody knows that Arabs don't love their children. Even if they're British citizens.

Here's the way it works. If it's OK to discriminate against one type of people based on their race or religion, then suddenly, it can become easier to discriminate against another race. So, what are we going to see next?

How about major movie stars getting in touch with their inner anti-Semite? (OK, let's get real, folks. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, it doesn't create new thought patterns. A drunk might blurt out things already in his mind, but he isn't likely to spontaneously create a new, original line of thought.)

How about Republican Congressional candidate's talking about how "blacks aren't the best swimmers or may not even know how to swim," or White House press secretaries using the term "tar baby" in a press conference?

Or you can do a Google news search on "Klan," and discover that they seem to be resurfacing, with rallies in Texas and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. And showing up at a Harper's Ferry discussion of race relations. And even trying to gain a little press by adopting a Missouri highway. (You can even buy Klan and Nazi memorabilia at county fairs in Pennsylvania these days. Go figure.)

Keep an eye on this kind of thing. I think we'll be seeing more of it in the near future.

But one more thing about our friend George Felix Allen. Sidarth had introduced himself to Allen earlier in the week. Now, Allen had heard Sidarth's name and felt that it was appropriate to make fun of it, this could show that he doesn't respect people and their cultures. Or perhaps he just likes to give people of other races nonsense names (I wonder if he likes to call all Asians "Ching Chong" or all Middle Easterners "Abdul") - that's one of the marks of a racist.

Either way, it isn't something I'd want coming out of my Senator's mouth. Maybe it's a good thing I don't live in Virginia.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Shadow Republican

Let's talk about Joe Lieberman. (Hell, everybody else is doing it. Why shouldn't I?)

Let’s be clear on what we have here. Joe Lieberman, a man who once said, while talking about the 2004 elections, "Senator Kerry got a lot of votes, 56 million votes, more than any Democratic candidate for president in history, but there's no prizes for second place in American politics."

Suddenly, because he doesn’t like how things turned out, that idea is out the window. Where he once wanted people to accept the results of an election, now he wants to ignore it completely. He wants to be handed the prize for coming in second.

Well, I’m sorry, Joe, but look at the bigger picture. The polling group Zogby International asked around, and discovered that almost four out of five Democrats are happy to see you go. I'm sorry if you don't like those numbers, Joe, but that's reality.

It's fascinating that most of Lieberman's support right now is coming, not from Democrats, but from Republicans. People like Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, White House press secretary Tony Snow and Vice President Dick Cheney are all making statements about Lieberman's defeat being a great national tragedy. In fact, Karl Rove apparently called Joe to say "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."

Or, to be fair, maybe he didn't say it. The White House denied it almost immediately, so there's really no proof either way. (On the third hand, there's an old joke: "How can you tell when insert politician here is lying? His lips are moving.")

(I'm going to indulge in a little speculation at this point, though. Consider the GOP's love of Lieberman. And then consider that we now have evidence that the White House was pressuring the British to arrest their liquid-explosive-laden terror suspects right away. Is it beyond belief that the Administration wanted the arrests to occur before the Connecticut primary? And in resisting the pressure, the British police actually threw off Karl Rove's timetable, and the arrests happened a few too days late to help out their boy Joe? Like I said, speculation. But not hard to believe, when you think about this White House's record.)

You know who's getting ignored in all this? A guy named Alan Schlesinger. He's the actual Republican running against Ned Lamont in Connecticut. A man who's pretty much ignored by his party right about now. It must suck to be him, huh?

So why would the Republicans want to support a Democratic... oh, sorry, an Independent candidate? Well, that one's easy. First, they see him as a Democrat who supports Republican ideals. (An attitude that begs the question, "What do you call someone who firmly supports the major points of the Republican party?" Answer - a Republican.)

Secondly, they see the possibility of Lieberman acting as a spoiler in the Connecticut Senate race. Every vote for Lieberman is a vote that didn't go to Lamont. And that thought must make Karl Rove wet himself with pleasure every time he thinks about it.

But why would Lieberman want to do that? Could it be that he's just following the orders given to him by the White House? Or is it something a little more basic?

I like the theory that it's simple human nature on Lieberman's part. He likes to claim that he's one of the "common people," but he's more of a child of privilege. He was born in Stamford, Connecticut, which isn't exactly Compton or South Philly. And he went to Yale, not the local community college.

Every time anybody mentions Ned Lamont, they like to add the adjective "millionaire" in front of his name, in the same place that the word "Senator" gets place in front of Lieberman. But that ignores the fact that Joe Lieberman, in his 2003 financial disclosure form, showed that he had a net worth of somewhere between $482,000 to $1.8 million. The man isn't exactly worrying about whether he can make the rent this month.

That's how I see it. Joe Lieberman thinks that he deserves to be a Senator. It's his right. He feels that he was elected three times, so he's entitled to the job now. He earned it. This attitude, of course, ignores the fact that he wasn't elected this time, but Joe isn't paying attention to that little fact now. He's like a sulky two-year-old - if reality doesn't fit with what he wants, that reality must be wrong.

That's a strangely Republican viewpoint, really. Does anybody recall Ron Suskind's little tale about his meeting with a senior Bush advisor?
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community... That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities"
So take it as you will. Some people prefer the idea that Joe is a puppet, acting out the bidding of his Republican masters. I prefer the idea that Joe is an elitist, unwilling to admit that he doesn't deserve to be in the job, even though the Democrats of Connecticut voted to replace him. Because obviously, the Connecticut Democrats aren't smartest voters in the world, or they wouldn't have voted to have him removed.

Or as Stephen Colbert put it, "Ned Lamont may have won the primary but his supporters are not mainstream Democrats. They’re against the Iraq war. A position so extreme that only 86% of Democrats agree with him" (It's possible that statistic is correct. It's possible that Stephen made it up. But it feels right, doesn't it?)

It's time for Joe to admit the truth, though. He needs to just take his ball and go home.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Well, I guess it's a good sign...

You know, it's odd. When you're clicking around randomly on YouTube, you might come across Al Gore's Penguin Army, which includes the tagline "What is Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, all about? Global Warming? The Environment? Or something much more BORING? See Al Gore's Penguin Army learn how crazy this flick really is..." It even has a link to a MySpace page (which, as it turns out, is pretty much just a placeholder for the movie).

And if you're really bored, you might make the mistake of watching the thing. And that's when you realize that this video is evidence of why some people are neither professional comedy writers or animators. It's boring. The animation is crap.
It has one joke (which isn't even funny - the penguins fall asleep because Al Gore is boring), and it goes on for WAY too long. (OK, it's only two minutes and change. But it seems like a lot longer, somehow...)

But, hey, somebody went to the trouble of making it and posting it, which is more than you've done, right? Well, that's where it gets a little tricky. Because, as it turns out, this little piece was produced by a company called DCI, a public relations firm working for Exxon-Mobil.

And strangely enough, would you like to guess which left-wing rag uncovered this? Mother Jones magazine? Nature? Again, that's where it get's tricky. Because the member of the Giant Liberal Conspiracy who found this out turns out to be the Wall Street Journal, which has long been an arm of the Democratic party, right?

So that leaves us with only two questions. First, isn't Big Oil supposed to be some kind of supervillian bent on world domination? Then why are they acting like high school kids?

And second, with trillions of dollars at their disposal, this is the best they can come up with? Something that even Conan O'Brien wouldn't think was funny? Yes, bad animation can be forgiven in an amateur video. But for maximum effect, there should be some humor involved. After all, the purpose of the video is that people should want to see it. And should want to show it to their friends. And maybe, should absorb, at least subconsciously, part of the message.

But if the video is stupid, it's got limited replay value, which destroys the entire purpose.

Suddenly, I'm feeling a lot better about the future of the environment, if these guys are the ones trying to destroy it.

I'm also wondering if Linux is going to sue, since the PR firm stole their penguins.