Mark your calendars. There are now 300 shopping days until Christmas and 980 politicking days until the 2008 Presidential election. Despite the lack of imminence of either event, people are already shopping and politicking. (Is there really much of a difference? Caveat emptor.) According to crack political strategist (which is no more than a political strategist on crack), Karl Rove, â€œanybody who thinks that [Hillary Clintonâ€™s] not going to be the [Democratic] candidate is kidding themselves.â€? This quote comes from a recent book by Bill Sammon called Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media. (Sammon, who does not swim upstream, is senior White House correspondent for the Washington Times and a political analyst at Fox News, which should tell you something about his political leanings.)
Roveâ€™s comments about Hillary Clinton apparently irked the Senator, as she fired back by alleging during a recent radio interview that the Presidentâ€™s advisor â€œspends a lot of time obsessing about me.â€? Be that as it may, his suggestion that Ms. Clinton was the likely Democratic nominee seems less a prognostication and more a calculated hope. Having helped George W. Bushâ€”despite his many shortcomingsâ€”attain the highest office in the land not once but twice, Rove has learned that the means to such ends is being mean, sullying the opposition and using innuendo and misinformation to alarm the electorate and sway their vote. It worked against Gore and Kerryâ€”who, granted, did not do much to aid their own causeâ€”and it will likely work against Senator Clinton, whose very name unsettles middle America and whose equivocating positions on the war in Iraq, abortion, and other issues make her decidedly vulnerable to future attack. It is not just those, like Rove, on the far right side of the aisle that recognize Clintonâ€™s weaknesses. Many on the left are voicing their displeasure with the Senator, as well. Molly Ivins wrote a column a few weeks back in which she said the following:
Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone. This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terry Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.
Ivins goes on to talk about the need for and paucity of â€œreal leadershipâ€? in the Democratic Party. It is difficult to argue with her. Aside from such diamonds-in-the-rough as Russ Feingold (whom, in a previous post, I expressed support for), the Democrats would seem to have little of substance to offer other than â€œweâ€™re not those guys.â€? The time has come for a candidate who has the courage to stand on their principles and speak the truth, even if it may be unpopular to some. Hillary Clinton and Karl Rove are betting that the centrist-pandering leadership in the Democratic Party wonâ€™t have the stomach for such a candidate. Letâ€™s prove them wrong. The future of this great democracy depends on it.
With each passing day and each new bit of calamitous news that greets my senses like pepper spray, I become more and more convinced that George W. Bush is a latter-day Nero, fiddling away while the world falls into ruin. I would almost find it entertaining, were the man not so completely out of tune and the consequences not so dire. Itâ€™s one thing to fiddle about while your house is burning down around you; itâ€™s quite another to do so while the whole neighborhood is aflame. But perhaps Mr. Bush, man of faith that he is, simply aims to hasten the Apocalypse, in anticipation that he and his followers will receive deliverance on judgment day. (If that is the case, they better keep plenty of coins handy to give Charon for the crossing.) Regardless of the Presidentâ€™s intentions, he needs to be reminded that we all still reside on this earthly plane and that he has an obligation to do right by it. That includes addressing the issue of carbon dioxide emissions, whichâ€”as scientists have been telling us for many years nowâ€”are causing global warming. These emissions also represent a threat to ocean life, as reported yesterday by Jonathan Leake in The Sunday Times (UK):
Acid Seas Kill Off Coral Reefs
The worldâ€™s coral reefs could disappear within a few decades along with hundreds of species of plankton and shellfish, according to new studies into manâ€™s impact on the oceans.
Researchers have found that carbon dioxide, the gas already blamed for causing global warming, is also raising the acid levels in the sea. The shells of coral and other marine life dissolve in acid. The process is happening so fast that many such species, including coral, crabs, oysters and mussels, may become unable to build and repair their shells and will die out, say the researchers.
â€œIncreased carbon dioxide emissions are making the worldâ€™s oceans more acidic and could cause a mass extinction of marine life similar to the one that occurred on land when the dinosaurs disappeared,â€? said Professor Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institutionâ€™s global ecology department.
When CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels dissolves in the ocean, it forms carbonic acid. A little of this can benefit marine life by providing carbonate ions â€” a vital constituent in the biochemical process by which sea creatures such as corals and mollusks build their shells.
Caldeira found, however, that the huge volumes of carbon dioxide being released by humans are dissolving into the oceans so fast that sea creatures can no longer absorb it. Consequently, the levels of carbonic acid are rising and the oceans are â€œturning sour.â€? more…
My stomach is turning sour, as well. Mr. Bush, please put down the fiddle, pick up a pen, and sign off on the Kyoto Protocol. Regardless of what your political advisors or Michael Crichton or the voices in your head would have you believe, carbon dioxide emissions represent a real danger (as opposed to the concocted danger posed by pre-war Iraq). If you donâ€™t believe me, then listen to your own scientists, like NASA climatologist James Hansen. Itâ€™s not too late. If you can hear me over that infernal fiddling, itâ€™s not too late!
Jane Hamsher asks a very good question. Why is NARAL continuing to endorse Lincoln Chafee when they clearly have much more solid pro-choice candidates in the state’s leading Democrats, Sheldon Whitehouse and Matt Brown?
What is up with NARAL? Hamsher contends that they have become money-grubbing Washington insiders who no longer serve the cause for which they were established. To get NARAL back on track with doing their job, she suggests contacting them and giving them some feedback. Here is my feedback for NARAL:
Dear NARAL leadership:
Why are you continuing to support and endorse Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island when our two leading Democratic candidates, Matt Brown and Sheldon Whitehouse, both declared that they would have supported a filibuster in order to block the nomination of Samuel Alito?
We need a much stronger pro-choice Senator representing us here in Rhode Island, someone who will go the distance and ensure that women continue to have the freedom to choose abortion. I urge you to endorse either Matt Brown or Sheldon Whitehouse for US Senate, and to withdraw any further support for Lincoln Chafee.
There is no logical explanation for why they continue to support Chafee. Yes, he voted against the nomination of Alito, but the deciding factor in the nomination was the vote for cloture, which he supported.
Is it just inertia that keeps them hanging on to their original endorsement of Chafee back in May of 2005? Or has NARAL really become a stale and empty organization?
First, Cindy Sheehan was hauled away by the Capitol Police for wearing a t-shirt that said â€œ2245 Dead. How Many More?â€? (The number of U.S. fatalities in Iraq is now up to 2290, by the way.) Then, one week later, Dwight Scarbroughâ€”a Navy veteran currently employed as a scientist for a federal agency in Boise, Idahoâ€”was called out of his place of work by two armed officers from the Department of Homeland Security and informed that the bumper stickers and placards on his truck were â€œa violation of the code of federal regulationsâ€? and that he would have to â€œremove the signs from the propertyâ€? or be cited. What was on his truck?
On the back, he tapes weekly updates of the number of U.S. soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq. Beneath that, on a large, white (and also taped-on) placard: â€œSupport our returning troops and their families when they need help: Give them this number: GI RIGHTS HOTLINE: 1-800-394-9544.â€? On both doors, in bold capital letters: â€œDEATH IN IRAQ IS NOT A CAREER OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG AMERICANS.â€? Taking up nearly half of the back window: â€œVeterans for Peace Chapter 117, Idaho.â€? On the driverâ€™s side wheel well, also in all caps: â€œPERHAPS GOD BLESSES EVERY NATION, NOT JUST THE USA.â€? And interspersed between them all, he places a variety of purchased bumper stickers and magnetic ribbons reading, among other sentiments, â€œSupport our Troops: Bring them Home Now,â€? â€œSupport Diversityâ€? and â€œHonor Vets, Wage Peace.â€?
Dwight Scarbrough, like Cindy Sheehan before him, was understandably outraged at what he rightly perceived was intimidation and harassment for the political views he dared to publicly proclaim. To his credit, he did not simply give in to the DHS goonsâ€”though he did move his truck to a private parking lot for the dayâ€”and he did contact the ACLU and report the incident to the local media. (Boise Weekly provided excellent coverage of the story, which was later picked up by The Progressive.) To have two such incidents in such a short span of time is more than a little disturbing and begs a number of important questions. How often are citizens of this country being intimidated or censured for expressing dissent? What has happened that we donâ€™t know about? To what degree, directly and indirectly, do such incidents serve to chill dissent? How much are we willing to accept and willing to lose before we speak out and say enough is enough? Will we wait too long?
I am reminded of the oft-quoted words of the German protestant leader, Martin Niemoeller:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me–
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
South Dakota has thrown down the gauntlet to those who support a womanâ€™s right to choose to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. Yesterday, the legislature approved a measure that would â€œmake it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the womanâ€™s life. It would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.â€? The bill will become law once the governor, Mike Rounds, signs it. He has expressed a willingness to do so, saying: â€œIâ€™ve indicated Iâ€™m pro-life and I do believe abortion is wrong and that we should do everything we can to save lives.â€? Well, itâ€™s nice to know that the governor and his fellow humanitarians in the legislature are so concerned about saving lives. Unfortunately, their rhetoric does not entirely stand up to the facts, which suggest that the state of South Dakotaâ€”perhaps distracted by the plight of the unbornâ€”often fails to meet the needs of the born.
The following statistics are courtesy of the Childrenâ€™s Defense Fund:
â€¢ A child in South Dakota is abused or neglected every 2 hours.
â€¢ A child in South Dakota is born into poverty every 4 hours.
â€¢ A child in South Dakota dies before his or her first birthday every 5 days.
â€¢ A child or teen in South Dakota is killed by gunfire every month.
â€¢ South Dakota ranks 46th among states in the percent of babies born to mothers who received early prenatal care.
â€¢ South Dakota ranks 44th among states in per pupil expenditures.
â€¢ South Dakota ranks 31st among states in infant mortality.
A state-by-state analysis of â€œAmericaâ€™s Health Rankingsâ€? conducted last year by United Health Foundation determined that South Dakota had â€œa high rate of motor vehicle deathsâ€? (47th among states) and â€œa high occupational fatalities rateâ€? (46th among states). Just this month, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued a report that graded each of the 50 states in such areas as Access to Emergency Care, Quality of Care and Patient Safety, Public Health and Injury Protection, etc. South Dakota was the only state to receive a failing grade (F) in both of the latter two categories. Undeterred by their failings, the politicos in South Dakota have chosen to expend their energies and taxpayer dollars on legislation like the Womenâ€™s Health and Human Life Protection Act. One can only imagine that their next order of business will be to designate the human embryo as the official state life form.
Before Governor Rounds signs the bill into law and the battle over its legality begins, I believe that he needs to be given a strong message that such legislation is unacceptable and will have dire consequences. I urge you to contact the governor, either by e-mailing him through his website or by calling (1-605-773-3212) or faxing (1-605-773-5844) his office. I also encourage you to take action by boycotting Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, etc. and denying the state of South Dakota your tourist dollars. Let the governor know that you will not visit South Dakota and will actively seek to dissuade others from visiting the state until such time as the Womenâ€™s Health and Human Life Protection Act is vetoed or repealed. E-mail a copy of this post (or its link) to anyone you know who is concerned about reproductive rights and values choice. Thank you.
Sometimes your children are the bringers of new things into your life, and this is the case with Sportacus. He is the action hero of Lazy Town, a show on Nick Jr. which debuted in August of 2004, and now has about 7 million viewers. The show’s creator and lead actor, MagnÃºs Scheving, is a whirlwind of talent and energy, and a sly communicator of important nutritional information to children. His signature arm-swishing take-off move, which my daughter has learned from a step-by-step video on Nick Jr, makes me laugh every time I see it.
From an article in Fast Company:
Shot in Gardabaer, Iceland, using advanced HDTV cinematography, each $600,000 LazyTown episode is a hypervivid assault on the senses. “The pacing is incredibly fast, and we were mesmerized by it,” says Michael Carrington, who bought LazyTown for the BBC. “It’s as innovative and genre changing as Teletubbies. And like Teletubbies, you either hate LazyTown or you love it.”
There’s a lot to love. While the incidence of childhood obesity in the United States has nearly quadrupled in the past three decades, the trend in Iceland has been halted–due in no small part, the Icelandic surgeon general has determined, to LazyTown. During a LazyTown book promotion in Norway, consumption of fruits and vegetables increased 12.5% and soft drinks fell 16%.
“People ask me how we make exercise cool, but it’s like trying to explain the secret of making people laugh,” says MagnÃºs Scheving, the show’s creator (and the buff guy in the unitard). His campaign for kids’ health began in 1991 with a book, Go! Go! LazyTown!, followed by live theatrical performances and a 24-hour radio station. Now he sells everything from LazyTown-branded bottled water, cookbooks, shoes, and kids’ airline meals to Fisher-Price toys, T-shirts, cod-liver oil, and toothpaste. (Scheving’s LazyTown Entertainment won’t reveal financial data, but he says its value has doubled in each of the past five years.)
It’s a financial performance nearly as frenetic as Scheving’s show. Just watching one episode, wherein Sportacus overcomes Rotten’s soccer robot, is enough to leave one (and one’s 3-year-old) exhausted. The big question (yet unanswered): Is it also enough to get the kid to eat carrots?
Let’s hope so. I have noticed that my daughter has begun asking me regularly before we eat something: is this good for you? These are the questions we hope Sportacus is encouraging her to ask, as he rescues the children of our world from obesity and other food-related health problems.
This billboard is from the Carl Sheeler campaign for US Senate in Rhode Island. Carl Sheeler is running as a Democrat. Right now in the polls he is showing about 3-5% support. So he will most likely not win the primary. But he is the “Impeach Bush” candidate, and there’s something to be said for that. Perhaps, with his presence, one of our other senate candidates will clue into the American public’s sentiment and similarly call for impeachment.
And on that topic, Lewis Lapham is making the case for impeachment in the March 2006 issue of Harper’s, soon to be online. Here is a short excerpt.
Before reading the [Conyers] report, I wouldn’t have expected to find myself thinking that [impeachment] was either likely or possible; after reading the report, I don’t know why we would run the risk of not impeaching the man. We have before us in the White House a thief who steals the country’s good name and reputation for his private interest and personal use; a liar who seeks to instill in the American people a state of fear; a televangelist who engages the United States in a never-ending crusade against all the world’s evil, a wastrel who squanders a vast sum of the nation’s wealth on what turns out to be a recruiting drive certain to multiply the host of our enemies. In a word, a criminal — known to be armed and shown to be dangerous. . . .
Harpers is also sponsoring a forum on impeaching Bush. Speakers at the forum include Lewis Lapham, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Michael Ratner, Elizabeth Holtzman, and John Dean. Here are the details.
IS THERE A CASE FOR
123 WEST 43RD ST,NYC
THU MAR 2, 2006 8:00PM
I keep having the same disturbing dream. I am on a crowded airplane flying through clouds thick with moisture. George W. Bush is piloting the plane. Riding shotgun as co-pilot is Dick Cheney. Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld are flight attendants, but they are dressed as cheerleaders. The service is poor to non-existent, except for those select few sitting in First Class. I am carefully apportioning my stale peanuts when Captain Bush makes an announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, we have begun our descent. Please fascinate your seatbelts, and put your seatbacks in their uprightable position. At this moment, I happen to glance out the window and, through a hole in the clouds, notice to my horror that the plane is flying too low. In a flash, I realize that the aircraft is well past due for an inspection (thanks to FAA budget cuts), the altimeter must be malfunctioning, and we are going to crash. I try to scream to alert the crew or the passengers, but a gag is covering my mouth (and the USA Patriot Act forbids me from disclosing such information anyway). I try to rouse myself from this nightmare, only to realize that I am wide awake!
On September 11, 2001, passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93, aware that their plane had been seized by dangerous men with the deadliest of intentions, fought valiantly to regain control of the aircraft. In so doing, they all perished but managed to prevent an even greater tragedy. The courage of these individuals is worth remembering at this time, because we, the citizens of this great nation, are now passengers on a similar plane with a similar destination. Though I may joke at times, the steady erosion of our civil liberties, our economy, and our environment is no joking matter. The flag-draped coffins of our children who have sacrificed everything for the most specious of causes are no joking matter. Our democracy is in grave peril. Unless we wrest control of this republic from the likes of Bush and Cheney and those who would blindly follow them, we will all perish. It is very simple. We must choose between descent or dissent. Which will it be? Let’s roll.