Thursday, March 09, 2006

Introducing Edwin Eisendrath

A Democratic primary challenger to Blagojevich. Read about my interview with him here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Sodomizing religious virgins": what it's really about.

For those of you that don't know what this title is referring to, please read this Kos post by McJoan concerning the South Dakota abortion ban. For the sake of brevity, let me re-quote the applicable section:

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.


I spent some time thinking about what was going through this Wingnut State Senator's mind when he said this. Yes, I think he was certainly acting out a certain fantasy of his own--after all, you don't have that much graphic detail on a subject without having given it some serious contemplation first--but I thought it had to be more than that.

And now, I think I've hit upon it--it's a desperate attempt to bridge the irreconcilable contradictions in the anti-abortion movement that the South Dakota ban has exposed.

Let's start by summarizing the basic philosophies of the two camps that have united to oppose abortion in this country.

The first--I'll call it PRO-ZYGOTE--is based purely on theological speculation: life begins at conception, and therefore, abortion is equivalent to murder. No exceptions can therefore be provided for rape or incest, as the circumstances surrounding the creation of life do not impinge on the value of the life itself. This position, while fundamentalist, is intellectually consistent.

The problems, however, are numerous: first and foremost, it isn't very popular in and of itself to oppose abortion in all cases. Second, this theological speculation leads to a host of other complications--for instance, a need to oppose stem cell research, therapeutic cloning, and conception assistance through fertility clinics, as all these medicinal practices may potentially involve the creation and destruction of human blastocysts.

The second--I'll call it PRO-PUNISHMENT--is different: this movement believes that pregnancy is a fair consequence for immoral, lascivious women--especially young women--who couldn't keep their panties on. This group allows for exemptions for rape or incest because presumably, if you're raped, it wasn't your fault, so you don't deserve to be punished by the pregnancy. This is the "abortion is a convenience" crowd, exemplfied by the quote from Wingnut Bill Napoli above.

Unfortunately for them, it's not too popular either to say, "I believe women who sleep around should be forced to stay pregnant and potentially ruin their life as punishment for their immorality"--so this crowd has latched onto the more popular "think of the baby" position to get their point across.

Important point: Both groups generally support an exemption for the life of the mother. After all, what's the point of ending one life to preserve another one?

But even though both sides spew the same "killing an unborn child" rhetoric, there is a strong dichotomy between them. The theological dogma fundamentalists are at odds with the Moral Majority fundamentalists over the exemptions for rape and incest, and the new South Dakota law is bringing this to a head.

The South Dakota bill--spurred on by anti-abortion activists of the first variety, and thus not containing any exemption for rape or incest--has obviously raised some concern among the "abortion as a convenience" anti-choice crowd, which is singularly aware that this bill will have very negative repercussions with regard to public opinion because it will expose the anti-abortion movement for the fundamentalism it really is.

This second group I referred to is also concerned because they still want their daughters to be able to get abortions if they're raped and it's not their fault--even though they'll disown them if it resulted for a consensual encounter.

So they have a paradox, because this second group needs to come up with something that meets the following criteria:

1) Allows their daughters to get abortions if they're raped;
2) doesn't openly conflict with the pro-zygote agenda whose coattails they've been riding;
3) can distinguish between "good girls" who don't deserve to be punished, as opposed to "bad girls" who do.

From a logical standpoint, there's only one way to do this: SINGLE OUT THE GOOD CHRISTIAN VIRGIN GIRLS AS THE ONLY GROUP OF WOMEN WHO WOULD BE SO TRAUMATIZED BY A RAPE-INDUCED PREGNANCY THAT THEY MIGHT JUST KILL THEMSELVES. That way, you don't need to have an exemption for rape or incest any more--you can just claim a "health of the mother" exemption on psychological grounds, but only for the good, Christian girls who deserved it.

Bill Napoli's cultish rant describing the scenarios that might qualify for permission for an abortion isn't the lunacy of some repressed wacko--it's actually the only thing the South Dakota abortion bill supporters can say to keep their constituency together. After all, group 2 won't support a bill with no rape exemption--unless you give a rape exemption only to good, virgin Christian girls and call it something else.

[Cross-posted on Daily Kos]

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Bush-India deal: a sign of desperation.

This is bad.  It's really bad.  And nobody's talking about it.


With all the goings-on lately--Iraq, Dubai, O'Reilly and Olbermann, and everything else--one thing that seems to have slipped through the cracks is Bush's recent deal welcoming India into the club of nuclear-armed nations.  Darksyde blogged briefly about this issue here but made the assumption--erroneously, in my view--that this deal has something to do with making money for some business connections of the neocons in the defense industry.  A couple of other brief diaries have been posted on the subject as well, but I think here at Daily Kos we've been missing a comprehensive analysis of a) why this deal was made; b) what set up the conditions that necessitated the deal; and c) what the long-term consequences of this deal will be.

I'll give you a brief synopsis: this conditions that brought on this deal--a deal that goes in the face of DECADES of foreign policy based on nuclear non-proliferation, dating from President Reagan and before--are a direct consequence of Bush's disastrous policies--not only foreign, but domestic as well--and these consequences of Bush's policies have forced him to outsource our national security to India.

Keep on reading if you like geopolitics--or, for that matter, even if you don't, and you just want ammo against the Bush administration.  I'm an equal opportunity blogger.


In case you're not aware of what this deal does, it essentially allows India to produce as much fissile material as they want and build as many high-yield plutonium bombs as they want.  Now, let's talk about the consequences of this deal first.


If this deal sounds insane to you, you're on the right track--because it is completely batshit crazy.  Not that there's a massive problem with the country of India per se having nuclear weapons--they're a relatively stable democracy.  But let's all remember how they got there: they ignored international entreaties not to start a nuclear arms race with Pakistan.  They went rogue on both the U.S. and the U.N., and they did it anyway.  Now, far from punishing India for its unilateral push towards nuclear proliferation and its role in the creation of a volatile international crisis with Pakistan, we are essentially rewarding India for going it alone by giving them carte blanche to build however many nuclear bombs it feels like--including, as Froomkin of WaPo  reports, a complete lack of oversight of India's fast-breeder reactors, which are capable of producing large amounts of super-grade plutonium.  This deal essentially tells other countries--just like the Iraq war did--that the best way to get concessions from the United States is to build weapons of mass destruction before they can stop you.


But the problem isn't merely that this deal with India has encouraged global proliferation, which many believe, with just cause, is a larger worldwide security threat than terrorism.  The larger problem is more specific.


Unless you've been living in a cave since the end of the British occupation of the sub-continent, you know that Pakistan and India have been rivals and enemies for the better part of a century, and the original nuclear arms race between the countries was just the most recent and most dangerous international incident between these two since the conclusion of the 1971 hostilities that resulted in the independence of Bangladesh.  So what do you think Pakistan is going to do about this new-fangled, laissez-faire agreement?  Why, the most likely guess is that they'll start amassing nuclear stockpiles of their own.  And unless you've been living in a cave for the past several years, you know that perhaps the largest threat of a WMD attack in the United States has arisen from Pakistani nuclear Godfather A.Q. Khan's selling of nuclear technology to the rogue states of Iran, Libya and North Korea.


So yes, you have it right: the United States has signed a deal with India that will most likely lead to increased nuclear stockpiling by the country that can BE TRUSTED THE LEAST with its nuclear technology, and has already sold said technology to sworn enemies of the United States.  To my mind, that blows away the DPW port deal in terms of damaging America's integrity and security by a million miles.  But that's not all:  It is also a possibility that the new nuclear alliance between the United States and India will put increasing pressure on Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan not to cooperate with the United States to maintain support among his people--a possibility which will hinder our efforts--such as they are under this administration--to pursue Al-Qaeda.


Now, quite honestly, we should all be used to the idea of Bush selling out the security of the United States.  Sacrificing our ability to go after Al-Qaeda to invade Iraq comes to mind.  Or sacrificing the possibility of peace in Iraq to enrich Halliburton.  Or selling our ports to governments with financial ties to Al-Qaeda in unquestioning reverance at the manic altar of hyper-Friedmanist globalization.  But this is something entirely different.


So we know what the possible consequences of this deal are.  Now the question becomes: WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH DID BUSH JUST DO THIS?!  Froomkin gives us two answers:


1:

The agreement, which requires congressional approval, would be an important step toward Bush's long-held goal of closer relations with India. It would reflect India's status as a global power. And, not least of all, it would more firmly establish India as a military ally and bulwark against China.


AND 2:

And here's another question: Were Bush and his aides so eager for some good headlines -- for a change -- that they gave away the store?


For the sake of presentation, let's take point #2 first.


It is clear, based on Froomkin's article, that the Bush administration was absolutely desperate to make a deal with India on this trip, and gave india eveerything it wanted in the deal.  Now, why would that be the case?  Why would the administration be so desperate to get a deal done that it would risk our national security to do so?


The answer is because of the press.  After Iraq, NSA,  Valerie Plame, Hamas, Iran and every single other international piece of bad news that has come down the pipe,  the Bush administration wanted to get its name in the papers as having reached a diplomatic agreement, and they were willing to prostrate themselves before a foreign country's nuclear weapons agenda to get that done.  In my mind, that sort of "negotiation" that compromises the security of the United States and the rest of the world borders on impeachable.


Now let's get back to reason #1:  China.  Bush wanted to secure the deal with India to prevent the possibility of a unipolar dominance by China in Asia.  OK.  Fine.  I can picture having India be a strategic ally to help protect our interests in Asia.  But is Chinese dominance of Asia such a threat that we need to allow India unlimited proliferation and risk a nuclear arms race in South Asia?


Apparently it is--and the main answer to that really a military threat.  Remember that we spent $340 billion a year on defense,, whereas China spends only $40 billion.  No, the real answer, in my opinion, has something to do with this:


The country holding by far the most debt is Japan which held $1.2 trillion at the end of March 2005. In recent years the People's Republic of China has also become a major holder of Treasury debt, holding $323.5 billion at that time.


Now, why did that happen?  Why does China have us by the balls, as it were, with regard to ownership of our public debt and the ability to wreck our economy with the word "sell"?  Well, a few reasons.  The war in Iraq, which has cost hundreds of billions.  Bush's enormous tax cut program for the rich--that cost hundreds of billions more.  Corporate welfare and cronyism.  That's another few tens of billions here and there.  That's why we're in this position.


So what do we do?  We try to get a bulldog to do the work we can't afford to do, because they have us by the balls.


So there you have it ladies and gentlemen.  What's the upshot?  The fiscal recklessness of the Bush administration--combined with their immorality, scandal, incompetence, and pig-headedness--has created the conditions that necessitated outsourcing our economic security to India.


It's just like a corrupt corporation whose incompetent and greedy CEO and board have gorged themselves silly on the backs of the workers--and the only option left, in their mind, to get good publicity in the Wall Street Journal and help out the company's balance sheet is to betray their workers and outsource to India.


Well, that's exactly what has just happened here in the Unitd States.  Our failed CEO president, Mr. Bush, has run this company into the ground--and it has gotten so bad that we can't even afford to compete with another organization that hasn't even gotten its corporate structure arranged.


Mr. Bush has outsourced our national security to India, and made the world a more dangerous place.  But this deal still requires congressional approval.  I want action from the Kos community on this, because I don't know of anyone else who can help out.  Call your Senators and your Congresscritters.  Let them know that you won't tolerate allowing this type of proliferation on this massive a scale.


I mean it, and I can't overstate it.  Because the security of the world could hang in the balance on this one.


[Cross-posted on Daily Kos]