Tuesday, November 23, 2004

November 22

Speaking Right
You already know about the seven dirty words people can’t say on the air. Well, now there is an eight --- at least in Chapel Hill, NC. The latest word to offend the religious right is, ironically, “rights.” Wait, I’m not kidding. I wish I were.

Last week radio station WUNC informed IPAS, a Chapel Hill-based international women's rights health organization, that it could no longer use the phrase "reproductive rights" in the group's on-air announcement. Why? -- Because it was offending some of its religious right listeners. The station said that the term could be interpreted as advocating “a particular political position.” (Can you guess which?)

IPAS was told that if it wanted its ads to run on the station it had to change the term to "reproductive health."

The religious right knows that words matter because they define words ultimately define the terms of debate. They right has, after all, defined itself as “the culture of life,” a claim that infers those who oppose them must then be the “culture of death.” As nonsensical as that may be, it works.

Words matter and Madison Ave. has nothing on the religious right when it comes to wielding an Orwellian Word Sword. The WUNC action was another successful skirmish in the right’s war against reproductive rights. Their intent here is clear. If reproductive health services – including abortion – are not “rights” then why should they protected by the courts?
But their victory at WUNC was small fry compared to their recent victory at ABC-TV news. After the election ABC news anchor, Peter Jennings, discussing the role played by the religious right in the election said, “Evangelicals, which have unfortunately been described in the past as the “religious right”….”

“Unfortunately?” What the hell? They are religious. And they are politically right of center. So, what exactly is it about the term “religious right” that was “unfortunate?”
Well, it’s become a bit shopworn – one might say. The religious right’s image has suffered in the public mind by the buffoonery of its own leaders and members. The term has become associated with photos of sport stadiums filled with biblically lobotomized Promise Keepers, for example, eyes shut, swaying back and forth with palms to the heavens, praising the lord as they take the pledge to stop beating and cheating on their wives. And the religious right’s image has been tarnished by its own leaders, like Pat Robertson and Bob Jones, who routinely make fools of themselves and their movement by issuing Christian fatwas so inane they would make the most radical Mullah blush.

A Reader Offers a Modest Proposal
A Rrevised Defense of Marriage Amendment:

Marriage shall be between one man and one woman, one time.
Let's get real. Let's defend marriage.

- If marriage is "for the children", it should include clauses that terminate childless marriages (perhaps with a dual executions in Texas?).
- Divorce must be outlawed. (Too bad Rush Limbaugh is on - what? - divorce number three? )

So take a note if you are in the media.. there are no “reproductive rights.” And the religious right now wants to be referred to as “evangelicals.” Got it? Peter Jennings did. Got it? The word police will be listening.

Election Deniers Rage
I lost some readers last week when I wrote that those who are consumed with the belief that the Kerry did not lose the election but that the Bushies stole it, should get a life. (see Letters.) My point was the Dems lost and that their time and energy would be better spent fixing the reasons why more people went red than circulating voter fraud conspiracy theories on the Internet. Living in denial is never useful.

Some very smart folks have been digging through the voter data and, while there was (as there always is) fraud and mistakes during November’s voting, nothing has surfaced yet that would change the result. The fact is that Dems lost ground across the board.

Bush carried 97 of the nation's 100 fastest-growing counties, most of them so-called "exurban" communities in what had been rural farming communities. In these younger, middleclass communities Bush racked up a 1.72 million vote advantage over Democrat John F. Kerry – according to a study conducted – not by FOX or the Washington Times, but by the New York Times.

Get over it you guys. We lost. Badly. And unless you want to lose again in the mid-term elections now less than 24 months away, we need to clean house at the DNC and build a fresh, aggressive, gutsy, street-fighting, bar room brawling, labor organizing Democratic Party. We need to take names of those in the party who just don’t get that… and throw them out.

If the DNC wants to send us a message.. that they do get it.. they can begin by naming Howard Dean as the party’s new chairman. We will see. We are waiting, and watching, and taking names.

Borrower Meets Creditors.. Hilarity Ensues
President Bush got a wake up call from some of his biggest creditors this weekend at the APEC annual summit of 21 leaders of Pacific Rim nations. They wanted to know just what he was going to do about the mushrooming U.S. deficits. That’s their money, after all, and they wanted to know just how he intended paying them back, and when.

Our creditors are getting a little nervous, and with good reason. As our deficits go up, the dollar goes down… way down and falling. Since these creditors hold IOU’s in the form of US bonds they are starting to lose money on the deal. To calm their nerves Bush repeated his campaign promise to cut the deficit in half in four years.

Right. Save that pick up line for corn-fed voters in Iowa. The men and women at the APEC conference know better. They understand that there is no way Bush will be able to cut the deficit in half during his second term. Because, there’s only one way to do it – raise taxes. And, since, in Bush’s mind, raising taxes right up there with child molestation, it’s just not going to happen.

So the world’s economic “ecology” moves along reacting on its own to U.S. trade and budget deficits without regard to the political agendas. The price of oil is back up – poking once again at $50 a barrel and all stock market indicators are dropping like rocks as it becomes clear that Bush’s economic policies will remain unchanged.

So, get ready for another Supplyside hangover. The last time a president went on a binge like this was when Ronald Reagan cut taxes and then went of a credit-fueled defense-spending spree. It took twelve years, a big tax increase by George H. Bush and further tax increases by Bill Clinton to pay that debt down to manageable levels. Bush the Younger set our fiscal house back a quarter century in his first four years in office. He now has us mortgaged up to our national jawbones -- and the repo man is calling.

Meanwhile, In Iraq
Deficit or no deficit, senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq said this weekend that they will be asking for more troops in the near future. There are currently roughly 138,000, US troops there now. War is expensive and we are fighting that one on borrowed money.. $146 billion so far. How’s that for a credit card balance? (See http://costofwar.com/ )

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