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Friday, April 15, 2005

Killing Two Birds With One Bill

Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala, is enough of a self-caricature that I have not addressed his shenanigans, to date. He's known for two controversial proposals – one to expand the castle doctrine so that you can shoot someone outside of your home or business if you believe your life is threatened, and the other to prevent university professors from espousing controversial (translate: liberal) positions in the classroom.

I've been wondering why he didn't combine the two ideas and allow university conservative students to shoot professors when they felt threatened by their liberal opinions.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Smith Does a Lap Dance for Agri-Business

You can count on our local intrepid newspaper sniffing out the real story behind the news (I said sarcastically).

The Gainesville Sun today ran a story about state Sen. Rod Smith's gubernatorial campaign coffers, which have swelled to about $400,000. The brief article focused on one angle – that Smith's campaign had returned $4,500 from the owner of Café Risque because Smith "wasn't comfortable" with the source.

What the article failed to mention were the many sources of campaign cash with which Smith is comfortable – namely, the powerful special interests that control state government in the name of greed.

Thanks to the St. Pete Times for doing the heavy lifting. Adam Smith (no, not The Adam Smith), the Times political editor, published a cogent examination of Smith's contributors, which he notes are "raising red flags among environmentalists."

Smith had a large haul from agricultural interests, which these days are bent on shaping growth management policies to ensure that farmers can stop farming and sell their land for development of strip malls and gated communities. In fact, as a political entity it is more often called agri-business these days.

As Mary Barley, president of the Everglades Trust, told the Times: "They don't give money unless they get something in return. I've dealt with sugar for a long time, and they're not giving money for better government."

Although Smith told the paper, "I have a good environmental record," environmental groups who monitor state lawmaking do not agree. In 2004, the Florida League of Conservation Voters said Smith had the second worst environmental voting record of the 40 senators.

As far as I know, there is no group ranking lawmakers on their titty bar voting record, but if there was, you can bet The Sun would have reported on it. That paper never misses a thing (I said sarcastically).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Hopefully He Preaches Better Than He Practices

A Baptist deacon in Texas developed potty mouth, and worse, when he wrote the Center for American Progress about its Drop the Hammer campaign against US Rep. Tom DeLay.

When is a Terrorist Not a Terrorist?

If Eric Rudolph's crimes do not fit the definition of terrorism, then what does? He pleaded guilty this week to bombing abortion clinics, a gay nightclub and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

These apparently were not personal grudges against any particular person, which would put the crimes purely under murder. Instead, they seem politically motivated. Rudolph is "a follower of a white supremacist religion that is anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-Semitic," according to MSNBC.

The FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."

Likewise, the Defense Department defines it as "the calculated use, or threatened use, of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives."

So why hasn't Rudolph been charged with terrorism? Violence against pro-choice clinics that provide abortions has been a tool of the right-wing nutjobs for years, and considering Rudolph's affiliations, it is not hard to see how the government could call his acts terrorism.

A possible answer: calling Rudolph a terrorist would not please Dubya's "base" of support – that is, the right-wing nutjobs who share Rudolph's opposition to gays and abortion but who have enough sense not to go on a killing spree to terrorize people who work at abortion clinics or visit gay nightclubs. Rudolph was just acting on impulses they all share.

Doubt me? The consider what would happen if Rudolph had been a member of Greenpeace or some other environmental activist group and had, say, blown up several offices of oil company executives. Dubya and Co. would have slapped a terrorism charge on that person faster than you can say "pandering to the right".

UPDATE (4-20-05): See what I mean?

Special Interests Get Major Woody

I wonder how long it will take Democrats and public school activists to notice that Tuesday's announcement of a $2.2 billion state revenue windfall takes the guts out of Jebbo's argument that voters should repeal the 2002 class size amendment because Florida can't afford it.

Of course, Jebbo and the GOP-dominated legislature won't admit that and will instead spend the windfall on pork projects benefiting big business and special interests. To wit:

"Those new revenue estimates have sent a shiver of excitement down the spine of this capital," John Thrasher, a former House speaker and one of Tallahassee's most powerful lobbyists, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Trivia Question

Q. Why did the College Republicans choose a Snickers bar as the reward for UF students who supported Dubya's Social Security reform plan?

A. Because they're chock full of nuts.

Watch Where You Step

A major reason many Americans do not oppose the many US military interventions around the world is because the mainstream media refuses to show them the reality of its consequences. Iraq is a perfect example because the damage we're causing to Iraqi civilians is immense and violent, and many of the innocent victims are children – little kids just like the ones we raise here in America.

If CNN, the New York Times and Newsweek – for example – were to publish the details of their usually gruesome deaths and painful injuries along with images of these children, more Americans might see through the patriotic filter. They might feel different about letting Dubya squirm from one justification for the invasion to the next as facts inconveniently disprove them. Seeing a baby with half of its head blown off, or a toddler missing a leg and an eye, forces you to consider how those children and their parents must feel as victims of our overwhelming military force.

But you won't see these images, for the most part. And it is not just Iraq. The UN is trying to air public service announcements about unexploded land mines that litter the world, largely thanks to the US military, but most media will not air the PSAs because they aren't pretty.

The ads portray a fictionalized account of a group of American school girls about to play soccer when an unexploded land mine rips into them. The ad asks viewers why they should feel any different if it happens in another country. Harsh? You bet, but far less harsh than for the real victims of such events.

According to the UN, there are land mines littering more than 80 nations, and they kill or injure more than 20,000 people each year, often kids.

From the MSNBC story:

"We felt that because children are victimized by the land mines more than adults, that it was important to make the parallel story as clear as possible," says Guy Barnett, creative director at Brooklyn Brothers, the New York City ad agency that produced the spot for the U.N. Mine Action Service. "We foolishly thought that people would think that the message … would be important enough to show."
Consider your consent manufactured.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Crude Thought

I wonder how this summer's invasion of Iran will affect gas prices? Iran's only the world's fourth largest oil producer. No big deal I guess.

Confronting the Faith War on the Judiciary

Awesome article in The Nation about a recent conference called "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith." Here is a sample:
"For two days, on April 7 and 8, conservative activists and top GOP staffers summoned the raw rage of the Christian right following the Terri Schiavo affair, and likened judges to communists, terrorists and murderers. The remedies they suggested for what they termed "judicial tyranny" ranged from the mass impeachment of judges to their physical elimination."
Read this, and give The Nation some money for a subscription. Damn fine publication.

Blog Shmog

Eric Boehlert has a good analysis of the right-wing blogosphrere on Salon.com. It is called "Citizen journalists? Try partisan hacks."

I especially liked his observations about the mainstream media's use of blogs as primary news sources. To me that's insane. Except for the current and retired journalists out there with blogs, there's few doing any thorough research – most blogs are written by people with political agendas, armed with a superb sense of self-righteousness. They look for scraps of evidence that fit their preconceived notions of how things should be.

For CNN to use a blog post as a source for a story is further proof that the mainstream media ownership only cares about money, using ratings as the measure. They've replaced honest news with a form of news entertainment, designed to keep you watching, to keep you interested when the commercials start.

Reporting on a sensational blog headline serves one purpose – getting the viewer's attention. If the discourse could go any lower, it has.

Talk About a Red Scare...

Some right-wing nuts are nuttier than others. Jonathan Schwarz points out one of the stranger nutbag accusations about the judiciary following the Terri Schiavo case. A lawyer at a recent conference referred to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as upholding "Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law." Why? Because he voted to strike down an anti-sodomy statute.

I don't have any reliable statistics on this, but I'm guessing that a large percentage of sodomites voted Bush/Cheney last year. Remember that sodomy is defined as "anal or oral copulation with a member of the opposite sex".

Anyhoot, Mister Schwarz highlights the hypocrisy much better than I with a Venn diagram of Marxist, Leninist and Satanic sex. As far as I know he is the only blogger to use such diagrams for comical effect.