January 30, 2007

Baby Brain Bleeding

It's a special day when any form of the word VAGINA appears in a mainstream headline, as in Vaginal Births Cause Tiny Brain Hemorrhages.

(I'd feel the same about PENIS, too).

But articles about Baby Brain Bleeding may signal our arrival at a place even fear mongers are afraid to go:

Natural Child Birth ... If You DARE!

January 19, 2007

How To Win in Court Every Time

Why is it that torture is not usually allowed in coercing evidence from suspected criminals?

And why does the Bush Administration want to allow hearsay and testimony obtained by torture now in their prosecutions of prisoners of Guantanamo?

Simply put, they can't get convictions any other way. They cannot convict these men with normal evidence obtained through legal means, because they don't have enough of it.

That is why we have elevated to an art the practice of legal contortion. I'm referring to the pattern of creating means to violate legal precedent and moral principle. We've used language ("enemy combatant," "harsh tactics"), place (Guantanamo, off-shore CIA prisons), and now, we just wanna beat it out of 'em.

January 13, 2007

Bush's New Plan for the Past

The President speaks to a time long passed.
From his speech of January 10, 2007:
"... The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits."
[Already happened.]

"They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions."
[Already are.]

"Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons."
[Already been doing that.]

"Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people."
[We now have enemies everywhere.]

"On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities."
[Still trying to connect Iraq with 9/11.]

"For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq."
[Iraq is already lost.]

January 5, 2007

Stop the Surge

Again, the White House controls the language, and thus, they control the debate. From the people who brought us "Shock and Awe" and "Turning the Corner" we now have a new word to replace the phrases, "send more troops," "risk more lives," and "make more war."

Surge is what we say now. But what should really concern us is just how quickly and easily this new name, this new term for going against the will of the American people, has come to such pervasive use in the media.

PS - Stay tuned for "sacrifice," but Keith Olberman pretty handily puts that one to bed with this excellent little rant:

January 2, 2007

FDA. Trusty Guardian of Corporate Health

Part One: "I'll have what he's having."

Now that the FDA has determined meat from cloned animals is safe to eat, all that remains to be decided is the matter of labeling: to label or not to label?

On the one hand, not labeling meat sourced from cloned animals could be seen as overly paternalistic, given that it confers the power to decide what's ok to eat to an agency of the federal government, a decidedly anti-conservative policy stance for a government run by a conservative party. Of course I mean "anti-conservative" in the old-fashioned sense, not in the nouveau, bloated-government, record-deficit sense.

On the other hand, not labeling meat sourced from cloned animals could also be seen as pro-business, which clearly is a conservative policy stance, inasmuch as it secures the ability of producers to enhance their profitability by whatever cost-savings cloned meat can provide, without the looming threat of superstition-fueled neo-commie farm-hippie protestors fire-bombing our Mickey D's. It calls to mind just how much nepotism has done to destroy the family farm, now a mere withering vestige of its Norman Rockwell heyday, perhaps even beyond the salving powers of a permanently dead death-tax.

But how about that Smithfield company? Sounds like an honorable ancient Virginia lineage of proud ham craftsman to me. Why not just leave it at that? Who needs to look under the hood if the car runs fine? Feed-lot politics, with its wearying entourage of nattering nabobs harping on antibiotics, hormones, overflowing ponds of fecal waste and E. Coli in our organic spinach, only serve to obscure the honorable image of a venerable American company spirally dissecting our holiday meal with love, care and a high-fructose corn syrup glaze.

Now, as policy, protecting the public from information has succeeded admirably in the past. The deployment of recombinant BST in the milk-supply went almost unnoticed after the FDA forbade milk-producers from making specious claims that natural BST produced by cows was any better than the recombinant version, produced by bacteria. After all, genetically-engineered bacteria are friendly bacteria. They are the microbial world's version of the golden retriever, wanting nothing more than to fetch your slippers, or in this case bovine somatotrophic growth hormone.

Sure, when rBST was introduced, there was some brouhaha about bovine mastitis and pus in the milk supply, but by now all that has faded away like a bad nightmare. Just try finding pus in your milk.

And harken back to the shining example of "country of origin" labeling for meats. Although the original law requiring such labeling was signed by President Bush in 2002, subsequent, better laws have since been signed, again and again in fact, busy beaver that he is, all serving to delay the implementation of labeling for the purpose of gathering further rounds of illuminating comments from AgriGeniuses. So don't sweat it until September 2008, at least. I'll bet the President gets a lot of comments saying "delay it some more." Think about it, why would you need to crowd more information on those tiny little labels, already over-burdened with so much nutritional gobbledygook, especially now that scientists have got the mad-cow problem all worked out.

Hello Dolly!

So, to consumers already made jittery by information-overloaded labeling, and gripped by irrational fears of things already officially deemed safe, I say:

Let's make this a time to honor the hero's journey of Dolly the cloned sheep, and her infinite-series of sisters, as they doggedly make their way onward to the dinner plates of all free Americans. Not free, in the sense of being "free to choose what's best for oneself," but free in the more symbolic sense that our enemies love to hate so much.

January 1, 2007

Superpower Failure

2007 will be the year America comes to terms with the fact that we have squandered our super powers. May the phrase "world's only superpower" find its way to the bin of failed hegemony.

Military might has always been a definer of superpower status, and the current debacle in Iraq pulls the curtain down on that particular show. As we debate numbers of humans to deploy, the very capability of our armed forces comes into doubt. Significant portions of the Americans in Iraq are private not military, and the bulk of our treasure is spent on the private companies. Yes, our military might is not owned, but leased.

If having an incapable pentagon is bothersome to war hawks, they should be especially troubled now, since the attack on Iraq was partly intended to make up for smaller but significant embarrassments like the USS Cole, Somalia, Lebanon, and of course, 9/11.

Far from making America great, the war has given us over 3000 dead, and scores more permanently damaged and now dependent on the government. Shamefully ironic, they are dependent on programs for which Republicans have systematically reduced funding. And who knows if Democrats will be able to do much better since the war has also propelled our National Debt to an all time high.

Because of our massive debt, the US Dollar is in the tank. So much so that oil producing countries are making a slow but definite shift away from the dollar as their standard currency for trade. This money we use is losing its value. And so who actually finances our global folly? Foreign nations, like China.

Maybe it's not important who owns our debt, or that London will overtake New York as the financial capital of the world, but when you put it all together, along with the largest ever trade deficit with China, record breaking energy prices, and rising domestic poverty rates, you don't see an America ascending, but rather a nation in steep decline.

The people of the world recognize our slip. They saw New Orleans drown on live TV. They see us weakened by foreign policy ineptitude while Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and China have all strengthened their global positions, and done so without bloodshed.

Where our slip is most significant are the places we've abandoned, or shirked responsibility to uphold moral principle. Remember George W. Bush's initial offer of $15 million as relief for the 2004 Tsunami? (After other world leaders embarrassed us that went to $350 million.) America also embarrassed itself by fighting tooth and nail to deny global climate change, and then sending a bully to the UN as our version of 'diplomat'.

Now, when we speak of human rights to other nations of the world, we are worthy only of mockery. I'm not just referring the torture and detention of innocent people, but also about local cops falsifying evidence to harass protesters and the killing of unarmed African-Americans.

I suppose some will accuse me of blaming or hating America (which is a rhetorical technique intended to shift attention away from my critique and onto my patriotism). I do blame America, however, and I do so because it is America and our policies that continue to bring so much woe to the world. Being a superpower carries many responsibilities, and frankly, we blew it.