Saturday, December 04, 2004

The New Confederacy 

Six score and nineteen years ago, the American Civil War ended. The Confederacy was dragged kicking and screaming back into the Union in order to preserve Unity, economic prosperity, and so we wouldn't have to change the number of stars on the flag. At the time, this seemed like a good idea. But, as the recent Presidential Ugliness has shown us, in the long run, this idea sucks eggs. We should have let the Confederates go when we had the chance.

Now, we've let them into the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court and they're trying to rewrite the Constitution (When they aren't just ignoring it outright) to suite their ends of turning this once great Experiment in Democracy into a Christian Theocracy that, were it's rhetoric slightly more Arabesque, would give the Mullahs in Saudia Arabia a holy hard on.

This election made one thing very clear: their really are two Americas. John Edwards may have thought he was being allegorical but there is far more truth in symbolism than many care to admit. Blue America and Red America, while not exactly regional places, are very clear states of mind. These mental states have created these two Americas that are very separate, very much at odds with one another.

Read the rest at the Invisible Library


On Saturday, from 6pm-9pm EST, Rev. Jackson joins investigative reporter Greg Palast to ask what happened to nearly a quarter million votes, overwhelmingly from African-American precincts, not counted in Ohio.

For BBC Television, Palast uncovered the fake felon list that swiped the election in 2000; this year, his report on BBC television broke the story of the secret Republican "caging" lists that bent the November race.

The smell of Black ballots burning is hard to ignore. We need your help to continue this investigation into the votes not counted in Ohio, New Mexico and Florida. Behind the by-line "Greg Palast" in Harper's, The Nation and the Guardian is an investigative team that is now running perilously low on funding. While Greg Palast has donated 100% of his royalties from his bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, to the effort, we're still in the red.

We're asking you to keep this investigation going by making a $50 tax-deductible donation to the Palast Investigative Fund ... in return we'll send you as a thank you, the blistering documentary, "Bush Family Fortunes" on DVD, signed by reporter Palast. The film is taken from Palast's award-winning investigate broadcasts for BBC Television - the story of the Bush-Bin Laden connection, the shoplift of the vote in Florida, the secret plans for "Operation Iraqi Liberation" and other reports that you can't see on your Fox-ified TV. Donate at http://www.gregpalast.com/store.htm Donate before December 10 and receive your signed DVD before Christmas via first class mail.
Catch the new flash animation from Bush Family Fortunes at http://www.gregpalast.com/bff-dvd.htm
This is the film Jesse Jackson says, "You must see." That Senator John Edwards calls "Important and disturbing." Katherine Harris says Palast's reporting is, "Twisted and maniacal." Maybe that's why Noam Chomsky says Palast, "Upsets all the right people."

Other gift choices in return for your tax-deductible donation, all shipped within a week of donation via first class mail:

The Book: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: New Special Election Edition," (Penguin 2004) signed by the author, for a minimum $50 donation.
The Cards: "Joker's Wild: Dubya's Trick Deck" - Tarot-sized four-color cards ... the illustrated satirical version of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, for a minimum donation of $25, signed by the author.

The Audio Book: The five CD set from Penguin books of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" read by the author with Ed Asner, Alec Baldwin, Jello Biafra, Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Goodman, Jim Hightower, Cynthia McKinney, Alexandra Paul and Shiva Rose -- for a minimum donation of $100.00

The Whole Enchilada: For a minimum donation of $200, we'll send you a signed copy of the Special Election Edition of the book plus a signed copy of the cards, plus a signed copy of the 5-CD audio book, plus a signed copy copy of the DVD, "Bush Family Fortunes."
We don't take corporate money. We don't have big funders. Our readers keep us alive. Please donate now at http://www.GregPalast.com/store.htm

Thursday, December 02, 2004


BlondeSense...: Bitchin' and Laughing: "The reelection of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O'Reilly. Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night. 'I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,' said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota."

What more can I say. This email that pissed_off_patricia posted over at BlondeSense is ROTFLMAOF.

You know sometimes we do have to laugh at ourselves. It's healthy. Besides, it's better then crying.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Portraits in courage 

Last year CBS celebrated its 75th anniversary. They took over a Sunday night's prime-time programming to run the usual self-congratulatory retrospective special. I didn't watch very much of it, but I did see a few minutes of the part dedicated to their news. I managed to hit the moment where they showed Walter Cronkite's famous report on the failure of our war in Viet Nam. That's a clip always worth watching. This was followed by a few minutes of the hosts going on about how brave CBS news is and some excellent 60 Minutes clips. At the time I found it humorous that CBS had the gall to call themselves brave less than three weeks after they cancelled the Ronald Reagan movie in the face of angry conservatives who had heard it might be insufficiently idolizing (of course, none of the critics had actually seen the movie). Maybe their humor writers wrote the host's script for the special.

This week, CBS continues to display that same level of bravery. The United Church of Christ tried to buy ad time for a new identity campaign highlighting the fact that they, like Jesus, "welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation." On would think that that's a simple statement of fact and therefore shouldn't be too dangerous to say in public. One would be wrong.
According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."


The debut 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (The ad can be viewed online at www.stillspeaking.com.)

NBC has also refused to air the ad. On the side of tolerance, or at least self-interested capitalism, are ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, the History Channel, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel, and TV Land, all of whom have agreed to sell time to the United Church of Christ.
"We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line," says the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry.

CBS and NBC's refusal to air the ad "recalls the censorship of the 1950s and 1960s, when television station WLBT in Jackson, Miss., refused to show people of color on TV," says Ron Buford, coordinator for the United Church of Christ identity campaign. Buford, of African-American heritage, says, "In the 1960s, the issue was the mixing of the races. Today, the issue appears to be sexual orientation. In both cases, it's about exclusion."

Reread CBS's explanation, "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast..." Since when has it been network policy to refuse paid ads by someone who might be perceived by some as being vaguely critical of proposed legislation? If the FDA (part of the executive branch) reopened hearings on the safety of Aspartame (a good idea, by the way) would CBS refuse all adds for products containing NutraSweet? Are they afraid Michael Powell will find a statement that a church practices tolerance to be obscene and an affront to community standards? Are they afraid that a right-wing consumer backlash will bring them to their knees like O'Reilly's boycott of France did?

This kind of cowardly self-censorship is more contemptible and more dangerous than formal censorship. In the old communist days, most of the countries in Eastern Europe did not have formal censorship laws on the books (contrary to the popular American stereotype). The Communist Parties depended on self-censorship to be more thorough and flexible than any written law. If a writer did not restrain himself from writing something controversial, his editor could be counted on to loose nerve and remove potentially offensive content. If the editor let something get by, the printer's union would refuse to print it. If anything even vaguely offensive to the powers that be somehow made it into print, the merchants could be counted on to refuse to sell it. At the bottom, the consumers could always be counted on to be too timid to buy controversial works or to denounce anyone who did. The result, without ever passing a a censorship law, was a completely tame, uninformative, and inoffensive media structure. Most people got their news and information from rumors.

Maybe CBS was joking when they touted their bravery last fall, but the joke has gotten old and it's not funny any more.

Cross-posted from archy.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge 

Infinite are the arguments of mages. - Ursula K. Le Guin

True to form, we liberals at the Liberal Coalition have been having a big debate, with discussions full of nuance and noble concern and all the stuff that makes us awesome and insufferable at the same time. In the end, we've decided to do do something a little weird and endorse an effort that (gasp!) wingers are supporting.

It's the Spirit of America, what Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News calls "a Web-based humanitarian project that almost anyone can endorse, regardless of one's stance on the wisdom of the war."

Leading bloggers are competing to raise funds to benefit the people of Iraq. 100% of all donations go to needs selected by these bloggers. Many of our projects support requests made by Americans serving in Iraq (Marines, Army, SeaBees) for goods that help the Iraqi people. Other projects directly support Iraqis who are on the front lines of building a better future for Iraq.

We're actually joining the TTLB EcoTeam, run by none other than NZBear, with whom we've had many a disagreement over the war and other issues. Here's why:

1) To support our troops--the number one goal we've always had, despite what Freepers and LGFers might have you believe.

2) To work with people on the other side of the political divide (yeah, "bi-partisanship" is like date rape and all that, but this is the blogosphere, not Washington, DC) to help the people of Iraq.

3) To very publicly show the all those folks over there in the Soviet Republic of Redstateistan that Liberals are actually really nice and reasonable folks.

Oh, and in the spirit of full-disclosure, NZBear promised us we'd get top billing in the Ecosystem for the duration of the challenge. We're liberal, nice, and blogwhores to boot1.

Um...I guess that's it. Give money to the cause2, power to the people, etc.


1 - Well, maybe I'm the only blogwhore. Whatev.

2 - This does not constitute an endorsement by the entire Coalition. Only NTodd and anybody else who speaks up in the comments section. And, of course, we pretty much still think the war sucks and Bush is evil, but we're not going to take our anger out on the troops or the Iraqi people. You know, because we're nice, etc...