Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Virginia, a miscarriage could be a felony

Wow. We're at new levels of loathesome.

The Virginia House of Representatives has just passed a horrendous bill, HB1126, which states:

Except as provided in other sections of this article, any person, including the pregnant female, who administers, or cause causes to be taken by a woman pregnant female, any drug or other thing, or uses means, with intent to destroy her unborn child, or to produce abortion or miscarriage, and thereby destroys such child, or produces such abortion or miscarriage, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

It's bad enough that abortion is being considered a crime punishable by prison. But "causing a miscarriage"? The language is incredibly vague and should be patently unconstitutional, let alone totalitarian. How does one judge intent in this matter? What's to stop someone from claiming his wife "caused" a miscarriage, getting her in prison, and getting a divorce out of it? That's just one ugly scenario that plays out here.

This goes beyond "overturning Roe v. Wade" into flat-out dehumanization. If a woman lies on the operating table and it's a choice between saving her life or hoping the baby will come to term, well, hope you like a life in the clink, lady. If the Virginia Supreme Court doesn't rule this thing unconstitutional, we have truly entered a dark age for human rights.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Count me for Obama

I've sat on the fence for most of this primary season, for one big reason — I like both candidates. I think either Hillary or Obama would make an excellent president, and I agree with both of them on most policy issues. Lately, though, I've been leaning more and more towards Obama, and it's because of that E-word many of you are probably sick of hearing:


Yes, I know — some of you will argue that Hillary is the more experienced choice, more of a known quantity. And you're right. But the press hates her, and as the 2000 election showed, that makes it very hard to win1. Media preferences are going to be critical in this election because the press loves McCain. Even people who don't like him refer to him as a "media darling." Obama, though, is something else entirely. He has an amazing ability to make pundits all misty-eyed with his JFK-esque charm.

Public opinion about these candidates' personalities is inevitably going to mirror what the media tells people to think. It's not surprising, then, that in head-to-head matchup polls, Obama almost always beats McCain while Hillary almost always loses. It's possible Hillary could turn this around with a good campaign, but she'd be swimming against the current.


[1] I know, it's entirely possible Gore technically won that election. Realistically, though, it was a tie. We don't want another one of those. If it's close enough to go to the Supreme Court again, we'll lose.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How will they cover it this time?

One of the worst things for me personally in the last eight years has been becoming totally disillusioned with mainstream media institutions.

Yeah, I know, I have the luxury of having that be the worst thing about the last eight years for me because unlike some people, I'm not being shot at because of Bush and Cheney.

Still, once upon a time I could pick up Time Magazine or the Washington Post or turn on CNN and honestly expect I would get, you know, the news. Now, I approach them with extreme skepticism, and I am more inclined to trust David Brock, say, than any of them.

To understand why, one need look no further than the way they tend to cover presidential campaigns. Let's recap the last two, and what the mainstream media felt were the really important criteria.

2000: the media, in general, covers the election as if they were casting the role of the president in an awesome new reality show called Who Wants To Be The Most Powerful Person In The World. And boy, did they ever have a strong opinion about who would be more fun to watch. Let's cast that aw-shucks frat boy George! We don't wanna listen to that freak Al Gore go on and on about the policy issues he cares about for whatever stupid reason.

2004: This election mostly seemed, for the national media, to come down to a question of who had stuffed his jock strap more.

So how will they cover 2008? The major storylines have yet to coalesce. But I'd bet money it won't be "whose policies would be better for the country?" My guess is, it will favor John McCain. If we nominate Hillary, they'll decide the important issue is authenticity: that noble maverick McCain against that big calculating phony Clinton (never mind that McCain has reversed himself on everything under the sun to placate the Bush right, while Clinton's policy views have largely remained stable). If we nominate Obama (which I think we will in the end), it'll be experience--that veteran McCain against that first-term senator Obama.

Then again, both of those would be less stupid than the last two elections, so maybe I'm thinking with too much of my brain here. In any case, I do not expect a fair media landscape. Why should I? When do we ever get one? I'd even settle for unfair in my side's favor, but that never happens either.

To paraphrase Phil Ochs (by way of Eddie Vedder), elite news media, find yourselves another country to be part of.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sweeping it under the rug

After nearly four years of war in Iraq, the Bush administration still can't admit its mistakes.

The Army commissioned a report evaluating the Iraqi reconstruction effort from RAND Corp., a federally-financed corporation that does research for the military. When the report was finished in 2005, both secret and unclassified versions were submitted to the Army, the latter intended for publication. The Army has proceeded to sit on both versions. According to an Army spokesman, "the analysts had in some cases taken a broader perspective on the early planning and operational phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom than desired or chartered by the Army." Leaked drafts of the report reveal criticism of the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Central Command in Iraq. They also fault Bush and his staff for not resolving conflicts between rival agencies during reconstruction.

Every administration makes its share of mistakes. Unfortunately, this administration's inability to admit and correct their mistakes compounds the damage caused by them.

Friday, February 8, 2008

McCain's biggest enemy: Fellow Republicans

Because of who our nominee is, it doesn't matter who's elected President." — Rush Limbaugh, February 8.
With Romney out of the race, McCain has a clear path to the nomination. But now he faces the difficult task of reuniting his own party. The Republicans have splintered in a big way; McCain didn't carry a single Southern state on Super Tuesday, and there's a good argument that he won because Romney and Huckabee split the conservative vote.

The depth of conservatives' hatred for McCain is perhaps best demonstrated by quoting Rush Limbaugh's complaints the day after Super Tuesday:
"McCain gets credit for being a maverick, as if that's evidence of his great character, because he'll always follow his conscience rather than the party line, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but he's always a maverick in furtherance of principles that we find abhorrent and principles that liberals love. ... While he's out there obstructing conservatism, thumbing his nose at us, he's being lauded and praised. Big maverick, gets credit for that. Then Republicans get blamed for nothing getting done."
It's difficult to see how McCain can mend this rift. Many conservatives will vote for him anyway, of course; but some will likely just stay home. As the Democrats showed in 2004, it's difficult to win an election with a candidate your base isn't excited about.

This isn't to say the Democratic nominee will necessarily have an easy time of it. We shouldn't get overconfident; the press still loves McCain and will give him favorable coverage. We can take heart, however, in knowing that McCain has a tough uphill slog just to win the support of his own party.

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