Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bulls**t Pulpit

Cruising the blogosphere in the aftermath of the SOTU address, I was amazed by the number of progressive bloggers who did not bother to watch W speak. They read the transcript, maybe watched a few excerpts for color, but as one they claimed no desire to watch the prez lie to the American people on national television. Personally, I love watching the speech, if only to thrill my children by screaming and throwing things at the boob (tube).

What a speech it was, too. So many lies, so little time. Bush started with, and peppered throughout, a call for bipartisanship and civility in government and across America. This, of course, is some cosmic joke invented in the small of the night by WH speech writers, high on koolaid and giggling like hyenas. Very Rovian actually for the people who invented swiftboating to call for civility in a national speech. And it is the GOP who defined partisanship when they pushed to impeach a president for lying about a sexual affair, but chose to ignore this president's continued lying and lawbreaking on matters of national security.

On the issue of Iraq and the Middle East, I'd suggest reading Juan Cole, who does a fine job of refuting the administration's claims of success in the region. Cole points out Bush's hubris in claiming self-rule for Iraqis when his administration continues to make all decisions, backed by American armed forces. This was how Syria allowed Lebanon "democracy" for 25 years, though as Cole shows, there had been true representative government in the area for quite some time, independent of American intervention. He also identifies the fallacy inherent to Bush's highlighting democratic movements around the rest of the Middle East, as they are all rebukes to American influence in the region.

For a bit of reality on Bush's domestic policies (what few of them there were), Brad DeLong quotes MaxSpeaks who quotes someone else, but the conclusion for all three is the same. The country can not afford any domestic advances because of uncontrolled spending by the GOP majority. Any claims to the contrary are...lies. While claiming to support education, his budget has cut student loans and spending to pay for NCLB requirements. His ridiculous call for competitiveness in maths and sciences is belied by his ongoing support for ID and, in a fine coincidence of juxtaposition, his call to curtail biotech research in the same speech. Read Pharyngula for an explanation of what the edjumacation president was asking for when he called for a ban on embryonic experimentation.

The biggest whopper of the evening was the president's decrying America's addiction to foreign oil and his call to reduce dependence by 2025. Bubba will have to supply us with an analysis of the proposal, not that it will ever amount to anything. Even W's own people jumped in to say he didn't really mean what he claimed so forcefully during the SOTU. It is an odd thing when you get right down to it. This speech is the most vetted the president will give all year. The lies he tells are there for a carefully constructed reason and traditionally fall into the category of spin. When the administration's own people jump to correct something the prez says, like in this case and in the yellow cake uranium story, there is more to the lie than just falsehood. I wonder what it will be this time?


Monday, January 30, 2006

Trouble Lies More Than Name Deep

For those who don't live in Texas or follow soccer, the San Jose Earthquake recently relocated to the area and have been renamed Houston 1836, ostenably to honor the year the city was founded. In yesterday's Houston Chronicle, U of H professor Raul A. Ramos wrote of his and other Mexican-American's disappointment with the name, given its not so coincidental relationship to the Texan vs. Mexican War for Independance.

For transparency purposes, let me say that I absolutely hate the name and doubt very much it was the community consensus team owners would have us believe. While there was a poll of sorts to choose which name online voters preferred, the length of time needed to, get the publicity machine up and moving, supposedly conduct market and focus group research, and print the team logo on assorted banners, souvenirs and collectables, belies a previously chosen moniker.

When I heard the name had been chosen, I was not surprised and truthfully put it out of my mind. I know people who support the Texans as a franchise while not particularly likings the name or current manifestation of the team (good luck Coach Kubiak). It was not until I read Mr. Ramos' commentary that I realized there might be a bigger problem with the name, and truthfully, when I first read the piece, I thought he was making a mountain out of a molehill. Really, if this was the biggest worry facing the Mexican-American community, things must be going pretty well.

Then a funny thing happened; I could not stop thinking about the issue. With all the other things out the to worry about, write about, I was stuck on this one. And when that happens (as those who practice this bold exercise in futility called blogging say), you just start writing and see where it takes you. In this case, I started to think about my own ethnicity verses my gender. While I did not immediately understand the matter being Anglo, as a woman, his argument began to make more sense. Ramos says, "Naming the team 1836 smacks of nostalgia for a time when Mexican people were absent or atleast knew their place."

We live in a time where the government of this land is trying desperately to push our civil rights and liberties back fifty years. Today, the senate is voting to confirm the president's nominee for SCOTUS justice, Samuel Alito, a man who would empower our already power-mad executive branch to invade our privacy, vote to strip away my rights as a woman to make medical decisions concerning my own body, and who joined an alumni club who's stated goal was to limit the numbers of minorities on their school campus.

Maybe Professor Ramos is worried about the team name because he is afraid of what he already sees happening in this country. Soccer may not be as high profile as national government, but professional sports are big business these days. Being 40% of the population, Hispanics in Houston may just choose vote with their wallets and purses by not supporting a team, a name, an identity that is personally demeaning to them.

I'm not native American, but I wonder how I would feel about the Washington Redskins if I were. The anti-PC crowd suggests no one campaigns about the 76ers offending Anglo-Americans, but of course whites integrated as a culture after the American Revolution. It took nearly 200 years for other races and cultures (and genders) to be treated a better than second-class citizens in the land of their birth. Anything, that endangers the gains made in equality for all people, should fail, be it a sports team or a SCOTUS nominee.

I wonder how many Iraqis would buy the jersey of the next MLS expansion team, Baghdad 2003, with a smirking, flight-suited Bush peeking over a Mission Accomplished Banner.