Monday, August 29, 2005
A Small Town Turns A Corner
As I sometimes do, I cross-posted the story in the diaries over at dailyKos. As luck would have it, it made the recommended list. Glinda, one of the contributors there, asked if I would return to the subject and do a follow-up in a couple of months to see if the attitude of my town had changed any. So for Glinda, here's the follow-up.
Since my original post, it's been difficult to ascertain the mood of the town. On one hand, the support for the troops seems to be as high as ever. I'm still seeing those yellow ribbon magnets on practically every truck, car, and SUV in town. I've also seen an increase in the number of yard signs expressing support for a son or daughter or husband currently serving overseas. It appears as if everyone in town knows someone that is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
But on the other hand, I have seen a decrease in the number of pro-Bush yard signs. However, this may not be significant as it could just be that people were too lazy to take them down after the election and have just now managed to get around to it. But it does appear that the pro-Bush banter has died down a bit. But once again, that may be due to the fact that the fervor over the last election has finally subsided. As I said, it's somewhat difficult to tell.
But this past week, it all became very clear. Because of the large number of residents currently serving in Iraq, some of the community members have organized a support group. Calling themselves "Hometown Heroes," in reference to our sons and daughter serving overseas, the group organizes fundraisers in order to provide care packages for our troops and to throw receptions upon their return. It's really an admirable thing that they are doing despite their hawkish attitude toward the war. So it was with this mindset that I encountered them last Thursday.
The occasion was the hometown festival parade. I wasn't surprised to see the group's name on the parade roster . After all, the festival's motto had to do with honoring the flag. It looked as if the whole group was there. They all had shirts on proudly displaying the group's name on the front and the names of our soldiers currently serving listed on the back. Their float was adorned with flags and the insignias of the different branches of the military. Everything looked the way I would have expected. And then I saw the back of the float. It boasted a sign that stated in large letters:
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
BRING THEM HOME
I was floored. I had to read the sign several times before I could believe it. But it was true. There it was written in great big letters for all to see.
So maybe there's hope. Maybe enough has finally become enough. I never thought it would happen here, but it appears as though it has. This doesn't necessarily mean that the town is becoming any less conservative, but maybe more people are finally waking up to the fact that the emperor truly has no clothes. Only time will tell, but I think this is a good sign. Maybe the fog is finally lifting.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
"Sire, the Peasants Are Revolting!"
On Monday we learned that Connecticut was filing suit against the federal government over NCLB.
- Connecticut became the first state to file suit against the federal government over the No Child Left Behind Act, claiming the Bush administration has not provided enough money to pay for new testing and programs.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Hartford against federal Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, asks a judge to declare that state and local funds cannot be used to meet the goals of the law.
"We in Connecticut do a lot of testing already, far more than most other states. Our taxpayers are sagging under the crushing costs of local education," said Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. "What we don't need is a new laundry list of things to do — with no new money to do them."
Then today we learned that several states have decided they can't wait any longer for the Bush administration to act on greenhouse gasses.
- Nine northeastern U.S. states are working on a plan to cap and then reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, the first U.S. deal of its kind and one which would see the region breaking with President George W. Bush who refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol
The move comes as California, Washington and Oregon are considering a similar pact -- a dynamic environmentalists say could pressure the federal government to adopt a national law. Bush refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gas reduction plan adopted by more than 150 countries.
It's one thing when some of the people aren't with you, but now he can't even keep the states in line. Poor George. Only seven months into his second term and he's already being treated like a lame duck.
(By the way, bonus points to the first person to come up with the proper reply to the title of this post.)
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Pat Robertson - Following the Bush Example
Of course I'm referring to Pat Robertson's latest foot-inserting gaffe.
- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has suggested that American agents assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
An official of a theological watchdog group on Tuesday criticized Robertson's statement as "chilling."
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."
"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
(Of course this is just the latest in a long line of insane ramblings from Robertson. Keep in mind this is the same person who claimed that activist judges were more dangerous than the people who flew the planes into the twin towers on 9/11.)
As if on cue, elected officials began lining up to condemn Robertson for his remarks. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing our elected officials for condemning Robertson. He deserves to be condemned. His statement was abhorrent. But when I hear members of the Bush administration say things like "[Pat Robertson's remarks] do not represent the views of the United States," I have to take issue with that statement. Surely, they must be joking.
Join me, if you will, for a brief trip in the way back machine. Destination: March 20, 2003.
- The decision to launch a "decapitation strike" aimed at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was made by President Bush during an urgently called meeting Wednesday evening in which the CIA director voiced concern that a prime opportunity could be lost, U.S. officials said.
One U.S. official said the attack was launched on the basis of fresh intelligence on the location of "very senior Iraqi leadership," including Saddam Hussein. One of the targets was in Baghdad and another south of the capital, the sources said.
The decision to launch the strike came during the four-hour Oval Office meeting of Bush's national security team that included a briefing from CIA Director George Tenet.
The security team came to see the president urgently Wednesday afternoon, administration officials said, because there was concern at the CIA and the Pentagon that the target of opportunity might be lost.
Bush gave the go-ahead at 6:30 p.m. -- 50 minutes before that meeting broke up, the officials said. In addition to Tenet, those on hand for the meeting included Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
Decapitation strike. You know and I know that's just a fancy word for assassination. When the Iraq war started, we tried to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Now whether you agree with that move or not is entirely up to you, but don't try feeding me that bullshit about Pat Robertson's remarks not representing the views of the United States. Not only do we condone assassinating leaders that we don't agree with, we freakin' tried it. True, it didn't work, but that doesn't change the fact that at one time (very recently, I might add) we tried to do just what Pat Robertson is currently advocating.
As repulsive as Robertson's statement was, I find it even more repulsive that anyone from the Bushco war team would pretend that the idea was unthinkable. Their feigned outrage is just as embarassing as crazy Pat's ranting.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Don't worry though, Truespeak is not going away though the frequency of my postings will have to slow down. So from now until further notice, I may not post every day. I will, however, try to post as often as possible.
That being said, I want to thank all of my readers (even the ones I disagree with politically). I truly enjoy your comments and suggestions. I will still be stopping by your blogs as often as possible.
So for tonight, I'm going to refer you to something I found extrememly amusing. As many of you know, I listen to Rush Limbaugh whenever possible. I find his rants entertaining in a twisted, masochistic sort of way. Therefore, Kieth Olbermann's smackdown of the aforementioned blowhard makes me smile from ear to ear.
- There is nothing wrong with an unpopular opinion.
Nor is there anything wrong with a subversive one, nor a crazy one. This country was founded on opinions that were deemed by the powers-that-were to be unpopular, subversive, and crazy. Dissent - even when that dissent strays from logic or humanity - is our life’s blood. But if you have one of those opinions, and you express it in public, honesty and self-respect require you to own up to it.
Unless you’re Rush Limbaugh.
On his daily radio soap opera, on August 15, Limbaugh said “Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents, there's nothing about it that's real…” The complete transcript of the 860 words that surround those quotes can be found at the bottom of this entry.
Yet, apparently there was something so unpopular, so subversive, and so crazy about those remarks that he has found it necessary to deny he said them - even when there are recordings and transcripts of them - and to brand those who’ve claimed he said them as crackpots and distorters. More over, that amazing temple to himself, his website, has been scrubbed clean of all evidence of these particular remarks, and to ‘prove’ his claim that he never made the remarks in question on August 15, he has misdirected visitors to that site to transcripts and recordings of remarks he made on August 12.
Limbaugh is terrified. And he has reason to be.
Understand this about Limbaugh. He doesn’t believe half the junk he spouts. I’ve met him, and had pleasant enough conversations with him, twice - at the 1980 World Series when he was still a mid-level baseball flunky with a funny name, and once in the mid ‘90s at ESPN when he was just beginning his campaign to get a toehold there. He is a quiet, almost colorless man who, if he could be guaranteed similar success in sportscasting, would sell out the sheep who follow his every word - and would do it before close of business today.
Go read the whole thing. It's worth it.
See you soon!
Friday, August 19, 2005
- A former top aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in the former secretary of state's presentation to the United Nations on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was "the lowest point" in his life.
"I wish I had not been involved in it," says Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a longtime Powell adviser who served as his chief of staff from 2002 through 2005. "I look back on it, and I still say it was the lowest point in my life."
All I can say is it's about time someone finally admitted that they screwed up. It'd be nice if it was someone with a little more clout, but hey, small steps. So, who's next? Anyone? Beuhler? Beuhler? Anyone?.....
Have a great weekend! See you all on Monday.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
The other thing that Ms. Sheehan has accomplished is that we are once again discussing when it would be appropriate to withdraw the troops. And in doing so, she has once again put the pressure on the administration to make a choice. Of course the administration claims that we will see the mission through. (Translation: We're riding this piece of shit all the way to the bottom.) But now others are starting to voice their opposition as well. Today, Sen. Russ Feingold actually proposed a date for a complete troop withdrawal.
- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today, at a local Listening Session in Marquette, Wisconsin, proposed a target timeframe for the completion of the military mission in Iraq and suggested December 31, 2006 as the target date for the completion of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
In June, Feingold introduced a resolution calling for the President to clarify the military mission in Iraq, lay out a plan and timeframe for accomplishing that mission, and publicly articulate a plan for subsequent troop withdrawal. Because of the Administration's recent flurry of conflicting signals about the duration of U.S. troop deployments, Feingold said he feels obligated to help jump start that process by proposing a specific goal for bringing U.S. forces home from Iraq.
But it's not just the Democrats that are starting to see the light. Republicans are too. Sen Chuck Hagel, from the dead-red state of Nebraska, thinks it's about time we started to bring them home.
- Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, acknowledged the U.S. military presence was becoming harder and harder to justify. He believes Iraq faces a serious danger of civil war that would threaten Middle East stability, and said there is little Washington can do to avert this.
"We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should," he said at one stop.
Nebraska has been a solid Republican state in presidential elections for decades. Republicans dominate state politics and hold most elective offices.
But Hagel said even some who had previously backed Bush strongly on Iraq now felt deep unease.
"The feeling that I get back here, looking in the eyes of real people, where I knew where they were two years ago or a year ago -- they've changed," he said. "These aren't people who ebb and flow on issues. These are rock solid, conservative Republicans who love their country, support the troops and support the president."
Hagel said Bush faced a growing credibility gap. "The expectations that the president and his administration presented to the American people 2 1/2 years ago is not what the reality is today. That's presented the biggest credibility gap problem he's got," he said.
"I hope he has some sense that something's going on out in the country, that there's a lack of confidence that has developed in our position."
Of course the Bush administration is responding to the pressure with their standard answer.
- "Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out.
Does anyone really believe that if we said we were pulling out by the end of 2006 the violence would stop? I find it highly unlikely that the insurgents are going to just kick back and relax and wait us out. What a preposterous notion. At this point, Bushco pretty much has to stay in Iraq. Any wavering on their position and the whole facade will crumble. But the pressure's building and the public's confidence is waning.
This could be a real drag on the entire Republican party come 2006. Any Democrat running for office needs to capitalize on it. Now.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
- "Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99
"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)
"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W Bush
But this started me thinking about my favorite quote from George Bush. You may remember it. It comes from October 3, 2000. It was the first of the three debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The question had to do with the use of military force.
- MODERATOR: New question. How would you go about as president deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force, generally?
BUSH: Well, if it's in our vital national interest, and that means whether our territory is threatened or people could be harmed, whether or not the alliances are -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force. Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear. Whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be. Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win. Whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped. And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy. I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. So I would take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military power. Morale in today's military is too low. We're having trouble meeting recruiting goals. We met the goals this year, but in the previous years we have not met recruiting goals. Some of our troops are not well-equipped. I believe we're overextended in too many places. And therefore I want to rebuild the military power. It starts with a billion dollar pay raise for the men and women who wear the uniform. A billion dollars more than the president recently signed into law. It's to make sure our troops are well-housed and well-equipped. Bonus plans to keep some of our high-skilled folks in the services and a commander in chief that sets the mission to fight and win war and prevent war from happening in the first place.
If it weren't so damned infuriating, this would be the funniest statement I've ever heard. Instead it makes me want to scream.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Democrats Heart Veterans
- Military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder received good news Sunday when Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill that requires insurance companies in Illinois to cover treatment for the condition.
Addressing hundreds of veterans during the Illinois State Fair's Veterans Day, Blagojevich announced that the legislation, which is effective immediately, will help military veterans grappling with the chronic mental-health condition that results from experiencing or witnessing life-threatening events, including military combat and terrorist incidents.
"Post-traumatic stress disorder is a terrible condition that hurts thousands of veterans in Illinois. It's a disorder that makes it hard for them to work, take care of their families or function fully in society," Blagojevich said in a statement. "Our veterans put their lives on the line defending this country. It's our duty to help them get the treatment they need."
It's about time somebody addressed this issue. Too many of our soldiers are coming home without the necessary means to cope with what they've been through. It's good to see that someone cares. Despite all of the talk that we hear from the right about honoring our servicemen, it's the Democrats that are really doing the work to make sure they're taken care of.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Justice Bat-shit Crazy Sunday II
In case you missed it; and let's be honest, with all of the excitement surrounding the upcoming Iraqi constitution, it was really easy to miss; yesterday was Justice Sunday II. It was a gathering not to be missed. Speakers ranged from the raging ideologue to...well...another raging ideologue. But hey, they had a great name for the whole thing: "God Save the United States and this Honorable Court." Because, ya' know, those liberals that control our government are going to run this country righ.... huh? Oh wait, never mind.
Boy the line-up of speakers was great. They had James Dobson and Tony Perkins and Chuck Colson and Zell Miller and, of course, Tom DeLay. I mean, really, it wouldn't be a party without Zell and Tom, now would it? But hey, we could marvel over the list of speakers all day, so let's get to the actual message. What was it these gentle God-fearing men had to say?
- America's most powerful judges are "unelected, unaccountable and arrogant," Focus on the Family founder James Dobson told the thousands of people who packed a Nashville church for "Justice Sunday II," a rally televised for broadcast to churches across the country.
Many of the speeches targeted the Supreme Court's power and what the writers of the Constitution intended the justices' role to be.
"All wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told the crowd. "The Constitution is clear on the point that the power to make laws is vested on Congress."
The president of The Catholic League, Bill Donahue, suggested a constitutional amendment to say that "unless a judicial vote is unanimous, you cannot overturn a law created by Congress."
For those of you without your Bat-shit Crazy/English dictionary handy, the literal translation of the above statements is as follows:
- We don't have enough POWER! We need more POWER! We won't stop until we have more POWER! How dare those judges tell us that we are not omnipotent! POWER! POWER! POWER! We control both houses of the legislative branch, we control the executive branch and now we're coming for you, you robed bastards! We want absolute POWER!
(Okay, I made up the part about robed bastards. There's really no word in the Bat-shit Crazy language that translates as bastard, but you get the point.)
Basically, these people aren't satisfied with what they have. They're greedy. They want more, more, more. They don't like to be told no and they're going to yell and scream until they get their way. Well, at least they're mature about it.
There's one thing I don't understand about all of this. This is supposed to be a religious group of people, right? These are the evangelicals and the Christian leaders of our time, correct? If that's the case, why haven't they read the Bible? I'm pretty sure that Jesus had something to say about all of this greed and power-lust that they're exhibiting. Hmmmmm... let's see..... What Would Jesus Do?
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5
- (The definition of meek? - 1. Showing patience and humility; gentle. 2. Easily imposed on; submissive.)
Then [Jesus] said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke 12:15
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. - Ephesians 5:2-4
And the list could go on.
You know, it's too bad when those who claim religion the loudest, ignore the teachings of the very book they shove in the face of America in their attempts to gain control. If I didn't know better, I just might call them hypocrites.
Friday, August 12, 2005
With today's technology it would seem that we could come up with a verifiable way to count the votes in this country. When I go to the ATM I get a receipt that tells me exactly how much money I withdrew and how much money is left in my account. Why can't I get a paper receipt when I vote? Of course the argument is that it would compromise the secrecy of the vote. But that's only if I'm allowed to take the receipt with me when I leave. Here's my proposal. With all electronic voting machines there needs to be a printout. This "receipt" would serve two purposes:
- The voter would be able to verify that the vote they cast was properly registered
- The "receipt" could then be deposited in a recepticle to be used for a hand recount if the need arises.
In my opinion, election reform could be the issue that re-connects the Democratic party with average voter. If the Democrats would push for election reform that included verifiable paper trails how could the Republicans oppose it without looking like fools. Once passed, it could virtually ensure that every vote cast would indeed be counted. Who doesn't want their vote to count? (Not to mention, it would alleviate all those pesky little voter fraud cases that seem to be dogging the Republicans lately.)
So for the final challenge, we need a bumper sticker that sums up the need for election reform. Something that expresses the need to count every vote and the urgency of the situation. I think that this needs to be a major platform for the Democratic Party in the months to come. Force the Republicans to either ride our coattails or get backed into the proverbial corner.
So let's hear 'em.
Have a great weekend and I'll see you all back here on Monday.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Bumper Stickers IV
Campaign log - Day 4
After stops in Abortionville, Education City, and Iraq, the campaign tour rolls into Civil Rights Square as I continue in my attempts to refine the Democratic message down to a few succinct but memorable slogans.
One of the most precious gifts we have as Americans is the Constitution and it's first ten ammendments. Although it has been misused, misinterpreted, and misrepresented by many over the years, the original intent of this document was not to restrict what the people could do, but what the government could do to us. Therefore, I find it preposterous that some of our lawmakers would even consider an ammendment that would restrict certain individuals from marrying. What's next? Telling us where we can live and work?
The Democratic party has long been the party of civil rights. But that's boring. What we need is a slogan. A short, memorable statement that can fit on a bumper sticker. Something that will make the evening news. Something that expresses our outrage over discrimination and oppression. Something that cries out for equality across the board.
So here is challenge #4. What would you put on your civil rights bumper sticker?
BTW - The best suggestion so far for an Iraq bumper sticker has been "Iraqmire."
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
More Bumper Stickers (Day III)
Despite all of the "last throes," "turning the corners," and "winning of hearts and minds," our soldiers are still dying in Iraq at an alarming rate. This month alone we've lost another 38 of our sons and daughters. The experts now think it was a mistake, the outcome is in serious jeopardy, and even the parts of the country we are supposedly in control of are in chaos. Yet we can't seem to get hardly anyone, even in the Democratic party, to stand up and say in no unmitigated terms, "This was a mistake!" If any of them would simply admit that they screwed up, the healing process could begin.
At this point, I don't think there's anything that we can do to actually "fix" the situation. We've gone beyond that. It's like putting the toothpaste back in tube. (As the Rude Pundit likes to say, "You can't un-fuck the goat.") But unlike before, the public is now on our side. According to all the latest polls, the public's support for Georgieboy's handling of the situation in Iraq now stands at anemic levels. And as demonstrated by Paul Hackett's approach in Ohio, the public is ready for a candidate that has the balls to stand up and speak out strongly against the war. So the time is right. We need to take advantage of the current mindset.
So here it is. Challenge number three. What can we put on a bumper sticker that will convey our feelings about Iraq in a short, quick memorable way?
Take it away!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Bumper Sticker Campaign Day II
Yesterday's topic was abortion, (and judging by the less than enthusiastic response in the comments I'm forced to think that we may be in trouble) so today I'd like to discuss education. How do we counter NCLB?
Let me give you a little background first. My first experiences in teaching came in the Aldine Independent School District in the northeast section of Houston, Texas. What I saw there went against everything I had ever been taught about education. It was a system of high-stakes assessment with the teachers bearing the sole responsibility for failure. It was eight straight months of preparing for a single test. So I left. Now, imagine my horror when George W. Bush declared himself a candidate for the presidency and one of his platforms was education reform. I knew what that meant. Little did I know that this would be only the first of many many points on which I would disagree with this man.
But back to the problem at hand. The Republicans now control the political language thanks to the brevity of the American attention span. Therefore, No Child Left Behind strikes a chord. It sounds like a wonderful thing. It's short, easy to remember, and implies that the former administration was doing just that; leaving children behind. But we know that its bullshit. Continual testing of our children does no more to address the educational problems faced by our nation than the constant shouting in the ear of a deaf person does to address hearing loss. We're approaching the problem from the wrong side.
The basic premise behind NCLB is that by focusing on the output, we can improve the input. But as they say in the technology field: G.I.G.O. (Garbage in, garbage out.) This is not to imply that our teachers aren't doing a good job, but it's meant to show that the input will always determine the output. So, in my opinion, the focus of education reform shouldn't be on testing, but on fundamentals. By getting control of the input, only then will we be able to control the output. But with the focus on the other end of the equation, too many schools are foregoing the extra time needed to master the basics and are focusing on test materials. It's akin to building a house on a foundation that's only half done. However, this doesn't fit on a bumper sticker.
So here it is. Your second challenge. What would you put on your education bumper sticker?
Monday, August 08, 2005
I'm Back! (And I've Been Thinking)
As I drove into St. Louis on I-70 I saw a car sporting a bumper sticker that said "Pro-Choice Democrat" and I thought to myself, "Aren't we all?" Is there really anybody that would rather see a child aborted than adopted? Is there anyone who cheers when a woman chooses abortion over adoption? I, personally, don't know of anyone that does. But to hear the conservative extremists talk, abortions are like taking a shower. It happens every day and nobody really thinks about it. So this started me thinking, "How did it get to be this way? How did the right manage to distort the views of the left in such grotesque ways?" And it can all be summed up in one word: language.
After the election, I spent some time talking about what I thought the Democratic party needed to do in order to regain some political control. The first thing I said was that we must control the political language. Abortion is a perfect example of how we've previously lost this battle. What are we known as? We're the "Pro-Choice" party. Sounds good, right? We're for choice. By default that sould make the opposition the "Anti-Choice" party. But no, they're the "Pro-Life" party and by default that implies that we are "Pro-Death." It's all in the syntax and sometimes the more important part of syntax is what is implied rather than what is said.
So how do we do this without looking like we're trying to ride the coat-tails of the Republicans? By claiming to be a "Pro-Life" Democrat this woman was basically saying that my party is wrong on abortion. So we need something else. We need something that says we don't favor abortion, but we intend to protect the woman's right to make her own decisions concerning her body.
The general consensus seems to be that we would like to keep abortions legal but rare. While that sounds great, it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker very well and, let's face it, we live in a bumper sticker society. If it won't fit on a sticker, the average person isn't going to remember it later. This is what got John Kerry into trouble. He didn't speak in short mono-syllabic sentences like Bush did. He didn't speak in soundbites. Therefore, he looked bad on the evening news going into some long, complicated explanation about a particular issue. While the issue at hand probably required that long, complicated explanation, people lost interest after the first few words. They want short, sweet, and memorable. They can't remember things like this:
- I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I'm a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life. It helped lead me through a war, leads me today.
But I can't take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn't share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can't do that.
But I can counsel people. I can talk reasonably about life and about responsibility. I can talk to people, as my wife Teresa does, about making other choices, and about abstinence, and about all these other things that we ought to do as a responsible society.
But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment.
Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro- abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you don't deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they can't afford it otherwise.
That's why I think it's important. That's why I think it's important for the United States, for instance, not to have this rigid ideological restriction on helping families around the world to be able to make a smart decision about family planning.
You'll help prevent AIDS.
You'll help prevent unwanted children, unwanted pregnancies.
You'll actually do a better job, I think, of passing on the moral responsibility that is expressed in your question. And I truly respect it.
Although I think that was one of the greatest answers I've ever heard from a politician concerning abortion, people don't remember that. It's too long and complicated. It requires thinking and reasoning. What was Bush's response?
- My answer is, we're not going to spend taxpayers' money on abortion.
Even though it's total bullshit, people can remember that. The evening news can make a soundbite out of that. The PACs can make a commercial out of that. It means nothing, but it would fit on a bumper sticker.
So this week I want to discuss some of these issues. Issues like abortion, education, Iraq and others and I want to hear your ideas on how we can regain control of the political language. What can we put on our bumper stickers? Each day this week I'll throw out a new topic and leave it up to you to discuss. At the end of the week, we'll see what we've got and determine what we can do with it. So let's hear it people. What would you put on your abortion bumper sticker?