Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday Reads: Iraq, the Democratic closet, global warming & blogging against theocracy

By Diane Silver

It's been another busy day here at In This Moment. The good news is that I've not only been slaving over a money job, but I've been researching a series of posts I hope to put up within the next few days.

My goal with those upcoming posts is to come closer to understanding Americans For Prosperity, an anti-tax, anti-spending organization that has been successfully influencing Kansas politics for the past few years. I want to get my facts right, so stay tuned for further developments.

Meanwhile, here are some national items that caught my eye.

Wisconsin civil servant Georgia Thompson may have spent months in prison for no other reason than the fact that she worked for a Democratic governor. At least, that's the claim the New York Times made today in an editorial, which noted that Thompson's case may well be another layer on the politicalization of the U.S. attorneys offices.
The Chicago-based United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit seemed shocked by the injustice of her conviction. It took the extraordinary step of releasing Ms. Thompson from prison immediately after hearing arguments, without waiting to issue a ruling. One of the judges hinted that Ms. Thompson may have been railroaded. “It strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin,” Judge Diane Wood told the lawyer from Mr. Biskupic’s office.
Oh darn... I missed this weekend's blogswarm against theocracy. I would have loved to have participated. Thanks to Talk To Action for pointing it out. I agree with Talk To Action's Frederick Clarkson: Go forth and read!

There's a great article over at Alternet today where Laura Flanders rightfully berates Democrats for hiding from cultural issues like gay marriage. Excerpted from her book Blue Grit, the article notes:
The truth is that Democrats, progressives, and fair-minded Republicans will never be anti-gay or anti choice or anti-racial justice enough to quiet their opponents. The only people left with any doubt about where Democrats stand on cultural issues are those whose lives are at stake. Those inconveniently irreverent and striving real people -- whom pundits dare not mention by name but allude to with the code name "culture" -- those Americans are the Democrats' base, whether the party likes it or not

The LGBT movement has a word for a frame that's built around the fear of being honest: a closet. And there's only one exit: coming out. People who are clear about who they are, and who clearly respect themselves and their beliefs, attract respect. Consider Lupe Valdez, a fifty-seven-year-old lesbian Latina who was elected Sheriff of Dallas in 2004. Valdez is the first woman, first gay person, and first Hispanic ever to be Sheriff of Dallas, and the first Democrat to hold the job in twenty-five years. A former prison guard and federal agent, the 5'2" daughter of migrant workers was opposed by the unions representing many of those working in the sheriff's department. She was outspent three-to-one.

At the last minute, her opponent, the favored candidate, raised alarms about her acceptance of campaign contributions from Washington-based Gay and Lesbian Victory fund. How did she win? People in Dallas were ready for a change. Their Republican sheriff, a twenty-year incumbent, had just been indicted on charges of corruption. Valdez cast herself as an agent of change and made her sexuality work for her, rather than against: "I'm not like anybody in here. I'm the element of change. I'm a lesbian" she said. A third of those who voted for her were cross-overs, voters who didn't vote a straight Democratic ticket. Now Valdez is the only woman among 254 sheriffs in Texas. reports that the military is so stretched that injured troops are being shipped back to Iraq. Meanwhile, The New York Times notes that the surge in Iraq has yet to produce much in the way of great results.

The New York Time's Paul Krugman had a great column on Republican's "little lies," and how they can be as effective as the Big Lie, for example, that got us into war in Iraq. Krugman's argument is that the GOP is attempting to slime Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a ton of little lies.This is behind the Time's paywall, so here are some excerpts.
First, there were claims that the speaker of the House had demanded a lavish plane for her trips back to California. One Republican leader denounced her "arrogance of extravagance" -- then, when it became clear that the whole story was bogus, admitted that he had never had any evidence.

Now there's Ms. Pelosi’s fact-finding trip to Syria, which Dick Cheney denounced as "bad behavior" -- unlike the visit to Syria by three Republican congressmen a few days earlier, or Newt Gingrich’s trip to China when he was speaker.

Ms. Pelosi has responded coolly, dismissing the administration's reaction as a “tantrum.” But it’s more than that: the hysterical reaction to her trip is part of a political strategy, aided and abetted by news organizations that give little lies their time in the sun.

Fox News, which is a partisan operation in all but name, plays a crucial role in the Little Lie strategy -- which is why there is growing pressure on Democratic politicians not to do anything, like participating in Fox-hosted debates, that helps Fox impersonate a legitimate news organization.

But Fox has had plenty of help. Even Time's Joe Klein, a media insider if anyone is, wrote of the Pelosi trip that "the media coverage of this on CNN and elsewhere has been abysmal." For example, CNN ran a segment about Ms. Pelosi’s trip titled "Talking to Terrorists."

The G.O.P.'s reversion to the Little Lie technique is a symptom of political weakness, of a party reduced to trivial smears because it has nothing else to offer. But the technique will remain effective — and the U.S. political scene will remain ugly — as long as many people in the news media keep playing along.

And last, but certainly not least, Daniel Gilbert from The Huffington Post figures out how to get folks to take Global Warming seriously. Here's a hint: It involves gay sex and/or folks biting the heads off kittens.


Photo: Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez

No comments: