Saturday, June 23, 2007
The questions about Republican gubernatorial candidate Congressman Piyush “Bobby” Jindal just keep piling up, with no clear answers anywhere in sight for the foreseeable future. Jindal’s supporters, have taken the standard Republican response to any questioning of the integrity of their candidate—smear and insult; because of course, in their minds, nothing says “logic” like calling honest questions “a liberal smear campaign’ while dodging facts.
Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh have done their jobs beautifully, haven’t they?
Recently, while cruising the internet looking for information on “Bobby”, I had the great pleasure of discovering the following website: www.bobbyjindalisgood.com. Purporting to be a site to help promote the Congressman’s candidacy as well as to raise awareness (and money), at first I thought, this has to be a spoof website, because surely this can’t be for real.
Take, for example, the LA Revolution campaign:
On Monday, May 7, we went on "The Jim Engster Show" and announced the commencement of a Louisiana Revolution. Join us as we usher in a new era of dynamic leadership and sweeping change in the Pelican State. Join the Revolution by supporting Bobby Jindal and ensuring that he becomes the next Governor of Louisiana. But Bobby Jindal's election is only the beginning..
On this same page are photographs of children wearing shirts that proclaim “LA Revolution;” which is obviously a play on La Revolucion, a slogan from the 1960’s. The T-shirts have the Congressman’s face superimposed on the famous old photograph of Che Guevara, which graced posters and T-shirts back in the days of opposition to the Vietnam War.
Remember Che Guevara?
From Robert Leckie’s The Wars of America:
Among the Communists who fled Guatemala was an Argentine physician named Ernesto (“Che”) Guevara, who later joined forces with a bearded young Revolutionary named Fidel Castro. In 1956, accompanied by ten other bearded rebels, they landed in Cuba’s Oriente Province and began to rally around them the forces that eventually overcame the cruel and corrupt Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
Am I the only person who finds it odd that a modern day Republican politician has allowed his supporters to plagiarize the symbol and slogan of a notorious Communist revolutionary? One who was an avowed atheist and despised religion (more on that later)?
Louisianans frequently joke that our state is a ‘banana republic,’ a ‘third world country,’ and other such jokes—but we also don’t really take that seriously.
Apparently, Jindal’s supporters do, and believe that taking on the symbols of an avowed enemy of the United States democracy will somehow help them take over our ‘banana republic.’
Of course, it is entirely possible, as I stated before, that this site is not for real; it could just be a large joke, and does not have the Congressman’s endorsement.
And if it does have the Congressman’s endorsement, one has to ask, does the Congressman have no idea who Che Guevara was? Surely, any Republican running for a public office would know better than to use the symbolism of a Communist revolutionary. Especially when one takes into consideration that the proudest achievement the Republicans claim is that their great Ronald Reagan brought down Communism.
Does Robert M. Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, aware of this?
It is, in fact, no different than trying to add the hammer and sickle to the Pelican Flag.
And if, indeed, the Congressman does not know who Guevara was, this lack of knowledge of American—and world—history does not bode well for his possible gubernatorial term.
And while on the subject of religion…Congressman Jindal has stated for the record, over and over again, his deep and abiding Catholic faith. It is considered impolite to question someone’s faith; but when said person makes public statement after public statement about said faith, it becomes impolitic not to wonder, especially when said person make the following statement on a radio interview:
“Good Christians pray to God, not to saints.”
I am not a Catholic, but even I know that one of the basic doctrines of the Catholic religion, dating back over a thousand years, is praying to the saints. Perhaps the Congressman needs, not only a history book to review, but to sit down and have a long talk with his priest…I know that if I were a Catholic what my reaction to the Congressman’s statement would be. That statement basically says that the vast majority of Catholics are NOT good Christians!
But that vast majority of Catholics, I would daresay, have never participated in an ‘exorcism,’ a medieval ritual the Church now pretty much disavows.
So, there you have it. Congressman Bobby Jindal, who wants to be governor of Louisiana, does not understand his own religion, and thinks Che Guevara, apparently, is a role model for his campaign.
What a sad statement on the condition of the Louisiana public education system.
Friday, June 22, 2007
by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2007 Journal-Register Newspapers, Inc.
Why won’t George Bush save my life?
I am a hard-working American citizen. I was born in Philadelphia, the so-called birthplace of liberty, where American democracy was founded. I’ve lived and worked in some of America’s great cities–New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles. I pay taxes. I am civic-minded and patriotic. I have never missed an election since I was old enough to vote. I spent four years in the Peace Corps. I taught literacy programs in the inner city as well as in prisons for more than a decade. I have worked on the front-lines of several civil rights movements. I am active in my community. I go to church. I founded and run an animal rescue shelter. I have been an award-winning journalist for more than 25 years. I have published more than 20 books. I teach college. I mentor kids. I have spent my life helping other people. I have even been given awards for doing so, awards that deemed me and my work a role model for others.
So why won’t the President help me? Why won’t he save my life? I’m a model citizen in many ways. And yet Bush refuses to commute my death sentence with just a few strokes of his pen.
I could understand if it were just my life that was at stake. But it isn’t. It’s the lives of one in sixAmericans–about 55 million people. That is how many Americans are suffering from life-threatening diseases that might be cured by embryonic stem cell research–research that the President has refused to fund not once, but twice in one year.
I wasn’t really surprised when the announcement came June 20th that Bush had once again vetoed a stem-cell research bill. Bush has only vetoed three bills in his entire presidency and each time it has been to set Americans up to die. Twice he has vetoed stem-cell research and several weeks ago he vetoed the bill that would have set limits on how many more Americans have to die in Iraq.
He says it’s about morality.
So even though I wasn’t surprised, I took this veto personally. One in six Americans has a disease that could be helped by stem-cell research. Which means *every* American knows someone whose life could be saved by stem-cell research. Which means even the President knows someone whose life could be saved by stem-cell research. Which means his decision to veto the bill is even more callous than it appears to me and to those 55 million other Americans.
I have been in a wheelchair for 13 years. That’s almost a quarter of my life–a long time not to be able to go for the long walks I used to take, or ride my bike to work as I did for years, or dance the night away as I was famous for. A long time to suffer.
I have a few good hours every day. Those hours are invariably spent working. Sometimes they are spent having dinner with family and friends, or seeing a film, or going to Mass. But none of those hours are spent walking or bicycling or dancing. I miss those things. A lot. Mostly I miss being able to do everything for myself, without asking others for help.
George Bush doesn’t care that I have been in a wheelchair for 13 years. He doesn’t care that my life is incredibly limited by having a serious degenerative disease of the central nervous system for which there is no cure or even treatment. He doesn’t care that this disease restricts my breathing, my vision, my ability to sit and stand and even swallow. Or, as a writer, hold a pen.
Of course, I am still fortunate. Although I have been in a wheelchair for more than a decade, I wasn’t always in a wheelchair. I used to walk, bicycle and dance. I traveled around the world as an investigative journalist.
But a lot of those 55 million other Americans who might benefit from stem-cell research have never had the choices I had because they were disabled from birth. Always in a wheelchair. Always kept from being the full person they could have been, if the disease they suffer from hadn’t altered their bodies irreparably.
I have a good friend who is going blind. She uses the white cane blind people use when they go outside and she wears thick glasses. She suffers from a rare disease that may or may not be helped by stem-cell research.
Even going blind–she has special software on her computer that allows her to read–she reads more than anyone I know, and everyone I know reads a lot. She’s a superb editor, one of the best I have ever had. I don’t want to think about the day she is no longer able to be my editor. I would like to save her sight.
Why won’t the President help her?
I guess it’s easy for some people to dismiss the needs of 55 million people–more people than live in all of Canada and Australia combined. But I suppose if you’ve spent your life in service to others, as I have, your perspective is a little different.
I simply do not like to see people suffering and dying.
The President, however, believes that to be an emotional response, not a scientific one. Which would be a solid enough answer to my query if Bush were relying at all on science, rather than his own ideology, his own alleged morality.
When Bush vetoed the bill proposed by the Democrats, he said it was because the science was unproven, which isn’t true. He also said that we can’t take life to save lives.
Okay, I’m confused–isn’t that exactly what we are supposed to be doing in Iraq: taking lives to save lives?
But let’s pretend that what the President said is true, even though it’s not.
What life are we taking in embryonic stem-cell research?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a government agency, answers the question-- What stages of early embryonic development are used to generate embryonic stem cells?–with the following answer:
“Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. Specifically, embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro--in an in vitro fertilization clinic–and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body. The embryos from which human embryonic stem cells are derived are typically four or five days old.”
Thus the embryos used in embryonic stem-cell research come from leftover cells that might have been used for in-vitro fertilization. These embryos will be discarded–tossed in the trash–if they are not used in stem-cell research.
President Bush thinks it’s better to toss these embryos in the trash than to use them to save the lives of 55 million Americans.
Readers of this column know I am pro-life: against war, against the death penalty, against abortion. I don’t eat animals, because I don’t believe in killing. The embryos in question are cells in petri dishes. They are about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
Embryonic stem-cell research is not experimentation on babies, as the President has tried to present it. This research is using a series of cells ready to be put in the trash that might be used instead to save millions of lives.
If these embryonic cells were children, wouldn’t there be a mass effort by the President to preserve them and then give them a Christian burial? Of course there would–we don’t throw babies in the trash in America. And when some people do–there are a few cases of this each year of young and desperate teenagers giving birth and putting their newborns in the trash–it is a crime. So if these stem cells are indeed babies, as the President contends, why isn’t it a crime to toss them in the trash?
In point of fact it is a crime to discard these cells, because doing so deprives millions like myself of the possibility of cures for our heretofore incurable diseases. Think of the genius of Stephen Hawking, limited by his suffering from ALS, unable to speak or move for years. Think of the children trapped in bodies tortured by Muscular Dystrophy, or those who won’t live beyond their twenties due to Cystic Fibrosis. Think of the young man in China with a 33-pound tumor on his face from neurofibromatoma which has ruined his whole life, deforming his body, making him a pariah in his village and obscuring his vision, hearing and speech. He told doctors this week that he’s never had a day in his life that wasn’t full of incredible misery and pain.
Think of all the suffering that could be stopped by research on cells the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Think of all the stem cells being thrown in the trash or washed down the sink rather than being used to save lives.
More than three-quarters of Americans believe stem-cell research is vital. Americans overwhelmingly want it–perhaps because they all know someone with diabetes, MS, ALS, MD or other diseases that could be cured by this research.
By vetoing the Democrats’ bill, President Bush has once again chosen to ignore the needs and desires of the American people whom he represents. That bill would have funded life-giving research for the 55 million Americans already suffering from diseases that could be cured through embryonic stem-cell research.
But it’s not just the 55 million, myself among them, already sick or dying from these diseases. It is about all the children who will be born with these diseases. It’s about all the people who will wake up one morning in their 20s or 30s like I did, or Stephen Hawking did, to a body suddenly inexplicably and irrevocably changed, destined to spend the rest of our lives in pain and suffering, till we are killed by that disease.
White House press secretary Tony Snow, who has been battling advanced colon cancer himself, said on June 20th: “This is, certainly not an attempt to muzzle science. It is an attempt, I
think, to respect people’s conscience on such an issue.”
The President said, “Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical–and it is not the only option before us.”
These statements, by Snow and Bush, are lies. Three-quarters of Americans want embryonic stem-cell research. Bush is, once again, disregarding the will of the American people and putting his own ideology above the needs of all Americans, and most especially, the 55 million whose suffering could be alleviated by embryonic stem-cell research. This is muzzling science and what’s more, it is totally unethical, not to mention disingenuous of Bush to say that embryonic stem cells that are about to be–literally–flushed down the drain, are better off as trash than as succor for millions of suffering *live human beings.*
When Bush last vetoed a bill, it was for supplemental spending for Iraq and it had a timeline for bring the troops home. He once again put his own personal agenda above the needs and demands of the American people–in that instance, to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.
The President has shown amazing arrogance toward people worldwide, but to Americans in particular, because this is the country he is supposed to be leading. That arrogance may be why his approval rating dropped another couple of points after the stem-cell research veto. Bush’s approval rating is now the second-lowest in presidential history, having dropped lower than Jimmy Carter’s during the hostage crisis. The only president to have an approval rating lower than Bush’s current 26 percent was Richard Nixon on the eve of his resignation, when his approval rating was 23 percent.
If the President continues to ignore the will of the American people on issues of grave concern to them, like the war or stem-cell research, his approval rating is bound to drop well below Nixon’s. Because like Nixon, Bush is utterly out of touch with what America needs and wants.
The stem-cell research debate is not over. The President may have given those of us who are dying his second veto on the importance of our lives, but Congressional Democrats have pledged to continue to present Bush with the same bill again and again until they have the two-thirds majority needed to override his veto or until there is a new president in Washington.
I wish George Bush valued life as much as I do. I wish he understood what it is like to know every muscle that keeps me alive–moving, swallowing, seeing, breathing, heart pumping–is degenerating. Perhaps it is selfish of me to want to live. But I know it isn’t selfish of me to want others to be free of the suffering I have experienced.
As a Catholic, I have my own deeply entrenched ideologies, but I guess unlike the President, I remember Jesus cured the sick. Bush has the power to do the same. He just won’t. And millions will suffer and die due solely to his willful, destructive arrogance.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Same city, same school, same stage. But that’s where the similarities end.
At Sunday night’s Democratic candidate debate, all eight of the Democrats running for president agreed that the time has come to end the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Watch it here:
Every single one. And that comes after the Human Rights Campaign released its candidate questionnaire showing that all of them support federal benefits rights for gay couples.
Last night, the Republicans took a different approach. Asked whether it made sense to expel openly gay Arab language translators from our military in a time of war, every single one said "yes." No one had the courage to stand up and say this policy is wrong and it hurts our military. Watch for yourself:
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
But in a lengthy judgment, the court also examined the wider issue of profanity
on American TV and in public life, and First Amendment protection of profanity,
as it rejected the FCC's policy that the words 'f***' or 's****' always had a
sexual or excretory connotation.
Specifically it noted that both President
Bush and Vice-President Cheney were on record as having used those words in a
non-literal way, Mr Bush when he told Tony Blair that the United Nations needed
to "get Syria to stop Hezbollah to stop doing this s***' and Mr Cheney when he
told a senator, on the floor of the Senate, to "f*** yourself'.