Almost Honest.

Wow, Rupert Murdoch almost had a moment of honesty. Let’s hope that never happens to Fox.

Spake the Muckraker:

“CNN is pretty consistently on the left, if you look at their choice of stories, what they play up. It’s not what they say. It’s what they highlight.” (CNN, which is also owned by Time Warner, hotly disputes this charge.) Then he mumbles conspiratorially, “And if you look at our general news, do we put on things which favor the right rather than the left? I don’t know.” Has Murdoch just said what I think he said? Has he flirted with an admission that Fox News skews right? If so, he quickly backs away. “We don’t think we do. We’ve always insisted we don’t. I don’t think we do. Aw, it’s subjective. Neither side admits it.”

-dx

Literally, “HOLY SHIT!”

Okay, so while my favourite part of this story is the “THOU SHALT NOT TOUCH!” sign, this is the terrifying nug:

Many of the quarter of a million people expected to visit the Creation Museum by the end of the year will be children. They will be indoctrinated into an ideology that systematically warps their understanding of the physical world and fills them with hostility toward the facts and concepts of modernity. As we have learned over the past few years, this doesn’t mean that they’ll be outcasts and failures. A great political party has largely abased itself before their world view and offered them unprecedented access to government power. The Creation Museum, a combination of a natural-history museum and a Communist Party propaganda center, will help to arm and arouse the next generation of Christianists in the ongoing war against secular and scientific America.

It’s tempting to treat the museum as an interesting cultural diversion, rather like a guided tour through Colonial Williamsburg, which is how Rothstein, at the the Times, took it. But the museum’s creators are more serious than that, and in a sense they have it right: the family from Columbus came looking for a middle ground that doesn’t exist. Either you accept the claims of science, or you might as well believe that dinosaurs made it onto Noah’s Ark. This disagreement is the size of the Grand Canyon. The mass of ordinary visitors were every bit as alien to me as the few Mennonite families in their nineteenth-century bonnets and long beards. We might speak the same contemporary American dialect, wear the same T-shirts, and eat the same fatty foods, but our basic beliefs are so incompatible that it’s hard to know what political arrangement could ever satisfy us both. Rothstein ended one of his reviews by saying that a visitor “leaves feeling a bit like Adam emerging from Eden, all the world before him, freshly amazed at its strangeness and extravagant peculiarities.” My experience was different: I had the sense of being a dissident surrounded by the lies of a totalitarian state, and I kept my reactions to myself. As I was driving away, I realized what the barrage of falsehoods written on slick signboards reminded me of. It was the telescreens in “1984.”

These people are terrifying.

-dx

Go, Go, Go, Rahmbo!

So earlier, I wrote about Rahm just stepping up and punching back at our beloved Veep, and I’m still amused by it. I found video, however, of Republicans scurrying around and trying to cover up Darth Cheney’s imbroglio.

1. So here’s Rahm discussing his amendment:

2. Here’s Minority Whip Roy Blunt trying to rebut:

Here are the problems with Blunt’s rebuttal.

a. While everyone in the Congress, the country and the rest of the world may know which branch of government hosts Darth Cheney, he, apparently, does not. It was Cheney who claimed that he’s a special snowflake, at large branch of government without portfolio. (Think Fuzors!) So having Blunt stand up there and say that everyone knows that Cheney’s in the Executive Branch is meaningless. It’s also non-responsive.

b. There’s a certain irony in Republicans claiming that an ironic amendment or piece of legislation is unfair. IOKIYAR.

Apparently, there’s a part three. Blunt just cannot get enough of saying stupid things on the House floor.

a. Rahm is amazing. “I’ll try not to be Talmudic.”

b. Blunt is just being an idiot here. Of course the legislative branch ponders intent and meaning while passing the laws.

c. Rahm’s dead right, as usual.

Now, the really funny thing about this is that the boys at RedState think that Rahm got schooled. Go figure. I guess Republicans figure that just making noises with your mouth is enough to answer a question.

-dx

Sticky Rice!

I got this by email. Yay, ABC News!

-dx

Lost in Translation or Chinese Food for Thought?
Justice Department Vs. Massachusetts Ballot Issue Could Land in Court
By DAVID SCHOETZ

June 28, 2007 —

“Virtue Soup” or “Sticky Rice”?

Your preference may depend on your politics.

A ballot issue in the city of Boston has pinned the Department of
Justice’s Civil Rights Division against the Massachusetts secretary of
state’s office — and the controversy may end up in court.

Under a 2005 agreement with the Justice Department, Massachusetts
agreed to make ballots translated from English into Cantonese and
Mandarin available to Boston’s Chinese voters.

While some critics balked at the idea of offering ballots in any
language except English, Massachusetts — like New York and California
— complied. Or so it thought.

Now the federal government is pressuring the Bay State to not only
transliterate — to write in the characters of another alphabet — the
contents of the ballot, such as instructions and offices, but also the
surnames of candidates.

With the 2008 presidential election approaching, state election
officials took a look at how some of the big political names,
transliterated from English to Chinese, might appear in character
form.

For some, the translation, which must be done syllable by syllable,
painted a better picture than others.

On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s name,
for example, might translate to “Sticky Rice” on the ballot. If former
senator and “Law and Order” star Fred Thompson officially hops into
the GOP race, Chinese voters could have the option of voting for
“Virtue Soup.”

Of course, the soup and rice would face a challenges from “Triumphant
Wheat,” aka Arizona Sen. John McCain, and Rudy Guiliani, the former
New York City mayor, whose Chinese translation might be read as
“Peaceful Nun.”

On the Democratic side of the aisle, N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton may not
be happy to see her name translated into “Tired Forest,” while
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama might be read, to his satisfaction, as
“Profound Horse.”

Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Massachusetts Secretary of State William
Galvin, said the issue goes beyond the big names of the presidential
campaign. Many of Boston’s Chinese voters, he said, may likely
recognize those candidates. But throw in city councilor and state
representative candidates and other more obscure potential
officeholders and the confusion only mounts.

“And then you have this added factor of good and bad characters,” said
McNiff, pointing out the somewhat favorable transliterations enjoyed
by some candidates and unseemly Chinese ballot titles others may
grumble about.

But the Justice Department continues to pressure Massachusetts
election officials, arguing that the inclusion of Chinese surnames on
the ballot not only would comply with the consent agreement, but that
the inclusion would better preserve democracy than forcing confused
voters to rely on poll monitors.

“We’ll attempt to seek an amicable settlement whenever possible,”
Cynthia Magnuson, Justice Department Civil Rights Division
spokeswoman, told ABC News, adding that Boston city officials have
agreed with them and that it’s the state leaders who are failing to
meet the terms of the agreement.

McNiff said the differences of opinion may ultimately end up in court,
a lawsuit that Magnuson said is not ideal, but could potentially
happen if necessary.

Sam Yoon, a Korean-born Boston city councilor, said he understands the
amusement the controversy has generated for some. But he’s also heard
from angry constituents and is working with Asian-American and
advocacy groups to respond officially to the secretary of state’s
office.

“It’s kind of bewilderment,” Yoon said in an interview with ABC News.
“Bewilderment at [Galvin’s] failure to understand a system of
transliteration that over a billion people use and rely on, to
pronounce words that aren’t Chinese.”

Voters who take Chinese ballots won’t mistake Mitt Romney for “Sticky
Rice,” Yoon said, describing the notion that Chinese-American voters
would be that clueless in the voting booth as “condescending.”

Yoon said that Chinese surnames on ballots work in other cities and
suggested that photos next to each candidate’s name would also clear
up any confusion. Like Magnuson, he’d prefer that voters be able to
make their own decisions — without any unnecessary outside influence.

“Anything we can do to foster independence and self-sufficiency in the
polling booth,” he said.

Copyright (c) 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

YES.

Robin Givhan gets it dead the hell on:

Did someone say comfortable? Because this is a culture quick to justify wearing virtually anything in the name of comfort — pajama bottoms as pants, sneakers as business footwear, leggings in lieu of trousers, Uggs with miniskirts — Crocs now rival flip-flops as the most annoyingly omnipresent style of summer footwear. City streets are inundated with shuffling phalanxes of men and women with bright orange, yellow and red Bozo feet.

The shoes can look cute on children. But all those adults walking around in Crocs, going on about how comfortable they are, look like overgrown children. They are like the workday Peter Pans who carry backpacks in the city. Not grown-up leather backpacks, but the kind made of nylon with water bottles stuck inside a web of bungee cords and a canister of Bear Be Gone hanging off the side. They have mistaken their walk to the office for a climb to the summit of the Grand Tetons.

Why, oh why, must people assimilate perfectly reasonable, functional and cheeky sports attire into street clothes? Why couldn’t they keep their Crocs on the boat or in the garden?

Is there no respect for the public sphere any longer? Men stroll about in short pants, well past the age of ten, with baseball caps and t-shirts. Women stroll about in God only knows what, flip-flops, crocs, pajama pants or whatever the latest barbarism may be. THE WORLD IS NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM. GROW UP.

This rant brought to you by

-dx

Let’s Get Real About EFCA

Initially embargoed pending negotiation of publication. More details later.

Let’s Get Real About EFCA

The United States Senate is poised to vote on S. 1041 “The Employee Free Choice Act” sometime in the next few days. Proving its bipartisan popularity, the bill cleared the House of Representatives with a large margin. Minority Whip Roy Blunt, in a pen and pad session with political reporters, warned that it would not be a free vote, and that there would be consequences for any Republican who broke ranks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip are now making similar threats, but the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The Republican opposition to this bill is ostensibly about preserving the integrity of elections, but in reality, it’s about continuing to represent the interests of their corporate donors.

To review, the most controversial part of the bill re-introduces a “card-check” procedure. What this would do is make it easier for employees seeking to form a union to get straight to the certification process. If an employee signs a document indicating that he is in favor of a union being formed, it’s counted as a vote for the union. If a majority of the employees sign, then the vote is considered to have occurred, and the union proceeds straight to the National Labor Relations Board for certification. Other provisions of the bill provide for increased penalties for employers who violate labor negotiation laws and for making mediation and arbitration easier to reach for first time contracts.

The Republicans in the House and the Senate have few problems with the latter two provisions, but the first is the one that has them rallying the troops. Card-checks make union organizing much easier. Currently, the law makes it all but impossible for employees to form a union. Employers are able to harass and punish union organizers, prohibit them from any on-site organizing activity, subject workers to incredible amounts of compulsory anti-union propaganda during work hours and fire any employee who seems to remotely think that belonging to a union might possibly be something he’d consider considering. In addition to on-site employer harassment, employees are further disadvantaged by the fact that the only times that they can meet to talk about organizing are after work and off-site. Apparently, a group of people who’ve just worked a twelve hour shift in a slaughterhouse are expected to get together for chai lattes at the local Starbucks and talk about their options and 401(k)’s.

Republicans claim that they prefer the status quo in that it preserves a secret ballot process. After all, one of the hallmarks of a democracy is that no one knows how you voted. This doesn’t quite work, though, for two primary reasons. First of all, a place of work is not identical to a society or government. Short of being tried for treason and expelled, there is no real way for the government to punish someone for politicking. It’s a lot harder to legally find someone a traitor than it is to fire him because you don’t like his thoughts. Secondly, management already works by a card-check system, and Republicans consider that to be a hallmark of corporate efficiency and a strength of the American economic system. The difference is that in the corporate world, they’re called “proxies.” Shareholders are constantly signing over their voting authority to other shareholders to create large coalitions and get things done. What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander?

Assuming that we grant their argument is in good faith, however, there are other objections that come into play. Not all votes are best left in the dark and protected by secrecy. Perhaps the legislators in question would prefer it this way, but would anyone be happy if the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate were able to conduct their votes anonymously? Would any shareholder in any corporation feel comfortable with letting board members vote anonymously? When it comes to dictating policy for the country and for the company, we demand accountability and transparency from the voters. Why shouldn’t workers be able to demand the same accountability?

In closing, it’s worth investigating a thought experiment. Let us imagine that in the 2004 election, the Democratic party were able to take all the undecided voters in the country and get to them at their place of work. Let us further imagine that all of them were forced to listen to Democratic negative ads on the Muzak and be subjected to daily viewings of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Furthermore, the Democratic Party hired public relations firms and strategic consultants to figure out how to bully those undecideds who hadn’t been brainwashed into voting Democratic. The Republicans would only be able to approach these voters at home, after hours and on their own efforts. Any attempt to talk to them at work would result in firing and excessive hounding. Would any Republican find this fair? It’s time to put the pretense behind us and pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

The Senator From Punjab

Notate bene this was initially embargoed pending negotiation for publication. More on the details later.

The Senator From Punjab

Apparently, the transformational politics of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) bid for President of The United States of America is changing more than who can make a viable run for the office. Of course, all changes bring other changes, and the most recent one that Obama brought is changing who the evil, all controlling bugaboo minority in American politics is. Thanks to Obama, millions of Jews in America can sleep peacefully, knowing that the new bogeymen are Indians. According to an unsigned document that Obama’s campaign released on Friday, Hillary Clinton is not the senior Democratic Senator from New York. She is, apparently, the sole Democratic Senator from Punjab.

Punjab is a state in northwest India, not a state in the northeast of the United States. The headline on the document reads, “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)’s Personal Financial and Political Ties.” It then goes on to list several things pulled from public documents, such as newspaper accounts and financial disclosure forms, each of which shows Bill or Hillary Clinton representing their Indian constituents, accepting campaign contributions from companies that do business in India or investing in Indian companies. The language used to describe these activities, however, would make a tabloid journalist blush. In accepting $60,000 in campaign contributions from Cisco Systems, Clinton is not taking money from a pioneering software firm that has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, created millions, if not billions, of dollars of wealth and has created the software that enables e-commerce. Instead, Senator Clinton is cozying up with a group of robber barons who “laid off American workers to hire Indian techies.”

The rest of the document reads similarly, and takes the next step into conspiracy theory paranoia by creating a nefarious cast of characters, including respected hotelier and Democratic activist Sant Singh Satwal. Satwal is an immigrant who has built an empire of hotels, a living example of the American dream. He is also from Punjab.

Let us review the number of economic and political fallacies in this document. Initially, New York City has the greatest number of Indian immigrant families in the country. Senator Clinton is doing her job by advocating for her constituency. Moreover, trade with India helps bring a valuable ally in the global war on terror closer to the United States. We have been dealing with Islamist terrorists for perhaps twenty years. India has been dealing with them since before a group of Puritans set out on the Mayflower. On the economic level, trade with India helps reduce costs of business, making products cheaper and more available to more people. More Americans are able to consume products that were once playthings of the rich, and more Americans are able to use cheaper costs as a springboard to starting and expanding their own businesses. Global free trade has been the single most empowering force for Americans and their trading partners alike. Economies are not zero-sum: we all do better when we all do better.

However, this has never been about good governance nor has it been about economics. Over the last ten years, as the economy has become more globally integrated and Jews have become more accepted in society, the new bogeyman has become the Indian. Whether it’s people grumbling about telemarketing centers, manufactured goods, skilled artisans and executives coming to America, the Indian is the latest person to occupy the role of “foreigner who threatens American workers and has no loyalty to America.” One could very well expect that the next document will mention the “Hindu Occupied Government” or accusations that Indian-Americans are more loyal to India than they are to America.

The sad thing is that to date, Obama truly has run a transformational campaign. He has reached out to traditional Democratic constituencies, but has done so in a manner not seen since, well, Bill Clinton. He has offered up idea after idea, and has spoken inconvenient truths to both Democratic and Republican groups. Instead of continuing in his twenty-first century campaign, however, Obama has chosen to go back to nineteenth century Know Nothing politics. And just as the Know Nothings were happy to accept the cheap labor of Irish immigrants, so too is Barack Obama happy to accept the money and support of the incredible South Asians for the Obama movement.

Following the public outcry and disgust for his tactic, Senator Obama made what political observers call a “non-apology apology.” He said, “I thought it was stupid and caustic and not only didn’t reflect my view of the complicated issue of outsourcing.” Senator Obama would be well advised to go back and read the document that his campaign is issuing on his behalf. It’s not about trade and economic dynamism. The document stops just short of constructing a hulking, decadent “Beast From The East” coming to The West to steal and corrupt. (Imagine the Persians from 300, only answering telephones and writing computer code.) If it were just about economics, the document wouldn’t have had the desired salacious effect. After all, who gets worked up about policy details and numbers? For someone who’s seemingly running on the politics of unity and hope, Senator Obama’s latest jab against the thousands of Indian-Americans is nothing more than the same, tired old politics of division and fear.

Dheeraj Chand is a political analyst in Washington, D.C. He maintains a website and blog at http://www.dheerajchand.com . He has family ties to Punjab, a state in northwest India.

Man, I love it when Democrats take Republicans at their word.

Back in the days when I was rolling in the college debate community, we would discuss, both in-round and out of round, different strategies for political and social engagement. This would cover just about everything, ranging from whether or not use of Congress was preferable to using courts to the abstruse rubbish of pomoddery, e.g., “OH NOES! IT’S TEH PATRIARCHY!” One argument that I always found entirely compelling was that one should always take the enemy at its word. Take them at their hypocritical word, expose the gap between their word and what is the case. Take their word, hold them to it and strangle them with their hypocrisy. It’s a particularly useful tactic to use against Republicans.

And that’s just what Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) is doing. He’s strangling Cheney with his hypocrisy.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois is threatening to defund the office of the vice president in response to revelations that Dick Cheney is locked in a dispute with the National Archives over the preservation of classified documents.

Emanuel plans to offer an amendment to a spending bill next week to defund Cheney’s office. The vice president’s office contends that, as president of the Senate, he and his staff are not a part of the executive branch but rather an office in the legislative branch.

“The Vice President has a choice to make,” Emanuel said in a statement. “If he believes his legal case, his office has no business being funded as part of the executive branch. However, if he demands executive branch funding he cannot ignore executive branch rules.”

Now, let’s examine the Vice President’s claim without the instinctive “OH NOES! PROTECT TEH GOP!” filter that The Politico brings to things. The Vice President claims that since he is The President of The Senate, he is under the legislative, and not the executive branch of the government, and, as such, he is not subject to the disclosure rules and so forth of the executive branch.

  1. 1. The Vice President’s office has never, never been funded through anything except appropriations for the Executive Branch. Not once in history has the Veep been funded through the legislative branch for anything except his office and staff in The Senate.
  2. 2. Let’s look at The Constitution and see what they have to say about this. Article 1, Section 3:

    The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

Now, is there anything else? No. Not a single other thing on the Veep’s legislative responsibilities. The document goes on to document in painful detail everything else about the legislators, their chambers and their operations. So what’s the deal, here? He’s barely mentioned in Article 2, granted, but that’s because the de facto assumption is that the duties and qualifications of the Veep are identical to those of the President. Think about it – he has to be able to step into the shoes of the President at the drop of a hat.

So why does Darth Cheney think that he’s somehow immune from the rules governing the Executive Branch? Dollars to doughnuts – he doesn’t. This is just a ploy to keep some kind of rules from applying to him. How absolutely ridiculous. Good for Rahmbo for going after him.

-dx

p.s. This post saw the debut of a new category, IOKIYAR. This is slang, short for “It’s Okay If You’re A Republican.” Since I’ve been writing about Republican hypocrisy a lot recently, I figure that it warrants its own category. Hurrah, Republican hypocrisy! 🙂