Thursday, July 13, 2006
It's Time for Federal Recognition of Virginia's Tribes--for all of us
Virginia's Native peopleswere the first to have contact and make treaties with Europeans, but, 400 years later, still haven't been recognized by the federal government (Virginia finally gave up its extirpation policy and officially recognized its tribes in 1983). Because of this, they do not have many of the rights (and sovereignty) of federally recognized tribes. As the Jamestown 400th anniversary approaches, Virginia's tribes are stepping up their efforts to get federal recognition.

What difference does federal recognition make? Well, it could have an effect on all of us: protection of the environment. The Mattaponi put up a brave fight to protect the Mattaponi river from being turned into the King William reservoir. Sovereignty, while no guarantee, would probably at least have got them into the US Supreme Court, which denied their petition, and certainly strengthened their bargaining position vis-a-vis the state--only the feds could take their land.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Witch Trials and Politicians...
Women have been frequently persecuted for their success. Nowadays, it takes the form of harassment and aspersions. But in the not too distant past, it took the form of witch trials. In Salem, MA, women who were members of the growing, more-prosperous merchant class were more likely to be targets of witch accusations.

In Virginia, persecution of women following a similar pattern. Virginia recently officially pardoned a witch who was convicted 300 years ago. She, too, was persecuted by jealous neighbors.

(hmm... Maybe that's the problem folks have with Hillary?)

Is it time to upgrade Choice to a Right?
Abortion rights activists are considering retiring the "choice" language. FINALLY!! It's hard to justify elevating a "choice" as equal with a "child" as the anti-abortion folks are so well aware. In South Dakota, activists are seeking to put the issue of abortion rights which the legislature has effectively taken away directly to the public. And they are finding that women view access to abortion as a fundamental right.

BUT, what should the new phrase be? It's hard to find one word that encompasses this issue. One of the things that reproductive rights activists need to keep in mind is that for people who find legallized abortion a hard moral pill to swallow, even while acknowledging that a woman should have dominion over her own body, is that women have always had, and will always have, abortions. The question is: will they have safe, medical, legal abortions, or self-induced or back-alley abortions? THIS is the issue that needs to be before the public again--as it was in the '70s--we can't go back to the coat hanger. Girls and women die.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Are we becoming more ignorant? Or are we being kept in the dark?
(remember the mushroom joke?)
The Washington Post reports that Americans know less than ever about current events. But whose fault is this? They suggest that the media is becoming less informative. But, is this really true? (well, I mean, yes it is, but...)

I propose it's not the media but the administration who is at fault. The report uses as an example the fact that Americans don't know who the head of the EPA is. Well, we did when it was Christine Todd Whitman. And we all know what happened to her.

What about the Surgeon General? We knew who held the office when it was C. Everett Koop and Joycelyn Elders . But who's ever heard of Richard Carmona?? HE's not gonna be telling people to use condoms or (yeah, right!) masturbate to stay safe.

Federal officials under Bush are either toadies (oh, I mean cronies), or kept silent under pain of firing (or they know to keep a low profile). After all, look what's happening at agencies like the FDA and the CDC.

AND, if you really want to learn a lot about the Bush admin's repression of knowledge, check out this PDF report from the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform.

However, we still can't let the media and the public off the hook. This info IS out there. We can find it without trying too hard. If we're not outraged, we're NOT paying attention.

Look lively, everybody!

Saturday, July 08, 2006
CAN Hilary win?
A lot of folks are worried about Hillary Rodham Clinton running for pres in '08, because they're afraid she can't win. James Carville says she can.

Some conservatives are afraid she will.

She's a very impressive speaker. She's very smart. She has a lot of charisma. She connects with people. But she freaks some people out. What's the problem? because she's a woman? because of the healthcare debacle? because she's moderate? because of Bill?

I'm not saying I like everything about her--her recent cozying up to big pharma seems problematic. But hey, she's paid her dues. Give her a chance! Democrats are notoriously bad at picking winning candidates. So why let the conventional wisdom be our guide?

(PS: John McCain is NOT a moderate! He may have been once, but in his strategy to gain the repub nomination, he's moving to the right. Don't be fooled!)

What's Virgil Goode doing under that flag?
Rep. Virgil Goode says "If you are here illegally and want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico and wave the American flag."

This is the worst sort of political cynicism: an attempt to distract from the REAL issue--his own acceptance of illegal campaign contributions from defense contractor MZM.

That's right, Virgil--wrap yourself in the flag, and no one will notice what you're doing under there!

(7/12/06: ok, there's some revisionism going on here: Virgil now says he said fly the MEXICAN flag in Mexico, not the American flag. Yeah, uh-huh, whatever... Anyway, the point is, Virgil, that no one comes to this country to fly a flag. They come here because we're--right!-- the land of opportunity! And who among us, except Native Americans, didn't end up here for that reason?)

btw: apparently, all these republicans never took basic economics. Either that, or they weren't paying attention. Haven't they ever heard of the law of supply and demand? Right now oranges are rotting on the ground in Florida because there aren't enough folks to pick 'em! Makes sense to me!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006
NPR: Watch your language!
Today on morning edition Juan Williams says that Bush didn't want to choose between "science and ethics" in the stem cell controversy. This is not the first time that Williams has allowed the Bush administration to frame the controversy.

In fact, Bush's issue is the conflict between science and his beliefs. Science and ethics are not mutually exclusive.

NPR needs to start editing a little more carefully. Also, although I'm not the world's biggest George Lakoff fan, they need to read a primer in allowing their interview subjects to frame the issue, and then using their frames, rather than a neutral frame.

NPR could use some lessons from the BBC--their interviewers never let anyone get away with anything!!!

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