Thursday, April 19, 2007

A sad day in America

I'm not quite sure how to start this post. Abortion rights have never been an issue I've followed intently, mainly because i felt that Roe v. Wade was solidly entrenched in American jurisprudence and that, despite the rantings of the Wingnut right, American popular opinion would not support a supreme court decision that would force American women to go back to using coat hangers (see the horrifying photo at the bottom of MSOC's diary) to save their lives.

Once again, I was wrong.

"Dilation and Extraction," or, as its detractors call it, "Partial Birth Abortion," is now officially banned by SCOTUS fiat. Why is this a problem?

Well, as Maryscott O'Connor notes, people who wait that long to have an abortion aren't just having 'abortions as birth control.' They're having procedures done because they're medically necessary. So the Supreme court of the United States has just ruled that the (theoretical) health and well-being of unborn fetuses, which may or may not have overwhelmingly catastrophic health issues, take precedence over the health of an (alive, breathing, functioning, rational-decision-making) pregnant woman.

Mind you, under the current system, a pregnant woman undergoing a difficult pregnancy could very well choose to have a baby anyway. (And they often do-- there was a NY Times article a few weeks ago about women who choose to carry to term fetuses who will die immediately at birth.)

What this ruling accomplishes is the beginning of the end for independent choice--not just in this arena, but in others as well. Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy are legislating a contrived morality from the bench-- imposing religious beliefs on the uteruses of American women.

To underscore this point, go read wiscmass's heartbreaking diary of his family's experience with partial - birth procedure -- an experience which saved his pregnant mother's life.

Bush keeping a national database of drug prescriptions

John at Americablog notices that the Bush administration has a database of everyone who's ever been prescribed antidepressants and, presumably, every other drug ever prescribed.

Gee, i feel really secure about my personal information now.


It's the muslims! It's the muslims!

So apparently a bunch of idiots in the wingnutosphere have been clamoring and screaming that Cho Seung-Hui, the Va Tech Killer, is somehow a muslim terrorist because he had "Ismail Ax" written on his arm.

The always useful Eteraz debunks the bullshit.

UPDATED: Today, the NY Times is reporting that Cho stated that
Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ...
Now, I'm not saying that Christianity had anything to do with Cho's massacre. Clearly it didn't. But imagine - stell dir vor, if you will -- that Cho had said,
I die like Mohammed
or, more plausibly,
I die like a palestinian martyr
How fast do you think that Limbaugh, Malkin, Redstate, LGF, and the rest would be all over this latest 'muslim' terrorism?


The end of Bangladesh

Mash at Doc Strangelove has a post up about how the Bangladeshi military has taken over, effectively ending any last vestiges of Democratic rule.

And in today's NY times, we learn (Warning: may be behind subscription firewall) that the Military-led government is not allowing the opposition leader (and former prime minister) Sheik Hasina Wajed to return to Dhaka.

Bush, of course, hasn't moved a muscle. You see, we're in the business of exporting freedomand democracy.

We've got priorities, see?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Obama taking funds from shady military contractors

Just saw this snippet on Obama's fundraising from a NY Times article:

Mr. Obama also drew from alternative investments, including $35,000 in contributions from employees of the Carlyle Group and the Blackstone Group.)

I'm sure that the other candidates are getting funding from these warmongering, imperialist bastards, too, but it's still pretty depressing to see from the darling of the college left.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gunman Kills 31, including himself, at Va Tech


I have nothing more to say.

मेरी हिंदी बहुत अच्चा है !

Wow, this is awesome.

You can just type hindi words, in any phonetic spelling, and the script equivalent just pops up.

मैं बहुत 'अमज़द' हू!

Now i have absolutely no excuse not to brush up on my devanagri.

On War Memorials

Unitary Moonbat's excellent post yesterday at Progressive Historians about a proposed war memorial for a fallen Navy SEAL got me thinking about the politics of memory and the construction of popular history in America. Moonbat asks whether we, as left-leaning (and antiwar) historians, should support monuments to American casualites in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here's my response:

First of all, thanks for bringing this up. You're right that this is off the radar for most progressives in this country.
To answer your question, i think it's quite useful to look at the politics of memorials in Germany, where they (obviously) are much more fraught with the ambiguity of good war/bad war than the bombastic, patriotic, and decidedly one-dimensional memorials in this country. In Germany, they actually make a distinction between monuments meant to commemorate a great event- `Denkmal', roughly `think about it', or `remember this', and memorials meant to warn about a past tragedy- `Mahnmal', from the verb mahnen, to warn.

For progressives or anti-war activists in this country, it is very hard to support a Denkmal for a criminal war we did not support. (And yes, for the record, I am talking about Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, here.) It's a question of frame-- Are we more interested in memorializing one soldier, who fought and died bravely "for his country", obeying the orders of his superiors, regardless of whether we support the war, or are we more interested in lessons for the society as a whole? (For the record, I do agree with your distinction between the motives of individual soldiers on the ground and the disastrous and evil policies of the political and military brass in Washington.)

Do I care that by memorializing a brave man who sacrificed his life for his country--- but whose life, as you said, was defined by violence, at the expense of the peoples the United States military oppresses around the world--- I'm also implicitly condoning what his idiot bosses decreed from Washington?

For me, it all comes down to the formation of public memory- what the Germans (again, sorry) call Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung, "coming to terms with the past." What do we want our children and grandchildren to glean from their whitewashed, simplistic history books in 50 years about the Bush years? Do we want them to see violent monuments glorifying war and conquest, or do we want them to see a Mahnmal reminding them of the tragedy of imperial hubris and the thousands of Americans (and hundreds of thousands of non-Americans) who died because of it?

I think my answer is pretty clear from the rhetorical question. Obviously, I'd rather our children learn from our mistakes, not repeat the idiocies of manufactured patriotism and start more wars.

But to come back to your main point, that does not mean that I would necessarily oppose this particular Denkmal. Honestly, I'm pretty indifferent to it- there are much more important things for us to oppose than this. Let the town commemorate their fallen son. And the concept of portraying him without his weapon is just ludicrous-better to depict the warrior with his tools of destruction than whitewash them.

Me, I'm too worried that one of us will have to be the next Gibbon, writing the Decline and Fall of the American Empire.