On my seven hour drive to St. Louis last week I made the mistake of switching to AM to hear what Rush Limbaugh was up to. Wow was that a bad idea. Nothing gets your blood boiling like the lies, distortions and character assassinations of Rush.
Therefore, when I heard about Air America Radio, it was music to my ears. Go check it out. If you live in one of the three largest media markets in the country or, curiously, Portland, OR, you can scan the dial and find a wonderful liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the other Republican hacks. More stations are on the way, but in the meantime you can listen on the web here.
Here's the weekday lineup:
- "Morning Sedition" from 6am to 9am
- "Unfiltered" with Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow from 9am to noon
- "The O'Franken Factor" with Al Franken from noon to 3pm
- "The Randi Rhodes Show" with Randi Rhodes from 3pm to 7pm
- "So What Else Is News?" from 7pm to 8pm
- "The Majority Report" with Janeane Garofalo from 8pm to 11pm
Education Secretary Rod Paige is on a roll. After referring to the American Federation of Teachers as a "terrorist organization" about a month ago, he is at it again. But this time, instead of ridiculous nonsense, Paige has resorted to blatantly lying.
Speaking at a high school in Cleveland, Paige had the nerve to suggest that No Child Left Behind is underfunded because the budget is squeezed.
"It's not fair to say the bill isn't properly funded, because we're in an environment where dollars are tight."
Why is it that the budget is tight? Let's look at some numbers. The annual cost of the law is approximately $34 billion. In his proposed 2005 budget, the Bush administration has allotted only $9 billion. Hmm.
Now let's look at how much that tax cut for the rich cost the Treasury. It is esimated that the Bush tax cuts will cost the federal government $1.3 trillion over the next ten years. I know this is crude and not how it would actually work, but for the sake of simplicity, let's just divide that $1.3 tillion into its ten year span. That's $130 billion per year. That's nearly four times what would be necessary to fund No Child Left Behind.
I'm no expert on the merits and flaws of No Child Left Behind. In fact all I've heard is bad stuff. But regardless it is the President's plan for educating America's children. It's his plan and he can't even fund it. Instead he gives massive tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy.
"FALLUJA, Iraq, March 31 — An enraged mob attacked four American contractors here today, shooting them to death, burning their vehicles, dragging their bodies through the downtown streets and then hanging the charred corpses from a bridge over the Euphrates River.
"The steadily deteriorating security situation in the Falluja area, west of Baghdad, has become so dangerous that no American soldiers or Iraqi security staff responded to the attack against the contractors.
"There are a number of police stations in Falluja and a base of more than 4,000 marines nearby. But even while the two vehicles burned, sending plumes of inky smoke over the closed shops of the city, there were no ambulances, no fire engines and no security.
"Instead, Falluja's streets were thick with men and boys and chaos.
"Boys with scarves over their faces hurled bricks into the burning vehicles. A group of men dragged one of the smoldering corpses into the street and ripped it apart. Someone then tied a chunk of flesh to a rock and tossed it over a telephone wire.
"Viva mujahadeen!" shouted Said Khalaf, a taxi driver. "Long live the resistance!"
"Nearby, a boy no older than 10 put his foot on the head of a body and said: "Where is Bush? Let him come here and see this!"
I understand the anti-American attitudes of some Iraqis, however misguided, but this is simply brutal inhuman behavior. Men ripping bodies apart? Tossing chunks of flesh? 10 year old children boasting on top of a charred corpse? There is no moral relativism that can explain stuff like that.
Perhaps these Iraqis have paid attention to recent American history and saw how we turned and ran when American Marines were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu in a similar fashion. It is too bad they haven't been paying attention to America's determination in this battle for success in Iraq. If they would they would see that only a fringe of the left and isolationists on the right want America to cut and run.
The Sunni resistance and these men and boys of Fallujah need to see that they are fighting a losing battle. Inhuman acts of murder may shock, but they will not make America leave.
Does the Bush administration fully realize what is at stake in Iraq today? I get the sense that they really don't grasp how close the country is to civil war. Yes, we are making tremendous progress on civil projects and we are doing amazing things to get the Iraqis back on their feet, but clearly there is still an uncomfortably large portion of the population that is not convinced that our good will is indeed good will. It seems as though we are forgetting the all-important "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.
Thusfar civil conflict has been checked by the miraculous good faith of religious leaders like Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. But that tide could turn at any moment with any slight change of opinion by either of these two extremely influential leaders. All they have to do is say the word and civil war could be on. Are we prepared for that?
Well, we should get ready.
After Israel assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin last week, al-Sadr called Ariel Sharon the "biggest terrorist of all." Now, this is probably a common view of Sharon in much of the Israel-hating Middle East (and parts of Europe for that matter), so that on its own is not news. What is news is what al-Sadr went on to say about the U.S. occupation in his friday sermon:
"I seek the spread of freedom and democracy in the way that satisfies God," he said. "They have planned and paved the ways for a long time, but it is God who is the real planner -- and the proof of this is the fall of the American twin towers."
He then referred to the September 11 attacks as "a miracle from God."
"As we say, 'The rain starts with a drop,' " he said."
"The rain starts with a drop?" Is that supposed to mean that September 11 was only a beginning? Seriously? And this guy is who we are depending on to hold Iraq together in this all important interim period? This is starting to get ugly real fast.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Hearts and minds matter. In fact, in the end they are what will decide the success level in Iraq. We need to change something, and quick. Civil war is not something we can handle on our own and as we have seen, the Bush administration has shown its ineptitude when it comes to creating the international unity necessary to bring Iraq to its feet in a successful way. We can not afford to preside over civil war. We must prevent the corruption of hearts and minds.
It's a scary thought, but its true. Ohioans will, in all likelihood, be a crucial determinant of who wins in November.
Ohio has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1960 when it chose Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy. That's ten races in a row that Ohio voters have been a perfect gauge of national sentiment. Only Missouri tops Ohio's ten election streak. Missouri has eleven in a row.
Therefore, seeing as I'm here at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and I plan to vote here in Ohio, I'm going to try to keep track of the polls in this very tight battle between Kerry and Bush. So far I've seen two polls that track Ohio's preference:
U of Cincinnati (3/10-22)
Kerry - 46
Bush - 44
Kerry - 45
Bush - 41
I will post more when they become available. These numbers don't show it but I think the Nader vote is around 3%. In a race this close that could play in. Anyway, Kerry is slightly ahead in this all important midwest state that Bush won in 2000. Let's hope it stays that way.
In a stunning bit of hypocrisy, the Bush campaign is lecturing John Kerry on when it is appropriate to use religion in politics. Speaking to an African-American Baptist congregation in St. Louis on sunday, Kerry referred to a passage from James 2:14:
"The scriptures say, 'what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?' When we look at what is happening in America today, were are the works of compassion?"
Later in the day the Bush campaign said that Kerry's use of the Bible, "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack."
Kerry's point is certainly relevant. Bush's administration has repeatedly failed to backup its talk with substance. On issue after issue Bush has talked the talk but has left the details for someone else. Iraq? Jobs? No Child Left Behind? Everywhere you look there is an issue that gets glossed over with positive statements full of purpose, but that are still misguided, empty rhetoric and underfunded, as each case may be.
Amy Sullivan often writes about religion and politics and she's flabbergasted that the Bush campaign would even dare think about making Kerry's comment an issue.
"If Bush was just an ordinary politician who never talked about religion and Democrats started attacking him for having an empty faith, then perhaps the Bush campaign's charge would be valid. But Bush has already made religion an issue. It's ridiculous that it has taken this long for anyone to pressure him to draw connections between what he says he believes and how he governs, but I'm glad it's finally being done and I'm glad the Democratic nominee is the one pressing the issue."
"Political journalists -- most of whom are thoroughly unfamiliar with religion and therefore a little frightened of the topic -- have given Bush a pass on the issue, labeling him a "religious man" without asking him what that means in terms of his qualifications to run the United States. They let him get away with citing Jesus as the biggest influence on his life without asking logical follow-up questions such as, "How do the teachings of Jesus inform your position on the death penalty? Or on tax policy? What was that about rendering unto Caesar? Was that just for the middle class and below?"
Of course we shouldn't ask such ridiculous questions, and Sullivan says as much, but the point is clear: if religion is going to be something Bush campaigns on, so too can Kerry.Republicans don't have a monopoly on religion no matter how much they would have us believe it. If the Bush campaign wants a discussion of the candidate's respective faiths, so be it. But to criticize Kerry for offering a mild and respectful use of scripture is ridiculous.
Let's get back to the issues that matter. Like why Republicans don't want to know the truth about September 11.
**Postscript**: Kevin at Lean Left has some thoughts as well.