Monday, February 28, 2005

Many body parts still to be counted

Continuing its Puritan Crusade, the Bushies are 1) forcing AIDS organizations that work overseas and take some federal money to sign a pledge opposing prostitution (I would love to see the wording of that pledge. Has anyone seen it?)

2) At a UN conference to reaffirm, 10 years on, the commitment to women’s rights in the Beijing Conference, the US is insisting that no right to abortion be even hinted at, and that governments should be free to punish women who have had abortions.

Speaking of crusades, in Iraq today anti-queuing militants struck again, killing at least 125 men applying to join the military & police as they were standing in line for medical exams. As we know, Sunnis believe that queues are distasteful in the eyes of Allah, while Shiites insist that forming orderly lines is a mitzvah, and require young men to form such lines NO MATTER HOW FUCKING MANY TIMES THOSE LINES GET BLOWN UP. The total number of dead is unknown because, to quote a hospital official, “there are many body parts still to be counted.”

Speaking of religious militants, Jim Towey, director of Bush’s Faith-Based program, had an online q&a at the White House website today. It’s an uninformative as such events usually are. Rick, from Worcester, Mass. asks, “Considering that Faith-Based initiatives enrich the community and provide increased safety, why do you suppose so many oppose them?” and Towey responds that he doesn’t understand why people are like that either. And Bush doesn’t want to destroy the separation between church and state, just to “restore balance to the public square [was it a trapezoid before?] and allow faith-based organizations and faith-filled people to be there like any one else.” Somehow the phrase “faith-filled people” fills me with no confidence. Towey closes by saying that he’ll have another q&a “God willing” and asks everyone to “pray for the President, Mrs. Bush, his family, and all of us here.” Would it be wrong of me to pray that you’ll all form an orderly line in Tikrit?

“Cedar Revolution” is the new Orange Revolution: that’s what someone in the State Department, if nowhere else, is calling the protests in Lebanon that forced the government to resign today. Scottie McClellan said, “The new Government will have the responsibility to implement free and fair elections that the Lebanese people have clearly demonstrated they desire.” Clearly demonstrated? By a few protests? I take it this new test applies only to countries whose regimes the US wants changed and doesn’t apply to, say, Haiti, where pro-Aristide protests were shot at by police today, killing two.

To head off a Borscht --or whatever-- Revolution, Putin is organizing a youth movement, Nashi. I was going to called it Putin Youth, but I hardly need to point out the similarities to the Hitler Youth when it’s already called Nashi, do I? Nashi is variously translated as Ours or One of Us; I like the latter for its invocation of Tod Browning’s “Freaks”: One of us, one of us, we accept you, we accept you, one of us... A journalist, and someone from a liberal youth movement, infiltrated the first, secret meeting, and were beaten up. When you’ve got an Us, you’ve gotta have a Them.

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