Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

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Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

The Price of Bringing Them Home

| Thu Nov. 2, 2006 6:34 PM EST

Just a quick follow-up to the previous posting on the skyrocketing American casualties in Iraq. The Air Force is requesting $50 billion in emergency funding—that's an amount nearly half of its normal budget. The branch has been stretched by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there's another reason it needs more cash:

Another source familiar with the Air Force plans said the extra funds would help pay to transport growing numbers of U.S. soldiers being killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Don't Call It Civil War - OK, How About Chaos?

| Wed Nov. 1, 2006 12:14 PM EST

Just about everything you need to know about the horrendous state of Iraq is captured in this PowerPoint slide, obtained by the New York Times. Here it is in a nutshell:

iraqchart.gif

What bunch of freedom-hating doom-and-gloomers put this assessment out? None other than the U.S. Central Command.

No Sex Please, We're Consenting Adults

| Tue Oct. 31, 2006 5:55 PM EST

It's not news that the Bush administration doesn't want teenagers to think about sex, much less do the deed. (It's spent $1 billion on abstinence-only programs already—see "Virginity for Sale" in the current issue of Mother Jones.) But now it's encouraging grown adults not to go there, either. From today's USA Today:

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007. [snip]

But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children. [snip]

"The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children,' " Horn said. "The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence."

Certainly, a 23-year-old can't be trusted to figure out contraception. And, let's not forget that avoiding sex before marriage will save you not just from premature parenthood but a host of other ills (to quote one federally-funded abstinence curriculum):

"Infertility, isolation, jealousy, poverty, heartbreak, substance abuse, AIDS, pregnancy, cervical cancer, genital herpes, unstable long-term commitments, depression, embarrassment, meaningless wedding, sexual violence, personal disappointment, suicide, feelings of being used, loss of honesty, loneliness, loss of personal goals, distrust of others, pelvic inflammatory disease, loss of reputation, fear of pregnancy, disappointed parents, loss of self-esteem..."

Can't wait to see the educational materials that will be coming out of the Don't Sleep With Anyone Before 30 campaign.

Election Conspiracy Theory du Jour: Bush to Declare Martial Law

| Mon Oct. 30, 2006 2:17 PM EST

There's a provision in the defense authorization bill signed two weeks ago by President Bush that makes it easier for the White House to assume command of the National Guard during a major national emergency. This quiet yet significant expansion of executive power is causing all kinds of anxious buzz on lefty blogs. BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow fumes, "Between the right-to-torture bill and this one, it's clear that Bush intends to bring back the pork-politics glory of the Cold War by reinventing the Soviet Union on American soil." At towardfreedom.com, Frank Morales intones, "[I]t is particularly worrying that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator." The provison, which modifies the president's powers under the Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus Act, allows him to mobilize the National Guard without governors' approval in order to respond to natural disasters, epidemics, terrorist attacks, and insurrections. This is feeding into conspiracy theories that, in the wake of a Democratic congressional victory (or mass protests against a rigged Republican victory) the administration will simply declare martial law. Why else, as Gore Vidal told the Huffington Post, would Bush seem so confident about the upcoming election results?

Let's catch our breath for a moment. For all the talk of this being a "stealth" provision, it's worth noting that the National Governors Association was against it, as were many members of Congress, including Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.). Does the law expand presidential powers unnecessarily? It certainly appears so. As Leahy explained publicly before the provision was made official:

[T[he Defense Authorization Bill will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law—something has been done in only three—three—occasions over the past several decades.... [W]e certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. It creates needless tension among the various levels of government—one can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.

Yep, it looks like Congress gave Bush and Co. another big fat constitutional freebie, buried inside a big bill that passed the Senate unanimously and the House 398 to 23. But does this mean that Karl Rove is smiling because he's going send tanks down Main Street November 8? For all its flaws, there's nothing in the new law that hints that such a move is suddenly legal. And the last time I checked, the National Guard kind of had its hands full dealing with a much bigger disaster than the prospect of Speaker Pelosi.

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