Blogs

Iowans Rail Against Illegal Immigrants They Rarely See

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 2:58 PM EST

The LA Times has an article highlighting something that I noticed when I was on the campaign trail. Iowans hate illegal immigration, even though there are few, if any, illegal immigrants in their towns. In every Republican campaign event I attended, the candidate spoke at length about stopping illegal immigration, drawing some of the strongest applause of the day. Afterwards, Republican voters would speak at length about how the border needs to be enforced and about how unfair it is that immigrants use public services without paying taxes. (Which is wrong.) They would even talk about supporting Tom Tancredo.

And the Democratic voters weren't that much different. At the Democratic events, the candidates would avoid immigration for the entirety of their speeches and then the first question would always be, "What do you plan on doing about illegal immigration?"

This, despite the fact that Iowa is 97 percent white. The LA Times article collects all sorts of anti-immigrant quotes—"I'm dead set on this: You speak English or you get the heck out of here"—from citizens of 5,000-person town in which fewer than 50 were born outside the U.S.

It's almost like there is an inverse proportion between how often you see or interact with illegal immigrants in your community and how much you oppose their presence in the country.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

8 Grammy Nods Enough For Kanye?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 2:15 PM EST

Rapper Kanye West's hunger for accolades never seems to dwindle, so I'm wondering how he's feeling about receiving EIGHT (Yikes!) Grammy nominations this year. Amy Winehouse also topped the nominee list. Other nominees included folks you would expect (Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Foo Fighters), and a few more interesting candidates (Corrine Bailey Rae and Herbie Hancock).

For the full low-down, check out the AP story here.

Romney to Atheists: Drop Dead

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 1:25 PM EST

Drop dead? Well, not really. But close. In his much-hyped speech today, Mitt Romney offered this short observation to Americans eager to know his thoughts about theology and politics:

Freedom requires religion.

That's an intriguing notion. Does that mean those who are not religious cannot be free? Are atheists or agnostics not truly free people? Is belief in a deity a prerequisite for embracing and living in freedom? Seems as if Romney does not fully appreciate an idea he pushed in his speech: tolerance.

Elsewhere in the speech, there was a line that took a fair bit of chutzpah to utter:

Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.

Romney was, of course, talking about spiritual beliefs. He wasn't talking about his beliefs regarding abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, or gun control--beliefs he has jettisoned for the 2008 campaign. During the address, Romney remarked, "Americans do not respect believers of convenience." The coming election might put that proposition to the test.

Fighting Global Warming With Kangaroo Emissions?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 1:22 PM EST

I just learned three amazing things. Number one: Agence France-Presse is not afraid to use the word "fart" in a headline. Number two is described in the aforementioned AFP story:
 

Eco-friendly kangaroo farts could help global warming: scientists

Australian scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.

Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

 
That's one for the wacky fixes for global warming file. And the third amazing thing? Aussies' love of 'roo meat:
 

Another group of scientists, meanwhile, has suggested Australians should farm fewer cattle and sheep and just eat more kangaroos.

The idea is controversial, but about 20 percent of health conscious Australians are believed to eat the national symbol already.

"It's low in fat, it's got high protein levels it's very clean in the sense that basically it's the ultimate free range animal," said Peter Ampt of the University of New South Wales's institute of environmental studies.

 

Racist like Mommy?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 1:09 PM EST

Via Salon's Broadsheet, we learn today that white mothers, more so than white fathers, teach their kids to be racist. Or, white kids get whatever racism they learn from their mothers. Or something like that.

The study focused on white kids 4-7. Since I have two half-white kids in that age group I have to agree with the broads at Broadsheet that any info gleaned from them has to be taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt. What about the other kids at school, regular babysitters, movies, TV, toys and just plain listening to what adults do and not just say? Bravo to researchers for studying weird stuff like this, but what about the racism and or racial attitudes of non-white kids?

Only an abstract of the study is available (for free), so we cheap bastards can only know so much about this finding, but I spend a fair amount of time with black folks. Let's just say that we tend to be pretty straight forward with our 'observations' about white folks. Racism or hard-won knowledge gleaned from centuries of 'interaction'? You be the judge, but I'd bet that a study of black kids' racial attitudes would make for some pretty interesting reading.

I Think We're All Turning Japanese

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 12:47 PM EST

Check out this poor bastard. Only 30 and dead from over work, a problem so common in Japan it has a name and a legal remedy. Others aren't 'so lucky;' in 2002, six hundred and fifty suicides there were deemed work related. Japanese 'salary men' are clocking 100-160 of over time per month with email, black berries and home offices all helping to make work inescapable. Probably on top of all that after-work drinking they're forced to do to schmooze clients.

Throw off your blackberries, America (and Japan). We have nothing to lose but...ok, our jobs. But what good is a job and no life?

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Internet Sales Taxes: Just in Time for Christmas?

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 12:45 PM EST

A U.S. House committee today is hearing the pros and cons of a bill that would finally allow states to collect sales taxes on stuff bought online. The states desperately need the money. Sales taxes account for a third of all state revenue, and the bulk of it goes towards public education, but that tax base is eroding thanks to a proliferation of online sales outlets. One study estimates that by 2008, the states will be losing $33 billion in revenue on "remote" sales, $18 billion of which comes from virtual stores.

Internet retailers have successfully batted down such proposals in the past, arguing that they would infringe on interstate commerce. But the states have gotten smarter and in recent years many have banded together to create uniform tax codes and a voluntary agreement to tax these companies, hoping to get around the constitutional issues. The bill, introduced by Massachusetts congressman William Delahunt, would let those states bound by the agreement tax remote companies.

At the hearing today, the bill got support from retailer J.C. Penny, which has to collect sales taxes on its Internet business because it also has bricks-and-mortar stores in many states. It wants to level the playing field to make it easier to compete with companies that are solely online. Opposing the bill, though, is the Direct Marketing Association, once known as the junk-mail lobby but which now represents catalog sales companies and electronic merchants. Not surprisingly, the DMA is opposed to the legislation, and DMA rep George Isaacson insisted that state legislators have vastly overestimated how much money they're losing in sales tax revenue. He says the figure is more in the range of $145 million as opposed to the many billions claimed by the state legislators. Still, that's a nice chunk of change that could put a few new teachers in the classroom without causing too much pain to the general public. No word yet on the bill's prospects, but no doubt it will create a nice fundraising vehicle for legislators on both sides of the aisle.

The 'Mo with the MoJo: Yet Another Reason Why I love Dan Savage

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 12:28 PM EST

A while back, I got myself into deep doodoo trying to send a love letter to Dan Savage. Came out all kinds of wrong. Dan forgave me so I won't go there again; just believe me when I say that I love that little faggot. He's my main gay and here's why; he has a BS detector that could pinpoint nonsense in outer space and believes, as do I, that not only are there such things as stupid questions but that those who ask them should be summarily informed of same.

I never miss his column and often am plain old flabbergasted by his wit, wisdom, ill temper, arcane sexual knowledge and, most of all, his fearlessness. Homey can be mean though and, when I first began reading him, I thought he was one of those dinosaur fags who had to hate women to love men. But, read him regularly and you realize that he doesn't hate women. He hates hypocrites, BS artists, double standards and cowards. Which brings me to his sneaky side. He's just pulled one of the most dastardly tricks ever witnessed in the blogosphere.

I won't give it away; I enjoyed it too much! You simply must read this week's column.

As a militant feminist, I spend lots of time reading, and dismissing, 'critiques' of feminism and the crap that women pull. Gotta say, though, nothing brought home women's BS better than what Dastadly Dan pulled off this week. Once again, my hat is off to you, Dan Savage. You de man.

Mitt Romney's Big Speech: Love all Religions (Except Islam)

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 11:34 AM EST

mitt_romney_speaking.jpg Mitt Romney had an almost impossible task before him today in College Station, Texas: he had to emphasize America's proud tradition of religious freedom while winning voters in what has essentially become a Christian party.

"A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith," said Romney, echoing John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on his Catholic faith. "Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin."

That was essentially the message Kennedy delivered when he went before an organization of Baptist ministers and said that he would rather resign than let the Vatican dictate the decisions of the American government. "I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair," Kennedy said then. "I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none."

But Kennedy and Romney gave their speeches in drastically different environments. Kennedy was trying to reassure Democratic voters, who were and are less fervently religious than Republican voters and who are more comfortable with, as Kennedy urged, an "absolute" separation of Church and State. Moreover, there were 35 to 40 million Catholics in America at the time. Most every Protestant knew one. Many had a family member married to one.

Red Storm Rising: Russian Fleet Resumes Regular Patrols

| Thu Dec. 6, 2007 9:18 AM EST

Dust off your old Tom Clancy novels. The Red menace has returned. Well, not really, but it's certainly giving it the old college try. Earlier this year, apparently emboldened by oil and gas profits, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the resumption of long-range flights by Russia's mothballed fleet of strategic bombers. The news today is that the Russian Navy has dispatched an 11-ship aircraft carrier group to the Mediterranean. According to Russian Defense Minister Anatoly E. Serdyukov, the move is part of an effort to restore regular Russian naval patrols to the high seas, which had fallen off after the end of the Cold War. The fleet currently in the Mediterranean includes an aircraft carrier, two anti-submarine ships, a guided missile cruiser, and refueling ships.