Friday, April 29, 2005

Why the Senate Said "No" 

Courtesy of Swing State Project, this handy link Ted Kenedy's list of exactly why the Senate is trying to reject some of Bush's unqualified nominees.

The short versions on the three listed:Anyway, both articles are quite good, if not bile-inducing. Go read them.

And remember -- the rightwing has tried to send more "activist" judges to the bench than any other faction in American politics. At least left-leaning judges bother to read the law before they write an opinion.

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This is utterly disturbing.
The U.S. Secret Service has asked for the race of guests attending a media reception with President Bush before the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday.

Some senior correspondents who cover Bush regularly and have attended the reception in past years said Friday they had not been asked for race information previously and were shocked at the request.
Apparently, race is one of the standard identifiers always requested by the SS for people who will be near the president, the other four being name, date of birth, social security number and gender. But, as the article points out,
"[White House] reporters already have hard [permanent] passes, have gone through all the checks, and are often in reach of the president," said Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times, who is secretary of the association. "I think it's unnecessary and offensive."
I wonder if they asked JeffyJames GannonGuckert for his race before they gave him a hard one. Er, hard pass.

So, what's so disturbing about this information? Well...
  1. They've never asked White House reporters for this information before.
  2. The Secret Service has no idea they've never asked for it before:
    Tom Mazur, spokesman for the Secret Service... said he did not know whether race information had been requested for this reception in previous years.
  3. The SS even requires any information beyond name and SSN to identify someone.
  4. The ball-passing of responsibility for this change is remarkable:
    Dueling Quote #1: White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the White House had not requested the information on race and that it was a law enforcement matter.

    "Law enforcement officials, the Secret Service, can talk to you about that and tell you why they have done that for a long time for criminal background checks, and so that they can get those checks done in a timely manner," McClellan said.
    Dueling Quote #2: The Secret Service said it routinely asks for information about the race of people who are going to be in close proximity to the president.
So -- we didn't do it, they didn't do it, and we really don't understand what the big deal is about us racially profiling reporters whom we've presumably already fully vetted.

Gee, I don't know. Could it be so that the White House can conveniently single out the people of color and move them to the front of the room, where their on-camera presence will provide some sort of sub rosa, subliminal message intended to lull the people into thinking that the poor are happy with W's Social Security plan? (Republican dictionary: "poor" = "not white.")

Or... are they trying to make Arab Americans easier to spot? Probably not, seeing as how there's no separate category for people of Middle Eastern descent -- yet. For the moment, they're considered "white."

But, anyway, the real question is why race is even a question for anything other than Census purposes, where the distribution of different groups does make a difference in the return of Federal funds. Otherwise, who cares whether someone is American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White. That's the official Government list, which also includes two categories for ethnicity, Hispanic or Latino; Not Hispanic or Latino. Why those are the only two categories for ethnicity, at the expense of, say, conflating Japanese and Korean or Hutu and Swahili, is beyond me. And didn't anyone ever tell them that an American citizen who was born in South Africa but who is as white as snow is still, technically, African American?

My point, though, is that unless the question is going to result in some end benefit (read: reparation) for the person questioned, there's no reason to ask it. If you're trying to decide which school district should get a bit more federal funding because it has a mostly minority student body, fine. But if you're trying to decide whether you should let a reporter into a White House function, or even whether you should let a citizen of the US near the president, race really shouldn't be an issue.

After all, we can tell whether someone might be dangerous or not without knowing whether they're young, old, male, female, black, white or handicapped. Right? Right...?

Because, if we can't, then everything this Administration has tried to sell us about Homeland Security is one, big colossal joke. "Well, we didn't catch those terrorists because they lied about their race on the application."

Yeah, right...

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So Blowjobs Do Work... 

NYMEX oil ends below $50 on ample supply

NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - NYMEX crude for June delivery ended below $50 a barrel on Friday amid signs of a slowing U.S. economy and with ample supplies of oil available for gasoline refining ahead of the summer driving season.

June crude dropped last traded down $2.27 at $49.50 a barrel.

© Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.

04/29/2005 14:34

No comment necessary...

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Know What I Meme? 

I just sent the following to the DNC, in response to their online solicitation for ideas in improving the presidential primary process. I figured I'd copy the text to here, as a way of giving it a wider airing, as well as help chlorinate the memepool a bit. Or pollute it. My DNC email follows.

In this age of instant communications and interconnectedness, I often wonder why the primary season is spread out. The trouble with this system is that a candidate who is popular in states with earlier primaries may not be the best person for the job, nor the most electable; likewise, a truly innovative candidate with ideas may be weeded out of the process via more centrist/conservative states.

So, a radical but obvious proposal: why can't all of the primaries be on the same day, at the same time? Or why not a double-primary? Have a nationwide nominating primary in March, narrowing the field to two or three possible nominees, and a final primary in June.

This would certainly cut down the chatter of having nine or more possible nominees campaigning at once, then playing "American Idol" through the state primaries. It would also keep the media out of second-guessing the party's opinion, as well as stop them from manipulating the outcomes -- referring, of course, to the infamous, out-of-context Dean "Yeargh" moment, which came at just the wrong time.

There may not be time to make this change by 2008, but I think it's an adjustment to the system that must be made. Having a national primary will help keep both parties unified, instead of splitting the non-incumbent party into a plethora of competing voices until the convention. It will also limit the opportunity for fraud and manipulation, since voting will take place on a much larger scale all-at-once.

Finally, why can't the President/Vice Presidential nominations go to the top-two vote getting candidates? As far as I know, that's how the system was supposed to work originally -- and it's certainly a good way to put the strongest two candidates on the ticket. Otherwise, the VP slot (which does have an effect on the outcome among swing voters) is left to the caprice of the Presidential nominee, and is often dictated by political expediency or personal connections, rather than by electoral desire.

Just my two cents on the matter, but our political process does need major overhaul. In many respects -- electoral college, election to inauguration timing, campaign length -- the process is stuck firmly in the 19th century. Combining all of the state primaries into one super-primary is one way to bring things at least up to the 20th.

End of emailed message.

My dream, of course, is the "instant referendum" concept. That is, every elected official is subject to recall at any time; it just takes a certain plurality of "dump the bastard" votes, kind of like a film studio focus-group screening that uses those live meters where the audience can indicate moment-to-moment whether they like the film or not. Same thing with our legislators and executive; drop into the red zone and it's b'bye. Set up voting online, with an unbreakable, uncheatable method of making it "one vote, one person", and I think we'd finally have a way to make government truly responsive.

Then, outlaw political polls so they don't have any indication of which way the wind is blowing, and they'll have to act according to their own views or conscience. That would help weed out the bastards really, really fast.

Instant representative democracy. Now, combine this with live coverage of House and Senate speeches and publicly controlled electrodes in the podium, I think we could cut down on asinine legislation and really bad ideas from Congress pretty damn quick. And, face it, who wouldn't love to give the ol' joy buzzer to Tom DeLay or Bill Frist mid-sentence?

"And this is my proposal to create private Social Secur -- " ZZZZZZZ! "Ouch. Goddammit..."

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Artificial Outrage 

Here's a case that completely smacks of being a put-up job, engineered by a hate group disguised as a political action organization. First, the spun version from the website of Article 8, an anti-same-sex marriage group out of Massachusetts:
Lexington, Mass., father of 6-year-old arrested, spends night in jail over objections to homosexual curriculum in son's kindergarten class.

Had demanded that school inform him and allow child to opt-out; superintendent refused.

Father brought to court Thursday in handcuffs, scolded by judge. Had been refused opportunity to call a lawyer, so did not have legal counsel at hearing!!
Oh my god, the outrage! He just complains about his son being converted to homosexuality and gets arrested, held incommunicado overnight, etc. Except, this isn't what happened at all. If you go to the news story linked from the Article 8 site (and how many of the outraged faithful will bother to do that?) you get a very different story. And what's with the missing pronouns in the Article 8 version, anyway? But, let's compare fiction and reality...
Parker said he met with school officials to gain those assurances and then refused to leave until he got them. Parker stayed at Estabrook School for more than two hours, according to Superintendent William J. Hurley, as officials and Lexington police urged him to leave. Finally, they arrested him for trespassing.

Parker, who refused to bail himself out of jail Wednesday night, said he spent the night in custody to prove a point.
So... he's not arrested for complaining, he's arrested for trespassing, after being given ample opportunity to walk away without being charged. And then, when he could have posted bail and gone home, he again refuses so he can now trumpet the "they held me overnight!" bullshit. Well, of course they held you overnight, moron. That's what they do when you can't or won't make bail.

Now, on to the source of their original complaint:
Parker and his wife, Tonia, 34, who was also in court yesterday, said the dispute arose because they asked school officials to notify them about classroom discussions about same-sex marriage and what they called other adult themes. They also wanted the option to exclude their boy, now 6, from those talks.
So far, so good. Yes, it does seem like the parents had expressed problems with certain subject matter and requested notice, then didn't get that notice from the evil school. Well, seems like it, until you read further down the article...
The bag of books promoting diversity is sent home with one student at a time, said Rachel F. Cortez, copresident of the Estabrook parent-teacher association and a member of the school's Anti-Bias Committee.

Parents received notice about the book bag at the beginning of the year and the date that it was scheduled to be sent home with their child. The bag's contents also were put on display at a back-to-school night earlier in the school year, she said, and parents are not required to have their child bring it home.

''The kids don't have to take them [the materials] home," she said. ''Parents can either opt out entirely or use whatever materials they want."
Hm. So, at the beginning of the school year -- which I assume was last September -- the offending materials were put on display, and parents were given a choice. And that's entirely fair and how it should work. If you don't want your child exposed to it, tell us and they won't be.

The Parkers did this, back in January, writing to the school. The school responded promptly, offering to set up a meeting with the Parkers. You can read the email exchanges here, where you might notice something interesting. After the school offers to arrange a meeting, there's nearly a two-month gap in the exchange. I have no idea whether this was Article 8's doing or is an actual gap in the exchange, but either way it's not good for the parents. The school tried, and there was silence from January 18th until March 4th, at which point the parents start getting curt and snippy in their mails. Short, short version of the matter at this point: the state of Massachusetts does require parental notification:
Governor Mitt Romney, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said: ''Schools under our parental-notification law are required to inform parents . . . of matters relating to human sexuality that may be taught in the classroom and to allow that child to be out of the classroom for that period of the education." [Boston Globe]
However, the definition of "human sexuality" seems to differ between the school and the parents. Here's the controversial, nasty sex book...

And, as the school finally replies to the Parkers (by which point you can tell the administration has pegged these people as major asshats determined to create trouble where there is none):
We have a unit that deals with Human Growth and Development in 5th grade and parents are notified about that. I have confirmed with our Assistant Superintendent and our Director of Health Education that discussion of differing families, including gay-headed families, is not included in the parental notification policy.
Kind of straightforward, isn't it? They're not teaching six year olds "this is how Jennie's two mommies used a turkey baster to put donated sperm in Mommy 1's vagina to make a baby." They're teaching, "not every family has a mommy and a daddy and a child." And what are the parents thinking, anyway? As the school principal had pointed out in a prior email:
What I can't control is what students may say to one another, as we do have children in our school who have parents who are same sex partners. These issues may come up in talk on the playground, during show and tell, when a student shares a picture about what the family did over the weekend, or when their parents come in to the classroom to volunteer or for a party.
And that's the key here. The Parkers are actually trying to do more damage to their child by shielding him from reality. Keeping the book from their kid does more than shield him from the (ooooh -- scary!) idea that there are same-sex headed families out there. What about single parent familes? Foster families? Blended familes with step-siblings? What about a grandparent raising the children after a divorce or death? What about mixed-raced families, adopted families, interfaith families? In short, what about the huge, huge number of families that don't fit the Parkers' narrow norm of one mother, one father, 2.5 healthy white children?

Also of note: neither article cites a single other example of parents complaining about this issue. Now, granted, the Boston Globe may not have tried to dig this information up. However, you would assume that Article 8 would want to get comments from every possible offended parent that they could. This convinces me more than ever that the Parkers were groomed from the beginning to make an issue of this; they are the visible face of Article 8's astroturf campaign to screw around with the schools and dictate what everyone else can or should learn. Well, if the Parkers don't like the public school curriculum, they can just go get fucked and stick their son in a nice, insulated, oppressive, private, religious school.

Which is what they apparently want to turn the rest of the school system into. But here's a very telling bit from their email exchange, and the red flag that they are being used and manipulated in this entire case. All of the earlier email exchanges, and the first emails of March 4th, end with innocuous sign-offs; sincerely, thank you, whatever. And then, once the parents start making terse, dictatorial statements to the school, the sign-offs and entire tone of the emails change. From their next-to-last email, one that looks like it was dictated to them by a political action committee, with comments:
This includes material given to [our son] to covertly transport into our household (i.e.- diversity book bag). [If your five year old is sneaking things that big into the house, you're really not paying attention.] Such doctrine is against our Christian family beliefs. We will be notified when there are plans to have homosexual material discussed with the students - when [our son] is present - so that we can take action to ensure his spiritual safety. [Quick. Call the Exorcist. Yet another example of Christians actually calling their own god and faith quite weak. Why else the need for protection?] You are not permitted to infringe upon our religious beliefs and parental rights or obviate our freedom of choice, to exclude our son from material that would expose him to beliefs contrary to the Word of God in our Christian faith. [How's that for contradictory sentence construction? Comma splice, biatches -- "you are not permitted to... exclude our son..."? And which word of god is that? Is Mrs. Parker mixing wool and cotton in her outfits, hm?] Our parental rights and Christian belief system will be respected in this diversity-oriented, anti-biased school community. ["As long as we don't have to respect anyone else's" being the implication; i.e., what's good for us isn't good for anyone else, nyah nyah.] We know other parents, of various faiths and values, that endorse this position. [Names? Quotes? Signatures on a petition? Or just bullshit?] This is not solely a Christian assertion of rights.["Except that we won't allow any non-Christians to have rights, dammit."]

May God bless everyone who reads this to be shown his Love and truth of his Word.

In Christ,
Dave and Tonia Parker
Translation: you will not take the blinders off of our son and actually teach him anything, but instead of us taking action to shield him, we're going to bitch and whine until you reduce everyone else to our bland level.

Anyway, by this point in the saga, Article 8's assertions have pretty much blown up, and it's entirely clear that the Parkers are nothing more than the means by which Article 8 is trying to screw with the schools. I think the principal's reply to the above quoted email says it all. Here's the whole thing:
Date: Monday, March 28, 2005
Subject: Re: David and Tonia Parker's Parental Rights Assertion

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Parker,

I just wanted to let you know that I did receive this email.


Joni Jay
Principal, Estabrook School
Translation: "Go fuck yourselves, you wingnuts." Kudos to Joni Jay for that.

The ultimate irony of all this? Hey, I've known plenty of kids who grew up in repressive, religious households, where they were shielded from the nasty world from the beginning, not allowed to even know that anything other than their little "We love Jesus, yes we do" reality was out there. And this kind of parenting always, always comes back to bite the parents in the ass. 'Cause most of the kids I knew who grew up in diverse, open-minded households turned out to be okay adults. They made it through the nasty teenage years, and then went on to lives where it didn't much matter to them what other people did, as long as they could do their own thing. Some of them did wind up becoming religious, some didn't. But none of them wound up fucked up.

However, back to the kids who grew up repressed? Somewhere around the end of middle school, they all started to go a little nuts and extreme. When they found out about the real world, their happy illusions of home shattered. They also learned, quickly and completely, that their parents could not be trusted because of the lies. These are the kids who started using drugs early and often, who had as much casual sex as they could, and who also turned out to be both hypocritical and deceptive. Or, in other words, the Parkers better be ready for a surprise, because in about eight or nine years time, their little preciousssss is going to turn into a holy terror who is going to tell them to their face (and by his actions) that their entire belief system is complete and utter bullshit. Odds are pretty good, too, that he's going to wind up either gay or at least rampantly bisexual, and take every chance he can to fuck everyone he can, just because he grew up being told he can't and no one else should.

There's the ultimate, ironic result of attempts by misguided groups like Article 8 to "protect" the children. The Parkers' son is being used, and he's the one who's going to suffer for it down the line. Though the Parkers would vehemently deny it, their son's future sexual orientation has already been programmed, and they can't change it. What they can do is make him hate himself because he knows he's different (if that's the case), or make him hate people who are different. Or... they can let him know now that there are different kinds of people in the world. If they took the Christian lesson (which showboat "Christians" never do), they would teach him that they will love him forever, no matter how he turns out, because he is their son.

But, of course, people like the Parkers aren't really capable of love. And, by their actions, they're proving that they're pretty bad parents to boot. If they can't trust their own child to learn about the world, and then come to them to discuss "right" and "wrong," how are they ever going to trust him as he grows up? They aren't, because they're never going to let him grow up, just as they themselves haven't grown up. And so the Parkers and people like them try to huddle in a safe little cocoon, pretending that the real world doesn't exist.

What are they afraid of? Everything. But that gives them no right to protect the rest of us from their demons -- because adults don't need to be protected from illusions.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Seditious Juicyness 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government
The Declaration of Independence

Again: "Whenver any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government..."

Our government has not sought our consent honestly. It has lied us into a war, is perhaps on the verge of lying us into another. Our government has squandered our money, turning a large surplus into an unprecedented deficit. Our government regularly violates the First Amendment by barring non-sympathetic citizens from attending meetings attended by the President -- meetings paid for with your tax dollars, a President living off a paycheck coming out of your tax dollars.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

Life -- taken from over 1500 young American soldiers on the basis of a lie.

Liberty -- taken from untold thousands of American citizens and residents who have been "disappeared," hauled off to secret prisons on secret charges to face secret tribunals, a perversion of everything that this country was founded on.

Pursuit of Happiness -- as long as your definition of "happiness" fits the government's. Forget happiness if you're gay; forget it if you prefer organic mind-altering chemicals to those found in a pharmacy or liquor store; forget it if you happen to like certain sexual acts between consenting adults in certain states; forget it if your name has a middle Eastern ring to it or if you hold certain political viewpoints; forget it if you're not one of them>, one of the wealthy governing class. Pursue your happiness if you're a billionaire getting a giant tax cut. All others can please fuck off.

Enough. The excesses of this government make King George III look like a piker. King George IV is an arrogant upstart. Where Bill Clinton was Augustus Caesar, we could expected Tiberias to follow. Instead, they skipped a rung and stuck us with Caligula.

How soon will George IV appoint his horse to a cabinet position? Oh -- that's right. Mr. Cowboy has never ridden a horse.

...it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government

It is the Right and the Duty. Now that this government has been proven, beyond all doubt, to have lied us into an invasion of a sovreign nation under the pretense of waging a war of defense, they are rogues. They do not deserve the power they have been given, and they need to learn that the people can take it back.

Time to start lobbying your government officials -- senators and representatives. If they could impeach a President over a harmless blowjob, then they can convict a President over lying us into a quagmire. If they don't have the balls to start the process, they can be impeached, recalled or voted out of office. But if they've been paying attention to any national polls lately, they could easily see that the tide is turning, opinion is rapidly shifting away from the scorpions in the cupboard; time is chiselling away their sting.

Right now, you have your life -- if you're reading this. But kiss your liberty and happiness good-bye, if you haven't lost either or both already -- unless you're willing to stand up, speak out, and legally bring this nightmare to an end and the perpetrators to justice.

Germany. 1938. No one said a word.

America. 2005. What's it gonna be?

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They'll Err On the Side of Life -- Unless You're Black 

So, where are the screaming wingnuts in this case?
The family of a 13-year-old boy declared brain dead after the spread of an infection following a dental procedure went to court Thursday to have him removed from a respirator.

Teron Francis' family asked state Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon in the Bronx to vacate his injunction -- issued Monday -- that prevented the hospital from taking the teen off the respirator.

McKeon said Teron would be disconnected later in the day after the family had time to return to the hospital with clergy to say their good-byes.
So, again I ask, where are the picketts? Where's Randall Terry? Where are all the screaming nutjobs demanding that this boy be kept alive indefinitely?

Oops. Forgot two things. First, the family is in New York, not Florida. Second, this is Teron's mother and brother...

I really don't need to state the obvious here, do I?

Okay, I will anyway. The raving right to life loonies only give a shit if you're a rich white person with Christian parents. But not a one of them would raise a finger to interfere in the Francis's case. Not a one of them would lobby to provide medical care to see that little black babies make it to term and are born healthy. Not one of them would raise a finger to protest the execution of a black man when the evidence is even slightly dubious and the cops and DA in the jurisdiction have a habit of making "oopsies" to get minority convictions.

Not a fucking one of them. Very ironic, considering that, were Jesus real and were he to come back today, he wouldn't be hanging out with Randall Terry and Mére and Pére Schiavo.

Nope. He'd be hugging that black woman and her black son above, consoling them over their loss. He'd be hanging out with the poor, the sick, the oppressed, the drug addicted, the marginalized. He'd welcome gays and lesbians and the handicapped and the non-white and Arabs and hispanics and the convicts to hang out. In short, he'd be down with all the people the wingnuts seem intent on ignoring.

They'd better go back and read the New Testament. Especially all that stuff about Pharisees and Sadducees. 'Cause, well -- those groups are still around, and they follow people like Randall Terry and Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell and Pope Ratzo. If such a thing existed, they'd be following them straight into hell.

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The Incredible Shrinking Governor 

And the news just gets worse and worse and worse for Der Gropenfuehrer...
What once seemed unthinkable has now become a reality: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval ratings have plummeted to Gray Davis levels, and the cornerstone of his "Year For Reform" agenda is on shaky ground.

In 90 days, Schwarzenegger's popularity has tumbled by 20 points and potential voters are now voicing doubt about the state spending restrictions the Republican governor wants them to approve in a special election this fall.
Yeah, karma, like payback, can be a bitch. Arnold was an opportunistic carpetbagger, an empty suit figurehead who came in with the highest name recognition even as Davis was media manipulated out of his job. As we've now seen, all that blather about cleaning up Sacramento and getting rid of "deeee zpetzyul intuhrezts" (that's special interests to you and me) was mere hype, pure bullshit -- a great speech written for the first act of a film that was abandoned in pre-production.

No one ever wrote the next act for Arnold, and he wound up in Sacramento clueless. Beyond soundbites, he's accomplished nothing, and now even the soundbites have gotten stale. Over at Swing State Project:
...at this point, the sharks smell blood in the water and no matter how much Arnold retreats on the issues, he will be chased down and ripped apart.

Cover the eyes of the children, this is going to get ugly.
True. Arnold thought he was starring in The Governator, but in reality he's a bit player in Jaws -- you know. The drunk, naked girl who gets munched in the beginning.

Further Signs of the Arnoldocalypse from Swing State:
This poll isn't just bad, this is have your Secretary of Edcation resign bad. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Sacramento -- Richard Riordan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's secretary for education, announced his resignation Wednesday as a new poll showed the governor's approval rating plummeting to an all-time low, largely because voters don't support his handling of education.
Indeedy. What should make Riordan's departure even more alarming for the Arnold camp is this: in California, LA in particular, Riordan was very popular, a moderate Republican that even Democrats liked. Now that he's fallen on his sword, I think it's just a matter of time before the fat lady puts on that viking helmet and hits the stage for her aria...

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Gerald Allen Is an Asshole 

Seems some redneck has his little panties in a wad, and has proposed a bill that would not only ban works with gay or lesbian characters from the state's school libraries, but would also ban works by gay authors. Seems that Mr. Allen has a problem with things that are none of his business:
But in book after book, Allen reads what he calls the "homosexual agenda," and he's alarmed.

"It's not healthy for America, it doesn't fit what we stand for," says Allen. "And they will do whatever it takes to reach their goal."
Hm. Alabama. Flashback forty years and insert a certain "N" word in place of "homosexual", and the true nature of Allen's bigotry comes clear.

Hm. "Homosexual agenda." What could that be? Allen, like many prurient bigots, is most likely convinced that that agenda involves converting everyone on the planet to homosexuality. Well, take a look at Mr. Allen. Would we really want to convert him? There's just something shifty in those eyes. You know he has an agenda. He wants to go into the schools of Alabama and pervert all the little children, turning them into flaming, brainless, kneejerk, redneck, bigoted assholes. He's got the same disease that a lot of these folk do -- the terrible, terrible fear that homosexuality is actually so gosh-darn fun that were anyone, even themselves, exposed to even the teeny, tiniest bit of homosexuality, that they would convert to a life of sodomy, Broadway theatre and witty bons mots instantly.

Did I mention that heterosexual males are more likely to be child molestors?

Did I also mention that the real gay agenda has nothing to do with converting the world and everything to do with getting the puritans the fuck out of our bedrooms and personal lives? It's not about "special" rights. It's about the same rights as everyone else. You know -- the rights to drink from the same water fountains and ride up front of the bus.

I've got a better idea for legislation, Gerry. When you're not pouring over books to find the dirty bits (and pretending you're not getting a huge boner every time you read "those" parts from Naked Lunch or The City and the Pillar), why don't you propose that Alabama secede from the Union? Why don't you take your backward, redneck, stuck in the (18)50s state and bugger on off and make your own country where white racist, sexist, homophobic assholes like yourself can go be happy? Why don't you go crawl up your own ass and drag your cheeks in behind you while you're at it?

Meantime, feel free to give ol' Gerry a call and tell him how you feel about this piece of... um... stuff:
State House:Room 531
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7758
  District:Post Office Box 71001
Tuscaloosa, AL 35407
Work Phone:(205) 556-5310  Home Phone:(205) 556-5310
Disclaimer: the above is public information, obtained from the Alabama State Legislature website. Yes, they were the idiots who included a home number.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Now They Come Around 

From a recent Gallup Poll:
Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.

"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed.
Additional bad news figures: 54% of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq and 53% believe the war was a mistake.

Sigh. Where were these people last November? In any event, the numbers haven't been good for anything for the Republicans lately. This lame duck administration is looking lamer and lamer by the minute.

Now, when can we start the impeachment proceedings?

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Poll Dancing 

And... no sooner do I point out below how badly W's energy proposals are doing in the polls, do we get this bit of Lou Dobbs blowing off yet another survey bomb in his own face. How many people support the Senate use of the Filibuster...?

Apparently, most of them. Eat that, Captain Lou, you white supremacist fuckbag.

Funny how the CNN polls don't do the way CNN wants them to, do they? And I'm going to say CNN a few more times in this blog -- or maybe even say CNN Blog, 'cause I want them to dare to try to spam my comments section. The bastards... (Thanks, Nick Lewis, for that bit of info.)

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"W" As In Waning? 

On the heels of polls showing lack of popular support for Bush's Social Security plans and the Repugs attempted murder of the Filibuster, comes this CNN Poll question, "Do you like President Bush's energy initiatives?" Well, apparently...

Not. Granted, it's an unscientific, self-selected poll (and not immune to tampering, if you know which cookies to eat), but the results are still stunningly impressive. Hm. Open more (polluting) refineries, create more (terrorist bait) nyook-yu-leer™ plants? The public ain't buying it.

It's a no-brainer when it comes to the energy thing -- government has got to provide major incentives to business and industry to come up with alternatives. You know how I'd do it? Establish an award -- ten million, a hundred million, whatever. It goes to the first company to produce and deliver en masse to consumers a practical, inexpensive (under $20K) alternative/renewable fuel vehicle that meets the following criteria:And, the rest of the incentive to business, something that I'm sure the tax-cut crazy administration would love: the company to first meet the requirements neither pays nor files corporate taxes for a period of ten years, and its current employees and officers (as of the date they're declared the winner) neither have to file nor pay personal income taxes for a period of five years. It's that simple; wave the wand, and suddenly a major corporate expense and headache goes away for a while. Offer that treat to the employees, and you can bet they'll work their butts off toward the goal as well.

We've already seen what the X Prize has accomplished in terms of moving toward the reality of commercial space travel -- and that award was a paltry $10,000,000.

Oh yeah -- the other catch in the award. It isn't limited to automakers. Any company to meet the criteria wins. So, that means if Chevron wants to take up the challenge, they can. That means if Joe Blow and his cousin want to try it in their garage, they can. The point is, there's got to be a real incentive for America to overcome the intertia that keeps us in our gas-powered cars, keeps us dependent on foreign oil. We've seen the downside to it -- pollution, destruction of pristine wilderness, disease caused by various by-products (lead, MTBE), etc. And, of course, we've seen the disgraceful spectacle of a certain world leader acting like a pussy-whipped frat boy on prom night...

Which is a crying shame. Well, not, because it makes W look ridiculous. But then again, so do his energy policies.

Yo, Republicans -- want to end our dependence on foreign oil and give a kickass tax break to a major corporation? Consider the plan above, then do something about it. I give the idea to the world free of charge -- although I'd appreciate a little kickback from the winning company some day. Hint hint.

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Smearing, Republican Style 

Eschaton points to this Raw Story article that reveals the somewhat beyond appalling tactics of the Republicans to, once again, fiddle with the rules when they're losing the game. You have to read pretty carefully to figure out the real crime going on, but here's the short version. In summarizing Democratic amendments to a bill designed to shield certain family members from criminal liability under a proposed abortion parental-notification law, the Republicans have erroneously and deceptively described those exempted (siblings, grandparents, clergy, e.g.) as "sexual predators". Here's just one example of the before and after:
DEMS: a Nadler amendment to exempt a grandparent or adult sibling from the criminal and civil provisions in the bill (no 12-19)
GOP REWRITE: Mr. Nadler offered an amendment that would have exempted sexual predators from prosecution under the bill if they were grandparents or adult siblings of a minor. By a roll call vote of 12 yeas to 19 nays, the amendment was defeated.
Um-hum. We're getting into Humpty-Dumpty land here...
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
Or, apparently, one man's right to abortion is another man's sexual predation.

Never mind that the people (wingnuts) using "sexual predator" to try to tar the Democrats' amendments are frequently guilty of sexual hypocrisy themselves; this rewriting approaches libel, and is nothing but an outright lie.

How about the Republican version of the First Amendment, then?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion by sexual predators, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech by sexual predators, or of the press; or the right of the people sexual predators peaceably to assemble and molest children, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Yeah. It's about that heinous...

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Holy Terror 

Warning: the following post is... shall we say, inflammatory. It's supposed to be. So, let the games begin...
Three Houston-area men used a letter written by Pope Benedict XVI while he was a cardinal as the basis for a lawsuit against the Catholic Church, Local 2 reported in an exclusive story Tuesday.

The men claim that they are victims of the church's sex scandal and that a letter written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is proof that he conspired to keep claims of sex abuse secret.
The letter in question is something I've written about previously in this blog -- and it's heinous. Basically, the church's attitude on sex abuse since the pre Vatican II days has been "don't ask, don't tell, cover it up." The collision of hypocrisy, lies, abuse of power, corruption of innocence and pure, slimy, slithering Satanic evil in this whole case is beyond appalling -- and the abuse itself is a pure product of the warped theology of the church.

It all stems from that celibacy bullshit, a restriction on priests allegedly grounded in morality but actually founded on papal greed. You see, there was no requirment at first for priests to be celibate; it's something that didn't come along until at least the 5th Century at the Council of Carthage -- although it apparently wasn't widely observed to the extent that, in the 11th Century, Pope Gregory VII had to put his foot down and remind the priests to stop fucking around.

And getting married. And having sex with their wives. And having children -- which is the crux of the biscuit here. 'Cause, you see, a priest who has children is going to leave his worldly goodies to them, not to the church. It's like the whole fish on Fridays thing (who do you think had a big stake in the fishing business?) -- a supposedly theological requirement that's really based in economics. And yes, you should read "economics" as what's good for the church.

There's no basis whatsoever at all at all for making priests celibate. In fact, here's a little mind-blower for the fundie wingnuts and Catholics alike out there. In the bible, Jesus is referred to as Rabbi. He teaches in the temple. He does rabbinical things. And, guess what kids... at the time, in Jewish tradition, a man had to be married before he could become a Rabbi. Not could be married, had to be married. Ergo, Jesus was married. A lot of scholars think the wedding at Cana, with the whole wine to water schtick, was, in fact, Jesus' wedding. Paging DaVinci Code fans. Although you'd do better to go to the source of that novel, the fantastic Holy Blood, Holy Grail.

But, I do digress...

My point is that the church has created this inhuman condition for its priests: no sex. Another tradition, of course, is that a lot of people prohibited by their society from having the sex they want to have had, have traditionally escaped into the church. Yes, a lot of gay men and lesbians have become priests and nuns in the past for exactly this reason -- it gives them the perfect excuse to not have to answer the, "So, when are you getting married?" question. But... keep in mind that a lot of priests joined early, and had their sex-drives in effect turned off before they were fully adult. Take a boy, lock him up with a lot of other boys, raise him to be a man and then put him in a Roman collar and tell him, "No sex for you", and you've all but created the conditions that will breed child molestors.

(Major caveat: I am not equating gays, lesbians and child molestors here. In fact, a) the vast majority of pedophiles otherwise identify as heterosexual males, and b) I think pedophilia is a sexual condition totally separate from the norms of hetero- or homosexual. You can't put it into either of those categories because it doesn't have to do with normal, adult sexual relations. It's a fetishism that transcends gender because its genesis predates strict gender differentiation, especially in the case of pedophiles attracted to pre-pubescent children. Okay, end of Abnormal Psych Minor rant...)

Anyway, I'm hoping these men in Houston can see this through and drag the lawsuit and the muck and the onus of having looked the other way right to Pope Ratzo's silk-slippered feet, and then shove that subpoena right up his lovely dress and make him choke on it. The powers that be are already trying to manufacture an out for Ratzo on this one:
A law professor said there are a number of hurdles to suing the pope, most importantly, the fact the U.S. does not allow people to sue a sitting head of state.
Oh, where to start with that one? First, show me the state. Yeah, the Pope has this nice little piece of Rome that's been carved out for him -- or, rather, condensed from what used to be the "Holy" Roman Empire (oxymoron alert). But is it a state? If his subjects comprise the world's Catholics, they're pretty spread out and don't comprise a state on their own. Meanwhile, is Vatian City really a "state" as such? I don't think so. It's a district of Rome.

And, second: this technical detail certainly hasn't stopped our current Administration from going after Saddam Hussein, a head of state. Or, rather, former head of state. How'd he become a former head of state? Oh, rumblings of vague threats from him, phantom WMD, a few lies, an invasion, voila.

And that's exactly what the Vatican needs. Here's the math: Catholic priests for years have terrorized children all around the world by molesting them and silencing them under threat of nasty retribution from the Invisible Cloud Being. The Vatican, in charge of these priests, has covered up the abuse, hidden criminals, looked the other way. The Vatican has been complicit in terrorism aimed at our children, and Ratzo, in both his non-superhero guise as Cardinal Joe and now as Le Pope, explicitly authored the decree allowing that terrorism and abuse to be covrered up.

Conclusion: Pope Ratzo is a terrorist, and the next place the US should invade is Vatican City. He's refused to destroy his WMDs -- pedophile prists; indeed, they're planted all over American soil. It took a hell of a lot less for BushCo. to go into Iraq, and Vatican City would take maybe, what, ten minutes to knock out?

But, of course, that won't happen. Why not? Well, a) Pope Ratzo is a former Nazi, and apparently Nazis are okay with this administration; and, b) The most damning reason of all...

Da Vatican gots no oil, except that useless holy kind. Useless, that is, except apparently for making child molestors above the law.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It Must Be Love... 

(Moved back up top, 'cause it's still a hot topic at Eschaton. And if anyone knows where I can find downloadable (not streaming) video of this event, put it in comments or email me -- the link is on the page.)

I borrowed this shot from Eschaton...

Over there, Atrios hilariously refers to this as a Man Date. Or is that mandate? But if you look really, really closely, you'll notice that they're holding hands.

Hm. How sweet. Now, granted, men in Islamic cultures are a lot more touchy-feely in a totally non-sexual way than are men in the hung-up west. But there's something else interesting about this little flesh-press. See, also in middle-eastern cultures, you're never supposed to eat with your left hand, 'cause that's the one you... um... clean up the food with once it makes the trip out the other end. (For those not following the subtlety -- it's the ass-wipin' hand. No TP or shells involved).

So -- who's going further out of their way here to play cultural kiss-ass with the other? Bush for holding hands with a man in public, or his Arabian Friend for grabbing onto the doody hand without comment?

Kind of says it all about the relationship both these boys have with their mistress. You know her name. Oil...

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Reid: 48, Frist: 0 

Thanks to Kos, more encouraging news that the Republicans are totally blowing the filibuster issue. As Kos quotes it, via ABC News:
Reacting to a Democratic offer in the fight over filibusters, Republican leader Bill Frist said Tuesday he isn't interested in any deal that fails to ensure Senate confirmation for all of President Bush's judicial nominees.
Translation of wingnutese: The Democrats offered to figure out how to fix things and make them work, but that still doesn't guarantee that we'd actually win the game on its own merits, so we're going to take our ball and run off to mommy, whining.

I mean, Jeebus. How soon will the rest of the population wake up to the fact that the Republicans cannot win on the merits of their arguments, so instead they must cheat and change the rules mid-game? It's as if they're in a constant game of Texas Hold 'em with the Democrats, but after the fifth or sixth time the Democrats fill an inside straight, the Republicans want to declare that a pair of deuces beats everything. And, given the Constitution and the law and all those annoying things that the wingnuts seem to despise, it's more like the Democrats are holding a Royal Flush and the Republicans have a nothing-hand, a ten-high busted straight.

But keep going, Mr. Frist. The more strident and bitchy you get, the more of that 35% ... er, sorry, 26% support for screwing with the rules you're going to lose.

And, incidentally, I think more and more people are also catching on to the blatant lie... sorry, little detail in all the Republican rhetoric. Contrary to what the wingnuts would try to pull over on the fundies, most of Bush's (bad) court appointments have been approved. It's just the really, really bad five percent that are being rightly held up.

But, I suppose, if in some ephemeral eternal court, Bush had appointed Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Einstein and Hitler, the wingnuts would be screaming about that one particular judge who wasn't rubber-stamped by Congress.

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Today's CNN poll is a bit of bad news for W's Social Security Dog and Pony Revival Tour. To the question "Do you favor President Bush's plan for personal retirement accounts?" the results are 68 to 32% against. I hear the crickets chirping. Of course, if W had the balls to let non-Republican faithful attend his little tent shows and ask questions, he might be able to convince people. Might. Not likely. But if you're only speaking to the already converted, you aren't going to change many minds that disagree, are you?

In other news and/or housecleaning, I'd like to say hello to my Congressional visitor from this morning. I don't know whether it was a staffer or an actual Rep, but they got here from the Airamerica Blog and spent quite a while reading up. Tell your colleagues, send them along, and thanks for visiting.

Also, a big thanks to whoever it was who plugged this blog over at Airamerica and on Al Franken's blog. That sent an interesting spike in traffic this way -- although you still aren't commenting... ahemn. C'mon, I know how opinionated you people can be on other blogs. I've got these nice big empty comment rooms just waiting for all the bloviating and flaming and discussion.

Finally, here's the latest "Strangest Searches to Lead to Here" tracking. In a previous post, I noted how someone searching for "German nudists" wound up at an Abu Ghraib story here, and commented on some of the other... let's call them mis-directed fap-food hunters, who landed here. Now I bring you the latest interesting misdirections... not intentional, mind you.

Well, two interesting searches popped up (so to speak) recently. First, there's the naughty, naughty realtor who looked for "stripped and humiliated" and wound up, again, at the Abu Ghraib article. I guess that booming housing market gives them lots of time to indulge at the office.

And then there's the rather specific searcher in Chicago who looked for "Look ma, no panties." I'm not even going to wonder what thought processes brought him or her to that one, but it landed said searcher in the middle of one of my anti-Coulter screeds, in which I described her thusly:
The point is, she's a no-talent hack who engages in the equivalent of standing on a chair at a formal dinner party and throwing her dress up over her head to yell, "Look ma. No panties." She's not particularly insightful, she is not a pundit. She's nothing but hot air and a bad dye-job. The fact that Time is feeding her ego is just disgusting.
So now I've thrown out the panty bait again. Not to mention the stripped and humiliated bit. Dare I use a phrase like "two hot naked twinks yiffing in the jacuzzi?" I don't know. I'm kind of scared of what searchers that might drag this way. I mean the word "yiffing" alone.

If you don't know it, look it up. Maybe you'll wind up somewhere educational instead. That's the lesson for the day.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

'Cause Rules Is for the Little People 

From the ongoing Ethicsgate saga in Washington:
An aide to DeLay sent letters to the House clerk and the ethics committee on March 22 reporting that he "discovered today that I inadvertently neglected to file", two travel reports for conferences in December and January with a total reported cost of $1,500.
Hm. Gosh, I guess that bit in italics makes it okay. But tell me -- what would happen if you or I didn't file our taxes on April 15th, then tried to make it all better with the IRS 'round about June or July by saying, "I inadvertently neglected to file..."

That's right. The excuse wouldn't fly, and it shouldn't fly just because (or especially because) someone's a Congressman. These bastards need to fry, all of them, left and right. They know the rules, and the rampant deception and cheating is just disgusting.

About ten years back, I was so frazzled in the process of preparing my taxes last-minute that I actually mailed an empty envelope to the IRS. I discovered this a week later when I found the original forms and check on the kitchen table, in the tax file. I contacted them immediately. Now, do you think I didn't have to pay a penalty?

And DeLay and company and all the other lying sacks of shit need to pay the penalty. Let's leave politics out of it; they're all corrupt and are rapidly becoming useless, and we need new blood in DC.

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No, It's Worse... 

The missing Eschaton link is back, as well as a new article with slightly different numbers. Lower numbers for the anti-fillibuster side, in fact. A Washington Post poll now has the "change the rules" camp at a fabulous 26%. (Warning: link is an annoying PDF. Sorry.) Says Atrios:
I'm one who pegs Bush's base support at about 35%. By base, I mean "would rather eat shit and die than oppose dear leader." So, to get anything falling below that is truly stunning.
Agreed. Like I said before, the numbers were looking somewhat Schiavo-ish. Now, they're looking totally Schiavo-ish, with about the same viability level. Look for DeLay and Frist to pull some finger-pointing scandal out of their asses to try to make this whole debacle go away and erase the phrase "nuclear option" from our collective memory. "Look -- over there! A judge who's in favor of abortion...!!!"

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Schiavo II 

Update: the story at Eschaton disappeared, but here's a link to the original source.
These officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a recent survey taken for Senate Republicans showed 37 percent support for the GOP plan to deny Democrats the ability to filibuster judicial nominees, while 51 percent oppose.
They should be more worried about the low support, rather than the just-over-majority opposition. I'd imagine that the missing 12 percent are people who answer the question with, "Who's Philip Buster?"

Atrios points out this rather heartening news:
According to Drudge, a new poll has 60% siding with Dems on the filibuster issue. This is very good news, because it most likely isn't the result of some deep understanding of or fondness for Senate procedures, but instead means that 60% of people have internalized the idea that Bush is trying to appoint some scary judges.
Now, last time we saw lopsided poll numbers in this range, it was over the Terri Schiavo case -- and we all know how badly the Repubs took a bath on that one. So, let's hope DeLay, Frist & Company keep whinging about the fillibuster, because it seems that the American public isn't buying it.

And it looks like the Wingnuts are having no problem shooting themselves in the foot. Repeatedly...

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Wanna Buy a Bridge? 

In the "yeah, right" category, this bit of news
Pope [Ratzo] said Monday he had viewed the idea of being elected pope as a "guillotine," and he prayed to God during the recent conclave to be spared selection but "evidently this time He didn't listen to me."
I sense a big whiff of false humility here. Anyone who saw Ratzo's face when he was presented to the crowd could see the gleam of power in his eye, that little shimmer you see in every Oscar winners' face. He wanted it, he was praying for it, he got it.

'Cause, you see, when someone is voted pope, the first question is, "Do you accept?" It was entirely within Ratzo's power to say, "Thanks, but no thanks, pick someone else." He didn't, now he's pope, and any protestations to the contrary are nothing more than a big fat steamin' load of papal bullshit.

From the same article, dueling quotes:
"I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me.'"...

He told [his German audience] the church is not a place for people seeking a comfortable life, noting that it is difficult to choose to follow Christ.

"He who is looking to be comfortable has come to the wrong address," he said.
Emphasis added. And, finally, despite his earlier comments that other, non-Catholic churches are not churches because they don't recognize the primacy of da pope:
"I ask you for your trust when I make errors or when I say things that aren't easily understood, because the pope has to say these things. If we stick together, then we will find the way."
Um... errors? Hey, Ratzo, I thought you magically became infallible when they stuck the big white hat on your head.

Perhaps he was too old to become pope. Already, his comments are very muddled. Not to be rude -- but I'm going to be rude. I don't think it'll be long at all before Pope Ratzo is doing the JP II slouch and drool routine in public. Expect the next papal election to happen before the end of 2010, if that late.

PS: The posting title actually works out to be a very obscure gag, based on a line from John Donne that a high school English class had to explain to us once, to our response of "Huh?" 'Cause the line was "the great work pontifical." We all assumed it meant the pope. It didn't. I'll leave it to my readers to go figure it out for themselves...

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Frist Things Frist 

Eschaton brings us more lovely comments from Bill Frist on the Fillibuster today, the day after his video appearance to a large religious (read: born-again nutjob) rally. Yeah, seems the wingnuts just can't stand the idea that there's a two-thirds majority required in the Senate for certain things for damn good reasons. No, instead, quoth Frist:
Now if Senator Reid continues to obstruct the process, we will consider what opponents call the “nuclear option.” Only in the United States Senate could it be considered a devastating option to allow a vote. Most places call that democracy.
Um, Diebold, anyone? Funny how allowing votes (and counting them all) only matters when they would help (maybe) the wingnut agenda. Although, in more heartening news, it looks like John Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador is going to go down in flames.

But... don't get me started on the whole fillibuster fight. And funny how the Repugs had no problem with it when the right-wingers pulled a 57 day (not hour, day) fillibuster to try to block Civil Rights legislation in the 60s.

And then there's the whole persecution complex the evangelical/fundie wingnuts have. See, they think they're just like the early church in the 1st Century. (What, you mean Jewish?) Early Christians were persecuted, ergo they believe they are, too, and they're constantly looking for the next target to claim as their personal Nero... even as they go about persecuting gays, women, non-Christians, etc., etc. They see life as a struggle between good and evil, with (say it like Church Lady) Satan behind everything that gets their little knickers in a knot.

Hm. Yeah, that makes real sense. Their God(tm) says, "You are the saved ones. Now I'm going to let the world throw all kinds of shit at you. You know... just testing." Far as I'm concerned, the sooner these asshole go away the better. Maybe we can get them to abstinence themselves out of existence.

But, finally -- isn't a congress-critter attempting to subvert the judiciary obstruction of justice at the least, if not treasonous? And it's definitely a violation of their oath to uphold the Constitution. You know -- those bits that establish the three separate branches of government in the first place...

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Story Worth Noting... 

While whatreallyhappened.com can be a little anti-Israel and tinfoil hat for my tastes at times, I too wondered what happened to this story, which popped up a few days ago and then vanished. I'll only excerpt a bit here, but go read the whole thing. It's food for thought, since we're talking three trillion dollars in counterfeit US Federal Reserve Negotiable Certificates here.
So, what happens when three trillion shows up all at one time? At the very least, three trillion dollars worth of paper dumped into the US economy at one time would trigger a sudden inflationary spiral; the usual result of too much cash chasing too few goods and services. Three trillion dollars in bonds presented for redemption through the banks in Zurich could trigger a run on the Federal Reserve itself, as even the Federal Reserve does not keep that kind of cash or even gold reserves at hand. Since the bonds were fakes, the ultimate mastermind could care less if the "money" was lost, and anyone willing to "lose" three trillion dollars in just the right way could bring down the entire US stock market.

George Bush and his neocons need a "terrorist" attack to justify the invasion of Iran, and a staged economic terrorist attack, executed from behind the anonymity of the Swiss Banks would be ideal. Blame for the crash of the US eocnomy could be shifted onto a scapegoat such as Iran, and off of the Congress that has borrowed this nation into ruin over the decades. The infamous FEMA Executive Orders, the means by which the nation can be turned into a legal dictatorship, include an economic crisis among the list of conditions under which the President can suspend the Constitution.
Things that make you go, "Hm..."

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Bad Strategy 

Swing State Project notes just how badly Hahn had his ass handed to him in tonights LA Mayoral debate. There was another incident in tonight's debate not mentioned -- the sign that Hahn's campaign is really, really desperate. They brought up a criminal charge that was filed against Villaraigosa in the past. Okay, not an unusual tactic. Problem is, the charge was assault -- against a man who had attacked Villaraigosa's mother.

Now, that's kind of a no-brainer. Don't bring up a criminal charge if it's for something that no jury in the world would convict. So Antonio opened a can of whoopass on someone who attacked his mother? You know what? Good for him. I'm sure there are very few people on earth who wouldn't do the same -- and Mr. Villaraigosa (already my choice anyway) went up quite a few notches on the "Wow" bar.

Meanwhile, Hahn is going down...

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And Don't Be Shy... 

I see that my hits have been way up of late. Don't be shy. You all have opinions. Use that "comments" feature.

And check out the Pope Ratzo I and Buck Fush products in the left sidebar. You must have Catholic and/or Republican relatives you really want to piss off...

Greetings to my visitors from The Columbia Democrats, and the FDA. The FDA? Hm...

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Flight DeLayed... 

Recently, I posted about Republicans calling for investigation of a lobbyist-financed trip Nancy Pelosi took in 2001, pointing out the hypocrisy of that action.

Thanks to Eschaton digging up this bit from the Washington Post here's why it's so hypocritical:
The airfare to London and Scotland in 2000 for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists. DeLay, who is now House majority leader, has said that his expenses on this trip were paid by a nonprofit organization and that the financial arrangements for it were proper. He has also said he had no way of knowing that any lobbyist might have financially supported the trip, either directly or through reimbursements to the nonprofit organization.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.
Like I said before, the Republicans can investigate Pelosi's ethics as soon as they've taken care of their own...

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Invoking the First 

Thanks to Digby, I'm pointed to this scary LA Times article, in which two fundies outline their plans to hobble the court system...
"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
The speaker of the above is James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. The other evangelical quoted in the piece is Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council.

Now, they should keep something else in mind. Congress can also remove the tax-exempt, non-profit status from these groups -- all they have to do is say Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council don't exist anymore, and they're gone. Or, rather, they have to start paying taxes and their donations are no longer deductions.

And this is exactly what should happen, and what we need to lobby for, because these groups have gone beyond religous advocacy. Pure and simple, they are attempting to interefere with the operation of the government of the United States. They are plotting to subvert the judiciary -- which should be a treasonable offense if it isn't.

Contact your Reps and Senators. Let them know you won't stand for this kind of thing, and that you want both these groups investigated and punished appropriately immediately. It's all part of that pesky First Amendment, you know. Separation of church and state works both ways. And when a church refuses to remain separate from government, it no longer merits the benefits of being a church.

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Irony Is on Life Support 

From the "This Really Takes Some Balls" department:
House Republicans yesterday called on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to provide documentation to prove that a Washington lobbyist firm did not pay for a trip she and other Democrats took to Puerto Rico in 2001.

"We feel that such lingering questions undermine the integrity of the institution and we hope [the questions] will be cleared up as soon as possible," wrote Republican Reps. Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
Note the bit in italics. If any Republican wants to talk about undermining the integrity of the institution, they damn well better start with Tom Delay.

To pull a page from their book, this is obviously partisan bullshit. Um -- the trip was nearly four years ago. And they're just noticing now, why? Oh, that's right. Tom Delay's little ethical problems. Or rather, lack of ethics problems.

File this one under "give me a fucking break." And, if there's any question about Republican motives, remember Henry Hyde's comments, published today:
[Retiring Rep. Henry Hype] veteran republican is also admitting for the first time that the impeachment of Clinton may have been in part political revenge against the democrats for the impeachment proceedings against GOP President Richard Nixon 25 years earlier.

"Was this pay back?" asked Andy Shaw.

"I can't say it wasn't. But I also thought that the Republican Party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty," said Hyde.
Thanks to Eschaton for the pointer to this one. But wow, could it be -- the Republicans admit to having done something in a purely partisan manner? You know -- the same tactic of which they're constantly accusing the Democrats?

Tell you what -- as soon as Tom Delay comes clean on everything, and submits himself to an $85 million investigation, then we'll talk Democratic ethics. It's called "put up or shut up."

For the moment, shut up.

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The Mighty Arnold Has Struck Out... 

Digby over at Hullabaloo seems surprised that der Gropenfuehrer may only be a one-term governor. I don't know whether he's in California or not, but to anyone here, Arnold's lackluster ratings are no surprise.
This is another example of the folly of voting for superficial politics. Schwarzenneger is alleged to be a pretty smart guy. I think it was Hollywood hype. He's a hard worker who parlayed his body into a successful Hollywood career. (Many women have done the same before him, and none of them have been called geniuses for doing it.) If he really believed that he could do something like destroy California's public employee pension plan purely by dint of his celebrity --- a little fallacy that seems to common among big shot Republicans these days --- then he's stupid.
Well, yes. I didn't vote for him; I didn't vote for the total recall. But, in retrospect, it's not hard to see that Arnold was never anything more than soundbites and hype. I think somewhere around the time he uttered the phrase "ze spedzhul indereztsss" for the five hundredth time, the mass electorate caught on. The Governator is nothing but a media creation, an empty shell. As Digby says, all body and no brains.

Digby also points to this LA Weekly story:
A telling scene came last week at a strange little event at the Capitol. Billed as a “Thank You, Arnold” rally, heavily promoted with blast e-mails, robocalls and talk radio, it was a complete bust. A mere 100 supporters turned up to see the strange duo of Hollywood libertine Tom Arnold (the comedian who was Schwarzenegger’s sidekick in True Lies) and abstemious conservative 2003 gubernatorial candidate Tom McClintock.
Hm. What if they threw a "We Love Arnold" rally, and nobody came? The fact that he's using Tom Arnold as a spokesman is just sad. Or hasn't Arnold seen those endless and embarrassing talk-show experiences by the former Mr. Roseanne Barr?

Over at Swing State Project, they point to an LA Times article that pretty much says it all.
Here is the political definition of clusterfuck (and a sign Schwarzenegger's Chief of Staff is failing):
People close to the office describe a hub-and-spoke system with Schwarzenegger at the center and various aides having little idea what others are doing. Though that structure has centralized power at Schwarzenegger's desk, downsides include confusion and a lack of coordination among staff members.
Clusterfuck, indeed. More like screwed the pooch.

Arnold's governorship began as Total Recall and he may have thought his legislation would Jingle All the Way through the legislature. Instead, the schools and unions are trying to avoid Collateral Damage, Arnold can spew off nothing but True Lies, and his administration is facing its End of Days.

Okay, I'll stop now. But the point is, nobody told Arnold that this wasn't a movie, and his heroic ending wasn't already written. He's become the villain, and we all know what always happens to the villain in a Schwarzenegger movie.

He may have stepped up to the plate as the Mighty Casey, but Arnold got the pitch, swung and whiffed. He's past his third strike. Now it's time for the walk of shame back to the dugout.

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$ 300,000,000,000. 

That's how much the Iraq War has cost -- in money, not lives -- so far. That's three hundred billion, with a "b". Three hundred billion. Hm. Let's see what three hundred billion can buy when it's not being used for death, destruction and oil-stealing:For everything else, there's Mastercard...

Incidentally, a stack of 300 billion dollar bills would be over 20,000 miles high. A stack of that many quarters would reach the moon and make it a third of the way back. (That much money in quarters would reach from the Earth to the moon five times, plus nearly half a trip again, and put those quarters end-to-end, they'd stretch most of the way between Earth and Venus.)

If you'd like these mind-boggling numbers in terms of time and not money, they've done the work at What Really Happened already:
  • A billion seconds ago, it was 1959.

  • A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.

  • A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

  • A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

And it's YOUR money.
Yes, your money. Every single one of you paid $1,200 to this loonatic effort that has accomplished nothing but the deaths of over 1,500 Americans, the permanent injury of tens of thousands more; the deaths and injuries of unknown hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; chaos, destabilization and possible civil war in Iraq; renewed coziness between Russia and Iran.

Three hundred billion dollars. Enough to give $192,061,460 to the families of every single one of the 1,562 American soldiers killed for nothing. The same dead soldiers for whom the government somehow couldn't come up with the $600 or so each (less than a million bucks total) to give them full body armor.

You did pay your taxes last week. Didn't you?

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Papal Bull 

Found on Eschaton:
Pope Benedict XVI has responded firmly to the first challenge of his papacy by condemning a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals.
The bill, passed by parliament's Socialist-dominated lower house, also allows gay couples to adopt.

A senior Vatican official described the bill - which is likely to become law within a few months - as iniquitous.

He said Roman Catholic officials should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.
Later in the article, a cardinal is quoted as saying, "just because something was made law it did not make it right."

Oh, the possible responses to this load of crap. "Fuck you" comes to mind, but since priests and bishops and cardinals and popes are celebate, it's probably the wrong response. Hm. Celebate, and yet they have the balls to meddle in other peoples' sex lives.

Okay, here's a comparison. An Islamic Imam calls for the faithful to, say, not follow sexual discrimination laws. Cut to: Muslim employee of the US government who decides not to follow Title IX, because his Imama said not to. What happens to that man? At the least, yes, he'd probably lose his job. But I can imagine that the religious loonies here would brand him (and his Imam) a terrorist.

Now, I can see the inevitable comparisons to the civil rights movement here. After all, it took Rosa Parks not following the law to bring about change. And I'm sure that someone, somewhere, is going to try to compare Catholic officials in Spain (or fundie pharmacists in Ohio) to Rosa Parks, saying they're just using civil disobedience, blah blah blah.

But there's a huge, huge, huge difference. See, the point of civil disobedience is to bring down an oppressive government dictum in favor of more freedom for the people. Contrast Rosa Parks to George Wallace. She stayed in the front of the bus and it led to the beginning of the end for segretation laws. Wallace blocked the doors of a school in Alabama, to try to keep those laws in effect. Rosa was right, Wallace was wrong.

In this case, Pope Ratzo and company are behaving like George Wallace, trying to block the doors so those nasty gay people can't get into the marriage classroom. Never mind that the pope is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state. He seems to still think it's the 13th century, and he can scare people into submission.

Apparently, someone hasn't told Ratzo that the fear stick has lost most of its power. Sure, there are still people around who sincerely believe they'll go to hell if they get divorced or masturbate. But there are a lot more people who don't. And there will continue to me more people. I'm sure, thanks to the Church's child abuse scandal, there are a lot of people who are disillusioned, realizing that the whole hierarchy, from Father Smith down the street to Pope Ratzo hisself, are just human. They know about as much about it as any other human. That is, they're talking out of their asses most of the time.

I wonder, though, with this "just because its legal doesn't mean it's right" logic, if we're not just seeing the inverse of the church's attitude about child abuse all along. Is it possible that they've been using the "just because it's illegal doesn't mean it's wrong" argument internally to justify letting pedophiles escape the authorities?

In any case, an old German transvestite in Rome, who's most likely never had sex, has absolutely no business telling Spain how to run their affairs. If that's how this pope is going to behave, thinking he's Gregory XIII, he needs to get the big smackdown from as many European nations as possible, and fast.

We don't need another Nazi trying to tell the rest of Europe and the world what to do.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Separated at Birth? 

(It was too fun to not keep on top...)

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"If You See Someone with a Penguin You Know Isn't Theirs..." 

This is the height of ridiculousness. I wouldn't even believe it without pics, and I'm still hoping that it was just some sort of cute joke. But... here's what allegedly happened at Denver International Airport...

Oh my god, that's right. Somebody stop those penguins, because they may be armed and dangerous. I mean, what? Did somebody see Batman Returns and take the plot a little bit too seriously?


Sorry, I don't usually yell in the blog. But what possible motive could penguins have for committing terrorist acts? Where the hell would they even smuggle weapons? It's not like they even have thumbs.

Probably the most infuriating part of this story is that the Denver Channel doesn't express outrage over the total waste that it is. No, they play it as the "Oh, look at the cutesy penguins going through the metal detector."

What next? Strip-searching toddlers? Confiscating grandma's walker because it's made out of metal? Okay, how about this. Let's just start marching all passengers onto the planes butt-nekkid, and then flood the cabin with sleeping gas before take off. You want absolute safety on a plane? That's the only way to do it.

But penguins? PENGUINS? Again, what possible...

Huh? Oh, yeah. Well, there is this. Yeah, that would piss off a penguin, I'm sure...

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Meanwhile, in La-La Land... 

As with recalled governor Gray Davis (and soon, Arnold Schwarzenegger), James Hahn is about to learn a lesson about image in California politics, a lesson which goes double when it comes to LA politics. Elected officials in this state in general, and this city in particular, cannot disappear from the public eye. As long as they remain visible, publicity good or bad, they create the illusion of doing something. But let them drop off the radar for a month or two, suddenly the impression arises that they aren't doing anything or, worse, that they've done something bad. Let them drop off the radar and then only return in the context of fuck-ups or scandal, their political goose is cooked.

Swing State Project reports that campaign spending limits have now been lifted in the LA mayorial race, but realistically, all the cash in the world isn't going to bail out Hahn's sorry ass now. He's become too tainted. Short of having a brother-in-law take over Diebold, he can't win this election. As Swing State puts it, "A half a million in IE money isn't [going] to do too much for an unpopular mayor who is trailing by 18 points."

Which is another big problem with politics in LA specifically, and in America in general. Nobody wins an election anymore. Rather, politicians lose them. Even in the case of Barack Obama, who won decisively last year, it was as much his opponent's loss as Obama's victory.

The Governator (aka der Gropenfuhrer) has a lesson to learn from Hahn. Don't fall out of the public eye in California, for even a minute. Especially don't fall out of the public eye if you back unpopular programs or have underlings behaving in less than ethical ways. You'll be dragged back in, then dragged through the mud, then ridden out of town on a rail. Not that this is a bad thing in the case of Hahn and Schwarzenegger.

But, in the case of Gray Davis, I think he'll be the one having the last laugh.

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David & Goliath 

I'm not very knowledgeable about state politics in Connecticut, but I do know that Joe Lieberman has got to go, at least as long as he insists on acting like a member of the Republican wingnut faction while continuing to keep that D after his name. Joe, if you want to be honest and run as a Republican next time around, fine. Otherwise, just know that you've lost the support of the party you pretend to represent, and you won't gain the support of the GOP as long as you call yourself a Democrat because, well, c'mon. You just won't. Stop pretending. You're about as much of a Democrat as Richard Nixon.

But Kos points out the handwriting on the wall:
Staffers for Rep. Rosa Delauro of Connecticut floated a possible Lieberman primary challenge at a local party event last night. Now, it may very well have been an eager staffer fantasizing about such a challenge (Delauro would become a national figure and grass- and netroots hero overnight), or it could be a something a bit more orchestrated, a trial balloon of sorts amongst the types of people whose support would be critical for such a David v. Goliath challenge.
I, for one, would love to see Ms. Delauro sling that stone right into the middle of Lieberman's political forehead, and end his career as an elected official for good.

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Maybe they need to just put up a big tote board in Time Square with scrolling displays showing the latest bombing, shooting or helicopter-crash deaths in Iraq. This morning's news:
Six Americans were among nine people killed when a commercial helicopter went down north of the Iraqi capital today, a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said. The six were Blackwater Security employees, the embassy said. The Russian-made MI-8 also carried a crew of three Bulgarians, U.S. military sources said.
Seems to me that we've had helicopter shoot-downs snuck in among the Pope-a-thon for the last few weeks; they've just rarely made the top slot. Yes, things are still going to hell in Iraq, but the media is playing along with the Administration in trying to make it look all peachy keen. 'Cause, I mean, those Iraqis are just about to start strewing them rose petals in the streets for us, right?

In other news that you won't see on CNN: Ralph Reed's and Grover Norquist's political groups have been subpoenaed in an investigation of Indian Casinos (why is that the only phrase in America where the term "Indian" is still used?), kick-backs, lobbying, and all sorts of other unethical things. If you haven't heard of Reed or Norquist, well -- that might be because the story headlined "American Idol Makes Another Cut" was just so fucking important this morning.

Tom DeLay also continues to circle the drain in scandal, and blogs like Eschaton shine the flashlight on The Hammer's raving hypocrisy. Quoth DeLay, in 1995:
"The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups?"
Gosh, Tom, I don't know. Are you? Seems to me as soon as someone pointed out your paid (by Russians) vacation and golfing extravaganza, you started to whine and bitch that it was no one's business.

But you didn't see that one on the front page either. Did you know that something happened in the Michael Jackson trial today? I'm not sure what, but I think it involved Tom Sneddon and a fistful of Vaseline. Now there's a lovely image.

Shall I go on, or have I made my point? What set me off this morning was seeing the helicopter crash headlining CNN (finally), and not much else of import, after having seen all the real stories elsewhere. I scroll down to find out that the burning, vital issue of most importance of the day, the question that CNN asks its readers via its online poll is: Should KFC bring back the Kentucky Fried Chicken name? And I don't even need to look to know that Lazy Leslie Wolfie Blitzer has just picked up that question verbatim.

The available answers to the burning issue of KFC's branding are Yes and No. I suggest that CNN add a third option to all such stupid, meaningless questions. We need a "Who the fuck cares?" button. A few times around the track with that option scoring 85%, they might just rethink the cutesy and ask about real issues -- or dump what's really, ultimately, a meaningless exercise anyway.

But I guess CNN got a little bit upset when their Pope Ratzo Poll did not turn out a 99% approval for the choice of Cardinal Joseph "The Inquisitor" Ratzinger.

And for god's sake -- when there's more hard political news on Drudge than there is on CNN, you know something is very, very wrong with the so-called mainstream media.

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