Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Atlanta Boy Scouts inflated black scout numbers for $$

by Pam



"TRUSTWORTHY: A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him."
-- from Scouting Law
NOT. While honorable gays that abide by the rules of Scouting are not welcome, lying about the number of black members in its ranks isn't a problem unless you get caught. Its executive director has resigned.
An independent investigation of the Atlanta-area Boy Scouts found that the organization inflated its number of black Scouts by more than 5,000 in a program for inner-city youth.

...Auditors said Scout officials assigned to inner-city areas may have felt pressure to demonstrate membership growth, which is a part of their performance evaluations. Membership numbers also are used to help determined funding from the United Way, a major Scouts donor.

The audit found that former Scouts too old to participate remained on the memberships lists and that boys who had only attended informational meetings about the program were signed up. In one example, an official changed the birth date of 87 Cub Scouts so they would be old enough to participate in the program. In another case, an official continued to report membership of a church Boy Scout unit although the church had burned down three years earlier.

The inflated numbers also included 200 Scout units that did not exist.

Edgar Sims Jr., an attorney with the law firm that conducted the audit, said the Atlanta Area Council claimed there were 10,238 Scouts in Operation First Class in 2004, but the audit found that only 5,361 were registered. Operation First Class was designed to increase participation by boys in the country's poorest areas, and it provides the boys' books, uniforms and other opportunities, including scholarships for camp.

In resigning, David Larkin, executive director of the Atlanta Area Council, said he was "deeply disappointed both personally and professionally" and took fully responsibility for the false records.
Don't forget, we recently featured "The Pacific Northwest Pedophiles," which included Scoutmasters, Douglas S. Smith Jr. charged with one felony count of having photos that show "minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct," and Alabama Boy Scouts also padding the rolls with "John Does" for dollars. I think this is one organization that needs to clean house before it casts stones.

Thanks to House Blender Paul for the pointer.


Matt Lauer does Mayor West On Today

by JJ

Well, well, well... Mayor Jim West went to his first public interview on the Today show and successfully sidestepped any meaningful answers like a true Republican. Crooks and Liars has the video up now if you care to see it. Jim West On the Today Show.

He pretty much says he was just doing what he was told when bashing gays and furthering hatred in his political career. He said he never sponsored any bill that was in contradiction to his personal life and was only enforcing the will of his constituents. His analogy was "if you hire someone to paint your house blue and they want to paint it red you expect to end up with a blue house". Interesting that he thinks the civil rights, health and welfare of 10% of the population is akin to house painting. A more accurate comparison would be if you hire someone to paint your house blue and it turns out that the painters house is blue and blue is his favorite color but he turns around and immediately campaigns for legislation that only allows red houses. A GOP hypocrite is still a hypocrite no matter what color you paint him...

He maintains his innocence and refuses to step down. Meanwhile back here in Spokane, the City Council is reportedly going to vote unanimously tonight to request the mayors resignation. Pretty sure at this point Jimbo is not going to resign. It will come down to a recall petition or the council will have to change the rules to allow them to impeach. I have no idea which way this is going to go but for the time being we will be forced to deal with West as our mayor.


American Family Association now boycotting Ford

by Pam


Donald and Tim Wildmon think Ford has gone homo-fabulous.

Donald and Tim Wildmon's AmTaliban American Family Association couldn't succeed with a Disney boycott, so now they are refocusing that message of intolerance and wingnuttery -- and going after Ford.
AFA announced it has launched a boycott against the Ford Motor Company because of the company's track record for supporting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual "marriage." The pro-family group's founder and chairman, Donald E. Wildmon, says Ford's financial support of the homosexual agenda goes far beyond a few donations.

"From redefining family to include homosexual marriage; to giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to support homosexual groups and their agenda; to forcing managers to attend diversity training on how to promote the acceptance of homosexuality; to sponsoring a commitment ceremony -- that is, 'marriage'; to sponsoring 'gay pride' parades, Ford leads the way," Wildmon states. "The goal of every homosexual organization supported by Ford is to get homosexual marriage legalized."

According to Wildmon, there was so much material demonstrating the automaker's track record on promoting the homosexual agenda that his group decided it was best to simply give it its own website: BoycottFord.com.

"The material on BoycottFord.com leaves no doubt where Ford stands on the homosexual issue," he says. And people who visit the website, he claims, will be "surprised ... to learn of Ford's extensive promotion of homosexuality."

..."Inform them you will not be buying a Ford product until they stop their promotion of the homosexual movement and homosexual marriage," Wildmon says in the message to AFA supporters. If the dealer wants more information, he suggests individuals refer the dealer to the website for the boycott.
Her is Ford's official policy statement on inclusion:
Diversity embodies all the differences that make us unique individuals. Not limited to physical aspects of race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation, it includes culture, religion, education, experience, opinions, beliefs, language, nationality and more.

At Ford Motor Company we recognize that diversity is not only a reality of our global nature, it’s a distinct advantage, and one that we value and embrace. We also know that we can only leverage the benefits of diversity by understanding and respecting the differences among all employees.

[And it has an affinity group]
...Ford Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees (GLOBE)
Ford-GLOBE is active in making Ford a gay-friendly company. It strongly supports the company’s EEO policy. GLOBE has chapters in Great Britain, Germany and the U.S. providing worldwide networking and confidential employee support. Members actively champion diversity education, recruiting and marketing. They hold monthly membership meetings, lunches and socials while supporting many community events.
Let Ford know that its progressive policies are in the mainstream and that wingnuts like the Wildmons and their knuckle-dragging bible beaters are the ones on the fringe:

Ford Motor Company

William Clay Ford, Jr., Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Board of Directors

Phone:
800-392-3673
800-232-5952 (TDD for the Hearing Impaired)

Mail:
Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, MI 48126


Deep Throat Revealed?

by Shakespeare's Sister

As The All Spin Zone, reporting on the Downing Street Memo, notes, “The Watergate scandal started life as a third rate burglary, worthy of no more than a couple of sentences in the Washington Post,” so it is particularly timely, what with all the writing being down on the Downing Street Memo today (round-ups here and here), that a key Watergate figure, the informant known as Deep Throat, should allegedly reveal himself:
Vanity Fair magazine said on Tuesday that Mark Felt, a former FBI official, had revealed himself to be "Deep Throat," the legendary source who leaked Watergate scandal secrets to the Washington Post and brought down President Richard Nixon.

Unmasking the identity of "Deep Throat," a key source for Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, would solve one of the greatest political and journalistic mysteries of recent history.

The magazine said Felt, now a retiree living in Santa Rosa, California, had admitted his role in the scandal to his family and had cooperated with the story. It is the first time a major potential source has claimed to be "Deep Throat."
Don’t know if it’s true, as there doesn’t seem yet to be any confirmation from Woodward and Bernstein, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Monday, May 30, 2005

Analysis:
If the Truth Be Told

by Dark Wraith

Among the misconceptions set forth by the new Right in this country is that American labor, largely through union activity, priced itself out of competition in a globalized economy. The argument goes that, in a market economy such as that of the United States, it is only rational for employers to seek the lowest cost factors of production, be they raw materials or labor; and if labor is cheaper elsewhere, then that is where profit maximizing companies will go to secure it.

Economics for Dummies: The Neo-Con Reader's Edition
The proposition that American labor is "too expensive" is simplistic, and here's why. Throughout the 1980s, the United States federal government ran ever larger budget deficits, due in no small part to the Reagan Administration's tax cuts in the early years of the Gipper's first term. Federal budget deficits put upward pressure on interest rates. This is because the United States Treasury is entering global capital markets to compete for lendable funds; and because a sovereign nation will pay whatever rate it must to induce lenders to provide the needed money, the result is higher interest rates for all debt, both public and private.

The price of an American dollar is the interest rate it can earn. So, as domestic interest rates rise, the value of the American dollar increases relative to the values of other currencies whose interest rates are not under the same pricing circumstance. Stronger American dollars means American exports, which are obviously denominated in those dollars, become more expensive in overseas markets. And relatively speaking, because foreign currencies are becoming less valuable as the American dollar becomes more valuable, imports to the United States become cheaper.

In fact, though, everything foreign becomes cheaper, including factors of production!

No, American labor didn't price itself out of global competition; the federal government, through its budget deficits, did that. Factors of production don't willfully commit suicide, particularly when irresponsible Republican Presidents are happy to do the deed as an old-fashioned execution of the labor movement.

Something for Everyone
When U.S. interest rates are higher than those of foreign trading partners, American dollars become very attractive overseas. In fact, they become so desirable that foreign producers will lower their prices just so they can sell stuff to Americans and thereby get their hands on some of those dollars. But don't worry about those greenbacks getting homesick. They'll come back as capital investment since this is where the dollars earn the good interest rates. That's the whole point of what exchange rates and interest rates do to maintain asset flow balance: the short-term asset called dollars flows outward, creating a negative trade balance; then it flows back this way, creating a pretty much equal, positive capital account surplus.

That means foreigners get to own lots of long-term, American assets, like corporations and real estate and piles of government Treasury debt, while Americans get to own lots of short-term, foreign assets, like Toyotas and blenders and computers and Walmart junk. It works out as an equation, and prevailing exchange rates set the stage for this circulation of capital to always stay in rough balance.

A Primer on Factors of Production
When any good or service is created, the production process utilizes a mix of five broad categories of inputs. These so-called "factors of production" are land, physical capital, labor, human capital, and entrepreneurial skill, this last one being peculiar to production in capitalist economies.

Land is the physical platform upon which production takes place. In some cases, lots of land is required; in other cases, very little.

Physical capital—machines, trucks, buildings, etc.—is to some extent and in some industries a substitute for land: for example, service companies can render production in a skyscraper, whereas manufacturing companies usually have to spread out because of the need for horizontal assembly lines. That's why the downtown areas of big cities are dominated by tall buildings housing things like banks, law firms, and insurance companies, whereas the peripheries of those same cities are ringed by manufacturing plants.

Labor is nothing but raw muscle power, brute mechanical energy ready to be set upon tasks put before it. Human capital is knowledge, skill, understanding, and perhaps even wisdom set upon tasks before a person. Labor and human capital are unusual in that labor is always becoming human capital, either through formal training, as in education, or through learning that comes naturally to any beast (with the exception of neo-conservatives, who seem never to learn one tom-fool thing, despite the cornucopia of their past mistakes).

Entrepreneurial skill is the risk-taking, human organization of the other four factors in a combination that will create some output at a profit that compensates the organizer for his or her risk borne. As noted above, this one is unique to capitalist (or so-called "market") economies, although all shades of it show up even in communist economies as underground and otherwise illicit activities.

A Moveable Beast
Many industries locate with factor costs in mind. If it saves enough money, a plant will operate as close as possible to the source of its primary production factor. That means, if a manufacturing process is labor intensive, then companies in that industry will tend to locate, or re-locate as the case may be, where the labor is cheapest.

Now, most people are going to say, "Ah-hah! That's why America has lost all of those jobs to Third World countries. It's just tragic. It's terrible."

Well, yes, but blaming laborers in India and China or blaming greedy American companies misses the whole point. Remember what has been happening for more than several decades: American dollars—and therefore all things priced or denominated natively in those American dollars—have been very expensive. No, it wasn't the unions or escalating minimum wages or skyrocketing benefits in and of themselves that propelled companies to seek cheaper labor overseas: it was the regime of exchange rates that did much of the dirty deed; and those exchange rates were driven by the manner in which the United States chose to manage its fiscal house.

The chain of causality is not that difficult to track, but it certainly doesn't serve the purposes of neo-conservative politicians or the management of corporations to see it that way. Instead, the pro-business forces within this country would rather howl about getting wage and benefits concessions so America can remain, or maybe once again become, "competitive." But if the reason jobs flow overseas is relative currency valuations, wage and benefits concessions have no effect other than to produce a domestic labor force that would be entirely under-compensated were the United States government to have behaved in a financially responsible manner.

Yeah, But What About Illegal Aliens Taking "Our" Jobs
Go back to the value of the dollar. In a world where dollars are more valuable, factors of production will receive their best compensation if it is denominated in those dollars. Now, a machine can't get up and say, "Oh, I'm heading for Topeka because I can rent myself out in dollars, whereas if I stay here Mexico City, I get lousy pesos." Neither can a plot of land say, "I'm pullin' up my sod from here in Haiti and headin' to Miami where people pay for land in greenbacks."

But a person—that really unusual labor/human capital combo factor of production—can do precisely that: it can flow toward the place where its compensation is the best, even if "best" is nothing more than a technical feature of the currency's strength caused by exchange rates. And just as it does nothing to solve the problem of "expensive American workers" by demanding that they accept lower pay and fewer benefits, it does nothing to solve the problem of low wages and good jobs by turning into a bunch of kick-them-foreigners-out xenophobes. The immigrants—legal and illegal, both—are here not because America is the greatest land with the best television shows and the most wonderfully fulfilling jobs on Earth; it's because the American dollar is so valuable that they, like every other foreign importer, are willing to trade what they have at low prices just to have some of those greenbacks.

It's exactly the same dynamic, and it's caused by an America that has for years used the steroid of deficits to live so far beyond its public means that its currency is a magnet for every manner of foreign good that can flow this way.

Slapping tariffs on foreign imports, putting machine gun turrets at the borders, and pasting "Buy American" bumper stickers on Ford trucks doesn't fix the underlying problem. Fiscal discipline does that, and it's not just a matter of cutting every social welfare program that Right-wingers have been just dying to eliminate. It has as much, if not more, to do with constructing a tax system that isn't a candy store for Republicans to smash open for the electorate every time they want some votes.

What Won't Happen That Should
Somewhere along the way, some politician—be it a Republican; an Independent; or God forbid, a real Democrat—needs to lay it out for the American people:

No, I'm not giving you a tax cut. You've had too many. In fact, I'm going to raise taxes, most particularly on the wealthy, not just because they can afford it, but also because it's when they screw up that the most damage gets done that the government has to clean up. And if the rich people say anything, I'm going to rip into them for the bunch of perpetual crybabies they are.

Oh, yes, and about cutting federal spending: we need to chop down a lot of pork-barrel projects. That's always on the agenda. And we'll probably get rid of some social services spending, too, but that's sure as Hell not a priority when we've got so many people doing without in this country. Before we do much cutting of domestic programs, we're going save a whole lot of money by knocking it off with starting wars against stupid little dictatorships halfway around the world. That's too expensive, especially when they get so bitchy about the part where we try to take their oil.


And finally, if any of you stand up and start whining about 'immigration reform', 'fair trade', or 'wage concessions', you're going to get kicked right in the ass, even if you can't pull your head out before my boot hits paydirt.

Saying such things would require the intelligence to grasp what is right and then the bravery to lead righteously.

That means it won't happen. Not in this era, anyway.




The Dark Wraith has spoken.


Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Heart of a Liberal

by STP

"I am a Patriot. And I love my country. Because my country is all I know."

Little Steven

I never am unaware of my patriotism and the love I feel for the values and principles that this country was founded upon. Long before 9-11, love of country was something that abounded within me. I am proud to be an American. I believe the United States, or rather the idealism of the Founders, has no equal in modern history (perhaps ancient Greece and the Roman Republic).

I admit to the corny patriotism, too, that gets inspired and touched by certain songs and fireworks. The inner love comes more to the surface and I well up with pride.

Tonight, I spent the evening at the Navy Pier in Chicago, and there was a fireworks display revolving around Memorial Day. Songs played in the background including "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America," and I could feel that sense of pride inside of me (It could have been gas from the Haagan Dazs, but I will trust in the patriotism) .

My feelings took on a different dimension tonight, and the patriotism turned into a defiant, anger. These unexpected emotions were directed at the right wing, Christo-facists of this country who believe their zealotry, bigotry, small-mindedness, and fake bravado are definitions of love of country.

They seem to imply that I, as a progressive, am missing something. I can't possibly be virtuous because I want gays to have equal rights. I can't love God because I do not adhere to fundamentalist dogma. And I cannot love my country because I refuse to blindly follow an administration that foolishly alienates the world, lies to its country and murders both other nation's citizens and many of its own. I must hate the soldiers because I question their Commander in Chief. I am weak because I do not accept the idea that rights have to be given up in the name of a falsely, named Patriot Act.

And so I began to steam inside myself over the false portrayal that the right wing puts on me, and also attaches to itself.

I am a patriot. I love my country. My heart bleeds over each criminal and treasonous action undertaken by the Bush Administration. My righteousness is undeterred in the face of the missing values of anyone who discriminates against another group because they are "different." I am unwilling to succumb to fears that steal our freedoms.

I am a patriot. Those who question me as being anything less need to look in the mirror and ask themselves what they are afraid of, why they hate so much, why they must impose themselves upon others, what drives their greed, how they can proclaim a love of God and country, yet display no traits exhibiting such love, and who is the man they have decided to blindly and obediently follow over the cliff?

I am a patriot, and as the fireworks wind down, I am certain of this. The ideals this country was founded upon exist, just not within the actions of those who lead with hatred, fear and divisiveness.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)


Saturday, May 28, 2005

Big Brass Alliance

by Shakespeare's Sister

The Big Brass Alliance was formed in May 2005 as a collective of progressive bloggers who support After Downing Street, a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials.



1031 Productions
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The Emmaus Theory
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Waveflux
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WordWhammy
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(For more information, go here.)


Economics Marginalia

by Dark Wraith

Economics has been called many things: The Dismal Science; Common Sense Made Obtuse; The Incomprehensible Explaining the Inpenetrable; The Insubstantive Incontinence of Dolts in White Shirts...

Okay, enough of that. The point is made: economics is generally boring material handled by boring people. But sometimes, economics has interesting, if somewhat offbeat, information to offer, or it has a funny joke about its practitioners, or it has something important to say should anyone care to listen.

Jokes
Question: How many Harvard economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: Just one; he holds it up to the light socket and waits for the world to revolve around him.

Question: ...And does it?
Answer: Yes, of course. We're talking Harvard faculty. Duh!
◊     ◊     ◊

Two economists were walking down the sidewalk when they came upon two neighbors arguing violently over their common fence. The one economist says to the other, "They'll never come to an agreement, you know."

The other economist says, "How can you be so certain?"

The first economist replies, "Well, it's obvious: they're arguing from different premises!"
◊     ◊     ◊

The master economist is training his two young apprentice economists in archery. He brings them to an audience and directs the first young economist to fire an arrow at a target. The young archer misses by 20 feet to the left, killing a wealthy bystander.

The master economist then directs his second young economist to fire an arrow at the target, and this time, the arrow misses 20 feet to the right, killing a peasant bystander.

The master economist exclaims, "Perfect!" upon which shout of praise the crowd hollers, "Whaddaya mean, 'Perfect'?"

The master economist responds, "One of the economists missed by 20 feet to the left, and the other missed by 20 feet to the right. That means, on average, their results were exactly on target!"
◊     ◊     ◊

It seems that an economist was walking along an Arabian beach when he stumbled upon an ancient lamp. He kicked it a little, then he picked it up. First looking around to make sure no one would see him doing something totally stupid, he rubbed the lamp vigorously. Much to his shock, a billowing cloud issued forth from the lamp, and out came a giant genie.

"Sahib!" bellowed the enormous being of legend and lore. "You have freed me from my prison, so I shall grant you one wish!"

The economist looked a little perturbed and mumbled, "Whatever happened to the traditional three wishes?"

The genie replied, "The central genie wishing bank recently restricted the supply of wishes because of wish inflation, so be happy with the one you're getting; and make it now, before I get upset."

The economist thought for just a brief moment, and then he said, "I wish for an end to all scarcity: an end to scarcity of food and water, an end to scarcity of adequate medical treatment, an end to scarcity of jobs, an end to scarcity of factors of production... an end to all scarcity."

The genie roared, "Are you NUTS?! You're an economist! You should know that scarcity is the entire point of economic reality. It is scarcity that creates prices, and the prices then allocate the goods and services to their most efficient end uses. Scarcity is what causes creatures and societies to try different ways of organizing themselves in their efforts to deal with the relative scarcities of material and emotional wants and needs. Without scarcity, the entire biology of life would be fundamentally altered, perhaps even catastrophically!" The genie folded his arms defiantly and concluded, "No. No, no, no. I have the right to deny the first proposed wish of any master; and since I am duty bound to deny any such wish that would so fundamentally change the order of the universe, I hereby refuse you."

The economist looked a little taken aback at the adamance of his wish granter. He said, "I am truly sorry. I think I understand now that wishes should be for small and personal matters that don't disrupt the wider cosmos." So he thought for another moment, then he said, "I know what I want. Since I'm an economist, I want to make an economic forecast just once in my life that turns out to be exactly right. Yes! That's what I want."

The genie didn't say a word; he merely turned away from his master and walked down to the edge of the beach and stared out at the sun that was setting over the ocean. There in silence he stood for what seemed like an eternity before he let out an almost mournful sigh, turned to the economist, and said, "Okay. End all scarcity it is, then."
◊     ◊     ◊

It seems that, when Albert Einstein passed away, he was taken to the line of souls awaiting entry into Heaven. Being an affable sort of fellow, he turned to the woman right behind him and said, "Hello. May I be so bold as to ask you what your IQ is?"

The lady replied, "My IQ is 190."

Einstein's eyes lit up, and he exclaimed, "Oh, that's marvelous! You and I can spend all of eternity discussing the merits of the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. That's just wonderful."

Feeling quite happy about knowing this person, Einstein looked around her to the next person and asked, "What's your IQ, my friend?"

The man replied, "It's about 170, I think."

Einstein looked pleased and said, "Oh, good, good, good. You and I can spend all of eternity discussing issues of politics and nuclear disarmament and other such matters. Wonderful."

Finally, Einstein looked to the next man in line and inquired, "Excuse me, sir, but what is your IQ?"

The guy looked very ill at ease and muttered, "About 80, I suppose."

Einstein looked down, and after a moment's thought, said, "So... what do you think the economy's going to do?'

Did You Know
The last Republican President who balanced a federal budget was Dwight Eisenhower; the last Democrat was Bill Clinton.

University of Chicago economist Stephen Levitt has found that there was a statistically significant relationship between the lower crime rates in the early 1990s and the Roe v. Wade decision of the United States Supreme Court in the early 1970s.

The federal budget deficit for 2004 was more than $1,400 for each U.S. citizen.

As of 2004, according to the International Database of the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 6.6 deaths of infants per thousand live births in the U.S. Below are the associated infant mortality figures for a selection of other developed countries:
Australia: 4.8
Austria: 4.7
Canada: 4.8
Denmark: 4.6
Finland: 3.6
France: 4.3
Germany: 4.2
Greece: 5.6
Ireland: 5.5
Italy: 6.1
Japan: 3.3
New Zealand: 6.0
Norway: 3.7
Portugal: 5.1
Spain: 4.5
Sweden: 2.8
Switzerland: 4.4
United Kingdom: 5.2


The Dark Wraith wonders how many Americans know the difference between a bad economics joke and a bad joke of an economy.


Spy vs. Spy

by Ms. Julien in Miami

From America OnLine:

When will it end folks? Those in DC in charge of our lives have it in mind to turn our lives into their goldfish bowl. These are not, I repeat not, conservatives. These are fascists. They think, act and legislate as fascists. Wake up America before its too late:

"By Bill Piper, AlterNetPosted on May 18, 2005, Printed on May 27,
2005http://www.alternet.org/story/22048/

Neighbors spying on neighbors? Mothers forced to turn in their sons or
daughters? These are images straight out of George Orwell's 1984, or a remote totalitarian state. We don't associate them with the land of the free and the home of the brave, but that doesn't mean they couldn't happen here. A senior congressman, James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is working quietly but efficiently to turn the entire United States population into informants--by force.


Sensenbrenner, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman, has introduced legislation that would essentially draft every American into the war on drugs. H.R. 1528, cynically named "Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act," would compel people to spy on their family members and neighbors, and even go undercover and wear a wire if needed. If a person resisted, he or she would face mandatory incarceration. Here's how the "spy" section of the legislation works:

If you "witness" certain drug offenses taking place or "learn" about them, you must report the offenses to law enforcement within 24 hours and provide "full assistance in the investigation, apprehension and prosecution" of the people involved. Failure to do so would be a crime punishable by a mandatory minimum two-year prison entence, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Here are some examples of offenses you would have to report to police within 24
hours:

You find out that your brother, who has children, recently bought a small amount of marijuana to share with his wife;

You discover that your son gave his college roommate a marijuana joint;

You learn that your daughter asked her boyfriend to find her some drugs, even hough they're both in treatment.

In each of these cases you would have to report the relative to the police within 24 ours. Taking time to talk to your relative about treatment instead of calling the police immediately could land you in jail.

In addition to turning family member against family member, the legislation could also put many Americans in danger by forcing them to go undercover to gain evidence against strangers.

Even if the language that forces every American to become a de facto law enforcement agent is taken out, the bill would still impose draconian sentences on college students, mothers, people in drug treatment and others with substance abuse problems. If enacted, this bill will destroy lives, break up families, and waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

Despite growing opposition to mandatory minimum sentences from civil rights groups to U.S. Supreme Court Justices, the bill eliminates federal judges' ability to give sentences below the minimum recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. This creates a mandatory minimum sentence for all federal offenses, drug-related or not. H.R. 1528 also establishes new draconian penalties for a variety of
non-violent drug offenses, including:

Five years for anyone who passes a marijuana joint at a party to someone who, at some point in his or her life, has been in drug treatment; Ten years for mothers with substance abuse problems who commit certain drug offenses at home (even if their children are not at home at the time); Five years for any person with substance abuse problems who begs a friend in drug treatment to find them some drugs.

These sentences would put non-violent drug offenders behind bars for as long as rapists, and they include none of the drug treatment touted in the bill's name.

At a time when everyone from the conservative American Enterprise Institute to the liberal Sentencing Project is slamming the war on drugs as an abject failure, Sensenbrenner is trying to escalate it, and to force all Americans to become its foot soldiers. Instead of enacting new mandatory minimums, federal policymakers should look toward the states. A growing number have reformed their drug sentencing laws, including Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Texas, and they have proved it is possible to both save money and improve public safety.

Simply put, there is no way H.R. 1528 can be fixed. The only policy proposal in recent years that comes close to being as totalitarian as this bill is Operations TIPS, the Ashcroft initiative that would have encouraged -- but not required -- citizens to spy on one another. Congress rightfully rejected that initiative and they should do the same with H.R. 1528. Big Brother has no business here in America.

Bill Piper is director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance."



We're off to NYC!!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Off to our own personal Utopia - the BIG APPLE

Talk to you Wednesday!'

Love,

Julien, Alix, and wonderdog Verdell



Friday, May 27, 2005

Poem: Further From Heaven

by STP

If you are interested in a poem about how removed the right wingnuts in this country are from any religious virtue, check out my poem, "Further From Heaven." There is even a mention of that cattle humper, Neal Horsley.


Ralph Reed kicked to the curb by Microsoft

by Pam



Ralphie Reed needs to find some new AmTaliban work, since Microsoft has seen the error of its ways in hiring the turd and has cut him loose.
When it was recently revealed that Microsoft had employed religious conservative Ralph Reed as a political consultant, it was logical to wonder if his $20,000 monthly retainer was somehow related to the company's temporary refusal to support a gay-rights bill in Olympia, which failed. Maybe the fiercely antigay crusader with the choirboy looks would be there to guide Bill Gates through a nationwide boycott of software products, as threatened by Eastside minister Ken Hutcherson.

But as Jon Stewart put it on The Daily Show: Microsoft? "Afraid of a boycott? And you call yourself a heartless monopoly!" Indeed, the company has since thumbed its nose at Hutcherson and promises to support future gay-rights legislation. It also still heartlessly rules the computer desktop.

And as for Reed, if he ever had anything to do with Microsoft's role, or lack thereof, in this state's gay-rights debate, he won't next time. He's being deleted from the Redmond software giant's payroll, two company sources say, and he likely gets his last $20,000 check this month.
Hat tip, AmericaBlog.


Oh this is rich -- Scalia's priest son is 'ex-gay' advocate

by Pam


The Justice's "moralist" apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Another advocate of the movement to "de-gay" people is son of "Mr. Orgy" of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, according to AgapePress. Actually, he's more of a celibacy counselor than a true 'ex-gay' nutjob.
A priest who helps people overcome same-sex attractions says high schools should not encourage students to declare themselves as homosexual. Rev. Paul Scalia -- son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia -- says adolescents who self-identify as homosexual through "gay-lesbian" student clubs may find it is "a label that's very hard to get rid of." He believes many teens who might otherwise outgrow such attractions may be led into behaviors that impede realization of what he calls "their true identity as a child of God." Scalia heads the Arlington, Virginia, chapter of "Courage" -- a Roman Catholic ministry whose goal is "to help persons with same-sex attractions develop an interior life of chastity and move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete identity in Christ."


Bushspeak

by Shakespeare's Sister

I have no idea how this made it into USA Today, but it is totally fucking hilarious!!!

------------------------------------

Repeat offender

President Bush uses some phrases over and over:

What he says: "I appreciate that question."
When he says it: Several times in every news conference, usually immediately after a complex or tricky question.
Why he says it: This means he needs a second to collect his thoughts.

What he says: "Thank you for giving me a chance to come by and say hello."
When he says it: At the beginning or end of a news conference.
Why he says it: He's signaling that, although this is part of his job, it isn't his favorite part.

What he says: "We're making progress."
When he says it: When he's pressed on difficult issues, such as overhauling Social Security or ending North Korea's nuclear program.
Why he says it: He's saying that he's working on it.

What he says: "I look forward to working with (Congress, Democrats, Russians, Iraq's government, etc.)."
When he says it: In response to questions about the lack of progress on changes to Social Security, withdrawal of troops from Iraq, immigration laws, nuclear proliferation.
Why he says it: Bush is suggesting that others aren't playing ball yet, but he'll get what he wants eventually.

[…]

That's all folks

To connect with viewers, he tries folksy remarks:

"In this job, you've got a lot on your plate. ... You don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, 'How do you think my standing (in history) will be?' "

"I readily concede I'm out of my lane (discussing complex Medicare issues). I'm not pretending to be an actuary."

"The Crawford Pirates are the (Texas) state 2A, Division II champs, and we look forward, don't we, to wave the championship banner above the Crawford High School."

"The Oval Office is the kind of place where people ... walk in and get overwhelmed in the atmosphere, and they say, 'Man, you're looking pretty.' "

------------------------------------

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!! The thing is, that Ari Fleisher is credited with offering insights to put this thing together. It must be payback for the soul-wrenching guilt he feels after being compelled to exist as a professional liar for years. Either that, or he’s still an asskisser, but thought this would somehow come out as a positive thing for the pres. Seriously—I was dying laughing. It’s like it’s kinda straightforward, but it’s also totally snarky. It’s also accompanied by this image of Bush that is captioned as stated:



Viewers should watch President Bush during
news conferences as well as listening to him.

Maybe I’m nuts (or optimistic), but this whole thing just came across as a not very subtle attempt to say, “Wake up America—you’re being governed by an idiot!”

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Durham vigils -- and speculation about motive for cross burnings

by Pam


Hundreds gather for a prayer vigil at Roxboro Road near Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, the scene of one of Wednesday night's cross burnings. (The Herald-Sun/Bernard Thomas)

Kate and I attended two of the vigils last night in response to the cross burnings in our town.

We first swung by the site of the one that occurred closest to our house, at South Roxboro near Martin Luther King, Jr. Pkwy. around 8:30 PM. There was a stream of cars and people lining the sidewalk near the area where the cross was placed. It was a ballsy location; right on an open construction site within a subdivision.


Kate snapped these shots of the crowd in south Durham.

After that, we drove to the vigil for the burning at St. Luke's, which was held at Oval Park, nestled between two progressive neighborhoods, Old West Durham and Watts-Hillandale. I used to live in OWD, and I met up with some of my former neighbors, including John Schelp, president of the neighborhood association, and organizer of this vigil. About 250 people participated here.


John Schelp; folks that gathered at Oval Park

I also ran into JOyODurham (below), a Daily Kos diarist that posted on the vigils; she brought a sign (below). My DKos diary is here.




One completely baffling aspect of some of the reporting about this that I came across, both in a report in the afternoon on public radio, and below in today's Durham Herald-Sun story, is a struggle by both the reporters and those interviewed to find a racial, teen prank, or local school board politics connection to the placement of these crosses -- really just about anything else except a possible message of intolerance toward gays. In neither case do they even mention the Westboro Baptist Church members' recent visit to picket the Durham School of the Arts production of The Laramie Project and several gay-accepting churches in the area, including St. Luke's Episcopal -- where a burning cross was actually found. I'm no Sherlock Holmes, but come on people, at least the first Herald-Sun story by Eric Olsen had quotes from Bill Gutknecht, senior warden at St. Luke's, who brought up this possibility.

While burning a cross has a direct historical racial and religious intimidation connection, I think it's safe to say that given the tense politics about the marriage amendment in the state, and no historical highly recognizable symbolic way to get the public's attention about intolerance to gays, a cross burning is an easy way to get your point about an objection to diversity of all types across. The fliers left at one site don't give much of a clue; they seem to have some reference to gang activity and the KKK, but don't make much sense either, given the locations of the burning crosses. (Herald-Sun):
...Durham residents were shaken by the news that three flaming crosses were found in the Bull City on Wednesday night. Almost 600 gathered at three vigils Thursday night to protest the burnings.

Although authorities have not pinpointed a motive for the burnings, many residents see them as an attack on the diversity they say attracts them to the city. Community and religious leaders swiftly organized the three candlelight vigils to demonstrate they would not be intimidated by the symbols that some called "domestic terrorism."

Nearly 100 people gathered downtown and planted a crape myrtle tree at the site where one 7-foot cross burned the night before. "We feel like we were victims" said the Rev. Ryon Price, a white 28-year-old who attended the vigil with his black wife, Irie. "Regardless of motive, we feel we are victims of a hateful act."

In southwestern Durham, about 225 people gathered at a construction site on South Roxboro Street, just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, where a cross was extinguished by firefighters the night before. Some of them prayed and others spoke about what the incidents meant to them.

"We are here together as a community and we will not let someone tear us apart with hatred," said Donna Kornegay, who brought her two young daughters to teach them what race means to some people. "I will not relinquish my power to those who hate me."

The city Human Relations Department is planning a larger communitywide unity rally for next week. Yvonne Peña, who heads the department, said it's important to coordinate an event catering to all backgrounds. "The message is, 'We will not accept this kind of activity whatsoever,' " said Peña, who canceled her vacation after hearing about the incident so she could be involved in the investigation. "We're a diverse community and we're striving to overcome racial barriers."

On Thursday, the Durham Human Relations Commission met to brainstorm on whom to contact to help organize the citywide rally. The plan is to bring community leaders together Sunday to decide where to hold the rally and how to get the word out to black residents who were offended by the incidents. Most of the people who attended the vigils were white. "You're going to have to do it in a place that is not in an entity that is threatening to anyone," advised Jackie Wagstaff, a black Durham school board member who attended a meeting of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham with Peña.

The flaming 7-foot crosses found Wednesday have left Durham residents speculating why they were put up. Some black residents have suggested the burning crosses are a result of a proposal to change the way school board members are elected -- though fliers left at the site of one cross burning mention Durham gangs and say "gangbangers ? will answer" to the KKK.

The election proposal -- being pushed by a group called Concerned Citizens for Accountable Government and the Durham Regional Association of Realtors -- would change the current setup, which ensures minority representation on the seven-member board by setting aside three areas with black majorities. The change calls for letting all registered voters cast ballots for every seat on the school board. It's a change that opponents say could diminish black representation. "The whole idea of changing the school board and the way it's been proposed creates a space for people to be saying 'white power,' " said Theresa El-Amin, director of the Southern Anti-Racism Network.

She said she cried when she was told about the cross burnings and said she hoped it was "some kind of cruel and little silly joke." Civil Rights investigator Stella Adams, who heads the N.C. Fair Housing Center, said there is no evidence the flaming crosses were planted in response to the proposed changes, even though "that's what the African-American community feels."

Although the cross lit at Peachtree Place and Holloway Street was relatively near the Durham Public Schools headquarters, Adams said the two other crosses appeared to have no relationship to the school system.

Others have suggested high schools students may have set the crosses ablaze as part of a graduation prank. It's a suggestion that Jordan High School's senior class president Kristin Cunningham doesn't believe. "I think the younger generation is generally better about respecting each other's differences anyhow," Cunningham said a few minutes before walking into her graduation ceremony Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

City Manager Patrick Baker said the incidents do not help the city's reputation, but that he did not want "to read anything into the event. "I don't think this is a reflection of the values of the community," Baker said. "Durham has always embraced the diversity of this community and I think this is sort of an anomaly."

Despite the fliers' reference to the KKK, the national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said Thursday that his organization did not have a hand in the incidents. "I'm confident they'll find this was either perpetrated by some small kid or, most likely, by some kind of minority who is trying to create sympathy for whatever cause he may feel like he had," said Thomas Robb, who is based out of Harrison, Ark.
News and Observer coverage of the vigils is here (it doesn't mention the gay hate crime possibility either).

***

I didn't see it, but I heard that Mayor Bill Bell was interviewed on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The story did make the Countdown list last night, but the transcript isn't up yet.



Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend


Thursday, May 26, 2005

More Residents Lack Health Care Coverage

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Okay - maybe the readers of reality-based blogs can help me figure this one out...according to the Ohio News Network:

More and more people each year are without health insurance, and Ohio falls in line as more than twelve percent of the population was without coverage last year.

That number is up nearly 3.5 percent from 2003.

In Cleveland, MetroHealth Medical Center is the only place the uninsured can go for treatment. Twenty percent of the people who came through the door at MetroHealth last year were uninsured.

Dr. Reed Tuckson believes a lack of coverage affects, and costs, everyone. He says, "We know that when there are people who don't get the preventive services, the screening services they need, they have disease burdens that put all of us at risk for communicable disease, so we're all affected."

MetroHealth provided $108 million in charity care in 2003. That number jumped to $123 million last year.

So, Ohio can't insure its citizens against illness and disease (I consider Ohio the microcosm of the situation in many states...).

I would think that a state with the plethora of churches rich enough to build statues like this...



...would certainly have enough money to help with healthcare of the needy.

I would argue that it might be a little more "WWJD-esque" to have put some of the $$$$ it cost for what looks for all the world to me like a f*cking graven image into helping some of those who might just be losing their houses due to bankruptsy after being treated for cancer.

But no, unfortunately, Ohio churches (and most churches) are more focused on big-assed-jeezus statues than helping citizens in need.

(Cross-posted at Julien's List.)



Culture of Life: Bush-Style

by Shakespeare's Sister

Mustang Bobby:
Via Slate comes a nice side-by-side comparison of Bush's stance on the death penalty versus his stance on stem-cell research. Here's the capper:

· "I happen to believe that the death penalty, when properly applied, saves lives of others. And so I'm comfortable with my beliefs that there's no contradiction between the two." - April 14, 2005

· "The use of federal money, taxpayers' money to promote science which destroys life in order to save life is—I'm against that. And therefore, if the bill does that, I will veto it." - May 20, 2005

So, let me see if I have this straight -- Bush says that killing people saves lives, but using a piece of subatomic goo that could lead to cures for diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers and save millions of lives is murder.

Okay, I give up.
And that, of course, does not even begin to take into account the contented delirium he experiences each time he has the opportunity to drop bombs on brown people.

On a semi-related warmongering-type note, in case you’ve not heard, one of the revelations associated with the release of the Downing Street Memo is that Tony Blair only agreed to support the Iraq War in exchange for Bush supporting the Afghanistan invasion.

Think about that for a moment.

Bush had to be convinced to go after al-Qaida. Blair agreed to go into Iraq to get us into Afghanistan.

Digby says:
Tony Blair had to make a deal with Bush that he'd support him on Iraq to get him to go after Al-Qaeda. Is there anything more pathetic --- and frightening --- than that?
I’d have to say no.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Try a Little Common Sense

by Shakespeare's Sister

Today, Harry Reid gave an address at the National Press Club called “The Use of Power: An Agenda for Reform.” Here are some highlights (via Harry Reid’s war room):

Our common sense reform agenda will take our economy from sluggishness to prosperity. A prosperity where a rising tide lifts the boat of every American who is willing to work hard.

When it comes to the economy, the Washington Republicans offer the same old answers and then try to change the subject. But the growing trade deficit and a runaway national debt that puts us into hock to China and Japan show that this Administration and this Congress have lost control over America’s economic destiny.
Democrats stand ready to win back America’s prosperity. We’ll end the tax breaks that encourage companies to take jobs overseas. Restore fiscal responsibility. Spur innovation. Open the doors to college. And make work pay more than welfare.

And if we want our companies to be ready to compete in the world economy, we have to hold down health care costs. Today, Starbucks spends more on health care than on coffee. Today, GM spends more on health care than on steel. Today, we can’t ask our companies to go head to head with foreign competitors with this burden on their backs.

Our families will never get ahead while they are getting battered down by health care costs that total $10,000 a year.

And our country will never be what it should be as long as the color of your skin or the size of your bank account determines whether your children can see a doctor. We can do better for them. And they are expecting nothing less from us.

Many of the jobs of the future will be jobs that come from new energy saving industries. Today, Japan’s and South Korea’s head start on innovation means they are running away with those jobs. We have to get back in that race.

Americans are getting fed-up every time they go for a fill-up. They know that our reliance on Mideast oil is making America less safe. They want us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make this nation energy independent. We can get there – but only if we start putting America’s security and prosperity first.

And Democrats will continue to stop George Bush from privatizing Social Security while we say “yes” to shoring up Americans’ pensions and making our retirement system more secure.

This is our agenda – an agenda for reform, an agenda to do the people’s business. And for them we will continue to fight.

[…]

This week’s events mark our chance to forge a common sense center that embraces an American agenda for reform. As Democratic Leader, I will be working aggressively to advance the work the American people sent us to do. And I hope that Republicans of good faith will join with us to get this job done: To strengthen our national security. To make America energy independent. To restore economic prosperity and opportunity. To help our families and business afford their health care. To boost Americans’ retirement security and protect their Social Security.

In the coming weeks and months, I’ll have more to say on all these fronts. But I pledge today, that in everything we do, the lesson of this week – that we can build on the common sense center – will remain front and center.
The common sense center. It’s a nice thought, but as I recall, both people on the Left and the Right were pretty pissed off about the filibuster compromise. And so many of the issues we’re facing aren’t compromisable because the Left has already suggested centrist solutions and the Right continues to reject them. How do you give the LGBT community equal rights in a centrist way? How do you find the center between people who want abortion to be safe and legal and accessible and people who want it criminalized outright? Where is the center between the position that stem cell research should be legal and stem cell research should be illegal? The problem is that people on both sides of an issue have to have common sense.

On marriage equality, the common sense solution is to separate civil marriage and religious ceremonies, requiring everyone to register a civil union and leaving the religious aspects to the church. Will the Right ever capitulate to such a change? On abortion, the common sense solution is to encourage the use of birth control, make sex education (which can include but should not be limited to abstinence as an option) a priority, and make abortions as safe and immediately available as possible, so that they are done as early as possible. Will the Right ever support even one of those steps? On stem cell research, the common sense solution is simply that it should be legalized, because there is no reason it shouldn’t be; the misinformation campaign that invokes inappropriate comparisons to cloning, abortion, etc. should cease immediately. Will the Right agree to approach the topic with the rationality it deserves?

I hope Harry’s on to something; I really do. I just haven’t seen much common sense floating around lately.

As a side note, it’s nice to see he’s been reading my blog:

As of this month, more time has passed since 9-11 than the time between Pearl Harbor and the defeat of Japan. During those three years and eight months – sixty years ago – we invaded North Africa and Normandy. We freed people from the Philippines to France. Hitler lay dead and Tojo was in chains. We had defeated fascism around the world and had begun to build the new United Nations.

But today Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, our homeland is still not secure, we’re still not energy independent, and – in many ways – Americans are less safe than we were before 9-11.
(Just kidding.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


A Note to the Guys

by Shakespeare's Sister

If you’ve been considering the best way to get semen from your penis into a woman’s mouth (and I know you have been!), I’ve got some important information for you.

Don’t even think about engaging in consensual oral sex, especially if you might have reason to lie about it later. They impeached a president for that—I can only imagine what they’d do to you.

Instead, try filling a syringe with your jizz, then injecting it into women’s mouths. Even if you get caught and lie about it, you’ll only get probation.
In testimony before the board, [former dentist John Hall] denied the allegations.

"I have never injected semen in any patient's mouth," he said. "I never would. I've got a 10-year-old daughter. That whole concept is so beyond me."

Police searched Hall's office and confiscated syringes after several employees said they were suspicious of the dentist's behavior. DNA tests on the syringes later showed they contained Hall's semen.

[…]

[Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin] placed Hall, 44, on probation for five years, telling the alleged victims he chose that over a maximum 120-day prison sentence in the hope that Hall's activities would be monitored and similar acts prevented.
So, like I said…syringes are definitely the way to go. Just looking out for ya, guys.

Now, as for us girls, it seems pretty crappy that having a dude squirt his manjuice into our mouths against our will is considered a misdemeanor, especially considering that the junk can carry disease, not to mention the psychological trauma of such an event, and it seems even crappier that the best they can do to punish someone charged with seven counts of “misdemeanor assault on a female” is 120 days of jail or a 5-year probation. But, you know, that’s what the law says, and who are we to question the wisdom of the judiciary, right? The only solution I can think of is to stop going to the dentist. Maybe if our teeth spoil and rot and fall out of our heads, then there won’t be anyone wanting to squirt semen in our mouths uninvited.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Religious Right Declares War!!!

by JJ

You just have to read it to believe it...

Religious right vows payback for brokers of filibuster pact

CWA's Jan Larue says senators should be prepared to live in the "dog house", I am sure that 'man on dog' Santorum is panting with anticipation...

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss., said social conservatives are indeed frustrated by the actions of breakaway Republican senators.

"You would think to the victors go the spoils," he said.


Sounds like there is angst among the ranks. Ahhhh thats too bad, I for one am going to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch as the religious right slowly, brutally massacres itself.


This sh*t shouldn't happen here: crosses burned in Durham, NC

by Pam


A police officer and firefighters arrive at the scene of a cross burning Wednesday night on South Roxboro Street, about a quarter mile from Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. Mayor Bill Bell can't recall a cross burning since he moved here in 1968. (Cross photo: The Herald-Sun/Bernard Thomas)

Three crosses were burned last night in my progressive hometown, one only a couple of miles away from our house, near a middle-class, suburban subdivision. Some are tying it to the visit of members of the Rotting Cryptkeeper's church visit to our city to protest the Laramie Project play held at the Durham School of the Arts. The pathetic Phelps family picketed and were overwhelmingly outnumbered by supporters of the play and its performers.



[See my coverage of that event, Westboro Baptist Church protesters comes to Durham.]

It's hard to understand what kind of cretins think that they are going to find support for this rat-bastard, cowardly deed -- hey you f*ckers, show your faces -- but they won't find it in Durham. (Durham Herald-Sun):
Three large crosses were burned in separate incidents across Durham Wednesday night, the first time in recent memory that one of the South's most notorious symbols of racial hatred has been seen in the city.

Yellow fliers with Ku Klux Klan sayings were found at one of the cross burnings.

The Durham Police Department is investigating the burnings. After the third one was reported, the department ordered that any suspicious cargo truck or large pickup truck be stopped.

"At this day and time, I thought we'd be beyond that," said Mayor Bill Bell. "People do things for different reasons, and I don't have the slightest idea why anyone would do this." Bell, who said he couldn't recall a cross burning in Durham since he arrived here in 1968, said he hadn't received any calls, letters or e-mails that would "remotely" suggest someone would target the city with cross burnings.

The first burning was reported at 9:19 p.m. outside St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hillandale Road at Interstate 85. [Note: this church is gay-welcoming; I have no doubt that's the reason this one was targeted.]

As police and firefighters were finishing their work there, a second cross burning was reported at 9:54 p.m. along South Roxboro Street, about a quarter-mile south of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. Someone had positioned the cross atop a large pile of dirt near an apartment complex construction site to the west of South Roxboro Street.

"This is ridiculous," Durham police Sgt. A.M. Batte said as she stood over the smoldering cross around 10:20 p.m.


WTVD-TV pic of the Holloway St. cross. See the video report on it here. Right: St. Luke's, where the first cross was found. (News14Carolina). News 14's video coverage is here.

Then the third burning was reported at 10:28 p.m. at Peachtree Place and Holloway Street downtown.

The crosses were about 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide, police said. They were wrapped in burlap and doused in a liquid that smelled like kerosene. The crosses were made of four 2-by-4s. They were screwed flat together with grooves cut at the intersections of the beams. Batte said it would not have been difficult to place the cross atop the mound because streetlights in the area were out and large construction equipment shielded the view of passing traffic on South Roxboro Street.


WRAL

Burning a cross without the permission of the property owner is a misdemeanor in North Carolina. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that, under the First Amendment, cross burning could be barred only when done with the intent to intimidate.

"I cannot think of any reason that any insider or anyone outside would be angry with us," said Bill Gutknecht, senior warden at St. Luke's. "I don't know what kind of point they're trying to make. ... I certainly hope and pray it had nothing to do directly with our church."

Gutknecht noted that on May 9, members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., picketed outside St. Luke's, among other churches, as part of a protest against the performance of "The Laramie Project" at Durham School of the Arts. The play is about the murder of a gay man, and the Westboro protesters carried anti-gay signs with slogans including "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for 9/11."

"That's the only thing of any kind of conflict, and it wasn't really a conflict," Gutknecht said, explaining that church members ignored the protesters.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.
Mayor Bell (a former neighbor of mine) has been a strong supporter of progressive efforts and has attended and spoken at our huge annual State Pride events held in the city.

From my coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church's visit to Durham:

* Triumphant production of The Laramie Project in Durham
* Photos from day two of the Phelps Hate Machine in Durham
* Local media coverage of Phelps clan's visit to Durham
* First shots from the Westboro Baptist Church protest in Durham, NC
* Off to see The Rotting CryptkeeperTM Fred Phelps
* My dream come true -- Fred Phelps is coming to Durham!
* Daily Kos diary: Westboro Baptist Church protest in Durham, NC

(Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend)


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Hey folks, don't tank up at homo-bigoted ExxonMobil

by Pam



In what has to be one of the dumbest moves for a major corporation, given the trend to protect gay employees, ExxonMobil, for the seventh consecutive year has decided that its non-discrimination policy will exclude sexual orientation.
At the oil company's annual meeting Wednesday in Dallas, shareholders voted 29.4 percent in favor of giving LGBT workers protection. It was the highest support the measure has yet received.

ExxonMobil is the only U.S. company that has ever rescinded a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation. The provision had been available to workers at Mobil. But, in December 1999 Mobil merged with Exxon and under Exxon's direction the policy was abandoned. At the same time, it closed Mobil's domestic partner benefits program to any more employees.

Twenty-four members of Congress, and thousands of stockholders and consumers, wrote to ExxonMobil Chairman Lee R. Raymond in December 1999 to protest the policy reversals. In January 2000, stockholders and activists protested at a company facility in Houston, causing the facility to close for the day. "ExxonMobil is wasting resources by refusing to write down a policy it says it already has," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.
On the "Guiding Principles" section of its web site, ExxonMobil says the following about its employees:
The exceptional quality of our workforce is a valuable competitive edge. To build on this advantage we will strive to hire and retain the most qualified people available and maximize their opportunities for success through training and development. We are committed to maintaining a safe work environment enriched by diversity and characterized by open communication, trust, and fair treatment.
I guess fairness is for everyone except the homos toiling away at the billion dollar oil giant. Maybe ExxonMobil's board of directors includes a few closet AmTalibaners.

ExxonMobil's Board of Shame - where is the leadership?


Michael J. Boskin, William W. George, James R. Houghton,


William R. Howell, Reatha Clark King, Philip E. Lippincott,


Henry A. McKinnell, Jr., Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Lee R. Raymond,


Walter V. Shipley, Rex W. Tillerson (President, Exxon Mobil Corporation).

This is just plain sad, when BP Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Corp., Shell Oil Company, Sunoco Inc., Valero Energy Corp., Marathon Oil Corp. and Williams Companies Inc. all have non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation.

A list of business addresses for ExxonMobil is here. A web form for general business communication is here.

Corporate News Media Desk
Corporate Media - Dallas, Texas
972 444 1107


The Pacific Northwest Roundup! And a CALL FOR HELP!!!

by JJ

In the Idaho News and a CALL FOR HELP!!!

This is not related to politics or gay marriage but needs some space and any publicity it can get!!!

There was a triple homicide a week and a half ago about 20 miles from my home. Two children are missing, authorities have called on Memorial day campers to keep their eyes open for any signs of the youths.

Abduction of two children in Idaho baffles investigators

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- If little Dylan and Shasta Groene are still alive - and the sheriff desperately wants to believe so - they may have a ghastly story to tell.

Dylan, 9, and Shasta, 8, were abducted a week and a half ago, probably after they witnessed their mother, her boyfriend and an older brother being bound and then bludgeoned to death inside their rural home, authorities say.

After searching across the Northwest and fielding more than 1,150 tips, the FBI and local investigators say they have no suspects, no strong leads as to the children's whereabouts, and no idea why the victims were killed and the youngsters taken.


If anyone out there has any information regarding these two young children you can call these numbers: (208) 446-2292 and (208) 446-2293.




The PAC NW Pedophiles UPDATE (CAUTION: Explicit Material)

I talked about these bastards here The Pacific Northwest Pedophile Clan Grows by ONE? And how pervs used the ranch to check out young boys like it was a library for the purposes of molesting them. Apparently there have been other incidents with this ranch of course the priest in charge of the place claims ignorance once again…

This time it was one of their own counselors.


Morning Star Boys' Ranch paid one of its former residents an undisclosed amount of money last fall to settle a lawsuit involving sexual abuse allegations from the 1990s.

The alleged abuse by a ranch counselor, and an accusation that the Rev. Joe Weitensteiner used threats to keep the allegations secret after they were brought to his attention in 2003, is detailed in a Spokane County Superior Court deposition obtained by The Spokesman-Review. Weitensteiner, longtime director of the home for troubled boys, disputes threatening the former resident.

Now 25, the former resident – identified only as "John G. Doe" in court documents – also won a $750,000 settlement against the former counselor, Dale A. Stearns.(…)

In the Morning Star lawsuit, the former resident claims he told Weitensteiner in 2003 that Stearns repeatedly molested him when he was at the ranch from ages 11 to 13.

"He (Weitensteiner) said there was a boy (who) used to go to the ranch who was … in the Mob or connected to the Mob, and if anybody messed with the ranch that he would handle it," the man said in a previously undisclosed March 31, 2004, deposition obtained by the newspaper.

The former resident could not be reached for comment. Greg Arpin, an attorney who represented Morning Star in the case, denied Friday that Weitensteiner, the longtime director of Morning Star, ever threatened the man.

"Father Joe did not make any threats to him," Arpin said. "Father Joe wouldn't do that."

Morning Star quietly agreed to a confidential but substantial settlement with the man last fall, according to an attorney for John G. Doe.(…)

According to the deposition, the man said Weitensteiner "told me if anybody ever messed with the ranch he would kill them or he would have them (killed)."

When an attorney for Morning Star asked if Weitensteiner threatened "to do something unlawful to you," the man responded: "I don't know if it was to me, to Dale. I took it was toward me."

Arpin denied that Weitensteiner ever threatened the man.

"I remember a time (Stearns) took me down to the darkroom," the former resident said in his deposition. "He had locked the door behind him, and he had some negatives and he had lotion and he rubbed it in my butt, and he told me he was doing it because he loved me."

The man alleged that another boy made him perform oral sex at the ranch and on a Morning Star outing, according to the deposition. The former resident said the incident was reported to a staffer, who talked with the boys.



This is a at risk youth camp and here is their mission statement and vision…




Morning Star Boys' Ranch, answering God's call to love and serve those in need, is dedicated to building men by believing in boys, and providing programs to strengthen the community.

Vision
Through its programs and services, Morning Star Boys' Ranch provides love, professional care, guidance, and hope to children, youth, and families, and nurtures their social, moral, educational, and emotional growth.

Values
Morning Star Boys' Ranch Board, staff, and volunteers embrace the values of integrity, respect, and dignity.


More of those great family values people we hear so much about lately. They might as well put a sign on the door that says "Molest Children Here! On Sale Now! $750,000". This Stearns fellow is still a licensed foster parent here in Washington and as far as anyone knows, still has young boys as foster kids.


The WA Gov Election Battle is Engaged!!!!

The GOP is claiming that election officials in King County stuffed ballot boxes in Gregoire leaning precincts and removed ballot boxes from Rossi leaning precincts. When the judge asked for evidence they could not produce anything and said the circumstances led them to believe this accusation is true. The GOP is looking under every stone and blasting away at heavily democratic King County while completely ignoring all heavily Republican counties in their effort to overturn the election. Read on…



GOP lawyer hammers King County elections errors

WENATCHEE – Republicans on Tuesday painted a picture of chaos in the King County elections office, where incompetence and deceit caused enough errors to tip last fall’s governor’s race to Democrat Christine Gregoire.

Republicans spent most of the day grilling, in painstaking detail, the number two elections official in Gregoire’s base of King County.

King County Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens, a slight, soft-spoken man who conservative bloggers and talk show hosts have accused of helping Gregoire steal the election from Republican Dino Rossi, acknowledged his office counted ballots it shouldn’t have and didn’t count some it should have.

Toward the end of more than four hours of sometimes contentious testimony, in which lawyers prodded Huennekens about the minute details of office e-mails, memos and conversations, Republican lawyer Rob Maguire asked him if King County election workers made mistakes.

“They made mistakes. They made errors. They did things by accident,” Huennekens said, adding their errors may have resulted in lawful ballots not being counted. But his testimony didn’t produce evidence of the ballot box stuffing or upper-level corruption that Republicans alleged in their opening statement Monday.

Even so, it may have advanced the GOP’s two-pronged effort to overturn Gregoire’s 129-vote victory.


So the repugs change strategy in midstream to attempt to prove their point…



Because the testimony from Huennekens and Arnold revealed minor technical
differences between election administration in their counties, Republicans could argue varying procedures for handling ballots violate the equal protection clauses of the state and U.S. constitutions – a claim Bridges previously rejected.

In recent days, the Republicans have shifted the focus of their case from illegal votes – primarily from felons, but also from the deceased and dual voters – to election worker errors or fraud.

After Tuesday’s hearing, they predicted that Huennekens’ testimony would help them on both fronts, since he acknowledged 500 felons voted illegally.

It’s unclear, though, if his admissions will meet the strict criteria Bridges set before the trial for proving illegal votes, including proof the alleged illegal voter actually marked a ballot to indicate a choice for governor, instead of leaving the race
blank.

The type of errors that occurred in King County are typical of any election in any precinct in Washington state. The Repugs are focusing on King County because it is Governor Gregoire’s base, heavily democratic and the largest voting population in the state. To be fair this type of scrutiny should be made of all precincts, however, they are taking a page out of the Bush text book on how to overturn elections. This will go all the way to the supreme court before it is over.



Oregon Civil Unions

The supreme idiots of OR invalidated the marriage agreements of all of the same sex couples who married in Multnomah county. Now the legislature is working on a civil unions bill even though the people of Oregon voted to add the gay bashing marriage protection amendment to their constitution. I have to give the Oregon legislature some credit here as the Democrats and moderate Republicans appear to be working together to draft a civil unions bill that will provide some benefit to same sex couples.


Civil unions, anti-discrimination laws split

A coalition of Republican and Democratic senators is drafting a new civil unions bill and planning to hold a public hearing next week.

The bill will be identical to language within the established Senate Bill 1000, said Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland, a coalition member. It would insert the words "civil union" and "partners" alongside "marriage" and "husband and wife" in state law.Gov. Ted Kulongoski began the session in January by appealing to lawmakers to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and public services.




I guess two steps forward and three back is still progress...


Low-wattage Walter Jones: 'Freedom Fries' was a dumb idea

by Pam


Eastern North Carolina U.S. Rep. Walter Jones rues his coining of the term "Freedom Fries."

So when exactly did the light bulb come on over this wingnut dunce's head? The Guardian has a story on the Tar Heel knuckle-dragger's second thoughts about his little wartime wordplay now that the war is dragging out and the bomb and body counts are rising.
It was a culinary rebuke that echoed around the world, heightening the sense of tension between Washington and Paris in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But now the US politician who led the campaign to change the name of french fries to "freedom fries" has turned against the war.

Walter Jones, the Republican congressman for North Carolina who was also the brains behind french toast becoming freedom toast in Capitol Hill restaurants, told a local newspaper the US went to war "with no justification".

Mr Jones, who in March 2003 circulated a letter demanding that the three cafeterias in the House of Representatives' office buildings ban the word french from menus, said it was meant as a "light-hearted gesture". But the name change, still in force, made headlines around the world, both for what it said about US-French relations and its pettiness.

Now Mr Jones appears to agree. Asked by a reporter for the North Carolina News and Observer about the name-change campaign - an idea Mr Jones said at the time came to him by a combination of God's hand and a constituent's request - he replied: "I wish it had never happened."


Jumping Back Into Bed With Jim West....

by JJ

Well I grudgingly delve back into the Jim West story, apologies for avoiding it but I have major disgust over anything to do with the mayor of my city. For the last week I couldn't stand to even look at the paper I am so disgusted with this affair. He still thinks he did nothing wrong! Pam has an update here .

I have done some investigation of my own into the one brave soul, Ryan Oelrich, (Interview With Ryan Oelrich) who came out and said that Jim West gave him his position to get closer to him for the purposes of seducing him into bed. All I have to say is DUUUHHH, lets put it into perspective… A 54 year old CEO of a company hires a cute 23 year old blond to a key position knowing that the blonds claim to fame and only experience is making balloon animals. This CEO at the point he hires the blond only knows him via his activities in a Balloon house (This is where Jim and Ryan first met). Ya think the blond would have a clue as to the CEOs motives? Not a chance! He didn’t have a clue or give up the position for almost a year after being placed there and only then after hundreds of “inappropriate” conversations and a date to Lowes!

I did some checking into Ryan Oelrich’s Quest youth group and discovered that the primary donors to Quest are older men who were solicited by Ryan to contribute to the group. According to a member of Quest, who wishes to remain anonymous, the group only allows white straight acting gays as its members. This was brought up in a chat on about the exclusionary practices of Quest and the response from Ryan is that they are trying to “break stereotypes”. Quest has done some good work in the community but in reality is nothing more than a “whites only” social club funded by old white straight acting men. So the question remains did Jim West seek out Ryan Oelrich or was it the other way around? Requests for an interview with Ryan have gone unanswered but have been “taken into consideration”.

The city council is finally coming around to a full court press to get Jimbo out of office. Rumor has it that they have offered to pay out the rest of his salary (31 months) if he will step down. I missed the last council meeting so cannot verify this for fact yet. According to the Spokesman review,



The Spokane City Council is expected to call for the resignation of Mayor Jim West when it meets next Tuesday. All seven council members are now part of a growing chorus of community leaders who want West to step down over sexual misconduct allegations.

Council President Dennis Hession on Tuesday said the city "is now at a point where the mayor's continued presence is an impediment to the normal progress of the ity."


According to the city charter, the council is powerless to remove the mayor, the only procedural way to get rid of him is to change the rules to allow an impeachment which will have to go to the voters. The recall petition was invalidated on technical problems.

New claims against West


New claims allege West groped suspect, pulled down boys' pants

New allegations of misconduct are surfacing against Jim West even as he digs in to save his job as Spokane mayor. The allegations include claims that West pulled down the pants of boys at a Boy Scout camp during the late 1970s and, as a deputy, fondled a teenager during a search for marijuana in 1977.

Later, after moving to the state Legislature, West allegedly made an inappropriate sexual comment about the teenage son of state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn. "Mr. West denies each and every one of these allegations," the mayor's private attorney, Bill Etter, said Monday.(…)

West did not return telephone calls seeking comment about allegations that he pulled down the swimming trunks and pants of boys, some of them as young as 8, at a Scout camp on Diamond Lake. Those allegations have come from family members and friends of some of the alleged victims.

"Jim West did, in fact, 'pants' the boys," said a Spokane woman whose son was present during the activity at Camp Cowles, the Boy Scout facility at Diamond Lake.
"I know this happened because my son, John, told me it happened, and my husband was present on one of those occasions," said the professional woman who asked that her family name not be divulged.

Her husband, a Spokane businessman, said: "When it happened, I looked over at another adult and said, 'This doesn't seem appropriate.' But we didn't do anything and nothing went beyond that in our presence."

The parents said they are now guilt-ridden that they didn't report West's activities at the time. "Sometimes that doesn't do any good anyway," the woman said.


Further example of Jim West being a asshole hypocrite:

As state Senate majority leader in 2003, Jim West clashed with a fellow Republican whose aide found sexually suggestive e-mails between two male GOP staff members on a state computer.

Instead of disciplining the aides who wrote the e-mails for inappropriate conduct, West went after the Republicans who disclosed the e-mails.




So this nasty saga continues. At this point if Jim West wants to stay in office, he will wether anyone likes it or not. The only thing that will get him out of office is a successfull recall petition or a change of procedure in the City Charter, both of which have to go to the voters... This F***G sucks!


The Fallen

by Shakespeare's Sister

Ted Koppel and Nightline will repeat their special tribute to fallen soldiers:
One year since honoring the American service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ted Koppel and ABC News "Nightline" will again pay tribute to the fallen by devoting an extended broadcast to reading the names and showing the photographs of more than 900 service members who have been killed in those countries over the last year.

Titled "The Fallen," the special "Nightline" broadcast will air Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2005, at 11:35 p.m. ET on the ABC Television Network. ABC News Radio will air excerpts of the program.

[…]

Said "Nightline" executive producer Tom Bettag, "Too often we simply report casualties in terms of numbers. 'The Fallen' is our way of reminding viewers, regardless of their feelings about the war, that the men and women who have given their lives in our behalf are individuals with names and faces."
I personally always thought this was a nice idea, and so straightforward that I couldn’t believe it would be objectionable to anyone. Of course, the Right can find something objectionable about everything, so, with a whole new level of wingnuttiness, surprising even those as normally as unflappable as myself when it comes to their antics, the Right took off on a direct flight to Cuckooland, immediately deciding that simply acknowledging people were actually dying was the same as aiding and abetting the enemy. It was a relentless insanathon from the “Support the Troops” crowd as they called for Koppel’s head and decided that anyone who thought that recognizing the soldiers who had laid down their lives for the war the Right so resoundingly supports was somehow celebrating their deaths.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we, to recall what the righteous rightwing reaction was to last year’s attempt to honor the dead…

Our favorite media company, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, denounced the tribute as a political anti-war statement and refused to air it. (Sinclair, in case you’ve miraculously managed to forget, is the same group that ordered its affiliates to air an anti-Kerry film just before the election.)

Koppel was accused of trivializing the deaths of American soldiers. (Because, in wingnut world, hiding their coffins from public view honors them, but reading their names and showing their faces on a news broadcast trivializes their deaths.)

President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, the media’s continued reliance on whose dubious expertise recently prompted Crooks and Liars to start a campaign demanding media fairness (more here), cited the program as having a “partisan nature” and a singular goal of turning “public opinion against the war.”

The program was ridiculed as a ratings gimmick and accused of being anti-war propaganda.

And the Freepers had a few choice words about the Nightline special, too (as always, not responsible for spelling and grammatical errors):
I'm speechless. This is clearly designed to turn the country against the war. This SOBs have no shame!!

Ted: F*** you and the perverted news operation you rode in on!

A**HOLES!! WHAT is WITH those guys!? What makes them want our country to fail SO much? Man Alive! I've never, EVER seen anything like the snake-in-the-grass shenanigans that the media and left are going into.

Ted, Goebbels would be proud.

Nice propaganda for the anti-war idiots. Folks who have died in Iraq deserve all the respect we can muster. But to have their death shamelessly used by Koppel in order to pursuade the country to abandon the very caused they died for is horrible.

What the H*ll do these morons hope to achieve? How does this help anybody? What is their D*mn point!!?

Ted is a sick, Anti-American bastard.

Sure, we'll watch it and weep and salute, but the mods and the Left will use the blood of the dead to elect Kerry and to surrender to the terrorists. I don't want the fallen to have died in vain-- the Left wants that.
And that was just from the first page of comments.

(Most Telling Comment Award goes to Folks who have died in Iraq deserve all the respect we can muster. If it's anywhere in the neighborhood of all the logic, compassion, intelligence, and/or ethics they can muster, it's no wonder that bumper magnets are considered the height of their support-the-troopsitude.)

I wonder if there will be as much outrage this year…or has the urge to create a media shitstorm over the names and faces of fallen soldiers ebbed a bit now that their boy has won his reelection?

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Bloch Head

by Shakespeare's Sister

This is utterly ridiculous:
Special counsel Scott J. Bloch told a Senate panel yesterday that he lacks the legal authority to enforce the Bush administration's ban on discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.

If a federal manager fires, reassigns or takes some other action against an employee simply because that employee is gay, there is nothing in federal law that would permit the Office of Special Counsel to protect the worker, Bloch testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on oversight of government management, the federal workforce and the District of Columbia.

"We are limited by our enforcement statutes as Congress gives them," Bloch said, responding to a question from Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). "The courts have specifically rejected sexual orientation as a class protection."
Right. It has nothing to do with the institutionalized homophobia of which the Bush administration reeks, or Bloch’s own personal issues with gays and lesbians, even though Bloch (who was appointed by Bush in January of last year) has been repeatedly accused of failing to enforce the long-standing federal employment policy against bias based on sexual orientation and taking punitive action against whistle-blowers. It’s just those darn courts. And I think Block really proved that it has nothing to do whatsoever with his personal biases when he was asked whether he would recommend that Congress extend protections to include sexual orientation but declined to take a position. He might as well have said, “See, if you do that, though, I won’t be able to claim my hands are tied anymore!” Disingenuous prick.

Referring to Bloch’s “insensitive” ultimatum issued to 12 career employees that they either accept reassignments to Dallas, Oakland, and Detroit offices with 10 days’ notice or be terminated, Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) noted (rather limply):
"I hope that because of this incident you've learned something in terms of taking a little more time in doing it."
Bloch’s response?
"Yes, Senator…I'm learning new things every day."
Well, my little learnin’ friend, here’s a lesson for you: STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST GAYS AND LESBIANS.

Okay, I guess that’s not as much a “lesson” as a “demand.” Tomato, tomahto.

Just knock it off, Bloch, you smug, arrogant, nasty homophobe.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Howie Fineman -- clueless part 2: AmTaliban is in retreat

by Pam


Duh (again).

Howard Fineman, that wise sage at Newsweek pontificated the following about James Dobson on May 4 (see "Howie Fineman: clueless on Dobson"):
I asked him what his top priority was in public life, and was astonished to hear him answer: ending the filibuster rule.
Our MSM oracle is at it again -- this week we have his web-exclusive, highly insightful laff-riot, "Food Fight in the Big Tent," ruminating hilariously whether voters starting to turn against the AmTaliban (the emphasis is mine):
I’m wondering if we haven’t just witnessed a turning point in politics. Years from now, when we look back on the “Gang of 14” deal, will we see it as the moment when the tide of conservative Republicanism crested?

American public life moves in cycles. A generation ago, Lyndon Johnson trounced Barry Goldwater. But Goldwater’s 1964 crusade unleashed energy and ideas that inspired the New Right-Republican movement, which eventually reached its zenith in George W. Bush. He unified the libertarian, religious and corporate cadres of conservatism under his GOP banner.

Is the wheel turning again with another bold Texan in power? Hard to know, of course, and the Democrats won’t rise in some mere hydraulic fashion. They need to find vision, ideas and charismatic leaders, and none of them seem to be in great supply. But the line of products—call them “Bush Right” —suddenly is looking like what marketers call a “mature brand.” There are signs of age, strain and overreach, internally and externally.
I won't disagree that the Reich is over-reaching, but damn, what echo chamber has Fineman been in? There's no one there from the real world in there with him. The wingnuts are not in retreat by any stretch of the imagination. He's convinced that the recent filibuster compromise represents a smackdown on the Right.
Inside the Big Tent, the “Gang of 14” deal pitted libertarians against the religionists, with Bush —who rose to power by taming both—caught in the middle. Faith-based conservatives felt betrayed by the bi-partisan deal and with good reason: they were betrayed.
But most of the GOP members of the Gang don’t feel guilty about it—they are (privately) delighted. Many other Republican senators, who stayed away from the filibuster-judges deal for various reasons, were relieved that rules of the Senate were saved and that religious conservatives were, in essence, told to shove it.
Again, he's not completely incorrect, just dementedly short-sighted. This is a short term "loss" for the AmTaliban, but when the Supreme Court vacancy is ready to be filled (these "moderate" Repugs better pray Rehnquist doesn't kick it around election time), Dobson, like The Mummy, will be back, staggering and slobbering all over them again, threatening to club them into submission.



That nuclear button will be pushed when the Repug theocrats are ready because the whole religious extremist movement is about changing the direction of this country by appointing justices that will "make things right" -- in the biblical terms. This little filibuster jousting match means nothing to them -- this as a long-term war and they intend to go the distance. I cannot fathom how anyone in the MSM can seriously observe that some kind of political corner that has been turned, harkening a return to centrist control.


The AmTaliban's full-force assault on corporate America

by Pam

As we saw in the Microsoft debacle, when the $30 billion company withdrew support for gay rights legislation after being criticized by evangelist Ken Hutcherson, it was clear that the American Taliban has corporate America shaking in its boots. [It was only after pressure from employees and the blogs that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer later reversed Microsoft's stance -- after the bill was defeated.]

In an excellent piece by J.D. Bullington in the Albuquerque Tribune, the assault and intimidation techniques are relentless. The distressing news is that corporations are buckling.
America's largest companies are increasingly being targeted for their stances on social issues and dropping their gloves without a fight, showing no willingness to jump into the ring and take on the new breed of righteous, heavyweight contenders. Big business would rather forfeit these days instead of upsetting a huge, well-organized and rapidly growing religious conservative consumer sector.

According to a report in the May 23 edition of BusinessWeek, more and more corporations are facing threats of evangelical-led boycotts, including General Electric for pursuing stem cell research, Proctor and Gamble for advertising Downy fabric softener in a foreign gay magazine and supporting gay rights, and Kraft Foods for supporting the Gay Olympics. Safeway, Lowe's, Tyson Foods and Kellogg no longer plan to purchase commercial ad space during the TV show "Desperate Housewives" because of pressure from Christian organizations.

The largest church in the nation is Lakewood Church in Houston. Weekend attendance is 30,000, which helped net the church $55 million in contributions last year. Megachurches, like Lakewood, which are actually sophisticated multimedia enterprises, have become incredibly successful at targeting people who have drifted away from other traditional denominations or who have never attended church regularly.

The religious right is one heaven of a force, surging with confidence, power and money after helping President Bush get re-elected. Now it has its sight set on broader issues that coves who voted against the bill:
Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said the embryonic research bill would force taxpayers to finance "the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings."

Rep. Michael Burgess (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, a doctor of obstetrics, played the sound of a fetal heartbeat over the House speaker system, declaring, "This is what it's all about, folks."
You know, it’s one thing when the resolute idiot DeLay outrageously blathers on about some nonsensical, totally unscientific nonsense, ignoring the simple and obvious distinction between stem cells and “living, distinct human beings,” but when a friggin’ doctor of obstetrics refuses to acknowledge the difference, you know there’s not a modicum of integrity left in the House GOP. If there were, they would have restrained “Doctor” Burgess with his own stethoscope and shoved that tape up his moronic, melodramatic ass.


Shakespeare's Sister Site Down

by Shakespeare's Sister

In case any Shakers are checking in here to see what's going on with my site, I have no idea. It appears to be some kind of Blogger issue. I've emailed them and received nothing but a form email in response. I have no clue when the site will be back up or what is causing the problem.

I'll continue to post here in the interim.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Laugh of the night from Concerned Women for America

by Pam

This graphic is up on the Concerned Women for America web site:



This juxtaposition with old TJ just cracked me up, probably because the allegedly pious Reich are consumers of plenty of porn. Somehow I don't think CWA is going to get very far if the intention is to ban porn. They are joining up with Phil Burress's outfit, Citizens for Community Values, to "mobilize citizen action against porn's encroachment upon our society."

You'll also recall that Burress is the brain behind CleanHotels.com (see "And I thought they were talking about clean sheets")



Saint Santorum

by Shakespeare's Sister

David Sirota isn’t happy about Sunday’s much-discussed New York Times Magazine profile of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), and having read the piece, I’m none too happy, either. Sirota picks out a passage describing Santorum’s alleged role as an anti-poverty crusader to illustrate how one-sided and manipulative the piece is; I was more taken with back-to-back statements like the following passage:
''Society's interest in marriage is the future,'' [Santorum] told me. ''It is the next generation. It is in providing a stable environment for the raising of children. That's why we give marriage a special status, not because people like to hang out together and have fun.''

Santorum rarely argues from a purely religious viewpoint.
Get me a neck brace, stat! That juxtaposition left me with wicked case of whiplash. Is it simply appalling writing skills coupled with a compulsion to lie, or is Michael Sokolove unaware of the religious origins of a singularly procreative view of marriage? In either case, it’s spectacularly bad reporting, and equally stunning idiocy permeates the entirety of the piece, which, by the way, is entitled, “The Believer.” Blech.

Sirota notes that although the New York Times is a paper which he used to highly respect, and there are still some serious reporters doing decent work under its banner, it is nonetheless:
well on its way to becoming a laughingstock when it comes to political reporting. Its philosophy has crystallized around one singular axiom: don’t challenge people the political Establishment perceives to be all-powerful. The travesty is that this axiom is diametrically opposed to what the press’s mission is supposed to be.

[…]

For Santorum, the piece was the equivalent of what Monica Lewinsky did to President Clinton in the shadowy confines of the Oval Office. For the public, it was pathetic pandering propaganda that insults people’s intelligence. This, apparently, is the reward the paper gives out when politicians like Santorum publicly equate it to the Nazis. Not a tough piece, not even a fair piece - an absolute whitewash, replete with an angelic cover photo of Santorum, as if God's light is beaming down upon him from Heaven.

If that isn’t enough to make you want to puke out your guts, I don’t know what is.
[I]f something is going to be labeled "journalism," then it should at the very least tell the whole story – and not just provide us with 10 pages of overt fellating and genuflecting.

The Times motto may still be "all the news that’s fit to print" – but increasingly, it is "all the right-wing spin that is fit to kiss the rear end of those in power." That is doing great harm to journalism – and to American democracy.
Once again, I question when the media is ever going to wake the fuck up and realize the damage its doing to our nation. Or, if they ever will. Are the majority of our journalists so lazy, so jaded, so apathetic about what the role of the press is meant to be, that they care not whether they’re getting paid for producing actual journalism or propaganda?

Our “newspapers of record” have begun to sound like broken records, spinning the same lameass tune over and over again, paired with one of the increasingly popular stylized photos of the story’s subject approximating a messiah- or saint-like figure, of which our national photo press corps, who have also clearly lost their fucking minds, have become so fond.


Does the media really want this country to become a theocracy? If not, they really need to rouse themselves from the mind-numbing complacency, paralyzing fear of retribution, Rove-induced hypnosis, or whatever malevolent spell, charm, incantation, or possession is keeping them from doing their damn jobs. Get with the motherfucking program. We need you.


Seven Nitwits

by Shakespeare's Sister

Via PSoTD:
Rush Limbaugh is declaring war on the Republican moderates—the 7 Nitwits, according to him.
Considering that Lefties didn’t get anything out of this “deal” except whatever benefits we can reap from a rightwing backlash, I’m happy to see Rush is doing his part to help us out.


Yet another tiny town NC pastor loses his mind: 'Flush the Koran'

by Pam


photo via Booman Tribune.

"If we stand for what is right and for God's word and for Christianity then the world is going to condemn us and so right away when I got a complaint I said, 'Well somebody's mad, somebody's offended, so we must be doing something right,'"
-- Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church, on his church sign that says 'The Koran needs to be flushed.'
Yes, this is part of my state too. Out there in the hinterlands is Forest City, NC. It's a picturesque town about 200 miles west of Durham, and home to yet another pastor who has a tenuous grasp on the meaning of the Golden Rule and "turning the other cheek." Maybe Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church is friends with Waynesville's former political pastor of stupidity, Chan Chandler. These zealots are so completely unhinged and don't mind sharing their twisted thoughts that it scares me. (Durham Herald-Sun):
A Baptist minister refuses to apologize for a church sign saying the Muslim holy book should be flushed.

"I believe that it is a statement supporting the word of God and that it (the Bible) is above all and that any other religious book that does not teach Christ as savior and lord as the 66 books of the Bible teaches it, is wrong," said the Rev. Creighton Lovelace of Danieltown Baptist Church. "I knew that whenever we decided to put that sign up that there would be people who wouldn't agree with it, and there would be some that would, and so we just have to stand up for what's right."

Seema Riley, a Muslim born in Pakistan and reared in New York, said she moved to Rutherford County, about 60 miles west of Charlotte, for the "small-town friendly" atmosphere. The church sign reading, "The Koran needs to be flushed," angered her and made her feel threatened, she said. "We need a certain degree of tolerance," Riley said. "That sign doesn't really reflect what I think this county is about."

Lovelace said he expected the sign in front of his 55-member church to also stir anger in some people. [No sh*t.]


Jim Diehl.

...Danieltown Baptist Church belongs to the Sandy Run Baptist Association. Each church in the association is autonomous, said the Rev. Jim Diehl, the group's director of missions. "Each church can develop a stance on doctrinal issues and can develop its own stance on moral issues," he said.
Note: The Freepers had a thread on this, but it was pulled. It must have been too full of hate for even the admin to take.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


How's that war going, Chimpy?

by Pam


Left: A U.S. Army Humvee burns after a car bomb attack in Baghdad May 24, 2005. Insurgents killed three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqis in car bomb attacks in central Baghdad on May 24, a day after a wave of suicide attacks and bomb blasts that killed at least 56 Iraqis. A sharp escalation in insurgent attacks since Iraq's new Shi'ite-led government was announced four weeks ago has killed more than 600 Iraqis and deepened sectarian tensions, prompting Shi'ite and Sunni Arab leaders to open talks on reconciliation. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters). Second photo: A man cleans as a US soldier walks past following a car bomb in central Baghdad. A London-based think-tank noted that the situation in Iraq was also creating a recruitment effect for terrorist groups, an aspect which remained 'the proverbial elephant in the living room' of US foreign policy (AFP).


F*cker.


Dobson, Bauer and Freeper reaction to the filibuster deal

by Pam

First, the spin from Dobson. He's not happy, but he doesn't blame Frist, since he doesn't want to figuratively kick his puppet to the curb just yet.

Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson today issued the following statement, upon the announcement by members of the U.S. Senate that a "compromise" had been reached on the filibuster issue:

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."
Whining Little Gary Bauer isn't much happier...

The President of American Values said: "This is a sad day for our nation. The desire of millions of Americans to restore balance to our federal courts has been thwarted behind closed doors by 14 senators. Only three of President Bush's appointees are guaranteed an up or down vote under this sell out.

"Under this agreement it is now more likely that radical social change will continue to be forced on the American people by liberal courts committed to same sex marriage, abortion on demand and hostility to religious expression. The Republicans who lent their names to this travesty have undercut their President as well as millions of their most loyal voters. Shame on them all."
The Freepi are ready to go after the Senators ("I'm angry enough to pledge money to real conservatives who will run against these RINO's and replace them. How about $100.00 a head? I encourage everyone to attack! "): Lincoln D. Chafee (RI), Susan M. Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), John W. Warner (VA), John McCain (AZ; the link is to a blowtorch Freeper thread entitled "John McCain Appreciation Thread [Enter At Your Own Risk]"), and their usual b-boy, Lindsey Graham (SC; his ass is kicked all over in that thread).

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"This is the price paid for lack of party discipline. RINOs are nothing new. We can go back to people like Jacob Javits, Howard Baker, and that hump from Connecticut whose name I can't remember, but who National Review called "the worst Republican Senator." None of these people EVER paid a price for going either agianst the leadership or against conservatives. Just try going against the Democrat leadership and see what happens. For examples, ask Bob Casey Sr. or Zel Miller."

"The harsh truth is that even after all of these election "victories", we only really have 48 true Republicans. Frist knew this, which is why he didin't call the Democrats' bluff meuch sooner."

"On the list of shame, they only one I'm really surprised at is Lindsay Graham. He did good work as a House manager on the impeachment. Looks like that was all for show, though, as he has revealed his true self. John Warner has been off the reservation for years now. Don't forget, he's still trying to push that idiotic and sovreignty-threatening LOST treaty on us. How sad is it that Norm Coleman (a very pleasant surprise, coming from Minnesota), is more reliable than senators from Virginia or South Carolina?"

"Concerning Bush, I certainly blame him Cheney and the RNC for failing to support true conservatives, especially in Pennsylvania. Toomey WOULD have won the general election against that empty suit Hoeftel (sp?). 2/3 of the Republican primary voters went with Specter BECAUSE of the Bush/Cheney endorsement. Anybody think we're better off with Arlen in the Senate instead of Toomey?"

"This deal is a total sell-out. Forget about DeWhine's rantings that if the Democrats evoke "extraordinary" circumstances over the next SC appointee, that gives the Republicans the right to change the Senate rules. It doesn't. Even if it did, which RINO would be stand up for principle and change the rules?"

"I don't think that these RINOs understand the opportunity that they just pissed away. Or maybe they do, which is far worse. Bush will make at least 2 SC appointments, possibly 4. The tyranny of the judiciary COULD have been ended, but now, that will not occur. No way will Bush get any real conservatives on the court. The only solution I see is to get three more real Republicans elected in 2006. The party has no stomach for disciplining and expelling these RINOs. In the meantime, we have to hope that only Rehnquist retires so that the only SC vacancy is his."

"Nice profile of the Democraps that have infiltrated the GOP. If our leaders don't purge these TRAITORS from the party I'll have rethink my membership. I'm worried they are all spineless RINOs. I'm seriously considering leaving to the Consitution Party whose goal is: to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries. They would make all abortion illegal, bring back school prayer & the 10 commandments in courtrooms and elimate numerous useless federal departments (EPA, interior etc). Thats the party for me! Hopefully some of the Repubs with spines will quit their spineless party for this one..."


Lindsey Graham: "Democrat by night"

"I wonder what's in Lindsey Graham's FBI file."

"Graham: "...there's gonna be a lot of people spinning tonight....." He thinks people will thank him in the long run.

"I'm a yes vote" says he wanted to get rid of the filibuster, because he is a conservative. YET HE MADE A DEAL TO KEEP IT. The guy is a fraud. He is no conservative!"

"okay south carolinians give him the attention he deserves and let him know don't even bother running in the primary"

"Graham.....better enjoy his fame.....he sold out his party. I will donate money to his next opponent"

"This nation is in bad shape...We have a party of collaborators with every enemy this nation has had in the last 50 years, and a party that has no guts to fight the democrats to save its life. The republicans caved on Terry, caved on the judges, and will continue caving. Why bother voting for them? The democrats and judges run the nation...I better learn Spanish..."

"Not a big deal. The trend is with us. There's no need to overplay our hand at this point, the same issues will come up in the future. We may be better able to deal with them then, after the 2006 election."

"The Democrats lost big tonight. The three most EXTREME nominees, held at bay for four years because of the "damage" they would do to the nation, have just been cleared by the Democrat moderates. That means that if Janice Rodgers Brown is nominated to the Supreme Court, the Dems simply will not be able to filibuster her."

"Last I heard, we won the election...NOT the democrats...do you think they would have asked us what we think if they had a majority in the senate? I have been voting for republicans to keep the democrats from power and making decisions...but the guys I vote for seem to lack the gumsion to put the dems in their place. I'm disgusted..."

"Every RINO in the Senate let us down. Again. And the sad thing is that McCainiac ran unopposed in the primary just last year."

"the democrats part of the "deal" is to not filibuster anyone but the "extreme" - which means they have to be "worse" than the ones we're going to be voting on tomorrow (Owens, Brown, etc.) , because the democrats let them pass. I hear what you are saying, but to the demonrats EXTREME means anybody Bush nominates. Now they will let these few pass now, but they'll be up to their old tricks, and who will call the on it, the MSM? Ha! The RINOs that caved? No way they will get clobbered if they admit they screwed up. A previous poster said he was one that defended Republicans when they got beat up here, and I too was one of those, and like he says, I too was wrong."

"All seven! Every single one sold us out. They will be beatified in the MSM for a few days and that is their 30 pieces of silver. The Constitution will continue to be crucified by leftists for the time being. We need to do whatever we can to get these RINO's out of the Senate."

"Great letter. Now follow it up with a photocopy of a check (no matter how small) to anyone opposing him in any primary."

"Win/win for us. We wanted an up or down vote on judges, and the filibuster stopped. We got it. Secondly, the democrats part of the "deal" is to not filibuster anyone but the "extreme" - which means they have to be "worse" than the ones we're going to be voting on tomorrow (Owens, Brown, etc.) , because the democrats let them pass. If they can't "prove" another is worse, the Constitutional option - according to the Dems agreement - is still an option. If they renig on their deal, we can still nuke them with clean conscience. They're the ones that lied!

"Put down the bong and get straight, man. You can't be serious. Are you really that naive?"

"Any supreme court justice nominee anywhere to the Right of John McCain will be considered "extreme" and this bunch of RINOs will back the filibuster of them because they have to live up to this deal they cut with the devil. If they didn't have the guts to stand up today, what makes you think they will in the future?"

"Extraordinary Circumstances"= Conservative record. The Rats will break this deal faster than Bill Clinton did to his vows of fidelity when he married Hillary."

"Nothing to do with not having enough votes. This was about a handful of weak-kneed Republicans who can't stand up to carping liberals. Simple as that."

The Democrats lost big tonight.

"Oh really! Let's see... they had two choices: 1. Get all the Bush's nominees voted on; 2. Get just three voted on. Tell me how number 2 is bigger than number 1. By the way do you have anything for sale? I would love to do a deal with you. Better yet I'll get one of my liberal friends do it for me!"

"Who let us down in the filibuster? No one. Albeit, unwittingly. We are right where we've always been, in spite of the idiot 14. If the Dimms filibuster in the future...we nuke them. And, we have the votes to do it...probably more tonight than last night. The only change is two nominees without a hope of winning 51 votes have been taken off the table...and three Conservative judges are going to the bench."

"We "real" conservatives were only 24 hours from the showdown, the pinnacle to which we have waited for months to employ part of the Bush agenda only to be thoroughly and wretchedly disappointed once again. These guys we have elected to office in the name of conservatism are nothing but a big tease. They talk big, they threaten big, but when push comes to shove they melt in the hands of the minority. It is so disheartening to see this behaviour over and over and over again. Imagine if the Dems were in power 55-45, they'd be shoving their agenda down our throats no questions asked."

"Social conservatives are growing weary from being sold out. Partial Birth Abortion Ban passes and then is rectified by the liberal agenda through the courts. So we need to change the courts, the system by which we are continously hoodwinked. So here we are at the juncture and our weak-kneed Senators sell us out AGAIN!!! If any Republican is reading this and you have influence in our conservatively elected Congress please take note: Social Conservatives are beginning to feel as if we elected a "pig-in-a-poke." At some point the agenda has to be moved in our direction, at some point there needs to be a payoff however small. We are looking at what is happening in the Senate with keen interest. To control the Executive and Legislative brances and NOT get the same percentages of Judges seated as Clinton is UNFORGIVABLE. Trust me, we social conservatives won't be around forever waiting for you to grow a spine. There is a point at which we begin to collectively throw our hands in the air. And we are close to that time!!!!!!!!!!"


Monday, May 23, 2005

Russia’s Attitude Toward the U.S.: Ally or Adversary?

by Ms. Julien in Miami


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives at Ekho Moskvy radio station in April. (Photo: Alexander Nemenov / AFP-Getty Images)

Methinks that Condi is NOT so high on the gene pool for "smarts" as they would have you think....





After visiting Moscow for the first time as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice
told reporters she was bothered by the low regard many Russians have for the
United States. Most likely, Rice experienced this shock when being interviewed
by the Ekho Moskvy radio station. The host of this Moscow-based radio station
program asked listeners to call in and share their perceptions of the United
States. Out of 6,000 respondents, as reported by the radio station’s polling
center, 46 percent said they considered the United States to be Russia’s
adversary, while 54 percent said the United States was Russia’s ally.



This is the way the United States is perceived in Russia — Russian society is split on
its attitude toward the United States, and extremely negative viewpoints live
alongside very positive perceptions. Obviously, the United States is a hot topic
for debating among Russian people, and most Russians have something to say about
the United States and Americans.

The rest of the article is HERE.


Are You Ready To Swear The Lefty Blogger's Oath?

by thatcoloredfella

TCF has vowed (for the moment) not to take any account of the Right bloggers’ stupidity in the wake of DNC Chairman Howard Dean’s appearance on Meet The Press (transcript, Crooks & Liars video clips), satisfied that he held his ground under some tough and warranted questioning by Tim Russert.

But, there was one point the Governor so eloquently made, that had the pajama-clad TCF shouting and shaking his head in agreement, now the motto I swear to blog by:

I have an enormous amount of respect for people who have different opinions, but they have to defend their opinions. You can't just say, "I want to privatize Social Security because I want to privatize Social Security." You have to really show me why you want to do what you want to do. And if you can defend your ideas, I'll respect those ideas.


More Lying Liars!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

They are RE-WRITING your history, folks - Remember Galloway's speech? And how it was somehow scrubbed from the senate investigations committee website? Take a look at the website of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs...I added the bolding on the text:

Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Title: Oil For Influence: How Saddam Used Oil to Reward Politicians Under
the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program
Date: 5/17/05

Witnesses Testimony
Panel 1
Mark L. Greenblatt [View PDF], Counsel , U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations
Steven A. Groves [View PDF], Counsel , U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on
Investigations
Dan M. Berkovitz [View PDF], Counsel to the Minority , U. S. Senate Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations

Panel 2
George Galloway, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow, Great
Britain Mr Galloway did not submit a statement

Panel 3
Thomas A. Schweich [View PDF], Chief of Staff, U.S. Mission to the United
Nations, U. S. Department of State
Robert W. Werner [View
PDF]
, Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U. S. Department of the
Treasury
Peter Reddaway [View
PDF]
, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs,
George Washington University


Government-Sponsored Rape

by Shakespeare's Sister

From the Of Course the Call Wasn’t Returned Files:
Scores of convicted rapists and other high-risk sex offenders in New York have been getting Viagra paid by Medicaid for the last five years, the state's comptroller said Sunday.

Audits by Comptroller Alan Hevesi's office showed that between January 2000 and March 2005, 198 sex offenders in New York received Medicaid-reimbursed Viagra after their convictions. Those included crimes against children as young as 2 years old, he said.

Hevesi asked Michael Leavitt, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a letter Sunday to "take immediate action to ensure that sex offenders do not receive erectile dysfunction medication paid for by taxpayers."

A call to Leavitt's office was not immediately returned Sunday.

[…]

While the auditors didn't review the situation on Viagra reimbursement by Medicaid in other states, he said they have no indication that the policies are different elsewhere.
Superb. This is exactly the kind of shit that I’m talking about when I suggest that the government ought to do everything possible to prevent sex crime recidivism before they start tracking sex offenders for life. And those who disagree with me can chalk it up to bleeding heart liberalism all they want; that’s partly correct—I am loathe to affix GPS systems to any felon, even in spite of the fact that sex offenders are the most likely reoffenders. But the other part of this is just simple pragmatism from the point of someone who has been the victim of a (badly mishandled) sex crime. Tracking systems are not preventative; at best, they will help authorities catch someone after they’ve already committed another crime, because very few offenders being tracked are going to be stupid enough to hang around schools if they know it will raise a red flag. Tracking systems will only make sex offenders smarter and sneakier, and they’re often pretty damn smart and sneaky to start.

On the other hand, keeping boner pills out of the hands of sex offenders is a really good idea! In fact, given the option between having my rapist tracked for life, or making sure he never got a hold of Viagra, I’d choose the later, because the last thing we need is a bunch of violent sexual deviants walking around with their hormones raging and their equivalent of a loaded gun.

And for the love of God, can we please never ever ever ever never hear anything else ever again about how much the Bush administration is doing for women? W is for Won’t Call Back, Won’t Take Responsibility, and Won’t Apologize. It ain’t for “women.”

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Analysis:
Fire and Seeds

by Dark Wraith

This is a college town: a private college, a state university, something marginally better than a diploma mill, and a community college are all located within about a five-mile radius.

The town is divided into the visible, reputable, upper-middle class and the less visible, but far larger, class that isn't. The better people for the most part work in middle or upper management at one of the several huge, multi-national services companies in town. Everyone else gets by. The layoffs at the big factories on the outskirts of town have left a quiet wasteland of older people trying to find work and younger people trying to find a future.

The bright kids from the right side of the tracks go to the state university, or they leave town entirely. The rest of the kids find work where they can, and many of them stop by the community college on their way to adulthood. They join the ranks of older people taking classes because they, like the youthful students, believe that the key to a job—a real job with permanence and benefits and meaning—lies in education. Many of them, young and old alike, vow to go on to the state university to complete four-year degrees. Most won't.

The people who attend the community college are, for the most part, trying to lay patches on a shambles of the education they have already received. Young and old together find the task terribly difficult. Studying productively hours at a time is just not in their nature and not in their backgrounds. Attending classes every day isn't either. Showing up for exams is not an absolute. Cheating is not a matter of ethical proscription; it's just a matter of not getting caught. The community college sells them all a bill of goods, and some rise to the challenge, but others simply cannot. At best, though, from this place will come some graduates who will go on to the state university or to a technical school and eventually get a job that pays a marginally living wage.

Between the old and new wings of the main building where classes are conducted is a big smoking area. There, the people gather; and there, the conversations among the students paint a broad canvas of the lives these people have and the lives to which they aspire.

So much of what the young men talk about is war. Many are already in the Guard, or they are about to enlist, or they're back from a tour of duty. They talk about other things; but a great swath of what animates their conversations has to do with war. With their culturally acceptable crew cuts and they're almost uniform-like clothing, they go on and on about war.

Three young men are talking out there, and the one young man, who's just enlisted, says, "Fuck, yeah. I'd fucking shoot 'em. They shit on themselves! Did you hear about that?—they shit on themselves when you lock 'em up!" The other two are snickering and nodding their heads in agreement.

Another young man—every bit the square-jaw, flat-top, muscles-on-top-of-muscles Marine—sucks hard on the butt of his cigarette while he grumbles about the female soldiers in his company having sex with their superiors, then refusing to do any work, and no one will punish them. He gets off that subject and starts talking about how the Marines don't do bad things and screw up all the time like the Army people do: Marines are disciplined, trained warriors; and Army people are nothing but a bunch of worthless junk that never thought they'd actually have to do anything for their weekend-warrior paychecks and college grant money. His eyes brighten when he's asked about weaponry. "You guys didn't have the 'Saw' back then, did you?" he grins. A little prompting gets him to describe it: sort of a cross between an M-16 and an M-60. "It's sweet."

He doesn't even make it to the final exam before his unit's called back. An early, hastily written final gets him the "A" he probably didn't quite deserve.

A slightly older student is always out there before and after class. He's a full-fledged veteran. As the semester goes on, his struggle to find a job takes a more and more noticeable toll on his demeanor. He stops talking about what he wants to major in when he goes to the state university. He talks more and more about how good it felt to be out in the field, to be among his buddies, to be among weapons with their awe-inspiring power. By the end of the semester, he's gone to the recruiting station to cut a deal to re-enlist.

Another veteran isn't too talkative. Outside in the smoking area, he stays mostly to himself, but sometimes he'll talk about his truck and his new son. He chain smokes while he sits, leaning forward with his hands on his knees, staring out across the corn fields beside the campus. At one point, after all the other kids have gone inside for their next classes, he takes one last draw on his cigarette, and he mutters something about what a couple of young, loud pups were saying.


The culture of these males just oozes a deepening affinity to what the neo-conservatives have done to re-tool America into a war nation. The economy is failing them, the world of high and broad knowledge is pretty much unavailable to them, and the prospect of a country at peace is uninteresting to them. But despite all that should be telling them to fight for change, to insist upon and demand a civil society that provides abundantly for its people, these men line up to embrace the very mentality that sets upon them the boot of want and despair.

This time of war is what gives those young men their meaning, their hope, their focus. It's all an abstraction to people of better means: it's flag-waving nationalism for America on the march, or it's wholesale revulsion at the lies breeding the monstrosity of it all. But for the kids there at that community college, it's the way out of the slow stew of economic and social Hell that awaits them in lives that promise to otherwise go nowhere and mean nothing.

There's some of this at the state university, too; but there's something else going on, and it's even evident in small ways at the community college. It's very much like the mid-1960s: most of the kids wear their hair butch-cut short and talk a fairly hard conservative line while doing a whole lot of unconservative things. At first blush, everyone looks just about the same as everyone else.

But then, there's that fringe group.

Looking closely at the young people scurrying between the buildings, shock of all shocks, long hair on a few young men is making a comeback. So is that avoidance of the tough-talk boy groups in the smoking areas and the hallways. So is that almost cautious, imperceptible excitement of engagement when they realize that the professor is unapologetically and unrelentingly chewing into the dominant media's perspectives on what's happening in the world.

Once in a while, they'll even let a professor in on their political activism: underground newspapers, blogs, the coffee shop where they get together. They don't talk too openly, but they know what they're doing. They're dabbling in all things counterculture: anarchism; Marxism; strangely defiant music; variant art and comics; and even deconstructive intellectualism, that thing to which they were denied exposure throughout their entire educational experiences. They're exploring themes and people and places and ideas that no one in their entire lives told them existed; and the more they learn, the more their alienation is channeling. Yes, some of this has been going on all along; but now, the faint smell of critical mass is in the air. It's still a long journey from here to where the open clashes start to come.

But come they will. And they will be every bit as nation wrenching as the last time the kids got sick of the lies and did something about it. All the older people can do is sit back and choose a side. Or maybe be a professor who shows up at the coffee house to listen to them as they become the hope of a better future.

And about what that quiet veteran muttered, the one who didn't talk much except about his truck and his new son: he'd been listening to a couple of young men nearby blabbing excitedly about their recent enlistments and going over to Iraq. What the veteran muttered was, "Dumb-asses."


So it begins. And we all know where it ends.






The Dark Wraith has spoken.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Asia Heads List of Exploited Labor Says U.N. Report

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Ya know, I guess this is why Walmart sells its stuff so cheaply - I guess I find it hard to see how the "Murkans" in the midwest feel so patriotic yet spend their paltry pay at the Walmart every week, where their savings come from the sweat and abuse of forced laborers in Asia...

From World Press Review:

Workers unload sacks of rice from a truck in the outskirts of Yangon, the capital city of Myanmar. (Photo: Law Eh Soe / AFP-Getty Images)

Over three-quarters of the 12 million people worldwide who are exploited in
forced labor conditions are in Asia, according to a comprehensive global report
released last week by United Nations social justice and work rights agency the
International Labour Organization (I.L.O.).

Defining forced labor as "work extracted under threat and against a
person's will," the report has assessed the Asia and Pacific region as heading
the worldwide list with 9.5 million people. Latin America follows with 1.3
million, Sub-Saharan Africa with 660,000 and Europe and the United States with
360,000.

Total global profits earned from the exploitation of men, women and
children have been calculated as being $32 billion, the first time such an
estimate of the illicit industry has been made.

The rest of the article is HERE...

Interesting that in Europe and the US there are 360,000 considered to be in "forced labor" situations...must be the Main Stream Media being "forced" to spew the propaganda of BushCo...

This is cross-posted on Julien's List.



He Might Be My Brother, But He’s Getting’ Pretty Damn Heavy

by Shakespeare's Sister

It’s no secret that the Blue States carry the Red States—they pay more per capita in federal taxes and get less back—and now they’re being rewarded for their trouble by collectively losing out on the Pentagon’s plan for US military base closures and associated job transfers, to the Red States’ gain. The Pentagon claims that it’s not playing politics with the base closings, but Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is calling bullshit:
In a carefully worded statement, [Lautenberg] questioned why states that supported President Bush's reelection (red states) had a net job gain of 11,000, while states that opposed Bush (blue states) lost nearly 25,000 positions.

"My hope was that [Base Realignment and Closure] decisions were completely removed from politics but the total numbers do raise some questions," Lautenberg said.
In total, Red States gain a net total of 11,852 personnel/jobs. The Blue States lose a net total of 24,289 personnel/jobs.


What makes this even more disgusting is that the Blue States also provide more of the soldiers to fight in the war that is overwhelming supported in greater numbers by Red State voters, as one can see from this map pinpointing the homes of soldiers killed in action (as of February; hat tip Angry Bear):


You’ll note there seem to be a whole lot of pinpoints along those ever-blue coasts. It certainly seems like the Pentagon ought to do better than this pitiful explanation offered by spokesman Glenn Flood:
"It's based on the law that Congress passed given us the authority. The internal deliberations of the Pentagon are not based on any outside influences."
Of course not. Because we all know there’s never been any undue pressure put on formerly independent parts of the government by this administration before.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Friday, May 20, 2005

Galloway's Senate Testimony Scrubbed from Official Subcommittee Website!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

From BradBlog:

Galloway's Senate Testimony Scrubbed from Official Subcommittee
Website!

Chairman Coleman's Office Passes Buck for Explanation!

The stunning testimony given by British MP George Galloway before the U.S.
Senate subcommittee on Investigations is apparently so hot that it seems to have
"gone AWOL" from the subcommittee's website according to the British newsite VNU
Network.

The BRAD BLOG can confirm that all witness testimony -- except that of
Galloway's -- from last Tuesday's extraordinary hearings is available in PDF
format on the subcommittee's webpage on the hearings.

Details, Screenshot, Comments from Coleman's Office:http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00001407.htm


Looks like Galloway hit too close to home!!!!

We need to be SCARED that we are living in a place that can arbitrarily 'scrub' public record testimony from its websites.

I paid my taxes for that website, damn it - I want NOTHING left out!


Quote of the Day

by Shakespeare's Sister

Justin Cognito of The Evil Petting Zoo:
It makes perfect sense that a party that keeps railing about "the sanctity of marriage" and pushes abstinence programs riddled with more errors than an Ann Coulter book would invite a porn star and her boss to talk to Bush and Rove.

Hey, religious right! Do you get it yet?
Totally.


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

by Shakespeare's Sister

…in an effort to recruit new bodies to replace the tens of thousands already lost to the War on Terra through death or injury. And Dave Wagner, of WLWT in Cincinnati doesn’t like it:

Wagner: "But as Target 5 discovered, those military pitches can turn from fact to fiction in a matter of seconds. Target 5 sent four young men, with hidden cameras, into every Tri-state armed forces recruiting center. The conversations began with talk of job security."

Recruiter: "We guarantee you a job."

Wagner: "Signing bonuses."

Recruiter: "Up to $20,000."

Wagner: "And cash for college."

Recruiter: "Up to $70,000 for college."

Wagner: "But when the questions turn to safety, some Tri-state recruiters make Iraq sound more like a trip to Tahiti than a journey to war."

Recruiter: "You have more chance of dying here in the United States at, what is it, 36-percent die, kill rate here in the United States, people here just dying left and right, you have more chance of dying over here than you do over there."

Wagner: "The U.S. does not have a 36-percent kill rate. If that were true, more than 100 million people, one-third of the U.S. population, would be killed each year."

[…]

Wagner: "And if that recruiter thinks Columbia, S.C., listen to what this GI Joe Isuzu says about the danger of driving around Dayton, Ohio."

Recruiter: "Dayton area alone, which is about four or five counties, Dayton area alone, 1,500 people died in two weeks. You know what that was from? Car wrecks. Those numbers that we get, we get from the actual highway patrol. So, I mean, all that stuff's factual. So, you look at that way. We've lost 1,500 soldiers so far over in Iraq. We've been over there for three years. If you add it together, 1,500 people died in five counties alone within two weeks, just from car wrecks."

Wagner: "The truth is, there aren't 1,500 deaths from car wrecks in the entire state of Ohio for an entire year."
I would say, “I can’t believe this crap!” but, of course, I can.

Isn't this criminal? These recruiters need to be thrown in jail. If depraved indifference to the very real possibility of losing one's life at the business end of a suicide bomb isn't illegal, it should be.

Kudos to Wagner for calling them on their horseshit. Although, I hope he knows that he’ll never go anywhere with reporting skills like this. The major networks don’t want anything to do with your “facts” and your “honesty,” Mr. Wagner!

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Can someone buy Phyllis Schlafly a pair of these?

by Pam


Is this why Mother Schlafly is smiling?

It's late, I'm tired from packing*, but I had to post this, considering that last porn star dining at the White House post.

Items like the Passion Pants above are now banned in Alabama -- except 'for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose.'
The following cautionary tale must surely rate in the top five of "most embarrassing things that can happen to you in public - ever". According to UK tabloid the Sun, a 33-year-old Welsh housewife ended up in hospital after wearing Ann Summers vibrating Passion Pants to her local Asda supermarket in Swansea.

Unfortunately, she became "so aroused by the 2½-inch vibrating bullet inside that she fainted" then "fell against shelves and banged her head". This prompted the attendance of the paramedics who "found the black leatherette panties still buzzing". Having disabled the orgasmatronic underwear, they then whisked the senseless shopper to hospital where she made a complete recovery. Staff handed her back the Passion Pants upon discharge, discreetly concealed in a plastic bag.

* I'm heading off Friday AM to Birmingham, AL -- Katie's hometown -- to visit her family. They are interesting people, aside from the fact that they aren't happy that 1) I'm not white; 2) I'm not a man and 3) I'm married to their daughter. More on this over at my pad.


Dobson and the eHarmony guy are best buddies

by Pam


Neil Clark Warren says his service excludes gays and lesbians because "he does not know enough about gay and lesbian relationships to do same-sex matching."

If you're queer and looking for a mate, you're not welcome at the popular eHarmony.com. Neil Clark Warren is close friends with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, so that pretty much says it all. When it comes down to dollars and sense Warren is not stupid -- there are no more public references to his ties with Dobson.

You've no doubt seen Neil Clark Warren on TV commercials: He's the affable, silver-haired gentleman touting eHarmony, the rapidly growing online dating site he founded five years ago. Or maybe you caught Saturday Night Live or Jay Leno spoofing his earnest manner and "29 dimensions of compatibility."

...And he really does want to set you up - but only if you're emotionally healthy, heterosexual and want to get married. A psychologist with a divinity degree, Warren has emerged from the Christian community - three of his 10 books on love and dating were published by conservative Focus on the Family - to become one of the Internet's most unlikely entrepreneurs.

...Warren started out marketing primarily to Christian sites, touting eHarmony as "based on the Christian principles of Focus on the Family author Dr. Neil Clark Warren." The connection may come as a surprise to today's mainstream users: Nothing in Warren's TV or radio ads ($50 million spent last year, $80 million projected this year) hints at his Christian background.

And while it's no secret, the Web site doesn't play it up, either. eHarmony increasingly is seeking out secular audiences through online partnerships, including promotions on USATODAY.com and other news sites owned by USA TODAY's parent company, Gannett. As part of that effort, Warren is trying to distance himself from Focus on the Family and its founder James Dobson, a longtime friend.

...Warren says he will no longer appear on Dobson's radio show, and he recently bought back the rights to the three books Focus on the Family published -Finding the Love of Your Life, Make Anger Your Ally and Learning to Live with the Love of Your Life - so he can drop Focus' name from their covers.
The lame defenses for not considering same-sex matches are nuts, but hey he's targeting his desired audience.
Some also criticize eHarmony's decision to refuse to provide matches for gays and lesbians - a policy that differs from Yahoo, Match.com and many other sites.

"From a corporate perspective, eHarmony does discriminate. There's clearly a deliberate desire to exclude gay people from the site," says New York psychiatrist Jack Drescher, who is gay and treats gay and lesbian couples.

But Warren says eHarmony promotes heterosexual marriage, about which he has done extensive research. He says he does not know enough about gay and lesbian relationships to do same-sex matching. It "calls for some very careful thinking. Very careful research." He adds that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states. "We don't really want to participate in something that's illegal."


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Porno star in the White House: no, it's not Gannon

by Pam


Maybe Karl and Mary Carey can discuss inflation.

Is this the "I'm not sh*tting you" post of the week?

I'm wondering if someone there has lost their minds at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, because Falwell, Dobson, and the rest of the AmTaliban have to be lighting up the White House phones right about now.
Porn star and former gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey will be joining her boss, Kick Ass Pictures president Mark Kulkis, in attending a dinner with President Bush in Washington, D.C. on June 14. K

...“I’m hoping to run as Lieutenant Governor of California next year,” Carey said. “Since Arnold {Schwarzenegger} is a Republican, I thought this dinner would be a great networking opportunity for me.” “I’m honored to be invited to this event,” Kulkis said. “Republicans bill themselves as the pro-business party. Well, you won’t find a group of people more pro-business than pornographers. We contributed over $10 billion to the national economy last year.” [Take that, CleanHotels.com!]

“I’m especially looking forward to meeting Karl Rove,” Carey added. “Smart men like him are so sexy. I know that he’s against gay marriage, but I think I can convince him that a little girl-on-girl action now and then isn’t so bad!”
(Hat tip Cat, via AmericaBlog)


Special Analysis:
Of Crystal Balls and Yield Curves

by Dark Wraith

The recent upsurge in stock prices has given many in the mainstream media cause for celebration, appearing as it does to be a sign of a strengthening and healthy economy. Implicitly, the message is that the neo-conservative economics of massive federal budget deficits caused by round after round of tax cuts coupled with a war of opportunity have created a growth environment. Aside from the minor annoyance, largely if not entirely downplayed by the mainstream news media, of an official unemployment rate that has remained persistently above a historically high five percent, the good times seem to be just about unstoppable.

The only cloud on the horizon seems to be the Federal Reserve Board, which last year declared an end to its "accommodative policy" of printing money to finance the Republicans' excesses of spending beyond tax revenues. The Federal Reserve did this because, if the money supply grows faster than the real growth rate of the economy, the result will be inflation. Since early in the Bush Administration, the Federal Reserve had been more than a little helpful to the radical Republican agenda; and it is in part a tribute to the two decades of low inflation before the 21st Century that markets did not react before now to the growing overhang of dollars that were filling the economy for Mr. Bush and the neo-cons. But recent, modest increases in the consumer price index and the producer price index pointed last year to growing inflationary pressures, and so the Fed began to tighten the money supply using its available tools.

How to Be a Central Bank
The price of money is interest rates. If the supply of money becomes relatively more restricted, its price will rise. That means the Fed's contractionary monetary policy will cause interest rates in the economy to go up. However, the Fed has direct control only over short-term interest rates: it sets two key rates, and it directly manipulates the very important yield on short-term government debt obligations. The way it does this second exercise is by using Treasury bills (short-term government debt obligations) as trading instruments with banks. When the Fed wants more money in the economy, it buys Treasury bills held by banks: the Fed pays the banks with cash money, so the money supply in the banking system expands. On the other hand, if the Fed wants to drain liquidity out of the banking system, it sells Treasury bills to banks: the banks pay cash money to the Fed for those T-bills, and that means less money in the banking system. These buying and selling exercises are called "open market operations," and they're done every day. These OMOs are the primary means by which monetary policy is operationalized.

So the central bank of the United States of America is right now carefully draining liquidity out of the economy to the end of giving the economy, through its growth, an opportunity to absorb the overhang of greenbacks. The danger is that, if interest rates rise too much and too fast, the economy will suffer: businesses will stop borrowing to expand operations, consumers will stop borrowing to buy big ticket items, households will start putting too much money in savings accounts instead of buying stuff, and the American dollar will become so strong overseas that no people in other countries will be able to afford our exports. It, therefore, is a balancing act for the Fed: contract the money supply too slowly, and the inflationary pressures continue to build; contract the money supply too quickly, and interest rates rise too much and too swiftly for the economy's participants to adapt without creating a recession. Everyone of good will hopes that the central bank can do what it must, but at the same time do so with judicious caution. To stop the inflation before it becomes embedded in wage and price expectations, the Fed is now going about what should have been its sole mission all along: "ensuring the stability of the aggregate price level," which is technical terminology for keeping inflations and deflations from ever happening.

Recall above that the Fed controls only the short-term interest rates in an economy. It sets the largely symbolic "discount rate" at which it would lend money to a bank; and it sets the "Federal Funds rate," the rate at which banks may lend money to one another. Far more importantly, though, through its open market operations, the Fed sets the rate on short-term Treasury bills, those highly liquid, short-term instruments used by the federal government to borrow billions of dollars in quick cash. When the Fed buys these securities from banks, that means the demand for them is increasing, which drives their price up. On the other hand, when the Fed sells these Treasury securities to banks, that means the supply of them in the banking system is surging, which causes their price to drop.

Now, here's the part that can confuse people who aren't familiar with finance: when the price of a bond goes up, its yield falls; and when the price of a bond goes down, its yield rises. This isn't some theory; it's just a mathematical fact, and following are two examples to show it. Keep in mind that a one-year Treasury bill is bought at some price less than a thousand dollars, and in one year, the T-bill matures and the investor is paid exactly a thousand dollars.

Let's say the price of the T-bill is $970. That means an investor pays $970 now, and gets $1000 in a year. Hence, an investment of $970 earns $30 in interest, so the yield on the investment is $30÷&970, or about 3.09%.

Now let's say the price of the T-bill falls to $960. That means an investor pays $960 now, and gets $1000 in a year. Hence, an investment of $960 earns $40 in interest, so the yield on the investment is $40÷$960, or about 4.17%.

There it is: a bond price of $970 means a yield of 3.09%, but a bond price of $960 means a yield of 4.17%! As prices of bonds fall, their yields rise, and as prices of bonds rise, their yields fall.

When Yield Curves Misbehave
Now comes the part about what's going on in the American economy today. The Fed is selling lots of T-bills to banks. This drains liquidity from the banking system, which drives interest rates up. At the same time, because the Fed is increasing the supply of short-term Treasury instruments in the banking system, the price of T-bills is dropping, so this is pushing the yields on those T-bills upward.

In an ideal world, as short-term rates—the ones the Federal Reserve can control through its operations—go up, long-term yields and rates should march up pretty much in lock-step, since long-term rates should have the short-term rates embedded in them, along with some extra points for longer and longer commitments of the money.Recent yield curves In other words, in an ideal world, the so-called "yield curve"—the graph of yields on various maturities of Treasury securities against their terms to maturity—should be a gently rising arc, starting at the yields on short-term T-bills, and rising fairly smoothly upward to mark the yields of the intermediate-term Treasury "notes" and on outward to the truly long-term Treasury "bonds." At right are recent snapshots of the yield curve. Each one of them, taken by itself, is not unusual on its face: each one has the classic, upward arc of a normal yield curve. The troubling part is what the yield curves look like taken all together because the long-term yields having been quite noticeably dropping, which could happen only if the prices of those long-term instruments were rising. The problem is that the United States government is borrowing billions and billions of dollars, which means the Treasury Department is selling stadiums full of long-term T-bonds. With the supply of T-bonds hammering upward, the price of T-bonds should be falling, which means the yields on T-bonds should be rising. But right there are those yield curves, and there is no mistaking it: the yields are not rising; they're falling. Something is causing the prices of Treasury bonds to keep rising, thereby pushing down the long end of the yield curve. So who's doing this? Investors.

Domestic and foreign investors are buying out on the long end of the government's debt securities; and they're getting the money to do this from several likely sources. Foreign investors are using the greenbacks they've earned from selling cheap stuff to Americans; and domestic investors are getting the money from bailing out of the short end of the yield curve. The recent surge in stock prices has been some of those same proceeds being thrown into equities, which are in some respects nothing but infinitely long-maturity debt obligations, anyway.

Now, there's nothing wrong with this. It's a little weird to see the yield curve flattening, but it's not a disaster. Unless...

Unless What?!
If the long end of the yield curve goes below the short end of it, the result is called an "inverted yield curve"; and it's a fairly rare animal. More importantly though, sometimes—not always, but sometimes—inverted yield curves precede recessions.

In fact, five recent recessions have been preceded by inverted yield curves. Count 'em: five.

Looking once again at that yield curve as of yesterday, it is obvious that the thing isn't inverted. And it might very well be the case that it never will get to a full inversion. And even if it does get to a full inversion, that certainly doesn't prove that a recession will occur: the yield curve has briefly inverted in the past, and the economy has subsequently dodged a serious downturn.

In other words, it's not something to get worried about. Certainly not yet, anyway.




The Dark Wraith encourages all of you to have a bright and hopeful day.


Some Good News if you Trust the Polls...

by JJ

Well, if we are to believe the polls and have faith that electronic ballot machines are in fact NOT being tampered with, Democrats should gain a foot hold in congress in 2006.



NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll conducted by the polling organizations of Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R). May 12-16, 2005. N=1,005 adults nationwide.

"In the next election for U.S. Congress, do you feel that your representative deserves to be reelected, or do you think it is time to give a new person a chance?" Among registered voters (RV)

Deserves To Be Reelected 42%
Give New Person a Chance 45%
Unsure 13%


"What is your preference for the outcome of the 2006 congressional elections: a Congress controlled by Republicans or a Congress controlled by Democrats?" Among registered voters (RV)

Controlled By Republicans 40%
Controlled By Democrats 47%
Unsure 13%


Americans United to Protect Social Security poll conducted by Peter D. Hart research Associates (D). April 15-19, 2005. N=811 voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.5.

"In next year's election for U.S. House of Representatives, do you plan to vote for the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate in your district?" If unsure: "Well, which way do you lean at this time?"

Republican 28%
Democrat 35%
Other/ Won't Vote (vol.) 6%
Unsure 31%


Take a look at the consolidated poll reports at Polling Report.com. This is looking positive for the progressives out there. People are genuinely getting fed up and FINALLY seeing the light that this administration is nothing more than a pawn for big industries like pharmaceuticals and oil.

Overall I am longingly looking at this as the beginning of the end of the Bush administration and neo-con agenda. Voters dissatisfied with Bush, Congress from NBC,


As the Senate marches closer toward a nuclear showdown over President Bush’s judicial nominees, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the American public is dissatisfied — with Congress and its priorities, with Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security and with the nation’s economy and general direction. Moreover, a majority believes that the Senate should make its own decision about the president’s judicial nominees, rather than just generally confirming them.


I am hoping, praying, wishing, writing letters, sending email and calling my reps here in WA and at the DNC to take advantage of this change of public opinion. The Democrats need to take full advantage of this by running a campaign of progressive values. The Democratic candidates should not only campaign to Dems, they should also take a page from what this administration did wrong and campaign to the people on the other side of the fence, people whose opinions may not be in full alignment with our own. In my opinion this is key to breaking the Republican control of this country. There are a lot more moderate Republicans out there than there are neo-con wingnuts! By engaging the moderate Republicans in lively debate and conversation to get Democratic ideals out there we will swing these traditional Republicans from the dark side.

Keeping the base energized is important, but, in my opinion, it is not nearly as important to spend time and money on votes that you have as the votes that you do not have. Why campaign to the people whose votes you know you have? It will be extremely frustrating and a lot of hard work to debate and converse with the other side but it is necessary to show that the Democratic party is not exclusive and elitist but all inclusive.

Another important factor is having the correct candidate for the job who can actively get the Democratic values out there and persuade moderate Republicans to vote their conscience not their party.

The tide is turning, the Democrats need to grab a surf board and ride this wave!


1,346

by Shakespeare's Sister

Today is the 1,346th day since September 11, 2001.

That’s the same number of days between the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) and V-J Day (August 24, 1945), which signaled the end of World War II.

Caluculated Risk, posting at Angry Bear, writes that this milestone provides:
the opportunity to compare the effectiveness of America's responses to both crises. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, America came together, and with determination, shared sacrifice, and the effective and focused leadership of FDR, George C. Marshall, and many others, America and her allies were victorious.

After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America once again came together. However, within months of 9/11, the Bush Administration lost focus and never clearly defined a winnable GWOT [Global War on Terror]. Monty Python comedian Terry Jones quipped: "With most wars, you can say you've won when the other side is either all dead or surrenders. But how is terrorism going to surrender? It's hard for abstract nouns to surrender."

A more serious critique came from Dr. Jeffrey Record, of the U.S. Army's War College who wrote: "... most of the GWOT's declared objectives ... are unrealistic and condemn the United States to a hopeless quest for absolute security. As such, the GWOT's goals are also politically, fiscally, and militarily unsustainable ... The GWOT as it has so far been defined and conducted is strategically unfocused, promises much more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate scarce U.S. military and other means over too many ends. It violates the fundamental strategic principles of discrimination and concentration."
Read the rest; it’s really good. CR ends the piece by asking, “It took 1,346 days to win WWII. 1,346 days after 9/11, what have we accomplished?”

Ultimately, I suppose the answer to the question depends on one's perspective regarding the administration's ultimate goals. In terms of truly fighting a Global War on Terror, we have accomplished, seemingly, the polar opposite of our intent; our intervention and quick desertion of Afghanistan has left the country in chaos, riddled with violence and drug trafficking; our endeavor in Iraq has served only to fan the flames of hatred among many Muslims toward American imperialism. In terms of the administration exploiting the terrorist attack on American soil to further the neo-con vision of a powerful, centralized federal government with weakened civil liberties and strengthened laws for government secrecy and stealth intervention into private citizens’ lives, plus a Middle Eastern American outpost for the procurement of oil, much indeed has been accomplished.

CR’s critique of what has happened since 9/11 is spot-on, and an unfortunate reminder of how vastly different a man George Bush is from FDR, how far short of greatness he truly is, in spite of his shallow emulation of a great American leader.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Dobson has Frist on a short leash for the 'nuclear option'

by Pam


Frist image from BlogActive.

We've been talking about the influence of AmTaliban James Dobson (Focus on the Family) for quite some time. It's no surprise that his maneuvers behind the scenes to push the nuclear option on judicial filibusters via Frist have the traction that they do. He has no problem with smear and fear tactics against political figures, including wingnut Trent Lott, who felt Dobson's heat recently over the nuclear option. When it was clear Bush wasn't going to push for a federal marriage amendment, he and his Arlington Group knuckle-draggers threatened support for Chimpy's Social Security dismantling campaign.

Dobson plays hardball, and his grubby hands are all over Bill Frist's strident campaign to toss our system of government in the trash can to accomplish this extremist agenda. Not the removal of the filibuster, but the long-term goal of packing the Supreme Court with justices that will roll back the clock, attacking the hard-won rights of women, minorities and of course, the current social agenda whipping boy, the homos. Some good DKos diaries on the topic:

* Understanding the Republican "Nuclear Option"
* Frist (And When I Say Frist I Mean Dobson) Will Not Accept Any Compromise
* Frist Admits Filibustering Judges is Constitutional -- Just Not When Democrats Do It


Congress, Pentagon clash over women in combat

by Pam

The recruiting woes are so bad for the military, that the Pentagon is in stark disagreement with the House Armed Services Committee over its vote to limit the role of women in combat. The wingnuts (primarily Elaine Donnelly, head of the conservative Center for Military Readiness) have been quite vocal that women's role in the military should be curtailed, or preferably eliminated. Because women are unfit for this you know, like the homos.

The Army opposed the initial amendment by Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., saying it would have closed almost 22,000 slots to women and limited the service's fighting ability. Folks you can't have it both ways. They are completely confused by this political conundrum, as RPGs and bombs are over there killing men AND women in uniform.
A House committee voted to prohibit women in the military from serving in direct ground combat roles Wednesday as part of a bill setting Defense Department policy and spending plans for the coming budget year.

By voice vote, an amendment was approved that would put into law a Pentagon policy from 1994 that prohibits female troops in all four services from serving in units below brigade level whose primary mission is direct ground combat.

"Many Americans feel that women in combat or combat support positions is not a bridge we want to cross at this point," said Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., who sponsored the amendment. It also allows the Pentagon to further exclude women from units in other instances, while requiring defense officials to notify Congress when opening up positions to women. The amendment replaced narrower language in the bill that applied only to the Army and banned women from some combat support positions.

...The issue arose last week, when Republicans, at the behest of Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., added to the overall bill a provision that would have banned women from being assigned to "forward support companies."

Those units provide infantry, armor and artillery units with equipment, ammunition, maintenance and other supplies in combat zones. The Army started allowing women to staff such support posts last year and says it is complying with the 1994 policy. Some Republicans aren't so sure. "The Army is confused. They're all over the place on this one," Hunter said.


What was that about small government?

by Pam


Uncle Ted brings home the sizzling bacon. Soon the above stop will be one banging-hot place to wait for the next bus.

Repug Senator "Uncle Ted" Stevens picks $1.5 mil out of your pocket for an Anchorage, Alaska bus stop.
Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens — fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state.

Wilson is prepared to think big.

The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure. Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs would be nice.

"It is going to be a showpiece stop," Wilson said.
Uncle Ted's web site.

Flashback on my blog: The House Blend and Freepers agree: Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is an indecency dumb*ss


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Sick f*cks in Louisiana arrested in child sex-cult ring

by Pam


Chris Labat, Louis Lamonica, and Austin Bernard are charged with unbelievably heinous crimes.

Three Arrested in Sex Ring Involving Kids, Animals, and Church. Do you even know where to begin with this case? In the deepest part of the fundamentalist bible belt, we all know the darkest of perversions lie. Every possible cliche accompanies this horrible story.

* it takes place in the deep South
* these guys are your typical, redneck crackers
* it involves church members AND the minister
* the acts took place IN the church
* it involves bestiality
* a law enforcement officer allegedly took part in the abuse

Who wants to put money on it that one or more of these wretched excuses for a human being is married and has kids? I truly hope that is not the case, but it would complete the above sad list.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's office has broken up what they call a "child sex abuse cult." Three members of a Ponchatoula church have been arrested for allegedly raping children, and in some cases, having sex with animals. Some of the kids are as young as two years old.

The Tangipahoa Sheriff's office says the alleged abuse occurred two years ago. Sheriff Daniel Edwards says his office began investigating the Hosanna Church more than a month ago, after getting information from a mother of an alleged victim. The big break in the case came Monday when the church's minister turned himself in to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's office, and allegedly named names, one of whom was a Sheriff's deputy.

Sheriff's officials say certain church members allegedly raped children and animals in a cult-like fashion at the Hosanna Church. A nieghbor says when he found out about it, "It surprised me. But I wouldn't put it pass them. They were weird looking people to begin with."

Livingston Sheriff's Detective Stan Carpenter says church minister Louis Lamonica turned himself in on Monday and admitted to having oral and anal sex with kids for years... and that's not all. "He was basically showing the kids how to have sexual relations at a very young age. That is just something children at that age, they shouldn't have to know anything about that," says Carpenter.

Lamonica also allegedly named other church members in the child sex ring. They include Austin Bernard and Chris Labat. Labat is a patrol deputy with the Tangipahoa Sheriff's office. Livingston Sheriff Daniel Edwards says, "It certainly doesn't make me happy to be a human being to have fellow human beings that are capable of doing what is alleged to be done here. To have a member of this Sheriff's department involved in any way is disheartening." [Police said Bernard confessed to detectives that he had sex with a young girl in November 2002 and admitted to knowing about sexual acts involving children and a dog that occurred at Hosanna Church.]

How many others were allegedly abused at the church? No one knows. But investigators have faith more arrests will be made as they uncover what really happened inside the church. All three men are in prison on aggravated rape charges, and Deputy Labat has been fired.
I just don't want to hear another word about the evils of being a law-abiding gay citizen when allegedly Christian, sick, predatory pedophiles like these monsters are running loose committing unspeakable acts in a house of worship.


The Concept of Supply and Demand for Dead Gay Men

by JJ

There has been a question in my mind lately, especially since the FDA rules on gay sperm donors changed in the last couple of weeks. And now gay men cannot donate sperm; however, known sex offenders, male prostitutes and criminals of any sort can donate sperm.

Gay men cannot give blood according to the Red Cross requirements; however, a known prostitute who sleeps with hundreds of men, shoots up heroine and smokes crack can give blood.

So why can gay men donate tissue and organs? According to the governments organ donor website there are no such requirements or restrictions for gay men to donate organs and tissue.

SO it would appear that the only thing people want from gay men are their eyes, hearts, lungs, kidneys and tissue after they are dead. This truly makes no sense to me because if gay men are restricted from donating sperm and blood then you would think they would not be eligible to donate organs and tissue. However, since gay men can in fact donate organs and tissue why the restrictions on donating blood and sperm?

This brings us to supply and demand! There is not a blood shortage, nor is there a shortage on men willing to donate sperm. There is, on the other hand, a shortage of organ and tissue donors and long waiting lists of organ and tissue recipients. For some reason this makes it easy for everyone to overlook the fact that the organs and tissue may have come from a gay man. This also shows us this maneuver by the FDA is nothing more than another effort of this administration to appease its homophobic base. It also shows us that the Red Cross ban on gay blood is nothing more than another politicized policy to appease the far right.

I find it interesting that when someone is on their death bed they would willingly accept a heart, lung or kidney from a gay man but would not be able to receive blood. Can we say to someone who is dying - I am sorry, you have a rare blood type and the Red Cross refuses to take blood from 10% of the population but here is a new heart from that very same population?

So the only way for gays to give of themselves back to the community and save countless lives is to become organ and tissue donors. How many lives would be saved as a result?

When faced with a life or death question, would a religious wing nut homophobe accept gay tissue to save their life or would they rather die? I am an organ donor and would be happy if my heart, lungs or kidneys went to save the life of any human being regardless of their religious beliefs. If for no other reason than to flip my middle finger in their face and say F***K you homophobe, you are now part queer. I would also donate my blood as often as I could if it might save a life but because of my orientation I am banned from doing so.

So if you are a homo who hates the fact that you can’t give blood or can no longer donate sperm, go out there and become an organ and tissue donor!


More boo-hoos: Gary Bauer and the "persecuted Christians"

by Pam



Bring out the tiny violin again. This is just pathetic. Please, Little Gary, you gnome.
One pro-family leader is worried that American Christians could be facing a new form of inquisition. Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families senses that anti-Christian feelings are on the rise among some segments of America. He says he is concerned that born-again believers could be facing tough days ahead. "I'm concerned about the possibility of real persecution in the United States toward conservative Christians," Bauer states. "Harper's Magazine this week has a cover story entitled 'The Religious Right's War on America.' So there's a lot of rhetoric out there, very hateful rhetoric, aimed at traditional Christian conservatives -- and that can be very dangerous." Many Christian leaders have expressed their worry over the increase in "hate speech" aimed at Christians and the lack of public uproar over it.


FEMA, Fraud, Florida, and Some More Spectacularly Bad Journalism

by Shakespeare's Sister

The AP reports (emphasis mine):
The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave more than $31 million to thousands of Floridians who may not have qualified for any disaster aid after Hurricane Frances, one of several findings of a federal audit that said the aid system was vulnerable to fraud.

The finding, released to a Senate committee Wednesday, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted requests for aid in Miami-Dade County on verbal assurances, without proof of damage like repair receipts or proof of ownership.

[…]

FEMA chief Michael D. Brown said he regretted the findings, but said such problems are not widespread in his agency.

"While sadly in every disaster there will be those who attempt to abuse or defraud FEMA, I am pleased by the report's findings verifying our own initial conclusions of nothing widespread," Brown told the committee in a prepared statement.
1. The AP isn’t doing its job.
2. Brown’s a fucking liar.

It’s a strangely comforting thought to many people that the problem is a result of “those who attempt to abuse or defraud FEMA,” because the news is always rife with stories about scammers; these FEMA-defrauding crooks (we are meant to tell ourselves) are cut from the same cloth as the yokels who claim to have found fingers in their fast food chili, or get caught on video by the local news channel playing golf while they’re collecting disability payments from the government. And it’s a convenient excuse for the government, too. It’s not our fault; come on—you know how the world’s full of people who want something for nothing! And because there really are people like that in the world, we accept it.

But not this time. This time, I’m afraid, I’ve been paying attention.

First, in March, I wrote about a story in the Sun-Sentinel that revealed, in spite of the Brown’s claims that FEMA wasn’t playing politics with hurricane aid distribution (which, mind you, was taking place just before the hotly contested presidential election in a swing state governed by the president’s brother), a FEMA consultant by the name of Glenn Garcelon had authored a memo outlining exactly how they could and should play politics with the aid funds, including a recommendation that "top-level people from FEMA and the White House need to develop a communication strategy and an agreed-upon set of themes and communications objectives."

If that wasn’t enough to encourage the AP to note somewhere in its ridiculously one-sided story that this fraud may have started in the White House, instead of allowing Brown to place the entirety of the responsibility for this mess on conmen, surely the fact that an email message from the state's labor chief, Susan Pareigis (four days after whose request for federal assistance Labor Secretary Elaine Chao traveled to Florida personally to award the money) sent to Governor Bush asking that he pass on her appreciation “for such an instantaneous response" and forwarded to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card less than 10 minutes later is enough to raise the possibility that this might have had the president’s attention. Maybe, just maybe, this massive fraud isn’t just down to clever swindlers, but a government that was willing to look the other way as any deadbeat with a pulse and a willingness to take advantage of “free money” stepped forward with his or her hand out. Maybe, just maybe, 9/11 wasn't the only tragedy this administration exploited for its reelection, using the hurricanes as a perfect cover for funneling all kinds of money into the hands of important swing voters.

And it wasn’t only rental assistance and property replacement costs. In April, I wrote about another story in the Sun-Sentinel in which Dr. Stephen Nelson, head of Florida's Medical Examiners Commission, was quoted as saying that the number of deaths deemed hurricane-related by FEMA was “just an incredible number -- a difference of 192. This is the Free Funeral Payment Act."
FEMA worker Mary Ann Carlisle tried to make it easy for the medical examiner, providing "sample letters" he could use as a guide.

"Mr. James Doe, a patient under my care during Hurricane [blank], was terminally ill when evacuated from his home," said FEMA's sample letter from a doctor. "The stress and trauma of the storm and evacuation may have, in my opinion, hastened his demise. Any help you can give Mrs. James Doe would be greatly appreciated."

Carlisle even included a sample letter for terminally ill hospice patients.
Brown should in no way be asserting that the problem primarily lies with those outwith the agency, or even that this was a limited problem within the agency, and the AP should not allow him to get away with such blatant misrepresentation of the facts. Why is Garcelon’s memo not mentioned? Why not Pareigis’ email? There is every reason to believe, and some evidence behind the suspicion, that the White House knew about what was happening with FEMA’s hurricane aid distribution and not only didn’t mind, but encouraged the quick dispersion of federal funds to those even remotely affected by the hurricanes.

Back in March and April, the White House directed all inquiries to FEMA. Now FEMA is placing responsibility onto some of its employees and the recipients of misappropriated aid. The funding went from George Bush all the down to Joe Schmoe in the Sunshine State, and now the buck’s getting passed his way, too.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Heads of State

by Shakespeare's Sister

If you were the Bush administration, and you had $2 billion to spend on a healthcare issue, would you choose:

A) Stem cell research
B) Traumatic brain injury research
C) Children’s medical coverage
D) Male impotence drugs

If you guessed A, well, you’ve clearly forgotten that nearly any and all stem cell research is verboten, and that the administration finds discarding unused fetuses from fertility centers a better option than allowing the couples who produced the fetuses to donate them to research.

If you guessed B, then you’ve forgotten this little news item I wrote about in April, during the height of the Schiavo fiasco, when the Bush administration cancelled all funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Traumatic Brain Injury Program, in spite of the fact that fully 60% of wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan have traumatic brain injuries.

If you guessed C, then you probably haven’t read about the $1.1 billion of federal funds taken away from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, leaving nearly a million children without health insurance.

If you guessed D, then you are correct…and obviously well aware of the truly revolting priorities of this administration. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that $2 billion will be spent by the federal government over the next decade on male impotence drugs—through the new Medicare program, by the way, which means that these drugs are likely going mostly to older guys, which makes any claims that this is about helping men who want to have families highly suspect.

This is just about horny old duffers who still want to get some, and more power to them; I’ve got no problem with that, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of children’s health insurance or medical research that is integral to finding new information about a devastating injury that’s plaguing our troops. And here’s another confounding question: If abortion, abortifacients, and contraceptives, sex outside of marriage (or sex for fun), and homosexual sex are all bad because they interfere with God’s plan regarding childbearing—that is, they’re unnatural—then can someone please explain to me how drugs which allow men, who would not otherwise be able to do so, to have sex, is not as equally unnatural as all of the above? Maybe God’s plan for some dudes is a limp dick. Who are we mere mortals to mess with that?

It’s quite a coincidence that God’s laws about unnatural sex and sex-related decisions seem to only apply to controlling gays and women. Don’tcha think?

(Hat tip Think Progress.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


CharMeck votes to expand anti-discrimination law to protect gays

by Pam

In a meeting that went way-long last night, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) County board voted 6-3, to add sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination policy. The meeting was contentious, the vote was along party lines, and it was not a given it would pass. Here are just a sampling of quotes from the commissioners:


"This is to say who we are," he said. "This is what we believe."
-- Parks Helms


"I'm just as much of a Christian as commissioner (Jim) Puckett, commissioner James and commissioner Bishop, God will judge me. Not these three."
-- Norman Mitchell


"A human right to be treated as a person of dignity and worth should not be debated."
-- Wilhelmenia Rembert

"I suggest seeking services, seeking counseling, seeking help."
-- Rembert, referring to Bill James's fixation on sexual acts - and that he could be coping with unresolved issues. [He sent out several e-mails describing Democratic commissioners as endorsing perversity and sexual deviancy.]

As a reader noted, "Mr. James did have the best one-liner of the night, "A man's backside or rear end is not for another man's private parts," which is yet another example of Mr. James' latent homosexuality. The man thinks about male on male action more then any gay man I've ever met."

***

Most of you don't live in CharMeck (I don't), but this success isn't just a local issue; what happened here can be repeated all over this country, in cities, counties and states that are Red, moving toward Purple. It shows us that there are elected officials willing to stand up for what is right, not what is politically safe or expedient. It is about conviction and courage.

Sadly, we cannot look to the majority of national, establishment Dems for this kind of leadership seen by Parks Helms, Jennifer Roberts to bring forth this measure and take the heat. All of those that voted for this did so regardless of any political consequences.



At Large:
Parks Helms PHelms@helmshenderson.com
Wilhelmenia Rembert wirembert04@bellsouth.net
Jennifer Roberts Roberjw@co.mecklenburg.nc.us

Districts:
1 - Jim Puckett jhpucket@bellsouth.net
2 - Norman A. Mitchell, Sr. normanam@aol.com
3 - Valerie Woodard 2woodard@bellsouth.net
4 - Dumont Clarke dumontclarke@mvalaw.com
5 - Dan Bishop dan@votedanbishop.com
6 - Bill James wjames@carolina.rr.com

Video is here.

From the Charlotte Observer story this AM:
Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to add "sexual orientation" to the county's nondiscrimination policy, over the vehement objections of Republicans and after hours of debate that went late into Tuesday night.

The new policy means the county cannot discriminate in hiring and personnel decisions on the basis of sexual orientation, adding that to a list that includes race, color, sex, religion, national origin and age.

Democrats who voted for the change said it was an overdue statement of tolerance. But Republican members predicted a backlash at next year's election, and at least one -- county commissioner Bill James -- said the board's action went against God.

Commissioners Chairman Parks Helms set off a firestorm when he proposed the change last month. Democrats said they had been flooded with e-mails on both sides of the debate. On Tuesday night, they faced a crowded meeting chamber and, some said, an unusually passionate and eloquent one on both sides of the issue.

...When Helms proposed the change, he said he would also favor offering county employees health benefits for same-sex partners.

This week, he said he didn't have the votes to make that change, but believes changing the anti-discrimination policy could pave the way. This is the first time the county board has voted on adding sexual orientation to the county anti-discrimination policy. The change will not cost the county any money.

Republicans vowed to fight any further changes. James said that if Republicans regain a majority on the county board in the 2006 election, they would reverse Tuesday night's vote at the first board meeting.

"This is our collective judgment and the rock upon which we stand," he said. Puckett and Bishop said they did not believe the change was necessary. Both said they believe homosexuality is wrong, but would not discriminate because of it.

"If I were to discriminate against someone, I would discriminate against liberals, not homosexuals," Puckett said.

Scores of people attended the meeting, and more than 40 signed up to speak on the issue. Many carried signs, most in favor of the change, and most were quiet. Ministers spoke both in favor of and against it.

James Johnson, a social worker for the county, said he knew employees who were afraid to attend the meeting because they feared discrimination in the workplace if they were identified as gay. "Some had to stand by quietly," he said.


Gay/Lesbian rights SHOULD be a values issue

by STP

Progressives are of two mind sets, sometimes within one person, when it comes to who to stand behind in the Democratic Party, if anyone, and how best to promote an agenda of equality, inclusiveness, protection of individual rights, and enlightenment. There is no doubt that the enemy remains the far right, representing a message of fear, bigotry, invasiveness, exclusion, intolerance, and backward thinking. But the battle within the progressive movement is more interesting and, quite possibly, more critical to reversing the trends of radical, facism sweeping through America today.

One issue crystallizes the dilemma for progressives like no other; gay/lesbian rights. The matter of what gays/lesbians are "entitled" to, how to go about fighting for these rights and who best to lead the effort is important from a political perspective for progressives because it speaks to values.

Values. The word that was used so frequently to define people in recent elections. Republicans hijack the term to promote their alleged religious virtues and ethics. It was also used to demonize the "godless Democrats," who, it was claimed, had sold their souls to the devil for the "evils" of homosexuality, abortion, loose morals, and the breaking down of family.

But how are the views espoused by the right in any way related to values? Where are the values in discrimination? Where are the values in casting aspersions against an entire "type" of people? Where are the values in separation, isolation and hatred? Where are the values in preventing people from being happy when they cause no real pain to anyone else?

I see nothing to indicate a sense of values, ethics or morals in the traits that the far right exhibits with regard to their views on gays and lesbians, and in the corresponding legislation and treatment they strive toward achieving throughout this country. These zealots pretend they are soldiers of Jesus Christ, but I fail to comprehend what in their behavior is a reflection of anything that they allege Jesus to have represented.

My understanding of Jesus is that he was a man of peace who preached a coming together, where all were loved and all were God's children. The messages I recall from my readings of the New Testament were those of inclusion, respect, appreciation, and love. None of these traits can be found in the right's obession, fear and oppression (no, that word is not too strong) of homosexuals.

For progressives, this is the basis of the values debate and the means for taking the word back from the right's deceitful use of it. Values inherent in supporting people no matter how different they may be, of respecting them in their private lives, in allowing them equal rights and protections under the law, and in providing them with the same basic freedoms in our society should be the core message of progressives in defending gay/lesbian rights. The argument has to be framed in such a way; protecting gay and lesbian rights is a values issue.

It is anethema to a belief in God to discriminate, be intolerant, be swayed into hatred by fear, and to cast out in judgment as being sinners. What each person does in their own personal existence is within their rights to do, so as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others, and there is nothing in a "George" marrying a "Richard" that causes anyone else harm.

For progressives, though, there is a struggle between taking up the "good fight" purely and completely and being able to win now throughout the country. In this battle lies the progressive dilemma.

Where are the values in progressives who run away from their own beliefs? Not abandoning those in need of help and doing the right thing is critical to maintaining one's values, while following the political winds to justify a wrongful stand is a dismissal of any value system. You either do right or you do wrong, and the expediency of the easier path does not justify it.

Here is where it gets tricky. Should the Democrats have an insular tent similar to what the right wishes of Republicans? The zealots in the Republican Party do not want moderates to be among them and they have taken countless steps to push aside any views that do not subscribe to their radical agenda. While the progressive movement is clearly on the correct side of the argument on various social issues, among them gay and lesbian rights, do we, too, exclude all those in the middle of the political spectrum who do not agree with progressive opinions fully?

Anyone who has read my words with any frequency knows me to be fully, pro-gay/lesbian rights. You would also know that I have stated that the base of the progressive movement needs to be rebuilt much as the right has done over 40 years now, and, until that time, we need national politicians who can win today. I find my view shifting somewhat in this regard, for at what cost do we attain victory if it is at the expense of the ideals and principles - our values - that progressives believe in? And do we really win at all if we do so by sacrificing much of what we hold dear?

I see three sets of candidates in the Democratic Party right now; true progressives, true moderates and "blowing with the winders."

Some true progressives that come to mind are Russ Feinberg, Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, and Howard Dean.

True moderates might be Evan Bayh, Robert Casey and Mark Warner. I would say they have staked out positions, particularly on social issues that are even right of center, but these are genuinely felt beliefs, long held and firmly developed. Agree with them or not; you know these men are for real in what they stand for.

John Kerry is definitely a "blowing with the winder." Some would say that Hillary Clinton is a "winder," but I would argue that she was never as liberal as her enemies made her out to be, nor as suddenly moderate as her one-time friends have labeled her now. John Edwards, too, remains in a gray area, despite running a national campaign, though I would tend to list him as a progressive. In Clinton's case, I will call her a progressive whose hair is a bit ruffled from the breeze.

In the past, I have posted and spoken on numerous occasions that Democrats needed to build their base from the progressive wing of the party, but that this would take at least a decade to do. In the meantime, it seemed prudent to present candidates who could win now on the national level; Bayh and Warner coming to mind.

However, I find myself shifting in viewpoint, for, again, if we, as progressives, can only win nationally by sacrificing what we believe in, do we really even win? While I still firmly support the idea of being a big tent party with divergent views on issues, and support someone like Robert Casey's bid for a Senate seat to beat back Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, the time has come to make being Republican-lite the exception rather then the rule.

When issues are framed properly, progressive views can win the day. Gay/lesbian rights is a values issue. The case made above in this post can be made to the American people if done so honestly, firmly and in a clear and understandable fashion. The same approach can be taken on other topics such as choice and guns, not to mention tax fairness and foreign policy.

It is about time that progressives defended their principles and the rights of the people in this country that have been ignored or taken advantage of by the Republicans. Progressives within the Democratic Party represent the true voice of the people, and succumbing to the argument that only moderates can win is defeatist and wrong. The lies of the Republican Party must be answered with vigor, and the time to believe that is today.

I will say it one last time - gay/lesbian rights is a values issue and should be approached directly from a perspective assuming as much. Seeing things in this way, presenting them as such and helping the greater public to understand this, can, and will, win the debate.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)


Sorry seems to be the hardest word

by Pam

Check out Perrspectives for this gem (and more):



Also, don't forget to swing by Perrspective's Conservative Threat Level. Current level: High (Church and State to Merge)


"The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we're doing in Iraq now are unbelievable"

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...the quote in the heading of this post is from George Lucas, the mastermind behind the Star Wars movie phenomenon.

Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Associated Press
'Star Wars' Raises Questions on US Policy
by David Germain

Without Michael Moore and "Fahrenheit 9/11" at the Cannes Film Festival this time, it was left to George Lucas and "Star Wars" to pique European ire over the state of world relations and the United States' role in it.

Lucas' themes of democracy on the skids and a ruler preaching war to preserve the peace predate "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" by almost 30 years. Yet viewers Sunday — and Lucas himself — noted similarities between the final chapter of his sci-fi saga and our own troubled times.

Cannes audiences made blunt comparisons between "Revenge of the Sith" — the story of Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and the rise of an emperor through warmongering — to President Bush's war on terrorism and the invasion of Iraq.

Two lines from the movie especially resonated:

"This is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause," bemoans Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) as the galactic Senate cheers dictator-in-waiting Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) while he announces a crusade against the Jedi.

"If you're not with me, then you're my enemy," Hayden Christensen's Anakin — soon to become villain Darth Vader — tells former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).

The line echoes Bush's international ultimatum after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

"That quote is almost a perfect citation of Bush," said Liam Engle, a 23-year-old French-American aspiring filmmaker. "Plus, you've got a politician trying to increase his power to wage a phony war." Though the plot was written years ago, "the anti-Bush diatribe is clearly there," Engle said.


The rest of the article is HERE.

Alix and I are seeing the new Star Wars early Thursday evening - I look forward to seeing it, from this perspective...I also look forward to your thoughts, both before and after you see it!
Ms. Julien


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

And I thought they were talking about clean sheets

by Pam



Here you go folks, this one is red meat. I don't know where these people come up with such nonsense? Can they just not order the porn?
A new website is up and running, providing a valuable service to families and business travelers who don't want to stay in hotels that offer in-room pornography. The website has been in the works for four years -- and now, CleanHotels.com is a reality. Phil Burress of the Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values came up with the idea because he felt there needed to be a resource for people to book a hotel room and be assured there would be no pornography on the room's television. "So rather than just curse the darkness and just keep complaining about this, we decided to launch into an opportunity to offer people a new way of dealing with this problem," Burress explains. "About four years ago, we birthed the idea of CleanHotels.com, and we surveyed 43,000 hotels across America. We identified the hotels that do not offer in-room, hard-core, pay-per-view pornography." Burress says by using the website, not only can families be assured they will not be exposed to pornography, but they will be supporting companies that care enough about their customers to not offer pay-per-view porn.


Shocking PM defection boosts chances of gay marriage in Canada

by Pam


Conservative Belinda Stronach jumped ship to Paul Martin's flailing Liberal government, making it more likely that gay marriage will become a reality country-wide.

Wow. What drama is going on up there! Paul Martin's government is hanging by a hair, so his snaring of Conservative lawmaker Belinda Stronach to his camp is a huge boost. The no-confidence vote for his Liberal goverrment is scheduled for May 19. I have no doubt that this will cause an exponential increase of hysteria by the religious wingnuts here and up there. (Bloomberg via RawStoryQ):
Stronach, the former chief executive officer of auto-parts maker Magna International Inc., will be the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Martin said at a press conference in Ottawa today. Stronach, 39, lost a leadership race in March 2004 to Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper, 46.

Stronach's defection from the Conservatives gives Martin a crucial vote in a non-confidence motion scheduled on the budget for May 19. Martin now probably needs to secure the support of one more independent member to win the vote and avoid an election. Opposition parties had sought to oust the Liberals over a spending scandal.

"Belinda's actions today make the defeat of the government on Thursday much less likely," Harper said at a press conference in Ottawa.

...The Liberals may win this week's vote if Martin convinces one of the two undecided independent members to support the government. Chuck Cadman and David Kilgour said yesterday that they are undecided. Calls to their offices today weren't immediately returned. The third independent member, Carolyn Parrish, has said she will vote with the Liberals on the budget.

...Stronach said she switched parties because she didn't want to side with the separatist Bloc Quebecois party to defeat Martin's minority government, and that the alliance hurts Canadian unity. Stronach also had opposed Harper's stance against legalizing same-sex marriages. "I have been uncomfortable for some time with the direction the leader of the Conservative Party has been taking," Stronach said at the press conference.

...Time Magazine last year ranked Belinda Stronach as one of the world's 100 most influential people.


Oh, Africa

by Shakespeare's Sister

Brad Plumer, who I suspect has a severe case of racing brain syndrome as incurable as my own, describes Helen Epstein’s article God and the Fight Against AIDS in the New York Review of Books as “one of the most fascinating—and horrifying—things” he’s read in awhile. I totally agree with his assessment.

The struggle against the unyielding AIDS crisis in Africa is being crippled by religion—and religious people who want their slice of the $1 billion pie of US funding earmarked for abstinence-only AIDS prevention programs in Africa. Evangelical Christians in America were hardly concerned about the AIDS crisis until recently; indeed, many of them welcomed it in its earliest stages as the wrath of God, seeking to rid the world of sexual deviants—a turn of heavenly events that seemed to justify the hatred against homosexuals and sexually revolutionized feminists which had been their stock in trade for years. Then came the serendipitous confluence of an evangelical Christian revival in Africa, as African men sought to control increasingly independent women, on whose shoulders the problems of Africa was squarely placed, and the pledge of a new American president, a born again American president, to earmark funding for abstinence-only programs. The opportunistic among American evangelicals saw the AIDS crisis in Africa as an unprecedented missionary opportunity and a possible payday to boot. In the end, neither God nor money is helping stem the tide of AIDS infections in Africa.

Condoms alone aren’t the answer, either, but they are a better answer than abstinence-only. The best solution, however, is best represented by a campaign developed in Uganda by Ugandans themselves, who better understand the unique social constructs of their sexual culture (shared by much of the continent), including both informal and formal polygamy—a tradition which will not be eradicated, is uniquely troublesome in terms of halting the spread of infectious diseases, and cannot be adequately addressed with either abstinence-only or safe-sex only programs alone. Why has this program been abandoned? Well, it certainly wasn’t funding the work of any American or other western groups who were sure that they had the best ideas for Africa, so it was summarily abandoned. Bringing it back is now not an option, as it definitely doesn’t appeal to American evangelicals, including our president, who hold the funding on which they depend and would prefer not to acknowledge that even the godly born-agains in Africa, pious counterparts in the cradle of civilization, aren’t, in fact, free from the sins of the flesh. As it turns out, the compulsion to denounce the depravity of others whilst carrying on the same purportedly condemnable activities behind closed doors is hardly a uniquely American trait. From here, through Africa, straight to the ends of the Earth, there is simply no shortage of those who are willing to sacrifice the lives of those addicted to their snake oil, inveigling each lost soul in need of an answer to live the kind of life they are not willing—or able—to live themselves.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Run and get your Star Wars tix: there's a wingnut boycott

by Pam

It's hard to forgive George Lucas for the offensive Jar Jar Binks and the hapless casting of Jake Lloyd as young Anakin. However, I want to see the storyline come full circle, so I'm in for this last go-round.

After reading the following, now I'll have to go at least one extra time just to spite this sure-to-fail boycott by some low-rent, ludicrous outfit called Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood (PABAAH). (Original emphasis)
When will Hollywood learn? George Lucas and his intergalactic empire have now been added to our official boycott list. Sad...but necessary. A bigger Star Wars fan you'll never find...until now. Our country is at war and Lucas spouts off this crap?

Star Wars a cautionary tale about politics

Star Wars is a wakeup call to Americans about the erosion of democratic freedoms under George W. Bush, George Lucas said yesterday.

Lucas, at a Cannes film festival press conference yesterday, said he first wrote the framework of Star Wars in 1971 when reacting to then-U.S. president Richard Nixon and the events of the Vietnam War. But the story still has relevance today, he said, and is part of a pattern he has noticed in history.

"I didn't think it was going to get quite this close," he said of the parallels between the Nixon era and the Bush presidency, which has been sacrificing freedoms in the interests of national security.

"It is just one of those re-occuring things. I hope this doesn't come true in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to the situation of how dangerous it is . . . The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we are doing now in Iraq are unbelievable."
For extra fun, check out the official Hollywood Boycott list.


Truly Pathetic

by Shakespeare's Sister

Lone protester still takes a stand for Terri Schiavo

Just read it.


More Manufactured Outrage?

by John

I remember during the election season how whenever you would see a Bush event on television there would always be these hand painted signs that made it look like the people at the event really took the time to make them. Yet, the signs all looked the same, and as it turned out, the campaign was making them and passing them out to the crowd. It was all about image control, which of course, is what running for President is all about these days.

Anyway, some of the pictures from the so-called Newsweek Riots look a little too familiar to me. Here is an AP picture ( click to make it bigger) from Canada.com of two men holding up signs at a demonstration:
W051630a



And here are some pictures ( click to make bigger ) from Moms4Bush of those campaign signs I was talking about:
Armyvetorlando_1




Womenforbushorlando



It seems to me that the posters the two men are holding look a little too clean and professional for what you would expect at a hastilly called demonstration to protest Newsweek magazine. You can draw your own conclusion, but given the fact that the violence was surging in Afghanistan even before the Newsweek article appeared, it would be convenient from a political standpoint to find some other way to spin the protests so that it doesn't look so bad for the President. Just throwing that out there.

(x-posted @ Blogenlust)

UPDATE: Always read the fine print. Underneath the photo of the two men protesting Newsweek is this "Members of Raza Academy, a Muslim organization, protest the alleged desecration of the Qur'an at the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in Bombay, India, Monday. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)." The Raza Academy is an organization with a history of protesting for Muslim causes, like protesting Ariel Sharon's recent visit to India. So I apologize for not looking into this more before making the suggestion. The poster types do look similar, but this is most likely an instance of reading too far into things.

Someone in comments does raise a good point, though. There seems to be a conflicting message with the two signs. One blames Bush and the other wants to ban Newsweek. In the States, those are two contradictory points, at least in the way the blogosphere has divided itself on the issue. Why would they have an issue with Newsweek if Newsweek was responsible for getting these atrocities out into the public? Originally, it was the "Ban Newsweek" sign that made me think this was such a manufactured photo-op because it seems like a strange thing considering the purpose of the Muslim protests were not to rally against Newsweek misreporting the atrocities, but the fact that the atrocities even occurred. Strange.

Thoughts?



Monday, May 16, 2005

Rhode Island Legislature to consider same-sex marriage

by Pam


State Rep. Art Handy and State Sen. Rhoda Perry are shepherding bills to allow gay marriage.

Last Freeper post for the day. I like it when they squirm...

Great news in a very Blue state. A bill to allow same-sex marriage in Rhode Island will be heard on Wednesday by the state's House Judiciary Committee. It's noted that clergy will not be obligated to officiate at civil or religious weddings.

HB5660 (PDF) is sponsored by Cranston Representative Art Handy. Similar legislation, SB0217, is already before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and scheduled for a hearing tomorrow; that bill is sponsored by State Senator Rhoda Perry. The fact that these measures will have a chance is making the Freepers quake in their shoes. Ah, the smell of fear...

Actual Freeper Quotes™

Here it comes. I don't know if the laity can be organized to make a sound, public voice on this or not. We tried last summer, got about 300 people on board to stand up to this crap, but it fizzled out. Too many backed out, were scared of "reputations" being affected by taking a stand. Keep praying that the blind will see the truth, and that the wolves will be abated & defeated."

""clergy will not be obligated to officiate at civil or religious weddings""

"Until it is more entrenched as a civil right. Then clergy that refuse will risk losing their tax exempt status. That is my moment of Cynicism for the day."

"Just wait till the "nondiscrimination" laws hit, then they can be fined or imprisoned by refusing to hire a gay couple as "marriage ministry leaders"."

"The moral left strikes again."

"The cancer is spreading..."

"It's time to shut these 'blue states' down. Quit doing business with them, if possible. I actually live in New England, and I boycott this rat's nest as much as possible. Maybe we'll have to build a wall along the Potomac to keep this insidious tumor from spreading south and west any more than it already has."

"In other words, no Holy matrimony - ever - just the unholy abomination kind. Homos will never be considered "normal", no matter how much they try to sue for it."

"I'd rather fight for my "home soil" of northern Delaware, as liberal as it has become."

"They'll get their butts kicked attempting to do this legislatively. The good people of this nation will never support something as perverse as homosexual "marriage.""

"Remember, this is RI - the bluest of the blue states. If it passed in MA, it'll have an easier time passing here. The pro-sodomite groups that are pushing this are very well organized and well funded. Currently, there is no RI Pro-Marriage group or Family Policy Council to make a strong public front in support of traditional marriage. Keep praying."

"At least it's being done in the legislature. Keep the courts out of it and let the legislative branch decide--as it should be."

"Can you tell me how you or your family is affected by a homosexual couple that wants to marry?"

"This is already happening to the Salvation Army. They were sued a few years back for not hiring a gay man and they lost. I have no idea where it went from there.

"1 - Redefinition of terms. By law, my wife is no longer my wife, but rather my "spouse". Same thing for the term husband.

2 - State-sanctioned demand/forced acceptance of a perverted and deviant lifestyle.

3 - It encourages and promotes homosexuality as a healthy and viable means of human relation. To the contrary, homosexuality is quite unnatural and unhealthy, given that the average lifespan is 47 years [good god where are they getting this sh*t?], that 44% of all new AIDS cases come from them, and that 68% of ALL AIDS cases currently dwell among them. Higher instances of domestic violence, STD's, drug abuse, etc.

4 - Needlessly undoing thousands of years of Natural/Biblical Law, and human tradition - all to assuage a group that represents less than 3% of the total US Population.

When it was just "in the bedroom/behind closed doors" it didn't bother me. Now that their perversion has gone outside the front door, and the walking bio-hazards are in the street - heck yes, it affects me. As a Christian, I am obligated to stand in the face of sin and denounce it for what it is. I am obligated to warn others of the coming sword. I am accountable to "snatch them from the fire". I am not supposed to lay down and roll over for those who wish to demand acceptance of such an abominable lifestyle on the rest of the public.""

"but don't take my word for it, look at the legislation itself. Look what they've done to it - the only thing they've excluded from their "total marriage equality" is marriage of kin. How long before that too is rendered obsolete? Why would it be illegal then? Isn't that their sexual preference, too? What about 2 homosexual brothers? nything will be acceptable, right? It's illegal to discriminate based on a chosen sex fetish." [Just open the trap door and let this moron drop through the floor.]

"Exactly right. This is how it starts - it's the quintessential "slippery slope"."

"Once society as a whole is forced to accept one form of deviancy, others inevitably follow. We have a moral obligation to stand against it, preserving what is left of a once wholesome and sanctified institution."

"Names and phone numbers? People only have hours to act on this stuff. As a Christian, I am obligated to stand in the face of sin and denounce it for what it is. I am obligated to warn others of the coming sword. I am accountable to "snatch them from the fire". I am not supposed to lay down and roll over for those who wish to demand acceptance of such an abominable lifestyle on the rest of the public. You are one of the very, very FEW Christians I have ever encountered who "gets it". Good for you."

"Yep, I had a feeling Rhode Island would be next... :-("
The emails for the Senate Judiciary Committee are here; the House contacts are here.


Attention Pervert Lefties!

by Shakespeare's Sister

Another edition of the Shakespeare’s Sister Official Right-on-Right Get-It-On-a-thon is currently underway. Get on over to Planet Shakes and offer up your contributions to the strangest, most shocking, horrifically disturbing imagery of two crackpot conservatives in a compromising position.

No children under 18 or anyone with a weak heart (or stomach), please.


Bill Moyers Fights Back

by Shakespeare's Sister

Have I ever mentioned that I’m madly in love with Bill Moyers? Not in an I-wanna-do-ya kind of way, but more a download-everything-you-know-directly-into-my-brain-Matrix-style kind of way. And every time his glorious name is in the news, it just strengthens my devotion, because he is, quite simply, brilliant.

This time, it was the closing speech at the National Conference on Media Reform in St. Louis, during which he took the opportunity to respond to reports that Republican operatives are attempting to conservatize PBS.
"I should put my detractors on notice," declared the veteran journalist who stepped down in January as the host of PBS's Now with Bill Moyers, who recently turned 70. "They might compel me out of the rocking chair and into the anchor chair."

[…]

"I simply never imagined that any CPB chairman, Democrat or Republican, would cross the line from resisting White House pressure to carrying it out for the White House. And that's what (CPB chair) Kenneth Tomlinson has been doing."

Recalling former President Richard Nixon's failed attempt to cut the funding for public broadcasting in the early 1970s, Moyers said, "I always knew that Nixon would be back -- again and again. I just didn't know that this time he would ask to be the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

[…]

Moyers revealed to the crowd of 2,000 media reform activists that he had written Tomlinson on Friday, suggesting that the pair appear on a PBS program to discuss the controversy. He also revealed that he had tried three times to meet with the full CPB board but had been refused. Expressing his sense that the board had "crossed the line from resisting White House pressure to carrying it out," Moyers said, "I would like to give Mr. Tomlinson the benefit of the doubt, but I can't."

The man who has won 30 Emmy Awards for his hosting of various PBS programs was blunt about his critics. "They've been after me for years now and I am sure they will be stomping on my grave after I'm dead," he said. As the laughter from the crowd of 2,300 media reform activists quieted, however, he added, "I should remind them that one of our boys made it out 2,000 years ago."
Leave it to Bill Moyers. In one fell swoop, he links the current administration to infamously secretive and image-controlling Nixonian tactics, plainly states the White House itself is involved in media manipulation, and reminds everyone that Jesus was a liberal!

I can count on my opposable thumbs the number of newsmen (Bill Moyers and Sam Donaldson) who are really standing up to the onslaught of intimidation and strong-arming by the administration that has turned our media into a bunch of pathetic, capitulating mouthpieces of Rove who genuflect to the irreproachable graven image that our president has become, in no small debt to their collectively endless willingness to treat him as humble and trembling servants regard their king. There is no limit to the damage such shameless servility can do; just ask the Iraqis. The truly pitiful coverage, and, more importantly, dearth of rigorous examination of the veracity of the administration’s claims, leading up to the war, was integral in helping the White House garner wide support from the public for that war.

Moyers knows the importance of a free, open, and objective media; he’s no fool.
"An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical," Moyers said. "And just as a democracy can die of too many lies, that kind of orthodoxy can kill us, too."
What I find disturbing (and quite upsetting) is the willingness of so many people to be unconscious, indoctrinated, unquestioning, and unskeptical, to live wholly on a steady diet of propaganda. I don’t want to be any of those things (and, despite charges that I am a partisan, I often find myself angry with the Dems as much as the GOP, for various and sundry reasons). I am and have always been a voracious reader, a devourer of information, on a myriad of topics, and when it comes to politics, I feel a particular responsibility as a voter and a citizen to know what the fuck I’m talking about. That I am the exception, rather than the rule, means we are even more dependent on media accuracy and fairness to ensure a well-informed electorate. When that goes, the level of ignorance and apathy among the populace is staggering—as we have seen over the past four years.

We need more men (and women) like Moyers—both in our newsrooms and in every house across America. If only people had a better sense of responsibility for what they absorbed, more critical eyes and ears, longer attention spans…well, we probably wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in, would we?

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Military's 2006 recruiting looks like tough going -- Freepi worried

by Pam

Things aren't looking any better for military recruiting in 2006...hmmm...I wonder why? (NYT):
The Army's top recruiter, already struggling to meet his quotas this year, said yesterday that 2006 would be even harder, and perhaps the toughest year for recruiting since the all-volunteer force began in 1973.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, in a telephone interview, said the Army would most likely start its fiscal year this October with the smallest pool of recruits ready for boot camp in at least a decade. He said that by then, only 9.9 percent of the roughly 80,000 new active-duty soldiers the Army needs next year to replenish the ranks in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere were expected to be in the pipeline.

Normally, as the Army begins its recruiting year, it has a goal of having already-signed contracts with one in every three of the year's expected arrivals - a cushion that helps recruiters through the slow winter months. But this year, the Army started with one in five, and if General Rochelle's prediction is correct, next year will begin with only one in 10.

The general said that prospect was "not a bright picture" and blamed a variety of factors, from the war in Iraq, to an improving economy, to family members and friends of applicants who he said often dissuade recruits from joining.

Beth J. Asch, a senior economist specializing in military personnel at the RAND Corporation, a military-financed research organization, described the general's prediction as "near disastrous."

She said the reduced pool of enlistees would force the Army's 7,500 recruiters, already struggling under intense pressure, to find applicants, verify that they are qualified and send them to boot camp in 30 days or fewer. In 2004, recruits typically waited 110 days to report to boot camp after signing up; as of March, that had dwindled to 50 days.

"It's comparable to having no savings account," Ms. Asch said. "They'll be living month to month."

In interviews over the past five months, recruiters have said they already feel rushed to push recruits to boot camp as quickly as possible. They said the accelerated pace often leads recruiters to overlook or illegally conceal psychological problems and police records that might make a recruit ineligible.

Various forms of cheating, or breaking Army rules to enlist unqualified applicants, have been on the rise. Army statistics showed 325 closed cases of substantiated improprieties in 2004, up from 199 in 1999, the last year the annual active-duty recruitment goal was missed.
Do you think the Freepi have a solution? Maybe they can all do their patriotic duty and sign up. Note they are really getting nervous about the draft. What happened to all that cockiness about Iraq, huh?

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"I won't be surprised if this is eventually offered to the Marines and Navy Corpmen(sp?) as well, i.e. folks on the ground. "

"The Army and Marines, both active and reserve components, have not been making their quotas for the last three months, IIRC. Check comment# 1."

"Great incentives..but I KNOW what the Libs will say.." "What good are incentives like that when you won't be ALIVE to use them??" Anyone have a counter to that lilly-livered argument?"

"Well, I will just say that the dems and the MSM have a lot to do with this---Why would young people want to join the military to go to an "illegal war" and "kill innocent people"? They are filled in with so much anti-America propaganda in high school and college nowdays that it would seem almost impossible to get a "patriotic" emotion from a lot of them these days....I would think that if they could see the pride of what American troops have accomplished in Afghanistan and Iraq, it might help, but where would they see that---even Fox isn't showing it as much as they used to..."

"This is worrisome, but at least they're doing something. It's set up so that they can do one tour in Afghanistan or Iraq with an Active duty unit and another tour with an Army Reserve or National Guard unit."

"IMHO it's a lot simpler than that. Most potential recruits know that there's a good chance they'll end up in Iraq within a year. We're going on our fourth year of active warfare, and it's tough sledding, recruitingwise. Even in WWII, a "popular" war, most people didn't volunteer, they waited to get drafted."

"I think it will eventually come to a draft this time around, too, unless Iraq quiets down dramatically in the next six months or so. The numbers just aren't there. The trick will be in getting it through Congress, and in selling it to the public in a way that won't result in a major bloodletting at the polls. If Rove can pull that off, he'll deserve every nickel of his salary."

"Right on about Fox. Lately I've been really turned off by FNC. I don't know but recently, to me, it seems like they are mainly concerned with more tabloid-like crap such as in depth coverage about what Michael Jackson had for breakfast rather than actual news. I mean come on, with everything going on in the world there is no reason why FNC needs to saturate us with coverage about Michael Jackson, the runaway bride, or whatever other garbage turns up. Nobody cares! "

"And if Korea or Iran blow up....all bets are off."

""It's set up so that they can do one tour in Afghanistan or Iraq with an Active duty unit and another tour with an Army Reserve or National Guard unit.""

"AR and ANG are geopraphically located. People aren't assigned or deployed the same way as Active Duty. They likely won't go unless their AR or ANG unit is sent and only a fraction of AR and ANG units are deployed at a time. "

"And this time around it is time for women to step up to the plate and be required to register with the SS since they want equality. Fem groups argued for years about women on ships and combat areas. There is no reason for them to be exempt from national service or the draft. A guy years ago was more to the point. He would go all out for women and equality WHEN he saw them join in mass protests for the right to be drafted. The wusses in Congress after years of hand wringing finally allowed them to participate in current realities."

"I posted comments earlier elsewhere about FNC's ratings running circles around the other news channels. They have been my news channel source for obvious reasons. But, I pointed out they lately have regressed and seem to be using a National Enquirer mentality by sensationalizing lead-ins to upcoming segments..."See the shocking videos...blah, blah," "You won't believe what so and so said...blah, blah." Yesterday, I emailed Greta's show, which is amounting to Son of Court TV about the above. "

"A few months ago a thread like this would have already been loaded up with the, "What,-are-you-crazy? We-don't-need-no-stinking-draft!" crowd. The authority to draft and the registration of women should have gone through congress and signed by the President before the end of September 2001. Now, it's going to be a wee bit tougher to "get 'r done.""

"Even in WWII, a "popular" war, most people didn't volunteer, they waited to get drafted. Ten Million of what some refer to as "The Greatest Generation" were drafted. The trick will be in getting it through Congress, and in selling it to the public in a way that won't result in a major bloodletting at the polls. If the Bolton matter and the Filibuster issue were settled today, it would still take many months for Congress to even focus on the issue of manning the force. "

"Imo we need to pay the soldiers fighting on the ground much much more then they are making now. And get away from this promising of benefits crap.. make it real cash, aka increasing salary. And we need to get away from the whole reserve idea of sending them overseas for a continuing mission."

"After congress is done shelling out money to the unions, pork barrel contracts, and every other special interest.. I doubt there will be any money left over for troops."

"I'm not sure more pay is the answer. Don't get me wrong, the troops can't be paid enough but big incentives are being offered right now. I do believe, under conscription, we'd have be a little more creative than in the past. Of course, when the draft ended in 73, E1 thru E5 weren't highly paid anyway. So, it didn't much matter that a US (draftee) made the same as an RA (enlistee). One way would be to create a two-tier pay scale for the grades effected (E1-E4 or 5). If a draftee chooses to stay longer at any point in the process, they would immediately jump to the higher scale. People forget that, even under the old draft, many draftees re-enlisted."

"A few months ago a thread like this would have already been loaded up with the, "What,-are-you-crazy? We-don't-need-no-stinking-draft!" crowd. No way there would be a draft. It would never pass in congress. If that were really the only option, which I don't believe it is, then the U.S. would have to leave Iraq. I'm not saying there will not be a need for a draft in the future, but its not going to happen for Iraq. The U.S. will need to get hit with a nuke, or something of similar significance, before there would be any chance of selling a draft."

"And if Korea and Iran blow up....they will raise the Draft Age to 75 and Save Social Security. "

"If Iraq is not worthy of a Draft, then we shouldn't be there. I guess I agree with you. I also agree that it may take another major attack on US interests to make it happen. Make no mistake, something"

"Come on. You know very well what sort of event would be needed to get public support for a draft - something on the level of a nuclear attack on a U.S. city. To claim that anything short of that is not worthy of military commitment seems ridiculous and would give our adversaries free reign."

"I said it would take a **major** attack to get enough support for a draft, but I also feel that changes will need to be made in the near term in terms of retainment, recruitment and deployment until the Iraqi army gets up to speed. If that doesn't happen in a reasonable timeframe in which we can maintain sufficient troop levels then we will have to look at other options, which include, among others, handing the keys to al Zarqawi and friends or stepping back and allowing a civil war to break out while aiding whatever group seems advantageous to U.S."

"Even without a major attack on us, at the current deployment tempo and drop in recruiting, Iraq is going to take the Army and Marine Corps to the breaking point."


Analysis:
Seven Principles of Macroeconomics

by Dark Wraith

The Bush Administration has avoided recession to date largely because, from shortly after the inauguration, the Federal Reserve created money at a faster rate than the real growth rate of the economy. When the Federal Open Market Committee—the monetary policy arm of the Fed—put an end to this last year, it said that it had ended what it called an "accommodative policy." In plain English, the Federal Reserve had been printing money to finance the neo-conservative excesses of war and tax cuts. In the absence of any self-discipline by the Republican-controlled Congress, expenditures have been exceeding tax revenues year after year, creating record budget deficits that stand in stark contrast to the last years of the Clinton Administration, when the federal government ran budget surpluses that were allowing the United States of America to begin a long, slow process of paying down the national debt, which had skyrocketed during the Reagan Administration.

To clarify where the American economy stands right now, several myths need to be put to their everlasting place of rest; and the best way to do this is to affirm principles of economics. These principles, by the way, are not subject to debate; they are not cause for argument from alternative perspectives; and they are certainly not going to go away because of some "new economy" invented in the fertile minds of neo-conservative radicals clutching their positions of power, their lifer status at think tanks or in academia, or their awards and accolades from their fawning peers.

Principle 1: The Cause of Inflation
Creating money at a rate faster than the economy can absorb it creates inflation. More importantly, it is the only process, under normal conditions, that can cause inflation, which is a rise in the aggregate price level of an economy. Inflation is not caused by the price of one good or service rising; inflation is not caused even by the prices of a bunch of goods or services rising.

And inflation is not caused by an increase in wages. Most notably, raising the minimum wage is not "inflationary," and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.

If prices of goods or factors go up in one sector of the economy, consumers and business will substitute away from the products and factors whose prices are rising to the extent possible; and to the extent that they cannot get away from those more expensive things, they'll just have less income to buy everything else. It is only when the Fed accommodates a price rise in one sector that the substitution and income effects don't deal with the situation. When the Fed pulls a helpful little stunt, it's called "monetizing a price shock," and it makes everyone feel okay for a while; but ultimately, all prices go up, and everybody is back to square one. The Fed's history of providing abnormal liquidity is long and illustrious. In the lifetimes of the most of the readers of this article, the Fed has graciously "provided liquidity" for the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s, the stock market crash of the late 1980s, and the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Principle 2: Budget Deficits Do Matter
If the government cannot pay for its expenditures with tax revenues, then it must borrow money. It does this by selling Treasury securities of various terms to maturity. Neo-conservatives claim that federal budget deficits don't matter: since the Treasury securities are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America, the government will not default, so there is no need to worry about mounting national debt accumulated through years of fiscal irresponsibility. Some even point out that, as a percent of the Gross Domestic Product, the federal budget deficits are actually fairly modest compared to the debt as a percentage of income of many households.

These arguments are silly. When a household borrows money, regardless of how much, the effect on capital markets isn't just minimal, it's nil. A household simply cannot borrow enough to have any impact whatsoever on the global supply of lendable funds.

But a nation the size of the United States can; and more importantly, it does. Hitting the global capital markets for hundreds of billions of dollars year after year has profound impact not just here in the United States, but everywhere on Earth. The United States will pay whatever interest rate it must to command the money it needs. That means everyone else—from the family borrowing for a new home to the small nation needing money for economic development—must not just meet those interest rates being paid by Uncle Sam, but exceed them, since no other borrower's IOU on Earth is as safe as those Treasury instruments.

Principle 3: Lunch is Served, Sir
But interest rates were so low for a long period of time during the Bush Administration. These low rates propelled a decent economic expansion. How could it be that federal deficits should have been pushing interest rates up, and printing money should have been causing inflation, but neither of these things happened?

Recall from above that the Federal Reserve was providing an "accommodative" monetary policy for pretty much the entire first term of Bush Administration, effectively printing money to pay bills that should have been paid with hard tax revenues that the Republicans pandered away with one round of tax cuts after another.

Here's the key: interest rates are the price of money. Think about it: to give up using money, a person gets interest on a savings account; to obtain money in excess of income, a person must pay an interest as a fee for having that extra dough. So, when the Federal Reserve pours shiploads of money into the economy, it's doing nothing more than increasing the supply of those greenbacks; and as the supply of anything turns into a flood, its price will go through the floor.

Ah, there's the ticket, then: all that excess money the Fed was cranking out was driving the price of money—interest rates—through the floor, and this was feeding a nice little economic expansion. So even as the Republicans were putting pressure on global capital markets, which should have been pushing interest rates upward, the Fed was pounding out the greenbacks to keep domestic interest rates low.

But why didn't all that money create inflation before now?

Principle 4: Foreign Toasters
"If Americans would only save more money..." or so the whine commences about the low domestic savings rate. That's disingenuous on its face: with domestic interest rates riding rock bottom in recent years, no American in his right mind is going to commit a whole lot of cash to a hole in the ground from which no consumption pleasure can be derived. More to the point, anyway, the cheap imports give Americans a perfect vehicle for saving money while consuming it.

When a dollar goes to a foreign country in exchange for an import, that dollar must eventually return to the United States. This is the necessary balance of capital flows: a short-term, liquid financial asset like a greenback going out must roughly be matched by a long-term investment coming back. The short-term side of the equation is called the "trade account," and the long-term side is called the "capital account" (well, sort of). A negative trade balance must be matched by an equal, positive capital inflow. Thus, by American consumers buying foreign goods, they are effectively saving money in foreigners' central banks; and then those foreigners use the dollars to invest here. And there's one great big, giant target for investment that will offer whatever it must to get the money it needs, and this behemoth needs to borrow lots and lots of money because it can't keep within its budget.

That's right: consumers buy imports and send dollars overseas in the transactions; then those dollars come back as foreign financing of the United States government's budget deficits! And the Americans who are buying imports really are the source of those funds that ultimately go to finance the excesses of the Republicans. The Americans are saving in overseas central banks; and instead of drawing interest, they're getting goods at a discount to what they'd otherwise pay if this capital flows balancing mechanism weren't needed.

Principle 5: That Lunch Wasn't Free, Sir
The Federal Reserve Board has many duties. It is the regulator of banks, it is the lender of last resort to banks, it is the agent of the Treasury for the printing of money. But in its role as the creator and enforcer of monetary policy, it has one and only one job: the maintenance of the stability of the aggregate price level. Period. The Fed is not to trade off the stability of the aggregate price level for anything—not to help the economy out during a rough patch, not to ensure that Republican presidential candidates get elected, not to kill off "irrationally exuberant" stock markets, not to "accommodate" irresponsible tax cuts and wars.

The Federal Reserve is to prevent inflations and deflations from occurring. And when it strays from this path, as it has to prop up the Bush Administration and its shopaholic allies in Congress, it must eventually mend its ways and in so doing proclaim its virtuous duty as the inflation fighter.

Well, here come all of those greenbacks, fresh from their overseas tour at famous central banks around the world. Billions and more billions of them seeping back into the U.S. economy, in their excess making each one worth less and less, therefore causing dollar prices to rise to reflect the eroding value of each one.

The Fed must clamp down on the money supply by lowering its growth rate to something less than the real growth rate of the domestic economy so that the real economy can slowly sop up and get some use out of all those extra bucks.

But remember from above that interest rates are the price of money. Just as surely as interest rates should fall as the supply of money becomes excessive, interest rates should rise as the supply of money gets squeezed.

But that creates a bit of a problem. Rising interest rates are the great killer of economic activity: households won't borrow as much for big ticket items, so businesses will start seeing their inventories accumulating, which will make them cut back on production, which will mean layoffs, which will mean households will have less income, which will mean less buying of more modest goods and services, which will mean layoffs spreading out of manufacturing and into service sectors, which will mean...

Principle 6: The Heartbreak of Recession
As if this scenario isn't grim enough, the labor market in the United States hasn't been all that great for quite some time. President Bush and his minions tout the economic expansion,but seem to be pretty quiet when it comes to that rascally unemployment rate that stays above five percent officially and is some ways higher if discouraged workers are tossed in for good measure.

The great shift in the paradigm for the new breed of conservatives is that recessions can't happen because the over-accumulation of inventories lead-in doesn't happen anymore. Companies are just too darn good at keeping inventories from getting out of hand, what with all of the computerized management systems and just-in-time ordering and the like. But the key has been the sharply lower use of permanent stocks of labor: keeping workers at the farm is inconsistent with flexibility in production, so when they're really not needed, it's better if they can be let go on a moment's notice if at all possible.

The problem is that, once production has been re-aligned for such flexibility, there's not a lot more that can be done once the consumer demand dries up. The paradigm shifts right smack back to where it started, except that there's no wiggle room to adapt to recessionary demand pull-back. The tree that was flexible enough to bend to the ground in a breeze finds the hurricane a good reason to go, "SNAP!"

Principle 7: What Happens When There's No Parachute
Now normally, the federal government could step in when the economy turns sour. Jobs program, extra spending on social stuff, maybe more unemployment benefits, more money for higher education and training programs, a tax cut, perhaps even a decent little war.

Oh, that's right: the federal government has spent itself into a hole, so borrowing more money might push interest rates up even more, which would push the economy into an even deeper recession. Besides, the Republicans are ideologically opposed to make-work jobs programs; and stimulating the economy with another round of tax cuts would just drive the federal budget deficit into even worse territory.

Fortunately, there's always a good war that could stimulate the economy.

Oh, that's right: the United States can't afford another war; and anyway, the armed forces are up to their necks already with Afghanistan and Iraq. So even though we really should plow North Korea and Iran back a couple of decades before they get enough nukes to start mopping their respective regions of the world with threats of nuclear annihilation, we can't.

Well, then, it looks like a no-holds-barred recession is on the agenda.




The Dark Wraith has spoken, and having spoken, hopes his readers are all of good cheer, now.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Yet ANOTHER Glimpse at those Conservative Values...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

City councilman arrested on domestic violence charge By Dan Horn Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone was arrested early today after police accused him of beating his 14-year-old son with a belt.

Malone pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor domestic violence charge and was released after spending about eight hours in jail. He described the incident as "parental intervention" brought about by a disciplinary problem at his son's school on Friday.

"Our children cannot be expected to act in a disrespectful way to teachers and other individuals in positions of authority," Malone said today in a prepared statement. "Proper discipline is an important and necessary component of good parenting."

A police report said Malone hit his son with a belt, causing injuries that included swelling to the chest, arms, back and buttocks.

A spokeswoman for children's services in Hamilton County said doctors at a Cincinnati hospital contacted the agency Friday night after they found welts and belt marks on the boy's body.

"Parents are allowed to physically discipline their children," said Laurie Petrie, spokeswoman for the county's Department of Job and Family Services, which includes children's services.

"But this," she said, "would be beyond what we would consider normal discipline."

Malone's son is in the custody of a relative today because a judge granted a temporary protective order that bars Malone from having contact with the boy.

Malone is due in court again on May 31 for a pre-trial hearing, at which time he could ask the judge to lift the protective order.

E-mail dhorn@enquirer.com

Copyright 1995-2005. The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
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Councilman Sam Malone happens to be a Conservative Christian African-American Republican and "an accomplished boxer, wrestler, and powerlifter."
See Sam Malone's Bio with Photo:
http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/council/pages/-7155-/
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How to Contact Councilman Sam Malone: 801 Plum Street, Room 346A City Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45202, phone: 513-352-1525 or fax: 513-352-1588, Email through http://www.cincinnati.com/local/contact/malone_form2.html
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The following councilmen supported the (succesful) repeal of Cincinnati City Charter Article XII which discriminated against gay and lesbian Cincinnatians.

* Mayor Charlie Luken
* Vice Mayor Alicia Reece
* City Councilmember Laketa Cole
* City Councilmember John Cranley
* City Councilmember David Crowley
* City Councilmember David Pepper
* City Councilmember Christopher Smitherman
* City Councilmember Jim Tarbell

City Councilmember Malone opposed the repeal.


Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, (Clinton?)

by John

Maybe it's just the state of the Democratic Party these days, or worse, the state of our democracy, but it's really bothersome to me that nobody seems too concerned that the (very) early front-runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008 is a member of one of two families that have controlled the Presidency for the last two decades. Even worse, for some people, the favorite for the Republican nomination is a member of the other family.

It doesn't matter if we get to "vote" for our President, these are political monarchies, pure and simple. You used to be able to grow up wanting to be President until you slowly came to the realization that you had to be extremely wealthy and well-connected to run for that office. Now, even the extremely wealthy and well-connected are slowly coming to the realization that they can't become President unless their last name is Clinton or Bush.

Hillary Clinton is a great politician, and I have no doubt that she would make a great President. My preference, though, is for her to remain a Senator, and only because I do not believe that consolidating the power of the Presidency to two families is healthy for our democracy. Of course, depending on the damage done to our democracy by 2008, this might not be the worst thing in the world. But, as long as we're able to have a say in choosing our nominee, consider me ABC: Anybody But Clinton.

(cross-posted @ Blogenlust)


Bill 'Feces' James starts the smear campaign against CharMeck commissioners

by Pam

I barely finished posting my interview with Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts -- on the proposed resolution to include sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws, when bigot Commissioner Bill James and his supporters started spamming the commissioners.

James, you may remember, was responsible for this gem:
You really think that a pool of people (homosexuals) where 45% of them eat feces from the rear end of another male is "normal"? If you do, you are frankly nuts.

A lifestyle where one of their past times is buying gerbils and hamsters from the pet store and cramming them up their rears in an activity called feltching? A group of people who like to urinate on their partners and call them "golden showers"? Where one of the honored members of the Gay Alliance is an organization called the "Man-Boy Love Association" that promotes sex with underage boys?
I had to follow up with Roberts to ask whether James has anything better to do besides emailing his hate-filled, bible-beating nonsense. Roberts said:
"He has no other job. He does not give public meetings, attend community awards ceremonies and school openings, or serve on boards of community organizations, as most of the rest of the commisssioners do. He just emails all day."
He's in rare form (again):

Email to the Commissioners and the Charlotte Observer about the measure to include gays and lesbians in the County's anti-discrimination law.



From: Commissioner Bill James
To: =emails deleted=
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 4:40 PM
Subject: Agenda item 31

I notice that Parks put on the agenda a change in our policy regarding the groups that are considered protected classes of individuals for purposes of affirmative action.

In regards to this agenda item I have some questions:

1. The policy change adds the term "sexual orientation" yet I can find no reference to what that term means in the materials supplied.. What is the definition of "sexual orientation? Sexual orientation usually means alternative sexual lifestyles other than heterosexual including:

* Homosexual (meaning men who believe that they are born to have sex with other men) * Lesbian (meaning women who believe that they are born to have sex with other women) * Bi-sexual (meaning individuals who believe that they are born to have sex with both men and women)
* Trans-gendered (meaning surgical alternation of one's sexual gender because the believe they were born "wrong" so that they can engage in sex with someone)
* Bigamist (meaning individuals who believe that they were born for one man to have many women or one woman to have many men)
* Pedophiles (meaning men or women - generally male homosexuals - who believe that they are born to have sex with children - One member of the gay alliance is the "Man-Boy Love Association" - see http://www.nambla.org/. It says, in part: "NAMBLA's goal is to end the extreme oppression of men and boys in mutually consensual relationships ) * Practicing Bestiality (meaning men or women who believe that they were born to have sex with animals)

2. The policy indicates that individuals considered as part of a protected class will be tracked in various statistical studies. What does this mean? Are we do do studies of the above classes of sexual orientations in the same way that we do studies of Race?

3. The policy says that the County will use this list of protected individuals and use "affirmative recruitment efforts" to attempt to reduce any "underutilization" of these groups which may exist in any established job category. This sounds to me like the County will be using affirmative action to promote homosexuals and others above those of heterosexual employees if the number of homosexuals does not equal the requisite percentage.

4. How can the board of County Commissioners promote activity (sexual orientation however defined) that is against NC law and other policies regarding the education of children. While the recent Supreme Court decision in Lawrence V Texas made the prosecution of some of the above behavior unlawful in the privacy of one's homes it did not according to the DA and others invalidate the law or the State's condemnation of the behavior. If the state condemns a behavior, how can Mecklenburg County promote it by making it a protected class? If we can make homosexuals a protected class could we also make moonlighting prostitutes or bigamists protected as well?

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com


***
More nonsense from James...

From: "Commissioner Bill James"
Date: Fri, May 13, 2005 1:44 pm
To: =emails deleted=
Priority: High

it is a choice. It is also a sin and unhealthy.

Why should County employees who find the behavior sinful ( and illegal under NC law) be forced to accept it?

The Demo's are intent on running off the rest of the church going crowd that votes for them.

That is there choice. The GOP will be smiling all the way to the election booth.

If passed the GOP will reverse at the first meeting of the new board.

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

Corinthians 6: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12"Everything is permissible for me"but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."[b] 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Tim 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.


***



Subject: RE: Pastors rally to oppose homosexual benefits
From: "Commissioner Bill James"
Date: Fri, May 13, 2005 11:28 am
To: "'James Akers'"

Yes I know. The GOP will be opposing. The Declaration does not cover perversity. In any event, the GOP is committed to reversing it once we take back over the board. Between the tax increases the Democrats are about to adopt and the promotion of homo's the narrow electoral victory of Roberts and Rembert will be short lived.

Enjoy it while you can. Don't forget that the reason the Democrats lost across the country last year was the public's revulsion of homo's, the promotion and passage of anti-homo marriage amendments and a belief founded on fact that the Democrats are the party that has abandoned faith. They are the party of the heathen.

Commissioner Bill James
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners
Matthews, North Carolina
http://billjames.org
Wjames@carolina.rr.com

There's plenty more over at my pad.


Condi the Liar

by Shakespeare's Sister

If you, like me, love the golden oldies, you’ll be happy to hear that the “brown-skinned people don’t want freedom” strawman is back, care of Condi Rice, speaking to the troops on a surprise trip to Iraq:
"The United States, along with the rest of the free world, believed somehow for a number of years that people in this region didn't care about freedom," she said. "We cared about stability. And what we got was neither. We got a malignancy that was growing that came to haunt us on the fine September day" in 2001.
The whole United States believed that, huh? That’s funny—because I didn’t believe that, and I don’t think that any of the human rights groups that tracked the oppression of women and ethnic and religious minorities and cataloged human rights abuses in the Middle East believed that. In fact, I don’t think anyone really believed that, except for a cabal of neoconservatives who see countries full of people with darker skin than their own who largely worship in a different way and made some pretty despicable assumptions.

Extra points to Condi for still linking Iraq and 9/11. Wow—she’s either the most tenacious liar of all time or as dumb as dirt.
"I want you to keep focused on what you are doing here," Rice told the diplomats and troops who gathered in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces. "This war came to us, not the other way around."
Oh, okay. Most tenacious liar. Got it.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Poem: Trial For Error

by STP

I have posted a poem at Poetic Leanings called "Trial For Error." It is a quick back and forth piece between President Bush and progressives before a jury of the American public. If you're interested, check it out.


'Dr. Strangelove' rapist Ob-Gyn Hager stepping down from FDA advisory panel

by Pam



Whoa, that was fast. Didn't he get the memo that Repug freakshows are supposed to fight back, lie and deny, no matter how cornered they are? We were just getting started kicking your perv ass all over our playground. I think someone in Chimpy's house probably told him his services were "no longer needed." The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that he's also challenged claims by his ex-wife in the Nation article that has everyone buzzing, something he didn't do earlier.
"I will no longer be on the advisory committee after June 30," Hager said. He indicated the decision was made before the allegations surfaced.

In a story in The Nation magazine, Hager's former wife accused the doctor of sexually abusing her during their 32-year marriage. The couple divorced in 2002. Yesterday, Hager, who was appointed by the Bush administration to the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee, questioned the motives of his ex-wife and the liberal monthly. He said the article -- which includes graphic details about their sex life together -- was "not based on all of the facts."

[Oh, like maybe this part in the article: "it was the sexual and emotional abuse within their marriage that eventually forced her out. "I probably wouldn't have objected so much, or felt it was so abusive if he had just wanted normal [vaginal] sex all the time," she explained to me. "But it was the painful, invasive, totally nonconsensual nature of the [anal] sex that was so horrible."]

"As I said before, the allegations as stated do not reveal all of the information and therefore they're incomplete and not true," the obstetrician-gynecologist said. "No one likes to be criticized, no one likes to be torn apart privately or publicly and I think that it's disappointing that my former wife has chosen this avenue to vent her anger and bitterness."

Hager has long been a target of groups who dislike his conservative Christian views and opposition to abortion. Many of those groups vigorously fought his appointment to the FDA board in 2002. The White House declined to comment on whether Hager will be reappointed. "We don't speculate on personnel announcements," said White House spokesman Taylor Gross.

Hager's ex-wife has changed her name to Linda Davis. She is now a Georgia Methodist minister's wife. Reached yesterday, she said "every detail" of the story in The Nation is accurate. "The Bible says that it's the truth that sets you free, so that's part of my decision to speak the truth," she said.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Just One of the Guys

by Shakespeare's Sister

In an interesting little bit of news that got released to the media on a Friday so that the average American wouldn’t notice as s/he headed out the door to spend her/his hard-earned paycheck in the weekend ritual known as rampant consumerism (see also: patriotism), it was reported that “regular guy” George Bush and his simple librarian wife Laura disclosed ownership of as much as $18 million in assets.

This is according to the federal financial disclosure forms, annual filing of which is required of all executive branch officials, which the White House released yesterday. (Another bit of recent Friday news regarding the President’s mysterious financials you may have missed was the April 22 report that Bush’s listed address on his tax returns is not in Washington, D.C., or even Crawford, TX, but instead a post office box in Chicago—Post Office Box 803968, Chicago, IL 60680, to be exact—which is the downtown post office box of Northern Trust Corp., a multinational holding company that manages hundreds of billions of dollars, including the President’s blind trust. Never mind that the IRS does not allow post office boxes to be used on tax returns unless you don’t receive mail delivery at your home address; it’s not the President broke the law, no sir. You can’t break the law if you’re above the law.)

Anyway, back to the original story. The forms require only an indication of dollar ranges for the value of assets, so the President’s assets were listed as falling within a range of $7.8 and $18.1 million. The Vice President’s assets were listed as falling within a range of $16.6 million and $75.5 million, including “cash, investments, deferred compensation from Halliburton Co., stock options, salaries and retirement benefits.” Yowza.

They were also required to report gifts, which included $650 gold cuff links, a $400 pocketknife, and a $2,700 mountain bike from John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycle Corp for the President (which he’ll no doubt put to use during many national crises in the future), and a $1,600 painting, a $120 pen, and a $400 fly-fishing set for the Vice President (which he’ll no doubt put to use during many getaways with his good pal and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia).

Another interesting tidbit:

The biggest asset Cheney disclosed this year was a $5 million to $25 million stake in the Vanguard Short-Term Tax- Exempt Fund, which fell 0.8 percent in 2004. The fund invests in municipal bonds with an average maturity of less than five years and provides income that is exempt from U.S. personal income taxes.
The cited fund is a very conservative investment, which, as Mr. Shakes noted, seems indicative of an investor who doesn’t have much faith in the market at the moment. Interesting choice for a guy who’s going around telling the American people what a great idea it is for them to invest their earnings in private accounts.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


Friday, May 13, 2005

American Family Association is pissed at Wal-Mart now

by Pam

Gee, the corrupt, immoral retailer is getting it from the Left and the Right, ha ha. Read the foaming-at-the-mouth diatribe from the American Family Association:
A pro-family activist says America's largest retailer is helping to further the homosexual agenda of destroying the traditional family. Wal-Mart has announced its approval of a "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Associates" affinity group for employees. Some pro-family advocates believe is only a matter of time before this group demands same-sex partner health benefits, financial support for homosexual meetings, "pride" parades, and workshops. Randy Sharp, special projects director for the American Family Association, is advising pro-family shoppers to think twice before patronizing a store that openly promotes the homosexual lifestyle. He says by embracing homosexuality, Wal-Mart is now pulling away from the ideals that have helped the retailer foster longtime positive relationships between customers and its neighborhood stores [oh, like killing mom-and-pop stores, creating environmental havoc, wage and hour violations and sex discrimination] and allying the company with pro-homosexual interests.

"Wal-Mart's decision is normalizing a very dangerous and unhealthy behavior," Sharp warns concerned citizens, "and you should care because Wal-Mart is helping to advance [homosexual activists'] agenda, and that final agenda ... is same-sex marriage -- to destroy traditional marriage as between a man and woman." The AFA spokesman is encouraging Wal-Mart customers to voice their objection to the company's endorsement of homosexuality.


Courage Of Tolerance Comes To Corporate America

by thatcoloredfella

Having recently (and excitedly) announced his involvement with the upcoming Chicago Gay Games VII, rest assured TCF knew the ongoing ‘Culture War’ by social Conservatives would mean provoking a battle in my backyard.

Aaron Bailey at Chicagoist, details the opening salvo by the American Family Association against two of the early, major sponsors of CGGVII - an assault TCF can swear to you, has failed miserably!

Careful of intimating nothing beyond that, TCF will instead direct you to the recent company wide memo of Microsoft head Steve Ballmer, reasserting his company’s commitment to diversity and tolerance. A decision based on the expressed strength of resolute employees and customers, who drowned out the threats of a hateful Evangelical Right.

It’s a lesson in corporate courage that already has been repeated.

(Tip to TCFW reader e-five)


'Go nuclear' - wingnut Tim Wildmon

by Pam


God-fearing Wildmon's Christian approach to the nuclear option: "the Republicans need to ram it down the Democrats' throats."

No more pussyfooting, GOP, just go nuclear on the judicial filibuster. The AmTaliban is in no mood for you to deal with the Dems. So says Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association. The problem is, now I can't read the words "ram it" without all kind of perverse imagery, due to all the Republican deviants spouting off and getting caught with their collective pants down.
Here we go again. Seventy percent of the citizens of Nebraska pass an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman -- and on Thursday, one federal judge overturned it.

I did interviews with reporters from ABC World News Tonight and TIME magazine this past week. They were asking why some Christian and conservative groups feel so passionately about the issue of federal judges. The reason this story is timely is that there is likely to be a vote the next few days in the United States Senate on whether or not to end the Democrats' filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees. Some call it the "nuclear" option. Others call it the "constitutional" option. This will be one of the most important congressional votes of the last 20 years and is a couple of years overdue in my opinion.

But there needs to be no deal making with Democrats in the Senate on this matter. They started this whole mess by blocking votes on President Bush's judges. Senator Bill Frist and the Republicans need to ram it down the Democrats' throats, if only by a 50-50 vote with Vice President Cheney casting the deciding vote for ending the filibuster. No apologies. What are the Democrats going to do about it? A few weeks ago they said they would shut down the government if the Republicans did this. Talk about a nuclear option! They have since backed away from this threat, realizing it would only hurt them with the American people. I say conservatives have worked hard over the last 15 years or so to bring about majorities in the Congress and now it's time to use the majority vote on the issue that motivated many people to vote for them in the first place -- ending the reign of pompous, liberal, activist judges who have lifetime appointments.


What is Realy Behind the Pentagon Shutdown of 150 Naval Bases

by JJ

Military recruitment is on average 35% below goals in all areas. The war in Iraq has killed over 1600 troops and wounded totals at nearly 12,000 . With military troops spread the thinnest they have been in decades this administration needs to come up with bodies from somewhere. Rather than invoke the draft to gather bodies (that would be quite detrimental to the political goals of the repugs) the next best thing to gather up more troops? Close military bases around the country.

This is a strategy that all of you have seen in the past with most large business downsizing and mergers. Condense and consolidate! The proposed closing of these bases is not related to balancing the budget; we already know that this administration has no qualms about driving the deficits up (see the Dark Wraith Forums for exceptional economic commentary). This administration has absolutely no problem with military spending in order to “promote democracy around the world” or stop “terrah” wherever it raises its brutal head. So why close the bases?

Take a look at the data…

From NBC: Plan to shut 33 large bases, dozens of other sites


Other major proposed closures are:
• The submarine base in New London, Conn., which would mean losing 8,000 jobs;
• Fort McPherson in Georgia, costing nearly 4,200 jobs;
• Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, which now has 4,200 jobs;
• Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, which would lose more than 2,700 jobs;
• The Naval Station in Ingleside, Texas, costing more than 2,100 jobs.
Other major bases — including the Army’s Fort Bliss in Texas, the Naval Shipyard in Norfolk, Va., and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland — would see gains, as they absorb troops whose current home bases are slated for closure.

Rumsfeld's plan calls for a massive shift of U.S. forces that would result in a net loss of 29,005 military and civilian jobs at domestic installations. Overall, he proposes pulling 218,570 military and civilian positions out of some U.S. bases while adding 189,565 positions to others.


Just look at all of the bodies they are coming up with to send overseas! Guess where the 218,570 that will be pulled out of US military bases will be headed? Guess where the additional, estimated, 189,565 bodies will be coming from? Do any of the sheeple out there actually think that this administration is going to be laying off civilian and military employees at this time of war? Not likely, this base closure under the disguise of balancing the budget is nothing more than draft avoidance.

Closed bases no longer require military personnel to man them. The displaced military personnel relocate to alternate bases of operation to fill positions left empty by casualties and lack of new recruits thereby eliminating the short term personnel needs of the military. By the time the approvals are in order and the personnel are relocated, this administration has the forces needed to replace the dead and wounded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq without invoking the draft AND the lack of reinforcements, the low recruiting numbers become the problem of the next administration. The question needs to be raised, as to how this will effect the long term defenses of this country.

The closing of military bases weakens the ability of this country to quickly respond to threats from terrorists and natural disasters. By closing the bases this administration is once again weakening this country, and for no other reason than to hide the gross negligence and miscalculations of the ongoing wars. If these closures go through, Osama Bin Laden and his cronies will be dancing with glee because they know they are succeeding in their efforts to weaken this country.

Don’t be fooled, this is the last ditch effort of this administration to avoid a draft. The last gasping breath in an effort to prove that all is well in Iraq and that the US is truly an all volunteer army. This last effort to gather bodies to throw at the rising insurgency will ultimately fail, wether it is within the remaining days of this administration or passed on to the next remains to be seen.

Let this serve as a warning to Democrats! If we in fact win control of the legislature in 06 and the White House in 08 the legacy of this administration will be armed forces so weak we will have little ability to respond to any threat to the US. By the time this new troop deployment goes into effect there will be little to no protection on US soil. What will the next administration be faced with?


Not One More Goddamned Thing

by Shakespeare's Sister

Paul the Spud of Adventures of the Smart Patrol, commenting on Dr. Strangelove, says:

You know something? I don't want to hear one more goddamned thing about Clinton's blowjob. Not until these Republicans can manage to keep from raping their wives, cruising websites for sex, and engaging in pedophilia.
No shit. Not to mention having sex with farm animals, attempting to coerce their wives into exhibitionism in sex clubs, advertising their services as male escorts on the internets, having illegitimate children, and sexually harassing female coworkers, among others.

And you know what else? Here are some other things I don’t want to hear one more goddamned thing about, either:

Any negative reference to any consensual sex between two adults, married or not, of the same sex or opposite

Criminalizing any legal method of terminating a pregnancy or punishing any federally funded agency that performs, refers, educates about, or utters the word abortion

Banning or refusing to fill the prescription for any legal drug used to prevent pregnancy

Refusing to teach children proper sex education, including contraceptive options

Any further claim that the GOP is the party of moral values

Please feel free to contribute the things you don’t want to hear one more goddamned thing about in comments.


The 50s are back: Wingnut Homemakers for America

by Pam


HFA founder Kimberly Fletcher "We can no longer be silent .... Our elementary school libraries are filled with books like My Two Mommies, and we can't even turn on PBS anymore," Fletcher explained. "We cannot hide our heads in the sand. We must speak out.

I'm not slagging stay-at-home moms in this post. What we're talking about here is a Stepford Wives organization of the AmTaliban designed to encourage a return to "Father Knows Best" and Donna Reed -- Homemakers for America, Inc. (HFA). As far as these women are concerned, the clock has rolled back.
"We are the homemakers," she explained. "Men build the house. We make the home."

HFA, a national citizenship organization, formed after an epiphany during the 2004 presidential election as a means of uniting a diverse group of women who share the core values of God, freedom and family. The epiphany soon turned into an organized effort as 26 women gathered together for the first time last November in Dayton, Ohio. These women, who largely differed in age, ethnicity, income and religion, became HFA's first members.

Fletcher and HFA fellow members used grassroots efforts to promote the group's website. Within two months of the first meeting, HFA grew to a membership of over 200 women from 11 states. Presently, HFA is made up of nearly 400 members from 16 states.

"I have truly felt inspired and directed by God to form this organization. I have been led all the way," Fletcher said.

...His guidance was evident in the development of HFA as the Lord began prompting Fletcher to form the organization while she and her family were working at a voting precinct in Trotwood, Ohio, on Election Day. The Fletcher family, among other volunteers, passed out detailed voter guides compiled by the Christian Coalition of Ohio. While distributing these guides, Fletcher compared them with the vague leaflets being distributed by the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

..."Homemakers for America, Inc. is a powerhouse -- a one-stop shop where you can ask questions, get answers, receive information on issues and find out what avenues are available to be most effective in influencing our families, communities, and our nation," Fletcher summarized.

"This [decay of America] is not a matter of Democrats versus Republicans, liberals versus conservatives ... or Americans versus terror. It is as simple as good versus evil. "Homemakers in America want to be heard," Fletcher added. "How loud we are depends on our numbers."
I find these things and it's surreal; I cannot believe the number of sheeple that are out there, and the sad truth is that it is obvious that women like Fletcher are perfectly willing to turn the cultural clock back.

Also: enjoy this related post in the same vein, about an essay that explains how to properly "submit" to your husband, What Does The Bible Say About The Duties of a Christian Wife?

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.


Tom Ridge: we were all a bunch of f*cking liars

by Pam



But we knew that already -- the Bush admin is rotten to the core. He's just admitting now that he had the country on a leash, jerking the fear chain with each damn terror alert.
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.
I just want to remind folks that millions, if not billions of dollars were spent (and lost) as a result of these mindgames. While it may be abstract to Ridge or Bush, it caused a nightmare in NYC last August, for instance. From my post at the time (Kate and I were in NYC the week after the alert was raised in advance of the GOP convention. It was chaos there.
BTW, what I call the "orange-plus" alert up there had everyone that I ran into pissed at Bush. These were just random folks chatted up on the bus and subways. Not one person felt comforted by the "extra security". Went down Saturday to ride the Staten Island ferry and we had to walk through the terrorist bullseye that is Wall Street. I guess they figure the area isn't a target on weekends, since we saw a single lonely officer at the NYSE with an automatic weapon, two sleeping (bomb-sniffer) Labs, and a couple of cops shooting the breeze.

They finally eased up on the bridge vehicle searches while I was there because businesses were taking such a hit because of delays and searches (the alert meant only the Manhattan Bridge was open to commercial traffic). For instance, a 40 minute trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn for a delivery vehicle could take 6 hours.

What a joke. The Bush/Tom Ridge fright exhibit only snarled traffic and caused local businesses to lose who knows how much money.

My cousins that work in Manhattan plan to get the hell out of there when the GOP convention comes to town. Midtown will be a living hell to get around in for locals.
Buddy "Radical" Russ did up a nice revamp of the alert:



Now here is a brave straight ally in Texas

by Pam

The important thing to remember in this fight for gay rights, is that we do need the support and action of our straight allies. House Blender Sandra pointed me to this incredible speech by a Texas legislator that opposed its anti-gay marriage amendment. The words of Representative Senfronia Thompson are brave and meaningful, especially so because she is black, given the rampant homophobia in the religious black community -- a group that should be supportive, given civil rights history. Sorry this post is long, but you really need to read this:


I have been a member of this august body for three decades, and today is one of the all-time low points. We are going in the wrong direction, in the direction of hate and fear and discrimination. Members, we all know what this is about, this is the politics of divisiveness at its worst, a wedge issue that is meant to divide.

Members, this issue is a distraction from the real things we need to be working on. At the end of this session, this Legislature, this Leadership will not be able to deliver the people of Texas, fundamental and fair answers to the pressing issues of our day.

Let's look at what this amendment does not do: It does not give one Texas citizen meaningful tax relief. It does not reform or fully fund our education system. It does not restore one child to CHIP, who was cut from health insurance last session. It does not put one dime into raising Texas' Third World access to health care. It does not do one thing to care for or protect one elderly person or one child in this state. In fact, it does not even do anything to protect one marriage.

Members, this bill is about hate and fear and discrimination. I know something about hate and fear and discrimination. When I was a small girl, white folks used to talk about "protecting the institution of marriage" as well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to marry people of Mr. Chisum's color, you'd often find the people of my color hanging from a tree. That's what the white folks did back then to "protect marriage." Fifty years ago, white folks thought inter-racial marriages were a "threat to the institution of marriage."

Members, I'm a Christian and a proud Christian. I read the good book, and do my best to live by it. I have never read the verse where it says, "gay people can't marry." I have never read the verse where it says, "though shalt discriminate against those not like me." I have never read the verse where it says, "let's base our public policy on hate and fear and discrimination." Christianity to me is love and hope and faith and forgiveness -- not hate and discrimination.

I have served in this body a lot of years -- and I have seen a lot of promises broken. I should be up here demanding my 40 acres and a mule because that's another promise you broke. You used a wealthy white minister cloaked in the cloth to ease the stench of that form of discrimination.

So, now that blacks and women can vote, and now that blacks and women have equal rights -- you turn your hatred to homosexuals -- and you still use your misguided reading of the Bible to justify your hatred. You want to pass this ridiculous amendment so you can go home and brag. . . brag about what? Declare that you saved the people of Texas from what? Persons of the same sex cannot get married in this State now. Texas does not now recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions, religious unions, domestic partnerships, contractual arrangements or Christian blessings entered into in this State -- or anywhere else on this planet Earth.

If you want to make your hateful political statements then that is one thing -- the Chisum amendment does real harm. It repeals the contracts that many single people have paid thousands of dollars to purchase to obtain medical powers of attorney, powers of attorney, hospital visitation, joint ownership and support agreements. You have lost your way -- this is obscene.

Today, you are playing to the lowest common denominator -- you are putting aside the real issues of substance that we need to address so that you can instead play on the public's fears and prejudices to deceive and manipulate voters into thinking that we have done something important.

I realize that gay rights are not the same as civil rights -- but I can guarantee you we are going in the wrong direction. I can not hide my skin color. In fact, in most of the South, people as pink as Rep. Wayne Smith were still Black by law if they had a great grandparent who was African. I was unable to attend an integrated and equally funded school until I got my Master of Laws degree. There were separate and unequal facilities for nearly everything.

I got second-hand textbooks even worse than the kind you're trying to pass off on every public school student next year. I had to ride to school on the back of the bus. I had to quench my thirst from filthy coloreds-only drinking fountains. I had to enter restaurants from the kitchen door. I was banned from entering most public accommodations, even from serving on a jury.

I had to live with the fear that getting too uppity could get you killed --- or worse. I know what third-class citizenship feels like. In my first term, one of my colleagues walked up and down this aisle muttering about how Nigras should be back in the field picking cotton instead of picking out committees.

So, I have to wonder about Rep. Chisum's 3/5 of a person amendment. Some of you folks hid behind your Bible then, too, to justify your cultural prejudices, your denial of liberty, and your gunpoint robbery of human dignity.

We have worked hard at putting our prejudices against homosexuals in law. We have denied them basic job protections. We have denied them and their children freedom from bullying and harassment at school. We have tried to criminalize their very existence.

But, we have also absolved them of all family duties and responsibilities: to care for and support their spouses and children, to count their family's assets in determining public assistance, to obtain health insurance for dependents, to make end-of-life or necessary medical decisions for their life partners --- sometimes even to visit in the hospital, even to defend our own country. And then, we can stand on our two hind legs and proclaim, "See, I told you homosexual families are unstable." And nearly every one of you on this Floor has a homosexual in their extended families.

Some of you have shunned and isolated these family members. Some of you, even some of the joint coauthors, have embraced them within your own family for the essence of Christianity is love. Yet, you are now poised to constitutionalize discrimination against a particular class of people.

I thought we would be debating real issues: education, health care for kids, teacher's health insurance, health care for the elderly, protecting survivors of sexual assault, protecting the pensions of seniors in nursing homes. I thought we would be debating economic development, property tax relief, protecting seniors pensions and stem cell research, to save lives of Texans who are waiting for a more abundant life. Instead we are wasting this body's time with this political stunt that is nothing more than constitutionalizing discrimination. The prejudices exhibited by members of this body disgust me.

Last week, Republicans used a political wedge issue to pull kids --sweet little vulnerable kids -- out of the homes of loving parents and put them back in a state orphanage just because those parents are gay. That's disgusting. Today, we are telling homosexuals that just like people of my ilk, when I was a small child, they too are second class citizens. I have listened to all the arguments. I have listened to all of the crap.

Mr. Chisum, is a person who I consider my good friend and revere. But, I want you to know that this amendment are blowing smoke to fuel the hell-fire flames of bigotry. You are trying to protect your constituents from danger. This amendment is a CYB amendment for you to go home and talk about.
If you want to drop her a line to thank her for standing tall, go here.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ascendency in the Bush Administration

by STP

Mrs. Shakes covered the Bolton approval out of committee, but as I have a slightly different perspective, I hope the readers at BBB will allow me to pile on a bit.

John Bolton got through the Senate Judiciary Committee for the U.N. Ambassadorship and will now likely gain approval by the full Senate. Republicans who had been on the fence such as Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Chuck Hagel (Nebraska) all caved to partisanship instead of doing the right thing. Worse, they knew right from wrong in this case and clearly ignored the evidence. Even worse then that were Voinovich's comments, which completely lambasted Bolton, followed by a yea vote. Pathetic.

There is no point in re-hashing the specifics of why John Bolton is a poor choice for the U.N. position. Rather, what needs to be pointed out is the policy of George Bush to only appoint, promote or not fire people who are ill-equipped or not deserving of the positions in question. The list is long and growing longer: Bolton, Negroponte, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, the ten filibustered judges (down to seven now), Goss, and on and on.

I guess when you are an incompetent buffoon yourself and you get "elected" president, you figure the path to ascendency is based solely on being a poor choice.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)


Bolton

by Shakespeare's Sister

The nomination of Mr. Moustache has been sent by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the Senate Floor without recommendation. The vote was a party line 10-8, with the AP reporting that Voinovich withheld support for Bolton’s nomination, but agreed to send it to the floor without a recommendation of approval or disapproval. This may well mean some snarky debating which could conceivably back the White House into a corner, forcing them to defend the flawed (to put it nicely) or unrelentingly demented (to put it bluntly) boss, coworker, husband, and nominee that is John Bolton.

That we’re even still considering this guy for a position, his nomination to which ought to have garnered no more than a snide, dismissive chuckle followed by an derisive sniff, is completely beyond me. It’s quite amazing, really. If we could somehow figure out how to use New Lows as an alternative energy source, we’d never need worry about depleting our resources as long as the unholy alliance between the Neo-Cons and the Dominionists is running the joint.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Second Class Statushood, Here We Come!

by Shakespeare's Sister

In a stunning article by Ayelish McGarney in The Nation, we learn about the curious case of Dr. Hager and his former wife, Linda Davis:
By 1995, according to Davis's account, Hager's treatment of his wife had moved beyond morally reprehensible to potentially felonious. It was a uniquely stressful year for Davis. Her mother, dying of cancer, had moved in with the family and was in need of constant care. At the same time, Davis was suffering from a seemingly inexplicable exhaustion during the day. She began exhibiting a series of strange behaviors, like falling asleep in such curious places as the mall and her closet. Occasionally she would--as she describes it--"zone out" in midsentence in a conversation, and her legs would buckle. Eventually, Davis was diagnosed as having narcolepsy, a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate normal sleep-wake cycles.

For Davis, the diagnosis spelled relief, and a physician placed her on several medications to attain "sleep hygiene," or a consistent sleep pattern. But Davis says it was after the diagnosis that the period of the most severe abuse began. For the next seven years Hager sodomized Davis without her consent while she slept roughly once a month until their divorce in 2002, she claims. "My sense is that he saw [my narcolepsy] as an opportunity," Davis surmises. Sometimes she fought Hager off and he would quit for a while, only to circle back later that same night; at other times, "the most expedient thing was to try and somehow get it [over with]. In order to keep any peace, I had to maintain the illusion of being available to him." At still other moments, she says, she attempted to avoid Hager's predatory advances in various ways--for example, by sleeping in other rooms in the house, or by struggling to stay awake until Hager was in a deep sleep himself. But, she says, nothing worked. One of Davis's lifelong confidantes remembers when Davis first told her about the abuse. "[Linda] was very angry and shaken," she recalled.

[…]

As disturbing as they are on their own, Linda Davis's allegations take on even more gravity in light of Hager's public role as a custodian of women's health.
Yep. As it happens, Dr. Hager, spousal rapist and all-around sick fuck, is a well-known OB/GYN and appointee to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration. A Bush appointee, he is a favorite among Dominionists for:
his staunch opposition to emergency contraception, abortion and premarital sex. Through his six books--which include such titles as Stress and the Woman's Body and As Jesus Cared for Women, self-help tomes that interweave syrupy Christian spirituality with paternalistic advice on women's health and relationships--he has established himself as a leading conservative Christian voice on women's health and sexuality.
Hager’s role on the FDA Advisory Committee Panel seems to have primarily been to raise hell over issues like the morning-after pill, which is, of course, a useful drug particularly for rape victims. While I should be surprised by the blatant and galling hypocrisy of a man who repeatedly rapes his wife sitting on a panel arguing against a drug that may bring peace of mind to rape victims, I am so jaded by the nonstop parade of conservative fuckheads who want to roll back the rights of women and gays as punishment for their “deviant” behavior (such as having the unmitigated temerity to fuck someone without the express purpose of making a baby), but end up being revealed as perverted in ways of which most people wouldn’t ever begin to dream, that I can barely muster shock, no less outrage.

Hager’s term on the Panel expires June 30…unless he is reappointed, which looks to be a done deal.

I don’t expect that anyone in the mainstream press will have the balls to ask old Scottie at the next press briefing whether the President, who purports to be a defender of women’s rights, doesn’t find the appointment of a compulsive and serial rapist to a federal panel that makes decisions regarding women’s health a bit of a slap in the face to American women.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Updates and Signorile On Mayor West - Does He Get It?

by JJ

Here is an article from someone I usually disagree with, however, I think he gets it this time. A good read from Michelangelo Signorile Right Stuff, Wrong Reasons .

Updates:
Former Mayors call for Jim West to resign:

Two former Spokane mayors - John Talbott and Sheri Barnard - called Tuesday for Mayor Jim West to resign.

"If Jim West truly loves this city, as he has stated many times, he will resign immediately and seek help," Barnard, who was mayor in the early 1990s, said in a prepared statement. "His credibility and trust are gone and can never be regained. Every day he remains in office hurts our city and hurts him."

Talbott, who served from 1998 through 2000, said, "He has been dishonest with the whole community…. Leadership to be effective can't have dark secrets."



City attorney request WA Attorney General to investigate:

Spokane City Attorney Mike Connelly on Wednesday asked state and federal authorities to conduct their own investigations into the sex abuse controversy involving Mayor Jim West.

The move comes one day after the U.S. Justice Department in Spokane confirmed that the FBI has already started its own investigation into the potential for public corruption stemming from West's use of his office to entice young men into sexual relationships.

Connelly also asked state Attorney General Rob McKenna to investigate. "In light of the allegations made in the last two days, and the FBI inquiry, as well as the possible conflict of interest with both city and county law enforcement, we believe it is in the best interest of the citizens and the city of Spokane to request these investigations by independent agencies," Connelly said in a prepared statement.

The Director of the Morning Star Boys Ranch denies West ever visited (according to hand written notes in spiral notebooks). This is the at risk youth ranch where the Pac NW Pedophiles allegedly "checked out" boys for weekend excursions.

The longtime director of Morning Star Boys Ranch on Wednesday denied a report that Mayor Jim West and a former sheriff's deputy "checked out" boys for day outings and camping trips in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Rev. Joe Weitensteiner said the allegations came as a "huge shock," and that he had staff review daily log books to search for encounters with West and deceased deputy David Hahn.

"We found no record that Jim West or Dave Hahn ever volunteered at Morning Star Boys Ranch or checked out boys to go camping or to leave the campus," Weitensteiner said in a press conference at the ranch.

I am still following this story and working on some new developments! More to come...



Spain and gay marriage -- good news and nutty news

by Pam

A few updates on this country's progress and fallout regarding gay marriage. It's going to pass, but the pressure from the Catholic church and their version of wingnuts is making it all interesting. For instance, take veteran Spanish politician Manuel Fraga, president of the Galicia region. You've heard all kinds of reasons why gay marriage is bad from our home-grown bigots...it leads to:

* bestiality
* STDs
* polygamy
* the end of the world
* name ten other homopocalyptic things you've heard.

But Fraga's added a new, unhinged one to the list: allowing gays to marry would worsen Spain's aging population problem. Look at this:


"At the moment there is a population crisis ... This could aggravate a problem Spain already faces," Manuel Fraga, president of the Galicia region and a leading member of right-of-centre Popular Party, said yesterday. He did not elaborate. "Soon, if things don't improve, it will be the most aged country in the world," he said.

Fraga, a minister during the Nationalist, Catholic dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, is running for a fifth term as president of Galicia in June elections at the age of 82.
OK. You can stop laughing now. We move on to the Vatican issuing threats to all Catholics that might be accepting of gay marriage. I expect Pope Ratzi to send some goons with nightclubs to bash some kneecaps at this point.


Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, also said adoption of children by same sex couples was "moral violence" against children and jeopardised their personality and stability.

Lopez Trujillo said the law, along with the growth of couples living together outside marriage, was " destroying, bit by bit, the institution of marriage" which the Catholic Church teaches should be a partnership for life. "Christians, even if they are state employees, are asked to become conscientious objectors because the laws we are speaking of are deeply offensive to morality," Lopez Trujillo said. The Colombian cardinal said homosexuals deserved respect but allowing gay couples to adopt children "destroys the future of children, (and) they suffer moral violence."
And we need to give three cheers to someone with big brass cojones -- Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. He is not only in favor of gay marriage, he's snapping back at the Vatican big time. If only our politicians had even one sac.


In his "state of the nation" address to Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero lashed out at the Church. "I will never understand those who proclaim love as the foundation of life, while denying so radically protection, understanding and affection to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues," Zapatero told parliament.

"What kind of love is this that excludes those who experience their sexuality in a different way?" he said.

Last year, shortly after Zapatero announced he would bring in the legislation, he was summoned to Rome for a lecture by Pope John Paul. Nevertheless, Zapatero and his government refused to bow under the pressure.

The attacks have continued under Pope Benedict. The Pope, speaking through Cardinal Alfonso Lopes Trujill, head of the Pontifical Council on the Family, said Roman Catholics should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dobson, Freepers want Trent Lott's hide

by Pam


Watch your back, Trent: Dobson says conservative-without-equal Lott is sabotaging the Repugs on "the nuclear option."

Repugs like Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) better not mess with the AmTaliban -- they'll turn on you in a flash. WorldNutDaily is reporting that Focus on the Family's James Dobson is pissed at him, and shared his thoughts with fellow Talibaner Don Wildmon of the American Family Association (see the AFA's campaign to smear Kraft in an earlier post).
Dr. James Dobson, the influential founder of Focus on the Family, has just about had it with former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, whom he accused of cutting a deal with Democrats in the upper house that would preserve their right to filibuster judicial nominees.

Dobson told another pro-family leader, American Family Association's Don Wildmon, in a radio interview yesterday that he was "disgusted and alarmed" about the deal he heard about from a "totally reliable source."

According to Dobson, the Lott deal with the Democrat leadership would prevent Majority Leader Bill Frist from invoking the constitutional option – sometimes referred to as the "nuclear option" – to stop the Democrats' continued filibuster against the president's conservative judicial nominees.

"I don't remember being so disgusted and alarmed by what I just had confirmed in the Senate as I am now," Dobson said. "Senator Trent Lott is about to sabotage Majority Leader Frist and cut a separate deal with the Democrats to preserve the filibuster of judges."
So what do you think the Freepi have to say about this? Wading into the sewer of Freeperland...

Actual Freeper Quotes™

Just like the deal Lott made not to impeach Clinton!!!! Dr. Dobson is right about being disgusted with the former Ole Miss cheerleader. Lott needs to shut up, he no longer has any power."

"Whatever reputation Lott has or has had in doomed for the toilet of history if this comes to pass. Also if he succeeds he can count on a whole lot of repubs to work against him if he ever runs for anything again. Hey Lott you girlie cheerleader p.o.s."

"You cannot make deals with those lacking the honor to keep their end of it, and they won't. NO DEALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Lott needs to answer thewse questions:
1. Who do you think you work for, anyway?
2. Who elected you...the democrats?
3. Did you bother to poll your base to see what THEY want out of a "deal" with the democrats?
4. Did you poll your base to see if they WANTED a deal with the democrats?
5. Do you think so little of us Republicans that you think we are ALL spineless wimps like you?
6. Do you think so little of your Republican colleagues...the conservative ones, anyway, that you feel you can jeopardize their re-election campaigns because you want to cut-and-run?"

"Trent Lott is a Democrat with fake elephant ears and a trunk pasted onto his head. Any conservative would "

"Trent Lott still has that Ole Miss snob attitude. Someone needs to take him aside and inform him that he is a has been."

"One could ask those same questions of so-called "conservative" John McCain."

"Trent Lott...

...say it ain't so"!!!

"If that mincing little faggot did this to us, not enough bad stuff can happen to him."

"At some point after enough of this has gone on with Lott, if his true colors are those of the liberal left in this country. The spineless jellyfish explanation can only go so far."

"Looks like Trent is considering dropping out of politics; us Mississippi voters are certainly waiting for the opportunity to help him make the transition."

"Yesterday, Lott's office was saying that 'he' didn't release the statement about the 'deal in the making'. However, reports from Capitol Hill said the 'reporting' came from Lott's office (as in his Chief of Staff or other high staff member). So, Lott seems to be doing a Kerry -- letting his staff take the heat for releasing info about the 'deal in the making'."

"It may be time to think about a "Daschle" for ole' Trent. Hello Club For Growth? Let's put a real conservative in Trent's seat. He sucked as senate majority leader, and he has obviously learned nothing but how to put on panties for his friends the demoncrats. What a complete POS!!"

"I suggest that any Republican that cuts a deal with the Democrats and there is no up and down vote should be recalled."

"Back when LOTT as Senate "Majority/Minority" Leader was going through the Strom dustup, I called our Senators and advocated FOR his removal as such, not so much for his verbal indiscretion as for his consistant incompetence and, as far as I could tell, total LACK of any "leadership" skills! And it does not appear that he's learned much since then, either. "

"Unfortunately, R's can't seem to act like a "majority" and the Dems get to pretty much rule as if they were still the majority, mainly due to a gaggle of turncoat "moderate" (i.e. Pro-Prenatal INfanticide) RINOs. "

"And I suspect that RINO's pivotal issue is the same as their Sociocrat "Colleages", by and large. That's why they don't want Constitutional Judges on the bench any more than the Dems do. "

"So - what are we going to do about that, I wonder? CAN anything be done?"

"I am beginning to like Dr. Dobson a lot!... Because he is taking active leadership for our conservative issues. forget about the Catholic C - which I am part of, sort of [smile] - the CC will always be a liberal organization, especially here in the U.S. The see every problem in terms of God's point of view (and can one argue with that? so, fine by me), but for political purposes, I would like to support (with $), someone who goes out ther and fight for our causes, like Dr. Dobson. What do you all think?"

"There has been a rumor amoung certain circles that Lott is doing some dirty work for Frist. Frist can't herd in the Rinos, but he has to hold a vote. If Lott does enough "freelancing" to botch the vote, then blame for the failure moves towards Lott and away from Frist. Lott has a safe seat and no realistic shot for higher office or a leadership position, so he is the ideal high profile Senator to take the heat for the Constitutional option failing. Frist can give off the appearance that he did everything within his power to win the vote. Dobson is being played. The vote will fall just short and Frist will say to Dobson: if your base can just deliver a couple of more Senators in 2006, we can get this done then. The Republicans need Dobson's base but can only be assured of getting it if there is a carrot just slightly out of reach. They've dangled that carrot just slightly out of reach for at least 30 years now."


More of the Bush economy: United Airlines can dump pension plans

by Pam


United's about to give the shaft to over 120,000 workers; Darth Cheney's secret energy committee seems only to have resulted in outrageous gas prices that the airlines are sinking fast.

Welcome to the Bush economy. United Airlines is going to dump its underfunded pension plans onto the taxpayer to survive bankruptcy. Yes, this would be the largest default in the history of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp (PBGC). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff ruled that $6.6 billion of liabilities can be shifted to the PBCG, which will result in reduced retirement payouts to United workers - flight attendants, ground workers and pilots -- all 121,500 active and retired employees.

This should scare everyone; it could lead to a disaster of savings & loan debacle proportions if a big fish like Ford or GM tanks and tries this maneuver. (LAT):
The ruling fueled speculation that other major airlines — which also are suffering huge losses — might try to ditch their pension plans to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage to United, the second-largest U.S. carrier, behind American Airlines.

...Wedoff said that transferring the pension plans to the federal agency didn't violate any law or United's union contracts, and that reduced benefits were better than having the airline go under.

"The least bad of the available choices here has got to be the one that keeps an airline functioning, that keeps employees being paid," Wedoff said. United, based in suburban Chicago, is the busiest airline at the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports, and about 4,000 of its 61,000 active employees live in California, along with thousands of United retirees.

United has lost nearly $10 billion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including $1.6 billion in 2004. The carrier, like many other older so-called legacy airlines, has been hurt by soaring fuel costs, widespread fare cutting, relatively high operating costs and the growth of low-cost discount airlines such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2002.

United's unions say that missteps by airline management over the last several years also are to blame, and that they've been asked to make excessively steep concessions.

But United Chief Executive Glenn Tilton — a former oil industry executive who took United's helm in September 2002 — has pushed hard for the labor concessions and the pension plan switch, saying they're the only way the airline can climb out of bankruptcy.
You will note below that they are trying to blame the unions for this, but sh*t, you know the top-level execs have been flying high with bonuses regardless of the airline's performance. When the rubber hits the tarmac, though, they first go after the workers.

How about Chimpy's energy policy -- you know the one developed by all the pigs at the trough like Ken Lay. The ones you'll never know the identities of because the courts have ruled that those meetings with Dick Cheney are privileged conversations?

It's no wonder that strikes are threatened.
But the pact has outraged some United unions, and the airline's employee situation "has become extraordinarily volatile," said Ron Kuhlmann, vice president of Unisys R2A Transportation Management Consultants in Oakland.

The Assn. of Flight Attendants has threatened random, unannounced strikes against United flights if the pension plans were transferred. The association represents about 15,500 United flight attendants. United warned them last week that they could be fired if they walked off the job.

Association spokeswoman Dianne Tamuk said, "We feel sold out" by the ruling, and said that the union would meet to decide its next step.

"A strike is a real prospect if that agreement is approved," Jack Carriglio, a lawyer for retired United pilots, said at the hearing. "Also, this will have a grave impact on United employees' morale."

Under federal pension law, the PBGC pays no more than $45,613 a year to a worker who retires at age 65; it's less for those retiring at an earlier age. As a result, United's pilots are expected to take the greatest hit to their pension benefits. They commonly earn six-figure salaries while working, but under federal law they must retire at age 60.

Moreover, United and most of its union employees have another battle to wage. United also is asking Wedoff to throw out the airline's wage-and-benefit contracts with most of its employee groups, so it can secure the more than $3 billion in annual labor savings — aside from the pension costs — that United says it needs to survive.

A hearing on that request begins today, and some United employees have threatened to walk out if the carrier wins that contest as well.


American Family Association urging boycott of Kraft over Gay Games

by Pam



I received an email from a reader, Sandy, about another wingnut smear campaign...

Under the guise of One Million Dads, the American Family Association is planning a boycott and intimidation campaign of Kraft because the company is sponsoring the Gay Games. From the bigoted site:
Kraft is a major sponsor of 2006 Gay Olympic Games

Kraft Foods, makers of popular products like Macaroni and Cheese, Kraft Singles, Oreo cookies, Maxwell House coffee, and Ritz Crackers is a sponsor of the 2006 Gay Olympic Games in Chicago.

Click Here to see their sponsorship commitment for yourself.

The gay games are supported and endorsed by dozens of homosexual activist groups and organizations, including homosexual magazines and television outlets.

Tell Kraft to drop their corporate sponsorship of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.
Send Your Letter Now!

NOTE: If you see a commercial or program which is offensive, email us the information. Many of you have done this, and it is very helpful.
Sandy writes:
If you could call or write in support it might be a help-I did and the operator thanked me profusely, but then, that's her job. Anyway, the contact info is :

Their toll-free number is 1-800-323-0768

Additional contact information:

Kraft Foods
CEO Roger K. Deromedi
3 Lakes Dr.
Northfield, IL 60093
Phone: 847-646-2000
Fax: 847-646-6005
TOLL FREE: 1-800-323-0768

There is an online form also, if you want to email. Thanks, seems everytime you turn around the bigots are howling after anyone who isn't as hateful as they are. Sad.


Heidi Klum, Seal tie the knot

by STP

Is someone explaining this to Neal Horsley?


John Edwards for New Jersey?

by STP

John Edwards is an interesting figure in my mind. During the early stages of the Democratic campaign for the nomination in 2004, I found him to be more in line with my beliefs that most of the other candidates. Something about him, though, did not work for me.

Ultimately, Edwards was beaten by the momentum of John Kerry as the most likely person to be able to beat George Bush. Edwards proved to have effectively no base of support, not even in the south. It seemed quite probable that had he run for re-election to the Senate in North Carolina he would have lost.

In the presidential campaign, Edwards was virtually invisible and appeared over-matched. The invisibility might be blamed on the Kerry people, but he was clearly not up to a national race against the likes of Rove and Cheney.

Now John Edwards has announced that he will have a strong presence in my state of New Jersey to help elect Democratic candidates to office. I wonder just how much he can bring to the table, but more importantly, his comments suggest the level of interest Edwards holds for 2008.While it was never in doubt that he would run again for the White House, this New Jersey pledge leads me back to the thoughts I had of John Edwards earlier. I liked many of his positions. He seems to be able to present himself well to people in face to face meetings. However, I am concerned that he has no base of support and has not proven able to win on a national level.

There is still ample time for John Edwards to build upon his position. He has name recognition, but has been painted as "one of those trial lawyers" by the Republicans and that might be unshakable even though his time as a lawyer was vested in protecting the "little people."

I do not see Hillary Clinton as being someone who can win, and as she continues to lurk in the muddled, middle on too many issues to garner support, she loses mine. John Kerry - forget it! Evan Bayh and Mark Warner hold appeal to me as moderates I can live with that might be able to win, but Bayh might not have the persona to win and Warner bares questioning to flesh out more of who he is.

Mr. Edwards, you do have an opening in the weakness of the other candidates for 2008. A lot of work needs to be done to sure up who you are and how you can win/lead. Do you have what it takes to do these things? I wonder.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)


Propaganda Schmopaganda

by Shakespeare's Sister

Huh. Looks like the Agriculture Department, following in the footsteps of the Education Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, wanted to get in on the pay for play action that seems to be the only way to ensure favorable promotion of Bush’s miserable policies:
Documents released by the Agriculture Department show it paid a freelance writer $9,375 in 2003 to "research and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the benefits of NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) programs."

Three articles by the writer, Dave Smith, appeared late last year in two magazines aimed at hunting and fishing enthusiasts: Outdoor Oklahoma, published by that state's Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Washington-Oregon Game & Fish, published by Primedia.

Neither identified Smith as having been paid by the government. The stories focused on how money from a 2002 agricultural subsidy bill had been used to help preserve wetlands that hunting and fishing enthusiasts enjoy in Oklahoma and the Northwest.

Smith, a biologist by profession who now works for the NRCS in Montana, said Tuesday that the magazines knew he'd been paid by the Agriculture Department. "I clearly spelled out to them," in writing, "that I'd been hired to do this," he said. He said the magazines did not pay him for the articles. "I knew I couldn't be paid by them" since he'd already been compensated, Smith said.
Kind of an interesting tactic, asserting a sense of decency that prevents him from double-dipping, to keep his own ass out of the fire. Nevermind that his journalistic ethics were sold down the river for $9,375. Pfft.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)


Paging Dr. Freud

by John

The blogger formerly known as Hindrocket writes (with Big Trunk in cheek??):

Oh, one more thing: we've learned a lot more than we ever wanted to know about the sexual fantasies of American lefties. We can tell you this: as reflected in our email, their fantasies are 100%, with zero exceptions, homosexual. Make of that what you will. I can't explain it.

That's so hot.

With zero exceptions?? You can send your hetero lefty sexual fantasies to the hindrocket here.

Via Catch.

(x-posted @ blogenlust)


To those of you who voted for GWB because of them "terrah" alerts...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

....looks like ya got summarily DUPED.

From Tom Ridge himself - the king of the colors:

(Thanks to AmericaBlog for this one...)

Ridge Comes Clean: Terror Alerts based on "flimsy" evidence
by Joe in DC - 5/11/2005 08:44:00 AM

Okay, this is rich. If we had a real Congress, there would be investigations. There would be outrage. USA Today reports on what most of us suspected, that the terror alert was often raised based on "flimsy" evidence:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says.

Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.

His comments at a Washington forum describe spirited debates over terrorist intelligence and provide rare insight into the inner workings of the nation's homeland security apparatus.
Yep, Tom Ridge admits it. So, the obvious question is why were the terror alerts raised if it wasn't based on real evidence. Was it politics? And which "administration officials" made the call? John Ashcroft? Karl Rove?

So all the red state voters who thought Bush would keep them safe...the GOP played them perfectly. The propoganda of fear....Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

Doh!


Mayor West is Feeling Persecuted BOO F***G HOOO

by JJ


Mayor Jim West & 2 15 year olds that he attempted to date....

I am still working on the number of interns that were appointed by Mayor West. If in fact as my source tells me, 11 to 12 young men who were appointed in an effort to get them into bed that will likely come out in the FBI investigation. (Even in my slut years I didn’t date 12 people in six months).

It looks to me like the outing of Mayor West has made him realize what persecution of gays is actually like. He has done a 360 on gay rights issues. (Once again from the worlds most awesome newspaper… The Spokesman Review)



"We'll just keep trying to move forward and stay focused on the city's priorities…" said Deputy Mayor Jack Lynch, who was suddenly cast into the role of the city's chief officer.

Lynch said that the mayor has decided not to veto a recently adopted ordinance extending city benefits to unmarried partners of city employees. Partners could be of either the same or opposite sex. West, a longtime opponent of gay rights, had argued against the ordinance, which passed by a 5-2 majority on April 25. A veto can be overridden with five votes.

Well well, isn’t that nice of the Mayor… NOW he is afraid of looking like a hypocrite? For now, West still has access to his city email from home. He sent an email to the members of the Task Force on Race Relations that met at Gonzaga University yesterday. The task force is making an effort to make people of all races feel comfortable and safe in Spokane. (I just saw statistics yesterday that said Spokane is 92% white.) Anyway West is upset that gay people are persecuted in Spokane and wants the Task Force on Race to do something about it.

West's email Tuesday went out just before the Task Force on Race Relations was
to meet at Gonzaga University. The task force is charged with making Spokane a community "where harassment, intimidation, discrimination and violence are totally unacceptable."

West in his email poses a series of questions:
"Does that include people who have an internal struggle with who
they are sexually and are searching for a way to come out and are torn by a desire to be out and a fear of what happens if they are
?

Do others who desire to be out but are having similar struggles now live in greater fear because of a brutal outing?

Should we all fear that our private conversations will be splashed publicly and out of context for all in our sphere to see?

Should we not stand up for justice - even for those we despise? Because if we don't, who will stand up for us?"

Booo F****G Hooo what a freaking loser! NOW he is upset that gays can't feel comfortable in coming out in their own time in their own manor? Now he is upset because gays are persecuted and can't be who they are comfortably in public? I guess he is finally seeing the light...

This is certainly a change of tune from his openly hostile fight against the proposed Gay District in Spokane that was splashed all over the news a few months ago. Activists Want to Create Gay Neighborhood

The intent of a gay district here is to create an area like Seattle’s Capital Hill or the Castro in San Francisco where the GLBTQ community could feel comfortable with being who they are and do something shocking like… oh I don’t know… holding hands in the street? Mayor West was opposed to the idea from the day it was proposed. Or at least he was PUBLICLY opposed to the idea. With his new attitude perhaps he will be a staunch supporter of the district, especially since he will no longer have the Mayors office to solicit dates (not that the gay community here would tollerate his ilk skulking about).



Tuesday, May 10, 2005

FBI To Investigate Spokane Mayor

by JJ

Todays Jim West Update…

I have been informed from a city employee close to the mayor who wishes to remain anonymous that to her knowledge Mayor West had appointed 11 or 12 young men to internships, city jobs or committees in the last 6 months. In any case, the Feds have taken an interest in Jim West’s “affairs”. (From the Spokesman Review)

The FBI is in the initial phases of a possible "public corruption" case involving allegations that Spokane Mayor Jim West abused his office by offering jobs to young men he hoped to entice into sexual relationships, a senior Justice Department official said today.

FBI agents on Wednesday are expected to interview Ryan Oelrich and another man, both 24, who said they were independently offered City Hall jobs and a position on the Hu03741168073"> by JJ


Mayor Jim West & 2 15 year olds that he attempted to date....

I am still working on the number of interns that were appointed by Mayor West. If in fact as my source tells me, 11 to 12 young men who were appointed in an effort to get them into bed that will likely come out in the FBI investigation. (Even in my slut years I didn’t date 12 people in six months).

It looks to me like the outing of Mayor West has made him realize what persecution of gays is actually like. He has done a 360 on gay rights issues. (Once again from the worlds most awesome newspaper… The Spokesman Review)



"We'll just keep trying to move forward and stay focused on the city's priorities…" said Deputy Mayor Jack Lynch, who was suddenly cast into the role of the city's chief officer.

Lynch said that the mayor has decided not to veto a recently adopted ordinance extending city benefits to unmarried partners of city employees. Partners could be of either the same or opposite sex. West, a longtime opponent of gay rights, had argued against the ordinance, which passed by a 5-2 majority on April 25. A veto can be overridden with five votes.

Well well, isn’t that nice of the Mayor… NOW he is afraid of looking like a hypocrite? For now, West still has access to his city email from home. He sent an email to the members of the Task Force on Race Relations that met at Gonzaga University yesterday. The task force is making an effort to make people of all races feel comfortable and safe in Spokane. (I just saw statistics yesterday that said Spokane is 92% white.) Anyway West is upset that gay people are persecuted in Spokane and wants the Task Force on Race to do something about it.

West's email Tuesday went out just before the Task Force on Race Relations was
to meet at Gonzaga University. The task force is charged with making Spokane a community "where harassment, intimidation, discrimination and violence are totally unacceptable."

West in his email poses a series of questions:
"Does that include people who have an internal struggle with who
they are sexually and are searching for a way to come out and are torn by a desire to be out and a fear of what happens if they are
?

Do others who desire to be out but are having similar struggles now live in greater fear because of a brutal outing?

Should we all fear that our private conversations will be splashed publicly and out of context for all in our sphere to see?

Should we not stand up for justice - even for those we despise? Because if we don't, who will stand up for us?"

Booo F****G Hooo what a freaking loser! NOW he is upset that gays can't feel comfortable in coming out in their own time in their own manor? Now he is upset because gays are persecuted and can't be who they are comfortably in public? I guess he is finally seeing the light...

This is certainly a change of tune from his openly hostile fight against the proposed Gay District in Spokane that was splashed all over the news a few months ago. Activists Want to Create Gay Neighborhood

The intent of a gay district here is to create an area like Seattle’s Capital Hill or the Castro in San Francisco where the GLBTQ community could feel comfortable with being who they are and do something shocking like… oh I don’t know… holding hands in the street? Mayor West was opposed to the idea from the day it was proposed. Or at least he was PUBLICLY opposed to the idea. With his new attitude perhaps he will be a staunch supporter of the district, especially since he will no longer have the Mayors office to solicit dates (not that the gay community here would tollerate his ilk skulking about).



Tuesday, May 10, 2005

FBI To Investigate Spokane Mayor

by JJ

Todays Jim West Update…

I have been informed from a city employee close to the mayor who wishes to remain anonymous that to her knowledge Mayor West had appointed 11 or 12 young men to internships, city jobs or committees in the last 6 months. In any case, the Feds have taken an interest in Jim West’s “affairs”. (From the Spokesman Review)

The FBI is in the initial phases of a possible "public corruption" case involving allegations that Spokane Mayor Jim West abused his office by offering jobs to young men he hoped to entice into sexual relationships, a senior Justice Department official said today.

FBI agents on Wednesday are expected to interview Ryan Oelrich and another man, both 24, who said they were independently offered City Hall jobs and a position on the Hu