Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Gay panic defense pays off for killer in Alabama

by Pam

What a f*cking outrage. Twenty-year-old animal Raymond Carlisle was convicted of the lesser charge of felony murder (as opposed to capital murder) in the brutal death of Sammie Speigner III, an adjunct professor of sociology at Birmingham Southern College.

His defense attorneys during the trial used the infamous "gay panic" defense, claiming Carlisle reacted "in the heat of passion" when Speigner "tried to homosexually assault him. Defense attorney Amber Ladner even compared the Speigner’s actions to that of a molester using a puppy to lure a young child. His attorneys were pleased by the light verdict.

Now, in the sentencing phase, Circuit Judge Clyde Jones gave Carlisle a mere 21 year sentence (one over the minimum). There is no justice in Alabama.
Carlisle should be eligible for parole in 10 years, said his attorney, Cynthia Umstead.

...Carlisle had testified that Speigner picked up Carlisle under the guise of wanting to buy marijuana, then tried to force the then-19-year-old to engage in sex with him.

Prosecutor Joe Roberts contended that Carlisle deserved the maximum sentence...
Carlisle was so "traumatized" by the encounter with Speigner that he killed the man, stole the professor's credit card to buy beer, cigarettes and gasoline later in the day while joyriding with friends. Even worse, he rented the car to another friend and was finally arrested while smoking dope inside the car, which he had upfitted with a new tag and freshly tinted windows. G-ddamn.

Kathy @ Birmingham Blues:
...even though Raymond Carlisle pulled a gun, chased Prof. Speigner from his car, and then shot him when the Prof got back to his car and tried to drive away. Then Carlisle took Prof. Speigner’s wallet and his car and left him to bleed to death. Carlisle’s excuse? Why, gay panic, of course. And it worked, by God.
Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


Supremes on abortion protestors

by Pam

This ruling is a mixed bag, because it prevents Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) laws from being used to stop abortion protestors from congregating and harassing clients outside clinics. The RICO legal strategy was initially and successfully devised by NOW.

However, social activists and the AFL-CIO (who sided with the abortion demonstrators) charged that RICO could be used to quash efforts to change public policy or work for change in wages and working conditions. Alito did not participate in this decision.
The Supreme Court dealt a setback today to abortion clinics in a two-decade-old legal fight over anti-abortion protests, ruling that federal extortion and racketeering laws cannot be used to ban demonstrations.

The 8-0 decision ends a case that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had kept alive despite a 2003 ruling by the high court that lifted a nationwide injunction on anti-abortion groups led by Joseph Scheidler and others.

Anti-abortion groups brought the appeal after the appellate court sought to determine whether the injunction could be supported by charges that protesters had made threats of violence.

In today’s ruling, Justice Stephen Breyer said Congress did not intend to create “a freestanding physical violence offense” in the federal extortion law known as the Hobbs Act.
Shakes Sis and The Moderate Voice have posts up.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


Monday, February 27, 2006

An Open Letter to Women from Conservatives

by Shakespeare's Sister

Secured by my crack investigative team:

Dear Uterati,

Fuck you.

Love,
Conservatives

P.S. Especially you bitchez in the Red States.

P.P.S. Thanks for your votes!


While the FDA dithers endlessly about making emergency contraception, specifically Plan B, available without a prescription, the states are starting to legislate its access—and, predictably, while blue states are looking to expand access, red states are seeking to restrict it.

With the application in regulatory limbo, a growing number of states have passed bills that allow pharmacists working in conjunction with doctors to dispense Plan B to women who do not have a prescription -- with Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Mexico and California acting most recently. The Massachusetts bill was passed last year over Republican Gov. Mitt Romney's veto…

But some bills would make it more difficult for many women to get emergency contraception, which is effective for only 72 hours after a woman experiences a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex. Legislation in New Hampshire, for instance, would require parental notification before the drug is dispensed, and more than 20 other states will consider bills that give pharmacies the right not to stock the drug and pharmacists the right not to dispense it, even to women with valid prescriptions…

Efforts by antiabortion groups led to the passage last year of a Texas bill that eliminated the drug from a demonstration family-planning program, and to an Arkansas bill that kept emergency contraception off a list of protected contraceptives.

Huzzah! Because what we really want is to revictimize rape victims by withholding emergency contraception that could ensure they don't get pregnant with their rapist’s baby. And we definitely want to force women using contraception, but who have an unfortunate and unavoidable birth control failure, to go through the a more invasive abortion procedure. And we most certainly want to make sure that couples who weren’t responsible enough to use birth control in the first place face the possibility of being responsible for a child.

I suppose it’s also futile to point out, yet again, that parental notification laws are bullshit. In a perfect world, pregnant teens would be able to tell their parents they are pregnant and they could work out the best solution together, but in this world, step-fathers rape their unconscious and dying step-daughters. (And only get 9 years for it, which is a whole other post.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


Jesus Appears in Sheet Metal

by Shakespeare's Sister

Holly passes on this article, probably because she knows I’m a fan of holy folks presenting their visages on trees, more trees, wardrobes, water stains, grilled cheese sandwiches, potato chips, and all manner of everyday objects.

Thomas Haley was unloading supplies for his job at Hardy's Hardware when he said something odd caught his eye: the face of Jesus Christ on a piece of sheet metal.

Now, Haley and a co-worker are hawking the holy hardware on eBay, hoping potential bidders will agree that the blurry oil stain on the sheet metal does, indeed, resemble Jesus…

Haley said that whatever money is raised will be split between him, Jackson, another worker, and two customers. But he's still a little ambivalent about the sale.

"I feel kind of bad just pawning off Christ," Haley said.
But not bad enough to not do it. I found the listing on eBay, if you’re interested. You can “Buy It Now” for the reasonable price of $10,000. So far, bidding has reached $510.


Haley said he was unloading a supply truck two weeks ago at the Manchester hardware store when he turned a corner and was awe-struck by the holy likeness gazing back at him from the $15.49 piece of sheet metal.

Since then, Haley and 18-year-old co-worker Jonathan Jackson have shown the piece to a few other workers and customers, and even took it on a short pilgrimage to a nearby hair salon.
A pilgrimage to the local hair salon? Why a hair salon and not, oh I dunno, a church? I admit I don’t spend tons of times in either hair salons or churches, but as far as I’m aware, hair salons haven’t become the arbiter of all things holy, right?

They say several people agreed with their assessment, although a few suggested it looks more like legendary rock singer Jim Morrison of The Doors.

"Some people said, 'Are you sure it's Jesus?' and I think, 'Who else would come to give us a sign, Groucho Marx?' " Jackson said.
I actually think that’s a good question. In truth, it’s why I find these appearances so interesting. Why wouldn’t Groucho Marx appear in a piece of sheet metal, or a hedge, or a turnip? Is there’s a heavenly rule that no one but the holy family is allowed to engage in these little bits of earthly performance art? Are they mad about being sold on eBay? And why would they do it? Doesn’t this, in some way, undermine the principle that Christians are meant to see God in everything? If this is a genuine message from the above, it’s definitely a mixed one, at best.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


The leader of the free world

by Pam

US leader crashed by trying to 'pedal, wave and speak at same time'. This story is on the release of details of a 2005 bicycle crash at the Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland, where the Chimperor collided with a police officer. Bush was getting a little R&R while at the G8 summit.
He may be the most powerful man in the world, but proof has emerged that President George Bush cannot ride a bike, wave and speak at the same time.

...After a hard day's discussion with fellow world leaders, the president was looking for some relaxation. Instead, he ended up the subject of a police report in which the leader of the free world was described, in classic police language, as a "moving/falling object".
Here's how the crash unfolded -- The Scotsman reports that the facts were kept under wraps for "fear of embarrassing Bush" by the local police. When you read this, it's obvious why.
"[The unit] was requested to cover the road junction on the Auchterarder to Braco Road as the President of the USA, George Bush, was cycling through." The report goes on: "[At] about 1800 hours the President approached the junction at speed on the bicycle. The road was damp at the time. As the President passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting 'thanks, you guys, for coming'.


"As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The President continued along the ground for approximately five metres, causing himself a number of abrasions. The officers... then assisted both injured parties."

...Jim McDermott, a Democrat Congressman, last night quipped: "Not only does he break the law over here on eavesdropping and spying on our own citizens, but it seems he can't even keep to your law when it comes to riding a bike. It's another example of how he can't keep his mind on the things he should be thinking about."
Remember, he also took a dive off of his bike at the ranch in Crawford back in 2004.



And he didn't have much more luck when taking a spin on a Segway...



Then again, he was stationary before he choked on the pretzel and fell -- off of a couch in 2002.


Bruise from the "pretzel choke incident."

You may begin your own snarky quips now.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bring on the end times

by Pam

So we don't have to deal with fools like these people anymore.
Pastors of some of the largest evangelical churches in America met recently in Inglewood to polish strategies for starting five million new churches worldwide in 10 years -- an effort they say they hope will hasten the End Time.

The Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus always has been the ultimate goal of evangelicalism. But when that would occur was any Christian's guess.

The "Billion Souls Initiative" of the Global Pastors Network aims to shorten the path to Judgment Day by partnering church resources with the latest communications systems to spread the gospel.

In an interview at Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood, James Davis, president of the campaign, said, "Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life.

"As we advance around the world, we'll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that great commission," he said. "Then, the Bible says, the end will come."
In what can only be described as a surreal and disturbing sign of things to come in terms of pandering to the holy rollers, likely 2008 prez hopeful Rudy Giuliani recently spoke before the pastors' group in Orlando, shilling his upcoming book on "what it takes to be a leader in time of crisis."



Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


Pulp Economics:
A Brief Story of Money, Part 2

by Dark Wraith

This is the second in a four-part series about money. In Part 1, money was defined in terms of what can be used for the purpose of exchange and how various types of money can be distinguished in terms of intrinsic characteristics and how easily each can be converted to something else of value in exchange.

In this article, the so-called "equation of exchange" is introduced and used to explain inflation in an example. As with the first installment, bloggers are pressed into service as the actors in this drama. Their performances are herewith noted: BlondeSense Liz of BlondeSense and Misty of expostulation are thanked for their performances as castaways on a deserted island, and Peter of Lone Tree, also of BlondeSense, is graciously thanked for a cameo appearance.

Among the definitions of inflation are some that don't explain a whole lot. One such nice but somewhat uninformative definition is this: Inflation is a rise in the aggregate price level. Well, yes, but that doesn't really do much to explain why the "aggregate price level" rises.

Perhaps a better, working definition of inflation might go something like this: Inflation is the erosion of purchasing power per unit of the currency. Not much better, huh? Read on and see how this one fits into the story told below, a story about two women trapped on a deserted island where they must engage in trade with one another, exchanging clams for pineapples.

Several years ago, an ugly storm came out of nowhere during a cruise—a three-hour cruise—on which were two hearty women, BlondeSense Liz and Misty. The storm capsized their boat; and of the five passengers who had set sail that day with the crew of two, only Misty and Liz had survived, each of them floating away from the doomed ship on the drowned remains of one of their more corpulent fellow shipmates.

After several days at sea, they beached on a tiny, deserted island paradise in the South Pacific. Shortly after they came ashore, there was something of an ugly scene about whether to eat their corpse/life rafts uncooked or to do so after roasting them on a spit for several hours, and the two stranded castaways finally decided that it would be best if each went her own way and followed her own culinary preferences.

They did stay in touch. Although they didn't speak to each other, they did send smoke signals on special occasions like birthdays and Halloween. They also traded.

Liz lived on the south side of the island, where pineapples and man-eating plants grew. Fortunately for Liz, the man-eating plants didn't eat women, but she stayed clear of them anyway, putting her daily efforts into cultivating the pineapple trees. She could eat or trade them with Misty, whose side of the island had no pineapples at all but did have the occasional really big clam wander onto the beach to get a tan or answer nature's call, at which time Misty would nail the sucker either to eat or to trade for a pineapple from Liz.

After much wrangling on the matter—negotiations made particularly tricky because of the lack of oral communication—Liz and Misty had worked out an exchange rate of one clam for one pineapple, and this equivalence relationship had remained stable for all of the three long years the two of them had been stranded on that beautiful if somewhat harsh little plot of land in the Pacific.

One day, Misty had a brilliant idea. She noticed that there were a whole lot of empty clam shells on the beach, so she decide to take a real clam she had just beaten senseless, open it up, split the meat in two, and put half of the clam meat into one of the empty shells.

She went as usual to make her trade with Liz; but instead of the usual deal, Misty handed her two clams, each of course containing only half the meat of an original, single clam. Liz suspected nothing and wouldn't have been able to verify the clam's worth, anyway, since she had no immediate access to a clam shell prying tool. Liz did look a little surprised at the escalation of the economic activity Misty was proposing but acknowledged that Misty would get two pineapples that day. Obviously, Liz had to work harder thereafter because of what appeared to her as real, extra currency flowing her way. In economics terms, Liz's real output increased, and it did so because the clam-based money supply increased.

Over time, however, once Liz had eaten some of these clams, she realized that it was taking twice as many to fill her up. Without a full stomach, Liz just didn't have the energy she needed to keep up the pace of her work on the pineapple groves.

Exhausted one day, Liz met Misty for their daily trade. As had become usual, Misty produced her two clams, and Liz handed her one pineapple. Liz had worn herself out producing twice as much for what was really the meat of only one real clam. She never did quite come to know that there was only half as much meat in each clam she was getting, but that didn't matter at all: it was purely a matter of capacity to produce under the circumstances of the standing terms of trade.

In terms of economics, this story is about the equation of exchange. Specifically, it is about three different equilibrium states of that equation as it went from its initial configuration to a short-term re-alignment and then to a long-term stability.

The equation of exchange looks like this:

Money Supply × Velocity of Money = Aggregate Price Level × Aggregate Output Level.

or
M×V=P×Q

Now, you're probably saying, "Ah, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking when I read that tragic story about Liz and Misty." Of course, what you're probably thinking is something like, "Dude! That's some g-o-o-o-d stuff you're smokin' if you think that equation has anything to do with anything."

Okay, fine. Let's step through the equation piece by piece. On the left side, M is the supply of money: the amount of it in circulation.

V is the velocity of each unit of the currency: how many times each unit is used in a given period. We usually assume the velocity of money doesn't change during the periods we analyze, which means the number of times a unit of the currency is used doesn't increase or decrease during our scenarios.

So the left side of the equation is M×V: the amount of money in circulation multiplied by the number of times each unit of it gets used per period. M×V is just the total expenditures of an economy in a given period of time. For example, if there are ten one dollar bills in circulation, and on average each of them gets used twice in a year, then the total expenditures in the economy would be $10 × 2 times per year = $20 per year in total expenditures.

The right side of the equation is just the total nominal value of the goods and services of an economy. The word "nominal" means price-denominated, as opposed to "real," which means the actual counting of the units of the goods, themselves, without putting prices on them.

On that right side, P is the aggregate price level, or just the price of the average good (in a simplified way). Q is the aggregate real output of the economy (and notice that the Q by itself is "real" since it's a count of actual, physical things instead of a dollar value of them). As an example for the right side, let's say the economy produces a single good, which has an initial price level of $5 per unit, and the economy creates four of those per year. That means the total nominal (price-denominated) output of the economy is $5 per unit × 4 units per year, or $20 per year.

The equation of exchange simply states that the total expenditures, M×V, must be the same as the total nominal product, P×Q, of the economy in a given period of time.

In the situation on the island, the clams had originally been circulating at the rate of one per period, which would mean that the velocity of clams was exactly one, so we have V=1.

The money supply was one clam in each period of trading, so we have M=1.

On the other side when our story began, the real output of pineapples was one per period, so Q=1.

The agreed-upon equilibrium price for a pineapple was one clam, so P=1.

Hence, the equation of exchange captures this situation by stating that

M×V=P×Q

or

1 clam × 1 use of it per period = 1 clam per pineapple × 1 actual pineapple per trading period,

or without the units to obscure the numbers,

1 × 1 = 1 × 1

Okay, duh.

But look what happened when the clams got watered down. For a while, something very cool was going on. The velocity of each clam stayed the same: each one of the clams was still being traded only once per period, so V stayed at a value of one. However, there were now two of the clams in circulation in each trading period, so the left side of the equation, M×V, which describes expenditures, became

2 clams × 1 use of each per period,

so the M×V side became

2×1

Now for the right side of the equation. The price per pineapple was still one clam, but Liz selling the pineapples had to come up with two of them to meet Misty's clam-driven demand. The price stayed firm, but real output rose. In other words, P×Q became

1 clam per pineapple × 2 pineapples per trading period;

hence P×Q became

1×2

Thus, we have a new equilibrium of the equation of exchange:

M×V=P×Q

is now

2×1=1×2

Notice that the equation of exchange is not in some sense "forcing" the situation; instead, it's merely explaining how the parts of an economy fit together.

What we've just seen was the short-run effect of an increase in the supply of clams that was not matched by any actual change in the fundamental dynamics of production of pineapples. Liz on the pineapple side of the island really didn't have any greater "capacity" to create pineapples, and she didn't have some new technology or anything like that. All she was doing was responding to what she saw as an increase in money she could make for bringing pineapples to market.

Now comes the long run. Liz was harvesting pineapples at a rate higher than she normally could, given the rate at which pineapples grew to harvestable size and given her own ability to gather pineapples in any period of time. Ultimately, the fact that she wasn't getting any more real meat in those two clams than she originally had in the one clam simply forced her to return to a real output of one pineapple. She simply could not produce two, actual pineapples per day, not in the long-run, anyway. But the only way she could then accommodate two clams being handed to her is if she were to revert to what it actually takes in terms of clam meat to deliver a pineapple. Those two clams have the meat of one of the original clams, and that was how much meat it really took for Liz to be able to harvest a single pineapple. Hence, she's going to have to charge Misty two of her watered-down clams for each actual, honest-to-goodness pineapple.

So here's what happened in the long run to the equation of exchange. The left side, M×V had already moved to its new configuration: that happened in the short run when the clam supply went up to two (while the velocity stayed at one). Thus, the left side of the equation hangs at

2 clams × 1 use of each clam per period,

which means the left side of the equation will be 2×1, or 2.

The right side of the equation for the long-run scenario has changed. The price for each pineapple has risen to two clams, and the real output of pineapples has reverted back to one per period. Hence, the right side of the equation of exchange, P×Q, is in the long run going to be

2 clams per pineapple × 1 pineapple per period,

which means the right side of the equation is now 2×1, or 2.

The long-run equilibrium configuration of the equation of exchange is this:

M×V=P×Q

works out its equilibrium (the equation is in balance) as

2×1=2×1

Well, look at that. It really is still in equilibrium: the left side equals the right side, just as it did at the very beginning and just as it did in the short run. Not only that, look closely at the three states of equilibrium:

  • The equation of exchange: M × V = P × Q

  • The initial state of economy: 1 clam × 1 use of it per period = 1 clam per pineapple × 1 pineapple per period.

  • The short-run effect of increase in supply of clams: 2 clams × 1 use of each per period = 1 clam per pineapple × 2 pineapples per period.

  • The long-run effect of increase in supply of clams: 2 clam × 1 use of each per period = 2 clams per pineapple × 1 pineapple per period.


  • Ah. An increase in the money supply in the short run causes an increase in real output; but in the long run, the only effect is that real output reverts to what it was originally while the price of the output goes up.

    In short-hand notation, it might look like this:

  • The equation of exchange: M × V = P × Q

  • Now, increase the money supply: M↑

  • The short-run effect: M↑ × V = P × Q↑

  • The long-run effect: M↑ × V = P↑ × Q


  • Notice something about that island economy. If Liz had actually been able to really produce more pineapples, she couldn't have sold them to the Misty unless Misty had more real (undiluted) clams. As an example, there was an brief incident where the hapless Peter of Lone Tree came ashore on the island, and Liz forced him to serve as her slave labor. With his help, Liz was able to produce two pineapples per period, but she couldn't sell both of them to Misty because she didn't have two real, undiluted clams. In other words, real growth rate of an economy requires a matching growth rate of the money supply. Frustrated by the lack of real money to reflect the real growth in output, Liz was planning to cast Peter back out to sea, where he would eventually be picked up by the floating Republican fund-raising cruise liner Washington HO! and made to serve as bartender under the tutelage of the earstwhile Tom Delay. As fate would have it, though, Peter was eaten by one of those man-eating plants that lived on Liz's side of the island.

    Anyway, the point of that last paragraph was that it's not that a central bank should never increase the money supply; in fact, it must, but it should do so only at the rate at which the real output of the economy needs that extra money.

    That makes the job of a central bank really hard. Think about it: if the central bank prints money too fast, real output would go up in the short run. That would give the central bank the impression that this real growth required even more money to be printed. But the first round of extra money would eventually be causing inflation and real output would be tending to revert back to its original level. But the central bank would have been printing even more money because it saw the real output of the economy growing from its first excess punch of money, and this would lead to a scenario something like a horse watching its wagon go by in front of it and thinking that it had to run faster to catch up with its cart, not realizing that it was actually pushing the cart to go faster and faster. That could be the beginning of a run-away horse and buggy as well as run-away inflation. The central bank erroneously thinks the economy is really growing well, but it's the central bank that's causing it to happen, and the way it's happening won't last.

    And that's why a central bank should never, ever contemplate being in the business of helping (or hurting) an economy: short-run versus long-run effects of accommodative or punitive monetary policy simply cannot be foreseen with the clarity to distinguish between fundamental economic growth and mere reaction to the money supply manipulation.

    In conclusion, returning to the story of the women on the island, the lesson should be clear and obvious. In summary, it is stated as such:

    TRVTH
    Inflation has one cause: too many clams chasing too few pineapples.



    The Dark Wraith has thus delivered the tropical goods.


    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.


    Go to
    Part 1
    of this series.


    Heckuva Job, Dubya...some "Mission Accomplished"

    by Ms. Julien in Miami


    But hey, he sure showed pappy he could get that SAD-dam.


    Bush names homo-bigot to AIDS panel

    by Pam


    Faux-Family Reseach Council head Tony Perkins and Focus on the Anus guru Daddy Dobson pal around with faith-ba$$$ed pastor Herbert Lusk. (Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP)

    Holy crap. The Bush admin continues its anti-gay rampage, naming faith-based cash recipient Rev. Herbert Lusk to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (the official announcement is March 16). This is a heinous appointment. (WashBlade):
    In a move yet to be publicly announced, Bush last month named Rev. Herbert Lusk, a former Philadelphia Eagles football star and current pastor of Philadelphia’s Greater Exodus Baptist Church, as one of five new members of the presidential AIDS advisory panel, known as PACHA, according to a current PACHA member.

    Lusk is a member of the board of advisers for the Alliance for Marriage, a conservative religious organization that lobbies lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

    ...Lusk heads a multi-million dollar faith-based social services agency in Philadelphia that he founded called People for People. Lusk told the New York Times the organization receives about $10 million a year in government funds, with at least $1 million a year coming from federal, faith-based grants.
    Lusk's church's charitable wing has received a cool million of faith-based bucks as far back as 2002 -- so he's been on Dear Leader's payroll for a while.

    Also, Lusk was the host at January's rally to support Alito, Justice Sunday III, which was held at his church:


    In attendance at JSIII: Daddy Dobson, Dr. Alveda C. King, Bishop Wellington Boone (The Father's House), Tony Perkins, Lusk, Senator Little Ricky Santorum, Rev. Tinkywinky.

    During Justice Sunday III, Lusk erupted with bible-thumping threats:
    [Lusk] railed against gay marriage, abortion and what he termed as Christian-bashing, and warned that those who trifle with "people of god" will face consequences.

    "Don't fool with the church," said Rev. Lusk, "because the church has buried many a critic, and all the critics we have not buried we're making funeral arrangements for."

    Rev. Lusk has been a figure of controversy since he spoke in support of Mr. Bush from his church in 2000 and was subsequently accused by the leader of Americans United for Separation of Church and State of breaking tax regulations that forbid churches from endorsing candidates. Rev. Lusk has denied any wrongdoing.
    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Demons vanquished in Ohio

    by Pam


    The Rev. Bob Larson: "Not everyone spits green pea soup and has their head rotate 360 degrees. But everybody needs deliverance." Photo: Toledo Blade/Jessica Crossfield.

    Holly sends me these two articles, Pastor feels called to fight demons and Toledo gets visit from 'The Exorcist', and I read them wondering whether this was a joke, that perhaps the Rev. Bob Larson was a comedian.

    Nope. He's dead serious, and he claims to have cast out over 6000 demons during his road shows, called 'Spiritual Freedom Conferences'. One passage in the article caught my eye, since it has particular relevance for Russ, who is out there in the Pacific Northwest.
    Mr. Larson said the influence of demons varies according to location, with some parts of the United States and certain countries having more demonic activity than others.

    "I've never had a problem finding demons in the Pacific Northwest, for example, because it has been such a non-church, non-religious area. Demons are more free to operate," he said. "Ironically, the other place is the Bible Belt. The devil is where he's not expected to be. It's what happens when people have too much religion and not enough spirituality."

    There is a finite number of demons in the world because God created a set number of angels, he said. The evil spirits are those who followed Lucifer when he rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven. But demons are becoming more active, Mr. Larson said, as seen in the increased incidents of violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and criminal behavior among Americans today.

    "There has been exponential growth of demonic activity today than when I started 30 years ago," he said. "It's rampant."
    Larson has toured the country over the last six years, building exorcist teams to handle demon cast-outs and healings. He claims to have trained 100 teams, including the Toledo team -- Rev. Louis C. Roy's Oasis Christian Fellowship.


    The Rev. Bob Larson works on the demons inside Mishael Dempsey at the Clarion Westgate Hotel in Toledo, Ohio. Dempsey said demons also caused her father to kill her mother and then take his own life. "There are demons with mental powers, and demons with physical powers. But the most dangerous demons are mind demons. They're mentally crafty. There's a spiritual strategy involved." Photo: Toledo Blade/Jessica Crossfield.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Saturday, February 25, 2006

    The Legacy of George W. Bush

    by Ms. Julien in Miami


    A boy injured by a car bomb explosion looks up while recovering in a hospital, in Karbala, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Feb.25, 2006. A car bomb exploded Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, killing at least six people, including two women, and injuring more than 52, police said. The attack occurred as Baghdad and three nearby provinces were on a second day of a daytime curfew aimed at dampening the wave of sectarian violence that has killed more than 140 people since the bombing of a Shiite shrine.(AP Photo/Alaa Al-Marjani)


    Friday, February 24, 2006

    Breaking News: Ghost of Eisenhower Tries to Incapacitate Bush with Glare of Doom

    by Shakespeare's Sister


    (U.S. President George W. Bush delivers remarks on the global war on terror in Washington February 24, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Young. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    The Great Intellectual

    by TheGreenKnight

    I suppose it's nice that Francis Fukuyama has finally figured out that neoconservatism is a bad idea. But it's worth reflecting on Fukuyama's career , as recounted by Francis Wheen in his book How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World:
    [I]n the summer of 1989, ... the National Interest magazine carried a fifteen-page article entitled "The End of History?" Its author was an obscure young official from the policy planning staff of the U.S. State Department, Francis Fukuyama....Even those who disagreed with Fukuyama paid tribute to his intellectual audacity, which was further rewarded with book contracts, lecture invitations, and a professorship at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
    All this from one fifteen-page article in a non-refereed journal. Staggering. I published one of those when I was still in grad school. But to continue:
    "How is it that some people become famous while others do not?" a jealous rival asked.... "How exactly do you get ahead by boldly making one of the worst predictions in social science?" The question answers itself: If you are going to be wrong, be wrong as ostentatiously and extravagantly as possible....[Fukuyama] understood what was required to titillate the jaded palate of the chattering classes: Simplify, then exaggerate....devise a concept so arrestingly simple that it can be understood and discussed even by half-witted politicians or TV chat-show hosts (64-68).
    Fukuyama's intellectual celebrity is symptomatic of just how poor the state of American discourse has gotten. While real academic experts are ignored, or else randomly attacked by the likes of David Horowitz, clowns like Fukuyama become hugely influential for the level of "accomplishment" that, in most fields, is characteristic of junior scholars just starting out. Even his tardy realization that everything he once thought has turned out to be wrong -- something that, in academia, would merit a rather embarrassing "so what?" -- somehow, in the so-called "real" world, merits a huge self-congratulatory article in the New York Times.

    The rise of pseudo-intellectuals like Fukuyama and the attacks of Horowitz are part of the same story. For the past thirty years, following the suggestion of Lewis Powell, the American right has been working hard and pouring money into setting up an alternative stream to academia, centered in right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, pseudo-journals like National Interest, and phony publishers like Regnery. Where real academic research is usually slow and painstaking in its methods and modest in its claims, the think tanks and their slapdash journals and vanity presses are flashy, quick, and self-promoting. Where academia is all about achievement, usually without any fame, the think-tank world is about creating stars. The right has figured out how to replace expertise with celebrity, and the media keeps falling for it because celebrity journalism has become the template for all journalism. Additionally, people like Horowitz add to the credibility of the think-tanks by attacking real scholars, alleging that they are actually slapdash ideologues, unconcerned with the truth -- in other words, that they are what the think-tankers actually are.

    I'm not sure whether there's a way out of this conundrum, but I do know this: ideas matter. Look at the mess that Fukuyama's ideas (which were shared by other neocons, despite his recent protestations) have gotten everyone into. And the problem is far bigger than Fukuyama. As long as the bad idea factories are still churning out bad ideas, expect more policy disasters for the foreseeable future.

    Cross-posted at The Green Knight.


    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Pathetic

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Welcome to George Bush’s Compassionately Conservative America:

    More than 25 million Americans --including nearly 9 million children and 3 million seniors -- receive emergency food assistance each year from America's Second Harvest -- The Nation's Food Bank Network of charitable agencies, representing an 8 percent increase since 2001, according to a report released today…

    "It is tragic and alarming that more and more people are relying on emergency food assistance in the United States, where we produce enough food to feed every hungry person in the world," said Robert Forney, President and CEO of the America's Second Harvest Network.

    About 70 percent of the clients seeking emergency food assistance are living below the federal poverty line, and nearly 40 percent have at least one adult working in their household. Seventy percent of clients are living in food insecure households-not knowing where they will find their next meal-and 33 percent of those clients reported experiencing hunger - that is, being completely without a source of food.
    And the saddest part about this is that it’s exactly how “compassionate conservatives” believe America should work. Not the government’s responsibility. Let the private sector pick up the slack.

    But when “the slack” includes 30% of people who are living above the poverty line and still need to seek hand-outs for food, there’s something sincerely, severely wrong with the distribution of wealth in this country, with the minimum wage, with workers’ rights, and with the way we collectively view poverty.

    Something’s gotta give. Perhaps we ought to start with those tax cuts…

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    “Adults make choices.”

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Toast passed on this article written by a woman who made the choice to have an abortion, which eerily parallels my below post.

    I am a 58-year-old white woman. I had an abortion 19 years ago. I am not bragging, nor am I apologizing.

    I am a mother of three children in their 20s, and I am an ordained Christian minister. I had one child and then twins. Having twins the second time caused me my great good fortune of having three children in diapers. While nursing the twins, I did not think I needed birth control. I was wrong…

    I did what was right for me, for my family, for my work, for my husband and for my three children. I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder. I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to.

    I did what I think men do all the time when they take us to war: They choose violence because, although they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives. The "just war" theory assumes that human beings get caught in terrible choices all the time. This freedom is not just for men; it is for women also.

    When I made my choice to end one life on behalf of other life, I was terribly troubled. I was in a double bind. I prayed and anguished. Then I made a choice. Adults make choices.

    I have long thought that the drama of the abortion battle was not about unborn babies at all. Instead, it is about women and sex and about women and maturity. We are considered babies, sub-adults, in need of supervision over our sexuality. Otherwise we are dangerous…

    Because women are mature sexual beings who make choices, birth control and abortion are positive moral forces in history…
    That’s precisely the real life equivalent of my projection.

    For further interesting reading on women as rights-bearing subjects, check out this September post by LeMew, which I’ve recommended before and feels pointedly relevant at this moment.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    Truths

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Responding to Digby’s post here, Ezra (who admits he’s “about as anxious to enter the abortion debate as Tom Cruise's agent is to talk about Thetans”—ha) suggests:

    [I]t seems to me that the whole method we use to understand the conflict is flawed. Efforts to conceptualize the conflicting positions tend to push supporters onto a binary choice: either you do believe the fetus is a life (0), or you don't (1). From there, Digby's point makes perfect sense. Murder is wrong, even when the life is caused by rape or incest, so if you profess to be a 0 but support exceptions for assault or familial relations, you're probably a liar, and your real agenda is probably rather ugly. True that.

    But my guess is that most folks fall midway on that scale -- .2's, .4's, .6's and so forth…
    I agree that a black and white scale of measurement on the issue is flawed, but I believe it has less to do with any sense of "quasihumannness" and more to do with truths that no one likes to talk about. Truths like women who don't want to be pregnant will do just about anything to get un-pregnant. Truths like weighing the "life" of an unwanted fetus against one's own life is not some abstract theoretical to a woman with an unwanted pregnancy; it pits a potential life against an existing one, which may be forever changed. and that doesn't make for much of a contest.

    The whole argument, in some way, reminds me of how we regard soldiers and their wartime actions. We don’t consider them murderers when they kill an enemy combatant—we recognize that the decision was rational and calculated, made out of self-preservation, and to, in some cases, protect us as well. And when we hear about how they are trained to dehumanize the enemy to make killing easier, we nod sagely; we don’t judge, because we can’t truly imagine what it’s like to be in that situation.

    Faced with the decision to terminate a potential life, or sacrifice her life as she knows it, a woman with an unwanted pregnancy may make a similarly calculated and rational decision in the interest of self-preservation. For women who have other children to care for, or an elderly parent, or anyone who depends on her income and/or availability (including herself), she, too, may be protecting others as well. Part of that decision may be dependent on dehumanizing the potential life inside her, and yet, in this case, we find that somehow repellent.

    And it’s in no small part because we expect “more” of women; we expect women to be the givers and sanctifiers of life. We rely on their long-heralded nurturing natures to counterbalance the men who take life, the soldiers. The two situations are, in a very real way, mirror images of one another*, indicative of how we expect men and women to behave. Men are the rational actors; when women assume the same stance, they betray our expectations, even to this day.

    Humans put into a situation where they must choose between one life and their own will regularly choose their own—on a battlefield, during a home invasion…in desperate circumstances, adults have thrown children out of lifeboats to save themselves. All of these are existing lives ended in the pursuit of self-preservation, not a potential life whose prospects are snuffed out. But a woman who terminates a pregnancy is viewed as delivering the ultimate betrayal—ending the life of her own child. Sacrificing oneself for one’s child is one of the few circumstances in which humans can be expected to act against the interest of self-preservation, so it seems inconceivable. But such disbelief is predicated on the assumption that a women carrying an unwanted fetus still views it as her child, and the fact that she simply may not, perhaps out of necessity to do what needs to be done rather than callousness, is yet another truth about which we don’t like to talk.

    Some soldiers who kill on the battlefield later feel regret, even if they know it was the only way to protect themselves. Some don’t. We don’t expect them to; pragmatism is a response we understand from soldiers. We don’t understand, or accept, pragmatic women, women who have abortions and stand by their decision, rather than collapsing into a fit of unshakable grief. Worst yet are those who dare to respond to the outraged, “It was a life you ended!” with an acknowledgement that it is the truth. “Yes, I did. But I did it to save my own.”

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

    * The argument is made that the life terminated via abortion is an “innocent life.” And for those who believe that enemies in war have a personal interest in killing another soldier, they will never be swayed by the comparative argument. Surely this is true in guerrilla wars; in traditional warfare, however, soldiers are a tool of governments who use men to fight their battles, and conscripted men in an enemy army may have no love of their government’s policies and fight instead because they must. Guilt by association, perhaps, but in the sense he would never pick up a gun to kill a man of his own volition, a soldier is not without his innocence, even when a designated enemy. This is all very All Quiet on the Western Front, I know, but true nonetheless.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Pennsylvania winger drops the gay bomb on Bob Casey

    by Pam



    The winger freaks in Pennsylvania are beside themselves that Bob Casey is anti-choice, and therefore presents an alternative to Little Ricky for the sheeple voters, so they have to lob the gay bomb over the fence in the battle.
    In an attempt to unseat U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in this fall's election, Pennsylvania Democrats have selected a pro-life candidate to appeal to the state's values voters. The Democrats hope their candidate, Bob Casey, Jr., will help them re-connect with pro-family citizens.


    However, Diane Gramley of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania says Casey has made a huge blunder by agreeing to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest homosexual advocacy organization in the world. "He touts himself as a pro-life Democrat; that is one reason why the Democratic Party has fallen in line behind him so readily," Gramley says, "because, of course, Senator Santorum is pro-life, so they're thinking [they've also] got a pro-life candidate."

    But now, the pro-family spokeswoman notes, "Bob Casey Jr. is scheduled to speak at a Human Rights Campaign black-tie gala." What that means, she explains, is that as Casey addresses the crowd at the $175 per plate dinner, "part of the proceeds from that will be used to fight our Marriage Protection Amendment that was just introduced here in Pennsylvania on January 24." Meanwhile, Gramley says Casey's devotion to pro-life issues also leaves room for doubt because she cannot seem to find any comments on pro-life issues on his website.
    Casey is one of those "New Dems" that the party is in love with these days, so there's not much for progressives on that front; the only real plus is that he supports laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation -- a clear distinction he's decided to draw vs. man-on-dog Santorum. No wonder the gay bomb is being lobbed.

    To confuse matters further, commenter postdated noted in the comments of another thread that Casey is against gay adoption, according a 2004 PA Catholic Conference questionnaire that he answered (question 8). I suppose Casey needs to decide which level of discrimination he is for or against -- or does it just depend on which audience he is addressing at the time? And the other question raised is how does that square with HRC, which endorses Casey?

    Sigh, the Dems - what a choice.

    Also: Little Ricky also has a few ethics problems blowing up in the news, right when he's being considered by the Senate GOP for its ethics czar post. Teehee.

    SpinDentist has more at All Spin Zone.

    Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.


    NY gay rights group blasts SHillary

    by Pam


    Van Capelle: supporting fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton would "actually hurt" the gay and lesbian community.

    Finally! A gay org comes right out and takes a blowtorch to the Dem fraud known as Hillary Clinton. Time for a happy dance for the candor! (NYT):
    In a memorandum to board members, Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, said Mrs. Clinton was "a complete disappointment," taking issue with her opposition to same-sex marriage and her support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

    ...In his memo, which was reported on Tuesday on the Politicker Web site of The New York Observer, Mr. Van Capelle said that he refused to "lend my name and sell tickets" to any fund-raiser sponsored by a gay group for Mrs. Clinton's re-election campaign.
    He's still going to vote for her, mind you, since, well, what's the alternative? More from an article on 365gay.com:
    "We have become a community that throws money at politicians, and we demand nothing in return. And that's what we get: nothing. It's the wrong message to send."

    The Senator's staff disputes Van Capelle's position, saying she has always been a strong supporter of LGBT rights. New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane (D-Manhattan) who is openly gay, said that Van Capelle's position was strident.

    Duane told the New York Times that Clinton was a strong advocate on LGBT issues, noting that she has helped secure federal funding for critically important programs, including AIDS treatment.

    "Would we like her to be 100 percent on the marriage issue? Yes," he said. "But it's important for us to continue educating her on the issue."
    Educating her? What's left to do, man!? She's aware of the issue. Her support for civil equality regarding marriage is a no-go because it interferes with her political ambitions, period.

    Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.


    McKrap

    by The Heretik

    Mckrap_022206_1Tom Moran in the New Jersey Star-Ledger column, Gay marriage still gives lawmakers cold feet. That state is currently watching a case on same-sex marriage that's up before its high court. Moran hits the nail on the head regarding Democrats and their reluctance to be specific and consistent in their support (or lack thereof).
    Say the words "gay marriage" and watch the lefty politicians scramble for a place to hide.

    Many of them secretly support the idea. But they won't risk saying that in public.

    So instead of vindicating the rights of a group they supposedly support, they are burrowing into their little holes, hoping this will all blow over.

    Maybe, they hope, the state Supreme Court will save them and establish the right to gay marriage by judicial fiat.

    "Most legislators are rooting for that, even if they wouldn't vote for it," says Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). "If the court says it's legal, we don't have to do anything. There are a lot of people in the Legislature hoping that's the way it turns out."
    That's precisely what all the punting has been about at the national level. The Dems want SCOTUS to make the call and take the heat off of elected officials (and prospects). Of course, as I said above, with this Supreme Court, it's a gamble we could easily lose.

    Related:
    * Russ: Why this married straight white guy fights so hard for LGBT equality


    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Dems to homos: re-closet yourself in 2006

    by Pam

    Folks, we're seeing the official recloseting of the Democrats in terms of gay visibility and outreach. If you had any illusions that the 2006 iteration of the Democratic party isn't ready to throw gays under the bus (but take homo cash), here's convincing evidence to chew on.


    1. The anti-gay VA Gov, Tim Kaine, was picked for the State of the Union response. If you've been reading the Blend, you know full well what I think about the symbolism that represented.

    What do you think the party is trying to tell gays and lesbians when its choice of Kaine is heralded because "the new governor can best deliver their 2006 message of inclusiveness?" The man's position on his own state's pending marriage amendment is that he's "not comfortable" with the bigoted language but he'll sign the amendment anyway. More here and here.

    For those out there who thought this was no big deal in the bigger scheme of things, just an inconsequential matter, the evidence that the party at the national level has the intention of avoiding the "gay issue" is no loud and clear. Re-closeting gays instead of addressing the right wing with alternative, logical framing based on the core values of the party has been deemed a more meaningful (read: winning) strategy. Is Bob Shrum in the house?


    2. Howard Dean abolishes DNC gay outreach post. The laughable excuse on this one (via the Washington Blade) is that the reorg "will be more effective than the previous system because it will "bring in a lot more resources from all of the DNC’s departments and offices," according to Chris Owens, director of the DNC’s American Majority Partnership program.

    Right. This quietly took place last year, allegedly to create an integrated effort to address the concerns of minorities as a group. The gay outreach desk was won after a long struggle; to see it eliminated causes legitimate concern.
    Gay Democratic Party activist and fundraiser Jeff Soref of New York City said he resigned from the DNC and from his position as chair of the gay caucus in August largely because of Dean’s decision to eliminate the gay outreach desk.

    "It took us many years to win that position, have it funded and make it effective," Soref said.

    Soref said he told Dean "it was not credible" to simply assume that combining all constituent groups into one program without a specific gay coordinator or director would be effective because it would likely result in less attention to the specific concerns of gay Democrats.

    "I thought this system could lead to us being re-marginalized by the party," Soref said in an e-mail message to the Blade. "I have seen or heard nothing since that makes me feel that is not happening," he said.

    Howard Dean fired off a letter to the Blade after this blew up in his face. It still smells to high heaven.

    OK. Is it possible that Jeff Soref was a little paranoid about this and Howard's on the up and up? Well, guess what? Look at this latest development at the DNC...


    3. DNC Annual Grassroots Report Omits Any Reference to GLBT Americans. Via Out for Democracy, the news that this new report, unlike previous DNC reports, doesn't even mention the LGBT community or any outreach efforts.

    How do you feel now, homos? A tad marginalized, under-appreciated...that doormat/ATM kind of feeling?

    Let's take a look at Howard Dean's vision of the core values of the party for 2006. Pay close attention to the sections on civil rights and civil equality, especially given we have state after state passing or preparing to pass amendments making lesbian and gay taxpaying residents second-class citizens.
    Focus On Our Core Values

    Never Backing Down: Governor Dean has lived up to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to never remain silent about the things that matter. From the failed management of the war in Iraq to the moral crisis of 45 million people without access to healthcare, he has shown honesty and backbone and encouraged more Democrats to do the same.

    A Clear Agenda: Working with other party leaders, we have created and begun to communicate a clear agenda for change:

    Honest Leadership and Open Government -- We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a sense of responsibility to elected office, and we will pass fundamental reforms that make government more honest, open, and accountable to the American people than ever before.

    Real Security -- We will protect Americans at home by getting serious about homeland security, and address the real threats abroad by capturing or killing Osama bin Laden and focusing on actual (not imagined) nuclear proliferation. We will be prepared for the threats of tomorrow, and we will always tell the truth to our troops and the American people.

    Jobs in America that will Stay in America -- We will keep good jobs from leaving and ensure that every job in America is a fair deal. We will balance the budget, ensure that the tax code is simple and fair, and create jobs by making America energy independent.

    A Strong Public Education System -- We will strengthen our nation’s public schools to restore opportunity and optimism for every American.

    A Health Care System that Works for Everyone -- We will join every other industrialized country by making sure everyone has access to affordable health care. We will change a corrupt, inefficient system into one that makes sure the world’s wealthiest country is also the healthiest.
    What did you think about the civil equality section? Oh, oops...I'm sorry, you didn't skim past it. IT'S NOT THERE.

    And how does that square with past acknowlegments of LGBT outreach? Let's look at a section of a report under former DNC Chair, Terry McAuliffe, from DNC's Facts and Figures Glossary (Feb. 2005):
    GLBT Outreach: Under the leadership of Chairman McAuliffe, the DNC in partnership with the Kerry campaign, embarked upon the most comprehensive GLBT pride outreach program in the history of a national political party and presidential campaign. During this election year, the DNC manned tables and marched in more than 75 gay pride events in 22 states, taking the DNC's message of equality and fairness to more than four million GLBT and allied voters. This year's DNC Convention was a historic one for the GLBT community, with a record number of GLBT delegates, standing committee members, DNC members, and staff.
    The message is clear -- the Dems are going to avoid the gay issue like the plague again. They are not interested in reframing the issue and not ready to counter the AmTaliban. The Democrats are just not "comfortable" enough to fight at the national level for our rights. Thanks for the heads-up, Howard.

    The truth of the matter is, there is no spine in this party, no desire to really take on Republicans on anything remotely related to gay civil equality on any matter (and I'm not just talking about same-sex marriage). One can only conclude that the party doesn't see any urgency about the amendments sweeping through the nation, and that it's a perfectly acceptable position to say "let the states decide" -- to make discrimination of a class of citizens permanent law. Many of those states don't even have a fig leaf of "separate but equal" civil unions/domestic partnerships/"marriage" to offer up to same-sex couples (they can't be equal because none of the over 1000 federal benefits that convey with civil marriage are available to gays).

    At this point, because of Dem silence while the void is filled by the hate mongers demonizing gays, you've got some states considering a ban on gays adopting or fostering kids (adoption's already banned in Florida), deep-sixing same-sex benefits, and choosing to kill anti-discrimination bills that propose adding sexual orientation to existing law -- what icing on the cake this is in the daily lives of gay Americans in those locations.

    How sad is it that the Democrats allow its agenda to be driven by fear of the likes of the American Family Association's Don and Tim Wildmon, for example, who have effectively bullied and led the GOP by the nose (and has moved on to corporate America). The Dems refuse to politically counter an organization that, reminding folks again:

    * has an advocate for executing gays and abortion providers on its radio show

    * believes gays were the real evil behind the Holocaust?

    * thinks gays are responsible for the "end of times"?

    * tries to convince the public that gays are a "public health" threat? or diseased perverts who die early?

    These folks are extremist windbags and theocrats, along with the Dobsons, Bauers, and Lou Sheldons screeching out there. If we weren't in Bizarro World, a real Democratic party with real core values would be scorching and silencing these clowns as the crazies that they are.

    We're in for a rough ride folks -- and those of you concerned about reproductive freedom, I don't see anything up there for you either. Welcome to the club.

    Also:
    * BlogActive: Howard Dean goes on rampage... Kills constituent desks
    * Keith Boykin: I Want My Gay DNC

    Hat tip, Out for Democracy, via PageOneQ

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    The endless Katrina f*ckups

    by Pam


    I think Skeletor better start cleaning out his desk and polishing up his resume (One can only hope his isn't as uniquely padded as "Brownie's"). The White House says it stands behind Chertoff.

    Michael Chertoff did a tap dance yesterday, saying he's getting that whole Homeland Security thing down pat and bringing some common sense and preparation to FEMA.

    It's a wonder people didn't break out into hysterical laughter, knowing this was nothing more than a dog and pony show to deflect the butt-scorching he, his agency and his incompetent Chimperor were going to receive in the 520-page House report, "A Failure of Initiative," released today (highlights here).

    Last night, Anderson Cooper had a report on about more mind-blowing FEMA incompetence. It makes you sick to see the pictures of over 11,000 empty, new mobile homes sitting in the middle of an Arkansas field when 12,000 Katrina victims are being kicked out of hotels and are homeless once again.


    In -- in case you think this disaster is over, remember, there are tens of thousands of people without homes, families who face eviction from the hotel rooms they have been crammed in to, and still bodies unidentified and missing.

    And, in Arkansas -- take a look at the pictures on the screen there -- 11,000 mobile homes that have been sitting empty in the city of hope for months now, tied up in red tape. And now, according to a Homeland Security inspector who testified yesterday, they are literally sinking in the mud.

    Yesterday, federal officials said the trailers may end up in the dumpster, unused by Katrina victims. They were meant to shelter them. And they -- according to this inspector, they may be unused. The math behind this is mind-boggling. It's enough to make you scream -- 10,777 mobile homes sitting empty in Hope -- the average cost per trailer, almost $28,000 -- that's the number we came up with when we did the math, based on the numbers that FEMA has so far released -- which adds up to a potential loss of $301.7 million.

    That's taxpayer money, your money, my money. Why aren't the mobile homes installed where they're needed? FEMA's rules and red tape.
    Here's the AC360 blog by CNN Correspondent Susan Roesgen.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Pathetic

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Speaking of lobbyists, the White House has been doing a little lobbying of its own, and seems to have successfully cajoled Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee into voting against an official inquiry into the domestic spying program.

    Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.

    The Senate intelligence committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a Democratic-sponsored motion to start an inquiry into the recently revealed program in which the National Security Agency eavesdrops on an undisclosed number of phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents without obtaining warrants from a secret court. Two committee Democrats said the panel -- made up of eight Republicans and seven Democrats -- was clearly leaning in favor of the motion last week but now is closely divided and possibly inclined against it.
    “Top administration officials,” including Dark Lord Cheney, have been making private appeals to GOP members of the committee. Yesterday, Cheney also held a GOP-only meeting on intelligence matters in the Capitol. Coincidentally, I’m sure, Maine GOP Senator Olympia Snowe, who, back in December, signed a bipartisan letter registering grave concerns about the program and calling for a joint investigation, has suddenly changed her tune, and said, ahem, yesterday:

    "I'm not sure it's going to be essential or necessary" to conduct an inquiry "if we can address the legislative standpoint" that would provide oversight of the surveillance program. "We're learning a lot and we're going to learn more," she said.

    She cited last week's briefings before the full House and Senate intelligence committees by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and former NSA director Michael V. Hayden.

    "The administration has obviously gotten the message that they need to be more forthcoming," Snowe said.
    Oh yeah right. This administration is never going to get that message, and they’re never going to be more forthcoming, and, in fact, if you let them off yet again with slap on the wrist (if that), they’re only going to be more secretive and more abusive and hostile toward the public, the media, and their GOP minions. Unbelievable.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair and West Virginia Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller has drafted a motion “calling for a wide-ranging inquiry into the surveillance program,” on which the committee is meant to vote tomorrow. At this point, it looks like Rockefeller’s motion will be tanked in favor of one being proposed by Committee Member and Ohio GOP Senator Mike DeWine, which not only does not call for inquiry, but seeks to specifically authorize the domestic spying program by excluding it from FISA. In other words, retroactively legalizing the administration’s actions.

    And even the normally fairly credible Nebraska GOP Senator Chuck Hagel, who also signed the December letter, is set to vote against Rockefeller’s motion.

    "If some kind of inquiry would be beneficial to getting a resolution to this issue, then sure, we should look at it. But if the inquiry is just some kind of a punitive inquiry that really is not focused on finding a way out of this, then I'm not so sure that I would support that."
    Complete and utter bullshit. No one in the GOP is willing to hold this administration accountable for anything.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    AFA has advocate for executing gays and abortion providers on its radio show

    by Pam

    "The Bible lays forth the severest penalty, which would be capital punishment for two men who publicly engage in sodomy."
    -- Gary DeMar on gays

    "Well, one of the best writers out there in the Christian community and thinkers is Gary DeMar."
    -- Tim Wildmon on DeMar
    Media Matters points to more homo-bashing and homo-fixation by the American Family Association. This is beyond the pale. It seems Tim and Don Wildmon don't mind sharing the airwaves with a man who thinks homos should be put to death, along with adulterers and abortion providers.
    Far-right Christian author and American Vision president Gary DeMar was the guest on the February 2 broadcast of Today's Issues, a program of American Family Radio, a network of nearly 200 radio stations owned by the conservative American Family Association (AFA).

    DeMar denounced "the continual assault on all things religion and, in particular, Christian," and AFA president Tim Wildmon praised him as "one of the best writers out there in the Christian community and thinkers." In the past, DeMar has advocated the installation of a theocratic government in the United States in which homosexuals, adulterers, and abortion doctors would be executed.

    ...DeMar is a leading promoter of an extremist theology called Christian Reconstructionism, also known as Theocratic Dominionism, which, according to journalist and author Frederick Clarkson, "argues that the Bible is to be the governing text for all areas of life -- such as government, education, law, and the arts, not merely 'social' or 'moral' issues like pornography, homosexuality, and abortion."

    Americans United for Separation of Church and State documented, DeMar wrote in his book, Ruler of the Nations: Biblical Principles for Government (Dominion Press, 1987): "The law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectually drives the perversion of homosexuality back into the closet." DeMar added: "The long term goal [is] the execution of abortionists and parents who hire them. If we argue that abortion is murder, then we must call for the death penalty."

    American Vision's motto is "Equipping and Empowering Christians to Restore America's Biblical Foundation." And look at its mission...
    Have you reached your “tolerance” level for political correctness? Are you tired of being vilified by the press and Hollywood just because you are a Christian? Are you fed up with politicians who romance you for your vote and then ignore you until the next election cycle? We are. That's why we invite you to join us in doing something about it.

    What can we do together? Plenty. First, we must understand our nation's past, identify today's issues and problems, and look to the Bible to guide our future.
    What's truly frightening is that this guy is coming to the Tar Heel state this week. He will be featured at something called a God and Country Rally on Friday and Saturday (Feb 17-18) at Swansboro Middle School.

    Remember, while the AFA beds down with people like DeMar, it is an organization on the warpath, trying to impose its Christofacist agenda on the marketplace by targeting these corporations recently, with mixed results:

    * NBC
    * Mattel (American Girl Dolls)
    * Ford
    * Proctor & Gamble
    * Kraft
    * Disney
    * Kodak
    * Wal-mart
    * Kroger
    * Target
    * Walgreens, Office Max, Lowes and Home Depot
    * Rick Santorum
    * Condoms
    * Israel

    And one has to ask, why would any corporation cave to an organization that believes in the unhinged filth of Gary DeMar and foments bigotry with outrageous positions like these:

    * Were gays the real evil behind the Holocaust?
    * Is Europe "infested" with Muslims who breed "faster than we do"?
    * Are gays responsible for the "end of times"?
    * Are gays a "public health" threat?
    * Do Jews control Hollywood?
    * Are gays diseased perverts who die early?

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    The Conservative Echo Chamber '06 Playbook

    by thatcoloredfella

    Without creating a Dr. Phil moment and trotting out my pivotal therapist for corroboration, TCF must confess a familial underpinning is the root cause that prompts me to exact truthfulness on Conservative blogs and other cyber havens for Bush Apologists. And, as you acknowledge TCF’s Wall Of Banishment (located below, column right), be assured that my IP address was exorcised from those offended rival web sites, not because I used offensive language, not because I threatened and insulted, and not because I was disrespectful.

    In order to best gauge the pulse of the opposition, TCF has relied on visiting those Right bloggers that, at the very least, offer opportunities to reply in comment threads. It is important to here to point out that one of the primary tactics employed from the likes of Rush Limbaugh to the Conservative blog Powerline, is the option to censor dissenting opinions, or distort their views without providing verbatim examples of such. Nothing credible (unless it supports their position) comes from the biased New York Times or Washington Post, and if a global warming analysis accurately corroborates why the sky is blue, it’s inconclusive, and still needs study.

    Al Franken recently made the keen observation that Bill Clinton’s familiar soundbite of denial concerning ‘sex’, with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, got far more airplay than George Bush’s videotaped clarification as to the precise role of the FISA courts when it came to domestic wiretapping. All the while CNN’s Wolf Blitzer still insisted to DNC’s Howard Dean a connection between Sen. Byron Dorgan (Democrat) and direct payoffs from Jack Abramoff, where there was none. And these two incidents perfectly reflect how the mainstream media has become complicit in accommodating the Right’s spin and distortions of their scandals and crisis’s, a direct result of the successful bullying of the MSM for being Liberal conspirators.

    But, if there were a credible, sane voice from the Right and the Republican Party presently, it would be one of contrition and candor. It would be a principled stalwart outside of the Grover Norquist/Tom DeLay neo-Con cabal rightly concerned of the political fallout to be exacted shortly at the ballot box. They would not be placated knowing a slim majority of Americans (51% percent) will give Bush latitude on domestic surveillance, or trust that Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Dept.’s hollow vindication of Bush’s arrogant overreach will end the controversy. Neither would they endorse the hurried revision of Congressional ethics rules concerning lobbyists, also knowing little will change in Washington without effective oversight and enforcement.

    Yet, if such a brave group had succeeded in effecting a discernable wake-up call throughout the GOP, the Bush administration would not be pressing a compulsory fishing expedition upon Google, and House Speaker Denny Hastert would be in grave jeopardy of losing his post.

    Realistically, TCF believes the conduct of future presidential candidate John McCain accurately indicates how far the Republican Party is actually willing to go to such an end. Along with his Campaign Finance co-sponsor Russ Feingold, he is offering one of many proposals to address the current ethics lapse. However, do not expect him to advocate real enforcement, either. In the past, McCain has been one of the few in his party to question the execution of the Iraq War. However, he has now so muted his concerns, that his public comments are indiscernible from Condi Rice or Don Rumsfeld. To put such curious behavior of the former ‘maverick’ and principled Conservative of the GOP, I should point out that McCain is quietly co-opting the Bush/Cheney campaign apparatus and the services of their former fundraising moneymen.

    Now, to the extreme opposite direction of McCain’s calculated behavior, we can look forward to the unavoidable (and deliberate) tactics of demagogue and distortions from members of the Conservative Echo Chamber, as we enter Mid-Term elections season. Think about it. What do the Republicans credibly have to run on? Lacking that, what possibly could their strategy and message be then? Well, it has already started, and TCF would like to offer a prime example.

    For quite awhile, Say Anything has been the main Right blog that TCF has gone to do verbal battle with the enemy. As you can expect, I am insulted and baited on a regular basis. Yet, I have never been threaten or cursed. It has been the most accurate barometer of the actively, partisan Right, and useful site to collect the latest Republican Talking Points.

    Say Anything epitomizes everything I’ve described previously in this post. They foster a willful-denial-of-the-facts/Liberal-conspiracy/partisan-witchunt line of reasoning that can only be silenced by a Republican indictment or conviction. Criticism of the President (exampled by the Rolling Stones’ song ‘Sweet Neo-Con’) is just plain Bush Bashing. Questioning whether the administration has an Iraq strategy, in turn puts our troops further at risk, and not so the inadequate troop levels or the continuing problem of lacking body armor. The championed ‘democracy’ we delivered is deficient in specifics (intentionally), and changes not one iota lacking the participation of the Sunnis’. SA bloggers see Republican woes simply as a failure to focus and implement Bush’s second term agenda (Social Security and Immigration reform, for example), yet lacking an acknowledgement why no Presidential veto has ever been invoked. They will disingenuously appropriate the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his holiday. Yet, knowing he’d oppose the Iraq War on the same grounds as he dissented on the Vietnam War, TCF assures you he’d be regarded quite differently if alive today.

    In light of the recent travails to hit the Republicans, you may understand why TCF has spent far less time visiting Say Anything these days. Not more than 13 months ago, the Right had the luxury of a duped, sedated electorate, cowering news media and the better part of plausible denial. Yet, aided by corrective hindsight, we can now be as certain the overdue blowback began with Armstrong Williams, just as we can now be certain it will not end with an indicted Bob Ney. How deep it gets, depends on whether the Bush-Abramoff pics Time Magazine has seen find the right tabloid buyer; whether Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald finally catches Karl Rove in the legal definition of perjury he already has been pardoned for by Bush; whether the joint Congressional wiretapping investigation determines the rule of law is paramount only when it comes to lying about consensual sex and not a violation of the Fourth Amendment; and, whether the Medicare Prescription Drug boondoggle actually figures in the death of a confused enrollee.

    Sadly though, in response to these unfortunate events, the Say Anything bloggers have not chosen the righteous path of a principled Republican, but have taken the lead from the even more sinister Karl Rove, and have started a campaign of Demagogue and Distortion.

    Such a strategy is exampled by assailing the expected unanimous Senate Democratic opposition to the Alito nomination as the same onerous ‘partisan politics’ that brought the nominee’s wife to tears, and by semantically recasting Bush’s arrogant overreach from ‘domestic surveillance’ to ‘terrorist surveillance’. By framing the debate in such stark, stupid terms, the Bush White House is again counting on swaying a distracted electorate none too concerned with the important details. While the Democrats should always recognize that this proven strategy initially puts us at a disadvantage, more importantly, we must get the message that the political playing field has changed significantly since the 2004 election.

    This time around, the administration does not have a convenient scapegoat in John Kerry, whose politically motivated criticism was really dangerous, weak-kneed rhetoric from the man Al Queda wanted as our next President. Conversely, in this new mean season of permanently lost Bush credibility, functioning news media and embolden Democrats, said Rovian offensive will not succeed in shutting down the debate prematurely. Sure, the nation can be evenly indecisive at this moment while weighing the legal versus the urgent justification for Bush’s secret wiretapping. However, this scandal will not be played out in a constricted election campaign news cycle, where Attorney General Roberto Gonzales’ Nixonian turn as Bush’s John Mitchell would have done the White House some good.

    Back in 1996, encouraged by initial polls to pursue Articles of Impeachment against Bill Clinton, Newt’s Rule Of Law Posse soon reaped public scorn as their own hypocrisy and partisan recklessness became evident. Would you agree then with TCF that presently there’s possibly no deliciously ideal set of circumstances for the outcome to play out in reverse?

    Consider the plight of the soon to be twice indicted Tom DeLay. TCF would bet that out of 100 of his Congressional constituents polled, a solid majority would sustain the notion of a Ronnie Earle led partisan witch hunt, while dismissing DeLay’s deeds as merely hardball politics. However, the reason DeLay currently has approvals in the low 30s’ and trails his likely Dem opponent, is because he has embarrassed his constituency. Meaning, an equal majority of voters believe the charges against him are valid to the point of violating the law, while corroborating the litany of accusations that have come before. Denny Hastert may publicly profess his innocence and the American Enterprise Institute may throw another rally of influential Movement Conservatives, but it’s clear DeLay is off the charts on the Brownie-Kerik Liability Meter.

    Which begs the obvious question – how best do we shame an embarrassed Republican base into staying at home in March and November?

    Having been backed into an untenable corner with dire historical ramifications, a Republican/CEC playbook of Demagogue and Distortion is the only viable game plan at this junction. Think of it, as the Dems finally figuring how to disrupt Rove’s ‘triangle offense’.


    Monday, February 13, 2006

    America for Sale—Literally

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Preservation schmeservation. We need cash for the empire!

    The Bush administration Friday laid out plans to sell off more than $1 billion in public land during the next decade, including 85,000 acres of National Forest property in California.

    Most of the proceeds would help pay for rural schools and roads, making up for a federal subsidy that has been eliminated from President Bush's 2007 budget.
    The beast is getting hungry—the inevitable consequence when you endeavor to starve it.

    "This is a fire sale of public lands. It is utterly unprecedented," said Char Miller, professor of environmental history at Trinity University in San Antonio, who has written extensively about the Forest Service. "It signals that the lands and the agency that manages them are in deep trouble."

    The U.S. Forest Service has earmarked more than 300,000 acres for sale in 32 states.

    In a companion proposal inserted into this week's massive 2007 budget, White House officials directed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials to sell off at least $350 million worth of public land, with the funds to go directly to the general treasury.
    The proposed sale would be the largest of its kind in the century since President Theodore Roosevelt—who actually paid attention to the root of the word “conservative”—established the U.S. Forest Service.

    The public has 30 days to contest “after maps of the acreage proposed for sale are published, which the agency expects to do by the end of the month.” I question whether enough of “the public” will even hear about this crackpot plan for their collective complaint to register as more than a mere blip on the radars of those who care little to hear dissenting opinions in the first place.

    (Hat tip to Tata at Blanton’s and Ashton’s, and Fix, who pointed me there. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    File this under WTF: US to sell oversight of ports

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    The WaPo reports:

    A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.

    The Bush administration considers the UAE an important ally in the fight against terrorism since the suicide hijackings and is not objecting to Dubai Ports World's purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

    The $6.8 billion sale could be approved Monday and would affect commercial port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.

    DP World said it won approval from a secretive U.S. government panel that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry.
    Stranger at Blah3 comments:

    [J]ust where does the Right side of the blogosphere--you know, the people who wake up in the morning thinking of new ways to demonize people from the Middle East--come down on this issue?

    My guess? Since their Handsome and Powerful SuperPresident Bush has approved it, it's all just peachy-keen with them. Morons.

    And one more note--the Washington Post obviously sees the import of this story, seeing as how they chose to print it on page A17. Way to go, WaPo.
    I don't know what I find more disturbing--that the oversight of ports is being sold like a bobblehead on eBay, or that a "secretive U.S. government panel" has cleared the way for the sale without so much as a murmur beyond page A17.

    (Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK and Shakespeare's Sister.)


    Typical

    by TheGreenKnight

    Well, it did not take long to cross the line from stupid to evil:
    According to Katharine Armstrong, the daughter of Anne Armstrong, Mr. Whittington broke away from a line of three hunters, including Mr. Cheney, and failed to announce that he was returning to the group. When he approached, Mr. Cheney had already begun to shoot into a covey of quail that was taking off from the ground.

    "This all happened pretty quickly," Ms. Armstrong said in a telephone interview from her ranch. Mr. Whittington, she said, "did not announce — which would be protocol — 'Hey, it's me, I'm coming up,' " she said.

    "He didn't do what he was supposed to do," she added, referring to Mr. Whittington. "So when a bird flushed and the vice president swung in to shoot it, Harry was where the bird was."

    Mr. Whittington was "sprayed — peppered, is what we call it — on his right side, on part of his face, neck, shoulder and rib cage," she said, noting that she, too, had been sprayed on her leg in a hunting accident.

    "A shotgun sprays a bunch of little bitty pellets; it's not a bullet involved," Ms. Armstrong said. She said she believed that Mr. Cheney was shooting a 28-gauge shotgun and added that guests typically bring their own firearms.
    Now, I'm not a hunter, but I did a bit of rifle-shooting with my dad when I was a kid. I've also done some shooting with bow and arrow. And I can tell you one of the first things I was taught: when person A accidentally shoots person B, it's person A's fault. No excuses. He pulled the trigger, he shot the guy, end of story. Bullet, birdshot, doesn't matter. You look before you shoot, period.

    But it's typical, isn't it, for anyone in the current Administration to blame their victims. This is just standard operating procedure for them. FEMA screws up in New Orleans? It's the fault of the stranded people. Illegally deport an innocent guy to Syria to be tortured? It's his fault for, well, for being something. Allow the worst terrorist attack in US history to take place on your watch? It's them blue-staters' fault for not taking things seriously. Out a CIA agent for political revenge? It's her fault for being someone's wife. Mislead Congress on intelligence? It's Congress's fault for misfollowing. Torture the citizens of a country that didn't attack the USA? It's their fault for being pissed off at their conquerors.

    Shoot some old guy? It's his fault for hitting my birdshot with his face.

    Oh, and just imagine, imagine what the storyline in the media would be if exactly the same thing had happened but with a Democratic Veep. "He doesn't know how to handle a gun, he's not manly, he's faking this image for the press, he's irresponsible, maybe he's on drugs, he's obviously unhinged, maybe he was trying to kill the guy and make it look like an accident, maybe he was drunk, what if the President were unfit and this loose cannon had to command our armed forces, do we really want a guy who can't even handle a gun under controlled conditions in charge of our military, yadda yadda yadda."

    Cross-posted from The Green Knight.


    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    Special Analysis:
    A Walk-Down Primer on the U.S. Trade Deficit with China

    by Dark Wraith






    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.


    Ohio anti-gay foster parent/adoption bill killed

    by Pam

    Hey, that was fast. I posted Thursday about the latest gay-bashing bill under consideration in the Buckeye State, which would have banned gays, bisexuals, and transgenders from fostering or adopting children.

    It looks like even the state GOP legislators had to scurry away from the bigots in their midst on this one -- they have announced it's DOA. Woohoo!
    GOP leaders in the House and Senate said they would not permit the measure to move through committee.


    House Speaker Jon A. Husted
    (R- Kettering) through his chief of staff blasted the proposed bill.

    "Most reasonable people would have a preference for being in a loving, alternative setting rather than an abusive, heterosexual setting," Scott Borgemenke told the Columbus Dispatch.

    ...House Minority Leader Chris Redfern said Democrats will join with Republicans to ensure the bill never gets to a vote.


    The bill's chief sponsor, Ashville Republican Ron Hood, said if the measure does not make it to the floor this session he will re-introduce it again and again until it does. "Studies have shown that the optimal setting to raise children in is a traditional setting with a mom and a dad," Hood said. Hood claims that children raised in gay households are at "increased risk" of physical and emotional problem.

    "To reach out and be a bigot is bad enough. To do it on the backs of children is just wrong," said Jeannette Birkhoff, of Equality Ohio.
    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    The tawdry hits keep coming from Coulter

    by Pam

    Her mouth opens, and the incredible hate and filth just spew out. The latest wordvomit from this darling of the horny young Repugs, came at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in front of 1000 young GOP mouthbreathers. Just a few gems... (Max Blumenthal via Raw Story):

    Coulter on Muslims:
    "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'" (This declaration prompted a boisterous ovation.)


    Coulter on moderate Republicans:
    "There is more dissent on a slave plantation then amongst moderates in the Republican party."


    Coulter on the Supreme Court:
    "If we find out someone [referring to a terrorist] is going to attack the Supreme Court next week, can't we tell Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalito?"
    The hilarious part of this story is that Video Diagnostician Senator Bill Frist was asked for a comment on the "raghead" bleating, and he said:

    "I wasn't there so I better not comment."

    The Brad Blog has audio of the speech.

    ***

    Mehlman: Dems can't protect the U.S. against terror

    While Ann Coulter was sensitively talking about "ragheads" at the Conservative Political Action Conference, "Hetero" dancin' man and RNC mouthpiece Ken Mehlman was there as well, bleating the most ridiculous shite. (ChiTrib):

    "We do not and we never should question these Democrat leaders' patriotism, but we do question their judgment and we do question their ability to keep the American people safe. These are people we know love their country, the question is: Can they protect it?"

    In a speech to activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mehlman suggested Republicans should make an election-year example out of Democrats who criticize the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. He made no mention of a growing number of Republicans who also have raised concerns about the wiretapping.



    "Do Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean really think that when NSA is listening in on terrorists planning attacks on America, they should hang up when those terrorists call their sleeper cells in the United States?" he asked, referring to the House minority leader and the Democratic National Committee chairman.
    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Special Analysis:
    The Sound Bite and the Fury

    by Dark Wraith

    At a meeting today in New Hampshire of the Business and Industry Association, President Bush spoke about the 2007 federal budget. Striking a humane tone, he said, "I look behind the numbers and see the quality-of-life issues... Those of us who put [the budget] together really did see the human dimension." Allaying fears of gratuitous or harmful spending cuts, he pointedly emphasized that programs eliminated or whose budgets were reduced were those that hadn't produce results.

    The White House Office of Management and Budget has even published a Website called ExpectMore.gov, which details what the Administration considers productive and unproductive agencies.

    The record $2.8 trillion budget proposed for 2007 includes a nearly five percent increase in Pentagon spending to $439.3 billion and another five percent increase in spending on Homeland Security.

    Only hours after the speech, Mr. Bush signed into law the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005—including as it does $39 billion in spending to cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidy programs, and student loans—thereby making good on his promise that only unproductive programs would face the budget cutting axe under his Administration.



    The Dark Wraith is always grateful when the news, itself, renders scathing commentary anticlimactic.


    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.


    Outing the pedophile priest enablers

    by Pam

    The Village Voice blows the clergy pedophilia scandal wide open, profiling a priest who works on behalf of abuse victims who is alleging in a lawsuit what we already suspect -- the child molesters are being protected by the dysfunctional, sick closeted hierarchy who are afraid of being outed.

    A priest's lawsuit is about to kick the closet door of the head of the New York archdiocese, Cardinal Edward Egan, wide open, as well as some others.

    The suit, now pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, was filed on December 13 by Bob Hoatson—a 53-year-old New Jersey priest considered a stalwart ally among survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. Hoatson, the now-suspended chaplain for Catholic Charities in Newark, is suing Egan and nine other Catholic officials and institutions, claiming a pattern of "retaliation and harassment" that began after Hoatson alleged a cover-up of clergy abuse in New York and started helping victims.

    But that's not all his lawsuit claims. Halfway through the 44-page complaint, the priest-turned-advocate drops a bomb on the cardinal: He alleges that Egan is "actively homosexual," and that he has "personal knowledge of this." His suit names two other top Catholic clerics in the region as actively gay—Albany bishop Howard Hubbard and Newark archbishop John Myers.


    Outed: Egan, Hubbard, Myers

    It's not that Hoatson has a problem with, as the suit puts it, "consensual, adult private sexual behavior by these defendants."

    No, what Hoatson claims is that, as leaders of a church requiring celibacy and condemning homosexuality, actively gay bishops are too afraid of being exposed themselves to turn in pedophile priests. The bishops' closeted homosexuality, as the lawsuit states, "has compromised defendants' ability to supervise and control predators, and has served as a reason for the retaliation."

    Hoatson realizes what he's up against. "I stopped and I thought long and hard about these allegations," he says. "It's time the church confronts this dysfunction. I couldn't do this outside of filing a lawsuit. The only thing the church responds to is negative publicity or a lawsuit. If I kept trying to do this within the system, I would be gone."
    This is an explosive, lengthy article, well worth the read.

    How do you think the Vatican will respond to this? They've had the luxury of buying off victims, but this lawsuit is another animal altogether. Assume that they will do everything possible to destroy Hoatson's character -- that's a given, but if he produces some damning homo evidence, what will the church do then?

    Hat tip, BlogActive and Proceed At Your Own Risk.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    John Bolton Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    I kid you not.

    We are living in Bizarro World.



    How to Make Friends and Influence People

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Uh-huh. You’re reading that right. An MSNBC producer is speaking at a conference about How to Reach Masses of Conservative Voters with Your Cause, Policy or Political Message.

    Your Media: Actively Pro-GOP. If the Democrats were smart, they'd make the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine an integral part of any reform platform during the 2006 elections.

    More from John Aravosis.

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)



    “Beautiful Madness”

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    That’s the headline of an article telling the tale of Nia, a 17-year-old schizophrenic.

    A railway line ran a few hundred yards past the bottom of their garden, far enough away for the family to ignore it. Nevertheless, Nia said she could hear people talking about her inside the painted steel carriages. In the clank of heavy rolling stock she could pick out snatches of conversations about her—derogatory insinuations that crept into her room through the plastic veneer of the double-glazing. She also told him that she had seen things on television. The newsreaders had begun looking at her. In the corners of their eyes she began to read signs. They were sending her messages; messages that linked up with the voices on the trains…

    On the day before her admission to hospital, Nia had stood at her parents’ front door, unmoving, for five hours.
    Does that madness sound “beautiful” to you?

    Of course, the whole point of the story is not that Nia’s madness was beautiful; it’s that she was. And that when the effective antipsychotic drug with which she was treated made her gain weight, she suddenly wasn’t beautiful anymore. Nia didn’t care; she was just happy to be well again. But everyone else around her, including her doctors, were fretting endlessly about her having to give up her beauty for her sanity. So much so, that they took her off the drug and replaced it with a different one that didn’t have weight gain as a side effect. When she slipped back into psychosis, only reluctantly did they put her back on the original drug.

    The treatment had reversed a Faustian pact in which Nia had been beautiful and mad, and replaced it with another—in which she was fat and sane.
    Give me a fucking break. The girl went from standing for five hours, not moving a muscle, to mental healthfulness. Perhaps the most devastating part of this article is the final salvo, in which her newfound sanity is actually questioned because she doesn’t care that she’s fat.

    But was it really a blessing that Nia seemed to have no conception of what she had lost?
    I suppose the notion that Nia maybe managed to have a modicum of perspective and felt that extra weight was a small price to pay for a normal life is just too outrageous to consider—that maybe her priorities aren’t the ones that need questioning.

    Twisty, Angelica, Amanda, and Zuzu all have more—great pieces each.

    I just want to take a moment to address something I found particularly distressing in the piece—the notion that “fat” and “beautiful” are mutually exclusive. My entire life I was teased for being fat. Even when I was thin, I had large breasts, which got translated into being fat by my pre-teen peers. I was 12 years old, and not a pound overweight but already sporting D-cups the first time I got called “a fat cow.” I’ve spent my whole life feeling fat, whether I was or not. And consequently, I never felt beautiful, because there’s no such thing in our culture as being both fat and beautiful.

    I’ve been told, “You’d be so pretty if only you lost weight,” I’ve been mooed at by cars of passing teenage boys, I’ve been called ugly more times than I can count.

    I’ve also been called sexy, cute, and, yes, even beautiful. But those words don’t ring the loudest in my ears when I look in the mirror, because I have an entire culture telling me that you can’t be both fat and beautiful—and even trying to feel that way is of questionable sanity.

    I never suffered from a dearth of potential partners, even those who had never dated a fat girl before, or never thought they would, and I’ve never felt that regarding weight as a preference, when it comes to attraction, isn’t legitimate; preferring someone thin is no different than preferring someone blonde. But I remember having a conversation with Mr. Curious once, before he lost some weight, during which he said, “You and I are both attractive, but most people don’t see it, because we’re fat.” And I was reminded of that as I read “Beautiful Madness,” in which Nia, so beautiful at first that she was considered “too beautiful to be in a psychiatric ward,” but stripped of her beauty, in the eyes of others, as she gained weight. You can be fat or you can be beautiful, but you can’t be both.

    Or so goes the conventional wisdom.

    But I know women who are fat and beautiful. I see famous women—Queen Latifah, Mia Tyler, Emme, Dawn French, Kathleen Turner, Kathy Najimy, Liza Tarbuck, Kathy Bates—who defy the conventional body shape and are stunning to boot. Are they crazy, or wrong, for feeling beautiful? Am I, when I manage it?

    Are we crazier than those who value beauty over sanity?

    (Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)


    This is the Republican base

    by Pam

    The Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, in keeping with the spirit of political truth-telling set by Dr. Martin Luther King and Mrs. King, said this at Coretta's funeral today (Think Progress):

    We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. [Standing Ovation] But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor.
    The moment those words left Lowery's lips, you knew it was only a matter of time before the Swift Boating would begin. Apparently it didn't take long at all.

    Lest we forget the class of the people we're dealing with, the cretins who stand behind the criminal Bush administration no matter what, we only need to turn to the desperate, filthy underbelly of The Republican Base. Read my friends, this statement by the founder of the Free Republic, Jim Robinson.
    We oppose all forms of liberalism, socialism, fascism, pacifism, totalitarianism, anarchism, government enforced atheism, abortionism, feminism, homosexualism, racism, wacko environmentalism, judicial activism, etc.
    With that laughably and quickly dispatched, let’s take a look at the Republican base. Let’s also look at the black Republicans, because Coretta and Dr. King fought for their right to lie down with the flea-ridden dogs of The Base...


    Actual Freeper Quotes™

    Lowery : Blah Blah blah bash bash bash bull bull bull Dubya : What a maroon. Laura : Please let me kick his ass. Please OK - give it your best

    "I would like another roll with dinner please."

    "Two classy people sitting behind a pile of trash."

    Colonel Sanders has been palling around with George Hamilton.

    Lowery: And yesim, we's be black and we's be proud. We's for the gubmit but not Bush's gubmit. Bush's gubmit is against us black peoples...

    Bush thinking: They just can't leave politics out of it, can they? How low CAN they sink?

    Laura thinking: Say it...say one more word about my husband....come on...

    Laura looks determined and dignified. And is striking!

    Dubya: "Hey Laura, listen closely here, I had Rove slip some political stuff into his speech so that the Dims end up "Wellstoning" themselves again..."

    "psssst, look Laura, his trousers move when he's talking out his arse."

    "They're running this funeral like a PLANTATION!!! And you KNOW what I'm talkin' about!!!"

    Bush is going to get the last laugh, as usual. Watch his approval rating skyrocket after this shameful display.

    W: "What's that old saying, 'Better to be thought a complete race baiting moron than open your mouth and remove all doubt.'"

    It is so nice to have a first couple with class in the White House.

    You got that right. I caught part of the service. What a disgrace. I wish Pres. Bush and First Lady Laura did not have to sit through that. They are better people than I.

    "Psst...Laura, you sure that ain't Looter Guy?"

    Un-by-God-believable! These people have no shame at all! To take a funeral that was supposed to celebrate a life and turn it into a political hack job has got to the lowest act possible. I hope that black america sees this and knows just how disgusting their leaders are.


    47 posted on 02/07/2006 2:56:13 PM PST by Horatio Gates (Go Seah....uh...Mariners! Congrats to the Steelers. Well done.)
    Yes, this is the base -- the alleged new friends of Bush's back-slapping Self-Loathing NegroesTM, the ones who don't mind waiting for some to-go leftovers from The Man, some faith-based cash, and a few photo ops to make them feel like power brokers in The Big House.

    Dr. King and Coretta Scott King spent their lives courageously fighting for equality and social justice. Their work enabled people like these losers below to bed down with the Right. Even after the naked exposure of The Base after Katrina, you will find these fellows standing behind their Man.


    Armstrong Williams, well-paid, ho-beast shill for the Administration


    Keith Butler, homo-bigot running for the Senate in Michigan.


    Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, running for governor


    Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, head of winger org Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, famously saying after Katrina: "If black folks want to blame someone for this tragedy they only need to look in the mirror."


    Alan Keyes, member of good standing in the AmTaliban, who kicked his "selfish hedonist" lesbian daughter out of the house


    Our faux token on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas.


    Our shuffling and jiving man from Plantation, er, Project 21, Mychal Massie, with Rick Santorum. Massie, on a radio show, opined that blacks should thank God for slavery.

    I'm sure the Republican base would agree with Massie.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Bahamas school official: Lesbianism=bad grades

    by Pam

    I had to read this editorial twice to make sure that I wasn't imagining things. This represents some of the most unhinged thinking on the planet (not counting the plentiful U.S. wingnut theories, of course). It appears that an epidemic of lesbianism in the Bahamas is causing grades to plunge (someone get Willie Wilson on the phone!). (The Freeport News):

    If the problem is as serious as has been suggested by Stephen Plakaris, deputy director of government school security for the Northern Bahamas, a much bigger crisis exists in our school system than the disgraceful "D" average performance that is now the norm nationally for students in government schools.

    In an article published in The Freeport News on Tuesday, Mr. Plakaris confirmed that there is a network of lesbians operating in private and government high schools in Grand Bahama. "Unfortunately we cannot deny it," he told our reporter, adding: "To deny it would put us in a situation where we're looking at ourselves in the mirror and pretending we don't see what is there."
    Didn't he know that I have been working with my local contacts there to disseminate The Homosexual AgendaTM? Our work has been effective because the Ministry of Education's Security Section clearly has no idea how well we've infiltrated the schools...
    Although he could not say how many girls on the various campuses engage in lesbianism, Mr. Plakaris made the shocking assertion that the numbers "are alarming, disturbing and growing." Even more disturbing is the claim made by Mr. Plakaris that there are some adults of this orientation - including some teachers and parents - who "are not inclined" to discourage young girls from engaging in this kind of lifestyle.

    Rumours have long been in circulation about lesbianism becoming a growing problem not only in schools in Grand Bahama, but in New Providence as well. Gauging just how pervasive it is in our schools, of course, has always been difficult because gay women do not physically exhibit the characteristics which make it easy to determine that a man is homosexual.
    Did someone find my Universal Gay Man DetectorTM in the Bahamas? Damn, now I know who has it -- the editor of the Freeport News. I'd go retrieve it, but it sounds like someone might brain me down there.

    ***


    On the heels of that editorial, it looks like the local version of Daddy Dobson, the Grand Bahama Christian Council President Bishop Ricardo Grant, has called for a probe into the allegations of rampant lesbianism in the schools involving a joint effort between parental groups, the Christian council, education officials and counselors. They have to get to the bottom of this matter tout de suite.
    Now that it has come to his attention and he has read the article, Bishop Grant says the Christian Council will definitely launch its own investigation into the allegations.

    The deputy director of government school security said the lesbian network in our schools could not be denied as the females are bold, growing in numbers and most disturbing is that they are preying on young girls.

    ...The problem, Mr. Plakaris adds, stems decades old, as far back as the late 80s, but are now more blatant among teachers and students. The problem is not exclusive to The Bahamas as research shows that there is seemingly also rampant lesbianism in schools in the United States and Canada, Plakaris says.

    Mr. Plakaris says once his department receives information on anybody it is passed on to the Department of Social Services. "If criminal charges are necessary then we would recommend as such," he said.

    "But we will not sit back and allow it to continue without letting persons know that we have been watching and we have been documenting -- teachers as well as students."
    I'm making light of this bullsh*t, but imagine if you are a gay or lesbian teen living under these conditions.

    Crossposted at Pam's House Blend.


    Rove wannabe unleashes smear campaign

    by Pam


    Jim Roth was the target of an anti-gay automated phone call set up by Oklahoma GOP stooge Tim Pope.

    I see we have a Karl Rove wannabe sleazing out in Oklahoma. Nothing like a little round of anonymous phone calls to voters, intimating that the openly gay Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth is "advancing the homo agenda."


    Nice touch, Tim Pope. (The Dallas Voice):
    The recorded message accused Roth of "advancing the homosexual agenda in Oklahoma County" and mentioned a speech he was to give. The recorded female voice did not say who paid for the call or leave a return number. The number that showed up on caller ID was from a Michigan area code. The calls were made last weekend.

    "I think it's an outrage that they send those type of smearing, trashy phone calls to people on a Sunday afternoon and don't have the courage to remove the white hood and show their face,” Roth said. "I'm concerned that it has the potential of violating a number of laws."

    Tim Pope, a Mustang resident and board member of the Oklahoma Republican Assembly, said he paid for the calls. Pope said he was not required to put a disclaimer claiming responsibility on the call because he was promoting an event at which Roth was scheduled to speak.

    "It's not a political call for a political candidate, so there is no requirement that there be a disclaimer," Pope said.

    "We just wanted to help him get a bigger crowd. It didn't attack anybody." The event mentioned in the call was a Monday evening program sponsored by GayOKC.com, called "The State of Our Community 2006."
    Pope's bio at the Vanguard:
    Tim Pope is TheVanguard.Org's Grassroots Director and President of the Oklahoma Republican Assembly. A seven-term member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, he served six years as Republican Whip, and won awards for legislative excellence from the Oklahoma Rifle Association, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Oklahoma Taxpayers Union. He has worked across Oklahoma and the nation teaching conservatives the nuts and bolts of how to win.
    Nuts and bolts=sleazeball tactics, which are the hallmarks of the Rovian style (which sadly, works). Take note Dems, when you have small-time GOP operatives willing to do this sort of BS time and again, what do you all plan to do to counter this? Yawn...

    I will give Pope credit for one thing -- the bigot actually fessed up to it. Ken Mehlman and his clowns try to dodge responsibility for sleaze, like the mailings sent out to voters in 2004 saying Kerry would "ban the bible."

    Crossposted at Pam's House Blend.


    Oathish

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    I coined a new word at Ezra’s place today: Oathish. It’s kind of like truthiness, except it describes the congressional testimony of someone who isn’t put under oath, but promises he’d say the same thing either way.

    Monday's hearing into the NSA program got off to a rocky start when Democrats protested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be given a sworn oath before testifying.

    Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the panel's senior Democrat, argued that Gonzales should be sworn in like any other witness. At the very least, Gonzales should be asked if he would volunteer to being sworn in, Leahy said.

    "It's not up to him," said Specter, who was upheld by a quick party-line vote by the GOP-led committee.

    Gonzales, who was not sworn in, told the committee he would voluntarily take the oath if the committee so desired. Either way, "my answers would be the same whether I was under oath or not," he said.
    Oathish: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ testimony was oathish.

    Oathishness avoids all those persnickety little problems such as having traitorous liberals like Senator Russ Feingold point out you may have lied during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, or being indicted on two counts of perjury.


    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Judge Testy

    by Shakespeare's Sister

    Displeased with the new bankruptcy law, Judge Frank Monroe of Austin has issued a ruling including a scathing critique which, apparently, has set the legal world “abuzz.”

    In his ruling, Monroe said the new federal bankruptcy law is full of traps for consumers, calling some of its provisions “inane,” “absurd” and incomprehensible to “any rational human being.”

    He stopped just short of accusing Congress of being bought and paid for, dryly noting, “Apparently, it is not the individual consumers of this country that make the donations to the members of Congress that allow them to be elected and re-elected and re-elected and re-elected.”

    […]

    “Can any rational human being make a cogent argument that this makes any sense at all?” he wrote.

    Monroe's opinion inspired Austin lawyer Randy Howry, president of the Austin Bar Association, to send it to all 3,700 members. He praised Monroe's order as “a reminder to us all that as lawyers and judges, we are the protectors of our democracy. . . . We must not sit idly by as our constitutional rights are being shredded.”
    Code blue! Code blue! Somebody convene Judicial Sunday IV! We’ve got activist judges on our hands!

    I know that Bush likes to say that the judiciary should interpret the law, not make it, so if they’re interpreting laws as “inane,” “absurd” and incomprehensible to “any rational human being,” maybe the lawmakers need to head back to the drawing board.

    (Hat tip Jedmunds. Crossposted at Ezra’s place.)


    Special Blog Post:
    Response on Blogging and the Democratic Party

    by Dark Wraith

    Below this article, Charlie has written well on the subject of Blogging and the Democratic Party.

    Here, I bring to the fore a point of terminology that has much deeper implications. I shall at length publish a more detailed post on this matter, but I should like here to set forth the point in informal summary.

    Few readers would disagree that a number of voices within the ranks of the Republican Party are extreme: this extremism draws not merely from religious tenets—as in the case of sects within American Christian evangelicalism—but also draws from secular cords that model geo-political dynamics from a mercantilist/statist perspective—as in the case of the neo-conservatives like those of the Project for the New American Century. That we can find examples of individuals who are in both groups at once does nothing to dismiss the distinction between these separate counterforces against modernism.

    Among the successes of these two groups is one that has gone largely unheralded, and that has been at the expense of great harm to causes of those in opposition to them. These two groups, each in its own way, have successfully and invalidly redefined Centrism. Many bloggers have accepted without consideration the label that they are "Left," and Democrats moving toward neo-conservative and religious Right positions are said to be moving "toward the Center."

    This is nonsense, but it certainly demonstrates the extent of the ideological power of those forces we oppose. They have taken without so much as a meager fight the claim to semantic authority, and that fight was not engaged because, to some extent at least, far too many marginalized agents within our ranks take with some perverse pride a label of repression. This is precisely the same phenomenon seen when other marginalized groups embrace and use upon themselves pejorative, discriminatory, hateful language. It is the semantics of defeat: it is the victory of the abuser that his names for his victims somehow become their names for themselves.

    Is it really—and I mean really—some "Leftist" position to demand a clear, hard, unyielding wall between church and state?

    Is it truly some "Leftist" hyperbole to anticipate that a civil society will not prohibit contracts of union between people because of the particulars of their emotional and sexual relationships, relationships I might point out that otherwise comport in every way with the standards recognized and encouraged in such unions?

    Is it honestly the exclusive domain of some diffuse and insufferable "Left" to anticipate the state in absolutely the most minimal ways possible directing the choices women make with regard to their internal biological processes?

    How did it happen that it is the "Left" that finds reprehensible a conduct of foreign policy that uses systematic, sustained, and ultimately disastrous misrepresentations and miscalculations to take our nation to war?

    What exactly is "Leftist" about demanding a law enforcement apparatus that does not have some "right" to use whatever means it can to promote public safety, but rather has the privilege to do so in a professional, disciplined manner where the rights of citizens permanently take precedence over any and all techniques officers of the law could employ?

    This is the issue: why is it a mark of pride to let these wrongful forces perverting this nation define not just the debate, but the very words used in the debate? No one wins an argument where the very semantic foundation has already been conceded to the opponent.

    Others may choose as they wish; but for my part, I occupy the Center; and I will not concede it in word, definition, or label to a cabal of Medieval simpletons who toil to the craft of reverting the world to an ugly time before the modern age.

    Now, who else will not yield?


    The Dark Wraith wants to know.



    Blogging and the Democratic Party

    by Charlie

    I was talking to Melissa last night, ranting about how politics have been depressing me. This is part of the reason I've made a deliberate effort not to blog politics recently. But she convinced me to set my reluctance aside, at least this one time. So I'm going to talk about the Democratic party. I intend to say some things that I think a lot of people haven't quite understood yet. So listen up.

    I'm getting very tired of hearing that our issues can't win with the American public. A lot of people are acting as though the fact that conservatives are in power right now means that a slim majority of Americans are themselves conservatives. I actually can't stress how utterly and resoundingly wrong this idea is. High ranking officials in the Democratic party, I'm talking to you. The fact is, most Americans identify strongly with liberal values. For example, they want control over their bodies. They believe in the the freedom of speech and the right to protest. Just like we self-identified liberals, their sense of morality is offended by the idea of poor people dying from treatable illnesses because they couldn't afford health care.

    So when I see things like this Reuters article, titled "Bush to seek Medicare cost savings," whose first paragraph is this --

    CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush will propose reining in Medicare payments to hospitals as he seeks savings in one of the largest U.S. entitlement programs, an administration official said on Saturday.


    -- I hope you can understand why I get a little upset. How did it ever get this bad? Have you forgotten your own liberal values? Because the day I read that it is permissible to find "cost saving" in Medicare is the same day that most Americans have been allowed to forget that Medicare payments translate directly into poor people not dying. Most Americans don't want people to die. So you see, when conservatives say Bush is "reigning in Medicare payments to hospitals as he seeks savings," I should hear it said that Bush is "contributing to the needless deaths of many Americans by cutting hospital care for the elderly, poor, and needy, all the while calling this a 'savings.'" And don't even get me started on the use of the phrase "entitlement program." It has actually reached the point where conservatives are allowed to portray money spent on saving lives as wasteful. It's not that Americans have gradually become more conservative. It's that they are focused on their day to day lives, and if we -- if you, the elected and appointed officials of the Democratic Party -- don't constantly remind them why it funding Medicare is worth their tax dollars, they will forget. And then they will think that "reining in payments to see saving on one of the largest U.S. entitlement programs" sounds like a damn good idea.

    You'll recall that I said I intended to say something that I haven't heard said yet. I find it interesting that up to this point, I haven't said anything that hasn't been said a million times before all over the liberal blogosphere. No, these are hardly original thoughts, and that brings me to point number two: You, high ranking Democratic officials, are ignoring your base.

    I'm going to say it again, because I think this is an important point. Democrats are ignoring their base. I've read a lot of bloggers recently who have come very close to saying that, especially Peter Daou (and especially in this post). Daou acknowledges that there is a disconnect between the Democratic Party and liberal bloggers. But even Daou describes a system where the Democrats tell a network of bloggers what to points to hit. I'll tell you what I think: Daou has it exactly backwards. It is backwards for two reasons: One, because he is assuming that blogs have a lot more power than they do. I think it has been quite well demonstrated that this isn't the case. The stories that we bloggers focus on generally don't catch on with the public at large until the mainstream media deigns to pick it up. In a few rare cases, we have been able to make that happen. But the vast majority of the time, we can't. Daou's system might be effective at getting the word out to other bloggers, but it would do very little to raise awareness of the issue to the mainstream public.

    But there is another bigger reason that Daou has it backwards: we liberal bloggers represent the Democratic Party's base. Think about it. What constitutes the base of a party if it isn't the people who care enough about the issues to write obsessively about them almost every single day? Consider this as well: if my little rant above -- the one about liberals who have let Americans forget why they should care about liberal issues -- didn't contain anything new, it is only because liberal bloggers -- the base -- are already providing a consistant message. And that is the very thing the Democrats have been accused of not being able to do.

    If I'm right and liberal bloggers really do represent the base of the Democrats, this tells us a couple of things about what kind of results we should expect given certain behaviors of the Democratic Party generally. For example, as they move to the center on issues that are important to their base, one should naturally expect support for the party to fragment. Indeed, that is exactly what we have seen. It makes sense, then, that because the base sits considerably to the left of the party itself, if the Democrats were to move to the left on the issues, they could reasonably expect greater success. Note that this is in direct contrast to Daou's theory, wherein the Democrats continue to do what they are already doing to determine what issues should be emphasized, and then use blogs as an additional way to get the message out.

    Also note that there is no reason to expect us to lose popularity by moving left. In fact, we should actually gain it, because the day-to-day process of moving to the left will force our elected officials to explain themselves, and as I've already mentioned, most Americans share our liberal values. (And if you still aren't convinced, think about it this way: The Republicans have been forced to carry out most of their goals under a veil of deception. They already know that we have the ideological upper hand. We are the only ones acting unaware of this fact.)

    I'm certainly not claiming that liberal bloggers themselves are the base of the Democratic Party. The set of people in the party's base is much bigger than the set of liberal bloggers. But I think it is safe to assume that liberal bloggers represent the base fairly accurately.

    I'm also aware that it is often claimed that it is hard to get the liberal blogs to agree on anything. I think anyone making that claim has drastically misunderstood what blogging is about. If we all agreed perfectly, there would be nothing more to write about. Perhaps more importantly, blogging is a process by which we bloggers grow. When I write something, someone else reacts to it. Sometimes they leave me comments and I rethink my position. Just as often, someone publishes their thoughts on my post, highlighting my post's flaws and suggesting a different way of approaching the same issue. The disagreements are not unlike a social or philosophical version of the scientific method: mistakes are uncovered so that they may be corrected. The fact that we liberal bloggers have reached anything like a general consensus on so many diverse issues speaks volumes for our process. The fact that we don't all march in lock step isn't a weakness. It's one of our greatest strengths.

    The only thing left is for someone in power to recognize the potential.


    UPDATE: None other than Peter Daou himself writes in with this:

    Hi Charlie – someone sent me a link to your post, which I think has some interesting points. However I think you’ve misunderstood my ‘Triangle’ concept. If you read the first essay in the series, you’ll find we agree on the role of blogs.

    http://daoureport.salon.com/synopsis.aspx?synopsisId=147a2536-4de0-4716-9cc0-6c681e095ffd


    And to think I was just saying that one of the strengths of blogging is being told when you're wrong. Peter is right, I had not read back far enough to completely understand his Triangle concept. The link he provides gives an excellent introduction, but the general idea is very close to what I just said: bloggers are only one leg of a triangle. The other two legs are the media and the party establishment. Without participation of the other two legs, the power of blogs is greatly diminished.

    I misunderstood Daou's Triangle to mean that information flows only one direction. In fact, his premise is that with a successful triangle in place, information and cooperation would be free to flow in all three directions. Mea culpa.


    Cross posted at Shades Of Grey


    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Inflammatory Editorial:
    And Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, a Rant

    by Dark Wraith

    The National Science Foundation has announced that the NSF Fiscal Year 2007 budget overview will be held on February 6, 2006. As noted by the Los Angeles Times, President Bush stated in his Tuesday night 2006 State of the Union address that he wants to create "...a program to train 70,000 teachers for Advanced Placement high school classes in science and math, as well as bring... 30,000 math and science professionals into schools to teach [with] $380 million in 2007." As noted on such blogs as Dynamics of Cats (from which comment made there by the Dark Wraith this post is derived), this level of funding is of dubious sufficiency to the goal set forth by the President.

    In fact, $380 million for the preparation of a total of 100,000 new teachers would mean that the average beneficiary of this initiative would directly or indirectly receive $3,800. Important to note in this regard is that this money will likely not be distributed in its entirety to those in training: colleges and universities will receive at least some of this money in the form of NSF grants for establishing or upgrading their teacher training programs. With the cost of a four-year education at a public college averaging $5,491 per year (an increase of 7.1% over the previous academic year) and that at a private college averaging $21,235 per year (an increase of 5.9% over the previous academic year), a small share of a $3,800 sum will provide little draw for most students. More importantly for the long run, this initiative offers no fundamental change in salary structures for educators in service or planning to enter the profession. Driven largely by local and state factors, those salaries will not be affected in any material, permanent way by an initiative that throws what appears at first blush a large amount of money at a gaping chasm that is orders-of-magnitude larger.

    The President, reflecting the concerns of other well-meaning and less well-meaning commentators on education, is attempting—albeit inadequately, at best, and disingenuously, at worst—to address a "shortage" of qualified teachers in math and science. There is, however, no shortage: shortage from an economics standpoint implies a non-market distortion that imposes an effective price ceiling below the equilibrium price that would clear the amount of a product being supplied with the amount of that product being demanded. In the present matter, a shortage would exist only if it could be argued that the price (salaries) for teachers was less than what would exist in an unregulated market. That would be difficult to establish: private schools—a market in which no argument can be made that government or majority voting blocs impose salary distortions —pay less than public schools.

    The price being paid to teachers is, unfortunately, creating no shortage; but it is producing a long-term catastrophe, particularly since simplistic, short-term solutions keep getting piled, one atop the last, on the fiasco.

    The problem is no better at the college level. One of my specializations is teaching remedial and "developmental" math. In other words, I am charged with accomplishing in a matter of months what was left unaccomplished over twelve or more years of formal, pre-college education. This I do quite well.

    The students come in droves; and no fewer are arriving now than did before the "No Child Left Behind" initiative. In fact, the prospective learners are in even worse shape now because they are rammed through pass-the-test-at-all-costs curriculum without the least regard for solid, years-long skills development appropriate at each grade to both emotional and mathematical maturity level.

    And that is emerging as the second problem now looming on the horizon: schools are rushing to prove how butch their math programs are by ramming high-level material into the curriculum at lower and lower grade levels. This is an exercise in futility on stilts: even if it could be argued that some "average" emotional maturity stage could be altered at a certain grade level, the mathematical maturity stage (which exists in its own matrix of cultural, social, and other parameters) has its own, separate pace that is not going to dance to the tune of great sounding, pandering curriculum scope and sequence overhaul. More to the point, teachers cannot magically change the parameters of the society in which the children grow up, so teachers cannot construct whatever effect would be necessary to proceed with getting kids to do calculus while in diapers.

    No Child Left Behind is destined to become No Child Left, Period.

    So what's going to happen? More of the same will be forthcoming: kids who cannot write a grammatically correct sentence, much less a cogent, essay-length review and analysis; students who have no essential sense of how numbers work in basic mathematical operations (oh, but they'll be able to apply math to "real world" nonsense); parents who will continue to drift in their own fog of self-indulgent materialism conveyed to their kids in everything from electronic noise addiction to crippled attention-at-length skills; and politicians (both Republican and Democrat) who will preen themselves before the voters with yet another round of disgraceful funding tied to useless, ill-informed, git-tuff-on-them-kids-and-teachers education mandates.

    Oh, yes, I almost forgot. For my 25 years as a college math teacher I'll still be making under $20,000 a year to do the impossible. And while the education Renaissance earns applause for Mr. Bush, Congress, state legislators, and local school boards, the miracle show of mind, magic, and math will continue on schedule in Lecture Hall 12B.



    The Dark Wraith has ranted.


    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.


    Florida doctor's office prescribes 'ex-gay' treatment

    by Pam

    Some licenses need to be revoked in this case. There's nothing else to it. (Daytona Beach News-Journal):
    A 36-year-old lesbian has filed a state complaint against a doctor and physician's assistant alleging she was given literature condemning homosexuality as "sinful and sexually impure" after a routine appointment.

    Jamie Beiler, formerly of Kissimmee, saw physician's assistant Dawn Pope-Wright on March 11, 2005, for a bronchitis checkup because her normal doctor was on vacation, according to a Jan. 27 complaint filed with the Division of Medical Quality Assurance. Beiler's sexuality was noted in her medical file, but unmentioned during the appointment, her lawyers said.

    When she opened up an envelope Pope-Wright left at the checkout counter, she was shocked to find photocopied pages including Bible verses that denounced homosexuality and asserted God can help her change. "The information that Ms. Pope-Wright gave to Ms. Beiler was derogatory and offensive, and completely disrespected her right to dignity and privacy," the complaint says.


    From the National Center for Lesbian Rights

    Also named in the complaint is Dr. John R. Hartman, who allegedly deflected Beiler's concerns when she complained to the office.
    The article notes that Hartman hasn't commented to the press and the office says that Pope-Wright no longer worked there -- she also hasn't commented on the matter. The complaints have been filed with Florida Department of Health and CIGNA Healthcare.

    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    'Rogue wiretaps'

    by Pam



    Go watch the f*cker lie over and over on video. (PageOneQ)


    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Still More Culture War Nonsense

    by TheGreenKnight

    John Aravosis and the good people at Open Letter to Chris Matthews want to know what is wrong with the ad that Verizon just pulled (linked at the Open Letter post; WMV).

    It became the target of radio host Glenn Sacks, who complains that the ad makes dads -- and men in general, by implication -- look like idiots. Watch for yourself and make up your mind.

    Personally, I have a smidgen -- but only a smidgen -- of sympathy with the culture warriors on this one, simply because the ad, like a hell of a lot of TV, follows what has become a fairly predictable narrative: gormless guy surrounded by capable women. Call it the Xander effect. You see it on a lot of ads, sitcoms, and so on these days, and it can get a little irksome just because it's so unoriginal.

    What the culture warriors don't get, though, is that this narrative almost never appears in any serious context. It's always in the form of comedy, and one point of comedy is that it's an inversion of what people think of as the natural order of things. The reason our culture considers a gormless man funny (and a capable woman funny) is that we don't really believe in them. Despite what the culture warriors think, ads like this reinforce the patriarchy as much as they subvert it, because they require it as a norm against which to contrast their comedy.

    And the other thing, frankly, that the culture warriors don't get is that what really makes men look like idiots is the spectacle of grown men organizing and getting all upset because of a thirty-second TV ad. Now that's comedy, and not in a good way.

    Cross-posted at The Green Knight.


    Freepers already turning on Alito

    by Pam

    Drudge is blasting as his banner headline this AM - SURPRISE! ALITO SPLITS WITH CONSERVATIVES ON FIRST DAY.

    Sammy didn't vote the "right way" yesterday for the wingers regarding a death penalty case; he didn't side with Roberts, Scalia and Thomas. (AP):
    New Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito split with the court's conservatives Wednesday night, refusing to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection.

    Alito, handling his first case, sided with inmate Michael Taylor, who had won a stay from an appeals court earlier in the evening. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported lifting the stay, but Alito joined the remaining five members in turning down Missouri's last-minute request to allow a midnight execution.

    ...An appeals court will now review Taylor's claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, a claim also used by two Florida death-row inmates that won stays from the Supreme Court over the past week. The court has agreed to use one of the cases to clarify how inmates may bring last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death.

    ...Scalia and Thomas have consistently sided with states in death penalty cases and have been especially critical of long delays in carrying out executions.
    Let's see, the Freepers were expecting Sammy to be bloodthirsty right out of the box, because the knuckle-draggers have the wingnuttery expectations bar set very high for him. With this decision, one is already worried about having to "wipe egg off of our faces."

    Sigh, if only I could actually believe that, given Alito's record, but for now, I will take pleasure in the squirming coming out of the swamp. It is a delicious feeding frenzy.

    Actual Freeper Quotes™

    "From what I understand there was a lot of court activity today. Someone wiser will help spell it out for us."

    "Wow. He's growing in office. That was quick."

    "Maybe his Catholicism came into play. The AP seems to be trying to make this non-story a story."

    "Just trying to make us look bad, then? Ho-hum, just another day at the office."

    "Thank you all. I guess I should be used to it, but I'm not!"

    "Those of us who supported this guy did so because we trusted his judgement. Wow, that could be a FR record for turning on one of our own; less than 24 hours."

    "Did you expect anything less? The Donner Party "Conservatives" look for any and all excuses to have another Nacht der langen Messer."

    "Except it has become so common place, one no longer has to see it to believe it. Just look at Mr. "Bush is the Antichrist" and all of his sycophants."

    "The question seems not to be a review of the scum's conviction, but wheter death by lethal injection is, "Cruel and unusual punishment." Alito has definitely thought this issue out before. I hope his decision on this matter is not portending another death penalty bleeding heart---let alone anoter Souter or Kennedy."

    "I hope you are right or we'll be wiping egg off our faces for the next 25 years......."

    "I am sending you a Reynolds tin foil roll, please give me your address. I will send you some pampers as well."

    "I'll send you a check to help pay for pampers to send to him!"

    "Yea, and to prove it, notice how his head is tilted to the left":


    "This was a second decision apparently. I don't know what all is going on with this case, but I would not be concerned about Alito on this really. I read it as Alito just not feeling comfortable with saying go ahead and kill a guy whose case he had not read. When the case reaches the SCOTUS (just in an appeals court presently), I am sure he will agree with the conservatives and hopefully Kennedy that lethal injection is NOT cruel and unusual punishment."

    "Exactly. There may be nothing wrong here, but it sure raises some questions. If the libs have managed to get another stealth leftist on the Supreme Court right under our very noses, it'll be one of the most stunning political defeats ever. I'll wait and see before jumping to conclusions, but I'm concerned."

    "He likely had a heads up on this case as he has been a nominee for months. No excuses for first day on the job."

    "And how do you know that he had a heads up on this? Who told you a Supreme Court nominee will be reviewing Supreme Court cases behind the scenes while waiting for his confirmation? Where do some of you people come up with this crap? Your stupid conclusions are no different from the delusional conclusions of the liberal media."

    "I'm not going to jump to conclusions over this, but I will have to say, IF ANYONE HERE IS CONCERNED ABOUT LETHAL INJECTION BEING CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT (and that includes Alito unfortunately) FOR A RAPIST KILLER OF A YOUNG GIRL OR ANY RAPIST KILLER FOR THAT MATTER THEN YOU'RE ALL SCREWED UP."

    "After careful consideration, I'm just going to let certain Freepers determined to make fools of themselves by claiming Alito is Souter! march over their hastily constructed cliff. Things will be far more peaceful around here when they follow Wily Coyote and hit the dirt. Much thanks to the Freepers trying to speak logic and sense to them. I just haven't the desire to spend the next ten years assuring them he's a good selection as every decision comes down."
    Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.


    Special Blog Post:
    How Not to Get the Story

    by Dark Wraith

    The arrest of Cindy Sheehan on February 1, 2006, in the House chamber of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., offers some valuable lessons to the investigative journalist. Presented below are a few of those lessons.

  • Do not look for Capitol Police arrest records at the Capitol Police Website; it's not much more that a recruitment gateway. If, however, you actually want a job with the Capitol Police, then you should definitely go to that Website.


  • Although the Website noted above is primarily for recruitment purposes, one link at the Capitol Police Website is to the Press Room, where you will now find a press release dated 02-01-06 entitled "Accountability", which deals with the arrest of Ms. Sheehan and the related, subsequent events. The document is remarkable in its clarity. While upholding the actions of the officers involved in the detention of Ms. Sheehan, it bluntly states the following:
    [N]either Mrs. Sheehan’s manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention.
  • Also, do not call your Senators or your Representative to get help in tracking down any information. While some people have been fortunate enough to develop relationships with the aides to Members of Congress, the average citizen will come up bupkis. The people who work in those offices are almost to the last one of them bright, talented individuals. They will use their native intelligence to act like their as dumb as rocks when you start asking pointed questions about where information is hiding in Washington and why it's not where it should be.


  • And the most important lesson of all has been reserved for last. Whatever you do—no matter how hard up you are for a source, for a lead, for even a tidbit of information—do not under any circumstances tell an important person, or even a person who thinks he or she is important, that you're a blogger. Lie through your teeth if you have to; just don't use the word 'blog' or any derivation thereof. You will be disrespected. You might very well get your feelings hurt. In fact, you'll be lucky if you don't get the telecommunications version of your backside kicked right out the door while it's still closed. And once you get up off the ground, dust yourself off, and go back to your blog to write a post, all you'll have is a story about how not to get the story you spent the whole stupid day chasing.



  • The Dark Wraith has thus offered some insights.


    This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.


    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Werewolves: The new axis of evil

    by JJ



    Be afraid! Werewoves are a reality! In the state of the union speech last night, Bush said "Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids..."

    I am relieved that fear mongering over the Werewolf agenda will take the place of the angst over the homosexual agenda. The religious right is now less concerned over their children being forcibly indoctrinated into homosexuality in light of the new fear of their children being devoured by werewolves.

    It is also interesting to discover that The Island of Dr. Moreau was in fact a documentary.


    Well known actor and Animal-Human hybrid activist Salacious Crumb had this to say. "Bring it on! We are tired of being in the closet! Freedom means freedom for everyone!"



    In Washington state and with the support of Focus On the Family, little Timmy Eyman has filed a referendum banning all Animal-Human hybrids from service in the public sector.



    As far as the State of the Union is concerned, this was the most note-worthy information to be gleaned from the speech.



    My god...why didn't I think of Joe Biden?

    by Pam


    Bankruptcy Bill Joe is the answer to Dem's prayers.

    Via Firedoglake, Jane points to evidence that there is no sign of brain activity in the political consultant class. Don't faint at the headline for this commentary over at MSNBC:

    The Case for Joe Biden
    A long time political consultant argues that the senior senator from Delaware is the Democrat’s best shot

    I cannot bring myself to cut-and-paste any excerpts from this piece by Ron Goldstein, "a veteran of 10 Democratic presidential campaigns dating back to 1976." OK. One mind-blowing snippet:
    The senior senator from Delaware has an appealing media persona: He’s not a bad-looking guy, and his performances seem real, not wooden like those of the last two Democratic nominees. Unlike Howard Dean, his outrage and passion is controlled, not manic. His voting record is appealing to centrist America...
    It's just incredible. This is why Bob Shrum will always find work. One commenter over at Jane's pad says it best:
    "Good God. Don't kill Bob Shrum. He writes the best concession speeches in the business. We need such experience on the front lines."


    SOTU

    by Pam


    He couldn't lay off of the gays, could he?
    Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They are concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage.
    Every one of those closets in the White House and on the Hill needs to be blown wide open. Listening to him bring up Coretta Scott King, btw, made my stomach turn. I wonder how the thousands of displaced victims of Katrina feel about his remarks.

    Just a few comments on the drivel last night...

    And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.
    I just can't muster the energy to go over the glorious, flaming pile of bullsh*t he said about Iraq; at this point he's delusional, attempting to convince some small segment of the population not drunk on the Kool-Aid that we're somehow winning and that peace and democracy are flourishing. And, of course, he's going to "stand behind our military." Troops have all the resources and protection that they need, don't they? How's that stop-loss policy working out for you?

    As expected, Dear Leader leaned heavily on the use of Terror UnlimitedTM. He mentioned terror, terrorism, or terrorists 21 times in that speech. My favorite section of the night, delivered in his best bogus bumf*ck hick accent:
    This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaeda, we want to know about it because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.
    There you have it -- the neatly-wrapped-and-tied-with-a-bow justification for his domestic spying program. I could hear the Freepi from afar, giving a standing ovation for this bullsh*t.

    Aside from the Terror UnlimitedTM campaign, the secondary theme of the speech appeared to be "Keeping America competitive," while using examples of his efforts that completely undermine the phrase as most thinking people understand it.

    * "Keeping America competitive begins with keeping our economy growing."
    Translation: tax cuts are good; make them permanent. Let's just run up the tab for the great-grandkids.

    * "Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. "
    WTF? Leaving aside the matter of the out-of-control spending from the rolling in the pig filth Congress, what has he done to control what happens to our tax dollars? He's hiding behind the line item veto question; he could have vetoed any of that bloat wholesale once it made it to his desk.

    * "Keeping America competitive requires us to open more markets for all that Americans make and grow. One out of every five factory jobs in America is related to global trade, and we want people everywhere to buy American."
    Sorry, bud. Who is buying this? In his many travels to the South, including this state, has he not seen and heard about the shuttering of factory after textile factory, all the jobs going overseas where workers can "thrive" under heinous working conditions for meager wages? Opening global markets won't fix this problem.

    * "Keeping America competitive requires an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty, allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally and reduces smuggling and crime at the border."
    Whatever. Of course everyone wants secure borders. He's talking out of both side of his mouth on this one -- he's not going to make either side happy with this guest worker idea; the wingers have been eating him alive on the immigration issue. This is the one area where it's not clear to me that either party has any good solutions yet, and the politicians in those states significantly affected by the surge in undocumented workers/residents aren't getting any guidance out of Washington.

    * "Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care. Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility."
    Good god. After the prescription drug benefit fiasco, he really needs to shut his piehole. This is embarrassing. He's still blaming lawsuits for the woes of our health care system. He talked about health savings accounts as an answer. Please. Whatever initiative comes out of the White House on this matter -- aside from hot air -- will not address all the people who have no health coverage of any kind. As Russ noted in his live blogging, Bush is still worried about OB-GYNs not being able to practice their love with women all across this country.

    * "Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world."
    This almost doesn't deserve a comment. I will refer you to this: ExxonMobil posts record profit.

    Cha-Ching! Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond laughs at you. (AP).

    The painful text of the Chimp's speech is here.

    ***

    On the other side...



    There has to be a "better way" to counter that sorry-ass State of the Union address.

    Since I've been Kaine-bashing for the last week or so over his anti-gay BS, I'll weigh in on Shakes Sis's poll. Here's her question:

    On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being uninspiring but not offensive, and 10 being a disaster of catastrophic proportions, how bad a speaker is Tim Kaine?

    He sucked donkey dick. 8.5 (the mitigating factor was the nice setting behind him; the fire distracted me enough to keep me from falling asleep -- good choice there, Tim). The whole "better way" of governing drivel (basically "we know how to do it in Virginia") was uninspiring, to be charitable. With a trail of devastation domestically (Katrina) and internationally (Iraq) left by the man sitting in the White House, this timid speech practically glossed over the level of disaster that Bush has laid at our doorstep. Kaine made it sound like it was just a gentleman's diagreement on policy.

    If the Dem party is going to put up a Mr. Repug Lite, get someone in there who has the much-lauded charisma that would entice the feeble sheeple. He called for more bipartisanship (good luck with that one, Congress), and lifelessly delivered the rest of obvious (and necessary) talking points.

    BushCo's management failures re: Hurricane Katrina, Iraq are enormous, and Kaine barely tapped the fertile ground of the lobbying and corruption scandals hanging over the entire Bush Admin. Any Dem centrist-right fantasies that this "new face" of the Dem party is going to slide into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave should be dashed pronto.

    Shakes Sis gave him a 9.5, saying the only thing that would have given it a 10 was if Kaine's "dick had fallen out of his pants to reveal it was emblazoned with a tattoo of Calvin peeing on The New Deal."Well if his dick fell out, Shakes, that wouldn't improve things because the audience would then have to endure shouts of "forgive me Jeebus" because his pee-pee was exposed.

    The full text of Kaine's remarks is here.

    ***

    NOTE: If you want to read a kick-ass response from a Dem, check out John Edwards' speech over at Tom Paine, The America We Believe In.


    Edwards's launching pad for 2008 is called One America Committee. I intend to push the former Tar Heel senator and VP candidate on the civil equality issue, since his stated position is that he opposes same-sex marriage, but he does not think the Constitution should be amended to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

    He needs to re-articulate what civil rights and liberties he feel gays and lesbian taxpaying citizens are entitled to. Here are some of the knowns, based on his public statements to date:

    * the recognition of partnership benefits
    * changing our immigration and adoption laws, so that they provide equality to gay and lesbian couples
    * a re-examination of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy
    * he's taken the punt of "let the states decide" on whether to ban or allow same-sex marriage.

    That last bit of business has been the Dem's "safe" position for the time being. However, this is little comfort to those gays and lesbians now living under those constitutional amendments and any Dem candidate for president is going to have to address this.

    Dems taking this position are saying civil equality should be something decided at the ballot box, something they never would have said to Dr. King.

    On his blog, Edwards praised the life and work of Coretta Scott King, who was for full civil equality for gays and lesbians.
    "Our nation owes her a debt of gratitude for all of her efforts to bring about peace and equality both here in America and around the world. Today, we must continue her legacy by working to end poverty, so all Americans have the same opportunity to realize the American dream. We honor Coretta Scott King by carrying on her commitment to ensuring civil rights and justice for all Americans."
    I would hope that he has come to embrace the idea that allowing states to decide to enshrining discrimination into their state constitutions against taxpaying citizens is wrong.

    ***

    The Moderate Voice has a good roundup of SOTU coverage.


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