Thursday, March 30, 2006
Of Course You Don't
Last December, do you remember when 115 mainline religious leaders and church members were arrested in Washington, D.C., during a last-ditch effort to draw attention to then-proposed cuts to the Federal Budget that would affect millions of low-income Americans?
Of course you don’t remember. The major news networks didn’t cover it.
In February, during the World Council of Churches’ 9th international assembly in Brazil, do you recall when several mainline U.S. church leaders apologized to Christians around the world for not doing more to prevent the start of the U.S. war in Iraq?
Of course you don’t remember. The major news networks didn’t cover it.
And, last month, do you remember when a delegation of mainline religious leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand an end to government attempts to curtail church-oriented travel to Cuba?
Of course you don’t remember. The major news networks didn’t cover it.
Or what about last week, when the mainline churches’ Church World Service, a broadly ecumenical humanitarian relief organization, called on the U.S. Senate to adopt a ‘compassionate’ immigration reform policy?
Of course, you don’t remember. The major news networks didn’t cover it, either.
Yet … two days ago when the Religious Right leader Jerry Falwell chided a Minnesota city for allegedly evicting the Easter Bunny, Associated Press covered it.
And, also in March, when the Religious Right leader Pat Robertson called Muslims “satanic,” Newsweek covered it.
And, in New Orleans, despite the millions raised by mainline denominations and the hundreds, if not thousands, of organized work camps deployed to support rebuilding efforts, it was the Religious Right leader Franklin Graham who appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live (twice!) to talk about his ministry there, along with the Religious Right organization Campus Crusades for Christ, profiled on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 last week.
, who has more.
Cross-posted at The Green Knight
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
United Church of Christ's newest TV commercial rocks
The one thing you can say about the United Church of Christ is that it doesn't avoid controversy. The latest commercial, to launch on April 3, is just as challenging to the closed-minded bigoted houses of worship as the "bouncer" ads
that ran in 2004. That ad was rejected by CBS
and NBC, whose reps said said the ads were "controversial" and, therefore, amounted to "issue advocacy," something the networks have said they do not allow.
The spot, by the way, said nothing about gay marriage, and nothing specifically about gays at all -- it was about the UCC's tolerance and extravagant welcome to anyone that wishes to worship.This time around
, the ad pulls no punches, and it's managed to be rejected by CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and WB
, claiming -- again -- it's a controversial, issue-advocacy ad. From UCC's release:
The 30-second commercial begins with a shot of an African- American mother trying to calm a crying baby. Sitting in a church pew, the mother fidgets anxiously, as she endures disapproving looks from fellow worshippers. Eventually, someone in the wings pushes an "ejector" button to rid the church of her - and her noisy baby. Into the air they go flying.
In similar fashion, a gay couple, an Arab-American, a person using a walker, among others, get "ejected." Finally, when a homeless person wanders in and takes a seat, nervous parishioners - expecting she'll get the boot for sure - scoot away from her.
The commercial ends with a mood shift, where shots of diverse, friendly people set the stage for the announcer's invitation: "The United Church of Christ - no matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here."
You can view the commercial here
. Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
McCain to Rev. Tinkywinky: I support a federal marriage amendment
Enough of this f*cking tool
. He voted against a marriage amendment in 2004, saying this
"The constitutional amendment [banning same-sex marriage] we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."
Guess that core was rotten. Now he's not only humping Dear Leader, he's rubbing hard on the leg of Rev. Falwell and the AmTaliban as well, telling him that he's ready to vote for the Marriage Protection Amendment
, which is coming up in June. (News and Advance
Falwell said McCain’s appearance at LU’s graduation is another sign that McCain is wooing evangelical Christians.
“He is in the process of healing the breech with evangelical groups,” Falwell said. Falwell said McCain has expressed a willingness to support a Federal Marriage Amendment, an issue dear to conservative Christians.
The amendment would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Christian conservatives, including Falwell, are concerned about efforts by homosexual groups to have civil unions between same-sex partners recognized as marriages. McCain previously has said the matter of defining marriage should be handled by state legislatures, but now concedes that a federal statute may be necessary, Falwell said.
I'm just sick of people talking about how moderate McCain is. He's the sHillary of the Republicans, willing to do anything to achieve and maintain power. Actually, he's worse. The man's a war hero and he's sh*t all that political capital away as a tool of GWB, the man who kicked him in the balls in SC in 2000, and keeps coming back for more.
As Michael Jensen at The Big Gay Picture
So what changed between McCain's statement in 2004 and today? Why is there a sudden urgent need to amend the constitution to take away rights? Why is McCain outing himself as an utter hypocrite? It's because he believes he stands a real chance of being the next Republican presidential nominee. And as anyone who follows presidential politics knows by now, you don't get that nomination without first selling your soul to the religious right. McCain just sold his--and all he had to do was sacrifice our rights.
* McCain slips between the sheets with FalwellCross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
The War on Christians and the Values Voters conference
The looniest of the fringe right met yesterday and today in D.C. to obsess about fetuses and homos in preparation for the 2006 elections. Vision America
's The War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006 conference featured an all-star cast of the bible-beating, religious right-fawning set. My earlier post on this, Extreme fringe winger intel
, has more on the organizer, Rick Scarborough
Some of the folks attending: Senator Sam Brownback
, Senator John Cornyn
, Congressman Tom DeLay
, Gary Bauer
, Alan Keyes
, Phyllis Schlafly
, Janet Parshall, Janet Folger, William Greene, Ron Luce and Rod Parsley. Here are some choice quotes
from folks you may recognize who bleated away at the conference.
Defending the family is a key goal of the so-called "values voters." The traditional or natural family is one of the targets of the political Left, said Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. He said he was proud to share the stage with "heroes in the fight for normalcy."
Peter Sprigg, the Family Research Council's vice president for policy, noted that the family "is not merely a social construct subject to infinite redefinition. "We believe what makes a family is one man and one woman uniting in marriage for a lifetime and bearing children from that union," Sprigg stated. "We are against anything that threatens the traditional family or undermines that idea," including pre-marital sex, pornography, adultery and prostitution. "And yes, we are also against the practice of homosexuality," he added.
Sprigg said Christians do not hate homosexuals. "On the contrary, we desire the best for them. However, we believe engaging in behavior that is unnatural, immoral and dangerous to the public health and their own health is not the best thing for people with same-sex attractions." He noted that the FRC and similar organizations also oppose the "gay agenda," which "demands full acceptance of the practice of homosexuality -- morally, socially, legally, religiously, politically and financially. "Indeed, it calls for not only acceptance, but affirmation and celebration of this behavior as normal and even desirable," Sprigg said.
The Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman and founder of Traditional Values Coalition, stated that the "gay agenda" would come to a quick end if Americans rose up in numbers against it. However, "Christians are nice guys, and nice guys finish last," he added.
LaBarbera agreed with Sheldon's analysis. "By simply saying we oppose the sin and not the sinner, we leave the playing field to homosexual activists and their euphemistic talking points, which are 'discrimination,' 'equality' and that poor euphemism, 'sexual orientation,'" he said.
...While most speakers said they prefer using the word "homosexual" instead of "gay," Sheldon said he usually sticks with the term's original meaning: "sodomite."
One of the interesting
things unveiled at the conference is the Values Voters' Contract with Congress
, an unhinged document that I am presenting to you here (and this is the SHORT version) for commentary, jaw-dropping and all-around ripping up. It's an amazing piece of batsh*ttery.
We are citizens of the United States of America and subjects of the sovereign Creator, acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence as the Supreme Ruler and Judge of the World. We strongly affirm our allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and are moved by our faith in God to join together now to defend government of, by, and for the people against the greatest assault it has ever faced: the destruction of our Constitutionally-mandated republican form of government by judges who legislate from the bench and, thereby, subvert our liberty and our entire way of life.
In defense of our national principles, our Constitution of self-government, our decent character, and our shared national identity, we the undersigned citizens of the United States come together in support of actions we hereby agree to be right and necessary for the common good of all.
We therefore seek the following:
1. TO AFFIRM the national relationship with God in our places of worship, schools, mottos, and public spaces, we call for the passage of -
* The Pledge Protection Act to prohibit activist judges from taking "under God" out of the Pledge (H.R. 2389, S.1046);
* The Constitution Restoration Act to prohibit activist judges from ruling against acknowledgments of God (H.R. 1070, S.520);
* The Public Expression of Religion Act to prohibit activist judges from ordering taxpayers to pay lawyers who seek to erode our national relationship with God (H.R. 2679); and
* The Workplace Religious Freedom Act to promote religious accommodation in employment (H.R. 1445, S. 677).
2. TO SECURE our national interest in the institutions of marriage and family, we call for the passage of -
* A constitutional amendment to completely protect the institution of marriage; and
* The Marriage Protection Act to prohibit activist judges from forcing states to redefine the institution of marriage (H.R. 1100).
3. TO SECURE our fundamental right as parents to the care, custody, and control of our children, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation to codify the principles set forth on Nov. 16, 2005, in House Resolution 547 which would protect parental rights;
* The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act to prohibit the transportation of minors against parental rights (H.R.748);
* The Parental Consent Act to prohibit the use of federal funds for any universal or mandatory mental health screening (H.R. 181);
* The Child Medication Safety Act, to protect children from being coerced into taking drugs in order to attend school (H.R. 1790);
* Legislation that empowers parents to choose schools for their families that share their value choices, as well as ensures families are not forced to pay twice for their educational choices; and
* We call for enforcement of the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which prohibits schools from using privacy invading surveys or evaluations without prior written parental consent (20 U.S.C. 1232h).
4. TO SECURE our God-bestowed right to life, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation to affirm the right to life of our children before birth;
* The Human Cloning Protection Act to prohibit human cloning (S.658, H.R. 1357);
* Legislation that protects life by prohibiting the use of human embryos for research;
* The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act to raise awareness of the pain experienced by children before birth (S.51, H.R. 356); and
* Legislation to prohibit any taxpayers' money for organizations that perform, promote, and/or fund abortions.
5. TO SECURE our God-granted liberties, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation to reverse the loss of religious liberty for churches concerning their involvement in moral and social issues;
* Legislation to ensure that speech and lawful religious expression are never punished as a "hate crime";
* An amendment to the Higher Education Act to guarantee First Amendment rights of worship, speech, and association to students and employees as a condition of federal grants and student assistance;
* Legislation to complete the incarceration process through prisoner re-entry training and child mentoring; and
* Legislation or policies that call for continued rejection of the anti-family and deceptively-named "U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)."
6. TO SECURE our God-given stewardship of property, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation affirming that government may not redefine "public use" to take the private property of one person to give to another.
7. TO SECURE an environment of decency that is free from pornography and obscenity, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation to restrict obscenity and pornography, and guard against its mis-stated protection under the First Amendment.
8. TO SECURE just taxes, and end immorally destructive taxation, we call for the passage of -
* Legislation to fundamentally reform the national tax system and reduce the tax burden on Americans; and
* Legislation to make permanent Marriage Penalty Relief and the Child Tax Credit.
9. TO SECURE our national borders and identity, we call for the passage of -
* True Enforcement and Border Security; and
* Legislation to prohibit, in cases of constitutional interpretation, the use of foreign law as authority.
10. Judges who legislate from the bench subvert our republican form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and threaten all these legislative aims.
THEREFORE, WE URGENTLY CALL FOR Judicial Restraint, and an end to Judicial Activism.
* We call for the passage of the Judicial Conduct Act to hold federal judges accountable to the Constitution.
Above every consideration of selfish passion, ambition, or interest, we hold to the ultimate intention of our Constitution: to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. For this purpose, and in support of the beliefs and actions we have herein declared, we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our faithfulness, so help us God.
Man, these folks are overreaching. If they think this is going to go over like the Contract With America, they are sorely mistaken. This document reeks of extremism and a tenuous grasp on reality.
And remember. these are the kinds of people folks like tools John McCain and Mitt Romney are trying to suck up to for '08. Please, let them have to answer questions about whether they endorse the Values Voters' Contract with Congress.Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
by Dark Wraith
The Belt of Justice
On Sunday, I published an editorial
in which I called on candidates in the 2008 Presidential Election to pledge commitment to the establishment of a Truth Commission of the United States of America to investigate and expose the extensive and multi-faceted wrongdoing that has been the legacy of the Bush Administration. The support I have received is welcome and heartening, and the criticisms have been legitimate. In the present article, I offer clarity in precisely why the remedy of a Truth Commission would be effective despite the many in this country who remain supportive of President Bush and the Republicans who have prosecuted the agenda of neo-conservatism.
What I am about to write here may trouble some readers, particularly because I must unabashedly put on display that side of my views decidedly not in keeping with my more progressive, tolerant side. In advance, I forewarn that what I write below might not sit well with many, and I shall understand that discomfort. In some ways, it troubles even me that my patience with neo-conservatism has become so truncated that I must revert to attitudes within myself that pose in such harshness. That, unfortunately, is one of the many downsides of becoming agéd: patience in some areas of life takes the form of a precious commodity to be reserved only for those worthy of it. Neo-conservatives and Right-wing evangelicals have fallen off my list of those for whom patience, tolerance, and acceptance is warranted. I trust that they shall never again find their way to the limited space that remains within my soul for good will. With that caution in preface, suffer now my statement of position.
I have no delusions about the American people. Enough of them liked the mean, nasty, hateful words, ways, and innuendos of the Republicans to turn this into one of the grimmest chapters in American history. People like that don't change their stripes, and they certainly wouldn't do so in the span of a mere few years.
Those same people whose rah-rah, kick-some-ass-Georgie mentality got us into this mess are still out there all around us, and their attitudes now are every bit as disgusting as they were.
But those same people, like the people of every age, are craven and cowardly. When their former heroes get hanged in the public square, they'll be nowhere in sight to protest the swinging of the apes.
At worst, they'll hide in their homes grumbling about the horror of it all; at best, they'll feign shock and dismay at the "betrayal" by their former heroes, and they'll swear to God
they had "no idea."
Bull. That's the same apology of the Germans as the truth about the Third Reich got rammed down their throats in the years after World War II. The facts shut up the Hitler generation and allowed a much more benign couple of generations to grow up. It took all of fifty years for Fascism to become once again fashionable in European polite company and its hate speech to become wholly defensible by American liberals.
We may yet again have to beat the Hell out of its ugly pigs over there in the decades to come, but at least we had more than half a century of peace and quiet, in no small part because the common people by the millions who had grovelingly supported Hitler, Mussolini, and their ilk laid low, died quietly, and got buried with their hate and their stash of commemorative swastikas.
That's how it can be here, too; but this will happen only if there is a loud enough, authoritative enough, and harsh enough presence standing in judgment over the leaders of this failed neo-con rebellion against the American rule of law and the progressed civil society we were achieving.
That is the dual purpose of a truth commission in every country where one has been established: not only does it expose and punish the wrong-doers who had infected and perverted the government, but it also puts their miserable supporters whose mentality had infected the society on notice that they weren't just wrong, they were also bad.
And, no, by that I don't mean they had bad ideas; I mean they were bad
I might not be able to make a bad kid into a good one, but I can sure as Hell scare him into keeping his bad behavior to himself. If he wants to act like a hellian in his own private little bedroom, that's fine; but I want him to understand that, not only is his kind known for its ways, but if he ever again shows those attitudes in public, he'll get the same treatment as those he thought were so cool for their destructive malevolence that caused so much pain before.
That might not sound like a particularly caring, liberal way of thinking on my part, but then again, I have never called myself a "liberal" here or anywhere. I may be progressive—Lord knows, I might very well even be a Progressive
—but speaking as an anachronistic version of old-time, Rockefeller-type conservativism (and this is just between you all and me, mind you), I really do know what a belt is for; and God knows, there isn't any other remedy of which I know that will cure this country of its current brand of Republicanism.
When a gang of kids has spent the past week tearing up the house, the first and most important thing I need to do is to turn the ringleaders over my knee for the swift Belt of Justice. I mete out the punishment right where the other kids can see it, and I make the sound of righteousness hitting paydirt ring thoughout the land. The rest of those malcontent kids will suddenly turn into the nicest, sweetest, most God-fearing little angels anyone would ever want to have to help clean up the mess they'd made.
That's how we used to take care of bad kids, anyway; and speaking here as an old-time conservative, it's high time we returned to some old-fashioned values in this country.
Let freedom ring? You bet. But not until the belt swings.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to Virtue War
by Shakespeare's Sister
, I see that San Francisco became the newest front in the culture war this weekend, as 25,000 evangelical teens blew into town
to rally against the "virtue terrorism" of pop culture. The teens are part of a movement called "Battle Cry for a Generation," led by Teen Mania organizer Ron Luce—a Texas-based activist, author, and host of the "Acquire the Fire TV" cable program, who also happens to be a Bush appointee to a federal anti-drug-abuse commission. The two-day rally in San Francisco was the first stop in a three-city "reverse rebellion" that will move on to Detroit and Philadelphia and be followed by what Luce describes as the unleashing of a blitz of youth pastors into the communities to use the power of "'God's instruction book' to guide young people away from the corrupting influence of popular culture."
If the movement's verbiage—virtue terrorism, battle cry, acquire the fire, rebellion, blitz
—all sounds a bit disconcertingly warlike to you, well, it's no mistake. Luce is a believer that Christians are at war in America.
"This is more than a spiritual war," Luce said. "It's a culture war."
Military metaphors abound in Luce's descriptions of the struggle. He tells young people of how "an enemy has launched a brutal attack on them." At a pre-Battle Cry rally Friday afternoon on the steps of City Hall, Luce told his mostly teenage audience that "terrorists of a different kind" -- advertisers -- were targeting them and that they were "caught in the middle of the battle."
"Are you ready to go to battle for your generation?" he asked, and the young people roared "yes!" and some waved triangular red flags flown from long, medieval-looking poles.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors officially condemned the rally, which is openly anti-choice and anti-gay, and counter-protestors deemed the "Battle Cry" event a "fascist mega-pep rally," which has drawn the ire of some conservative bloggers, who are pointing to it as proof of the Left's intolerance. To which I can only say, Guilty as charged
. As a card-carrying progressive, I don't find the merest shred of obligation to be tolerant of people who have declared a war on me and my ideals, not the tiniest compulsion to accommodate hatemongering cast in a branded offensive, not an infinitesimal responsibility to engage in the semantic contortions required for me to pretend that progressives who seek to protect women's rights of autonomy and ensure equality for the LGBT community are of the same tenor as a group of asinine teens too foolish to question what, if advertisers are terrorists, does that make the man who sends them into the streets with identical signs marketing his website?
Being tolerant doesn't require that we demur to a group of people who "declare war" on us—something around which one would think the proponents of a doctrine of preemption would be able to wrap their minds.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who authored the condemnation resolution, said of the rally and its objectives, "Even if it is done by a Barnum & Bailey crowd with a tent and some snake oil, I think we need to pay attention to it. We should not fall asleep at the wheel." I couldn't agree more.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
“Liberalism Kills Kids”
by Shakespeare's Sister
Recently, a bunch of Dominionists who call themselves Vision America
announced an upcoming convention they like to call The War on Christians and I like to call MartyrCom
. In order to design their best defenses against our devious machinations to throw Christians in jail, forcibly abort their fetuses, and compel them to engage in sexual acts with members of the same sex in accordance with our radical gay agenda, these delusional nutzoids will congregate at such panels as “The Gay Agenda: America Won’t Be Happy, “The Judiciary: Overruling God,” “The Media: Megaphone For Anti-Faith Values,” and other colon-separated subject matter.
Today, I read that Dr. Rick Scarborough, founder and president of Vision America, acting chairman of The Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, and conference keynote speaker along with U.S. Senator John Cornyn
, will also unveil
his new book at MartyrCom: Liberalism Kills Kids
"Liberalism Kills Kids" is a groundbreaking work which documents the devastating failure of America's 40-year experiment with liberal statism. From the deaths of 44 million unborn children, to skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock births, to the divorce epidemic, to the destructive demands of the movement to normalize homosexuality -- the book exposes a cultural coup d'etat that has left our families gasping for air.
Although claiming that abortions kill children
isn’t exactly groundbreaking in its irritating yet tiresomely familiar mendacity, the assertion that children born out of wedlock, witness their parents’ divorces, or come out of the closet apparently drop dead
is, I admit, some admirable trailblazing lunacy. Then again, maybe Dr. Scarborough isn’t suggesting that those things quite literally kill kids, but Liberalism Provides for Nontraditional Family Structures I Don’t Like
isn’t quite as catchy a title.
"Liberalism Kills Kids" indicts many of the same forces to be discussed at the War On Christians conference -- Hollywood, the news media, the judiciary and organizations like the ACLU, which -- in the guise of promoting civil liberties -- are demolishing the social order.
Oh, I see. Demolishing the social order. That isn’t really the same as killing kids, is it? There are plenty of things that have the capacity to actually kill kids in America—endemic poverty leading to malnutrition/starvation, lack of access to affordable healthcare (including cutting-edge treatments and drugs), corporate irresponsibility and lax environmental regulations, guns, the kind of opportunistic hatemongering that plays on prejudices and can spiral into hate crimes which leave gay teenagers hanging dead on fences, just for a start. Curiously, what all those things have in common is that they wouldn’t make a good fit with the title Liberalism Kills Kids
. I’m sure there’s a more appropriate title, but, gosh, it’s just escaping me at the moment.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Special Graphics Post:
by Dark Wraith
The Seat of the Problem
This graphic may be reposted without modification. Click here
to see the attractive, miniature version appropriate for sidebars.
Yucking it up with Mike Huckabee, the Base and 2008 GOP clowns
“We’ve seen our country go from ‘Leave It to Beaver’ to ‘Beavis and Butt-head,’ from Barney Fife to Barney Frank.”
– Governor of Arkansas (and Baptist minister) Mike Huckabee, cruising for The GOP Base votes for '08
Jon over at The Pensito Review
gives us the heads up on the latest nonsense coming from the like Rethug 2008 prez candidates. This time it's the holy rolling governor of Arkansas, who yucked it up with the above knee-slapper about openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) during a stump speech addressing a crowd of Iowa bible beaters. Jon:
It’s interesting that Republicans feel free to say nasty things in about gay people today just as they openly made racist slurs back in the day. Equating Rep. Frank to Beavis and Butthead is beyond the pale — and, frankly, I don’t think Jesus would approve.
So-called "values voters" are auditioning prospective GOP presidential candidates. These bigoted moralists need their egos to be stroked as hard as their well-worn bibles -- and there is a helluva lot of stroking going on by those that want the GOP nom. None of the names that come to mind have a lock on the winger vote yet, and it's also clear that the clowns in the GOP are still scared of being blackballed by the AmTaliban if they don't stroke hard or often enough. (LA Times
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has disavowed past statements supporting abortion rights. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) dropped his support for covering homosexuals in hate crimes legislation. Even Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, whose liberal record on social issues is anathema to many conservatives, recently spoke to a meeting of evangelical leaders in the South.
But social and religious conservatives' influence may be limited by the fact that they have not rallied around one candidate. The potential candidates with the best showings in early polls — Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — are viewed with suspicion by many conservatives. Yet those whom many regard as soul mates of religious conservatives, such as Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), are among the least-known, which suggests they would have the highest hurdles to cross to win the nomination.
So some activists are urging social conservatives to close ranks behind a like-minded candidate to maximize their impact.
"If we get together and get behind a single candidate, we can be formidable," said Paul M. Weyrich, a conservative leader. "But if we are split up into eight different camps … it's going to destroy any chance of being effective."
It is not clear when or whether that agreement will happen. But it is clear that this faction is still a force, as potential candidates move to curry its favor — or at least stay off its enemies list.
Who do you think is going to be the official American Taliban GOP candidate in the primaries?Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
The NY GOP is in sad shape
"Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures."
-- Kathleen "KT" McFarland, a Republican who hopes to challenge sHillary in U.S. Senate race
sHillary's massive war chest is enough to squash her opponents; I don't think she needs psyOps to decimate Ms. McFarland
. She's doing a good job of self-destruction on her own.
It sounds like the GOP is truly in a sad state of affairs in the Empire State. (NYPost
, via Raw Story
A Republican challenger to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is bizarrely claiming that the former first lady has been spying in her bedroom window and flying helicopters over her house in the Hamptons, witnesses told The Post yesterday.Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
...McFarland's Republican primary opponent, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, was present at the event, and said he came away bewildered. "I'm standing there, and I kind of put my head down and said, 'I can't believe I'm hearing this,' " Spencer said.
McFarland, a Park Avenue matron who has never run for public office, has had a string of problems since announcing her candidacy earlier this month. The Post reported last week that she had failed to vote in numerous New York elections and had even missed voting for President Ronald Reagan in 1984, when she claimed to be an important Reagan administration official.
The 'satanic art' made them do it
"These images, unrecognized by the untrained eye, can be a ticking time-bomb to an individual who is unaware of their presence, especially someone who is already predisposed to deviant sexual behavior."
-- author and "pornography expert" Judith Reisman, featured in a documentary that suggests art is responsible for deviant priests.
going to be proposed to Papa Ratzi as the excuse for all the pedophile priests he allowed to run wild, raping and molesting innocent children? From the "breaking news" section at WingNutDaily, another "I'm not sh*tting you" item.
Could the Roman Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis be tied to embedded Satanic and occultic imagery in its artwork – some of it hundreds of years old? That is the seemingly incredible thesis of a new documentary, "Rape of the Soul," made not by anti-Catholic bigots, but by devout followers of the Church.
The documentary explores the prevalent use of satanic, sexual, occult and anti-Catholic images in historical and contemporary religious artwork. The film also discusses the mysterious acceptance of the artwork at the highest and most trusted levels of the Catholic Church.
"Rape of the Soul" is rated R because of the disturbing content involving demonic, violent and sexual imagery. The film, which is being released by Silver Sword International, contends a major cause of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church could be due to prolonged exposure to sexual and satanic images being incorporated into the religious art.
...Experts are featured in the film to offer detailed accounts of the subconscious programming effects of the sex and occult images on the human brain and how it promotes sex, Satanism and the occult. Religious education materials, songbooks, children's story books, devotionals and the Sunday Missals all have been found to contain embedded imagery.
This is batsh*t crazy.Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.
Three days ago, when the Christian Peacemaker hostages were freed from their captors in Iraq, a number of right-wing bloggers went bananas
over their supposed "ingratitude." The wingers claimed that the three hostages had badmouthed, or at least failed to thank, the soldiers who rescued them, and were therefore in league with the terrorists, ought to be sent back to their captors, and so on.
This was of course all a vicious lie. At the time this claim was being made, the three freed hostages had made no statement whatsoever
. The "evidence" used by the wingers was this press release
from the central offices of the Christian Peacemakers Teams. The press release was not composed or vetted by the three hostages, and cannot be regarded in any way as their own words.
Two of the freed hostages are now home and have had a chance to speak. Norman Kember says
I do not believe a lasting peace is achieved by armed force, but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my release.James Loney says
of his rescuers,
They saved us from the shadow of death. I'm grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words.
We haven't yet heard from Harmeet Sooden, but this is enough to go on with.
- The right-wingers claimed that the three hostages had been ungrateful, using as "evidence" words that were not theirs.
- Anybody with a functioning brain and even minor literacy skills knew those words were not theirs.
- Now that two of the three hostages have had a chance to speak, what they have to say is in direct contrast to everything that the right-wingers claimed.
So. All of you wingnuts who had so much fun nurturing your outrage by lying about these three: you know what you have to do now.
Say you were wrong. Then say you're sorry. Then promise never to do it again. Then don't
do it again.
Cross-posted at The Green Knight
by Dark Wraith
The Clear and Compelling Case for a Truth Commission
magazine is reporting in its online edition with dateline April 3, 2006
, that U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, in unpublished remarks on March 8 before an audience at the University of Freiberg, Switzerland, declared that "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them [sic]
a jury trial in your civil courts... Give me a break." This week, the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
of a detainee from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Associate Justice Scalia has made no offer to recuse himself because of his prejudicial remarks on the merits of cases like the one to be presented to him and the other eight Justices.
Mr. Scalia's remarks drew "quite an uproar," according to a member of the law faculty of the University of Freiburg. Apparently, at one point during Mr. Scalia's talk, he was challenged by a member of the audience who reminded him of applicable U.S. treaty obligations, a counterpoint that caused the Associate Justice to rant, "If [a detainee]
was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs," a stunning statement (aside from Mr. Scalia's description of 'my army'):
- ◊ many of the Gitmo detainees were in fact not captured in any combat situation;
- ◊ the Geneva Conventions protocols to which the United States is a signatory explicitly set forth the matters regarding battlefield captures;
- ◊ and the United States was the aggressor nation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where most of the current detainees were originally found, although neither nation yielded the principal target for which the assaults were justified prior to action, which was the top leadership al-Qa'ida.
Because of the virtual blanket immunity of Supreme Court Justices to consequences from the decisions they render and the conditions of personal belief and professional conduct under which they render those decisions, Mr. Scalia will likely face no material sanction should he proceed with what is now his apparent intention to participate in the adjudication of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
This becomes further evidence that the United States Congress, President, and Judiciary are in no way prepared to once and for all come to grips with the legacy of the Bush Administration and the neo-conservative radicals who have taken over the halls of the legislature, the executive branch, and the federal courts. At this point, nothing short of the appointment by the next President of the United States of a Truth Commission with nearly absolute subpoena powers will serve to extract from the participants in this degradation of the Republic the details of and truth about the actions they committed, the decisions they made, and the extent of the harm they caused.
It is to the end of the eventual establishment of such an independent investigatory body that I shall in the months ahead ask others to join me in demanding of any candidate running for the Office of the President of the United States in 2008 that he or she commit to the establishment of a Truth Commission of the United States of America within 90 days of assuming office, and that this Truth Commission comprise independent members without any connection whatsoever to those who have been the architects and engineers of the policies of the Bush Administration. As suggested, this Truth Commission must be vested of full powers to subpoena any person deemed necessary, be he or she a politician, a military official, or a member of the judiciary; and the Commission must be charged with having no duty to negotiate any terms upon which testimony will be rendered by any person so subpoenaed. In other words, with regard to this second point, the results of the Truth Commission of the United States will not be suspect and thoroughly tainted as were the results of the 9/11 Commission or the criminal investigation by federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of the outing for political revenge of non-official cover operative Valerie Plame.
In the months ahead, I shall more fully and formally press this demand upon candidates, and I shall for my own part make agreement to the pledge the first requirement of any candidate seeking my assistance, financial support, and/or endorsement. No less than a Truth Commission will right what has happened during the Bush Administration, and no less than harsh, swift, and certain justice of retribution rendered upon the neo-conservatives and their social and political allies will ensure that this era is not soon repeated.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
by Dark Wraith
Aftermath of the 2004 Presidential Election
This is the first in an occasional series of posts offering readers here at the Big Brass Blog some of the original writings I authored in and for other venues. This series will comprise an eclectic mix. Included will be articles written when I was a business consultant, as well as selections from contributions I made as the Selig Wraith (the Blesséd Ghost) in the Medieval History Forum of About.com
, where I created and contributed to a thread entitled, "A Once and Future Language," which was my platform to teach and answer questions about the history and current trends in the English language. That thread still stands as the longest ever created in the Medieval History Forum. Wraith Classics
will also present comments and analyses I posted on message boards and blogs before the launch of my own blog, The Dark Wraith Forums.
Regular readers here know that my writings vary from the straight, expository lectures on through to slice-of-life factual and fictional narratives. Occasionally, I use the vehicle of a play to make a point.
To launch this series, I am republishing in extended form a play I wrote and posted in a comment thread at AmericaBlog
late on the evening of November 11, 2004. This was, of course, shortly after the 2004 Presidential Election, when the comments at AmericaBlog
and other progressive sites had become decidedly downbeat with the defeat of John Kerry by George W. Bush. Hope was fading that anything could be done to change the outcome of the election, despite rumors already swirling of vote fraud, particularly in Ohio but in other states, as well. At the time I wrote this play, my principal intention was to bring a touch of levity to depressed readers, but I also wanted to poke minor, if irreverent and slightly blasphemous, fun at both the Republicans and the Democrats.
My intention in this current republication of that little play is different. In my judgment, the Democratic Party is driving headlong toward the same mistakes it made in 2004, when the chosen candidate declined one opportunity after another to deal with the viciousness, mendacity, and hatefulness of the Republicans. The cowardice that John Kerry showed both before and after the election was a tribute to the dominance of the Republican strategy in an era of voter ignorance, mean-spiritedness, and tolerance of corruption of purpose and morals. Playing nice, being dignified, and posing with reason were trumped by the Republicans, who neither cared for those rules nor abided by them. To imagine that somehow the fundamental dynamic has changed is to hope for politics to move toward some old-fashioned, largely repudiated, entirely obsolete, and somewhat mythical strategy. Hardly ever does politics move toward strategy; rather, the successful politician moves his or her strategy toward the politics of the era.
According to important Democratic consultants, we bloggers in Blogosphere Left 2.0 are irrelevant. We're too strident, we're too untamed, and we just don't understand. These charges are all too true. Unlike conservative bloggers, who march in lock-step grinds of Party Line diatribes, we in Blogosphere Left 2.0 are a cacaphony of voices coming from all different directions, having rather disparate focuses of primary interest and showing a growing intolerance for our very own politicians and their groveling, cowering appeasement of the black-hearted hate machine of neo-conservatism and its nasty apostasy of Right-wing evangelicalism.
The Democrats who would pose to win our approval must be forewarned, however. We bloggers can be very creative, and we have no qualms about making appeasers within our ranks the object of our derision. We can make laughing stocks of cowards, and we can do it in many ways, from many angles, and from thousands of places both here in cyberspace and in the world of the meat puppets. This is what we do: we disrespect institutional rigor mortus
, we disrupt the best laid plans of our more respectable and reputable betters, and we enjoy our craft like some people enjoy chocolate, sex, and low-amperage cattle prods.
Without further ado, from mid-November of the year 2004, the Dark Wraith herewith presents the Director's Cut of the re-release of...The 2004 Presidential Smackdown ExtravaganzaCamera and music on cue... three, two, one, and... GO!
[Blaring, high-energy music]
[World Political Wrestling Federation Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]
[Camera 3 pan audience. Hard-in zoom on screaming fans.]
[Camera 1, face-on: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Satan]
: Vee are heer aht the Peoria Ceevic Center for the BEEgest
tag-team match in the heestory of the universe.Satan
: That's right, Arny. ToNIGHT
, it's the tag team of George "The DUH-bya" Bush and Dick "The Dick" Cheney going head-to-head with Jesus Christ and John Kerry!Schwarzenegger
: VAHT a fight eeet's going to be: A no-holds-barred, veeenner-take-all, three-round battle for control of the Earth!Satan
: Well, everyone knows which side Arny and I will be cheering for; but we know it's going to be one helluva match, if you'll forgive that little self-promotion.Schwarzenegger
: Of course
vee vill. The majority of Americans vant our team to vin, anyvay.DING-DING-DING!Announcer
: LAYDEEEEES... and... GYENTLEMEN!
The Dark Wraith Forums Production Company in association with Way Over the Top Entertainment, LLC, proudly brings you the The 2004 Presidential Smackdown Extravaganza
! In THIS
corner, the WINNER
of the ANNO DOMINI 2000 AND
the ANNO DOMINI 2004 United States Presidential Elections, MR. GEEEEEEEEORGE "The DUH
-bya" BUSH and DICK "The Dick" CHENEY!
(Crowd goes bananas, cheering wildly)Announcer
: And in THIS
corner, the LORD JAY
-SUS "The Savior" CHRIST and JOHN "The Loser" KERRY!
(CROWD boos, hisses)
(Round card girlDonald Rumsfeld in dragcircles the mat holding up Round One
: NO HOLDS ARE ILLEGAL, THREE ROUNDS, THREE-SECOND PIN WINS.DING-DING!
We'll be right back.
Commercial RG1 On.Friends, are yew in need of Salvation? Has yer life turned into a hedonistic Democratic orgy of lustfulness, desire, and delicate French pastries at Barnes & Noble? Do you read literature other than the Living Word of God in the Bible and tracts written by the Reverend Thomas H. Girdlestamp?
Well, it's time for YEW t' come home to the grace that only the Reverend Girdlestamp can offer. Call our toll-free number right now, and we'll send yew, without obligation, our 36-page pamphlet, "Say 'YES!' to the Lord, Say 'NO! to Your Groin." We have operators standing by t' pray with you for Eternal Salvation. Yer donations can be made right there on our Prayer Hotline. Major credit cards are accepted.
So call right now, before another minute passes. Remember: Gawd loves yew, but He ain't got no problem with throwin' yew into Hell if yer a sinner.
[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]
[Camera 5, 45-side-on: Satan and Schwarzenegger, turn to camera]
: Just eeen time. Vill the sorry-ass team of Kerry and Jesus even last three rounds?Satan
: I don't know, Arny. They're already broken. You can see it: Kerry's slow, and those weak knees of his are starting to buckle every time he tries to put up his dukes. And that Jesus character: who would've believed the 'Messiah' would be such a wimp when it comes to death, destruction, and oppressive occupation? Looks like that 'forgive your enemies' strategy is about to meet the big-time, real-world whammy.Schwarzenegger
: Zee bell ees about to...DING-DING-DING!
Jesus steps out into ring from right corner.
Cheney strides out from left corner.
Jesus opens his arms, palms of hands revealing scars of the Crucifixion: "Welcome, my son."
Cheney roars, "FUCK
you, Jesus!" and grabs Jesus by the throat, lifts Him into the air, spinning Him 'round and 'round.
Jesus cries, "FATHER, why hast Thou forsaken me this soon?!"
Cheney bawls, "Mushroom clouds! MUSHROOM CLOUDS!!!
" and slams Jesus to the mat, grabs his foot, and starts twisting it.
Kerry reaches as far into the ring as he can, screaming: "TAG ME, JESUS! TAG ME! I'm ready for battle! I'll SAVE YOU!"
Jesus claws his way toward Kerry but suddenly gets dragged to the middle of the ring. Cheney jumps up, runs at ropes, bounces off, makes flying dive onto the Lord's chest.
DUH-bya screams from ringside, "Lemme at 'im, lemme at 'im. C'mon, Dick, you PROMISED
I could do something. I'm a BIG boy! I flew an airplane!"
Cheney gets up slowly and deliberately. Jesus lies still, eyes glazed. Cheney walks toward the corner of the ring and picks up giant remote control device. "Okay, George. GO GIT 'EM!"
Cheney starts pressing buttons furiously as Bush climbs into ring. DUH-bya yells, "Axis of EVIL. Weapons o' Mass Destruction. Long-term effects of alcohol and cocaine. Mission Accomplished. Served with honor. No one saw Jeff on top, so it doesn't count."
Jesus grovels to the side of the ring, tags Kerry.
Kerry leaps into ring, runs at Bush.
Cheney grabs M60 machine gun and starts firing wildly.B-B-B-B-B-B-B-BAM-POP-POP-BAM!
Jesus dives for cover. Kerry hollers: "I'm gonna charge that machine gun nest!" Cheney aims at Kerry, fires point-blank. Kerry shrieks, "I'm HIT! I'm HIT
! He got me right in the ass! MEDIC! MEDIC
!... I want a Purple Heart for this!"
Kerry staggers backward, tags Jesus.DING-DING!
We'll be right back.
Commercial GW1 On.[Smirking middle-aged man] I used to have a limp you-know-what. Couldn't pulse beef worth a damn... Then I tried Porkalis... And now... [Blaring trombones; cut to picture of the Matterhorn]
[Deep male voice-over] Ask your doctor about Porkalis. See if it's right for you. Side effects may include blood loss to small brains; uncontrolled sense of being attractive when actually old, fat, and ugly; and certain gristly tissues bursting into giant, flaming torch. Use only as directed on fire extinguisher.
[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Unfortunately coincidental flame burst across screen.]
[Camera 1, face-on]DING-DING-DING!Schwarzenegger
: VAHT A FIGHT!Satan
: You SAID it, Arny. This was billed as the Battle of the Apocalypse, and it sure IS
! I've never seen anything LIKE
it! Dick and DUH-bya CONTROL
the agenda, no doubt ABOUT
: Jesus and John have no plan, no strategy. Did you SEE the way Kerry was flip-flopping around after he got hit with that round from the M60?!Satan
: And look at JESUS
: Just lying there acting like some kind of martyr!
(Round-Card Rumsfeld parades around the ring, holding up ROUND TWO
Jesus staggers into the center of the ring. DUH-bya, controlled by Cheney's remote from ringside, lands blow after blow, backing the Lord into a corner. DUH-bya pushes Jesus's upper body under top rope, flips Him over so His body is tangled between top and middle ropes.
DUH-bya turns around to wave to the crowd. Crowd shrieks approval of twisting Christ to conform to Bush's agenda.Satan
: I don't see John Kerry ANYWHERE
: He's over there in front of the judges testifying about the atrocities going on in the ring.Satan
(laughing): A lot of good THAT'LL
do. (mocking) Boo-hoo-hoo.
While George is busy waving to his fans, Jesus has managed to untangle Himself. Without anyone seeing how He got there, He's suddenly standing on top of a corner ring post, towering over DUH-bya.
(Crowd howls hysterically.)Satan
: Oh, my GOD! Jesus is about to lower the BOOM
: Vaht can save heeem, NOW?!
Suddenly, Cheney leaps back into the ring and knocks George out of the way as Jesus descends upon His enemy. Jesus hits the ground with a THUD, lies unconscious.
Kerry scrambles under ropes into the ring, yells to Cheney: "You can't DO
Cheney screams, "WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT! WHO'S GOING TO STOP US! WHO HAS EVER STOPPED US?!!!!
George rushes over, flips Jesus on his back, pins His shoulders to the mat.Referee
: ONE... TWO...DING-DING!
We'll be right back.
Commercial RC1 On.[Female voice-over; somber violin music] The Republican National Committee needs your help. As we speak, America is being overrun by Democrats on every street corner, encouraging young boys into homosexual encounters at local YMCAs, telling girls it's okay to have multiple abortions after rape and incest, putting help wanted ads in newspapers to draw women away from their homes and families, making God-fearing American men sympathize with the billions of Muslim terrorists all over the world, and teaching impressionable college students how to use the American flag for toilet paper.
[Switch to up-beat, redneck/techno-pop fusion music] But the Republican National Committee is at the forefront of the war to protect our dear, beloved country from the people who hate it. This vile, liberal scum CAN be stopped and its minions sent to secret prisons for testicular electrification and disembowelment. But we need your donations. Send them in now, or make a donation at your local Right-wing church, where God is on your side... and ours!
[Blast music, WPWF Logo fast-zoom. Flame burst across screen.]
[Camera 1, backed out, face-on to Schwarzenegger and Satan. Pull in, Schwarzenegger.]DING-DING-DING!Schwarzenegger
: I AM EXHAUSTED
: SO AM I. Can you BELIEVE
it? The Lord Jesus Christ saved by some idiotic technicality like the end-of-round bell? Where's the justice?!Schwarzenegger
: Kerry and Christ are broken, defeated, hated by the majority of the audience! Why don't they just throw in the towel right NOW?Satan
: John Kerry is such an EMBARRASSMENT
! Jesus could have joined the Bush/Cheney ticket, but instead, He chose the losing side... once AGAIN
. Will he ever LEARN
? This round's gonna be ugly, I can feel it in my bones, can't you, Muscle Man?Schwarzenegger
: I sure can, O Summoner of Blood Rivers. The end is at hand, and VEE are here to see it!
Round-Card Rumsfeld prances around the ring, holding up ROUND THREE
Kerry marches forward, salutes. Cheney and Bush, together in ring, give him a double head slap. Kerry stands firm, refuses to address personal assault.
[Ear splitting, roaring engine sound fills auditorium] VROOOOM! VROO-VROOO-VRRROOOMMMM!!Satan
: DO YOU SEE WHO'S JUST ENTERED THE ARENA?! It's... it's... MARY CHENEY, and... and... SHE'S WEARING A VIKING MAIDEN OUTFIT, COMPLETE WITH HORNS ON THE HELMET!!!Schwarzenegger
: And she's accessorizing with a 1973 Harley-Davidson!Satan
: What STYLE
(Crowd screams in complete hysteria.)
DUH-bya and Cheney grab Kerry and haul him into the air, rushing him toward ringside where Mary Cheney is standing, leaning forward. George and Dick heave Kerry over the ropes and slam him down right into Mary's horns.
(bawling above mob): HO-LEEE MOSES
!! They just GORED
an END to a caREER
Kerry slumps over, falls off hat, tags Jesus as he crumples onto the floor of the arena outside the ring.
Jesus goes under ropes into the ring and stands up directly in front of Dick and DUH-bya.
Cheney cries out, "Where is your kingdom, NOW
Bush echoes, "Yeah, where is your kingdom, NOW
Together, they step forward, flogging Christ, driving Him backward into a corner of the ring.Satan
: They're gonna CRUCIFY
Cheney snarls, "Join me or DIE
, Sweet Jesus!"
Jesus turns to look for Kerry, but he's gone. All alone, Jesus stands, waiting for the EndTime.
All of a sudden, beside Him are standing men and women: My Pet Goat, OddJob, Lizzy, Wild Clover, Barbi, elf, Trailer Trash, Shakespeare's Sister, Jen, Gary A., PoliShifter, Dread Pirate Roberts, Lily, Paul the Spud, Missouri Mule, Phoenician in a time of Romans, Chief, BlondeSense Liz, Old White Lady, Fat Lady Sings, DemiOrator, BadTux, Culture Ghost, Green Knight, Elise, meEE, Karen M, Lisa Renee, Pam, Julien, Guy Andrew Hall, Kenneth Quinnell, Ron Brynaert, Charlie, isabelita, Eric Hopp, Mary, Debra, blackdog, Eli Blake, Radical Russ, No Blood for Hubris, Tim, Kate, Cyn, Misty, Lab Kat, Me4President, Stealth Badger, Charles Perez, Gary, Mixter, Cherizac, ROF, Red State Blues, dorsano, Gordon, LindiB, SB Gypsy, Lymond, binky, Treban, DonViti, Pissed Off Patricia, Mr. Shakes, Dark Daughta, Chuck, Deborah, Peter of Lone Tree, Ben Wood, Wadena, Holly, Anntichrist S. Coulter, Progressive Traditionalist, NC Gal, Siri, Luther, T. Rogers, Culture Ghost, DeLLBerto, Left Behind Child, eponymous, litbrit, Andi Allen, Fixer, badgerpup, actor212, ROF, Kathy, D., Jaye Ramsey Sutter, and a Host of Angels, all proclaiming, GLORY BE TO THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT
DUH-bya and Dick kick Jesus's ass.Referee
: ONE... TWO... THREEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!DING-DING-DING-DING-DING!!!!Satan
: DONE! FINISHED
! FINAL VICTORY OVER ALL THAT IS GOOD, DECENT, AND HUMANE!Schwarzenegger
: Vell, that's eet from the Peoria Ceeevic Center Arena, vhere you've just veeetnessed George "The DUH-bya" Bush and Richard "The Dick" Cheney destroy all hope for the future of the human race!Satan
: Right you ARE, Arny. It was EVERYTHING
a politics and religion fanatic could've hoped for! And now begins The Thousand Year Reign of Blackness.Schwarzenegger
: I'm Ahnold Svahtzenekkehr.Satan
: And I'm Satan. Good night, and may God bless you... NOT!
[Music fast fade-in]
[Logo on screen.]
[Camera 7 pan empty arena]
[Camera 6 outside shot of Civic Center; demons swooping down, snatching fans' souls and dragging them down into Hell]
[Fade to black][Cut]
(Darkened arena. Lone janitor sweeping aisleways.)
Small stage door creaks open. Head peeks out, looks around.Janitor
(looking startled): Who're YOU
?Figure in doorway
: I'm John Kerry. I used to be a contender.Janitor
: Oh. Well, I'm Dark Wraith; I'm just the janitor. The closest exit is over there, sir. Please make sure the door locks behind you on your way out.Kerry
(walking out the exit): Thank you for your support.Janitor
: You're quite welcome, Mr. Kerry.
The Dark Wraith Forums Production Company
in association with
Way Over the Top Entertainment, LLC
The Dark Wraith bows to the applauding audience.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
NJ: Corruption and Property Taxes
I am not certain how much play New Jersey’s corruption and high property taxes gets around the country, but with Governor Corzine’s budget recently in the news, I thought it a good time to put a brief essay forward that discusses these two related topics. The governor’s budget has a lot more good in it than bad. Much of the talk about cutting waste in the New Jersey budget is hype on the part of Republicans, right leaning media components such as Gannett News and so-called “grassroots” tax groups that are merely tools of the Republican Party. The reality is that most of the budget on the state level is out of the governor’s control and the tax system is heavily slanted by the disastrous Whitman years to favor the wealthy via high regressive property taxes and low progressive income taxes. Also, Corzine was left with little choice but to put in $1.1 Billion to fund the pension system, and therein lies much of his increases in spending. He did put forth very respectable departmental cuts, suggested layoffs and asked everyone to tighten their belts.
Corruption in New Jersey politics is rampant, but some immediate steps would go a long way in reducing the problem. A comprehensive statewide ban on pay to play, where contractors pony up campaign cash for large contracts, would be a good start, as opposed to the limited approaches so far proposed and enacted. "Wheeling," the practice of party leaders shifting funds from one area to another, should be banned, too. Powerbrokers have too much control of state politics and ending "wheeling" would reduce their role significantly.
New Jersey’s pension system is rife with problems stemming from corruption, but two quick ways to help fix the problem would be ending pension padding and double dipping. Only full time positions should count towards pensions and the calculation should be based on a longer period of time at the end of a worker’s employment time. Also, there are plenty of qualified people in New Jersey who could hold political office. There is absolutely no justification for someone to hold two positions simultaneously in government. An end to dual officeholding would greatly reduce the powers of any one politician.
Much hay is made of reducing government payrolls, but most of that talk is nonsense and politically-driven hype. Workers in government are no more lazy then in private industry ( I have worked in both) and the overall workforce is not bloated. However, there are entirely too many politically appointed, “do nothing” positions in New Jersey government. Severe cutbacks of these positions would be wise and have no negative impact on services.
A more aggressive Attorney General would be a strong deterrent to those who wish to use the political system for their own gain. Previous AG, Peter Harvey, was a disaster to put it kindly. Judgment on Zulima Farber will come in time, but we can all hope she provides a change and more vigorous enforcement and prosecution.
The strongest way to fight corruption is one that is not brought up that often; strengthened regulations regarding developers. I am increasingly of the belief that there is not one honest developer in New Jersey, and they are at the root of the problem here. Pay to play is an issue that directly relates to developers and their influence peddling. The free reign given to developers also accounts for New Jersey’s dire over-development problems and poor housing (particularly in condos) code measures. New Jersey is a state for sale, and it is the developers doing the buying.
While I am on the subject of developers, and having touched on condos, I should mention that new laws are needed to protect condo owners. The ability of a developer to build sub-standard condos, hire a property management firm connected to that developer and then control the community’s board by maintaining ownership of a large block of units is too easy and leads to no controls in many communities. Condos are not properly inspected or maintained, damage is covered up until the developer’s liability has expired, and middle class taxpayers are left holding the bag for these ruinous practices.
Developers should not be allowed to have a current or passed affiliation with any property management firm hired by a community. No condo owner should have more then one vote in a community regardless of how many units owned. Developers should be required to sell at a minimum 90% of the units they hold after a five year period, conditional upon getting a fair market value for the units.
Homeowners should have a strong agency on the state level to turn to for representation and empowerment against corrupt, inefficient or negligent property management firms, too. Currently, property management firms have almost no controls on them and the abuses they inflict on homeowners via threats and mismanagement can only be described as mind boggling.
Turning to property taxes, I should first re-state that cutting “waste” in government and fighting corruption will have little effect on reducing property taxes in New Jersey.
School levies make up over 60% of the total property tax levies in most municipalities in the state. The problem here is two-fold: too many school districts/home rule and little or no means of reigning in school budgets.
New Jersey has over 600 school districts. There are more then a few that do not even have any schools! Each district is awash in administrators making well over $150,000 a year, with quite a few making several hundred thousand when perks and fringe benefits are factored in. It takes money to bring strong leaders on board. No one would argue that. However, what I would dispute is the need for so many of these folks on the payroll. There’s too many, end of story. I do not begrudge teachers, good and hardworking ones, the right to a solid paycheck, and I do not even have a problem with an administrator being paid a high salary. But New Jersey does not need as many districts with so many high-end paychecks driving up property taxes.
Even in districts that are large enough to be justifiable in their existence, more of an effort needs to be made to promote joint service agreements. I see this gaining in momentum, but more should be done. Consolidation of purchases and sharing of services will surely reduce costs.
Another way of reducing property taxes via reigning in runaway school costs is in addressing school budget votes. Right now, they are held in April, separate from any other elections in the state. Turnout is sparse and focus is minimal. Connecting school budget votes to primaries would increase turnout and attention paid to the budgets would surely increase.
Of course, the idea that defeating a school budget should lead to a cut in taxes is a good thing to hope for, but it is not reality in New Jersey. When a school budget is defeated, it is turned over to the municipality’s governing body, which then makes cuts. I have seen time and time again, though, schools appeal to a weak and gutless state that turns around and restores all or most of the cuts to the budget. That does not work. If a budget is defeated, a certain percent minimum should be required to be reduced and the state should only restore items that would be harmful to the education of the children of that district. The state should require strong proof of this and schools should be forced to cut administrators long before they even discuss cutting teachers or programs. Look at a school budget closely, which I have done many times over the last dozen years, and you will be able to find significant room for slashing that will not impact learning and important extra-curricular programs.
One other way to cut property taxes that is fair and reasonable, and would benefit the most people, has been tried before. In the early 90’s, then Governor James Florio increased the sales and income taxes in the state. The income tax, which is highly progressive, would have hit higher wage earners, and did reduce property taxes, which is regressive and hits lower wage earners. Sadly, foolish or biased “grassroots” groups, and lazy and self-interested political and media figures fought Florio, and New Jersey ended up with Christie Whitman and her tax increases, yes, increases, for the vast majority of people, as property taxes skyrocketed so that the wealthy could pay less in income taxes. Fairness must be returned to the system and that is done by lowering property taxes. Lowering property taxes cannot be accomplished without raising income taxes by reasonable amounts. Sorry, but we need government services and those services must be paid for. Who pays is at issue. I vote for the upper classes paying more and the middle and lower classes paying less.
That concludes one New Jersey citizens diatribe on corruption/reform and property taxes in my beloved state. The answers are there and are attainable. Governor Corzine took a modest step or two in the right direction. Some members of the legislature such as Assemblyman Michael Panter (D - Monmouth County)
have proposed positive measures of their own. We need much more and we need leaders in both parties who will lead and not be part of the problem. They seem to be few and far between at this point.
Yada Yada Yada
by Shakespeare's Sister
forwarded me the link to this column
by Colin McEnroe, which serves as a great laundry list of validations for consigning Joe Lieberman to permanent exile from the Democratic Party, but this part in particular struck Toast (and me):
Lieberman said the Catholic hospitals shouldn't have to hand out the pills and that transportation should instead be provided, for the rape victim, to some other hospital. He said, "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."
Wow. You've got a woman who has been raped. She's shattered, shivering, sobbing, frightened. It's 3 a.m. She just spent hours at St. Somebody for the humiliating and invasive process of evidence collection. Now you're going to hustle her into a cab or shuttle bus to go somewhere else and get a pill that would keep her from bearing the rapist's child because you can't stand to prick the conscience of a hospital administrator?
That's taking better care of the administrator than of the rape victim. And the former is generally having a better day than the latter.
It reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld
, in which George is (as per usual) freaking out, on this occasion because he fears his girlfriend has “yada yadaed sex.”
George: Can you yada-yada sex?
Elaine: I’ve yada-yadaed sex.
George: You have?!
Elaine: I went out with this hot young lawyer, we went out for dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, and yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.
Jerry: But you yada-yadaed the best part!
Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisque.
In spite of its recalling that rather funny scene, Lieberman’s reducing the trauma of being redirected to a hospital which is willing to provide you the care you need after being raped to “a short ride” is not amusing. He’s yada-yadaing all the things upon which McEnroe deliberately elucidates—the emotional devastation, the fear, the humiliation, the invasiveness, all of which are exacerbated by the implied shamefulness of wanting to prevent a possible pregnancy caused by a sexual assault.What’s the big deal? It’s just a short ride. You come in, you talk to the cops, you get your legs spread in front of strangers who investigate your twat for evidence, and yada yada yada, you get your pill.
But you yada-yadaed over the worst part!
No, I mentioned the twat exam.
There is, in the wake of a rape, the functional process of moving forward. It doesn’t always include reporting the assault, but when it does, those functional processes (can) include the interview with police, the medical examination, and emergency birth control. There’s also the emotional process, which is an entirely different animal, and can last a very long time, even though it often begins immediately. The terror, the feeling of brokenness, the guilt or shame.
Imagine being in that space, and being told you’ve got to be moved—a short ride
—to complete your medical care. Imagine asking why, and being told, effectively, “Sorry, we don’t accommodate immoral people like you. No, no—we’re not judging you for being raped, dear. That’s not your fault. But just because we sympathize with your having been forced to have sex against your will doesn’t mean we think you have right to be a babykiller.”
Whisking away a rape victim in state transport like it’s some kind of prison transfer may seem an acceptable way to address the functional process of delivering emergency birth control, but it’s clearly, unequivocally, an unacceptable detriment to the associated emotional process—and, incidentally, will thusly become a barrier to the functional process, as more women become hesitant to report the crime, at the risk of facing such ridiculous moralization. “First do no harm” isn’t meant to apply to hospital staff, but to their patients, for crying out loud.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
by Shakespeare's Sister
emailed me the link to The Smoking Gun’s post
of Dark Lord Dick Cheney’s suite demands. Pretty amusing—of course this is my favorite:
I just love how the TVs must be pre-tuned to Fox, lest the delicate veep accidentally catch a glimpse of actual news.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The Lunatic O’Reilly Goes for Baroque
by Shakespeare's Sister
When I am compelled to subject myself to the sneering, language-mangling, condescending, heh-heh
ing visage of our president, some sort of high-school-chemistry-class-experiment-gone-haywire reaction happens in my gut, causing it to churn and gurgle, eventually producing some wicked concoction that gets into my bloodstream and travels to my brain, where the devilish compound then explodes in a white hot flash, and I am left a seething mass of teeth-gnashing, fist-clenching rage.
On the occasions I have had the misfortune to witness the undulating tangle of self-righteousness, delusion, and smugness that is Bill O’Reilly, I have approximately the same reaction, only ever so slightly less so.
It’s difficult for me to pin down exactly what I find most revolting about O’Reilly—the unmitigated, bloviating assertions of rightness in the face of contrary facts? the incessant and rude interrupting of his guests? the self-referentialism? the self-reverence?—but suffice it to say, I loathe it all. There isn’t a moment that passes on his nightly cavalcade of dreadfulness that isn’t categorically offensive to every fiber of my being. He is a conceited, discourteous, lying swine, who has the unique capacity to nauseate me even on the rare and fleeting instances when I agree with him.
So it was with no small amount of pleasure I read Nicholas Lemann’s beautifully constructed takedown
of the Mayor of Swillville in The New Yorker
, to which I was directed care of the splendid Blogenfreude at Agitprop
. To wit:
O’Reilly, like every political talk-show host with a big following, is a populist, who, in his beyond-irony way, is a rich, middle-aged white guy aligned with the ruling party, and who has the guts to stand up to the élitists who run (but also hate) this country. To say that that doesn’t make any sense is to deny oneself the pleasure that a close study of O’Reilly affords.
By the time I got to Lemann’s description of the sex-offender fixated O’Reilly’s program as “increasingly, not a conservative show but a cop show—‘O’Reilly: Special Victims Unit,’ perhaps,” and his recounting of O’Reilly’s masturbatory fantasies of the beheading of Michael Kinsley to further prove my theory that O’Reilly uses his outlier radio show to plumb the depths of his odium
, I was flush with the fever of a happy contentedness that I generally associate with the need for a cigarette and a nap.
Now, it’s true that I hate Bill O’Reilly with a fiery passion that burns brighter than 10,000 suns
, so perhaps those who, say, would describe the intensity of their revulsion for him as merely sufficient to power a small African village for three years won’t quite reach the pinnacles of ecstasy that I did. But give it a read, anyway. At minimum, it cleanses the palette, if momentarily, of the distaste left behind by the sheer verity of his existence.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Wholesale Prices Plummet in February
by Dark Wraith
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday
that the producer price index (PPI) for February fell by a dramatic 1.4 percent, indicating an annualized rate of deflation of 15.6 percent at the wholesale level. This surprising result was driven by falling costs of food, which experienced a decline of 2.7 percent for the month, and energy, which slid by 4.7 percent. The so-called "core" producer price index, which excludes wholesale prices of food and energy, rose by three-tenths of a percent, representing an annualized inflation rate for wholesale goods other than food and energy of approximately 3.7 percent.
Although the dramatic drop in wholesale prices was something of a surprise to economists, the jump of 0.3 percent in the core PPI was quite a bit larger than expected: the consensus among economists was that wholesale prices other than for food and energy had risen in February by a modest 0.1 percent, meaning that the actual figure was triple what had been anticipated by experts. This surprise comes on the heels of the revised core PPI of 0.4 percent for January.
The graphic at left shows the core inflation rate over the past six months for which data is available. As noted, the core does not reflect the whipsaw of energy prices that have plagued the economy during the past several years. Although many anticipated that, as the military and political situation in Iraq stabilized and that country was again able to deliver significant amounts of oil to the world markets, energy prices would generally decline and no longer exhibit the up and down swings that characterized the first months after the invasion by Coalition forces led by the United States. Because of the continuing insurgency in Iraqan insurgency some now characterize as civil warand because of the attendant, continuing supply disruptions, the global markets have continued to be roiled. Although an important part of the continuing volatility of energy prices at both the wholesale and retail level, the situation in Iraq is but one of many factors contributed to edgy, volatile world markets for hydrocarbon products. Among the other causes of oil price volatility have been a spate of temporary refinery closings in the United States due to fires and natural disasters, as well as concerns on the international stage about the possibility of widened conflict in the Middle East and threats by Iran to curtail sales of oil to the West in the face of threats by the United States and the several European nations regarding the Persian nation's on-going nuclear research and development program.
No doubt exists that there has been a general trend upward in wholesale and retail energy prices since at least the beginning of the Bush Administration, but it could be argued that the substantial February decline at the wholesale level indicates the possibility that the worst of the overall price increases might be coming to an end, at least for a while. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 4.7 percent slip in energy prices was largely the result of a 9.5 percent slide in gasoline prices paid by retailers and a stunning collapse of 24 percent in wholesale natural gas prices. While these declines represent real respites at the wholesale level, there is no reason to believe that a significant portion of those savings were passed on to consumers and businesses that pay retail prices.
Dark Wraith CyberGlossAs a general rule, companies do not want to experience gains and losses merely because of rapid, unpredictable swings in the costs of inputs. To make net cash flows more predictable, large companies form positions in securities so they will gain on the investments if they lose money on the factor cost, and they will lose on the investments if they gain on the factor cost. This is called "hedging."
More importantly, however, is that the volatility in and of itself of energy prices has an adverse effect on wholesalers, just like similar volatility in retail prices adversely affects those who pay the prices at the level of final goods and services. The problem is that, when prices swing wildly from month to month and even from week to week, consumers and businesses become more defensive in their spending patterns because of the increased uncertainty with which they must make spending plans. For example, even if, on average, the overall cost of energy rose by a relatively modest two percent over a year, the business could face considerable budget challenges if in two consecutive months the cost of energy first fell by fifteen percent then rose by seventeen percent. The volatility has created business planning risk, and this same principle of increased risk is faced by households. For both households and businesses, this elevated level of risk tends to encourage a less aggressive planning pattern for expenditures. An interesting differential effect can also be noteworthy: large and medium-sized firms can use the financial managers and brokerage services to hedge against a substantial share of random price volatility. This is one of the important benefits of so-called derivatives, which are used to buffer the ups and downs of everything from energy costs to exchange rates. The securities in a hedging portfolio earn money as a certain price moves adversely to a firm's business position and lose money as that price moves favorably to the firm's business position; hence, the derivate acts to nullify or at least to mitigate the non-business related volatility in the firm's earnings. Unfortunately, however, small businesses and consumers are rarely able to deal in these types of investments, both because of the up-front costs of getting involved, as well as because of the significant amounts of capital required to regularly and continuously participate in hedge markets, where exacting care and high costs deter occasional, untrained, and amateur investors.
With respect to the inflation in the United States economy, even as the federal government's inflation figures continue to present a picture of price levels that is not in any way pointing to catastophe, the underlying situation may be quite different because of controversial data manipulation techniques
used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two of the principal techniques are "hedonic pricing" adjustmentsdownward corrections of price increases on the assumption that some part of any given price rise is not inflation, but merely a reflection of quality improvementand "substitution effect" correctionslowering actual, observed price increases under the assumption that, as the prices of certain goods rise, people will substitute away from those goods, thereby mitigating the effects of the price increases.
Regardless of how the federal government's figures deviate from the experiences of businesses and households in the actual economy, management of the underlying inflation rate is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve, which is supposed to be independent of the government and the particular political party that might be dominating fiscal policy. Although the Federal Reserve many months ago, while under the chairmanship of Alan Greenspan, stated clearly that monetary policy to the purpose of accommodating the Bush Administration's fiscal policies was coming to an end, the continuing inflation at both the wholesale and retail levels appears not to be responding adequately, at least not so far. Moreover, as the government continues to report that inflation is far tamer than what business and households are experiencing, the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, and his fellow Fed Governors will have considerable leeway to allow the Federal Reserve to continue printing money at a rate in excess of what is necessary for the real growth rate of the economy.
The Federal Reserve's motivation for printing excessive amounts of money is transparent: it is that excess money that allows the Fed to "monetize" the irresponsible budget deficits being run by the radical Republicans in Congress and in the Administration. Essentially, the Fed is printing the money it needs to participateeither directly or through the financial intermediaries of its banking systemin Treasury auctions to purchase debt instruments the government is issuing to pay for its expenditures that exceed its tax revenues. And the reason the government cannot pay its bills is because of its profligate spending on a war of opportunity, coupled with the severe erosion of the taxable revenues it collects from the wealthier people in the nation who were the primary beneficiaries of three rounds of tax cuts instituted by the Bush Administration and its Republican allies in Congress.
The enduring comfort to be found in this otherwise dire current state of affairs is that it cannot last indefinitely. That, on the other hand, is also what should worry everyone enough to lose sleep at night: ultimately, the gambit will come to an end; and when it does, few will be the places that average Americans may turn for help, and even fewer will be the places the neo-conservatives may hide from retribution.
The Dark Wraith will in all circumstances be available, if for nothing else, to note that everyone was sufficiently warned.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
ROBERTSON: 30-40,000 of them, they're like termites that have worked into the woodwork of our academic society and it's appalling....these guys are out and out communists, they are radicals, you know some of them killers....you don't want your child to be brainwashed by these radicals....Not only brainwashed but beat up, they beat these people up, cower them into submission.
Caught at last. Why just the other day I was applying the lash to four of my students for failing to adequately explain just how evil capitalism is, even as my teaching assistants completed a hit on the pastor of the little evangelical church down the road. Oh, but one of my students, she of the dewy eyes, looked up in the middle of her thrashing and whispered "more, professor, please please more," and I knew that my evil propagandistic ways had been effective. She was brainwashed; she was mine.
Or, you know, not.
I actually spent most of today marking papers for grammar, argument, and style; frankly, I'm happy when a student writes a nice, coherent paragraph no matter what their political beliefs -- which I mostly have no idea about in the first place. After marking, I completed the script for this April's exam in one of my courses, decided what books I want the bookstore to order for my summer classes in Chaucer and Effective Writing, and answered a student's question about his upcoming essay. And I re-read T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" because I have to teach it tomorrow at 10. It's a busy life. Not exactly a glamorous one, though, or a politically adventurous one.
What world is Robertson living in?
Cross-posted at The Green Knight
The 'abortion of marriage'
The Violence Against Women Act
(VAWA) has the knickers of David R. Usher of Men's News Daily
in a big knotted twist.
Usher's tag says he is "Legislative Analyst for the American Coalition for Fathers and Children, Missouri Coalition," a state that voted to not resume funding birth control
and wants to prevent access to abortion
Given that, this essay is not surprising in the least.
VAWA is predicated on the notion that domestic violence is a sex-related problem. Yet, no major study proves that men cause domestic violence more than women do.
VAWA drives the majority of serious family violence
VAWA pretends that men are dangerous in the intact family and should be immediately removed for nothing more than a statement of “fear” or “emotional distress”. If most serious family violence actually occurred in intact families, this would be useful policy.
Here is the truth about domestic violence in married families: Only 4% of serious domestic violence occurs in the intact family. ”[i] The other 96% occurs after the date of separation.
Why would we see nearly all serious domestic violence occur after the date of separation? Liberals often pretend that divorce is a minor surgical procedure. It is not. Abortion of marriage is often a very serious and messy procedure. When one is faced with complete loss of life savings and children in the combative and expensive divorce system, serious spousal conflict can be easily predicted.
If we would not stop forest fires by dumping gasoline on them, we must not pretend we can reduce domestic violence by destroying families as a matter of presumed public policy.
I love that use of "abortion of marriage." Please. I sense a really unhappy guy here -- perhaps you all have some suggestions about how he might feel better about himself.
Ironically, Usher inadvertently makes the case for same-sex marriage, if the stability of the institution itself, as he cites, is key to lowering domestic violence.
If we would not stop forest fires by dumping gasoline on them, we must not pretend we can reduce domestic violence by destroying families as a matter of presumed public policy.
Marriage is the key predicator of low domestic violence rates. Domestic violence rates are higher in cohabiting relationships and non-intact families than in married families.
He later tries to catch himself on this point:
An abundance of evidence proves that women’s centers and radical advocacy groups cover up women’s violence, drive “divorce for the hell of it”, and break up many more families than they actually help. They recommend policies that line their own pockets with billions federal dollars, some of which are misused to lobby for anti-family feminist initiatives such as same-sex marriage, gay. For this reason, no politician who truly cares about the family and the future of marriage could possibly support the Violence Against Women Act.
Is it time for the tiny violin?Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Protect Marriage Illinois launches amendment petition drive today
and his homo-obsession continues, pushing for a Marriage Protection Referendum in Illinois through his Protect Marriage Illinois organization.
Today -- primary day in the state, he's putting the call out for volunteers to collect 100K signatures of known registered voters. Read the tired-ass rhetoric
in the plea (if you go to the site, there are also multiple requests for the open wallet, of course).
...We must act now to permanently protect marriage in Illinois! Since the forced legalization of same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts in 2004, fifteen states have adopted constitutional amendments preserving traditional marriage through ballot initiatives, averaging a winning percentage of over 70 percent. That brings the total to 19 states that have added marriage amendments to their state constitutions. Another 11 states are currently pursuing similar measures.
Illinois does not want to become another Massachusetts. We simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines while other states move quickly to defend marriage.
Illinois citizens who want to permanently protect marriage have until April 20, 2006 to gather 283,111 valid signatures in order to put an Advisory Referendum on the ballot calling on political leaders in Springfield to pass a state constitutional amendment protecting marriage as one man and one woman.
If we do not push for an Amendment to the Illinois State Constitution, liberal activist judges will redefine marriage forever. If we allow that to happen, what would prevent further redefinition of marriage to include polygamy, group marriages, etc.? If marriage is redefined it loses all meaning.
Take a look at the endorsements
in favor of the amendment. The usual suspects are on there, like Peter LaBarbera's hub, the Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women of America, Eagle Forum, etc. Sorry to say yet again, a number of black organizations and pastors are right there in the bigot fold.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Body slam for Jeebus
My, the faith is weak if this
is what they call Christian outreach these days.
Small bands of masked evangelists, clad in tights and armed with biblical names, argue it is. The violence and intensity of wrestling, they claim, can be the perfect way to attract the alternative, younger crowd.
At the beginning of some "Wrestling for Jesus" shows, wrestler Chase "Darkness" Cliett is strapped to a massive wooden cross on stage as piercing music is played. A group of evil wrestlers beats and bloodies him before the good guys dramatically come to his rescue. Later, after a horned fellow in a red suit is knocked out, the preaching begins.
But it's not for everyone; many churches won't even consider letting them perform. One performance ended with real fighting, real cursing and a repentant participant stretched-out face-down in the ring weeping.
Just so you know, you can catch the WFJ show at the Johnston J.C.'s Peach Blossom Festival in Johnston, S.C. on April 1 -- and that's no April Fool's joke.Darkness
From: The Hills of Golgotha
Finishing Move: Lights Out
Quote: "Whatever your mind can conceive and believe your body can achieve"
Entrance Music: "Metal is Forever" (Primal Fear)
Titles Held: Current Tag Team Champions, United States Champion, Cruiserweight ChampionZion
From: Nagasaki, Japan
Finish Move: Fall of Zion
Entrance Music: "Your Powerful" (Skillet)
Titles Held: Cruiserweight ChampionCross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Don’t be a Feminist; Be Happy!
by Shakespeare's Sister
A recent Slate article
reported with some hand-wringing that “women who strongly identify as progressive—the 15 percent who agree
most with feminist ideals—have a harder time being happy than their peers.” Oh, woe is we. I’m tempted to simply snark, “I think we covered this ground in The Matrix
” and leave it at that, but I’ll give it a little time.
The Happy Feminist wisely points out
that it’s the wrong question.
We never see articles that talk about whether democracy will make the Iraqis happy or whether equal rights for African-Americans have made them happy or whether our civil liberties make us Americans happy. I don't think those who fought the American Revolution said to themselves, "Wouldn't we be happier if we simply accepted taxation without representation rather than fighting this rather unpleasant war?"
To frame the effectiveness of feminism in terms of whether it makes women happy is just one more way of patronizing women.
This is all true. But even though it’s certainly the wrong
question, it’s a distinctly American one. We say that money can’t buy happiness, but no one can accuse us of not bloody trying! Happy Birthday—here are some presents! Happy Holidays—here are some more presents! Feeling down? Buy some happy pills! Need a vacation? Heck—the Happiest Place on Earth is right here on our shores! We’re pathologically determined to be happy, and if you’re not…well, what the hell is wrong with you?
There are those people who can’t imagine that to be an American can be anything but being happy. (These tend to be people for whom the term “ignorance is bliss” was coined, people who will ignore all sorts of ugliness—including and especially their own struggles—because if you chant “USA! USA!” while secretly harboring doubts about the totality of your happiness, it makes the baby Jesus cry.) I’ve had conversations with Americans who assert something quite close to an obligation to be happy. Why, it’s right there in the Declaration of Independence!
One might note that the clause to which they are referring is the guarantee to “life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness.” Not happiness, but its pursuit. Therein lies the key to the whole feminism conundrum. Feminism is the pursuit
of equality, the push for an egalitarianism that would, in its way, be a very pleasant kind of happiness. And that makes it quite decidedly American, perhaps more so than ignoring the necessity of struggle implicit in our framers’ words.
In truth, if Americans did a little less worrying about what makes us happy, and paid a bit more attention to those other two concepts, we’d probably all find happiness more readily within our collective reach. Sometimes being stuck in the muck is unpleasant, but there’s something to be said for the personal satisfaction derived of the social conscience that empathy fuels. The problem is that too many of us who express—and maybe even genuinely find—happiness in this country, do it at the expense of the happiness of others.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
In the interest of fairness and balance, let’s all agree that homosexuality is bad.
by Shakespeare's Sister
At minimum, let’s agree that there are plenty of religious people who think it’s bad, and that their children have every right to make that point in public schools
When people are this far apart, every act by one side is seen as a hostile move by the other. A "Day of Silence" to protest treatment of gays and lesbians is now followed by a "Day of Truth" to promote conservative religious views of homosexuality. A T-shirt proclaiming "Straight Pride" is worn to counter one professing "Gay Pride." These differences are deep and difficult to negotiate.
You know, I’m automatically suspicious of any article written by someone who’s authored a book called Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in Public Schools
, but I gave it a fair shot. Yet here, in the third paragraph, we’re already being asked to treat “Day of Silence,” which protests the treatment of the LGBT community—see: Matthew Shepard, who was robbed, beaten, tied to a fence with his own shoelaces, and left to die—with the same respect as “Day of Truth,” which serves no purpose (by the admission of its purveyor, the Alliance Defense Fund) other than to promulgate propaganda about a homosexual agenda.
Yes, those differences are deep. One is about tolerance and respect. One is about ignorance and hostility. One is about actual persecution. One is about a persecution complex.
For the process to work, school officials must be fair, honest brokers of a dialogue that involves all stakeholders. That means, first and foremost, that school leaders must refrain from choosing sides in the culture-war debate over homosexuality. If schools are going to find agreement on policies and practices that bring the community together, it won't be by taking a side and coercing others to accept it.
The only reason that someone, in this day and age, can get away with suggesting that public schools shouldn’t “choose sides” in a “culture-war debate over homosexuality” is because we have a government that flatly refuses to enact federal protections on behalf of the LGBT community. Consider how ridiculous it would sound to argue that schools shouldn’t choose sides about racism or sexism or hostility toward people with disabilities. It’s not that there aren’t white supremacists or misogynists or people who complain bitterly about disabled parking and ADA code requirements who have kids in schools that have been indoctrinated into their views, but they aren’t arguing to allow their kids to spout off racial separatist garbage, for example, because the law protects minorities, so they know they’d lose
. Public schools aren’t required to remain neutral on these other issues—even though there are people who cite religion as the source for their retrograde notions. Not so very long ago, religion was invoked with regularity as a defense of racism, even among the mainstream. It wasn’t right then, and it’s not right now, irrespective of the underlying issue. The difference is that we have chosen to protect some people by law and have left others vulnerable to attack because we don’t consider them worthy of the same legal protections.
To avoid divisive fights and lawsuits, educators and parents must agree on civic ground rules to ensure fairness for all sides. After all, public schools belong to everyone. However deeply we disagree about homosexuality, the vast majority of us want schools to uphold the rights of all students in a safe learning environment.
Again, consider the absurdity if this were an argument for protecting the right of a student to argue for racial segregation. Would anyone take seriously the notion that a racist student’s right to grandstand his separatist views in a public school should be given equal consideration to a minority student’s right to attend a public school without being subjected to such harassment? My rights end where yours begin.
A student has a right to express anti-gay sentiments from here to Kingdom Come, unless and until it begins to encroach upon another student’s right to be free of harassment. Within the confines of a public school, that space becomes severely limited. I can’t help but balk at the suggestion of someone who asserts an interest in seeing “schools uphold the rights of all students in a safe learning environment,” that we must necessarily (but—shrug
—unavoidably) create a hostile environment for gay students in order to protect the rights of anti-gay students. It’s so easy to lay out the theory without considering the real-world effect on gay students of being subjected to didactic, anti-gay screeds from their classmates. And while it may be fun to pretend that preventing homobigot students from putting their bigotry on public display is just as psychologically damaging, I hardly think restricting the espousing of their philosophy to the other 16 hours of the day when they’re not in school will render their delicate souls irreparably shattered.
It isn't possible for us to reach ideological or religious consensus, but it is possible - and necessary - to reach civic consensus on civil dialogue.
I am, as ever, irritated by the subtle implications that this debate comes down to the morality firmly rooted in religion versus immorality rooted in religion’s void. Religion is not the singular source of morality, and so it should not be given special dispensation for its insertion into public debates, as if leaving out religion leaves out morality altogether. Civil dialogue would indeed be great, but in reality, it simply cannot include allowing students to parade around in “Day of Truth” t-shirts, handing out literature about the homosexual agenda, or giving “diversity week” speeches about how the Roman Catholic church thinks homosexuality is wrong. There’s nothing “civil” about any of those things, no matter how politely the shit is shoveled.
Perhaps what bothers me most, however, about this whole thing is the notion that has reared its ugly head in the evolution v. intelligent design fight, too—that religion has just as much place in public schools as science. Religion—and religion only
—tells us that homosexuality is an immoral choice. Science tells us that homosexuality is natural and immutable. Public schools are meant to be interested in science, not religion. And as science does not accommodate this debate, neither should our public schools.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Special Blog Post:
by Dark Wraith
The Message and the Message
Below is the screen capture of an e-mail message I received several days ago. The message seems nice enough: it's from a rather friendly sounding church in the community in which I live. This place has lots and lots of churches. A few are quite progressive, although most are not. The area is growing by leaps and bounds. Middle- and upper-class households are in abundance because of the huge financial services companies located here. Many of these upwardly mobile people consider themselves quite the progressives; but they're the minority. The tradition of this place is deeply conservative in a uniquely Middle America, Bible Belt way. Politics and religion are dominated by views that would probably infuriate most of the readers here.
So, is there a problem with the e-mail solicitation above? Not really.
Except that it came to me at my college e-mail address, a public school with excellent spam blockers on the servers. It is a near certainty that the school directly provided this church with the e-mail addresses of faculty members and then ensured that the spam blockers would not touch e-mail messages from this sender. What would otherwise be easy pickings for a good institutional system of policy filters slid through unmolested.
In other words, elements of a database of employees of a public institution were provided to a religious organization, and then the servers of the public institution were set to permit solicitations from that religious organization to pass through to those employees.
That might be appalling to some, but I'm used to such things. Last year, the weakling union was not just given the names and e-mail addresses of faculty members, but it also was given their home addresses. I received a solicitation in the mail to join the union. It was couched in the form of a "survey," but the message was clear, at least to me. The union that I was considering working to decertify because of its let's-not-cause-trouble negotiating styleleading as it has to an hourly equivalent wage for me of just about $10knows exactly where I live. If I were the paranoid sort, I'd think the administration knew exactly what it was doing giving that database to the union.
This is obviously all petty stuff. To many, academia is still the last bastion of enlightenmentthe repository where stands all the great knowledge that continues to be available even in the worst of this degraded but temporary time of ignorance and mendacity. The supporters of academia must certainly see it as the bulwark of the Age of Reason, the institutional setting where the irrationality of religious superstitions and cultural ignorance are set aside in favor of disciplined thought, processual integrity, and objective analysis.
Not that it matters, but I no longer believe that. You see, awhile back, I was in the common faculty area describing to an adjunct professor some trouble I'd gotten from a Christian student who didn't like me talking about evolution. The particulars of the incident with the kid had to do with my description of a computer program that autonomously designs self-replicating circuits. It seems that, as these circuits evolve generation over generation, they tend not to eliminate unused architecture from previous generations; instead, these evolving circuits retain "junk" they no longer find useful, and this is very much how DNA works: genetic-level structures that organisms no longer need, use, or express in traits don't vanish, even over millions and millions of years. Apparently, evolutionary processes have a principle of conservation, something that probably (among other uses) allows for rapid adaptation to environmental changes.
My conversation with the adjunct was in the presence of no fewer than three biology teachers at the college, who began to talk very loudly among themselves about how terrible it was that evolution was "still" believed by so many otherwise educated people. The conversation was specifically intended for my attention and consumption. I left quickly enough since I wasn't in the mood to try to overcome the certainty with which no fewer than three educators (all middle-aged) were declaring their position and affirming one another's belief system.
A few days later, my mention of the incident to a full-time, tenured faculty member who teaches biology was met with a polite, diplomatic, and altogether condescending rejoinder that I don't know about "everything that's going on" in the field of biology these days.
She was right, of course; but I surely know more now than I did when I thought academia would be the salvation of the Age of Reason.
The Dark Wraith watches the tide ebb.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
by Shakespeare's Sister
According to the Revealer: “The War on Christians conference is coming to D.C., featuring a modified-A-list of conservative heavyweights organized by Vision America, including Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer, Sen. John Cornyn, Phyllis Schlafly, Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Tom DeLay, as well as some Jews...”
With enlightening, pre-enlightenment panels like The Judiciary: Overruling God, and The Gay Agenda: America Won't Be Happy, these Crusaders come to DC to stand up for the rights of the downtrodden 77%.
And Jews joining the idiocracy? Well, take a gander at the list and you'll find a handful of less-than-mainstream Jews lending their names to the cause. Start with Rabbi Aryeh Spero who campaigned for anti-Semite Pat Buchanan and who breaks bread with another Jew-hater, Bill Donohue. The folks here lend about as much ecumenism to this conference as Zell Miller lends to a bipartisan panel.
The War on Christians? You’ve got to be kidding me. Forget believing their own press; these dingbats believe their own framing. Apparently, they’ve spent so much time warbling on about how the pro-choice crowd is “pro-abortion” and the gay rights crowd has a “radical gay agenda” that they’ve begun to believe that there really is a war against them, that we’re fixing to knock down their doors so we can forcibly abort their fetuses and compel them to engage in sexual acts with members of the same sex. Well, here’s a quick reality check: All we want is the right to do what we want to do
. You don’t have to do it. Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry a gay person. How the fuck hard is it, folks?
These people are absolute lunatics; they have had a complete break with reality. And any elected official who supports this categorical balderdash about the judiciary “overruling” god is committing treason, plain and simple. They are quite literally betraying a fundamental principle upon which this nation was founded as laid out in the Constitution, which they swore to uphold. I’m tired of pussyfooting around this bullshit. They’re angling for a theocracy, and that’s patently unacceptable. Cornyn, Brownback, DeLay, and any of their godshill compatriots who support this bullshit need to be immediately censured and removed from Congress if they cannot commit to upholding the separation of church and state as they are required to do.
Of course that will never happen in this fine country of ours, because nowadays left is right, and up is down, and good is evil, and black is white, and The War on Christians is really The Dominionists’ War on the Rest of Us.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
A Modicum of Perspective, Please
by Shakespeare's Sister
Two women have died
after taking RU 486, so of course the anti-choice brigade is jumping all over the news, gleefully screeching about how the drug kills pregnant women.
Two Senate abortion foes, Republicans Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, urged passage of legislation that would suspend sales of RU-486 until the Government Accountability Office reviews how the FDA approved the pill.
"RU-486 is a deadly drug that is killing pregnant women," DeMint said. "This drug should never have been approved, and it must be suspended immediately."
It appears that they may be the result of taking the second dose of pills via vaginal insertion, which produces fewer side effects but is not recommended by the FDA, which instead instructs women to take the second dose orally. Vaginal insertion can, in rare cases, trigger sepsis, which is the suspected cause of death. Planned Parenthood has, effectively immediately, changed its policy
to reflect concerns about sepsis.
These deaths are tragic, and I don’t want to minimize that at all. But a little perspective would be nice, too. Out of the approximate 560,000 times medication abortion has been done in the US, seven women have died (meanwhile, 27,000 people
had died from heart attacks and strokes while taking the arthritis drug Vioxx before the FDA pulled that drug), and none of those seven deaths have been directly attributed to mifepristone. The rate of sepsis comparable to infection risks with surgical abortions and childbirth, and the US has a maternal death rate
of 12 per 100,000, making pregnancy more dangerous than RU-486.
In other words, Senators DeMint and Coburn would be better off screaming instead about how pregnancy kills pregnant women.
Better yet, they could speak to some emergency room workers who remember the number of women who died of sepsis after getting unsafe, unsanitary back-alley abortions before Roe
, and see if that’s actually a preferable state of affairs to continuing to provide women access to RU-486.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Thursday, March 16, 2006
by Shakespeare's Sister
AlterNet’s Joshua Holland has a great piece up today called Womenomics 101
, examining not only the work and pay disparities between women and men in America, but between America and the rest of the world.
The good news:
The American workforce has one of the highest rates of female participation in the world…
And women are a big part of that entrepreneurial class that we worship in this country. According to the Center for Policy Alternatives (PDF), one in four Americans now work for women-owned businesses; those firms grew at twice the rate of all new businesses between 1997 and 2002. It's part of our national edge -- American women start up almost five times as many new businesses as women in other high-income countries (PDF).
The bad news…well, there’s lots of bad news, unfortunately, but here’s one of the worst bits:
According to Harvard's Project on Global Working Families (PDF), the United States is one of only five countries out of 168 studied that doesn't mandate some form of paid maternal leave. The only other advanced economy among those five was Australia's, where women are guaranteed an entire year of unpaid leave. That puts the U.S. -- the wealthiest nation on the planet -- in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.
Holland notes that “Putting all these pieces together, you get a picture that puts the lie to the right's claim on ‘family values,’” and that’s a very astute observation not only because of its political angle, but because it correctly identifies women’s issues as affecting more than just women. Women’s issues affect families
One of the key tenets of feminism that its critics always seem to miss is that the issues which concern us are not just about women. When women lack equal pay and job protections, that affects their partners and children, too. When women are denied reproductive choice, that affects men who will become fathers against their wills, too. We fight for women’s equality because it makes our society stronger and all its members better off.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
National Security Strategy: Deeply Scary, Deeply Dishonest
by Shakespeare's Sister
In a 49-page national security report, Bush has “reaffirmed his strike-first policy against terrorists and enemy nations on Thursday and said Iran may pose the biggest challenge for America.”
[D]iplomacy is the U.S. preference in halting the spread of nuclear and other heinous weapons.
"If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur — even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack," Bush wrote…
The latest report makes it clear Bush hasn't changed his mind, even though no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
"When the consequences of an attack with weapons of mass destruction are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize. ... The place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same," Bush wrote.
The report had harsh words for Iran. It accused the regime of supporting terrorists, threatening Israel and disrupting democratic reform in Iraq. Bush said diplomacy to halt Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons work must prevail to avert a conflict.
I’d feel a lot less nervous (and pissed and fed up) about this if I didn’t know that the Bush administration, with help from their complicit enabler the Blair administration, deliberately circumvented any possible diplomatic resolution with Iraq. It would serve us well to remember that one of the most damning revelations of the Downing Street Memos
was that the process of going to the UN was a sham for Blair’s sake and that disarmament was not an option; regime change—war—was always the singular goal.
There’s no reason on earth to trust that Bush will not do the same thing again. If it’s war he wants, war he’ll get. And he’ll sell its urgency and inevitability the same way—by asserting that diplomacy has failed.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Justice Ginsburg on death threats from The Base
"Okay commandoes, here is your first patriotic assignment ... an easy one. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and O'Connor have publicly stated that they use (foreign) laws and rulings to decide how to rule on American cases. This is a huge threat to our Republic and Constitutional freedom. ... If you are what you say you are, and NOT armchair patriots, then those two justices will not live another week."
-- threat to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a winger message board
Try as they might to divorce themselves from threats like these, mainstream Republican political figures have been leading the way in suggesting violence as a means of intimidating judges around the country, including those sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.
With issues like gay marriage and reproductive rights pushing the cultural hot buttons of the winger set, an alarming number of threats are causing sitting justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg
to publicly speak out. (365gay
Ginsburg revealed in a speech in South Africa that she and O'Connor were threatened a year ago by someone who called on the Internet for the immediate "patriotic" killing of the justices. Security concerns among judges have been growing.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter joked earlier this year that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned. Over the past few months O'Connor has complained that criticism, mainly by Republicans, has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues like gay marriage.
Worry is not limited to the Supreme Court. Three quarters of the nation's 2,200 federal judges have asked for government-paid home security systems, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said this week.
Ginsburg said the Web threat was apparently prompted by legislation in Congress, filed by Republicans, that would bar judges from relying on foreign laws or court decisions.
"It is disquieting that they have attracted sizable support. And one not-so-small concern - they fuel the irrational fringe," she said in a speech posted online by the court earlier this month and first reported Wednesday by LegalTimes.com.
Again, my friends, this is the Republican base
, the folks courted by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove, who are on speed dial to James Dobson of Focus on the Anus and Don Wildmon of the American Family Association. The suburban home of the Base is located, conveniently, in the filth-drenched environs of Freeperland.
John @ Americablog
Actual Freeper Quotes™
"Stay safe...resign today."
"Sounds good to me."
"Sniffle....she's a victim....sob."
"She probably dreamed up the whole thing.....while sleeping...on the bench."
"Perhaps, just perhaps, they should wonder about this. Americans are normally fairly laid back about most things. I'm sure it couldn't be that people see things as getting dangerously out of sync, a court that for some reason can over rule the executive and legislature. A court that seems to just make up law as it goes along. A court that is oblivious and impervious, or worse, to the effects of its decisions. None of this would make people start thinking the court is nothing more than a domestic enemy."
"If she couldn't handle being a SCJ should would resign. If she thinks she has it bad, she should run for President."
"Ginsburg has devoted her life to breaking down the traditional protections of good manners, standards of what is permissible to say and what is not, and now she's shocked! shocked! that she's reaping the consequences of her actions. Not that she's capable of recogizing cause and effect, of course."
"It comes with the job, I'm sure President Bush receives more threats than any other political figure but you don't hear him whining. The courts deserve the criticism they get and in more principled times their lives would indeed be in danger if only from the threat of imprisonment."
"She's brain dead. Disconnect the feeding tube."
"This harpy is not fit to be on any court. She goes to South Africa to spout her paranoid crap. Let them spend the money to protect her and her love of foreign law. Spit on her and her foreign law."
"With the number of nut cases in our country, I'm not surprised there are threats against them. I think it's a stretch to say most come from conservatives."
"I doubt that anyone who would even think about such acts would actually write about it. I will have to conclude that the threats were made by somebody from their own agenda to stifle honest public dissent and dissatisfaction. There must have been a time in this country that the supreme court justices didn't have to worry about these kind of threats in that they didn't render any opinions that remotely deserved that kind of attention. Sounds like fear born of a guilty conscience to me."
"[Over the past few months O'Connor has complained that criticism, mainly by Republicans, has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues like gay marriage.]"
"I'm assuming she is also deeply concerned about the countless threats of violence against Republicans, especially President Bush, and how this Democratic Party encouraged hatred undermines our political process. /sarcasm/"
"In the beginning of the article they actual state that the death threats were "apparently" spurred on by Republicans!!!!! That is truly outrageous."
"I hope nobody here at Free Republic would be involved in any such unseemly threats"
"Such threats are pulled whenever brought to our attention, and those who make a habit of them are evicted."
"Ginsburg is right. Some of the rhetoric used against allegedly "activist judges" has been over the top."
"Turns out they were not directly threatened at all. Typical distortion and exaggeration from the drama queens on the REAL "irrational fringe" which REALLY threatens the court. Ruth Buzzi is a far more dangerous threat to do harm against America than some wacko blogger."
points out a list of GOP-endorsed hate that inspires violence. It's the usual right-wing, allegedly God-fearing suspects who lay the groundwork for their minions to act out with threats while those in the suits keep their hands clean.
***Unclaimed Territory's Glenn Greenwald
posts on the increasing flailing, wailing and now, defensive threats of the Bushies that are fueling the extremists as Dear Leader's poll numbers go through the floor and the possibility of losing their death grip on power seems near.
There is a palpable increase in the level of extremism and desperation among Bush followers as the Commander in Chief's approval ratings fall lower and lower and as the views which Americans have of both him and his party become more hostile. This is going to be a significant dynamic -- as their power slips further and further away, Bush followers are going to resort to increasingly radical and rage-fueled measures to keep it.
...Impeaching disobedient federal judges is definitely something that is on the minds of Bush followers. At the confirmation hearings of Sam Alito, Sen. Coburn questioned Alito on whether he thought a judge who referenced foreign law in a judicial opinion could be removed from office under the constitutional "good behavior" clause. Coburn said: "I very strongly and adamantly feel that it [citing foreign law in a judicial opinion] violates the good behavior, which is mentioned as part of the qualifications and the maintenance of that position."
If they cannot control this country, then they must destroy it from within before they lose power. Glenn:
...Reporters should be thrown into prison. Citizens should be removed from political events for wearing political t-shirts. The President has the right to break the law for our own good. Politicians who criticize the Administration are traitors and should be imprisoned, or worse. And Supreme Court Justices should be impeached -- or worse. Does any of that sound like America to you?Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
And, oh - it's vital that we fight The Terrorists so that we don't lose our freedoms. And the principal objective our foreign policy is to run around teaching other countries how to be democratic and free.
Last time was just practice?
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."
-- Dear Leader, in his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003
Was it all just a dream? Not exactly, Pretzeldunce Chimpy McFlightsuit -- U.S. launches largest Iraqi air assault since invasion
. Yes, it's all under control.
U.S. and Iraqi forces on Thursday launched the largest air assault operation since the invasion of Iraq nearly three years ago, the U.S. military said. Left: A minibus packed with explosives blew up yesterday in Baghdad. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim). Right: Eleven people, most of them women and children were killed when a house was bombed during a U.S. raid north of Baghdad early Wednesday. AP Photo/Bassim Daham
More than 50 aircraft are involved in Operation Swarmer, supporting more than 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops near Samarra, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Baghdad.
...The death toll from apparent reprisal killings rose in Baghdad when Iraqi Emergency Police said they had found 31 bodies across the capital, 25 on Wednesday and another 6 on Thursday.
Since a string of car bombings in a poor Shiite neighborhood killed at least 46 people Sunday, police have reported finding the results of grisly execution-style slayings every day. The latest discoveries came during a vehicle curfew in the capital.
More than 160 bodies have been recovered since Sunday, many found shot to death and some of which have shown signs of torture.
I'm sure the Bushies are clicking back longingly to see the glory days of the White House aircraft carrier photo op fantasy. Here it is, right from the source
, with transcript and video.
: Scott McClellan is fumbling away at the podium at today's briefing talking about Iraq and Iran. He look like he's ready to go fetal position again. I had to leave the room when he uttered:
"Are we supposed to wait until a full threat materializes? Do we have to wait until there's another 9/11?"Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The Two Things You Should Never Talk About
There's a big food-fight (again) regarding religion and politics here in left blogistan. First, a quick review:
The whole thing seems to have started when Amy Sullivan
referred to Sen. Brownback as
Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left.
It was a fairly dopey quip made in passing, but it prompted a very good response from Digby
, who pointed out that in fact, there are plenty of religious people whom the left have supported politically. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a non
-religious person whom the left has supported.Steve Waldman chimed in
with an expansion on Sullivan's point, claiming that
many liberals carry an elitist attitude toward evangelical Christians.... I think a distinction should be made between the elites and the rank and file on this. The fact is that most Democrats are religious. But secular liberals, who made up about 16% of the Kerry vote (more stats here) seem to have a disproportionate impact on the party's image and approach.
At this point, ShakesSis replied
with an expansion on Digby's argument:
Give me a break with the liberals don’t support religious candidates swill. If that were true, none of us would ever vote. And give me an even bigger break with the alleged impact we supposedly have on the party’s image and approach. If that were true, we wouldn’t be looking at a field of all religious candidates in every bloody election.
The only people to whom Democrats don’t seem religious enough are people who want to continue to push the ridiculous meme that there’s only one brand of religion in this country. Try asking someone who isn’t religious. I can assure you none of them will see a shortage of religiosity on any Democratic ticket.
But then, things started to get ugly. Atrios
, who is usually not one for the long, considered response, linked to Waldman saying,
I'm so sick of this crap. Is there a Republican talking point that our notional allies won't perpetuate without evidence?
Avedon, at the Sideshow, replied thoughtfully to Atrios
with a historical perspective:
[C]onservatives have worked since time immemorial to cast those to their left as "godless". First we were godless commies, and now we're more recent variations on godlessness, but of course this is bollocks....
The fact is that for a while there the religiosity of the left, and the moral high-ground that came with it, so overwhelmed the right wing that they obviously had to grab it back, and they've done so with a vengeance.
But yes, of course the left -- and the Democratic Party -- is the territory that's safe for unbelievers and for those who don't believe in the iconic Baby Jesus (the one who is a content-free symbol), or who do believe in the (fairly socialistic) teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. The right wing is hostile territory for such people, so why wouldn't we inhabit the left instead?
The right-wingers want you to forget that the '60s they hate so much were very much a time of spirituality and that our political leadership was full of religious leaders.
But most of all they want you to forget that "secularism" as a feature of the political landscape isn't about spirituality -- religion -- at all, it's about the construction of law, and mixing overt religious demands and law easily becomes one of the most anti-spiritual and downright evil forces you can impose on the polity.
The "religious" right (which contains a hefty percentage of atheists, too, but they won't admit it) isn't interested in freedom to believe at all, they just want to impose their own disgusting and perverted exploitation of "Christianity" on the rest of us, which means they want to stamp out a lot of honest Christian believers who just don't happen to share their version of "Christianity"....
Liberals aren't hostile to Evangelical Christians, we're hostile to evangelical dirtbags who spread hate and division.
Amen and amen. At which point, Faithful Progressive said
that the tone of remarks like Atrios's was not very helpful in building and maintaining a left coalition -- and then all hell broke loose. Atrios linked to FP
, followed up with a lengthy post
about what a bunch of wimps religious lefties are, and dozens of Eschatonians came flooding into Adorable Little Rodent FP's comment's section with the intention of berating him.
Here's the thing. Atrios makes one very correct point:
I am sick of people who keep claiming that the Democratic party is hostile to religious people and controlled by secular liberals who are hostile to religion. If by "Democratic party" you mean "some people who post anonymous comments on the internet" you may have a point. Otherwise, the idea is ludicrous.
Do the Democrats have a perception problem about religion? Sure. We have a political party which has been claiming to be God's Own Party for decades. We have a mainstream media which equates Christian with Religious Right most of the time, and news anchors who don't think liberals can be "good Catholics." We also have some left-leaning Christians who seem to think this perception problem is due to hostility to religion by secular liberals who (see below) have no public presence. I don't understand this. People who perpetuate right wing talking points about Democrats always piss me off especially when they have no basis.
Okay, guilty as charged. I too have, in the past, made the mistake that Atrios talks about. I too have made the mistake of thinking that there is hostility in the establishment left to religious people. It is indeed a mistake to think that, as Shakes, Digby, Avedon, and others have pointed out again and again. Mea culpa
. It just isn't true.
(Mind you, it's a very easy mistake to make in the blogosphere, where a tiny blogger like FP, who's spent months posting really good stuff critical of the GOP and the religious right, suddenly gets attention not
for doing that but for wishing, reasonably enough, that a big boy like Atrios would take a different tone. But ultimately, so what? After all, if there's one thing that we know it's that the liberal establishment doesn't want anything to do with the left blogosphere, so what happens here and what happens there really have very little effect on each other.)
So who's actually to blame? Well, I'm pretty sure that it's actually the right-wing corporate media. I can't help thinking about the way in which the networks refused to run those United Church of Christ ads
about tolerance and neighborly love, even while cozying up continually to people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson. Or, I'm also reminded of the Reverend Songbird
's experience; when she got her congregation out to a pro-gay rights rally before the last election there was little coverage of it, and what there was, if memory serves (I can't find the specific post on her blog) was focused at least as much on the handful of anti-gay counter-demonstrators as it was on the main event. And, how much attention does a group like the Christian Alliance for Progress
get compared to the cretins at Justice Sunday? You do the math.
Atrios and some others think this is simply because religious lefties aren't doing anything; I'd say that the real reason is more complex than that. It's more that, when they stand up and do something , they are doing something that doesn't fit into the media script. The media "knows" now that religion = right wing, so anything that doesn't fit into that equation just doesn't get reported. Atrios says this:
Want to make the religious left a visible force in this country? Go on TV and or write columns or whatever which, instead of whining about how awful everyone else on the left is on religion, reassert the public face of the religious left in this country.
Easy said. I'd love to go on TV. I'd love a regular newspaper column. I'd love it if Sister Joan Chittister or Jim Wallis or Gene Robinson or Bruce Prescott or any of the hundreds of liberal religious leaders out there could get past the major media gatekeepers, just as I'd love it if Jim Hightower or Molly Ivins could. But the fact is, the corporate media in the United States doesn't want to hear from them, any of them. We know this already. This shouldn't be surprising.
Also, relgious people on the left are just different from those on the right. As Greg says
in Shakes's comments,
I think a big part of the reason Christian Democrats aren't able to close the gap on Christian Republicans is that if you view your relationship with God as personal and humbling you aren't going to shout and make a big fuss about it. And if you have that sort of relationship with God, you're actually going to try to do what He says. Like care about the poor, take care of the environment, reach out to people of other races, etc. And you're also going to listen when he says not to pray out loud in the streets so other people can hear you.
That may be true. I sometimes hear people asking things like, Why don't you religious lefties get out there and picket right-wing churches during their services?
I'm serious. I've actually been asked that. To which my response is, Do you really want us to become just like them? Is a religious war in the streets what you actually want? I don't think so.
Personally, I no longer give a crap whether people respect my beliefs or not. If they do, they do, and if they don't there's very little I can do to change their minds. Ultimately, it comes down to personality type, perhaps. Some people don't like the Beatles. What are you gonna do?
But I think the larger points remain at the end of the day:
*The established left in the United States is not hostile to religious people, but to creeping theocracy.
*The religious left in the United States is hostile to the same thing.
*The corporate media has decided that the religious left does not exist. So it goes.
*At the end of the day what actually matters is what kind of society we manage to build. Everything else is personality politics and details.
Cross-posted at The Green Knight
Taking a positive stand, one state officeholder at a time
With all the loser, spineless and triangulating Democrats out there, it's nice to be able to say there are elected officials at the state level out there who deserve to succeed and rise in the party.
It's a shame that national Dems don't have the cojones of Virginia Delegate David Englin
(D-45). A fighting Dem who was in the Pentagon on September 11 and served in the Balkans while in the Air Force, this ally gave a whale of a speech in support of gay civil equality on the floor of the legislature as his state voted to move forward a marriage amendment (that will now go before voters this fall).
He had nothing to gain and everything to lose politically by getting up and saying this:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. I'm not going to talk about same-sex marriage. I'm no fool -- although others might make a different judgement about a freshman delegate rising in this chamber on the third day of session. But I understand that on the issue of marriage, I'm in the minority, perhaps even in my own caucus. I also sleep very well at night knowing that at some point in the future of this great Commonwealth, those of us of my opinion will be judged to have been on the right side of history. But let's for a moment forget about the question of same-sex marriage, because this amendment addresses much more than that. We need to be clear and honest: This amendment also outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar private legal arrangements.
We have heard from the other side that this constitutional amendment is necessary to protect conventional marriage. I am blessed with a beautiful and brilliant wife who is the love of my life. In June, Shayna and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary, and I would fight with every ounce of my strength anything that would threaten my marriage. So I would like to know, how exactly civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my marriage?
We have heard from the other side that this amendment will protect families. Shayna and I are blessed with a strong and bright six-year-old son, Caleb, and we have a strong family. My friend the gentleman from Rockingham County, Delegate Lohr, and I have discussed how we come from different backgrounds and different parts of this great Commonwealth, yet we share a deep and abiding commitment to our families. I want nothing more than to protect my family. I spent 12 years wearing the uniform of the United States Air Force to protect my family. I've been in harm's way to protect my family. So I would like to know, how exactly do civil unions and domestic partnerships and other similar arrangements threaten my family? Because if they do, I will be the first one to stand up and fight, because nobody better threaten my family.
There's much more of this speech, which you can read it in my earlier post on his courageous stand, Virginia delegate shows Dems how to support gay rights
The reason I'm posting is that I received a nice email today from Delegate Englin's wife Shayna, who thanked the Blend for sharing his speech and for highlighting a Dem willing to take political risk for principle. As you might imagine, there's a lot of pressure in Virginia (in both parties) to make sure the progressive freshman delegate doesn't get re-elected.
She noted that there are already challengers prepping to unseat him.
Now that the session is over, the next campaign cycle is beginning. David’s already got challengers for his seat – one, a Democrat, who says that David’s stand on the floor wasn’t “good strategy”, and a Republican who’s convinced that David’s strong progressive voice for equal rights for all Virginians makes him vulnerable – and $30K in campaign debt that makes fighting back very hard.
I had to write her back to ask her who the Dem was who told David Englin that his speech in favor of civil equality for gays wasn't "good strategy"
. It turns out that it was one of his primary opponents from last year, Jim Lay
Lay, whose bio
states that he was an aide to John Kerry, is actually for same sex unions
and civil equality, but it's just too bad that he's already fallen into the play-it-safe game -- and doling out that kind of "advice." I guess the silver lining is that at least the voters of the 45th district, which includes parts of Fairfax, Arlington, and Alexandria, have a chance to support candidates who aren't salivating at the chance to roll back the rights of the state's gay and lesbian citizens.
David Englin's web site is http://www.davidenglin.org/
.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
I had on CNN's The Situation Room
earlier today, and saw that Dear Leader's approval ratings are down to a new record low, 36%, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll
With that dismal number you'd think it might be hard to come up with anything positive for a GOP talking head to regurgitate on the air. Wolf Blitzer trotted out professionally closeted anti-gay homo Congressman David Dreier
(R-CA) to spin something
out of thin air. The Kool-Aid is s-t-r-o-n-g. (CNN
BLITZER: How is President Bush handling his job as president? Only 36 percent approve of the job he's doing, 60 percent disapprove. That's rock bottom as far as our poll is concerned. What's going on?
DREIER: Well, I will tell you what's going on. Obviously, there is not a high-level support right now for the president. I think that if you look at the policies that he's pursuing of keeping our economy growing, focusing on winning the global war on terror, he should be enjoying broader support.
I think that as we look at the third anniversary of our move against Saddam Hussein, the president made a decision, and he started today. He's going to be focusing on the success that we're enjoying in Iraq, the challenges that we have, and what we need to do to keep things going.
President Bush believes, as I do, and I will tell you, our Republican conference believes, and that is if you focus on good public policy, politics will follow. Obviously, we are not at a high point right now, but I'm convinced that we have a great chance to continue with good public policy and to see those numbers improve, Wolf.
...DREIER: Wolf, as you know, elections are held district by district across the country and state by state for our friends in the Senate. And I believe that if we look at the way things are going in individual districts, we've got challenges. I'm not in any way being dismissive of those challenges, but I believe that we have terrific members who are running for reelection. We have first-rate candidates in open seats. And our challengers across the country.
And I'm convinced that we will do very, very well. I will acknowledge, we all read those polls that you have and other polls that are out there, and we have a lot of work to do. But again, I'm convinced that we represent the mainstream views of the American people in our pursuit of limited government, a strong national defense, and making sure that we pursue personal freedom.
I actually had to get up and look at the TV (it was on in the other room) to see if Dreier might have been flop-sweating as he spewed this garbage, but he must actually believe the BS he's shoveling.
* A must-read on a stubbornly politically closeted pol
Monday, March 13, 2006
The Ownership Society
by Shakespeare's Sister
Jeffrey Hart argues in the LA Times
that Bush is not a conservative, but a right-wing ideologue. Pointing to the foolishness of Bush’s Iraq endeavor, his extremist beliefs in the free market and privatization, and his contempt for science and choice, Hart makes a pretty good case. But as I’m beginning to see more and more of these apologias on behalf of conservatism, as conservatives try to rescue their political philosophy away from its association with Bush, all I can think is, “Bullshit.” Conservatives love to talk about The Ownership Society, but they refuse to own its spokesman.
Bush is undoubtedly a right-wing ideologue, but it’s because
he’s a conservative—a conservative with no checks and balances, left to pursue every conservative wet dream with abandon. The certain destination for the wanton and unfettered quest for a conservative utopia was always going to be the revelation of the ugly ideology underwriting it all.
And now that the hideous underbelly of conservatism is exposed in a grotesque mosaic of avarice, antipathy, and corruption, the movement conservatives, who happily regarded Bush as the water-carrier for their movement during this hog wild run toward heaven on earth, now want to distance themselves from him as if the revolting montage of carnage is the singular result of his dogmatic incompetence, instead of the culmination of a mob-directed feeding frenzy that it actually is. Well, fuck you and the president you rode in on.
Bush was your Golden Boy—a corporate shill with the demeanor of a country bumpkin, who could hold together the unholy alliance between Big Money and Big Religion, standing at the altar and giving the blessing to the crackpot marriage between the business interests who sought to get rich off the stupid sods who marched in lockstep if only someone would protect the children from radical feminists and kissing boys. He didn’t just give good speech on Neocon dreams and working class nightmares; he believed
that shit. And with a GOP-led Congress and a neverending stream of media mouthpieces willing to demonize anyone who dared to dissent, he tumbled headfirst into fulfilling every last one of your wishes, like a demented genie pulled out of a bottle in oil-soaked Texas.
He wrapped himself in the flag and told America to follow him down the Yellow Brick Road. He went to war, and he made you rich. And you cheered him all the way, over every last golden cobblestone. Then America got to Oz, and started getting itchy—and now you want to pretend you never knew what was there. Why, we had no idea there was just some shriveled old man behind the curtain!
Let’s get real for a moment. Conservatives believe the free market and privatization is the solution to all our problems. Conservatives believe in social Darwinism. Conservatives believe in defense, defense, and more defense. And maybe, once upon a time, conservatives believed in privacy rights, but once you invited social retards into your Big Tent to give your corporate agenda the momentum it needed in the voting booths and supported the notion of a unitary executive, you relinquished your claim to that forever and ever, amen. You can’t now try to distance yourself from Bush by retreating to some retro definition of conservatism and accusing him of not meeting it. You championed that redefinition when it suited you, and now you’re stuck with it. You can’t have it both ways.
There are now twice as many billionaires in America as there were four years ago, and in the time of their making, we have seen soldiers die, felt our rights be stripped away, watched an entire American city drown—saw those for whom conservatives have the greatest contempt turn to their government for help in a time of crisis and quite literally be left stranded by the callousness of conservative philosophy. And all the while you wailed about how hard you’ve got it, and now you want to wail some more that your principles have been betrayed by Bush.
But Bush didn’t part ways with conservatism; Bush realized its destiny. And in the great tradition of so many martyrs who have gone on before you, that’s your cross to bear.
So bear it. It’s what you’ve always wanted.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Sunday, March 12, 2006
by Shakespeare's Sister
One of Shakes’ contributors, Misty
, points to an E&P article
that takes a look at new legislation authored by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Chuck Hagel R-Nebraska. The bill, “which could be introduced as soon as next week,” seeks to criminalize the intentional disclosure of information “identifying or describing” Bush’s surveillance program “or any other eavesdropping program conducted under” the FISA law.
Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, said the measure is broader than any existing laws. She said, for example, the language does not specify that the information has to be harmful to national security or classified.
"The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact," said Martin, a civil liberties advocate…
David Tomlin, the AP's assistant general counsel, said government officials with security clearances would be potential targets under DeWine's bill.
"But so would anyone else who received an illegal disclosure under the proposed act, knew what it was and deliberately disclosed it to others. That's what some reporters do, often to great public benefit," he said.
DeWine’s office insists the bill “in no way applies to reporters — in any way, shape or form,” but barring a significant revamping of the language of the bill, it’s difficult to see how that could possibly be true. (Bloggers would also clearly be a target.) If the intent is not to silence reporters, but specifically to prevent security-cleared officials from providing information about possibly illegal activities, then it’s an end-run around whistleblower protections. No matter how you slice it, this legislation stinks.
And it certainly seems to signal a sea-change in the attitude of Snowe and Hagel, who, back in December
, signed a bipartisan letter registering grave concerns about the program and calling for a joint investigation. Of course, that was before the White House called them on the carpet
for a little old-fashioned arm-twisting.
(Crossposted at Ezra’s place
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Prudhoe Bay Oil Spill Estimated at 267,000 Gallons
by Dark Wraith
BBC News is reporting
that a hole of unspecified size in the 34-inch diameter trans-Alaska oil pipeline near Prudhoe Bay released approximately 267,000 gallons of crude oil onto about two acres of snow-covered land. The accident occurred in a section of pipe that had suffered uncorrected internal corrosion, leading to concerns about the overall integrity of the pipeline and inspection procedures that allowed such deterioration to proceed to such an extent that the casing was compromised from the inside clear out. Moreover, according to the BBC report, although the leak was found on March 2, it is not known when it began.
Former state oil analyst Richard Fineberg said
that it is too early to determine the extent of environmental consequences, but he downplayed the significance of the problems that could arise, citing the fact that the area in which the spill occurred is "industrial," not pristine wilderness. Individuals from the environmental group Alaska Wilderness League, however, have already described the oil spill as a "catastrophe."
As noted above, the spill is believed to cover no more than two acres; however, it is the largest spill to date on the North Slope. The BP Exploration aerial photo at left shows the surface view of the accident site, but this picture likely understates the extent of what occurred. The crude traveling through the pipe is hot, and the leaking oil would for the most part have sunk into the snow and possibly the permafrost beneath, moving outward in a manner unseen from aerial or even ground-level photographs made with visible-light cameras. How far the oil migrated both downward into the soil and outward away from the point where it was flowing from the hole in the pipe is not known at this time.
Petroleum experts anticipate that, in the constant sub-zero temperatures of the Prudhoe Bay area, the spilled crude will eventually congeal into a gel, which should slow migration of the lost oil and make recovery easier, although that remains to be seen as clean-up crews clear away the snow to examine the extent of spill movement both outward and downward.
The Dark Wraith trusts that readers have already seen extensive coverage by the mainstream media of this oil spill.
Cross-posted from Night Bird's Fountain.
Jesus Uses His Noodle
by Shakespeare's Sister
The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ made a rare appearance
in a plate of pasta this week in California. He projected his visage in a “a bubbling, burned portion of cheese” on Leo Williams’ plate of manicotti.
"I looked at the plate and before I started to eat it I thought, I'm not sure about this," Williams said. "So, we called the hostess. She came over and just got chills. The next thing you know you got the cameras coming out. You got people who are eating here coming to our table to see it. They just had chills. There were about 100 people taking pictures."
Williams said since the lunch, a chronic stomach problem he has had since birth has vanished.
Jesus could not be reached for comment.
It’s like a Rorschach test. That Jesus is such a rapscallion.
(Passed on by Holly
, because she knows I’m a fan of holy folks presenting their visages on sheet metal
, more trees
, water stains
, grilled cheese sandwiches
, potato chips
, and all manner of everyday objects. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
NRSC hits Harold Ford with 'Big Pimpin' web site
Another feather in the cap of my Senator, Elizabeth Dole
, who heads up the National Republican Senatorial Committee
(NRSC). Earlier this week, I blogged about
the insane, fraudulent, threatening direct mail piece, the Republican National Leadership Survey
, that went out under her name to voters. It claimed to "require" a response with payment if you opted not to "participate," and looked suspiciously like a government tax form.
The latest hoo-hah is the creation of a web site by the ass-clowns of the NRSC (again, we have to assume the Empty Wig is on board with this), designed to take out faux-Dem Rep. Harold Ford
The Fancy Ford web site is something to behold and cherish. It tells you all that you need to know about where the great minds of the GOP are when it comes to campaigning -- it's still all about playing on race, racial history and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways of invoking the uppity Negro in Southern politics.
Don't get me wrong, this post isn't a defense of Ford -- he voted yes on same-sex marriage ban and flag burning amendments, he was for the odious bankruptcy bill, and wanted to keep "under God" in the pledge of allegiance, among other things
The issue is how many pols in either party could you assail with charges of lavish living/spending, particularly in the GOP?! This web site is about something else...it is yet another example of the Republicans wanting to play the race card both ways -- Mehlman's RNC courts the black vote with empty platitudes, and the down-and-dirty political machinery of the party uses the old racial saws and imagery to try and nail the win.
There's nothing like creating visions of the uppity, horny Negro
who lusts after white women, living the high life and not knowing his place.
Fancy Ford is no stranger to the celebrity party scene. Ford was seen at the Playboy Super Bowl Party in Florida last year:"Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) was spotted at the Playboy Super Bowl party in Jacksonville, Fla., after the New England Patriots' big win Sunday night. . . . One Web site selling tickets to the event claimed: 'The Playboy Superbowl Party has become famous for being packed with celebrities and Playmates alike . . . Oh, and it is also packed with Playmates in lingerie and body paint.'" (Mary Ann Akers, "Heard On The Hill," Roll Call, February 8, 2005)
If only the folks at home could see him now.
This site is cleverly intimating that Ford is living above his station and doesn't deserve to "move up" to the Senate, where, heaven knows, he may start rapping, flashing a grille and put a ho' dancing pole in his office, with the Cristal flowing non-stop.
What other message could you gather from this lavishly presented web site, which clearly required a lot of thought, planning and design behind it? Steve at Firedoglake
It's about station, class and race. How can this high toned negro live so well and chase white women. The more you click the links, the worse it gets.
The fact is that Ford is doing the exact same things all the other Congressman do. What? Is he supposed to have a senatorial fundraiser at McDonalds?
There is a clear racial subtext here, because of the use of the word Fancy. There's more than alliteration here. Because there's a tone that Ford doesn't deserve this kind of lifestyle, that's getting above himself. And in the South, that has a racial connotation. Because no one gave a damn about Bill Frist and his hightoned living habits.
And as Steve pointed out, the common definition for "fancy man
" is pimp
Lest you think that race doesn't matter and I'm just making a mountain out of a molehill, Rasmussen Reports
polled voters on Ford's Senate run this month, and at least 13% of respondents report that friends or family members plan to vote against Ford because he is black
. The GOP wants to solidify its base
And this is the very same GOP that is backing black homobigot, anti-choice, retro-America candidate for the NC-13 Congressional seat, Vernon Robinson
and his Twilight Zone/Leave it to Beaver
ad campaign. You just can't make this sh*t up.
The NRSC feedback page
.Senator Dole's feedback page
.Hat tip, Teddy.Crooks and Liars
links over to JesseBerney.com
's post on this.UPDATE
: Someone has already parodied this and it's brilliant: FancyFrist
(h/t Seeing the Forest
)Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Laura Bush: gay families A-OK at Easter egg roll
It's an event that has a great tradition and all families are welcome to attend.
-- Peter Watkins, deputy press secretary to first lady Laura Bush, who is the official overseer of the egg roll
How long before Dobson, Falwell, Sheldon, and the rest of the yahoos start lighting up the White House batphone? Perhaps the calls are already coming in...(Scripps-Howard
On April 17, hundreds of gay and lesbian parents and their children intend to be among the 16,000-or-so others who attend the free event. Organizers say their purpose is not to demonstrate or cause a commotion, but instead to simply make a "positive" statement by their presence, and to celebrate the fact that an estimated 9 million children are being raised in the United States by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered parents.Hat tip, PageOneQ
"We want to give our fellow citizens the opportunity to see us as real families, participating in a great American tradition on the White House lawn, rather than protesting from the sidelines," the Family Pride Coalition, an organizer of this "family visibility action," says on its Web site, www.familypride.org.
So far, about 200 people have signed up via the Family Pride Web site. That is 200 too many for some anti-gay groups like the Traditional Values Coalition.
"For crying out loud, at the Easter Egg roll? This is a family event," said an exasperated executive director Andrea Lafferty, who called it "very distasteful" and inappropriate to politicize the occasion and to use children to do so.
To her and those who share her view, this is just another example of homosexuals trying to force themselves and their agenda on Americans. "They're trying to cloak themselves in normalcy. It's not normal. The American people overwhelmingly believe it's not normal," Lafferty said.
* White House responds to LGBT families attending the Easter Egg RollCross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Love it: homophobic Bush court nom busted
Remember my post a few weeks ago about darling of the wingnut moralist set, homobigot Claude Allen
(Bush's top black staffer, a Jesse Helms protege, steps down
)? He was leaving his post as "domestic policy adviser" for Dear Leader (he was the highest-ranking black staffer in the admin), citing "personal reasons" and "to spend more time with his family."
Now we know what the personal reasons are -- Republican values that came back to bite him in the ass. Mug shot and drum roll, please (365gay
Allen has been under investigation since at least January for the alleged thefts on 25 occasions at Target and Hecht's stores, said police spokesman Lt. Eric Burnett.
Burnett said that Allen would buy items, take them to his car, then return to the store with his receipt. He would select the same items, then take them to the store return desk and show the receipt from the first purchase. Using that method, he would receive credit for the second items on his credit cards, Burnett said.
Allen was allegedly seen Jan. 2 at a Target in Gaithersburg, Md., taking items off the shelf that he then took to the return desk. He had a receipt for the merchandise, was given a refund and left.
The items he allegedly received fraudulent refunds for included clothing, a Bose theater system and stereo equipment. Some purchases were for as little as $2.50.
And about that homobigotry, Claude learned from his master, As Doug Ireland noted, when Allen was appointed to this post:
The appointment of Claude Allen as Bush's new chief domestic policy advisor is another triumph for the Republican theocrats.
A reactionary black kapo, Allen is one of the darlings of the "family values" ultra-conservative religious right led by James Dobson and his Focus on the Family.
Recruited by Karl Rove as his watchdog on then-HHS secretary Tommy Thompson (who had a much-exaggerated reputation as a "moderate"), Allen--a visceral political homophobe-- was a former top aide Sen. Jesse Helms, and in 1984 accused Helms' Democratic challenger, then-Gov. James Hunt, of having links to "queers," "radical feminists," socialists, and unions (Hunt was, in fact, a bible-quoting right-wing Dem).
More on Atrios
.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Oh, Peggy, you jokester.
by Shakespeare's Sister
Peggy Noonan, former Reaganite and chief speechwriter for George H. W. Bush, has to be the only dingbat left in America who can write a column called Boy in a Bubble
where the boy in question is not George W. Bush, but is instead George Clooney.
In “Boy in a Bubble: What George Clooney doesn’t know about life,” Noonan takes on the Oscars, and dedicates an entire section to the naïveté of the silly hayseed who had the foolish idea to make two movies this year—one about back-room oil industry deals in Washington and one about McCarthyism—and then give an Oscar acceptance speech in which he declared if that made him out of touch, he was proud to be so. Clooney, says Noonan,
…treats his audience as if it were composed of his intellectual and artistic inferiors.
And because they are his inferiors, he must teach them. He must teach them about racial tolerance and speaking truth to power, etc. He must teach them to be brave. And so in his acceptance speech for best supporting actor the other night he instructed the audience about Hollywood's courage in making movies about AIDS, and recognizing the work of Hattie McDaniel with an Oscar…
Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.
From there, Noonan goes on to blather some codswallop about how “the Clooney generation in Hollywood” has experienced media rather than life and how Good Night and Good Luck
is “unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing.” Let’s pass by the fact that “unnuanced” isn’t actually a word, and that Clooney grew up in Kentucky, not in a television studio, and get back to this whole heroism thing.
I’m not convinced that Clooney thinks he’s a hero—but whether he does or not, I do. And it’s because, unlike Noonan, I don’t live in some fairyland where Hattie McDaniel got an Oscar because everyone was reading Gone with the Wind
and “taboos are broken by markets, not poses.” (Jeezy creezy, conservatives really do
think “the market” is the answer to everything, don’t they?) I live in a place where men walk up to perfect strangers in grocery stores to discuss Black. White.
, and where a viewing of Brokeback Mountain changes someone’s mind
, and where the best discussion anywhere in the media of America’s fucked-up, oil-drenched relationship with the Middle East was not in the Wall Street Journal
, but in a movie made by George Clooney, and where the best commentary on media responsibility and what happens when our government goes batshit insane was also
in a movie made by George Clooney. I live in a place where the government tries to amend the Constitution to permanently render the LGBT community second-class citizens, and the president stays on vacation while poor black folks drown and starve, and we collectively ignore an entire continent that desperately needs our help, while people like George Clooney make movies like Brokeback Mountain
, and The Constant Gardener
, all of which serve to remind us how much we fail people, no matter how much dirt is swept under the most optimistic rug in the world
So, yes, I consider George Clooney a hero. Not just because he peers at the dirt under that rug, but because he stood up on behalf of all of us who join him in his dirty work, day in and day out, and said that we ought to be proud that we do.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
The Empty Wig threatens voters with 'mandatory' survey
If the Repugs can't raise money the old-fashioned way, they just try to intimidate and scare people into giving them money. This is incredible bullsh*t, coming right from my Senator, the Empty Wig herself, Elizabeth Dole
, who is head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Southern Dem at BlueNC
have the scoop on this bottom-feeder, bush-league political quackery.
Elizabeth Dole sent out an NRSC fundraiser intentionally disguised as a "Return" and sent to "U.S. Individual Resident". Upon a quick second look I did see that the return address had the American Eagle and Elizabeth Dole's name at the top of the envelope. Someone else might honestly think that this was an official notification from the government. Especially, an elderly person or a new registrant who hasn't been politically active in the past.
...Enclosed in the envelope was a four page letter and a three page survey. The survey was designed to look like a tax form. The very first sentence of the letter is,
Your immediate attention is required on a confidential and time-sensitive matter.First, this is unsolicited. Neither my husband nor I requested this solicitation. Imagine my surprise when I continued to read and found these paragraphs:
DO NOT DESTROY YOUR SURVEY! The enclosed Republican Senate Leadership Survey is an OFFICIAL REPUBLICAN PARTY DOCUMENT. Your Survey is REGISTERED IN YOUR NAME ONLY and MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR upon completion of this project. If you decide not to represent your local voting district in this important Republican Senate Leadership Survey - please RETURN THE SURVEY DOCUMENT - AT ONCE - IN THE ENVELOPE PROVIDED.
I find this last part to be completely out-of-the-box batsh*t vile -- if you choose to "opt out" of filling the survey Dole and the GOP make a last-gasp effort to extract money from the voter's wallet!
No. I do not wish to participate in the Survey, nor do I wish to make a donation to help the Republican Party. I am returning my Survey Document, along with a contribution of $11 to help cover the cost of tabulating and redistributing my Survey.
BlueNC has the complete survey and letter
It smells like flop-sweat desperation by the GOP if you ask me. They have to use lowest-common-denominator scare tactics, because they are afraid that the sheeple aren't going to come out for the mid-terms
Chris Kromm at the Koufax-nominated Facing South
, points out that Bush isn't faring so well here in this region, which may explain some of the above flopsweat by the NRSC.
How's President Bush doing in the "solid South?" Not so well, according to a new poll from Elon University in five Southern states:Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
A new Elon University Poll shows support for President George W. Bush stands at 43 percent in five Southeastern states, while 52 percent of citizens disapprove or strongly disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Details and other poll results...Note that this is just a hair above the national average, which after plummeting into the mid-30% approval range last November is now hovering around 40% across the country.
The poll, conducted Feb. 20-23 and Feb. 26-March 2 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 1,277 residents in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Dems -- there's nobody home
It's like a dial tone, white noise, a box with wrapped nicely and you open it and there's nothing in there. The Dems are working hard to do the impossible -- wrest defeat from the jaws of victory in these times. With the corrupt, amoral Republicans on the Hill and a White House constantly off balance, how incompetent and disorganized can the Dems be?
Katrina, Tom DeLay/Abramoff, Iraq, Cheney, the bankruptcy bill, raping the environment, the list of atrocities goes on and on.
Yet the Dems simply cannot latch onto a clear message, an alternative way to pull this country out of the flipping hole it's in, and here it is, a midterm election year well under way and nada. (WaPo
The Democratic leaders in Congress -- [House Minority Leader, California's Nancy] Pelosi and Sen. Harry M. Reid (Nev.) -- are the party's chief strategists and architects of the agenda, which they view as a way to market party ideas on energy, health care, education and other issues. They have held countless meetings to construct the right list, consulting with governors, mayors and just about every Democratic adviser in town.
"By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand," Reid said.
But many in the party have their doubts. On Feb. 27, Reid and Pelosi appeared before the Democratic Governors Association. At one point in the conversation, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, noting that the two leaders had talked about a variety of themes and ideas, asked for help. Could they reduce the message to just two or three core ideas that governors could echo in the states?
According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six -- not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "
As reader Henway said in an email, "Like Linus and his blanket, Democrats in a daze, clinging to their focus group. Disaster lurks."Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
'I beat that mother-fucking faggot up'
Let's see...you sign up to serve your country, fight the enemy abroad, to protect the homeland...and when you're on home soil for recreation, you proudly do a little fag bashing -- it's the all-American way for these cretins in Savannah, GA.
What a nice touch that these manly military men
liked going five-on-one
to prove their mettle. (365gay
Five soldiers have been charged in the severe beating of a gay man outside a Savannah gay club.
People looked on helpless Sunday as the soldiers beat David Bennett, 37 on the street in front of Blaine's Back Door Bar. The attackers left leaving Bennett barely conscious and lying in a pool of blood. Bennett suffered cuts and abrasions in the beating. He was released from hospital on Monday. Based on witnesses descriptions police picked up five soldiers a short while after the beating and returned them to the scene for the witnesses to identify.
The soldiers, all members of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, have been charged with aggravated battery. According to the police incident report, one of the men, Sidney Swift, boasted: "Yes, I beat that mother-fucking faggot up."
The report said that other soldiers at the scene told Swift to be quiet because they were "one team, and it was one fight."
Georgia's legislature, by the way, is considering hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation.
Not to be topped by the above story, look at this bullsh*t...I'm so enraged I don't even know what to say.US soldier's rape sentence cut due to Iraq stress
A U.S. soldier who raped a Nigerian woman in Italy was given a lighter sentence because the court deemed his tour of duty in Iraq had made him less sensitive to the suffering of others.Thanks to Blender Mark for the pointer.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
According to an Italian court document obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, James Michael Brown, a 27-year-old paratrooper from Oregon stationed in northern Italy, was sentenced to five years and eight months for rape in February 2004.
Brown beat and handcuffed the woman, a Nigerian resident in the town of Vicenza. He raped her vaginally and anally and left her to wander the streets naked in search of help.
The crime would have earned him an eight-year sentence, but the judges reduced the penalty due to the "extenuating circumstances" of the psychological effects of Brown's year of service in Iraq, the document said.
...In a detailed explanation of the reasons for the sentence, the judges said U.S. soldiers in Iraq faced "a guerrilla war against an invisible enemy, conducted using all means, to which there is still no end in sight, which is extremely wearing for the occupation troops."
..."The prolonged psychological stress to which the accused was subjected and the lowered importance he ended up giving to the life and wellbeing of those around him can only have influenced the committing of the crimes."
by Shakespeare's Sister
We have an idiot for a president.
I know that’s not news, but sometimes, I read something
that not only reconfirms the statement’s lack of hyperbole, but actually creates a whole new section of the map which represents the vast and divergent landscape of his idiocy.
Nothing says power like the Oval Office. The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts.
And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does.
For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents…
Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC News anchor, was the latest to get the treatment. She went by last week to interview Bush before his trip to Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Sure enough, she wasn't in the room but a minute or two before he started telling her about the carpet.
"You know an interesting story about the rug?" he asked. "Laura designed the rug."
"She did?" Vargas said.
"Yeah, she did. Presidents are able to pick their own rugs or design their own rugs."
Bush went on: "The interesting thing about this rug and why I like it in here is 'cause I told Laura one thing. I said, 'Look, I can't pick the colors and all that. But make it say 'optimistic person.'"
Egads. Can’t you just hear him heh-heh
ing his way through that one? Yeesh.
"He loves his rug," said Nicolle Wallace, the White House communications director. "I've heard him describe it countless times."
I can’t even imagine working so closely with the president that I had to hear him wax poetic about this stupid fucking Ikea-knockoff rug “countless times.” I would have blown my friggin’ brains out.
Sometimes Bush describes it as a metaphor for leadership. Sometimes he relates how Russian President Vladimir Putin admired the carpet. Sometimes he seems most taken by the lighting qualities.
I kid you not, the article goes on and on, including anecdotes about how Bush even mentions this fucking rug in the virtual tour on the White House website, how it gets a mention in Fred Barnes’ new tome Rebel-in-Chief
, and how Bush has taken the rug-speak “on the road, sharing it with workers at a moving company in Sterling on Jan. 19, then with students at Kansas State University on Jan. 23, and again with supporters at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on Feb. 1.” Good fucking lord.The Best Rug EVER!!!
I would bet anyone one hundred billion dollars that this dipshit has mentioned the Oval Office rug more times in the last year than the name Osama bin Laden has passed his lips.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
It Was Only a Mini-Rape
by Shakespeare's Sister
After being choked, knocked around, raped at knifepoint, kidnapped, and held for six hours before she escaped, a then 50-year-old kitchen worker at a state juvenile detention facility has been denied a captivity benefit
for union members because she was not held hostage long enough.
The union's insurance policy covers only victims held captive for eight hours or more.
Before any quick “hey, rules is rules” dismissals, you might be interested to know:
A waiver could have been issued if the Civil Service Employees Association's executive board had approved the victim's request.
So why wasn’t it?
On Monday, CSEA spokesman Steve Madarasz said the incident did not meet the criteria of the hostage insurance policy.
"Obviously, this was a very unfortunate incident," he said, but declined further comment.
Well, that certainly explains it.
I guess next time Ms. Uppity gets beaten, kidnapped, and raped, she’ll think twice about escaping her captor two hours before the compassion kicks in.
(Passed on by Shaker Angelos. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Monday, March 06, 2006
Bill Napoli: The Reason Why I Blog
by Shakespeare's Sister
Go watch this astounding video
at Crooks and Liars in which South Dakota Republican state senator Bill Napoli defends the bill that bans abortions in South Dakota and makes no provision for cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s health (only unless her life is in the balance).
As part of his defense of not including a provision for cases of rape, saying that genuinely traumatic rapes would be covered in the “threatening the mother’s life” provision, he reveals not only his contempt for a woman’s autonomy over her own body, but also his stunning vision of what really constitutes a life-altering rape:
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
In Napoli’s view of the world, an atheist who’s had premarital sex (perhaps because she never intends to marry), and doesn’t show up at the ER bleeding out her ass and threatening to slit her wrists, isn’t the kind of rape victim whose life would be forever changed by being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Only a virtuous girl who would have waited until marriage has a life trajectory upon which birthing your rapist’s spawn is a sufficient derailment to warrant an abortion. Lesbians, atheists, heck even you born-again virgins who have taken a renewed vow of abstinence until marriage, women who have the temerity to not consider a date rape just another name for what you’re obliged to deliver after a guy pays for your steak (consent conschment
)—don’t bother appealing to Mr. Napoli’s conscience. He doesn’t have any room in his heart for you, girls.
Everything wrong with our societal views on rape and abortion summed up in one ridiculously stupid statement by one ridiculously stupid man. A man whose state also endorses a pharmacist’s right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, making unwanted pregnancies that much more likely. A man who thinks that a “return to traditional values” is the answer.
When I was growing up, here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married and the whole darn neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn’t allow that sort of thing to happen, you know; I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again… I don’t think we’re so far beyond that that we can’t go back to that.
What a brilliant mind. Let’s return to a time when an unwanted pregnancy was not something which can be safely and quickly terminated, but instead an unshakable albatross which extinguishes the potential of two people
—both the mother and the father—by forcing them to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a mistake.
Out of curiosity, I wonder, what happened there “in the wild west” when a girl was impregnated by a married man, or her father, or a rapist? Is that when they’d form the posse and head out for a lynchin’? Yeah, let’s go back to that time. It sounds fantastic for everyone—especially for the child brought into the world to be raised by a
neighborhood that relies on a mob mentality to ensure conformity while bragging about its independent spirit on the frontier.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
“Sweetie, is it okay with you if I get an abortion?”
by Shakespeare's Sister
The Tennessee state legislature is considering a bill
that would make it “an offense for a physician to knowingly perform an abortion on a woman who is eighteen (18) years of age or older unless the physician has received from the woman a signed statement indicating that the woman has notified the man by whom she is pregnant that she intends to have an abortion."
The bill provides exceptions if the woman signs a statement saying the pregnancy is a result of rape and has been reported to law enforcement, is unable "after diligent effort" to notify or identify the man (in which case she must file written notice with the Department of Children's Services to be placed on the department's putative father registry), and in the case of medical emergencies when the life of the woman is at risk. Penalties are a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine for the physician and a $2,000 fine for the woman.
Setting aside for a moment the mind-boggling complexity of actually enforcing this law, its inevitable result (and probable intent) is conferring ownership status of a woman’s body upon any man with whom she has had sex. And while proponents of this kind of legislation love to tout the emergence of “fathers’ rights,” the reality is that there are no line-item vetos in pregnancy. If he doesn’t want to terminate the pregnancy, but she does, she can’t turn it over to him—and that’s why “fathers’ rights” are just untenable. It’s not a split vote with equal standing. He doesn’t have to subject his body to 9 months of incubating an unwanted child; he doesn’t have to engage health risks; he doesn’t have to balance the other pressing concerns in an expectant mother’s life, which may include dependent children or elders; he doesn’t have to continue to go to work every day, while coordinating pre-natal health care and maternity leave; he doesn’t have to purchase a new wardrobe; he doesn’t have to go through labor. And to force a woman to go through all of this against her will, he doesn’t even need to accept the full responsibility of raising that child; he can force her to do that, too, as long as he’s willing to pay whatever child support the court requires.
That’s the problem with partner notification laws. The interested parties just aren’t standing on the same playing field; their vested interests aren’t remotely parallel. And so their veto power over whether a pregnancy comes to term or not absolutely cannot and should not be given equal standing. Proponents of fathers’ rights in cases of abortion love to claim that it’s unfair that men have “no say,” but it’s nothing more than an unsustainable misdirection. It’s quite literally unfair to give men equal say in a process in which their involvement and their personal risk and inconvenience is miminal, to put it mildly.
To argue in favor of legislation like this is to ignore the functionality of how a child comes into this world. A positive pregnancy test, irrespective of when you believe life begins, is not the same as a baby. Between those two points are nine months that can’t be left out of the equation to make fathers’ rights arguments more convenient.
Tangentially, compelling the report of a rape to get an abortion is ill-advised for many reasons, not the least of which is a clear encroachment on a woman’s right to privacy.
(Hat tip to Ann at Feministing
. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Skeletor can't even ensure that his own office is safe
. The Wackenhut folks hired to handle security at the Department of Homeland Security
were not adequately trained on how to handle suspicious substances, or given skills necessary to protect a building in a post-9/11 world. The guards blew the whistle on Chertoff.
The guards have taken their concerns to Congress, describing inadequate training, failed security tests and slow or confused reactions to bomb and biological threats.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
For instance, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened last fall at Homeland Security Department headquarters, guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it by the office of Secretary Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then shook it outside Chertoff's window without evacuating people nearby.
...A litany of problems were listed by the guards, whose pay ranges from $15.60 to $23 an hour based on their position and level of security clearance. Among their examples of lax security:
_They have no training in responding to attacks with weapons of mass destruction;
_Chemical-sniffing dogs have been replaced with ineffective equipment that falsely indicates the presence of explosives.
_Vehicle entrances to Homeland Security's complex are lightly guarded;
_Guards with radios have trouble hearing each other, or have no radios, no batons and no pepper spray, leaving them with few options beyond lethal force with their handguns.
Frist can't handle the truth
Just to further confirm that the Republican slime in charge have no interest in further examination and disclosure of Bush's warrantless wiretapping/eavesdropping on American citizens, Bill "2008" Frist
is throwing his weight around, threatening to restructure the Senate Intelligence Committee to shut the whole inquiry down. Glenn Greenwald
, as always, is right on top of this.
Frist specifically threatened that if the Committee holds NSA hearings, he will fundamentally change the 30-year-old structure and operation of the Senate Intelligence Committee so as to make it like every other Committee, i.e., controlled and dominated by Republicans to advance and rubber-stamp the White House’s agenda rather than exercise meaningful and nonpartisan oversight.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Yet again, Republicans are threatening to radically change long-standing rules for how our government operates all because they cannot manipulate the result they want. From redistricting games to changing the filibuster rules, when Republicans are incapable (even with their majorities) of manipulating the political result they want, they use their majority status to change how our government works in order to ensure the desired political outcome.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Another reality check for sHillary
Chris Crain at The Washington Blade
posts his take on the infamous memo by Empire State Pride Agenda's Exec Director Alan Van Capelle
, which scorched sHillary for her stand on same-sex marriage (my post here
). Chris piles on, and sHill deserves every bit of it.
Clinton's haughtiness on marriage is particularly galling given her own rocky experience with the institution. She did vote against an unprecedented amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban gays from marrying, but to do otherwise would have been unthinkable for her politically.
In her speech on the Senate floor, she said, "I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman." Another reality check: She's known for decades that in her own case the institution was never so limited and in fact was a not-so-sacred bond between a man and several women, including his wife and untold Gennifers, Monicas and others. [Ouch!]
Hillary opposes allowing gays to marry in New York, and she backed the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by philandering Bill, which not only deprives married gay couples of federal legal recognition, it allows states to ignore marriage licenses issued to gay couples in Massachusetts or elsewhere.
With that kind of track record, Van Capelle rightly argued that there's no good reason for New York gays to throw good money after bad support.
And yet again, we see that those working on our behalf, just don't get it. Not only is sHillary unelectable, she's following the Dean/DNC logic
that gay civil equality issues are best handled by "flying under the gaydar," the whole work-silently-from-within so as not to offend flyover country tactic. That's really worked out well so far, hasn't it
"As she gears up to run for president, it's a broader stage, and these issues matter in a way that perhaps they don't when she's in the Senate," Jeff Soref, a prominent gay Democrat and co-chair of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force board, told the New York Blade.
Let's get this straight. Hillary Rodham Clinton can't support gay marriage because she's running for president. Because we all know Hillary Rodham Clinton has a great shot being elected president so long as she doesn't back gay marriage.
The statement would be laughable if it weren't being uttered by someone like Soref, who has a leading role in the Democratic Party and the gay rights movement. And he's among the more courageous gay Democrats willing to speak out when the party tacks to the right, leaving gays in the wake.
But Soref has chosen a quixotic battle, taking Howard Dean to task for retooling the party bureaucracy in a way that reassigned those in charge of selling the party to gay voters. What about taking Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and others to task for avoiding, rather than fighting, for legal recognition of our relationships, even if it's short of marriage?
You're preaching to the choir here at the Blend, Chris. It's high time to stop the Liberal Failure Support Organizations from enabling the cowardice of the pols. Their passive (and sometimes active) encouragement of silencing calls for gay civil marriage equality only allows the homobigots to crow that there is something inherently wrong/bad/immoral with supporting gays and lesbians.
Except, of course when Dems and LFSOs need to pass the hat around -- then they come a callin'.
* Fallout from leaked Empire State Pride Agenda memo
* What is wrong with Americans
* The sHillary backlash continuesCross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Priests Purify Shrine After Bush Visit
A U.S. security personnel inspects near the eternal flame at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial, before the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush at the memorial in New Delhi, India. Hindu priests who take care of the memorial of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi conducted a purification ceremony at the shrine after a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush, reports said Sunday. It wasn't the American leader who offended them, but the sniffer-dogs that scoured the area ahead of his visit. (AP Photo/Ajit Kumar, File)Respect, what's that
After the dog visit, the memorial was cleansed with water brought from the Ganges river, which Hindus consider holy, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Sunday.
Bush visited the memorial on Thursday during his three day visit to India. The site, where pacifist icon Gandhi was cremated, is considered sacred and all visitors, including Bush and his wife Laura, removed their shoes before going in.
The dogs, flown in from the U.S., were part of the intense security surrounding the president, but the Hindu priests believe they tainted the site. Letting dogs into the memorial also drew sharp protest from Hindu politicians and Gandhi's great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, who called the incident a "national shame," the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
I don't see why our government couldn't have shown more respect to the Hindus. There had to be a way to provide adequate security for the President without resorting to the use of dogs, or they should have bypassed going to the shrine to avoid this.
Also, while on the trip, Dear Leader honed his coordination during a cricket clinic with the Islamabad College for Boys within the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. REUTERS/Jason ReedCross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
The Useless McCain
by Shakespeare's Sister
It’s no secret that I’m on a one-woman mission to make sure every American realizes that John McCain is little more than George Bush in sheep’s clothing (if said sheep were a bleating old man whose desperation for the presidency is evident in every inch of its wool), but today Drum is helping me out
by pointing to a WaPo article
outlining how laughably impotent McCain’s anti-torture bill really is. First, the WaPo:
In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."
...."Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts."
Way to go, McCain. Nothing like giving the architects of a torture policy that finds the Geneva Conventions “quaint” the ability to claim they're really
anti-torture by passing your useless bill, all while they continue to “systematically torture” people. Fine work, sir.
And now Drum:
I have a lot of reasons for wishing that liberals would stop falling for McCain's "straight talk" schtick, and this is one of them: even on the issues where he's one of the good guys, he caves in too often to have much of an impact. His ambition to be president is palpable in everything he does, and it's what's responsible for his routine compromises on issues he supposedly considers matters of honor, his cozying up to George Bush whenever it's politically convenient, and his bizarre recent temper tantrum against Barack Obama. He's certainly mastered the art ofsounding reasonable, but it's only an inch deep. Underneath, he's just a standard issue right wing politician. Caveat emptor.
Exactly right. And because I’ve said just about everything I’ve got to say about this Arizona sun-dried turd and his revolting naked ambition (and because I’m lazy), I’ll just repeat some of my previous commentary on his loathsome politicking:
On McCain’s support of intelligent design being taught in schools
: Anyone who still thinks this jagoff's a maverick after the bootlicking he gave Bush during the last election is living in cloud cuckoo land. His alleged independent streak came to a screeching halt as it collided with the stumbling zombie corpse of his credibility the moment he stood in New Hampshire with his arm around the shoulders of the man whose operatives called his wife a junky and his adopted daughter illegitimate. He may have been honorable and brave once upon a time, but he’s not anymore.
On McCain’s slavish devotion to Dear Leader
: [P]erhaps McCain is actually a Real Doll
, as it occurs to me that the owners of Real Dolls and the Bush administration have approximately the same needs—loyalty, compliance, someone who looks real enough but doesn’t ask too many questions, a realistic body with no brain to help convey one’s basest urges. And I don’t think McCain is the only Real Doll floating around the Beltway. He’s certainly not the only GOP hack willing to get repeatedly fucked while never saying a word.
On McCain’s endorsement of the Protect Arizona Marriage Amendment
: If that picture of Douche McCain with his arms wrapped around Dear Leader, clinging to him like shit to a shoe tread and longing, so desperately longing, to be cradled with pure, unsullied manlove, isn’t enough to make you projectile vomit your entire intestinal track, this ought to do the trick—brave maverick McCain, after opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment seeking to ban gay marriage, has pulled the old switcheroo and endorsed
the Protect Marriage Arizona Amendment. …McCain’s opposition to the FMA was based not on any love he had for the LGBT community, but because
he felt it was “antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans…[and] usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.” …But now, just over a year later, his home state has decided it needs to confront this “problem,” and so he’s happy to throw gays to his sun-roasted wingnut constituents for their frenzied feral bacchanal. Not a trace of irony, nor a moment’s hesitation, nor the merest, passing flicker of recognition is to be found in his countenance as he plows forward with an endorsement that suggests even if a national marriage amendment isn’t part of the core philosophy of Republicans, bigotry and hatred are.
On McCain’s endorsement of racist ninny George Wallace, Jr.
: As for John McCain: Straight Talkin’ White Supremacist, here’s his Straight Talk on Wallace, via one of his top advisers, John Weaver: “George Wallace Jr., is an enlightened progressive leader who always speaks of tolerance and carries forth his father's views at the end of his life. He has strong support across the racial and political spectrum.” Keep on selling that load of shit, you daft prick. Come 2008, we’ll see who’s buying.
On McCain’s batshit crazy attack on Senator Obama
: Let us never cease to speak of McCain with the firm conviction that he is an asshole, a man who will lovingly embrace the cretin whose political machine called his wife a junky and his daughter an illegitimate black child.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Just when you thought it was safe…
by Shakespeare's Sister
So…the Pentagon is using remote-controlled sharks
as “stealth spies.”
The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails, reports New Scientist…
Neural implants consist of a series of electrodes are embedded into the animal's brain, which can then be used to stimulate various functional areas.
Sounded pretty straightforward—but then one of my top secret sources got me a photo of the stealth shark spies…and I think there’s more going on than they’re admitting. Now the president’s protestation about human-animal hybrids makes a lot more sense…
Go fuck yourself!
rude, if you ask me.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
First they came for the gays…
by Shakespeare's Sister
…and then they came for the women…and now they’ll go after anyone
who doesn’t meet their arbitrary definitions of what’s “right.”
Conservatives: Who do you want to make your choices for you? Who do you want to define your family?
If you want it to be you
, then you’d better stand up for those of us on the frontlines. It might seem like it’s all fun and games getting to decide whether someone is allowed to marry who they love or how much control a woman should have over her own uterus, but eventually, you might find yourself in our lifeboat, and then it might not be so funny anymore.
(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Oh, this is just priceless…
by Shakespeare's Sister
An increasingly popular idea about how consumers, well, consume cable is the pay-per-channel, or a la carte
, method. Conservatives, who don’t particularly care for the idea of having filth like MTV, Logo, Bravo, and CNN streamed into their homes alongside Fox News and the Golf Channel, have been particular champions of the idea.Except for televangelists
, who are pooping their panties at the mere thought.
Pay-per-channel pricing “would have a devastating effect on the inspirational programming we currently provide” and “decimate both the audience and financial support for religious broadcasting,” according to the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition. The group includes Pat Robertson ’s Christian Broadcasting Network, which is based in Virginia Beach…
In addition to CBN, the Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition includes televangelist Jerry Falwell , Benny Hinn Ministries , Trinity Broadcasting Network and FamilyNet TV…
[M]uch of CBN’s revenue is generated by telethons, and that income might suffer if CBN’s cable-based audience shrank under per-channel pricing. The network’s latest tax return showed that 68 percent of its revenue came from contributions, gifts and grants…
If that’s the case, surely people will shell out to buy religious channels, though…right?
John Roos , senior vice president for communications at Inspiration Networks, had similar expectations of per-channel pricing.
“People are probably not going to opt for religious networks, that’s just the way it is,” he said.
Even Christians may skip a la carte religious channels, said Megan Mullen , a communications scholar who wrote “The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States.”
“People may say, 'Well, we go to church on Sunday, we try to teach our kids good lessons, we can tune-in’” to Christian programs “'on the radio, and it would be nice if it was cheaper, but it cuts into our budget,’” Mullen said.
D’oh! Of course people aren’t going to pay for something they can get for free. I’ve probably got 10 places delivering for free what Pat Robertson’s offering within a 5-mile radius. If NBA games were free, and there were 10 professional basketball teams in every town, a lot fewer people would buy ESPN, too.
Religious broadcasters say they fear that pay-per-channel cable packages will encroach upon their goal of distributing Christian programming in America and “getting out the gospel,” a mission which is currently subsidized by all of us who pay for cable packages that include Christian programming, even if we don’t ever watch it. And they’d prefer that it stayed that way. Especially since they’ve got a nice little racket going, which includes enjoying the same tax-exempt status as churches
Unlike secular specialty channels, evangelical networks might also be concerned about per-channel pricing’s impact on their political and social influence…
But according to [CBN’s president Michael D. Little]’s view, CBN’s news commentaries don’t cross into political activity that is forbidden under its tax-exempt status.
“We do not have a political agenda,” he said. “Our core mission is to get the gospel out.”
Little added: “What Pat Robertson does as a private citizen is his own business and is not a topic we even comment on.”
They dress up religious broadcasting as a “public service,” both to hold on to their tax-exempt status on the millions of dollars they rake in every year from viewers, and to argue that changing to pay-per-channel cable packages would deny Americans something they need, even if they don’t realize it, but it’s a total scam. Logo—the LGBT channel—has a great series called “Coming Out Stories,” in which people who come out are followed through the process and which is arguably a public service to young LGBT viewers who struggle with coming out and don’t have a building on every corner dedicated to addressing their needs and concerns. Logo doesn’t get tax-exempt status, nor do they get picked up by nearly as many cable affiliates as religious programming does. And pay-per-channel would likely benefit them, as people all over the country could pay for the channel if they wanted it, rather than waiting for their cable provider to offer it as part of a package.
Religious broadcasters are fixin’ to lobby the FCC to nip this idea in the bud before it ever blooms. But they’re going to have a tough time, since many of the people who line their coffers—whether through direct contributions during fundraisers from conservatives or the indirect subsidization of their teleministries just by paying for cable—simply don’t share their interest in maintaining the status quo.
(Hat tip to The Carpetbagger Report
, via Memeorandum
. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
Endless lies: Bush was briefed about Katrina
Left: secure government video obtained by The Associated Press shows then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown, center, at the Homeland Security EOC (emergency operations center) in Washington Aug. 28, 2005, taking part in a government video briefing the day before Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Right: Bush is shown responding in the briefing. (AP Photo)
: Freeper commentary added - true to form, it's vile and they find ways to blame anyone, well, everyone else but Dear Leader for this.]
Didn't Dear Leader tell us all that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" and that based on his review of the next day's imaginary newspapers, that he thought that New Orleans "dodged the bullet" so he didn't have any idea that the levees would be breached?It was all bullsh*t
As officials told about the gravity of the hurricane approaching the Gulf Coast, and the potential disaster that the region faced, he didn't ask a single question
The Associated Press SOMEHOW got this incredible footage, which is up on Crooks and Liars
Gee,what are the chances embattled FEMA gave this footage up, as it has been the whipping boy for this whole mess? From the AP story
In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans' Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.
Bush didn't ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: "We are fully prepared."
The footage — along with seven days of transcripts of briefings obtained by The Associated Press — show in excruciating detail that while federal officials anticipated the tragedy that unfolded in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, they were fatally slow to realize they had not mustered enough resources to deal with the unprecedented disaster.
Linked by secure video, Bush's confidence on Aug. 28 starkly contrasts with the dire warnings his disaster chief and a cacophony of federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.
A top hurricane expert voiced "grave concerns" about the levees and then-Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Michael Brown told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that he feared there weren't enough disaster teams to help evacuees at the Superdome.
It can't get any worse than this for this fraudulent, lying bastard in the White House. Then again, I thought minutes of video of him blanking out reading "The Pet Goat" on September 11 was enough to show the public what a worthless piece of crap they elected, but they gave him a pass. Will they give him a pass for baldface lying about being briefed about Katrina? How will Rove get him out of this one?
I have to repeat it again -- think about it -- thousands of lives were in the balance, and he didn't ask a single question of those briefing him
. What kind of f*cking leadership is this?
How many scandalous, immoral, incompetent acts can this man and his vile administration get away with? This just has to stop.
The Freepers (part of that hardcore ~30% still supporting this knob-end president) manage to blame: 1) black victims of Katrina, 2) the AP for obtaining the tape, 3) everyone down in the Gulf, because they should have been watching the Weather Channel (and I suppose that somehow lets the Chimp off the hook?!). This is the Republican Base
Actual Freeper Quotes™
"More BS from Asso Propaganda. Funny how they NEVER cover the briefing documents from FEMA that warns local and state officials that it can take up to 96 hours for the Feds to ride to the rescue. More scum bag KNOWING lies by the Asso Propaganda.
"Yawn. Katrina is so yesterday.."
"Come down here to the Mississippi coast and tell us that."
"It kept the crime down."
"*yawn* I saw Mayfield tell me the same thing on The Weather Channel - he was rather blunt about it. And? People stayed, some paid the price, and short of declaring martial law, the federal response was appropriate and timely.
"This is much ado about stuff we already know...AND---it was a HURRICANE FGS... and I know that even the "experts" never know exactly what will happen!!!"
"And so was everyone in NO."
"If I'm the President, and someone warns me about a huge hurricane approaching Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, I tell them to make sure all the information we have is forwarded to the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama state officials."
"Then, having gone above and beyond the call of duty, I immediately return to taking care of my own responsibilities."
[Pam: and further down the page, this is the actual picture one of them ran as his/her comment]
39 posted on 03/01/2006 3:14:15 PM PST by Perdogg ("Facts are stupid things" - Pres. Ronald W. Reagan)
"Yep, expect to hear this over and over. They are putting the tape against GWB's statement a few days later that no one anticipated the levees being breached...ya know, more of the "dishonesty" of this admin. Only problem I see is that the weather dude in the video spoke about water coming OVER the levees. There IS a difference between storm surge causing water to top the levees and breaks in said levee. This will, of course, be ignored."
"And the AP obtained this material how? Smells of a security breach of some sort."
"Not in the Houston area. The dumbest thing elected officals could have ever done was bring all those folks here."
"Perhaps Louisiana's corrupt officals who stole levee money to pay for casinos should share part of the blame...the rest of the blame falling onto local and state officials (as well as New Orlean's residents themselves) for not evacuating...the storm was the sole item on the news for 4 days prior to making landfall, so people knew it was coming (and if everyone knew about the levee's then they hardly have an excuse for staying)."
"It's also worth noting that New Orleans was hit by the weaker West side of Hurricane Katrina. Mobile and Biloxi were hit by the more harsh East side of the storm, yet for "some reason" they managed their part of this crisis a bit better... 17 posted on 03/01/2006 2:56:04 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro "
"I am disappointed, Texans should know how to handle troublemakers. Where is your cowboy spirit?"
"Actually, crime increased with the shootings at the rescuers."
"I guess Bush should have driven the buses."
"You know, I like it much better and find it totally re-assuring when my President is running around, screaming and crying like a sally-boy in the middle of a crisis. /sarcasm Shades of how they picked on him while he remained calm on the outside and didn't panic a bunch of little kids on 9/11. I hate the b@stards in the MSM."
"I just saw some of the tape. I don't think you all are really focusing in on just how damaging this is going to be. I often deal with the media, the Democrats and worse and the subject of Katrina keeps coming up. I was at a holiday gathering of professionals in December and an hour was spent on it. The people who move things and who communicate things are going to be all over this. It could be spun, but Bush clearly was alerted that this was going to be a disaster. The spin would be that, yea, we saw it, thank God, coming and our preparation was as good as humanely possible. As I glance around the 'net, this is exploding. This is going to hurt more than you can grasp at this moment. Bush needs to roll heads as a diversion. A lot and I do mean a lot is going to be implied."
"Yes, he was...what this is about is that the Dems and the MSM think they have found a GOTCHA (ya know, proof of their incessant "BUSH LIED!!" mantra) - I have heard the word "misleading" several times already just flipping the channels...it makes me ill"
"Bingo...I remember the President on national news the weekend before the storm hit urging everyone in its' path to evacuate inland. What a load of crap...the only thing I don't understand is why the White House lets this false picture be painted. What was he supposed to do...send the Secret Service war wagons down to the ninth ward to drive these unmotivated folks out of harms way."
"Houston took in the worst from New Orleans. It has gone up in Houston. New Orleans has one of the highest crime rate in America."
Remember to read my post from yesterday about Katrina recovery and The Mardi Gras Index
(of fallout) caused by the lack of preparedness by this Administration. It has even more relevance after this A-Bomb from the AP.
Jane @ Firedoglake
smacks it all down, and The Moderate Voice
has a good roundup.Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
by Dark Wraith
Toward Full Yield Curve Inversion
In its continuing coverage of potential indicators of future performance of the U.S. economy, The Dark Wraith Forums has featured the state and movements of the yield curve, which has been flattening considerably over the past months. The yield curve measures the term to maturity of various government Treasury instruments against their yields. The full story of why this happens and what it means can be found in The Dark Wraith Forums article, "Of Crystal Balls and Yield Curves
," where it was noted that the past five recessions have been forewarned by an "inverted" yield curve, arguably making it the most accurate intermediate-range predictor of economic downturns, although in several instances the yield curve has inverted without a full-blown recession following.
An inverted yield curve occurs when long-term Treasury debt yields are lower than short-term yields. Normally, as the term to maturity of bonds lengthens, the yields they provide investors increase, thereby making a graphical representation of maturities of bonds against their yields a smoothly upward-arcing curve. A fully inverted yield displays the opposite behavior: the curve arcs downward from left to right. During a volatile period as the economy moves from relative health to a stage where a recession could come, the yield curve can display "partial inversion," wherein the curve arcs upward for very short-term to short-term yields, then perversely downward from left to right over the short- to intermediate-term bond maturities before recovering the normal, upward-arcing shape from intermediate- to long-term maturities of the bonds being tracked.
In the article, "Yield Curves 2005
," published here, the yield curves at the beginning and end of last year were featured. The main graphic from that article is presented below.
In the graphic above, the purple yield curve for the first trading day of last year displays the classic, upward arc; by the last trading day of 2005, however, the yield curve had dramatically flattened and partially inverted, warning investors and government economic planners of a possible full inversion and the potential for a subsequent recession.
In the January 18, 2006, article entitled, "Yield Curve Inversion 2006
," here at The Dark Wraith Forums, the progress of the partial inversion was shown: at that date, the yield curve was displaying a troubling, classic partial inversion, looking like a roller coaster with very short-term to short-term yields rising smoothly, short-term to intermediate-term yields falling precipitously, then intermediate-term to long-term yields again rising.
Based upon data provided by the United States Department of the Treasury
, the graphic below presents the yield curve as of the end of trading on the last day of February, 2006. The yield curve from the January 18, 2006, article and the yield curve at February 1 are included for comparative reference.
The blue curve of January 18, 2006, was partially inverted: the intermediate-term to long-term yields were still rising, with the 20-year Treasury bond continuing to offer investors a better return than any short-term Treasury instrument. By the first day of February, that was still the case, but the entire curve had shifted upward as interest rates on all maturities had risen. By the end of February, the curve had generally shifted even further up, but the 20-year Treasury bond yield had begun to sag noticeably.
Using the peak yield, which has been at the 6-month Treasury note, as the base for comparisons, the spread between it and the 20-year Treasury bill yield for the three curves is as follows (one basis point is one one-hundredth of a percent):January 18, 2006
6-month T-bill: 4.46% 20-year T-bond: 4.58% Yield spread: 12 basis pointsFebruary 1, 2006
6-month T-bill: 4.60% 20-year T-bond: 4.77% Yield spread: 17 basis pointsFebruary 28, 2006
6-month T-bill: 4.74% 20-year T-bond: 4.70% Yield spread: 4 basis points
In other words, by the end of February, the 20-year Treasury bond yield had finally fallen below the yield on a mere 6-month T-bill. At this point, only parts of the curve remain non-inverted: in the range of the very short-term, 1-month and 3-month T-bills, which may persist for a while at slightly lower rates for technical reasons; and narrowly in the 5-year to 10-year range. For all intents and purposes, however, as of February 28, 2006, the yield curve had nearly fully inverted; and while the dynamic of the curve had been moving in this direction for months, the Bush Administration and its Republican allies who control the Congress continued to press their claim that the economic policies of tax cuts biased toward the wealthy coupled with deficit spending on war of opportunity at the sacrifice of major cuts in domestic programs was correct policy.
With yet another near-record federal budget deficit now predicted for this year
, the government would have little room to provide counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus directed toward middle-class and working poor households and small business; and even if the Republicans who control the federal government were to radically alter their priorities away from their natural base of support in large corporations and the wealthiest people, any counter-cyclical policies enacted now would have their effect felt far too late to stave off what could be a severe recession starting near the end of this year or early next year.
The Dark Wraith Forums will deliver continuing coverage on the yield curve as its deepening inversion becomes evident even to the most dull-witted of the incompetent neo-conservatives.
This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.
Another Alleged Rape Victim Threatened with Jail
by Shakespeare's Sister
But unlike the previous story out of Oregon
, it’s not because the woman is suspected of making a false allegation—it’s because she doesn’t want to watch the videotape of her rape in court
The incident took place four years ago when the woman was 16. At a party at the home of the accused, who she didn’t know previously, she got drunk, threw up, and passed out. When she woke up the next morning, she was naked from the waist down with “vulgar words” scrawled on her abdomen and legs with a marker. According to prosecutors, the videotape shows two men having sex with her, and images of people spitting on her and writing on her while she was unconscious.
Four men were originally charged. Christopher Robbins was acquitted, as the videotape does not show him having sex with the woman; he says they had sex off-camera, but that it was consensual. Sonny Smith, who served as cameraman, pled guilty to child pornography and was sent to the Illinois Department of Corrections boot camp. The two other men, who are shown on the video having sex with the woman, both fled the country. Burim Berezi still remains at large; Adrian Missbrenner returned and is now the defendant in the ongoing case.
Now at issue is the woman’s unwillingness to watch the tape. Defense attorneys insist it’s part of the defendant’s “constitutional right to confrontation of a witness,” but the woman has testified that “she doesn't have any recollection or memory of the videotape incident at all,” so it’s rather unclear what purpose subjecting her to its viewing would serve. Nonetheless:
A Naperville woman who on Tuesday refused a judge's order to view a videotape of her alleged rape could be jailed on a contempt of court charge if she does not change her mind Wednesday, and the judge is considering a request to drop sexual assault charges against the Burr Ridge man on trial.
"I am ordering you to answer these questions," Judge Kerry Kennedy told the woman after an hourlong recess to discuss her refusal. "The consequences are that you would be held in contempt of court, with incarceration possible. Are you still refusing?"
"Yes," she responded.
"I will give you overnight to think about this," Kennedy said. "Tomorrow, I will ask you again."
This is just utter bullshit. If the woman has testified she doesn’t remember anything about the incident, then the video should be allowed to speak for itself—whether that hurts her or helps her. Why is the case predicated on her willingness to relive her attack and be asked questions about it she can’t possibly answer
in front of a courtroom full of people? And, more importantly, why is she being threatened by having charges against the defendant dismissed
and being put in jail herself
if she doesn’t watch the tape? Does her reluctance to watch the tape somehow change what’s actually on
the tape? If the tape shows men having sex with her while she’s unconscious, spitting on her, and writing on her body, her impressions of the tape matter a hell of a lot less than the jury’s.
And why, pray tell, does the Chicago Tribune
end this article with the following?
In another rape case in 1995, a woman who had accused then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds of sexually abusing her when she was 16 was jailed for seven days after refusing to testify against him. She later recanted.
Reynolds was convicted and sent to prison but was pardoned by President Bill Clinton after serving more than 2 years.
What does that have to do with price of rice in China?! In the year 1995, Illinois had 4,313 cases of reported forced rape. In the year 2001 (which I believe is when the case described above actually happened), there were 5,618 reported incidents of criminal sexual assault in Illinois. But the most pertinent case to mention is a case where the victim recanted? In relation to a case where the attack was videotaped
? Fucking ridiculous. Nice reporting.
(Thanks to kate.d
for the heads-up. Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister
UPDATE: LeMew turns his legal eye to the case here
Katrina recovery and The Mardi Gras Index
That's the name of the 36-page report from Durham's own Institute for Southern Studies
. The bottom line is that the status of New Orleans post-hurricane is a tragic mess. The Mardi Gras Index
looks at 11 areas including housing, public health, the economy and disaster preparedness. Co-author of the report (and editor of the Institute's outstanding blog Facing South
), Chris Kromm: "Despite promises from national leaders to "do what it takes" to rebuild New Orleans, the devastated city has been mostly left to fend for itself -- with tragic results. Without a bold, national commitment, the city won't come back
The facts show the sorry state of affairs six months after Katrina, with the report reviewing over 130 indicators, with success on a few fronts, but there are major hurdles, all man-made, that are stalling much-needed progress. The big picture:
* Percent of those displaced by Katrina who were from New Orleans: 50
* Estimated loss of New Orleans’ black population if people are unable to return to flood-damaged neighborhoods: 80
* Number of FEMA trailer homes requested by New Orleans residents: 21,000
* Estimated number of those homes installed as of early February 2006: 3,000
* Percent of New Orleans small businesses destroyed by Katrina: 60
* Out of 200 samples taken in Orleans Parish, percent that exceeded the Louisiana state cleanup level for pollution in residential neighborhoods: 37
* Number of public school employees Orleans Parish is planning to lay off: 7,500
* Percent of no-bid contracts that FEMA promised to re-bid in October that have been re-bid: 0
* Number of Orleans Parish prisoners who have not seen an attorney, some since before Katrina hit: 4,500
* Number of days until the 2006 hurricane season starts: 93
* Square miles of Louisiana wetlands lost from Katrina and Rita, which experts believe are critical to reducing storm surges: 118
* Amount of federal dollars that have been committed to date for wetland restoration in Louisiana beyond existing programs: 0
* Category of storm for which the Army Corps is currently authorized by Congress to rebuild the Louisiana levees: 2
* Category of Katrina when it hit New Orleans: 3
Source: The Mardi Gras Index, February 28, 2006.
Visit Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch
for more information.
And Mardi Gras itself? Look at the revelers' dark humor about the state of things...(AP
Kevin and Marie Barre, a husband and wife from New Orleans, wore white plastic coveralls bearing the all-too-familiar spray-painted "X" that denotes a home that has been checked for bodies. "It's a reminder. A lot of people who are coming down here don't understand what we've been through," Kevin Barre said.Harriet Robin wears a costume of Meals Ready to Eat refuse during Mardi Gras celebrations in Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Members of another club called the Krewe of MRE covered themselves with brown labels from the Meals Ready to Eat that were served to thousands who huddled in the Superdome after the storm. Others dressed as giant maggots, recalling the days when city streets were lined with abandoned refrigerators full of rotting food.
Several people draped themselves in blue tarps like those used to cover damaged roofs, fashioning them into ballgowns and nun's habits. A man with a model of a military helicopter suspended over his head wrapped himself in a white blanket with "2000 lbs" stenciled on it — he was a giant sandbag, like the ones dropped into one of the breached levees.Revelers dressed as blind levee inspectors walk down Bourbon Street in New Orleans as they celebrate Mardi Gras Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. Revelers hit the streets of the French Quarter in beads and costumes ranging from the fanciful to the bizarre on Mardi Gras, the windup of raucous pre-Lenten partying as the city tried to cheer itself up after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
...Along an Uptown parade route, a family who lost their Lakeview home to flooding poked fun at former FEMA director Michael Brown. Jenny Louis, her husband, Ross, and their three children strolled around in all-brown costumes, similar to the uniforms worn by UPS drivers. Printed on their backs: "What Did Brown Do For You Today?"Ray and Anne Donahue of New Orleans exchange beads as they walk down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras in New Orleans Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. The Donahue's costumed themselves as the Mold Squad seeking infectious waste. Much of New Orleans is still unlivable six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend.