Friday, December 31, 2004

New Years Eve

Don't get too depressed, but this is going to be my last post of 2004. As probably most of you do, I have plans tonight so I won't be able to be here staying abreast on recent developments in the news. Shame.

I will, however, be back tomorrow. Don't forget to eat your pork and saurkraut, unless of course you're Jewish. Then don't eat the pork, but substitute it with some kosher kielbasa. Delicious! And, don't eat the saurkraut if you're allergic to cabbage. That wouldn't be cool either. Oh hell, just eat whatever you usually would.

Have fun, drink responsibly, don't go home with any Republicans, and have a good evening.

From our homes to yours,

--Management

Small Gains, Small Gains

You gotta hold on to what you got.

The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday declared “one or more” contested ballots in a disputed House race in Lake County invalid, meaning Democrat Jeanne Windham won the seat. The 6-1 decision creates a 50-50 tie in the House, which means the next House speaker likely will be from the party of Democratic Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer.
Montana now has a Democratic Governor and a Democratic House Majority Leader. I'll take it. Small gains are better than no gains at all.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Trouble With the Homeland

from USA Today 12|27|04:

The government agency responsible for protecting the nation against terrorist attack is a dysfunctional, poorly managed bureaucracy that has failed to plug serious holes in the nation's safety net, the Department of Homeland Security's former internal watchdog warns.
Crikey! I feel so darn safe. Almost as safe as when John Ashcroft wrote in his letter of resignation,
I take great personal satisfaction in the record which has been developed. The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.
The man now speaking out in order to warn the nation, Clark Kent Ervin, who served as the department's inspector general until earlier this month, speaks of unsafe seaports, unchecked airports, and Homeland Security officials who wasted millions of dollars because of "chaotic and disorganized" accounting practices, lavish spending on social occasions and employee bonuses and a failure to require competitive bidding for some projects.

He seems like one of the level-headed ones in the bunch. But instead of being kept around for sanity's sake, he lost his job. One he never really had.
Ervin lost his job this month in mysterious fashion. Appointed by President Bush in December 2003 when Congress was out of session, Ervin was never confirmed by the Senate. Nor was he renominated by the White House this month when his "recess appointment" — which lasted until the congressional session ended — expired Dec. 8.

A key senator won't say why. Elissa Davidson, spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wouldn't comment on why Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, never held confirmation hearings for Ervin. "The decision not to renominate Clark Kent Ervin was purely a White House decision," she said.
Interesting. I feel even safer now!

You Complete Me, Part Two

The Associated Press has finally picked up on something I posted on last night.

The FBI, concerned that terrorists could use lasers as weapons, is investigating why laser beams were directed into the cockpits of seven airplanes in flight since Christmas. Laser beams can temporarily blind or disorient pilots and possibly cause a plane to crash.
Although it seems very serious, it's all a little too Austin Powers for my liking. And I like to fly!

A Drop in the Bucket

from the New York Times 12|30|04:

It took 72 hours after the tsunamis washed away countless villages and tens of thousands of lives before Mr. Bush appeared in public to declare that the United States had the rudiments of a plan for addressing "loss and grief to the world that is beyond our comprehension." His aides said it took that long to understand the magnitude of the tragedy and to plan a recovery effort that must stretch from remote villages of Indonesia to the eastern coast of Africa.
And yet, his aides said earlier that he didn't want to pull a Clinton and show his sympathetic side.
Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
And that's too sad, really. A big blip on the election radar back in October was the fact that John Kerry actually spoke about living in one world, instead of this alternative universe far removed from the rest of the world. It's the new isolationism, we're living in. Only, with a bit of colonialism thrown in for good measure. We don't care what others think about us, which leads to us insulting other countries with no fear. And then we wonder why we have to do so many things by ourselves. Being well-liked isn't a bad thing.

This was a great way, a golden opportunity to show the world that we truly care about human lives.
"It's a tragedy but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate that terrorism doesn't drive out everything else," said Morton Abramowitz, who served as American ambassador to Thailand a quarter century ago and went on to become one of the founders of the International Crisis Group, which helps prepare governments to respond to unexpected shocks. "It's a chance for him to show what kind of country we are."
This traumatic experience, felt around the world, could have been a bit of what happened on September 11, three years ago. The world united around us. We could have once again led the world, a slightly more united world. But we dropped the ball, due to not wanting to seem too much like Clinton. What an excuse, eh?
According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world."

But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.
Oy. We gave over $85 billion to the military so our forces could invade Iraq on the whim that they may or may not have weapons of mass destruction. We gave $18 billion for the rebuilding of the country after we bombed the hell out of it. Over 150,000 people have lost their lives -- that we know of -- and some are estimating the loss at 1,000,000 or perhaps more, and we give $35 million and some airlifting aid.
"I just about went through the roof when I heard them bragging about $35 million," Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat and a persistent critic of how the American rebuilding operation has gone in Iraq. "We spend $35 million before breakfast in Iraq."
I'm feeling the same. I'm feeling quite the same.

You Lose Some

Do you remember when Al Gore wrote this to George W. Bush?

Our next president should enter office without any doubt about the legitimacy of his office. The people of the United States deserve to know that their president was elected fair and square. Unfortunately, the events of the past few weeks now make it impossible for you or me to take office on January 12 without being shrouded in suspicion.
That's when he asked Bush to join him in having a revote so everyone could live happily ever after. Wait, no. Al Gore never wrote that. It was Dino Rossi, the loser-elect of the Washington state governor race. Unlike Al Gore, he's not taking to heart what the state Supreme Court said about his losership, and, instead, he's fighting tooth-and-nail to do everything in his power to look like a fool. He really said, in a letter to Ms. Gregoire, governor-elect,
Our next governor should enter office without any doubt about the legitimacy of his or her office. The people of Washington deserve to know that their governor was elected fair and square. Unfortunately, the events of the past few weeks now make it impossible for you or me to take office on January 12 without being shrouded in suspicion.
It sucks when you lose, doesn't it? Maybe you should all stop rubbing it in already?

A recount, that included all viable votes, declared Gregoire the winner. Simple as that. Why not give up now, baby?

AARP Taking a Stand, Finally

The AARP, the influential lobby for older Americans, signaled Wednesday for the first time how fervently it would fight President Bush's proposal for private Social Security accounts. The group, which played dead last time around and aided the Bushites in winning its Medicare reform/annihilation, is planning a $5 million two-week advertising campaign time to coincide with the start of the new Congress.

I've written on this subject a few times, but now the time is coming when this horror of a public policy is coming to a point.

AARP has come up with some interesting slogans for its media blitz early next year, including:

One advertisement shows a couple in their 40's looking at the reader. "If we feel like gambling, we'll play the slots," the message says.
Another advertisement shows traders in the pit of a commodities exchange. "Winners and losers are stock market terms," it says. "Do you really want them to become retirement terms?"
"There are places in your retirement planning for risk," the advertisements say, "but Social Security isn't one of them."
At a White House economic conference this month, Mr. Bush previewed his message to Congress on Social Security.
"The crisis is now," he said. "You may not feel it, your constituents may not be overwhelming you with letters demanding a fix now, but the crisis is now."
You may not feel the presense of the overwhelming burden on our children that the monstrous federal budget deficeit posesses, but it's there. Constituents from around the country may not be flooding their representatives and senators with letters demanding a fix now, but the crisis is now. And don't forget that the transfer to these private accounts will cost the American taxpayer $1 trillion, by some estimates.

But like Mr. Bush would have you believe with the deficeit, Ms. Donohoo of AARP is calling the situation "not a crisis." She says that "rather modest changes" could ensure the solvency of the program for several generations. And I haven't seen evidence to prove otherwise.

Washington Pulls Through

from Associated Press 12|30|04:

After three vote tallies and 58 days of waiting, Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared Washington's governor-elect on Thursday. But her Republican rival did not concede and wants a new election.
Whoa! I bet the current state government is made up of a bunch of liberal Democrats.
Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, certified Gregoire, the three-term attorney general, as the winner of the closest governor's race in state history.
I betcha this ain't the end of it, though. Gregoire's challenger isn't conceding gracefully and admitting defeat. He's asking for another election. If we're going to do that, let's have another 2000 presidential election. That one was pretty close too. It'll be fun!

*I am not advocating another 2000 election. I'm just saying that you win some and you lose some, and it's time to move on.

Practice What You Preach

from Associated Press 12|30|04:

The institution of marriage is in crisis but not because of gays, says a Democratic political consultant who has formed a group to fight passage of a state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriages.

Threats to marriage are no-fault divorce and domestic violence, said Jason Stanford, whose group is called Practice What You Preach. He said the Legislature should concentrate on laws that would bolster traditional marriages instead of grandstanding on what he sees as a discriminatory amendment that accomplishes nothing.
Finally, someone is talking some sense. Practice What You Preach, it's snazzy AND it's practical.

Liberal Hollywood

If conservatives believe that this election cycle gave them all the talking rights to be able to say that the tides in this country are changing, and that the citizens aren't going to stand for our progressive way of life, wouldn't we be seeing a massive hit on the coffers of the so-called liberal Hollywood?

But, yet again, Meet the Fockers, co-starring one of the right's most maligned uber-liberal mouthpieces Barbara Streisand, is set to take the number one spot at the boxoffice.

"Fockers," Universal's 800-pound gorilla, crossed the $100 million mark Wednesday, just one week after it opened at No. 1, and is likely to pull in an additional $40 million for the three-day frame.
If America was really tired of it all, wouldn't they refuse to see her movies? Or are these conservative blowhards just full of hot air?

If this theory of refusing to watch a movie because a liberal is starring in it is the truth, why didn't Toby Keith's album records skyrocket into the stratasphere when he started to spread his conservatism to the masses? But thank God there wasn't a huge jump. I couldn't possibly stand to hear his voice any more than I have to in this town of countryfolks.

A Stain on the House

If there's anything I learned about the ethics committee admonishing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, it's that you should never mess with a Republican in the House of Representatives unless you mean business. They'll do just about anything to protect their own, no matter how much they smell of a rat.

In the wake of back-to-back ethics slaps at the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, House Republicans are preparing to make it more difficult to initiate ethics investigations and could remove the Republican chairman who presided over the admonishments of Mr. DeLay last fall.
Yes. Let's make it harder for unethical Republicans to be slapped around for their behavior. And let's punish the Republican chairman for not following the party line and allowing such a slap to happen in the first place. Never mind the fact that Tom DeLay deserved it or anything.

Honestly, I don't know how you Republicans stay in such a party.

You Complete Me

Ever wonder what happened to Dr. Evil's giant "laser beam" at the end of Austin Powers? I think we may have stumbled upon it.

Authorities are investigating a mysterious laser beam that was directed into the cockpit of a commercial jet traveling at more than 8,500 feet. The beam appeared Monday when the plane was about 15 miles from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the FBI said.
In Colorado, a similar experience happened to two other planes as they attempted to land.
Federal officials are investigating reports from two pilots who say bright lights were aimed from the ground into their cockpits as they headed into the Colorado Springs Airport. Both planes landed without problems on Monday night. Federal officials issued a warning this month that terrorists might try to down aircraft by shining powerful lasers into cockpits to blind pilots during landing approaches.
But in all seriousness, I did have something snarky and quite entertaining written here in this space, but I edited the post due to some new information I received from a friend of mine who is semi in the know. It would turn out that this is actually pretty serious business.

These types of things have been going on for the last six to nine months and they are increasingly becoming more frequent. And they're not just the little pocket laser pointers that were popular a few years back. From what I understand, they're bigger and more sophisticated. They are the type of lasers that are used in light shows and during fireworks.

All these strange lights occur during a planes runway approach on landing because that's when the plane has to be at a certain position and at a certain altitude, which makes it quite easy to target. And the plane is very vulnerable at this stage, being so close to the ground.

Who thinks of this type of stuff? Here's hoping that whoever is being this never succeeds.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Boo Hoo

from Associated Press 12|29|04:

Russia plans to stop giving American astronauts free rides on its spacecraft to the international space station beginning in 2006, the head of Russia's space agency said.
They're taking their ball and they're going home! Could it be because their candidate for the Ukranian presidency didn't pan out and America's candidate did? Or could it be because Russia was tired of footing the bill for Americans to fly for free?

Cost Cutters

I wrote earlier on an article in the New York Times that reporters,

With the budget deficit growing and President Bush promising to reduce spending, the administration has told representatives of several charities that it was unable to honor some earlier promises. The cutbacks, estimated by some charities at up to $100 million, come at a time when the number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years and all food programs are being stretched.
I can see that the President and his administration want to attempt to get the deficit under control and everything, so that's why they're cutting back all around and trying to save on cost. But this is about the time when I read about his inauguration,
The estimated budget for the event is $30-40 million, but that will not cover security costs.

The Department of Homeland Security has designated the inauguration as a National Special Security Event, which makes the high-profile gatherings eligible for federal money and heightened security overseen by the Secret Service.
That's right. We're cutting money formerly used to feed starving people so this president can have a pretty, $35-40 million inauguration. And that doesn't even include security!
The committee promised a full schedule of events later this week, but did release some brief highlights.

On Jan. 18, there will be a Military Gala, which is a special tribute to troops abroad with a youth concert in the evening featuring musical acts, video clips and guest speakers.

On Jan. 19, there will be a variety of musical acts, entertainment and a fireworks display.

On Jan. 20, the committee said they are working hard to have each state represented at the noontime parade which Jenkins said has generated enormous interest. The balls will take place that evening.
Yay! Not just one ball, but many!

Doubly Fun

I usually just ignore the things that the closed-minded and hating Maggie Gallagher writes about in her opinion pieces. But a paragraph she wrote for her December 28 piece struck me. She writes,

In the late '70s and '80s, the Christian right began to create its own huge counterculture: singers and songwriters, Christian pulp fictions and self-help books, coloring books and cartoons, as well as lobbying organizations (like the Family Research Council). In the '90s, conservatives got their own television news and talk radio shows. What will the future bring?
She writes, rather lovingly, about the 70s and the 80s, when the Christian Right began to build itself with the hopes of dominating American culture. But what if the tables were turned?

What if now, in the first decade of the 2000s, homosexuals and those friendly to homosexuals began to create its own huge counterculture. Can you imagine the backlash if homosexuals started to create their own "coloring books and cartoons"? And "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" on Saturday Night Live doesn't count. The huge ax that is the double-standard would come crashing down and Maggie Gallagher would be decrying it as homosexuals attempting to impose their lifestyle on the rest of the world.

What about the lifestyles of the Christian Right being imposed on my children? (I don't have children, I'm just saying.) Why the double standard?

Ann Coulter Screaches

I hate it when they make it almost impossibly too easy.

Since the attack of 9/11, we've won two wars...
That was the beginning to Ann Coulter's piece, which was posted on December 24.

On December 28, Colin Powell, someone in the know and someone a little more experienced in the ways of war than Miss (and I say Miss with no proof) Coulter, said that we haven't won the war in Iraq, and it doesn't look like we will any time soon, if ever.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the insurgency in Iraq "will not end," as insurgents are determined to derail the country's democratic transition.
I wish the conservative media machine would get its story straight.

Ethical Schmethical

Almost nothing surprises me anymore when it deals with the Republican Party, but this really took me by surprise. The more I think about it though, the less surprised I am and the more surprised it didn't happen sooner, and with more positions.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday.

Although Hastert (Ill.) has not made a decision, the expectation among leadership aides is that the chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), long at odds with party leaders because of his independence, will be replaced when Congress convenes next week.
Of course. Why would you want someone with the slightest idea of what ethical behavior looks like to be your ethics committee chairman? That would be silly!

Food for Thought.

The number of minutes that President Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the former chairman of the Defence Policy Board Richard Perle, the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and Chief Political Strategist Karl Rove -- all major Iraq war proponents -- served in combat (combined) is equal to zero (0).

More Actions

from Sify News 12|29|04:

Sex workers in Ahmednagar and the district have come forward to donate over Rs 13,000 -- their day's earning -- as a humanitarian gesture for those affected by Tsunami tidal waves in southern India.
You give what you can.

Shot Down

from World Net Daily 12|28|04:

The Pentagon is dismissing a comment by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld regarding Flight 93 having been "shot down" over Pennsylvania, saying it was nothing more than a speaking error.

As WorldNetDaily exclusively reported yesterday, Rumsfeld, during his surprise Christmas Eve trip to Iraq, referred to the flight being shot down – long a suspicion because of the danger the Sept. 11 flight posed to Washington landmarks and population centers.
Either the old man has officially lost it, or he said something he wasn't supposed to. How do you misspeak about a plane being shot down? It isn't even in the same realm with the plane crashing as the result of an onboard struggle between passengers and terrorists. There's just no mental connection there. He's gonna be in soooooo much trouble!

Me, Actions. You, Words.

What does a leader do when a tragedy arises? He stays on vacation, of course.

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "

Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said, describing the president's view of his appropriate role.
Wait. Did his aides just do what I think they did? And did a top aide just say what I think he said? Fifty-some thousand people lost their lives and they're playing Clinton-bashing? How incredibly Republican of them.

And a top Bush aide said, "Actions speak louder than words," after a White House spokesman said that the president
could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford.
Wha-wha-wha-what?! Actions? Actions? What actions? Is giving monetary aid the Bushies way of doing action? But isn't this a "tried and true liberal" thing, like our good friend Tom Alday once told me?
Like a tried and true liberal you think throwing more money at the problem will fix it.
I just don't understand. Or maybe I do, but because they don't and pretend that they do, I think that I don't. This is too Fight Club for this time of night.

Go to Sudan!

from 700 Club 12|23|04:
You know it's an amazing thing -- this is a Christian country, it's founded by Christians, Christmas is one of our great celebrations. It's been a time of joy for our people for many years, and not only us, but now they're picking up Christmas in Japan, picking it up in China. It's something that has blessed the world. And if people don't like America and the traditions that made America great, let them go to Saudi Arabia, let them go to Pakistan. Yeah, they can go to the Sudan and find a wonderful Muslim holiday.
I remember a time when conservative televangelist Christians were understanding, loving, tolerant, Jesus-following, moral models for the world. Oh, I'm sorry. See, I thought I could that with a straight face. Excuse me. Let me try again.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

O'Reilly Attack

Bill O'Reilly, ever the loving, caring heartfelt kind of guy, has been getting tossed about lately in op-ed pieces across the country. And, not being a guy who rolls with the punches, he decided to play a little offense.

After calling the Los Angeles Times writer Tim Rutten a

vile character assassinator who defames and then hides.
he directs his anger at New York Times reporter Kate Zernike. And he goes on and on and on.

But then, after he airs all his grievances and takes out a bunch of reporters in his path, he says something I never imagined anyone seriously invoking. Because people in the media write stories about him which don't look upon him in a good light, he tells his viewers that
Somewhere Jesus is weeping.
Amazing. And is assassinator even a word? Did he just mean assassin?

Oh Dear

He's your friend. He's my friend. He's the Jesus Christ Action Figure. Coming to a ubiquitous Walmart near you.

My Year End List

2004 has been a great year, if only for the fact that is saw the spawn of something great. I am, of course, referring to my blog. Okay, so I'm not that vain.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their stay here at Zac Attack, and I hope that you will continue to enjoy it as long as I feel motivated to write and rant. As a treat for you, my gentle audience, I give you several lists of Top Fives. The lists were compiled by me, gathering inspiration from certain, wonderful people. Please enjoy.

Top 5 Shortest Books

5. "Things I Lurnd in My Life" by George W. Bush
4. "Why People Like Me" by John Ashcroft
3. "Artistic Appreciation of the Human Nude" by the FCC
2. "How Tax Breaks for the Wealthy Help You" by John Snow
1. "Karl Rove's Treasury of Ethical Treastises" by Karl Rove
Top 5 Madeup Words
5. Chotato Pips
4. Compassionate Conservatism
3. Fuckidity
2. Mexed Missages
1. Internets.
Top 5 Things Overheard at a GOP Mixer
5. That's not what they meant my 'mixer,' Mr. President
4. Anyone else feel a draft in here?
3. I only do missionary.
2. If it weren't for the grace of the Almighty God, America wouldn't be where it is today: the pariah of the world, in severe economic recession, sharply divided and deeply divided in a questionable war. Praise the Lord!
1. I feel soulless and dirty.
Top 5 GOP Initiatives
5. Fuck the Poor (check)
4. Fuck Minorities (check)
3. Fuck the Military men and women (check)
2. Fuck Women (check, and check)
1. Find the elusive Weapons of Mass Destruction (fuck)
Top 5 Books of the Bible
5. I Peter
4. Romans
3. II Corinthians
2. Job
1. Leviticus
Top 5 Cool GOPers
5.
4.
3.
2.
1.
Top 5 GOP Mottos
5. Feed Yourself!
4. No Condoms, No Worries
3. Guns Don't Kill People, Abortionists Do
2. Bush is Hsub Backwards
1. What, Me Worry?
Top 5 Evil Assclowns
5. John Ashcroft
4. John Ashcroft
3. John Ashcroft
2. John Ashcroft
1. John Ashcroft
Top 5 Stupid Bushisms
5. It's Shake 'n Bake and I helped.
4. Insurgents, Inshmergents.
3. Everybody's for kungfu fighting.
2. Want wood?
1. He forgot Poland.

Will Not End

from AFP 12|28|04:

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the insurgency in Iraq "will not end," as insurgents are determined to derail the country's democratic transition.
In a show of candor and truth rarely seen in this administration, Colin Powell laid out exactly how it is. Iraq is in the pooper.

Byt perhaps even more truthful, and not a little prophetic, Powell also said that the insurgency will be battled by coalition forces and, ultimately, they will be fought
by Iraqi forces that we are building up as rapidly as we can.
So, let's review. Iraq is hopeless, and we're traning Iraqi forces "as rapidly as we can" so we can get the fuck outta there and they can clean up their own mess. I love it. True Americanism at work.

Hypocrite Doolittle

from Washington Post 12|26|04:

For most politicians, fundraising is a dreaded chore. But until recently, Rep. John T. Doolittle of California and other members of the House Republican leadership had adopted a painless solution: fundraising events in luxury sports boxes leased largely with the money of Indian gaming tribes, where supporters snacked on catered fare in plush surroundings as they watched the Wizards, Caps, Redskins or Orioles.

Doolittle, a Mormon, is an ardent opponent of casino gambling, so it is somewhat ironic that he would invite supporters to watch the Wizards play the Sacramento Kings from an MCI Center suite paid for by casino-rich Indian tribes.
Did you really expect anything less? It's conservative hypocrisy, yet again. I should start to keep count, really.

Helping the Needy?

frpm Associated Press 12|25|04:

President Bush on Saturday urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor in a Christmas day call for compassion.
His inspiring radio address was almost lost on me, however, when I glanced upon the unhelpful and downright dirty deeds he's been sneaking through Washington without Americans taking any notice. His call to "help the neediest" is a call I hear, but not one I'm too sure that he himself does. He says
Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to our fellow citizens, that we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves. By volunteering our time and talents where they are needed most, we help heal the sick, comfort those who suffer, and bring hope to those who despair, one heart and one soul at a time.
And yet he has slashed funding for grants to low-income college students.
College students in virtually every state will be required to shoulder more of the cost of their education under new federal rules that govern most of the nation's financial aid.
He has reduced resources for charities that help feed the nation's hungry.
The administration has told representatives of several charities that it was unable to honor some earlier promises. The cutbacks, estimated by some charities at up to $100 million, come at a time when the number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years and all food programs are being stretched. As a result, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and other charities have suspended or eliminated programs that were intended to help the poor feed themselves through improvements in farming, education and health.
And is prepared to re-launch an effort to cut funding for low-income housing.
Congress, though, rejected the administration's efforts to deeply cut vouchers in the 2005 budget late last month, but nevertheless still shaved some funding for all federal housing programs. What concerns U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) is the fear that the administration's effort was just the first wave of attacks in raiding dollars meant for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.
The words "we have a duty to our fellow citizens" came directly from his mouth, and yet he doesn't believe them in his heart. Isn't this one of the great tenets of Jesus, the reason for the season, and the philosopher George W believes is the greatest? Just seems all hypocritey and stuff. It's almost as if he uses his religion to get votes, but then does the opposite of what Jesus would do. Hmm.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Defense. Defense.

You're doing something right when they start to sweat.

ON WATCH: Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies are telling their employees to look out for the scruffy guy in the baseball cap.

The Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that at least six drug companies have released internal communications telling employees to be wary of filmmaker Michael Moore.
This outta be goooooood.

Censorshippy

from the New York Times 12|25|04:

In the few days since a drama company in the Midlands canceled the run of a contentious play in the face of violent religious protests, British theater has been grappling with a range of uncomfortable and unusual questions about censorship, freedom and faith.
Liberals, I tell ya. They're the ones who do all these sort of protests that are totally destroying the tradition that we hold ever so dear to ourselves. Leave it to the liberals to become violent.

Isn't censorship great? If you don't agree with something, go attack a building! That'll show it whose boss. Yeah, make it cry. Throw some bricks. Smash a few windows. Fight with police! "I don't like your tone, mister. I'll throw a stone at you!"

On a slightly different topic, but ever so humorous,
Shortly before becoming chairman of the Federal Communications Commission nearly four years ago, Michael K. Powell said it was time to eliminate the double standard that allowed the government to subject broadcasters, unlike their competitors in cable and satellite television, to indecency and other speech regulations.

At the time, Mr. Powell received a Freedom of Speech Award for advancing what broadcasters and civil liberties groups viewed as a courageously principled position.
Oh, the way people change when they get a little bit of power. Simply amazing.

Liberals Aren't Evil

I had a most wonderful Christmas time experience this year, as with most years, and cherished my time with my family and even a couple friends who showed up last night for a good movie. I've explored before the relationship between being a Christian (albeit, a non-sheep one) and a liberal and reached a nice little happy medium, but this interaction of the two seemingly polar opposites reached a new speedbump this holiday season.

The Screachy-Wing of the Republican Party decided that liberals were to blame for Christ being torn out of Christmas. Without Christ, they say, we just have... I suppose we have -Mas. I don't like -Mas. I like Christmas. And, as a liberal, I have nothing to do with -Mas.

I believe that before the Screachy-Wingers open their mouthes once again to denounce the liberal movement, they must take stock in themselves and what they're doing.

I have nothing against Jews. In fact, I have many friends who are Jewish, some practicing, some not so much. For them, I can see how this over commercialization of Christmas and the in-your-face nature of it all is not fair to my Jewish friends. Republicans like to play that the Jews are the children under their wings. Pro-Israel, they claim. And yet, they oft forget that the Jews don't celebrate Jesus' birth as Christians do. Should they be made to shut up and sit back as we Christians force-feed them every little ounce of our pseudo-holy convictions? Are the Jews now part of the liberal consipiracy? What about the other religions? What about the Atheists?

And who really is part of this liberal consipiracy?

Have you ever heard of a liberal burning down a church? Have you ever heard of a liberal burning down a black church? Have you ever heard of a liberal blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma City? Have you ever heard of a liberal using airplanes as weapons and crashing them into the sides of buildings?

They're all conservative hacks. Liberals aren't against Christianity! Most liberals are Christian. It's the right-wing lunatics, often times Republican, who firebomb churches! It's the right-wing lunatics, often times Republican, who are so frustrated that they blow up things they don't agree with.

Liberals aren't destroying our way of life. Conservatives, especially those who believe they are doing the country a favor, are the ones who are destroying what we all hold true.

Do you really believe that Timothy McVeigh was a liberal? Do you really believe that the men who attacked us on 9/11 were liberals? Even in their own countries, in their own religions, in their own communities, these people were radical conservatives. They weren't liberals! They were conservative tools.

What conservatives fear most is what they're becoming. And instead of taking responsibility for its demise, they must blame someone else. Here, it's liberals. Liberals are ruining Christmas! Or could it be that this country has grown to be so filled with so many opinions and beliefs that conservatives are left having to blame someone.

Like with gay marriage. They claim that gay marriage will destroy marriage as we know it. How can allowing people who want to get married and will most likely stay committed destroy marriage? Instead, isn't it themselves, the heterosexuals, who are destroying marriage quite efficiently on their own? Heterosexuals make up the 100% of the 51% of all marriages that end in divorce. Heterosexuals are the ones who have children without getting married.

But we cannot blame them. We'll blame the gays and the liberals.

Holy Moly!

It's a Christmas Miracle!

Researchers have found a number of same-sex pairs of penguins at aquariums in Japan. Many of the gay male pairs and two of the female pairs were seen performing mounting behavior.

-- AFP, December 25, 2004

And penguins, you know, mate for life.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

That's It?

from AFP 12|22|04:

Contrack International Inc. has reportedly become the first major US contractor to pull out of the reconstruction effort in Iraq (news - web sites), adding that high security costs were to blame.

"It's a very bad sign," said Michael O'Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. "If this is how other private companies are thinking, it's a very bad potential warning."

In the eight months Contrack was under contract in Iraq it was paid about 30 million dollars, mostly for site assessments and design work, company and US officials told the daily. The Conrack partnership intended to build new roads, bridges and transportation terminals in Iraq, but only managed to refurbish a handful of train depots, company officials said.
Tax payers gave $30 million to this company and all they did was "refurbish a handful of train depots"? For $1,000 a piece, the crew of Trading Spaces can build you the snazziest set of train depots you've ever seen! Think thrifty, people!

Urgently Waiting

from Associated Press 12|23|04:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited wounded soldiers and brought holiday greetings on Christmas Eve amid tight security at an air base in northern Iraq where an insurgent's attack killed 14 U.S. troops and eight other people earlier this week.

"I am truly saddened by the thought that anyone could have the impression that I, or others here, are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible," he said.
And by "urgently," he means over the last two and a half years. Urgently is such a relative word. And I don't believe him any way he tries to say it. What are the chances that he mentioned any game plan to provide adequate armor for the troops in the field? Umm, zero. This is the man in charge of the military, folks. God bless him.

Oh Christmas Tree

from Washington Post 12|23|04:

The Bush administration issued comprehensive new rules yesterday for managing the national forests, jettisoning some environmental protections that date to Ronald Reagan's administration and putting in place the biggest change in forest-use policies in nearly three decades.

"With Bush's anti-environmental forest policy, you can't blame him for trying to hide behind other news, but not even Scrooge would unveil these regulations," [Rep. Tom] Udall [D-N.M.] said. "These regulations, being offered two days before Christmas, cut the public out of the forest planning process, will inspire many more lawsuits and provide less protection for wildlife. It's a radical overhaul of forest policy."
Those pagan Christmas trees have to come from somewhere. And wait... This administration is throwing out environmental policies that even the Gipper had during his time in office? Wow. They really have gone off the deep end.

Great Washington!

from Associated Press 12|23|04:

More than seven weeks after the election, Democrat Christine Gregoire took the lead in Washington's governor's race for the first time Wednesday, gaining a 10-vote advantage over Republican Dino Rossi after King County officials announced results of a hand recount.
Great Googily Moogily.

Say No to Drugs

from Elites TV 12|04:

Despite having left the door open to the possibility of allowing the importation of drugs, yesterday the Bush administration reinforced its opposition to importation of prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. Their reasoning is a continuing concern that such importation would jeopardize research and development of new medicines as well as cost the consumers more money in the long run.
How would it cost the consumers more money in the long run? It's all fuzzy math, so don't ask. And is this the first campaign wishy-washy promise to be broken? And he's not even sworn in? Wow.
Now, it may very well be here in December you'll hear me say, I think there's a safe way to do it.
But don't hold your breath. It's called sitting on the fence, being wishy-washing. A flip-flop, of sorts. Such strong leadership!

Use the Dogs

from The Australian 12|23|04:

But the American Civil Liberties Union released copies of a two-page FBI email dated May 22 that refers repeatedly to an executive order signed by Mr Bush which, according to the ACLU statement, "states the President directly authorised interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and sensory deprivation through the use of hoods".
Compassionate Conservatism at its finest. But didn't we always have our inclings that this type of stuff was authorized from the top? Of course, we always thought the top was Dick Cheney, but it's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Google Me

Very busy at the moment, so I will post later tonight. I have a few things brewing on the backburner that I'll be able to write about later on.

But for now, I have seven (7) google email invites, free for the taking. If you would like one, just let me know. They're incredible useful -- my google account is my primary email address.

You can let me know by leaving a comment, or you can drop me a line here at Zac Attack at attack.zacattack [at] gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Debacles Abound

Okay, it has been almost 50 days since the presidential election. What has the Bush administration gotten itself in to so far? Let us count the fuckups.

The debacle that is the Homeland Security Secretary position.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously, using a secret Battery Park City apartment for the passionate liaisons. The revelations about Kerik's private life come as repercussions over his suitability to be nominated for the post of secretary of homeland security. Kerik, 49, married with two children from his current marriage, withdrew his name from consideration in a sudden and unexpected call to the White House on Friday night.
The debacle that is the $85 million missile defense shield failure.
An important test of the United States' emerging missile-defense system ended in an $85 million failure early today as an interceptor rocket failed to launch as scheduled from the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon said.
The debacle that is the millions of Americans, and even a handful of GOP legislators, demanding Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's resignation.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows 52 percent of Americans surveyed want Rumsfeld to resign, while only 36 percent say the embattled defense secretary should remain at the post he has held since 2001.
And the debacle that is the less than spectacular Army National Guard recruitment numbers.
The National Guard has faced recruitment and retention problems since last summer. It fell 7,000 short of its target of 350,000 members in September and has struggled since then. The Guard's recruiting problem compounds those of the Army Reserve, which also has failed to meet its goals for the last two months. Together, the two branches of the Army make up 40% of the 140,000 American troops now serving in Iraq.
And this is within a span of no fewer than 48 days. Jees Louise! So when Bush said on November 4,
Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it,
do you think he had this in mind? Is this how he's going to spend his "capital" over the next four years? A few two-dollar whores and some cheap booze. Excellent. I'll get the popcorn, you pull the shades.

Full House

The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department have warned President Bush that the United States and its Iraqi allies aren't winning the battle against Iraqi insurgents who are trying to derail the country's Jan. 30 elections, according to administration officials.

-- Warren P. Strobel, Knight Ridder, December 17, 2004

Honestly now, did we miss anyone? Cause if we did, perhaps our fearless and "caring" Secretary of Defense could fuck up just a little bit more. It sure ain't the troops who are losing this war. It's chickenhawks like the articulate Rummy.

Rummy!

Ummm, off with his head? That seems to be the general consensus coming out of Washington lately.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined other Republicans in criticizing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Collins, R-Maine, fired off a tough letter Wednesday to Rumsfeld, describing his remarks about the lack of "up-armored" Humvees in war zones as "troubling."
Troubling? That's the bravest word she could think of? Millions of unarmored or under-armored U.S. troops are going into battles every single day and the best word she could think of to describe Rumsfeld's lack of involvemnet is "troubling"?
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Nebraska, said troops in Iraq "deserved a far better answer than that flippant response."
Flippant? Did he just describe the Secretary's remarks about the lack of armored vehicles in the field as marked by disrespectful levity or casualness? By gum, I think that's what I heard.
Another influential Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, has been sharply critical of Rumsfeld. McCain said he has "no confidence" in the defense secretary and told The Associated Press, "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld" on the issue of troop strength in Iraq.
Even Sen Trent Lott has gotten into the fight, calling on the Secretary's resignation, but not really. I don't think he's quite put his thoughts together before he started speaking them.
"I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott, R-Mississippi, told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers."

Lott doesn't think Rumsfeld is necessarily the person to carry out that plan. "I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so," Lott said. "I'm not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point."
If not now, when? In four years? Good call, Trenty. They're not going to give you back the leadership position, so stop being such a tool and say what you really want to say, you old weirdo.

But Rumsfeld is not standing alone in this time of despair. President Bush called Rumsfeld "a caring fellow," saying that "I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way." And we mustn't forget the awful precedent we started when we abused the Iraqi prisoners of war through intimidation, humiliation, and physical and mental abuse. All allowed to happen by our great "caring" Secretary of Defense because he didn't see the urgency in the situation. If you remember correctly, words didn't do the same thing for him as when he saw the pictures. And when the pictures were finally leaked, that's when the Secretary did anything in the situation.

But I think the main reason, perhaps the only reason, Bush keeps Rumsfeld on as Secretary of Defense is the sole purpose of refusing to admit any missteps that have been occurring in the war with Iraq since its conception a year and a half ago. To let Rummy, an instrumental figure in the days and months leading up to the invasion, go would be a sign that he messed up. And, by proxy, Bush messed up. And we all know that can't be admitted.

Sound and Moral

Did you know that North Korea is "the only country on the earth that has no AIDS-related patients"? In fact, just lately, there had been 27 foreigners who tested positive for HIV, but the country expelled them back to their original countries "at their own request." This claim by the North Koreans cannot be verified one way or the other, but it isn't entirely unbelievable.

The country of North Korea has pretty much shut itself off from the outside world. If there is an extremely restricted regimen for entering the country, what are the chances, in all probability, of an AIDS-carrying individual entering the country and spreading the disease around?

But, nonetheless, North Koreans aren't that free with their sexuality. Of course they aren't.

Han [Kyong-Ho, director of Pyongyang's Central Hygienic and Anti-Epizootic Center] attributed the non-existence of AIDS patients in North Korea to the "sound and moral lifestyle" of North Korean people.
That's right. The North Korean people possess a certain "sound and moral lifestyle," quite like that of our conservative base here in America. Hmm, the similarities are endless.

Conventional Wisdom

In the Conventional Wisdom 2004 Edition in the new Newsweek, the section gives Michael Moore neither an up nor a down arrow, but one from side to side. The caption reads

Incendiary dir. is working on "Fah. 9/11" sequel. Who will lick their comb before going in front of the camera this time?
Great, great visual. Thank you, Conventional Wisdom, for making me laugh my ass off as I had almost forgotten about poor old Woolfie and his unruly hair. It's almost reason enough to watch the movie a hundred more times.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Hypocrites! Hypocrites!

A hattip to Flamingo Jones who found this story and then shared it with me.

The skinny of the story is this: A certain Dr Huang Hongyun from China cultivates the cells of aborted fetuses and injects them into the brains and spines of his patients in the hope that these cells will reverse irreversible damage. One would believe that his clientele is made up of chiefly liberal, atheist, baby-killers who don't give a damn about anyone but themselves. But one would be wrong.

None of these claims has been proven to western scientific standards, but Huang's willingness to think the unthinkable in order to cure the incurable is inspiring hope; so much hope that patients are putting aside ethical qualms, paying tens of thousands of dollars and flying to Beijing to act as his guinea pigs. Among them is Van Golden, a Christian, anti-abortion Texan who has sold his house so that he can travel to communist, atheist China and have Huang inject a million cells from the nasal area of a foetus into his spine.
That's right. Another hypocritical Christian, anti-abortion American. They are truly a dime a dozen.

Religious Ecstasy

What could possibly be worse for Iraq and the world if no election were held at the end of January? I can see two immediate hurdles that the United States is going to have to iron out before the January 30th election, or it could be disasterous.

The first is lesser of the two, in my opinion. If any major group in the mix that makes up the Iraqi population decides to go through with its planned boycott, that could spell disaster. The elected government, of course, would be able to function and the goal of Iraqi free elections would be obtained, but what are the virtues of a free election if a rather large group of people decided to come out against it? Would the election be a success if people don't vote? The Sunnis had planned a boycott, the Shi'a planned at one time to boycott, and the Kurds in the north are threatening a boycott.

The elections in Iraq need to be seen the world over as if the Iraqis, all Iraqis, chose their leader and their parliament, not only a group or two of them. There should be an agreement and no need for second-guessing later on.

But I think the scariest thing for the US, Iraq and the world would be a relgious-centered government. And I think it's closer than any of us imagined. In fact, Sen. John Warner, (R-Va.), Chairman, Armed Services Committee spoke on Meet the Press with Tim Russert,

I would just say, however, at the end of the day, the results of this election, the results of the constitution, the compromises that are made, may be very unsettling for many Americans who had anticipated democracy more of a Jeffersonian-Madison variety and are going to find an Iraqi form of democracy that has a heavy religious overload to it and a number of people not interested in so many checks and balances and human rights.
Any American-backed government, especially one in the Middle East and one we invaded because of humanitarian violations, had better be interested in checks and balances and human rights. Another country in the Middle East with a nightmare for a policy on human rights is exactly the opposite of what we need, and not the example the rest of the area should follow. It would be unacceptable. They would start to resemble Iraq's neighbor, Iran.

And for some time now, the United States and some Iraqi officers have been accusing Iran with pushing for a religious-backed governemnt in Iraq, just as it is in Iran. The interim Iraqi Defense Minister said last Wednesday that Iran was interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, describing Iran as Iraq's "most dangerous enemy" and a "source of terrorism," allegations Iran termed "baseless" and "unwise."

But the largest campaign alliance, or group of parties operating as a bloc, is headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim who was the worldwide spiritual leader of Shiites from 1955-1970. Iraq's interim Defense Minister attack al-Hakim, saying that Iran was "behind" his party.

The New York Times writes that al-Hakim, who has very strong ties to the Iranian government when he and his group were exiled from Iraq, is the frontrunner and the horse to beat in the elections.
On a list of 228 candidates submitted by a powerful Shiite-led political alliance to Iraq's electoral commission last week, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's name was entered as No. 1. It was the clearest indication yet that in the Jan. 30 election, with Iraq's Shiite majority likely to heavily outnumber Sunni voters, Mr. Hakim may emerge as the country's most powerful political figure.
Al-Hakim's political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution for Iraq, was founded in Iran, and its military wing fought alongside Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war. American intelligence even belives that he has close ties with Iran's secret services.

The Washington Post agrees with the Times, writing,
Iran is about to hit the jackpot in Iraq, wagering the blood and treasure of the United States. Last week an alliance of Iraqi Shiite leaders announced that its list of candidates will be headed by Abdul Aziz Hakim, the clerical leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. This Shiite list, backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is likely to be the favorite of Iraq's 60 percent Shiite majority and win the largest share of votes next month.
So any way we look at it, we're going to have a new Iraq which is extremely close to Iran. A good thing? I doubt it. Any Shiite president is going to bring about warmer ties with Iran, which will ultimately bring about milder ties with America, and another religious-based government in the area. We kicked out a secular Iraq for a Muslim one, with ties to Iran to boot!

Polls, Polls, Polls

The will of the American people is a strange one. I am one of them, so I know exactly how strange and fickle my opinion can be. I can be totally against the death penalty one day, and hear about a horrific crime the next and second-guess my stance on capital punishment. Americans can believe that this country is split right down the middle between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, but when it comes down to it, there are very few who are staunch one or the other. And the numbers in between change from day to day, month to month, generation to generation.

But as with my feelings, Americans ultimately stick to their guns when they have a majority believing in the better of the two answers. No, capital punishment is not the answer. A majority of American are against capital punishment, and have been for some time. It it neither a deterrent nor is it safe to assume in the absolute guilt of every man and woman on death row. And no, an absolute ban on abortion is not the answer. There are cases, moral cases, human cases, where an abortion is needed, if not expected and a majority of Americans realize this.

When pollers ask if a group of people are for abortion or against abortion, for gay rights or against gay equality, for capital punishment or against capital punishment, they leave out the essential middle. These are the people who, although convicted in their beliefs, do not see the world in black and white. They see gray.

So as we look at polling data, as enticing or threatening the numbers may be, we mustn't put too much stock in their meanings. What's an approval rating? Does it take into account every nuance that makes us like a person?

Donald Rumsfeld has an approval rating of 41%. But what does this mean? Do a majority of Americans hate him? Are a majority of Americans in the know with regards to all the aspects of his life in order to make a knowledgable decision on his job performance? How many of those 41% like him because he is a Republican? How many of those 59% hate him because of the same thing?

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows 52 percent of Americans surveyed want Rumsfeld to resign, while only 36 percent say the embattled defense secretary should remain at the post he has held since 2001.
These are just numbers to me. Maybe it's the literature freak in me that wants more data, more than just numbers. I want reasons, I want feelings, I want emotions, I want stories. What are the reasons 52% of Americans want Rumsfeld to resign? What are the reasons 36% want him to stay?

Polls just don't do it for me. In my last post, I attempted to show how a poll can be easily misconstrued to say something it doesn't. And it's prevelent.

Should Bush listen to polling data and fire Rumsfeld? I don't know. I know I would, if not because he seems to be guilty of several war crimes, but also because he has become a polarizing figure within the administration who is tied to allowing soldiers to enter hot areas without proper armor and equipment, and who had known about Abu Ghraib and did nothing. Not to speak of the many instances of mistreatment going on in Guantanamo Bay.

Do we listen to polls, or our hearts? Or are they one and the same?

Growing Doubts

Despite growing doubts, most Americans still support keeping U.S. military troops in Iraq until the country is stabilized, according to polls released Monday.

More than half — 56 percent — say the United States should keep troops in Iraq until it is stable, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Forty percent said troops should be brought home as soon as possible
.

-- Associated Press, December 20, 2004

I believe this poll can be a bit misconstrued, for the purposes of showing that a majority of Americans still believe that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. More than half of Americans say that we should keep our troops in Iraq until it is stable, but this number has nothing to do with the number of those who originally thought the war was a good idea.

I, for one, have always thought that the Iraqi War was unjustified -- as it was explained to us by this administration, with the urgency of an imminent attack by Iraqi weaponry -- and an unneeded war at an unneeded time. There was no imminent threat to our safety or our well-being. It was to show American strength in a time when American lawmakers feared saying no to the president. We could have used more time to garner greater support from countries we have since offended, and built a safety net around us in the off-chance that we are ever in dire need of assistance.

Although I was an original naysayer to the war, I believe that we should stay in Iraq until it is stablized. We cannot wreck it and then leave. Once the American people, in all their ignorance -- as I see it --, agreed that the war was the right thing to do, we signed an unspoken agreement to see it to the end. And one way or another, we'll see it until either we're all dead or we accomplished our goals. I hope it's the latter.

I know many pro-war-ers who now scream that we should get the hell out of there. This is absolute nonsense. How can we, the greatest superpower -- the only superpower -- on the earth back away now? We've made too many enemies, broken too many alliances, and spent too much money and too many lives to turn away now. Did we turn away from World War I when our troops were stuck in ditches for months on end, not advancing nor retreating? Did we turn away from World War II when families at home were without sugar, meat, butter, coffee, and our troops were dying left and right? No.

The "growing doubts" this piece is speaking of isn't whether we should stay in Iraq or not. It's about whether we should have been there in the first place.

And that's where the story should go.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Away With Their Rights!

Nearly half of all Americans surveyed said they think the US government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.

The survey indicated that 44 percent of those surveyed said they favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans. The survey indicated that 27 percent of the respondents said they supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register their home address with the federal government.


-- Associated Press, December 18, 2004

Add 8 more percent and you have every person who voted for Bush in the last election. These people are insane. And I don't mean that nicely, in a "haha, you're insane" kind of way. This is some serious stuff going on here.

Muslim Americans! The survey doesn't say Arab Americans, it doesn't say "those with swarthy skin types." It says Muslim Americans. And yes, there are Muslim Americans who are not Arab. And there are Arabs who are not Muslim Americans.

And they aren't all against us. For crying out loud.

Maybe we can repeat some history! I like that idear.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Black Toys

Bigotry is all around. From the Congress floor to the West Wing of the White House. From the steps of the Alabama courthouse to the minds and values of ordinary citizens. Bigotry never ceases. And a bigotry such as racism will never go away.

Students at one of the area's largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived "a life of plenty, of simple pleasures."

-- T. Keung Hui, News Observer, December 9, 2004

This story struck a cord with me because my first instinct was to scream and rant and rave until the booklet was taken out of the hands of these poor students, out of the school and into a big fiery heap of dog poo. That was my first instinct. But then, I'd be going against everything I believe in. If I called for that, I wouldn't be much of a believable influence when I say that abstinence-only sex education is stupid and we should give students all the facts and allow them to sort it out and make their own decisions. It wouldn't be very pluralist-American of me.

So I'll refrain from the calls for a fiery heap o'poo, and, instead, I'll bring some facts to the discussion.

In the booklet, the two authors write the following sentence in an attempt to show that God says yay to slavery. "To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South." (page 22)

First and foremost, opprobrium means "disgrace arising from exceedingly shameful conduct."

Second, they are correct in one aspect: the Bible implicitly grants the right of non-black folks to take command over black folk. I don't know if the racist bastards who wrote this booklet went into details, but I will.

When the heathen son of Noah, Ham, carelessly and sinfully looked upon his father's "nakedness" in Genesis 9:22, Noah cursed Ham and his descendents. "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant (Gen 9:25-27)." Ham's descendents were ordained by Noah's curse and by God's grace to forever serve the descendents of Noah's other two sons.

Traditionally, the descendents of Ham settled in Egypt and the upper-left corner of Africa. The black people of Africa are the children of the heathen Ham. And their livelihood is given to me and other non-black folks exclusively through the breath of God.

Genesis 10:6 names the sons of Ham. One of them, Mizraim, is indeed even the Hebrew word of Egypt. In the Psalm 105, the writer recalls the days of Egyptian slavery and the Exodus that follows. The verse, "Israel also came into Egypt," is a clear reference to the plight of slavery that the Jews had to endure for many years at the hands of the dirty Egyptians. "[God] sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen. They showed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham (Psalm 105:26-27)."

Without a doubt, the land of Ham is the land of Egypt, and Africa as a whole. Even the original languages of northeastern Africa are called "Hamitic." This includes the peoples of Coptic (derived from the ancient Egyptian), the Berber languages of North Africa, and some of the languages of Ethiopia, such as Amharic.

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, said: "[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God … it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation."

The Rev. Alexander Campbell said: "There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral." Even the United States Senator James Henry Hammond from South Carolina spoke: "The doom of Ham has been branded on the form and features of his African descendents. The hand of fate has united his color and destiny. Man cannot separate what God hath joined."

For goodness sakes, the tenth commandment relegates slaves and wives to the same position as cattle or "anything that is your neighbor's." And the Constitution of the United States in Article I, Section I calls for a census "which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons ... and excluding Indians ... three-fifths of all other persons."

In the Federal case that would become the Supreme Court case prohibiting interracial marriage bans, the trial judge ordered a married white man and black woman to leave the state of Virginia and never return for their sins. He wrote in his opinion, "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." When God's people move from one area to another, they are not to intermingle with the locals. God demands in Deuteronomy 7:3 that "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son."

Biblically, it would seem that it's all right for whites to treat blacks like property. It's what the Good Book implies, and we all know how strictly our government wants us to abide by it. It's our Judeo-Christian tradition. If teachers, principals and authority figures want to spread this morally inept belief system to our youth, go for it. Everyone loves a good laugh now and then.

Save Our Troops

The incoming deputy leader of Senate Democrats demanded answers Saturday from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as to why U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan lack protective equipment for themselves and their vehicles.

"We can, and we should, armor every Humvee and every truck our troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in his party's weekly radio address. "No more excuses, no more delays. We can save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of serious injuries."


-- Associated Press, December 18, 2004

Partisanship aside, would it be too hard to hear from the Secretary, or even a lower-level Dept of Defense spokesman, what the game plan is to get our troops the protection and answers they deserve? I don't want to make this a "Republicans suck, Democrats rock" thing because it's the troops we're talking about. It's their safety and their well-being.

No more excuses, no more delays. Congress has given the administration every cent it's asked for in the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq. Where is this money going? Let's hear how Rumsfeld plans on giving the troops what they want and need. I, for one, am all ears.

Ain't No Marriage Here

Say, for the sake of argument, that you are a heterosexual. (Tom, you can do it!) And say, for the moment, that you live or lived in New Paltz, New York and got married on or after that crazy day of February 27, 2004 when the town started to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Guess what.

You cannot use your marriage document for Social Security purposes, according to the SSA's own policy website.

2. Marriage Documents Issued by Other Jurisdictions
Do not accept any marriage documents as evidence of identity issued by the following jurisdictions during the respective timeframes, as follows:

Sandoval County, New Mexico, on 02/20/04;

New Paltz, New York, on or after 02/27/04;

Multnomah County, Oregon, on 03/03/04 through 04/20/04;

Asbury Park, New Jersey, on 03/08/04 through 03/10/04.


And if you think that this is just a homo problem -- you momentary heteros, you -- you couldn't be more mistaken. It has already given its fair share of headaches.

This past December 3, New Paltz newlywed Susie Kilpatrick took her New York State marriage license to the SSA office in Kingston as proof of her recent union with Jeremy Wilkening so that she could get her name officially changed on her Social Security card.

Kilpatrick was told by the clerk that the SSA would not accept marriage licenses from New Paltz. The young bride then demanded that he check with his supervisor, who concurred that the SSA had passed a policy in which no marriage documents issued in New Paltz could be accepted as valid proof of identity.

"The federal government will not recognize that I'm married," said Kilpatrick. "And the clerk there told me he has turned down several other women from New Paltz who wanted to take their husband's name. I was flabbergasted and in the end outraged. Clearly this is an issue of state's rights, and how dare the federal government deny me and attempt to take away my rights as a spouse?"


-- Erin Quinn, New Paltz Times, December 16, 2004

How dare they, indeed? The party formerly tied to notions such as states' rights has gone awry now that they are in power federally, and they want more of it. It's a case of hypocrisy at its finest.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Alabamia State of Mind

Honestly, dude, what the hell is up with your state?

A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold. Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan showed up Monday at his Covington County courtroom in southern Alabama wearing the robe. Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before. The commandments were described as being big enough to read by anyone near the judge.

-- NewsMax, December 15, 2004

Ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said Friday he is considering running for governor in 2006.

-- Associated Press, December 17, 2004

Washington Recount

With Washington state in the middle of a recount of its amazingly close governor's race, election officials in Seattle's King County entered a warehouse Friday and found a plastic tray containing 150 misplaced ballots.

The discovery brings the number of belatedly discovered ballots to 723 in the heavily Democratic county potentially enough to swing the election to Democrat Christine Gregoire
.

-- Associated Press, December 17, 2004

Oy. If I didn't like your coffee, Washington, you'd be outta here!

He Will Begin

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

-- Leo Shane, III, Stars & Stripes, December 17, 2004

Why does he hate the troops so much?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

GOP Cheaters

Okay, wait. According to conservatives, this was the election where they won with morality and traditionalism.

Rudolph Giuliani is their dream-child who has a shot at the White House in '08, and Bernard Kerik was their proposed candidate for the U.S. Homeland Security chief.

And yet both of them cheated on their wives. Giuliani to the point where his wife filed a lawsuit to keep the mistress away from the New York City mayorial mansion, and Kerik to the point where he was having illicit affairs with two women at the same time.

Where are the screaming moral police now?

Happy Birthday Jesus!

At Happy Birthday Jesus dot Org, the organization has presented a beautiful little poem to email to your friends. Quite Shakespearean.



Ah yes, the Christmas tree. Nothing says the Birth of Our Savior quite like the image of men, women and children gathering under a pagan symbol that was once used for sacrifices.

Among early Germanic tribes the Yule tradition was celebrated by sacrificing male animals, and slaves, by suspending them on the branches of trees. In Scandinavia the Viking Kings sacrificed nine males of each species at the sacred groves, while poorer people hung apples and buns and other small sacrifices on branches. It is likely that the Christmas tree is a continuation of this tradition.

-- Wikipedia, Christmas Tree, History

Please Jesus, "Remember us, the ones who Gather 'round the Christmas Tree" from Hell, and bless our home.

Douche, Part II

I kinda feel bad for Jerry Birmelin. His reign as Douchebag of Freedom didn't even last through the night. But because I have found someone just as deserving, I think they can share the title. This guy is a true douche.

On an episode of Scarborough Country hosted by Pat Buchanan, William Donahue, President of the Catholic League, was the kind of guest interviewers would kill for. He had a certain way with words that bedazzeled the mind. Buchanan and the panel of guests for that night, including a Rabbi, were discussing The Passion of the Christ.

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. ... I like children.

-- MSNBC Transcript, December 8, 2004

That's right. Hollywood is run by dirty, dirty Jews and likes bumsex, and William Donahue likes children. I'm glad we cleared that up.

So Silly

In an appearance before Congress in February, when the controversy over Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl moment was at its height, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell laid some startling statistics on U.S. senators.

The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, "a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes."

What Powell did not reveal —- apparently because he was unaware -— was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003 -— 99.8 percent -— were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.


-- Todd Shields, Mediaweek, December 6, 2004

That's 239,520 complaints by the PTC, and 480 by real people. I'd say there's a dramatic decrease in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes. But don't try to tell the FCC that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Merry Fucking Christmas, II

Don't say I didn't warn you, cause I did.

Emboldened by their Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.

In Terrebonne Parish, La., an organization is petitioning to add "Merry Christmas" to the red-lighted "Season's Greetings" sign on the main government building and is selling yard signs that read, "We believe in God. Merry Christmas." And a Raleigh, N.C., church recently paid $7,600 for a full-page newspaper ad urging Christians to spend their money only with merchants who include the greeting "Merry Christmas" in ads and displays
.

-- Associate Press, December 15, 2004

The spiritual Grinches in our nation are accelerating their war against Christmas as never before. And they are tragically convincing growing numbers of our fellow citizens - primarily those in our nation's public schools and public administration - that Christmas should be publicly shunned, replaced by nebulous substitutes designed to avoid offending those who are all-so-easily outraged.

-- Jerry Falwell, Insight, December 13, 2004

All over the country, Christmas is taking flak. In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the holiday tree and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores, [that's] Macy's, have done away with the Christmas greeting, "Merry Christmas."

Now, all of this anti-Christian stuff is absurd, and may even be a bias situation. But the real reason it's happening has little to do with Christmas and everything to do with organized religion. Secular progressives realize that America as it is now will never approve of gay marriage, partial birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs, income redistribution through taxation, and many other progressive visions because of religious opposition.

But if the secularists can destroy religion in the public arena, the brave new progressive world is a possibility. That's what happened in Canada
.

-- Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, December 7, 2004

That's right. We're turning into Canada!

December Douchebag of Freedom

Move over Sam Brownback, there's a new Douchebag of Freedom in town. Meet Pennsylvania State Representative Jerry Birmelin.

Mr. Birmelin has been hard at work this year, proposing fifty-two (52) anti-gay amendments to a single piece of adoption legislation. And even though his party forced him to withdraw his amendments in order to pass the piece unanimously, it took a lot of out him. In November of this year, he told the Times-Shamrock News that he'd "probably vote for" a larger raise. His reasoning behind increasing his salary when the state's fairly strapped for money, and so many millions of Pennsylvanians are unemployed? Birmelin said legislators must oversee more than $20 billion in spending and know about a wide range of issues.

In 1990, during an Anti-Bias bill debate on the state floor, he called the legislation "... part of an agenda of the gay community to validate and give legal standing to lifestyles that millions of Pennsylvanians find offensive to their most fundamental moral beliefs." The bill would have made violent harassment of a homosexual a more serious offense, with a maximum 1-year prison sentence and a $2,500 fine.

Because, you know, harassment of gays is fun and the state should be giving them money instead of punishing the offenders. Maybe I can suggest that for the next round of amendments he throws at a piece of legislation.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Up With People!

Do you remember a couple weeks ago, I quoted a news source concerning an Alabama state representative who wanted to cleanse the earth of all things homosexual?

Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, who once sought to ban gay marriages, now wanted to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries. His bill would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

Well, his bigotted rants have fallen on quite interested ears. The Guardian caught up with him a few days ago for an interview and they reported that he has an attentive audience.

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It's my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."

Bush is interested in Allen's opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush's base. Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". That's why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They've been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect Alabamians".

I ask him, again, for specific examples. Although heterosexuals are apparently an endangered species in Alabama, and although Allen is a local politician who lives a couple miles from my house, he can't produce any local examples. "Go on the internet," he recommends. "Some time when you've got a week to spare," he jokes, "just go on the internet. You'll see."


-- The Guardian, December 9, 2004

I'm on the Internet right now. And I don't see. I don't know what's more frightening, the fact that his sense of reality is this deluded or that the White House called him up for this fifth meeting with the President.

Or it could be the idea of a liberal librarian. The alliteration alone is quite queer, but maybe matrons of his local library say "Silence" like the lilly-livered French, instead of "Shh" like their conservative counterparts.

So This is Christmas

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong

Poverty, conflict and HIV/AIDS are the biggest threats to children's lives in developing countries, says a new Unicef report.

For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long

Poverty does not come from nowhere: war does not emerge from nothing; AIDS does not spread by choice of its own, United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) director Carol Bellamy said at the launch of the 10th 'State of the World's Children' report in London. These are our choices.

And so happy Christmas
For black and for white

Over one billion children were found to suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation of human needs and 635 million to suffer from two or more deprivations, said Peter Townsend from the LSE at the launch.

For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

The team found that one in six children is hungry and one in five does not have access to safe water. Healthcare is delivered only to one in seven children. Governments in industrialised countries spend an average of 15 percent of their budget on health. In developing countries the figure drops to one percent.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

-- Inter Press Service, December 10, 2004

Merry Fucking Christmas

In California, a group called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas is boycotting Macy's and its corporate parent, Federated Department Stores, accusing them of replacing "Merry Christmas" signs with ones wishing shoppers "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." The organization cites "the recent presidential election showing political correctness is offending millions of Americans."

(Federated, for its part, says that is has no ban on such greetings and that its store divisions can advertise as they see fit and store clerks are free to wish any customer "Merry Christmas." Macy's says its ads commonly use the phrase.)


-- Associated Press, December 14, 2004

Oh Good Lord.