Monday, January 31, 2005

Tell Me How

Originally, after Republicans gained control of the Senate in the 1994 elections and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch assumed control of the Judiciary Committee, the rule regarding judicial nominees was this: If a single senator from a nominee's home state objected to (or "blue-slipped") a nomination, it was dead. This rule made it easy for Republicans to obstruct Clinton's nominees.

But in 2001, when a Republican became president, Hatch suddenly reversed course and decided that it should take objections from both home-state senators to block a nominee. That made it harder for Democrats to obstruct George W. Bush's nominees.

In early 2003 Hatch went even further: Senatorial objections were merely advisory, he said. Even if both senators objected to a nomination, it could still go to the floor for a vote.

Finally, a few weeks later, yet another barrier was torn down: Hatch did away with "Rule IV," which states that at least one member of the minority has to agree in order to end discussion about a nomination and move it out of committee.


-- Kevin Drum, Washington Post, January 31, 2005

How do you defend something like this? I'm asking that any of you conservative people out there who read my blog -- you know who you are! -- I'm asking that just one of you tell me why these actions are in the best interest of the Senate. Rules that Republicans took advantage of when they were in the minority are now unneeded the minute the Democrats are in the minority. How is this even fair? Don't try to be witty. Don't be a smartass about it. In plain English, explain the virtue of scrapping these rules that were made with the intention of forcing compromise and curbing extremism.

Put That In Your Pipe

In other words, if Democrats don't play ball, [Senate Majority Leader Bill] Frist reserves the right to invoke the "nuclear option": a parliamentary ruling that eliminates judicial filibusters by fiat, without a vote of the Senate.

But the majority leader protests too much. Not only have filibusters been attempted against judicial nominees in the past, but Frist himself has even voted for one. In 2000, after Senate conservatives had held up Bill Clinton's nomination of Richard Paez to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for four years, Frist joined in an unsuccessful attempt to filibuster Paez -- a judge who was favored by a clear majority of the Senate and who won confirmation after the filibuster was broken by a vote of 59 to 39.


-- Kevin Drum, Washington Post, January 31, 2005

I don't hate Republicans. How could I? They make me giggle like a school girl.

Deep Thoughts on a Monday

Having no bearing on anything in current events, a Supreme Court case that I just came across from 1958 has me doing some serious thinking. In Trop v. Dulles, the Supreme Court decided, 5-4, that it was unconstitutional for the government to cancel the citizenship of a U.S. citizen as a punishment.

An army disserter left his post in Morocco and was dishonorably discharged for his actions. When he applied for a passport, the government denied him one, citing his loss of citizenship.

In the dissent of Trop v. Dulles, Justice Felix Frankfurter noted that desertion from the military can still be punished by the death penalty, leading him to ask, "Is constitutional dialectic so empty of reason that it can be seriously urged that loss of citizenship is a fate worse than death?"

Which leads me to my pondering. Is he the inspiration for Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Build It and They Will Come

The man replacing the mayor of Baghdad — who was assassinated for his pro-American loyalties — says he is not worried about his ties to Washington. In fact, he'd like to erect a monument to honor President Bush in the middle of the city.

"We will build a statue for Bush," said Ali Fadel, the former provincial council chairman
.

-- Josh Williams, New York Post, January 30, 2005

Oooh, let's! That's what Iraq needs more of: statues of people they had no vote in electing.

Quote of the Day

"A lot of Christians who are worried about abortion see poverty as a pro-life issue, because if you undermine the safety net for poor mothers, you'll increase the abortion rate and infant mortality rate," Dr. Stassen, a professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. said. "We've seen that happen since welfare reform, just as the Catholic bishops predicted."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Poor Coulter

On Canadian Television (other Zac, did you catch it?) Ann Coulter got smacked down for insinuating that Canada no longer wants to be America's friend because it refused to send troops to Iraq, but sent troops to Vietnam. "Was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?" she asks. But the truth is, Canada never sent troops into Vietnam or Iraq. And Ann is left looking like the fool she always is.

Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"

McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter: "I don't think that's right."

McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"

McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."

Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."

McKeown: "No."

Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."

McKeown tags out in script: "Coulter never got back to us -- but for the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."

Here's a video to go along with the transcript. You may have to watch it a few times, as her adam's apple bobbles around, distracting the viewer quite easily.

The End is Near

In meetings on Friday, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and Representative Bill Thomas of California, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, discussed redirecting public attention on 2008 as an imminent danger point for the Social Security trust fund because baby boomers will begin retiring, people present said. Even the most dire analyses say the fund will remain solvent for a decade or longer after that.

-- David Kirkpatrick, New York Times, January 29, 2005

What? You mean, like, mislead the American public for political gain? That's unheard... no, wait. Nevermind. That's what they do, isn't it?

Spooky

U.S. officials point to this little-noticed case as one manifestation of a troubling reality: although the cold war is long over, Russia is fielding an army of spooks in the U.S. that is at least equal in number to the one deployed by the old, much larger Soviet Union.

-- Timothy Burger, Time, January 30, 2005

This, along with several other details coming from Russia lately, makes me a little uncomfortable. What's going on over there?

Playing Trickery

The Democratic whip, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, calls Social Security "the most unifying issue you can imagine," and to demonstrate that unity, Senate Democrats staged a one-sided hearing over the issue on Friday. A collection of senators, all Democrats, heard from Social Security employees who said they had been pressured to sell the White House plan, and from James Roosevelt Jr., former official of the Social Security Administration and grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created the program in 1935.

The session, packed with Capitol Hill aides in the audience to make it look crowded, was conveniently held on a day when most Republicans were far away, at a retreat in West Virginia.


-- Sheryl Stolberg, New York Times, January 30, 2005

We are starting to act like Republicans. And I like it.

Sound Familiar?

Healthy & Strong

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said Thursday the nation's economy is healthy and he reiterated the Bush administration's support for a strong dollar, a week before he is scheduled to attend a meeting of the finance ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations.

-- Robert Schroeder, Market Watch, January 27, 2005

What was his evidence to back up this "healthy" economy outlook? Zip. It's healthy because he says it's healthy, got it?

For Shame

Iraq's Electoral Commission backtracked on earlier estimates of voter turnout in the election, saying a previous figure of 72 percent "was just an estimate" and indicated the actual figure was lower.

At a news conference, commission spokesman Farid Ayar called the 72 percent figure a "guess" and said maybe up to 8 million Iraqis voted, which would be a little over 60 percent of registered voters.

"Percentages and numbers come only after counting and will be announced when it's over ... It's too soon to say that those were the official numbers," he said. "The numbers are only guessing."


-- Reuters, January 30, 2005

Still. Sixty percent puts America to shame. Perhaps it's a time to take stock in what it means to use your power to vote in every election, not just sometimes and not just in the presidential election every four years. It's your right. Exercise it.

AARP Fights Back

Heim's message is especially potent in a state with one of the highest proportions of elderly voters. But AARP, the nation's largest senior citizen lobby with 35 million members, is playing a central role nationwide in the debate over Social Security. The group has already launched a multimillion dollar campaign to defeat Bush's plan using newspaper ads, phone banks, pollsters and an army of activists.

AARP is planning an all-out assault when lawmakers return home to their states for the Presidents' Day recess. Already, activists have contacted members of Congress more than 130,000 times since December, and the group's Web site is encouraging senior citizens to e-mail their congressional representatives and urge them to oppose Bush's plan for private retirement accounts funded by a portion of an individual's payroll taxes.


-- Jill Zuckman, Chicago Review, January 30, 2005

AARP was the Republican Golden Child when they helped pass the president's Medicare reform. But perhaps they now see where they were led astray and they're fighting back. I'm just glad they picked the right cause to influence.

Election of the Year

Iraqis defied violence and calls for a boycott to cast ballots their first free election in a half-century Sunday. Insurgents seeking to wreck the vote struck polling stations with a string of suicide bombings and mortar volleys, killing at least 44 people, including nine attackers.

-- Associated Press, January 30, 2005

Good show, Iraq. Where do we go now?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Five Steps to Nowhere

Through the backlogs of forgotten lore, I have found the Five-Step Program to Iraq's independence. How could I ever forget about such vague and unrealistic steps is beyond me, but allow me to cover these steps eight months after they were first presented in May 2004.

The first step is to hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government. If we did this step yet or not, I suppose, is up to your definition of "sovereign." The second step is to establish security. Go ahead, read his speech. I'm being about as specific as to how we're going to accomplish step two as he was. The third step is to continue to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure, which is in shambles. The fourth step is to encourage more international support, which is highly lacking. The fifth and final step would be the elections that are going to happen tomorrow. If a great number of Iraqis stay home tomorrow, what worth are the elections? What is the virtue of having a free election if its marred by assissinations and low turn out?

But, say that the election tomorrow is a great success. Say that every hope the world has tomorrow for a peaceful and prosperous election takes place. What about these other steps? Security is truly in shambles, no matter how much the right tries to paint a rosier picture. The infrastructure is still a mess, with many parts of urban Baghdad going hours every day without power and many parts of rural Iraq without power any part of the day. And international support, on the fault of the international community and the United States, is practically nonexistent. So where do we go from here?

Is this the exit strategy I'm supposed to salivate over, Tom? Is this the answer?

Foreshadowing

In the Statement of Principles section of the conservative think-tank Project for the New American Century's website, written in 1997, the founding members lay out exactly what ideal actions the United States government should endorse in the new century. They write,

We seem to have forgotten the essential elements of the Reagan Administration's success: a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States' global responsibilities.
In order to bring about the new American century in the right fashion,
We need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.
No mention of weapons of mass destruction, but if there was ever a call to invade Iraq during the reign of Clinton, here it is. But who in Washington listens to such a think-tank? I mean really, what makes this think-tank's views any more important or pertinent than the myriad of other conservative groups?

Well, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz are a few who signed the statement, all Iraq War proponents.

Oh how this foreshadowed what was to come.

Straight Pride!

A University of Central Oklahoma student group is planning what it calls "Straight Pride Week" on campus.

-- KCRA - California, January 28, 2005

They're Republicans, of course, but I think that they should have every right to be asinine and fecitious. No problems there. Celebrate your straightness, I don't care. In many ways, Republicans and homosexuals have a lot in common. Differing from children of minorities, they cannot necessarily feel at home, at home. Black children may get picked on in school, but when they go home they have the family situation where everyone has faced some sort of discrimination in their life.

Gay children, and Republican children perhaps, don't have that comfort. It's only logical to assume that gay children don't have gay parents, and thus these parents don't know what it is their child is going through. And sometimes the parents of the gay children and Republican children may not even know about the child's gay/conservative persuasion. And there's always a chance that these Republican children grew up in the same type of situation.

But instead of celebrating their conservativeness, they're celebrating their straightness, something that isn't necessarily guaranteed just because they're Republican. That leads me to lose respect for their ranks because they overlook the fact that by showing off their ability to freely mock a group of people, they are also mocking fellow members.

It may be a good point to note that a study appearing in the most recent journal Human Genetics has identified several areas of DNA that appear to influence whether a man is heterosexual or gay. This just enforces what every homosexual knows and tries to convey: homosexuality is not a choice. Maybe more people will get the hint.

Speaking the Truth

Iraqi insurgents are likely to continue attacks after elections, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said Friday. He also questioned whether American intervention can create democracy there.

Roberts, R-Kan., said he is concerned that majority Shiites, who make up 60 percent of the population, will dominate the new Iraqi government after Sunday's balloting and the new government will form an alliance with Iran, where Shiites also are in the majority.


-- Associated Press, January 29, 2005

How dare he aid and abet the enemy like that? Who does he think he is, giving comfort to the enemy in a time of war? Congress should censure him! He needs to be held accountable.

|| alluding to Hannity Hypocrisy

Who Hates the Troops?

My son is an army reservist and he returned from Iraq last March. He was ordered to attend one of the inauguration parties.

I am prior service myself, so I felt very proud that he was chosen from all the people in his group. This particular gathering was to honor many of the soldiers and their families who have been to Iraq. A group of five drove down from Long Island to Washington last Monday morning, and they were to return Tuesday evening.

Around midnight on Tuesday, my son returned home, looking tired from the drive. The next morning, he told me he didn’t have a good time because they basically stood around and watched the president say a few words. He said there was no food provided for them, so they ate after the event at some fast-food restaurant. They spend all this money for this celebration and can't feed my son? He stayed at a local military base with the rest of the group, but they made him pay for the room.

Apparently, there was a mix-up, or they were short a room. I don't care what the problem was, he was told to go, this was not an option, orders were cut for this excursion! I am disgusted and horrified that he had to even show his wallet for this event.

In addition to serving as a medic in the 310 MP Batallion, my son is a full-time student and works part-time to fill in the gaps the military doesn't. He takes his responsibility as a soldier very seriously.

I am angered at the way he has been treated. People need to know how some heroes are being treated by their own government.

-- Rebecca Lawson, West Babylon, N.Y., January 29, 2005

Copter Down

The Agence-France Presse has this nestled in its report of the helicopter crash last week that took the lives of 31 American soldiers.

Witnesses said the helicopter appeared to have been hit by a surface-to-air missile and exploded on hitting the ground.
I don't know if the witnesses are mistaken or if it's true. I surely hope the insurgents aren't that lucky, but I believe the American public deserves to know the truth if that is indeed what happened.

Elections Tomorrow

A Zogby International survey found three-quarters (76%) of Sunni Arabs say they definitely will not vote in the January 30 elections, while just 9% say they are likely to vote. A majority of Shiites (80%) say they are likely to vote or definitely will vote, as are a smaller majority of Kurds (57%).

Less than 48 hours before nationwide elections here, the New York Times reported on Saturday, Nasir al-Saedy, one of the city's most popular Shiite clerics, stood before a crowd of 20,000 Iraqis and uttered not a single word about the vote.

Sheik Saedy spoke of faith, humility and the power of God. But about Sunday's elections, the first here in more than 30 years, nothing. For the throngs of Iraqis who had come to Al Mohsen Mosque to listen, the sheik's silence came through loud and clear. And it foreshadowed a less than overwhelming voter turnout in many parts of Iraq. "God willing, I will not be voting," Ziad Qadam, an unemployed 27-year-old, said after Friday Prayers at the mosque in Sadr City, the vast Shiite district in Baghdad. "Our religious leaders have not told us to vote."

And the Associated Press is reporting that Iraq's president said Saturday that many Iraqis will stay away from the polls in his country's historic election because of security fears and warned the vote will fail if Sunnis don't participate.

I honestly do hope that they are all wrong and that the Washington Post survey that took place at the end of December and the beginning of January is more the way that the election will head tomorrow. The poll showed that 80% of respondents said that they plan on voting tomorrow. Partisanship aside, I hope Iraq the best. It is truly historic.

Hannity Hypocrisy, Part Two

The poll also found that of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups, only the Kurds believe the U.S. will "help" Iraq over the next five years, while half (49%) of Shiites and a majority (64%) of Sunni Arabs believe the U.S. will "hurt" Iraq.

-- Abu Dhabi TV / Zogby Poll, January 28, 2005

Quick, somebody tell Sean Hannity that Ted Kennedy was actually right. Who knew? Looks like the Iraqis themselves are "aiding and abetting" the enemy, as Sean has deemed it.

Like I said before, it's not an issue of good intentions or bad intentions in regard to the US military, it's simple logic in the situation. The insurgents will continue to attack US convoys and the Iraqi innocents in the way. I still don't call for an immediate withdrawl of troops because that will just leave a void the insurgents will too willingly replace. But I think Sean owes Teddy an apology.

Chertoff Kissoff

Michael Chertoff, who has been picked by President Bush to be the homeland security secretary, advised the Central Intelligence Agency on the legality of coercive interrogation methods on terror suspects under the federal anti-torture statute, current and former administration officials said this week.

Depending on the circumstances, he told the intelligence agency, some coercive methods could be legal, but he advised against others, the officials said.


-- David Johnston, New York Times, January 28, 2005

Is there no one in cahoots with the White House who wasn't some-how involved in the torutre-scandal?

American Halloween

Virginia Military Institute officials are investigating a 2004 barracks Halloween observance during which cadets dressed as Nazi soldiers, drag queens and a starving African.

-- Matt Chittum, Roanoke Times, January 28, 2005

Lovely.

Another picture shows two men dressed in tiaras, wings, lipstick and eye shadow. One is holding a wand, and both are wearing underpants and tank tops that read, "I [heart] a man in uniform."
It's not all that insulting, really. Not really all that imaginitive either, but what can you do? I, personally, would've gone in hip-weighters and said that I was the American-public during a time when Republicans are in the White House.

Another One?!

The Bush administration acknowledged on Friday that it had paid a third conservative commentator, and at least two departments said they were conducting internal inquiries to see if other journalists were under government contract. The investigative arm of Congress also formally began an inquiry of its own.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed having hired Michael McManus, who writes a weekly syndicated column and is director of a nonprofit group called Marriage Savers.


-- Anne Kornblut, New York Times, January 29, 2005

Their policies suck so much that they have to pay people to endorse them under the table? This conclusion would seem more and more apparent as we see more and more "independent" commentators who were paid to espouse Bush's policies as if they had come to the conclusion on their own and without the temptation of money.

What a load of crock. This is the integrity and honor we were supposed to see? I laugh because it's funny.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sad Excuse

Now that Oklahoma's citizenry has forced the state to ban cockfighting, a diehard state senator has the gall to try to revive the lurid pastime by equipping roosters with -- picture this -- tiny boxing gloves and chest protectors. Nothing so far about teeny-weeny shorts and head protectors, or a trained monkey with a wee bow tie who knows the 10-count. But State Senator Frank Shurden seems open to any idea in his obsession to bring cockfights back to Oklahoma, one of the last states to ban them.

-- Editorial, New York Times, January 28, 2005

This turns my stomach. State Senator Frank Shurden, a sad excuse for a human being and a Democrat no less, can go Cheney himself.

Hannity Hypocrisy

"The US military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution," Kennedy said in a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

-- Rick Klein, Boston Globe, January 28, 2005

Sean Hannity took great fun in bashing Ted Kennedy on his radio show today for this speech. He said that Teddy's little speech was nothing less than aiding and abetting the insurgents, and he called on Congress to censure the senior senator from Massachuesetts. But the problem I have with this, other than Hannity's scandal-mongering (as Tom would put it), is the fact that Kennedy is speaking the truth. It's almost as if he believes that everyone should tell cheery, rose-hued lies until the war is over.

The military presence has indeed become part of the problem. True, the alternative is worse than the current sitation, but the military presence in Iraq brings attacks by the insurgents across the land. It's simple semantics, but it isn't cause, as Ted says, for the immediate removal of the United States' military.

As long as the military is in Iraq, the insurgents will continue to fight. It's simple and it's logical. It's a sad state of affairs, but speaking the obvious does not constitute the need for a censure. Hannity called upon Democrats to hold Kennedy accountable for his speech, and this irks me as well. We have Hannity, a self-serving apologist for conservative Republicans, demanding accountability a few minutes after railing against Senate Democrats attempting to hold Dr. "Connie" Rice accountable for her actions and inactions that led us into the Iraq war. Where does he get off praising one and screeching against another? When his party decides to hold someone, anyone accountable for the awful "miscalculations" that brought us to the trap that is the Iraq war, I will personally call for accountability of all politicians.

Exit Strategy

President Bush said in an interview on Thursday that he would withdraw American forces from Iraq if the new government that is elected on Sunday asked him to do so, but that he expected Iraq's first democratically elected leaders would want the troops to remain as helpers, not as occupiers.

-- Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, January 28, 2005

Is this our backdoor exit strategy? This is the best we can come up with?

Dignity, I Tell Ya

At yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower
.

-- Robin Givhan, Washington Post, January 28, 2005



Bringing integrity and honor back to the White House since 2001.

Diet of Worms

On this date in 1521, the Diet of Worms convened in Worms, Germany. The previous year, Pope Leo X had issued the Papal bull Exsurge Domine, demanding that Martin Luther retract 41 of his 95 theses criticising the Church, which were posted on a church door. Luther was summoned by Emperor Charles V to appear before the Imperial Diet.

Luther refused to recant any of his theses, saying, "Unless I am convinced by the testimony from scripture or by evident reason –- for I confide neither in the Pope nor in a Council alone, since it is certain they have often erred and contradicted themselves -– I am held fast by the scriptures adduced by me, and my conscience is held captive by God's Word, and I neither can nor will revoke anything, seeing it is not safe or right to act against conscience. God help me. Amen."

Amen.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

It's In Crisis!

According to Gary Ott, who was then a reporter for the Plainview Daily Herald, Bush stopped by the paper’s little office "maybe five or six times. He’d sit down at my desk; he was a fun guy. He was very outgoing, very friendly, and we would argue politics since I was a liberal. We’d argue over Carter policies." Bush criticized energy policy, federal land use policy, subsidized housing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("a misuse of power," he said), and he warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years unless people were given a chance to invest the money themselves.

-- Karen Olsson, Texas Observer, June 25, 1999

The year? 1978. That's right. According to Bush, Social Security was due to go bust 17 years ago if people didn't have private accounts. It's always been a crisis!

This is Your Plan?

And, finally, I think some members of Congress could take a good -- could take some lessons from Chile, particularly when it comes to how to run our pension plans. Our Social Security system needs to be modernized, Mr. President, and I look forward to getting some suggestions as to how to do so, since you have done so, so well.

-- President Bush, during remarks with Chilean President Lagos in April 16, 2001.

Many middle-class workers [in Chile] who contributed regularly are finding that their private accounts -- burdened with hidden fees that may have soaked up as much as a third of their original investment -- are failing to deliver as much in benefits as they would have received if they had stayed in the old system.

-- Larry Rohter, New York Times, January 27, 2005

Morally Superior

Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account.

-- Associated Press, January 28, 2005

Nothing makes me prouder or more turned on than when women find it necessary to smear fake menstrual blood on another human being. Sing it! And I'm proud to be an American...

Don't Say Its Name

At the press conference President Bush held yesterday morning, he left out the helicopter crash in Iraq that cost the lives of 31 American soldiers. He spoke not a single word of them or their mission. He, instead, focused on the rosy picture of Iraq: the elections. How can we, as a nation, believe the good news the administration spoon-feeds us when they won't talk about the devastating things that happen?

Like in his Inaugural speech, he didn't mention Iraq once. How can you go from an election where Iraq was key issue number one to not even mentioning it? It's disgusting.

When asked about the crash, Bush said, "I know that it's being investigated by the Defense Department. And, obviously, any time we lose life it is a sad moment." They go on to talk about money for Iraq and the tax cuts for the rich. I don't feel his empathy, his compassion. I don't even feel that he realizes what 31 deaths mean.

Under Control

When American troops entered Baghdad and overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein 21 months ago, Raad al-Naqib felt free at last.

But Dr. Naqib, a 46-year-old Sunni dentist who opposed Mr. Hussein, will not vote Sunday when Iraqis will have their first opportunity in a generation to participate in an election with no predetermined outcome. It is, he said, far too dangerous when insurgent groups have warned that they will kill anybody who approaches a polling station.

Starkly put, Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military.


-- John F. Burns, New York Times, January 27, 2005

That's funny. Just yesterday on his radio show Sean Hannity said that 90% of the country is under control and secure. He wouldn't be running a propoganda campaign to distort the truth, would he? Hmm. In fact, he said that women are so not-afraid that they're literally climbing over one another to get to the polls. I just can't imagine him distorting facts like that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Smack Down

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on the United States Wednesday to take the world's needs into account when it seeks global support for its actions, and cited climate change as an issue all nations must address together.

"If America wants the rest of the world to be part of the agenda it has set, it must be part of their agenda, too," Blair told the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos
.

-- Robert Wielaard, Newsday, January 26, 2005

He's our friend, our ally, and now Tony Blair is laying down the smack. Rightly so, too. We can't expect the world to fall at our feet just because we're America. They have needs too, dammit.

Another Tool

Maggie Gallagher, a regular media commentator on so-called family values, admitted she had received an undisclosed payment of $21,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote Mr Bush's $300m initiative to encourage marriage. She received a further $20,000 to write a report about the government initiative for a private organisation.

-- Andrew Buncombe, Independent, January 27, 2005

I really, really don't like Maggie Gallagher because of her hateful views toward homosexuals and same-sex marriage, but it used to be just a personal matter. A matter between the two of us. Now I really don't like her, and I've lost all respect for her.

It's one thing to write about something you believe in because you believe in it. It's an entirely different thing to write about it because the government is paying you off to spread its message subrosa. She can take her smug heterotocity and shove it for all I care. That self-righteous bigot.

This makes two writers, that we know of, who were paid off by President Bush's cabinet to endorse policies put forth by the adminstration. Who knows how many more there are, but at least we know that Bush doesn't condone this type of unethical behavior.

President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries Wednesday not to hire columnists to promote administration agendas after disclosure that a second writer had been paid to assist an agency.

"All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying commentators to advance our agenda," Bush said at a news conference. "Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."
Well, he condemns it because his policies are sound enough not to need the commentators. No worries that it's immoral. But then again, holding a parade for yourself after the deaths of a thousand soldiers, thousands of innocent Iraqis' deaths, a botched war, an inescapable occupation, a $400b+ deficit, and selling your soul to the Religious Right, isn't exactly a-okay, morally sound either.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Lying with Dogs

The very conservative Christian groups that got President Bush elected this time around are threatening to withhold support for his plans to remake Social Security unless he vigorously champions a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In a confidential letter to Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top political adviser, the group said it was disappointed with the White House's decision to put Social Security and other economic issues ahead of its paramount interest: opposition to same-sex marriage.

The letter, dated Jan. 18, pointed out that many social conservatives who voted for Mr. Bush because of his stance on social issues lack equivalent enthusiasm for changing the retirement system or other tax issues. And to pass to pass any sweeping changes, members of the group argue, Mr. Bush will need the support of every element of his coalition.
In other words, "We scratched your back, now do as we say." This is the very thing that happens when you lie with dogs: you wake up with a mouth full of hair.

Part of the letter reads,
Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue.
So which is it? Did the electorate vote for Bush because he is the best man for the job, or did they vote for him because he was going to save America from the homosexuals? The letter, written by Bush's very own supporters, leads you to believe the latter. They broke with tradition solely because of the proposed amendment to ban gay marriage.

Hardly qualifications for a successful presidency, eh? And if he pisses his core off and they threaten members of Congress, what kind of successful presidency is this going to turn out to be? The privitization of Social Security is already dead in the water. And the Democrats didn't even have to raise a finger. What's next?

Back to the Future

Vladamir Putin is an ex-KGB officer from the old USSR. He was the secret police. He once tasted the sweetness of having authoritarian command. And, like many people in America, Russia and around the world, I never believed that he had the Russian people’s best interests in mind with regards to democracy. I just didn't see it in his face and his demeanor.

His actions lately have moved me closer and closer to believing that his ultimate goal is to move Russia back to an authoritarian government, or at least one where he has more control over the fate of the world than Russia has presently. What's better than controlling the lives of millions of Russians? Influencing the world. It's not about absolute power in a country, anymore. It's about having a hand in dictating world policy, moving pawns as you see fit.

Moscow once struggled to have influence of this scope. It was the Russia of the Cold War. And, to me, it seems as though we're heading back into that mindset.

Visiting French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie urged Russia on Jan. 20 to reject isolationism and instead boost ties with Europe to ensure regional stability. "It is in no one’s interest to see Russia become edgy or to withdraw inward," she said.

French-ness aside, she’s right on. Isolationism is exactly what’s going to catalyst a throwback to the Cold War mantra of self-containment. If the Kremlin only listens to itself and doesn’t get outside advice and healthy criticism, nothing good will come from Russia. This is already happening. Take, for instance, when someone in Putin’s inner-circle directly countered Putin’s authority. Putin immediately demoted his adviser, Andrei Illarionov. No dissenting views are allowed.

Russia has even extended its hand to Syria, a country America has economically-sanctioned lately due to its ties with terrorism. Putin has criticized America’s accusations against Syria, and has visited the country forthwith. This is a brilliant move on Putin's part, but a warning flag to America. Russia is picking up the friends America discards along the way. First Syria, who's next? The world is up for grabs in their eyes and Syria is now on their side.

Russia also tried to rig the Ukranian elections, in an effort to keep Putin and Russia at the Ukranian government's ear. It's all about the spheres of influence.

If we have any doubt about Russia's slide back into a more communist way of thinking, look no further than the future of the once largest oil company in all of Russia, Yukos. It was chopped up by the government and is now held as Russian property.

When terrorism hit Russia, the government gave Putin widespread control over every aspect of the government—control not seen since communism last gripped the country.

If, and I’m saying if, Russia is vying for more control and influence on a global scale, the United States’ influence will be threatened and action will be taken to maintain that control. If Russia is going to isolate itself, demote dissenting opinons, make friends with the terrorist-coddling Syrians, rig elections to have more power, usurp company’s profits and assets for governmental use, and give itself Orwellian power over its subjects, then the United States is going to be frightened. And that’s never a good thing.

And now, Russia nationalists are asking the government to ban all Jewish organizations because of their "extremist" views. We're not only going old-school USSR, we're going Nazi USSR.

Monday, January 24, 2005

We Will Rock You

The Washington Post newspaper quoted an unidentified Canadian official who was in the room as saying Bush waved off attempts to explain how contentious the issue is for Martin's minority government.

"(Bush) leaned across the table and said: 'I'm not taking this position, but some future president is going to say: Why are we paying to defend Canada,' " the official was quoted as saying.


-- Beth Gorham, Canadian Press, January 24, 2005

Lovely. Nothing quite like threatening the innocent, liberal puppy to the north.

Social Security Myths

This is the best case against privitizing Social Security I've read yet, but the part that really stuck out at me through all the heavy-hitting rebuffs of the White House claims is as follows.

In pursuit of his "ownership society," [Bush] wants to move Social Security toward "greater individual opportunity, risk, and reward" by allowing individuals to carve themselves private investment accounts out of Social Security payroll taxes, much like a 401(k) plan. This raises a whole host of problems. It discriminates against poorer workers, for one thing. Why? Because the lower your income, the less you have to invest, and the smaller your return will be. The Bush plan offers nothing close to the financial security of the existing program.

Then there's this: Are individual investors sophisticated enough to match the higher returns now being forecast? At least 10 studies analyzed by the Securities and Exchange Commission indicate a disturbing level of financial illiteracy. Only 12 percent of the investors studied could distinguish between a load and a no-load mutual fund; only 14 percent understood the difference between a growth stock and an income stock; only 38 percent knew that when interest rates rise, bond prices fall; almost half somehow believed that diversification guarantees that their portfolio would not suffer if the market dropped; and 40 percent thought that the trust fund's operating costs would not be deducted from their investment return.


How could anyone think this is a good idea? I have absolutely no idea. Read the entire article and get back to me.

Right Spot

Bush's summons to serve as a juror in the drunken-driving case was, in retrospect, a fateful moment in his political career: by getting excused from jury duty he was able to avoid questions that would have required him to disclose his own 1976 arrest and conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in Kennebunkport, Maine -- an incident that didn't become public until the closing days of the 2000 campaign.

-- Michael Isikoff, Newsweek, January 31, 2005

Guess who got him out of having to answer questions about his stupidity? None other than Mr. Gonzales himself. I want my next Attorney General to be a guy who helps convicted-felon friends out of tough, politically-damaging spots!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Light Day

Atlanta at Philadelphia (BOO!) at 3:00 EST and New England at Pittsburgh (YAY!) at 6:30 EST. So blogging will be light all day.

And yes, we watch sports too!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Back Away

An Iranian medical student was sentenced to two years prison time and 74 lashes by Iran's Revolutionary Court on political charges, according to a state-run news agency. Seventy-fucking-four lashes? What the fucking hell? Outraged? Pissed? Seeing red? Yes, yes and yes. What the hell?

I mean, seriously. Reza Ashrafpour, a young man studying dentistry in Iran's University of Medical Sciences had been charged with "acting against national security", "propaganda against the regime", "spreading panic in society", and "insulting the Supreme Leader".

I'm so angry right now. When will people learn that they can't control through force? It never works, it's never worked. Defeat is only momentary. A defeat never lasts.

News in a Post

North Korea contends that it has nuclear weapons.

A top North Korean official has told U.S. legislators that the communist state possessed nuclear weapons, Radio Free Asia reported on Friday.

North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan said the country was a nuclear weapons state but its nuclear arsenal was defensive in nature and Pyongyang did not intend to possess it forever, Radio Free Asia quoted U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon as saying.
White House scraps the "Coalition of the Willing" list.
The White House has scrapped its list of Iraq (news - web sites) allies known as the 45-member "coalition of the willing," which Washington used to back its argument that the 2003 invasion was a multilateral action, an official said on Friday.
A Republican state lawmaker from Utah defends polygamy as "natural."
A Republican state lawmaker countered a Senate colleague's dispersal of an anti-polygamy book by passing out materials to fellow legislators defending the practice as natural and not necessarily harmful. State Sen. Carlene Walker said she has known polygamists who are "fine, honest, educated, wonderful people." "To characterize the whole polygamy community as abusive to children and the welfare system is inaccurate," she said.

Where In the World Is...

Earlier this month, according to Iraqi officials, $300 million in American bills was taken out of Iraq's Central Bank, put into boxes and quietly put on a charter jet bound for Lebanon.

The money was to be used to buy tanks and other weapons from international arms dealers, the officials say, as part of an accelerated effort to assemble an armored division for the fledgling Iraqi Army. But exactly where the money went, and to whom, and for precisely what, remains a mystery, at least to Iraqis who say they have been trying to find out.

The $300 million deal appears to have been arranged outside the American-designed financial controls intended to help Iraq - which defaulted on its external debt in the 1990's - legally import goods. By most accounts here, there was no public bidding for the arms contracts, nor was the deal approved by the entire 33-member Iraqi cabinet.


-- Dexter Filkins, New York Times, January 21, 2005

Democracy, in its purest form, in action.

WooHoo!

In bluntly threatening terms on inauguration day, Vice President Dick Cheney removed any doubt Thursday that in its second term the Bush administration intends to confront the theocracy in Iran directly.

-- Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2005

Greeeat. Vietnam III.

Brings new meaning to the words of George Bush, when he told U.S. troops at the beginning of Inauguration Week that "much more will be asked of you" in Iraq and elsewhere.

One for the Adult Industry

Obscenity charges against a married couple who own and operate in the Adult Entertainment industry were thrown out yesterday by a federal judge in Pennsylvania. The couple was charged with "engag[ing] in the business of selling and distributing obscene video tapes, DVDs and computer movie files through the United States mail and the Internet for the personal gain, benefit, profit and advantage of the defendents."

It is a happy day in Pennsylvania when we can win one for the porn-crowd.

But seriously, though, I am rather suprised that we haven't heard loud, obnoxious bloviations from the right yet, especially the religious-right. The federal judge cited Lawrence v. Texas in his opinion, saying, "After Lawrence, the government can no longer rely on the advancement of a moral code, i.e., preventing consenting adults from entertaining lewd or lascivious thoughts, as a legitimate, let alone a compelling state interest." This is their domain. They live to advance their moral code on the rest of us.

I can't say whether this will become a big news topic in the next couple weeks or not, but I believe that this court case -- if it is upheld -- will have a long-lasting effect on privacy rights in the United States. For the better, of course. It is the precendent Supreme Court Justice Scalia warned about when he wrote in the Lawrence dissenting opinion, that the decision "called into question" laws against obscenity and various other offenses.

For once, he couldn't be more right.

Immoral Condoms

In a substantial shift from traditional policy, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Spain has said it supports the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS.

"Condoms have a place in the global prevention of AIDS," Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, told reporters after a meeting Tuesday with Health Minister Elena Salgado to discuss ways of fighting the disease.


-- Associated Press, January 19, 2005

Such sweet news that the Catholic Church may actually get into gear and realize that by continuing to stay morally-upright, that they are doing the billion-plus Catholics a disservice by denying a very potential barrier against the spread of HIV and AIDS.

But, alas, jubilation was not to be had as the very next day the Bishop recanted on his view, calling condom-use "immoral." One of these days. One of these days.

Conservative Hollywood

[Dennis] Hopper, who organized The Creative Coalition's Ball after the Ball Thursday night as part of the activities surrounding President Bush's inauguration, apparently got a surprise phone call from the Presidential Inaugural Committee Wednesday night - telling him not to come to his own party.

-- Liza Porteus, FOX News, January 21, 2005

Those Republican bastards.

The Majority Minority

RightMakesRight, at the ingeniously named blog Right Makes Right, cannot believe that pro-choice Republicans are making a stink about the party's new chairman, Ken Mehlman, planning to host a salute next week to those who favor banning abortion. He calls those who are pro-choice as the "minority" of the party.

But time after time, poll after poll, we see that absolute-pro-lifers are the minority of America, let alone the minority of the Republican Party. Just as absolute-pro-choicers are the minority of America, and the minority of the Democratic Party. In the middle, in between these two extremes, lies an entire constituency who wishes to see women have the right to terminate a pregnency, but not at the whim of a despondent mother. This majority of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, believe in abortion with restrictions.

David Callender for the The Capital Times writes that, "Forty-four percent of those polled said they want the court to make abortions more difficult to get, compared with 11 percent who want to make abortion more accessible."

Right off the bat, that's 55% of the country who either wish to make it harder to get an abortion, or to make it easier to get an abortion, but neither side wants an absolute decision either way. Calculate in the people who don't mind the state of abortion rights in this country as it is, and we're looking at a clear majority of Americans who support the rights of women.

To mock the majority of his own party by pretending that most people believe in the utter domination of women is a sad state of affairs, to be sure. Maybe some day he'll realize that there are no absolutes, and that sometimes the barbaric act of abortion is not only the answer, but needed.

Friday, January 21, 2005

J'Accuse!

Listening to Neal Boortz today in the car, I was astonished by two things he said. The first made me laugh and the second amazed the shit out of me.

Neal read a piece of news from Tennessee where a reverend of a church demanded two women leave the premises because they were wearing blue jeans. I googled and found the story here. Anyway, Neal commented on how insane the reverend must be because he called the two denim-wearing women demons.

But as silly as the story is, I think more people should look at this and point with an accusing finger at religious conservatives and demand to know why they aren't taking more of a stand in support of the poor reverend. It is clear as day in the Bible that the women are truly in violation of biblical law.

Deuteronomy 22:5. A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

God detests these women. It says so right there in the Bible. And yet Neal Boortz and the rest of the conservatives choose to ignore this basic law. What gives? I, too, choose to ignore this law because I do not believe that women wearing men's clothing has anything to do with the closeness that person feels toward God, or vice-versa. What you wear on the outside isn't going to create a gap between you and your Creator.

Likewise, though, I don't see how your sexual preference is going to create that gap, either. Sure, God supposedly detests homosexuals. But as if homosexuality is the worst of anyone's sins. Who here hasn't ever eaten lobster or crab? God forbids it. (Lev 11:10)

You simply cannot ignore bits and pieces of God's word and believe that you're holier than anyone else. Those who staunchly stand by God's alleged denunciation of homosexuality, but join in laughing at the reverend who assaulted two women wearing denim, are nothing more than hypocrites.

And the thing that surprised the shit out of me? He believes in and is a staunch supporter of the theory of evolution.

Heavenish

The Drudge Report today gave the headline that Peggy Noonan was complaining about too much God in the president's inaugural speech yesterday. Not believing mine eyes, I scurried over to her article and read this,

This world is not heaven.

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. "The Author of Liberty." "God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul."
As opposed to, let's say for reference, Bush's inaugural speech four years ago, where Ms. Noonan wrote,
The tone was properly ecumenical, but the content was God-filled: “We are guided by a power larger than ourselves, Who created us equal in his image”; “Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love”; “Church and charity, synagogue and mosque, lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and laws”; “Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love.”

It was the speech of a compassionate conservative, of one who sees need, and who will neither ignore it nor respond to it with the cold buying-off of constituencies. It was the speech of someone who doesn’t think this is all a game.
A game? A game? Thousands upon thousands of people are dead in Iraq because of Bush's dream of weapons of mass destruction. A game? Who here thinks this is a game?

And where does she believe Bush crossed the line from not-too-religious to too-relgious? Sounds all the same to me.

Don't Know Much

Next time a child asks you why he must learn his algebra, if he will ever use it in real life, and whatever happened to someone who didn't know this math, lower your head and say quite softly, "Rice."

She's clearly a well-educated, intelligent woman, versed in Brahms and the Bolsheviks, who has just been rewarded for her loyalty with the most plum assignment in the second Bush cabinet.

Yet her math skills are woefully inadequate.

She can't do simple equations. She doesn't even know that X times zero equals zero. If you multiply 1,370 dead soldiers times zero weapons of mass destruction, that equals zero achievement for Ms. Rice, who helped the president and vice president bamboozle the country into war.
Bad things come to children who don't learn their math facts. Be forewarned!

FCC Which Witch is Which?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell is rumored to be leaving his post Friday. I don't know if that means this Friday or next, but it's good riddance to bad rubbish.

The only thing to worry about, though, is the fact that Clinton appointed him. With Bush back in office, who's next? Dr. Stangelove?

He's Gay?

SpongeBob Squarepants needed no introduction.

In addition to his popularity among children, who watch his cartoon show, he has become a well-known camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick and likes to watch the imaginary television show "The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy."

And now, Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, is setting him in his sights, beseeching members of Congress who helped put Bush back in office to do something about this cartoon nemesis. Because, you know, Spongebob is gay just like Barney and the Teletubbies.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Mum's the Word

In a "He forgot Poland" moment all of his own, Bush forgot Iraq. How anyone who isn't presently living in a cave could forget such a name is unbelievable. According to the Associated Press:

Not a word on Iraq. President Bush's inaugural address contained 2,000 words of passion and promise for his second term, but no direct mention of the war that could sink it.
Interesting. Very very interesting.

Wouldn't you think that an inauguration all about freedom from tyranny and liberty and all that jazz, wouldn't you think that he'd mention Iraq at least once?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Wait a Minute

from Dr. Rice's opening statement for her Secretary of State confirmation hearings:

But they shared ... a fanatical assurance that their way was the only way, and a supreme confidence that history was on their side.
Who would've thought she was talking about fascism and communism?

Sexified

from Reuters 01|18|05:
Laws aimed at forcing teens to get their parents' permission before getting contraception will do nothing to scare youngsters off having sex and may in fact increase rates of teen pregnancy, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.
Ya don't say.
And trying to frighten teenagers about the risks of pregnancy is equally ineffective, a second study found.
You're kidding me! Teenagers are going to have sex with or without access to birth control, and we think that this is new news? Come on. We're a society of choices, right? Give people choices! And don't try to frighten them into your way of thinking by threatening to tell their parents. Which would you rather have: an irresponsible teenager having sex with birth control, or an irresponsible teenager having a baby? Either way, teenagers are going to be having the sex.

Fun, Texas-Style

In this incredibly silly Reuters piece about the ascension of Kinky Friedman and his future announcement as contender for the 2006 Governor race in Texas, we learn something that I didn't know before.

First, every single state-wide office is Republican-held. Almost like Pennsylvania, only not quite so, and with Democrats. And second, Governor Perry, who succeeded Bush in 2000, seems to be in a little bit of trouble. But only from his fellow Republicans. Likely candidate Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has been firing shots at incumbent Perry for several years and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison may also take on Perry in the primary.

Friedman, running as an independent, has said he expects his campaign to be unconventional, irreverent and star-studded. I can't wait.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Republican Democrats

The Freepers (n. commenters of the Free Republic) are at it again. Nothing satisfies their thirst for blood and scandal.

So today my 6-year old comes home from kindergarten, and starts telling me about Martin Luther King Day, and about Dr. King and how a lady named Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her seat back when brown people were forced to ride on the back of the bus.

I have been anticipating MLK day and how public school would be the first one to introduce my daughter to the idea that black people and white people are different, and how white people have opressed black people.

Not that I don't want her to learn about this sad piece of American history, but I really think it would be better if this weren't the first thing she learned about American history. So after she finished telling me about how white people were mean to black people (actually, I have taught her since she was a toddler to think in terms of beige and brown people), I said to her:

"Do you know who made the laws that said brown people couldn't ride in the front of the bus, and that they couldn't do other things beige people could do?"

She said: "Who?"

And I said: "They were called Jom [sic] Crow laws, and it was the Democrats who made them."

And she said: "I hate Democrats."

I didn't bother to respond to that. I figure, let her PC Massachusetts school system put that in their pipe and smoke it when she brings that up in class next time the subject comes up.
Too bad these Democrats readily quit the Democratic Party when it pushed for Civil Rights and found a quite comfortable home with the Republicans. It's such a shame he didn't relay that bit of information to her. Can you imagine any Republican admitting that these "Democrats" are actually among them now? Oh the satisfaction that gives me.

Next Stop: Iran?

According to the magazine The New Yorker, U.S. commandos are hunting for secret nuclear and chemical weapons sites and other targets in Iran, and have a plan to turn the hard-line Islamic country into the next front in the war on terrorism.

"It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it," an ex-intelligence official. Since at least last summer, the U.S. teams have penetrated eastern Iran, reportedly with Pakistan's help, the magazine said.

"Iraq is just one campaign," the official told investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. "The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign."
This article and the rumors its started must've ruffled up more than a few feathers because the Pentagon has come forward and called the whole idea bunk.
The Pentagon on Monday criticized a published report that said it was mounting reconnaissance missions inside Iran to identify potential nuclear and other targets.
I don't really believe that the United States would risk an altercation with Iran when so many of our troops are caught in an ever escalating battle for Iraq, but then again this is the same military that wanted to create the Gay Bomb.

Damage Control

Unable to deliver on its lofty goal of bringing democracy to Iraq through the Jan. 30 elections, and unable to postpone the elections in the face of some very dangerous and serious obstacles, the Bush administration is pressing a damage-control campaign to lower expectations for the vote, Reuters is reporting.

There are fears among those in the administration and those around the world of a low voter turnout among Sunni Arabs due to a boycott and insurgents' intimidation, both of which it seems that the United States is unable to handle or even tone down despite its efforts in recent months. But because of these major obstacles in the face of real change and a legitimate election, the administration is no longer touting the elections as a catalyst to spread demorcracy across the Arab world, but as part of the political process to get Iraq to the position of legitimacy.

Stephen Zunes, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco said, "Once their original rationale (to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction) fell apart, they created very high expectations for democracy to be able to justify their takeover," he said. "Now that they have ended up with a not particularly good demonstration of democracy, they are forced to lower the public's expectations for these elections."

But in the defense of the administration that got us into this wild mess, I do believe that democracy was an integral part of their personal reasoning behind invading Iraq. They made use of these bogus WMDs claims as the catalyst that made Americans want to invade Iraq. But behind the claims, there was always the belief of the domino effect that would rock the Arab world.

In an old Time magazine issue -- February 17, 2003 -- I just happened to pick up last night, I read an opinion piece by Charles Krauthammer. He writes,

After Sept. 11, the old offshore, hands-off, see-no-evil policy will not suffice. We not understand the cost of that abdication. It leaves a critical part of the world insulated and isolated -- and incubating terrible enemies and terrible weapons.

Hence Iraq. This is about more than the terrible weapons. It is about reconstituting a terrorized society. A de-Saddamized Iraq with a decent government could revolutionize the region.
He's right. This war was about more than terrible weapons, but that does not mean that the war was right. Further in this paragraph, he writes about "friendly basing" from where the United States and democracy can springboard onto the other countries of the Arab world. But with sad planning, and unrealistic dreams, we are stuck in a country that truly has been revolutionized. It has become something it had not under Saddam. It has become a breeding ground for religious fundamentalists. Saddam had a fairly secular nation and government. It was whatever he wanted, all the time, to hell with religious edicts. Now, it is becoming more and more like Iran.

Perhaps poor planning was the pivotal point for this whole lofty endevour. Perhaps it was the arrogance in believing that major combat operations were over last year. Perhaps it was the deft of logic that had the Pentagon believing that there would be no American military presence in Iraq by 2005. Perhaps it was many things.

But one thing we know for sure -- this is not going well at all.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

It's Da Bomb

Ya know, I saw this alluded to before, but I always brushed it off as stupid, incredibly distasteful, and most of all made-up. But my instincts were proven wrong when the Pentagon admitted to the existence of a plan to make a "gay bomb."

The Gay Bomb, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed yesterday, was a real proposal - an idea floated by Air Force researchers to render enemy troops ineffective by rendering them homosexual.
There's nothing quite like using something as homosexuality as a weapon of war. Hey fellas. Put down your weapons or we'll prance over to you and slap your butt. Give me a break.

Warm Me Up

I just had a rather dull debate with a friend of mine over the effects, if any, of Global Warming on our world and our society. He calls the whole theory bunk and doesn't see any indication that earth is increasing toward a place in time when we won't be able to do anything about the temperature rise.

He said something about dinosaurs driving around SUVs, whatever that means. I was too busy looking at him strangely and crinkling my nose.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States,

the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Human activities have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed.
What more is there to say? I don't know. This is about as silly of a conversation to have with someone as when I debate with my Seventh-Day loonies who hold true to the fact that the world was created in seven days, period, and only a couple of thousand years ago. No matter that carbon dating and a few dozen equally reliable determiners of age blow that theory out of the water. How can we see light from a distant sun that is over several million light years away when our whole universe is only a few thousand years old? I'll never understand the need for such superstition.

That's not to say that superstition hasn't always been a part of our society. Santa Claus, Halloween, compassionate conservatism, these are all myths. There have always been naysayers who claim to know different even when overwhelming evidence was showing otherwise.

Lord Kelvin, physicist, circa 1900, said, "X rays are a hoax."

L. Erskine Hill, lecturer in physiology at London Hospital, 1912, said, "The chemical purity of the air is of no importance."

George Francis Gilette, American engineer, 1929, said, "[By 1940] the relativity theory will be considered a joke."

Admiral William Daniel Leahy, advising President Truman on the U.S. atom-bomb project, 1945, "The Bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives."

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Stay Away, Part Two

Interesting little tidbit. It would seem that the whole nullification of the very first part of the Republicans' Contract With America started when a Texas Democrat, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, fired his chief of staff, Beverly Fields, for protesting the firing of another aide, who said she was discriminated against because of her age and race.

If this is true, it's outrageous and he should be quickly rebuked. But it is the Republican leadership in the United States Congress that is pushing for these rule changes. In fact, the Democratic House leaders refused to sign off on the change, saying that if the court accepts that reasoning, the 10-year-old Congressional Accountability Act would be rendered meaningless.

Stay Away

House Republican leaders want to exempt members of Congress from laws against discrimination that apply to private employers, despite the Republicans' Contract With America pledge that "all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress" and a decade-old law that placed Congress under antidiscrimination statutes.

Republicans want to be able to choose exactly who they work with and make sure that these colleagues are the free from homosex tendencies, diseases, and physical handicaps.

[Republicans] said the Constitution protects representatives' ability to study and craft legislation with the staff members they choose, regardless of laws that prohibit employment decisions based on factors such as age, race, gender, and disabilities.
Hell yeah! Who wants a pesky guy around who grew up in low-income housing when you're working on legislation to gut funding for such housing? Who wants someone around who benefitted from charities who provide food to the hungry when you're working on legilation to reduce the resources for the charities? Who wants someone around who got to go to college through student grants and loans when you're working on legislation to cut these benefits to low-income college students? And who wants homosexuals around when you're working on legislation to reduce their status to second-rate citizens?

These are exactly the people you don't want around you, picking at your conscience. That is, of course, if you're in Congress and still have a conscience.

Is there anything to be said that in the Contract with America, they're trying to undo the very first reform?

You Don't Live Here!

Who needs laws when you're going to break them anyway? It would seem that a Republican state senator from Kentucky may not take any official action or get paid because she was not a qualified resident of the state before the election, a judge ruled Friday.

Franklin County Circuit Judge William Graham's temporary injunction all but removed Dana Seum Stephenson from office, prohibiting her from "sitting as a state senator, from performing any official duties of the office as state senator, from receiving or accepting any pay for the office of state senator and from participating in the affairs of the General Assembly."

This is all and fine, but didn't people realize this before, say, the primary season? How did she win the primary and then win election, all without being eligible for either contest?

Repeating History

These so-called ill-treatments and this torturing in concentration camps, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners that were liberated by the occupying armies, were not, as assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual leaders, subleaders, and men who laid violent hands on internees.

-- Nazi Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Hoess, during the Nuremberg Trials

Does this sound familiar?

Scrapping National Security

At a time in our country's history when we are being attacked, or being threatened to be attacked, one of our greatest defenses against such menacing forces is our ability to pick up their transmissions and understand what their next move will be before they have time to attack us. This "chatter," as some have called it, isn't as easily understood as hoped because most of the people who wish to do America harm don't speak English.

That being said, one would certainly think that translators, those who know Farsi and Arabic, would be in high demand. But, alas, this is not the way things are.

Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers, according to Department of Defense data. The military previously confirmed that seven translators who specialized in Arabic had been discharged between 1998 and 2003 because they were gay. The military did not break down the discharges by year, but said some, but not all, of the additional 13 discharges of Arabic speakers occurred in 2004.

Just because several of these highly-qualified translators broke the military's silly Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy, they were let go. In a time of war, perhaps the single-most valuable tool our military possesses was discharged simply for being gay and refusing to hide it. Is this the priority of our nation? Moral correctness over national security?

DADT is silly to begin with, but this is just outrageous. Those in the military who oppose homosexual involvement oppose it on the grounds that it would disrupt outfit unity. The same was said about blacks in the military half a century ago. And guess what, blacks did disrupt the outfit unity. But the outfits got over it. People need to realize that homosexuals aren't sexual predators looking for unsuspecting heterosexual men. Someday the masses will understand. Until then, get over it.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Corrective Speech?

from Associated Press 01|13|05:

A member of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday the agency should investigate whether conservative commentator Armstrong Williams broke the law by failing to disclose that the Bush administration paid him $240,000 to plug its education policies.

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, said the agency has received about a dozen complaints against Williams.

"I certainly hope the FCC will take action and fully investigate whether any laws have been broken," Adelstein said at the commission's regular monthly meeting.
We wouldn't want the FCC going after a conservative, would we? Heaven forbid the White House broke a couple ethical communication mores in its dealing with Armstrong Williams and would need to be corrected.

Stab in the Back

from Associated Press 01|10|05:

"I saw the film. I liked it," Gibson told AP Radio Sunday at the 31st Annual People's Choice Awards, countering the contention that "Fahrenheit 9/11" fans and "The Passion of the Christ" enthusiasts are mutually exclusive groups.

"I feel a kind of strange kinship with Michael," Gibson said.
Oh man. That must have the right-wing nutties going batty! Oh wait, it does!
He praised Fahrenheit 9/11. He praises Michael Moore and his hate rhetoric propaganda film. There's something wrong there. He's a poser, folks.

I never really bought that he was this great conservative like many here seemed to believe. This kinship comment does it for me. He's on my boycott list. He suckered a lot of people with Passion though.

See, folks, he liked Fahrenheit 9/11. Says it all. And he is not religious like he claims. I could understand a rational reason in being against the war but to praise Michael Moore and the film and attack the President's reason shows what kind of person Mel Gibson is. HE IS NO CONSERVATIVE AND HAS NEVER BEEN.
How quickly they turn against you at the slightest whiff of rebellion. If you enjoyed Fahrenheit 9/11, you can't be religious, because, well, you just can't. You can't be conservative, because the movie slaps all conservatives, not just a few in particular. And you can't be the real-deal, because you're just a poser, man. Just a poser.

Nothing Doing

from Mirror.co.uk 01|13|05:

GEORGE Bush yesterday admitted the hunt for Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction had been finally called off - with nothing found.

The announcement came nearly two years after the president used the existence of an illegal arsenal as an excuse to invade Iraq.

At the time, Mr Bush said Saddam 'retained the knowledge, the materials, the means and the intent to produce weapons of mass destruction, and he could have passed that knowledge on to our terrorist enemies.'
But we were so sure they were there! If we were so sure they existed, and in fact Sec. Rumsfeld knew where they were hidden, what more do they think they know that isn't true? Shouldn't we be at least a little worried at their incompetence? Even Bill O'Reilly had the common decency to admit that he was wrong in believing such a deceiving administration. Clinton lied about an affair. Bush lied about weapons. Which is more impeachable?

"There's no question that Iraq was a threat to the people of the United States."
-- White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan, 8/26/03

"We ended the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
-- President Bush, 7/17/03

Iraq was "the most dangerous threat of our time."
-- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 7/17/03

"Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat to the United States because we removed him, but he was a threat...He was a threat. He's not a threat now."
-- President Bush, 7/2/03

"The threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be removed."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 3/25/03

"It is only a matter of time before the Iraqi regime is destroyed and its threat to the region and the world is ended."
-- Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, 3/22/03

"The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."
-- President Bush, 3/19/03

"The dictator of Iraq and his weapons of mass destruction are a threat to the security of free nations."
-- President Bush, 3/16/03

"This is about imminent threat."
-- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

Iraq is "a serious threat to our country, to our friends and to our allies."
-- Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/31/03

Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world."
-- Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/30/03

Iraq "threatens the United States of America."
-- Vice President Cheney, 1/30/03

"Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country. His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/29/03

"Well, of course he is.”
-- White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question "is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?", 1/26/03

"Saddam Hussein possesses chemical and biological weapons. Iraq poses a threat to the security of our people and to the stability of the world that is distinct from any other. It's a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East and to the international peace and stability. It's a danger we cannot ignore. Iraq and North Korea are both repressive dictatorships to be sure and both pose threats. But Iraq is unique. In both word and deed, Iraq has demonstrated that it is seeking the means to strike the United States and our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

"The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. ... Iraq is a threat, a real threat."
-- President Bush, 1/3/03

"The world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands."
-- President Bush, 11/23/02

"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?"
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02

"Saddam Hussein is a threat to America."
-- President Bush, 11/3/02

"I see a significant threat to the security of the United States in Iraq."
-- President Bush, 11/1/02

"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to American in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein."
-- President Bush, 10/28/02

"The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace."
-- President Bush, 10/16/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists."
-- President Bush, 10/7/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency."
-- President Bush, 10/2/02

"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is."
-- President Bush, 10/2/02

"This man poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined."
-- President Bush, 9/26/02

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."
-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"Iraq is busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents, and they continue to pursue an aggressive nuclear weapons program. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam Hussein can hold the threat over the head of any one he chooses. What we must not do in the face of this mortal threat is to give in to wishful thinking or to willful blindness."
-- Vice President Dick Cheney, 8/29/02

Umm... the politics of fear, anybody? Tell America over and over again that they're about to be punched in the face and see if they believe you after two years. It's no wonder people polled in November believed that Saddam possessed WMDs, and that he had a hand in 9/11. Why would Bush and his people want Americans to believe anything otherwise? If I were a member of his party, I'd be ashamed. Partisan politics aside, America was swindled.

No Weapons, Eh?



What's a president and his administration who claimed that these very weapons posed a dangerous and imminent threat to do?

Flashback Time!

May 7, 2003
Ari Fleischer

Q Well, we went to war, didn't we, to find these -- because we said that these weapons were a direct and imminent threat to the United States? Isn't that true?

MR. FLEISCHER: Absolutely.
Absolutely.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Did You Say Billion?

from Associated Press 01|12|05:

Boxing promoter Don King filed a defamation suit Wednesday claiming he was portrayed in a false light in an ESPN "SportsCentury" segment aired last May, and his attorney said King is entitled to damages of more than $2.5 billion.
I have nothing to add.

Healthcare

If the U.S. had an infant mortality rate as good as Cuba's, we would save an additional 2,212 American babies a year. Wouldn't this make pro-lifers, including Republicans, want universal healthcare? But that's a liberal idea.

So which is it? Universal healthcare versus the death of 2,212 babies a year. If you put it that way, shouldn't it be an offer you can't refuse?

The Rod

from Boston Globe 01|10|05:

On a spring day, Susan Lawrence was flipping through a magazine, Home School Digest, when she came across an advertisement that took her breath away. In it, "The Rod," a $5 flexible whipping stick, was described as the "ideal tool for child training."

"Spoons are for cooking, belts are for holding up pants, hands are for loving, and rods are for chastening," read the advertisement she saw nearly two years ago for the 22-inch nylon rod. It also cited a biblical passage, which instructs parents not to spare the "rod of correction."
That's right.

Imagine a scenario with me for a second. All of your cooking spoons are in various pots, your sole belt is holding your pants up and your hands were just manicured. You just have to chastise your child for wearing garments of two different threads. What do you do?

Your reach for The Rod, of course! Proverbs 23:13 states, "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with The Rod, he will not die." It even comes with a guarantee.

(via Virtual Pus)