Saturday, March 12, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I suppose one of the nice things about a Hillary run in 2008 would be that the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" quote would be endlessly replayed, and the Dems would finally be forced to put up or shut up on the issue. It would really put an end to business as usual.

And since the existence of the VRWC is quite obvious—whenever a rock is lifted in DC, or in Baghdad, a VRWC operative, on the payroll, scuttles off into the darkness—we could win on the issue.

The whole VRWC is so obviously rancid, it's ripe for the taking. If Dean can write the Dem equivalent of the Contract with America, and put it over, that is.

Surprise! Gitmo commanders not moral exemplars 

Ah, the lonely burdens of command. Yes, running a torture mill is hard work... And a man needs solace...

As if the situation at Guantanamo isn't messy enough, there is now a sex scandal involving senior military officers who were running the prison, reports CBS National Security Correspondent David Martin.

The colonel in charge of prison operations, a Lt. colonel who commanded the military police guarding the prisoners, and another lieutenant colonel who commanded the soldiers responsible for base security have all been relieved of duty. They are accused of committing adultery with a female Navy Lt. and a number of female civilian contractors.

An Army general who was the deputy commander of the task force which runs Guantanamo is also under investigation for adultery, which is a violation of military law, Martin reports. That case has been turned over to the Army's inspector general at the Pentagon since it involves such a high ranking officer.

The investigation began after a soldier -- who himself had been disciplined for adultery -- blew the whistle on the officers. Once the investigation began, it turned up e-mails in which the officers were exchanging information about the women they were having sex with.

Although the conduct involves private behavior off duty, Martin notes, it involves four of the most senior officers at the camp. And it raises questions about the quality and discipline of the officers running the prison there.
(via CBS)

Sounds like Gitmo is as demoralized—in every sense of the word—as Abu Ghraib. Of course, the real guilty parties, the true perpetrators of evil, are the civilians who are turning our officers and troops into torturers. Oddly, or not, they never pay any penalty for what they do...

She's b-a-a-a-a-c-k! 

Yes, Bush has lured yet another one of his female enablers out of "retirement" (as if she was ever) and back into the Wëst Wing: Karen Hughes. Ostenibly, she's going to be working on "public diplomacy." Which is certainly a weird use of her time, since Bush is tanking on His Social Security phase-out, not our image abroad (as if they cared). Oh, wait, maybe they're just lying about her job description. Anyhow:

Hughes, 48, who has been one of President Bush's closest advisers since his tenure as Texas governor, plans to return to Washington soon to rejoin the president's team after a three-year absence and set up shop at the State Department, where she will work with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reinvigorate the campaign for hearts and minds overseas.

The public diplomacy campaign aims to promote American values of democracy, tolerance and pluralism abroad while combating negative images propagated in many parts of the world.
(via WaPo)

Oh, come on.

All over the world, people are going the refer this one, instantly, to The Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Sweet suffering Jeebus. What does Bush know about democracy, after stealing election 2000 and suppressing the vote in 2004?

And what does Bubble Boy know about tolerance and pluralism? Or care? Nothing, and not at all. Think back to campaign 2004:

Here's Bush smirking while a protester gets beaten up by thugs at a Partei rally (back).

Here's Bush saying and doing nothing while the beating goes on:

Since He does and says nothing, it's OK with Him, right?

Those photos and this slideshow tell the world all it needs to know about the Bush administration's commitment to tolerance and pluralism.

As if Abu Ghraib didn't do that already.

Funny how the malAdministration thinks all of its problems are public relations problems, isn't it?

Brian Schweitzer for President! 

OK, OK. Maybe Montana isn't the strongest base to launch a campaign from. But still:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has touched off a political fight with Montana Republicans after calling for the return of National Guard troops serving in Iraq to help out in what many fear will be a record-setting wildfire season.

Mr. Schweitzer, a newly elected Democrat, infuriated Republican lawmakers who see his request as a way to criticize the Bush administration over Iraq.

[W]eather experts say a seven-year drought and a severely reduced snowpack could lead to a devastating summer of wildfires.

They also worry that limited resources stretched thinner by the National Guard's service overseas could make it hard to combat the kind of huge blazes that engulfed the state in 2000, when some 2,400 wildfires burned nearly 950,000 acres of mostly public land.

Governor Schweitzer said Montana would disproportionately suffer the pain of proposed cuts in the federal budget, with money allocated for firefighting cut in half.

As fire season approaches, about 1,500 of Montana's 3,500 National Guard troops have been deployed on federal active duty, said a Montana Guard spokesman, Maj. Scott Smith.

The bulk of the Guard's helicopters - critical in shuttling fire crews and equipment to blazes - are unavailable, either because they are in Iraq or their aviation officers are absent.
(via Times)

Smooth move. The only thing that really infuriates Republicans is when a Democrat does something smart. More like this, please.

Governor Rendell?

Funeral March For Social Security 

Yesterday's Funeral March for Social Security in downtown Philadelphia went off very nicely. Philly For Change joined with people from a number of other groups, including NOW, Billionaires for Bush, and The Coalition to Defend Social Security, to march (with a police escort!) down to Santorum's office. Here's a shot of Howard's brother, Jim Dean, helping to carry the casket, and a few other shots from the march itself:

Too windy for the candles, though. Afterward, I joined the group, of whom my husband is a part, for drinks at the Independence Brew Pub, and talked with Jim himself, as well as Chris Bowers of MyDD and Steve (Spindentist) of The All Spin Zone. Dean let us know that Democracy for America is very interested in supporting not only candidates in the larger races, but the small stuff, like school board races, too. He exudes a sweet kind of openness I was not expecting in a political operative, and he wanted to let us know that he would be available to offer help and feedback as needed. We stood around for an hour being buffetted by Flower Show patrons and cruising twenty-somethings, unable to get seated (big surprise!) till someone remembered a reservation had been made at Fergie's Pub, and we duly trucked over there for dinner and further drinking and discussion. As you can see, we took it seriously:

Jim Dean fergies

fergies rMuch fun had by all, and I'm too burnt to go any further.

Happy weekend!

Are You Liking This, Rush Limbaugh? 

A little "frat hazing" over in Afghanistan:
"Two Afghan prisoners who died in American custody in Afghanistan in December 2002 were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.
One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes."
The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner."
I guess we can put that right up there with being forced to wear beanies and carrying seniors' books, can't we, Rush? (I'd link you to his actual website page, but the coward bars the average reader from it, much like Rush's Brave Leader bars actual citizens from sitting in his audiences.)

Let me introduce you to few other college pranks:

Ah, those golden days of carefree youth!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

No, cancel that. I'm, um, staying up late...

P-Niss Blogging Friday Late Night 

Mr. P-Niss Reports:

Mr P-Niss has been searching our nations celebrated historical yesteryears for profound examples of God, government, and good plain spoken business instincts working in a graceful synergy to help make America a saner, more prosperous, God-fearin', common sense hospitable kind of public square place for eveyone who agrees to behave properly in it. Just like it used to be before you know who (those hat-hating liberals for instance) ruined everything. So then, Mr. P-Niss believes, he has found the perfect example of this synergy in graceful prior action. Once upon a bygone time in America... in Wilkes Barre PA, to be exact:
Those who like to go hatless in Winter may find this city inhospitable to their whim should the city council pass a resolution submitted by Mayor Hart, who thinks that not to wear a hat in Winter is an insult to the intelligence of "God-fearing citizens." So Mayor Hart, admitting he wants to stimulate the sale of hats here, as well as rid the town of a "new species of lunatics," has drafted a resolution to the council which declares that "those who insist on going hatless in Winter weather be declared insane and placed behind the walls of asylums."

Above item: as reported by the Associated Press, 1930.

And in other historical news -- John J. Boggan, observant resident of The Yellowhammer state, delivers an early global warming warning broadcast, including its causes and consequences, via the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Alabama, circa 1930:
We are having unusual weather, and if it continues awhile longer there is no telling what will develop in the way of sickness. I have good reason to believe that all this disturbance is caused by radio broadcasting and, in my judgment, it is not at its worst. I would like to explain my reasons to some good minister of the gospel and I believe he will agree with me. I will do this at any time or place. I believe it so strong that I warn all people in lowlands to hunt hills before next Spring. Last Spring was nothing to what they can look for this coming Spring. - John J. Boggan, Pratt City, Ala.

In 1930 Sinclair Lewis became the first American to win the Nobel Prize for literature; for his novel Babbitt.

On a personal note: Mr. P-Niss has just noticed that the little white cat pictured in the post below is wearing Mr. P-Niss's favorite winter hat and Mr. P-Niss would like to know how that cat got that hat. Mr. P-Niss wants the hat back from the cat! Because Mr. P-Niss doesn't want to be heaved into an insane asylum. Not even for a minute. Especially an insane asylum in Wilkes Barre, PA. Wherever that is.


Cat Blogging Friday: Your Own Cat'chum Alive Trap Line! 


oday is cat blogging Friday, again, as you well know. Earlier this week the nation was stunned to learn of a proposal in the state of Wisconsin to add "free roaming, domestic feral cats" - (are there any other kind?) - to the list of cool stuff you can blow away to kingdom come with a Marlin 336 "Spike Horn" 30/30 or your trusty gas operated Kel-Tec SU-16B with "M-16 breech locking and feeding system." Or whatever other trusty field artillery you may happen to have laying around the family spread.

The plan was apparently proposed by some daring action oriented citizen named Mark Smith of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who, it would seem, has either been clobbered on the head one too many times with a la crosse stick, or, has worked himself into something of a pepperpot at the mere notion that somewhere, someplace, lurking among the wood violets and sugar maple stands of the badger state pastorale, there may be some "free roaming domestic feral" meance answering to the name of Sparky or Buttercup or Mr. Nippers - each with a common sinister agenda - in this case: to snatch a robin from a dewy spring lawn or bury a fresh turd among Mrs. Smith's crocus bulbs. Gulp. Can't have it.

And Mark, god bless his la crosse stick battered cranium, is willing to step forth into the fray and blast the head off any Buttercup that steps one free roaming paw over the threshold of domesticality and into the black good evening of free roaming ferality.
The cat hunting proposal had its origin with Mark Smith of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who could not be reached for comment. He said in an interview published in the La Crosse Tribune recently that he was not anti-feline but "If you open the door and kick your cat out at night you've changed its status."

Yeah, I'd be in hiding too you dumb bastard. If it's one thing you don't want to do, ever, it's get the kitty cat fanciers all riled up and hot under the hood. Noooo-sir. Personally I'd rather take my chances locked in the back of a panel van with a half dozen rabid bats in the final stages of the furies. But... this isn't about my personal chances...

Now, in defense of cat control efforts, I can see how there can sometimes be a problem with kitty cats gone feral. I've seen this kind of thing myself in the past and it can get out of hand pretty quick if you let it. Barn cats come to mind in some cases as well as cats that have been dropped off in the country by any variety of morons (ie: dip-shit college students) who suddenly decide that they are "allergic" to kitty cats or who decide to secure new lodging on premises which strictly prohibit the harboring and or propagation of kitty cats.

So, these morons drive kitty cat to a remote location and shove kitty cat out the back door somewhere along the side of the road (usually within the immediate viewable vicinity of a quaint rustic barn) where surely a nice friendly farm family with fresh baked pies on the windowsill will discover kitty cat and provide a nice rural retirement in the country forevermore. Oh sure. That kind of cat dumping thing does happen, sorry to say, on too many instances. But it's usually taken care of (the horned owls will git em) without resorting to the kind of state sponsored feline free-fire zone liquidation fiasco being proposed by the likes of Mark Smith.

Likewise, suggesting that anyone who happens to open their door one evening and perchance allow Mr. Muffins to wander off into the gloaming, unfettered, should therefore be reconciled to the grim reality that Mr. Muffins, by virtue of his transgression, has now officially changed status, and is therefore automatically fair game for some kind of fugitive bounty hunt - or whatever kind of pigsticking death squad hootenanny might ensue - strikes me as not a little bit idiotic on the face of it.

Afterall, what is this Smith dolt thinking? Nocturnal patrols? Spending his evenings stalking kitty cats around cul-de sacs or through cornfields with night vision goggles and coon dogs? Christ almighty. Where do they find these nuts anyway.

So enter some guy named Bauknecht "who works at MadCat Pet Supplies in Madison, Wisconsin:
"But we're not taking any chances," he said. "When this is resolved we're going to pursue trying to build a statewide network for cat spaying trap-and-releases. We want to use this as a jumping off point.

That makes a lot more sense to me. And there's nothing like a jumping off point to get everyone flingin' themselves into the action on behalf of a more humane, sensible, kitty cat wanderlust tolerant world. And that's why I'm also volunteering to do my part for the great state of Wisconsin and errant kitty cats everywhere by introducing the Cat'chum Alive 2005 Runaway Kitty Trap Hive (tm).

As you can see the Cat'chum Alive 2005 is essentially nothing more than a small chest of drawers which can easily be located where large numbers of free ranging, domestic backslider, kitty cats have been known to gather and mill about aimlessly. Like in Wisconsin. Apparently. In any case, the Cat'chum Alive 2005 requires little maintenance, is easy to operate, clean, and can be reused later as a suitable addition to any home or office. Makes a great conversation starter too!

The Cat'chum 2005 operates upon the simple principal that no domestic feral kitty cat can resist the snuggly coziness of your basic chest of bedroom drawers. Especially a chest of sock drawers filled with fuzzy warm socks and other things that people keep in sock drawers. Which means that you will need to carefully bait your Cat'chum 2005 with the proper tempting items for maximum efficiency and live trapping action.

That's why I always bait my Cat'chum 2005's with the following common sock drawer items as identified in the illustration above.

A - Several pairs of Kevin Drum Ying Yang Argyle Golf Knicker Socks. (Wash Monthly)
B - A bloody severed fish head.
C - A small baggie of Catmint.
D - Little tiny funny hats that Kitty Cats like to try on when they don't think anyone is watching.

No kitty can resist the lure of this specially formulated combination of sensational delights. As my vigorous test trials have demonstrated again and again and again. You have my word on it! Cat'chum Alive 2005 really catches kitties!

Simply set your Cat'chum Alive 2005 in a cow pasture or backyard or abandoned factory parking lot or other similar suitable location, bait, and leave for 24-36 hours. When you return you should find one to three, perhaps four or more, kitty cats living inside your Cat'chum Alive hive. Then you can remove your catch and take them somewhere else. Wherever else that is. Like to your neighbors Cat'chum Alive 2005 Runaway Kitty Trap Hive (tm).

There ya have it. There really is no need for parties of armed nimrods to be careening around your suburban neighborhood in Polaris Ranger 6x6's or perched motionless for hours in the branches of your lilac bush on the off chance that Noodles or Old Weezer might happen to get a wild hair up his or her ass and leap off the porch into the crosshairs of infamy.

Not when you can Cat'chum Alive in 2005!

For further details, including purchasing information and pricing, on all Cat'chum Alive Runaway Kitty Trap Hive Systems, write to: catchumaliverunawaykittytraphive@feraldomesticalities.cmon


Blood money 

Nice work, Junior! Just like William Randolph Hearst—"I'll supply the war."

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Co. and publisher of the company's flagship newspaper, received $2.35 million in compensation from the company last year, up from $1.74 million a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing made Friday.
(via AP)

Junior's going to be able to give Judy Miller a lot of kneepads!

Ben "Dover" Nelson 


"There is a benefit in being involved in something that puts more fiscal discipline in the lives of individuals," said Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. "My opinion from the very beginning has been: you support the president when the president is right, you oppose when you need to and, in every case you can, you look for compromise."
(via NY Times)

Um, remember Max Cleland? The instant he showed signs of weakness, the wolves were on him.

Bend over, Ben!

A Good Walk Spoiled 

Will God forgive me for not only not caring about this old man's pain, but actually enjoying it?
"A suspected (81 yr. old) Ku Klux Klansman who faces trial on murder charges next month for the notorious 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers is in serious condition in a Mississippi hospital after a falling tree crushed both his legs, officials said on Friday...
An avid woodsman and ordained Baptist minister, Killen was arrested two months ago in connection with the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, who were shot on a remote road outside this town 41 years ago."
Even if he is innocent, as he claims, he has a lifetime of hatred and oppression to make up for. I'm having a hard time pitying his good walk spoiled.

Bush Besmirched By Hoi-Polloi; Recovery May Take Weeks 

Oh, this is rich:


"The president was interrupted four times by people yelling protests of his Social Security plans. Outside the arena, protesters shouted "No more lies, don't privatize!" and some held signs that read "Hands off my Social Security."
At a propaganda-fest in Louisville, KY. Security must be getting sloppy.

Via Stars and Stripes Online.

Those "few bad apples" bob back to the surface as the Defense Department and Congress turn their backs, join hands and sing Kumbayah:

"A top investigator ordered by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to look into abuses at Abu Ghraib and other military detention facilities laid blame at the feet of individual troops and their commanders, but not top-level officials and policy-makers."

Note: No officials were hurt in the investigation of these crimes.

Do As We Say, Not As We Do 

Hmmm. Over at The Hill, they report that a goodly number of the House members about to take up the Barririers to Bankruptcy Bill have their own little debt issues:
"More than 40 members of the House reported carrying at least $10,000 in credit-card or charge-card debt in 2003 and parts of 2004, according to a survey of financial disclosure reports conducted by The Hill...
Opponents of the bill drew hope from the data, suggesting that lawmakers who nurse high-interest debt might be more likely to sympathize with indebted consumers. High credit-card debt is often a factor in the decision to file for bankruptcy, although the root cause is usually related to a life-altering event such as a divorce, illness or the loss of a job, experts said."
Hopeful signs of humanity, or more fodder for hypocritical legislating?

I suppose it would foolish to hope...

When Is A War Crime Not A War Crime? 

The government has gotten quite facile in sidestepping accusations of war crimes lately...and why not? They've had plenty of opportunity for practice. From the Afghanistan massacre to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, they've been up to their eyeballs in deniablity.

When our daughter was going through her most obnoxious phase, we caught her smoking, and when we confronted her she tossed the cigarette onto the street and flatly denied having one, even though she knew that we saw it. This kind of brazen, give-a-shit lying is what Bushco does best, as Alberto Gonzales and Scott McClellan continue to prove almost daily.

But occasionally they get a little help from the other two branches of the dying tree of democracy. Yesterday, thanks to US District Court Judge Jack Weinstein, we now know that the deliberate application of deadly poisons like Agent Orange to vast swaths of a nation's countryside is not a war crime, no matter how many millions of soldiers and civilians it cripples, maims and kills, and no matter that the VA recognizes the 50 or so diseases caused by it, including numerous varied cancers and birth defects ("some babies were born without eyes or arms, or were missing internal organs"), and no matter that Vietnam vets successfully petitioned for recompense for exposure after the effects became so overwhelmingly obvious even the White House was having a hard time ignoring it.

In a decision that took him less than a month and a half to make, Weinstein ruled against millions of Vietnamese suffering from exposure to the dioxins in Agent Orange who brought suit against Monsanto, Hercules, and Dow. He said (no doubt blithely):
"No treaty or agreement, express or implied, of the United States, operated to make use of herbicides in Vietnam a violation of the laws of war or any other form of international law until at the earliest April of 1975."
No one ever actually mentioned Agent Orange, so it's not covered, got that? Which should give a shot of inspiration to the folks at DARPA to come up with plenty of new horrors to use in the future, none of which will have ever been named as prohibited.

Goddamnit, I Wanna KIll SOMEthing! 

aztec_sacJust in case you thought Bushco was having any second thoughts on that whole torture thing, they throw a big "fuck you" to the world and those of us pansies who have problems with violations of due process and the Geneva Accord:

"The United States has withdrawn from an international agreement that gives the International Court of Justice the right to adjudicate violations of the Vienna Convention regarding the incarceration of non-U.S. citizens, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Thursday.

And by God, let's have a little Mexican blood to whet our appetite, just to let 'em know we mean business:
"Last week, President Bush asked the state of Texas to order new hearings for 51 death row inmates from Mexico, as the ICJ had ordered.
"The decision the ICJ handed down is a decision we don't agree with," said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli in Washington. "Yet, in respect of the optional protocol and our international commitment, the president has determined that the United States will comply and our state courts will review the cases."
"But we're also saying in the future we're going to find other ways to resolve disputes under the Vienna Convention other than the ICJ," he said."

Yeah? Like what? That modern-day inquisition down in Cuba? This crowd has no interest in resolving anything, unless it ends with frog-marching some poor schmuck into the gas chamber.

It's what they do best. It's his "style".

We Now Hope To Return You To Your Regularly Scheduled Harangue 

Faithful readers and mystified passersby may know that yesterday we experienced something of a meltdown here at corrente, and were unable to post for the larger part of the day. Why? Because we like you.

No, that must have been some other reason. Theories vary, but it's certain that heads must roll, actions will be taken, days will be rued. In the meantime, please enjoy the rest of the day's offerings, as we work to make your blog--dipping experience an enjoyable one.

Carry on.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

It's really grotesque to watch Bush "assuring Seniors that their benefits are safe" (Reuters).

What's the ethical basis of Bubble Boy's "assurance"? The essence of modern Republicanism: Screw you Jack, I've got mine.

What he's really telling seniors is that, since their own benefits are safe (as if), they can forget about the next generation's.

In other words, the Republicans goal is as it has been: To destroy Social Security as an intergenerational compact. That's the subtext of Bush's "assurance."

P.S. The protestors had the wrong slogan on their signs. It shouldn't be "Don't privatize my Social Security," but "Don't privatize our Social Security."

Bubble Boy has to raise his voice 

Here's a weird little vignette from Louisville, Kentucky:

Inside, opponents interrupted the president four times. Each time, they were drowned out by Bush or supporters in the crowd.
(via AP)

1. How'd they get in there? Is the quality of Rove's advance work slipping, or are they deliberately letting protesters in, now?

2. And what's with the "drowned out by Bush" thing? He's shouting them down, or what?

Blogger's suckitude is yet more massive this morning 

Please do not adjust your set, while we deal with this outrage.

Mouthbreathers in Charm City 

Get a load of this. From Millersville, MD:

A ninth-grader is protesting his school's decision to broadcast the Pledge of Allegiance in foreign languages as part of National Foreign Language Week.

Patrick Linton said he and other students at Old Mill High School sat down rather than stand Wednesday when the Pledge was read over the school's public address system in Russian. Linton's teacher told him if he had a problem he should leave the room.

He did, and did not plan to return this week.

"This is America, and we got soldiers at war," the 15-year-old said. "When you're saying the Pledge in a different language which nobody understands, that's not OK."

Patrick, we need to use our indoor voice! And study our grammar, too!

Charles Linton, Patrick's father, said the use of other languages is disrespectful to the country. "It's like wearing a cross upside down in a church," he said.
(via AP)

Mencken would be proud. Hey, maybe Dear Leader will invite our young Nativist to the White House.

Lewis Is In Town! 

At 10 a.m. this morning those of you in the 91 FM WHYY listening area with access to a radio may want to tune in to Marty Moss-Coane's Radio Times, where the first guest will be Harper's Magazine editor, Lewis Lapham, speaking about his new book, "Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and Stifling of Democracy." Lapham is a personal hero of mine. His style is old-fashioned oratory, and his eloquence is unmatched. He and his magazine were among the first voices lifted against Bush's propaganda effort to wage war on Iraq. I've seen him in interviews before (on Bill Moyers' NOW he was especially good) so this should be gratifying.

If you can't hear it this a.m. on the wireless, you can go to the link above and listen to it in archives through your computer later.

Try the Lame Duck...With a Side of Crow 

The Village Voice has a nice little buffet of news stories every week in a single-page, easy to digest format, but one of the most consistently tasty morsels is The Bush Beat by Ward Harkavy. He makes an interesting comparison between the passage of the Barriers to Bankruptcy Bill with its heartless squeeze on the little people, and the ease with which Dick Cheney's Halliburton made use of the more corporate-friendly bankruptcy laws to divest itself of billions of dollars of asbestos lawsuits, even as it sat flush with billions more in government contracts.

Over at the front page of the NYTimes (yes, I'm lazy) we find Bush's Dirty Lies initiative, which proposed to clean up pollution by shifting it to the skies of more unfortunate states via "emissions credits", appears to be mired in "partisan intransigence", and destined to die an early, well-deserved death.

Next to the above good news we find more: Senate Republicans are putting the reins to Bush's planned $100 billion tax cuts. Democrats are still hung up on that boring old issue of cutting entitlements and programs for the poor, of course. It goes on:
"Yet Congress has failed to adopt a budget for two of the last three years; at a time when Mr. Bush is emphasizing fiscal responsibility, failure to do so this year would be an embarrassment for both the White House and the Republican leadership."
Is it possible for this administration to feel embarassment?

And on the government watchdog front, the GAO told Congress yesterday that privatizing Social Security will not make it more fiscally sound, and could even kill it, and the GOP's own polls show a decided lack of entusiam for the whole idea.

No matter how you try to skew it, things are not looking as rosy as they once did for the old Lame Duck. Here's hoping this thought starts your day off better. Keep all those chins up.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I'd like to work on my tan, but using the little candle in my tiny room under the stairs, it takes a long time.... [Martyred sigh]

Bubble Boy answers his mail (or not) 

In this week's New Yorker, Calvin Trillin about the death of Brian Slavenas, from DeKalb County Illinois, a National Guardsman, one of the 1500 Americans Bush killed in his war of choice in Iraq. Go buy it on the newsstands so they can keep paying Seymour Hersh.

It's the details that get you:

[Brian's mother, Rosemarie Slavenas] is still waiting for an answer from her own letter to the President, a letter that said, in part, "My beloved son Brian died for your red herring in the sand. He did not give his life. It was cruelly taken from him by your rush to war.

Still waiting for an answer...But from inside the Bubble, nothing.

What a coward Bush is.

I mean, at least Rummy would have had the decency to send her a form letter signed by a machine!

"For Bush, a Taste of Vindication in Mideast"---NYTimes, 3/9/05 


Once again, thanks to Project for the Old American Century.

Alpo Accounts: Round One to Dems, but only on points 

WaPo's EJ Dionne sums it up:

Where does this leave [Bush]? Dropping his call for private accounts carved out of Social Security would allow [H]im to win bipartisan approval for moderate fixes to make the retirement system solvent for decades. Alternatively, [H]e could put forward a serious and detailed plan for private accounts and invite an honest and instructive philosophical face-off with the Democrats on the future of social insurance. The lesson of the first round of the Social Security debate is that the public won't bet on Bush's ideas until he reveals the cards he's holding back.
(via WaPo)

Except we already know what the cards are. The reason Bush can't put his cards face down on the table is that he's got a losing hand. The incomparable Daily Howler explains the stakes (even better than Krugman did with "Bait and Switch", back):

[In 1983,] when the payroll tax was so vastly increased, baby-boomers were told that they were submitting those extra taxes to pre-pay the cost of their eventual retirement. If politicians decide the trust fund is a mirage, then those voters were massively scammed in one of human history’s biggest financial swindles.

(See Alan "Why Is My Nose Brown?" Greenspan's "Heist of the century", back)
But why would the Bushwingers do such a thing? Surely, ideology and pure meanness aren't enough to explain overturning a Social Compact that's lasted for almost 80 years?

Why? The short answer is this: Follow the money. Remember when Bush said "Some people call you the elites; I call you my base"? Let's see why the elites might want Social Security privatized. From one elite insider:

A bit about me: I am in my late 30's, a resident of New York City, and the founder and president of a Manhattan-based asset management firm. I have a BA from a top-ten university and an Ivy League MBA. I'm a lifelong conservative with a strong independent streak. ...

This week, I spoke to an executive at a large publicly-traded technology firm. ... This executive sees one shining beacon in the fog of increasingly strict accounting standards and a difficult business environment: The prospect of Social Security reform. He told me that he and many of this colleagues at other companies favor the creation of private accounts, because a new source of demand for his stock will help compensate for the increasing unattractiveness of his company from an investment perspective. This executive also made it completely clear (albeit in casual, friendly terms--which is perhaps the only way he would have voiced this sentiment at all) that he looked forward to private accounts "picking up the slack" that the new accounting rules and increasingly difficult business conditions in general will create. ...

This executive wants private accounts that invest in the stock market and his stock in particular. He sees private accounts as transferring risk from him to the public--risk, he surely knows, that is already being transferred through instruments such as IRA's, 401K's, and the explosion of mutual funds over the past decade.

He's profited handsomely from that transfer of risk. From a corporate perspective he wants that transfer to continue, and from a personal one he needs it to continue to support his lifestyle. ... This week I also spoke to a former co-worker of mine, who works at one of the largest investment banks in the world. We had a brief conversation about the private accounts issue. Predictably, there was no beating around the bush here; executives of investment banks and brokerages are known for direct, often crass language. He said: "I want that dumb public money coming across my desk."
(via TPM from the cunning realist

So, let me get this clear:

The Bushwingers want our Social Security money to (a) prop up the stock market and (b) maintain their personal lifestyles. When Alan "Why Is My Nose Brown" Greenspan talks about "bolstering the nation's low savings rate", that's code for doing those two things.

So, taking money out of my pocket and putting it into the pockets of those who already have more than enough is good why, exactly?

In Round One, we set that argument up. In Round Two, let's use it to score a knockout.

NOTE Apparently, Cheney thinks Bush has a mandate for a social security phaseout. You'd think, what with that crazy baldhead "Gigi" "Gannon," that he'd want to avoid that term. The wingers never learn, do they?

Zippity Do Dah 

RDF is off to Old Mexico for a few days on bizness and pleasure. I only say this to my fellow correntians because I won't be around anyplace I can get Internet access and don't want vile rumors about my sudden death to arise when I don't post for a week or so, depending... it just seemed the polite thing to do, anyway, to let everyone know. I know the pot will be kept boiling in my absence. Of course, if I don't reappear in a week or so, those rumors may be true... c'est la vie.

Headline du Jour 

(via Nashville Tennessean)

Bill to ban gay adoption amended, drops reference to homosexuals

Drop That Book! Here's A Gun, Instead 

Via good old Buzzflash, The UK's Telegraph reports that the FBI is still doing its part to protect us against terrorism, in a way that the National Rifle Association can get behind:
"Terrorist suspects in the United States are buying firearms with the knowledge and approval of the security forces, a congressional report revealed yesterday.
Those acquiring the weaponry included Islamists, radical militiamen and others with ties to groups with a history of using violence to advance their aims."
Why? Because unlike those with criminal records or a history of mental illness, terrorist suspects are free to purchase all the weaponry they want! That's right...the government can toss suspected terrorists into their black holes of detention with no communication with the outside world and no habeas corpus, but they won't touch thier right to wield deadly weapons. The FBI justs smiles sheepishly, shrugs its mighty shoulders, and sighs:
""We're in a tough position,'' an FBI agent told the New York Times. "Obviously we want to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, but we also have to be mindful of privacy and civil rights concerns, and we can't do anything beyond what the law allows us to do."
Critics of the Bush administration have said that it has put the interests of gun owners before the advice of counter-terrorist officers because of an inbuilt sympathy for weapons enthusiasts. In particular, they pointed out that the former attorney general, John Ashcroft, had for many months prevented the FBI from matching its terrorist watch list against lists of gun buyers on civil liberties grounds."
Of course, a quick perusal of the venerable NRA's website fails to reveal any concerns on this issue at all, despite all their law and order blather about crime. But not to worry. Ashcroft's Patriot Act is still keeping us safe from dangerous readers at the library.

Silicon Millbillies 

Go read this: If Programmers Were As Smart As Longshoremen:
I’ve often said that if programmers were as smart as longshoremen, they’d have a contract as good as longshoremen. They don’t, in part because they’re proud of their weakness. They’re proud that they don’t stoop to organizing. Nosiree, these are libertarians, who would not consider acting as a group. That, after all, would hurt the super-rich scumbags they work for. And since everyone expects one day to be in the position of the exploiter, they certainly don’t want to restrict the exploiter’s actions now. Even if they’re currently the exploited.

You see what I mean about intelligence. Certainly some libertarians believe in liberty and democracy, and don’t base their ideology on money. There are true libertarians, who are not solely concerned about how much they pay in taxes; but not many. ...

continued at link above


Hal Turner: right wing radio cluck... 

...looking for attention any way he can get it.

"I don't think killing a federal judge in these circumstances would be wrong," he said, referring to the judge's ruling against Hale's group in a copyright dispute over its name. "It may be illegal, but it wouldn't be wrong." - (Turner being quoted by the Southern Poverty Law Center. See link below)

Hal Turner does some "ribbing" at the expense of Judge Lefkow. Because, ya know, someones family being murdered is simply an occasion for yucks and cheap "gotcha" gags if you happen to be some white supremacist neo-nazi ass-crack radio squawk. The General has more.

And apparently Hal (Harold) and Sean Hannity had kinda a thing going a while back. Seems sweet Sean thought well of Hal and his "agenda". Well enough to endorse Hal's Republican run for congress in 2000.
In August 1998 Turner called into Hannity's WABC show and said that if it weren't for the white man, that blacks "would still be swinging from the trees in Africa." This comment drew no rebuke from Hannity, himself a racial antagonist who even calls Turner at home and plugged his campaign on his show, but rather Hannity continued to race-bait with Turner around a number of political issues. In fact, Turner has said on his radio show, and to us that Hannity had become fast friends. Hannity even invited Turner to sit in on a taping on Hannity and Colmes. Turner told us, however that as Hannity star began to shine a bit more he stopped talking to Turner. ~ cached One Peoples project page

Turner has oozed to the surface most recently in relation to the Lefkow murders in Chicago. Harold, or Hal, or whatever he calls himself, is now seeking names and addresses and personal information on different federal judges. Internet Author Says He Has Addresses Of More Federal Judges A request he has apprently posted to his website.

Turner has apparently pulled a similar stunt in the past:
Turner BS is all over the web and it pretty much damns him as the racist he once tried to deny he was. In one instance he has threatened to incite people to "dispense revenge" on Federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry and New Jersey NAACP officials and their attorneys after a fire in North Bergen claimed the lives of four people in 1998. Turner charged the NAACP with the deaths because they filed an anti-discrimination lawsuit against the local fire department. Barry was the judge who presided and imposed a hiring freeze on the department until the matter was resolved. After the fire, Turner, a real estate agent with access to the names and addresses of virtually everyone who lives in the state, wrote a letter that appeared on deja.com (now Google) that said that he was going to release the names and addresses of Barry, the NAACP officials, and their lawyers to the families of the fire victims. "It would be interesting to see how those families dispense revenge on those who are really responsible for the deaths of their loved ones, he wrote." Turner was only recently called on the threat by the Daily Targum, the Rutgers University student newspaper, and stood by the letter. cached One Peoples project page

More on Harold C. Turner, of Bergen, New Jersey, who worked for Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign:
Just when some thought that the modern white supremacist movement had adopted the calmer language of scientific racism, along came Hal Turner. A belligerent, foul-mouthed talk show host, Turner is the maestro of radio hate — a man who rants about a "Portable Nigger Lyncher" machine, "faggots," "savage Negro beasts," "bull-dyke lesbians" and "lazy-ass Latinos ... slithering across the border." And that is just the beginning.


Turner got involved in politics as well, serving as a Republican committeeman in Hudson County, the North Jersey coordinator for white nationalist Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign, and manager of the 1997 gubernatorial campaign of Libertarian Murray Sabrin.


"I don't think killing a federal judge in these circumstances would be wrong," he said, referring to the judge's ruling against Hale's group in a copyright dispute over its name. "It may be illegal, but it wouldn't be wrong."


In recent months, however, Turner has repeatedly told his listeners he was gravely ill and begged for donations to pay his creditors. But he has never said what his disease was, and his many skeptics have noted that his "illness" seems to worsen when bills come due at month's end. ~ SPLCenter

Yeah, he's ill alright. Although he seemed a chipper sort last evening when he popped up on MSNBC to be questioned by Dan Abrams. Hey, maybe MSNBC will sign him up to co-host with Joe Scarborough. Somehow that doesn't seem so implausible these days.


National Association of Evangelicals throw up the big tent 

Via Faithful Progressive, [see: Conservative Evangelicals Issue New Manifesto], a link through to this news from The American Prospect magazine, March 02, 2005...

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) convention; March 09, 2005...
A key event during the convention will be the release of a 12-page statement of principles meant to serve as guidelines for unprecedented political engagement by U.S. evangelicals. Called For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, this manifesto for a Bible-based public policy calls on evangelical Christians to recognize that it is their religious obligation to advocate for government policies that support their religious beliefs."


The preamble to the document quickly makes clear that the group is not looking to influence policy on the margins but to become a major voice in the political process: "Evangelical Christians in America face a historic opportunity. We make up fully one quarter of all voters in the most powerful nation in history. Never before has God given American evangelicals such an awesome opportunity to shape public policy in ways that could contribute to the well-being of the entire world. Disengagement is not an option. We must seek God’s face for biblical faithfulness and abundant wisdom to rise to this unique challenge." ~ American Prospect

That might help explain Marvin Olasky's recent signal flare reminder to his flock to brush up on their Schaeffer.

Also, I should note, as the TAP article points out, that the NAE is a broad based group representing a broad spectrum of evangelical churches. So this convention in no way represents a pow-wow for Dominionist or far right Christian fundamentalist advocates alone. In any case it will be interesting to see where this one goes, and to what extent, if any, the "Christian Nation" agenda is further ballyhooed.


Kansas natives is acting crackers again. But not all of em:
Not all Kansans are embracing the evangelical agenda. Both Democrats and many life-long Republicans say the efforts to curtail abortion and homosexual rights are regressive, divisive and discriminatory.

"We're trying to become the laughingstock of the world," said Bill Franklin, a former mayor of Prairie Village, Kansas, who describes himself as a moderate Republican. ~ reuters

GOPod people cultivate a new talking media-cabbage. Says producer: "This kid would piss himself if he went to Iraq." (via Steve Gilliard)

John "archy" McKay in Belgrade... and on Rush Limbaugh and the Yugoslavization of America


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

I love Philly, but the rats in my neighborhood are getting just a little overbold. I swear one of them gave me the finger when I threw a rock at it... And there, in the shadows, some of them seemed to be carrying little tools...

Gutless, feckless Beltway Dems (yes, they still exist) 

Here are the Dems who voted against cloture, thereby greasing the skids for the Loansharking Protection and Advocacy Act (via TPM:

Senators Tom Carper (D-Delaware), Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) and Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) all voted for cloture. Long-time fence-sitters Senators Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) also got in the act, as did someone we thought was a Consumer Champion: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

You rememnber this one? The one where your grandmother loses her house to pay for the medical bills, while the rich fucks shelter their mansions in Florida? Of course you do. But, oh yeah, if you firebomb an abortion clinic, and declare bankruptcy to avoid the fines, no problemo!

Say, does MBNA let any of its cards be used to pay for abortions? That would make them baby killers too, wouldn't it? Especially after they collect the interest, right? Hey, just asking (and a tip of the ol' Corrente hat to chica toxic).

(farmer update): Tinfoil Hat Boy (in comments) points out some names missing from the list above.

Byrd (D-WV)
Conrad (D-ND)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Pryor (D-AR)
Salazar (D-CO)
Stabenow (D-MI)

Tick, Tick, Tick, Lunatick Fringe 

Hans Bethe died today. Helped make the bomb, said “O shit, what have we done?!” and then spent the rest of his life fighting to control the unleashed genie.

Worth a visit in his honor: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists although the Doomsday Clock is still at seven to midnight. (How can that be?)

And, in a relative vein, following up on our previous discussion of whether or not covert ops were behind the “opposition street protests” in Beirut, we now have to deal with the “anti-opposition street protests” in Beirut, coordinated by…?

I heard on NPR that the mood in Lebanon is such that everyone wants to avoid another civil war, but what of that? My crystal ball tells me that iWaq is headed that way—how can it be avoided? Now Lebanon? And there’ve been political assassinations in Israel and Palestine for years. Now the Gaza pullout and Palestinian infighting make continued, and hotter, war there a very real possibility. Saudi Arabia is unstable as hell.

If the idea was to stabilize the region, Bushco is sure pulling that one off brilliantly, eh? What does the future hold in a region that has been made all the more unstable by Bushco policies, and with nukes bristling, our soldiers in the middle of it, mercenaries prowling about, and billions in oil revenue as the kitty, what good can come of it?

Isn’t part of the pre-Rapture supposed to be a war in the Middle East? A fiery one? Maybe they can’t wait.

PNAC: Blundering the way toward Armageddon, a secular, all-inclusive event.

And finally, happy International Women’s Day. Don’t read this linked article if you have a weak stomach. I began reading, became more and more incredulous at the author’s idiocy and gloating, and finally it sent me sobbing off to the nearest stiff drink. Found it (the article, not the drink) Googling for sources on the resolution. Elaine Donnelly on Women for Reagan on National Review Online

No. On second thought, read it. Perhaps it’ll stir you to action other than drunkenness. For me, it’s too late tonight.

From The Mouth Of Hell: There And Back Again 

At the risk of interrupting the flow of today's posts as they confront the central matter of living worthy lives in in a decent, self-governing society, let me take a moment to recommend a visit to The Heretik, a recent occasional guest in our comments section, who, in addition, has one terrific website of his own.

Let me simultaneously disclose and disclaim: my enthusiasm for The Heretik is in no way connected to the fact that he was kind enough to link to a post of mine as part of one of his current...series/obsessions, "Uppity Women," which refers, by and large, to his on-going riff on the strong women who make up the community of female bloggers.

I say "by and large" because words in the hands of The Heretik are both precise and elastic, and always to be played with, as in TheEstrogenatedElite, another heading he uses for specific examples of feminine excellencies, while "Uppity Women" is used also to shelter the story of Sophie Scholl, she of The White Rose, the symbol of non-violent resistence in Nazi Germany; Sophie's execution at the age of twenty-two may be considered tragic, but her story can never be, as long as human memory keeps it alive, which, with help from his bud, Badtux, the Snarky Penguin, the Heretik is doing by sort of falling in love with Sophie, or perhaps the idea of Sophie, but who amongst us would object to having the idea of ourselves last beyond the confines of the life of the body?

I suspect that The Heretik, as he insists on referring to himself, like The Moose, usually in the third person, is a poet. (I don't know if this third person blogging is a trend, but I don't mean to minimize the contrast between the tone of the admirable "Moose," and that of the more radical "Heretik," whose own conceit it is that he is blogging from the mouth of hell>)

My evidence for this supposition is to be found mainly in The Heretik's language, the delight and playfulness therein, plus the fact that one of his recomendations in his sidebar is a book of poems by Billy Collins, a poet not nearly well known enough except among other poets and avid poetry readers, among whom I count myself, this despite having been our Poet Laureate for a spell,(the only good appointment made under Bush-fils so far as I can tell).

There is also an actual poem, several in fact, all quite good, posted by someone with the same name as whoever it is that reminds us on the site's main page that the content therein is copyrighted material. In fact, "tm"s appear through-out the blog, not meant as jokes, I think, but surely meant to amuse, as they do. Here's one example:
The Heretik Presents SHOWTIME FOR SCHADENFREUDE (sic)AND OTHER McKRAP tm Updated Throughout The Day
The Heretik has a wordsmith's way with fractured catch phrases, i.e., "Misinformed Sources," and "Minister of Proper Gander;" he also has an admirable on-going interest in "Malcolm," for just one example, here, (c'mon you know who I mean, not that twit in the middle, there's only one Malcolm, the one with the X after his name), and then there's a real reportorial exclusive, occasional excerpts from a diary kept by Condi herself.

If that doesn't whet your appetite, check your pulse, you might be dead. This is a fairly new blog, so there's only a month and a half of archives; my recommendation, start at the beginning and enjoy it all.

PLEASE NOTE: Edited for an egregious error of diction.


The Loansharking Protection and Advocacy Act is rolling down the pike:

In the first abortion-related test of the new Congress, the Republican-controlled Senate turned back a Democratic effort Tuesday to bar violent protesters from using bankruptcy to avoid payment of court judgments.

The 53-46 vote cleared one of the few remaining obstacles to passage of major bankruptcy legislation that is high on the GOP legislative agenda.
(via CNN)

Guess I'll be moving to a cash-free, barter economy quite soon...

UPDATE Krugman has this to say about the Loansharking Protection Act:

But the bill also fits into the broader context of what Jacob Hacker, a political scientist at Yale, calls "risk privatization": a steady erosion of the protection the government provides against personal misfortune, even as ordinary families face ever-growing economic insecurity.

A vast majority of personal bankruptcies in the United States are the result of severe misfortune. One recent study found that more than half of bankruptcies are the result of medical emergencies. The rest are overwhelmingly the result either of job loss or of divorce.

To the extent that there is significant abuse of the system, it's concentrated among the wealthy

the underlying economic trends have been reinforced by an ideologically driven effort to strip away the protections the government used to provide. For example, long-term unemployment has become much more common, but unemployment benefits expire sooner. Health insurance coverage is declining, but new initiatives like health savings accounts (introduced in the 2003 Medicare bill), rather than discouraging that trend, further undermine the incentives of employers to provide coverage.

Above all, of course, at a time when ever-fewer workers can count on pensions from their employers, the current administration wants to phase out Social Security.

The bankruptcy bill fits right into this picture.
Warren Buffett recently made headlines by saying America is more likely to turn into a "sharecroppers' society" than an "ownership society." But I think the right term is a "debt peonage" society - after the system, prevalent in the post-Civil War South, in which debtors were forced to work for their creditors. The bankruptcy bill won't get us back to those bad old days all by itself, but it's a significant step in that direction.

Fuckheads. If only I could get their attention... If only the Czar knew...

The mandate of heaven 

Here's what Fat Tony thinks about the mandate of heaven. Funny, you know I thought the "mandate of heaven" was for old-fashioned empires or something, like China. Richard Cohen writes:

Not only did [Scalia] find the Ten Commandments to be religious, he asserted that they were "a symbol of the fact that government derives its authority from God." Oh yeah, Who says?
(via WaPo)

If I believed that, I'd have to believe that God was in the White House—not just in it, like being everywhere, but actually running it—and then I'd have to believe God thought torture was good. And lying. Lots of lying. And screwing the poor.

I'd have a problem with that.

Why don't any of these so-called Christians?

Pass the ol' Imperial Margarine, eh?

UPDATE Nice exchange between riggsveda and chica toxica:

[RIGGSVEDA] We'd be better off having our major legal issues decided by some hoary old guy in a robe with a bowl of animal innards and some bones.

[CHICA TOXICA] Well, I'd certainly trust said hoary old guy a lot more at this point.

I think they've got it right...

Dominionist hues and tones 

I am not suggesting that fundamentalists are running the government, but they constitute a significant force in the coalition that now holds a monopoly of power in Washington under a Republican Party that for a generation has been moved steadily to the right by its more extreme variants even as it has become more and more beholden to the corporations that finance it. One is foolish to think that their bizarre ideas do not matter. I have no idea what President Bush thinks of the fundamentalists' fantastical theology, but he would not be president without them. He suffuses his language with images and metaphors they appreciate, and they were bound to say amen when Bob Woodward reported that the President "was casting his vision, and that of the country, in the grand vision of God's master plan." ~ Bill Moyers, Welcome to Doomsday

Frederick Clarkson asks: "Who is America's Top Theocrat?" See blog post for Saturday, March 05, 2005
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest theocrat of all? There sure are a lot of candidates for top theocrat these days.

Clarkson offers up Tom DeLay and star chamber judicature Anton Scalia as potential victors.

I have another candidate. Marvin Olaskey told me about him a few days ago. His name is George W. Bush. Or at least that's in part the implication. This is what Marv told me:
Who's the major figure behind the election and re-election of George W. Bush? On one level, the visionary Karl Rove. At a deeper level, a theologian most Americans have never heard of: Francis Schaeffer, who 50 years ago this month founded an evangelistic haven in Switzerland, L'Abri. ~ Link

Francis Schaeffer ay? Talk about dropping code word bread crumbs around the park for the pigeons to peck at. (For more on the topic of coded language and George W. Bush's inaugural address - as well as dominionist language contained in textbooks - check out the Yurica Report.

What's so interesting about Olasky's citation of Schaeffer is the well known recognition among Christian Reconstructionist and Dominion theology adherents of Schaeffer's role as a kind of founding "philosopher" emissary extraordinaire to the modern Dominionist movement and worldview.

Olasky doesn't come right out and specifically state that Schaeffer is or has ever been a personal guiding light for Bush but the implications are interesting nonetheless. And I'd be surprised if Bush wasn't familiar with Schaeffer especially considering his previous close working ties to Olasky and the Christian Right in general. The suggestion Olasky is making is that - "at a deeper level" - those who helped put George W. Bush into office are latter day champions of Francis Schaeffer's writings and teachings. Connection implied: Francis Schaeffer and George W. Bush share a common philosophical, ideological, and practical base of support. And, George W. Bush, and the Republican party better not forget it.

"Jesus Feaks" and Dominion Theology

Who is Francis Schaeffer? Sara Diamond writes:
An earlier source of dominion theology was an evangelical philosopher named Fracis Schaeffer, who died of cancer in 1984. Schaeffer's 1981 book A Christian Manifesto sold 290,000 copies in its first year, and remained one of the Christian Right's most important texts into the 1990's. The book's argument was simple: America began as a nation rooted in Biblical principles. But as society became more pluralistic, proponenets of a new philosophy of secular humanism gradually came to dominate debate on policy issues. Since humanists place human progress, not God, at the center of their considerations, they pushed American culture in all manner of ungodly directions, the visible results of which included abortion and the secularization of the public schools. At the end of A Christian Manifesto, Schaeffer advocated the use by Christians of civil disobedience to restore Biblical morality, which explains Schaeffer's popularity among activists. Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry credited Schaeffer as a major influence in his own life and among fellow "rescuers." In the 1960s and 1970s, Schaeffer and his wife Edith ran a retreat center called L'Abri (Hebrew for "the shelter") in Switzerland. There young converts to Christ came to study with Schaeffer and learn how to apply his teachings to the political process back home. ~ Source: Roads To Dominion, by Sara Diamond; page 246; The Guilford Press, 1995.

In addition see: Sects and Schisms, by Sara Diamond.

Schaeffer also made a great impression on such individuals as appocalyptic end time howler Tim LaHaye (co-author of the Left Behind series), who, like so many others, parrots Schaeffer's boo-scare stories about secular humanism and liberals and homosexuals and and the usual checklist of right-wing and Religious Right cult-warrior scapegoats:
In 1980 Tim LaHaye published a book, The Battle for the Mind, which amplified on the conservative Christian evangelical critique of secular humanism articulated by popular theologian Francis A. Schaeffer. The LaHaye book is dedicated to Schaeffer ~ Source: Public Eye; see link below.

More on Schaeffer's influence on LaHaye, and others, from Public Eye.

Schaeffer himself may have remained publically aloof from the strict Reconstructionist and Dominionist movements but his philosphical influence on these groups and their evangelical leaders working today is no secret among true believers. And Olasky knows this too. Convieniently he omits any mention of Schaeffer's influence on dominionist thinking and goes to great lengths to distance him from such matters. Which comes off as none to little disingenous considering the historical and currently operational realities.

In any case, any mention from someone like Olasky, pointing to Francis Schaeffer's influence on the election of George W. Bush sends a pretty clear message of support to those among the Theocratic Right who are familiar with, and understand this ideological wink, and the importance of Schaeffer's relationship to the Dominionist cause. Implied communication: "the truth" is stealthily marching on under the banner of George W. Bush's re-election. Or it damned well better be if ya know what's good fer ya, GOP. So, don't forget to acknowledge the "truth" each night before beddy-bye time. Nighty night. And so forth.
Schaeffer (and his son Franky) influenced many of today's theocratic right activists, including Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, and John W. Whitehead, who have gone off in several theological and political directions, but all adhere to the notion that the Scriptures have given dominion over the Earth to Christians, who thus owe it to God to seize the reins of secular society. ~ Source: Public Eye

For a little more on Schaeffer and his ideological relationship to the Kingdom theology, Reconstructionist, and Dominionist movements you can read this article written by Alan Torres for something called Biblicist.or:
The idea of taking dominion over secular society gained widespread acceptance with the 1981 publication of evangelical philosopher Francis Schaeffer's book "A Christian Manifesto." Schaeffer, who died in 1984, ran a Christian retreat/training center in Switzerland during the 1960's and 1970's. He and his wife worked with young people who were searching for spiritual answers to life, faith and God . They came from all over to study the Bible and learn how to apply Schaeffer's evangelical methodology, which included his version of Dominion Theology, to their cultures back home.

Rule the world for God.
Give the impression that you are there to work for the party, not push an ideology.
Hide your strength.

Advice contained in a memo offered by Pat Robertson, "distributing at an Iowa Republican County caucus..." and titled "How to participate in a Political Party."

Meanwhile: Dr. Bruce Prescott, "Host of "Religious Talk" on KREF radio and "Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists," offers another candidate for top tier theocrat honors: Senator James Inhofe


It's International Women's Day! 

First the Bad News 

Which is that the Senate voted down Kennedy's minimum wage amendment yesterday.

Now The Good News

Which is that the Senate also voted down Santorum's horrible amendement which would have divested more than 8 million workers of their right to a minimum wage, among other outrages.

Now For The Best News

Charles Schumer will sponsor an amendment to prevent abortion protesters from creating havoc and then avoiding fines by declaring bankruptcy, a cyncial practice that even the most conservative lawmaker would be hard-pressed not to define as "bankruptcy abuse". This little molotov cocktail is expected to set off a regular firestorm in the Senate. And it could stop the bill in its tracks:
"But unable to sand off the bill's rough edges, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to offer an amendment barring anti-abortion protesters from using bankruptcy to shield themselves from judgments for illegally blocking access to clinic entrances. The amendment is a poison pill. If approved it would kill Republican support and the bill. Republicans aren't likely to let that happen, but death is the fate the bill deserves".
Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bad Influencers 

I was going to call this "What If They Gave A War And Nobody (Black) Came"? but my interest in this subject is not racially based, unless you extende the term to "human race." My interest in the subject is aged 16, has an IQ in the neighborhood of 140, good eyesight, nearly perfect health, and is of heterosexual orientation. I live in fear of bad influencers...

(via Fredericksburg VA Free Lance-Star)
THE ARMY'S wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in black enlistments over the past four years, which internal Army and Pentagon polls trace to the unpopular war in Iraq and concerns among blacks with Bush administration policies.

The Army strains to meet recruiting goals in part because black volunteers have fallen 41 percent--from 23.5 percent of recruits in fiscal 2000 to 13.9 percent in the first four months of fiscal 2005.

"It's alarming," said Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, commanding general of the Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Ky.

No single factor explains the drop, he added, but the propensity of black youth to enlist is clearly affected by the war and increasingly by the views of parents, teachers, coaches, clergy and other "influencers."

Officer recruiting is hit, too--down 36 percent since 2001 among blacks in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

The Marine Corps also reports a drop in black recruits, but its racial data is suspect due to a government policy that allows recruits and all new federal workers to decline to identify their race.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat whose New York City district includes Harlem, wasn't surprised by the Army data.

"I have not found a black person in support of this war in my district," he said. "The fact that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus--emotionally, politically and vigorously--opposes this war is an indication of what black folks think throughout this country."

Because blacks are 14 percent of all recruit-age youth, their recruiting numbers remain "acceptable," proportional to blacks in society, Rochelle said. But the steep drop in black recruits overall does hurt plans "to grow the Army," he conceded. Congress has ordered a 30,000-person increase in the number of active-duty soldiers by October 2009.

Rochelle worries that black youth now "are depriving themselves of pretty substantial opportunities.

"If we were able to tell the Army story in a very balanced way to more young African-Americans, as well as to their influencers, then clearly the numbers would grow," he said. "I'm convinced of that."
Tell ya what, Gen. Rochelle--how about you do a little research at places like Free Republic and Little Green Tomatoes. Do a search (if they have such capabilities; I sure as shit ain't going there myself to find out) for the term "sand nigger." Then do a bit of deep thinking on where the White Feather Brigade of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders might have come up with such a term. It might help you get a handle on part of your problem.

The rest of your recruiting difficulties--particularly in, oh let's say small, poor, very rural schools in West Tennessee--that's me. I'm out there "influencing" my ass off, because you'll take me off to thy Wrack before you take my kid, or any others I get to first.

Goodnight, moon 

In honor of riggsveda's first day, and for those of you who can't visit Philly, here's a brief tour of The Mighty Corrente Building. I've cribbed most of it from the guide's spiel on The Philly Phlash, our municipal tourist bus, for which The Mighty Corrente Building is, of course, a stop (two stops, actually, because of its vast size and variegated features). At left is an image of one one of The Building's lesser wings.

While climbing the marble steps up to TMCB, you will pass between two monumental chained weasels, sculpted in Vermont marble by Philadelphia's own Alexander Calder IV. Swinging open the Rodin-esque bronze doors, you will enter The Great Hall, whose vaulted deep blue ceiling is a veritable firmanent of glittering stars, each a blinking point of light that represents a writer or an alert reader in Corrente's globe-girdling network of correspondents.

Mounting the marble stairs to the executive cloakroom, be sure to admire the brightly burnished solid gold Louis Quinze taps on the wet bar——

Dammit, my pen ran out of ink, and I couldn't take any more notes. "Underground bunkers" .... "wine cellars" ... "mushroom farm" ... "rooftop Zen garden" ... "sunken pools with nymphs" ... And something about a nut case under the stairs.

Well, you see what I mean. It takes a heap o' living...

AP airbrushes Mr. "Gannon"'s profession 

Still not a pretty sight. But the image is a lot uglier than the one AP chose to show:

The White House credentialing process came under scrutiny after a flap over James Guckert, who used the alias Jeff Gannon. For two years he was granted daily passes to White House briefings as Washington bureau chief for Talon News, a conservative online news outlet associated with another Web site, GOPUSA. At a news conference last month, he asked Bush how he could work on Social Security and other domestic initiatives with Democrats "who seem to have divorced themselves from reality."

That attracted scrutiny from liberal bloggers, who linked Guckert with Web sites containing gay pornography. Guckert resigned from Talon News.
(AP via the Post Intelligencer)

Now, there are two words I don't see in that story. They are:

gay escort.

I wonder why?

After all, it's simply not plausible that Rove's famously disciplined White House operation—the same operation that can get Democrats blacklisted for a Partei rally in Fargo, North Dakota—did not know exactly who, and what "Gannon" was.

So the essential question remains, and the SCLM just won't ask it:

Who was "Gannon"'s protector? Who got "Gannon" the pass?

Hey, maybe the blogger who just got a press pass can ask that question? I mean, it can't be that hard to find out. There's paperwork, right? Letting Gannon in? With a signature on it?

Should be an interesting gaggle!

And how, exactly, does taking softball questions from a male escort fit either with family values, or with the idea that the Republicans are the Daddy party? Quite some Dad, huh?

Taxation without representation 

The New Yorker's invaluable Hendrik Herzberg points out:

Well, if each of every state’s two senators is taken to represent half that state’s population, then the Senate’s fifty-five Republicans represent 131 million people, while its forty-four Democrats represent 161 million. Looked at another way, the present Senate is the product of three elections, those of 2000, 2002, and 2004. In those elections, the total vote for Democratic senatorial candidates, winning and losing, was 99.7 million; for Republicans it was 97.3 million. The forty-four-person Senate Democratic minority, therefore, represents a two-million-plus popular majority—a circumstance that, unless acres trump people, is at variance with common-sense notions of democracy. So Democrats, as democrats, need not feel too terribly guilty about engaging in a spot of filibustering from time to time.

A majority that, since the Republicans have trampled on the Constitution to produce a parliamentary style government, where the "minority" (at least in terms of seats) has not procedural rights whatever, is no effective representation whatever.

So, bring on the nuclear option. So what if the Senate grinds to a halt? It's bring a halt to the craziness the Republicans are trying to pull. As Harry Reid says, what's wrong with obstructing destructionists?

Witchfinder General for the United States 

What is this horseshit?
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday the United States would never send terrorism suspects to countries where they would be tortured but admitted once they have been dispatched to nations like Saudi Arabia or Egypt the U.S. government has little control. "
As Sigourney Weaver said in Aliens, "Did IQs suddenly drop sharply while I was out of the room?" It was just yesterday I was reading in the NYTimes how the CIA had gotten approval from the White House in a classified memo from Bush himself to airmail suspects and quasi-suspects around the world to selected destinations (like Syria and Saudi Arabia) for "detention". But Gonzales has this covered. You can practically hear the squelching as he oozes his way into a verbal loophole, leaving a trail of slime like a slug:

"Gonzales would not say how many prisoners had been dispatched to other countries but he said in cases such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt which have poor rights records, "additional assurances" of proper treatment were sought.
After that, he admitted, the United States had little control. He also said he could not say whether any prisoners who been sent to other countries have been abused.
"Once someone is rendered we can't fully control what that country might do," Gonzales said. "If you're asking me, has a country always complied? I don't know the answer to that."
If you're asking me, is Gonzales human? I don't know the answer to that. But I do know that better reporting on these things than the MSM has done can be found at sites like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, where they'll be happy to answer the questions Gonzales pretends ignorance of.

Science for Wingers! 

Maybe now that there's a blogger in the gaggle, the question can finally be asked:

"Mr. President, do you believe that the earth is only 6000 years old?"

Because we've just found something four million years old:

The fossilised skeleton of a four million-year-old human ancestor able to walk on two legs could provide clues as to how humans' upright walk evolved. The remains, found in north-east Ethiopia, are the oldest yet discovered of an upright hominid, scientists told a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday.

"This skeleton helps us to understand what happened in the joints, how walking upright occurred - what we never had before," says Bruce Latimer of the Natural History Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, who made the discovery together with Yohannes Haile Selassie of the National Museum in Addis Ababa.
(via New Scientist)

Look, I know you can see this curveball coming, but I have to throw it anyhow...

We already know why walking upright occurred—it's too damned painful to drag your knuckles on the ground!

A lesson that today's wingers have not, apparently learned....

And while we're at it, maybe someone can answer me this one:

If Intelligent Design is true, why is there a Republican Party?

Foto Funnies: This picture needs a caption! 


What I Been Hearing 

Had to pass this one along. I was on the road and stopped at one of my favorite little cafes to eat supper. Place is down south. Best green chile stew I ever ate. Overheard this conversation inna booth behind me:

I see in the paper where the chile crop is gonna be bad this year.

Yeah, all this rain. A lot of folks won’t be able to get a crop in.

Who do we blame for that?

You can’t blame anybody for the weather, man.

Ah. Who, indeed? I’d read the same article. Chile crop’s in trouble. But it’s not a GLOBAL phenom or anything (Kyoto). Nothing to see here (Kyoto). So, I hope everyone stocked their freezer real good last fall. Those of you as is chile eaters, I mean. Myself, I got to have my green chiles. Glad I put 50 lbs., roasted and peeled, in the freezer.

And in related news, although I’m not sure related how exactly, I read in the same fishwrapper that the New Mexico legislature passed a loan shark reform act. About time. But. Ah, but… These bloodsuckers prey on the poor, often Native folk: car title loans, payday loans, personal loans up to $500. Legislature decided that they couldn’t roll over the loans anymore, but that the 600% interest rate was okay. 600% interest is okay? WTF?

More “reform.” Haven’t kept up on the doings in Denver, but I imagine they’re just as bad as Santa Fe. Although medical marijuana might make it this year in Santa Fe.

And in the same damn paper, a column by Diana West, who truly is a leaky bag of rancid phlegm & smegma-filled doughnut holes, arguing that HST is actually “mainstream MSM.” She says “…the gonzo sensibility has infused our culture to the point where it’s no longer a relic of the old counter-culture, but is an innate characteristic of the establishment today.” I hope HST’s ghost comes clanking into her dreams and rips her a new one four ways.

Oh, and it’s almost time to paint that damn shed. But blue isn’t gonna cut it. So, what? HST triumphantly holding aloft the snaky head of Diana West? Maybe instead of painting it myself, I’ll just pull someone out of one of those loan shark joints and pay ‘em $500 to do the job. My idea of reform. Now, if only I had $500…

Gimme That Old Time Santorum 

Via Project for the Old American Century


And that goes double for the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Now, really, speaking as a Pennsylvanian to Pennsylvanians--why do you keep putting th
is horrible putz back in office?

It Speaks For Itself 

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

Don't you love that sly little dollop of humor they ladle over the rest of the title: "Consumer Protection"? This is what has famously become known throughout the blogosphere (or at least on the pages I frequent) as the "Barriers to Bankruptcy Bill". But of course, the barriers are only aimed at consumers, hence the amusing bon mot, "Consumer Protection". You think Chuck Grassley thought that one up all by himself, or did Hatch or Sununu help? Or maybe it was that little tax cheat and energetic homophobe, freshman senator Jim DeMint, though I doubt his sense of humor is up to it. Well, regardless of who's responsible for this atrocity, much time and good effort has gone into dissecting it for general consumption across the internet, and there are a lot of good sources for info, some from these hallowed pages via RDF and Leah, and some elsewhere, like the roundup put together by eRobin of Fact-esque. But what I found to be a diverting time-waster was to sit down with a hard copy of the bill's history and an Avery highlighter and note what amendments were being put forward to it, and then how they were voted on. Come. Laugh along with me:

S.AMDT 16 to protect servicemembers and vets---NO 58-38
S.AMDT 17 to protect the elderly---NO 59-40
S.AMDT 28 to protect people whose own medical problems caused their debt---NO 58-39
S.AMDT 29 to protect homeowners with medical debt---NO 58-39
S.ADMT 31 to limit the amount of interest charged to 30%---NO 74-24 (they really hated that)
S.AMDT 32 to protect people whose debt is incurred from being caregivers to ill/disabled family members---NO 60-37
S.AMDT 37 to protect people whose debt was incurred through identity theft---NO 61-37
S.ADMT 38 to protect people from predatory lending practices---NO 58-40
S.ADMT 49 to protect employees & retirees from corporate practices that rob them of their earnings/retirement savings when the business files for bankruptcy---(Say it with me now:)NO 54-40

We'll have to wait to find out what happens to S.AMDT 44, Kennedy's attempt to increase the minimum wage, and S.AMDT 52, Dodd's attempt to prohibit extending credit to minors (Christ, first they won't let us kill them, then they want to take away our constitutional right to impoverish them) since those amendments are still under consideration.

Anyone up for taking bets?

Supporting the War, Not The Warrior 

Piggybacking on Lambert's post from last night on the inability of the Pentagon to provide basic protection for its soldiers, the NYTimes also had this to say:
"American military commanders and Pentagon officials now concede that they consistently misjudged the strength and ingenuity of the insurgency in Iraq, which has grown more sophisticated in its tactics. Because commanders failed to take that force into account, the Army's procurement machine could never catch up, no matter how hard it tried...
Others say that the Pentagon's longstanding preference for billion-dollar weaponry has made it less prepared to deliver the basic tools needed by soldiers on the ground.
"We've never been very good at equipping people in a simple, straightforward fashion," said Thomas E. White, who resigned as secretary of the Army in April 2003 after a falling out with Mr. Rumsfeld."
Maybe that might explain this, via CNN:
"The Army in February, for the first time in nearly five years, failed to achieve its monthly recruiting goal. It is in danger of missing its annual recruiting target for the first time since 1999.
Recruiting for the Army's reserve component -- the National Guard and Army Reserve -- is suffering even more as the Pentagon relies heavily on these part-time soldiers to maintain troop levels in Iraq. The regular Army is 6 percent behind its year-to-date recruiting target, the Reserve is 10 percent behind, and the Guard is 26 percent short...
In January and February, the Marines missed their goal for signing up new recruits -- the first such shortfall in nearly a decade..."
And yet, we can still read things like this, from Democratic Underground's Top Ten Conservative Idiots:
"Those Republican majorities voted last week to "impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans - one of every three now eligible for Veterans Affairs Administration health care," according to Military.com. Apparently half of those 2.4 million veterans used the VA health system last year."
But that's okay, because the sales of magnetic yellow ribbons are off the charts.

Support the troops, folks!

(P.S. Did I tell you've I've signed on here at The Mighty Corrente Building? I'm still waiting for the combat pay, though. Hey. Lambert!!)

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