Saturday, April 09, 2005

Bubble Boy: Nobody must criticize Godly Man! 

Naturally, Bush didn't politicize the Pope's funeral, and I'm not saying He did. After all, the last body to get 24/7 media coverage was Terry Schiavo's, and everyone knows the Republicans didn't politicize that. And Bush did say (Froomkin) "I have to think about it", when asked whether He would attend. And so I'm sure the idea that He would actually get photographed photograph kneeling before the Pope's dead body played no thought whatever in His thinking. How could it, when political operative Andy Card, not even a member of the US delegation, knelt there too? I mean, that shows anybody can get photographed in Saint Peter's basilica, so where's the political angle? Let's be reasonable, now. And besides, since the White House staffers are all doing God's work, they're just as Godly as Bush is, so what's the big deal?

And I'm sure leaving former President Jimmy Carter off the delegation had nothing to do with politics, either. Let alone payback:

"'The other thing that people forget is that Carter has treated President Bush very badly. He has openly criticized the President in a manner that President Clinton has not,' says a Bush administration source."
(via American Spectator via Froomkin)

"Openly critcized the President"?!?"! Heaven forfend! See, what people don't understand is that since the Bush is Godly, to criticize Bush is to criticize God's Holy Representative on Earth, the Vicar of Christ.... Oh, wait...

Don't tell Rick Santorum about this site! 

I mean, "Barney has found Miss Beazley"?!?!? The mind reels....

This picture needs a caption! 


And speaking of domestic terrorism... 

Eric Rudolph cops a plea, and Gonzales successfully maintains the fiction of "one man, acting alone":

Eric Rudolph will be sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole after entering a plea... As part of the plea agreement, Rudolph also told authorities where to find more than 250 pounds of dynamite and bomb components that he had secreted away while hiding ....

Rudolph, a high school dropout, was linked in news reports and by federal authorities with the Christian Identity movement...

Rudolph, 38, is charged with setting off a backpack bomb at Centennial Olympic Park during the Summer Games in July 1996, which killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and injured 111 other people. In 1997, he is alleged to have carried out two bombings in Atlanta -- one at a family-planning clinic and another at the Otherside Lounge, a nightspot frequented by lesbians.

Rudolph is also charged with setting off an explosion at an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998 that killed an off-duty police officer, Robert Sanderson, and seriously injured a nurse, Emily Lyons.

While hiding in the rugged Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina, Rudolph was believed by authorities to have received help from sympathizers who shared his far-right views, although no one has ever been charged with aiding him.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, urged federal authorities yesterday to continue their investigation of possible accomplices.

"We're obviously pleased that he's finally admitting responsibility for these crimes," Saporta said in an interview. "But we want law enforcement to continue to investigate these networks of extremists, because we doubt that he could have evaded capture for five years without help."
(via WaPo)

So, who funded Rudolph?

And now that the wingers have decided to kill the judges whose decisions they don't like (back), how long before the next Eric Rudolph gets funded for that?

Republicans vs. The Constitution: Wingers advocate assassinating judges 

And No, these wingers aren't staffers or "overzealous volunteers."

These wingers are the rancid heart of today's post-modern Republican Party.

And the people who own and fund these wingers—the theocratic billionaires who fund, own, and drive the VRWC—are the people who own Bush.

So, now they've given the OK to shooting judges. Soon after Bush gave a nod and wink to torture, it started happening. Surprise! So, how long before some "lone gunman, acting alone" takes the cue and starts shooting judges?

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.

And now, The Balance Sentence! (Nice work, WaPo editors).

Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence.

Oh right. When are we going to learn to take the wingers at their word?

But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly.
(via Americablog in WaPo)

So, it's come to this. It isn't just about the Republicans changing the rules when they don't like the result. It's about the Republicans advocating the assassination of their political opponents.

Oh, wait... Back to Inerrant Boy for a minute. Bush, in case you haven't noticed, never gives a direct order (sound familiar?) He operates with nods and winks. Remember, when, at a Partei rally during election 2004, one of the handpicked audience members, during "question" time, said he felt "God was in the White House"? Did Bush disagree? Did Bush qualify or extend the statement? No. He smiled and said "Thank you." So He agreed.

Same thing here. We've already Judge Lefkow's family killed in Illinois (and her own life threatened). And during the Republican's Schiavo circus, Judge Greeley got death threats and was given guards.

Did Bush say one word regretting the murder of Judge Lefkow's family? Or the threats against judge Lefkow? No.

Did Bush say one word regretting the death threats against Judge Greely? No.

So, silence means consent.

Bush has already, by nods and winks, given the high sign for a murder plot against American's judges. Look for lone gunmen, acting alone, leaving diaries.

And please refer all comments using the phrase "tinfoil hat" to The Department of No! They Would Never Do That!

UPDATE These are strange times. On WaPo's Op-Ed page we have this pitiful little business-as-usual editorial. Well-intentioned, certainly:

The Constitution has protected us well for more than two centuries. Now we need help from Congress to fully fund the Marshals Service's judicial security program and the off-site security enhancements judges need.
(Judge Jane Roth WaPo

So, the US Marshalls are going to protect Federal judges... against Republican Viera's hit men! I love it! (Hit men? Bien sur! The pro-life loons have been shooting doctors for years... Why not change the target, since it's all in the service of God? Can anyone imagine that there is only one Eric Rudolph?

UPDATE A comment from alert reader The Ghost of Joe Liebling's dog reminds me to add this from the WaPo article:

The conference was organized during the height of the Schiavo controversy by a new group, the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. This was no collection of fringe characters. The two-day program listed two House members; aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; and DeLay, who canceled to attend the pope's funeral.

Not fringe characters? Not in DC, perhaps, the drain to which all winger operatives flow, but surely for the rest of the country. Somehow, I feel that calling for judges to be assassinated is going to play about as well as the Schiavo circus. As long as the Dems can hang it round Bush's neck, of course.

Nice to see Bush speaking out on this, and moderating the whole thing... Oh, wait...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Looking Ahead 

In the general hubbub surrounding our local county party chair elections (the good guys won, btw) I have been trying to find a resource that will help us keep track of 2006 deadlines and races and suchlike so that the GOTV effort can happen, and happen early. Best I’ve found that’s comprehensive is

Our Campaigns - Key Races

which is a site that has a list of upcoming races and deadlines and lots of other information. Unfortunately, unless you like to process world politics, the races listed include ALL races, even ones in other countries. This is not an endorsement of the site, just noting its usefulness. If you know of others, by all means, pass it on. Your state’s Secretary of State’s office is also a good place to go, as well as your local county clerk.

Still, there are key things to be done, aside from watching dates:

1. Make sure no GOPer runs unopposed, for any office, from dog-catcher on up.
2. Make sure poll-watchers are organized and ready. Keep writing those letters demanding a paper trail for e-voting.
3. Help good candidates get on the ballot and help them campaign EARLY.
4. Get the energy up with music and food.
5. Watch for local races—county chairs, school boards, etc.
6. Be crafty; e.g., help Libertarians run in heavily GOP districts.

What am I forgetting?

Just the Facts, Ma'am 

Browsing the facts:

The U.S. government spends more than $33 billion annually in its War on Drugs. Although drug prohibition is a federal policy that has been in effect for almost eighty years, the “war” was begun by Richard Nixon. It arrests around 1.5 million people annually to enforce drug prohibition. More than 318,000 people are currently behind bars for breaking U.S. drug laws. This is more than the total number of people incarcerated for all crimes in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain combined. 1.46 million black men out of a total voting population of 10.4 million have lost their right to vote due to felony convictions. Thirteen percent of all adult black men--1.4 million--are disenfranchised, representing one-third of the total disenfranchised population and reflecting a rate of disenfranchisement that is seven times the national average. Election voting statistics offer an approximation of the political importance of black disenfranchisement: 1.4 million black men are disenfranchised compared to 4.6 million black men who voted in 1996. Due to harsh new sentencing guidelines, such as “three-strikes, you're out," a disproportionate number of young Black and Hispanic men are likely to be imprisoned for life under scenarios in which they are guilty of little more than a history of untreated addiction and several prior drug-related offenses. States will absorb the staggering cost of not only constructing additional prisons to accommodate increasing numbers of prisoners who will never be released but also warehousing them into old age. The U.S. nonviolent prisoner population is larger than the combined populations of Wyoming and Alaska.

Wonder how many of those 1.4 million disenfranchised would vote GOP? Wonder how many of these nonviolent three strikes lifers would?

The above culled from Drug War Facts, a veritable tome of disturbing facts and figures.

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush 

Church to Parishioners: Screw You

Remember Bernard Law, who presided over a Boston diocese riddled with sexual abuse and whose indefensible protection of the perpetrators led to his resignation when the public outcry over 600+ victims became too much even for this mafia-like institution? Seems like just the kind of guy to honor with a special place at the Pope's funeral, doesn't he?
"Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign in disgrace as archbishop of Boston two years ago for protecting sexually abusive priests, was named by the Vatican today as one of nine prelates who will have the honor of presiding over funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II."
Good job. No doubt the laundries will be opening again soon, too.

Africa Dies; Nobody Cares

At least it feels like it. When is the last time you saw Africa in the news, aside from some fleeting references to Darfur (oh, is that still going on?) The death toll in Angola from the Marburg virus has climbed to over 170 since October, and shows no sign of stopping. Marburg was the precursor to the slightly more lethal Ebola, but the it's just as incurable, and its victims die just as horribly. Oh, and most of them are under 5. Ho hum. It's just Africa.

America's Guns Laws Prove Adequate Once Again

In Delaware, a guy straps on some body armor, grabs a movie's-worth supply of ammo and a 9 mm, and goes shopping:
"Weston, shot in the face, could not run. His was the first killing in a rampage that over 45 minutes would reach down into Maryland and leave two dead and four others wounded -- victims apparently chosen at random.
During the violent spasm, which shook the small towns in its path, the gunman stole a car and then hijacked an SUV and killed its driver, authorities said. He littered the streets of the Eastern Shore with bullets as he fired at passing vehicles, homes and dogs, they said."
This is a gentleman with a history:
"...on Wednesday, Norman failed to appear in Wicomico County Circuit Court, where he was due to answer handgun charges. A judge issued a $10,000 bench warrant for his arrest, Court Clerk Mark S. Bowen said."
He had been telling people he was planning on doing this, too. Now, the NRA would tell you the only thing wrong with this scenario was that the folks he shot and killed didn't have their own guns in hand when he went off. When will America ever learn?
But Jeb Bush would understand. Why stop the epidemic of weaponry when you can just give the imprimatur of deadly force to everybody?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Contemplation Alert 

Please, trust me here; to put on your MUST DO list, just in case you haven't yet heard:

Michael Berube has posted an essay, yesterday, about, in his own words, "disability and abortion and end-of-life care," which you must not fail to read at your earliest convenience. And then, perhaps, to read again. I'm on my third reading and am still thinking on it. It's that kind of essay. I tend to gush about Berube, which I find personally embarrassing, so I'll say no more. Except, there will be a quiz.. No, there won't be, it's not that kind of essay.

I'll have more to say about the issues it raises, after I've thunk some more...oh, and read the comments, too.

Connecting Some Delay-ed Dots 

Dot One: Recent revelation that Tom Delay took Russian trip in 1997 on Russian security forces' nickel, by way of a mysterious Bahamanian front group; actual expenses added up to considerably more than a nickel.

Dot Two: Kevin Drum remembers, in the context of dot one, Delay's immediate criticism of President Clinton's commitment of American forces to a NATO led military intervention in Kosovo, and Mark Kleiman elucidates the new implications.

These via Atrios.

Dot Three: My contribution. I knew a lot about the Serbian abuse of the ethnic-Albanian Muslim Kosovars from having an email pen pal from each of the contending groups. I thought Clinton made the right decision. In fact, I would argue that his administration's handling of the crises was an exemplary example of an American administration's handling of foreign policy , but that is for another post.

What is undeniable - this country's strategy in that conflict was based on convincing Milosevich that NATO would not back off the decision to attack the Serbian military industrial infrastructure from the air until Milosevich pulled his army and his paramilitary militia out of Kosovo; a corollary of that was the Clinton administration's need to keep NATO together, in the face of considerable opposition from their own citizens, and as well, to effectively counter the Russian moves on behalf of their Serbian ally, for whom the Russian people felt immense sympathy and thus provided democratic credibility for their government's hard line response to NATO's intervention. And yet Republican after Republican got up in congress and denounced that intervention, while American military personnel were facing daily combat. There was even talk about pulling funding. Rep. Kurt Weldon rushed off to Europe to meet with representatives of the Russian government, and then rushed back to give news conferences about how Clinton's policy in Kosovo was counter to American interests.

Delay, in particular, was vitriolic in his denunciations of Clinton, accusing the administration of lies and deceit, and actually managing to paint Serbia as the victim, NATO as the aggressor. Not a few observers on the left, some for whom I have great admiration, were making the same point. Meanwhile, the world watched while within a matter of weeks, a million unarmed Muslim Kosovars were driven from their homes to the border of Albania by a campaign of wanton violence that had clearly been organized prior to the commencement of the NATO bombing campaign.

Remember, Republicans controlled both houses of congress. What they conveyed to the world was precisely this: that Clinton did not have the backing of the congress or the American people for his policy in Kosovo, and in fact, that his actions were held in abhorrence by significant figures in the American government. That's what the rest of the world, including the NATO nations, and especially, Milosevich, couldn't help but notice. So, I guess you could say that Tom Delay and a good many Republican office-holders were undermining a war effort while American military forces were in combat. Imagine that!

We don't have to, do we? Because that's the precise accusation, implied and explicit, with which Bush and Co have beat Democrats about the head and shoulders ever since 9/11, this despite the fact that the Democrats gave this administration everything it asked for; the Patriot Act, support for the removal of the Taliban, and even that congressional Resolution supporting Bush's personally stated new Iraq policy, which, as we now know, included a phony promise to make a good faith effort to try inspections first. (Yes, he went to the UN, but what was lacking was the good faith part).

I'm glad Democrats didn't accuse the Republicans of being disloyal when they were so critical of Clinton's Kosovo policy, even though their dissent quite probably caused Milosevich to hold out longer than he might otherwise have done. But in view of all the references to the hate-America crowd, naturally always located firmly on the center/left, in view of all the columns about how Democrats want America to fail in Iraq, and on and on, wouldn't it be nice of the SCLM could manage to overcome their programmatic amnesia to remember when shoes were on other feet?

Like, for instance, ask yourself what would the SCLM be doing right at this moment if that Washington Post article had been about a far more obscure connection between the Clintons and, say, some Kosovar defense lobbyist, or say, if it was a story that said something to the effect that among money raised in the Clinton 1996 presidential campaign, some small amount might have had some obscure connection to the Chinese military, although there was no evidence of knowledge of same on the part of top officials of the campaign, ask yourself what you'd be seeing on all three cable networks, even as we speak, in spite of the death of a Pope.....well, we already know, don't we.

Un huh...what else is new?

P.S. If any reader who is interested in this subject would like to do a fuller post on both the media and the Republican response to the NATO intervention in Kosovo, let me know; we'll be happy to post it.

And the Wiener Is... 

CBS wins Peabody for Abu Ghraib report

O, the irony.

Well, at least this puts CBS in the august company of Bill O’Reilly. Oh, wait…

Well, at least it’ll bring attention to the fact that W really was AWOL. Oh, wait…

Feeling Threatened? No Problem. 

With the continuing pope-o-rama, endless shots of an old man’s corpse lying on a bier, relentless detailed coverage of his every living and dying fart and belch (you reckon the Dalai Lama will get this coverage when he cashes it in?), it’s easy to miss interesting stories like this one from AP:

Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he intends to sign a bill that would allow people who feel threatened -- even on the street or at a baseball game -- to "meet force with force" and defend themselves without fear of prosecution.

The measure, the top priority of the National Rifle Association in Florida this year, passed the House 94-20 on Tuesday. It had already passed the Senate.

So, say I’m at a bar in Pensacola and someone says, “I oughtta kick your ass for taking the last peanut,” I can whip out my jammy and fill him full of lead. After all, I was threatened. Like mini-W says about the law, “it’s a good, common sense, anti-crime issue." Ah, the NRA, long noted for its common sense.

Pre-emptive justice. Novel concept. Wonder where that notion originated?

And in other news from the shoot-em-up state, we now know who wrote the Schiavo memo, and it wasn’t a product of the vast, left-wing conspiracy:

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night. Washington Post

I guess he admitted it because he felt threatened. Say, whatever happened to that political advantage that grandstanding about a dying woman was supposed to bring? Oopsie.

Can Bushco’s arrogance be catching up to them? Could it be that indeed, the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice?

Holy Bullshit 


Via the BBC:
Friday, February 19, 1999 Published at 14:38 GMT
World: Europe
Vaitican confirms it has intervened on Pinochet's behalf

The Vatican has confirmed that it intervened on behalf of the detained former Chilean military ruler, Augusto Pinochet, over moves to extradite him to Spain.

A spokesman, Joaquin Navarro, said the Vatican made its appeal at the request of the Chilean government and that it was confidential.

On Thursday the British government disclosed it had received a written representation from a senior Vatican official about General Pinochet's arrest. One senior opposition politician, Lord Lamont, who is pressing for General Pinochet's release, said he thought Pope John Paul recognised -as he put it - the General's great contribution in protecting freedom during the Cold War. The eighty-three year old General Pinochet is waiting to hear whether his appeal against extradition, on charges of genocide, will be upheld.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

Oh yes... General Pinochet was a great protector of freedom. And maybe Timmy Russert and Pat "Franco Way" Buchanan all the other expensive show ponies and chipper Sunday scrub-a-dubs of media make-believe-land will chime in with a big shout out for the great protector Pinochet. Because, ya know, JP2 (and Saint Ronald Reagan) woulda' wanted it that-a-Way. Yeeks.

April 22, 2000, National Catholic Weekly:
Archbishop: Jesuit Murder Case Is Closed

Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador recommended the Society of Jesus accept that there will not be a fresh investigation into the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. “If the laws say that the case cannot now be reopened, then that must be respected,” Archbishop Saenz told reporters on April 9. “There are laws of the country that are made for everyone.... In order to impart justice, there must be equality” before the law, he added. Spokesmen for the Salvadoran attorney general have practically ruled out the possibility of reopening the murder inquiry, as requested in late March by the Society of Jesus, on the basis that a 10-year statute of limitations and a 7-year-old amnesty law apply to the case. The Society of Jesus, at the request of Jesuit-run Central American University in San Salvador, formally petitioned the authorities to investigate six former army officers and ex-President Alfredo Cristiani for their part in ordering the murders of the priests, all of whom were prominent members of the university.

May 6, 2000 The National Catholic Weekly:
Salvadoran Prelate Asks Pardon for U.S. Churchwomen’s Killers

Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador supported the request for the pardon of two ex-soldiers in jail for the 1980 killing of three U.S. nuns and a lay worker. “Let us show mercy and pity. They [the jailed soldiers] have shown repentance, and that is the correct conduct,” Archbishop Saenz told reporters after Easter Mass on April 23 in the capital. The two men were originally sentenced together with three other soldiers to 30 years’ imprisonment for the rapes and murders of the two Maryknoll sisters, Ita Ford and Maura Clark, an Ursuline sister, Dorothy Kazel and a lay missionary, Jean Donovan. Their three colleagues were released from jail two years ago under judicial procedures that allowed early releases for good behavior, but the two remained in jail because the judge ruled they had been involved in prison riots and therefore were disqualified.

2004 - Via the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley California. On the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero:
(The Archbishop, Fernando Saenz Lacalle, is an Honorary Brigadier General of the Salvadoran Army. He has close ties to the Arena political party, the party that allegedly contracted Romero’s assassination 24 years ago. Arena’s candidate, by the way, won the Presidential election a week ago Sunday.)

Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador - Opus Dei. Via the Denver Catholic Register, Oct. 2002:
The pope also has named Opus Dei bishops to head dioceses in Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Austria. San Salvador Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle is an Opus Dei member who, according to the Opus Dei press center in Rome, also was a confessor to one of his predecessors, slain Archbishop Oscar A. Romero.


In 1998, the pope raised Opus Dei's University of the Holy Cross in Rome to the status of a pontifical university after just 14 academic years, a move widely seen as a sign of favor. It has rapidly established itself among the five other pontifical universities as a state-of-the-art facility and has grown to about 1,700 students at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels.

Some of the university's professors also serve as consultors to Vatican offices and have been called on to help address sensitive Church issues.

Remember all this while listening to the cheery smiling yes-men, panting lap-dogs and obedient horseshit shovelers of cable tee-vee "journalism" critique JP2's "historic" legacy.

More to read
Billmon - April 07, 2005: Culture of Death

Bellatrys/Nothing New Under The Sun, April 03, 2005:
A harlot but our mother - Ecclesia Agonistes

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

America's Future Is A Drawer In A Filing Cabinet 

No, that's not a metaphor for our diminished American future attributable to the always pessimistic, hate-America crowd.

That's direct from our current President. A man of bold vision, about whom you always know where he stands. Because what you see is what you get. Because what he says, even when it seems wrong-headed, requires respect, because he says what he means and means what he says, and what he says he means is what he does, and what he does is what he means, based on deep convictions, and what he promises to do, he does, because results are what matter to him, which is what makes him bold, a man of bold vision, which demands respect, because...

This litany, this mantra is the magic incantation that has allowed the Republican party, with the immense help of the SCLM, to keep the majority of the American electorate, who, by and large, don't really agree with this President on that many issues, from laughing outright at him.

There's a reason that he doesn't appear at any venue that has not been pre-packed with loyalists. It's because he says immensely silly things, that if he means them, are actually deadly serious silly things.

Here's the President in West Virginia yesterday, his latest stop on his Bamboozlapalooza tour to destroy Social Security.
It's great to be back in West Virginia, as well. I'm struck by the -- every time I come here I'm struck by the beauty of this state. And of course, you put on a beautiful day, for which I'm grateful.

One of these days I'm going to bring my mountain bike. (Applause.) I love to exercise. I'm doing -- I'm doing it to make sure that I do the job you expect me to do, and I'm doing it to set an example, as well.


Speaking about staying fit and healthy, that's what we need to make sure we do for our Social Security system, too. (Applause.) I'm here to remind the good folks of West Virginia that we have a problem and we have a duty to renew one of great -- America's great institutions, and that's the Social Security system.

I've now traveled to 20 states to talk about Social Security, 20 states in two months, all aimed at making sure that the American people understand the situation with Social Security. And more and more Americans understand there is a problem, and I hear from more and more Americans that they expect those of us who are honored to serve in Washington to fix the problem.

I have just come from the Bureau of Public Debt. I want to thank Van Zeck, Keith Rake, and Susan Chapman. Susan was the tour guide there at the Bureau of Public Debt. I went there because I'm trying to make a point about the Social Security trust. You see, a lot of people in America think there's a trust, in this sense -- that we take your money through payroll taxes and then we hold it for you, and then when you retire, we give it back to you. But that's not the way it works.

There is no "trust fund," just IOUs that I saw firsthand, that future generations will pay -- will pay for either in higher taxes, or reduced benefits, or cuts to other critical government programs.

The office here in Parkersburg stores those IOUs. They're stacked in a filing cabinet. Imagine -- the retirement security for future generations is sitting in a filing cabinet. It's time to strengthen and modernize Social Security for future generations with growing assets that you can control, that you call your own -- assets that the government cannot take away. (Applause.)

I'm sorry that Laura is not traveling with me today. (Applause.) She's doing great. She and I will be taking off tomorrow morning to pay -- to pay our country's respects to a great world leader in His Holiness. He shows that one man can make an enormous difference. And I look forward to honoring the memory of Pope John Paul II. (Applause.) So she's packing her bags. (Laughter.)

I want to thank the President of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Madam President, I'm sorry I missed your inauguration. (Laughter.) But thank you for serving. Dr. Marie Gnage is with us. I appreciate you letting us use this facility. (Applause.)

Before coming out here I had the honor of saying hello to a lot of folks who are involved with the community college system of West Virginia. I'm a strong believer in the community college system around our country, because I understand that the community college system is a -- provides a great opportunity for many of our young and for many of our workers to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century. The community college system provides a wonderful opportunity for states and communities to say to potential employers, we have got a fantastic asset in our midst to make sure that the workers can fill the jobs that you desire.
A long quote I know, but it's important to get a feel for how this President increasingly operates, rhetorically.

We go from a dead-on lie, that the SS system uses a phony system of meaningless IOUs that are kept in a filing cabinet, and by implication, have no hope of ever being paid back, except by future generations, which makes it an incoherent lie at that - to a moment of personal ingratiation, in which this President bestows his blessing on the institution of community colleges; oh yes, he congratulates those nameless persons involved in that institution he's just met, but not on their specific achievements, but on the fact that they are doing something of which he approves, or at least says he does. Wanna bet that his proposed budget cuts Federal support for community colleges?

I often wonder why so few media people have picked up on how much of what this president says and does is about himself. That was the charge always leveled at Clinton, that everything he did as president was always about him, an insistence derived from the apriori assumption on the part of conservative faux psychologists that Clinton was a primal narcissist; not only do I think that is and was a demonstratibly false charge, it's demonstratibly a charge that perfectly fits this president. It isn't just Karl Rove who views governance as indistinguishable from successful propaganda.

This President is as incapable of listening to ordinary Americans as he is to anyone who doesn't already agree with him. The communication between himself and others is one-way. Hence these ludicrous, embarrassing staged-managed town meetings.

Remember during the early part of the 2004 campaign, when Bush's poll numbers were low and increasingly, Americans had questions about his handling of Iraq? Bush's response was to say over and over again how important it was that the American people trust him on matters of security. But trust is earned, isn't it? No, not in George W. Bush's world. If Americans were losing trust in him, it could only be that they were ill-informed. Therefore, critical discussions of what he had actually done and what had actually resulted from what he had done were divisive, unfair to our fighting men and women abroad, partisan, unAmerican, unpatriotic, siding with the terrorists. And all Democrats, especially John Kerry, had to be portrayed as untrustworthy, weak, indecisive, and quite possibly, unAmerican.

The campaign was never allowed to be about what either men would do in the future for this country, not after the Republican convention, which set the parameters of the future debate - here is the President you know and can trust, because of his worthy character, which was demonstrated by his successful convention, no matter that the convention featured some of the most hateful rhetoric heard in any Presidential campaign - a nastiness that the President himself felt no need to delegate to a surrogate tough-guy, but instead, which he appeared to enjoy spewing forth himself - versus, a liberal Senator you know little about, who you can't trust because we are fully prepared to tell you lies about every aspect of his life and history. And may the best liar win. And, by gum, he did win.

Neither Rove nor George W. could have done it without the mainstream press, however. Credit where credit is due. One wonders, are they even paying attention to this President's increasingly desperate rhetoric on Social Security reform? Or are they deliberately looking away from the spectacle of an American president insisting to his fellow Americans, and by extension to the world, that U.S. Treasury Bonds are worthless?

Where is the White House correspondent who will ask the President in his next news conference why he insists on referring to T-Bills as worthless IOUs? And whether he is admitting that as early as 2017, whatever administrations follow his will find themselves so constrained as a result of his fiscal policies that the US Treasury Bonds, hitherto known as the safest investment in the universe, that are held by the SS Administration and scheduled to be redeemed as of that date, will be defaulted on, instead? And does he worry that his trash talk about the unreliability of U.S. Treasury Bonds might start to make our creditors around the world, like, for instance, China, just a tad nervous?

Perhaps it might be worth a phone call to the office of your favorite Democratic Senator to ask a staff member if the Senator is aware of the President's remarks in West Virginia and if it might not be a good idea for this Senator, or the entire Democratic caucus to highlight the President's words, and to explain to the American people their implications. The President's poll numbers are tanking, but so far the SCLM doesn't seem to notice. Democrats need to find a way to force the media to notice when an American president tells the world that investing in America's future is a bad idea.

Wojtila, the "Office of the Inquisition", and Opus Dei rising? 

Despite the ongoing hagiography oozing from the hero worshipers in the mainstream cable television - so called news media - Jim Connolly takes a closer look at JP2's legacy. Via Counterpunch
The Pope Who Revived the Office of the Inquisition An American Catholic Relfects on Papacy of John Paul II - By Jim Connolly

1. Among Wojtila's first actions as Pope was to attack freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech in Catholic universities. Progressive theology, feminist thought, and "liberation theology" were driven from accepted Catholic discourse. Catholic universities in Europe and North America have lost their best scholars in the humanities and have sunk into being miserable intellectual ghettoes with respect to history, philosophy, theology, and related fields.

2. Wojtila revived and strengthened the Office of the Inquisition under the infamous Cardinal Ratziger. The "Holy Office" was near abolition under the two previous pontiffs, but Wojtila wielded the Inquisition as his special shock troops in a relentless campaign to silence all varieties of opinion other than his own. Repression of thought at the level of the diocese and parish became commonplace again after a blessed reprieve in the 1960s and 1970s.


14. Despite Wojtila's external reputation as some sort of "liberal," Catholics know that Wojtila is the close ally of the extremist and highly secretive Catholic movement known as Opus Dei. Wojtila has welcomed and blessed the practices of Opus Dei, which is a kind of "Church within the Church." He has promoted clergy who are affiliated with Opus Dei to the highest of positions within the Church. Opus Dei members congregate in secret in KKK-like costumes and engage in practices which include wearing hairshirts and self-flagellation. They maintain a network of secret monasteries and houses where young Catholics (especially those from wealthy and prominent families) are taken for intensive indoctrination sessions. Opus Dei members have been reliably reported by deprogrammed former members to favor re-ghettoization of Jews and international military crusades against Islam. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a key member of Opus Dei in North America. The most likely successor to John Paul II is the ultra reactionary Archbishop of Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi (known in Italy as the "Beast of Milan") who is reputedly one of the maximum leaders of the secretive cult of Opus Dei.

15. Wojtila methodically purged the College of Cardinals of any creative or free-thinking members, and almost all members of the current College of Cardinals, which will now choose Wojtila's successor, are rightwing clerical robots appointed by Wojtila himself. The Catholic Church is now guaranteed to have a self-perpetuating reactionary leadership for the indefinite future. [...full read at link above]

Father Jose Maria Escriva de Balager and Opus Dei [note: Escriva was sainted by the Catholic Church in 2002]:
It happened that Father Escriva, in reaction against the liberal climate of opinion in the University of Madrid, where he had studied after being ordained priest in 1925, had (on 2 October 1928) gathered together a few Catholics in a group which assumed the name Opus Dei. [source: Spain Under Franco, by Max Gallo; page 90]

CHRISTIAN NATION BUILDING: Opus Dei and the Franco Way:
University life, however, and the general intellectual climate of Spain, suffered gravely from this political and religious pressure. The first generation of the Opus Dei, composed of men of real merit, was by 1943 being replaced by ambitious opportunists seeking to become catedraticos.

Orthodoxy prevailed everywhere; by plundering untranslated foreign works, Spanish scholars built up reputations that were unassailable, since there was no free discussion of ideas.

Students, at their examinations, had to reproduce their teachers' lessons word for word. Praise of Francoism, or of the thirteenth century, considered as the golden age of Western civilization, had to be accepted without argument. Tracts were even distributed in certain universities demanding the restoration of death by fire, as under the Inquisition.

In crucial subjects such as history and philosophy, the systematic distortion of facts was the rule, and whole sectors of these disciplines disappeared or were condemned in the name of Spanish Catholicism and its traditions. The period was one of intellectual asphyxia. [source: Spain Under Franco, Max Gallo; page 134]

Face to the Sun:
As for the children, every morning, with arms outstretched in the Fascist salute, they attended the raising of the colours and sang the Falangist hymn, 'Cara al sol'.

This collaboration between Church and Falange in the educational field, with the Church in an unquestionably privileged position, was presided over by the Minister of National Education, Professor Jose Ibanez Martin, ...[Gallo, page 90]

Gallo, page 89. Sub-chapter: Education and the Opus Dei:
[note: "end of September" circa 1940 - Movimiento refers to the Spanish Falange]
At the end of September 'patriotic examinations' were held in every faculty; all former fighters on the Nationalist side passed automatically and were welcomed with shouts of Arriba Espana. Now somebody had to begin to teach. There was a shortage of teachers, 60 per cent having been dismissed in the provinces of Asturias, Aragon and Salamanca; indeed, 50 percent of them had been shot! From the two most famous universities, Madrid and Barcelona, almost the entire teaching staff had left Spain. This disatrous situation, however, was propitious to a reorganization of the educational system, the more necessary in that, according to the supporters of the Movimiento [Falange] and according to the Church, teachers in the past had been responsible, through their liberal and atheistic views, for all the misfortunes that Spain had endured.

Any of that have a familiar ring to it? And "patriotic examinations", hmm, are you taking notes David Horowitz?


The following is excerpted from: "Catholic Sects: Opus Dei (English version of the paper presented at the XII World Congress of Sociology, Madrid, 1990, published in 'Revista Internacional de Sociologia', Madrid, 1992) [...] by Alberto Moncada"
During the 1930s and 1940s Opus Dei’s founder, José María Escrivá, invited university students to re-Christianize science and Spanish culture, contaminated, in his view, by modern European intellectual trends. Europe and modernity became the fundamental intellectual targets of the victors after the Civil War. This earliest proposal by Escrivá is embodied in his book Camino (The Way) [7] and was carried out in apostolic practice. Thus, Escrivá’s first proselytes were primarily young men with university studies begun, if not completed, who predominantly devoted themselves to the university and competed, at times violently, for chairs and research posts in Spanish higher education.

The prototype of a numerary was an intellectual with good manners. The first Constitution emphasized this one needed by requiring a university degree to join the Work. Women, who were to devote themselves to domestic labors, only needed to possess that set of bourgeois virtues which Escrivá summed up as: "It is enough for them [women] to be discrete" (The Way, # 946 [8]).

"Do yourself up, look pretty and, as the years go by, decorate the facade even more, as they do with old buildings. He'll be so grateful to you." - Saint Escriva, (advice given to women, Sao Paulo, Brazil).

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. ~ Matthew 7:15




George Bush, math whiz:
""A lot of people in America think there is a trust -- that we take your money in payroll taxes and then we hold it for you and then when you retire, we give it back to you," Bush said later in a speech at the University of West Virginia at Parkersburg. "But that's not the way it works. There is no trust fund, just IOUs that I saw firsthand," Bush said."
Yes, he's out there doing the only thing he does well: trying to scare America:
"Using a government filing cabinet as a prop, President Bush yesterday played to fears that the Social Security Trust Fund is little more than a stack of worthless IOUs."
Government bonds? Pure fraud! In fact, you may just want to start putting your money in an old sock under the floorboards, since his statements yesterday have the implication that the entire financial system of the United States is a gigantic hoax. As Charles Rangel pointed out, the ability of the government to even insure bank accounts is being called into question, let alone the questions this could raise in the minds of foreign investors about our ability to meet our obligations to them and the impact their resulting fears could have on our whole economy. Bush used the image of the papers in a file cabinet to underline the perilous lack of substance in the trust fund, a classic Rovian tack. But he won't lead you to obvious extrapolation...that the investments he wants people to make on Wall Street in place of SS are also just pieces of paper, as the suicidal investors of 1929 found out. Never mind. It's all good if it helps the Dauphin get his way.

The Dems Grow Spine; Stem Cell Technology Suspected 

Wow. Leaked to Raw Story, a memo from dissenting House Judiciary Committee Democrats on the Barriers to Bankruptcy bill currently before them, that starts out with this:
"Reform of the bankruptcy system, and the principle that every debtor should repay as much of her debt as she can reasonably afford, is a sound and uncontroversial idea. Were the legislation reported by the Judiciary Committee to bear any remote relationship to that laudable goal, this legislation would be wholly uncontroversial. Instead, by pressing legislation that is unbalanced and tilted toward specific special interest groups, the proponents of S. 256 have created a bill that would: impose monumental costs on the parties in the bankruptcy system, including the government; subject the “honest but unfortunate debtor” to coercion and loss of their legal rights; force businesses into unnecessary liquidation; and favor certain creditors over others."
The memo makes a great number of trechant points, including this:
"Means Testing and the Other Consumer Provisions Will Harm Low-
and Middle-Income People"

"The Consumer Provisions Will Have a Significant, Adverse Impact on Women, Children, Minorities, Seniors, Victims of Crimes and Severe Torts, Victims of Identity Theft, and the Military."
The memo is lengthy and contains too many gems to go into here. Read this important document and get a clearer understanding of the pain S 256 will cause. The vote on the bill has been postponed due to the Pope's death and the desire of a number of the legislators to attend his funeral, so it's not likely to take place until next week at the earliest. This means there is still time to make your voice heard. Here is the Judiciary Committee. Find contact info for your representative here.

While the belief is that the bill is sure to pass, what do you have to lose by fighting up to the last minute? It's only a phone call or fax away.

I Demand Action 

Everytime I try to post something, someone dies: Saul Bellow, Johnny Carson, Johnny Cochran, Hunter Thompson, Terri Schiavo, the Pope. Now Prince Rainier of Monaco, husband to Grace and pioneer of state-sponsored gambling, is off to the heavenly summer home to join his wife.

And Peter Jennings has lung cancer.

This is outrageous! People are dying and what is the so called "culture of life" doing about it? I've heard nothing from Bush or Frist on plans to deal with this epidemic. I'm ready to listen, but they need to come to the table with a plan. What is Randall Terry doing? Where is James Dobson? Do you mean to tell me that they are just going to sit there while people continue to drop like flies and offer no solutions? Because I'm telling you, this is a slippery slope, people. You start letting a few people go, and before you know it, they're all dying.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Political Theater? Or Hands-On Demonstration? 

Worth noting that 75 years ago Gandhi was finishing his march to the sea, the famous “salt march.”

Sandip Roy over at Pacific News Service says, among other things, that

My great aunts and uncles actually remembered Gandhi's 1930 Dandi March, where Gandhi courted arrest by breaking the bizarre British law that said only the British could produce salt. With 78 fellow marchers, Gandhi, already in his 60s, walked for 23 days over 240 miles to pick up a lump of mud and salt on the Indian coast. Hundreds lined his path. Thousands made salt illegally all over the country. Within days, tens of thousands were in jail.

As political theater it was electric. Who could have thought a lump of salt could defy an empire?

Pacific News Service > News > Salt, Faith and Patience: Remembering Gandhi's March to the Sea

This was before teevee, too, and Gandhi was leading a population that didn’t access media much, even what there was. Word just spread along the route.

The Rethuglicans have made use of political theater for their own hypocritical purposes for a long time now. Think the Reagan funeral hoopla, the Jessica Lynch story, run-up to iWaq, more recently Ms. Schiavo’s tragedy. But their heart isn’t in it, and so they trip up on hypocrisy and lack of facts. Or they try to steal credit for someone else’s theater: Ukraine, Lebanon. Still, it works. See Tom Tomorrow over at Working for Change for a graphic example:

This Modern World

But political theater has its real worth when the cause is indeed just, when it’s not just theater, but genuine demonstration (in the pedagogical sense). What’s the lump of salt that will defy this empire, in spite of the media? Or is this just wishful thinking? If so, let me dream for now, it's been a crappy day...

In other news... 

4 Soldiers Killed in Iraq.

W's Approval Rating now the lowest of any president at this point in a presidency.

Yet, as I noted in this post last week, folks like Fineman still refer to W as "popular." Oh yeah, Clinton's approval rating at this point in his presidency was an oh so unimpressive 59%.

But we won't be hearing anything about this because we're all wallowing in grief at the Pope's passing.

I do hate our media, you know?

UPDATE W is currently quite a bit ahead of the schedule I set for him on that painful morning after the election in November. I expected him to be a reviled president in a year to eighteen months, not just six months!

When Defense Becomes Offense 

Now the vigilantes are pissing off the Border Patrol, tripping the alarm systems they have scattered around the border. I guess those refugees they “helped catch” on their Saturday aktion turned out to not be such a bonus after all. And by 2008, as you’ve no doubt heard, we will need to show our passports to reenter the US from Mexico and Canada.

Ahhh, Fortress America. Whatever happened to

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Too quaint, I guess, in these imperial times, when “we” must protect “our” stuff from the teeming hordes of “them” who live out “there.” Yes, let’s consider cutting terrorism off at its source—poverty, inequity, corporate global domination, stopping the arrogant use of military and industrial might—not. Let’s take some common sense defensive action against genuine threats. Not. Let’s keep the fear under control. Not. Instead, let’s renew the PATRIOT Act, spy on citizens, and build higher, thicker walls around our fortress.

In related news, Uncle Sam wants you. He wants you to try a blog where you get to be the “good guy” (US Army) and kill the “bad guys” (the “them” du jour). No kidding. It’s a “recruiting tool.” Yep—join the Army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them. Without ever leaving home! Blogger: You're in the Army Now

Now, to turn the key on my second iron door (the lead-lined one inside the third moat), and return to a high-tech rewrite of The Masque of the Red Death. Thank you.

Help Us With Our New Address 

As renovations go forward on the mighty Corrente building, and the corrolary expansion of the Corrente blog, we will require a new virtual address, otherwise known as a URL.

After some research, we have two contenders, each with two variations in the after the dot extension, and we would appreciate the thoughts of alert readers and alert fellow bloggers as to which of the four varations strikes them as the better choice, and also why if a why occurs to them:








We are partial to the ".net" extension, which better expresses, we feel, both the break from corrente's past and as an indication of a larger, broader future, but we are also aware that ".com" is the more common and perhaps easier to remember.

As between which corrente thing to call ourselves in our URL, "mighty" or 'bldg" we await your comments with much appreciation.

Young Republican Retro Groove 

OK, who nailed Peggy Noonan at the YAF mixer!

[KEN] I still remember how much I disliked the studio sweetening by adding a fake laugh track and applause. I actually think it's an insult to the listener, especially since the mixing of the audience sounds is so unnatural and the fact that people are laughing hysterically at things that aren't funny without the benefit of nitrous oxide. The original title of the album was "Folk Songs to Bug the New Frontier" and it contained several direct references to President Kennedy. Following the assassination, Mark decided to re-do the album and rewrite some of the songs. It was at this point that Loudermilk bailed, so Mark produced the new session himself. As for the four guys, we were strictly performers and had almost no creative input to the overall concept.

"Studio sweetening", fake laughter and applause? Shocking. Republicans would never pull a stunt like that these days.
KEN: The album was promoted to Republican organizations, Goldwater clubs and other groups such as "The Young Americans for Freedom."


KEN: I have played the album for very few people. I have had entire relationships, including marriage, where the other person has no idea of this part of my life.

Good thinking Ken. Best let, the Other Ken, do all the talkin'.

Bug the liberals... Give this beautiful, multi color long play album to one of your liberal "friends."

Pokes fun at the foibles of the Left Wingers.

Cuba, Bobby, the Other Bobby, Stereos, The Doll House, Gold Reserve, Welfare State, Foreign Aid, National Debt, Managed News, Pinkos, A.D.A., Harvard, C.I.A.... ad infinitum.

It's all in the groove designed to keep you chuckling for hours.

Yupper, a regular fountain of grooves. "National Debt" seems to have made a big comeback. But Managed News is still my favorite! That one will no doubt give Judy Woodruff goose bumps and reduce Candy Crowley to a pool of wet quivering suet. Set that chucklehead Wolf Blitzer's battery pack to a-smokin' too. Yee gads.

Listen in for yourself (those Gold-Sweater days of yesteryear): Atomic Platters


Monday, April 04, 2005

Why Anything Is Possible 

Why did a hoax on a purported scheme by the Pentagon to invest war money in Wall Street via a specially-created Office of Special Brokerage Services sound reasonable to my ears?
May be it was because of this, from the aptly named Robert Looney, writing in Strategic Insights for the Naval Postgraduate School:
"With the development during the last several decades of well functioning futures markets for many commodities, private sector analysts often use the prices from these markets as indictors of potential events. The use of petroleum futures contract prices (Looney, Schrady, Brown, 2001) is an example of the manner in which traders gauged the likely outcome of events such as the U.S. Naval response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. In a like manner, the movement of petroleum futures prices in late March 2003, after the recent Iraq war began, reflected the implications traders drew concerning the outcome of the conflict—falling rapidly in the first few days of the conflict, but rising again after it became apparent the Iraqi regime would not fall in a matter of days. Before the Iraq war began, oil prices, incorporating a war premium, suggested there was a very high probability of a conflict (Leigh, Wolfers and Zitzewitz, 2003)."
That's right. Remember the DARPA flap in 2003 over the plan to create a Policy Analysis Market wherein intelligence agencies could trade futures in world events? I.e., "Trading in these events, as in the case of petroleum futures, would produce price movements that could be easily translated into the likely occurrence of future incidents, such as the likelihood of a coup in Yemen." Looney explained:
"The presumption was that in many cases, intelligence derived in this manner would be more accurate than that obtained through traditional means (see Figure 1, from the original PAM web site). Initially the site was to be confined to political economic, civil and military futures of the key Middle Eastern countries of Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey, and the impact of U.S. involvement with each. A typical bet would involve issues such as whether the United States would pull its troops out of Saudi Arabia (Coy 2003), or whether the Egyptian currency was likely to fall by 20% by the end of the year. Assassinations, the most controversial feature of PAM and the most publicized, were not officially listed as a likely market."
For the curious, this is the Figure 1 referenced in the quote above, showing the accuracy of the, shall we call it, "Free Market" school of geopolitical gaming:
si_pam_fig_1 The basic idea behind this was that, in regular investments, particularly volatile, risky investments like futures, what drives the market is information. Investors are highly motivated to gather accurate information, and "..the collective response of a group to any question of knowledge is going to be both the best response possible...and a remarkably accurate response as well..." Very simplistically put, and based at least in part on the idea that a group pools more knowledge than any individual or few numbers of people can, the PAM idea would have offered quarterly contracts betting on the likelihood of specific events like war, economic stability, regime changes, etc., and the Defense Department and intelligence agencies would have watched the results of the trades and proceeded accordingly.

It all came out prematurely, and DARPA became a laughingstock, but at the time of his report, Looney believed PAM would rise out of its own ashes:
"Thus, while it was a public relations disaster, some version of the program will likely be introduced on a restricted basis, perhaps along the lines suggested above, in an attempt to better tap the country's disperse knowledge base, human insight, and analytical expertise."
Who knows? Things have gotten so absurd that nothing seems too outlandish to reject out of hand anymore.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is in part how a mere joke came to look like a yet another perfectly credible batshit government scheme.

More Bomb News 

Leonard Bird has written a provocative book, Folding Paper Cranes: An Atomic Memoir, giving a personal history of his life with the bomb. He was a soldier who witnessed testing firsthand, without any protective gear to speak of, and paid the price. Is still paying the price. I’m not pimping for the University of Utah press or anything, but if you’re interested in nookyoolar issues—and if you’re not, why not?—then the book is worth a look. Folding Paper Cranes An Atomic Memoir will take you to the press and a synopsis, or there’s always the local library, if you don’t mind checking books out and starting an FBI file on yourself.

In related news, the CDC has stopped its studies of the effects of nookyoolar fallout on children exposed during those same tests. (AP Wire 03/29/2005 CDC halts thyroid study funding) They say they don’t have enough money to continue. Hm. Wonder why? Could it be priorities? Budget cuts for everyone except the Pentagon? Worth a trip to the resources at the National Priorities Project to think about it.

Weekend trackback: Pope JP2 

Funny, I can't recall any of the usual pundit pimples (you know who I mean) scrambling in front of the tv cameras over the weekend to denounce the guy as an anti-American, anti "free market", freedom hating cheese eating old European Saddam appeaser surrender monkey, for his anti-war stances or disdain for greedy grab-n-grub economics. Hmmm. Where are they (you know who I mean) now?

Meanwhile, a few thoughtful perspectives:

Body and Soul
...I can't separate the good Church from the bad Church. It seems to me that all the Church's flaws -- all John Paul's flaws -- are rooted in virtues. That's what I wanted to write about, and that is where I'm stuck. It will take me awhile to work out exactly what I mean by that circle of sin and virtue.

In the meantime, I feel a bit trapped between the bizarre hagiography on CNN which is giving some of the most reactionary elements is the Church (as well as, bizarrely, some of the peculiar brand of Protestant that has been condemning Catholics to hell for generations) the opportunity to craft for public consumption a holy and uncriticizable version of Ronald Reagan, an infallible George Bush, and the understandable hostility coming from some on the left.

The Pope's Intellectual Challenge, by Max Sawicki
Why talk about the Encyclicals? Unlike some on the left, I've never bought the narrow, dismissive view of religion as some unbelievable fairy tale. Religious doctrine is philosophy, it's politics, it's literature, it's about the Meaning of Life. It's not about some bearded dude in the sky that can't exist because you've never seen him.


Most inane comment so far was Glenn Reynolds (shocking, I know) -- "Ordinary Poles 2, German intellectuals 0." Intellectuals. The swine. It happens that the Pope was an intellectual -- a professor of philosophy -- and Reynolds is a professor. One of these days I need to cook up a post to explain how in modern jingoist discourse, "intellectual" and "cultural elite" refer to the Jews. But that has nothing to do with Karol Wojtyla.

John Paul II spoke, if not always loudly, for economic justice and the needs of the poor. He was a courageous champion of freedom for those suffering under Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe; less bold in condemning death squads and covert aggression in Central America. He opposed the death penalty and the War in Iraq. And he made a good faith effort (pun intended) to advance the church's painful reconcilation with its anti-Semitic past, despite considerable internal opposition.

On the other hand, John Paul II was a cipher, or worse, on most of what we here in the States would call the "social issues." His refusal to budge on Human Vitae -- the low point of the post-Vatican II reaction -- was particularly discouraging, as was his equally adamantine position on clerical celibacy. And of his attitude towards the gay and lesbian members of his human flock, there's little to say and less that's good.

Sisyphus Shrugged
Karol Jozef Wojtyla, RIP

I disagree with many of the political alliances the late Pope made, but I do believe he genuinely believed in respect for life.

I am terribly sorry that the leaders he made cause with did not follow him in that.

I hope his principles, if not his allegiances or his limitations, live beyond him.

He went where he believed he was to go in peace. So may we all.


And They Want To Be Your Latex Salesmen 

:::UPDATE::: Looks like we may have fallen for an April Fools item from Counterpunch. For what it's worth we weren't the only ones to bite on this in good faith, Chicago Indymedia and others turned up in a google for OSBS.

Blogger's acting up today, so you may get several updates as multiple Correntians fight the beast. This one's from Xan (me).

Further Update: Riggsveda here. I did say above in the now defunct post that "More digging needs to be done on this, but if this is true..." Even so, I am chastened. When you only have a limited amount of time to spend at the keyboard, sometimes it can be hard to chase down every avenue to verify or debunk every piece you run across. (It's hard! Blogging is hard work!) Frankly, it sounded just like something this crew in office would pull, and being human, one will err. That said, I have a responsiblility to the others on this site, as well as to readers, to be sure of my sources.
Fucking April Fools' Day.

UPDATE And a tip of The Ol' Corrente Hat to the man in the grey turtleneck.

Media Agrees: Pope Still Dead. And In Other News... 

Evidence Gone. Witnesses Dead.
Half a century later the South decides it's safe to do something about lynchings.

Bush to Oregon Hotels--Go Screw Yourselves.

While Bush signs off on a bankruptcy bill putting the screws to lesser humans in debt, he leaves a trail of unpaid bills himself.

British Armed Forces to Bush--Go Screw Yourself.

60% of Britain's "Coalition of the Willing" remembers it has a previous engagement.

Thanks to Raw Story. Pretty much writes itself, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Though no progress is yet visible, renovation of The Mighty Corrente Building continues.

Here, for example, as a shot of the anteroom of the wet bar (the one in the Main Building, I mean, not one in the various outbuildings).


Vigilante Follow Up 

Busy as hell with spring chores, but here's a followup on the border vigilantes: According to AP (no link, sorry, I'm pulling this outta my fishwrapper), about 150 people showed up in Douglas, AZ, chanting "Hey, hey, ho, ho, illegal aliens gotta go!" and singing "God Bless America." Some were toting guns. Their leader, Jim Gilchrist, "a retired accountant from California," said the people at the protest were only a fraction of his force, claiming that 450 were out and about. This could not be verified. I love Gilchrist's closing quote in the article:

"We don't hate the economic refugees that are coming here, but we hate the fact that our government is colluding against us with big business so that they can get rich off our backs...They (employers) don't pay health care, they don't pay any benefits to these people, so they wind up on our social services. Our safety net for vulnerable citizens is being used up. Is that right? That's crazy."

Somewhat shorter version: We don't hate these poor people, but they're making us poorer, and gummint and big bizness is to blame, so instead of blaming gummint and big bizness, we're going to blame "them." Bobo logic--gotta love it. Anybody know who's funding these people?

The Stuff of Nightmares 

I am too freaked out to say anything much more than, "Get over to alert reader grannyinsanity's blog, On the Edge in Montana, and follow her link."

The posibilities that open up in my own disturbed mind are going to require a Mai Tai trank, at the very least.

Say, do the "Christian" pharmacists who won't dispense birth control pills have any problem dispensing Viagra? 

Just asking.

NOTE A pertinent question asked by alert reader pansypoo. For more on the latest idea from the winger loons, see riggsveda here (back).

Alpo Accounts: Bush Social Security phase-out not playing well in Waco 

An enterprising LA Times reporter went to Waco, and interviewed Inerrant Boy's neighbors to find out what they thought about His Social Security phase-out plan:

If President Bush's Social Security initiative is going to ring bells anywhere, it ought to be a hit with the Better Investment Group of Waco, which meets once a month at Uncle Dan's Rib House to discuss earnings growth over barbecue and beans.

The group, which calls itself the BIG club, is dedicated to the proposition that individual investors can and should profit handsomely from putting some of their savings into the stock market.

Of eight club members contacted last weekend, two expressed unqualified support for the president's personal account proposal.

The rest were opposed or uncertain ....

"Depending on how many people are attending that night and who they are, it'll be adopted," he said.

Club president Labens, a Waco City Council member and retired appliance store owner, said he could not support Bush's personal account proposal as long as the president refused to spell out the specifics, something the White House has preferred to leave to Congress.

"If I came to you and said, 'We're going to make you a millionaire, but we're not going to tell you how it's going to work,' how much credibility would I have?" Labens asked.
(via LA Times)

Frankly, I've never understood Bush's reasoning on this whole thing. If people want to play the stock market, they already can. They can play "ownership society" all they want. What's that got to do with a social insurance program like Social Security.

Pharmacists For Strife Roundup 

Happy Daylight Savings Time. Be aware that the Fed is likely to increase interest rates in the next couple months, so you may want to refinance now.

On to the real story. As you all know, Lambert's last post explored the issue of pharmacists refusing service, inspired by one of alert reader chica toxica's posts.

Allow me a little self-aggrandizement in saying that I've been on this issue for awhile. As some of you may know, I have my own weblog, It's My Country, Too, and I also post weekly as a member of The American Street, where I have been following the developments of this trend and the leadership of Pharmacists for Life in pushing this agenda. Just this week I had to put 2 pieces on it up at TAS, and yesterday, after reading more news about it--the Illinois governor signed a law requiring all pharmacists there to fill and dispense prescriptions promptly, and the APA expressed "concerns" as to the law's effect on phramacists' autonomy--I posted another piece at my own site.

I decided yesterday to put all 4 related pieces together on my site in order to have an easily retrievable digest of the info. I'm not reproducing them here, because they're long, but if you would like some background on this issue, as well as some up-to-date info, go here, here, here, and here. Read the links as well as the post texts to get a full understanding of what this is about and what we are facing. Note that PFL is branching out to include the defense of straight marriage on its agenda.

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