Saturday, April 23, 2005

Goodnight, Tom 


It couldn't happen to a nicer Jeebofascist. And just in time for the Sunday talk shows, too!

A plane trip to London and Scotland in 2000 by then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) was charged to an American Express card issued to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist at the center of a federal criminal and tax probe, according to two sources who know Abramoff's credit card account number and to a copy of a travel invoice displaying that number.

DeLay's expenses during the same trip for food, phone calls, and other items at a golf course hotel in Scotland were billed to a different credit card also used on the trip by a second registered Washington lobbyist, Edwin A. Buckham, according to receipts documenting that portion of the trip.

House ethics rules bar lawmakers from accepting travel and related expenses from registered lobbyists.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post, including receipts for his hotel stays in Scotland and London and billings for his golfing during the trip at the famed St. Andrews course in Scotland, substantiate for the first time that some of DeLay's expenses on the trip were billed to charge cards used by the two lobbyists. The invoice for DeLay's plane fare lists the name of what was then Abramoff's lobbying firm, Preston Gates & Ellis.
(via WaPo)

Sigh, why can't this be happening in 2006? And where's the Dem "Contract with America" to take advantage?

David Broder to Dems on filibuster: Bend over, it won't hurt a bit 

I don't know why I bother. But here's what WaPo's Bigfoot purveyor of the slightly stale conventional wisdom has to say on the nuclear option. David Broder:

Here is what should happen: The Democratic Senate leadership should agree voluntarily to set aside the continued threat of filibustering the seven Bush appointees to the federal appeals courts who were blocked in the last Congress and whose names have been resubmitted.
(via WaPo)

1. Translation: "Dems, you first!"
2. I like "voluntarily." I mean, it would be a shame if the Dems had to wait for Dear Leader to issue a "political amnesty"...
3. The seven really are "the worst of the worst," as Reid says. Why shouldn't the Dems do everything in their power to stop the nominations of judges who want to abolish the New Deal? Or roll the country's legal framework back to the Gilded Age?
4. I like the use of the passive voice in "whose names have been resubmitted." Gee, it was Bush Himself who resubmitted the names, right? So where is the compromise, here? If Bush wanted compromise, one easy way to have shown it would have been not to have resubmitted every single name. But n-o-o-o-o-o-o!

In return, they should get a renewed promise from the president...

1. Um, can we get Bush's "promise" in writing?
2. There's no such thing as a "promise" from people whose word isn't good. There's simply no such thing as a "promise" from the people who lied us into a war, stole at least one Presidential election, are advocating the assassination of judges, and think Christ died for the Republican Party.
3. Just yesterday the Republicans reneged on a "promise" they made to the Dems on the Bolton hearings.
3. Since "he who is faithful in little is faithful in much," surely if the Republicans will break their word on the hearing for an ambassador, so much the more would they break their word when setting the course for the Federal bench over a generation to come.
4. And, of course, Bush has already broken a previous "promise" by wheeling out Dick "Dick" Cheney when at first He said that He wouldn't.

... that [H]e will not bypass the Senate by offering any more recess appointments to the bench and a pledge from Republican Senate leaders to consider each such nominee individually, carefully and with a guarantee of extensive debate in coming months.

1. Gotta pause here for a moment. It's hard to type.

[Pause for hysterical laughter.]

OK. I feel better now.

2. Um, can we get this "pledge" in writing too?
3. And that "guarantee," while we're at it?
4. But what does "extensive debate" mean? Nothing the Republicans do shows that they want to have any kind of serious debate at all. I mean, look at Bush's scripted town halls, where anyone who might even possibly disagree with Him is thrown out, beaten up, or arrested. That's the Republican notion of extended debate.
5. Since the Republicans believe, and say, that anyone who opposes them is a traitor, what good would this "guarantee" of debate be? Why would they promise traitors anything? They would, have, and do feel free to break any promise at the first opportunity (while blaming the liberal media for imposing it on them).

So, why should the Democrats go first? Broder opines:

Why should the Democrats be the first to step back from the abyss of the "nuclear option?

The principled answer is that elections matter. Voters placed Republicans in control of the White House and the Senate, and while the opposition still has a constitutional role to play, at the end of the day that function has to be more than talking important matters to death.

Bullshit. Forget about Delay's gerrymandering Texas. The whole Senate's gerrymandered, and the minority of Dems represents a majority of the country—a majority Frist, Delay, and Bush want to completely disenfranchise. 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.

So much for the Dems being undemocratic, or unprincipled, as Broder oh-so-subtly ("elections matter") insinuates.

And what should the Dems be doing? As opposed to winning a majority of the American people's votes? Why, trusting the Republicans! Why didn't we think of that? Thank God we've got Broder to do our thinking for us! Broder:

Instead of sending a message that they do not trust their Republican colleagues' judgment -- and therefore feel justified in preventing a vote -- the Democrats would be saying to their colleagues and the country: We trust you to take your "advise and consent" duties seriously.

And they should feel such trust. The balance of power in the Senate is not in a right-wing cabal; it is in the moderate center. You can see that in the careful way the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is weighing the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.

1. Damn. I need to pause for laughter again. Sorry.
2. Why on earth does Broder think that the Republicans are being "careful" with the Bolton nomination? Could it possibly be they're doing it because the Democrats are finally standing up to them?
3. "Careful" is as careful does. We've already seen that Republican staffers broke promises to the Dems on Bolton.
4. Oh, those moderate Republicans. Trust, you want? If the moderate center in the Republican Party is so all-fired powerful and trustworthy, they could show it by repudiating Frist, and his endorsement of the Dominionist claims of "Filibuster against people of faith" at their auto de fe this Sunday.

Memo to the Republicans: No, you first.

Harry Reid hits the road 

I'm really warming to the Reid/Dean/Pelosi combo. The prospect of being hanged seems to have concentrated the minds of the Beltway Dems wonderfully:

Reid visits Pittsburgh for a town hall, and has this to say on the Bush Social Security phase-out:

Afterward, Reid told the Post-Gazette editorial board that he had enough votes in the Senate to block President Bush's proposal to introduce private savings accounts as an alternative to the existing federal retirement plan. "It's dead," Reid said. "The president just hasn't acknowledged it yet."
(via Post Gazette)

And 2006 should be a very interesting real in Pennsylvania:

[Reid] also told the editorial board that the Pennsylvania Senate seat held by Republican Rick Santorum is the Democratic Party's principal target in the 2006 elections.
Asked at the editorial board meeting about Democratic prospects in 2006, Reid said: "Our priority so far in this election cycle is Bob Casey Jr."

Casey, the state treasurer, had a 17-point lead over Santorum in a recent poll, Reid said.


Of course, Casey does actually live in Pennsylvania, unlike Santorum, who lives in Virginia yet still has his Pennsylvania district pay for his kids schooling (here). So you could say Casey has an unfair advantage.

And here's Reid on the post-nuclear Senate:

"We're not going to bring the Senate to a standstill," Reid said. "The troops will get their money." But he said Democrats would make life difficult for Senate Republicans by requiring votes on procedural questions, which normally are resolved by unanimous consent.

"please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch"?!?!

NOTE www.santorum.com seems to be for sale. It's not cheap, though.

UPDATE Thanks to alert reader ArC for the carpetbagger link.

"The Party Directive" 

Following up on Riggsveda's posts below - see You Don't Know Julius Streicher, and ..."Just Us" Sunday - I thought I'd venture back into the Corrente archives (All Things Forgotten) and drag this post back into the daylight for a little exercise. Given the topical subject matter and all. So here goes again:

Faith in Action: repeating themes (Previously posted November 07, 2004)

The campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith. - George W. Bush, acceptance speech, Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2004

Power and ideology wrapped in signs and wonders. Once upon a time in faithless decadent cultural elitist liberal America: moral decay! relativism! pluralism! cultural Marxism! cultural elites! chaos! the collapse of Western "traditional values"!...blah blah blah blah blah. Suppose your heard the following (below) coming from your car radio or emanating from the well oiled flapping maw of some cableTV "news" mortal glaring back at you from your blinking television set. And suppose this professional mountebank made noise like this:

You know who:
...had fallen into worldview chaos, from which followed political, economic, cultural and moral decay, since a standard of measurement failed that would have enabled a valid judgment about the value or lack of value of a particular phenomenon. Every viewpoint had its proponents, but none was taken to heart, none was taken seriously. Each group, each opinion had its own standards, which destroyed the binding power and moral strength of anygenuine worldview. The dying liberal-democratic system had opinions that were changeable, relative and not binding, but it did not have an absolute worldview in which people could put their faith. It had a panopticum, but no picture of the world. It collected every possible opinion, standpoint and value from every time and people, rather like exhibits in a museum, but had no dominant standpoint, no real values. The result was chaos, sterility and relativism. The most wretched viewpoint could take center stage because sure faith was lacking, from which alone comes strength of judgment. The era had lost a central worldview, and thus the measure of character, of style. The chaos of worldviews resulted in chaos in science, education, and all other areas of life. People staggered before the abyss, unsteady, irresolute.


Former values and principles had collapsed, having lost all their strength. The meaning of the universe no longer mattered, questions of the content and tasks of life went unanswered. In the chaos of world views, every conceivable opinion found its proponents, but none had greater weight or force than any other.

A new idea joined the historic march to self-realization, forming people's attitudes and characters, as well as the style of their lives. A central worldview once more permitted internal unity and thereby the creative strength of a new era.


As long as a people has the strength for a revolution, for a change in worldview and a reordering of its life, it remains capable of making history. If it loses the will and the strength for national renewal, it sinks into the mists of history and perishes.

Historic and worldview battles always are about the victory of an idea that seeks to become absolute, that takes upon itself the transformation of the world. If a victorious revolution has won freedom of action, it cannot be distracted or stopped by complaints about intolerance. They come either from adherents of past structures, structures against which the revolution fought and displaced, or from those who as Nihilists oppose any order because they want chaos and anarchy. Against such people, the rule of an idea must be hard and unforgiving. He who wants to build must push aside and fight everything that stands in the way. The greatness of an era depends on bringing all thoughts and all forms of life under a unified worldview, a unified faith.

Any worldview seeks to rule alone, and must seek that. It must believe in its sole right, which is the foundation of its effectiveness. In battling other worldviews, it must maintain its good conscience. If it loses that, it loses its self-confidence, the feeling of superiority, and thereby its power over people. Where each can do what he wants, there is no whole. Eras without unity lack compelling power. Only where a will to life dominates, only where all strengths are moving in the same direction, does greatness follow.

I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." [...] "Tha's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." ("Without a Doubt", Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine, Oct 17, 2004)

The result of any fruitful worldview is a firm, self-confident life order that is perceived as necessary, as a reality, about which there is nothing uncertain or disputable. A revolutionary worldview must therefore be ruthless and fanatic in representing its exclusive principles until they have become taken for granted, dominating the life of a people as a tradition does. Any era, any worldview, needs firm foundations. When these are open to discussion, the idea is already questionable and has lost its finding force and strength. An age that discusses its foundations is sawing off the branch on which it sits. It loses its good conscience, its self-confidence — and perishes. The cathedrals of the Middle Age would never have been built if Christianity had asked itself why it had the right to claim exclusive truth for its faith by eternalizing it in stone. The idea justifies itself through its fruitfulness. It rules the consciousness of those people who set the direction of their age. It is seen as foundational, formative, the bringer of the future. And throughout history it leaves creative ideas and deeds on the altar of immortality.

This demonstrates the deepest roots from which a worldview draws its strengths: from faith. Great times rest on a great, absolute faith. Only those with faith, with mountain-moving strength and joy in action can fulfill an historic mission. Values that are truly believed, not merely recognized and discussed, are the foundation of creative strength. In era of decline, however, everything is open to discussion and therefore to denial. When God is a question, one no longer builds cathedrals. Where people have no living faith, they do nothing great, nothing that lasts.

Sound familiar? How many times have you heard those exact themes repeated over recent months and years. Cast down from Christian evangelical fundamentalist pulpits and scrawled over miles of Right Wing think tank scroll or snarled into a Right Wing radio microphone. What would you make of it? Where does something like that come from?

Faith's Codpieced Sword of the Lord:
It's not a dictatorship in Washington, but I tried to make it one in that instance. -- George W. Bush, describing his executive order making faith-based groups eligible for federal subsidies, New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 15, 2004 (via link)

Faith's Gestapo:
What you read above are excerpts from a tract which appears in a monthly publication called Der Schulungsbrief and dated January 1939. Der Schulungsbrief, in case you've never heard of this particular publication, translates in this case to "The Party Directive". A kind of "how to" manual for the German faithful and Nazi Party true believers. The magazine was the NSDAP (Nazi Party) monthly accompanyment to Reichsorganisationsleiter Robert Ley's organizational book Organisationsbuch der NSDAP. DS had a large circulation and was often handed out by neighborhood NSDAP representatives throughout Germany. Most copies of DS were destroyed by the Allies following WW2 due to the dangerous nature of much of its content. Especially its vicious anti-semetic rantings which rivaled Julius Streicher's Der Sturmer for sheer unhinged homicidal lunacy. But copies still exist, and, as a side note, DS (its modern day equivalent) is still in publication and available via German far right networks and Neo-Nazi publications.

David Neiwert, as almost everyone who reads here knows, is the go to author/blogger on the topic of retooled psuedo-fascist rhetoric from the right and infestations of it in our mainstream media and body politic. So if you're unfamiliar with Neiwert's material go there and read.


Theologians are well aware, deep down in their hearts, that faith alone is not sufficient to make even half-wits believe in their mumbo jumbo; they sense a need to sweeten the dose with such testimony as would convince a judge and jury. The result of their labours in that direction, continued through many centuries, has been only to reduce human reason to the quaking and malarious thing that it is today ...gradually broken down all the natural barriers between fact and fiction, sense and nonsense, and converted logic into a weapon that mauls the truth far more than it defends it. - H.L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods, 1930

Welcome back to the quaking and malarious thing.


Original post dated 11.07.2004 archived here: Faith in Action: repeating themes


Spraying Perfume on Human Scat 

In honor of the John Bolton hearings, I give you this via Harper's---another cartoon by Mr. Fish:

What do you want to bet he gets the post?

A "conscientous objector" to the pledge of allegiance 

As Kevin Drum asks:

This story is different from a [cough] "Christian" pharmacist refusing to dispense prescribed medication to keep women down on grounds of "conscience" how, exactly?

Seventh-grader Bailey Pierce, hand pressed against her heart, was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance when the voice over the intercom said something that stopped her cold.
"One nation, under 'your belief system.' "

Bailey said that guidance counselor Margo Lucero substituted the phrase for "under God" while leading the morning pledge at Everitt Middle School on Wednesday.(via Rocky Mountain News)

"One nation, indivisible, under your belief system, ...." It has a nice ring, doens't it? I hope this meme spreads....

Let's watch the Republicans conduct an interview! 

Of the Bolton affair:

In a sign of partisan tensions on the committee,

Oooh, nice balance! Read on, and see where that tension originated:

Republican staff members yesterday interviewed Thomas Hubbard, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, without Democratic staff members present. Hubbard has said he clashed angrily with Bolton.

Well, that will certainly make the results of their interview 100% credible!

A senior Democratic committee aide said the interview was unfortunate, because Democrats thought they had an agreement between committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Vice Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) for proceeding with interviews that would allow both sides to be present, along with a court reporter.

Wait a minute. Only the Republicans do the interview, and there's no record?!

"When we asked to participate, we were refused," the [Democratic] aide said. "We hope this was an aberration, and that from now on they honor the rule that we proceed jointly. The proof will be in the pudding." He added: "We found out five minutes before it happened." (via WaPo)

1. The Republicans are getting more and more abusive with each day that passes, aren't they?

2. Once again, the Republicans, even on the staff level, show the folly of trying to make deals with them; their word is simply not good—as you would expect of a party that stole election 2000 and lied its way into a war.

3. So, Dems, why wuss out? "We were refused," forsooth. Why take No for an answer? What can the Republicans do? Threaten to arrest you? That worked out real well for them the last time they tried it, didn't it?

MBF watch: Which Republican "volunteer" ejected the Denver Three? 

Those "overzealous volunteers"! The Republicans are so plagued with them! After all, it was an overzealous volunteer in Fargo, ND, who made sure no Democrats were invited to Bush's Social Security phase-out Partei rally there, and he was.... Was... Well, nothing did happen to him, did it? Still, now that Bush has made his rallies explicitly invitation-only Republican events—which all taxpayers should not be just happy, but grateful, to support—

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating whether a Republican volunteer committed the crime of impersonating a federal agent while forcibly removing three people from one of President Bush's [cough] public Social Security events, according to people familiar with the probe.

The Secret Service knows the man's name, one of the people familiar with the probe said, and has interviewed him. Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin refused to comment for this article.

In the Denver case, Alex Young, 25; Karen Bauer, 38; and Leslie Weise, 39, say they were forced out even though they never verbally protested or displayed anti-Bush shirts or signs. The White House has not disputed this.

When they were entering, they were pulled them aside and told to wait for the Secret Service, Young said. A few minutes later, a man who refused to identify himself warned they would be arrested if they staged any protests. They were allowed to take seats, only to be forced out without explanation about 20 minutes later. The man, who Young described as muscular, about 30, with close-cropped hair, again refused to provide his name or affiliation. A local Secret Service agent told a lawyer representing the three they were targeted because of the bumper sticker.
(via WaPo)

You know, now that I read the whole story, I really think that we could be doing the Republicans an injustice on this one.

After all, it isn't like they've set up a privatized paramilitary force of "volunteers" controlled from the White House, or anything like that.


UPDATE Orcinus points out how the wingers have successfully tranmitted vigilantism into the mainstream, through their "coverage" for the "Minutemen" project.

Let's Passover 

cat-passover For the first time, my family will be taking part in a Passover Seder, thanks to the kind invite of a dear neighbor. We are excited about it, and extend our greetings to people everywhere who have and will be celebrating. aish.com has a nice concise description of what Passover is all about:
"The Exodus was essentially an account of Moses' prodding Pharaoh to "let my people go -- in order that we may serve the Almighty." It took a lot of convincing -- Ten Plagues in all -- but eventually the Jews walked out of Egypt in broad daylight. Seven days later, the Red Sea split, drowning the Egyptian army. Then, 50 days after the Exodus, the entire Jewish nation stood at Mount Sinai to experience divine revelation and receive the Torah.

Passover is an eight-day holiday (in Israel, seven days). It is marked by the eating of matzah, unleavened bread, and by the celebration of an elaborate Seder on the first two nights (in Israel, on the first night only). theotokos3

The Seder is designed to give each Jew the experience of "going from slavery unto freedom." The seder includes telling the Exodus story as recorded in the Haggadah, eating of "slavery symbols" like bitter herbs (Marror), recounting the Ten Plagues, and drinking four cups of wine -- which correspond to the four stages of redemption as recorded in the Biblical book of Exodus. The Seder is highlighted by eating matzah as part of a festive meal.

The name "Passover" derives from the fact that during the final plague, God passed through the land and smote every firstborn Egyptian -- but made sure to "pass over" the Jewish houses."
Four glasses of wine!! No wonder it's such a popular holiday. And for those who'd like a more modern twist on it, we can enjoy this bit of Passover madness, thanks to the indefatigable Jackie Chiles over at The Airing of Grievances.

Hag Sameach!

For Frist's "Just Us" Sunday 

Melanie from Just a Bump in the Beltway, and also my blogsibling over at American Street, has begun a new project: Judging the Future

I'll let her explain it:
"The blog is sponsored by Earthjustice and part of a 27 member advocacy group coalition in DC who think that blogs can make change.

The focus this week will be on the Frist nonsense and we're going to be part of a big blogburst to counter the Frist event on Sunday. I'm inviting you to join me in countering Frist's Just Us Sunday. We on the left don't think that faith is only for Republicans. Or that only Republicans have values, ethics or morals. All of those things CAN be derived from a faith tradition, but they can equally be found in the Universal Charter of Human Rights, the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism and Bob Fulgham's "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." The right doesn't own the franchise on morals. Or religion.

In my country, the people of faith include Ba'hais, Jains, Jews, Wiccans, Pagans, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Anamists, Methodists and Friends. And that is just part of the official chaplaincy list kept by the Department of Defence. They may have added Scientologists since the last time I checked. In my book, doubt and scepticism rank real high on the list of accepted faiths.

The Christian(ist) evangelical right doesn't have a lock on "faith" as much as they would like to think they do. On Sunday, they are going to hear from Americans of every faith and none at all that this is our country, too. Please join us."
That's right. It's my country, too. Check out the site, and get on over tomorrow to see what she has.

You Don't Know Julius Streicher 

Many blogs, including this one, have posted about Time's lovestory on Ann Coulter, (need susbscription), and author John Cloud's handling of that piece, but before I link you to my favorite, read this:
"Julius Streicher, the son of a teacher, was born in Fleinhausen on 12th February, 1885. He worked as an elementary school teacher until joining the German Army in 1914. Streicher won the Iron Cross and reached the rank of lieutenant by the time the Armistice was signed in 1918.
In 1919 Streicher he helped to establish Wistrich, an anti-Semitic organization, but it became part of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1920.
In 1923 Streicher founded and edited the racist newspapers, Der Stuermer (1923-45) which he used to build up a deep hatred of the Jewish race. Eventually the newspaper reached a circulation of 800,000.
In the newspaper Streicher argued that the Jews were responsible for the depression, unemployment and inflation in Germany. He claimed that Jews were white-slavers and were responsible for over 90 per cent of the prostitutes in the country.
Streicher had a low IQ (102) and was considered by many observers to be insane. Despite this his newspaper and his speaking tours made him one of the best known leaders in Nazi Germany.
In 1940 he was deprived of all party offices after printing untrue stories about Hermann Goering. However he remained on good terms with Adolf Hitler.
Julius Streicher was found guilty of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. His last words before execution on 16th October, 1946, was "Heil Hitler"."
Now get on over to uggabugga, and read Mr. Brownshirt.

"There are a lot of bad Republicans; there are no good Democrats."--Ann Coulter on Lou Dobbs Tonight, July 2003

Friday, April 22, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Leah says her back hurts; Riggsveda says she has the same thing, and gives the diagnosis:
Bush Stress Syndrome
I couldn't agree more. Though with me, the symptom are more low level: A constant, chronic, low level sense of rage. I don't sleep well at all, either.

Anyone else got B.S.S.? What are your symptoms?

Dominionists vs. the Constitution: "Break the rules to change the rules" 

Amazingly, the Christian Broadcasting Network has the money quote from Reid:

[REID] "They're going to break the rules to change the rules. And that seems really unfair. ... [Senator] Mitch [McConnell] can flex his muscles all he wants and talk about his having the votes, and maybe he does, but what he's doing is illegal. The parliamentarian of the United States Senate has said it's illegal. And to do this, you would have to break the rules to change the rules, and that's not the American way."
(via CBN)

Damn straight.

Think about about it.

The rule is, 60 votes to cut off debate. Yet Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist and his Dominionist owners claim that 50 votes can change that rule. Suppose your bass fishing club had a rule that a 60% vote was needed to admit a new member. And some guys wanted to admit a really obnoxious guy you didn't like, but only had 50% of the votes. So, with that 50%, they decide to change the rules requiring a 60% vote, so they can get their guy in. Would you stand for that? I didn't think so.

That's just what the Republicans are trying to do, and the Senate Parliamentarian (the umpire, the Republican-appointed expert on the rules) wouldn't stand for it either:

When he was majority leader, Lott appointed the parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, after firing his predecessor, Bob Dove.

Reid received the assurance from the parliamentarian during a private conversation within the past few weeks, according to aides. Reid told reporters this week that the parliamentarian assured him that, if Republicans go through with the move, “they will have to overrule him, because what they are doing is wrong.”

A Congressional Research Service report on the subject, updated this month, leaves little doubt that moves being contemplated by Republicans — specifically a ruling that a supermajority requirement to cut off debate is not in order — would not be based on previous precedents of the Senate.

The appeal of such a ruling would normally be debatable, although a Republican could move to table any such appeal — denying Democrats the opportunity to delay a ruling.

“Employment of either of these versions of the constitutional nuclea option’ would require the chair to overturn previous precedent,” according to the report, “either by ruling on a question that by precedent has been submitted to the Senate, or by ruling non-debatable a question that by precedent has been treated as debatable.”
(via The Hill

Jim Lehrer and Norman Ornstein detail how this train wreck would happen:

JIM LEHRER: Now, let's go to the next step. Let's say the filibuster is on, the call is for the cloture vote, and then they don't have 60 votes.


JIM LEHRER: Then Bill Frist will do what, under the nuclear option?

NORM ORNSTEIN: Under the nuclear option he will stand up and make a point of order that a filibuster against a judicial nomination is unconstitutional. And the chair, which very likely in this case will be Vice President Dick Cheney, the president of the Senate -- doesn't have to be -- will agree with that point of order, and say the opinion of the chair is unconstitutional.

JIM LEHRER: Then that goes to a vote, does it not?

NORM ORNSTEIN: Goes to a vote. There's a little bit of a catch-22 here, however that is that under the Senate rules, constitutional issues themselves are debatable. So the point of order, in effect, would be debatable. And that could be filibustered.

And what will have to happen here is that the chair [Cheney or, possible, Stevens] will have to ignore the parliamentarian, who has already said that in his opinion that's what would have to take place, or they would basically overrule the parliamentarian. Then the way the Senate operates is that points of order or challenges under the rules can come to a vote, and a majority can make that decision. So it will be a majority vote.

JIM LEHRER: So then assuming that Majority Leader Frist gets his way and through some combination, either it's 50/50 and then the vice president would cast the deciding vote, so you have a new set of rules that would apply to judicial nominations, right?

"Point of order, Mr. Chairman, point of order..." The past isn't dead, is it? It's not even past.

Reid has it exactly right. "Break a rule, to change a rule." It makes no sense at all to change a rule that requires a 60% vote based on a 50% vote. The Senate Parliamentarian, a Republican, agrees. But Frist and the Dominionists who own him are so drunk with power they'll do anything as long as they can keep hoisting the glass to their lips.

Frist, as of now, is saying that he's only going to break the rules this one time, to end the filibuster against the Bush's extreme de la extreme judges.

Please refer this to The Department of How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Everything we know about the Dominionists tells us they have no stopping points at all; that's what Domininionisms means. So much for the Constitution.

Frist's owners, the Dominionists, plan to abolish the independent judiciary 

Some kind soul recorded a Dominionist strategy session, and sent the tape to the LA Times:

An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.

"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The March conference featuring [James C.] Dobson and [Tony] Perkins [of Focus on the Family] showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges.

Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.

He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."

These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.

Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
(via LA Times)

The Dominionists own Frist, own Bush, and they own the Republican Party.

It isn't just about the filibuster; it isn't just about Bush's 10 judges; it's about the independence of the judicial branch of government.

It really is Republicans versus the Constitution. And so far, the Republicans have been winning.

NOTE And, oh yes, Bill "Hello Kitty" Frist taped his speech to his dominionist owners today, all about the "filibuster against people of [cough] faith," the theme of "[cough] Justice Sunday." He lends his name to the the dominionists, so he agrees with what they say, and wants what they want, which is the destruction of the US Constitution in favor of a theocracy.

Surprise! The Republicans aren't funding the federal voting agency 

Billions to Republican contributors like Diebold and ChoicePoint to install voting machines that can't be audited, but nada, nothing, zip, zilch, to ensure the integrity of the voting system.

I wonder why?

First Chair of Voting Commission Resigns, Criticizing Government
The first chairman of a federal voting agency created after the 2000 election dispute is resigning, saying the government has not shown enough commitment to reform.

DeForest Soaries said in an interview Friday that his resignation would take effect next week.

Though Soaries, 53, said he wanted to spend more time with his family in New Jersey, he added that his decision was prompted in part by what he called a lack of support.

"All four of us had to work without staff, without offices, without resources. I don't think our sense of personal obligation has been matched by a corresponding sense of commitment to real reform from the federal government," he said.

Sheesh, they can't even buy the guy a desk? And get this! The guy is a Republican and a Baptist minister!

Soaries is a Republican former secretary of state of New Jersey who was the White House's pick to join the Election Assistance Commission, created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help states enact voting reforms.

A Baptist minister, Soaries was confirmed by the Senate in December 2003 and elected the independent agency's first chairman by his three fellow commissioners. His term as chairman ended in January 2005 and since then he's stayed on as a commission member.

"It's bad enough to be working under extremely adverse circumstances, but what throws your thinking into an abyss, as it were, is why you would be doing that when, for instance, you have to beg Congress for money as if the commission was your idea," Soaries said.

Envisioned as a clearinghouse for election information that would make recommendations about technology and other issues and distribute $2.3 billion to states for voting improvements, the commission initially couldn't afford its own office space. The commissioners were appointed nine months later than envisioned by the Help America Vote Act, and of a $10 million budget authorized for 2004, the panel received $1.2 million.
(via AP)

Weird. Maybe the Republicans just forgot, or something?

For Poetry Month 

Leah has already made entree into Poetry Month, and put some of her own favorites up. I put a longtime favorite but too long a post (Ralph Hodgson's "The Bull") on my own site this week, but I thought the particularly political implications of this song by Stephen Fearing would be good for my contribution to corrente. Stephen is a wonderful Canadian singer-songwriter whose music and word paintings are a joy to hear.

This song, "Rave On Captain", has always felt like a dart at George Bush, and I'm happy to just keep thinking that:
"Rave On Captain
(Stephen Fearing - 2001/© Fearing & Loathing Music)

Rave on captain sir, will you wear the crown?
The votes were counted sleight of hand and you won the round
Standing present and correct
To coronate The King elect
We bend the knee, we show respect
To the new chief saboteur

Rave on for the masses as you lead the way
Rave on for the apathy that took the day
Either one or else the other
Tweedledum or Tweedledumber
March in circles to the same drummer
And it all becomes a blur
Rave on Captain, oh my Captain Sir

Rave on for the lawyer and the plain clothes cop
Rave unto the nation of the doughnut shop
News of you and your secretary
More than strictly necessary
The loudmouths and the mercenaries
We know who they were
Rave on Captain, oh my Captain Sir

Based on what you are and who you were it was a long shot
The high priest of the entrepreneurs it was a long shot
another shooting star thrust at the world it was a long shot
A long shot

Rave on for the drinker living hand to mouth
Rave on for the factories that headed south
holding court in secrecy
The bankrupt play monopoly
No mercy, no democracy
and no-one breathe a word
Rave on Captain, oh my Captain Sir

Based on what you are and who you were it was a long shot
The high priest of the entrepreneurs it was a long shot
another shooting star thrust at the world it was a long shot
A long shot

Rave on
Rave on"
Bush is mad, but they just keep enabling him. And so they all rave on.

Earth Day Ahoy! 

Piggybacking on Riggsveda's post, below, I note that Sens. Kerry and McCain requested a GAO report on the effects of global warming, and according to the NYT they’re not getting their money’s worth…

The investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, conclude in a report to be released today that none of the 21 studies of climate change that the administration plans to publish by September 2007 explicitly address the potential effects in eight areas specified by a 1990 law, the Global Change Research Act. The areas include agriculture, energy, water resources and biological diversity.

Without such an assessment, the accountability office said, "it may be difficult for the Congress and others to use this information effectively as the basis for making decisions on climate policy."

Not that Congress is especially worried about making sound decisions. Anyway, the NYT article concludes…

Mr. Bush began reorganizing climate research in 2001, focusing on the uncertainties about the relationship between rising global temperatures and rising concentrations of heat-trapping emissions. His critics, including some scientists and former senior officials in the climate program, say the shift in focus was meant to distract attention from the broad scientific consensus that humans have caused most of the new global warming.

Rick S. Piltz, who resigned last month after 10 years in the Global Change Research Program, which coordinates climate work, said that Dr. Mahoney [the guy who produced the report from the Commerce Dept.] had good intentions, but that the program had been changed so that worrisome findings did not emerge that could increase pressure to curb emissions.

The first national assessment of potential impacts of climate change under the global change law projected a host of potential problems in the United States if emissions and climate trends persisted.

Worrisome findings, indeed. Can't have people worried about silly things like breathing and drinking clean water. Why, it might cause a drop in profits, er, I mean, it might cause a panic.

But on a positive note—and, holy shit, it’s hard to keep our feet on the sunny side of the street these days, isn’t it?—a friend sent me a link to a cool site that helps folks find locally grown organic goods. I'm not listed on it, yet, but some people I know are. But then, I don't try to sell my stuff much outside of the county. Anyway, I pass it on to our thoughtful readers:


Check it out. Now I’m off to our semi-annual local Earth Day cleanup and How To Save the Earth brainstorming and eating and drinking and playing in the woods gathering. It usually ends up with pickup trucks full of trash at the end of the weekend and blistering hangovers. Sometimes a few fresh fish.

Earth Day. Again. 

So it's another Earth Day, and the House celebrates by passing a big ol' mess o' corporate welfare disguised as an "Energy Bill". I mean, who else in this country is more deserving of massive tax breaks and general obsequiousness than the largest, richest, most powerful cartel of industrial greedsters in the world? Amusingly, the bill approved shields makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits involving the contamination of drinking water, which is just the perfect touch of irony to finish off the whole Earth Day concept.

And how will Bush-Lite celebrate? By visiting the Great Smoky Mountains, where NPR reported this a.m. that problems of smog, pollution, and the resulting decreased visibility and health dangers arising from them, have made a mockery of one of our most beautiful resources, and where he will stand on his hind legs and actually pretend to be concerned with the state of the envirnoment:
"He was to speak at the Cades Cove area near Townsend, Tenn., after some quick restoration work on one of more than a dozen trails that originates there.
"I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty," Bush, who spends hours during his down time clearing brush on his Texas ranch, told young people awarded for their environmental work at the White House on Thursday. "Looking forward to getting outside of Washington."
Getting his hands dirty? Why, he's spent more than 4 years doing it! His filthy handprints are all over the perversion of government and the handouts to the plutocracy that have been ongoing since he ascended the throne. But for sheer, unadulterated horseshit, you'd have to go pretty far to match this:
"McClellan said Bush would use his speech to emphasize the importance of personal environmental stewardship, volunteerism and cooperative conservation efforts.
"One of the greatest responsibilities in a free society is responsible stewardship of our natural environment," Bush said at the White House ceremony. "All of you have taken that duty seriously. You have set a clear and strong example, and you're inspiring others to do their part."
He's emphasizing volunteerism because he knows this government is sure as hell not going to be doing anything useful to help. As for his "clear and strong example", I'd guess that would have to be his promotion of mountaintop removal mining (nicely ironic touch, speechifying today in mountains that your policies are helping to destroy), his free pass to the meat industry regarding regulation of vast pig farm waste lagoons, his pro-mercury "solution", and so many, many more.

But who needs to worry about what happens to other people's living space, when you're rich enough to maintain a couple thousand acres all to yourself? And who needs to worry about being called to account for your hypocritical lies, when you have such a gloriously supine media to lick your boots and shield your Royal Person.

Happy Fucking Earth Day.

Update on Georgie's field trip from alert reader Charles:
"W's trip cancelled, due, it is reported, to bad weather. I think the real reason is that they couldn't find the Great Smokies in the smog, and had to turn back."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Condoms == life 

Duh. Duh, that is, to everyone but our crop of winger loons:

"I believe condoms need to be debated, and I believe theologically their use can be justified, to prevent the transmission of a death-dealing virus," said Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, South Africa, an impoverished diocese of miners and poor women who sell their bodies to feed their children, where H.I.V. rates in prenatal clinics approach 50 percent.

"I see these young women and their babies, and the desperation and the suffering, and I think, 'What would Jesus want?' " he said in an interview. "There's no way he could condemn someone like this."
(via NY Times)

In our debased discourse, "culture of life" is yet another example of winger up-is-downism. In reality, These People are totally into death—as long as its someone else who's dying.

At least linux doesn't wuss out when bigots come calling 

And how could linux wuss out, anyhow? The open source community isn't a giant monopoly, and there aren't any corporate lackeys and bootlickers and marketing weasels and yellow-bellied lawyers to do the wussing:

The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, came under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees on Thursday after it withdrew its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Dr. Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, who has organized several rallies opposing same-sex marriage here and in Washington, D.C., said he had threatened in those meetings to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products. State Representative Ed Murray, an openly gay Democrat and sponsor of the bill, said that late last month he had conversations with high-level Microsoft employees who mentioned the boycott threat and said that they could not support the bill this year.

After Dr. Hutcherson told Microsoft that he would organize the boycott, "they backed off," the pastor said in a telephone interview Thursday. "I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about," he said.

Microsoft's decision not to endorse the anti-discrimination bill and its meetings with Dr. Hutcherson were first reported Thursday by The Stranger, an alternative weekly newspaper in Seattle.

Representative Murray said that in a conversation last month with Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel, Mr. Smith had made it clear to him that the company was under pressure from the church and the pastor and that he was also concerned about the reaction to company support of the bill among its Christian [SIC] employees, the lawmaker said.
(NY Times)

Disgusting. I wonder how Microsoft's gay employees feel about this?

Goodnight, moon 

I keep promising, threatening, to type up the material in latest Harpers on the Dominionists... But it's late, and I'm tired. Reward good behavior and buy a copy on the newsstand.

And speaking of the Dominionists... If the SICs control the Air Force, isn't that really bad news? I mean, theocrats could be said to believe in civilian control of the military... If the civilians are [cough] Godly, that is.

So, Republicans—Who's your Daddy? 

Somebody on the Republican side is leaking polls that show there's no support at all for the "nuclear option," that would deprive minorities of any power at all in the Senate:

A recent survey taken for Senate Republicans showed 37 percent support for the GOP plan to deny Democrats the ability to filibuster judicial nominees, while 51 percent oppose.

Additionally, the survey indicated only about 20 percent of Americans believe the Republican statement that Bush is the first president in history whose court appointees have been subjected to a filibuster, a tactic in which opponents can prevent a vote unless supporters gain 60 votes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, noting the survey data has not been made public.
(via AP)

So, if the Republicans go ahead with this, that means the extremists own them.

Republicans... Who's your Daddy?

When you have to say it, it's already too late 

Why, I wonder, would Bush feel the need to assure people with "ideas" that the White House will not attack them when they share those ideas?

"[BUSH] When somebody puts an idea on the table, you can rest assured the White House will not attack them, and that's important for people to hear," he said.
(via WaPo)

Translation: "Honey, I've changed!"

Why on earth would people with "ideas" think that all dealing with Bush buys you is a ticket to Kickintheballsville?

Oh, those crazy Democrats!

Bipartisanship Gets You Respect, Right? 

As Lambert pointed out last night, accommodationism with These People gets you a ticket on a fast train to Kickintheballsville:

From our Dear Leader's Dear Father at the Washington Times
House Democrats have voted with Republicans on several major bills this year, and Republicans say this indicates a lack of vision and agenda coming from Democratic leadership.

"What we're seeing is a pattern of bipartisanship, of Democrats lacking in agenda and their guys jumping over to the Republican vision of how we're running the country," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.
Are these guys getting ALL their lines (we know about their attitude already) from Cartman on "South Park"? We'll know for sure when they decide to twirl their fingers in unison and say "Screw you guys, ah'm going home."

You might want to include this quote with any correspondence to your Reps and Sens who are contemplating "taking the high road." Fuggedaboudit.

Department of Vile Rumors Update 

If I was a tinfoil hat kind of person, and I’m saying, if—then Wayne Madsen’s latest aluminum wrap piece would certainly produce a blip on my radar screen. And even if I wasn’t a tinfoil hat kind of person, but just a particularly nasty sort of partisan, I might start spreading this story around as a sort of what-if? story, a la Vince Foster.

Fortunately for corrente readers and truth-lovers everywhere, I am neither. So I just post this snippet in the spirit of The Department of Vile Rumors, which has been somewhat dormant lately.

First reported on November 20, 2003, updated April 20, 2005, WASHINGTON, DC—In a case eerily reminiscent of the death of British Ministry of Defense bio-weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly, an official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research Near East and South Asian division (INR/NESA), John J. Kokal, 58, was found dead in the late afternoon of November 7, 2003.

Police indicated he may have jumped from the roof of the State Department. Kokal's body was found at the bottom of a 20-foot window well, eight floors below the roof of the State Department headquarters, near the 23rd and D Street location. Kokal's death was briefly mentioned in a FOX News website story on November 8 but has been virtually overlooked by the major media. In light of recent revelations concerning UN ambassador nominee John Bolton's bizarre and physically abusive behavior, a re-examination of the Kokal death is in order.


It is noteworthy that Bolton's ideological soul mate at the National Security Council (NSC), ex-Iran-Contra felon Elliot Abrams, has also been psychologically and physically abusive to his subordinates. Bolton and Abrams are long-time friends, having both helped devise the neoconservative game plan for U.S. global domination through their activities with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC).

According to a UPI report, Abrams once led CIA officer Ben Miller (who was on loan to the NSC from the agency) to an open window at the NSC and told him to jump.


The suspicious fatal fall from the Watergate complex of ex-CIA and NSC official Dr. Gus Weiss a few weeks after Kokal's similar death at the nearby State Department also merits investigation. Weiss, like Kokal, was adamantly opposed to the Iraq war and Weiss, uncharacteristically, went public with his protests.

I know, I know…we’re stuck with those pesky things called facts and evidence, but the story’s called…Was Bolton behind death of State Department official?

Didja Hear What _________ Said? 

If you haven’t read this, you must. "What I Heard About Iraq" by Eliot Weinberger. Really, you must. Copy it and send it to others. It’s a rundown of actual quotes from The Gang That Couldn’t Lie Straight, and their own words are more damning than any editorial. During the ’04 campaign, I kept wondering when the Dems were going to use something like this, just a compendium of their own words, to hang ‘em up to dry. It didn’t happen. Alas. But with ’06 coming up, and Jebbie (“culture of life with a pistol if you feel threatened”) waiting in the wings, well…

Weinberger avoids editorializing and lets them tell their own story in chronological order. I mean, who can forget such gems as:

I heard Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad, since it would have meant getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." I heard him say: "The question in my mind is: How many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: Not very damned many."


I heard the President tell Congress, "The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year."

And that same day, I heard him say: "The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them. And when they have fully materialized it may be too late to protect ourselves and our friends and our allies. By then the Iraqi dictator would have the means to terrorize and dominate the region. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX-nerve gas-or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally."


I heard Donald Rumsfeld say he would present no specific evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction because it might jeopardize the military mission by revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows.

I heard the Pentagon spokesman call the military plan "ADay," or "Shock and Awe." Three or four hundred Cruise Missiles launched every day, until "there will not be a safe place in Baghdad," until "you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes." I heard the spokesman say: "You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and thirty of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted." I heard him say: "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never contemplated."


I heard an American soldier say: "We get rocks thrown at us by kids. You wanna turn around and shoot one of the little fuckers, but you know you can' t do that."

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say that the US did not count civilian casualties: "Our efforts focus on destroying the enemy's capabilities, so we never target civilians and have no reason to try to count such unintended deaths." I heard him say that, in any event, it would be impossible, because the Iraqi paramilitaries were fighting in civilian clothes, the military was using civilian human shields, and many of the civilian deaths were the result of Iraqi "unaimed anti-aircraft fire falling back to earth."

I heard an American soldier say: "The worst thing is to shoot one of them, then go help him," as regulations require. "Shit, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the fuckers. There were some you let die. And there were some you doubletapped. Once you'd reached the objective, and once you'd shot them and you're moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn't want any prisoners of war."

Go. Read. Pass it on. Ask people, “Remember when (lying Bu’ushite) said ____________?”

The Trouble With Harry 

In his weekly NYT column, David Brooks cuts through the Gordian knot of our current legislative impasse with his characteristic brilliance and subtlety of mind.

It's all Harry Blackmun's fault.

See, if he'd only refrained from inflicting the "undemocratic" Roe v. Wade on us (as consistently described by roughly 38% of the respondents in poll after poll), we wouldn't have "all these problems," as someone else recently said in another context, and we would not be staring at nuclear options, filibusters and the breakdown of all we hold dear. Instead, we'd have a tranquil polity in which each state, in its own Solomonic wisdom, would come up with a legislative compromise on abortion and everyone would be happy.

I'm sure space constraints kept Brooks from citing the most obvious precedent for this approach of subjecting a minority group's personal autonomy to state by state legislation. In that case, courts understood their proper role, and deferentially refused to interfere when conflicts arose. I think we all recall how well that turned out.

This is the kind of "thinking outside the box" that we could all stand to see more of. I, for one, look forward to a country in which an act could be perfectly legal in one jurisdiction and punishable by death in another, don't you?

And just think of all the myriad "compromises" that might come out of this bold experiment in the laboratories of democracy. In one state, rape victims might get a loophole; in another incest victims might get the same perk. Statutory rape would be one of those grey areas that legislatures could quite reasonably arrive at different decisions. In other states, a woman might have to show she took all possible precautions to not get pregnant before being granted the right to terminate her pregnancy. (That is, assuming that contraception were still legal in her state to begin with.) In one state, the father of the fetus might wield veto power over the woman's decision--why, in "liberal" states, he might even be allowed to compel the woman to have an abortion against her will. (Perhaps Dick Cheney could cast the deciding vote?)

And then there's always the possibility that an antichoice state concerned with moral and logical consistency might make a cooperating father as criminally liable for an abortion as the woman. Ha! A little joke there.

And once the concept of the fetus' superior rights to the mother's gained traction, we could move into even more adventurous "compromises" such as extending the concept of negligent homicide to pregnant women. Perhaps women who miscarried while smoking and drinking could get a statutory pass, but women who used other substances would be forced to pay for their depraved indifference to their unwanted offspring's well-being. Indeed, under a Roe-less legal system, we would finally enjoy a truly multicultural society, one in which we celebrated life in all its manifold glories. I'm sure that the current opponents of Roe would be satisfied with this patchwork solution to what formerly seemed like an insoluble problem.

Why didn't we think of this sooner?

The BS Floats Up Eventually 

So it took this long for a grassroots revolt against No Child Left Behind (Associated Press), with even Texas and Utah signing on.

Will it take this long for the folks forced to pay their grocery and medicine money to credit card companies to revolt?

Is Middle America waking up and smelling the bullshit?

Children At War 

Good program right now on this a.m.'s WHYY 91 FM Radio Times, interviewing P.W. Singer about his book "Children at War," on the tragedy of the use of kids in conflicts around the world. If you can't hear it, you can go to the website and listen to it in archives a little later today.

Yet Another Sermon To The Choir 

The Village Voice is a veritable cornucopia of worthwhile news this a.m. Among the examples, this piece by Sydney Schanberg on using civil disobedience by journalists to bring the White House back to accountability for its constant perversion of truth and power:
"The falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction that gave the White House the public support to wage war in Iraq may be the most vivid example of the perversion, but the practice permeates all corners of the Bush government.
The press has been grappling with how to cope with this extreme control and distortion of news, some reporters and editors more than others. One possibility they might consider is civil resistance, as in quiet, nonviolent, respectful rebellion."
He goes on to suggest that journalists, when faced with government refusal to respond to legitimate questions or when setting up barriers to the people's right to know, simply refuse to cover their Orwellian photo ops, or go undercover to get the real truth:
"There's absolutely nothing new or outrageous about the methods of journalistic civil disobedience. Those reporters or editors worried about offending officialdom and losing their access should step back and look at history. Reporters from the time of Thucydides have been poking their noses and their physical selves into places where the powers had forbade them to go. In my own 45 years as a reporter, I have often gone into areas, both domestic and foreign, that the press was barred from. It was at times the only way to get the story. At the same time, you knew that under local law, you were trespassing and, if caught, could be arrested or deported—both of which have happened to me and legions of other journalists. You have to be prepared to accept the penalties."
Schanberg is a braver reporter than most, but he lays out the compelling reason why the press must take up this fight:
"One of the reasons the public doesn't have much empathy for the press's troubles is that often they see us as people claiming privilege. Anotherreason—maybe the primary one—is that we haven't made our case with the public. We haven't gotten across why people need us or why what we do is important to the functioning of a free nation. We haven't effectively gotten our readers to understand that if they get lied to by their government or other power centers, and we—or some other watchdogs—don't quickly show them the lie, bad things can happen. People can lose their health insurance or have their homes seized by the bank. And wars can happen and people can die. So we have to find better ways to show them why this is true and therefore why aggressive journalism is a necessity.
The "rights" to information that some in the press cite so automatically are not automatic. They were fought for and won in difficult times. They will have to be fought for now. We have to continually earn them."
Elsewhere in the paper, Nat Hentoff recaps the extent to which Uzbekistan interrogators (you know, the folks who boil people to death) have been helping the CIA pull intelligence out of renditioned captives, nicely juxtaposed against numerous lies and quibbling blather spewed by Bush and Porter Goss over the last few months.

Now, what occurs to me here is that if journalists decided to embrace Schanberg's proposals, a situation like the rendition and subsequent torture of American prisoners to places like Uzbekistan would have been unearthed like the vermin it is and splashed all over the front pages and on the nightly news every day. The lies being fed to us by these people would be exposed and beaten into the ground, not just on little weblogs and in boutique zines and obscure or marginalized organs, but by every paper and television outlet across the nation. It is to our everlasting shame that these outrages have recognized by those beyond our shores for years, while our own reporters come to such recognition kicking and screaming and way too late.

There is nothing less than our national soul at stake here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Colorado: It can't happen here, no it can't happen here 

One of the interesting articles in this week's Harpers (reward good behavior by buying one) is "Soldiers for Christ." It's all about America's most powerful megachurch, New Life Church, and its Dear Leader, "Pastor Ted," who are located i Colorado Springs.

In Colorado Springs, near the Air Force Academy.

Why? Because they wanted to recruit there. And by their fruits shall ye know them:

The Air Force Academy, still recovering from rape and sexual harassment scandals, now is facing charges that some Christian cadets have bullied and berated Jews and students of other religious backgrounds.

The school's leader [!], Commandant Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, describes himself as born again.

Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and lawyer in Albuquerque, N.M., said his son, Curtis - who is in his second year at the academy - had been called a "filthy Jew."

"When I was at the academy, there wasn't this institutional notion that if you didn't accept Christ you would burn eternally in hell," [Weinstein] said. "I want the generals to come out and say, 'Yes, we have a systemic problem, and we are working to fix it.' "

Air Force officials said they first got an inkling of a problem after reading the results of a student survey last May.

Many cadets expressed concern over religious respect and a lack of tolerance.

Then, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's film about the crucifixion, was released.

Hundreds of small movie posters were pinned up in the academy dining hall advertising the movie. Cadets did mass e-mailings urging people to go see it.

Yesterday, Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family, denounced any acts of bigotry, but said it is Christians who are facing discrimination.
(via Baltimore Sun)

The only way these loons won't whine about being discriminated against is when everyone in the world is exactly like them—because everyone who isn't has been stoned to death, in approved Old Testament fashion.

And needless to say, Weinstein is right: SIC bigotry is an institutional problem in Colorado Springs:

An Air Force Academy chaplain urged cadets during basic training last year to warn fellow cadets that those not “born again will burn in the fires of hell,” according to a Yale University Divinity School report.

The same chaplain corps that Yale criticized for undermining religious tolerance is responsible for carrying out new training to engender religious tolerance.

Efforts to address the academy’s religious culture comes on the heels of the sexual assault scandal, which emerged in 2003 when female cadets alleged the academy mishandled their sexual assault reports.
(via Colorado Gazette)

Bigotry, rape, bullying under the cover of "sharing" their "faith"—that's what happens when you give SICs dominion.

Needless to say, Colorado Springs is also the headquarters of James Dobson's dominionist apparatus, Focus on the Family ("Focus on your own damn family!") Naturally, they've targetted Ken Salazar, who has this to say about the SICs:

Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar lashed out at Focus on the Family Thursday, saying the group is using "un-Christian" political tactics in the fight over White House judicial appointments.

Salazar defended Democrats' right to filibuster objectionable nominees and blasted the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based evangelical Christian group for recent ads urging him to "STOP the nonsense."

"I do think that what has happened here is there has been a hijacking of the U.S. Senate by what I call the religious right wing of the country," Salazar told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday.

He singled out Focus on the Family by name, objecting to full-page newspaper ads the ministry's political arm recently placed, targeting 20 senators in 15 states.

"I think what has happened is Focus on the Family has been hijacking Christianity and become an appendage of the Republican Party," Salazar said in an interview. "I think it's using Christianity and religion in a very unprincipled way."
(via Scripps Howard)

After reading that, I thought I was coming close to forgiving Salazar for Alberto "Torture Memos" Gonzales. But then I read to the end of the article:

If Republicans back down from the proposed rule changes, Salazar and Lieberman said they would consider voting to approve some of the seven most controversial nominees whose nominations have been stalled.

Oh, man. Ken, Ken, Ken.

You can't beat the dominionists by going down on your knees! If you try to give them a knob job, it only annoys them! Look at Max Cleland (done in by Ralph Reed, BTW).

You've already called them theocrats—which of their judges do you want to vote in? The ones who want to abolish the New Deal, or the ones who claim the Constitution is biblically based?

Rapture index unchanged on economy, Iran nukes 

Rapture Ready.

Just to give you some idea how these loons think, here are the scores:

The economy: +1 (There are new fears that economic activity is slowing.)
Persia (Iran): -1 (Israel has said it has no plans to bomb Iran's nuclear Facilities.)

So, the economy is tanking. That's good, because it brings the Rapture closer.

And Israel isn't going to cause the entire Mideast to explode by bombing Iran. That's bad, because it pushes the Rapture farther off.

Anyone detecting a whiff of up-is-downism here? Anyhow, you can see why these loons like Bush so much!

Someone should ask Bush if he believes in the Rapture. In fact, someone should ask Bush if He's a dominionist.

Goodnight, moon 

Harpers just appeared on the newsstands, and has excellent articles on the Dominionists. Reward good behavior by buying a copy.

I may have to go to church this Sunday. For "Social Justice Sunday," that is.

Inerrant Boy Shares His Wealth Secrets 

Bush gave a speech dedicating the new Lincoln Museum today.

Whoa. Just a minute, here.

Sorry, I'm feeling a little bit queasy. Where's that damn bucket?


OK. Now I feel better. And Bush had this to say:

"Citizens enlisted Lincoln's principles in the fight to bring the vote to women and to end Jim Crow laws. When Martin Luther King Jr. called the nation to redeem the promissory note of the Declaration [of Independence], he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial -- and Lincoln was behind him in more ways than one," Bush said. "From the lunch counter to the schoolhouse door to the Army barracks, President Lincoln has continued to hold this nation to its promises."
(via WaPo)

Funny, isn't it?

When Bush wants to grab a two-fer by co-opting the name of a great President, and black American's struggle for freedom, he uses "promissory note"—as a metaphor for "holding the nation to its promises."

So how about promissory notes that aren't metaphors, but real?

The "promise," good for 70 years until Bush came along, that when we pay our payroll taxes, we get to retire in dignity?

That promise, and those promissory notes, are no metaphors.

But when Bush encounters a real promissory note, to him it's nothing but a pile of IOUs.

Why is that?

Great Moments In History 

The Weird Sisters have a brother:

Kudos to the NYTimes for publishing with a straight face.

John Cloud / David Brock / Ann Coulter 

It's not a big deal really, but through a google search I found out that John Cloud (the "journalist" who did the Time piece on Ann Coulter), is a 1993 graduate of Harvard and is apparently gay as well as wants a same-sex marriage.

Anyway, this certainly suggests that there's more to Cloud's obvious enmity toward David Brock as evidenced in this interview in which he tries to defend his Coulter kiss-up piece. I had wondered about that as I read it.

Listen To Your Mother 

Chris Mooney over at Mother Jones (who says there aren’t still real journalists?) has dug up an impressive list of “scientists” and “think tanks” (I use quotation marks to emphasize the level of doubt) that are on ExxonMobil’s pay, hired, basically, to deny that global warming exists. It begins with an even attended by Michael Crichton, whose book, State of Fear, had just been released. Suffice it to say that Crichton has gone around the bend. After he did his spiel at the meeting, this is what happened:

During the question-and-answer period following his speech, Crichton drew an analogy between believers in global warming and Nazi eugenicists. “Auschwitz exists because of politicized science,” Crichton asserted, to gasps from some in the crowd. There was no acknowledgment that the AEI event was part of an attempt to do just that: politicize science. The audience at hand was certainly full of partisans.

The AEI of course, has its own history, but Mooney goes on to note that

Mother Jones has tallied some 40 ExxonMobil-funded organizations that either have sought to undermine mainstream scientific findings on global climate change or have maintained affiliations with a small group of “skeptic” scientists who continue to do so. Beyond think tanks, the count also includes quasi-journalistic outlets like Tech CentralStation.com (a website providing “news, analysis, research, and commentary” that received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2003), a FoxNews.com columnist, and even religious and civil rights groups. In total, these organizations received more than $8 million between 2000 and 2003 (the last year for which records are available; all figures below are for that range unless otherwise noted). ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Lee Raymond serves as vice chairman of the board of trustees for the AEI, which received $960,000 in funding from ExxonMobil. The AEI-Brookings Institution Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which officially hosted Crichton, received another $55,000. When asked about the event, the center’s executive director, Robert Hahn—who’s a fellow with the AEI—defended it, saying, “Climate science is a field in which reasonable experts can disagree.”

It’s a good read. Check it out: Some Like It Hot and see who’s getting dirty money to do bad science in the cause of greedy oil and their bought and paid for pols. See who's getting the dough at Forty public policy groups that lists who's grabbing this oily cash.

This in a world that will force people who go bankrupt to forego groceries in order to fatten credit card companies.

Fear and greed. Peace and justice. We must choose, brothers and sisters. And, hey, a subscription to Mother Jones makes a nice gift for a loved one.


I wish I were making this up but one of the loony commentators over at Faux is trying to pin the Oklahoma City bombing on Iraq. (Link via Atrios)


Just how obviously nuts do these folks have to get before the American people will start repudiating them?

I mean, come on folks, these are the people whose hatred of government created folks like Timothy McVeigh.

I know they don't want to admit their hatred did this but, holy shit, it's incredible how far they'll go to try and avoid responsibility, isn't it?

Whores For Industry 

As Lambert pointed out last night, the Bolton vote for confirmation to the UN post was delayed to revisit allegations against him, and as Martha Stewart would say, "That's a good thing."

But then there's this:
"Americans weighed down by credit card bills and other financial obligations will have a harder time wiping out their debt under a bankruptcy bill President Bush is poised to sign.
Many debtors will have to work out repayment plans instead of having their obligations erased in bankruptcy court under the law, which will go into effect six months after Bush signs it Wednesday. The legislation is the biggest rewrite of the bankruptcy code in a quarter-century and was pushed for eight years by banks and credit card companies...
The bill got final congressional approval last Thursday, and Bush said he was eager to sign it. "These commonsense reforms will make the system stronger and better so that more Americans — especially lower-income Americans — have greater access to credit," he said."
Does that make ANY fucking sense at all---low-income Americans will have greater access to credit?? This isn't about giving them credit. They're already being raked over the coals by credit companies with medieval usury rates in the very HOPES that they will default. This is about putting even more money into the coffers of the men at the top of the food chain who never, ever can get enough to satisfy themselves.Worst president ever!!!

Today he signs it. In six months the misery intensifies. Hold the Dems accountable for this, because they crawled into bed with him and gave him the very best head he could have ever asked for. Joe Biden, I'm talking to you.

The Implications 

Great to have Tresy back!

The Pope is dead. Long live the Pope. What struck me yesterday was the number of commenters at various places around the net who reacted with brittleness at bloggers' posts critical of Ratzinger, even posts which were fairly mild. But what a number of those commenters seemed to forget was that the Catholic Church is made up of many different voices, and not all of them held the same view of the development, as the NYTimes observed:
"Some liberal Catholics and interest groups criticized the choice as a lost opportunity to move the church in a less doctrinaire direction because the new pope, a conservative German who was close to the late John Paul II, has long held hard-line positions on many divisive issues, including birth control, homosexuality and the ordination of women. He has also suggested that a vote for a politician who supports abortion rights could be sinful, and that American bishops should deny such politicians Holy Communion.
With no less fervor, many conservative Catholics praised Benedict as a strong leader whom they expected to shore up the church's teachings and serve as a formidable steward of traditional values. Some expressed hopes that the new pope would again require that Latin be spoken at Mass."
One of the most revealing sources of background on Ratzinger, which offers an insight into why the liberals in the church were so disheartened, is this 1999 article from The National Catholic Reporter, which had this to say:
"At the most basic level, many Catholics cannot escape the sense that Ratzinger’s exercise of ecclesial power is not what Jesus had in mind.
Beneath the competing analyses and divergent views, this much is certain: Ratzinger has drawn lines in the sand and wielded the tools of his office on many who cross those lines. Whether necessary prophylaxis or a naked power play, his efforts to curb dissent have left the church more bruised, more divided, than at any point since the close of Vatican II."
The article goes on to discuss Ratzinger's attacks on liberation theologists, his silencing of ecumenicism, his demonization of liberal politics and homosexuality, and his expansion of the doctrine of infallibility to include arguments against issues like the ordination of women which has never been found to be based on any teaching of Jesus or other sound theology.

For people to shrug their shoulders and say,"Oh well, he's a conservative, that's just what the Church is", is for them to close their eyes to the millions of faithful who are left voiceless by the policies of the Ratzingers and John Pauls of Catholicism. And the net effect will be for those who disagree to keep their own counsel, become more alienated from the Church, and continue living their lives as they see fit, whether that means using birth control or any other number of practices condemned by the Enforcer. That is how schisms are formed, and how churches become ghosts.

And that is how you take the "catholic" out of the Catholic Church.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Frogs and Tonsils 

A response we frequently get when folks find out we're moving to Canada is, "Oh, c'mon you'll be rid of Bush in 4 years no matter what happens." What I want to tell people who say this is, it's not Bush. Bush is not the problem, he's the symptom of a much larger problem, one that's frankly only getting worse. The problem is a society that takes as normal, to take the most recent example, a putatively serious newsmagazine putting on its cover a person who jokes about murdering journalists (for starters).

In an ideal society, people like Ann Coulter would not exist. Then again, in an ideal world, disease would not exist. But since we live in a world in which diseases do exist, we develop defenses against it. Our bodies learn to recognize that which preys upon it, and keeps it from gaining a toehold. In a normal environment, disease is a fact of life, but it's one we ignore at our peril. Ditto sick people. And in a normal, healthy society, people like Ann Coulter are pariahs. They exist, but they are are shunned. The virus they carry is thus confined to the margins.

I am recalling an old Bill Cosby routine, where the pediatrician explains to the young Cosby what tonisillitis is and why he has it. After patiently explaining the role of tonsils in trapping bacteria that might otherwise get into one's body, the doctor pauses for effect and then says, voice deepening, "...In your case, your tonsils have gone over to The Other Side..." What Time and Howie Kurtz's weekly circle jerk demonstrate is that our civic immune system--aka our press--has essentially gone over to the other side. And by the other side, I don't mean wingnuttia or even conservatism. I mean the side of not giving a shit. I mean an attitude that demonstrates on a daily basis an indifference to really the most basic expectations about what their job description is, married to a smug delusion that they are actually excelling at it. And it's when our civic institutions stop giving a shit that viruses like Ann Coulter multiply. And when viruses are allowed to multiply, nothing good comes out of it.

Last year when we were in Canada we caught what appeared to be a routine event on CBC television. Paul Martin sat for a half-hour, one-on-one interview with a single reporter, who proceeded to grill him in a semi-Socratic manner on issues ranging from gay marriage to missile defense to trade to the budget to separatism. Evasive answers were met with pointed followups; so were seemingly forthright answers. One could see Martin getting testy, but he had no choice but to answer the questions, which were good questions. There were no Jeff Gannons throwing him a lifeline, no Scott McClellans between him and his interlocutor. At the end of the half hour, the interview ended and on came the next show: another one-on-one interview between Paul Martin and a different interviewer... conducted entirely in French. My spouse and I nearly got verklempft. It was like stumbling on a living example of a bird species long thought extinct.

Canada's expectations about its press perhaps explains why, when a virus like Ann Coulter ventures into a society with a functioning immune system, she gets annihilated. Here, meanwhile, there is not an iota of evidence, as far as I can tell, that the press cares what Media Matters and the rest of the reality-based community think about its performance, let alone intends to improve. Quite the contrary. Using a different metaphor, Digby says he's feeling "frog-boiled". I"ve been feeling that way at least since 1998. And until the rest of the frogs snap out of it, I'm afraid the prudent thing to do is to get the hell out of the saucepan.

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