Saturday, April 30, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

The 76ers won! And Detroit looked bad. WTF?

Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites 

I got some Mother's Day spam from these guys:


Wow. "Christian" Pharmaceuticals.

And yeah, Mother's Day sure is sacred ... Look, Viagra! But, oddly, or not, no birth control pills. Guess these guys must be conscientous objectors or something.

One Small Victory 

A small victory, but a victory all the same. The Navajo Nation voted to make uranium mining illegal anywhere on the rez. Now, what to do with the tailings from years ago? More to follow.

And now also to just make sure that the new proposed coal-fired power plant is defeated.

It’s soooo much easier to build coalitions and win victories on the local level. And these victories move up the political chain.

No link, sorry. I heard about the new law from some friends at Dine' CARE from down south of me. I think they have a webpage, but I'm in a hurry and just wanted to share something good. We get so little these days.

Quack, quack.... 

Even the LWRM is noticing...

First, [the networks] forced [Bush] to move up the start time of his news conference to accommodate hit shows at the start of a ratings period. Then, even as Bush announced he was taking his last question because, "I don't want to cut into some of these TV shows that are getting ready to air," CBS, FOX and NBC cut him off to switch to their entertainment lineups.
(via Knight-Ridder)

Et tu, FUX? The most unkindest cut of all...

Blogger haikus 

In the spirit of poetry month:

Blogger Problem: This
server is currently ex-
periencing a

A what?! Don't keep me in suspense!

Problem. An engin-
eer has been notified and
will investigate.

Well, it's a pretty lame haiku. And?

Hey, I'd like to be an engineer! I could wear a neat hat, and I'd get to sound the whistle! Oh, wait. That was back in the age of steam power... No relevance to blogger at all ...

Hey, let's see if this posts!

After Such Bullshit, A Formal Feeling Comes 

The bullshit in question refers to our unrevered President, the "after" to this last week, a stand-out even in his previous stellar achievements in the Annals of Bullshit. More on this later today or tomorrow.

To get that acrid taste out of our brains, herewith, our woman's edition of honoring National Poetry Month by actually reading some poetry:

It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be poet
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
    giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
    also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
    because of the screaming rhetoric
It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out and
It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes
It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
    towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
    and buckwheat fields and army camps
It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman
It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman
It is the poet's responsibility to speak truth to power as the
    Quakers say
It is the poet's responsibility to learn the truth from the
It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times; there is no
    freedom without justice and this means economic
    justice and love justice
It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
    and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems
It is the responsibility of the poet to listen to gossip and pass it
    on in the way story tellers decant the story of life
There is no freedom without fear and bravery there is no
    freedom unless
    earth and air and water continue and children
    also continue
It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman...to keep an eye on
    this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
    listened to this time.

their shoes are stuccoed with sawdust and blood
the two young butchers walk singing together on ninth avenue
the sun is out because it is the lunch hour
they kick the melting snow and splash into deep puddles
then they embraceone another in the cold air
for water and singing may wash away the blood of the lamb

—Grace Paley

Poem For Maya
Dipping our bread in oil tins
we talked of morning peeling
open our rooms to a moment
of almonds, olives and wind
when we did not yet know what we were.
The days in Mallorca were alike:
footprints down goat-paths
from the beds we had left,
at night the stars locked to darkness.
At that time we were learning
to dance, take our clothes
in our fingers and open
ourselves to their hands.
The veranera was with us.
For a month the almond trees bloomed,
their droppings the delicate silks
we removed when each time a touch
took us closer to the window where
we whispered yes, there on the intricate
balconies of breath, overlooking
the rest of our lives.

—Carolyn Forche

This Beautiful Black Marriage
Photograph negative
her black arm: a diving porpoise,
sprawled across the ice-banked pillow.
Head: a sheet of falling water.
Her legs: icicle branches breaking into light.

This woman,
photographed sleeping.
The man,
making the photograph in the acid pan of his brain.
Sleep stain them both,
as if cloudy semen
rubbed shiningly over the surface
will be used to develop their images.

on the desert
the porpoises curl up,
their skeleton teeth are bared by
parched lips;
her sleeping feet
trod on scarabs,
holding the names of the dead
tight in the steady breathing.

This man and woman have married
and travel reciting
names of missing objects.

They enter a pyramid.
A black butterfly covers the doorway
like a cobweb,
folds around her body,
the snake of its body
closing her lips.
her breasts are stone stairs.
She calls the name, "Isis,"
and waits for the white face to appear.

No one walks in these pyramids at night.
No one walks during
the day.
You walk in that negative time,
the woman's presence filling up the space
as if she were incense; man walks
down the crevices and
hills of her body.
Sounds of the black marriage
are ritual sounds.
Of the porpoises dying on the desert.
The butterfly curtaining the body,
The snake filling the mouth.
The sounds of all the parts coming together
in this one place,
the desert pyramid,
built with the clean historical
ugliness of men dying at work.

If you imagine, friend, that I do not have those
black serpents in the pit of my body,
that I am not crushed in fragments by the tough
butterfly wing
broken and crumpled like a black silk stocking,
if you imagine that my body is not
burned wood,
then you imagine a false woman.

This marriage could not change me.
Could not change my life.
Not is it that different from any other marriage.
They are all filled with desert journeys,
with Isis who hold us in her terror,
with Horus who will not let us see
the parts of his body joined
but must make us witness them in dark corners,
in bloody confusion;
and yet this black marriage,
as you call it,
has its own beauty.
As the black cat with its rich fur
stretched and gliding smoothly down the tree trunks.
Or the shining black obsidian
pulled out of mines and polished to the cat's eye.
Black as the neat seeds of a watermelon,
or a pool of oil, prisming the light.
Do not despair this "black marriage."
You must let the darkness out of your own body;
acknowledge it
and let it enter your mouth,
taste the historical darkness openly.
Taste your own beautiful death,
see your own photo image,
as x-ray,
Bone bleaching inside the blackening

—Diane Wakoski

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—

—Emily Dickinson

Kiss It Goodbye 

A man who will never want for anything in his life, who has never had to deal with any of the negative repercussions of his lousy life choices, who has been shielded by mommy and daddy from any of the harsh realities, from his first silver spooned mouthful of pap, through his free ride in college, to his abandonment of the cushy fake military duty that dad got him, to his drunken escapades and brushes with the law, to his theft of land from Texas residents in Arlington for personal gain, to his gift of a state governorship, to the his theft of a presidency and the steady ruination of the nation ever since---from this grotesque excuse for a man, we get the Final Solution for our golden years:
"In attempting to fix Social Security's long-term problems without raising taxes, President Bush has chosen to recast the 70-year-old retirement program as one that would keep the lowest-income workers out of poverty but become increasingly irrelevant to the middle class and the affluent."
A (cough, hack) man who will never have to worry about how to afford a home or a grocery bill for the rest of his despicable life has given notice that he is ready, willing, and happy to take away the program that has offered just a fraction of that same security for those of us unlucky enough to live under his sway. And now for the best part:
" In his radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush sought to cast himself in the Democrats' traditional role as a defender of the poor."
Was this meant to be a cruel snark on the part of the NYTimes editors? Or was it written with an innocent "I just write the news, I don't make it" obtuseness? What difference does it make, really, when the end result is the same?

It's dead, people. If he gets his way, it will be gone in a generation--but what him worry? He won't be around anyway.

So, should there be a conscience clause for pharmacists to sell pseudoephedrine to meth labs? 

Well, why not?

From an OpEd by Dianne Feinstein (D) and Jim Talent (R) in WaPo:

We applaud the recent moves by Target, Wal-Mart, Albertson's, Longs Drugs and Rite Aid to make medicines containing pseudoephedrine less accessible. But they will not by themselves shut down the thousands of meth labs that have sprung up across the country. That's why it is critical that all retailers be required to limit access to cold medicines containing this ingredient.

Why is this so important? Because pseudoephedrine -- the active ingredient in most cold medicines -- is being used to brew up batches of meth in basements, cars and motel rooms across the country. The fact that it's relatively easy to make meth is one of the reasons the drug has migrated from California and the West to the rest of the nation.

Meth is cheap, accessible and potent. It can be purchased for as little as $20 a dose. Its effects on users range from the bizarre to the homicidal. And cooking meth is often as simple as a trip to the local store.

Meth cooks will buy out a store's supply of cold medicine. They will go from store to store to store and buy as much of it as they can afford. Then they go home, extract the pseudoephedrine, mix it with battery acid and other poisons, and cook up a batch of meth for sale or for their personal use.

So what can we do to solve this problem?

The answer is clear: Follow the Oklahoma model. Oklahoma last year passed legislation requiring that cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine be moved behind the pharmacy counter. The result: an 80 percent drop in the number of meth labs seized. This law works. We should copy it.

Twelve states have done just that. Tennessee and Iowa, for example, have passed new laws in the past few months mandating that cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine be put behind the counter. Another 30 states are considering similar legislation.

But new state laws and the voluntary actions of retailers are not enough. That's why we're working together to make the Oklahoma law national.
(via WaPo)

Meth is nasty stuff; my family lost a cousin to it. And it's a plague in the Red States. So, this bi-partisan move by Feinstein is good for families, good for the country, and smart politics too. (Funny more Dems on the red/ blue divide aren't co-sponsoring this bill.)

To serve Democrats 

Under the headline "Bush Plan Greeted with Caution," we get the Republican's next plan. From an anonymous lobbyist:

"The idea is to put all this together and say to the Democrats, 'How can you vote against this?' " said one lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his access to the committee.
(via WaPo)

How? Easy... The College Republican's who chanted "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!" let the cat out of the bag.

Destroying Social Security and FDR's legacy is want the Republicans want to do, top to bottom. So, they're going to craft any legislation to do just that, under whatever legal and financial cover they please. (Maybe they'll sunset some provisions, and then un-sunset them later. Maybe they just won't fund the parts they want to destroy. Maybe they'll break their promises with secret regulations. Maybe they'll gin up some other phony crisis, and put this "permanent" solution in the trash can.) Who knows? One thing is certain: If this legislation ever reaches a Conference Committee, it's going to be rewritten, by Delay, Frist, winger staffers, and lobbyists, to do whatever the Republicans think they can get away with, renderring any "compromises" with Democrats inoperative.

Again: "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!" Sure it does. If you're a bug-eyed Any Rand acolotye, a mutual fund industry lobbyist, a Dominionist apparat dying to divert Federal money to use social services as a proselytizing tool, just plain filthy rich ... Social Security has, indeed, got to go.

But the rest of us, those of who paid into the system with our weekly paychecks because we were promised a decent retirement, we need it.

Here's hoping Reid, Pelosi, Dean and company are smart enough to make sure that no legislation reaches the floor, let alone gets passed.

Democrats have a plan: It's called "Social Security." If, as Inerrant Boy keeps saying, everything's on the table, make the tax and the payout a little more progressive. What's so hard about that?

The Destruction Of A Dream 

photo1red325 As someone who works in civil rights, I know I could be one of maybe two people in the room who give a shit, given the Bush Golden Age of equal opportunity and now that discrimination has been eliminated and everyone is holding hands and singing "Kumbayah" and all--but I find this sad story to be just typical of the anti-civil rights atmosphere in the White House:
"Citing mounting debt and projected budget shortfalls, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission announced Friday it will close two of its six regional offices, lay off four staff members and request free rent on its office space for one month.
The office also will offer early retirement packages and require remaining staff to take short furloughs, said Kenneth L. Marcus, the commission's staff director.
"It's an extraordinarily difficult process," Marcus said. "We will continue providing civil rights services without pause.""
Rather hard to do that when you're bleeding staff and resources, isn't it, Kenneth? But being hamstrung and undermined is not new to these folks:
"The 48-year-old commission is charged with making recommendations to the government on issues concerning equal opportunity for racial and ethnic communities, people with disabilities and other minority groups. Once called the "conscience of the nation," it laid the groundwork for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But the commission's $9 million budget has not changed in 10 years, and it expects to face a $265,000 budget deficit this fiscal year. There are currently 64 staff members, down from 93 in 1996...
With long-term underfunding and inadequate staffing, the problems were inevitable, said Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland who tracks civil rights issues.
"We've got some very serious issues on the table with respect to diversity including affirmative action in higher education and voting rights activities," Walters said. "They need all the resources they can get to enter vigorously into those debates. By cutting back, it's going to cripple their ability to do that.""
Which is exactly the plan. Bushco has no love for the mission of an agency that stands in total opposition to just about everything he has done since stealing office. The sooner it's planted in the ground, the better.

And to that very end, he has been replacing old civil rights fighters with shiny new Clarence Thomases. Not too many people noticed or commented when Bush appointed Gerald Reynolds head of the Commission last year, but that move put a suitably docile Negro into the office who could look good while being counted on to go along with the pecked-to-death-by-ducks destruction of the agency, replacing Mary Francis Berry, who had been far too activist for this administration's tastes. Berry and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso were responsible for sending a letter to Bush last year asking him to read the Commission's bombshell report: “Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004.” They were fired just days later and Reynolds was in. (The report was removed from the government website, and can now only be linked in cahed form, thanks to some intrepid folks at Pitt's law school.)

Bush hoists his Condi Rices and Colin Powells into highly visible positions, trumpeting his "diverse" appointments and garnering kudos for them, while supporting codified destruction of civil rights for whole swaths of people and starving the very mechanisms that were put into place to eradicate injustices for them. His hypocrisies are not new, but they do grow in magnitude over time, along with his perverse sense of entitlement and pride. What a Christian!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

OK. Where's the damn mai-tai mix? I want to hoist a glass before the latest triumph for Bush diplomacy hits—North Korea getting their nukes small enough to go on missiles. Oh, here it is. Pop, pop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is...

The Bad Magician goes to War 

Alert reader MJS nailed the following to the door of my tiny room under the stairs:

The Bad Magician rises in the eastern sky, flying on a missile, seeking to castrate the Old Testament Father. Uranium dripping along the sides of the bomb like an ice cream cone, The Bad Magician barrel rolls as sparks fill the sky, swooping as he drops dollops of remorse upon Congress, detailing the stench of honor betrayed. The Smell of Death is Eau de Pork Barrel. Yahweh rips a big one and stars collide.

The Bad Magician watches America die the way killers die. Each aspect of the crime causes the arms to clench further: Soon the limbs are turned to wax, which bend in the warming wind. The Bad Magician remembers to turn out the lights, and to never let the bed bugs bite. During the funeral some of the dead soldiers climb out of the one awful grave and return to their hometowns, where they scratch off all the bumper stickers with their skinless hands. Wealthy people, very wealthy people, stitch their eyes closed and make small talk about their hopes for summer.

God bless America. The Bad Magician finds a bicycle and rides north.

—Alert reader MJS

Inerrant Boy Shares His Wealth Secrets! 

And does He have a deal for you:

What Bush is not telling you is that, under the Bush plan, if you divert $1000 from your Social Security to private accounts, that amount is clawed back--charged to an account associated with your normal Social Security benefit, that amount is then compounded at 3% per year plus the rate of inflation, and then after you retired deducted over time from your normal Social Security benefit.

If you are 45 and if Bush's plan were available today...

Follow George W. Bush's advice, divert $1,000 into your private account, invest it in [Treasury Bonds], and at the 1.85% per year interest rate you will indeed by able to collect an extra amount worth $10.11 a month in today's dollars when you retire at 65...

But the clawback would reduce your normal Social Security benefit by $14.16 a month. You're $4.05 a month behind.

"Building a nest egg." Feh!
(Brad DeLong via )

$4.05??!?! That's four cans of dog food at the Dollar Store—four meals! (With a nickel left over)

Bush really does want to fuck us, doesn't He?

I'm just wild about Harry 

Harry Reid's been getting off some good zingers—in that low-keyed, mild-mannered style that he has—the style that makes the Republicans even more apoplectic with rage than usual.

On Frist's latest filibuster scam:

"Thanks for the offer, but I think it was a big, wet kiss to the far right."
(via Contra Costa Times)

On Bush's Social Security phase-out:

"[Bush] only wants home runs. He is not willing to try for a bunt single or a double - home run or nothing. Well, I think he is going to end up getting nothing on this privatization."
(via Christian Science Monitor)

"The more the president travels, the better off we are,"
(via Baltimore Sun)

On the Republican argument that judges aren't usually blocked before coming to a vote:

"To have these senators—and my favorite is Orrin Hatch—stand up righteous and indignant and say this has never happened before is an absolute lie."
(via Time)

On theocracy:

``God does not take part in partisan politics.''
(via ABC)

On the responsibilities of Democrats:

"The American people are looking for help. We're all they've got."
(via Atlantic Monthly)

For good or ill, Reid's right. Let's make the best of it!


bushg1You don't have to belive the way someone else does in order to find common cause with them. As the theocratic right seeks to intensify its hold on our government, those of us on the left, of all faiths and no faiths, can see the sense in this essay called "Dangerous Religion"written back in September 2003 by Jim Wallis, founder of the liberal evangelical group Sojourners. The excerpt is from a Christmas post I put up last year:
"The Bush theology deserves to be examined on biblical grounds. Is it really Christian, or merely American? Does it take a global view of God's world or just assert American nationalism in the latest update of "manifest destiny"? How does the rest of the world—and, more important, the rest of the church worldwide—view America's imperial ambitions?"
The answer, he feels, is no:
"President Bush uses religious language more than any president in U.S. history, and some of his key speechwriters come right out of the evangelical community. Sometimes he draws on biblical language, other times old gospel hymns that cause deep resonance among the faithful in his own electoral base. The problem is that the quotes from the Bible and hymnals are too often either taken out of context or, worse yet, employed in ways quite different from their original meaning...

"Bush seems to make this mistake over and over again—confusing nation, church, and God. The resulting theology is more American civil religion than Christian faith...
"...Bush is convinced that we are engaged in a moral battle between good and evil, and that those who are not with us are on the wrong side in that divine confrontation.

But who is "we," and does no evil reside with "us"? The problem of evil is a classic one in Christian theology. Indeed, anyone who cannot see the real face of evil in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is suffering from a bad case of postmodern relativism. To fail to speak of evil in the world today is to engage in bad theology. But to speak of "they" being evil and "we" being good, to say that evil is all out there and that in the warfare between good and evil others are either with us or against us—that is also bad theology. Unfortunately, it has become the Bush theology.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House carefully scripted the religious service in which the president declared war on terrorism from the pulpit of the National Cathedral. The president declared to the nation, "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." With most every member of the Cabinet and the Congress present, along with the nation's religious leaders, it became a televised national liturgy affirming the divine character of the nation's new war against terrorism, ending triumphantly with the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." War against evil would confer moral legitimacy on the nation's foreign policy and even on a contested presidency.

In Christian theology, it is not nations that rid the world of evil—they are too often caught up in complicated webs of political power, economic interests, cultural clashes, and nationalist dreams. The confrontation with evil is a role reserved for God, and for the people of God when they faithfully exercise moral conscience. But God has not given the responsibility for overcoming evil to a nation-state, much less to a superpower with enormous wealth and particular national interests.

To confuse the role of God with that of the American nation, as George Bush seems to do, is a serious theological error that some might say borders on idolatry or blasphemy.

It's easy to demonize the enemy and claim that we are on the side of God and good. But repentance is better. As the Christian Science Monitor put it, paraphrasing Alexander Solzhenitzyn. "The gospel, some evangelicals are quick to point out, teaches that the line separating good and evil runs not between nations, but inside every human heart.

"The much-touted Religious Right is now a declining political factor in American life. The New York Times' Bill Keller recently observed, "Bombastic evangelical power brokers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have aged into irrelevance, and now exist mainly as ludicrous foils." The real theological problem in America today is no longer the Religious Right but the nationalist religion of the Bush administration—one that confuses the identity of the nation with the church, and God's purposes with the mission of American empire.

America's foreign policy is more than pre-emptive, it is theologically presumptuous; not only unilateral, but dangerously messianic; not just arrogant, but bordering on the idolatrous and blasphemous. George Bush's personal faith has prompted a profound self-confidence in his "mission" to fight the "axis of evil," his "call" to be commander-in-chief in the war against terrorism, and his definition of America's "responsibility" to "defend the…hopes of all mankind." This is a dangerous mix of bad foreign policy and bad theology.

But the answer to bad theology is not secularism; it is, rather, good theology. It is not always wrong to invoke the name of God and the claims of religion in the public life of a nation, as some secularists say. Where would we be without the prophetic moral leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, and Oscar Romero?
Wallis ends with a call to reflection:
"In the meantime, American Christians will have to make some difficult choices. Will we stand in solidarity with the worldwide church, the international body of Christ—or with our own American government? It's not a surprise to note that the global church does not generally support the foreign policy goals of the Bush administration—whether in Iraq, the Middle East, or the wider "war on terrorism." Only from inside some of our U.S. churches does one find religious voices consonant with the visions of American empire.

Once there was Rome; now there is a new Rome. Once there were barbarians; now there are many barbarians who are the Saddams of this world. And then there were the Christians who were loyal not to Rome, but to the kingdom of God. To whom will the Christians be loyal today?"
Wallis is challenging those who may be getting behind the Dobsons and Falwells of the world to re-think their values. This is a strong voice, if still heard too little, and it heartens me to think it will grow in power.

Gitmo Theater 

Via Loaded Mouth:
Authorities at Guantanamo Bay staged interrogations of detainees for visiting politicians...

Continued HERE


Hawks on Steroids 

I just finished reading an article by Michael Fitzgerald in the Utne Reader (it was originally published in The Humanist) called “The Permanent War.” (Read Article in WORD)

His thesis is that the USA has had to be in an ongoing state of war since 1945 in order to maintain its economy. Not a new idea, but he argues this notion well, and makes sense of it better than the Socialist Party does. It starts out like this:

It’s tempting to believe that a change in which political party is in power could bring a major change in US foreign policy. But it isn’t really so. The problem isn’t in the White House or Congress; it’s structural, built into our economy. The fact is, there are just too many people in the United States who are dependent on war for their livelihoods…

and then goes to this:

War or the threat of war is the ultimate economic stimulus. It’s capitalism on steroids. Prolonged use creates unprecedented growth, but the upside isn’t worth the risks. The steroids metaphor is especially apt—side effects include euphoria, confusion, pathological anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and even violent criminal behavior—and users can easily become addicted…to money.

He notes that Eisenhower, ironically a Republican, was the one who warned us about the unholy wedding of industry and the military. He notes that this matrimonial alliance is all about money, and he notes that all administrations from Truman on up have not been in favor of a divorce, even if personally opposed, because a divorce would mean the collapse of the economy. I remember discussions of this back in the early sixties, but it was a bare hum. As the Vietnam protests began—and Fitzgerald notes this—the message was simplified into dollars and cents. But the dots were never very well connected, and the danger has just grown since then.

Capitalism holding hands with militarism holding hands with megacorporations. Of course, socialists and lefties have argued this for years, but Fitzgerald draws the lines together well.

And of course during administrations like the one we’re saddled with now, there isn’t even a reasonable guise of covering the greed. It’s true—all the symptoms of militacapitalism are there in Bushco: “euphoria, confusion, pathological anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, and even violent criminal behavior.” And it’s worse now because a new partner has come to the marriage: fundamentalist religion, also strung out on the steroids.

Case in point: tactical nukes. According to the Washington Post,

On Capitol Hill yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faced incredulity from at least one senator on why the administration is pursuing the [nuclear] weapons.

"It is beyond me as to why you're proceeding with this program when the laws of physics won't allow a missile to be driven deeply enough to retain the fallout, which will spew in hundreds of millions of cubic feet if it's at 100 kilotons," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a subcommittee hearing of the Appropriations Committee.

Rumsfeld replied that 70 countries are pursuing "activities underground" using technology that allows them to burrow into solid rock the length of a basketball court in a single day.
"At the present time, we don't have a capability of dealing with that. We can't go in there and get at things in solid rock underground," he said. "The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapons. So . . . do we want to have nothing and only a large, dirty nuclear weapon, or would we rather have something in between?"

Big and dirty, indeed. And look at the vote on war spending. Congressional Democrats line up behind Bush request for $80 billion in war spending

This is why I became a Green. But don’t get me wrong, I am intent on helping rebuild the Dems. It’s the only thing that might work. But the road is long, and there are many juiced up hawks and fundies and CEO’s on the way, all holding hands and humming.

Wanted: an armature for a dynamo 

Progressive media needs a solid foundation under its feet and a sturdy roof over its head.

Alice Marshall notes:
If Robert Parry ran the NewsHour instead of Jim Lehrer we would live in a far better country.

We'd certainly live with a far better NewsHour.

Via Robert Parry at Consortium News, April 29, 2005 - (excerpt follows):

To understand how the United States got into today’s political predicament – where even fundamental principles like the separation of church and state are under attack – one has to look back at strategic choices made by the Right and the Left three decades ago.


At Consortiumnews.com over the past year, we have approached more than 100 potential funders about supporting an investigative journalism project modeled after the Vietnam-era Dispatch News, where Sy Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre story. Our idea was to hire a team of experienced investigative journalists who would dig into important stories that are receiving little or no attention from the mainstream news media.

While nearly everyone we have approached agrees on the need for this kind of journalism and most praised the plan, no one has yet stepped forward with financial support. Indeed, the expenses of contacting these potential funders – though relatively modest – have put the survival of our decade-old Web site at risk.

Which leads to another myth among some on the Left: that the media problem will somehow solve itself, that the pendulum will swing back when the national crisis gets worse and the conservatives finally go too far.

But there is really no reason to think that some imaginary mechanism will reverse the trends. Indeed, the opposite seems more likely. The gravitational pull of the Right’s expanding media galaxy keeps dragging the mainstream press in that direction. Look what’s happening at major news outlets from CBS to PBS, all are drifting to the right.

As the Right keeps plugging away at its media infrastructure, the pervasiveness of the conservative message also continues to recruit more Americans to the fold.

Ironically, the conservative media clout has had the secondary effect of helping the Right’s grassroots organizing, especially among Christian fundamentalists. Simultaneously, the progressives’ weakness in media has undercut the Left’s grassroots organizing because few Americans regularly hear explanations of liberal goals. But they do hear – endlessly – the Right’s political storyline.

Many progressives miss this media point when they cite the rise of Christian Right churches as validation of a grassroots organizing strategy. What that analysis leaves out is the fact that the Christian Right originally built its strength through media, particularly the work of televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. What the Right has demonstrated is that media is not the enemy of grassroots organizing but its ally.

Bright Spots & Dangers

Though there have been some recent bright spots for the Left's media – the fledgling progressive talk radio, new techniques for distributing documentaries on DVD, and hard-hitting Internet blogs – there are also more danger signs. As the Left postpones media investments, some struggling progressive news outlets – which could provide the framework for a counter-infrastructure – may be headed toward extinction.

Just as the echo chamber of the Right’s infrastructure makes conservative media increasingly profitable, the lack of a Left infrastructure dooms many promising media endeavors to failure.

The hard truth for the Left is that the media imbalance in the United States could very easily get much worse. The difficult answer for the progressive community is to come to grips with this major strategic weakness, apply the Left’s organizing talents, and finally make a balanced national media a top priority.

Read in full: The Left's Media Miscalculation


Bugged By The Government 

earwig Was the earwig as nauseating last night as I feared he would be? This graphic over at uggabugga seems to sum up the gist and subtext of his comments on Social Security--that by turning it into a program of welfare for old people, the cons can kill public support for a program they wanted to end anyway, and that this is the first nail in that coffin. And then there was that bizarre pissing contest between him and Donald Trump that resulted in his being foisted on the public retina a half hour earlier than expected. Upon first sight of His Smugness, we immediately hauled out a DVD of O Brother Where Art Thou? and proceeded to laugh the nation's troubles away.

I am going to be able to post only sporadically through Monday due to visiting family and friends, so I apologize in advance for not being able to be consistent. Part of my solution will be to drag up some posts from my own archives that are relevant to today's news and the current corrente dialogues, and that hopefully you, dear readers, have never seen. In light of the just-passed Congressional budget (the first in 2 years), which promises to be just as horrible as we've all been predicting, I'm posting this, from my blogpost of November 20, 2004:

More than 12 million U.S. families went hungry or had to utilize food aid agencies of some kind to avoid starving last year. That’s about 13 million children. I realize that the Bush admin may consider it a sign of slackerism on the part of the Republican-controlled Congress that the number of hungry in the country only rose by .1% between 2002 and 2003, which probably explains why Bush has proposed reduction of $122 million for the WIC program.

It's hard work, making up a budget that hangs on to the big giveaways for your buddies while cleverly masking cruelty and slashing programs for the needy, but Bush and his junta told you they were up to it. Now Congress is poised to pass a budget that enshrines Bush’s attack on overtime for workers, cracks the federal worker’s union by privatizing some federal jobs, pulls Iraq reconstruction funds away from that country to send to Sudan, and drops milk subsidies for small dairy farmers because the states with Big Dairy agribusiness objected to them. This should help reduce the deficit and America’s dependence on government handouts, right? Even better, Bush’s 2006 budget proposes further cuts, like $1.5 billion from education, $900 million from veterans’ health care, and $170 million from child care and Head Start.

Speaking of the deficit, stocks fell because Greenspan told the truth to some foreign financial leaders. Interest rates will rise and foreign investment will drop because our budget deficit is too big, and maybe a nice recession will be in order to slow it down. Hmmm. Who knew? Certainly not the magnificent Bush economic team. Maybe not even Greenspan himself when he was so blithely encouraging Bush’s irresponsible fantasy-ridden fiscal adventures (like the Iraq war) of the last 4 years, here, here, and here, and here.

I'll be back when I can. Enjoy your day.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Surly to bed, and surly to rise... Because networking problems on all my machines. I think I'll go pound my forehead on the stone back wall of the tiny room under the stairs, now.

Say, the administration really has us well trained, doesn't it? On the same day that all the top brass beat the rap on Abu Ghraib, and Army issues new regulations prohibiting all the forms of torture used there.

And nobody bats an eye (except Bob Hebert).

Where's the outrage?

Why You Must Buy This Magazine 

Returning to the issues raised by lambert's, farmer's and my posts recently, and in the ongoing effort to highlight the truly wonderful journalism of Harper's, here is a post I did earlier this week on my own site, on the recent convention of the National Religious Broadcasters:

"An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself without going in partnership with State Legislatures." --Robert Green Ingersoll

Almost as if it were planned that way, the new edition of Harper's (no, they haven't got the cover up yet) and the "Just Us Sunday" carnival trumped up by the National Religious Broadcasters and the Family Research Council are coming into my home at the same time. I say almost because newly-released mags usually take a couple months to publish, and this Frist-frosted dust-up over the filibuster has only arisen in the last couple weeks. Yet weirdly, Harper's cover piece is actually two stories on the "Soldiers of Christ": one on the New Life Church and its founder Ted Haggard (talks to George Bush every Monday!) done by Jeff Sharlet, and the other by Chris Hedges on the NRB.

And what does Hedges reveal to us about the NRB? He takes us inside their recent convention, a stronghold of about 1600 radio and television affiliates, and introduces us to their president, Frank Wright, who appears proclaiming that the 130 members of the House are now "born-again". He declares the struggle of the country toward cultural and ethnic diversity an attack on Christian truth, and promises to fight to block hate-crime legislation (can't stand in the way of good Christian hate, can we?), and vows to fight the Fairness Doctrine tooth and nail. Too bad no one told him Reagan killed it way back in 1985. Hedges goes on to draw a portrait of a movement that rallies around a fiercely homicidal god, and stirs up its own murderous impulses with plenty of paranoid speechifying about Christian persecution. And then the money quote:
"What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism,, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian "dominion" over the nation and, eventually, over the earth...
America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America's Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan."
There are more pleasant elements as well, such as setting up a theocracy in which adulterers can be stoned to death along with heretics, gays, and witches; literal interpretations of the Bible will be required teaching in sciences classes; taxes will be paid to churches; and the government will be "drowned in the bathtub" to merely protecting property rights and enforcing homeland security. It's not going to be enough just to be Christian--one will have to adhere to their brand. Sounds like a Margaret Atwood novel, doesn't it? Surfacing again and again like a money shot on a pornographic closed loop tape are vignettes of the Dominionists' hatred for homosexuals, Muslims, and their cynically opportunistic use of Jewish support. He reminds us that:
"...too many liberals fail to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians (come, liberals will) undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state."
Dismantling the democratic state? Like getting rid of the filibuster rule? Playing by the old, polite rules of democracy, like caving to the Republicans and hoping they play nice in the future?

Hedges also reminds us that prior to World War II, American industrialists, sick of the New Deal, gave support to the fascist Mussolini and flirted with his authoritarian approach to running the country, and that when Hitler promised to restore moral order, the first thing he did upon taking power was to target homosexuals. Everybody else came later.

The first thing we must do is to join with religious progressives across the country, many of whom are the so-called mainstream churches of our childhoods, to stand up against this attempted coup, protect our nation, and protect our nation's churches. It is foolish and self-destructive to take the tack, as so many bloggers and commenters have, that if it says "religion", it's the enemy. If the protective barrier between church and state dissolves, we will all suffer, religious and non-religious alike. People of faith everywhere have been watching open-mouthed as these fascist maniacs have grabbed the mantle from them and declared themselves the only true "christians", and the Christians I know, both friends and family, are appalled. See here, and here, and here, and keep watching. It doesn't always have to be this way.

There And Back Again, Again 

As if we needed more evidence, Republican arrogance continues to make clear exactly why the total focus of both the Democratic Party and its liberal/progressive grass roots must be on mounting a national campaign to change the leadership of congress in 2006, and that the basis of such a campaign should be the manner in which, after only a decade in office, this Republican congress is totally out of control because it continues to confuse leadership with an endless grab for more and more raw, naked power.

I refer to this little gem from The Raw Story. You may have already encountered it.

I say "little," because compared with the total performance of the Republican congress, changing the summary description of amendments to a bill on the House floor submitted by Democratic house members to make it seem as if all such amendments were proffered with the explicit purpose of protecting child molesters, even though those summaries, please remember, will become part of the congressional record, and are straight-up lies, must be considered minor. The major lies being told by Frist, Hatch, et al, after all is said and done, are about American history, about constitutionality; those lies present a false version of both, a false version of what the Republican party position was on confirming appellate judges when Bill Clinton was President, sixty of whose nominations never even made it to committee, despite the fact that the "vacancy crises" about which the President is now so concerned had been proclaimed back in by the late nineties by no less than Chief Justice Rehnquist. Only ten of Bush's nominations have been rejected. If Clinton had got his fair share of appointments, there would be no crises, and Bush would have had far fewer vacancies to fill. Who really created the vacancy crises?
Finally, Bush accuses Democrats of creating a "vacancy crisis" on the courts by opposing his nominees. Republicans claim Democrats have abused the Senate filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds, in most cases, the first-term records of presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. "Does that sound like a crisis? Only if you failed math really badly," Reid said.

Still, stuffing words falsely into the mouths of your duly elected colleagues does seem worthy of note.

The invaluable "edwardpig" will tell you exactly why and how here; not only does he suggest letters to the editors of newspapers resident in the state which loosed James Stensenbrenner upon us all, the estimable blogger provides names and addresses to make the task easier, along with a lot more information confirming the original story, and some inspiring words about why it's important to get this story told beyond the confines of blogtopia (coined, let us remember, by that canny bush kangaroo, skippy). Don't confine your reading to this one post; if you haven't visited the edwardpig site in a while, do yourself a favor and read everything you've missed. The pig named edward is really good.

Al Gore made a wonderful speech on Wednesday, in support of a day of demonstrations across the country, organized by MoveOn.org against the nuclear option being threatened by Senator Frist, the Republican Party and its most right-wing supporters. You need to read it. Gore identifies what's at issue here; the rule of law.

I'm personally sympathetic to the arguments by Nathan Newman and others that the filibuster has been much more useful, over the years, to conservative forces than to progressive ones. Perhaps if some compromise could have been worked out where Democrats would have agreed to a majority vote on a portion of the ten disputed Bush judicial nominees in exchange for getting rid of the filibuster for legislative as well as for conformation purposes, it might have been worth a try. But not with this Republican Party, which, drunk with their own power, is incapable of compromise even when it sees compromise as being in their own interest. They simply don't know how to do it.

Gore makes the kind of Burkean conservative argument of which the right in this country is not longer capable. Go read.

Echidne of the Snakes, everyone's favorite goddess, has all kinds of great stuff to up, but I'd like to call your attention to a real find she made of an astonishing example of Christian Evangelical advice to parents about how to bring up children. An extreme example, no doubt, but not essentially different from Dr. Dobson's approach. What underlies all the advice given is the perceived need to destroy the will of a child; will being constantly equated with willfulness. This is an utterly totalitarian view of the true nature of goodness in human beings, i.e., the bending of the individual will to an all-encompassing ideology from which there can be no dissent. I'm sure you can see the ramifications. Echidne has the link to the entire article; you should read the whole thing.

Also, please don't miss Echidne on Katha Pollit on Andrea Dworken. Echidne also has important information about taking action on ANWR here.

More discussion this week about how Democrats can talk about what they stand for; that's not what interests me here, so much as the comments thread this post by Kevin Drum provoked, filled with an astonishing hostility on the part of left leaning commentators to unions and the union movement.

I don't propose to mount a counter argument here; instead I suggest a trip to "Confined Space" where Jordan Barab continues to do God's work on earth. Bet you didn't know today is Worker's Memorial Day, 2005. Jordan tells you all about here, and here. This is not fun reading, but its a mindful perspective by which to evaluate the negative attitudes to the union movement that have been deliberately drummed up over the last three decades, and have begun to take hold even on the left.

I suspect none of us visit here as often as we should; if that includes you, read everything current not yet archived, You'll find about what its like to be a worker at Residential Center, about an important AFL-CIO summary of the state of life and death health issues for workers today, how Bush's Labor Dept is playing down and dirty to undermine unions, what congress is and isn't doing about Asbestos exposure, to name but a few. Remember, even though the number of unionized workers is smaller than non-unionized workers, the issues are the same for both.

In regards to ANWR, here is a sublime essay by Terry Tempest Williams, one of our great prose stylists, who will tell you why, in the deepest sense, that Arctic place most of us will never come close to visiting is central to what Williams calls "the open space of democracy." If you're interested in joining that discussion of the relationship of language to making successful arguments on behalf of a progressive agenda, "Ground Truthing" is one not to be missed. I'd be especially interested in your reactions to Williams language and style of argument, either in comments, or by email.

The Socratic Method Of Legislation 

Yesterday my post on the elitism of the argument for pharmacists' right to abstain from selling items they object to roused some excellent comments from corrente readers on how far it could be taken if applied to other areas of life.

The point in the orginal Belisarus piece is that if pharmacists should be able to abandon their job duties when required to sell birth control they find objectionable, shouldn't it follow that cashiers, clerks, etc. also be able to refuse service when faced with a transaction they disgree with, as selling liquor or condoms, etc.

The game then becomes, how to extend this logic throughout the capitalist realm? Herewith are some ideas:

Ed Drone--"If I still worked in the public library, could I use my conscience to avoid checking out Republican and other fascist-minded books to the would-be-deluded public? Seems to me I could. And would the Patriot Act apply to the lists of books not checked out?
And can policemen ticket you, or avoid doing so, based on bumper stickers?"
bartkid--"I'm sorry, sir. I cannot sell you Ms. Coulter's Treason. In fact, by your intent to buy this book, I must follow my conscience and report you to the FBI, under terms of the Patriot Act, as accomplice to terrorism after the fact, given Ms. Coulter's very public calls for mass murder of members of identifiably American organizations and groups."

MJS--"No, Mr. Chubby Person, you may not have fries with that."
"I looked at the in-house tape of you in aisle five, and frankly you don't look diabetic to me."
"This Bud is not for you."
"The idea of your grandmother wearing a diaper disgusts me. Let her walk around naked."
"Don't even think about buying lubricant here, perv-boy."
"Why would you be buying Night Time Cold Medicine at three o'clock in the afternoon? Do I look stupid?"

Gegee--"Yes, I realize you ordered a BigMac but I'm a vegetarian. Eating meat is wrong."

Joe Bob--"...if a garbageman who was morally opposed to birth control found a used condom in your trash can could he henceforth refuse to pick up your refuse?"

pjk--"...can we refuse to pay taxes based on our personal belief that GW & Co. have completely fucked up the entire country, and would just squander the money?"

Ah, the socratic method.

My Own Personal Smoke-Out Thursday 

CNN reports that the Clown Prince is planning a prime time propagandafest this evening, only his 4th since he stole the office in 2001. This could be worse news if Thursday wasn't (for me) one of the most abysmal nights on television. But more to the point, what could lure this delicate, press-shy earwig out from under his dark, damp rock?

Well, his 64% disapproval rating might help explain it.

Or the spectacular failure of his road-bound sideshow in shoving Alpo Accounts down the public throat the last couple months.

Or his strategic anticipation of the many objections already being raised to his ridiculous "energy initiatives" proposed yesterday, including covering the risk insurance for nuclear reactors with taxpayer money.

In the past, he has held prime-time television news conferences only when he needed to blow smoke up a nervous public's ass, during times when his credibility and planning were in jeopardy. Last April he gave one with an eye to the upcoming election, to shore up waning support for the Iraq war and to assure the folks he was still in charge in the War on Terra. Before that, it was to prep us for his invasion of Iraq in 2003. And before that, it was the long overdue conference held an entire month after September 11, when talk was that maybe he didn't know what the hell to do, and which he consequently proved by assuring us all we needed to do was go to the mall.

So we can safely assume he (and Rove) are setting us up for another smoke enema tonight. I for one will forgo the pleasure, and get it second-hand in the media and blogs later. The mere sight of the man sets off my gag reflex.

Who's Ya Daddy? 

Bill Gates. But, hey, it’s only $20K a month. A bigoted hypocrite can barely get by on that kind of money!

Microsoft Corp. is paying social conservative Ralph Reed $20,000 a month as a consultant, triggering complaints that the well-connected Republican with close ties to the White House and to evangelist Pat Robertson may have persuaded the company to oppose gay rights legislation.

Reed, who got his start in politics by running the Christian Coalition for Robertson and who had a senior role in President Bush's 2004 campaign, is a leading figure in the social conservative movement that spearheaded opposition to gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, gambling and other issues.

Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said the company has hired Reed on several occasions to provide advice on "trade and competition issues." He said Reed's relationship as a consultant with the software company extends back "several years."

And whaddaya know? Washington state caved:

Reed's history with Microsoft, coupled with Microsoft's reversal on a gay rights bill for the state, unleashed a vocal backlash against the company yesterday. The bill, which would have made it illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians in housing, employment and insurance, failed in the state Senate last week by a single vote. Supporters said that Microsoft's shift tipped the scales.

Microsoft. More than just a brand name.

Microsoft Defends Ties to Ralph Reed; Critics Want Conservative Consultant Fired

James Dobson: Puppy Beating Anti-Christ! 

BEAST WATCH: Verbal war escalates between Salazar, Focus, (On The Family):
In a statement today, Salazar said he has been relentlessly and unfairly attacked by the Colorado Springs group and that "I meant to say this approach was un-Christian, meaning self-serving and selfish."

Oh fuck-it Ken, stop groveling or worrying about what those cowering baah-lamb lightweights at CNN etc...have to say! Call em' PUPPY BEATERS! Call em' what they are.

In response to this previous post of mine: James Dobson's Sadistic Spawn, commenter Lilybelle writes:
I do recollect, when Dobson first burst into my purview, that he wrote proudly about disciplining his unruly, 12 lb. Dachshund by beating it into submission. I wonder how he raised his kids? What was their childhood like? Maybe he wrote about that, too. comment here

Yes Lilybelle, I remember the PUPPY BEATER Dobson's sadistic encouter with his dog too. So, as a reminder, [looking back] Digby excerpts PUPPY BEATER Dobson's fond sadistic recollections of the entire matter here: Raising The Future Fascists Of America, Saturday, December 18, 2004. Go read that while...

I pray that little Siggie, one sunny shimmering fluffy-cloud Colorado afternoon, will rise up and take it upon himself to sink his God given fangs into Dominion Master Jim-Dob's sagging nutsack, shake vigorously, and ultimately bury the impotent screeching old bag beneath a thorny shrub for all eternity. Rock on Siggie! I can pray too, can thy not?

Dear God, please give little Siggie the incisor strenght to defeat the screeching Dobson, the PUPPY BEATING ANTI-CHRIST. Amen. God afterall is just Dog spelled backwards. Again, as I emphasized earlier, Amen.

Some more stuff to read: Jack Hitt, writing in the LA Times:
How quickly it has all happened -- that the media, particularly television, has convinced itself that Christianity is little more than a Republican political action committee. When the pope died, CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced former Clinton aide Paul Begala and right-wing pundit Robert Novak this way: "Bob is a good Catholic; I'm not so sure about Paul Begala." At the bottom of the screen, CNN ran an informative factoid for the audience: "Many Catholic doctrines are conservative."

Broadcast media prefer to cast Christianity in the role of "right-wing values PAC" because it's so neat and tidy. They don't much like even to say the name Jesus on air because then we might have to talk about his ideas. ~ See: Jesus Was No GOP Lobbyist, April 26, 2005.

And..., Sydney H. Schanberg via the Village Voice, "TV Blesses the New Pope - Beatification begins for Benedict as soon as the cameras start to roll" - April 26th, 2005:
Television exists these days on showbiz hoopla and raw feelings—people weeping, people cheering, people wrapped in blankets outside their burning house. And of course "reality" shows—people competing to eat the most live maggots. Good newspapers and news websites also like drama, but not at the expense of other information important to the honest telling of a story—they do both. In the extravaganza at Vatican City, television news organizations swept nearly all the critiques of the popular John Paul II—born Karol Wojtyla in a town near Krakow, Poland, who died on April 2 at age 84—and of his successor, Joseph Ratzinger, from the Bavarian region of Germany, under the ecclesiastical rug.

Get 'im Siggie! Git 'im! Do not go easily into that iron cage!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lonesome Protest 

I know how you feel, Jess…

"There is no antiwar movement. We have half a million people in Albuquerque, and I can’t get 10 people out here with me."

One Man's Lone Stand:

But keep standing there, brother. Keep standing. Call it faith-based research.

And for April's Poetry Month on this theme, and for Jess and the war dead, I'll add this from Richard Brautigan:

You’ve got
Some “Star-Spangled”
In your coffin, kid.
That's what
They’ve done for you,

And They'll Have The Humble Pie For Dessert 

The bastards cave!

In an update to this morning's story, the NYTimes reports Hastert is ready to take 3 steps back:
"Saying that an ethics impasse needed to be resolved to provide a chance for Representative Tom DeLay to clear his name, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said this morning that Republicans were ready to relent on rules changes that have left the ethics committee unable to do any work.
"I am willing to step back," Mr. Hastert told reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans. "I think we need to move forward with the ethics process."
Mr. Hastert, who defended the rules changes forced through earlier this year by Republicans as an attempt to protect the rights of lawmakers, did not specify what he would do and said he would outline his plan later today in a letter to Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader.
But he and others indicated that his intention was to reverse three rules opposed by Democrats, an action that would require a vote of the full House. Without naming Mr. DeLay specifically, the speaker alluded to the furor surrounding the majority leader over overseas travels, fund-raising and contacts with lobbyists."
A small but meaningful victory. Meaningful because it feels to me as though this can mean nothing less than the strategic sacrifice of DeLay:
"But he and others indicated that his intention was to reverse three rules opposed by Democrats, an action that would require a vote of the full House. Without naming Mr. DeLay specifically, the speaker alluded to the furor surrounding the majority leader over overseas travels, fund-raising and contacts with lobbyists.
"There is a member, especially on our side, who needs to have the process move forward so he can clear his name," the speaker said. "Right now he can't clear his name."
Get out the popcorn, dear audience, and whatever else goes good with a public execution. This could be the beginning of the end of The Hammer's pounding days.

Sheathe Those Claws 

Over at Donkey Rising, John Belisarus has a thoughtful piece on how the underlying logic behind the Conscience Claws, for "professionals" who hold themselves above the mundane duties required of lesser humans, such as retail clerks and gas station attendants, is little more than an elitist excuse to avoid doing one's job. Such employees may also have sincerely held moral objections to aspects of their job, such as selling condoms, liquor, or cigarettes, yet no one has passed a bill to allow them to opt out of the transactions. He rightly skewers APA spokeswoman Susan Winckler's now-famous quote that pharmacists are not garbagemen for the classist horseshit it is, and after citing other, similar comments, notes:
"It is difficult to imagine more blatant and arrogant expressions of snobbish class elitism. "Bright" and "talented" pharmacists - "professionals", after all, not just "garbage men" -- have highly developed moral and ethical consciences regarding the products they sell and therefore deserve special legal rights of conscience. The illiterate morons who work at the cash register, on the other hand, aren't smart enough or good enough to deserve such special consideration."
His solution?
"Either every single American retail employee who sells products to the public deserves to have a newly created "Right of Conscience" guaranteed by law or else we need to agree that existing laws covering the rights of retail employees, including retail pharmacists as well as cashiers, are appropriate as they are.
This is America. In this country we don't pass laws that say that pharmacists are more valuable and worthy as moral human beings then cashiers."
Sure we do. The federal books are rife with egregious inequities that have been codified over the years. But if the cashiers get the Family Research Council and the National Religious Broadcasters behind them, maybe they can get that legislation passed.

What a world.

Miraculous Resurrection 

huns Republicans, high on their 4-year hijacking of the democratic system and subsequent November coup, swept into the halls of Congress like Huns, pillaging the poor, raping the elderly, and intent on shoveling dirt over every last vestige of opposition and criticism the disenfranchised 49% could raise. Democrats weren't even in the equation anymore, once they had been safely relegated to the funeral parlor for the memorial service. But then a funny thing happened as the undertaker prepped the body politic:
"House Republican leaders on Tuesday moved toward reversing rules changes that have paralyzed the ethics committee, a decision that could clear the way to an investigation of the overseas travel of Representative Tom DeLay, the majority leader, and other House members.
Lawmakers and other senior officials said that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and other leaders had concluded that the only way out of the ethics impasse was to abandon the rules changes opposed by Democrats who have refused to allow the committee to get to work."
Democrats, previously believed to be moribund and last seen on the embalming table, unexpectedly twitched. On further examination, a pulse was found, and the body was removed for possible CPR:
"The Democrats have clearly been able to exploit the deadlock over the ethics panel, painting the Republicans as unwilling to investigate or police their own. The changes were denounced as violating the panel's bipartisan tradition, making the Republicans appear as if they believed they were above the law.
Republicans have asserted that the changes, drafted by the speaker's office and pushed through by the Republicans in January, were designed to better protect the rights of lawmakers. But their counterparts quickly complained that they were instituted after the House ethics committee admonished Mr. DeLay three times last year. "We fumbled the ball badly," said one senior Republican official who spoke anonymously because he did not want to be viewed as critical of the leadership."
No, can't have that, can we? But we can try to throw the dog a bone:
"In an effort to resolve the impasse, Republican members of the panel offered last week to begin an immediate inquiry into Mr. DeLay's travel if Democrats were to drop their opposition to the rules. But Democrats rejected that offer."
Good boy! Now the Repugs are left with egg on their faces, and faced with another yucky reversal, and there is nothing they can do about it! Especially since the circumstantial evidence is so strong even the bovine American public and the Democratic party can't fail to see certain damning connections anymore:
"Some Republicans acknowledge that the way the rules were changed with no Democratic involvement has left the party vulnerable to accusations that it was seeking to hamstring the panel after it admonished Mr. DeLay three times last year."
Representational government? What a great idea! Maybe we'll get one someday. In the meantime, Republican stock continues to go down.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Goodnight, moon 


Reid employs strategery, trickeration to corner Frist 

Who knew such things were even possible for the Beltway Dems?!?! Kos explains:

Reid just engaged Frist in a game of chicken, and Frist blinked first.

Reid has been extrememly effective in whipping up opposition to the Nuclear Option, garnering strong grass- and netroots support, editorial board support, and popular support (as the latest polls show scant appetitite for ending the filibuster).

But in order to avoid looking like obstructionists, Demcorats had to make efforts to "find a compromise", lest the chattering class get the vapors from such Democratic intransigence.

Had Frist accepted the offers for compromise, Bush would've gotten the majority of his judges through, and Democrats would've gotten -- who knows what. All published compromise offers didn't seem to give our side anything.

So Democrats would've faced a sea of criticism from our own side for snatching defeat out of the hands of victory. Frist and Co. would've finally gotten a procedural victory against Reid (who has run circles around them thus far). And all that good will Reid had built in the netroots over the past four months would've evaporated in one fell swoop.

It was one heck of a gamble, but the Senator from Nevada played his cards right.
(via Kos)

Now, I have to admit when I saw the opening moves in this gambit I went nuts, because it was presented that the Dems read polling data, and decided to pull back on their rights. (Remember, the Democratic Senators represent a majority of the population, though not of the Senate, since the Senate is gerrymandered by design, to protect the smaller States. So, in this case, the filibuster actually protects majority rule, not the reverse, as the Repubicans disingenuously claim.)

Why didn't the Dems act on principle, I asked? Well... Maybe because the story wouldn't have been written if it hadn't been given the polling data hook. Who knows?

Anyhow, it seems to be working out for the best, thanks to Harry Reid.

And of Frist, we can ask again: Who's your Daddy? And it looks like Frist's Daddy is Dominionist James Dobson. Good.

End of the gaslight watch? 

Seems like Tom Ridge's crayolas were too much even for the House:

The color-coded terror alert system that signals national threat levels would become optional under proposed legislation that sets the Homeland Security Department's priorities for next year.
(via AP)

Funny how we kept having "terror alerts" right up to the election, and then nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I wonder why?

And when I touch you I feel happy inside 


Oh yeh, I'll tell you something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

Oh please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
You'll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feeling that my love
I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide

Yeh, you've got that something
I think you'll understand
When I'll say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy inside
It's such a feeling that my love
I can't hide, I can't hide, I can't hide

Yeh, you've got that something
I think you'll understand
When I'll feel that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And what could "that something" be, I wonder?

Actually, I like the idea that Bush "can't hide." Especially since he can't run (again) either.

Maybe Unka Karl has his hands full with other things? 

We've all noticed that the efficiency of Rove's White House apparat has decreased markedly of late; it may even be that Rove handed Inerrant Boy the keys and told Him to take 'er out for a spin? I mean, granting the increasingly toxic Tom Delay one of the highly coveted slots on the by-invitation-only Bamboozlepalooza Tour looks like a Bush give-em-the-same-but-harder move, not a Rove move.

But why? Could it be that Rove has his hands full keeping the lid on other things? It would be irresponsible not to speculate. The Washington Times (!!) reminds us of a huge homosexual prostitution scandal, now forgotten, back in the days of Ronald "The Beloved" Reagan. Of course, the past isn't dead. It isn't even past.

So anyhow, how did 8" cut male escort "Jeff 'Loose' Gannon" get to check into the White House in the morning, and not check out at night? Who did he see, and what was he doing?

NOTE Again, on all of this, I personally say "whatever." But the base cares deeply, for whatever reason. (The ethics, the WWJD of all this is covered in John 1:11.)

My Evil Twin Skippy Wrote This Post 

You know how the fundies are always twisting history and science to suit themselves? How they just keep repeating the same lies until enough people believe them? How they do “research” using the oddest tools?

Well, careful research—looking for facts and evidence—is, after all, a pain in the ass. So, I’ve decided to join the tide. Here’s what I’ve come up with after exhaustive speculation and faith-based research:

--Not only were the “founding fathers” intent on building a wall of separation between church and state, they were part of an international cabal known as “The Enlightenment” who were openly hostile to religion. I discovered this by reading the Book of Common Prayer sideways with a mouthful of water drawn from the River Jordan.

--A careful numerological study using a Bible and calculator has revealed to me that Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years. Don’t believe me? Turn the Hebrew letters in Leviticus 14, 1-32 (the laws concerning lepers) into numbers. Keep dividing the numbers and multiplying by 3.14 until you see the answer. If you don’t see it, try harder.

--Testimonials from a wide range of philosophers who channeled through my dog has produced evidence that will, beyond a reasonable doubt, prove that Friedrich Nietzsche killed God and disposed of the body by hiding it in the pages of Beyond Good and Evil and that all this nonsense about holy wars is, therefore, unnecessary.

--Through examining a piece of coal with the image of Mother Mary on it carefully, using the Urim and Thummim, I have discovered that the Iraq War was never about WMD’s, but was all about an oil grab. You can see this piece of coal at eBay, and heck, even make a bid on it.

--I am right now working on a faith-based analysis of a Sour Apple Jolly Rancher that was blessed by James Dobson, using a yarmulke and two pairs of tefillin, which I believe, wholly and with all my soul, will reveal the name of the person or persons who outed Valerie Plame.

I know I’ve changed all the rules of reality-based research, but I did it because, hey, I could. I had the votes. Nobody challenged me, anyway. Stay tuned. I’m hoping I can get some Bushco holy relics—maybe a W stigmata or The Holy Prepuce of Guckert—so I can really get some research going! Anybody else doing any research?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Goodnight, moon 

Gee, it seems like there's a lot happening lately. I didn't get to the New Yorker's horrific series on climate change ("when the Akkadian empire collapsed, around 2200 BC, even the earthworms died"). Well, maybe tomorrow...

AP gets the law wrong on the nuclear option 

David Espo and Jesse J. Holland write:

Republicans can ban judicial filibusters by majority vote, and Democrats concede Frist may be only one or two votes shy of the necessary total.
(via AP)

Indeed, Republican's "can" do that, but only because they have the power.

Not because it's legal.

The Republican's own parliamentarian says what they're doing is wrong (break the rules to change the rules").

C'mon, AP, we love ya. But get it right!

The geeks just got it 

Smooth move by the Republicans, blacklisting Kerry contributors from a telecommunications standards commmittee meeting. The geeks noticed, as well they should have, and now they're pissed. In fact, they're using the F word. From Slashdot:

My question is, what exactly do they have to do to get an exception to Goodwin's law passed? I mean, so far we've got documented evidence of:

1. Internal travel documents/no fly lists ("Transportation safety")
2. Spying on your neighbor programs ("Information Awareness")
3. Arresting people and holding them with due process ("The War on Terror")
4. ...and occasionally torturing them (ditto)
5. ...that sometimes leading to them dying (oops)
6. Supression of dissent ("Free Speech Zones")
7. Orwellian double-speak (see above)
8. Suppression of opposition (locking the opposition out of the legislature)
9. Arresting opposing party candidates weeks before the election (Clark & Badnarik)
10. Manipulation of the media (including paying analysts to "support" their policies)
11. Fibbing to start wars

I'd like to see the theocrats and the slashdotters get into a bar fight; and I'd bet on the slashdotters. After all, there is no faith-based methodology for programming a computer or administrating a network (modulo, of course, anything involving IIS).

AP tiptoes through the tulips on the "Jeff 'Loose' Gannon" story 

So, just to be clear—"Jeff 'Loose' Gannon", a guy who's advertised on the Internet as an 8" cut male escort, checks into the White House during the day—and doesn't check out at night. Numerous times.

How very, very odd.

But watch how AP [cough] covers the story. They nibble round the edges oh so gingerly:

A conservative writer...

for only a year, after leaving his job as an office manager in a Pennsylvania body shop

...who quit his job covering President Bush amid criticism for his pointedly political questions...

where "pointedly political" means scripted and softball

...visited the White House 196 times in two years, the Secret Service has disclosed.

The point is not that Guckert "visited" the White House; the point is that he entered the White House in the morning, and, for all the records show, stayed for the night, numerous times.

Why would "Jeff 'Loose' Gannon" spending the night at the White House be a cause for concern? From reading AP's genteel, pussyfooting story, you'd get no inkling:

["Gannon" attracted] scrutiny from liberal bloggers who linked Guckert with online domain addresses suggestive of gay pornography.

"Suggestive" of gay pornography, forsooth?! "Jeff Gannon" advertised on the Internet as a male escort!. That's why "Gannon" checking in, but not out, is newsworthy.

Was it Sophie Tucker who asked what could be nicer than roses on a piano?

NOTE Personally, I don't have a problem with any part of this, except for "Gannon" polluting our discourse by posing as a journalist and throwing softball questions to Bush. But I suspect that large parts of the Republican base would view "Jeff 'Loose' Gannon"'s behavior, and that of his clients, as satanic. Is AP downplaying this story out from fear of the [cough] "Christian" right? Or from fear of retaliation by the White House?

James Dobson's sadistic spawn 

What does a former television sitcom buffoon and a sadistic ogerhunch like James Dobson have to do with this kind of thing here:
On the floor sat a 10-year-old boy, his ankles bound by plastic wire, his hands tied behind his back. The wires on his feet attached to the lid of a garbage can, weighted down with boxes.


Bonney Lake police said Rachel Lambert claimed the children's behavior had gotten progressively worse over the past month and that she disciplined the children by feeding them jalapeno peppers, the documents indicated.

The 10-year-old boy said "he had a hot pepper placed in his mouth and then had his mouth taped shut," the documents indicated. He told police "he swallowed the pepper so it would not be in his mouth anymore."

John archy McKay notes: "Recently, a spin-off of Dobson's movement has appeared that calls itself "Creative Correction." [...] The current guru of the movement, Lisa Whelchel, hasn't gone that far yet, but she's certainly on that road."
The hot pepper technique's current popularity is due in part to Whelchel, a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer and actress who played the character Blair on the television series "The Facts of Life" in the 1980s.

Now, to be fair, in the spirit of "Creative Correction" ("creative destruction"), I can think of a few choice techniques that might make an impression on sociopathic hucksters like Whelchel and/or Dobson, or any number of other miserable goose-stepping imbeciles they may have spawned. Validate a few "facts of life" for em if ya know what I mean. But, well, nevermind that...

Go read JM's entire post: Tough love and peppers.

Remembering that Dobson and his sneering elitist think tank ilk are the same haughty child beating broddlers who are forever whining about being pilloried and persecuted for their so called "Christian" beliefs. Endlessly boo-hooing and bellyaching about all the abuse they are forced to endure, bound and gagged, while kneeling at the cruel boot of "activist" judges and mean horsewhip brandishing liberals flogging the gentle pilgrims like so many helpless orphans lost in the wilderness,... etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Yeah sure. Cry me a river.


I thought the NSA wasn't supposed to be doing domestic surveillance? 

But silly me! I was just wrong:

The National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on electronic communications around the world, receives thousands of requests each year from U.S. government officials seeking the names of Americans who show up in intercepted calls or e-mails — and complies in the vast majority of cases without challenging the basis for the requests, current and former intelligence officials said.
(via AP)

Look, let's be reasonable here.

I'm 100% certain that there are no, repeat no, "overzealous volunteers" in the Partei apparatus cross-checking voting rolls, MeetUp listings, list traffic, and the blogosphere and cross-correlating those names to emails and telephone conversations. Or cross-correlating those results to airline reservations. Let alone those new RFID chips on passports.

I mean, that would imply that the Republicans had completely politicized the national intelligence apparatus, and in a democracy that just can't happen.

And besides, as John Bolton, who commmissioned a few of these intercepts himself, remarked: "It's important to find out who is saying what to whom."

And there are safeguards! Let's listen to the NSA, since they're the experts:

An official familiar with the NSA's role defended its procedures, saying the agency is committed to protecting Americans' privacy and that it does not reveal names unless doing so is necessary "to understand the foreign intelligence information [contained in an intercept] or to assess its significance."

There. See? All they want to do is assess the significance, and these guys are the none other than the master assessors, the wizards, the No Shit Sherlocks of The Assessment Universe.

So what's the big deal, here? Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear!

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

And plus, we all speak and write in English, so its easier for them.

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