Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sneer and Loathing at Alternate Brain

by Shakespeare's Sister

Which is, of course, why it’s a daily read.

First up, Fixer says it’s time to impeach President Stupid.
We should not have to wait until '08. We should refuse to be led by a criminal organization.
I can’t say I disagree. If perjuring oneself about a blowjob is an impeachable offense (and frankly, you won’t ever find me arguing that it’s not; perjury is perjury, regardless of how resolutely asinine were the circumstances that provoked it), then lying to take the country to war ought to register, too. (See G.D. Frogsdong for the pertinent reference.)

And you know what? Zogby reports today that 42% of Americans don’t disagree, either:
In a sign of the continuing partisan division of the nation, more than two-in-five (42%) voters say that, if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment.
Us crazies is findin’ ourselves in ever-larger company these days.

Meanwhile, Gordon at Alternate Brain also takes on the College Republicans who support the war but aren’t too interested in fighting it. Says G in response to a College Republican who claims his “old hippie” parents don’t want him to go:
"Oh, I would mos' def love to kick some raghead ass but Mommy won't let me" seems just a little lame, but that's just me. Whatever works. Those old hippies are savin' your worthless life, dipshit.
No kidding. If I was the mom of some little shit who turned out to be a College Republican that supported the war but wouldn't fight it, I'd forge his name on the enlistment papers myself.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Energy Blues

by Shakespeare's Sister

As if the administration’s new energy bill isn’t disgraceful enough (“Another controversial issue is a House provision to protect major oil companies and gasoline refiners from lawsuits over MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, a gasoline additive that has contaminated drinking water in hundreds of communities.”), now the administration has designated Joseph Kelliher to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency which controls the country's natural gas industry, hydroelectric projects, electric utilities, and oil pipelines, and has played a critical role in the deregulation of those industries.
President Bush had previously picked Rebecca Klein, the former Republican head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission and a close friend of the president, to chair FERC but red flags were raised recently during a routine FBI background check on Klein which forced the president to choose a new chairman at the last minute. The White House would not comment on the FBI’s probe on Klein. Klein did not return numerous calls for comment.

Still, news of Kelliher’s appointment to chair FERC came late Wednesday as a welcome surprise to many industry lobbyists and energy executives who view him as a staunch supporter of the free-market principles of deregulation and an advocate for eliminating regulatory restrictions that interferes with the free-market, despite the fact those rules are in place to protect consumers from energy price gouging and market manipulation that took place prior to the Enron scandal four years ago and, to some extent, is still somewhat routine in various parts of the country.

However, what’s most troubling about Kelliher’s appointment to head FERC, a role in which his main priority will now be to protect consumers from the manipulative tactics of the very industry he enjoys a cozy relationship with, is the relentless lobbying of bigwigs in the energy industry in early 2001, as a member of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, to help write President Bush’s National Energy Policy in such a way that would be financially beneficial to energy corporations—at the expense of consumers.

One of those bigwigs whose ideas for our national energy policy he solicited: Stephen Craig Sayle, an Enron Corp. lobbyist, who was the brain child behind market-based emissions trading, which found its way into the administration’s national energy policy.

Funny how the White House Personnel Announcement doesn’t mention that part of his résumé.

I believe I can say with some certainty, though, that if a reporter happened to question the administration about this decision (oh, ho ho ho—how I do make myself laugh with such preposterous hypotheticals!), the administration would assure us that suggesting this appointment might reflect poorly on their assertions that they are stewards of the environment, as opposed to soulless favor farmers, constantly dumping ever more egregious amounts of slop into the trough at which feed the corporate pigs who will richly reward them in their post-White House repose, is pure partisan nonsense, and that Mr. Kelliher will do a fine, fine job on behalf of the American people. So we can all breathe easy.

At least for awhile.

*cough cough*

(Hat tip Freiheit und Wissen, who’s doing a blog round-up of anyone writing on this one, so if you do, leave him a comment or a trackback.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Party Like It's 1979

by John

People are asking: Did Iran's New President Hold U.S. Hostages in 1979?

It's an interesting question. Certainly, he looks like a terrorist, but so far, all evidence is circumstantial.

But, in a Blogenlust exclusive, the question must be asked: Did the Artist Formerly Known As Prince Hold U.S. Hostages in 1979?

The evidence, I think, is conclusive that he did.

Exhibit A: Here's a picture of Prince circa 1982:


Exhibit B: Now here's a picture of the Iranian hostage takers circa 1979:


So where was Prince during the Iranian Embassy hostage crisis?

America needs to know.

(Cross-Posted @ Blogenlust)

Lakoff Gets It Wrong

by TheGreenKnight

The Green Knight is something of a skeptic about George Lakoff and his "framing" techniques. So this may not be an entirely unbiased post.

Today, Lakoff has an article in the Huffington Post on how the Democrats have allegedly blown it with the public by responding to Karl Rove's filthy attacks this past week. He offers no actual evidence that they've blown it: no poll numbers, for example. What he does is dump Rove's comments and some of the responses into his standard theory. In the Green Knight's opinion, many of Lakoff's conclusions are wrong.

Let's look at some of Lakoff's assertions:
5.When the Democrats attacked Rove for his remarks and defended themselves, they wound up expressing support for Bush’s going to war after 911, and with it implicit support for Bush’s position in Iraq....

9.Rove, of course, stood tall and strong, sticking by his guns, with a loud chorus of

10.This enabled Scott McClellan, the administration mouthpiece, to call for a nation debate on conservative – liberal philosophy, beginning with the handling of 911.
The three highlighted points are especially problematic. In number 5, Lakoff apparently assumes that support for war after 9/11 (i.e. the war in Afghanistan) necessarily implies support for any war that the White House might want to conduct, including the war in Iraq. But that's wrong. One of the key points that opponents of the Iraq war have been hammering away at is that the war in Iraq is unrelated to 9/11 because Iraq was unrelated to 9/11. In order for Lakoff's point #5 to work, only someone who opposed the war in Afghanistan would have any chance of legitimately opposing the war in Iraq. This is not a political strategy for the real world.

In number 9, Lakoff assumes that Rove's support has been unanimous. It hasn't. While Republican Party apparatchiks have closed ranks around him, a number of conservative media figures have not. Additionally, even many of Rove's supporters have found it necessary to back away, to massage and nuance what he said, to downplay the significance of his remarks.

In number 10, Lakoff assumes that a national debate on liberal-conservative philosophy is (a) happening and (b) unwinnable by any other than those that allegedly started it. Both of these assumptions are wrong, or at least highly questionable.

Lakoff says, however, that
the Democrats helped Rove get Iraq identified with the war on terror again, characterizing the Democrats as unpatriotic naïve weaklings, and setting the stage for Bush’s address on June 28, 2005, in which he followed Rove’s lead and again framed the Iraq War in terms of 911 and the war on terror.
But the indications are that Bush's speech was less than successful. A small audience tuned in, and even the Republicans who watched were only mildly impressed. Indeed, nothing much was offered other than things that have worn thin through repetition. That last point is one of Lakoff's real weaknesses: he frequently seems to assume that messages always get stronger through repetition. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they also get weaker. Circumstances do change; a message that works one year might not work the next.

Lakoff is right about some things, however. Among his recommendations are the following:

Point out Rove’s attempt to cover up Bush’s disaster in Iraq, and dwell on the public’s repudiation of the Bush policy for good reasons....

Keep pounding on the Downing Street memo, pointing out how Bush doctored intelligence and sent troops to war on false pretenses....

Raise the stakes. Point out how the administration has been using 911 for their own political ends; of using the war in Iraq as a pretext to carry out a radical political agenda at home, and to get re-elected. Point out the immorality of using American and Iraqi lives for political ends....

In short, be pro-active, not reactive....Stick to your guns and stay the course.
All of that is, at least, good advice. But it's not as if we can't do all that and respond to Rove's attack. Lakoff, it seems, would have had us remain silent in the face of slander and not, as he says, respond to Rove's bait. But that's the very strategy that the Kerry campaign took with the Swift Boat Liars -- and we all know how well that worked out.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Blair is Full of Crap (Just Like His Yankee Masters)

by Shakespeare's Sister

So Blair claims that the Downing Street Memos distort the facts. Bullshit they do. This is, for my money, the best quote from the AP wire story (which is being picked up by seemingly every newspaper from here to Hiroshima, including papers who haven't even reported on the DSMs until now):
"I am a bit astonished at how this has received such coverage in the U.S. because the fact is, after the memo was done, we went to the United Nations," Blair said.
Ah, the Cheney defense. Well, here's the problem with that: executing the scheme outlined in the Memos is technically proof of the scheme, not a means of discrediting documentation of the scheming. The originally leaked memo states:
The NSC had no patience with the UN route…

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors…

The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
So Blair's big attempt at discrediting the Memos is to say that because they did exactly what the Memos suggest they considered doing in order to make the war more politically palatable, somehow the Memos distort the facts. I guess trying to give people whiplash is their best option at this point.

What a bunch of pricks.

Oh, and by the way, all the wingnuts who have been yowling about how the Memos are probably fake? They're not. Once and for all, they're not. If nothing else, Blair's dissembling has proved that much.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

“Bush: Sorry and Sorrier”

by Shakespeare's Sister

Go read The Heretik, who never fails to amaze, and truly outdoes himself today.

Call Bush a lame duck, a cooked goose, or a roast tom turkey—this foul fowl is done.

Republican Congressman Says Saddam Was Involved in September 11 Attacks

by Dark Wraith

According to a CNN report with a dateline of 9:12 a.m., June 29, 2005, Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC, 8th Cong. District), Vice Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, claims to have evidence unavailable to the media linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks on continental U.S. targets of September 11, 2001, attacks that resulted in over 3,000 deaths and more than $30 billion in property damage.

The four-term Congressman from North Carolina was responding to criticism leveled at President George W. Bush for referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks no fewer than five times during his Thursday night speech concerning the war in Iraq.Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC) The Congressman's affirmative defense of Mr. Bush's invocation of the attacks on the United States was starkly at odds even with White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's denial that Mr. Bush was trying to link the former Iraqi dictator to the terrorist attacks on the United States. Further compounding the mystery regarding what Rep. Hayes claimed was evidence in the possession of legislators but completely unknown to the media and the general public, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), while staunchly defending President Bush's speech, flatly denied that there was any knowledge among legislators of a link between Hussein and the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Undeterred by the round denials from even the most faithful of Bush's supporters concerning the war in Iraq, Rep. Hayes said in part and bluntly, "No one disputes 9/11."

At the time of this report, it is unclear if the 59-year-old Rep. Hayes does, indeed, have evidence unavailable to the White House, fellow Republicans, and even the White House-appointed 9/11 commission, or if Rep. Hayes is actually just a few cheese cubes short of a snack tray.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

This is who is in it, you apathetics??

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Read, PLEASE, folks, and then, think, and then...for GOD's SAKES - ACT!!!

This man is running your country!!!

Karl Rove

It's hard to imagine how Karl Rove's appearance could fit his role any more perfectly than it does.

Portly, balding, malicious, simpering, he looks like a cross between Sesame Street's Mr. Hooper and the Third Reich's Heinrich Himmler. And he acts like a cross between Heinrich Himmler and Henry Kissinger. Whom he also looks like. And not in a good way.

Oh yeah, he's a man who compromised national security, putting lives of American agents in danger. Wait, I forgot a word there. What was it? Oh, I remember! Allegedly.

Rove is an old-school political operator who would have been right at home working on Huey Long's campaign. Of course, Long did a lot of good things for his constituents, to offset the sleaze and corruption. Rove's protege, George W Bush, has a ways to go in that regard.

Rove was a "Young Republican" back when being a Young Republican wasn't cool (a historical era ranging from 1959 through the present). As a student at the prestigious University of Utah, Rove (who still had hair at the time) teamed up with a young Lee Atwater to seize control of the College Republicans political club in the early 1970s.

By all accounts, the race for the coveted chairmanship of the meaningless College Republicans organization was a portent of things to come. According to the Washington Post, the two men executed a balls-to-the-wall campaign to put Rove in the catbird's seat, and once there, he wasted no time getting his group involved in dirty tricks on behalf of Richard M Nixon's 1972 campaign. You may remember that campaign, it was the beginning of Watergate.

Oxymoronically, Rove dropped out of college to become executive director of the College Republicans, all the while practicing dirty tricks on behalf of the candidates of his choice. According the Post, these tricks included identity theft, petty larceny and campaign fraud. Rove characterized these felonies and misdemeanors as a "youthful prank."

A political visionary, Rove recognized early on that he had the opportunity to leech onto not one, but two failed, third-rate presidents in the form of what is comically referred to as the "Bush Dynasty." Rove worked as an assistant to George Bush Sr. in the Republican National Committee during what is arguably the lowest point in the history of the Republican Party, the aftermath of the Nixon presidency.

For the next decade or so, Rove kept his nose buried up the ass of the nearest Bush. He helped George Jr. embarrass himself in a 1978 congressional bid, then bailed out of Bush Sr.'s first and failed presidential bid in 1979.

He maintained a close buddyship with the future president Junior, however. In a high point of Time Magazine's history of powerful journalistic coverage, a 2001 report revealed that George W. Bush's pet name for Rove is "Turd Blossom." No, really.

Rove helped Bush Jr. transform himself from rich-dilletante wastrel into rich-dilletante-wastrel-with-power in 1994, acting as his political adviser in Dubya's successful run for Texas governor. According to ABC News, more than half of the campaign's nearly $1 million budget went to Rove. Considering the challenge of making Bush look good, the sum was probably not out of line.

Rove's tactics tend toward making politics more about playing percentages than kissing babies. An early adopter of direct mail and targeted computer lists, Rove is widely credited with making the Texas GOP the cash cow is today. He also specialized in converting conservative Democrats who were already Republicans in every meaningful sense into Republicans in name as well, including arch-conservative and failed presidential candidate Phil Gramm, who suspiciously resembles a much thinner version of Rove himself.

Brought in to shepherd Junior to his rightful place as chief executive of the last superpower, Rove was largely responsible for creating the veneer of "compassionate conservatism" that led George Jr. to his triumphant loss in the 2000 presidential election.

First, Rove and his little buddy had to beat off a surprise primary challenge from charismatic war hero John McCain, whose sacrifices in a military prison camp in Vietnam looked all the more impressive against Bush's no-show National Guard travesty. Rove conducted a whisper-campaign to spread sleaze, pushing ridiculous allegations, such as that McCain was a stoolie while imprisoned in Vietnam. Rove was reputedly the brains behind a sleazy e-mail forward that alleged McCain had fathered an illegitimate black daughter, a lie which was "proven" by actual pictures of McCain with his black daughter, whom he had actually adopted.

Obviously, McCain should have been drinking and snorting coke throughout the '70s, rather than serving his country, enduring torture and adopting children. Bush trampled the challenger handily, and moved on to the general election, where he faced Vice President Al Gore.

Despite running against the stiffest Democratic candidate since Adlai Stevenson, Dubya couldn't quite clear the hurdle in the nationwide popular vote, which he lost by a margin five times larger than Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960. But the pesky little electoral college thing sank Gore, thanks to Jeb and Florida. As early as Labor Day, Rove was doing the usual political dance and predicting it would be a close race. And how close it was! As mentioned above, Gore won the popular vote by a small but convincing margin. However, the electoral college — which actually dictates who will become president — was right down to the wire. The outcome of the election rode on the election results in Florida, which Gov. Jeb Bush had promised to "deliver" for his brother.

You all remember Florida. We won't beat it to death again here. Karl Rove's role in Florida was "damage control," and there was a lot of damage to control. Rove's basic public strategy consisted of "we won, so leave us alone." Voting irregularities, mandated recounts -- these things were trivia, bureaucracy, Democratic dirty tricks. "We won" was the message of the day.

Privately, of course, the Bush team was far from certain that they had, in fact, won. Jeb Bush promised to stay out of the recount debate, and instead entrusted it to his political appointees, who lived for no other reason than to curry favor. Rove didn't like the looks of this, so he stacked the deck in every conceivable way.

Among the tactics he employed: Loading Republican operatives from Washington, D.C., onto a bus and sending them to Florida, where they played the part of "angry mob" shouting and intimidating the hapless bureaucrats who had been lumped with the unenviable job of evaluating the ballots. Ah, those youthful pranks!

In the end, Bush came out on top, of course, catapulting Rove into a position of power that few Mr. Hooper-lookalikes have ever achieved. Although the White House repeatedly insisted that Rove had no policy-making role, the advice of his "White House Office of Strategic Initiatives" was sought on virtually every major decision that Bush administration faced.

After September 11, Rove found himself feeling cranky, according to investigative reporter Bob Woodward. Rove was pissed off because he wasn't being allowed to sit in on National Security Council and war cabinet meetings. Bush and Dick Cheney were afraid the politico's presence would send the wrong message.

Bear in mind, it wasn't that Rove wasn't being consulted. He was consulted about every single thing that happened in the White House and every decision that emerged from the Oval Office. He just wasn't being allowed to sit at the meetings himself. He had to get his updates after the fact from Bush, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice.

Despite his enormous power, Rove was mostly spared any real scrutiny by the mainstream media, which preferred to write with grudging admiration about his alleged political skills and chuckle over the "Turd Blossom" thing. By the time the Iraq invasion rolled around, Rove was back to sitting in the meetings.

His thoughtful evaluation (told to Woodward) of the ramifications of invading a sovereign country and deposing its leader? "The victor is always right."

Until late 2003, anyway, when an ugly little incident revealed just how dark the dark side of Karl Rove could be, in a burgeoning scandal that could have serious consequences for the Bush White House.

A former U.S. ambassador by the name of Joseph Wilson was one of the biggest political liabilities the White House faced in 2003. Wilson had been dispatched to Niger early in 2002 to investigate whether Iraq was trying to buy uranium there. Turns out, they weren't.

He reported this information back to the White House, which promptly ignored it. Bush cited the uranium story in his 2003 State of the Union address, Cheney cited it repeatedly, and the State Department cited it in several of its endless justifications for why the U.S. just had to invade Iraq.

When the war was "over" and still no Weapons of Mass Destruction had been found, Wilson pointed out to the media that he had TOLD the White House that there was no uranium purchase. He wrote about his fact-finding trip in the New York Times as well.

This did not please the White House. It was bad for politics, bad for poll numbers. And when the poll numbers are threatened, Karl Rove gets cranky. Homicidally cranky, apparently. Did I say apparently? I meant allegedly.

In July 2003, arch-conservative Robert Novak reported that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent, blowing her cover and endangering her life, not to mention national security. (Inexplicably, no one has gone after Novak over this issue.)

Wilson and his wife didn't take this lying down. They came out swinging. Wilson accused Rove of being the source for the leak that endangered his wife's life and destroyed her career.

"Rove is someone who at a minimum would have condoned it and certainly did nothing to knock it down for over a week after the article appeared. The outing of my wife was obviously a political or communications move. The head of the political operation is Karl Rove," Wilson told reporters.

In late September, the Justice Department launched a full criminal investigation into the leak, which is an aggravated felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine (which actually seems a little low for treasonous activity and political intimidation designed to silence political opposition and whistleblowing).

The White House has refused to speculate on the source of the leak. Not only has it refused it speculate, it's actually refused to care. Despite widespread outrage, the White House declined to launch an internal investigation of the leak, with a Bush flak saying that it was "ridiculous" to suggest Rove was involved, and that "there has been absolutely nothing brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement." I guess they don't get CNN on the cable system there.

Needless to say, the prospect of the Bush Justice Department investigating a Bush political operative doesn't thrill Democrats, who have already called for an independent counsel investigation.

Fortunately for Republicans, the party leadership cleverly disabused the nation about the worth of special prosecutors and impeachment proceedings a few years ago, when they hounded Bill Clinton into a constitutional crisis over blow jobs.

Considering the mounting list of actual scandals the Bushies are racking up, that strategy is proving to be prescient. Most Americans are about as thrilled at the prospect of a special prosecutor as they are at the prospect of a root canal.

In the meantime, just remember: don't cross Karl Rove. Whoops! We just did... dammit!


25 Dec 1950

Karl Rove born, Denver CO.


Karl Rove sneaks into the campaign office of Illinois Democrat Alan Dixon and steals some letterhead. He then prints up 1,000 party invitations promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing," which he then distributes to homeless shelters.


Drops out, University of Utah.


First person hired by the George HW Bush presidential campaign.


Starts political consulting firm Karl Rove & Co.

Mar 1991

Testifying under oath before the Texas Senate for an appointment to the Texas State University Board of Regents, Karl Rove prefigures Bill Clinton:


How long have you known an FBI agent by the name of Greg Rampton?


Ah, senator, it depends -- would you define "know" for me?


John Ashcroft campaign pays Karl Rove & Co. over $300,000 to help with his senate race. New York Times.


The George W Bush campaign effort pays Karl Rove & Co. $2.5M for July through December. According to Rove, "About 30 percent of that is postage."


Sells Karl Rove & Co..

Dec 2000

Signs a campaign disclosure form, but neglects to mention he is still President of Karl Rove & Co.

Mar 2001

White House political adviser Karl Rove meets with executives from Intel, seeking approval for a merger between a Dutch company and an Intel supplier. The government rubberstamps the deal, and Rove's $100,000 in Intel stock surges.

Apr 2001

Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with Bush political advisers to discuss whether the actor should run for Governor of California in 2002. Karl Rove says "That would be really nice. That would be really, really nice."

Jun 2001

White House political adviser Karl Rove meets with two pharmaceutical industry lobbyists. At the time, Rove holds almost $250,000 in drug industry stocks.

Jun 2001

White House political adviser Karl Rove meets with a group of Muslim activists including Sami Al-Arian.

12 Mar 2000

George W Bush and his wife Laura are photographed with Karl Rove, during a campaign stop at the Florida Strawberry Festival.

30 Jun 2001

White House political adviser Karl Rove divests his stocks in 23 companies, which included more than $100,000 in each Enron, Boeing, General Electric, and Pfizer.

30 Jun 2001

The White House admits that political adviser Karl Rove was involved in administration energy policy meetings, while at the same time holding stock in energy companies including Enron.

10 Apr 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger meets with White House political adviser Karl Rove to discuss anything other than whether the actor should run for Governor of California in 2006.

14 May 2003

During a meeting with South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, President George W Bush brings only two officials: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and political adviser Karl Rove.

29 Aug 2003

Retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson names Karl Rove as the White House insider who leaked his wife's identity as a CIA operative to the press.

28 Mar 2004

Several hundred supporters of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act pile out of school busses in front of Karl Rove's house in Washington D.C., swarming onto his front lawn and shouting for him to support the act. Rove appears briefly to order the mob off his property, at which point they rush his house, banging on the windows and doors. He finally agrees to talk to two representatives if the mob disperses; they do, and after a couple minutes of discussion he shuts the door on them midsentence.


by Ms. Julien in Miami

Guess what, oh educated folks??

The man of the hour, Karl Rove, has only a secondary education...from, he "attended nearly half a dozen colleges without getting a degree..."

So, is this the American Dream, or the American joke!?!??!?!?!??!?!!


by TheGreenKnight

Get ready for it. As P. M. Carpenter notes:
The jig is up -- so the right needs a chump. And when the U.S. presence [in Iraq] is finally forced out there, because no one supports it here, guess who will get the blame.

You got it. Liberals....

What you’ll hear is that the left and its elected hacks began weakening America’s resolve. We had it won, the right will say, until the embedded Liberal Elite once again badmouthed America and sweet-talked the masses astray. What you’ll hear is that things were going swimmingly. Sure we had a bump here and there, but no real setbacks. You’ll hear that all was according to plan -- precisely what the president absurdly claimed last night....

Given the right’s well-oiled attack machine and well-justified reliance on Americans’ notoriously short memory to boot, today’s reality will get buried by tomorrow’s carefully fashioned historical myth: "Liberals cost America the war."
He's right, of course. That's exactly what's going to happen. That's why Bush had Karl Rove say what he said earlier this week; he was loading up the blamethrower, getting it ready. He knows the war won't be won, and he needs a scapegoat.
Update: Jon Stewart weighs in on this topic.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Eat it, Stephen Harper - gay marriage to be a reality across the Great White North

by Pam

Same-sex marriage passes in Canada's House. House Blender Cat has been on top of this, throughout the turmoil and ups and downs, and passed this headline along. It's going country-wide in short order, and the wingnuts are in freak-out mode. Conservative Stephen Harper vows to revisit the issue if he comes to power.
The Liberals' controversial same-sex marriage legislation has passed final reading the House of Commons, sailing through with a vote of 158 for and 133 against. Supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, the legislation passed easily, making Canada only the third country in the world, after the Netherlands and Belgium, to officially recognize same-sex unions.

But the passage of Bill C-38, once again, came with a political price tag for the government. Joe Comuzzi, resigned from the cabinet so he could vote against the bill - an open rebuke of the government legislation. Comuzzi was the minister responsible for Northern Ontario.

Although he was the only cabinet minister to break ranks with Prime Minister Paul Martin over the controversial plan to legalize the marriage of gays and lesbians, it highlighted the divisions within Canada and the within the Liberal party, pitting supporters of equality rights against those who are defending religious freedoms. For Comuzzi, the decision to resign meant putting principles ahead of the privileges of cabinet. "In 2004, during the election, I promised faithfully to the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North, that I would defend the definition of marriage," he said, explaining his move.

The prime minister said he regretted the decision of a man he called an "old friend," but accepts it because the government must speak with one voice on same-sex marriage.

The "vote is about the Charter of Rights," said Martin. "We're a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities you don't cherry-pick rights."

The government has moved over the last few months to appease critics both within Liberal ranks and among Canadians at large. Amendments were introduced to ensure no religious group or charitable organization is forced to accept same-sex marriage. But in spite of those amendments some groups remain unconvinced.

Same-sex marriage remains one of the most difficult issues ever to confront Canadian politicians. In large part passage of the bill is the reason the parliamentary session was extended for the first time in 17 years.
What wonderful news, as Kate and I celebrate our anniversary (we married in Vancouver) in a couple of days.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Homo-hating homo Dave Dreier hires Tony Blair's son

by Pam

Tony Blair's son will be working for outed wingnut Congressman Dave Dreier (Repug-CA)

The Congressman's made a new intern hire, and one has to wonder whether Tony Blair is aware that Dave Dreier is one of Washington's notorious closet cases with an anti-gay voting record. BlogActive is raising a ruckus on this one, with "Save Tony Blair's son from the clutch of America's closets." The new report about the hire, at
Euan Blair beat out about 100,000 hopefuls for a slot as an intern on the Hill. The graduate of Bristol University will work for Congressman David Dreier (R-Calif.). A longtime opponent of LGBT civil rights legislation and a supporter of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Dreier was outed by gay rights activist Michael Rogers on his site BlogActive last year - part of a campaign to expose Republicans who were secretly gay but voted to deny gays and lesbians civil rights.

Dreier who has refused to comment on the reports allegedly lives with his male chief of staff. Last year Dreier was named a "True Blue" advocate by the Family Research Council - the preeminent anti-gay lobby organization.

In 1996 Dreier voted for the Defense of Marriage Act which bans the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples. The legislation passed and was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. In 1999 he voted to ban gay adoptions in the District of Columbia. That bill was narrowly defeated.
It's open season on Dreier again, who benefited from what was a complete media blackout on his outing, which included an expose in Hustler as well as Mike Rogers' work. From BlogActive:
As I was saying about a year ago, this is a long term investment project. And today, we hit paydirt. All over the United Kingdom in the major papers, there's GOP Representative David Dreier being exposed for the gay homophobe he is.

Most fun of all is the see Freepers (for those of you who don't know what a Freeper is, think one part Ann Coulter and one part Lou Sheldon and you're pretty much there) battling out whether or not David Drier is gay or not....a RINO (Republican in name only -- as if people were dying to lie their way into the party)....and more. (Warning: Right wing site, homophobic posts are allwed there -- and there are plenty of them.

The Truth about Iraq Death Tolls

by JJ

Our MSM states that there are just over 1700 killed in Iraq. This figure is the lowest number that the DOD could possibly construe. I did some checking and found this website, Icasualties. The truth is staggering!

There have been a total of 1833 Americans killed in Iraq as of June 28th. This is a combination of military and civilian contractors. Eighty-nine percent of these deaths occured after the fall of Baghdad when, on May 2nd, from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln George W. Bush announced "that major combat operations in Iraq have ended". Coalition forces death toll is 2091 and Iraqi police who have died in the line of duty total 2471. This brings the deaths of 6395 innocent lives to the shoulders of George W. Bush and his illegal war. Not to disregard the 25,590 innocent Iraqi civilian men, women and children that have died.

Now Rumsfeld says we will be at it for another 12 years! If this is true and the United States continues to "stay the course" of killing civilians George W. Bush will be solely responsible for decimating over 10% of the population of Iraq in 12 years time. It is imperative that this man be impeached and charged with war crimes.

Now take a look at the Red VS Blue death toll. Deaths by location map shows the majority of military personnel who have given their lives for this war are from Blue areas.

Now that you have the visual its obvious that Karl Rove needs to be thrown out on his big fat white ass for his statement that conservatives prepared for war and “Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers”.

Who are the real terrorists?

Jim West Speaks Out!

by JJ

I have been on vacation and have not kept up on the latest news. In todays Spokesman Review Mayor Jim West speaks out about his appeal of the recall petition. If the appeal goes through, it will likely mean that any chance of a recall will not occur until 2006.

Recall is Based on False S-R [Spokesman Review] Accusations

Mayor James E. West
June 28, 2005

Special to The Spokesman-Review

With over 92 articles, hundreds of column inches, thousands of words, several editorials and screaming headlines by The Spokesman-Review, people have a hard time remembering this simple fact: In our system a person is innocent until proven guilty.

The Spokesman-Review is not the judge or the jury, and its accusations are false.

I did not molest anyone, 25 years ago or ever, and I have not misused my official office for personal gain. I am certain the investigations now being conducted will show that I have done nothing that makes me unfit for public office.

I look forward to the time when the City Council and The Spokesman-Review can turn their attention away from my private life and onto the pressing needs of the city. In City Hall each day that's what I do as I continue to focus on the future of Spokane and work with our employees to deliver the best services possible for everyone. At the same time, I will continue to defend myself against falsehoods, using appropriate legal means.

Today my lawyers are filing an appeal to allow the state Supreme Court to review the recall petition filed against me. The citizens of Spokane deserve to know why I have decided to appeal. Simply put, it is because the charges are false, and the ballot statement they would vote on was improperly prepared and is prejudicial.

A recall is unique in our court system: The judge makes no attempt to determine if the charges are true. Instead, his ruling only determines whether the charges are a clear statement of the accusation (true or not) and whether those charges would constitute misuse of office ("malfeasance or misfeasance").

The judge who reviewed the recall petition immediately threw out two of the three charges. But he ruled that one charge was sufficient for the recall, that internships were offered improperly. The only "evidence" submitted at the hearing were articles from The Spokesman-Review. Unfortunately for us all, in over 90 articles and increasingly shrill editorials, The Spokesman-Review has twisted testimony and ignored facts that do not fit its view of this matter.

Let me give you an example from last week's newspaper.

Its reporters read through hundreds of my e-mails, looking for a "smoking gun." They found nothing incriminating. Yet, in one article, they reprinted private e-mails from people who had written words of encouragement to me – for the sole purpose of publicly chastising them and hoping to embarrass them into submission.

Then, in another article, headlined "West used city computer to make internship offer," the newspaper retold the tale they've told many times of how they hired a chat room impostor to pretend to be a young man.

The story says, "The online story progressed … to an offer of an internship at the mayor's office." But a comparison of the full transcript with the published story shows how far the newspaper will go in its crusade against me. Remember, the paper hired the impostor with the explicit purpose of trying to lure me into committing an illegal act.

This newspaper edited the exchange to make it sound as if I had offered an internship to the young man – instead of simply encouraging him to go through the application process.

It is commonplace to suggest to young people that they apply for internships, and every elected official I know has done it hundreds of times.

I wrote – although the newspaper did not report it, that I offered no guarantees, "You could also ask him to mail you an application form so that you can fill it out … They may have all the positions filled for this spring so you should get on it if you are at all interested."

In the article, The Spokesman quotes its online impostor as saying, "Thank you so much for honoring me with this offer."

A full transcript shows he continues and concludes by saying, "I wanted to write and thank you for your e-mail and the opportunity to apply."

The full exchange shows that I encouraged a young man to apply for an internship but did not reveal my official position and did not in any way guarantee him that he would be chosen. At the mayor's office, there is a review procedure for all these unpaid internships, and I did not interfere in that process.

In an earlier story, The Spokesman-Review stated as a fact that I had offered jobs to another young man. However, if you read the transcripts of his interview he is emphatic that no job was offered but only that he was encouraged to apply. It also said that I had met this young man online. The fact is I've known him for several years and worked with him in another job so knew his experience.

This type of distortion is far from isolated. First, the newspaper wondered why police records from 20 years ago had been destroyed and implied that I would be named in those reports if they were still around. Then, when the reports turned up after a search and showed no mention of me, the newspaper wondered why they turned up suddenly.

When I was accused of visiting one of my accusers at the local jail, the newspaper doubted that the logs kept were accurate. When The Spokesman reported a decade's old hearsay statement that I had taken Morning Star boys on outings, the Boys Ranch responded emphatically that its own logs and records confirmed I hadn't.

The truth is, I can't go into The Spokesman-Review building without signing in before a security guard. Why do they think that entrance into a jail or check out at a juvenile residential facility is any less secure?

I wish I could write that there is not a shred of truth to the things that have been written about me in The Spokesman-Review. The problem is, there is a shred of truth, and The Spokesman-Review has shredded it into a hundred small pieces and rearranged it to fit its agenda and theories.

Yes, I exercised poor judgment and made mistakes in my personal life, but nothing illegal and nothing unethical. Chatting online about sex with a person I believed to be 18 years old was wrong. Although it was a private conversation conducted on my personal computer in my home, I'm ashamed of it and embarrassed by it. I have apologized to the community and have sought forgiveness for my actions.

As I said, I'm embarrassed and ashamed, but my personal mistake need not be a public crusade to drive me from office and to stop the good work being done at City Hall. It also doesn't mean that I have to sit silently by while the facts are distorted.

My lawyers are confident that after an appeal to the Supreme Court, we will have a more accurate ballot statement to put before the voters for a fair recall election.

So there you have it, he is the victim here!

Monday, June 27, 2005


by Shakespeare's Sister

Following up on yesterday’s post about the general who confirmed in a 2003 briefing the secret air war, known as the “spikes of activity” which preceded Congressional authorization for the Iraq War, we come to find out, care of Spoof News editor JJ, that the same general, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, was nominated by Bush on May 16 as chief of staff of the Air Force to succeed Gen. John P. Jumper who has served in the position since September 2001.

Call me crazy (I know you will), but I think Wednesday's confirmation hearing would be the perfect place to question Gen, Moseley, who served as the Combined Forces Air Component Commander for operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom, about the “spikes of activity” that were alleged in the Downing Street Memos to have been designed to provoke Saddam.

Bush and Cheney and Rove and McClellan may be able to dodge questions about the DSMs posed by a still rather complacent media, and Sensenbrenner and the other GOP jackholes might be able to relegate Congressman Conyers to a basement, and perhaps the Dems will never be able to secure the formal inquiry based on the Memos that they warrant, but surely, surely, Gen, Moseley cannot be appointed to serve as chief of staff of the Air Force while there are unanswered questions about the legality of a military action which was executed under his command.

Wouldn’t it be swell if some enterprising reporter asked the president about all this?


On a related note, check out Raw Story’s coverage of the Unofficial War here, and take a look at their graphic tracking the air bombings of Iraq from Jan. 01 to Mar. 03 here. Spikes of activity indeed.

[UPDATE—Action Item: Contact the members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee members (click on their names for contact information) to politely request that tomorrow's hearing not pass without questions about the alleged attempts to provoke Saddam into war, even as the administration was telling us they still considered war a last resort. Thanks to Misty of Expostulation for the link.]

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Religious Reich calling for boycott of Allstate

by Pam

Nathan Tabor, and Matt Barber (r), Barber is suing Allstate for religious discrimination and has retained Terri Schiavo’s former attorney.

Nathan Tabor, the Kernersville, NC-based "conservative political activist" and contributing editor of politically off-the-charts Right web site The Conservative Voice, is on a campaign to bring down Allstate Insurance Company for its allegedly anti-Christian and illegal discriminatory actions, as well as its "indoctrination" of its employees to accept the homo agenda. The founder of the Voice, J. Matt Barber was allegedly fired from Allstate "for his Christian beliefs."

Barber wrote and published an op-editorial on his opposition to same-sex marriage (on his own time), basing his argument on "the negative aspects of both same-sex marriage, and the homosexual lifestyle – views that he says are deeply rooted in his religious beliefs, and supported by clear biblical principles," according to Tabor.

To boot, Barber's retained David Gibbs III, Terri Schiavo’s former attorney to take on this case, which is guaranteed to make this another Left-Right media freakshow, based on the premise that Allstate's actions are a violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Barber may have a case, given the findings so far:
The State of Illinois (Department of Employment Security) has conducted a thorough investigation into Allstate’s actions and has ruled, without equivocation, in favor of Mr. Barber. With respect to his case, the investigation determined: “The claimant was discharged from Allstate Insurance Company because an outside organization had complained about an article he had written while on his own time.” The State’s investigation further concluded that Allstate intentionally chose to terminate Barber’s employment for writing the article in spite of the fact that he engaged in absolutely no misconduct whatsoever: “The term misconduct means the deliberate and willful violation of a reasonable rule or policy of the employer…In this case, the claimant’s action which resulted in his discharge was not deliberate and willful.”
Allstate may, in fact, have overstepped its bounds in Barber's case (unless it has some severely restrictive policies for employees on in its guidelines -- why isn't this being tried on free-speech grounds, hmmm?). The whole point is to make this case about religious intolerance (see "More boo-hoos: Gary Bauer and the 'persecuted Christians'").The call for a boycott goes deeper than this one case; it's a crack in the door that the Right has been looking for to attack corporate tolerance policies and outreach to the gay community.
So a new question for America to debate over coming weeks and months is whether an extremely powerful organization like Allstate Insurance Company has the legal and/or moral right to attempt to indoctrinate its employees into accepting the homosexual lifestyle in conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs.
The framing is crystal clear. The AmTaliban in this case are looking to model this after the Ford boycott by the American Family Association, which, amusingly, fell like a house of cards earlier this month.
In recent years Allstate has aligned itself with several of the most activist homosexual organizations in America. In addition to contributing huge sums of money to the most militant of these organizations, to include LAMBDA ( and GLAAD (, Allstate forces all employees to undergo “diversity training” in promotion of the homosexual lifestyle. Within the work environment, it prohibits any vocalized opposition of either homosexuality, or “same-sex marriage.” Furthermore, it offers “domestic partnership benefits,” essentially treating homosexual employees and their “partners” as married couples.
Hope it's as successful as Ford.

Well, we can ensure their efforts are matched. Nathan posted some action items for his Freepi readership; so there's no reason that we cannot do the same, slightly edited, of course:

• Telephone Allstate CEO Ed Liddy’s office at 1-847-402-5000 or contact the company at 1-800-Allstate (1-800-255-7828) and thank Mr. Liddy for its progressive policies and outreach to the gay community. You can also e-mail Allstate here.

• Contact the Allstate agents in your area (simply click on this link for contact information: and let them know that you appreciate their services to the gay community.

• Please forward this article to friends and family. [Sure!]

• Here's information on Allstate’s "pro-homo agenda," Nathan kindly supplied some other links:

Allstate advertising targets homosexuals

Allstate gives to GLAAD

Allstate promotes “tolerance,” “inclusion,” and “diversity”

Allstate large donor for LAMBDA

Allstate insures same sex couples as married

Allstate marketing toward gays

An earlier post on Nathan Tabor and The Conservative Voice is here.

Frist's *ss is in the fire over FEC loan violations

by Pam

Ah, feel the pain, Cat Killer Frist. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the Senate Majority Leader and it's a sleazy deal. Oops. Pious Bill is going to have a hard time explaining this one since he personally signed off on the transactions.
The complaint alleges that the Frist 2000, Inc. failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by Frist 2000, Inc. and by Frist's 1994 campaign committee, Bill Frist for Senate, Inc., making it appear that Frist 2000, Inc. had significantly more money that it actually had.

In June 2000, Senator Frist took $1 million of the money that had been contributed to his 2000 Senate campaign and invested it in the stock market, where it promptly began losing money. In November 2000, Senator Frist sought to collect $1.2 million he had lent his 1994 Senate campaign committee. As a result of the stock market losses, however, Frist 2000, Inc. did not have enough money to repay the loan. Senator Frist solved this problem by having the 1994 and the 2000 campaign committees jointly take out a $1.44 million bank loan at a cost of $10,000 a month interest. Frist 2000, Inc. did not report this debt on its FEC disclosure forms.

The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires full disclosure of any loans taken out by campaign committees. Yet only the 1994 campaign committee, which had been largely dormant, disclosed the loan. The loan papers, which are attached to CREW's complaint, are signed by Senator Frist personally on behalf of each of the campaign committees.
Aren't you getting tired of these sleazebag Repugs claiming to take the high road on just about any political issue, accusing Dems of moral bankruptcy when the list of GOP hypocrites, liars, bigots, closeted self-loathers and dumbf*cks is a mile long and they swim in a cesspool of deceit that stinks to high heaven? Damn. It takes balls to do this, but you know what? As long as they can convince the sheeple and Freepi to fall in line at ballot time, they have the upper hand. The damn Dems should be able to beat these clowns cold.

A Tar Heel gay oasis

by Pam

My good friends Denise Barbour Dunn (L), Corye Barbour Dunn (center), and friend William Palmer (R) at Mad Hatter’s in Durham. We all love living here in the Triangle area, particularly Durham, because it is so gay-friendly.

I want to give a shout-out to our local progressive paper, the Independent Weekly, for its fantastic piece this week, "The gay life" which tells you all you need to know why I love my hometown and my area of the state of NC. It's an oasis of tolerance that folks, particularly Yankees from outside of the state, don't really believe exists. It does, despite the outrage of the cross-burnings a few weeks back -- that shocked everyone here. As the Indy's Jim Baxter, author of the piece says, "Gays and lesbians like the Triangle because of its tolerance and politics--and all the things about living here that straight people like, too."

I was glad to see that he interviewed two of my good friends, Dee and Corye for the article. They had a holy union last year in Raleigh; I was the "official wedding photographer" - :).

But back to the Indy article...
Despite the considerable conservative population around us, the Triangle has become a surprisingly attractive place for gay men and lesbians. In part, it's the tolerance created by three major universities with active student groups. Research Triangle Park attracting large corporations with liberal employment policies certainly helped. The large influx of people from urban areas helped, too.

Add in the political climate as another factor. "Of the places to live in North Carolina, I think this is one of the hubs of liberal thought and politics," Lamazares says.

And gays and lesbians like it here for all the same reasons straight people do. Some move here for jobs, some for a less hectic way of life, some for a lower cost of living. Some grew up here and never left, of course. Some are moving back, years after running to a big city to come out, to be close to aging family members.

... In Durham, Mad Hatter's Café and Bakery is one of many places where gay folk hang out.

"Great local places to hang out with other gay people, in my opinion?" Denise Dunn, 36, easily lists a couple dozen one right after the other, and those are just in Durham. They are pretty much the same places that straight people like to hang out.

"Although I frequented those places a lot more when I was single," she says, "my partner and I will still visit those places alone from time to time and with our other lesbian friends. And when we have children (which will be within the year), we will definitely feel comfortable going to those same places."

There's a feeling of relative safety; there's no need to keep looking over your shoulder for potential danger. When there is an attack--as there was earlier this year in Chapel Hill--we are surprised and shocked. And swift to take action. That's quite a change from 30 years ago, when I first moved to the area.
The main obstacle to the Triangle being a true gay mecca is the lack of an official gay district since we're talking about Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, all miles apart with sizeable suburban areas, and Baxter notes this.
Building a thriving community here hasn't been easy, and not just because some people are still in the closet, and not just because of the conservatives all around us. North Carolina is unusual in that is doesn't have a single urban center that predominates, the way Chicago does in Illinois or Atlanta does in Georgia. There's safety in numbers, and an out, viable gay and lesbian community needs a certain critical mass.

The problem is compounded in the Triangle since, despite astounding growth, we're still living in three different cities (with satellite suburbs). That's made it impossible, for example, to establish a physical community center. Wherever you put it, it will only be a center for that city, and not the Triangle. So, even as the community grows, it's still hard to make connections.
One way to facilitate socializing that helped start up a few years ago, is an online community. TriangleGrrrls, was created to help newcomers to the area meet and go out to dinners and social events, as opposed to the old saw bars and clubs. It was actually through one of the events, Java Jolt (board games at a local coffee house after work) that I met my future wife, Kate. [BTW, our anniversary -- we were married in Vancouver last year -- is coming up on July 1, so we'll be off to celebrate!]

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend

A Bad Idea for Tax Reform

by Dark Wraith

By Executive Order issued on January 7, 2005, President Bush authorized the formation of the President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, which is expected to release its report of recommendations some time in the near future. Comprising a largely neo-conservative group of Bush Administration insiders, and taking testimony from a relatively narrow selection of economists and other experts, the Commission is charged with setting forth proposals to "simplify" the tax code to the end of making it less onerous, less burdensome, less confusing, and more productive. No one yet knows what recommendations will be included in the final report, but speculation centers on proposals that continue a long tradition of using the Internal Revenue Code as an instrument for achieving desired social and economic ends. The problem for progressives is that, while it was all well and good when those social and economic ends were desirable to the goal of a more egalitarian society, they will not be happy at all when the tax code becomes a far more effective weapon at constructing a society desirable to the neo-conservatives and other armies of the near- and far-Right.

Social Ends and Taxing Means
Examples of how tax policy promotes cultural values are far too many to list. They span the spectrum of life at the personal, group, and society levels. It is enough to point to several that have had enormous, if in some cases wholly subtle, influence.

A quick number for one of these social tuning knobs can be found in the tax consequences of marriages, and never mind the intricate details of "marriage penalty taxes" and abatements of such burdens. The reality is that two people who are married do not have to pay as much on their combined income as one person making that much, even though those two people living together will experience scale economies impossible for the one person to achieve.

The argument goes, of course, that because our tax system is progressive, the combined incomes would be unfairly exposed to a higher marginal tax rate than each individual's income would have been; but this argument is entirely fallacious: the two people have a combined income that is used by the household in exactly the same manner as the income of the single person would be.

That the federal government is doing everything in its power to prevent gay marriages is an exercise in preventing the huge marriage tax shield from accruing to a life-style the government does not want to promote. Effectively, the tax code's benefits are for intended recipients only, and not for those whose behaviors, actions, and beliefs are contrary to what is government approved. "Fairness" in tax policy is a specious concept when it comes to marriage benefits: the shields exist for those whose lifestyles comport with specific beliefs that arguably have narrowly religious backdrops. This same motive force of specific tax policies associated with specific religious doctrines comes into play in an unspoken and subtle way in the later part of this article; but first, as a primer for the pump, a glaring example of tax policy being used to shape society is in order.

A remarkable success story of how tax policy can promote a desired social policy can be found in the treatment of owner-occupied housing in the U.S. tax code. The deductibility of the interest on mortgage loans is a compelling incentive for households to allocate a disproportionate share of income toward investment in the physical asset of a house; but mortgage interest deductibility is only one of several incentives the tax code provides for owner-occupied housing. The result of this deliberate policy by the government has been a massive over-production of single-family houses with attendant distortions of physical and financial capital flows. Whether or not this has been "good" policy is for social and economics commentators; but the long-term and profound effects upon how the consumers have shaped the way resources are used in the United States is beyond any dispute.

A Digression for Some Arithmetic
Before proceeding with the main point of this article, some terminology and associated math should be set forth, just in case some readers don't spend serious time studying and remembering how different types of taxes work.

It is not an oversimplification to state that a tax system can operate one of four ways:

Flat tax: This is a tax of the same dollar amount upon everyone. It would be the ultimate in simplicity as a federal revenue generator. Every citizen pays the same amount of money every year. Let's say the flat tax was $2,000 per head. With about 285 million citizens, that would come out to be around $570 billion in federal tax revenue. Although the love child of a few economists who admire its lack of distorting effects on an economy, the flat tax suffers from the fatal flaw that it would too obviously hurt people of limited means far more than it would those with lots of money.

Proportional tax: This tax is occasionally misnamed a "flat tax," but a proportional tax applies the same percentage tax rate to all people, regardless of how much they make. Variations on the theme are plentiful, and below, several of them will be investigated a bit more deeply because it appears that some version of a proportional tax is going to be recommended by the President's Commission on Tax Reform. Suffice it to note that sales taxes are almost always proportional taxes on retail prices of goods. Value added taxes (VATs) are proportional taxes on the wholesale prices at various stages of production, but this just means that the sales tax is going to be buried in the final prices of goods instead of being on direct display at the checkout register. As a rough estimate of the tax revenue generated by a national sales tax, suppose a tax of 15% were to be assessed on the final output of all new goods and services produced in the United States, as measured by the gross domestic product for 2004. According to the 2004 CIA World Factbook, the GDP for 2004 for the United States was $10.98 trillion, so a 15% tax on this amount would generate federal tax revenues totaling $1.65 trillion.

Regressive tax: Every now and then, some hard-core, Right-wing economist brings up the idea of making taxes higher for people who make less money. The idea is that, if folks know they'll pay more if they earn less, they'll have a whole lot of incentive to work harder so they don't have to pay as much in tax on the last dollar they earn. And, yes, there really are economists who think a regressive tax would be a great idea, even though the whole idea is so obviously unfair on its face that it could never happen... at least, not if it was too obvious.

Progressive tax: Income taxes based on a progressivity principle are the most common type in the world. Progressive taxes assess a higher tax rate to income at higher and higher levels. Consider a relatively simple, three-tier structure:

For income of $15,000 or less, a 10% tax rate is applied.
For income between $15,001 and $40,000, a 20% tax rate is applied.
For income greater than $40,000, a 30% tax rate is applied.

So, for a person making, say, $12,000, the total income tax bill would be
    10%×$12,000 = $1,200.

For a person making, say, $25,000, the total income tax bill would be
    10%×$15,000 20%×$10,000 = $3,500.

And for a person making, say, $70,000, the total income tax bill would be
    10%×$15,000 20%×$25,000 30%×$35,000 = $17,000

Notice several features of progressive taxes. First, not all income is taxed at the highest rate; only the income that falls in a given tax bracket gets hit at the so-called "marginal rate." Second, progressive taxes are annoyingly complicated little suckers. It's not all that easy to predict how much income tax will have to be paid in a given year, and this is made worse by Congress constantly tinkering with both the rates in the different levels and by where each level begins and ends. Most people fill out a W-4 form, which is supposed to give an employer a rough idea of where an employee's income will fall in the tax tables and therefore give a decent idea of how much to withhold for the employee; but this doesn't always work very well, especially for people who work multiple, part-time jobs that cause income to stack in a way that kicks them into higher marginal tax brackets than the W-4 can properly predict.

For better or worse, though, the United States and most of the civilized world have some form of progressivity in their personal and corporate income tax structures, although the U.S. has been on a path over the past several decades of "flattening" the structure by reducing the number of tiers. The President's tax commission might very well finish the job by entirely dispensing with the tiers; but converting the federal income tax structure into a proportional income tax would be too obviously a windfall to those with high incomes because it would clearly relieve them of the burden of facing progressively higher marginal tax rates on the upper reaches of their income.

This means the tax must come in a better-looking package, one that promotes some apparently important ideal within the American psyche. Imagine a tax that is at once simple and promotes old-fashioned Protestant frugality.

Tax Structures to Promote Savings: Slapping the Consumers
A proportional tax fills the bill, particularly if the tax is only on consumption because everyone knows that Americans don't save enough of their income, and everyone knows that saving money is a good thing. Actually, the importance of increasing the savings rate among Americans is dubious on its face, especially when the clarion call for more savings comes from pro-business interests, which have great incentive to see Americans save lots of money. The reason is that, if people save more, this increases the supply of lendable funds available for banks and other financial institutions to lend. But when the supply of anything increases, its price decreases; and the price of lendable funds is the interest rate charged on the loans. That means, if Americans save lots more money, interest rates for businesses will go down, making leveraged investments in plant and equipment (as well as leveraged take-overs and buy-outs) cheaper.

But this would be good for regular people, too, one might argue. Not really: first, a consumption tax would be punishing people for trying to take advantage of lower interest rates on anything that had to do with consumption; and second, business investment in plant and equipment has had a marked tendency to be used to replace human capital, not to supplement it. In other words, the modern American business model has had as one of its clear goals the use of physical capital as a "substitute," not a "complement," for labor, meaning that Americans pouring money into savings accounts are going to accelerate the industrial shift that has for years been progressively and deliberately degrading and diminishing the jobs market in the U.S.

And if that weren't enough, recall that interest rates will be falling as more money is saved, so those average Americans, who used to spend their money, now will be saving much of that money at lower and lower rates.

And One Last Whack, Just for Good Measure
A quick look at two hypothetical Americans will drive home another, compelling downside of a national sales tax. Consider the case of Byron and Barton Binkwater, brothers whose lives diverged early on and who now live on opposite sides of the tracks.

Byron Binkwater works like a dog at the EZ-Lube on the south-east side of town, out by the Snarf-n-Barf. He earns total income of $20,000 a year.

Barton Binkwater hit the big time, rising up the corporate ladder at Purcell's Parts down on River Street right by where the Steak Sandwich Outlet used to have its corporate offices. Barton earns $80,000 a year.

Byron and Barton are still a lot alike in many ways. Most importantly, they have the same essential needs in life, even though both of them would say that isn't so. Being of similar builds and health, there is no difference in what they need to stay alive and healthy underneath their quite different outward lifestyles. What they want might be worlds apart, but what they need just to keep going from one day to the next is pretty much the same: roughly the same number of calories, about the same amount of shelter, 'round about the same amount of heat and air conditioning, somewhere near the same medicines. In economics, this "same" aggregate amount is called "autonomous consumption": the amount of money that is necessary regardless of whether there's any income or not. It's not something that varies with lifestyle, it's not something that varies with who a person is and where that person's station in life happens to be. When people are better off, they almost always think they simply must have more just to keep body and soul together, but that's just a mark of their changing wants, not their changing needs.

After all is said and done, Byron and Barton both need $8,000 just to stay alive. That's the basic amount of money each must spend, and anything either of them spends above and beyond that amount is discretionary, whether either of them wants to admit it or not.

Now, if each of them actually only spent what was absolutely necessary and put the rest away in savings, a consumption tax of 15% would hit each of them like this:

Byron spends $8,000 that is exposed to a 15% tax; so his tax bill is
    15%×$8,000 = $1,200.

Barton spends $8,000 that is exposed to a 15% tax; so his tax bill is the same
    15%×$8,000 = $1,200.

What could be more fair? They both pay the same amount of tax!

Ah, but look more closely at the tax rate each of these fellows faces on income:
Byron pays consumption tax of $1,200 on income of $20,000, so his income tax rate is
    $1,200÷$20,000 = 6%.

Barton pays consumption tax of $1,200 on income of $80,000, so his income tax rate is
    $1,200÷$80,000 = 1.5%.

Holy Moses! So this is why there's an old saying in macroeconomics:
A proportional tax on sales is a regressive tax on income.

In fact, Barton could spend a whole lot more than $8,000 on consumption and still have an income tax rate below Byron's. Doing a little bit of algebra, Barton would have to spend $32,000 on consumption before he'd pay the same, 6% income tax rate Byron is paying just to buy enough to stay alive.

Oh, the Feds Wouldn't Let That Happen... Would They?
Surely, any such tax would be lower on food and medicines than it would on luxury items, the argument might go. Perhaps it would be, but any tax whatsoever on essentials would have the same result: it would be a regressive tax on income. It wouldn't matter what the tax rate was, it would still apply to both Barton and Byron the same way on their purchases of essentials, so it would create the same regressivity when looked at as an income tax. Unless the tax commission proposes that essentials of life be exempt from a national sales tax, the poor will be punished more than the rich, based upon income.

So the only way to take away the regressivity feature of a national sales tax would be to exempt all basic foods and medicines; but that poses a major problem for tax planners: those essentials comprise a huge amount of the consumption expenditures in the U.S.: exempting all of the basics people need leaves a much thinner tax base from which to draw federal revenues. One way or the other, at least some positive sales tax rate would have to be applied to at least some consumption items that are essential to people. And once that requirement of a national sales tax is acknowledged, at its core, the tax becomes regressive.

But that just means the federal tax system will continue to be used to promote social and economic goals of those who manage its details.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

No Ten Commandments for you, Roy Moore

by Pam

Daddy Dobson's probably angry right now.

"The Court's second-guessing of the hidden purposes of the Kentucky commissioners smacks of judicial tyranny. The Court has tightened its grip on every aspect of our lives. These five unelected people in black robes are not declaring law; they are arbitrarily setting social policy for the entire country."
-- Stephen M. Crampton, Chief Counsel for the American Family Association's Center for Law and Policy

"Religion and non-religion are on equal footing -- and that's dangerous."
-- Pat Trueman, Family Research Council

"The one case, in Texas, saying the display was okay; but in the other case showing a growing hostility -- not neutrality, but hostility -- toward religion, in particular Christianity."
-- FRC president Tony Perkins

"The founders would be outraged that we are even debating the constitutionality of the Ten Commandments. That the Ten Commandments would be deemed unconstitutional is an insult to the Constitution."
-- Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver
The Right and Talabama former judge Roy Moore are going to freak out on this one. Dobson, Falwell, Schlafly, et. al. are probably foaming at the mouth. (N&O):
In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.

The 5-4 decision, first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion's place in public life, took a case-by-case approach to this vexing issue. In the decision, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.

The justices left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays - like their own courtroom frieze - would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.

"The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority.

"When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates that central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality," he said.

Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc - Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O'Connor, who provided the swing vote.

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that Ten Commandments displays are a legitimate tribute to the nation's religious and legal history.

Government officials may have had a religious purpose when they originally posted the Ten Commandments display by itself in 1999. But their efforts to dilute the religious message since then by hanging other historical documents in the courthouses made it constitutionally adequate, Scalia said.

He was joined in his opinion by Chief William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justice Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

"In the court's view , the impermissible motive was apparent from the initial displays of the Ten Commandments all by themselves: When that occurs: the Court says, a religious object is unmistakable," he wrote. "Surely that cannot be."

"The Commandments have a proper place in our civil history," Scalia wrote.

Spikes of Activity

by Shakespeare's Sister

Ron Bryneart of Why Are We Back in Iraq? has written a great comprehensive piece on what Michael Smith, the Times of London reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo story, rightfully referred to in an LA Times editorial as the “arguably more important” component of the memos than the issue of facts being fixed around the policy—that of the escalated air strikes which were used to try to provoke Saddam, months before Congressional authority was given for military action against Iraq.

Go read Ron’s piece to get up to speed on why this is important and what it means. He’s done a good job putting this information all together.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Torture: Twenty years later

by Charlie

"I'm quite sure that there were incidents of torture...but the pilots who were saying it was the policy of the Vietnamese and that it was systematic, I believe that's a lie."

-- Jane Fonda, to the New York Times in 1973, on the treatment of the American Vietnam War POWs

But I tell you that they are proud to have people down here, including the press, to see what we are seeing. Obviously, they're going to put their best foot forward, And obviously, no matter where you are, there will be from time to time abuses or people misusing or disobeying the regulations, no matter where you are in the process.

-- Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd, to CNN in 2005, on the treatment of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners

It makes a big difference whether it's our boys or theirs, doesn't it?

Jane Fonda will live the rest of her life branded "Hanoi Jane" for her support of the communist North Vietnam during the closing days of the Vietnam War. She'll probably find it necessary to issue a preemptory statement apologizing to Vietnam veterans every time she wants to release another movie. And of course she'll have to live with her repeated accusations that the POWs who came home with stories of being tortured were liars.

Granted, the linked Wikipedia article points out that her statement may have been defensible. One such defense comes from former vice presidential candidate and POW James Stockdale, who wrote that no more than 10% of US pilots in captivity received more than 90% of the torture, usually for acts of resistance.

And when you look at it like that, it shows how inhumane this line of defense actually is. Is it somehow better that only a small fraction of US pilots received the majority of the torture? Absolutely not. Any torture whatsoever is too much torture, and when it's Americans being tortured, we know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

So we have Don Shepperd using what is essentially the same line of defense to justify the fairness of our military prisons that Jane Fonda has long employed to justify the conduct of the Viet Cong. By now we know that it's pointless to hope that corporate media will recognize and report these similarities. In fact, it's far more likely that I will be labeled a traitor for daring to publicly observe the parallels between our conduct during the "war on terror" and the communists conduct during the Vietnam War.

Regarding the idea that there will always be abuses and there is nothing we can do about them, might I suggest that it is a lot more defensible when we are not the aggressors in a preemptive war. The Bush Doctrine means that we can attack a nation before there is an imminent threat, and without the support of other nations. But by initiating a unilateral attack in absence of an imminent threat, we are implicitly claiming the moral high ground. It is imperative, then, that we accept only the highest standards of conduct in such a war.

Any torture is too much torture. We understood this in 1973. Have things really changed that much in 22 years?

Cross posted at Shades Of Grey

Great New Must-Read Blog

by TheGreenKnight

Take It to Karl: American Service Men and Women Mad at Karl Rove

Just read it. Some highlights:

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end....

Why is it that Democrat presidents win wars, and Republican presidents whine about them? It's all marketing and PR, and we're the suckers. Bush has no intention of getting Bin Laden....

There're a couple things you learn in a war tour. First, combat sucks. It's dangerous and scary and usually confusing and, generally, best avoided if possible. Second, you absolutely need your buddies. To this end, you never ever let them down when they need you. Because when you get in trouble, it's going to be DEEP trouble, and your buddies will be more valuable than gold or liquor. Third, as long as your buddy is there for you, you couldn't care less if this buddy is gay, black, female, islamic, stupid, liberal, pro-pot, pro-choice, or believes in flying pigs and Jerry Garcia's impending resurrection. It is so totally not important. Fourth, you're well aware that some of the people you are defending hate you and what you represent. They think you're a jack-boot thug. You don't begrudge them this, though. They're welcome to think whatever they like, and defending that right for them is one of your more noble callings. These are four lessons that our Republican leadership have never learned. Why? Because Republicans don't volunteer....

I'm an American woman who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1979 through 1983 and was honorably discharged....How dare he call any American, veteran or not, traitors for exercising their right in our democracy to speak their minds and disagree with their government? And how dare this president and his administration allow their attack dog, whose generous salary is paid by the American people, stand by and back up his reprehensible words?....

Really Karl, you prepared for war? How did you do that, play golf or have dinner at the White House?....

I am an Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force....Karl Rove, who received a draft deferment and never served, has the audacity to smear anyone who does not have the same opinion as he does as unpatriotic and cowardly. Karl, we have earned the right to disagree. Have you?....

Karl Rove never served, my family has. If Karl Rove and the Republican Party wants to
villify my family, so be it.....My family's message to Republican candidates on the
city, local, state, and national level is simple: You call us traitors? Don't even think about asking for our vote....

Karl Rove has no right to sit in judgement against "liberals" for their service to our nation. I'm a Navy Sailor who has served for over 14 years....I have always done my duty, even when I did not agree with the political reasons behind what I was doing. Karl Rove knows nothing about service to his nation; he is one of those who is content to exercise the rights that others have sacrificed to secure for him, and then to criticize the very people on whose back those rights were won....

Apologize to the servicemen and women who died defending their country, liberals included, and apologize to America, Karl Rove. Your comments sicken me to the core, and I pray that if my two children ever decide to serve their country as their liberal mother and liberal father ever did, their service will not be mocked by a craven chickenhawk who has never worn a pair of combat boots....
Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Photo Essay

by TheGreenKnight

Text from Young Republicans support Iraq war, but not all are willing to join the fight, by Adam Smeltz, Knight Ridder Newspapers.

Photos scrounged from the web by The Green Knight.


Young Republicans gathered here for their party's national convention

are united in applauding the war in Iraq, supporting the U.S. troops there and calling the U.S. mission a noble cause. But there's no such unanimity when they're asked a more personal question: Would you be willing to put on the uniform and go to fight in Iraq?

"If there was a need presented, I would go," said Chris Cusmano, a 21-year-old member of the College Republicans organization from Rocky Point, N.Y.

But he said he hasn't really considered volunteering.

"I physically probably couldn't do a whole lot" in Iraq, said Tiffanee Hokel, 18, of Webster City, Iowa, who called the war a moral imperative.

She knows people posted in Iraq, but she didn't flinch when asked why she wouldn't go.

"I think I could do more here," Hokel said, adding that she's focusing on political action that supports the war and the troops.

"We don't have to be there physically to fight it," she said.

"I'm in college right now, but who knows?" said Matthew Vail, a 25-year-old from Huntsville, Ala., who works with Students for Bush. He said he might consider enlisting after he finishes his degree at the University of North Carolina, but not until then.

"The bug may get me after college," he said.

[Note: pictures are either from Iraq, or from various College Republican events around the nation. The individuals in the pictures are not necessarily the same as those named in the article.]

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Sexist fool compares women to appliances

by Pam

Danica Patrick came in fourth at the Indy 500; president and CEO of Formula One, billionaire Bernie Ecclestone (center) attempted to pay her a compliment, but he needs to use some of his pocket change to buy a brain.

The caveman-of-the-week is Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone, digs himself into a giant hole of the dumb*ss variety. Ecclestone's chauvinist nonsense to Danica Patrick, who he was allegedly congratulating on her performance at the Indianapolis 500:
Among the comments Ecclestone made in the interview and to Patrick was: "Women should be all dressed in white like all other domestic appliances."

Said Patrick: "I just didn't make sense of it. I was surprised."

Ecclestone offered a clarification, blaming his English sense of humor.

"What I was trying to say was that I've been completely wrong about women race-car drivers," Ecclestone said. "I was so impressed with the way she had driven, because I always thought women couldn't drive and should be in the kitchen with the other domestic appliances. I was surprised at the job she did and I was happy for her."
Ecclestone's in good company, since the dark hole of ignorance as a couple of other noteworthy tenants of the sports variety, sportscaster Jimmy the Greek and former Dodger exec Al Campanis, two guys that famously said, on the air, unbelievable comments that they proceeded to compound with even more mind-blowing defenses in the same breath.
"(Blacks) may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager, or perhaps a general manager."
-- former Dodger general manager Al Campanis in 1987 on ABC's "Nightline"
I was watching Nightline when Campanis had his live meltdown. Poor Ted Koppel tried asking him eight different ways to get out of the hole, but it got worse each time. I was embarrassed for the guy.

I didn't see Jimmy the Greek's infamous comments live (his faux pas came about year after Campanis's), but I saw plenty of replays of it; here's a good summary -- it takes my breath away all over again:
Jimmy 'the Greek' Snyder remarked that black athletes already hold an advantage as basketball players because they have longer thighs than white athletes, their ancestors having been deliberately bred that way during slavery. 'This goes all the way to the Civil War,' Jimmy the Greek explained, 'when during the slave trading. . .the owner, the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so he could have a big black kid, you see.' Astonishing though it may seem, Snyder intended his remark as a compliment to black athletes. If black men became coaches, he said, there would be nothing left for white men to do in basketball at all. Embarrassed by such rank and open expression of racism in the most ignorant form, the network fired Jimmy the Greek from his job. Any fool, the network must have decided, should know that such things may be spoken in the privacy of the locker-room in an all-white club, but not into a microphone and before a camera.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Gay civil marriage updates

by Pam

* Gay voters in Houston rally against marriage amendment. Texas already has a law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And a 2003 law prohibits the recognition of same-sex unions. But Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, who sponsored the amendment measure during this year's regular session, said he doesn't think that's enough. The constitutional amendment on November's ballot defines marriage as the union of one man with one woman, and prohibits the state or any political subdivision from creating or recognizing "any legal status identical or similar to marriage." Supporters of the amendment say it's needed because Texas laws regarding same-sex marriage could be challenged in state court if the language is not placed in the constitution.

Turnout historically is light for constitutional amendment votes. Houston often has disproportionate influence because of its population and because it is the only major city that holds municipal and school elections on the odd-year November Election Day when amendments typically go to the voters. Houston also has a large and politically sophisticated gay community that can be expected to turn out against the amendment. The Houston Equal Rights Alliance, a coalition of organizations, is attempting to build alliances, create a concise message, identify supportive voters and mobilize turnout. Wallace and others hope to use the next five months to educate the public about the lives of gay people and their families. City Controller Annise Parker, the highest-ranking openly gay officeholder in Harris County, said she thinks the amendment is being pushed for political reasons by supporters aiming to gain capital with conservatives. "For us, it's about our lives," she said. "They do it to identify voters, raise money and influence local races." Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, a socially conservative women's group that pushed for the amendment, downplayed the importance of the opponents' urban strategy. "I don't think that just targeting an urban area is going to profit them with a margin that is going to be successful," she said.

* Spain Senate rejects same-sex marriage bill. Spain's plans to introduce marriage rights to lesbian and gay couples have been rejected in the country's upper house of parliament. The Spanish Senate voted Wednesday against the government's contentious bill. The final vote was 131-119. It was blocked when the Catalan Christian Democrat Party decided to form a voting coalition with the Popular Party (PP), the Reuters news agency reports. Along with the Catholic Church, the PP has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the bill, which will give full marriage and adoption access to same-sex couples. The PP also invited a senior psychologist to testify on the issue but was forced to distance itself from his comments after he said homosexuality was a "pathology." In a bid to reassure gay voters, the PP said the comments were not reflective of the party. The Advocate notes that the Socialist government must now return the bill to the congress, where it will be able to force through the legislation. That final vote is expected next week in the last session before the legislature breaks for the summer recess. Passage is expected, and Spain would thus become the third European country to legalize same-sex marriage, after Belgium and the Netherlands. Spanish gay couples would also be allowed to adopt children.

* New Brunswick court rules same-sex marriage legal in that province of Canada. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Judith Clendening ruled that common-law marriage was the union of "two persons" -- not a man and a woman. The ruling came in the way of a June 15 application before her by lawyer Alison Menard, who was acting on behalf of four same-sex couples. "People will be recognized, the ones that were married out of the province, and people can now go out and get married legally in this province. And to me, that's worth all the fight and agony that we went through." Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island are now the only jurisdictions where same-sex marriages aren't the law. If the federal government manages to get Bill C-38 passed this summer, same-sex marriage will be become the law all across the country.

* In related news, some Canadian Talibannery: Parish priest in Martin's riding prays PM will be ousted over same-sex marriage. A parish priest in Paul Martin's riding says he's praying the prime minister will lose his seat in the next federal election because he's doing the devil's bidding on same-sex marriage. Father Francis Geremia delivered his message in a fiery sermon during a Roman Catholic wedding mass over the weekend in Montreal. In a telephone interview Monday with The Canadian Press, the priest described himself as a former Liberal who has shifted his political allegiance in spectacular fashion. He's now working against Martin's party - and seeking help from a celestial ally. "He has to be very careful because he might even lose his riding," Geremia said from Montreal. "I pray that he will lose his riding. Because you cannot have two faces: either you serve God or you serve the devil."

* Calif. gay marriage bill may return soon. California's six gay and lesbian state lawmakers are resorting to an unusual approach in an effort to legalize same-sex marriage in their state. They will try to pass a same-sex marriage bill through a parliamentary move called "gut and amend," the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday. The process requires them to strip the contents of another bill that has already passed the state Assembly and insert the language of AB 19. AB 19, the same-sex marriage bill, failed by just four votes in California' Assembly after two successive votes on June 2 -- the closest success any legislative effort has seen in the attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. "My hope is that we will have a bill amended by the end of this week or the beginning of next," said Assemblyman Mark Leno in an AP interview. Randy Thomasson, president of the conservative Campaign for Children and Families (CCF), had a warning for Mark Leno. "Be careful what you wish for," he said. "The Democrat politicians' addiction to homosexual 'marriage' guarantees that a constitutional marriage amendment protecting marriage rights for a man and a woman will qualify and pass on next year's ballot."

* New Jersey Gay Marriage Suit Headed for State's Highest Court. Seven same-sex couples plan to appeal this week's decision by a lower court that said New Jersey's constitution doesn't allow gay couples to wed, according to David Buckel, senior counsel for Lamda Legal, which is representing the plaintiffs. Buckel's group is pressing the issue in New Jersey because the state is one of five that offers legal rights such as joint tax status to gay couples. New Jersey courts ``have shown they know how to apply equal- rights provisions to gay people,'' said Suzanne Goldberg, a professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark who filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs. ``Marriage has never been religious in the state.''

Dick Cheney's ticker's acting up, Chimpy must be sweating

by Pam

Arianna Huffington was in Vail yesterday when Dick Cheney was wheeled into the hospital, allegedly for his bum knee, but was serviced in the cardiac unit...hmmm. Managed care is getting mighty confusing, huh?
Why is the White House still insisting that the only health issue Vice President Cheney dealt with today is an old football injury to his knee, visiting renowned orthopedist Dr. Richard Steadman? At the Vail Valley Institute dinner tonight, I kept asking what those in the know here knew. Little by little, here is the story I pieced together: After the Secret Service secured the Vail Valley Medical Center, including the parking lot, the Vice President arrived under his own power and checked in at the orthopedic center under the name “Dr. Hoffman”. He was immediately whisked to the adjacent cardiac unit, suffering from what was described to me as “an angina attack”. The security was so high that a Secret Service agent wouldn’t let an ER nurse out of the bathroom that she had gone into just before the Veep arrived. “Get back in there,” the agent told her. Confounded, she called her husband on her cell phone, telling him “something big” was going on. And indeed it was… but you wouldn’t know it from the White House. It appears that not only doesn’t the public deserve to know what is really going on in Iraq (“last throes”?) we don’t deserve to know what is going on with our Vice President’s health.

For more on the long history of the the administration's obfuscation regarding Cheney's heart condition, read my March 7, 2001 column.

From the Friday Night Newshole (Again)

by Shakespeare's Sister reports (not blockquoted due to length):

Senator Kerry (D - MA) sends letter to Senate Intelligence Committee pressing for answers on the Downing Street Memo and other Downing documents. The letter leaked to Raw Story, is also signed by Senators Johnson, Corzine, Reed, Lautenberg, Boxer, Kennedy, Harkin, Bingaman, and Durbin. The text of the letter is below.

June 22, 2005
The Honorable Pat Roberts, Chairman
The Honorable John D. Rockefeller, IV, Vice Chairman
United States Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller:

We write concerning your committee's vital examination of pre-war Iraq intelligence failures. In particular, we urge you to accelerate to completion the work of the so-called "Phase II" effort to assess how policy makers used the intelligence they received.

Last year your committee completed the first phase of a two-phased effort to review the pre-war intelligence on Iraq. Phase I-begun in the summer of 2003 and completed in the summer of 2004-examined the performance of the American intelligence community in the collection and analysis of intelligence prior to the war, including an examination of the quantity and quality of U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the intelligence on ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorist groups. At the conclusion of Phase I, your committee issued an unclassified report that made an important contribution to the American public's understanding of the issues involved.

In February 2004-well over a year ago-the committee agreed to expand the scope of inquiry to include a second phase which would examine the use of intelligence by policy makers, the comparison of pre-war assessments and post-war findings, the activities of the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCTEG) and the Office of Special Plans in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the use of information provided by the Iraqi National Congress.

The committee's efforts have taken on renewed urgency given recent revelations in the United Kingdom regarding the apparent minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security advisors. These minutes-known as the "Downing Street Memo"-raise troubling questions about the use of intelligence by American policy makers-questions that your committee is uniquely situated to address.

The memo indicates that in the summer of 2002, at a time the White House was promising Congress and the American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed military action against Iraq was "inevitable."

The minutes reveal that President "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

The American people took the warnings that the administration sounded seriously-warnings that were echoed at the United Nations and here in Congress as we voted to give the president the authority to go to war. For the sake of our democracy and our future national security, the public must know whether such warnings were driven by facts and responsible intelligence, or by political calculation.

These issues need to be addressed with urgency. This remains a dangerous world, with American forces engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other challenges looming in Iran and North Korea. In this environment, the American public should have the highest confidence that policy makers are using intelligence objectively-never manipulating it to justify war, but always to protect the United States. The contents of the Downing Street Memo undermine this faith and only rigorous Congressional oversight can determine the truth.

We urge the committee to complete the second phase of its investigation with the maximum speed and transparency possible, producing, as it did at the end of Phase I, a comprehensive, unclassified report from which the American people can benefit directly.


Go DSM 10, go!

Surprise: Gov't not ready for flu outbreak

by Pam

After last winter's debacle with flu vaccine, you'd think our government might be stepping up to prevent the problem next time. OK, you probably figured they are f*cking around up there in DC. Yep.
Half a million Americans could die and more than 2 million could end up in the hospital with serious complications if an even moderately severe strain of a pandemic flu hits, a report predicted on Friday.

But the United States only has 965,256 staffed hospital beds, said the report from the Trust for America's Health.

..."The U.S. has not adequately planned for the disruption a flu pandemic could cause to the economy, daily life, food and supply distributions, or homeland security," the Trust's report reads.

"The U.S. lags in pandemic preparations compared to Great Britain and Canada based on an examination of leadership, vaccine development, vaccine and antiviral planning, health care system surge capacity planning, coordination between public and private sectors, and emergency communications planning."

Health officials are aware of the warnings and say they are developing a plan. The heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and Health and Human Services Department are regularly called to hearings before Congress on the issue.

The Trust said more could be done to prepare now, including setting up plans to track an outbreak, stockpile antiviral drugs and other medical supplies and set up communications.

Kristen Breitweiser’s Open Letter to Karl Rove

by Shakespeare's Sister

That noise you hear is the sound of a new poop chute being torn in Turd Blossom’s big white arse:
…Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

It has always been America's policy that you only place soldiers' lives in harm's way when it is absolutely necessary and the absolute last resort. When you send troops into combat you support those troops by providing them with proper equipment and training. Why didn't you do that with the troops that you sent into Iraq? Why weren't their vehicles armored? Why didn't they have protective vests? Why weren't they properly trained about the rules of interrogation? And Karl, when our troops come home – be it tragically in body bags or with missing limbs – you should honor and acknowledge their service to their country. You shouldn't hide them by bringing them home in the dark of night. Most importantly, you should take care of them for the long haul by giving them substantial veteran's benefits and care. To me, that is being patriotic. To me, that is how you support our troops. To me, that is how you show that you know the value of a human life given for its country.
Go read the rest.

And on a related note:
The Bush administration, already accused by veterans groups of seeking inadequate funds for health care next year, acknowledged yesterday that it is short $1 billion for covering current needs at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year.

The disclosure of the shortfall angered Senate Republicans who have been voting down Democratic proposals to boost VA programs at significant political cost. Their votes have brought the wrath of the American Legion, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations down on the GOP.
When, exactly, can we declare the troops officially unsupported by this jackhole administration and the rest of the GOP?

The pro-life party

by STP

That would be the Democrats. I touched on this once before, and I find myself wondering how the self-described pro-life party, the Republicans, can be so opposed to protecting life. How can Republicans be a pro-life party when they:

1. Will not support embryonic stem cell research;
2. Allow soldiers to go to war without adequate force levels and proper equipment;
3. Weaken bankruptcy laws that protect low income families;
4. Oppose legalizing medical marijuana for cancer and glaucoma patients;
5. Do not adequately fund homeland security in the areas and places where it is most needed;

There's five quick hits for ya'! Add more as you see fit.

The point I am trying to make is that Republicans have stolen the truth from us with propagandized messages. "Liberal" has become a word with negative connotations to too many people? Replace it with "progressive." Remind people over and over again that "conservative" should be equated with zealot, fundamentalist, radical, and fearmonger.

Strong on defense? Not Republicans. They failed to take the battle to al Qaeda full throttle in Afghanistan, and instead fought a false war and blew an opportunity to weaken terrorism. They cower at the feet of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on a regular basis. How does that portray strength!?

Family values? We believe so strongly in them that we want gays and lesbians to be able to commit to a family unit.

Religion? We respect it enough to value different beliefs and ways of worshipping God. We trust in our spirituality enough to be secure in it and not force it upon anyone else.

The pro-life party? It can't possibly be Republicans. It is our values, positions and beliefs that make the left the pro-life party.

I want all these messages back where they properly belong; with progressives. Change the labels, speak the truth to people over and over again, point out the Republican's lies, and show Americans which side of the argument they really want to be on.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

FDA approves first racially targeted drug

by Pam

Sickle cell anemia (L), Tay-Sachs (R; conditions that are commonly known to occur more frequently in certain racial/ethnic groups, and are recognized as such.

Clearly this drug is effective in a group of people that share similar traits, but I'm sorry, this is a slippery slope of medical confusion. How in the hell can you target a medicine at an artificial construct? How "black" do you have to be to benefit from the drug? What if you are biracial? What if you are black, but light-skinned/have facial features that allow you to "pass" - will you still get the drug? Will a doctor's biases get in the way of prescribing the appropriate medication for the patient?

This ruling by the FDA opens a Pandora's box of problems.
The heart failure drug BiDil was approved Thursday by government regulators for use by blacks. It will be the first medication marketed for a specific racial group. The Food and Drug Administration called the approval a step toward "the promise of personalized medicine."

Studies showed that blacks benefited from the drug while the general population did not. The drug is marketed by NitroMed Inc. of Lexington, Mass.

"The information presented to the FDA clearly showed that blacks suffering from heart failure will now have an additional safe and effective option for treating their condition," said Dr. Robert Temple, the agency's associate director of medical policy. "In the future, we hope to discover characteristics that identify people of any race who might be helped by BiDil."

A study indicated that the drug led to a 43 percent reduction in deaths from heart failure among the blacks who took it. Research was stopped early after scientist realized the benefits of the drug so the data could be presented for the drug's approval.

BiDil is a combination of two older drugs, hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, neither approved for heart failure. Some common side effects with the drug are headache and dizziness.

Temple said the success of the drug in blacks was a "striking example of how a treatment can help some patients even if it does not help all patients."

In addition to the reduction in deaths, the FDA cited a 39 percent decrease in hospitalizations for those who took the drug compared with those who took a placebo.

While the favorable results of the study is good news for blacks, some health care experts said the company won't have financial incentive to do larger trials for the general population now that they have a product patented for blacks only. While, others worry that blacks will automatically be prescribed the pill based on their skin color, even if it may not be the best choice.
I blogged about this topic back in November, when the clinical trials were stopped because of the disparity in results with blacks:
My racial/ethnic background is extremely varied, but I do know, for instance, that type II diabetes exists on both sides of my family, for at least two generations, and I am one of the few in my family on either side to receive the kinky hair gene. My gene pool represents the multi-culti phenomenon that is part of the colorful history of the United States. It's nearly impossible to easily pigeonhole someone like me into any clear category, though I do, when I feel like it, check the African-American box to make someone else comfortable with clerical matters. The truth is that checking the box denies all the pieces of genetic history that makes me who I am -- I have white American, West Indian (Barbados), white European, American Indian (Shinnecock, Lumbee), and possibly Chinese ancestors in my family tree. It's harder for people in my boat to trace things like this back too far, but there are folks on both sides of my family trying to do so. What does that make me (other than a proud "mutt" -- and a white supremacist's embodiment of what is wrong with America)?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Supremes: cities can seize your house

by Pam

Eminent Domain is A-OK, says the Supreme Court. What developer paid off these Justices?
A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling — assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America — was a defeat for Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
The people that will suffer are the working poor who have homes and no political clout as cities mow down those areas for profit. Also caught in the crossfire will be anyone that doesn't look at a city's planning and zoning maps before buying a house. You may be moving in right in the path of the next road extension to be built several years down the road, or worse, a Super Wal-Mart. If anyone thinks cities know best and will act solely on behalf of the public good, they are smoking some strong stuff.
Writing for the court's majority in Thursday's ruling, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

...Stevens was joined in his opinion by other members of the court's liberal wing — David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. The bloc typically has favored greater deference to cities, which historically have used the takings power for urban renewal projects that benefit the lower and middle class.
Here in Durham, thriving black and working class neighborhoods (Hayti, Brookstown, Erwin Park, Hickstown and Crest Street communities) were demolished in 1965 to make way for a freeway, "urban renewal" as it were.

Durham's Biltmore Hotel and the Regal Theater on Hayti's Pettigrew Street in the 1940s. Hayti was a bustling black business district south of the tracks from downtown Durham. Hayti's demise came at the expense of "progress" -- the Durham Expressway. There were many homes, and over one hundred businesses, including movie theaters, drugstores, the Biltmore, restaurants, barber and beauty shops, cleaners, funeral homes, service stations...gone. (source: Marshall Thompson via Old West Durham web site)

From a feature in the Independent Weekly on St. Joseph's Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center, which helps preserves the history of the community:
As more and more blacks acquired land in the area extending south and west from the corner of Pettigrew and Fayetteville streets, and a thriving business district and residential neighborhood grew up around it, the church's membership expanded as well. The congregation quickly outgrew two frame structures before building the brick edifice that still stands today at the crest of Fayetteville Street, overlooking the Durham Freeway.

That it still presides over the southeastern entrance to the city is somewhat of a miracle, for much of Hayti was destroyed in the "urban renewal" of the early 1970s. Gone are the hotels, restaurants, theaters, small businesses and barber shops. Gone, the pool halls and juke joints where Durham's own brand of the blues rang out day and night. Gone, the equally important original White Rock Baptist Church. Gone, homes large and small--all replaced with "public housing" and a river of concrete, at a social cost still being reckoned.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

The Sound of My Voice

by Shakespeare's Sister

I was a quiet child.

My shyness was for no good reason, really, other than that I was strange. I felt quite out of place in childhood; rambunctiousness didn’t suit me. The ability of most children to inhabit their bodies without inhibitions—flailing arms and legs, tumbling somersaults, endless spinning to a dizziness that left them stumbling until they collapsed to the floor in a giggling heap—was as foreign to me as I must have seemed to other children, with my knitted brow studying them curiously, or my nose buried in a book. I was ever acutely conscious of my own physical presence, intimidating myself with my own awkward gestures, until I folded myself inward and tried to stay very still. I couldn’t relate, and so I retreated.

Nothing brought me outside the safe space in my head more quickly than the sound of my own voice in a public space. I spoke so rarely that, when I did, my classmates would stare at me, which made me miserable. I never raised my hand in class, and when I was called on, hot tears would burn my eyes, and I would desperately will them away as I choked through giving my answer. Painfully shy only begins to describe it. I was 13 when I laughed out loud in a classroom full of my peers for the first time.

At 14, the shyness went away, disappearing one day so completely it was as if it had never existed at all. Suddenly, the eyes out of which I looked at the world seemed to belong to me; I no longer felt like an interloper in my own skin. I happily contributed to conversations in and outside class, and I discovered I was an unafraid (and hence skillful) public speaker. Accused of being weird for the books I read or the music I liked felt like a badge of honor, even if it wasn’t intended to be so. There only needed to be one other person in a high school of 3,000 who carried a copy of Camus’ The Stranger under his arm and knew down to his bones what I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar really means to make the world perfect, and I found him (or he found me), and so it was.

And then I was raped. I’d barely ever kissed a boy, no less had sex with one; of course, rape isn’t about sex, but about control. It’s about controlling another person, both during the act and often, particularly in the cases of acquaintance rape, afterwards. Victims of acquaintance rape, especially young ones, as I was, are easily controlled (and silenced) using fear, threats of imminent danger to themselves or loved ones, and, for the most unfortunate among us, repeated abuse. After three years of such a cycle, my shyness had returned. I spent many of my days at university crumbling inside myself and hating the sound of my own voice. Only with my Camus-carrying friend could I find any peace—and even that was dependent on his compassion, and his infinite patience with my madness.

The shyness has never quite gone away again.

But I’m not called quiet anymore. Aloof, maybe; bitchy, definitely, in those moments when the shyness takes me, because even though I can sound terse, I won’t be quiet, or still, and eventually people realize I was just being awkward. Better to be awkward, I've decided, than quiet; it’s important to have a strong voice, and a loud laugh, and to use them both as often as you can, even when it feels futile.

The current political climate can sometimes seem as little more than a constant barrage of attempts to silence dissent. It’s easy to become weak with not getting heard, and frustrated to the point of apathy with the humiliation of opponents, the attempts to ensure capitulation and forced loyalty through threats and intimidation, the control of people through fear, the slow encroachment on free speech rights. I doubt, sometimes, whether anything, anyone, can make a difference.

But lately, I’ve started to appreciate the sound of my voice again. It’s a smoker’s voice, low, infused sometimes with gravel and always with sibilant S’s—a speech impediment that will never leave me. My voice has become familiar in a way it has not been before, and useful, too. When I think about the time I have spent stranded in my self-imposed quiet, I am scared of my own will taking me there again. I remind myself, then, firmly and as often as is needed, that whether it is I, or someone else, who demands my silence, it is simply not something that I can afford to offer. And all it takes to break the silence is the sound of my voice, which now, finally, makes me happy.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Conservative Christian Bloodlust

by TheGreenKnight

Dr. Teresa Whitehurst explains where the bloodlust comes from. Some highlights:
Many if not most pro-war Christians.... rarely see news accounts of civilian casualties.... are told not to worry, when they do hear of civilian casualties, that life in the flesh is less important than life eternal.... feel they dare not oppose this or any war because talking about peace, objecting to war’s human cost, or even referring to the United Nations has become associated in their minds with the Antichrist and eternal damnation....

But most importantly, conservative Christianity in the U.S. has succumbed to that which it has, in decades past, most rigorously warned against: moral relativism.... [P]ro-war politicians have infiltrated churches to such a degree that killings and torture are no longer within the province of morality. When morality is only about sex, no aspect of war -- even the killing of entire families -- can arouse criticism, much less condemnation.
In other words, if you define "moral values" as having to do with sex and nothing else, then there is nothing else that you can have a moral discussion about: not war, not torture, not economic oppression, not anything else -- and when someone tries to speak in moral terms about those things, it sounds like nonsense and perversity. This is the problem with the recent attempts by Democrats (and by Christians like me who are not conservative) to speak in moral terms about those issues: when they do so, many conservative American Christians may not even understand what they're saying. It's not part of their narrative.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

A sunny Rotting CryptKeeperTM pic

by Pam

Nice companion photo for The Green Knight's post on the Boston Herald blasting Fred Phelps...

His next "Love Crusade," according to Fred Phelps's godhatesfags website (of the Westboro Baptist Church), is scheduled for Flushing Meadows in Queens, NY on June 24-26 (oh, near my aunts! Better give them a call).
WBC to picket the arch-heretic, traitor and rebel against the Great King of Glory - Billy Graham - at another of his "final" crusades - June 24-26 at Flushing Meadows, Queens, N.Y. - in religious protest & warning: "God is not mocked!" God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Billy Graham and will ere long cast him into Hell and torment him with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Rev. 14:10,11.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend. Thanks to Jason sending in the photo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Boston Herald Blasts Fred Phelps

by TheGreenKnight

Here's their editorial in full:
They call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church, a misnomer at best. What they are is simply an entirely sicko cult, motivated by God-knows-what, to bring their unique brand of hatred here.

First their "cause'' was to protest homosexuality, which they did as offensively as humanly possible and at such utterly inappropriate settings as high school graduations. Now they find it somehow useful to protest at the funerals of two local soldiers killed in action, making common cause with jihadists who believe America is decadant and evil because it is tolerant of homosexuality.

There is no logic to their warped message. But they should know that the brave young men whose lives and deaths they disparage and dishonor died to protect the way of life these fools are allowed to enjoy.
That about sums it up.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Episcopalians Aren't Backing Down

by TheGreenKnight

So says the Times of London. But the Guardian reports that US and Canadian Anglicans may face expulsion from the Anglican Communion:
In an atmosphere of vengefulness and resignation, delegations from the US Episcopal Church and the Canadian Anglican Church were paraded like naughty school pupils before the Anglican consultative council meeting at Nottingham University.

They were required to explain why they had ordained an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and authorised same-sex blessings in Vancouver, and to try to persuade representatives from other parts of the world - and their own congregations - why they should not be thrown out of the church. They have already been suspended from future participation in joint meetings unless they repent....

"It is very easy to talk about homosexuality as an issue and forget that we are talking about people. We must have the capacity to live with difference," declared the Most Rev Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the US church....

[T]he Rev Susan Russell...said, "The arc of the gospel is bound towards inclusiveness ... it is not possible to be healed of something that is not an illness."...

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, said: "It is getting worse. They are just trying to justify their defiance."
The Green Knight doesn't know what's going to happen, but agrees with Bishop Griswald and the Reverend Russell. And if Archbishop Akinola can't see their point, so much the worse for him. A schism would be very sad. But at this point, it looks as if nobody's mind is going to change -- and worse than schism would be to sacrifice justice for a false appearance of unity.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight (an Anglican who doesn't back down either).

Men with uppity wives make less money

by Charlie

LONDON (Reuters) - Married men earn more than bachelors so long as their wives stay at home doing the housework, according to a report Wednesday from Britain's Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).
I'm sure you can see where this Reuters article is going. And it does indeed go there.
He said analysis suggests there could be two explanations for the results:

A marriage might allow a husband and wife to focus their activities on tasks to which they are most suited. Traditionally, this would result in the man concentrating on paid work enabling him to increase productivity and in consequence his wages.

Taylor said another explanation could be that marriage may increase the amount of time a man has to hone work-related skills which could trigger higher wages. [Emphasis added]
Ladies, it may come as a surprise to learn that you aren't naturally suited for housework. And it isn't that men don't want to help out around the house, it's just that we'd lose that extra 3% of our salaries. Besides, we just aren't as good at housework as you. It's not in our nature. Misogyny doesn't enter into this; this is a scientific study.

Snark aside, I'm having trouble seeing any valid reason for conducting this study. Even if one is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they had good intentions at the outset, the goodwill they've borrowed is promptly thrown out the window when they conclude that women traditionally do the housework because they are naturally better suited for it. In the grand tradition of "teaching the controversy," they also provide an alternate explanation, but don't let that throw you. This study has "defending the patriarchy" written all over it.

Let's pretend for a minute that the results are completely valid -- and to be clear, with such obvious bias, I'm not at all willing to concede that -- but let's pretend. Let's say that a married man who helps with the housework does make 3% less than a man who lets his wife do it all. Isn't it obvious that if she had even a low paying job, their joint earning power is greater than what he would make on his own?

In the full report, I was unsurprised to find that ISER is very concerned about "family values." I think we all know by now that "family values" is a euphemism for missing the good ol' days. Give a woman her own income source and who knows what will happen next? Cohabitation and -- *gasp* -- sex before marriage, divorce due to abusive husbands... Why, the next thing you know, they'll think they need to vote, too!

I know, I know, I said I was setting aside the snark. Hey, I'll tell you what. I promise to stop being offensive if they promise to stop first. It's that golden rule thing they claim to love so much.

Cross posted at Shades Of Grey


by Shakespeare's Sister

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest:
Wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out that one of the major players in convincing America to tie its military up in Iraq, was at the same time providing North Korea with technology to improve its missiles? (Not to mention providing NK with submarines.)

Wouldn't it be interesting if it turned out that one of the major players in convincing America to take sides in the Middle East conflict turned out to be an espionage front for that side? (See also here.)

Remember the STF rule. When Republicans accuse...

(See more accusations here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here ...)
Why, yes. It would be interesting. Though not in an especially good way.

Meanwhile, Scott Ritter suggests that the US has already begun war with Iran, in much the same way we began war with Iraq, as we’re now finding out care of the Downing Street Memos:
President Bush had signed a covert finding in late spring 2002, which authorised the CIA and US Special Operations forces to dispatch clandestine units into Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The fact is that the Iraq war had begun by the beginning of summer 2002, if not earlier.


It represents a record of precedent on the part of the Bush administration which must be acknowledged when considering the ongoing events regarding US-Iran relations. As was the case with Iraq pre-March 2003, the Bush administration today speaks of "diplomacy" and a desire for a "peaceful" resolution to the Iranian question.

But the facts speak of another agenda, that of war and the forceful removal of the theocratic regime, currently wielding the reigns of power in Tehran.


The reality is that the US war with Iran has already begun. As we speak, American over flights of Iranian soil are taking place, using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities.

The violation of a sovereign nation's airspace is an act of war in and of itself. But the war with Iran has gone far beyond the intelligence-gathering phase.
Go read the rest. And when you’re finished, check out this piece at Freiheit und Wissen that pulls in additional information (such as the military installation currently being readied in Azerbaijan, just north of Iran), and see if you aren’t ready to shit your breeks at the thought of what’s in store for us as regards the two remaining players in Bush’s “Axis of Evil.”

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Abstinent wingnuts, please head to your local recruiting office

by Pam

Robert N. Conley of Chandlersville, OH sent in a slamming letter to his local paper, the Zanesville Times-Recorder, "Religious right should aid recruiting." I was laughing out loud.
Army recruiting quotas are not being met. Now, in this time of need, the nation's focus should rightfully focus on the clerics of the religious right: Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, Parsley, etc. Can they focus? Can they refocus? Can they get the job done? Perhaps many of these clerics are hesitant to focus on military recruiting because they are former unfocused draft-dodgers. They need to get past their unfocused youthful follies. They need to refocus their focus on military recruiting.

According to religious-right reports (not propaganda), at least two to three million potential recruits have attended taxpayer-funded meetings, where they have "signed" one of the most important of all pledges: No sex before marriage. These are ideal military recruits. Certainly, the clerics can make changes where the lady pledges can focus on appropriate gender-specific tasks under the focus of their natural masters. This clerical focus should focus exclusively on the Army and Marine Corps, where all the killing is focused. Let those other people (you know who I mean) populate the Navy and the Air Force.

Yes, it is important to get everyone in the world to admit that the entire universe is 6006 (some silly heretics say 6022, others 6044) years old. And, yes, it is very important to do away with all science, and all of its complications, by just letting our all-knowing clerics explain everything to us by using the simplistic, catch-all concept of "intelligent" design. And, of course, it is important to replace all judges with robots by Robertson.

But, right now, the focus needs to be on military recruiting. Our country needs to come first. It's time for our religious right clerics to focus on military recruiting. In brief, it's time to refocus the focus.

Feel the pain - Bush backs down on Social Security accounts

by Pam

Doofus-in-Chief's support of Sen. Bob Bennett's proposal shows he knows his Social Security destruction plan is dead in the water.

The Chimperor has no clothes, and his booty has been kicked till it hurts. Has this story gotten much play? I haven't heard a peep on any newschannels about it this AM. Maybe his pathetic, staged road shows will finally come to an end, now that he is backing a bill that doesn't include his private investment accounts. The people have spoken you bastard. What it also says is that the Dems, when they actually stick to a opposition game plan, can actually accomplish something.
President Bush encouraged a Republican senator on Tuesday to offer Social Security legislation that would not include private investment accounts. The White House said the president still was committed to allowing workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes.

Bush's nod to Utah Sen. Bob Bennett's plan comes as public polls show that most Americans do not support the president's handling of the Social Security issue. Congress has been deadlocked on it.

..."He indicated that I should go forward and do that," Bennett said. "And I'm grateful to have him do that even though his own preference would be to have personal accounts included."

..."This in no way should be interpreted to mean that the president is backing off of personal accounts," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said. "He is not." [Translation: "I f*cked up."]

Since the beginning of his second term, Bush has been pushing to allow younger workers to create voluntary personal accounts funded out of their Social Security payroll taxes. Democrats accuse the White House of seeking to privatize the Depression-era program and have been unified in opposition to the idea.

...Bennett said some Democrats have told him privately that they would support such a bill, but he is not sure how many will be on board publicly now that he's introducing the legislation. He said he is looking for Democrats to co-sponsor the bill, but he didn't have any to announce Tuesday.

"We've had a lot of interest," he said. "We have a lot of hope that we can use this bill to break the logjam and move forward on Social Security. We'll find out in the weeks to come."

Bennett said when he told Bush of his plans, "He just said, 'I like your bill.' Period."
The Freepi are writhing in pain right now, hahahahahaha...

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"I give up. I just give up....."

"It would appear that he's backing down. I'll wait for more details before I get too upset, but this looks like a loss for us."

"Might be better to just give up on 'reform' entirely until the next election, rather than have some RINOs and Dems hijack it to raise taxes without personal accounts."

"This Bush list of downsides just keeps growing. A President with a MANDATE, a majority in the House and Senate, and he gives away the store -- WHY? -- just so he can say he 'passed a SS bill'???? Is the legacy all that America is about now?"

"It would appear that we're entering the "lipstick on the pig" phase of Mr. Bush's vaunted SS reform. Another collapse."

"What a sissy. I see the Presidential spine and testicle removal operation was a success."

"Looks like a train wreck is about to happen!!"

"I see the bluest of the blue blood conservatives(i.e malcontents) are licking up the liberal media spin. I give up, you all are hopeless."

"Hey, while I like the guy, W has been very disappointing at times as a leader. He obviously can't get what he wants out of his own Republican Congress. Somebody buy this man a veto pen. Maybe if someone believed he would actually veto a bill, he might have more bargaining power."

"Will you people show some stones once in a while - This is called moving the pendulum slowly in our direction. And we will have private accounts (of 2%) by the time GWB leaves office in 2008 - And in the end game that is the bottom line. GWB wants private accounts before he leaves office."

"This has to be a record for lame duck status. 5 months? Amazing...."

"Somebody buy this man a veto pen. There are too many domestic issues he is failing on. It is a crappy situation when the House and Senate are so closely divided. The RINOs should be hung and replaced -- blackball their butts. Unity of purpose is a BIG problem the GOP has."

"Is it just me, or does it feel like the Democrats are in charge?"

"Bush will sign anything to make it look like he's doing something, when in fact, he's doing nothing."

"He's no Ronald Reagan who did more with a RAT enabled Congress. I hope people stop the comparisons now."

"Unity of purpose is a BIG problem the GOP has. This always happens to the party in power. They get fat and happy and feel free to spin off on their own personal tangents. I'm a bit surprised to see it happen to the Republicans quite so quickly, however."

"Hopefully he'll fold on his Mexican amnesty plan as fast as he folded on this."

Bipartisan Bill Would Ensure Gay Bi-National Couples Equal Treatment

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Could this EVER come to pass??? Dare I/we get our hopes up on this one?? It sure as HELL would save Alix and me tens of thousands of dollars...

From (bolding by Julien's List):

(Washington) Legislation was introduced in Congress Tuesday that would treat same-sex couples the same as opposite sex-couples for the purposes of immigration.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt) in the Senate, has a large number of bipartisan cosponsors in both chambers.

The Uniting American Families Act was previously named the Permanent Partners Immigration Act which died when the last session of Congress ended.

Nadler said he expected the new measure to fare better because it has broader support.

The move was hailed by LGBT civil rights groups.

"Our nation should bring families together, not tear them apart," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

"Same-sex bi-national couples are often forced to separate because the government views them as strangers under the law."

Adam Francoeur, Program Coordinator of Immigration Equality said that the 2000 Census reports nearly 36,000 couples living in same-sex bi-national relationships in the U.S.

"The Uniting American Families Act upholds the stated principle within U.S. immigration policy to promote family unification," said Francoeur.

At least 16 countries recognize same-sex couples for the purposes of immigration including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

© 2005

A Letter - and a Call-to-Action from NYC Liberalism

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Julien's List reader (and a blogger himself) Kevin sent me the following letter:

I think that you have been following the controversy over the gay Tennessee kid being forced to go to a "re-education" camp for gays. (note from Ms. Julien: yes we have). It has disgusted me, and I've finally decided to take action. I'm working with a Texas-based GSA and GLSEN to formulate a letter to be endorsed by GSAs around the nation. I have posted a letter that people can send to voice their outrage at groups such as Love in Action, that treat homosexuals as if they would be better off dead than being gay. I hope you can help me by telling people about this letter, and getting them to mail it to as many people as they can (such as local media outlets, I have a list of different places they can send it to on my blog). Thanks for your time.

Please visit Kevin's Blog and...

Read, think, ACT!!!

Ms. Julien

So this F*cker Can Bash Gays on a Church Pulpit, but...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

...calling someone a "mo-fo" on camera is absolutely Christian and good...GOD(ess) I am SOOOOO tired of these hypocritical assholes.

Texas governor caught on camera calling reporter 'mo-fo'


Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) apologized Tuesday for using a vulgar expression that was captured on camera after a Houston TV interview, the registration-restricted KTRK-TV reports, syndicating an article from the Dallas Morning News (Watch the video; Full story).

Perry had just completed a series of interviews with local TV stations, and had repeated declined to give KTRK-TV reporter Ted Oberg details of his education proposal. Excerpts from the article follow:


After the interview was over and Mr. Perry had said you're welcome and so long, Mr. Oberg acknowledged that Mr. Perry had successfully maintained the secrecy of his plan for another day: "Try as I may, Governor, I guess I can't win this one."

Mr. Perry looked off camera and appeared to mock Mr. Oberg, saying: "Try as I may, governor, I'm just not going to wait that long. ... "

Then the governor added as a sign-off: "Adios, mo-fo."

On Tuesday morning, the station aired the end of the interview. Mr. Oberg said during his report that the governor had called him back and apologized, saying that he had spoken without malice.

It is the second time Mr. Perry, who is running for re-election, has been captured on tape in a less than flattering light. The first time he was caught on a police camera getting out of a speeding ticket while he was lieutenant governor.

(Cross-posted on Julien's List)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Question of the Day

by Shakespeare's Sister

Gary Hart thinks that political parties as we know them are going the way of the dodo, and that we are entering a new political age, wherein traditional political parties will become obsolete, to be replaced with an entirely new political paradigm.

I’m not convinced. I see that in our collective future, but I certainly don’t think we’re on the cusp of that future the way Hart does. And perhaps it’s because of the difference in the way we view Americans. Hart sees:
a nation of independent, socially tolerant, fiscally cautious, environmentally concerned, well-informed, globally-conscious citizens.
Really? He hasn’t been hanging out in my neighborhood.

Now, I’m not denigrating small-town red-staters; I happen to be one. You don’t have to be sophisticated to be a good person. But generally speaking, I wouldn’t describe my neighbors as independent, socially tolerant, fiscally cautious, environmentally concerned, well-informed, or globally conscious. The truth of the matter is that even people who aren’t dogma-spewing, bigoted, paycheck-to-paycheck, anti-social program and pro-defense spending, non-recycling, ill-informed, xenophobic, ignorant jerks still tend to have rather limited and poorly informed views of the world. Most Americans are not the cosmopolitans that Hart describes (and that includes plenty of big blue city folks, too). If we were, Welcome to the Neighborhood wouldn’t be airing on network television.

I think that there is indeed lots of disillusionment among Americans regarding the two prominent parties, but if I had to make a wager, I’d say we’ll see a significant third party emergence before we’ll see the end of the party system altogether.

What do you think?

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Sinking in the polls? Time to bash the homos

by Pam

It's like a f*cking broken record, isn't it? You'd think by now that Chimpy's pious, brain-dead following would wake up and smell the giant pile of cowdung that their Dear Leader is shoveling at them. But alas, no. They stand and cheer because the resurgence of the bash-the-homos theme gives them all hard-ons. For the Chimperor, it's one of his only cards to play now that:

* DSM is blowing up in his face
* his poll numbers are plummeting
* his Social Security plan is going nowhere
* the polls show people in favor of stem cell research
* soldiers are shipping out to Iraq no armor or adequate supplies
* the body count continues to rise as IEDs and bombs go off at will
* the Pentagon is scraping the bottom of the recruiting barrel
* folks in his party are now bucking his policies (Iraq, Patriot Act)

What a lame-*ss loser -- he has to go kick some homo butt so he can feel better. And will he stop this "culture of life" sh*t? Who is still buying this godawful hokum? After the Schiavo fiasco, you'd think he'd tone this crap down. Hopeless.
Reviving a major plank of his re-election campaign, President Bush called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage Tuesday.

The president’s address to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention — the fourth year in a row he has spoken to the conservative evangelical gathering — was crafted to rally the social religious conservatives who make up a crucial part of Bush’s governing coalition. He restated his commitment to issues dear to conservatives’ hearts, notably his opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion and research on human embryonic stem cells — a stance he calls the “culture of life.”

....Bush’s remarks were similar to those he made last year, when he said he would work to uphold marriage as he sought to solidify his religious conservative base ahead of the November election. He thanked the 11,077 “messengers” who made the trek to Nashville this year for defending “the values that carry a moral society, for ... defending the family and the sacred institution of marriage.”

...In a nod to polling data that suggest Americans strongly support embryonic stem cell research, Bush sought to focus the debate on theoretical pitfalls should such science be perfected. Not once did he use the words “stem cell” or “embryos.” Instead, the president cast his position as standing in the way of “cloning” — which some scientists say could be a realistic result of the research — and “the creation of life only to destroy it.”

The Southern Baptist Convention strongly condemns homosexuality, and the president’s remarks were greeted with sustained applause. Gay rights activists were organizing a rally for Wednesday morning at the Nashville Public Library to protest the convention's preaching on gays and lesbians.

Guilty -- and "peaceful" to the end

by Pam

Looks like Edgar Ray Killen, "a man of character" and member of that "peaceful organization," the KKK, is going to the clink. If this bastard ends up in gen pop, he's going to be someone's wrinkled b*tch in short order...if he lives that long.
Forty-one years to the day three civil rights workers were ambushed and killed by a Ku Klux Klan mob, a jury found former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen guilty of all three counts of manslaughter Tuesday.

The "Freedom Summer" killings of James Chaney, 21, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, galvanized the civil rights movement. The jury of nine whites and three blacks reached the decision after several hours of deliberations.

Killen showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

But as he was being escorted from the courthouse under heavy guard, the wheelchair-bound man took swipes at reporters' microphones and cameras. One of the reporters was black, as was a cameraman.
Thanks to B3 reader Holly for the pointer.

Downing Street Stuff

by Shakespeare's Sister

RJ Eskow writes an open letter to the members of the Big Brass Alliance, wanting to know if perhaps it’s time for some old-fashioned shoe leather.

Rob at Captain Oblivious suggests checking out this editorial. I agree.

The King of Zembla points us in the direction of Empire Burlesque, and notes:
Chris Floyd of Empire Burlesque has reposted an article he wrote in September 2004 "detailing the incontrovertible evidence of deliberate deception by the "Coalition" leaders in the invasion of Iraq. The material, all in the public domain, was pre-Downing Street Memo -- but did draw upon equally damning official UK material leaked and reported well before the U.S. election of 2004." BBA members might find it entertaining, especially in light of the wingnut campaign to paint the DSM and related memos as fraudulent.’s David Swanson asks the question, Remember When Bush's Lies Weren't "Old News"?, and answers “Neither do I.” You have to check it out. Not only is it a great piece, but the floating Milbank heads nearly ended me!

And Crooks and Liars has the video of the DSM being discussed on Hardball last night. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I’ve heard mixed reviews.

If you’ve seen something else interesting, leave it in comments. I’m busy again today, so I haven’t much time to look around.

Sibel Edmonds demands accountability

by Lanoire

I strongly urge everyone to read this article by Sibel Edmonds.

Most people, even on the left and even in the liberal blogosphere, are still unaware of exactly how much advance warning the U.S. government had of the September 11th attacks before they occured. We may be vaguely aware of the memo Richard Clarke sent to Condoleezza Rice (and which was soundly ignored), but most people aren't aware that the FBI was warned that there was a planned attack on a major U.S. city ordered by Osama bin Laden and that the individuals involved were already in the U.S.

Most people are also unaware of the following (though many liberals and government skeptics in general suspect something like this to be true):

If counterintelligence receives information that contains money-laundering, illegal arms sales, and illegal drug activities directly linked to terrorist activities, and if that information involves certain nations or semi-legit organizations, that information is not shared with counterterrorism, regardless of the possible severe consequences. In certain cases, frustrated FBI agents cited "direct pressure by the State Department" and in other cases "sensitive diplomatic relations." I provided the Department of Justice inspector general and the 9/11 Commission with detailed and specific information and evidence regarding this issue, the names of other witnesses willing to corroborate this, and the names of certain U.S. officials involved in these transactions and activities.

-Sibel Edmonds, from the above article

These are not honest mistakes. These are not even examples of ineptitude. This is the deliberate privileging of the elitist interests over the lives of ordinary Americans.

And yet the FBI and the government in general continues to demand that we sacrifice every last liberty we possess so they can protect us--even though the danger comes from their corruption and not from our freedom.

For more related to Sibel Edmonds and the failure of the U.S. government, see these old posts.

(cross-posted to Looking at the Stars)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Six more weeks in 'ex-gay' camp for TN teen

by Pam

LIA continues its inhumane treatment of a Tennessee teen.

Over 1,000 people have commented at the blog of a gay teen that came out to his parents and was sent to the "ex-gay" hellhole of Love In Action's Refuge program.

The problem has now escalated -- he's been ordered to stay another six weeks at the facility for "reparative treatment" in an attempt to rid him of his homosexuality. He had been slated to be released today. (UKGayNews via PageOneQ):
After having his mobile (cell) phone taken away and his access to the internet denied, very little has been heard of the teen. In one of his last "blogs" on June 3, he wrote: "I don’t know how long I’m going to be on, because if they wake up, I’m screwed. The program starts June 6."

According to someone who claims to be a friend of Zach’s, the teen is staying another six weeks at the LIA refuge because his parents find it "necessary and effective."

Love in Action International Inc. claims to be able to "cure" gays in most cases. But "…sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be altered. Groups who try to change the sexual orientation of people through so-called conversion therapy are misguided and run the risk of causing a great deal of psychological harm…" says Dr. Raymond Fowler PhD along with the vast majority of contemporary American – and world-wide – psychological opinion

The refuge’s website gives details of reparative treatment:
Two-Week Intensive: The adolescent will attend meetings at the designated facility Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Participants in Refuge will be offered individual counseling sessions as scheduled by staff, recreational opportunities with other clients, as well as an atmosphere of accountability and support. The cost is $2,000.

Six-Week Extension: The adolescent will attend meetings at the designated facility Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Participants in Refuge will be offered individual counseling sessions as scheduled by staff, recreational opportunities with other clients, as well as an atmosphere of accountability and support. The six-week duration of this option promotes more time for healing and working on underlying issues that may not be covered during the two-week Refuge program. The cost is $4,500.
As we posted before, Refuge is an 'ex-gay' brainwashing program led by "former homosexual" John Smid of Love In Action (LIA). Smid has been quoted as saying: "I would rather you commit suicide than have you leave Love In Action wanting to return to the gay lifestyle. In a physical death you could still have a spiritual resurrection; whereas, returning to homosexuality you are yielding yourself to a spiritual death from which there is no recovery."

The Queer Action Coalition has just wrapped up nine days of protests at the LIA facility, and the story has been covered in local media.

This is how much George "AWOL" Bush loves the troops.

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Inadequate Increases in VA Health Care Budget

The VA's Under Secretary testified last year that the VA health care system needs a 13-14% increase annually to maintain the services they provide now.

The Administration request of $27.4 billion for 2005 provided for an increase of about 1% over the last year, and fell $2.9 billion short of the amount recommended by veterans groups (including AMVETS, the VFW, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Disabled American Veterans) in their Independent Budget. (See the Administration and vets' groups budget numbers side-by-side here.) Following the Bush Administration's announcement, the House Committtee on Veteran's Affairs released a bipartisan plan calling for at least $2.5 billion more than the Administration proposal. On Feb. 4th, 2004, VA Secretary Anthony Principi admitted to a House Committee that he had asked for "1.2 billion more than I received." (link)

New Drug Co-Pays and Annual Fees

For veterans who are currently paying a small pharmacy co-pay (7$ per month per prescription), the co-pay would rise to $15. In addition, these vets would have to pay a $250 annual fee.

New Eligibility Requirements

As of January, 2004, the VA has also announced new rules that exclude hundreds of thousands of vets whose incomes are now considered too high to qualify for benefits. The income threshold depends on where a vet lives, but ranges between about $26,000 and $40,000 per year. The VA has not pushed any enrolled vets out of the system, but veterans who now wish to enroll will be subject to the new rules.

Hospital Closures

The VA is planning a number of hospital closures as part of a larger "restructuring" plan. Originally, the VA intended to close at least 7 hospitals, but outrage from veterans groups led to a revision of the plan by an independent commission. Now, only three hospitals are slated for closure, and two new hospitals are planned in Nevada and in Florida. However, some smaller clinics are also going to be closed or cut down. Some of these clinics are underserved. But other cutbacks, like those at the clinic in Saginaw, Michigan, have angered local politicians and veterans groups. Read the article in USA Today or the AP story for details of specific clinic closures.

Impeach Bush Now!

Bush's quagmire

by STP

John Farmer does an excellent job in the Newark Star-Ledger of discussing the decision to invade Iraq and the cries of some in Washington to set a date to exit that country militarily. The first part, that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others led this country into war under false pretense and should be held accountable requires no mention in this posting. It is so obvious and beyond dispute that reading the Farmer article is sufficient for re-hashing the subject.

I would prefer to discuss the exit strategy aspect of his article. Farmer makes the argument that the U.S. cannot leave Iraq now. He states that a cut and run strategy from that country would cause serious harm to U.S. security. He sees Iraq as the center point of the terrorist struggle, and our exiting that country as the linchpin in al Qaeda's possibly taking over the entire region.

Sound like something George Bush might say?

No, it does not. Farmer never argues that Iraq was a den of terrorist activity BEFORE the U.S. invaded, but that it has become one and would worsen in a further destabilized situation. That is hard to disagree with. Had the U.S. never invaded and Iraq was somehow where it is now, or would be after our troops exit, we would have to invade for reasons similar to why we needed to attack Afghanistan; a real threat of terrorism growing in a country and being exported to our shores.

The invasion of Afghanistan to thwart the Taliban and al Qaeda was the proper path to go down. Sadly, the decision-making process was less than stellar and actions taken after the Taliban were routed failed due to the distraction of Iraq. Still, it was a battle that merited American support.

Iraq was a different story before we invaded. There was no threat of terrorism. However, thanks to the Bush Administration, it now has become a danger to our interests, and the power vacuum that our exiting militarily would result in would bring about an increased risk of terrorism. Al Qaeda would set up shop in Iraq in a minute if we left and their base of operations would have been expanded due to, first our invasion, and secondly, our exit.

Do I then support the idea that the U.S. must remain in Iraq? No, I do not. A military presence must remain in that country, possibly for a decade or more. Our involvement, though, is merely a deterrence to the stabilization of Iraq.

The United Nations must be a major player in providing peacekeeping and helping to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure. Sadly, the Bush Administration has undermined the U.N. at every turn and has so hoarded power and control, that that body would have a tough time getting up to speed. It does not help when conservative Republicans like Rep. Henry Hyde (Illinois) want to withhold dues to the U.N.

Farmer makes a good case for why it is important that Iraq not "be lost," and why it is in not only our best interests, but the entire Middle East's and Europe's, to insure that Iraq not become a complete failure. While Farmer argues correctly that George Bush and his gang are largely responsible for the morass that is Iraq, he is wrong in his proposed solution of maintaining our presence there. There is a need for troops in Iraq; just not ours. They antagonize the Iraqis and have set back the development of the country. Only the United Nations can bring about a positive change.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

And 70% of you voted for this piece of work??

by Ms. Julien in Miami

You know, I sent this link to the Julien's List email group, but just didn't have the words to blog about it...AmericaBlog does address it quite nicely...

US Military telling recruits to have their parents buy them armor

by John in DC - 6/20/2005 11:49:00 AM

What's next, a bake sale?

Good God, what has George Bush done to our military? And 70% of you people voted for him? Do you military folks out there realize that the ONLY candidate and the ONLY media and the ONLY grassroots talking about the body armor problem in Iraq were LIBERALS? FOX News wasn't on Bush's case for not giving you the armor you needed. But Dan Rather was. Candidate Bush said you had all the body armor you needed. Candidate Kerry said that was a lie.

I'm serious about this. The GOP has screwed our military and put our troops at risk, while denying the problem from day one. It's now gotten so bad that they need to have these kids' parents buy the armor themselves, like these are their school supplies (I wonder if they make those cool yellow raincoats in kevlar?)

War, Inc.: A Summary Financial Analysis of One Corporation

by Dark Wraith

The war in and subsequent occupation of the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the Bush Administration's broad war on terror both at home and abroad, has afforded many corporations the opportunity to benefit from short- and long-term government contracts. The revenues from war-time operations have accrued to a number of companies, most obviously those that could provide war materiel, as well as those that could provide intelligence equipment and facilities, expertise of various kinds, and other goods and services needed by the United States and its allies. However, even those companies that have accrued substantial revenues are not guaranteed profitability as a result of their close relationship with customers in the public sector. Going a step further, however, the fact that some of the greatest beneficiaries of government largesse have proven unable to generate profits for their shareholders has not abated the appetite of sophisticated investors to drive up the prices of these companies' equity issues.

A case in point is Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL), a firm involved in controversy because its former CEO is now the Vice President of the United States, but more importantly, a firm that has benefited significantly and materially from largesse at the public trough. For many critics of the Administration's close ties to a company formerly led by the U.S. Vice President, the recent announcement by Halliburton of a newly-awarded, $30 million contract to build facilities at Guantánamo represented still more of the large-scale benefits enjoyed by but one of many corporations involved in the Bush Administration's wars, expansionism, and weaponization of the civil world of the early 21st Century. Although a $30 million contract for Halliburton represents a trivial amount—less than fifteen-hundredths of a percent of its total revenues of last year—there is no doubt that the current, unquestionably neo-conservative policies of the Bush Administration are a curious re-articulation of classical Keynesian government spending for fiscal stimulus into neo-conservative, supply-side policies, merely moving much of the government spending to business interests on the aggregate supply side rather than to needy individuals and families on the aggregate demand side.

This analysis considers the case of Halliburton Holding Co. in the time frame from 2002 to the end of 2004, the period for which the most recent annual financial reports are available.

Elements of Technical Analysis
The following technical summaries are drawn from the income statements and balance sheets of Halliburton Holding Co.

Halliburton revenue from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 2004 rose from $12.498 billion to $20.466 billion, representing an annualized growth rate of 27.97 percent.

Gross profit (revenues less cost of revenues) for the same period rose from $119 million to $1.143 billion, for an annualized growth rate of gross profit of 209.92 percent.

Operating income (gross profit less operating expenses) rose from —$186 million to $837 million.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose from —$115 million to $880 million, and net income from continuing operations for the period climbed from —$346 million to $385 million.

The Company took charges against net income from continuing operations in 2002, 2003, and 2004, respectively, of $652 million, $1.151 billion, and $1.364 billion to report net income available for common stock for the three years, again respectively, of —$998 million, —$820 million, and —$979 million.

The Company's total assets rose from $12.844 billion to $15.796 billion, for an annualized growth rate of 10.90 percent; however, the current component of those assets grew from $5.560 billion to $9.962 billion, for an annualized growth rate of current assets of 33.86 percent, more than triple the growth rate of the Company's overall asset base.

Halliburton's liability structure largely mirrors the Company's shift toward a more liquid configuration, with current liabilities rising from $3.272 billion at year end 2002 to $7.064 billion at year end 2004 and total liabilities rising in the same time frame from $9.286 billion to $11.864 billion, meaning that current liabilities over the period grew on an annualized basis by 46.93 percent—again, better than three times the annualized growth rate through the same period of total liabilities, which grew on an annualized basis by only 13.03 percent.

Market Analysis for the Common Stock
Halliburton common stock has risen substantially since 2002, but that is part of a somewhat longer-term trend. The graph at right demonstrates that, after a precipitous sell-off during 2001, the Company's common stock has been on a relatively smooth growth path since the later part of 2002.Price chart of Halliburton Holding Company common stock From September 25, 2002, when the stock had reached its low point of $12.05 per share, to this past Friday, June 17, 2005, when the stock closed at $46.39 per share, the annualized rate of share price appeciation has been 63.89 percent, compared to annualized share price appreciation of 14.57 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500 index over the same period. This means that, while an investment of $1,000 made in an index fund in September of 2002 in the 500 large-capitalization, public corporations comprising the Standard & Poor's 500 would, as of this past Friday, be worth $1,449, an investment in Halliburton stock of $1,000 made on September 25, 2002 would be, as of this past Friday, worth $3,850.

Market Madness, Market Method
During the period under consideration, Halliburton lost money according to its certified financial statements; and according to those same financial statements, retained earnings—an accounting measure of the total value of the claim the shareholders have on the assets of the corporation—eroded from $3.11 billion to $871 million, meaning that the book value of the shareholders' residual in the Company fell by 28 percent from the end of 2002 to the end of 2004.

Yet, despite this, the Company's common stock price, which represents the market's objective assessment of the value of that same residual claim, has risen aggressively compared to market's assessment of the claim on residual value of an index of the 500 largest public corporations in the world. Any possible explanation that could include some "irrationality" on the part of investors is specious: markets do not price based upon irrational sentiments; and this is particularly true in the case of stock in a corporation like Halliburton, where 85 percent is held by institutional investors and only a fraction of a percent is held by insiders. The reality is that Halliburton, which for the year 2004 lost $1.21 per share, has a total value of its equity outstanding of $23.46 billion, and that value has been on a growth path for the past nearly three years. This so-called "market capitalization" is the market price per share times the number of shares outstanding; and this is, therefore, the objective, entirely rational determination of the millions upon millions of buyers and sellers of equities converging from day to day to clear the offers to sell with the bids to purchase stocks.

In the case of Halliburton, the markets are rationally judging that, in spite of the unprofitability and eroding equity value on paper, the Company has been, for the past nearly three years, a worthwhile and worthy investment based upon the expected value of its future cash flows, which is all that matters in financial markets. The historical numbers for Halliburton may be disappointing, but for a company in the forefront of acquiring revenues through providing security in a time of terror threats and supporting supplies and services in a time of wars, the prospects for the future couldn't be brighter.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Gay Part

by Shakespeare's Sister

Interesting article in the NY Times about conservative Christians’ battle against gay marriage, “What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part).” One of the things that anti-gay rights politicians will say (including the president), is that it’s not that their against homosexuals, or even homosexuality; it’s just that they’re against gay marriage. It is, though, nothing more than a fine bit of semantics which means nothing to those who support gay rights, and whether the murmurers of such drivel believe it is beside the point, because the people who elect them disagree:

[F]or the anti-gay-marriage activists, homosexuality is something to be fought, not tolerated or respected. I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ''I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don't believe gays should be allowed to marry.'' Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself…

At its essence, then, the Christian conservative thinking about gay marriage runs this way. Homosexuality is not an innate, biological condition but a disease in society. Marriage is the healthy root of society. To put the two together is thus willfully to introduce disease to that root. It is society willing self-destruction, which is itself a symptom of a wider societal disease, that of secularism.
To the degree that marriage may contribute to the health of a society, such a contribution isn’t predicated upon those entering the marriage contract being of opposite sexes, and is dependent upon the health of the union—that is, an absence of infidelities, abuse, and other subversive behaviors. To simply say that marriage itself, a concept that is wholly meaningless without the requisite caveats about the strength and functionality of those actively engaged with the concept, is the healthy root of society, is simplistic to the point of absurdity.

The truth is, of course, that when conservative Christians reference “marriage,” what they mean is their vision of marriage, which encompasses all the traditional ideals associated with marriage—childbearing and –rearing, a lifelong union unblemished by divorce, etc. What such a picture fails to address, however, is that parenting, dedicated partnerships, and the other associated ideals are not restricted to those bound by marriage, or to couples of the opposite sex. Nor are those bound by marriage necessarily destined to parent or spend their lives together. And the truth is, one cannot legislate a prohibition against deliberate childlessness, or divorce, or an aversion to marriage altogether. Not without undermining the fundamental precepts of the American democracy.

And so we end up with a situation wherein the LGBT community is being arbitrarily barred from equal rights. They may not fit into the conservative Christian view of marriage, but then again, neither do I, and yet I’m still allowed to marry.

In the words of Gary Bauer, president of American Values -- one of what is now a total of 61 organizations under the Arlington Group banner, with a combined membership of 60 million -- gay marriage is ''the new abortion.'' He meant that, as with abortion, conservatives see gay marriage as a culture-altering change being implemented by judicial fiat.
Bauer is correct. Abortion did alter our culture, and in spite of their claims that society is worse for its legalization, the opposite is true:

I recently read an incredibly interesting book called Freakonomics, in which an economist by the name of Steven Levitt examines an array of unconnected topics, often unearthing hidden correlations and causations using economic principles. When he set to figuring out why crime rates had fallen so dramatically in the 1990s, even though the horrific crime wave of the ’80s was almost unanimously predicted by criminologists to worsen, he discovered that

crime began falling nationwide just 18 years after the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion. He was struck harder by the fact that in five states crime began falling three years earlier than it did everywhere else. These were exactly the five states that had legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade.


The bottom line? Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in bringing the crime wave of the 1980s to a screeching halt.
Such findings are, of course, exactly what conservative Christians don’t want to hear. And while there is certainly a viable argument that the better way to control crime is to improve the cirumstances of both those likely to give birth to children who become criminals, and the children that are born to such women, there’s only so much time in a day, and when there are endless numbers of abortion clinics who need clusters of anti-abortion activists intimidating women with posterboards emblazoned with dead fetuses, how can anyone rightfully expect them to spend what little free time they have left solving the problem of endemic poverty, too?

But I digress.

The fact of the matter remains as true today as it did in the days leading up to the historic Roe v. Wade decision. Society will never match anyone’s version of perfection, and failing perfection, the best we can do is ensure that each American has as much right to and opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The legalization of gay marriage will take none of that away from conservative Christians…and threatening one’s vision of Utopia isn’t a reason to punish an entire segment of the American populace. For which conservative Chrisitians ought to be particularly grateful these days.

(Hat tip to Shaker and Julien’s List contributor Holly.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Does He EVER Get Tired of Lying??

by Ms. Julien in Miami

And why aren't more American people tired of the "Bushit"!?!? From Mario (guest contributor on Julien's List):

President Bush In His Radio Address Today: “We went to war because we were attacked” [6/18/05]

President Bush In 2003: “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th [attacks].” [9/17/03]

'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

The Murder Monkey


Number of US Soldiers killed in Iraq 1,700
Number of Bush Administration Officials with a Son or Daughter in Iraq...... ZERO

The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty
to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve
and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built.
It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality,
and the family as the basis of national life."
-- Adolph Hitler, February 1, 1933.

Women, bodies and self-esteem - one company has a conscience

by Pam

Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty wants to help widen the definition of beauty -- to celebrate real women with real curves.

I'm flipping through my guilty pleasure US Weekly today, and there's this pullout section, sandwiched between the many photos of celebrated waifs/anorexic Hollywood types, featuring unretouched photographs of lovely, shapely women for a line of Dove skin products. They are not professional models, just attractive, real women, the type you aren't going to see in Playboy, in the a porno flick, in any fashion magazine, or as the lead in a Hollywood flick (that isn't a target of jokes). You know, women with real boobies, full thighs and actual hips.

Dove has started a Campaign for Real Beauty, first launched in the U.K. to great feedback and success. What's remarkable is that this isn't just a lame PR effort for Dove; they commissioned a global study to find The Truth About Beauty, and have established a Dove Self-Esteem fund, acknowledging that beauty pressures affect women, young and old, but especially in teens, who have fallen hook line and sinker for our culture's obsession with unrealisitic images of beauty. Consider some of the results from the company's study* of 3,200 women worldwide, aged 18 to 64 (PDF):

* Only 2% of these women describe themselves as "beautiful"
* About 3/4 of them rate their beauty as "average"
* Almost 1/2 of them think their weight is "too high" -- This is particularly the case in the U.S. (60%), Great Britain (57%) and Canada (54%).
* Italian and Argentinean women are most likely to say their weight is "just right."

On the social cues about beauty that emerge from the mass media and popular culture -- it became apparent that - when women report on the messages they get from popular culture and the media - the idea of "beauty" and the idea of "physical attractiveness" are treated as largely synonymous. Furthermore, both are seen as highly valued by society, but, at the same time, rendered almost impossible to attain. The study reveals that women see beauty and physical attractiveness as increasingly socially mandated and rewarded, with almost two-thirds strongly agreeing that:

* "Women today are expected to be more physically attractive than their mother's generation was" (63%); and,
* "Society expects women to enhance their physical attractiveness" (60%).
* 45% of all women strongly agree that "women who are more beautiful have greater opportunities in life."
* More than half of women (59%) strongly agree that "physically attractive women are more valued by men."
* More than two-thirds (68%) of women strongly agree that "the media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty that most women can't ever achieve." Women over 30 tend to believe this more strongly than women 18 to 29.

Women around the world would like to see the media change in the way it represents beauty, with the majority strongly agreeing that they wished that:
* Female beauty was portrayed in the media as being made up of more than just physical attractiveness (76%).
* The media did a better job of portraying women of diverse physical attractiveness - age, shape and size (75%).
* Younger women 18-29 and 30-44 are more interested in seeing women of various body weights and shapes, where older women are more likely to have an interest in seeing women of different ages as well as various body weights and shapes.

What about cosmetic surgery? With all the botoxing, pulling, nipping and tucking, both in Hollywood, and increasingly the average public (see the popularity of Extreme Makeover), these results were interesting:
* Women who are less satisfied with their beauty are significantly more likely than those who are more satisfied to report considering cosmetic surgery.
* Half of all women in Brazil have considered having cosmetic surgery, with 7% reporting having some kind of cosmetic surgery completed - the highest of all countries surveyed.
* Women from Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands are the least likely to consider having cosmetic surgery. While only a quarter of women have ever considered having cosmetic surgery, this number increases to almost four in ten women if the procedures were safe and free. This is particularly true in Brazil, Argentina and the U.S.
* However, only 24% of women who are satisfied with their beauty would consider cosmetic surgery even if the procedures were safe and free.

Along with the study, Dove's decided to put its money where its mouth is by:
* Creation of a forum for women to participate in a dialogue and debate about the definition and standards of beauty in society
* Advertising that inspires women and society to think differently about what is defined as beautiful
* Fundraising initiatives (sponsored by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund) to help young girls with low body-related self esteem
* Self-esteem workshops with young girls in schools to help them foster a healthy relationship with and confidence in their bodies and their looks
* Establishment of the Program for Aesthetics and Well-Being at Harvard University, through a grant from Dove, which will continue to examine the way we think and talk about beauty in popular culture and the effect that this has on women's well-being
* Creation of a Million Faces of Beauty feature on its site, where you can submit photos of women you know and love that you consider beautiful.

I don't hold out hope that Hollywood is going to get the message -- look at poor Lindsay Lohan, she has disappeared before our eyes, and ever worse, had her boobies digitally downsized for her next flick -- because of "the children" -- protecting us from possible tittilation.

Before. After. See

That said, you can give feedback to Dove/Unilever below; encouraging corporations that take the high road goes a long way:

The Campaign for Real Beauty
* Web form
* Phone: 1-800-761-DOVE (3683).

See? US Weekly isn't completely useless trash...

* The study was by Dr. Nancy Etcoff - Harvard University, Dr. Susie Orbach - London School of Economics, Dr. Jennifer Scott - StrategyOne, Heidi D'Agostino - StrategyOne and commissioned by Dove (a Unilever Beauty Brand).

“Spikes of Activity”

by Shakespeare's Sister

Here’s the problem with being so sure of your moral rectitude that things like international law can be rendered inapplicable to your decision-making, perhaps even quaint: You’ve no compunction about proudly including descriptions of your warmongering tactics into a book:

A SHARP increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war “to put pressure on the regime” was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began “spikes of activity” designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.

The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was “not consistent with” UN law, despite American claims that it was.


Further intensification of the bombing, known in the Pentagon as the Blue Plan, began at the end of August, 2002, following a meeting of the US National Security Council at the White House that month.

General Tommy Franks, the allied commander, recalled in his autobiography, American Soldier, that during this meeting he rejected a call from Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, to cut the bombing patrols because he wanted to use them to make Iraq’s defences “as weak as possible”.

The allied commander specifically used the term “spikes of activity” in his book. The upgrade to a full air war was also illegal, said Goodhart. “If, as Franks seems to suggest, the purpose was to soften up Iraq for a future invasion or even to intimidate Iraq, the coalition forces were acting without lawful authority,” he said.

Although the legality of the war has been more of an issue in Britain than in America, the revelations indicate Bush may also have acted illegally, since Congress did not authorise military action until October 11 2002.

The air war had already begun six weeks earlier and the spikes of activity had been underway for five months.

The attempt to provoke Saddam through increased “spikes of activity” was earlier revealed in the first-leaked Downing Street Memo, dated July 23, 2002 which notes:
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun “spikes of activity” to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
(Hat tip to Shaker Oddjob.)

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

You Have GOT to Be Kidding

by TheGreenKnight

FOX News's Chris Wallace on the inmates at Guantanamo Bay:
I mean, what was so horrific in the memo, and I'm not saying, you know, there aren't legitimate questions there, is that someone is chained to a floor and forced to defecate on themselves, and has loud rock music playing. Excuse me? I mean, you know, Auschwitz? Bergen Belsen? The Soviet gulag? I think they would have been very happy to be allowed to defecate on themselves.

Via Clever Peasantry. Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Everything We Thought We Knew About the War Was Wrong

by Shakespeare's Sister

Since 9/11, President Bush has positioned himself as the best, if not only person, with the wherewithal to protect America from terrorists. He has used the nebulous “War on Terror” to justify everything from the encroachment on Americans’ civil liberties (under the guise of the Patriot Act) to the invasion of Iraq. And yet, in a recent Salon article by Juan Cole, which references the public account of Sir Christopher Meyer as well as his interview with Vanity Fair, it becomes obvious that the President had little interest in pursuing the actual perpetrators of 9/11:

Astonishingly, the Bush administration almost took the United States to war against Iraq in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. We know about this episode from the public account of Sir Christopher Meyer, then the U.K. ambassador in Washington. Meyer reported that in the two weeks after Sept. 11, the Bush national security team argued back and forth over whether to attack Iraq or Afghanistan. It appears from his account that Bush was leaning toward the Iraq option.

Meyer spoke again about the matter to Vanity Fair for its May 2004 report, "The Path to War." Soon after Sept. 11, Meyer went to a dinner at the White House, "attended also by Colin Powell, [and] Condi Rice," where "Bush made clear that he was determined to topple Saddam. 'Rumors were already flying that Bush would use 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq,' Meyer remembers." When British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Washington on Sept. 20, 2001, he was alarmed. If Blair had consulted MI6 about the relative merits of the Afghanistan and Iraq options, we can only imagine what well-informed British intelligence officers in Pakistan were cabling London about the dangers of leaving bin Laden and al-Qaida in place while plunging into a potential quagmire in Iraq. Fears that London was a major al-Qaida target would have underlined the risks to the United Kingdom of an "Iraq first" policy in Washington.

Meyer told Vanity Fair, "Blair came with a very strong message -- don't get distracted; the priorities were al-Qaida, Afghanistan, the Taliban." He must have been terrified that the Bush administration would abandon London to al-Qaida while pursuing the great white whale of Iraq. But he managed to help persuade Bush. Meyer reports, "Bush said, 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.'" Meyer also said, in spring 2004, that it was clear "that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions." In short, Meyer strongly implies that Blair persuaded Bush to make war on al-Qaida in Afghanistan first by promising him British support for a later Iraq campaign.
So what would it mean if this national security president had never wanted to invade Afghanistan, had never wanted to pursue al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden (who remains on the loose to this day)? What would it mean if Iraq, which contrary to administration claims had no weapons of mass destruction with which to harm America or America’s allies, had been the only target all along? And what would it mean if the case for that war had been conceived out of thin air?

It would mean that we all had all been hoodwinked, including our soldiers who had been sent to die by a president who cared not for bringing to justice those responsible for an attack on American soil, and had cared not for the truth. It would mean a national disgrace.

In fact, the now seven total Downing Street Documents provide increasing evidence that that is exactly what happened.

The first document released, known as the Downing Street Memo, and dated July 23, 2002, notes:

Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Such an assertion is in direct contrast to the claims of the administration, who continued to assert that they viewed military action as a last resort—and to this day refuse to acknowledge that the intelligence used to justify the war was fixed, instead crediting the lack of WMDs to a “massive intelligence failure.”

The document known as the Iraq Options Paper, dated March 8, 2002, includes the following:

The greater investment of Western forces, the greater our control over Iraq's future, but the greater the cost and the longer we would need to stay. The only certain means to remove Saddam and his elite is to invade and impose a new government, but this could involve nation building over many years. Even a representative government could seek to acquire WMD and build-up its conventional forces, so long as Iran and Israel retain their WMD and conventional armouries and there was no acceptable solution to the Palestinian grievances.
The Bush administration went to great lengths to quash any suggestion that the Iraq invasion would necessitate nation building, in spite of the British government’s view to the contrary. In addition, the following comes from the same document:

The aim would be to launch a full-scale ground offensive... A pro-Western regime would be installed... The optimal times to start action are early spring.
Again, this runs contrary to the mantra of “spreading freedom and democracy” repeated incessantly by the Bush administration. The goal of installing a “pro-Western regime” is in direct opposition to the free and fair elections that both Iraqis and American were promised would take place.

The document known as Iraq: Legal Background, also dated March 8, 2002, notes:

The US... maintain that the assessment of breach [of UN resolutions] is for individual member States. We are not aware of any other State which supports this view.
Bush was misconstruing international law to fit his war plans, and doing so in such an egregious manner as to leave the United States the only nation on earth willing to interpret the laws thusly.

The memo from Blair’s Foreign Policy Advisor, David Manning, to Blair, summarizing his (Manning’s) dinner with Condoleezza Rice, dated March 14, 2002, includes the following:

I said you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion... Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed.... Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions:... what happens on the morning after?
This, too, is illustrative of both Bush’s disregard for any option other than regime change and the comprehensive lack of post-war planning.

The memo from the UK’s ambassador to the US, the aforementioned Christopher Meyer, to David Manning, summarizing his (Meyer’s) lunch with Paul Wolfowitz, dated March 18, 2002, includes the following:

On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week. We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe. The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam. I then went through the need to wrongfoot Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs and the critical importance of the MEPP as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skillfully, we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board.
This indicates that the process of going to the UN was a sham for Blair’s sake and that disarmament was not an option; regime change had already been chosen as the singular goal.

The memo from the UK’s political director, Peter Ricketts, to UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, dated March 22, 2002, includes the following:

For Iraq, "regime change" does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam. Much better, as you have suggested, to make the objective ending the threat to the international community from Iraqi WMD...

US scrambling to establish a link between Iraq and Al [Q]aida is so far frankly unconvincing.
Clearly, regime change is acknowledged as the objective, but the WMD issue was better for public relations. Additionally, even the British government believed the Bush adminsitrationa’s claims of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida to be false.

The memo from UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to Blair, dated March 25, 2002, includes the following:

We have also to answer the big question—what will this action achieve?... [no US assessment] has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.
Even members of the British government at its highest levels did not believe that Bush administration had any plan to ensure a new Iraqi government would be an improvement on Hussein’s dictatorship, nor to ensure that the new government would not develop WMD.

These memos collectively draw a very different picture of prewar planning than was painted for the American people. The intelligence and facts were fixed around the policy—a single-minded policy of regime change, with war the inevitable result, even if Iraq’s dictator had to be taunted with bombs and ultimatums. And prior to the invasion, the Bush administration had no definitive plan to promote true democracy—and no strategy to ensure that the new Iraqi government would not be just as bad as the last one.

And now, via The Independent, we find out that the American government used incendiary weaponry, the MK-77—napalm canister munitions, evolved from the napalm bombs which we associate with the Korean and Vietnam wars—during the Iraq War and subsequently lied about their use to the British government:

Despite persistent rumours of injuries among Iraqis consistent with the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, Adam Ingram, the Defence minister, assured Labour MPs in January that US forces had not used a new generation of incendiary weapons, codenamed MK77, in Iraq.

But Mr Ingram admitted to the Labour MP Harry Cohen in a private letter obtained by The Independent that he had inadvertently misled Parliament because he had been misinformed by the US. "The US confirmed to my officials that they had not used MK77s in Iraq at any time and this was the basis of my response to you," he told Mr Cohen. "I regret to say that I have since discovered that this is not the case and must now correct the position."

Mr Ingram said 30 MK77 firebombs were used by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the invasion of Iraq between 31 March and 2 April 2003.
(For more on this, please see The Heretik and Freiheit und Wissen.)

A tragic irony indeed. This war was sold on the premise that America must protect itself from weapons of mass destruction, and in the end, the only weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were the ones we dropped there.

The Bush administration lied to the American people about this war, and continue to evade questions about the truth about what is happening in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the truth. They deserve to know that everything they thought they knew about the war was wrong.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Downing Street-a-Go-Go!

by Shakespeare's Sister

Good lord in heaven! The Associated Press is suddenly all over the Downing Street Documents!

Memos: Postwar Iraq a Concern in Britain

U.S. War Plans Much-Discussed in Memos

2002 Memos Undercut British WMD Claims

Redford Says He Linked Deep Throat to FBI

(The last one includes Redford’s comments on the Downing Street Memo.)

Of course I’d prefer to see these stories on a WEEKDAY, but at least it’s a bloody start!

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Movement or Fashion?

by TheGreenKnight

Yesterday, the Green Knight was walking by his local New Age emporium and noticed that it's going out of business. It's been sick for a while, and now seems to be officially dead.

During the 90s, the New Age was the rage, and New Age shops were booming places where you could get all sorts of books, candles, baubles, strange and funky things. You could go there to hear guest speakers, take classes in all kinds of meditative techniques, and chat with eager spiritual seekers. They seemed to be the headquarters of a new spiritual movement, and thought of themselves as such.

Now, it seems plain that although there may have been a movement at the core of the New Age phenomenon, for the most part it was just a consumer trend. It worked well enough for the 90s, when there was (apparently) no real evil for the Western world to address, and money to blow on healing crystals. Now, many people have moved on to other things, and what looked like a transformative movement is now yesterday's fashion, like hula hoops, disco, and the Swatch watch.

The Green Knight wonders whether this is also true of the corporate Christianity we're seeing today, with its megachurch malls, its specialized music, its gimmicky toys, its bookstore chains. It too is often spoken of as a movement, and surely there is a movement of true believers at its core, but how much of it is also a consumer trend? In fact, how many of its consumers are the same people who made the New Age so profitable a few years ago, who have moved on in order to seek a perspective more suited to the current cultural mood? And when the mood changes again (as it surely will), how much of this consumer bubble will remain a force in the culture, and how much of it will simply collapse, leaving empty storefronts behind?

The Green Knight has no idea, but reflects that the market is fickle, and throws aside its adherents with neither thought nor compassion. Nothing is forever, especially not fashion.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Friday, June 17, 2005

US Lied to Britain Over Use of Napalm in Iraq War

by Ms. Julien in Miami

American officials lied to British ministers over the use of "internationally
reviled" napalm-type firebombs in Iraq.
Yesterday's disclosure led to calls
by MPs for a full statement to the Commons and opened ministers to allegations
that they held back the facts until after the general election.

Read the rest HERE.

Sadly, Andrew Greeley is NOT off the mark on this one.

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Expect terrorists to bring war to us.

The entire article from the Chicago Sun-Times is linked above, but this excerpt from the middle of the article is chilling:

Our most recent exercise in hubris is by far the worst, the most
irresponsible, the most appropriate to indict those responsible as war
criminals. We could knock over Saddam Hussein with a small army, the locals
would dance in the street and strew flowers on our tanks. Secretary Rumsfeld,
the Robert McNamara of our day, repealed the Powell Doctrine that we should
attack only with overwhelming force and a clear exit strategy. Colin Powell must
have known that this was folly but, good soldier that he is, he did not resign
or become the Deep Throat of the present administration. However, good soldiers
can also be war criminals. Both Rumsfeld and Powell were criminally negligent in
their failure to consider the obvious possibilities for catastrophe after a
quick and easy military victory.

The president, the vice president, the secretary of state, the coterie
of "neocon" intellectuals around them, desperately wanted a war with Iraq even
before the World Trade Center attack. The neocons whispered that the way to
Jerusalem was through Baghdad, never thinking that suicide bombings could
migrate from Jerusalem to Baghdad. None of these wise men bothered to worry
about the aftermath of the war. The president is a risk-taker, we are told now,
as he battles for his harebrained plan to reform social security. The invasion
of Iraq was a risk, a big risk the potential costs of which were never seriously
estimated. That's what happens when you have a reckless Clint Eastwood type for
president. Are not the president and his immediate advisers war criminals for
rashly plunging the country into the Big Muddy once again?

Court Refuses To Rip Child From Lesbian Mom

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Great news!! THIS is why we must never stop fighting for the rights of same-sex couples.

(Charleston, West Virginia) The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Friday rejected a bid to remove a five-year-old boy from his lesbian mother following the tragic death of her partner, the child's biological mother.

After falling in love and committing to each other, Tina Burch and Christina Smarr decided to have a child together.

The couple agreed that Smarr would carry their child. On December 25, 1999, Smarr gave birth to Zachary. The couple raised Zachary together as a family until Smarr was tragically killed in an automobile accident on June 1, 2002.

Following Smarr’s death, her parents, Paul and Janet Smarr, sought to take custody of Zachary.

The trial court sided with Burch and awarded her primary custody, with visitation rights to the grandparents. The court found Burch to be Zachary’s “psychological parent” – one who, while not related to a child biologically or through adoption, has functioned as a parent in every way. West Virginia appeals courts have recognized psychological parents in the past, but never involving gay couples.

The grandparents appealed and the Circuit Court reversed the trial judge’s ruling, deciding to remove Zachary from a parent he has lived with since birth and give custody instead to the grandparents. The Circuit Court refused to apply the psychological parenthood doctrine in the context of a gay couple.

Burch then appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Friday the court reversed the Circuit Court ruling. It is the first time that the high court has recognized the standing of a gay or lesbian parent to seek recognition as a psychological parent.

Julien's List congratulates the evolved consciousness of the W. Va Supreme Court.

Call The White House TODAY

by Ms. Julien in Miami


Call the white house and demand Bush answer the 5 questions contained in Conyers' letter and signed by 560,000 Americans...and 122 members of the House

"We're in Iraq at their invitation."
-- W, rewriting a fake history for your kids to read and learn in the future


(Mario is a guest contributor on Julien's List)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Downing Street Memo on PBS

by Charlie

Downing Street Memo on PBS

Ray McGovern and Reuel Gerecht, both formerly of the CIA, were featured on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer today in an interview conducted by Margaret Warner. By virtue of having two PBS stations, I actually managed to catch it twice, which is something I wasn't expecting or I would've recorded it the second time. As it was, I managed to take notes throughout both presentations. I thought I'd do something akin to a delayed liveblogging post, but fortunately for everyone who reads this blog, I managed to find the transcript on PBS' website, so you will be spared my heinous notetaking abilities.

McGovern does an excellent job outlining the significance of the memos and why everyone should care. But I think the really interesting story here is in Gerecht's "balance," where we start to get an insight on how the Bush administration is going to react to this scandal.

MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let me ask -- including on this program. Reuel Gerecht, you're also an intelligence professional; how do you read this sentence in the memo that Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, two sentences, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD, but the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy?

REUEL GERECHT: Well, one on the first part I would certainly hope that the president of the United States after 9/11 would want to remove Saddam Hussein because of the possibility that a rogue dictator who had a long history of developing weapons of mass destruction, who had a history of associating with terrorists, should in fact be removed; that we now live in a post-9/11 world.


MARGARET WARNER: All right. Mr. McGovern, you're dying to get back in, I can tell.

RAY McGOVERN: No, I was just thinking that Reuel is of the school of Richard Perle, who right after the war started was asked about the legality of the war and he said, you know, sometimes you just have to violate international law to do the right thing.


RAY McGOVERN: Well, no, no, this has to do with Iraq. What the president said to Tony Blair on the 20th of September, according to the UK ambassador who was there is, we're going into Afghanistan in a couple of weeks, it won't take us long there and we're going right into Iraq right after that. Are you with me? And Tony Blair said yes.

MARGARET WARNER: You get, I'm sorry to say, about five minutes -- five seconds to respond.

REUEL GERECHT: I would like to believe it's true. I think the appropriate criticism of the Bush administration is that it should have made the decision to go to war sooner so we could have had a better discussion about what we were going to do.

MARGARET WARNER: On that I think we probably still have disagreement. Thank you both.

I like to think that when she said "we," she meant Gerecht and herself.

Gerecht is attempting to ignore the content of the Downing Street Memo by bringing up WMD that the memos say were based on weak evidence. He is attempting to use 9/11 as an excuse for regime change in Iraq, which makes no sense considering the fact that there is no evidence that Iraq was harboring terrorist. Indeed, with headlines like these, it is all too clear that there are terrorists there now where there weren't any before. And finally, Gerecht is trying to rewrite history by suggesting that a history of WMD is enough to justify a preemptive invasion. He implies that a knowledge of clear and present danger is unnecessary.

This whole thing smacks of Dominionist/Machiavellian rationale that the ends justified the means in removing Saddam Hussein from office. The oft-cited reasons have been long suspected to be bogus. Now, with the Downing Street Memos, those supsicions are confirmed and officially documented. So here's the question. Why did we invade Iraq?

Cross posted to Shades Of Grey

C-SPAN to rebroadcast Downing Street hearings TONIGHT!!!!

by Ms. Julien in Miami

If you missed it on CSPAN3, see this from Raw Story:


C-SPAN sent this email to those inquiring about whether the network would re-air the congressional hearings on the Downing Street documents held by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).

The network will rebroadcast the hearings carried live on C-SPAN 3 Thursday on TONIGHT on C-SPAN2 at 8 p.m. ET.

Killer Klansman Killen lands in the hospital

by Pam

Edgar Ray Killen, left, at his trial on Thursday, and right, pictured as a thirty-eight-year-old, when he was allegedly the point man in the conspiracy to murder three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi on June 21, 1964.

How can you muster up sympathy for this bigot (who is, by the way an ordained Baptist minister)? The sad thing is, I saw some unfortunate redneck Mississippi woman interviewed this AM on CNN basically saying "what's past is past" and why people can't just get over it. Well, hon, as long as this f*cker is breathing, he's going to get his chance to go to the slammer.
Edgar Ray Killen was taken away in an ambulance just before the widow of one of the victims led the jury through the events that sent her husband to Mississippi during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964. A few in the courtroom wiped away tears during the testimony.

Rita Schwerner Bender, 63, recalled the moment she learned that authorities had found the blue station wagon that her husband, Michael Schwerner, and the two other men were in when they disappeared. The burned car was abandoned in a swamp.

"I think it hit me for the first time that they were dead, that there was really no realistic possibility that they were alive," the Seattle woman said, occasionally looking as though she was fighting back tears. Killen was listed in stable condition. The part-time preacher and sawmill operator has been attending court in a wheelchair while he recovers from broken legs suffered in a woodcutting accident. A nurse sits nearby in court.

Killen is on trial in the killings of James Chaney, a black Mississippian, and Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, white New Yorkers, who were in the town to investigate the burning of a black church. They were stopped for speeding, jailed for a few hours, then released, after which they were ambushed by a gang of Klansmen.

...Killen's name has been associated with the slayings from the outset, and he stood trial on federal charges in 1967, but the all-white jury could not reach a verdict. One juror reportedly said she could not convict a preacher.
Someone should track down good old boy Trent Lott for a comment, seeing that he's one of the Pro-Lynching Southern Six.

Rita Schwerner Bender (L), widow of Michael Schwerner, greets Barbara Chaney Dailey, as her brother Ben Chaney (C), both siblings of James Chaney, leans forward, during a recess in the murder trial of Edgar Ray Killen. REUTERS/Rogelio Solis/Pool

Bill Frist's no Sanjay Gupta

by Pam

Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo (above), is owed an apology from Frist, her parents and all the wailing wingnuts.
"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."
-- Senate Majority Leader, and ESP enthusiast Bill Frist, diagnosing the viability of Terri Schiavo's brain
The autopsy doesn't lie. Guess lynch-loving Frist doesn't have a promising career as a ponificating mainstream media medical "expert", based on that lousy, biblically-based diagnosis.
Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who died in March after a fierce right-to-die battle that went all the way to the White House, was massively and irreversibly brain-damaged, pathologists announcing the results of an autopsy said on Wednesday. The results supported clinical findings and the contention of her husband that Schiavo had been in a "persistent vegetative state" since collapsing 15 years earlier from a cardiac arrest that deprived her brain of oxygen, said Dr. Stephen Nelson, a forensic pathologist who assisted in the autopsy.

"She would not have been able to form any cognitive thought," said Nelson, speaking with Pinellas County Medical Examiner Jon Thogmartin at a news conference. "There was a massive loss of brain tissue."

During a long and bitter family feud over Schiavo's fate, courts consistently ruled in support of Schiavo's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, that Schiavo would not have wanted to live in such a state. A persistent vegetative state meant she was unable to think, feel or interact with her environment. The autopsy found no amount of therapy would have helped to regenerate Schiavo's brain, and determined she was blind, belying videotapes that appeared to show her eyes following objects. The videos were cited by her parents' supporters as proof she should be kept alive.

Schiavo's brain weighed about half of what a healthy human brain would, Thogmartin said. "Her brain was profoundly atrophied ... This damage was irreversible."
[UPDATE: Here are the comments from Freeperland. They are turning on one another over this one. And bonus points! They raise the corpses of Ron Brown and Vince Foster for good measure.]

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"Remember the lost Xrays of foster? Until we see the xrays of her entire body on the internet, I say the fix is in."

"They made 247 images. Which ones do you need?"

"Manner of death: Murdered by husband and judge." Insert THAT on the death certificate."

"Hmmmm...all this time I thought her "manner of death" was dehydration and starvation."

"Well, duh! Michael Schiavo needed to legalize his wife's murder & Judge Greer needed to legitimize Michael Schiavo's murder of his wife. Both accomplished their goals."

"This official autopsy is so Orwellian. Why didn't they just examine her and try to feed her BEFORE they killed her? It's obvious this was meant to obstruct any wrongful death lawsuit against the state."

"What doesn't change is that her parents wanted to care for her and keep her alive, whatever her state, while her husband wanted her to die. Why Schiavo was so intent on letting her die, is what was, and remains, suspect. Just plain meanness, perhaps."

"No surprises after all this time . The fix was in .. ... .."

"I doubt it's common practice for a medical examiner to take x-rays of an entire body in most cases, let alone to release them to the general public."

"Meanness? Absolutely. But the real motive is greed. There's money involved and Michael Schiavo wanted plus to legitimize his children. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that ole Mikey was going out on Terri, playing a Scott Peterson act, before Terri "collapsed"."
"Why didn't they just examine her and try to feed her BEFORE they killed her?"

"Do you mean the medical examiner? He generally doesn't perform autopsies before the patient is declared dead."

"It's obvious this was meant to obstruct any wrongful death lawsuit against the state."

"Fix is in?...Why would a Coroner (DR) jeopardize everything to make a false conspiracy theorists amaze me He would have everything to lose. Granted the Schiavo case stinks, but it's over."

"Apparently, there was enough evidence to show that Terri didn't want to live in a vegetative state forever. Her wishes were deemed more important than those of her parents."

"I should point out that Bill Pryor was one of the 11th circuit judges who refused to hear the case, and he's certainly no euthanasia activist."

"The case is over, but the many questions, both ethical and legal that it raised remain worthy of discussion. One hopes adults can discuss these issues without setting their hair on fire or spewing venom."

"I seem to recall that the examiner was going to have an "observer" in on the autopsy, but at the last minute forbade any observation. It is not unusual to have bystanders and witnesses at an autopsy--and if an examiner wants to cover his rear for any reason, it's a real good idea for him to have witnesses. If I had been the examiner, I would have wanted a roomful for this contentious case."

"The Medical Examiner convinced me that I got this one wrong. Live and learn."

"Newsflash...You can do now medical exams on people while they're alive. You do them in places called "hospitals." Starving and dehydrating her to examine her is about as smart as the middle ages pracice of bleeding a person to death to heal them. But it makes sense to your stunted mind I'm sure."

"What the ME has accomplished in this case by refusing to have an independent observer in the room, is to simply leave the case perpetually open. Nothing has been changed or accomplished by the autopsy. Even if he is correct in his findings, he is not credible because Pinellas County has been so rife with corruption even before the Schiavo case."

""Where did those xrays of broken bones we were told about go to?""

"They did not exist. What was flaunted so obscenely here was a bone *scan* (showing what the MI told y'all today) and an edited deposition by one of the radiologists. We'd been trying to tell y'all these things for months, but we were shunned for bringing up those supposedly irrelevant (but actually just pesky) *facts*, so they could feed you blatant lies without contradiction. Speaks volumes about the integrity of the bone scammers, IMO."

"She was examined many, many times by medical doctors while alive, but you seem to be unaware of that fact. If it makes you feel better about your ignorance to call me names in the manner of a 10-year-old child, have at it."

"It's over? Not by a long shot. The managed care/ long term care insurance companies need to speed up the dying process a la Schiavo or they will go bankrupt. Too many old folks on the horizon. The baby boomers will sink them if they can't find a way to get rid of them. With the help of the Florida legislature and courts they found a very good way."

"You bet. I would like to see analyze these Xrays like many freepers did with Ron Brown. That was some good analysis back in the day. Any old timers remember?"

"Actually it sounds to me that the ME did a good job, and an unbiased 1. I could be wrong, but it seems so.

Learn from the Brit

by TheGreenKnight

Here's what Michael Smith, the reporter for the Times of London who broke the DSM story, has to say about the US press's attitude:

Firstly, I think the leaks were regarded as politically motivated. Secondly, there was a feeling of, well, we said that way back when. Then of course as the pressure mounted from the outside, there was a defensive attitude. "We have said this before, if you the reader didn't listen well what can we do", seemed to be the attitude. I don't know if you have this expression over there, but we say someone "wants to have their cake and eat it". That's what that response reeks of. Either it was politically motivated and therefore not true, or it was published before by the US newspapers and was true, it cant be both can it?...

It is one thing for the New York Times or the Washington Post to say that we were being told that the intelligence was being fixed by sources inside the CIA or Pentagon or the NSC and quite another to have documentary confirmation in the form of the minutes of a key meeting with the Prime Minister's office. Think of it this way, all the key players were there. This was the equivalent of an NSC meeting, with the President, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks all there. They say the evidence against Saddam Hussein is thin, the Brits think regime change is illegal under international law so we are going to have to go to the UN to get an ultimatum, not as a way of averting war but as an excuse to make the war legal, and oh by the way we aren't preparing for what happens after and no-one has the faintest idea what Iraq will be like after a war. Not reportable, are you kidding me?
Cross-posted at The Green Knight.
Update: John from A Lie a Day points out this statement also from Smith:

There are number of people asking about fixed and its meaning. This is a real joke. I do not know anyone in the UK who took it to mean anything other than fixed as in fixed a race, fixed an election, fixed the intelligence. If you fix something, you make it the way you want it. The intelligence was fixed and as for the reports that said this was one British official. Pleeeaaassee! This was the head of MI6. How much authority do you want the man to have? He has just been to Washington, he has just talked to George Tenet. He said the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. That translates in clearer terms as the intelligence was being cooked to match what the administration wanted it to say to justify invading Iraq.

Historical Footnotes:
Forty-two years and a lifetime ago

by Dark Wraith

On this 16th day of June in the year 1963, the first woman rode the thunder of a rocket into space. She was Valentina Tereshkova, a lieutenant and former cotton mill worker, riding up the sky in Vostok 6 from the Soviet Union's secret Baikonur Cosmodrome. Her radio name was Chaika, the Seagull.

It would be 20 years later, in June of 1983, that the first female American astronaut, Sally Ride, would fly where the Seagull had gone before her.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

DSM Updates

by Shakespeare's Sister


C-SPAN has committed to carrying the U.S. House Judiciary Democrats hearings tomorrow on C-SPAN 3. They will be carried LIVE.

For those who don't receive C-SPAN 3 on their local cable system, the video and/or audio from the hearings should be carried via the Internets right here.

The hearings will also be carried live on Pacifica Radio and via Radio Left.

Yesterday,, another very large citizens activist organization, joined in sending Petitions to its members to collect signatures for John Conyers Letter to Bush, to be delivered bu Conyers himself after tomorrow's hearing. joins who last week collected some 500,000 signatures in 48 hours or so.

As well, the hearings have now been rescheduled to 2:30pm, and have been moved from the DNC offices -- where they had previously been scheduled, when Republicans would not allow a hearing room for the Democrats -- back to a room in the Capitol Building.

Crooks and Liars: Rep. John Conyers gives an excellent interview om teh DSM. CNN provides some of it's more balanced reporting. See the video here.

Media Contacts:

Network and Cable Television

National Radio Programs

National Newspapers


News Services/Wires

In addition to FAIR’s wire list:

Gannet News Service
Chuck Raasch, Political Writer
P: (202) 906-8127
F: (202) 906-8200
1100 New York Avenue NW
Suite 200E
Washington, DC 20005

United Press International
Peter Roff, Sr. Political Analyst
P: (202) 898-8000
F: (202) 898-8048
1510 H Street, NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005

Also, be sure to check out the list of alternative newsweeklies (where you may well find people more receptive to requests for coverage of the DSM hearings)

(Thanks to Catherine at PovertyBarn and Pat at Canadian Perspective for their input.)

Rush is over the top -- and running scared

by Pam

"Hillbilly heroin" addict, GOP mouthpiece/talk show host Rush Limbaugh is now joining the chorus of desperate voices on the Right, the hand-wringers that don't know what to say or do about Bush's completely failed policy in Iraq. Along with the Gary Bauer tack of the media is killing morale (instead of IEDs, blowing our troops and Iraqis apart), he's saying that it's time to blame the messenger. But El Rushbo shared a bright idea with his Dittoheads/Freepi:

A 90-day cease-fire in Iraq -- of negative media coverage. Hahahahahahahaha. More wingnut flopsweat on parade :
I call on the New York Times to lay down their arms. I call on the Democrats in Congress to stop the assaults. I call on weak-kneed Republicans to lower the temperature for 90 days, three measly months.

Lebanon is in the middle of a crucial election sequence. Iran is about to have an even more crucial election. Syrian and Saudi terror backers are losing for signs.

So for 90 days, no attacks on our war effort. Somewhere, deep inside, there has to be something -- a memory of patriotism, a stirring of some national pride -- some remaining sense of right and wrong. [OMG, my sides are splitting from laughing...]

...Positive news, upbeat spirit, a seemingly united United States would send a warning to our enemies, a rallying cry to our allies and a signal to those nations shirking responsibility.

Just a 90-day cease-fire. There's no downside to this. You still have a full-year plus to return to playing politics, to bashing the president, to bashing the administration, bashing the Republican Party, to even bashing America if you want. So much to gain and so little to risk from a 90-day cease-fire. [A sure sign that support is flagging...waah, waah.]

After all, it could take two years or two decades for the wisdom our Middle East policy to bear fruit. Is it too much to ask you on the left to give unity a chance for just 90 days?

No, my friends, I'm not living in a dream world. I know it won't happen but I wanted to put it out there. [And now, his most outrageous statement...]

I know it won't happen because the left in this country considers Christians to be a greater enemy than militant Islamist terrorists.
I think he's still popping that Oxy.

Non-News in the News (As Usual)

by Shakespeare's Sister

The story itself is so not interesting or shocking that only John Howard can make it worth posting about at all:
Terri Schiavo's Brain Was Irreversibly Atrophied

Whaaaaa? But Bill Frist said that it wasn't. I guess his diagnosis via old video methods aren't as foolproof as he led us to believe. Apparently, she was also completely blind, which makes that following the balloon nonsense kind of hard to believe…

So, I guess now we'll hear the apologies rolling in from all those people that accused this poor guy of beating and/or neglecting his wife, right? Right? Yeah, if I were to hold my breath waiting for those, I would probably end up in a persistent vegetative state.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Downing Street Documents: Action Alerts

by Shakespeare's Sister

Lots of stuff happening today.

1. The hearings on the Downing Street Memo have been moved to 2:30 at the U.S. Capitol (still tomorrow). In the interim, please contact your Congress Members and Senators to support the hearings. You can find a list of talking points for lobbying Congress here.

2. Also very important - CONTACT THE MEDIA and politely request that they cover the hearings. Specifically, look for the Washington Bureau Chiefs of the networks, cable news stations, major newspapers, and wires. (My home internet went down again so I've been having trouble doing research - if someone has this information available and can send it to me, I will distribute.)

3. Don't forget about the Live Chat tonight at 8:30 EST at the BBA main page. (Click on Live Chat.)

4. Other important links to check out if you haven't already:

Raw Story's list of the new Downing Street Documents with links to pdfs, players, dates, and key points.

A wiki set up by BBA member Kevin Baas. Very useful information and a good resource. Kevin is very active on the BBA Forums and will no doubt be happy to answer questions concerning the wiki.

And make sure to check in with the Alliance News Thread often at the Forums - Misty is doing a great job of posting current info there. And thanks to Pam for changing the Forum to be accessible by registered users only - we lasted quite awhile without a troll infestation, but nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy.

Thank you all for the amazing work you're doing. Keep it up, keep pushing, keep swarming, and keep the faith.

(And keep sending your posts to The Heretik and Freiheit und Wissen for inclusion in the round-ups!)

Mukhtaran Bibi will not be silenced!

by STP

I wrote about the case of Mukhtaran Bibi here. She is a heroic figure in Pakistan who was raped by her own villagers at the decree of her tribal council for an act her brother "committed." She was supposed to take her own life in a ritual suicide, but instead stood up for herself and women everywhere.

As a result of her strength, those that raped her were imprisoned and she was granted monies that she put to use building schools and other facilities and programs in her village.

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was the source of my information on Ms. Mukhtaran, and I have since followed her story with great interest. I have also contributed to her efforts financially via Mercy Corps and even conversed with her through her representatives in E Mail.

Mukhtaran Bibi is one of the strongest people on this planet for what she endured and fought against - rape, village tradition, an oppressive and blinded government, fear - and rose above all of this to make a difference in the lives of others.

Now, though, Mr. Kristof writes about a serious turn in events. Apparently, President Pervez Musharraf, our ally in the war on terror (don't gag on that line!), does not appreciate Ms. Mukhtaran's outspokenness. Kristoff writes:

"On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest - to
stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line.

After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up. Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there's been no word from her since. Her cellphone doesn't answer."

This incredible and brave woman needs voices. The New York Times offers a louder one than mine, but in following her story, one cannot help caring about Mukhtaran Bibi enough to speak in her defense, especially after reading her E Mails. She refused to succumb to a society that would rape her, praise her attackers and basically sentence her to death. I am certain that she is fighting with equal vigor today to regain her freedom and return to her work.

I pray for her safety and release.

Update: Mukhtaran Bibi has been granted freedom of travel. That's good news, but questions remain as to her safety and treatment.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

Dubya in '08?

by TheGreenKnight

It's not very likely to pass, because amending the Constitution is really hard to do. But there is in fact an Amendment officially in the works, sponsored by, among other people, our pal James Sensenbrenner:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

`Article --

`The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.'.

Just to remind us all, the 22nd Amendment is the one that limits the US President to two terms.

Are we having fun yet?

Hat tip to the Green Lantern, cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Same-sex marriage and New Jersey

by STP

According to this Asbury Park Press story, a New Jersey appellate court has ruled 2 to 1 against seven same-sex couples suing for the right to marry. The bad news is that the ruling went the wrong way. The good news is that it will now be heard by the state Supreme Court, and that court could easily rule in favor of the plaintiffs.

The ruling states:

"Plaintiffs' claim of a constitutional right to state recognition of marriage
between members of the same sex has no foundation in the text of the
constitution, this nation's history and traditions or contemporary standards of liberty and justice."

Tradition? Oh, you mean like slavery was once a tradition in this country?

Judge Donald G. Collester wrote a strong dissent, stating:
"Tradition itself is not a compelling state interest. To deprive plaintiffs of
marrying the person of their choice, a right enjoyed by all others, on the
basis of a tradition of exclusion serves only to unjustifiably and unconstitutionally discriminate against them."

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will see the rationality and legal standing of Collester's argument. If so, New Jersey could join Massachusetts as the only states allowing gay marriage. The New Jersey Supreme Court is fairly progressive and tends to set its own course. This will be an interesting case worth watching closely.

(Cross posted on Poetic Leanings)

Go Hillary

by Lanoire

I don't say that a lot, but via Julie Saltman, I've learned that Hillary Clinton deserves props for her reaction to the flap over Dean's comments:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), when asked about Dean, shrugged and kept walking into the Senate chamber to vote.

The only appropriate response to this kind of trivial bullshit. Good for you, Senator.

(cross-posted to Looking at the Stars)

Coming Soon to a Webcast Near You

by TheGreenKnight

IWTNews: Independent World Television debuts here today. Their plan:
Independent World Television is building the world's first global independent news network. Online and on TV, IWTnews will deliver independent news and real debate -- without funding from governments, corporations or commercial advertising. Internet fundraising makes it possible.
Their founding advisory committee includes 84 distinguished people from seven countries; they include British MP Tony Benn, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, No Logo author Naomi Klein, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, and historian Howard Zinn.

Crossposted at The Green Knight.

A brave new world

by Charlie

This MSNBC article got me thinking.
"The thing to remember is pharmacists are free not to stock and dispense contraceptives, but once they decide to enter that market they don’t have the right to turn people away," said Blagojevich’s spokeswoman, Abby Ottenhoff.


Vander Bleek said he was morally opposed to referrals as well, but said there were pharmacies within a 10-mile radius of his that offer Plan B.
I can see it now: A world where few pharmacies stock contraceptives, and if a woman should need emergency contraceptives, pharmacists are not morally obligated to provide a referral. In such a world, do you suppose the few holdout pharmacies that stock contraceptives will continue to do so for long? Probably they will be socially shamed for providing such services, and birth control will go the way of abortion. "Of course we support a woman's right to birth control," Democrats will say, "but it is only because we support choice, not because of birth control itself. We hate birth control. It's a horrible, horrible thing." Only 20% of the counties in the US will have birth control providers. Sure, some brave pharmacists will risk their lives and cross the protest lines to get to work every morning, but it'll always be in the back of their mind that pharmacies that dispense birth control are at risk of being bombed. Some people will consider those who kill those pharmacists heroes, and most of the others will think that in the very least, it is understandable why someone would feel that way. Common wisdom will hold that nobody wants to use birth control, it's just that some people don't have much of a choice. A large percentage of women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, of course, but most keep it a secret, and don't talk about it. They would probably deny it if asked. Lord knows, we'd have a controversy on our hands if anyone was tried to wear an "I use birth control" t-shirt in public.

I bet men will still be able to get their condoms, though.

Hat tip to Amanda for the link. Cross posted at Shades Of Grey.

Just in case

by Lanoire

Jeanne at Body and Soul has a concise and intelligent deconstruction of Joseph Lelyved's Sunday NY Times Magazine article on torture.

Lelyved seems to be in favor of what he calls "torture lite," something that only exists in the fevered ivory-tower imaginings of himself and Alan Dershowitz and all those other manly pro-torture academics.

I hope I'm not misunderstanding Leleyveld's point, but it seems to be that since we can imagine a possibility in which breaking the law might be the right thing to do, the law should stretch itself to accommodate what is obviously both wrong and counterproductive -- just in case.

And in the name of that "just in case," a fourteen-year-old boy ends up hanging by his wrists, with a burning cigarette pressed into his arm.

Because in Cloud Cuckoo Land, anything can be imagined, and everything is possible.

Yes. "Just in case"? Whatever. If someone is really convinced that the fate of the world depends on extracting information by whatever means necessary from a prisoner (never mind that most experts agree that torture's near useless for interrogation), then that person can bloody well break the fucking law in order to do so.

All this talk of torture lite reminds me of my 10th grade health class. We were discussing rape, and the teacher was telling us exactly what circumstances constitute rape--"even if you've already started having sex, and one partner wants to back out half-way, the other partner must cooperate or it's rape." And a couple of dickbrains in the back of the classroom started coming up with all these fictitious scenarios wherein they could do what the teacher said they shouldn't do and still not be considered rapists: "But what if she doesn't speak English and I don't understand her when she says no? Is it still rape? But what if I'm just about to come and she wants to stop and I don't pull out right away? That's not rape, right?" I mean, if you think hard enough, you could probably come up with some imaginary situation where you could rape someone and not be morally liable for it. But for such a scenario to actually happen in real life is damn near impossible, and we should by no means structure our laws to accomodate it.

This "torture lite" bullshit also reminds me of the FBI's push to be able to snatch all our records without first going to a judge. I remember that FBI spokeswoman who testified to Congress about it was asked if there had ever been a situation where the FBI would have apprehended a dangerous criminal if it weren't for the laws limiting access to records.

The spokeswoman's answer? No, but it could happen, even though it never has.

My reaction: Yeah, well, just because a nation-wide vampire attack has never happened doesn't mean that it won't in the future! Maybe we should spend a certain portion of our defense budget on stakes and garlic, just in case! We wouldn't want to be unprepared, would we? What's that you say? This is unnecessary? But how can you say that? Don't you take the security of the American people seriously?

Bush on the Dems: Get Out of My Way!

by Shakespeare's Sister

So President Bush is pouting because the Dems are, in his words, employing a “philosophy of the stop sign” and an “agenda of the road block.” He also noted that:
Political parties that choose the path of obstruction will not gain the trust of the American people.
Here’s the thing, George. Your party is about to run the country straight off a cliff, and Americans have actually begun to start appreciating the party that’s blocking the road between the crazyass jalopy you’re driving and the unknowable abyss. When all is said and done, I strongly suspect those who braved the oncoming traffic will indeed have gained the trust of the American people, who will soon, whether you like it or not, find out just how deep your betrayals really run.


Aside…check out this sentence from the same Reuters article:
"On issue after issue, they (the Democrats) stand for nothing except obstruction," Bush said at the annual President's Dinner, a $23 million fund-raiser attended by Republican leaders, party donors, and a blond porn star and former California gubernatorial candidate named Mary Carey.
Read: “On issue after issue, they (the Democrats) stand for nothing except obstruction,” Bush had the unmitigated temerity to say while parting down with a fucking porn star and his fatcat friends who made his coffers flush with cash while Afghanistan faces a cholera epidemic, Iraq continues to degenerate into an ever more horrible quagmire, the economy sags, the genocides and AIDS crises in Africa wage on unabated, our energy crisis worsens, more Americans continue to lose health coverage and fall into poverty, schools go unfunded, and a national civil culture war fueled by Bush’s extremist agenda rages on. Oh, and did we mention a porn star was there?

The tide, my friends, has turned.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Italy and mandatory pregnancy

by Lanoire

Via TwistedChick, I've learned that Italy has a law forcing women to implant all embryos fertilized through IVF, and that on Monday the Italian people (thanks to the influence of the Catholic Church) rejected a referendum to change the law. (Ed.: KathyF points out that it wasn't rejected exactly, it's just that not enough people turned out to pass it).

You can't get IVF unless you're married. You can't use donated eggs or sperm. You can't employ a surrogate mother. You can't fertilize more than three eggs at a time, and you have to implant all of the resulting embryos simultaneously.

Seem weird to you? It shouldn't. As Saletan points out, the law makes a certain psychopathic kind of sense:

It's easy to think that the people who wrote the law must have been crazy. Then you wouldn't have to worry about the same thing happening in your country. But the logic of the Italian law is eerily simple. It tries to make IVF as much like natural conception as possible. No surrogates or donated eggs, because a married man shouldn't have sex with another woman. No donated sperm, because a married woman shouldn't have sex with another man. No more than three embryos at a time, because nature almost never works that way, and every embryo you don't implant or carry to term is a forsaken human life. All embryos implanted quickly in your womb, even if they're doomed, because that's where they'd be if you'd made them the old-fashioned way, and you wouldn't even know—because you wouldn't be able to run all those fancy lab tests on them—that they were sick.

It's as though you weren't using IVF. But you are using IVF, and that's what causes the nightmare. As a practical matter, you could run the lab tests—so the law has to stop you from running them or from doing anything with the results. The embryos aren't inside you; they're in the dishes. To restore them to their "natural" place, the law has to move them through your vagina and into your uterus. The only thing standing in its way, potentially, is your refusal. Therefore, your refusal must be outlawed.

Tell me that this logic isn't reminiscent of the American religious right. Go on, try and make that argument. Stick your fingers in your ears, bury your head in the sand and chant "It can't happen here," even while the Christian right marches on and our male allies talk about how abortion isn't a core issue.

But, of course, it can. Read the whole article--Saletan explores the similarities of the Italian scenario with our own. And remember, Italy's less religious than we are as a nation.

Italy's lack of religiosity means that politicians are refreshingly candid about the motives for this law. They don't make up bullshit about "innocent human lives" or what the fuck ever. They're absolutely honest about their real reasons:

"Italy's grandmothers became mothers, and every uterus was for rent," an Italian politician explained. "We needed to take back control."

"We" meaning the state, of course. And "control" meaning control over women's bodies, the bodies of these grandmothers and mothers. We can't have women renting out their own uteruses when everyone knows that women are public property! (The person making this statement was a woman, Dorina Bianchi. I suggest we have a public vote on what Bianchi does with her uterus. I recommend a hysterectomy, as I wouldn't really like her to breed).

I'll refrain from making the obvious joke about Mussolini, but make no mistake: this is fascism, pure and simple.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Gary Bauer: it's the media's fault that military recruiting is tanking

by Pam

Whining Bauer: "But all we see on the news are stories highlighting the inevitable mistakes, blunders and setbacks of war."

Give me a f*cking break. A couple of weeks ago I pulled out the tiny violin for Gary Bauer and his rant that he's "concerned about the possibility of real persecution in the United States toward conservative Christians." Now, wingnut web rag AgapePress reports that Little Gary's whining that the recent news of plummeting military recruitment figs are the fault of the media. The flop sweat is all over these quotes.
...the mainstream media "can barely hide their glee" that the U.S. military is having trouble filling its ranks. "If you are an 18-year-old American watching the news, you seldom, if ever, hear about a heroic U.S. soldier who rescues a wounded comrade, captures a terrorist thug or saves the lives of civilians -- even though those things are happening every day," Bauer observes.

"On the other hand, every young American has seen countless hours of coverage of Abu Ghraib prison guards on their way to jail, and demonstrators calling U.S. soldiers war criminals," he says.

Bauer points out that U.S. armed forces have liberated the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that as a result, millions of people in those countries have had the first opportunity of their lives to vote for their own leaders.

"But all we see on the news are stories highlighting the inevitable mistakes, blunders and setbacks of war," he laments, adding that the liberal media views the recruitment difficulties as just "one more piece of evidence" that the war in Iraq is "illegitimate and a failure."

"The amazing thing isn't that there is a recruitment shortfall," Bauer concludes. "The amazing thing is that with such a hostile media culture and the universal disdain of our elites, the American military, as it always has, is getting the job done."
Desperation. I'd hardly call wingnut NC Rep Walter Jones -- who is calling for a timetable for withdrawal because of Chimpy's failed policies -- part of the media OR the elite that Bauer mewls about.

Spreading Censoring Democracy

by Shakespeare's Sister

Seriously, what is up with Microsoft? First they throw gays to the wolves, then we find out makes-me-Ralph Reed is on their payroll, and now they’re voluntarily cooperating with Chinese authorities to censor content, including words such as "freedom," "democracy," "demonstration," "human rights," and "Taiwan independence."

There are, of course, two sides to this:
"If you want to deal with the Chinese, you have to deal with their rules," said William Makower, CEO of Panlogic a marketing consultancy with operations in China.

"It is all very well to have high-minded ideals about how you want the Chinese to behave, but opposing China is going to be counter-productive."

"Microsoft is being pragmatic in its approach," said Mr Makower. "It is not up to it to make political statements."
Well, as we established during Microsoft’s whole legislative debacle in April, corporations, in fact, make political statements by engaging in social activism all the time. Here’s a refresher:
[I]n response to those who suggest that social activism isn’t the responsibility of corporations, I would remind them that any time a corporation (or group of corporations) lobbies Congress for something like deregulation on pollutants or stricter bankruptcy laws, or against family leave or universal healthcare, that is social activism. Corporations are collectively one of the primary social activists in this country; it's just that they tend to be pro-corporate and anti-society. The redistribution of taxation is a primary example of that of which I speak. A century ago, the vast majority of federal taxes were paid by corporations; now the vast majority is paid by individuals. That is a massive societal shift. We didn't lobby for that—corporations did.
Being “pragmatic,” I’ve noticed, is always the explanation when doing the right thing might mean making a little less money.
According to Reporters Without Borders, China is using a system called Night Crawler to patrol web journals and make sure that only registered blogs are published. Unregistered blogs will be shut down.

"Following Yahoo, here is a second American internet giant giving way to the Chinese authorities and agreeing to self-censorship", said the group in a statement.

"The lack of ethics on the part of these companies is extremely worrying. Their management frequently justifies collaboration with Chinese censorship by saying that all they are doing is obeying local legislation."

"We believe that this argument does not hold water and that these multinationals must respect certain basic ethical principles, in whatever country they are operating."
It’s truly pathetic that’s considered a radical notion. I guess I’m a radical after all.

But then again, what would I know? I do this for free and can barely pay my bills. If I were a major for-profit international corporation, or perhaps even if I made my living as a blogger, maybe I wouldn’t have any ethics, either.

(Hat tip to John Howard, who’s got his own commentary on the issue you should check out.)

Must-Reads on the DSM

by Shakespeare's Sister


A number of citizen groups and Democratic politicians are launching an initiative to investigate information contained in newly unearthed British memos on the war in Iraq, and to demand answers from President Bush. The memorandums provide further evidence that Bush's administration had no reasonable plan for achieving stability or rebuilding Iraq after the war, and build on earlier memos that state it was "fixing" intelligence information to remove Saddam Hussein months before the war started…


When asked about the July 23, 2002, minutes at their press conference last week in Washington, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair did a good job of obfuscating—enough to mislead our corporate press into the all-too-familiar he-said, she-said reporting. What went unnoticed was the fact that in the process, the two leaders unintentionally acknowledged the authenticity of the minutes, which read like a meeting of Mafioso. They may think no one will read the actual minutes. In that, they are dead wrong…

Editor & Publisher:

Just as the U.S. media -- albeit a month late -- scramble to get on top of the so-called “Downing Street Memo,” the Sunday Times in London unveiled another leaked document which confirms and goes behind the message of the memo…

The Nation:

It's not exactly a news flash that the Bush Administration lied to the public before the invasion of Iraq. What should be on front pages, though, is new proof of the Bush Administration's lies brought to light by the previously unknown Downing Street Minutes, recently obtained and printed in the Times of London. (The Downing Street Memo is a transcript of minutes of a secret meeting chaired by Tomy Blair in Britain in July of 2002 to discuss preparations and propaganda before going to war. It was marked "Secret and strictly personal--UK eyes only.")…

The Heretik:

GEORGE W. BUSH: He’s a Pistol.
And His Own Words Are the Real Downing Street Smoking Gun.
People say things in unguarded moments. The idea that a sitting President could poke his head in a briefing meeting National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is conducting with three Republican senators and say this is astounding. If you want to know whether George W. Bush had decided on war well before he now claims, what more proof do you need? Why has no one asked Bush directly about this?

(Go read it. You’ll be wondering the same thing.)

And here are a couple of other rather interesting things…

From the FSU News:

For the last month and a half, a gargantuan news story has been slowly gaining coverage in the U.S., though it should have exploded across the front pages as soon as it was reported. In the British press, it was immediately recognized for the bombshell that it was, but here, it has taken the efforts of concerned Americans demanding that the press and Congress acknowledge and pursue this scandal…

A letter to the editor of the Nashville City Paper:

Bush's smoking gun
The Downing Street Memo, the big giant huge smoking gun that confirms that Bush lied us into war. Why it's not on every front page in the country I don't understand. This is way bigger than Watergate ever was. People have >died because this president lied us into a war.

An educated citizenry is crucial to a healthy democracy. People in this country aren't getting the information they need to make informed decisions. The American people deserve better from their media. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Cecily A. Letendre

Seen anything else? Let me know in comments.

And be sure to check the round-ups at The Heretik and Freiheit und Wissen to see what other bloggers are writing about the Downing Street Memos. CN Todd at F&W’s got an especially superb and inspiring post today as part of the round-up you’ll definitely want to read.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

U.S. Senate apologizes for shame of lynchings

by Pam

It's never too late to apologize. This is a shameful, evil practice that is part of our history, like it or not. It's especially painful because Southern Democrats were the ones that continually held up passage of anti-lynching laws proposed by Congress. I highly recommend James Allen's Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America. This was the book that spurred Senators. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and George Allen (R-VA) to put forth this measure that passed yesterday.
The Senate on Monday formally apologized for having rejected decades of pleas to make lynching a federal crime as scores victims' descendants watched from the chamber's gallery. On a voice vote and without opposition, the Senate passed a resolution expressing its regrets to the relatives as well as to the nearly 5,000 Americans -- mostly black males -- who were documented as having been lynched from 1880 to 1960.

These deaths occurred without trials, mostly in the South, often with the knowledge of local officials who allowed mob lynchings to become picture-taking, public spectacles. During this period, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress, three of which passed the House of Representatives.

But despite the support of the legislation by seven U.S. presidents, the measures died in the Senate with much of the opposition coming from southern lawmakers who raised procedural roadblocks. Such legislation would have made lynching a federal crime and allowed the U.S. government to prosecute those responsible, including local law enforcement officers.
It should be noted that, even in 2005, 20 of the 100 senators had not signed a statement of support of the measure shortly before a vote was taken on a nearly empty Senate floor. Who are these people? Maybe they need a reminder of what we're talking about here.

[UPDATE, from Gary at Facing South.]:
Just before the resolution passed on Monday, 18 more senators signed on, bringing to 79 the total of sponsors and cosponsors (THOMAS lists Allen as a cosponsor, though some sources name him a sponsor along with Landrieu). Nine of these procrastinators were from Southern states:

Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mel Martinez (R-FL)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
John Warner (R-VA)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

These are the bigots who refused to sign on to cosponsor a freaking apology:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Kay Hutchinson (R-TX)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
From The Cultural Function of Lynching Photography:
A particularly poignant and singularly horrific illustration of this as a primarily white working and sharecropping phenomenon can be seen in figures thirteen- fifteen, a series of postcards of The Lynching of Jesse Washington from Waco, TX in 1916. The first postcard shows the mob, reportedly 15,000 strong, clamoring for a better view (note the man being held up by a friend, center right). The next postcard shows the horribly burnt body of Jesse Washington, a seventeen year old retarded boy accused of raping and murdering a white woman. According to news reports and eyewitness accounts:

. . . Washington was beaten with shovels and bricks. . .[he] was castrated, and his ears were cut off. A tree supported the iron chain that lifted him above the fire. . . Wailing, the boy attempted to climb up the skillet hot chain. For this, the men cut off his fingers. (Allen, 174)

As if this were not enough, the back of the postcard (fig. 15) reads: “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.” (The cross is now an ink smudge.) Joe has been identified as Joe Myers, an “oiler” at car factory in Waco (Allen 174).
What was I thinking though. Of course there are Americans who have a problem with a simple apology for this legislative moral black hole in the past. Look at these Freeper comments.

Actual Freeper Quotes™ and more here:

"Beg pardon, wasn't that illegal at the time *already*? This is an endorsement for the idea that Uncle Sammo has to create some special law for every thing that can go wrong. Then we wonder why we get things like a petty thief charged with 10 different crimes for the same act."

"It's seems to me that this lady [Doria Johnson, whose great-great grandfather was lynched in South Carolina], as well as the rest of us, should be more concerned about the days we live in, rather than dwelling on stuff that happened 150 yrs ago."

"That same Senate that is going to "apologize" is busy everyday trying to figure out ways to tax us more, and impinge more on our liberty."

"The apology pisses me off on so many levels. All the people who are mentioned in this past event are dead. There were laws against murder in 1916 so the senate did not need to have a special lynch law. Do not apologize for me because I refuse to acknowledge it. The senate is speaking on behalf of the American people because that is what they do. I was not hear nor was even one of my ancestors. Do not speak of apologies to anyone unless you are the one perpetrating the event."

"I suggest we all write letters to our senators decrying our outrage on this issue. I will write my two pinko's even though I know I will be pissing in the wind."

"She is a serial liar like all the rest of these race hustlers. She was brought up to hate white people. I thought only white people could be bigots."

"Lynching is is already illegal and, IMHO, there is no need to apologize for not creating redundant laws that would further clog up our legal system."

"These Senators are so self-absorbed and worried about their image and the PC left that they have forgotten what their job under the constitution is IMHO."

"This burns my ass so badly I cannot see straight."

"This is getting to be ridiculous. NOW they'll want money. Maybe I should dig around the family background and ask them to apologize for wrongs and right them with money too. They've opened the door for that."

"Why was it necessary for the whole Senate to apologize? I can only think of one Senator who could have possibly committed a lynching. Wouldn't it have been enough for Robert Byrd (D-KKK) to say he was sorry?"

The Lynching of Lige Daniels (1920)

"They haven't apologised for mugging and raping yet. The Senate never lynched anyone. Most people never lynched anyone. This is ridiculous and insulting to african americans."

"Oh come on! It's just an apologize and they deserve to get at least that."

"Yes it is ridiculous. It is ridiculous that white men today have deveoped such thin skins over losing a little bit of control over the US, that they can not admitt to being wrong even when it is so obvious to God and mankind."

"While it is true that it is murder to lynch someone, it was considerd ok in southern states from the civil war until the 1960s. It is good that we are telling it like it is and apologizing for a very corrupt time in history. However, I think they should have made it evident that the democrats were the ones who lynched people and not republicans. The republicans however share the blame because they did not speak out and try to stop these atrocities."

"This is a really tough issue for me. I believe in limited government, especially at the federal level. But when states refused to prosecute these murders, it corrodes or destroys the idea that states should be allowed substantial powers to run their own affairs. Unpunished lynchings were so shocking to the conscience of the nation that they've helped upset our whole federalist system of government -- and I can't be completely unhappy about that."

"Isn't "whites killing minorities" very rare these days? Isn't "minorities killing whites" very common these days? This is why it's so important to dwell on the past, so that it can blind us of the present."

"If everyone will was only the senate...not the house, nor the president. There are lots of reasons why the senate is a total waste and worthless to the American people. This all goes back to 1776 and the fact that small states wanted equal power and representation of larger states. As for being sorry for lynchings...there are another 1,000 things to be sorry about concerning the last 100 years of American history...I'm curious if we will have weekly sessions or perhaps a committee of help speed through these sorrows."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Media coverage of the Downing Street Memo: Not a conspiracy

by Charlie

Via Dadahead, I came across this LA Times article about the Downing Street Memo.
After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. (By mentioning 200 e-mails, I do not intend to brag. I'm sure Tom Friedman got many more.) It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk-radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.

Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.

It takes, in short, what Hillary Clinton once called a vast conspiracy.

I think this illustrates a lesson that every person who is going to write about the DSM, especially if you happen to be a member of the Big Brass Alliance, needs to take to heart. This is not anything so grand as a conspiracy, so let's make sure we don't come across that way. There are any number of reasons that newspapers have chosen to ignore this story. In my opinion, most of them are weak excuses. But the last thing we want to do is to upset the members of the corporate media whose assistance we need to bring this issue to the light of day.

Remember, the media are our allies in this fight, even if they were a little slow -- okay, a lot slow -- to pick up the story.

Be careful how you frame this issue. We don't need any more enemies than we already have.

Cross posted at Shades Of Grey

No, actually, it's not about the money at all

by Charlie

Steve Gilliard completely misses greater the point of the Daily Kos story in a post titled It's about the money. His take is that since Kos uses ad revenue to pay his hosting costs, which, he reminds us, isn't free for a site as large as Daily Kos, Kos's reaction is somehow acceptable. I find it interesting that before Steve actually gets around to the topic of money, he bounces around from topic to topic, each an unrelated apologia for Kos's behavior.

Since Steve's post does a good job of bringing all the common misunderstandings together under one post, I'll take the opportunity to address each of his points one at a time.

The problem is that people have come to expect that when they express a concern, it will be considered and taken seriously, instead of being told to pound sand. Sometimes, they get told to pound sand.

Kos isn't going to explain why that ad wasn't going anywhere, but I think you deserve to understand the issues here. I see this from the publisher's side and I think that's the real issue here.
I'm seriously at a loss here. Why would you possibly think that people should expect to be told to pound sand when expressing concerns about something? This is perhaps the most unexplicable paragraph in the entire post. I simply don't agree. I was taught that I should treat my friends with respect. Perhaps Steve and Kos were taught differently.

But I don't think so, because Steve goes on to say that, although Kos isn't going to explain anything, he thinks we deserve to know, so he's going to explain it to us. So which is it, Steve? We should expect to be told to pound sand, or we deserve to know?
Second, let me say this: if the biggest concern in your world is a TBS ad, consider yourself lucky. You must have an otherwise perfect life. If the ONLY thing you have to complain about is an ad for a show you will avoid, I'm happy for you. And he was far nicer than I am to people who tell me how to run my site. But I think you think this is a simple issue and it is not.

This is nothing more than a polite rephrasing Kos's "Me, I'll focus on the important shit." It is insulting that you assume people think this is a simple issue, without actually bothering to find out what they think. Although you have thought through the complexities, you assume that women who find the ad offensive haven't. This is a perfect example of sexism in action. Kos or Steve had a great opportunity to open a dialogue, but instead they both assumed that they already knew enough to pass judgement.
Frankly, this "women are degraded" line holds little weight with me. You may not like it, but it isn't necessarily considered degrading by all women and what you may find to be offensive is not offensive to everyone. Expecting Kos to drop an ad because it offends you is well, silly. You consider it to exploitative, maybe your friends do as well. You assume you speak for people other than yourself. You don't. You don't know how most of his readers felt, and since he told you to piss off with little reaction, they chose to support him.

Steve apparently hasn't noticed that many women who have weighed in on this issue aren't as upset about the content of the ad as they are at having their concerns contemptously dismissed. In the comments on this post at the Big Brass Blog, several women who say that very thing. Amanda says it. Shelley says it. Lauren says it.

That's not to take anything away from the validity of the original complaint. It's pretty obvious to me that the ad is sexist, and I'm a little confused as to how Steve justifies denying that. Both Poverty Barn and After School Snack have strong feelings about this. Rana's post at Frogs and Ravens is especially good.

Finally, after all of that, we come to Steve's main argument. The site is expensive to run, he says, and Kos needs the money. This is how he runs Daily Kos, and this is how he pays the rent. Why not allow TBS and pay for liberal activism with a cheesy ad?

You know what, Steve? The time for this argument has passed. It passed over a week ago, in fact, when Kos squandered the opportunity to explain his reasons for keeping the ad, opting instead for name calling and insults. In case you hadn't noticed, a week is practically an eternity in the blogosphere. This issue has done nothing but pick up traction since it first came up. Don't you wonder why that is? Let me tell you. It's because this isn't about money. It's about respect.

Cross posted at Shades Of Grey

Stone, Sand, and the Writ of History

by Dark Wraith

In his monumental lecture series, The History of the English Language, Stanford University professor Seth Lerer describes an incident while he lived in Iceland, where he was learning the language still spoken much like the Old Norse of "Viking" lore. Dr. Lerer said that he had been somewhat depressed for days, and the woman of the house in which he was staying finally told him that he was mæddursjúkur. Lerer immediately took this compound word to mean "mothersick"—as in "homesick"—which he was. The problem with this translation was that, in Icelandic, "mother" is móðir, so the variant mæddur must be quite old, a variant of some sort. It obviously carries the implication of "mother," but it must be either just an ancient fossil of earlier language, or it must carry some special meaning.

It was only later that he came to understand that mæddursjúkur doesn't mean "homesick," it means "depressed"; and the implication is that a depressed person is crazy: mæddur constellates with "mother," no doubt; but it also constellates with "mad," as in the madness of the insane.

Most of the languages of Europe, and some even elsewhere, all derive from a hypothetical modeling language called "Proto-Indo-European," supposedly spoken thousands of years ago by tribes living around the Black Sea before a diaspora sent them in all directions, giving rise to many languages and language groups. The Indo-European languages are strikingly similar in many ways, but it wasn't until the 18th Century that the similarities began to be noted as phenomenally regular rules with respect to how consonants and vowels are changed in pronunciation from one language to another. Words carry meaning; but they also carry history, most importantly, the history of how peoples long ago saw the world and how modern speakers code those same world views in their spoken languages. Everyone knows that words are the most important way to express thoughts; but what people don't notice so much is the words convey thoughts back to the speaker. Words—the way they relate to one another, the way they sound like one another—are as much, if not more, a tool to teach their speakers how to see the world as they are a way for those speakers to tell others how the world is seen.

The word "hysterical" constellates with the word "hysterectomy," for example. Now, a hysterical person is crazy, but a person having a hysterectomy is necessarily a woman. It is that quality of being a woman—of having a womb—that must bind with the quality of craziness that vexes some people. Being "mothersick" is an illness of mothers, but mothers are women; thus, to be mæddursjúkur is to be depressed, and therefore crazy, because that's a quality of people who are women.

On the other hand, languages of the Indo-European family have words for the qualities of men, as well: virtuous constellates with virile and even virgin, all to the effect of thought-casting men in these languages as good, honorable, and strong of body and will.

◊                ◊                ◊

Karen Kwiatkowski was a lieutenant colonel tasked in her last assignment before retiring to Bush Administration appointee Douglas Feith as a military-political affairs liaison. Mr. Feith, a staunch neo-conservative, was deeply involved in crafting the policy to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Working within the Pentagon, Mr. Feith used military intelligence facilities and results to the purpose of developing information that would then be passed on to political leaders within the United States as well as abroad.

While working within the office to which she had been tasked, Lt. Col. Kwiatkowski started writing, first under pseudonym, then under her own name, about what was happening in Mr. Feith's office, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Under-Secretary for Policy. In both broad stroke and in precise detail, she described not only the systematic construction of refined data presentations that were to be passed up the chain of command, but she also gave specific information about the removal of information in a systematic, calculated, and sustained and ultimately successful effort to construct from the whole cloth of ideology what would appear to be unambiguous, stark, empirical evidence that Saddam Hussein had to be removed, and that the removal was urgent lest the threat he posed become catastrophe.

On more than one occasion, Lt. Col. Kwiatkowski stated something far more troubling, but her words would be not be understood to most civilians, and perhaps not even to some military personnel. She described what she called the erosion of "good order and discipline" in the Office of the Under-Secretary. That term is not just a collection of words used in an off-hand manner. "Good order and discipline" is a military concept, a way of conducting affairs at all times and in all situations to ensure not merely procedural integrity, but survival itself. On the battlefield, "good order and discipline" is what distinguishes a professional soldiering class from a violent, armed mob. More importantly, if a group of soldiers—be it a squad or a battalion—becomes subject to overwhelming countervailing force, it is the "good order and discipline," and only the "good order and discipline," that keeps the worst of all possible emotions from overcoming the soldiers: if panic sets in, it is only a matter of time—perhaps no more than seconds—before the troops start to scatter; and if they scatter, they will then be cut down in their flight. It is "good order and discipline" that prevents a difficult, perhaps impossible, battlefield situation from becoming a rout.

Karen Kwiatkowski saw good order and discipline slipping away, as Mr. Feith and his ideologically sympathetic underlings pulled the work of his office away from professionalism and objectivity, and towards abject advocacy. The wholesale disposal of his portfolio meant nothing to this man who was there to pull in data and from it manufacture disinformation to disseminate to people of substantial influence. Karen Kwiatkowski was in no way vague: her descriptions went all the way down to describing manipulations within PowerPoint presentations.

Karen Kwiatkowski, more than two years ago, described not just the lie that was being created to lead America to war, but exactly how and by whom it was being created as a monolithic, indisputable, compelling call to war. She named names. She cited documents. She detailed events. She did all of that. In a March, 2004, retrospective entitled "The new Pentagon papers" in Salon, the now-retired lieutenant colonel wrote, in part, as follows:
From May 2002 until February 2003, I observed firsthand the formation of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and watched the latter stages of the neoconservative capture of the policy-intelligence nexus in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. This seizure of the reins of U.S. Middle East policy was directly visible to many of us working in the Near East South Asia policy office, and yet there seemed to be little any of us could do about it... I saw a narrow and deeply flawed policy favored by some executive appointees in the Pentagon used to manipulate and pressurize the traditional relationship between policymakers in the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies.

She saw it as it was being done, and she wrote about it. And yet, the war happened.

And now, somehow, some politicians in Washington stand shocked—just shocked—by leaked British memos revealing British policy-makers saying that the Iraqi war was started on "fixed" intelligence.

Lieutenant Colonel Kwiatkowski didn't whisper what she knew into a reporter's notebook. She didn't preen herself before cameras. She did not swagger on the American stage as a polemic. She wasn't even given the dignity of being part of the craven cry to "Support Our Troops" because everyone knows that real troops are the ones with guns out there doing the "real" military stuff, not the tens of thousands behind the scenes doing everything they can to ensure that "good order and discipline" are maintained.

She spoke her peace as the streams of patriot blood prepared to pool and then flow, eventually coursing their way through the cities, the towns, the prairies, the hills, and the very psyche of an America taken to war on lies whose crafting she exposed to anyone who would have listened. Now, those streams of blood come down as a roiling tide to this day; and the people of importance stand at the banks not in groveling atonement for what they allowed, but rather in denial or its miserable cousin, outrage. And that blood of some seventeen hundred Americans and a hundred thousand Iraqis is paid in the miserly fee of controversy.

Now, in this moment, the people who matter will carve into granite what will come to be the history of this age, while the words of Karen Kwiatkowski wash away in forgotten winds of yesterday.

After all, Lieutenant Colonel Kwiatkowski was just mæddursjúkur, anyway, now wasn't she?

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

I Love German Food

by Shakespeare's Sister

Check out this juxtaposition in a story about Blair’s trip to meet with other European leaders:
Putin, who often miscues publicly by using exotic language, reacted sharply when
a reporter linked human rights abuses and corruption in Africa with the situation in Russia.

"We know that in some African countries there was a practice of eating political opponents. We not have such a tradition or culture and I think a comparison between Africa and Russia is not quite fair," he said.

Blair was to dine with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder later on Monday in Berlin.
Really? Who’s on the menu?

Note to the author: perhaps “meet” would have been better than “dine” in this particular instance.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Mayor Jim West to Join the Ranks of “EX-GAYS”

by JJ

Well, a new low for the Mayor of Spokane! After 30 years of chasing boys and young men it has taken Jim West a record breaking 2 weeks to completely reform, find a relationship with God and stop his wicked ways… Oh and he lost 10 pounds.

West says he's changed his ways
Mike Prager / Staff writer
© The Spokesman-Review 2005

Spokane Mayor Jim West said he's found a new relationship with God and has redoubled his effort to manage the city in a new e-mail made public on Friday.
The e-mail dated Thursday surfaced during Friday's broadcast of the Mark Fuhrman Show on KGA Radio.

West later on Friday confirmed that he wrote the e-mail in response to a citizen who sent him a message telling him to resign, pack his luggage and move to San Francisco "where your lifestyle is accepted." (…)

In Thursday's e-mail, West wrote:

"I appreciate your comments but like King David in the Bible I will be a better mayor now. I will be more focused and more driven to see this city succeed in all areas. My faith in Jesus Christ and the Lord tell me this will be done.

"This episode has done four good things for me so far and more are on the way.

"1. I have stopped a behavior I wanted to stop but couldn't do alone but didn't know how to ask for help to end. Now I'm sleeping better and am more focused on important things, particularly my job.

"2. The early stress took away my appetite and I lost 10 pounds. Now I'm exercising and watching what I eat better. I've lost five more pounds and hope to lose another 10. I feel better and healthier than I have in years.

"3. Friends I haven't heard from in years, including former Boy Scouts, have called to wish me well and encourage me. Many have written or have called to let me know the difference I made in their lives and the help I have given them. Several attributed their current success to guidance and advice I had given them at a critical point in their life. I've learned I have many new friends as well. It's nice to hear this before you are laying in a coffin at your own funeral.

"4. I've decided to fill the emptiness in my life that I was trying to fill through other means with a relationship with God. I'm reading a proverb and three psalms a day and am attending church on a regular basis for the first time in my life and it's been wonderful and I've felt very welcomed. I also meet weekly with a few pastors and they are very supportive.

"I am also leading the senior staff of the city of Spokane to new heights and demanding results on a fast track. I don't know how many more days the voters of Spokane will give me as the mayor so I have a lot to get done in a very short period of time.

"Again, thank you for your concern. God has forgiven me and that's all I need."

James E. West, Mayor, City of Spokane.

In other Mayor West related news, the recall hearing is scheduled for today.

The case is being heard by visiting Benton-Franklin County Superior Court Judge Craig Matheson because local judges have recused themselves.

At today’s hearing, Matheson said he will probably ask Sullivan about the factual basis for her claims that West should face recall for alleged misconduct. "I don’t intend to weigh the credibility" of the claims, he said last week.
State law requires that Matheson determine whether they are sufficient to warrant a recall.

The petition contends West should be ousted by the voters for three reasons:

•That he abused his computer privileges by using city equipment to "interact with young men on a gay Web site."

•That he "solicited internships for young men for his own personal uses."

•That he "has been under the spotlight for inappropriate behavior for quite a few years and is hurting the reputation of the city."

The memo from West’s attorneys counters that the first allegation in the petition doesn’t identify a law or standard that would make the conduct improper or document how it interfered with his official duties as mayor. "There is no basis to conclude that the alleged computer use constitutes misfeasance," it argues.

On a positive note, Spokane Gay Pride and Rainbow festival was a HUGE success this year. This year was the first year for motorized floats and we were actually parading downtown instead of tucked silently away in a seedy neighborhood. In the past the largest crowd has been around 700 people and participants, this years estimate was 1500! (probably because this was the first year there was a beer garden…). We are small compared to the Seattle parade which will likely attract a quarter million spectators and participants this year!

Dishonoring Texas

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Excellent editorial from The Washington Post:

Choice lines bolded by Julien's List

THE DAY TEXAS Gov. Rick Perry (R) ceremonially signed a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as an exclusively heterosexual matter, he may not have been intending to spit in the faces of countless men and women fighting for their country in Iraq. But that is what he did. Mr. Perry was asked by a reporter what he had to say "to gays and lesbians who are serving in the military right now in Iraq who are going to come back to Texas and may not be entitled to the same rights as the rest of us?" Mr. Perry responded that "Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live."

In some sense, the governor was merely stating a fact: Texas law forbids same-sex marriage, so a returning veteran who wants state recognition for a lifelong relationship does have to go elsewhere. But the governor was doing more than describing a law that treats one class of people differently from all others; he was wallowing in it.

Foes of same-sex marriage often emphasize that they have nothing against gays and lesbians but are merely trying to protect the sanctity of a traditional institution. Some are certainly sincere in this protestation. But in much of the "defense of marriage" world, the rhetoric of tolerance is paper-thin.

Mr. Perry, a veteran himself, did not take the trouble to honor the service of gay people now in harm's way or mention that they were welcome in Texas. He didn't mention the need to respect different life choices or note that same-sex couples might have deeply committed relationships. His message was simple: If you don't like it, leave.

It's a message unworthy of the governor of any state.

No Different from the Nazis...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Christian Coalition: Gays Should Wear Warning Labels...

Scared yet, middle America? They will come after one group only, you think?? What's to stop them coming after YOU next?

And we won't be there to fight for you...

An open letter to Markos Moulitsas

by Charlie

When I first heard about Kos reacting negatively to feminists, I was tempted to ignore it in hopes that it would just go away by itself. In case you haven't paid attention to the shit storm that it kicked up, Kos's post about it sums up the situation nicely:

So over the weekend, certain segments of the community have erupted in anger over the TBS ad for their reality show, the Real Gilligan's Island. Apparently, having two women throw pies at each other, wrestle each other in a sexy, lesbianic manner, then having water splashed on their ample, fake bosoms is degrading to women. Or something like that.

Whatever. Feel free to be offended. I find such humorless, knee-jerk reactions, to be tedious at best, sanctimonious and arrogant at worst. I don't care for such sanctimony from Joe Lieberman, I don't care for it from anyone else. Some people find such content offensive. Some people find it arousing. Some people find it funny. To each his or her own.

But I am not Lieberman. I won't sit there and judge pop culture and act as gatekeeper to what I think is "appropriate", and what isn't.

And I certainly won't let the sanctimonious women's studies set play that role on this site. Feel free to be offended. Feel free to claim that I'm somehow abandoning "progressive principles" by running the ad. It's a free country. Feel free to storm off in a huff. Other deserving bloggers could use the patronage.

Me, I'll focus on the important shit.

p.s. And congratulations -- the more people have bitched about the ad, the more successful it has become. It is now the most successful ad in the history of this site, with close to 8,000 click throughs over the low-traffic weekend. And, now that you have demanded I respond to the ad, thousands more will click through to see what the big deal is all about.

Sometimes, the best way to kill something you disagree with is to ignore it.

I haven't bothered to actually watch the ad -- and after that little bit of nastiness in the postscript, I'm certainly not about to watch it now -- but by all accounts, it it isn't any worse than your average beer commercial. Which is to say, it's sexist crap. The sad thing is that commercials featuring women pie fighting wouldn't really be offensive to anybody if there existed ads that portrayed men in the same way. But as it is, the portrayal of women -- but never men -- as a sex objects only serves to reinforce the entrenched patriarchy that so many in our country, including Kos, don't think is a problem.

And that's the funny thing. Whereas I'm having a hard time mustering more than apathy for the ad itself, Kos's reaction to it is a completely different story. This whole thing actually reminds me of Martha Burke taking on the Masters. The fact that membership to the Augusta National Golf Club is open exclusively to men didn't strike me as that big of a deal until Hootie Johnson reacted with such negative vitriol. If you think sexism isn't a problem, just follow that link. Likewise, I didn't really think the pie fight ad was that big of a deal until Kos wrote the above codswallop. It is all too apparent now that any concerns regarding Kos giving the impression that he approved of sexism have been vindicated in spades. If anything, he's shown that the concerns weren't far reaching enough. The original complaint was giving him the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that people might get a mistaken impression of sexism. Kos has made it clear that it is no mistake at all.

Whenever an A-list blogger like Kos does something like this, the closet sexists come crawling out of the woodwork to rally behind their Goliath, and this time has been no different. The predictable cry has been that feminists are dividing the Democratic party. Isn't it a shame, they ask, that we can't just have a sense of humor about sexism like they do? They aren't sexist, they assure us, so obviously the claims to the contrary are unreasonable and not worth discussing. If someone happens to disagree, perhaps they should stop being so selfish and think of the party.

So I have some things to say to Kos.

Sanctimonious like Lieberman? A better analogy can be found by looking at Republican tactics. Republicans use the Christian Right every election cycle. They throw them a few votes, and for awhile the GOP is talking about how much gay marriage will hurt the country and paying lip service to the idea of a Christian Nation under God. But when elections are over, the evangelicals go back on the shelves, where they're expected to sit and be seen, but not heard.

Kos, don't you see how you're guilty of the very same thing? When it comes time for elections, Democrats are all about the women's vote. But when the elections are over, and it comes time to pony up and actually lead by example, we get this instead. If you don't want to see the party divided, don't ignore the people whose vote you rely upon. And Kos, I'm well aware that you aren't setting the agenda of the Democratic National Convention. But we all know that you're considered one of the most influential liberal bloggers. And from your contemptuous comment about other bloggers needing the patronage, I think you're well aware of that.

If you want to know why the Democrats are having trouble pulling people together, look no further than yourself. Arrogance? The arrogance is in refusing to discuss an issue that is obviously important to many members of your community. The arrogance is in not listening to opposing points of view of the people who want to be on your side. Small wonder that the Democrats have trouble presenting a coherent vision of their party. It would seem they aren't all that different from the Republicans.

Sometimes the best way to kill something you disagree with is to ignore it. But it's an interesting thing; that strategy will only work if you're on top of the existing heirachy. How ironic that your preferred solution to the problem relies on a circumstance that you like to pretend doesn't exist. But sometimes, the best way to change something you disagree with is by shouting at the top of your lungs and making a lot of noise. I suspect that it's about to get a lot louder in here.

Cross posted at Shades Of Grey

A short introduction

by Charlie

Why, hello! My name is Charlie Kilian, and you might have seen my blog, Shades Of Grey. Shakespeare's Sister invited me to post here at the Big Brass Blog, and I must say that I'm honored to share a stage with such excellent people.

At Shades Of Grey, I write about a fairly wide range of topics, including but (not limited to!) feminism, religion, and politics. As you can imagine, I write from a very liberal point of view, and I'm known to hold strong opinions. I'm also known to abuse the italics from time to time. On my blog, I recently wrote about my philosophy, and if you're interested you can find it here, though I'm sure it'll become obvious soon enough.

You know what? I think this is going to be fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I will.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

NC Rep Walter "freedom fries" Jones wants troops out of Iraq, Freepers erupt

by Pam

"When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed - it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded - and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there."
-- Congressman Walter Jones, (R-NC)
This is getting interesting; the reliably wingnut congressman had the light bulb come on about the complete disaster that is the U.S. military effort in Iraq. He appeared on ABC's "This Week" and said he will introduce legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq. Freepers are taking a piece of Walter Jones's hide below. Feel the defensiveness and fear along with the anger.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"This guy represents a district that consists of Camp Lejeune. What do the Marines think of him?"

"Of course .. why don't we shut down Gitmo, turn all the terrorists loose and tell the terrorists when we're leaving Iraq. Wow!!"


"Makes me ashamed to be in NC."

"Jones was a Democrat for most of his political career. He ran for Congress in 1992 as a Dem, and lost. He saw which way the wind was blowing, so switched parties, and won as a Republican."

"He isn't a Republican now either."

"It sounds like his problem is more with himself than with the mission. He should resign."

"Here little Muslim. Here little Muslim. Just wait until all the good guys are gone then you and Walter Jones can go in and start killing people again, without any opposition."

"Sorry it should be Over or Out. I was in WW II when the Commander in Chief and the military came up with a plan to win against two major well-armed enemies. It was done in less time that the present conflict against an enemy using car bombs and IEDs. President Bush should do a Lincoln and fire this hopeless military leadership from Rumsfeld on down and replace them with leaders who are able to come up with a plan to win this war soon and not cop out about how difficult it is and how long it will take. Patton wouldn't take those excuses. I say again Over or Out. Get it Over or get us Out. We still have China to worry about."

"This is what I'd like to know... why have a military if we aren't willing to risk them giving their lives?"

"Is this Jones character another member in good standing of the Jim Jeffords Scarlet Letter Club?"

"Times are getting tougher. I have a feeling that 2006 may be a difficult election cycle, and the conservative movement is going to find out who its true friends are. But we may lose a few hangers-on."

"What an idiot."

"I have to tell you that we live close to Ft Hood. Soldiers coming back from Iraq with the 1st Cavalry are becoming quite vocal about their opposition to the war. Many of those eligible for getting out are doing so. Many in the 4th Infantry will be returning for the second time after just coming back a year ago are also saying the same thing. I have been kind of surprised to see even officers speaking out. My son-in-law will be going in November and the toll it is taking on the families is really bad and I think has something to do with alot of their decisions. I think the prospect of going back every other year for decades is not very appealing any more."

"He obviously is emotionally disturbed and that is affecting his job. He should resign."

"Agreed! I've already sent him a fax to let him know how one voter feels!"

Unfortunately the peeples voted them in. Congress is a Perfect Example Of Where You Will NOT Find The Best And Brightest Of The USA."

"Frankly, I'm sick of politicians sending people to die, then turning around and not letting them do their job/win. Either fight 100%, or don't fight at all."

"Dear Congressman Jones,

I'd like to thank you for giving us a timetable for pulling your troops out of Iraq. By setting a timetable for the war to end, rather than actually trying to win it, you have given us renewed hope and the knowledge that the great satan has been beaten by us, and that all we need to do is wait you out.

I can't begin to tell you how we will dance in the streets as we chase you out of the middle east, and we will know that the great satan in nothing more than a paper tiger.

And once you're gone, we will then come to your homes and kill you. And there will be rejoicing in the streets as america comes under the rule of sharia law.

Thanks for all your assistance! Osama"
Other posts on Jones:
* NC wingnut Walter Jones wants political endorsements from the pulpit to shove through FMA

* NC AmTaliban Rep. Walter Jones pushes for backdoor book ban

Honest Republican or political fancy footwork?

by Lanoire

Via No More Mister Nice Blog, I've learned that Florida Senator Mel Martinez is making positive sounds about shutting down Gitmo.

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez said Friday that the Bush administration should consider Sen. Joseph Biden's suggestion to shut down the U.S. military's prison camp on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

He also criticized the administration and Congress for paying little attention to growing Latin American problems and lamented the slow progress in Iraq.

Like Steve M., I'm not sure what to make of this. Especially since Martinez was a huge supporter of Alberto Gonzales, so he's not exactly a human rights hero. Maybe he's woken up a bit since then. Or maybe he remembers that Florida was a swing state and wants to declare some independence from the Bush party line. Your guess is as good as mine.

Military recruiting: F*cked.

by Pam

Can you feel the draft? WaPo has some sobering stats from the military. It needs a huge summer recruitment push to stop the hemorraghing. The Army is going to pull 500 seasoned noncommissioned officers to serve as additional recruiters from its active-duty units this summer to hijack needed warm bodies. Parents, protect your kids, these folks are going to be predatory and take 'em as young as they possibly can.
The Army missed its May active-duty recruiting goal of 6,700 by 1,661 recruits, pushing the shortfall for fiscal 2005 to 8,321 -- or more than a month's worth of recruits. The shortfall would have been 37 percent if the Army had not lowered its May goal. Overall, the Army has sent 40,964 enlistees to boot camp, and has four months to nearly double that figure to reach the 80,000 goal for this fiscal year.
Here is more pathetic info:

* A nationwide initiative launched last month to allow people to serve 15-month terms, not including training, has so far drawn only 44 additional recruits. [That's got to be a kick in the nads to the military - it's flipping embarrassing.]

* The Army is taking a harder look at keeping first-term soldiers in the force who might otherwise have been kicked out for problems such as drug abuse, poor conduct, or for failure to meet fitness or body-fat standards. [Great Caesar's ghost, there's nothing like having a doped-up, loose-screw, unfit colleague in the tank or on the line with you.]

* A equally hard look at raising the age limit for active-duty Army recruits from 35 to 40 is under way. This was changed for the reserve elements in March, but increasing it for the active-duty force requires congressional approval; the Army also wants the signing bonus upped from $20K to $40K. [Hey, that should make a whole bunch of those dirtbag DC politicians queasy, especially those up for re-election.]. I love the spin on the proposed change by Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, head of recruiting command (don't laugh; just imagine the flop sweat of a sound bite of this guy):
...the change would bring in soldiers with greater experience and maturity, while making little difference in terms of physical abilities -- saying that today's 40-year-olds are in better physical shape than they were when the law was written.
I was watching All Quiet on the Western Front this AM. The 1930 Academy Award-winning film (Best Picture and Best Director) should be required viewing for any young person that encounters one of these recruiters or is contemplating enlisting. There's also a decent 1979 version with Richard Thomas in the Lew Ayers role as well. The acting in the 1930, early sound-era film is a bit dated, but Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war message and director Lewis Milestone's battle scenes are wonderfully rendered and still powerful.

"Our bodies are earth and our thoughts are clay and we sleep and eat with death."

The effectiveness of the film lies in the portrayal of the "selling" of the war (WWI) to draft-age German schoolboys, glamorizing service, honor and duty and later showing the senselessness and violence of war and its impact on each of them. It resonates in light of the similar spin control and appeal of the ads we're seeing for the Army today. The latest campaign is a naked appeal to parents' patriotism, and so far, I've seen ones featuring white, black and Latino families, each with young people (men and women) talking to their parent about "making a commitment" or "doing something to make a difference in the world" -- all soft-sell stuff -- the punch line is the Army logo up onscreen. Nothing changes.

Earlier related posts:
* LAN parties -- the new recruiting tool for the Army

* Army to miss recruiting targets, sibling combat policy on the table

Hmm...seems as if he had something in mind even before he got elected...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

From Mario (of Julien's List), and very telling indeed....

"One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

The Murder Monkey (aka GWB)


A Week in the Life of the Current President

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Thanks to Julien's List guest contributor Mario for finding this at The Carpetbaggers Report:

There was a point, in the late 1990s, when conservatives would frequently whine about "scandal fatigue." Every time they picked up the paper, they'd say, there'd be another controversy surrounding Clinton's White House. They insisted it was time to elect a Republican to help give the country a break after years of constant outrages.

Most of these so-called scandals were utterly void of any substance. Whitewater was meaningless, while investigations into Travelgate and Filegate were pointless. Nevertheless, by way of comparison, I'd like to point out what we've learned about the Bush White House — not since January 2001, but from just this week.

* The Bush White House let a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute re-write a government report on global warming, editing out scientific conclusions he didn't like.

* Bush's Interior Department offered to overpay a wealthy Republican donor for oil and gas rights on Everglades land that the government apparently already owns, overruling the advice of career officials.

* The Pentagon's inspector general released a report on a lucrative Air Force contract for Boeing that cost too much for planes the military didn't want. Bush, who has enjoyed generous campaign contributions from Boeing, was involved with the contract, personally asking White House aides to work out the deal and dispatching Chief of Staff Andrew Card to participate in the contract negotiations. When the inspector general's report came out, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to the Bush gang's involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing.

* Documents from the U.S. State Department published this week show that the president backed away from the Kyoto global warming treaty after being pressured by ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries.

* Bush officials at the Justice Department inexplicably decided to reduce its settle request with the tobacco industry from $130 billion to $10 billion, and urged government witnesses to soften their recommendations about sanctions.

Again, these stories were published just this week — and the week's not over yet. Just as importantly, this isn't a particularly unusual week by Bush standards.

Any one of these stories could prompt congressional hearings, investigations, and massive media attention. They won't, of course, but they could.

Clinton caused "scandal fatigue"? Right phrase, wrong president.

George W. Bush, 4/20/05:

If someone doesn’t pay his or her debts the rest of society is left paying for them.

Amount added to the federal debt during the George W. Bush presidency:

2.2 trillion

And another thing: Has anybody yet found a "voting machine malfunction" in Kerry's favor?


Excellent St. Petersburg Times Editorial

by Shakespeare's Sister

Wake up, mainstream media. This is how your job is supposed to be done:
Bush may not realize it, but Amnesty International may have done him a big favor. The controversy the human rights group ignited over the treatment of Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has deflected the attention of journalists and war critics from an even more disturbing story - how all the president's talk about going to war as a last resort was just a ruse.

Seven months before the "shock and awe" bombing began in Baghdad, the Bush administration was bending intelligence to suit its purpose, which was to go to war come hell or high water.

Who says so? The head of British foreign intelligence, that's who.

It's all in the Downing Street memo, which was leaked to the Sunday Times of London just before last month's British elections. It created an uproar in Britain but has barely registered in the United States, mainly because the press was more interested in whether U.S. interrogators were desecrating the Koran at Guantanamo.


At a joint White House news conference last week, both Bush and Blair denied that intelligence had been "fixed" to justify military action.

"There's nothing farther from the truth," Bush said.

"No," Blair added, "the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all."

Some will ask: What's the point of bringing up the Downing Street memo now, two years after the invasion and at a time when terrorist suicide bombers are making life hell not only for U.S. troops but the Iraqi people? The point is this: President Bush didn't level with the American people before going to war. And he still hasn't.
Double hot damn.

Go read the rest. It feels really good to read something like that, and think about how people sleepily picking up their Sunday papers will read it—and maybe for the first time, start to care about the Downing Street Memo, start to share the burden of outrage with us, and maybe begin to want some answers as much as we do.

(Crossposted at Shakespeare’s Sister.)

Is THIS the Government You Want? Apathy will be Our Downfall...

by Ms. Julien in Miami

Is it 1984 yet? From

It Can’t Happen Here

June 10th, 2005 : Filed by ~A!

Yet this morning, it did. Reported by Buzzflash and the Brad Blog, it seems the worst has come to pass after all. From the Buzzflash article:

This morning, House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shut down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act without comment or issuing a statement. Sensenbrenner gaveled the committee hearings in the middle of witnesses testifying about human and civil rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, racial profiling of individuals of Middle Eastern descent, prolonged detentions of Americans after September 11th and other abuses.

Here’s the video of House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) unilaterally and arbitrarily shutting down committee hearings on the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

In his comments as he wound up the hearing, the Republican chair said that Quantanamo Bay had nothing to do with the USA PATRIOT act, that enemy combatant designation had nothing to do with the USA PATRIOT act, and that the opponents of the USA PATRIOT act were willing to “talk about anything but what’s in the PATRIOT act”, and use a broad brush to express their opposition.

Let me put this in terms everyone can handle: We just saw the tyranny of empire happen in the halls of congress. Dissent was crushed when he dropped the gavel and declared the hearings adjourned over the voices of many people asking him to let them speak to his objections.

He was hearing things he didn’t want to hear, and he shut them down. Much like arresting people who show up at a Bush PR stop who don’t support him, and keeping them from attending.

This is it, folks. The end of Democracy is nigh. When our leaders begin to use these tactics, as they have for four years now, it means our power is gone, because not even those elected to represent us even can any more.


UPDATE: From my good friend Brad Friedman, over at The Brad Blog:

“I just saw something…totally inappropriate. No mic on and no record being kept. But I think as we are lecturing foreign governments about the conduct of their behavior with regard to opposition—when I see the behavior I saw here today as an American—I’m really troubled about what kind of lesson this is going to teach to other countries in the world about how they ought to conduct an open society that allows for an opposition with rights. I’m sorry, I’m very offended.” [applause in the room]
James Zogby of the Arab American Institute

(Cross-posted at Julien's List)

Hot Damn

by Shakespeare's Sister

The first day I’ve actually engaged in a social life in weeks and what do I miss? The leaking of a new British memo confirming that it was “necessary to create the conditions” for the legality of the Iraq War. The London Times reports (emphasis mine):
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.

The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.


The document said the only way the allies could justify military action was to place Saddam Hussein in a position where he ignored or rejected a United Nations ultimatum ordering him to co-operate with the weapons inspectors. But it warned this would be difficult.

“It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject,” the document says. But if he accepted it and did not attack the allies, they would be “most unlikely” to obtain the legal justification they needed.

The suggestions that the allies use the UN to justify war contradicts claims by Blair and Bush, repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war. The attack on Iraq finally began in March 2003.


There has been a growing storm of protest in America, created by last month’s publication of the minutes in The Sunday Times. A host of citizens, including many internet bloggers, have demanded to know why the Downing Street memo (often shortened to “the DSM” on websites) has been largely ignored by the US mainstream media.
(Including the 427 members of the Big Brass Alliance.)

Who, I wonder, is our friendly British Deep Throat? Whoever it is, I’m fucking glad they care more about holding our president accountable for his actions more than most of the members of our own government.

More information on this as it becomes available.

In other news, the AP has done a fine piece on the Downing Street Memo, and the Washington Post has gotten in on the action, too.


(Crossposted at Shakespeare's Sister.)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Dissertation Describing Teaching of Creationism on Deck at The Ohio State University

by Dark Wraith

Bryan Leonard, an Ohio State University Ph.D. Candidate who teaches biology at a nearby, suburban high school, is on the verge of the defense of his dissertation about effectively teaching creationism to his students. The matter was headlined in the Metro section of the June 9, 2005, edition of the Columbus Dispatch, which provided both a description of the controversy this dissertation has generated at Ohio State, along with a fair and balanced explanation of both evolution and creationism as competing views about the origins of life. The Columbus Dispatch did not note in its explanations that creationism and its variants like "intelligent design" are derivative components of Judeo-Christian mythology, rejected in the modern era as literally factual even by many practicing adherents of Judaism and Christianity.

The Ohio State University has launched an investigation into the matter based upon a letter of complaint filed by three professors. The professors challenged both the constitution of Mr. Leonard's dissertation committee, headed by an assistant professor in the Department of Education, and the fact that Mr. Leonard allegedly used students inappropriately as subjects in his experimentation. Many universities and colleges have formal policies prohibiting human experimentation except under strictly approved and rigorously supervised circumstances and with the subjects'—or in this case, their guardians'—fully informed consent. The guidelines are usually crafted to meet general standards of ethical research practices established by Federal Regulations, as well as the standards of specific professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Sociological Association, and the World Health Organization.

There is currently no information available concerning whether or not the teaching of creationism by Mr. Leonard to his high school students was done with the knowledge of the Hilliard School Board or the parents of the students subjected to his curriculum content and methods of instruction. According to the letter issued by the three professors challenging the dissertation committee and ethical standards, Mr. Leonard had openly testified before the Kansas Board of Education, which created a forum in which creationists could provide cover for the State of Kansas to start teaching creationism in public schools as if it were scientifically valid. To date, no similar effort at legitimizing the teaching of religious mythology in high school science classes has been made in the State of Ohio; however, under the auspices of the State Board of Education in Ohio, Mr. Leonard provided language on the inclusion of so-called "intelligent design" creationism in model lesson plans for public schools throughout Ohio.

Hilliard Davidson is a public high school located in the Columbus suburb of Hilliard, just west of the state capitol. The official Website of Hilliard Davidson High School lists Mr. Leonard on the "Teachers" page. Although school Websites are sometimes not regularly updated during the summer vacation months, there is no evidence that Mr. Leonard's affiliation with Hilliard Davidson High School has ended. The school Website provides considerable information about the high school and regulations governing student activities, opportunities, and responsibilities. On Page 20 of the Handbook of Hilliard Davidson High School, under the heading "Student Rights and Responsibilities," the following headnote statement and list is given:
The Board recognizes that it has the responsibility to assure students the legal rights that are theirs by virtue of guarantees offered all persons under the federal and stateconstitutions and statutes. In connection with these rights are responsibilities that must be assumed by the students. The Board understands that:
1. Students have the right to quality education and a responsibility to put forth their best efforts during the educational process.
2. Students have the right to expect school personnel to be qualified in providing a good education.
3. Students have the responsibility to respect the rights of other students and all persons involved in the educational process.

There was no word on Hilliard parents' reactions to the controversy over the experimental teaching of religious stories in science classes, and no information was available on whether or not parents of students in Mr. Leonard's creationism lectures even knew that their students were being taught religious myths when they were supposed to be learning biology.

Many more questions remain, particularly regarding the use of federal, state, and local school district funds pursuant to the private research of a doctoral student, especially now that it is known that the research methodology was not cleared by experts in the field in which the dissertation's author represents sufficient expertise to engage in publication-quality research.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Reason #1,435,892 Why the Left Shouldn’t Waffle on Gay Rights

by Shakespeare's Sister

Because the Dominionists won’t stop their attack on gays at simply banning their right to marry.

Emboldened by the political right's growing influence on public policy, opponents of school activities aimed at educating students about homosexuality or promoting acceptance of gay people are mounting challenges to such programs, at individual schools, at statehouses and in Congress.

Chief among the targets are sex education programs that include discussions of homosexuality, and after-school clubs that bring gay and straight students together, two initiatives that gained assent in numerous schools over the last decade.

In many cases, the opponents have been successful. In Montgomery County, Md., for example, parents went to court to block a health education course that offered a discussion of homosexuality, while in Cleveland, Ga., gay and lesbian students were barred from forming a high school club of gay and straight youths.
This is what I don’t understand: Just because one believes homosexuality us wrong, for whatever reason, what conceivable justification can be offered to remove any and all discussion of it from the public discourse? I’m sure many of the same people who are fighting this battle believe that divorce is wrong, too, and yet I haven’t seen a massive, coordinated movement against classes that mention divorce, nor educators who are divorced, nor literature penned by divorcees. If an after-school club formed as a support group for children of divorced parents, which, one can assume, would necessarily include discussions of divorce, would that be banned too? These people allegedly hate divorce for the same reasons they hate homosexuality—it’s “immoral,” “undermines the sanctity of marriage,” and “hurts families,” the latter two of which are demonstrably provable in the case of divorce, in that a marriage ends and families are split apart, though not provable in the case of legalized gay marriage (indeed, studies done on countries with legalized gay unions show they have had no effect whatsoever on heterosexual unions). The direction of their ire, as anyone who has a passing relationship with reality is already aware, is misplaced; pretending homosexuality does not exist, even criminalizing it, won’t make it go away. The best thing one can do to protect one’s children is to educate oneself about homosexuality, and then educate the kids about homosexuality, and let them know they’ll be loved no matter what. But I guess that’s just crazy talk from a deliberately childless liberal feminazi.

Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of another conservative group, Liberty Counsel, said: "We're concerned about the effort to capture youth through indoctrination into the homosexual lifestyle. Students are a captive audience, and they are being targeted by groups with that as an agenda."
Yo, Staver—I’ve been surrounded by queers my whole life; I’m as indoctrinated as it gets. And I’m still a cocksucker (the acceptable kind). So just untwist your panties. It just doesn’t work that way.

(If it did, wouldn’t it be likely that an entire society designed around heterosexualit