Monday, July 31, 2006

Special Analysis:
Casualty Allocation in Modern Warfare

by Dark Wraith

The deaths of dozens of civilians in Qana, Lebanon, on July 30, 2006, underscores the complications facing modern military planners and field commanders in prosecuting wars against entrenched opposition forces. To date, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has relied heavily upon a combination of artillery and aerial bombardments of Lebanon to weaken Hizballah, principally to the purpose in the latter, air campaign of degrading infrastructure, destroying bunkers, killing enemy soldiers, and demoralizing remaining enemy combatants. The artillery campaign—comprising as it does mechanized cannon (tanks and other mobile artillery pieces), rockets, and other assets—destroys both infrastructure and tactical targets, including mobile missile launchers being used by Hizballah fighters to fire rockets into Israel.

The reliance upon stand-off military assets, particularly fighter jets and bombers, has been criticized in a number of quarters: indeed, some argue that the United States and its Coälition partners believed that the initial "Shock and Awe" campaign and subsequent air and missile attacks on Baghdad and other parts of Iraq in the Spring of 2002 would substantially, if not utterly, remove Iraqi resistance to the subsequent ground invasion. But while the Coälition might earnestly have believed the air campaign would conclusively and swiftly resolve the war, it is certainly the case that aerial bombardment by bombs, rockets, and missiles did not do nearly as much as expected to bring combat to a swift end. Among the ranks of modern war planners and advocates—particularly those lacking actual experience in war—there does seem to exist a belief that air power can not only define the architecture of dominance in military campaigns, but also be decisive in wars, themselves. The IDF has in its current campaign against the Lebanese Hizballah shown considerable subscription to this belief, having already flown hundreds of sorties in just the few weeks its attack on Lebanon has been underway, while at the same time fielding only token, if highly publicized, infantry forays into Lebanese territory.

In a ground force projection begun on July 25, 2006, IDF soldiers quickly encountered resistance from Hizballah fighters whose ferocity seemed to take Israeli soldiers by surprise. The ensuing skirmishes clearly established why the air campaign had been and remained far preferable, at least in the short run: nine IDF soldiers were killed in a relatively short period of time during combat engagements in southern Lebanon. In the broad history of warfare, such a death toll is minimal and insignificant, but it comes as a shock nonetheless to both troops and the public at large since neither group is used to death in combat at any level, despite having national experience with far higher tolls in earlier times and previous wars. For the public especially in recent times in modern societies, months or a rapid series of high death rate encounters are required for general concensus to accept death toll numbers above one or two in a given day or a given encounter.

At left is a picture of a GBU-28A/B in flight: the "GBU" stands for "Guided Bomb Unit," otherwise informally and generically referred to as a "bunker buster." The GBU-28 was developed for and used in Desert Storm and is now being provided by the United States to the IDF, which is using this weapon in Lebanon to destroy what it describes as some of the 600 or so hardened, underground munitions and personnel bunkers under the control of Hizballah forces. The bomb is mounted under the wing of an F-15I "Eagle," depicted in the first graphic near the top of this article. (The Israelis call the F-15I "Thunder," and they gave the earlier, F-15C/D version the rather ominous—or perhaps insensitive—name "Buzzard.") Collateral building damage in Beirut Because a GBU carries a massive explosives package, in earlier versions its delivery jet would often have to make a critical upward maneuver, releasing the weapon in a lofting trajectory that allowed it to come more or less straight down on its target, this being necessary so the device did not have to navigate around intervening buildings and other structures on its way to the target, which might be underneath a building or otherwise buried and hardened. In the GBU-28, a Paveway III GPS/INS guidance package (which usually removes the need for the lofted release) takes the bomb on the final leg to its target, where its payload of 4,500 to 5,000 pounds of explosives detonates on top of the underground bunker, breaching overlying earth, concrete, and other protective materials. The explosion of the bomb then kills personnel in the bunker and sets off or otherwise destroys any munitions stored there. The force of the explosion is sufficient to destroy any building atop the bunker. Surrounding buildings for dozens of yards left standing around the target are structurally compromised both at the level of their foundations and in their load-bearing walls, making the effect of a GBU-28 detonation particularly destructive in urban and suburban environments. The graphic at right above shows buildings that were near a destroyed target in Beirut.

Effective, mission-specific alternatives to these bunker busters are few and uniformly problematic, as are alternatives to other air-to-surface rockets, bombs, and missiles and surface-to-surface, large-calibre ordnance. In fact, the principal and general alternatives reduce in reality to only one: ground forces. This would include infantry on foot and in armored vehicles penetrating urban and peri-urban environments, fighting house-to-house, building-to-building, degrading enemy assets and killing enemy soldiers during the advance and securitization operations. In the words of Israeli Knesset member and Minister of Justice Haim Ramon, "What we should do in southern Lebanon is employ huge firepower before a ground force goes in... Our great advantage vis-a-vis Hizbollah is our firepower, not in face-to-face combat."

As the Israeli Justice Minister's statement demonstrates, the disadvantages of 'face-to-face combat' are rather more obvious than the advantages. Infantry fighting in close quarters entails a very high probability of significant casualty rates among troops; stand-off weapons, on the other hand, by their nature keep troops far away from ground fire and booby-traps. Furthermore, stand-off weapons will—provided they actually hit their intended targets—degrade enemy assets much more rapidly than infantry and mechanized infantry possibly could, even when the airborne ordnance does not live up to the "precision" frequently used to describe its accuracy. Slogging forward across a hostile country takes days, and target-rich environments can be few and far between along the way. Aerial bombarment from jets and artillery projects destructive force miles and scores of miles forward, thereby offering considerably greater access to widely dispersed targets of interest. For ground troops, after moving forward through sparse encounters on the way to a city of strategic interest, the drop into urban and peri-urban combat environments causes a sudden shift of the target/threat environment from one relatively thin to something so rich and multi-faceted that it can quickly overwhelm even the most trained infantry and mechanized units, leaving soldiers and other war assets vulnerable to everything from snipers to booby-traps to ambushes.

And these are just the beginnings of the problems for the early phases of urban combat environment engagement, even before genuine occupation forces can arrive and establish some degree of order, tense and violent as such might be. Urban warfare is where soldiers of both sides come into contact at close range. Most likely, both sides will attempt to employ small arms fire to neutralize enemy combatants sited or suspected; but the availability of rifles, side arms, and grenades does not entirely remove the possibility of the worst of all possible battlefield scenarios, hand-to-hand combat: those 'face-to-face' fights mentioned above are bloody and violent beyond description, and their nature mitigates at least to some degree any technological superiority one side might have over the other. Extremely close-quarters fighting is where the most ancient roots of warfare rise to the surface in brief encounters that end with the near certainty of deaths of some of those so engulfed.

But ground forces also present an interesting and little noted opportunity: because of the close quarters in which such combat occurs, and because of the human, real-time, visual nature of identifying enemy threats, there exists the capacity, at least in some cases, to determine whether or not potential targets actually merit attack. Unlike stand-off weaponry, which by its nature can only remotely distinguish civilians from genuine tactical targets—forward observers, prior intelligence, remote video monitoring, and target painting notwithstanding—ground force combatants can and do tell the difference between dangerous adversaries and civilians.

This is by no means a perfect trade-off: infantry and close artillery can cause civilian deaths, either by accident or deliberation: the former is a tragic consequence of non-combatants killed or wounded in cross-fire or through misidentification; the latter is a monstrous and very real possibility, with only some of the many small and large massacres of civilians ever becoming widely known as was the case, for example, of the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila in mid-September of 1982.

The accidents and treacheries committed by infantry troops having been noted, the trade-off between force casualties and those on the other side of a conflict is genuine. In an air and artillery campaign, fewer soldiers will be exposed to enemy fire, but more civilians on the other side will suffer as a result. Stand-off weaponry—regardless of the sophistication of technology employed in its guidance, targeting, and detonation systems—will not always nor particularly frequently ensure the safety of those who are not a threat, and this grim fact is unrelated to whether or not enemy soldiers are using civilians as "human shields," as is so often claimed when civilians get killed in bombings. Civilian casualties are an inevitable consequence of the nature of the chosen matrix of weaponry and tactics. When the enemy is at distance, clarity in identification is sacrificed at the same time troops are protected from close-quarters combat with its attendantly higher kill rates.

The trade-off is such: rely on bombardment campaigns to protect one's own troops, and thereby re-allocate the composition of absolute casualty count toward those upon whom the bombardment is being wrought. The greater numbers of dead and injured on the other side will necessarily reflect both genuine targets and innocent civilians.

Readers uncomfortable with or disgusted by this allocation calculus should strive not to wage war in the modern age because technologically sophisticated societies will do whatever is necessary to minimize their own casualties in order to maintain popular support. Deaths of soldiers and civilians on the other side in a war are not nearly as corrosive to that public support as would be large numbers of casualties on their own side.

That means air warfare—despite its limitations in successfully resolving conflicts and despite its inevitable, occasional killing of civilians—will continue to be the first and principal means by which the Western world and its more sophisticated proxies prosecute the grim wars of this century and beyond.

The Dark Wraith trusts that readers have been enlightened—while perhaps being disheartened or even enraged—by this informational article.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Special Graphic Post:
Highway in Darkness

by Dark Wraith

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stem Cell Research Funding

by STP

It's been a while since I posted here, but when New Jersey issues that I find significant come up, I still like to put my two cents in. Anyone following the news on my state would assume that I am going to talk about the budget crisis (disgracefully handled by my own party; kudos to the Governor for making some headway) or the property tax reform work (holding my breath that Democrats do not blow a golden opportunity to do something of value for a change; Republicans started the mess in the 90's, by the way, and are hypocrites now) about to begin in here.

Sorry, but what I want to discuss is stem cell research. The Bush Administration has completely dropped the ball on stem cell research, mindlessly associating embryonic stem cells with the abortion debate. How the argument can be made that throwing something in the trash is a better choice to using it to save lives is beyond me, but no one with any intelligence ever said George Bush actually cared about the lives of the American public once the people in this country are ACTUALLY ALIVE (see not only stem cells, but the war in Iraq, underfunded or misallocated homeland security funds, tax cuts for the rich tied to program cuts for the poor, and a host of other matters).

Here in New Jersey, we have the opportunity to over-ride the narrowminded Bush Administration on stem cell research and take steps towards helping people with many serious illnesses. Stem cell research, and specifically embryonic stem cell research, provides a great deal of promise and hope for cures for diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and spinal cord injuries.

State Senate Leader Richard Codey has led the charge, sponsoring two bills that would put New Jersey on the cutting edge of stem cell research. S.1091 passed the state Senate by a 26 - 9 vote on June 30th. It suggests putting a ballot question before the public in November that would issue bonds of $230 million for financing stem cell research grants. S. 1471 is its companion piece, passing on May 10th 29 - 10, and providing $150 million for a stem cell research facility and $50 million for a biomedical research facility. This one requires no new revenues.

Sadly, from what I can tell, Assembly Leader Joseph Roberts has bottled up both measures in his chamber. That would be the same Joe Roberts who came to the table at the last second during the budget crisis with his plan and effectively caused the shutdown. If these measures do not pass soon, it will be too late for them to be placed on the November ballot.

New Jersey's budget woes should not be a factor in a matter that should be viewed as a scientific necessity. Public support for stem cell research is overwhelming, and I believe that the voters in New Jersey are intelligent enough and fiscally able to differentiate between wastefully high property taxes and prudent spending for the advancement of our health and well being.

I would ask New Jersey residents to contact Roberts and their representatives at once here. The opportunity to at least partially undo the ignorance of President Bush is before the legislature in my state. What a shame if they miss this chance to do the right thing.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Special Analysis:
The Sacrifice of Pawns

by Dark Wraith

At left is a picture from the USS Liberty Memorial Website. The USS Liberty was attacked but not sunk on June 18, 1967, while on a spying mission off the coast of Egypt. Israeli aircraft, then torpedo boats, laid waste to it in what the Israelis and 10 official U.S. commissions described as a tragic accident, a case of mistaken identification of the American ship as a much smaller, horse transport boat of Egyptian registry. The picture was taken the day after the attack: the boat is listing, burnt to brown, and pock-marked with holes from ordnance up to and including 40mm cannon shells. Not visible is the damage from several torpedoes. Also not visible are the victims, 34 of whom were killed, another 174 wounded.

In the heat of growing signs of war in the region—what would come to be known as the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria—the United States had sent the USS Liberty and other surveillance sea assets into coastal waters off Egypt. According to accounts from crew members of the doomed ship, Israeli Defense Forces aircraft made as many as eight recon passes over it. From The Politics of Anti-Semitism (Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Claire, Eds., AKA Press, 2003), comes this narrative (supplemented here by graphics) based upon statements by the men who were on the USS Liberty the day of the attack:
"A few hours later... Israeli Mirage III fighters [came], armed with rockets and machine guns. As off-duty officers sunbathed on the deck, the fighters opened fire on the defenseless ship with rockets and machine guns.

"A few minutes later a second wave of planes streaked overhead, French-built Mystére jets, which not only pelted the ship with gunfire but also with napalm bomblets, coating the deck with the flaming jelly. By now, the Liberty was on fire and dozens were wounded and killed, excluding several of the ship's top officers.

"The Liberty's radio team tried to issue a distress call, but discovered the frequencies had been jammed by the Israeli planes with what one communications specialist called 'a buzzsaw sound.' Finally, an open channel was found and the Liberty got out a message it was under attack to the USS America, the Sixth Fleet's large aircraft carrier.

"Two F-4s left the carrier to come to the Liberty's aid. Apparently, the jets were armed only with nuclear weapons. When word reached the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara became irate and ordered the jets to return. 'Tell the Sixth Fleet to get those aircraft back immediately,' he barked. McNamara's injunction was reiterated in saltier terms by Admiral David L. McDonald, the chief of Naval Operations: 'You get those fucking airplanes back on deck...'

"After the Israeli fighter jets had emptied their arsenal of rockets, three Israeli attack boats approached the Liberty. Two torpedoes were launched at the crippled ship, one tore a 40-foot wide hole in the hull [see graphic at right], flooding the lower compartments, and killing more than a dozen American sailors.

"As the Liberty listed in the choppy seas, its deck aflame, crew members dropped life rafts into the water and prepared to scuttle the ship. Given the number of wounded, this was going to be a dangerous operation. But it soon proved impossible, as the Israeli attack boats strafed the rafts with machine gun fire. No body was going to get out alive that way.

"After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis finally halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. An officer asked in English over a bullhorn: 'Do you need any help?'

"The wounded commander of the Liberty, Lt. William McGonagle, instructed the quartermaster to respond emphatically: 'Fuck you.'

"The Israeli boat turned and left."
Virtually none of the survivors of the incident characterized it as an accident, affirming repeatedly that it was a deliberate, concentrated, prejudicial, unprovoked attack to blind a United States asset that could otherwise have detected the military operations Israel was about to mount against its Arab enemies. Official reports say the attack lasted no more than 15 minutes. Survivors claim the attack lasted well over an hour.

From the Jewish Virtual Library, which stands on the conclusion that the incident was a grievous accident cause by both Israeli and American errors, Mitchell Bard writes this: "None of Israel's accusers can explain why Israel would deliberately attack an American ship at a time when the United States was Israel's only friend and supporter in the world."

From the other side of the dispute come explanations ranging from the quite reasonable to the perilously inflammatory. Interested readers may derive a sense of the bitterness of some former service personnel in the scathing critique of official investigations, originally published in the January 16, 2004, edition of Stars and Stripes, by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Thomas Moorer.

Why the USS Liberty incident occurred that awful day in 1967 will never be known. What happened that awful day in 1967 is without any doubt: an American military ship was attacked, the vessel was destroyed, 34 of its naval personnel were killed, and 174 more were wounded.

As much as the survivors, their families, and other interested parties might want it to be otherwise, the reason behind what happened is not particularly important in light of the compelling lesson to be learned from the incident, a lesson for all time in matters of war and even of peace. The lesson is this:

No rational nation acts against its own interests: intentions are irrelevant; all that matters are capabilities. Wage war and build peace upon this premise, and both the accidents and the treacheries of your allies will be neither frequent nor unexpected.

United Nations symbolIn memorium for the four United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon soldiers killed by Israeli artillery fire at the UNIFIL observation post at Khiyam on July 25, 2006: may your respective nations—may all nations—learn from your final and ultimate sacrifice.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lynn Swann, Little Ricky in trouble in PA

by Pam

It's hard to be a winger running for office in Pennsylvania these days I guess; it was formerly very fertile ground. Look at this:
The survey of 1,200 voters by Strategic Vision, a Republican consulting and public affairs firm, found that Gov. Ed Rendell led Republican Lynn Swann, 49 percent to 36 percent, while Democratic challenger Bob Casey was ahead of Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., 50 percent to 40 percent.
Things are going so poorly for the former Steelers wide receiver Swann that Dear Leader is going to show up on the stump to raise some dough.

Actually, I don't know if cozying up to the 36% approval rating Chimperor is the kind of help Swann, who was appointed a while back as chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, needs. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
Rumors about Mr. Bush's Aug. 16 visit have circulated for weeks, but the campaign declined to confirm the event until an Associated Press reporter obtained a copy of the invitation yesterday afternoon.

Tickets for a private reception and photo opportunity with the president are $10,000 per person or couple.

Tickets for a subsequent general reception are $650 a person or $1,000 for a couple. Both events will be held at the Eden Resort Inn and Suites in Lancaster.

"We welcome the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the commander in chief," Swann campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said.
Yeah, well, you should see the fundie-kissing letter that is being emailed out to potential Swanny voters. Holly passed it along to me. Hold your nose for this snippet...
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Dear Fellow Conservative,

I believe it is important that the next Governor of Pennsylvania share the traditional values that we hold dear. My faith and Christian values were instilled in me at a young age, and they continue to serve as my moral compass today. As Governor, these core conservative values will continue to guide the important decisions that I will make for the Commonwealth.

To spread my message of traditional values, I need support from conservative activists like you. That's why I'm asking you to please make a secure online contribution today.

I believe that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has an obligation to protect its citizens, including the most innocent among us - the unborn. I believe we should look for alternative measures other than abortion, and I support extending protections to the unborn. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, I will sign a bill the legislature sends me extending additional protections to the unborn.

Until that time, I will continue attempting to create a culture of life. I will work to reduce the numbers of abortions by encouraging alternatives, including adoption and abstinence.
Meanwhile, Little Ricky's ship is He's getting desperate, and doing some entertaining push polls in his state; Maria at 2 Political Junkies received one of those calls.

The poll started out innocently enough, but I started to have my doubts when one of the initial questions was how likely would I be to vote for Carl Romanelli, the Green Party candidate, if I heard that he was the only pro choice candidate running for Senator.

Midway through the rather lengthy survey, they asked how do the following attributes accurately describe Santorum. There were about ten or so and only two were negative: "doesn't represent people like me" and "is out of touch." I guess not even Ricky's supporters think that associating these qualities with Tricky Ricky could put ideas in people's minds that weren't already there. There was no corresponding list for Casey (or Romanelli).

But of course, they saved the best for last. There were ten or twelve questions that were the real "push" as in "pushing" voters away from Casey. They would read a statement and you were to answer if that statement made you more likely to vote for Santorum or Casey. All of the statements were Rick-positive and Bob-negative along the lines of "Santorum wants to insure that terrorist don't creep across our border, but Casey wants to let millions of aliens in. Would knowing this make you more likely to vote for Santorum or Casey?"


After the second or third question like this, I interrupted the interviewer and said to her, Jesus! This is such a push poll! You know the definition of push poll, don't you?"

She responded with, "Ma'am, I'm just doing my job."
The post goes on to explain how the telepolling company, VentureData Telephone Collection Experts, claims it doesn't do push polling, something the firm was accused of doing in a recent Philly Inquirer article. Here's the update from 2PJ.

So, did Sugar Lips Dole as head of the behind-the-8-ball in fundraising National Republican Senatorial Committee, endorse and commission this poll for Man-on-Dog?

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

More GOP values

by Pam

This upstanding member of the community, Thomas Adams, is the mayor of the Chicago area town of Green Oaks, and is a former chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee. He also spents time on the net trolling for and sharing kiddie porn pix. Nice.

Adams, 67, faces 11 counts of disseminating child pornography and two counts of possession. Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti set his bond at $100,000.

Prosecutor Patricia Fix said sheriff's and state's attorney's investigators first received tips on Adams' alleged illegal activities in March 2005. Adams allegedly sent child pornography, via attachments to e-mail, to undercover police in Clearwater, Fla.

The alleged pornography includes both still images and at least one explicit movie of a boy masturbating, Fix said.

...Defense attorney Thomas Briscoe argued for a minimal bond, saying Adams “has no criminal record, and these are all images, there are no live victims.” Briscoe added that Adams “has been involved with public service most of his life.”
Well that's a real mitigating factor, isn't it?

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Washington State rules against marriage equality

by Pam

The ruling and dissent can be read here.

A key passage in the ruling cites judicial restraint -- clearly there are no "activist judges" at work here -- contrary to fundie belief. It's another NY-style setback/punt.
The two cases before us require us to decide whether the legislature has the power to limit marriage in Washington State to opposite-sex couples. The state constitution and controlling case law compel us to answer "yes," and we therefore reverse the trial courts.

In reaching this conclusion, we have engaged in an exhaustive constitutional inquiry and have deferred to the legislative branch as required by our tri-partite form of government. Our decision accords with the substantial weight of authority from courts considering similar constitutional claims. We see no reason, however, why the legislature or the people acting through the initiative process would be foreclosed from extending the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples in Washington.

...Perhaps because of the nature of the issue in this case and the strong feelings it brings to the front, some members of the court have uncharacteristically been led to depart significantly from the court's limited role when deciding constitutional challenges. For example, Justice Fairhurst's dissent declines to apply settled principles for reviewing the legislature's acts and instead decides for itself what the public policy of this state should be. Justice Bridge's dissent claims that gay marriage will ultimately be on the books and that this court will be criticized for having failed to overturn DOMA. But, while same-sex marriage may be the law at a future time, it will be because the people declare it to be, not because five members of this court have dictated it.
This court, as in the NY ruling, tosses it back to the legislature and the voters. This court also cites DOMA's constitutionality -- which upholds procreation as a factor limiting marriage. Horrible.
Under this standard, DOMA is constitutional because the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children's biological parents. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not, in the legislature's view, further these purposes
I noted in the comments that the NY and WA courts carefully crafted their rulings so that Loving v. Virginia cannot be tossed back in their faces as long they cite procreation as the basis for the ruling. So, race trumps orientation when it comes to civil equality because interracial opposite sex couples can shoot out babies. That's BS.

I don't have time to write more, but I'm sure you all will have plenty to say. I'll update later.

The case is Andersen v. King Co., Nos. 75934-1, 75956-1


If you care, the Freepers are at it already.


Also, here's another viewpoint, over at AmericaBlog.
And finally, this "legalize marriage" court strategy looks increasingly like a runaway train, out of our control and stealing all the oxygen from the good work that's been done over the past decade on job discrimination and so much more. You pick your battles strategically. (Well, you do if you want to win, and have any political sense.) No one is saying we roll over and play dead. But I am saying that we only have so much time and so much money - we need to use those limited assets wisely. And blowing the entire wad on marriage strikes me as foolish and counterproductive. Someone in the community with some influence needs to stand up and say "enough already," and get our agenda back.
Any and all avenues have to be tried to move the discussion forward, and there will be wins and losses. John had a thread up yesterday criticizing the three gay rights orgs for placing a huge ad buy in papers around the country with a in a lot of hot water with his fundie colleagues, so even baby steps that aren't called marriage pose an uphill battle in many states where marriage isn't an option.

That's why visibility is so important, and certainly more effective than burying advocacy, discussion and debate when an election cycle comes up. The Right won't leave this puppy alone.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bush is rude

by JJ

I finally found one word that sums up George W. Bush.

Watch this:

The presidents awful week

then tell me if rude is not the perfect word to describe George W. Bush.

Rude means - abrupt, abusive, bad-mannered, barbarian, barbaric, barbarous, blunt, boorish, brusque, brutish, cheeky, churlish, coarse, crabbed, crude, curt, discourteous, graceless, gross, gruff, ignorant, illiterate, impertinent, impolite, impudent, inconsiderate, insolent, insulting, intrusive, loutish, low, obscene, offhand, peremptory, raw, rough, savage, scurrilous, short, surly, uncivil, uncivilized, uncouth, uncultured, uneducated, ungracious, unmannerly, unpolished, unrefined, vulgar.

And that, dear readers, is one word that succesffully describes our president.

Any additional attributes?

Crossposted at Blogging Spokane

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Breaking: Former Spokane Mayor Jim West Dead

by JJ

Former Spokane Mayor Jim West Dies

After a recent surgical procedure in Seattle to treat colon cancer, former Spokane Mayor Jim West has died from complications after the surgery. West degraded to critical condition days after the procedure. A spokesperson at University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle tells KREM 2 News he died early this morning.

The notorious Jim West has passed on to his reward. I have posted in length about his fall into shame after being accused of soliciting young boys for sex here here and here.

Jim West lived a conflicted life, I do not think he ever resolved his internal demons. Maybe now he will finally be at peace with himself.

RIP Jim West

Friday, July 21, 2006


by Pam

A reader, Andrew R. sent this one in, saying "when my partner and I see these articles we always say but we cant have kids. Amazing how low the bar is for hets when it comes to raising kids."
A 17-year-old girl, in the U.S. on a visa, stands accused of dumping her newborn baby near a retention pond in Marysville, leaving him for dead.

The baby boy with the umbilical cord still attached was found in a plastic garbage bag Saturday night, apparently after being tossed over a fence, police said. The newborn was covered in blood and appeared to be no more than a few hours old.

The baby suffered a mild case of hypothermia and was taken to Providence Everett Medical Center; at last report, the infant was doing OK.

And you also have the John and Linda Dollars of the world. They are the Florida couple who tortued and starved their children, then fled, eventually being caught and charged. The kids were beaten with belts, paddles, switches and whips, kicked, and at least once struck with a cattle prod. [The Dollars surrendered their parental rights in June 2005.]

Of course, whipping your son with a belt enough to hospitalize him is not a crime in Ohio. At least not according to the judge in Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone's case.

He told his son that he was going to "whip the black off you."

Parenting is the hardest job in the world - and way too many people are parents that probably shouldn't be, but they do have the right to procreate, of course. Then you have gay people that desperately seek to be caring parents who live in states that make it hard or impossible to foster or adopt.

The world is screwed up.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend

Embryo enthusiasm

by Pam

"President Bush is advancing ethical research, while standing firmly against exploiting living members of the human family as sources of spare parts."
-- Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee on Bush's first veto
You know, the bible beaters/forced birth advocates care so much about eggs, feti and frozen embryos, but never seem to cough up the equivalent amount enthusiasm for the welfare of babies born into poverty, disease and violence. Once they've been shot out of the womb, all bets are off.

This is why Dear Leader's first veto, preventing the use of federal funds to do research on embryonic stem cells is an unbelievable bit of BS. We're talking about degrading frozen embryos that were going to be tossed away at fertility clinics for goodness sake. Researchers working on cures for spinal cord injuries, Alzheimers, Parkinson's and other diseases will now have to rely on private funds in this area, thanks to Bush's fundie inclinations.
After bitter exchanges over faith and morals, the House has failed to override President Bush's veto of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Needing a two-thirds majority to overcome that veto, the vote fell considerably short (235-193).

Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is pleased the president stood his ground in defending the sanctity of life...."His unswerving commitment to the cause of the unborn underscores the lack of conviction displayed by the supposedly pro-life members of the House and Senate who voted to pass this barbarous legislation."
I'm with Bob Geiger over at HuffPost. The wingers should adopt 400,000 embryos.
Senate and House Democratic leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) need to call these guys on their pious claims and immediately propose legislation that would fund an adoption program for all 400,000 of the frozen embryos stored throughout America. The first people who should step up to the plate and adopt one of these microscopic entities are the 37 Senators who voted against the stem cell research bill on Tuesday and the 193 members of the House who refused to override Bush's veto of the bill yesterday. Heck, the Bush family alone could probably adopt a couple hundred of them.

That leaves only about 399,500 of the little cells to find homes for, which is where Bush can start a faith-based, Christian program and enlist the help of James Dobson, at the ultraconservative Focus on the Family, who called the stem cell bill "barbarous legislation" and lauded the veto, calling Bush "a man of his word and a champion for the pre-born."

With the 1.5 million listeners they claim for their daily radio broadcast and the combined circulation of about 2.3 million subscribers for their magazines, Focus on the Family alone should be able to provide cozy little Petri dishes for the remaining cells by the end of July.

But if, by any chance, they turn out to be a bunch of hypocrites who don't really see these as living beings or who just don't give a damn enough to help them, Bush can always hit up those God-fearing -- and science-fearing -- people at the Family Research Council (FRC).
You know, what about saving the sperm, while we're at it? I think the fundies should push legislation banning men from masturbating, because that's spilled seed that could have been used to create a precious life as well.

Cross-posted on Pam's House Blend

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Special Analysis:
In Response to 'An Irresponsible Question'

by Dark Wraith

I have yet to directly address in a major article the latest Middle East crisis involving Israel, Lebanon, and the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. As noted in comments on a previous thread here, the trajectory and end-point of the violence is obvious to me, yet something seems different this time around: even though the dynamics have not materially changed from previous confrontations, and even though all indications point to no major turning point in the ways and means by which international and inter-ethnic conflicts are resolved in the Middle East, something not yet entirely quantifiable to me is not quite the same.

Answering a request by Moody Blue for my analysis of the situation, I responded in part as follows:
Here's my problem. The current situation in the Middle East has a dynamic that is so obvious to me that I could literally close my eyes and type for 30 minutes, laying out exactly what's going to happen. The particulars of the events on the ground from moment to moment and even from day to day are largely irrelevant to the trajectory and end-point.

Yes, certain members of the G-8 are trying to broker a backroom deal; yes, the Israelis are following a well-worn path of obliterating their potential adversaries at the very level of capacity to carry out the duties, rights, and responsibilities of sovereignty or, in the case of Palestine, future sovereignty; and yes, the Israelis, for doing all of this, are going to leave in place the symbols of their generations-old nemeses in the Middle East. They never killed Yasser Arafat, even though time and time again they could have, and they will do the same with the nominal head of Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, or one of his most capable lieutenants. The whole conflagration will cool down in a while, and the brokers of record will move in, help clean up the mess in Lebanon, and feel like they were the agents of quasi-peace who finally got the guns to stop roaring.

Israel will then negotiate a final border solution with a fully and permanently castrated Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza, relieved as he will be of the overwhelming power that Hamas had held in shaping Palestinian policy toward Israel.

Israel will, in the meantime, establish a security buffer zone in southern Lebanon, probably something about 20 miles wide, up to just south of the Lebanese city of Tyre.

Then we'll see negotiations and playing around with the idea of replacing the Israeli troops with a United Nations peacekeeping force in the security buffer zone. That will go on for some time.

A nervous calm will eventually settle over the region, with hot rhetoric and a relative absence of gunfire. Ultimately, status quo ante will return, with the ante being weaponry poised at enemies everywhere, but relative peace and quiet... until, of course, the next round.

It's so easy to see.

Now for the problem: something in my gut is telling me that it's not going to play out this way. It's a tiny voice, and I simply cannot put my finger on exactly what's nagging the Hell out of me.

Mind you, there's always background noise, intrigue, and little sparklers of weirdness in these flare-ups in the Middle East. Small mysteries are like a persistent weed that grows on the landscape of deterministic outcomes in politics, and the current crisis has no small share of oddities.

But I honestly don't think that's what's behind my uncertainty. I don't mind uncertainty: I can always qualify my calls with some ifs, ands, ors, and buts; however, this time, I just cannot lay claim to the well-spring of my concern.

No, it's not Syria. The government in Damascus is relatively weak militarily, and its leadership is not nearly as willing as it would have been a generation ago to engage in full-blown hostilities with Israel; and that government, despite having a mutual defense agreement with Iran, is less than thrilled about having Iran come to its rescue in a show-down with Israel.

As for Iran—setting aside the fatiguing, constant barrage of anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic propaganda emanating from Tehran—the theocratic leadership has no intention of giving Israel a pretext to terminate the Persian state's nuclear program, which in my judgment is considerably closer to deployment (not 'development'—deployment) of nuclear weapons than most other analysts believe.

None of that is what's bothering me. It's something else, and I do not yet know what it is.
My sense of frustration with giving a name to my concern is becoming moot. This is probably just the same story, now cast on the stage of the 21st Century: war, destruction, appalling levels of civilian casualties, behind-the-scenes political wrangling, and lots of inflammatory rhetoric. To the mix we can this time add a maddenly incompetent U.S. Administration incapable of doing anything other than giving the thumbs up to Israel.

The peripheral nations in this latest drama, so often cited by media analysts, do not present serious threats to a wind-down of the conflict in the normal course.

Syria is not a major threat. Its current government, led by Bashar al-Assad, the son of Hafez al-Assad, is far less prone to violence than it would have been under the late Hafez: its military is not strong, and its mutual defense treaty with Iran is actually a deterrent to any interest it might have in joining the fray in Lebanon.

The Syrians are not stupid. While they are more than glad to have the buttressing strength of Iran's considerable military might behind them, they know very well that Iran is a nascent hegemon; therefore, any action Tehran would take on behalf of Damascus would come at a dear price to Syria's sovereign autonomy.

As noted above, Iran's leadership is not keen on turning Israel's attention to it, either. The only way to stop Iran's nuclear program from becoming a nuclear weapons stockpile is through destructive intervention. No, diplomacy is not going to work; and in the absence of the world's great powers being willing to adopt a policy that allows all nations to develop and stockpile weapons while assuring that their use would bring a coördinated, reciprocal nuclear attack, a pre-emptive military strike is the only way to resolve Iran's nuclear ambitions. Whether or not the ambitions should be stopped is another matter entirely; if, however, the goal is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, the only way the goal can be achieved at this late hour is through the wholesale destruction of its nuclear fuel refining facilities. But the United States is wholly incapable of carrying out such a military strike for two reasons: first, the resources to do the job just are not there at the assured level and, more importantly, at the assured sustainability to engage what could turn out to be a months-long bombing campaign; and second, Iran has become far too economically powerful, now delivering as it does crucial fossil fuel to Turkey and other putative U.S. allies. The U.S. cannot afford to literally cripple major parts of Asia Minor, nor can it afford the wrath of China, which would in the event of military action against Iran be financing through its routine, massive purchases of U.S. Treasury instruments the destruction of one of its emerging trading allies in the Shanghai Coöperation Organization.

In the absence of the United States using military force to neutralize the Iranian nuclear weapons program, only one nation on Earth could and would do it. The leaders in Tehran know this, and they are simply not going to give Israel the pretext to deal with the problem while a grateful Western world looks on and an infuriated China is paralyzed to action by lack of leverage on the Jewish State.

With all of the above as backdrop, as it stands now, a return to that above-mentioned status quo ante within several months seems not just likely, but downright certain. Any remaining doubts I might have—doubts I still simply cannot shake—I shall address in a subsequent post.

Many are the topics concerning the Middle East now being discussed in the Blogosphere. Both long- and short-term solutions are offered, questions are asked rhetorically, shock and outrage are regularly expressed. By way of example of the quality and character of inquiries being posed, the Green Knight published, "An Irresponsible Question," which was as follows:
Given that Hezbollah is both an external threat to Israel and an internal threat to the legitimate government of Lebanon, and

given that the government of Lebanon has information on Hezbollah but not sufficient military power to deal with them, and

given that Israel has plenty of military power but not as much information on Hezbollah as they might, and

given that it's in both Lebanon's and Israel's interest to have peace on their border and Hezbollah gone or at least disarmed --

was there ever a possibility of, you know, some kind of joint operation between the two nations to deal with their mutual problem?

Or is outright war the default option in the Middle East no matter what? Is the "rational actor" theory of the nation state really just inapplicable in that part of the world?
My response, edited and augmented, was as such:
Let us make a minor change to the question set: replace "Hezbollah" with "Druse"; or replace it with "Kurdish."

Hezbollah has been but one of a handful of provisional entities operating in the Middle Eastern theatre. Generally speaking, each has its base of operation—be it a territory, a town, or an enclave—and from that base it fields what are essentially patrolling squadrons of armed militiamen.

These militias vex border areas, provinces, and/or groups of villages, where they kill people, exact extortions, and cause other problems. Some are well financed, others are not. The Christian Druse, for example, have long been rumored to be provisioned by Israel, which uses their services as a counter-balance to Islamic militias and other irregulars. Kurdish militias can be found from Syria to the border regions of Turkey and Iran, in some cases making what nearly amount to regularly scheduled, cross-border raids that inflict casualties and infuriate the rulers in the countries they target.

But these militias create and enforce a curious balance of power; as such, when one of them is removed, the power shifts. This is exactly the same process that occurs in biological systems: take out one "problematic" infecting organism, and its place is filled by one or more of the remaining infectious agents, which then sometimes grow without control.

When Israel eviscerated al Fatah in the earlier years of this Century and the last, two groups arose: a nascent, very militant wing of al Fatah, and Hamas. Both of these groups had been there, but the center of al Fatah—largely by virtue of the standing of Yasser Arafat—had held sway.

Once the political center of al Fatah had been destroyed, all manner of trouble-making groups had their moment of opportunity. Gaza Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no power to stop Hamas, and enlisting the aid of Israel is simply out of the question. For one thing, Israel has been withholding tax revenues from the Abbas government, money crucial to building a central, powerful military that could deal with provisionals and trouble-makers.

Israel regularly commits the same mistake made on a grand, catastophic scale in 2002 by the United States. By wiping out the Baathist regime in Iraq, and by obliterating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, we completely removed the twin bulwarks that had kept Iran in check. Absent the vice grip on Tehran, the Persian state grew in regional and even extra-regional influence like wildfire.

We had no capacity to create an instant government in either Iraq or Afghanistan, so we had no capacity to fill a vacuum before the Iranians did so on their own behalf and to their own interests.

Israel similarly has no capacity to fill a vacuum it leaves when it destroys a pestilence, so it guarantees that the most aggressive of remaining pests will rise and dominate the territorial, and then the political, landscape of a country or turf crippled by military action.

Both Israel and the United States act to ensure a short-run solution yet have nothing even close to the resources or wherewithal to project long-term, enduring stability in the absence of the militants of the hour.

As such, whether it would be in unilateral military action or in some program coördinated with a tolerable central authority, eliminating one threat simply ensures that a greater threat will arise subsequently. The current effort will have no different result.

And then the question becomes, "Who really wants a different result, anyway?"

The Dark Wraith will offer further analysis should events warrant.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Special Blog Post:
An Open Letter to NARAL Pro-Choice America

by Dark Wraith

To the President of NARAL Pro-Choice America:

According to the Endorsed Candidates Webpage of NARAL Pro-Choice America, your organization has endorsed incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman for the United States Senate in his race against challenger Ned Lamont for the Democratic nomination in Connecticut. Although I shall not make a counter-endorsement here principally because I have yet to determine to my own satisfaction the qualifications of Mr. Lamont to serve as a United States Senator, I must criticize your decision to endorse of Mr. Lieberman, given the mission of your organization.

According to a post at Pam's House Blend, NARAL Pro-Choice America has stated, "[Mr. Lieberman] since clarified his position, to our satisfaction" with respect to several matters, including his vote for cloture to prevent a filibuster of the Senate vote on the appointment of Judge Samuel Alito as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and his support of hospitals that refuse to provide morning-after contraception to rape victims.

Although such may exist and be widely known, I can find precious little reference in the way of clarifications that Mr. Lieberman is supposed to have made on the aforementioned matters; however, whether or not Mr. Lieberman made such clarifications—and in particular, whether or not he made them to representatives of NARAL Pro-Choice America—is irrelevant.

In the case of the Alito nomination, any statement he would have made after his vote is moot: he cast his vote, he did so with full knowledge of the opposition of his constituent base, and the consequence of his vote is that a jurist with radical views far outside the mainstream of public opinion and judicial review now sits on the bench of the highest court in the land, able as he now is to affect the political, social, and economic landscape of this nation for generations to come. As I made clear in a letter I sent to the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, and which I republished here, the vote on Samuel Alito was a defining moment not just for America, but for the United States Senators in office at that momentous occasion.

Many if not most votes that a Senator makes can be mitigated, at least to some extent, after the fact. A Senator can come to understand the error in judgment or can seek to create a political smokescreen by approving in principle but not in subsequent funding some piece of legislation. Even in a matter as grave as authorizing military action against Iraq, a Senator can diminish the shameful fact of his or her favorable vote in subsequent condemnation of the war and the lies that led to the catastrophically wrongful vote. This is not to say that a Senator should be forgiven for the initial vote; but retrospective and introspective contrition can be demonstrated by forthright and firm resolve in subsequent votes on the matter.

Such is not the case with a Senator's vote to end a filibuster on a radical Supreme Court nominee. Nothing can be done to repair the damage of the action, and no amount of "clarification" will alter the trajectory of American jurisprudence at its highest level arising from such a damnable act. That you believe Mr. Lieberman can somehow repair the wide-ranging, inter-generational consequences of his cowardice belies a fundamental lack of understanding of just how grave, decisive, and permanent Mr. Lieberman's vote was on that melancholy day of January 30, 2006.

Now, concerning Mr. Lieberman's statement about "conscience" rights of medical service providers, he demonstrated a fundamental blindness to the essential and foundational nature of objectivity in the dispensation of the results of science. Mr. Lieberman does not grasp that public policy cannot be formed on the parochial interests of a handful of common carriers of medications and procedures; in fact, public policy must stand firm against any and all selective medical care delivery, and it must do so precisely because the individual seeking care is asymmetrically at permanent disadvantage in relationships with doctors, hospitals, and even to some extent pharmacies. This is the nature of what is called "fiduciary duty," which is robust to sentiments, opinions, and provincial judgments of those accepting such duty.

If Mr. Lieberman spoke to NARAL Pro-Choice America officials and satisfied their concerns, that's all well and good; but NARAL Pro-Choice America is not the gatekeeper to public trust. Private citizens render judgments with the advice—which we hope is sound—of other individuals, private organizations, and public entities and their responsible representatives. However, no such body external to the individual has any business attempting to secure the trust of information consumers by simply stating that it has received in confidence information to which its constituents are not a party.

NARAL Pro-Choice America might be satisfied, but that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not I am, and NARAL Pro-Choice America diminishes itself markedly by anticipating otherwise. More importantly, NARAL Pro-Choice America calls into wide-ranging question the judgment in more fundamental assertions, representations, and statements it makes if it is of such a mind that it can in secret discuss matters affecting others' lives in the absence of persistent and thorough transparency.

Your endorsement of Mr. Lieberman renders evidence that NARAL Pro-Choice America is nothing more than a consummate Washington insider, an organization that finds quarter wholly and without concern in its configuration and closeness to the power structure within the Beltway. In the 21st Century, progressive causes will not be won there: what little remains salvageable in this degraded era will be won in street-level political operations arising from the grassroots, a territory NARAL Pro-Choice America has not visited in a long time, standing as it has on press releases the mainstream media barely notices, lobbying that has not prevented the erosion of a woman's right to choose, and the altogether useless mantra that "It's the law of the land—end of discussion" that now proves to have been a bureaucratic apology that became a death trap for the pro-choice forces.

The fight for privacy rights moves on into the grim, year-by-year, election-by-election, vote-by-vote battles across the land. The fight moves on, and it moves on past NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Special Graphic Post:
Childhood's Ending

by Dark Wraith

Childhood's Ending

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Freeper: a 'Gay Marriage tidal wave'

by Pam

I had to post this nonsense because it made me laugh out loud this AM. Despite the recent setbacks for us on the marriage equality front, the Freepi are concerned that SSM is right around the corner.
Anyone else concerned about a Gay Marriage tidal wave?

Posted on 07/10/2006 11:03:45 AM PDT by NorthEastRepublican

I don't know if its just me, but I'm getting worried that we may be in the calm before a storm of a gay marriage tidal wave. I think that states like New York and Massachusetts will legalize it and that there will be a domino affect that goes throughout the country. I think it is concievable that 15 states would legalize gay marriage.

NY and MA currently have two strong anti-gay marriage governors who would not allow the legalization. But with the likely election of a Democrat to succeed Romney and the inevitable election of Spitzer combined with the state legislatures, its only a matter of time in my opinion.

Soon after that you could see states such as my state, NJ follow suit.

Also if Arnold loses, CA will follow too.

I think this is a major societal and moral problem. As each day rolls along we are more and more becoming like the secularist welfare states of Western Europe.
And here are some of the knuckledragging, belly laugh responses...along with some common sense tossed in. Methinks some of the Freepi are tiring of the issue and the ultra-strident haters among them.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

I'm not worried about the gay tidal wave, its Gods response that worries me.

It is impossible for people of the same sex to marry. It is impossible for a person to marry an animal or a knothole.

Of course the people who accept the corrupted meaning of gay might also accept the corrupted meaning of marriage.

I sort of welcome some state legalizing gay marriage. Given the threat of a court decision holding that "the full faith and credit clause" would impose those marriages on all fifty states, the minute one state legalizes gay marriage, you'll see the rest of the country suddenly DEMANDING their GOP Senators sign on to the defense of marriage amendment.

It would lead to a morally devoid society which I would be a part of.

Can't speak for other states,but here's the situation in MA as I understand it.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court,by a single vote,declared homosexual "marriage" to be a right here.The deciding vote was cast by the Chief Justice,a South African Maoist married to Anthony Lewis (yes,*that* Anthony Lewis). We,like some other states,have an initiative petition process in our Constitution.There's a move afoot to put the question to a vote of the people.Homosexual "rights" groups and several slimey state legislators are doing their best to prevent this because poll,after poll,after poll here show that it would be *soundly* rejected. Yes,it's true boys and girls....the same voters that send Kerry and Kennedy to Washington time after time wouldn't approve it.

Here's your leading edge, maybe. Now gays will have the wonderful opportunity to be like lot of straight people... locked in loveless marriages just to keep the cash stream and benefits package intact.

Some gay folks will soon be recalling the "be careful what you wish for" saying. And they'll wonder "is this the liberation we lobbied for?".

Why do we care? Seriously. How is gay marriage going to ruin my life? Will the gay people tell me that I can't stay married to my wife of 12 years? Let's not get all upset over the gay people.

Get government OUT of marriage!

I'm against Gay marriage but, I'm also sick of hearing about it. We've got some other pressing issues that need our attention. (Survival comes to mind)

It's another step down the slippery slope. What is really going on here is forcing society to accept their behaviour. That includes Christians who believe the behaviour to be sinful. They will tell you that it's about insurance and wills but that's bunk. You can will your assets to anyone and name anyone on life insurance. Health insurance is a different matter. There are serious health risks with this sexual behaviour. They want the consequences to be paid for by others.

Can't you find another broken record to screech at us?

How is gay marriage going to ruin my life?

You don't understand. It's not about marriage at all, except as a wedge to further destabilize society. Homosexuals don't really care about marriage, the goal is a show of force for their side. They will NEVER be satisfied with any gains that they make - typical of the liberal mindset. Any advances will further enrage them.

Canada and the Netherlands are a peek into the future of what state-endorsed same sex marriage will bring. People are going to jail for merely speaking their conscience regarding this lifestyle, in the privacy of their own congregations.

I'm worried about the younger generation only being fed one point of view. Where will we be in 30 years on this issue? The thing is that if the sexual libertines get their way and all is permitted, people aren't going to be happier. We'll have too much social chaos, too many confused/addicted/lonely people; sexual predators getting whatever they want. People need a certain amount of structure. Freedom occurs within structure. The gay marriage folks don't understand that. They're pushing their agenda against the backdrop of stability that traditional marriage still manages to provide. In 30 years...??

Freedom is good, including marital freedom.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

LIFEbeat cuts and runs, cancels concert and blames activists

by Pam

The new spelling for cowardice is L-I-F-E-b-e-a-t.

LIFEbeat has decided to cut-and-run and blame people who called for the organization to address its invitation of artists who advocate violence against gays -- Beenie Man and TOK -- to their benefit concert. Look at this press release:
LIFEbeat Cancels Reggae Gold Live Jumpoff

LIFEbeat - The Music Industry Fights AIDS, has collectively decided to cancel its Reggae Gold Live concert, scheduled for Tuesday, July 18 at New York’s Webster Hall. While the organization’s staff and board believe very strongly in the positive purpose and intention of this event, the possibility of violence at the concert from the firestorm incited by a select group of activists makes canceling the event the only responsible action. Dialogue is important and LIFEbeat’s staff and board respect the opinions of those who came forward to make their feelings known. We have always and will continue to support the GLBT community.

It is very unfortunate, however, that the intended good that could result from bringing this community together around this potentially ground breaking event will not be realized. The Caribbean American community needs our help in bringing attention to this unspoken and often stigmatized illness. We hope in the wake of this decision that those who came forward and spoke out will now come forward again to do something positive for the Caribbean American community and help bring attention to the devastation this disease has wreaked in that community so awareness, prevention and healing can follow.
People who care about the link between encouraging homophobia through music, driving gays into an environment of closeted unsafe sex (therefore encouraging the spread of HIV) are the cause of potential violence. Right. This is ridiculous and represents cowardice of the highest order.

It is a sad state of affairs when an organization with a mission to educate and advocate for tolerance regarding HIV/AIDS has to smear those in the gay community who asked that they not endorse artists who foment the spread of homophobia in the name of "outreach."

There are many ways to choose to reach the Caribbean American community on HIV/AIDS, including holding the concert with artists who don't advocate the killing of gays and lesbians. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

In this case the answer is, the folks at LIFEbeat couldn't answer the serious questions about the organization's poor judgment to invite Beenie Man and TOK. Beenie Man has shown that he doesn't take the calls to stop promoting homophobia seriously. As I said earlier, when faced with a boycott in the UK, he agreed to stop singing "death advocacy" songs, then broke that truce and began performing the same old hate-filled music calling for the deaths of gays all over again.

LIFEbeat couldn't reconcile its position, so it canceled the whole event and blamed it on people who actually care whether a public venue is given to those who are clearly not friends of the community. Even worse, the organization's above statement attempts to drive a wedge between the LGBT community against the Caribbean American community as it scrambles to do damage control. Sad, sad, sad.

If LIFEbeat truly wanted to show that it cares about the power of music in educating the Caribbean community about HIV, it could put on a gay-affirming event and donate the proceeds to the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, AllSexuals & Gays (J-FLAG).

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The End Of Gay Marriage

by thatcoloredfella

TCF has long argued that civil unions were the more prudent of alternatives on the gay marriage question, and only if the gay community was hell bent on making it our first and only priority. Domestic partnership benefits, fair housing/employment measures I believe are the more pressing of issues. However, such misplaced priorities are a product of an arrogant, naïve leadership typical of an entitled American mindset that knows no sexual preference.

The majority opinion by the New York Supreme Court against gay marriage presumed ‘societal goals’ were grounded solely in the ‘argument’ that straight parents are better than gay parents, although no studies have measured any difference in the development of such children raised alternatively, at this point. However, given that the legal setback is disappointing, TCF believes there’s finally a sliver lining to the decision.

Those of us on the Left should now spin this as an end to this costly wedge issue and concede that, for the time being, the American people - through the independent judicial branch that reflects their values – have spoken on the issue.

Gay Marriage may never happen in my lifetime and I really don’t care to be perfectly honest. As a gay man, I do have other priorities and causes that would improve my life, rather than focusing on having the right to have such an elusive commitment as recognizable and lawful.
The Democratic Party needs to now move past this divisive issue insisting that there are more important matters to solve. Social Conservatives will boast that this is a major setback to the ‘Homosexual Agenda’. Yet, ask Karl Rove if he may just have lost a key part of his political arsenal come the November Mid-Terms.

Eunice on the Road to Post-Modernity

by Dark Wraith

The next article published at The Dark Wraith Forums will be the first in a series exploring tactics broadly described as political "dirty tricks." I published the foreword to the series in a post entitled, "Dark Arts Politics: The Beginning." In response to the introduction to the series, the very insightful Eric Hopp of Oh Well: A Commentary on News and Politics responded with an insightful comment presented in part below:
I am not surprised if candidates from both political parties engage in such dirty, negative and dark campaigning. This type of campaigning reduces itself down to the lowest common denominator of wretched mudslinging, catcalls and insults. In a sense, such political campaigning is similar to watching The Jerry Springer Show on television. On Jerry Springer, you are confronted to learning about the most ridiculously asinine, issue-oriented topic that has absoloutly no importance to our society—although the topic will have some reference of sexual content with either family members or farm animals. Springer's "guests" are selected on how loud and foul-mouthed they could get in presenting their anger against each other over this "topic." And of course, the greater the breast-size of the female guests, the greater the chance that such female guests would show them off to the audience, resulting in yet another on-stage fight by these "guests," who would make white trailer trash seem like British royalty. And while all this is happening, the studio audience is transfixed by this outragious display of crass incompetence and stupidity—and the audience continues to goad these "guests" on for more outragious display.

Now we come to our American political landscape—brought to you by the Jerry Springer Show. We have political candidate "guests" who attack each other onstage with their negative ads, insults, and unsubstantiated charges—and I won't even go into the area of sex and politics. The political issues are issue oriented—gay marriage, flag burning, school prayer—that have no bearing to the serious political problems that our country faces. The corporate media is Jerry Springer and his TV cameras—ready to capture this entire charade for ratings and corporate profits. And the American voters—also known as the studio audience—remains transfixed by this bombastic circus, unaware that the studio around them is burning down to the ground.

The sad thing here is that I can turn off the TV when Jerry Springer comes on. But I can't take Jerry Springer out of the American political landscape.
While it might be obvious once stated, Mr. Hopp has in the above passage brought focus to the relationship between our politics—the process from which governance arises and indeed is animated—and entertainment—the process by which we at once render risible evidence of our culture while escaping from its reality.

In edited and augmented form, my response was as follows, herewith standing as its own social commentary.
Jerry Springer makes an absolute fortune at what he does. Adding insult to injury, his audience isn't as low-brow as some people might think, either. Mr. Springer is nothing more than an intensified version of Judge Judy, Maury Povich, Divorce Court, Survivor, and dozens of other television shows that pose to present windows on "reality" while ensuring that the television window stays firmly sealed between those realities and the viewers' realities.

I am reminded of the Carol Burnett Show. Her TV variety-show format, popular for more than a decade as a repackaging of pre-television, Vaudeville-style entertainment, was beginning to lose its appeal for television viewers of the mid- to later-1970s. Part of this was a restlessness as American society was winding down from the tumultuous Vietnam era: people were looking to break from the past and were looking for something different in their entertainment. Television shows like All in the Family teased people's curiosity about entertainment that was supposed to be funny even as it punched away with strongly discordant relationships on full, unapologetic parade. Carol Burnett's creative writers reached for an angle they had probed in a couple of skits, something that might possibly keep their middle- to upper-middle-class audience from slipping away: they started offering almost every week a new installment in what came to be called "Eunice," named after Burnett's character in these rather daring portrayals of a lower-middle class American family. These skits were darkly vicious, biting, and nasty; they usually had some kind of ugly climactic scene involving bitter argument, yelling, and sometimes even screaming.

Although critics of the skits were many, a major swath of Burnett fans adored them: these were the with-it, hip, pseudo-urban types who thought they were the ones above it all who could look down on the lesser "trash" of society and have a good, derisive laugh. "Yep, that's how those people are. God! but they're pathetic. Let's watch 'em some more; it's better than going to the zoo."

That was an early entry on an arc that would go clear through to Jerry Springer, creating major entertainment spurs along the way in such diverse expressions as Roseanne and Seinfeld: intense attachment to the lower classes of society counterpointing vacuous detachment in the upper reaches. It continued straight into the 21st Century with such laugh-fests as Everybody Loves Raymond, shows where people get to be appallingly, unapologetically mean, insensitive, and self-centered while the audience gets to cover what remains of its collective conscience with the obligatory, half-hearted afterthought of vestiges of humanity in the closing minute of most episodes. The same voyeurism-from-above-and-without syndrome struts on magnificent display as a pig like Donald Trump destroys little wannabe piglets.

Who needs television inviting us to our better nature? We are nourished to our intellectual satisfaction knowing that validation comes in a rattle-box of electronic images and sound showing us clearly, repeatedly, and sufficiently that somewhere out there, someone is a mess, and it isn't we the voyeurs. And the claim that this angry entertainment is some catharsis by proxy is every bit as ludicrous as suggesting that there's a booming business in paying others to do our primal scream therapy. No, catharsis has nothing to do with the enduring popularity of misery by laugh-track. Meanness as funny didn't start in the 1970s: the Three Stooges, Looney Tunes, and other cutting-edge presentations of funny scenes of pain delivery have always been a staple of American culture. The difference between the older comedy and the new comedy is in the intensive drive to make it look real, applicable, and resonant.

Politics of our day is not a cause of anything; it's just one more symptom of a disease of disengagement that forestalls for us the brutal alternative of genuine alienation: disengagement demands nothing but our acquiescence; alienation, on the other hand, would almost assuredly compel us to action or despair. Just about every last time, we of post-modern America will gladly—without so much as a collective question—choose the corrosive gate onto tyranny's highway if the alternative would draw us into a face-to-face, head-on confrontation with our own beaten lives instead of those of our straw-man lessers.

I shall write the "Dark Arts Politics" as an invitation to those who would shift the ground under which this society will otherwise surely come to be buried. If everyone knows how to wage vicious, cruel war on the shattered landscape, it becomes unproductive to conduct the battles of that war because the best outcome would be stalemate. At that, perhaps people of differing opinions but good will might step forward and bring the land back from its tormented form.

Otherwise, with everyone knowing how to play dirty, we can just destroy our republic once and for all. Perhaps the Seinfeld generation would find that outcome a real knee-slapper.

The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Big Three automakers see sales plummet

by Pam

They aren't making what we want to buy, plain and simple.
U.S. sales fell for all three big American automakers in June, led by a 26 percent drop at General Motors Corp. (GM), while Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. surged.

Higher gas prices, slower sales of trucks and sport utility vehicles and a lack of deep incentives compared to last summer -- when GM rolled out employee-level pricing -- hurt the Detroit-based automakers in a weaker U.S. auto market.

... Toyota has taken a bigger share of a weakening U.S. market on the fuel efficiency of its line-up, which trails only Honda Motor Co. in average fuel economy among major manufacturers.

...Toyota has only a 9-day inventory of the Yaris, and an even tighter 4-day sales inventory of its Prius hybrid, essentially making both vehicles sellout hits.

Meanwhile, sales of Ford's Explorer, a best-selling SUV, dropped by 36 percent in June while sales of the larger Expedition were down 46 percent. "There's no question that higher gas prices have hurt demand for these products," said Ford sales analyst George Pipas.
Kate and I have been complaining how Subaru has been behind the curve on hybrids (we have an Outback wagon). It's an otherwise smart -- and gay-friendly -- automaker, but it really missed the mark by going for the SUV market with the stupid, fuel-inefficient and ugly Tribeca. Last year we went to see one in the showroom out of curiosity and it was disappointing that they wasted development time on this instead of a hybrid. The automaker was obviously shooting for the upscale family SUV demo already targeted by the Big Three.

Incidentally, Subaru reported its best June sales in company history -- even the Tribeca posted double-digit gains --and total sales are up 3 percent for the year so far. More pain for the U.S. car makers. Driving around town I never see any Tribecas on the road (or even the sedans), but I see a ton of new Outback wagons, mini-SUV Foresters and Outback Sports (the 5-door hatchback) out there. And let me tell you, the number of Toyota Prius hybrids sailing around Durham is substantial.

Apparently Subaru is pairing up with Toyota to use its hybrid technology, though nothing is expected until 2008. All Subaru has now is a concept car, the B5-TPH:

I cross-posted this at Pandagon, and a reader pointed to this enlightening article, GM hides fuel-efficient small cars and trucks -- in Brazil. It proves how brain-dead GM is -- they've got fuel-efficient small cars that they will not sell here in the U.S. Big mistake.
Specifically, it is the fault of GM's North American marketing department and unions, which, for a variety of reasons and through myriad machinations, have kept highly desirable small GM vehicles out of the U.S. market at a time they are very much needed.

The truth, as evidenced by a sampling of GM of Brazil cars and trucks at the company's Cruz Alta Proving Ground here, is that GM can make small vehicles as well as anyone else. But the company is hampered by a North American marketing belief that American consumers won't buy those models, and by labor politics that prevents the U.S. entry of those little cars and trucks because they are not assembled by the United Auto Workers union.

For the record, that's my take. GM officials are loath to be so blunt. They proffer seemingly palatable excuses, such as the high cost of retrofitting their Brazilian models to comply with U.S. safety and emissions rules.

I reject that argument. I refuse to believe that a GM that could make a huge Chevrolet Tahoe sport-utility vehicle meet stringent U.S. safety and air-quality standards can't do the same thing for the car-based, subcompact Chevrolet Montana pickup truck sold here. It just doesn't wash.
How will the Big Three address this?

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

It's all spiraling down

by Pam

You all probably heard about U.S. soldier, Steven D. Green, who has been charged with the rape a 15-year-old Iraqi girl. He and others in his unit then killed her and three members of her family. (AP):
A former Army private accused in the horrific rape and killing of a young Iraqi woman and the execution-style slaying of her family had been discharged because of an "antisocial personality disorder," U.S. military officials told The Associated Press.

Previously, in a federal court affidavit, investigators said only that 21-year-old Steven D. Green had been given an honorable discharge for a "personality disorder" this spring before the murder case came to light.

But U.S. military officials who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case said late Tuesday it was an "antisocial personality disorder." They did not elaborate.

Investigators say Green and other soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division plotted to rape a young Iraqi woman they first saw at a traffic checkpoint in the village of Mahmoudiya. Green is accused of rounding up three family members in a room of the woman's house and shooting them before raping and killing her.

He had an "antisocial personality disorder"? How did he pass the military psych screening? Medline definition:
Antisocial personality disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by chronic behavior that manipulates, exploits, or violates the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

A person with antisocial personality disorder:
* Breaks the law repeatedly
* Lies, steals, and fights often
* Disregards the safety of self and others
* Demonstrates a lack of guilt
* Had a childhood diagnosis (or symptoms consistent with) conduct disorder
Is the military trying to make the case that Green developed this mental illness while serving?

Freepers desperately wanted this whole matter to go away, to blame it on the liberal MSM, that these incidents were hoaxes.

Almost too unfortunate to be believed -- the Army News Service recently featured Green's photo in a story on his unit, Coalition forces keep streets of Iraq safe.

Soldiers from Task Force Baghdad, alongside Iraqi forces, constantly search the streets and alleyways of Baghdad and surrounding communities for weapons, insurgents and anti-coalition propaganda. The searches are thorough, yet the Soldiers still respect people's rights and property.
Energy dome tip to Steve @ The News Blog.

UPDATE: It looks like the good General has it up as well.

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Special Graphic Post:
July 4, 2006

by Dark Wraith

We shall prevail

Bring on the Sodomy Squadron!

by Pam

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We have a new Homosexual Agenda weapon out there that I didn't know about -- The Sodomy Squadron.

I was educated about this hidden resource by Joe Murray's AgapePress column, Have We Lost the Culture War? Tears of laughter streamed down my face as I read, astonished at the total domination of this country that we are achieving in such short order!

Dammit, we are powerful (and flying high while we're at it, according to Joe).
...Washington's America is no longer the America of today. The Judeo-Christian compass that once guided our leaders and citizens has been displaced. A new moral order, one fueled by hedonism and a mutated form of individualism, has taken its place. Translation: Christians have become strangers in their own country.

...If one digs deeper into the cultural psyche of America, he will find that Christianity no longer sets the standard for proper human behavior. The Sodomy Squadron has been flying high, for the Supreme Court has deemed sodomy a fundamental right, the Federal Marriage Amendment was DOA, and Massachusetts strong-armed the Catholic Church into ceasing its adoption program when it demanded that a Catholic agency allow same-sex couples to adopt children under the care of the Roman Catholic Church.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In the political sphere, traditionalists have been hit even harder. Despite the fact that the GOP has control of Congress and the White House, this year's "America's Values Agenda" has failed to spread its wings. While the Flag Burning Amendment was only narrowly defeated, the bill to protected the words "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance became a political Hindenburg. As reported by Associated Press, "Republicans could not muster a simple majority on the issue in a committee where they outnumber Democrats by six."

And the final nail in America's cultural coffin? The American public. In a poll recently conducted by Gallup, just 48 percent of Americans believe that the federal government should "be involved in promoting moral values." Another 48 percent believe the feds should mind its own business. Thus, we have become a nation home to two different peoples, and we Christians constitute the counter-culture.
Murray's bio states that he is a former staff attorney for the Wildmon whackhouse, the American Family Association. Bonus points for also having served as national director of correspondence for Pat Buchanan's failed 2000 presidential bid.

Shakes Sis has cooked up a graphic for the ages for this one...

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

Bombs away

by Pam

Kim Jong-Il's ready to party on if Dear Leader keeps up the dick wagging. From one nut case to another...

N. Korea warns of nuclear war if attacked.
The North Korean threat of retaliation, which is often voiced by its state-controlled media, comes amid U.S. official reports that Pyongyang has shown signs of preparing for a test of a long-range missile.

"The army and people of the DPRK are now in full preparedness to answer a pre-emptive attack with a relentless annihilating strike and a nuclear war with a mighty nuclear deterrent," the report said. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.