Monday, January 31, 2005

"Good" and "Bad"

Seems my mind has been on spiritual matters, lately, perhaps a function of my own life path. That's fine. I've always maintained that if there is a God (and that God was concerned in the affairs of every living thing), that God would not be so concerned with what someone believed than with how that person lived.

Being so spiritually inclined, I wanted to differentiate between "good" Christians and "bad" Christians. By bad Christians I mean the ugly, hate-filled, intolerant nitwits who have completely lost sight of Christ's message. There should be no confusion as to whom I refer.

These posts (past and future) aren't meant to be a blanket indictment of Christianity, just the noisy minority who have chosen to pervert Christ's message for their own narrow-minded, hateful agenda. They did it in the 60's in opposition to civil rights and the rhetoric is the same, today. Notice how familiar the arguments are - both then and now, the progressive tilt of civil rights (for blacks then and gays now) would "rend the social fabric" and destroy civilization as we know it. Same shit, different day.

I believe the majority of Christians are decent people who don't really believe the hate spewed by the Falwells and Dobsons; these are the people the Dems will win back.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

More "Values", In a Good Way

A very good friend of mine sent me this article by Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, a nun framing Bush's "Culture of Life" in terms of the carnage in Iraq (and references the sad picture I ran in a previous post):
Here was the other side of the inauguration story. No military bands played for this one. No bulletproof viewing stands could stop the impact of this insight into the glory of force. Here was an America they could no longer understand. The contrast rang cruelly everywhere.

I sat back and looked out the train window myself. Would anybody in the United States be seeing this picture today? Would the United States ever see it, in fact? And if it is printed in the United States, will it also cross the country like wildfire and would people hear the unwritten story under it?

There are 54 million people in Iraq. Over half of them are under the age of 15. Of the over 100,000 civilians dead in this war, then, over half of them are children. We are killing children. The children are our enemy. And we are defeating them.

"I'll tell you why I voted for George Bush," a friend of mine said. "I voted for George Bush because he had the courage to do what Al Gore and John Kerry would never have done."

I've been thinking about that one.

Osama Bin Laden is still alive. Sadam Hussein is still alive. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is still alive. Baghdad, Mosul and Fallujah are burning. But my government has the courage to kill children or their parents. And I'm supposed to be impressed.

I'm beginning to see backlash, not just from the Left but from Christians who are refusing to have Rich White Men define what "values" are for true believers.

The Social Security Debate: Opening the Door For Evangelicals

An article in today's NYT discusses a movement among Evangelicals to frame "moral values" to mean something more progressive and something less exclusive:
In Chicago last weekend, Dr. Frenchak joined a gathering of 20 Christians, mostly evangelicals, to produce a book defining moral values to include a focus on poverty. At the meeting, one man held up a Bible from which he had cut every verse that addressed poverty. "There was hardly anything left," Dr. Frenchak said. "He said, 'I challenge anyone in the room to take their Bible and cut out every verse about abortion or gay marriage, and we'll compare Bibles.' "

Dr. Frenchak said he had been involved in more conversations about moral values in the past two months than ever before. "We meet to discuss how poverty got left out of the discussion of moral values. The question is, 'How do we talk about what we do as a moral value, rather than as an assumed good?' I don't think a day goes by that I don't get some communication about rethinking an understanding of moral values."

In postelection analyses, "values voters" were often equated with evangelical Christians, just as "values" were equated with opposition to abortion and gay marriage. But evangelical churches and seminaries have become increasingly mobilized around poverty both in the United States and abroad.

As I said earlier this week, the attempt by Conservative Christians to blackmail the administration, by withholding support for Social Security privatization unless Bush pushes FMA, is an empty threat. Those Christian leaders know they can't rally support from their constituents for privatization; to many of their flock prefer security to risk.

A door has been opened to those Christians, most of whom identify more with the poor than with Wall Street hot-shots. What Dems need to do is frame opposition to Social Security privatization as, "We're looking out for you and especially, the least of you, by opposing privatization."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

My "WTF?!?" Quotient Goes Off the Charts

Clicking between my Hotmail accounts, I noticed that NBC ran some Katie Couric special on teen sex, giving me yet another reason not to turn on my television.

Unfortunately for Skippy and his missus, they watched the "special" and Skippy reports that:
...the very second question that katie asked her little group of 14 year olds about how sex affects their lives was...hold on to your seats, we kid you not...did Bill Clinton's affair influence you into having oral sex?

There's no reason to believe that Skippy is lying about this but I'm dizzy with disbelief. Not that I've ever given Ms. Couric credit for more than a cap full of functioning neurons but trying to blame teen sex on the Clenis - what, SEVEN YEARS after the fact? - and one would have to assume that Katie would be declared braindead in almost any municipality.

My resolve in cutting out mainstream media grows stronger everyday. Katie bar the door, the level of stupidity at NBC is at critical mass.

Time For a Time Out

It's as if the US of A has curled up into a little ball in a tantrum, like my two-year old son; no one wants to play the way we want to play so we'll shut down and whine.

Sy Hersh has some dire predictions for how our infantile behavior will be punished:
It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here. But he could get through that. That will be another year, and the damage he's going to do between then and now is enormous. We're going to have some very bad months ahead.

Yeah, but God's on our side...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Christian Groups Attempt To Blackmail Bush On Social Security

Talk about an empty threat.

In today's NYT I read that
A coalition of major conservative Christian groups is threatening to withhold support for President Bush's plans to remake Social Security unless Mr. Bush vigorously champions a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Good, let em' start firing since it appears their front line has taken on a circular design.

What Falwell, Robertson and the rest of the Holy High Rollers set fails to realize is that their influence only extends so far with the flocks they fleece. The vast majority of the faithful aren't the gilded automatons who pick up the check for the pleasure of having lunch with preacher, they're the little people who are doing well if they're actually tithing. And although they'll gladly pay a little extra to ban gay marriage, they're not too sure about giving up their social security checks just because a Falwell says it's the godly thing to do.

Trace the circle one-eighty and you'll find Republican lawmakers who know they don't have the support for a consitutional amendment banning gay marriage. If Conservative Christian leaders are displaying vast ignorance regarding their constituency, they're showing themselves to be completely in the dark regarding constitutional law. They think changing the constitution is no more complicated than turning in last year's limo for this year's model, that a constitutional amendment is no more complicated than breaking a C-note in the temple.

BushCo has no qualms with peddling superstition and fallacy but it has not had much luck selling the demise of social security. That the real purveyors of superstition, the charlatans of Conservative Christiandumb, won't toe the BushCo line without quid pro quo carries all the marks of a fine shootin' match.

Ready. Aim. Fire.

No On Gonzales

In sane times (with a half-bright administration), this should be a no-brainer: a pro-torture judge wouldn't catch a moment's consideration as AG. But these are not sane times.

Get ready to contact your senators...

Go here to find the contact info for your Senators: and click on the red "Senators" button on the left.

So I again hork wholesale a post from DKos and add my voice to their open letter:
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him.

As the prime legal architect for the policy of torture adopted by the Bush Administration, Gonzales's advice led directly to the abandonment of longstanding federal laws, the Geneva Convention, and the United States Constitution itself. Our country, in following Gonzales's legal opinions, has forsaken its commitment to human rights and the rule of law and shamed itself before the world with our conduct at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. The United States, a nation founded on respect for law and human rights, should not have as its Attorney General the architect of the law's undoing.

In January 2002, Gonzales advised the President that the United States Constitution does not apply to his actions as Commander in Chief, and thus the President could declare the Geneva Conventions inoperative. Gonzales's endorsement of the August 2002 Bybee/Yoo Memorandum approved a definition of torture so vague and evasive as to declare it nonexistent. Most shockingly, he has embraced the unacceptable view that the President has the power to ignore the Constitution, laws duly enacted by Congress and International treaties duly ratified by the United States. He has called the Geneva Conventions "quaint."

Legal opinions at the highest level have grave consequences. What were the consequences of Gonzales's actions? The policies for which Gonzales provided a cover of legality - views which he expressly reasserted in his Senate confirmation hearings - inexorably led to abuses that have undermined military discipline and the moral authority our nation once carried. His actions led directly to documented violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and widespread abusive conduct in locales around the world.

Michael Posner of Human Rights First observed: "After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should 'judge us by our actions [and] watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.'" We agree. It is because of this that we believe the only proper course of action is for the Senate to reject Alberto Gonzales's nomination for Attorney General. As Posner notes, "[t]he world is indeed watching." Will the Senate condone torture? Will the Senate condone the rejection of the rule of law?

With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Co-Sponsor the Senate Democrat's Opposition Agenda. GO!

I'm not taking a bit of credit for this since it's coming almost verbatim from Manyoso's diary on Daily Kos. Everything following is from the diary:

Senator Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have just released their opposition agenda and you have the opportunity to become a citizen co-sponsor.

The agenda looks very good as it includes specific Senate Bills that the Democrats will introduce to the full Senate. The Bills cover a comprehensive set of issues including major reforms in our approaches to the military, trade, medicare, education, health care, and election reform. Other targeted issues include terrorism, veterans issues, deficit reduction, and abortion prevention.

These Bills will be reconciled with the House Democrats and will hopefully spur action on a Democratic parallel to the Republican's infamous Contract with America. I've created a quick bulleted summary of the Bills below. I really hope whoever is responsible for the webpage description of these Bills will take a look at it. Whoever drew up the descriptions was waayyyy to verbose. These need to be presented as no-nonsense, serious policy proposals. I'd like to see them present it as a resume to the American people of what we intend to do.

Senate Bill 11: Standing With Our Troops.

Senate Bill 12: Targeting the Terrorists More Effectively.

Senate Bill 13: Fulfilling Our Duty to America’s Veterans.

Senate Bill 14: Expanding Economic Opportunity.

Senate Bill 15: Quality Education for All.
Senate Bill 16: Making Health Care More Affordable.
Senate Bill 17: Democracy Begins at Home.
Senate Bill 18: Meeting Our Responsibility to Medicare Beneficiaries.
Senate Bill 19: Fiscal Responsibility for a Sound Future.
Senate Bill 20: Putting Prevention First.
In my estimation, this is pretty damn encouraging. I really hope this means we're actually going to have a functioning opposition party. Let's play some offense!

Make sure you take the time to co-sponsor this agenda and don't miss Steve Soto's breakdown of the bills.

Maxspeak, You Listen! has the actual word documents being circulated. Here are the MS Word documents on election reform, fiscal policy, veterans, economic policy, Medicare, education, reproductive rights, health care, supporting the troops, terrorism, and "Keeping America's Promise." Also, I just called Reid's office and they said the actual text of the Bills is not available yet as they haven't introduced them.


Republican Lawmakers to Attend KKK Meeting

Ever since I was an undergraduate, I've wondered if there are evolved minds as opposed to minds that are mired in some proto-human form, stunted by prejudice and an inability to think analytically. In the 21st Century one would imagine that racism would be as dead as Spiro Agnew but apparently not.

OK, I overstated the "KKK Meeting" thing but via Atrios we learn that
Some Mississippi lawmakers are scheduled to speak Thursday to the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "a patently white supremacist group."

Having gone to the CCC website, I was appalled at what kind of proto-human "thought" (I'm loathe to call it "thought" since what they espouse appears to arise from the cerebellum) is presented there. The usual incoherent nazi-thug-skinhead drivel one would expect from un-evolved minds.

The fact that elected representatives would attend a cross-burning meeting like this is further evidence of Red State knuckle-dragging. Ever since I've ranted about Republicans (and BushCo) playing the race card in the south, several Republican friends have argued, "Not all Rebulicans are racist." Well, I agree with that and I have been guilty of generalizations, in my ire. No, not all - just most - and that's bad enough.

Maybe David Chalmer's new site will weigh in on the subject of evolved minds... Michel Foucault did but that was mere conjecture...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Donald Rumsfeld, War Criminal

Oh, the irony (especially after my last post), according to an article in the German magazine Expatica, Donald Rumsfeld has cancelled a trip to Munich for fear of being prosecuted as a war criminal:
Rumsfeld has informed the German government via the US embassy he will not take part at the Munich Security Conference in February, conference head Horst Teltschik said.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a complaint in December with the Federal German Prosecutor's Office against Rumsfeld accusing him of war crimes and torture in connection with detainee abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
The organisation alleges violations of German legislation which outlaws war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide independent of the place of crime or origin of the accused.
The Center for Constitutional Rights said it and four Iraqis tortured in US custody had filed a complaint with German authorities against Rumsfeld, former CIA director George Tenet and eight other senior military and civilian officials over abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.

Less than 60 years ago the US was prosecuting German officials for essentially the same thing: ordering torture.

It's a sad commentary on how far our country has sunk under Bush. It shouldn't be up to the Germans to prosecute Rumsfeld although I doubt a Democrat administration (in 2008) would have the stones to go after our home-grown nazis.
------ UPDATE -----
Frank Rich made the same connection as I did in today's NYT, unbeknownst to me (via Smirking Chimp).

No Wonder Bush Is So Chummy With Britain!

In the picture below you'll see Prince Harry tastefully dressed for a London soiree, wearing the costume favored by the majority of atendees at Bush's inauguration.

Good God, these people don't care that we know where their political proclivities fall. Welcome to the New World Order.

Boycott CNN, FNC, MSNBC, Major Network News

A very good friend of mine wrote to me about the photo in my previous post, how CNN was softening the episode, "the soldiers were skittish because of so many car bomb attacks... the US will indemnify the girl..." - the US is going to buy her new parents?

I didn't catch the CNN report because I have been boycotting CNN, Faux News, MSNBC, since the election. By and large, I've also boycotted the major network's news (I did tune in during the first two weeks of the tsunami disaster) but my rule is not hard and fast - ABC, CBS, NBC, they're all the same.

As Media Matters reported yesterday, CNN, Faux News, and MSNBC have completely abandoned any pretense of being balanced. The corporate masters know where their bread is buttered (a corrupt administration engaged in corporate quid pro quo) and have forsaken objective journalism for giving the Red States - and BushCo - what they want.

I don't know why anyone on the left (with the exception of media watchdog groups) would continue to tune into cable or network news, especially since it's common knowledge that journalism has been replaced by spin. Still, I recognize that it's a hard habit to break.

Break the habit. Turn off cable and network news and then let everyone you know why you've done it. If cable and network news outlets want to fall back on the excuse of free-market capitalism determining spin, er, "content" (at the expense of objectively reporting facts) then we can play by free-market rules and not buy the bullshit. Since I went cold-turkey with cable and network news I've used the internet exclusively for news and I'm still better informed than 99.9999% of Americans.

Kill ugly TV - Boycott CNN, Faux News, MSNBC and network news.

While Bush Danced

This photo has been making the rounds on the internets but it's worth posting if only to remind us of the human toll this war is taking. The photo is of a 10-year old girl whose her parents were shot to death by US soldiers when the car she and her family were in failed to stop at a checkpoint. It's haunting.

Feel free to use my bandwidth and post this picture.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Random Bits on MLK's Birthday

Some day's I get so overwhelmed with anger at BushCo that I can barely think straight. A million fucking things to say and frustrated by no means to say them all. Under Bush, this country has become a shithole of absurdity.

I dare any inbred conservative cocksucker to tell me I don't love my country because I love it more than you psuedo-flag waving shitsacks. You don't love your country, you love a delluded little martinet out to destroy this country. The USA used to be a country that looked forward, to progress, to the justice and determination of all people. Conservatives look back, at an ideal, at a false picture, and pretend that's love of country.

Absurdity: call the Mississippi tax commission today (601-923-7000), you'll find that the office is closed " in observance of Robert E Lee's and Martin Luther King's birthdays." (via Wonkette)

I can't recall a holiday being named to commemorate Confederate generals but the pointy-headed racists in Mississippi deem R.E. Lee's birthday sufficient reason to close up shop.

Riverbend over at Baghdad Burning gives a frightening portent:
The weapons never existed. It's like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit- having your country burned and bombed beyond recognition, almost. Then, after two years of grieving for the lost people, and mourning the lost sovereignty, we're told we were innocent of harboring those weapons. We were never a threat to America...

Congratulations Bush- we are a threat now.

And the shithead about to be innaugurated believes the election justifies his failure in Iraq:
President Bush said that the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

I love my country because I'm determined not to allow it to become a Kafka-esque joke. Under the leadership of a blood-thirsty punk, our country is becoming just that.

On Martin Luther King's birthday, I try to draw strength from King's determination. However, I keep thinking about Malcom X's determination: "By any means necessary."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Irma Graner Speaks Out - Who Hears?

Our worthless SCLM won't report on this; I googled

and got results from two Aussie papers and one Chinese paper. Here's Mrs. Graner's quote (via lapin's DKos diary which gives the attribution to
"You know its the higher-ups that should be on trial ... they let the little guys take the fall for them. But the truth will come out eventually," Irma Graner told journalists outside the courtroom at the Fort Hood army base in Texas.

She also denounced Bush for comments he made last year after pictures of the abuses at the US-run Iraqi prison caused worldwide condemnation.

"My son was convicted the day President Bush went on TV and said that seven bad apples disgraced the country. But Bush and (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld are the ones who disgraced the country," she said.

If the American public has any shame regarding torture, the SCLM is happy to hand them scapegoats. Then leave it at that.

The days of "investigative reporting" and courage in our media are quaint relics of the past. Corporate owned media is nothing but a mouthpiece of the government.

Friday, January 14, 2005

As If You Didn't Know

The only thing the Iraq War has succeeded in doing (aside from putting Saddam Hussein in jail) is providing a place to train more terrorists:
The war in Iraq is creating a training and recruitment ground for a new generation of "professionalized" Islamic terrorists, and the risk of a terrorist attack involving a germ weapon is steadily growing, an in-house CIA think tank said in a report released Thursday.

The "dispersion of the experienced survivors of the conflict in Iraq" to other countries will create a new threat in the coming 15 years, especially as the Al Qaeda network mutates into a volatile brew of independent extremist groups, cells and individuals, according to the report by the National Intelligence Council.

David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, said those who survived the Iraq war would pose a threat when they went home, "even under the best of scenarios."

I'm telling you, in thirty years people will look back on this period in US history and say, "What the fuck were they thinking?!?"

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Contrast of Truths and Lies

The Poor Man does an excellent job of contrasting Rathergate and WMDs:

Rathergate vs. Saddam's WMD - A Quantitative Comparison

Rathergate  Saddam's WMD
Investigation recently concluded?YesYes
Use of highly questionable supporting documents?YesYes
Central claims disproven?NoYes
Media spread questionable information?YesYes
Number of firings resulting from investigation40
Number of high-profile reassignments resulting from investigation10
Number of wars started using flawed justification
Cost to American taxpayer$0.00~$150,000,000,000 (as of 1/12/05)

See the rest here.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Three Years of Shame

For those of you who thought the US was a free country, today marks the third anniversary of an absolutely shameful page in American history: the establishment of the the "detention camp" at Guantanamo (that "camp" nomenclature has Kafka-esque overtones).
Naturally, that is not how the Bush administration sees it. No official spokesman will admit that Guantanamo was a mistake that has besmirched the US image around the world. The Pentagon claims that detainees have provided valuable information, which has helped thwart several planned terrorist strikes. If they were not under lock and key at Guantanamo, says Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, many inmates might be plotting such attacks, or back fighting US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere.

But many of these claims do not survive scrutiny. Privately, Pentagon officials admit that most detainees are low-level figures. Outside experts query the intelligence value of many prisoners, insignificant figures now behind bars for two years or more.

In the meantime, the charges of prisoner abuse and torture multiply. With each one, it becomes more apparent that wittingly or unwittingly, Guantanamo was a test bed for the techniques - and incubator of the mentality - that the world discovered in the horrific prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib.

A little later today, I'll show preserving how the principles of democracy has taken a back seat to fighting the "enemies of democracy".

When protecting corporate interests assumes the guise of "furthering democracy" you can assume a laissez-faire apporach to human rights.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Vacation's Over

I'm surprised I still have readers...

I have a post in the works regarding the logic of torture. In the meantime, check out this email that winger college students are circulating to intimidate professors.

Back soon.