Friday, March 19, 2004

Bush AWOL in Hunt for OBL

As if once were not enough, Commander-in-Thief Codpiece is AWOL again. An article from an Iowa news station has this to say:

U-S officials say they're offering low-profile help to Pakistani forces hunting militants by the border with Afghanistan.

[snip]

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice tells Fox News the offensive "is a Pakistani fight."
Wasn't the hunt for Osama supposed to be the number one priority for BushCo after 9/11? Weren't these the bastards that were actually responsible for 9/11 as opposed to Hussein, who was a convenient distraction?

So for the most wanted man in the whole world, Bush decides to take a "hands-off" approach?

WTF?

Yee Free, No BCD

Remember James Yee? He was the Muslim Army chaplain charged with possession of classified documents when going on leave from Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba last year. The Army has dropped all of the major charges against CPT Yee and is returning him to his base at Ft. Lewis, WA.

Citing national security concerns, the Army on Friday dropped all charges against a Muslim chaplain accused of mishandling classified documents at Guantanamo Bay (search), which houses suspected terrorists.

[snip]

In dismissing the charges, Mac. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller (search), commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which operates the detention center, cited "national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence" if the case proceeded.
So what's left? Adultery and possession of pornography on a government computer. These charges will likely be handled by Article 15 proceedings at Ft. Lewis. Such marks on his official records mean that CPT Yee's career is essentially over.

There are procedures in military law that account for the use of classified materials and all member of a court martial either have security clearances or can be granted temporary clearances so the excuse of national security problems rings hollow. Courts Martial are typically closed hearings, so I wonder at the worry. It all seems a cover for military embarrassment.

NOTE: BCD is shorthand for Bad Conduct Discharge - actually it's more the result of Article 15 procedures than a court martial, but I used it for the power of the rhyme. Other military slang has it as "Big Chicken Dinner."

Homophobic Bigots

I haven't mentioned today that The Defense of Marriage folks are still a bunch of homophobic bigots. That was an oversight on my part and I can assure you that - after checking their website again today - that they remain, without doubt, a most foul assemblage of homophobic bigots.

I apologize for the oversight. I now return you to our regularly scheduled blogging.

J.J. Jackson

God, I'm getting old...

John ‘J.J.’ Jackson, who in the 1980s helped usher in the music video era as one of the first MTV on-air personalities, has died. He was 62.

Jackson, a longtime radio station disc jockey, died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday while driving home from dinner in Los Angeles, friends and radio industry colleagues said Thursday.
I remember watching MTV when it was still great: all music videos, all the time. And JJ was one of my favorites - well, after Martha Quinn (petite, cute brunette) and Nina Blackwood (wild blonde hair and that raspy voice...).

BushCo. Suffers From Mercury Poisoning

On Wednesday I posted the following:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt is trying to mitigate political damage from revelations that EPA scientists were muzzled as utility lobbyists and White House appointees wrote a new regulation for toxic mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants.

[snip]

Utility industry lobbyists wrote key portions of the rule that would regulate pollution created by their clients, according to EPA staffers who claimed they were ordered not to conduct the normal scientific review of the proposal.
Today, without mentioning any of the earlier stories about the EPA and, apparently, without any irony at all, MSGOP has this story:

Worried that mercury in fish poses a hazard to youngsters — while still trying to stress the health benefits of seafood — the government issued new guidelines Friday for eating fish.

Women who are pregnant, nursing or may become pregnant, and young children should not eat certain kinds of fish that tend to be high in mercury, said Lester Crawford, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Yet another reason - among so goddamn many - that these morons have got to go.

EU Appoints "Anti-Terror Czar" Looks for First Country to Invade

The EU did appoint an anti-terror czar, but unlike our fearless leader, the EU will likely not invade a country that has nothing to do with terror. Although at this point it is too early to say for sure.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Eight days after the Madrid train bombings, European Union justice and interior ministers on Friday were set to approve an ``anti-terror czar'' to coordinate the EU's fight against terrorism.

At emergency talks, the ministers reviewed a lengthy ``action plan'' that calls for a pan-EU database of terrorist's criminal records and across-the-board closer cooperation against terrorism.
Note the explicit nod to "cooperation" and the complete lack of a specific state against whom immediate action must be taken (despite the fact that terrorists have proven to be a rather stateless group).

<sarcasm>I'm sure that whomever is tapped to fill this position can count on unwavering support from BushCo.</sarcasm>

365

Anniversaries are supposed to be happy events; a time to celebrate a birth, a marriage, a first kiss... So when someone on ABC news this morning said that today was the "one year anniversary" of the US invasion of Iraq, it struck a dissonant chord.

In Memoriam

Had the Iraq war been a response to a direct threat to the US and resulted in the defeat and liberation of a people and we had gone home triumphant as part of a world-wide coalition, then perhaps we could call this an anniversary. But at a time when we have started a war against a country that was no direct - or even indirect - threat to our own, we have alienated our allies and we are bogged down in a vicious guerilla war long after our Commander in Chief declared it to be at an end; this is no time for celebrating.

To call this an anniversary while, on average, more than a soldier a day is being killed by insurgents, is obscene. When these same insurgents are making sure, by killing civilians - Iraqi and foreign - to put the lie to the statement that the Iraqis are better off now than while Hussein was still in power; that is no time to celebrate. We have a long way to go to clean up the mess that our stuffed flightsuit has made in the Middle East.

Perhaps it's best to call today The One Year Memorial.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sly Visitor

No, I haven't been visited by anyone else hiding behind a nipr.mil domain name. But this visitor was as sly as a fox, because... well...



This gorgeous red fox followed a roaming cat nearly into our neighbor's backyard and then, maybe tiring of stalking the cat, loped down the hill as I ran to get my camera. As I set up for the shot - he was about 100 meters away - the fox put it's front paws up on a small mound of earth and turned to face me, sillhouetted against the morning sun.

Just beautiful!

Coalition of the Suddenly Not-So-Willing

Spain's Zapatero says their troops are coming out of Iraq. Now Poland's President Aleksander Kwasniewski says that he may withdraw Polish troops months sooner than originally planned. Why?

Poland (AP) Poland, which has about 2,400 troops in Iraq and was a strong supporter of the U.S.-led invasion, was ''misled'' about the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, its president said Thursday.

[snip]

''But naturally I also feel uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction,'' he said, according to a transcript released by the presidential press office.
Drip...drip...drip...

What Century is This?

Via Atrios, in yesterday's Mercury News:

The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" over the teaching of evolution is asking lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.

The Rhea County commissioners approved the request 8-0 Tuesday.

Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the measure, also asked the county attorney to find a way to enact an ordinance banning homosexuals from living in the county.

"We need to keep them out of here," Fugate said.
Yes sir, a fine, upstanding southern, f***ing Yahoo, Mr. Fugate. He would be right at home with those homophobic bigots in the Defense of Marriage Coalition.

I could feign outrage, but - as I've already said, that meter is pegged at the moment. I could say that I can't believe anyone would say such things here in the Twenty-first Century, but I've lived in the South.

It seems all I can do is shake my head...

The Incredible Denseness of Bigotry

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription) by Shelby Steele once again shows the incredible mental gymnastics conservatives will go through to be bigots without accepting the title. Steele's thesis is that while gays and supporters of same-sex marriage (SSM) want to frame this issue as a matter of civil rights, the reality is that this is just a "bait and switch" by those damnably clever homos.

So, dressing gay marriage in a suit of civil rights has become the standard way of selling it to the broader public. Here is an extremely awkward issue having to do with the compatibility of homosexuality and the institution of marriage. But once this issue is buttoned into a suit of civil rights, neither homosexuality nor marriage need be discussed. Suddenly only equity and fairness matter. And this turns gay marriage into an ersatz civil rights struggle so that dissenters are seen as Neanderthals standing in the schoolhouse door, fighting off equality itself. Yet all this civil rights camouflage is, finally, a bait-and-switch: When you agree to support fairness, you end up supporting gay marriage.
It seems that Steele has almost talked himself into believing. But have no fear, he recovers his senses and slips easily back into the comfortable, easy soft bigotry of those who know they are right - just because they know.

But gay marriage is simply not a civil rights issue. It is not a struggle for freedom. It is a struggle of already free people for complete social acceptance and the sense of normalcy that follows thereof -- a struggle for the eradication of the homosexual stigma. Marriage is a goal because, once open to gays, it would establish the fundamental innocuousness of homosexuality itself. Marriage can say like nothing else that sexual orientation is an utterly neutral human characteristic, like eye-color. Thus, it can go far in diffusing the homosexual stigma.
But it seems that besides his comfortable, easychair bigotry, Shelby Steele has a problem with history, with placing events in their appropriate order on the timeline. He starts by stating that geneticists have found that race - as we speak of it - is basically a social construct based on physical features that are dictated by an extremely small part of our genome. In other words, we are more alike than we are different. No problem; that's all very true. But then he transposes that knowledge, only recently gained, into the era of civil rights. Ascribing motivation to those who fought that noble battle based on scientific knowledge that wouldn't be discovered for another forty years.

The civil rights movement argued that it was precisely the utter innocuousness of racial difference that made segregation an injustice. Racism was evil because it projected a profound difference where there was none -- white supremacy, black inferiority -- for the sole purpose of exploiting blacks.
If I remember my history, the arguments for civil rights did not rest on a genetic understanding of how shallow the differences are between the races. Rather they rested on the fundamental argument that regardless of our differences, we are all human beings and deserve the respect and yes, the fairness, of an equal application of the rights and privileges of the law. As an African-American scholar he should be better acquainted with this part of history than to make such an error.

Today, gays and the supporters of SSM make precisely that argument; we are all human beings, we all have the right to be treated equally and fairly under the laws of our wonderful country. Gay rights supporters, women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and all the other minorities who look to the laws of this country for fairness and equality want, Shelby Steele's accusations of a "bait-and-switch" notwithstanding, not special rights, but equal rights.

NOTE: The DMC are still a bunch of homophobic bigots.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Homophobic Bigots

My attempt at initiating a Google Bomb:

The Defense of Marriage Coalition has inserted itself into the same-sex marriage issue wherever it arises. And always on the side of bigotry and hatred. Today, a second Oregon county has decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, believing that not doing so violates the State's constitution. The county has yet to issue the first license and already the DMC is sticking its priggy nose into things:

"We would call it using the sacred institution of marriage as a political tool," said Tim Nashif, spokesman for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, [homophobic bigots] which is suing Multnomah County and has submitted a proposed ballot initiative to ban gay marriage. "They're not making decisions just for Benton County, they are making it for the entire state."
Which brings me to my Google Bomb. From now on, in any post I write on SSM, I will use the term "homophobic bigots" and will link it to the DMC web site. I hope you'll join me in endeavor.

It's the little things that can make the difference.

Especially against folks like these homophobic bigots.

BushCo. Environmentalism

Just add that to the list of oxymorons that have been created about this maladministration.

Just days after it was revealed that a key actuary had been threatened with firing if he revealed the true cost of the Rethugs' Medicare bill, comes the latest outrage. Outrageous, yes. Surprising no. When you read the following paragraphs from this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, think about Dick Cheney's energy task force:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt is trying to mitigate political damage from revelations that EPA scientists were muzzled as utility lobbyists and White House appointees wrote a new regulation for toxic mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants.

[snip]

Utility industry lobbyists wrote key portions of the rule that would regulate pollution created by their clients, according to EPA staffers who claimed they were ordered not to conduct the normal scientific review of the proposal.
Mercury is a known and dangerous neurotoxin with especially deleterious effects on children and developing fetuses. You would think that even the most callous and profit driven of corporate lobbyists would not really want such a poison wafting into the air that their own families have to breathe. Apparently, you'd be wrong.

BushCo. and it's allies in business do not care about their children or yours. They care only about advancing their own industries, their own profits, their own salaries. It is not a stretch to say that they would sell their own children in exchange for their masters' ability to pollute without restrictions. It's not a stretch because in effect, it's exactly what they are doing; but it's much more insidious than that. Mercury stays in the environment for a long time, bioaccumulating further and further up the food chain. Think for a moment who happens to be (for now) at the top of that food chain.

These greedy bastards are not just endangering children alive today or just the next generation. No. Their avarice threatens the health of generations of our families.

Leavitt has come under pressure to change the rules and has requested that the EPA re-evaluate them. However;

"It's no wonder Gov. Leavitt is uncomfortable with this mercury rule because he's realized the agency didn't have any analysis to support what they proposed," said Hawkins, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Air and Climate Center. "The question is whether he will be personally motivated to correct it and whether the administration will let him."
UPDATE: Added links for the actuary story and Cheney's energy task force story.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Smoke and Mirrors

Just go read Krugman today.

Polls suggest that a reputation for being tough on terror is just about the only remaining political strength George Bush has. Yet this reputation is based on image, not reality.
Brilliant.

Interesting Visitors

Greetings to whomever visited me through the domain nipr.mil.

An interesting domain:

"Nipr.mil is not a single domain a but a hush-hush web proxy that acts as a gateway for hundreds of U.S. military domains in order to hide their identities. It was established by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in response to a memorandum (CM-5 1099, INFOCOM) issued in March 1999 by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling for "actions to be taken to increase the readiness posture for Information Warfare." "Uncontrolled Internet connections," the document says, "pose a significant and unacceptable threat to all Department of Defense information systems and operations."
I especially find the last sentence to be incredibly interesting considering such things as The First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, it appears to be a type of firewall, behind which military computers can connect to the web without fear of being identified and/or hacked.

Maybe it's just that innocent; protecting military computers. That sentence above, still bothers me, though.

No! Really?

Where have we heard this before?

The former Iraqi exile group that gave the Bush administration exaggerated and fabricated intelligence on Iraq also fed much of the same information to newspapers, news agencies and magazines in the United States, Britain and Australia.
I'm sure I read something like that somewhere...

This article in the San Jose Mercury News is packed with damning statements like the above (all emphasis is mine):

A June 26, 2002, letter from the Iraqi National Congress to the Senate Appropriations Committee listed 108 articles based on information provided by the Iraqi National Congress's Information Collection Program, a U.S.-funded effort to collect intelligence in Iraq.

The Information Collection Program was financed out of the at least $18 million that the U.S. Congress approved for the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi, now a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, from 1999 to 2003. The group remains on the Pentagon's payroll.

The assertions in the articles reinforced President Bush's claims that Saddam Hussein should be ousted because he was in league with Osama bin Laden, was developing nuclear weapons and was hiding biological and chemical weapons.

Feeding the information to the news media, as well as to selected administration officials and members of Congress, helped foster an impression that there were multiple sources of intelligence on Iraq's illicit weapons programs and links to bin Laden.

In fact, many of the allegations came from the same half-dozen defectors, were not confirmed by other intelligence and were hotly disputed by intelligence professionals at the CIA, the Defense Department and the State Department.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials and others who supported a pre-emptive invasion quoted the allegations in statements and interviews without running afoul of restrictions on classified information or doubts about the defectors' reliability.
Damn. And the article doesn't stop there.

The Iraqi National Congress letter said it fed information to Arab and Western news media and to two officials in the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the leading invasion advocates.

The articles made numerous assertions that so far have not been substantiated 11 months after Baghdad fell,...
The article goes on to list some of these claims, all of which have been debunked in various places and eventually by facts on the ground. And if those claims look familiar it's because they should.

According to the letter, publications in which the articles appeared included the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, the Atlantic Monthly, the Times of London, the Sunday Times of London, the Sunday Age of Melbourne, Australia, and two Knight Ridder newspapers, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News. The Associated Press and others news services also wrote stories.
This is perhaps one of the most successful propaganda campaigns ever conducted inside the United States against its own citizens:

Other U.S. and international news media picked up some of the articles. By mid-January 2002, polls showed that a solid majority of Americans favored military force to oust Saddam.

If I Didn't Laugh...

Not that it was unexpected. After reading various accounts of why Spaniards voted out Aznar's Popular Party, after hearing wingers say that Sunday's vote was an al Qaeda victory, I was ready for just about anything. So the following paragraph in an Editorial in today's Wall Street Journal(subscription) was not a surprise:

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is about taking the battle to the terrorists so that we have fewer attacks on our airlines and railways at home. In Iraq especially, Spanish soldiers are helping drain the terror swamp by building a democracy at its Middle East source. To his own and his country's great credit, Mr. Aznar was far-sighted enough to see that if this effort succeeds the entire world will benefit. The emotional wave that elected Mr. Zapatero will soon fade, but the wisdom about terrorism that motivated Mr. Aznar will remain.
As the defender of all things Republican, I suppose I cannot fault the Journal for printing such drivel. Repeat the lie until it is the truth; "Iraq is a central battle in the never ending war on terror." But what is scarier, although no less expected, are these two paragraphs:

The temptation will be to over-interpret all of this as a sign of general anti-terror fatigue in the West. Certainly the terrorists will see it that way, helped along by Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. In a radio interview yesterday, Mr. Zapatero declared that the 1,300 Spanish soldiers serving in Iraq will now "obviously" be called home. "The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation is a disaster," he said.

So the terrorists will conclude that, with an investment of only a dozen backpack bombs, they were able to rout a major power. They are sure to try the same thing elsewhere in Europe, and almost certainly between now and the November elections in the U.S. We doubt that an America that has already endured 9/11 would react as the Spanish have, but now is the time for President Bush to begin preparing the public for the worst.
It seems that reading the Wall Street Journal has become like reading Izvestia or Pravda used to be in the former U.S.S.R. We must look through editorials and stories carefully reading for vague - or not so vague - hints about the intents of "The Party." According to the Journal, "now is the time" for us to be "preparing...for the worst." Are we to read that as prediction? As warning? As policy? As bluster?

Such an attack, either in the US, or - more likely - as a friend said to me this morning, a massive, coordinated attack on troops in Iraq and/or Afghanistan would potentially be seen as helping BushCo. But the arguments have been made more cogently elsewhere that just the opposite would entail. I'm not sure. But I really don't want to find out.

I told my friend this morning that what I really wish I could do is to crawl in a hole somewhere and come out just in time to pull the lever in November.

But really, if I didn't laugh about it I swear I'd cry...

Monday, March 15, 2004

My Outrage Meter is Officially Pegged

There are lots of things going on right now that ought to cause any of us to feel outrage - and what I call my "outrage meter," just how mad these things make me registers different amounts for different things. Lately, as I stated in my last post, it's been pretty close to maxed out. Pegged.

Sometimes though, it's the seemingly small things that totally piss you off. Maybe the larger outrages are just too big to process; I can't integrate them into my everyday experiences. So they make you mad, but you can just go on living and feeling vaguely upset. But the little things are those that fit into your world, you know exactly how they would affect you, making them all the worse.

Now combine all the biggest outrages and then throw in one of those comparatively small ones on top. That's the combination that makes you think your head's going to explode.

So, we have soldiers dying in Iraq in a war we should never have started. Many of these soldiers are from the Guard and Reserves, ripped out of their lives amid thoughts of "two weekends a month and one week a year" and money for college. They don't get fed very well because the company in charge of feeding them is ripping off the government run, in part, by a former CEO of the company they are part of.

The least the government could do is ensure that they get paid on time.

You know, so their families can pay bills. And eat.

The least they could do.

But no.

Shit.

A New Oxymoron?

I ran across a job description in a news story this morning I'd never seen before: "news media ethicists." One of these mythical beasts was interviewed for a story about the "pre-packaged" propaganda pieces that BushCo. have been delivering to news media on Medicare. The story, which most of you have heard about by now, is that the Department of Health and Human Services created these "information pieces" to be given to news outlets and they would be played as hard news about Medicare. What was discovered is that not only were the pieces scripted by HHS, but the supposed reporters heard on the videos are just actors and that even the lead-in to the stories were scripted by HHS.

Federal law prohibits the use of federal money for "publicity or propaganda purposes" not authorized by Congress. In the past, the General Accounting Office has found that federal agencies violated this restriction when they disseminated editorials and newspaper articles written by the government or its contractors without identifying the source.
That BushCo. would use such nefarious means to push their controversial Medicare reforms is not all that surprising, given the garbage they've pushed on every subject from Iraqi WMDs to Climate Change. Or maybe it's just that my outrage meter has been pegged for so long this kind of thing just doesn't register all that much anymore.

Whatever. I did find interesting, however, the name of the media company that created these and other Medicare material for Tommy Thompson's folks: Home Front Communications.

Interesting choice of names, no? I wonder who these folks might be connected to? I wonder, if I find out, will it register on my outrage meter?

Somehow I really doubt it.

Where can we find more of these "news media ethicists?" Can we send one to each of the major networks and news papers? Maybe then we could retire the terms "So Called Liberal Media (SCLM)" and "Media Whores (MW)."

Unless of course "news media ethicists" refer to beasts as mythical and magical as unicorns.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Dover Test

I wanted to come home to a little quiet on the news scene. It seems that's an impossible wish.

Something that caught my eye right away was a story with the headline: "Families of slain troops join antiwar protest outside Dover air base." This has been a sore spot with journalists, democrats and some military members since the beginning of the never-ending "war on terror." Now it seems that family members have finally had enough.

"...about 600 demonstrators Sunday who marched to the gates of the base to protest the war and complain about restricted access to installations, like Dover, where the bodies of those killed in Iraq are returned.

The protest attracted various groups opposed to the war: veterans, pacifists and church groups that bused in from Philadelphia, Baltimore and other northeastern cities. But it was the military families - who traveled from around the country - who were the centerpiece of a 3.5-mile march from a local meeting house to the massive military base.

Forbidden from entering the complex, the marchers crammed themselves on a sliver of lawn at a busy intersection outside the base and listened as some members of Military Families Speak Out read the names of the more than 560 troops who have been killed since the war began last March.
I haven't had any doubt, and many in the blogosphere have agreed with my assessment, that BushCo. could never survive "The Dover Test," the non-stop parade of flag draped bodies being returned, under the full and unblinking glare of free media coverage. Yes, yes, I know the policy has been in effect since the Clinton years (before that as well?); but it was never enforced until our current preznit decided that such scrutiny would ill serve him.

"Bush lies and who dies?" said Fernando Suarez del Solar of San Diego. "My son, Jesus Suarez del Solar Navarro, March 27."

"I'm very disillusioned with the American government," del Solar said before the march. "For it to get involved in an illegal war and to play with the emotions of the American people with 9-11 (Sept. 11, 2001) for politics is wrong."

Several family members said it's also wrong for the Pentagon to prevent people from witnessing the return of the remains of soldiers killed in Iraq to American soil.
There is no such thing as a "bloodless war," no matter the high-tech methods involved. Even if those high-tech methods include trying to hide our soldiers as they return to be buried in Arlington and other military and civilian cemeteries around the country.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Canada Bound

We're off again to Canada this weekend. This time we're traveling around the other end of Lake Erie towards Toronto. It's early Saturday morning - I haven't even had any coffee yet - and I'll be back Sunday evening.

So everyone behave yourselves, read some of this past weeks entries, visit some of the great folks in my blogrolls, oh, and take care of the troll that appears to have infested my last post for me.

Thanks.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Memories...

Republicans are all in a tizzy over John Kerry's remarks the other day. But Josh Marshall, at TPM, reminded me of some past remarks by a certain flightsuit wearing, White House squatter. So let's compare their "intemperate" remarks:

Kerry: "...the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen...''

WhistleAss: "There's Adam Clymer, major-league assh--e from the New York Times."

The Disturbing Story of Melissa Rowland

I heard just a couple seconds of a story on this morning's news as I was leaving for work; a story about a woman charged for the death of one of a set of twins. I thought nothing more of it until I visited Jeanne at Body & Soul. It appears that this story is illustrative of the fears of all of us who are pro-choice about the incremental erosion of women's reproductive rights. It is also a story that seems to be further evidence of the sheer disregard for the poor, especially those poor who are mentally unstable and unable to obtain appropriate care.

As always, Jeanne brings a compassionate eye to this story, please go read more about Melissa Rowland.

Gavin Newsom

I was saddened, but not surprised, that California's Supreme Court ruled that San Francisco must stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I knew that something like this would happen; nonetheless, it's wonderful that over 4,100 couples were able to have their unions acknowledged - however fleetingly it turns out to be.

What pleasantly surprised me was Gavin Newsom's appearance this morning on Good Morning America on ABC. Mr. Newsom, looking very much like a very young lawyer was incredibly well spoken and seemed to have a great passion about this issue. Most importantly, he articulated the best constitutional and legal defense of same-sex marriage I've ever heard.

This guy has a political future, I think. A very bright future. John Kerry - and every other politician who cares about this civil rights issue - should be calling Mr. Newsom and writing down some talking points.

As an alternative, I found this at Cafepress:

Letters... They Get Letters

Have you ever gotten a political mailing from a politician or party you've never contacted or voted for or registered for? Sure, we all have. Okay, I never have, but apparently, Mustang Bobby, of Bark, Bark, Woof,Woof has. And from none other than George W ("Flightsuit") Bush's campaign chairman Marc (That's French for Mark) Racicot.

I guess it was a nice letter, asking for support (and more money!), and just to - you know - say thanks in advance, they enclosed a picture of Chimpy-boy and his favorite "Lump." Not one to let such a wonderful gesture go unacknowledged, Bobby wrote back to Racicot.

Dear Mr. Racicot:

I received your letter and the enclosed picture of George W. Bush and his wife Laura today. I must tell you that I was very surprised. I don’t know how you could have gotten my address since I have never in my life sent a contribution to him. I’m guessing you got my name off the Miami-Dade County voter rolls, and if that’s the case, I’m even more surprised because I’m a registered Democrat.
You can read the rest of the letter at Dear Marc Racicot. Go on, you'll get a good chuckle!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Brothers in Arms

Has anyone stepped up to claim the $10,000 reward and say that they saw "The Texas Souffle" in his supposed Alabama Air National Guard unit?

Just askin'.

Apologies to all who've done this before...

Speaking Truth to Power

Like it wouldn't have happened anyway, but an off-hand remark by John Kerry, referring to Republicans, has the Rethuglican spin machine at full tilt. GOP spin-meisters are already saying that Kerry is running a negative campaign and smearing his record and his remarks while deriding Kerry's appraisal of their methods as a "smear campaign."

The "offending remarks:"

"...the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen...''
There is no doubt that taken at face value, this is a base truth. And yet, anyone with an (R-Somewhere) after their name, and anyone associated with the GOP are in a dither over this. It's as though someone has finally said that the king has no clothes.

Kerry's campaign manager's response to all of this? Basically it was "bring it on!"

I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Snake Goddess Has a Bird in Her Throat...

If you haven't been following Echidne of The Snakes' Rara Avis series, you should acquaint yourself with it by reading her latest post: "Rara Avis VI: George and the Girls."

It's bothered me for a long time why women - more than 50% of the US population - would vote for someone who would work to keep them second-class citizens. By all rights, a progressive woman should have no problem being elected to any office in the land. And yet, with Shrubby-boy as a prime example, we see that there is indeed a problem getting a woman elected to any office, much less to the presidency.

Echidne lays out, with plenty of details and links, the sins of King George in the arena of caring for and championing the rights of women everywhere. Regardless of your sex, reading through her post and the links in it should make you angry. Take that anger and translate it into action. Make sure you vote in November and when you go, make sure to take at least one friend.

Oh Please, Oh Please...

All this week on the Wall Street Journal's web site there's been an article by Alan Murray. The title is what inspired the title of this post: "Bush Needs to Show Clear, Firm Support For Outsourcing" (subscription required).

Democrats - and anyone else hoping to rid ourselves of the worst president in history - can only hope that BushCo. takes Mr. Murray's advice. Please, oh please run with that idea; I hope Karl Rove gets Shrubby to dance to the outsourcing tune between now and November. Nothing could get him booted out of the White House faster than telling Americans that it's good that they are losing their jobs and being forced into low-wage service sector jobs.

Here's Murray:

That's cold comfort, of course, to the poor fellow in Cincinnati who suddenly finds himself out of work. But let's give Americans a choice. Would they prefer a European-style society, which puts roadblocks in the way of companies that wish to fire workers, and as a result, has fewer new companies wanting to hire? Some Americans might be willing to accept less prosperity and opportunity in return for more stability and security. The majority, I'd wager, wouldn't.
He really thinks that the majority of workers would rather be in perpetual fear of the next layoff cycle? Really? He'd be willing to bet his boy's next term in office on that?

Murray's right that this is a subject that's not going to disappear, but he's absolutely wrong to say that any president should come out in favor of allowing outsourcing to continue uncontrolled and unabated. There needn't be any drastic methods used that might get us in trouble with our trading partners, just some reasonable strings attached to the already embarrassing corporate welfare handed out so freely. All tax cuts, abatements, deferrals or other considerations given to companies should be contingent on their hiring of American workers. If you outsource, you lose the benefits.

That is a winning policy. It's also a policy that Bush, so entangled with business, could never condone.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Farmer Plants Some Bad Seed

If you've had it right up to your eyeballs with the SCLM whores at CNN (and every other news outlet), you're in good company.

The Farmer, over at Corrente, has posted one of the best rants in recorded blog history. Here's just a taste:

...I'm extremely unattracted to DC Beltway dinner party gasbag whistle pigs like Mathews and Fund who can't seem to keep their own jawbones tied down long enough to absorb an answer [to] their own inquiries and instead rattle off nervous reactionary babble like jumpy jabbering teenage soda-pop junkies. Both Fund and Mathews bug me to no end and remind me of every single annoying hitchhiker who has ever been deservedly slaughtered and buried under a mile marker sign this side of Stateline.

And no, I have never buried a hitchhiker in the desert on the outskirts of the Calico Ghost Town! No! It was all Digby's idea - go bother Digby if you want to dig up any of your stupid plucked up relatives! Why do you think he's called Dig-by? (Yes- its a joke - so just relax you creepy justice dept. weenies)
Take out a little aggravation on our friends in the news bid'ness, vicariously, by reading the rest of CNN ~ America's Company Store Media-Whore.

Halliburton - Again

While the big news in the Wall Street Journal about Halliburton (subscription) is its liquidity problems stemming from several problems, the most immediate issue is the feeding of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last night, on NPR, I heard that "Event Source," a Halliburton contractor hasn't been paid by Halliburton since November. Their cash flow problems are so severe that company spokesmen said that Even Source could be forced to feed troops sandwiches and other "lighter fare" instead of hot meals while waiting for Halliburton to pay up on over $30 million.

This is just further insult to the men and women in the Middle East who are already doing without the proper equipment and protective armor for their vehicles and themselves. Now they may be forced to give up the one comfort that brings a little bit of home to them; a hot meal.

In furthering the interests of his ex- and current employee, Dick Cheney, through the administration's contracting policies have resulted in direct, negative consequences to the military.

Monday, March 08, 2004

A New Way to Pay Taxes

I'm going to start paying my taxes the BushCo. way.

Tomorrow I'll mail off a new W-4 telling the government to stop withholding any money from my paychecks. All year long I'll enjoy my higher wages and next February, when I usually get around to doing my taxes, I'll fill out a 1040 saying I paid all of my taxes. In fact, I'll fill it out claiming that I'm actually owed a refund. About $3,000 should do it. That'll nicely pay for a little vacation my wife and I have wanted to take. No problem.

By now you're probably thinking I'm out of my nut. And normally you'd be correct. However, after coming across the following I think you might see I'm on to something.

Here's John Kerry, on Sunday, roundly criticizing the preznit for stonewalling the 9/11 Commission:

"Why is this administration stonewalling and resisting the investigation into what happened and why we had the greatest security failure in the history of our country?"
In reply, a BushCo. spokesperson had the following to say:

A spokesman for Mr. Bush's campaign, Scott Stanzel, said in response, "President Bush and his administration have provided extraordinary cooperation and unprecedented access" to the commission.
You see, in Bush Land, just saying it makes it so. Regardless that the commission, which has the final say on who cooperated and who didn't, has said they need more time and more access, Stanzel says they cooperated. Therefore, they did. I say I paid my taxes, therefore I did.

I only with I had discovered this before!

Damned Activist Judges

Just when you thought that there'd be nothing but bad news as far as the blogging eye could see. Sure it's a small point of victory, but an important one.

In the continuing battle between John Ashcroft's Justice Department and women, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that Planned Parenthood does not have to turn over patients' medical records to Justice. Ashcroft's boys were on a fishing expedition through medical records of women's health care facilities after passage of the intrusive and potentially unconstitutional ban on a late-term abortion procedure. The law is especially dangerous because it contains specific language stating that the procedure is never necessary to protect the health of the woman. From this morning's Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Ruling that abortion records contain information that "women would not want to share," a federal judge said that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America doesn't have to force affiliates to turn over patient files to the government.
BushCo continue their pursuit of making our government intrusive into the most private areas of our lives all while promising to shrink government and to keep big government out of our lives.

It makes as little sense as the rest of their policies.

Thankfully we have those pesky, activist judges that keep slapping down these overreaching zealots.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Have a Good Weekend

We're off to Canada this weekend; so no blogging until Sunday night at the earliest.

If you just have to get your fill of some great blog writing, you couldn't do better than any of the folks in the Liberal Coalition.

Hope everyone has a great weekend (and that BushCo keep their collective mitts off of anything dangerous).

How Can They Sleep at Night?

Compassionate Conservatism Part XXXIV:

How compassionate is it to erect barriers to entry between poor children and a successful child health care program?

From Bob Herbert's column today in the NYT:

I wrote a column back in January about the tens of thousands of youngsters from low-income families who were eligible for a children's health insurance program in Florida but, instead of being allowed into the program, were diverted by state officials to a long waiting list.

Even children with serious health problems were put on the list. Conni Wells, director of the Florida Institute for Family Involvement, which advises families on health matters, told me at the time, "We've had families tell us they've put off buying groceries so they can afford to take their child to the doctor."

The program is called KidCare. It's Florida's version of the nationally popular and successful Children's Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, which covers families with incomes too low to pay for private health insurance but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid.
So the Republican controlled House and Senate of Florida decided to "reform" Kid Care. They've agreed to cover some portion of the current waiting list, perhaps as many as 90,000 of the over 100,000. But - and there's always a but with these folks - here's the "reform" part: in the future, the state will be prohibited from keeping a waiting list, and there will only be two thirty-day enrollment periods per year which the state is not required by law to actually hold.

Herbert perfectly and concisely sums this all up: "This is mean-spirited stuff. We are finding new and ingenious ways in this country to wreak havoc on low-income people."

If you had any doubts about what "Compassionate Conservatism" really means, you shouldn't any more.

States Outsourcing Jobs, Too

This really shocked me. Hard to believe, I know. But it did.

Via MSNBC and The Charlotte Observer:

Truth be told, NBC’s call to the Georgia food stamp office was answered in India — as in the country of some 9,000 miles away.

[snip]

Private companies do the most outsourcing, but the Charlotte Observer newspaper found 40 state governments send jobs overseas too.
Our tax dollars may be helping to send jobs offshore when they should be helping our local communities. This is... an outrage. I can't think of another word that does this justice.

I can't find any reference to this article on the Observer website so I don't know if there was a list of states doing this. I did find this related article.

The Sheer, Unadulterated Gall...

From MSNBC:

Attorney General John Ashcroft has been hospitalized with a severe case of gallstone pancreatitis, his chief spokesman said Friday.
I wouldn't wish this on anyone - not even Ashcroft. My mother had her gall bladder removed after several years of trouble from it and my father-in-law has had his out and still has troubles. I could not, however, pass up the headline.

Sorry.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Pot, Meet Kettle...

This is just wonderfully and wickedly ironic.

Bennett Ramberg, a State Department official from the Bush 41 administration, in today's Wall Street Journal makes an interesting suggestion. Iraq, he says with no trace of ironic recognition, should write into its constitution a "no war" article. Carefully read the following quotes (no link - subscription required) and see if it doesn't tickle your irony bone just a bit:

Japan's denunciation of war in Article Nine emerged in 1947. Its origins remain obscure. ...[snip]... Whatever the origins, the provision marks a bold repudiation of war as an acceptable instrument of statecraft: "Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling disputes.

"In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Germany's May 1949 constitution or "Basic Law," as it was called, proved more muted. Still, it upheld the "no war" principle. Under Article 26, "Activities tending and undertaken with the intent to disturb peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for aggressive war, are unconstitutional."

Bold emphasis added for the irony impaired.
I really think that these dour, pessimistic, rich, isolated, old men have lost their sense of humor, of propriety and of irony. I can hardly read this stuff without at least smirking - some of it makes me laugh out loud. And yet they pass this off as serious recommendations.

Not that it wouldn't be great to have such provisions in a constitution, but it would be nice if we could point to our own constitution as an example...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Red Mars - Green Mars - Blue Mars

NASA announced yesterday that Mars was once a wet planet. Based on observations of the soil, rocks and terrain around the rover Opportunity, scientists, even former skeptics are saying that there is no doubt. Where there is water (and where it is available to certain chemical processes and in the presence of the appropriate molecules), life is likely to have arisen.

Now we wait. Will there be gross signs, observable by the instruments on Opportunity, of life? Or will we have to send further exploratory vehicles able to do more robust experiments and longer traverses of the Martian terrain? Such a finding would be the biggest news ever in history...

QUESTION: Anyone familiar with the progression in the title of this post?

Town Mayor Arrested Over Gay Marriages

New Paltz, NY hasn't gotten quite the attention that San Francisco has, not least because of its size. But the mayor of this small New York town on the Hudson, not far from NYC, has been "solemnizing" same-sex marriages without issuing the couples licenses. The basic legal issues are somewhat different in this case, but the broader issues, of course, remain the same. Here's a bit from this morning's Wall Street Journal:

Mr. West performed wedding ceremonies for 25 gay couples on Friday, making him the second mayor in the country to perform same-sex marriages. More than 3,400 couples have been married in San Francisco.

Mr. West has insisted his actions were legal.

Mr. Williams said he believed Mr. West was served with a summons by New Paltz police that would require him to report to town court. He said the charges do not judge whether gay marriage is legal in New York, only that the weddings were performed without a marriage license.

[snip]

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said he will decide this week whether New York law allows gay marriage.
I keep waiting for the damn to break on this. If a small but critical mass of mayors and county clerks pick up this bit of civil disobedience it's just possible that the process will gain enough momentum to become the de-facto norm. Then, with thousands of married same-sex couples all around the country, the genie will be much harder to stuff back into the bottle.

Small Town Voting

In the last Presidential election, my polling place was in a large suburban area. I had to stand in line to get to one of four or five tables, separated by sections of the alphabet, to check my registration. Then I moved to another line in front of a bank of voting machines - still the lumbering, curtained, mechanical beasts. By the time I made my way to a machine, cast my vote, double checked it and made my way outside, about 30 minutes or so had passed.

Last summer, my wife and I moved to a very small town, Marion, NY (map) and I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I made my way to the small elementary school in the village center. There were no signs, either outside or inside the school pointing the way towards the polling station. So I made my way - it's amazing how even a school I've never set foot in can evoke such strong memories - and eventually found my way to the auditorium.

I stuck my head inside the door and what I saw made me smile.

There was one table, staffed by three "little old ladies," of the kind you could only find in a small town; anyone would have loved to have had any one of them as a grandmother. Next to the table, where they checked my registration, marveled over my registration card (which is apparently new, they had only seen one other), and chatted with me was a lone voting machine. There were no other voters there as it was already close to 8:00 pm so I was in and out in just a few minutes. (Dr. Dean got my vote.) The late hour and the fact that I was voting Democratic in a small, rural town that is likely 80% Republican probably accounted for the lack of other voters. It was, nonetheless, one of those wonderfully ordinary events that never fails to strike me as very inspiring.

The local news this morning stated that about 20% of registered Democrats had voted in last nights Primary and that John Kerry easily carried the state as he did in all the other "Super Tuesday" states save Vermont. I contrasted that sorry statistic with how voting makes me feel and I could only shake my head.

I also realized that it will be John Kerry on whom all our hopes and desires will be pinned come November. I hope we are all ready for the onslaught from the Republican spin machine aided by $100 million and a complacent media. We have a big fight ahead of us - we're going to need a lot more than 20% of Democrats voting in November.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

One Person, One Vote

Tonight, after work and after spending some time with my daughter, I'm off to the polls.

I have my registration card, I've spoken to someone from the local Board of Elections so I know exactly where my polling place is. The last thing I read had Dr. Dean still on the NY ballot - he will be getting my principled vote.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Give Up The Funk

Today is just one of those days...

Busy at work, too much going on in the world and nothing is really inspiring me to write.

For now:

world and work conspire
the blogger's keys left silent
no news is good news?

Sunday, February 29, 2004

"Seeking and Obtaining Their Safety and Happiness"

For an excellent post on the gay marriage issue with some of the best amateur analysis of the arguments, you couldn't do better than heading over to Bark Bark Woof Woof. Mustang Bobby brings his usual sharp eye and great writing to bear on three opinions from the New York Times.

It makes for some great Sunday reading.

Bash Bush Bigotry!

I'm joining the chorus of Liberal Coalition Members asking you to support Natalie Davis at All Facts & Opinions. Support her drive to garner opposition to the Resolutions moving through the House and Senate that would ensonce bigotry and hatred of gays in our Constitution.

Read her post here.

Then take action here!

Friday, February 27, 2004

Medical Privacy - Again

Ashcroft and his merry band of records raiders are at it again. I've written (here and here) about their attempts at intimidating doctors and women's health clinics by attempting to subpoena medical records of women who've had abortions. Their previous attempts were quashed by the courts, but that hasn't stopped them from trying again - this time at Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood is a co-litgant in a lawsuit alleging that the current law restricting some abortion procedures is overbroad and dangerous because it includes no provisions for the health of the woman.

I can't think of an area where Americans have more concerns over privacy than in their dealings with doctors. Look at all the regulations around use and release of health records. Think about how you have to sign an acknowledgement about privacy of records even at the pharmacy. You even have to sign releases so that your GP can share your records with a specialist. And yet, John and his boys are trying to ride roughshod over privacy concerns in further attempts at intimidation.

Read more about it here.

Then visit the Planned Parenthood site; support them if you're able.

Atrios Unveiled

Sort of.

It's a good hook, though. Via Corrente, I found this article about a Philadelphia reporter who actually interviewed the man who was the inspiration for my blogging aspirations.

NOTE:I have a post percolating in my brain - it's been there for about a month now - about the big, liberal bloggers. Maybe I should finally write the thing...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

A Worst Case Scenario

Evidence of what our future would look like after another four years of Total Republican Power can be found all around. It is, I think, a future that looks more like "The Matrix" or "1984" than the world we'd like to leave to the next generation. Words that come to mind are bleak, oppressive, feudal, medieval. I want to try to draw some threads together to weave this potential, dismal tapestry. It's true that the threads I've gathered here are the worst, but they are not unrepresentative.

"Are there not prisons and workhouses?"

BushCo have already promised their staunchest allies that they will make their tax cuts - perversely skewed to the richest Americans - permanent. As if the playing field is not already tilted in their favor, these tax breaks will ensure the widening of the already cavernous gulf between the rich and the rest. Tax cuts, abatements and loopholes for corporations are obscene by any rational measure; and the pandering to business by members of this administration would be embarrassing to any politician (or should be), but considering the complex of connections between corporations and this administration, they are literally obscene.

The results of these economic policies will be the purposeful, willful starving of the federal government of tax revenues. You'll get no Republican to admit it anymore, but their goal is truly to shrink the government and all of its programs, save defense, so that it is, as Grover Norquist opined, "small enough to drown in a bathtub." If you think this is preposterous, you need only listen to Alan Greenspan speak of how best to fix the record-breaking deficits caused by his "master's" tax cuts. He recommends: not repealing the tax cuts, not making current bureaucracies more efficient. No. He recommends cutting future entitlements from Social Security. He wants to finance the government deficit on the backs of poor elderly people.

"Your papers are not in order!"

Already, in an attempt at making Americans think they are serious about "Homeland Security," we have to endure ridiculous searches at airports. Some, identified by some process, are subjected to closer inspection. These typically include old women in wheel chairs, young families with children and professionals in suits. But efforts have been underway by the Department of Homeland Security to develop more intrusive methods of screening airline passengers. Early efforts have been met by howls of protest by passengers and civil libertarians, but make no mistake about it; should BushCo be reelected, CAPPS II or something very much like it will be implemented. Every time you fly, John Ashcroft and his cronies will be looking at your travel history, your credit history, and - if they can get away with it - what books you recently checked out at the library.

I don't have the link as I write this, but recently I read a news item where a man was arrested because he had no identification to show police while he was out in public - and doing nothing illegal. There are no laws against being in public without ID - yet. But you can count on such a thing under four more years of Bush. Something will happen, another terrorist attack, a flood of refugees from some place who's problems we've ignored for too long; and suddenly it will be possible to be accosted on the street, while doing nothing more than walking to work, and be asked for "your papers."

"A witch, a witch! Burn her at the stake!"

"Defense of Marriage Act." A constitutional amendment defining marriage as between heterosexuals only. "Faith-based" charities. The Ten Commandments in government buildings. "The Southern Strategy." Bob Jones University. "We are a Christian nation..."

Bush promised to be a uniter, not a divider during his 2000 campaign. Since then he has proven to be exactly the opposite. Although ignored for much of his first term, Shrubby has decided that he needs - as he did in 2000 - to whip up the passions of the far right to procure their votes. So now we have the specter of this ignorant, small minded man attempting to get his bigotry codified in one of the noblest documents ever to be written. Regardless of what they say, the Joint Resolution, as written, will make it not only illegal for gays to be legally considered married, but it will make civil unions or other legal "work-arounds" illegal as well. Don't listen to the rhetoric from the right; read the resolution carefully: civil unions will be illegal as well.

Republicans and the religious right want to be the first group in our history to build bigotry and hatred into our Constitution. And they will not stop there. More and more, religion will creep into everyday government. Already listening to Bush speak is like listening to some southern preacher; his speeches are littered with references and allusions to religion. Many are like code words, with one meaning to most and another, often completely opposite meaning, to those "in the know." There is an inherent hatred of "the other" in all of their rhetoric. Reelecting Bush will ensure four more years of them chipping away at abortion rights, at public education, at affirmative action, at anything that would seek to empower those that have been discriminated against.

"...Have dominion over the world..."

Is there a law, program or department dealing with environmental concerns or protections that BushCo and their oil industry cronies have not weakened, subverted or underfunded? They stack scientific review committees with people employed by industries that the committees are likely to review, they ignore consensus science on the environment on peaking oil production, on stem cell research, on birth control and on abortion. Their co-conspirators, the religious right, are intent on subverting public education, making it either impotent or bending it to their sectarian teachings.

Everything that they touch - like Midas in a Tim Burton version of the story - turns to soot. "Healthy Forests" means logging and clear-cutting. "Clear Skies" means allowing corporations to increase the amount of pollutants in the air. Nothing anyone from this administration says on environmental concerns can be taken at face value. You will more often be correct if you take the exact opposite of their slogans to be true. This past week, in fact, the entire administration is completely and actively ignoring a Defense Department study and recommendation on the catastrophic national security effects of global warming and attendant climactic changes.

"Cry, 'havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war!"

If you are at all current in reading about the "power behind the throne" that is the Neo-conservative movement in the Republican party, you know that one of the key tenets of their philosophy is that not only is the US the world's policeman (going completely against decades of Republican sentiment), but that it is our "destiny" to spread a pax Americana around the world by military means.

Afghanistan, in the wake of 9-11 was very likely a necessary war; although the more likely suspects were in Pakistan and most of the highjackers were from Saudi Arabia. Still, there was evidence that the Taliban were involved. The justification for the invasion of Iraq was a complete fabrication and our military is bogged down in a costly and deadly quagmire. But the neo-cons are not satisfied; Iran is in their sights. Syria is likely on their list as well - if not directly then through regional proxies. Because the military is proving too lean to fight all of these neo-imperial wars, I would fully expect a second term Bush to revive the draft.

Four more years of BushCo will likely mean four more years of war in some fashion. And this despite the fact that Iraq is proving daily that their reach exceeds their grasp.

"Bleak despair..."

I'm no soothsayer; I don't know for certain what the Ides of March will bring. I can't say with any certainty that if Bush is reelected that any of what I've described will happen. But in this case I do believe that "past performance does predict future performance."

Hopefully, in four years we will be looking back on aWol's one term as a thankfully failed experiment, while we work to reelect a Democratic president to his second term. Or we can look back with regret at having not worked hard enough to defeat Bush and his corporate cronies, mourning the loss of our youngest generation to endless wars, regretting the rollback of civil liberties and decrying the loss of our freedom to travel.

Preventing even the possibility of the dark, bleak future that lies at the end of the neo-con path is up to all of us.

VOTE.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

New In The Blogroll

I don't always post about adding a new blog to my blogroll. This time, however, I think it's important that I do so.

Via Tom Tomorrow, I found Outsourced America. Posting only since early in February, "The Outsourced American" has put together a great single issue blog that's well worth your time. This is not a pleasant subject; so close to home for many of us. But it is important.

Go check him out.

Bush Bigotry II

So, aWol comes out in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and the cockroaches scurry out of the woodwork. House and Senate majority leaders were crowing to the news cameras that they were confident they could get the resolution passed. I didn't see them, but my skin was crawling, so I assume that the religious-right-wingnuts were all abuzz at the news as well.

I wanted to write a post about what kind of choice Shrubby-boy has given Americans; he's always talking about the stark choice we will have come the November elections. But thanks to NTodd over at Dohiyi Mir, I don't have to. Check out this post; it's really only two pictures and a caption for each, but it says more about what that stark choice really is than any 1,000 words I could ever write.

I think the choice is pretty easy to make and I think my fellow citizens will think so as well.

Go see what I mean.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Bush Bigotry [UPDATED]

According to MSNBC, the miscreant in our White House will announce his support of a Constitutional Amendment (H.J.RES.56) banning same-sex marriage tomorrow.

Not satisfied that gays are already one of the most vilified and discriminated against groups in the country, Bush, in a bow to his far-right wingnut base wants to codify their bigotry and hatred by desecrating one of the most admired documents in history: our Constitution. This is a document that, throughout its history, has been a beacon of freedom. That history has not always been perfect, but the trend has been towards a greater protection of equality for all, towards a greater provision and protection of rights to Americans.

No matter how the amendment is phrased, no matter what Rethugs say about their intentions, no matter how mealy-mouthed Democrats blather on about marriage versus "civil unions," this is about denying equal protection under the law to a group of people. It would be a direct repudiation of the 14th amendment. It would be a horrid stain on the source of all of our freedoms.

What can you do? Write and/or call your congress person. Write and/or call the White House. Write letters to your local newspaper. Call in to local talk shows. If you love this country, if you really want to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," if you love your freedoms - then exercise the responsibilities that come along with them!

Congress.org has a search function allowing you to get the addresses and phone numbers of everyone in the federal government you might want to contact. Go there now. Tell them all that you want to protect and enhance rights and freedom for all citizens, NOT to restrict them.

Go now!

UPDATE:The following is the text of the letter I sent to my representatives in Congress through the Congress.org website. I hope you've clicked through and sent a letter as well.

When I entered West Point in 1979, and again when I entered the Regular
Army in 1983, I took an oath to "...protect and defend the constitution of
the United States..." so did President Bush. I am not as familiar with the
oaths - if any - required upon being seated as a member of Congress, but I
would imagine the intent is much the same.

I believe that the above House Joint Resolution is a direct attack on the
Constitution which it is all of our duties to defend. If this resolution
passes, an amendment is sent to the states for ratification and it passes,
it would be the first amendment to restrict the rights of a group of
citizens in the modern history of that document.

I urge you to vote against this resolution, I urge you to fight it in any
way that you can. Do not fall prey to those who would codify their hatred
and bigotry into a document that has been a beacon of freedom to our
citizens and to the people of the world since it was first written.

Thank you for your consideration in this incredibly important matter.

Sincerely,


Charles O. Perez

It's Going to Be a Dirty Fight

Via Dohiyi Mir, we get an early idea of just how nasty the Rethugs are going to be this election. Not like we really needed a reminder, but this one is especially egregious; once again a BushCo. official is tainting all who oppose it as terrorists.

This is not the usual "with us or agin' us" bullshit we've come to expect from the Repugs. This time, Secretary of Education Rod Paige actually said that the national teachers' union, The NEA, were a terrorist organization. The remark was confirmed by several state governors, attending a private White House meeting on education. Paige, of course, said that he and the administration support "ordinary teachers," attempting to divorce teachers from the union they belong to.

While the governors, at least the Democrats among them, were surprised by this turn of phrase, I don't think any of us should be. This has been the way of the thugs in BushCo all along: tar with the widest possible brush all those who disagree with you. Democrats at all levels, but especially whoever wins the party nod for President should be planning for this to be an exceptionally dirty campaign. History has shown that Rove and his sock-puppet are fully capable of running the nastiest of campaigns. I hope everyone is ready.

Monday, February 23, 2004

It's What You Know, Not Who You Know...

Sure it is.

Seems that Halliburton is feeling the heat from all its scandals and its links to Dick "The Dick" Cheney. So they've started running TV ads claiming that despite all appearances, despite all facts, they got the high profile, no-bid, cost-plus contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan not because Cheney used to be their CEO, not because they still pay Cheney a deferred salary, not because having an ex-CEO in the White House gives them unprecedented access to decisions, not because they've contributed over $800,000 to Republican campaign coffers in just the past year.

Nope.

Apparently they got those contracts "because of what we know, not who we know."

Of course "what they know" is how to overcharge for gasoline, how to charge for meals not actually served to troops, how NOT to keep their field kitchens clean and how to line Rethugs' pockets to keep their mouths shut.

But while trying to clean up their public image, seems they are shining a light on the Republicans' involvement in the whole mess, not to their liking:

...the Halliburton spots - two are on the air so far - have created an awkward situation for the White House, which has not fallen over itself to embrace them. Mr. Cheney's office had no comment, and neither did the Bush campaign. But one Republican official close to the administration said the company was clearly thinking of itself, not the president's re-election.
Whoever that "Republican official" is, he seems to be implying that they expect some sort of quid-pro-quo that they are not getting. Imagine that. Are companies supposed to be "thinking of the president's re-election?" And why would this official expect that? Curiouser and curiouser.

Read all about it in today's New York Times.

Anybody But Bush

I hadn't been able to decide what to put up in my sidebar under "For President" since Dr. Dean dropped his bid. For a while I just "draped" his Dean for America button with a black band; I guess sort of in mourning for the campaign. But I wanted something else there, something more forceful but still reflective of my ambilvalence towards the two frontrunners.

Being somewhat creative, and having a little time on my hand this weekend, I decided to make something. And that something turned out to be the "ABB" button you see to the right. For a first attempt at putting something like that together I'm rather happy with how it turned out.

For now it's a link to the Democrats.org website. That will definitely change later, when the candidate is selected.

If anyone out there likes it, please feel free to use it; but please put it on your own site's server - and I'd appreciate a link back and some sort of attribution. Thanks.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

HaloScan Trackback Enabled

HaloScan has implemented a Trackback service with their commenting service. As much as people complain about HaloScan commenting, they've really done a great job supporting their user base; they respond quickly to bugs or problems and they really do provide a great service for the price.

Um...that would be free!

Actually, I should say, considering the price, they provide an amazing service. If you know how to use Trackback, go to it! If not, please visit the HaloScan site, they explain it much better than I ever could. Or visit Steve Bates over at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat - he explains it very simpley as well!