Friday, February 29, 2008

Hell is for Heroes

by expatbrian

172inbde1.gifDustin Thorson was a different kind of soldier and a different kind of hero. A loving father of two small boys and an Air Force technical sargeant, he was assigned to the 752nd Communications Squadron but was sent to Iraq and embedded with Army's 172nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, in Baghdad.

He was a computer wiz and was originally given a job fixing faxes and printers, but his abilities to hack into enemy communications was soon recognized and he was reassigned to do just that. He was nicknamed "Sponge Bob" for his ability to soak up information from the enemy.

Eventually, his skills helped identify and apprehend the 10th most wanted terrorist in Iraq who reputedly ran the largest IED manufacturing plant there. Thorson was able to track the terrorist by hacking into his cell phone and when it rang he pinpointed its location.

In 2006, Thorson was awarded the Joint Commendation Medal for his valuable service. In 2007, back in the US, he volunteered as an advocate against drunk driving and encouraged his fellow airmen to get involved in the Christmas in April program.

On Monday, at his home on Tinker Air Force Base, Dustin Thorson shot his two children, aged 4 and 9, in the chest and head killing each instantly. He then shot himself in the head. Their deaths, and others like them, will not be included in total Iraq body count statistics. But they should be.

PTSD is not always evident but the results are predictably horrific.

Cross posted from World Gone Mad
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We are the world's biggest jailer

By Libby

It's beyond me how anyone can still call America the "land of the free" when the latest figures reveal 1 in 100 Americans are in jail. Our president hypocritically lectures oppressive regimes about human rights when in fact the population at greatest risk of incarceration is right here in the USA.

So is this because we have a more violent society? As dday explains, well -- no.
...[L]awmakers are learning that current prison growth is not driven primarily by a parallel increase in crime, or a corresponding surge in the population at large. Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through popular "three-strikes" measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them there longer. Overlaying that picture in some states has been the habitual use of prison stays to punish those who break rules governing their probation or parole.
The rules violations that send these people back to jail for impossibly long jail terms can be for something as small as missing a meeting with their PO or perhaps some petty crime like stealing a slice of pizza. Meanwhile, this "dumb on crime" approach leads to overcrowding so severe that truly violent offenders are released to reoffend again, which they often do. But the costs don't stop there.
And when sentencing laws eventually produce an overwhelming fiscal burden on the state (the cost of housing prisoners has jumped from $10 billion in 1987 to $44 billion last year), there aren't many choices: cut education or health care or social services to compensate, or contract the job out to private for-profit industry to reduce the expense. Of course, then those industries become reliant on "new customers" for their bottom line, and legislators are again pressured into increasing sentences, and the death spiral continues. There is a direct line between the campaign donations of the private prison industry and the states with the strictest sentencing laws.
This harebrained policy is driven largely by the new prison-industrial complex that contributes heavily to politicians and is supported by small communities whose economic security depends on housing the prisons.

What's missing in the reactions to this story is the nexus between the war on marijuana and prison overcrowding. The root of the problem and the solution both lie there. Non-violent marijuana offenders make up a large percentage of the population. The communities who benefit from prison expansion are largely those who formerly thrived on agricultural enterprises. The obvious fix would be to legalize marijuana and industrial hemp.

These communites could then make a living on raising farm crops again instead of on caging their fellow Americans. Furthermore, the industry would be contributing revenue to the tax base, rather than sucking tax dollars out of the municipal coffers simply to punish our citizens for non-violent, non-infringing lifestyle choices.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just call it war

By Capt. Fogg

Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and
afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our
pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to
have had so much blood in him?

Macbeth Act 5, scene 1



Frankly, I'm not as disturbed by the images of torture and mayhem perpetrated by American "warriors" as by some of the public response you can see at Wired.com where Abu Ghraib photos have been published. It's the ones that argue "this is a war and in a war. . ." and the ones that say "but these are Muslims and they would be happy to eat your children, yada, yada" that make me most ashamed to have any association with this self righteous and evil nation. They've made me evil too; Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and their puppet George Bush. I'm part of it because all I do is complain. I don't risk losing my life to end it, nor even my freedom. All I do is blog and go about my life of comfort and safety.

I got a video in my e-mail yesterday. I don't know whether it was staged or real, but it showed some US military personnel walking through an airport while people stood up and applauded. No one could have been thinking of the archive of pictures on view at UnderMars.com They aren't returning from a parade ground, but from hell and a hell the United States of America created with eagerness and enthusiasm and lies.

Men with plastic bags on their heads being beaten, smiling "warriors" posing with corpses, a man's severed penis in a mousetrap, blood and pain and shit; these are things many Americans think "you do in a war" even though you started the war and of course anyone caught up in the grinder is promoted to the ranks of the "terrorists" who bombed New York even though they didn't.

So clap when you see our soldiers; I'm sure nearly all of them are good people, but don't call them warriors. Warriors take scalps, soldiers are responsible for their actions. Warriors represent themselves, soldiers represent us and when there's blood on their hands, it's on our hands too and remember, when John McCain tries to tell you this is noble, this is about protecting your sainted mother, your back yard barbecue and your civil rights - it isn't. It's about water up the nose, the cattle prod up the ass, bloody teeth spilling out like corn from a popper; it's about rape, about shit and piss and blood on the floor being wiped up with the flag we're supposed to worship like some tawdry pagan idol.

It's about millions of homeless innocents, about a lost generation of uneducated children brought up in terror and squalor and hate. It's about people whose crime was fighting for their homes being tortured like John McCain who once was tortured by those whose homes and children he was destroying. It's about evil. It's about me and about you justifying it all by just calling it war.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Free and fraudulent association

By Capt. Fogg


A tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth, 5. 5

A
lthough the party has traditionally and dishonestly tried to associate itself with adulthood, restraint and responsibility, the members and supporters of the GOP often remind me of the kid who sat in the back of the room in 6th grade and flicked boogers at people or were quick to blame their enemies for that suspicious puddle under their desks.

You may remember the September 2005 confrontation between Dick Cheney and the heroic Doctor Ben Marble, reported in Human Voices, and how Cheney, upon being told to go fuck himself by that great American Patriot and musician immediately blamed the incident upon the fans and followers of John Kerry rather than on the tragic and grotesque mishandling of the Katrina disaster.

Is the tactical conflation of unrelated things as essentially Republican as monetary inflation?

Take the tale told by an idiot Fox News correspondent Martha McClullen about a Texas State Employee who flung egg salad at a Secret Service Agent in Austin Texas. Barak Obama was speaking at the State Capital and the woman was angered upon being told she would have to wait to return to her office. To a Fox fabricator, that's sufficient magic to transform her into a "big fan of Obama" and abracadabra, presto-changeo, this whole thing is a reprise of the attacks on civil rights protesters in the '60's and supported in fine and fallacious tradition by video clips. Unfortunately no video of the Lincoln assassination, Guy Fawkes' Gunpowder Plot or the Defenestration at Prague were available.

Are we witnessing Historical fiction being written before the events are even historical?

Fox and the other News-as-Entertainment outlet stores have turned an important national decision into the kind of steroidal shouting match that wrestling promoters use to build excitement . The more civilized the campaign, the harder they work at it and the more creative they get. I think that what we need is for everyone to be his own Ben Marble; to stand up and say Go fuck yourself Fox - and that goes for you too, CNN and CBS and ABC and anyone else creating phony controversy for private profit and public detriment. You're all as much of a hindrance to Democracy and good government as any other kind of election fraud.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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The oldest trick in the book

By Libby

Digby has already put McCain's apology for his front man at a recent rally into the proper context but I would add this. Yes, it's good that McCain denounced the idiot hatejock but let's not get all starry eyed over it. I mean the guy is a radio personality and surely that's not the first time he's made such remarks. I assume he makes a living from exactly this sort of slander. If McCain didn't expect him to come out and do his schtick, he certainly should have.

It's a classic trial lawyer trick to insert inadmissible content into the narrative. Ask a question that's clearly out of bounds. The judge upholds opposing counsel's objection and instructs the jury to ignore what has just been said in their deliberations. But it's like asking someone not to think of the word hippopotamus. The mere suggestion allows you to think of nothing else.

I have to say, it was a pretty good tactical move. Let the surrgogate look like the bad guy and then take the high road with a heartfelt -- tut tut, we don't countenance name calling in this campaign. But give me a break. As Digby illustrates, Johnny hasn't exactly taken the high road on this sort of smear in the past.


[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Did I miss anything?

By Libby

As I explained at Newshoggers this morning, I didn't watch the debate. With Russert moderating I really didn't see the point. Did anybody with more tolerance than me for insipid gasbags manage to get through it live? What did you think?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dear Mr. DNI

By Libby

This probably won't amount to much. I expect it will be ignored by the main stream media and the White House but it is an interesting development in the FISA 'fix' debate.
Washington, D.C.-Yesterday, four former senior level intelligence officials, all of whom have worked with Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell in the past, sent a letter to McConnell seeking clarification on statements both he and President Bush have made during the recent debate over FISA and telecom immunity. The full letter, signed by former Senior Director for Combating Terrorism at the National Security Counci Rand Beers, former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council Richard A. Clarke, former Deputy National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick and former assistant general counsel at the CIA Suzanne Spaulding, is below.
Shorter version of the letter. Telecom immunity is a crock. Please explain why you are lying about it.
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Media ignores Secret Service laxity

By Libby

I'm working today so I don't have time to pursue the latest news but this story hasn't received enough attention in any event. I blogged about the alarming laxity of Obama's Secret Service detail at Newshoggers and The Detroit News but I haven't really highlighted the story here. I won't rehash the details about the Secret Service allowing thousands of people into his rally without even a cursory screening since Media Bloodhound offers an excellent summary background at the link. Even more importantly, he's noticed that the MSM has ignored this story altogether despite numerous accounts from around the country indicating this was not an isolated instance in Dallas.

But here's the money graf.
In fact, on March 1, 2003, this administration officially made the U.S. Secret Service part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. (You might have heard of that crack federal department, the same one that seven years after 9/11 still can't ensure our airline cargo is checked.) Before that change, since its inception in 1865, the Secret Service had been part of the United States Department of Treasury, operating as a distinct organization within that department beginning in 1883. So what's your guess? That Secret Service improved or worsened under this administration after it was subsumed by the Department of Homeland Security? I would take odds on the latter, but I'm not a betting man.
I suppose I must have read some kind of announcement of this at the time, but clearly the import of the change didn't register at the time. Obama, to his credit, graciously praises the detail assigned to him, but considering the dismal track record of the DHS, I would be rather nervous myself, if I was depending on the agency for protection. Of all the failures of the Bush administration, the DHS is in some ways the greatest one. The next president would do well to disband this ineffcient atrocity along with its Orwellian designation and start from scratch.
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Tin Pin Patriotism

By Capt. Fogg

Sigmund Freud talked about the narcissism of small differences; the tendency toward making the biggest fuss over people who are most nearly identical to us. It calls to mind the Clinton/Obama Celebrity Death Match the media are promoting for their own ends. They're the most nearly alike politically candidates we've seen in a long time, in my opinion, but that's not good for the 24/7 yackathon that the nattering nabobs need to maintain to keep ratings up.

You'd think nothing was happening on planet Earth other than bitter debates about lapel pins and every manufactured nuance of expression is chewed to a disgusting mess like a rawhide dog toy. I don't wear a lapel pin and I won't as long as the people who made my country into a quasi-fascist imperialist plutocracy are in power. I don't trust anyone who wears one and I have not since the darkest days of the Viet Nam War when it was a symbol of support for that fraudulent, mismanaged and vicious enterprise.

I don't trust people who make an issue of a candidate not wearing a toy flag and it's obvious that many people who do are dishonest, because I and others like Crooks and Liars have noticed that John McCain is often seen without his Taiwanese Token of gumball machine patriotism too. Toe tapping Larry Craig, as T Rex points out, wore one for his police mug shot and if the hero of stall three wears one, you know it means something.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary

By Libby

Congrats to Steve Benen who hit five years this weekend at The Carpetbagger. That's a long time in blog years and Steve is probably the hardest working blogger out there. He posts to a number of blogs and runs The Blog Report, among other peripheral projects. It's amazing how he can put out such high quality work every single day. He's truly a living treasure in Blogtopia.
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CNN sinks to cesspool journalism

By Libby

It's a dark day for journalism when you can't tell the difference between a wingnut blogburst and the MSM. Fogg has the Drudge-induced media hysteria of the day well covered but there was a secondary lapse into inanity this morning on CNN. This one is straight off the fanatical fringe email chain. I can't believe they actually put up a poll questioning Obama's patriotism because he doesn't wear a cheap flag pin on his lapel. It seems they've taken it down since.

In case you missed it in Media Bytes, Cole already has the ultimate response -- a rogue's gallery of God Fearing, War Loving, Family Values Holding, patriotic SOBs GOP leaders who proudly sported their 99 cent tin flag while screwing the taxpayers out of millions. Meanwhile, the Atrios poll is by far more relevant.

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Not to be preceived as racist/sexist, but.....

If this doesn't say it all. (From Politico)
The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved.

But then again, it's not like they can ask all those blacks and women in the GOP strategy room.

[Posted by Mike - Born at the Crest of the Empire.]
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Halloween, part 2008

By Capt. Fogg

Michelle Obama may be proud of our country for the first time, but I'm disgusted for another of the countless times I've wished I were a Martian. If this presidential campaign means anything, it surely illustrates what a nation of nasty, stupid and bigoted people we are. Worse, we seem to hate anyone with any appearance of being otherwise and if we can't tear them down legitimately, we tear them down another way even if we have to invent things. Obama refuses to say the "pledge." Not true, but to good to worry that people will reject it. Obama is a Muslim, McCain is too old, Edwards has too good a haircut. Hillary called the shots when Bill was president, but we know that Bill will call the shots when Hillary is president. All of them, like Ron Paul, are suspect because they don't just love, love, love everything America has ever done to the point where they bind it all as a frontlet on their foreheads and display it on their lapels. Nobody of course, supports the troops and everybody supports the troops and the ones who are willing to shoot you for criticizing Bush and he war are criticizing Bush and his war. As Humphrey Bogart once said "they'll get you if you scratch your ass as the flag goes by." He was right, but they'll get you if you don't too.

Now it's about clothing. Both Clintons and Obama have been photographed wearing African clothing and Bush has been photographed wearing African clothing as has a great host of visiting dignitaries to Africa, yet Obama supporters see the picture of him in Kenya as a smear from the Clinton camp - or at least they want you to see it that way. Obama haters see it as proof of his heretical unpatriotism. It's Halloween. It's a masked ball. Rudy Giuliani must be a Jew for wearing a yarmulke in Miami, Purvez Musharraf must be a Christian for wearing a Savile Row suit and I'm definitely the Great Kahuna for wearing a Hawaiian shirt this afternoon. The only way you can tell we're not stuck in a Halloween version of Groundhog Day is that the kids are older and nobody's getting much candy.

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Media Bytes - Margaret Cho Edition

By Libby

Song in my head. [Not safe for work] This song has been rolling in my head since I picked it at Avedon's yesterday. I though Cho was a comedian, not a rapper, but I think I liked it because it featured women who don't fit the stereotypical mold for music videos. Meanwhile I'm off to work so this is a low commentary post in no particular order.

Pelosi's challenger puts impeachment on the table.

This guy will never be invited to Fox News again.

The ultimate post on lapel pin patriotism.

Nineteen.

Too funny. O'Reilly disses his own station.

This is my life.

Bushamatic generator

This is what global warming looks like.

Hindrocket shows his class.

DO NOT WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY AFTER EATING. Seriously. Malkin sings.

Democrats save the constitution.

Oh those dresses.

And finally some nice wood sculptures.

[via Avedon, Jules, Mycos, David D]

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Clinton campaign flailing

By Libby

If you're old enough to have lived through the Nixon years, you'll probably also find the HuffPo's description of Hillary's latest messaging as over the top theatrics, a bit overstated. I've seen worse, but there was nothing subtle about that mockery. I leave it to you to judge for yourself whether it was offensive.

For myself, I was put off by it on a couple of levels. I'm really tired of negative campaigning and I found it rude. Plus, she came off like a candidate who is still struggling to find a central message which rather conflicts with the whole ready on day one theme. I don't find that reassuring.

I don't understand the strategy or the timing behind it at all. I imagine it was designed to counter the impression that she was conceding at the debate, but the inconsistency between that event and the last two days is dizzying. She went from nice Hillary, to angry Hillary to mean Hillary in the space of three days. And as skippy points out, it's an odd choice to mock faith on a Sunday.

However, Joe Gandelman asks the money question. Will it change any minds? It may have worked a few months ago, but now? I imagine it will encourage her supporters who will see a fighting spirit in the taunting but I don't see it winning any converts.

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue

by expatbrian

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family." ~ Mike Huckabee

If McCain's campaign falls apart again, as it easily could, the fanatical Mike Huckabee becomes the Republican's main squeeze. How scary is that? And now that Nader has limped into the race again (do you believe this guy?) which will cost Obama a few votes, the threat of a Huck actually making it into the White House cannot be ignored.

On top of all this, the Catholic Church has come out and condemned the Dems for their pro-abortion stance and said that a vote for Obama is a vote for the devil. They compare the Dems to The Nazis. They seem to have forgotten that 5 of the 7 justices who voted for Roe vs Wade were appointed by Republican administrations.

"In our country we have, for the most part, allowed the party of death and the court system it has produced to eliminate, since 1973, upwards of 40 million of our fellow citizens without allowing them to see the light of day," wrote Rockford, Ill., Bishop Thomas Doran in 2006.

"No doubt, we shall soon outstrip the Nazis in doing (sic) human beings to death." He continued, "We know . . . that adherents of one political party would place us squarely on the road to suicide as a people."

If that statement is not ridiculous and obscene then it is also not ridiculous and obscene to believe that one reason the church is so saddened by the loss of these little citizens, is because it reduces the potential pool of fresh meat for their perverted and abusive priests. And if the church is so willing to get directly involved in national politics, why aren't they paying national taxes?

drinan.jpgI agree with Huck on one thing. I think the Constitution needs to be changed. I think it ought to clearly define and mandate the separation of church and state. I think that part of that mandate should include federal penalties and loss of tax exempt status in any instance where the church or its clergy takes a public stance on any political issue, whether it affects the church or not, or supports any candidate or any party. And yes, that would mean that a pastor, priest, reverend or clergy of any kind could not hold any political office including President.

The founding fathers included the separation clause in the Constitution not just to protect the church from interference from the state. The intention was to also protect the state from the church and it is time to start doing exactly that.

cross posted from World Gone Mad


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Dear Ralph

By Libby

For the love of the Goddess, please get over yourself. It's time to fold your cards. All you're holding is jokers.

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News from Vleeptron

By Libby

Our special correspondent from the planet where the fun never stops and science is mandatory takes a look at McCain and the lovely lobbyist. You don't get analysis like this on earth.

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Frankly my dear....

By Libby

I don't know if it's my computer or Blogger but I've had major connectivity problems today. Anyway, I managed to get into the program so... I was tempted to try my hand at some snark with Frank Rich and MoDowdy's columns today but why mess with genius. There's no way I'm going to be able to outclass driftglass. Imagery like this should be declared a national treasure.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Excess Hoggage - Dream a Little Dream of Me edition

By Libby

Song in my head. To the extent that I remember my dreams, the ones that linger in memory tend to be recurring ones. I dream about some strange place that I recognize from being there before -- in a earlier dream. I had one of those last night. It's one I like. I'm living in a kind of palace compound. There's a beautiful courtyard paved in white stone with a fountain. If only my waking hours were filled with such pleasantries. Instead, here's what I've been blogging about while stalking through the intertubes.

I have a number of questions about Obama's Secret Service security. I'll be interested in knowing if the same policy holds true for all the candidates.

However, I have no doubts about how Hillary lost her sure bet.

Which rather reinforces my theme that to some extent we need to judge the candidates by the company they keep.

And while I agree this is no way to pick a candidate, it's pretty cheap to rule out losing by trying to change the rules in midstream.

Not that Hillary has been unwilling to take a cheap shot even if she's just as guilty of the alleged breach of conduct.

In other news, the more I think about it, I wonder if Chris Matthews cut a deal with the Clintons to pay penance for his pot shots at Hillary by pulling off this cheap stunt.

No excuse for that. Not that I expect any of our elite 'serious' gasbags to take up Hilzoy's challenge.

Maybe then I could turn to the media to find out which candidate has the best health insurance policy instead of having to ask my readers.

Meanwhile, The White House spins itself silly on FISA.

That would be funny if it wasn't so serious but worse yet, telecom immunity is just the beginning.

Sigh. I wonder if it's too early to go back to bed? Lately, I'm liking my dreams better than the real world.

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De Profundis

By Capt. Fogg

"These kinds of things are always very unfortunate." said John McCain, referring to the indictment of the latest Republican. Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi now has extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and a few side dishes on his plate. Is anyone keeping score to see which party has the highest body count? I would be curious to know.

These kinds of things are not always so unfortunate. The depths of our planet's oceans may be dark and inaccessible but the political exploits of recent history often seem to have been swallowed up, or covered up by an ocean of forgetfulness. Of course John McCain wasn't convicted of taking, along with four other congressional crustaceans, large amounts of "campaign" money and expensive vacations from convicted racketeer Charles Keating, the man who eventually cost taxpayers $3,400,000,000. McCain vigorously intervened on Keating's part and Keating's conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Depending upon which side of the political species divide you live, it's either one of the skeletons in McCain's closet or ancient history from which we must "move on" but as far as the general public knows or cares, it might as well have been dumped into the depths of the Mariana's trench. McCain, who once sent constituent Joe Bananas a birthday card is once again, like Brutus, an honorable man. An honorable man who has never done anything like making friends with lobbyists to betray the public trust. An honorable man and a Baptist, or at least the lifelong Episcopalian became one when he started sucking up to the religious right in South Carolina. Of course he has never been baptized in that church, but that's all in the past - or not in the past, to be more accurate.

With a man who campaigns on his honesty, is it fair to address his evasions and misstatements? I'll leave that to you, but although McCain's talk may be straight, his facts aren't. He may not have slept with Vicki Iseman and she may never have used his friendship to further her clients' interest, but he has certainly had less savory bedfellows and when he says: "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust," I don't trust him.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Obama wins debate

By Libby

I'm working today and am out of time to expound further so you'll have to click over to my post at Newshoggers to get my take on the event. Clearly, it was almost a draw, but to the extent that anyone won any points, I think it was Obama. To be fair though, Hillary didn't lose anything here and probably gained a little. I haven't seen her look better since the campaign started.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Singapore Awarded 1st Summer Youth Olympics

by expatbrian

singapore-flag.gifThis city went crazy last night with the announcement that we had beaten out Moscow to host the first Summer Youth Olympics in 2010.

Yup. We bad.

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Will Citizens Be Denied Reentry Into The US?

By Kvatch

With little fanfare, and as little review, new travel rules went into effect on the 19th of February that may have a profound effect on the ability and willingness of Americans to travel abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security has placed an odious new requirement on international air travel to, from, and over the United States. Where previously passenger lists had to be supplied to DHS within 15 minutes of a US bound flight taking off, now those lists must be made available in advance and every passenger must be given "permission" by DHS to board the flight in question. Think about that for a second. A passport is no longer sufficient to allow you to travel abroad, and DHS have given themselves the ability to deny you reentry to the United States...indefinitely.

Though most people don't know this the right to travel and, more specifically, the right to return to one's country of origin is guaranteed by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the United States is a signatory. So these new rules are, in effect, a violation of treaties and by extension, the United States Constitution that requires that treaties be treated as the 'law of the land'.

Though...the small matter of treaty violations doesn't seem to bother DHS who've taken this nonsense one step further. They've added new procedural rules that require Customs and Border Protection officers to reject oral declarations of citizenship from people attempting to cross into the US by land. Now...two forms of identification that can establish citizenship will be required, presumably your passport and one other, such as a birth certificate. I don't know about you, but I'm not in the habit of carrying my birth certificate with me when I travel abroad.

So in the end the question is: When the Feds start using these rules to deny reentry to "troublemakers" (and they will), what recourse does the newly "stateless" person have?

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A creative commons Congress

By Libby

I have to work this afternoon and expect a phone call at any moment calling me in, so just this quick note for now. Lawrence Lessig, father of the Creative Commons license, is a tireless advocate for free expression and relentless defender of internet neutrality and other related freedoms. He is thinking about running for Congress. He's a personal hero of mine and I can't think of better man to have on the inside. It makes me want to move to his district just so I could vote for him.

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Baptist Balls

By Capt. Fogg

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

-Bob Dylan-

Who says Florida is backward? Our State may rank near the bottom by many methods of academic assessment but at least now, at last, you can use the word "Evolution" in our schools - even if your kids still have to pledge that God is sovereign and not the people.

New academic standards that squeaked through by one vote Tuesday, now state that evolution is
"the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence."
No shit! So with one stroke and by one vote, Florida puts it's toe tentatively into the 19th century, trembling with fear and holy trepidation.

The executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention has objected to calling evolution the only fundamental concept underlying biology in an e-mail to the Florida Education Commissioner. John Sullivan the Baptist asserted that the Baptists firmly believe there's evidence of a "Creator-initiated origin of life." He didn't explain how he knew that Baptists believed this; whether they believed it because they were Baptists or Baptists because they believed it, nor did he tell us how many of these people doubted the evidence for gravity. The "evidence" for creationism consists entirely of the will to believe what someone once said in a book written before soap was invented and a carefully guarded ignorance of Geology, Genetics, Physics, Mathematics, Logic, Chemistry and Paleontology. Too bad I didn't have the Baptist Cojones as a student to try to dismiss the Calculus of multiple independent variables as a "mere theory" whose weaknesses were that Jesus didn't know how either and that I didn't do my homework.
"The weaknesses of science should be taught as well as its strengths"
says Sullivan and never mind the weaknesses of belief or of "God's Word" as concerns the Jerusalem centered, 6000 year old universe, a flat earth that floats on an endless sea and a fixed firmament studded with little lights that can be reached by building a mud brick tower above which a male God complete with navel and genitals, lives in endless and vindictive glory.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pictures of the Day









I don't know what to make of the NYTimes story (and WaPo companion) about John McCain's relationship with this lobbyist. I can't get past the fact that she looks like his wife, only younger.















[Posted by Mike - Born at the Crest of the Empire]
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Eclipse alert - Updated

By Libby

If you love celestial phenomena, there's a total eclipse of the moon tonight. It's supposed to start around quarter to nine EST, but if you're in a different time zone, check here for your best viewing.

I don't think I'm going to be able to see it. The moon rose about an hour ago in a clear sky but since then the clouds rolled in and they're not moving at all. Unless the winds aloft get going, I'm afraid I'll miss it. Hope you have better luck.

Update: Well, the wind kicked up and broke up the clouds a little. There was a good sized break for about ten minutes so I got to see it at its peak but I didn't get to see any of the changes. The coolest part was I could watch from the comfort of my deck. That was a first. If the weather thwarted you as well, Earl made a short YouTube of the event.

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Mr. Popularity

By Libby

Actually, this worries me.
Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.

Among Americans registered to vote, 18% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 78% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 15% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 79% disapprove.
With Bush, you always have to wonder how he's going to react to rejection. Usually he like to start a war or something.

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Inspiration is just so icky

By Libby

You gotta love wingnuts. Over at the birthplace of cognitive dissonance, Jim Geraghty is unnerved that a president might ask him to give up being uninvolved, uninformed and apathetic. I guess I can understand why he finds it so creepy. Then he wouldn't be able to post at The National Review anymore. You know how those pesky fact thingys have a liberal bias and they take so long to figure out. Who has time for that?

On the other hand, his main man Bush, only asks that they go shopping while he decides everything in secret. I can totally see how asking people to get involved in the democratic process is like, so much more threatening. Why can't Obama just illegally spy on us instead? And geez, you won't catch any creepy messianic pretensions in Bush's speeches.

I wonder if they actually pay these guys to write this tripe?

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My country, 'tis of thee. . .

By Capt. Fogg

It's starting. Barak Obama is now the Democratic candidate apparent and the Swift Boats are weighing anchor, the slime breweries are bubbling and the Republican Values Vermin are sitting around the cauldron and giggling.

Barak, you see, is a homosexual junkie and even though he never went to a radical Islamic school, he did anyway. He's a known follower of Soviet leaders, planns to send our wealth to foreign countries because he is a Communist and his wife is anti-American. My in-box is crawling with racist "jokes" from people I formerly respected.
"Barack’s first presidential photo will show Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton on his right side and Teddie Kennedy and Oprah standing on his left side." says one.
"the head of the National Black Caucus said on NPR, National Public Radio, that if his boy got in he would make sure that Jessie was made Secretary of something. " says another. The viral video: Barak the Magic Negro has crawled out of its coffin again.

It's not as though I didn't expect it and it's not as though every country doesn't have it's unworthies. It's that we don't drag them out into the public square and pillory them any more that makes me so ashamed.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Old Friends

by expatbrian


















Philippine women protesting the US participation in joint military excercises.

Remember when they used to like us?

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Early Exits from Wisconsin

Politicalwire has compiled some exit polling.
  • Women: Obama 51%, Clinton 49%
  • Change vs. experience, 52% to 24%.
  • Just 17% are first time voters
  • Families with income under 50,000: Obama 51%, Clinton 49%
  • Independents: Obama 63%, Clinton 34%
  • Seniors: Clinton 60%, Obama 39%
  • Top quality - experience: Clinton 95%, Obama 5%
  • Union households: Clinton 50%, Obama 49%

This exit polling could be wrong, but oy. The narrative will likely be the one Mike Allen characterizes,
The news out of the primary will be: Obama encroached deeply into three of Clinton’s core groups of voters — women, those with no college degree and those with lower incomes — while giving up none of his own.

[Posted by Mike - Born at the Crest of the Empire]
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Soldiers for the Right Christ

by expatbrian

godsarmy.jpgChristian fundamentalists have a strong presence in our military and due to the very structured system of rank, anyone who believes otherwise is open to ridicule, humiliation and even abuse. (entire article)

Since his last combat deployment in Iraq, Jeremy Hall has had a rough time, getting shoved and threatened by his fellow soldiers. The trouble started there when he would not pray in the mess hall. "A senior ranking staff sergeant told me to leave and sit somewhere else because I refused to pray," said Hall.
Hall was reprimanded by a major who called him a troublemaker, and threatened to block his reenlistment attempts. The major accused Hall of holding a meeting of "athiests and freethinkers". Wow! That freethinking will get you every time!

A former air force lawyer has formed a group to protect the rights of these "freethinking soldiers". He has received over 6,800 testimonials from military personnel, many of them Christians, who have been harassed and even punished in attempts to force them to accept a strict fundamentalist evangelical view of Christianity.

On the other side of the battle is the 15,000 member strong Officer's Christian Fellowship (OCF). Their stated mission is

"to achieve a spiritually transformed military with embassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit". It professes belief in the "eternal blessedness of the saved and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost".
ocf.jpg Just what we need. An army of fanatics committed to the concious punishment of the lost. Are we sure this is still America?

So, in other words, these fundamentalists, led by an organized group of officers, is violating one of the most basic rights of the very Constitution they are sworn to uphold. And they're so righteous that you don't have to be a Muslim or a Jew to incur their wrath. They even hate the non-fundy Christians.

No surprise to me at all. The American military is home to many of the most narrow minded, ignorant and racist losers that our country produces. And that includes both the enlisted and officer ranks.

I'm sure that many veterans would agree that a primary reason they did not and would not even consider a career in the military is because it would mean having obey these uneducated, simple minded bigots for the long term.

While some make the military their career to escape poverty or for educational opportunity, many simply don't have what it takes to succeed in the real world. For them, the military is a second mother. It feeds them, houses them, takes care of them when they are sick, clothes them and tells them exactly what to do and when to do it. And unless you really, really screw up, you'll never get fired. They are utterly and completely dependent.

These new fundamentalist Christians fit right into that. And while the Pentagon is spewing its expected rhetoric about "religious rights" and "respecting tenants of faith", they are circling the wagon's to protect these jerks.

I don't care what any individual chooses to believe as long as they keep it to them selves and don't try pawn it off on me. But if I'm in a combat situation, depending on the guy next to me to have my back, I don't want someone with a religious agenda. I want someone who can and will pull the trigger.



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Quote of the week

By Libby

I meant to put this up yesterday. Michael Linn Jones wrote an really good post on pundits and our economy and this has my vote as quote of the week.
In the economic funhouse that set up its tent in the 1970’s, lip service is paid to the vast pool of unwashed consumers. The REAL decisions; the true engine of the economy, are those of the “investing class” who are better-educated, and therefore wiser, than a bunch of chocolate cherry-chomping chumps watching TV.
Read the whole thing. Michael's right. As far the "experts" are concerned, all that matters is the velocity of money for those who already have it. I doubt they even understand the concept of living paycheck to paycheck. Those of us in that boat are all just collateral damage in the culture wars.

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Blogroll additions

By Libby

Well, we're trying to keep the spirit of democratic blogroll linking alive here and have a few additions today. The Political Cat is certainly keeping the Blogroll Amnesty theme alive at her place with some impressive attention to linking to small blogs. Also by request for reciprocal links, say hello to ToTheCenter where they're building a nice community of bloggers.

And click over to Northman's Fury who didn't ask for a linkback but blogrolled me already. I know him through his comments at Newshoggers and have been meaning to add him anyway since he's a great blogger, but a reminder to all of you who have rolled me and don't appear on mine, don't be shy, drop me an email at the addy on the sidebar and let me know.

I'm also adding Rob Singleton to the Right Wing roll. I have to say I'm more than a little uncomfortable blogrolling an evangelical who doesn't believe that gays should have the right to marry but in the spirit of expanding the dialogue, I'm willing to trade the link even though he's less than a month old because he's posting daily.

Which brings me to a note on our blogroll policy. I'm all for giving newbies a leg up but I'm not generally keen on trading links until you've been blogging for at least a month. I've seen a lot of people start blogs and give them up when they didn't immediately get huge traffic. I'd appreciate if you didn't pitch for a link until you're sure you're going to keep your place up to help keep maintenance down on my end. Otherwise, keep those requests coming. There's room for everybody in Blogtopia.

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Viva Cuba Libre!

By Capt. Fogg

Bush began to talk about the "blessings of Liberty" like some Chatty Kathy Doll when he heard of Fidel Castro's resignation as President of Cuba. He launched into a typically rambling riff about unfair elections and people rotting in prisons while the gods of hypocrisy smiled down on him like a proud parent upon a favored child.

No, I'm not a fan of Fidel, but many Cubans are and they see him as having provided a better life than they had when Cuba was run by a feudal corruptocracy owned by American interests, legitimate and otherwise. Many Cubans see their financial problems as something done to them out of spite and malice by our fair country and indeed our policies have hurt the common man while strengthening Castro and his party. I would hardly be surprised to hear that many Cuban patriots wonder if those blessings of liberty Bush extols are like the blessings we have afforded other countries whose resources we crave and the "fair" elections he describes would be like those we have squashed or rigged in places like Iran and Latin America and Vietnam.

It's not that I'm sad to see him step down and I'm hopeful that Cuba will be allowed to rejoin the world and its economy in my lifetime. As a lifelong fan of Earnest Hemingway I would love to follow his route from Key West to Cuba in my own boat and be free to return home without reprisals from my own government. Who knows? It may happen, but not now. The embargo will remain in place, no move toward reconciliation will be made, for despite the rapturous rhetoric about liberty, it's still all about the nationalization of US owned assets that offended our sense of entitlement so badly over 50 years ago. Cubans in Miami may be cheering Viva Cuba Libre, but in Washington the unheard prayer is Viva Coca Cola and Viva Cosa Nostra.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Right on the money

By Capt. Fogg

The coins of many countries have some sort of decoration or a motto around the rim. This descends from the days when coins had intrinsic worth and weren't mere tokens. The unscrupulous would shave the edges of gold and silver coins. When the latest series of "gold tone" Presidential Dollars was released however, the Religious Right, never known for superior cognitive function, raised holy hell and engorged their various web sites with rage and our in-boxes with viral e-mails excoriating the "liberals" for, as the ten Commandments command, taking God off the money or at least banishing him to the margins. Of course God isn't the name of God, but putting him on a dollar alongside a forbidden graven image is pretty close to taking his name (or names) in vain. Jesus made an issue of the inappropriateness of associating God with money and the money of his day had God written all over it.

Of course the motto wasn't taken off the money and it wasn't "hidden" as some of the more perspicacious idiots insisted, but these people are all about the cultivation and breeding of irrational anger and facts and reason are as carefully removed from their passionate fugues as weeds from a garden. What would irony aficionados like me do without that bottomless well of religious idiocy? I might have to stop writing and get a life.

God was on the money of England when we were a colony and on the Spanish Milled Dollar that was legal tender here at the time of the Revolution also asserted that the government and God were as one, or at least in cahoots. Our coins remained secular until the Civil War when it became politically advantageous to relate the Northern Cause to God's Cause even though God never said much about the evils of slavery. I will leave that to you to ponder over but isn't it ironic that it's mainly in the South where people want to continue that tradition while forgetting how it was used against them?

It's not that I give a damn about religious commandments. It doesn't bother me that so many hairy palmed and ignorant Fundies worship them like some mildewed stone idol and since I don't trust the government that issues the coins in the first place, I can just as easily mistrust the God of Coinage referred to on most, but not all, coins since 1864 and let them have their bone to gnaw.

So when Congress just had to take time off from our War to perpetuate all wars late last year; that war so dire that our birthright has to be sold in the name of security, to pass legislation making sure that God has to be there right next to the picture of the President on the coins we slip into the slots of Vegas or render unto those machines in the gas station mens room, I had to thank my god of irony for the gift.

Take that Jefferson! Take that Yahweh! Take that Jesus and all your Jewish, liberal, atheist, socialized medicine loving friends. You won't be turning over tables in our Republican temple.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Dear Senator Clinton

By Kvatch

For all the injustices you've suffered at the hands of rabid, sub-human conservatives...I wish it were otherwise.

For the admirable way you've moved forward following the dark days of an unjust impeachment...I wish it were otherwise.

In recognition of your service to the people of New York and the considerable skill you've brought to the job...I wish it were otherwise.

For the fact that, at this time in history—even more than I desire to see a black or hispanic president—I ache to see a woman finally achieve the White House...I wish it where otherwise.

But it is not otherwise. The Clinton era ended at the moment the US Supreme Court illegally stopped the 2000 Florida recount, and the days of your husband's presidency will not return. Your presidency would be as divisive as his because the Republicans will not stop until you and your administration are destroyed.

I sincerely wish it where otherwise, but you are the wrong woman at the right time.

This is not to say that this should be the end. Stay in the Senate where your skills and charm can do more good than you would be able to do in the White House. I want to see you as the Majority Leader. I want you to be the bulwark that stands between us and the next "George W Bush". Or...be a justice on the Supreme Court—be the Chief Justice! I want you as a protector of the Constitution.

In conclusion, the presidency may not be your crowning achievement, but the woman that follows you will acknowledge that it was your campaign that made her presidency possible. I wish it were otherwise...I really, really do, but there are so many 'firsts' yet to achieve.
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It's only words - Updated

By Libby

BigHead DC raises the alert sirens to announce "alarming similarities" in a speech Obama gave a couple of days ago to one given by MA governor Deval Patrick in 06. Watch the videos for yourself. Oh, the horror. They both quoted the same inspirational phrases from well known speeches, given by men who are now dead. I'm sure nobody else in the intervening decades has ever quoted those words before.

So why is this nonsense an issue today? Apparently because the Clinton camp is appalled by Obama's 'thievery.'
Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign's communications director, today accused Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of committing “plagiarism” in a speech in Milwaukee on Saturday night. — Wolfson made the explosive charge in an interview with Politico …
Explosive? Sounds like a dud to me and it just underlines the problem with Clinton's campaign. They're still spinning like it's 1993. Yeah, plagiarism took down Biden once, but this little stick of TNT is going to blow up on Clinton, not Obama.

I remember reading once, a very long time ago, that there are only ten original ideas in the world and everything else is a variation on those themes. That seemed about right to me and besides, people often have the same thought independently. I don't know how many times I've thought I invented a clever turn of phrase for a blog post, only to see it used in some other outlet the next day. Occassionally I'll google it to see if I was first, and discover that someone else entirely used the exact same words three years ago. The dictionary isn't infinite and we probably internalize more of what we hear and see than we realize.

In any event, even if you want to accuse Obama of "stealing" the idea, the fact is that Deval Patrick doesn't mind a bit. As he pointed out, the language doesn't so much matter as the point that is being made. Both were pushing back against their opponent's contention that words don't matter and Obama has a most eloquent comeback to that accusation.
“It’s true that speeches don’t solve all problems,” he said. “But what is also true if we cannot inspire the country to believe again, it doesn’t matter how many policies and plans we have.”
Edison famously said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." The thing is, without that 1% nothing gets done. If Clinton wants to sell her policy prowess, she should stop sweating over finding every tiny flaw in her opponent and work more on the 1% factor she's been ignoring. Without it, all the voters smell is the stink of desperation.

[Preemptive confession: The title of this post was shamelessly stolen from the BeeGees song.]

Update: Call in the paramedics, the back flash on this 'explosive discovery' has begun.
In a conference call just now the Clinton campaign would not guarantee that Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, has never used someone else's rhetoric without crediting them. [...]

In fact, Wolfson seemed to say it wouldn't be as big a deal if it were discovered that Clinton had "lifted" such language.

"Sen. Clinton is not running on the strength of her rhetoric," Wolfson said.
The Clintonites have been praising Jake Tapper's coverage on this story all day. Wonder what they're going to say about this revelation?

[cross-posted to The Reaction]

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Hypocritical oath

By Capt. Fogg

I like the idea. Pennsylvania State Senator John Eichelberger, A Republican of course, has introduced a bill strategically titled the Conscientious Objection Act. Of course the idea of exempting someone from the draft because of conscientious objections to war isn't often associated with the Conservative "ethic" but Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1255 isn't about war, it's about birth control and abortion. It provides immunity for those hospitals and doctors who won't administer drugs designed to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterine wall and who won't perform abortions or inform a patient as to the availability thereof.
"A health care institution that declines to provide or participate in a health care service that violates its conscience shall not be civilly, criminally or administratively liable."
I'm amused by the suggestion that a corporation can be possessed of a conscience, but as I said, I like the idea. Forcing health care professionals to provide health care is after all, unnecessary government regulation and this sort of protection should be extended to other public service providers.

I would like to see firefighters and their departments allowed to pick and choose which buildings they protect and which people they will rescue according to their prejudices consciences and I would prefer that policemen not chase after those who commit crimes against atheists or pagans or followers of false religions. Souls are, after all, at stake.

Doctors should be given the freedom to treat or not treat certain afflictions according to conscience. Syphilis, after all was sent by Gawd to torment sinners along with a host of plagues he's provided to punish populations for their tolerance of sins and intolerance of religious rule. We shouldn't be interfering with his will in a country so dedicated to him that congress had to take time out last year to pass legislation to make sure GOD was more prominently displayed on new coins. In Gawd we trust and under Gawd we are.

The next time some terminally pregnant woman is at death's door because of a hydrocephalic fetus she can just die in the street for want of a "partial birth abortion" and the next time that 12 year old retarded girl knocked up by a hospital orderly wants the morning after pill she can forget about offending the consciences of the health care corporations. Gawd will be pleased.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Dear Senator Obama

By Kvatch

OK, I'll admit it: I'm in a quandary here. You see...my man John Edwards is out of the race, and frankly I don't think you're qualified to be the president. I'm not old enough to be excited by perceived similarities between your campaign and the 1960 Kennedy campaign. Likewise, I'm not young enough to be filled with optimism merely by listening to your speeches. In fact, you and I are just about the same age, and if I had as little time on the national stage as you, I wouldn't consider myself qualified to be President either.

True, you were a member of the Illinois State Senate for 6 years, but that run for the House of Representatives didn't work out so well. And since then, you've developed a habit very common in your Gen-Y supporters: You've started job jumping. In other words, you get bored with a position and then...well...you move on. Hell, your US Senate seat wasn't even warm before you decided that your time had come. So what should we expect 14 months into an Obama administration? That you've had enough and are going to run for God?

Add to that the fact that, since starting your campaign, you've acquired an unfortunate allergy to Senate roll call votes. Since I'm not naive enough to believe what you say on the stump, the most reliable guide to your views is your voting record. It's the touchstone of the pressures that you might be susceptible too. But you seem to have concluded that if you don't vote no one will figure you out. Your vote in favor of stripping immunity from the telecom bill? Admirable. Your refusal to vote on final passage? Transparent and cowardly.

In short, I wish you'd go back and prove that you can serve your constituents though till the end of your term. Then...maybe...I'll consider you qualified to serve the rest of us.
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

I get a kick out of you

By Libby



When I was a kid, this is what we watched on TV after the newshour was over. Gloves were mandatory in those days. I had a least half a dozen myself, in varying shades of white. Wrist length. Long gloves were for grownups and movie stars. Sometimes you were required to wear a hat as well. Those were the rules.

Dinah's Jane Jetson get up though... that was cutting edge, as was she. She busted through the boy's club and became a powerful player in an male dominated industry. I was a big fan.

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Bad day for accountability

By Libby

I didn't get to this yesterday, but it's bad news for those who care about holding this administration accountable for its corruption.
One of government's chief internal watchdogs resigned yesterday, as Comptroller General David M. Walker, an outspoken gadfly and frequent witness on Capitol Hill, announced his plans to lead a new foundation focused on U.S. fiscal responsibility.
Walker is on of the few holdovers from before the current band of thieves took over the White House and he's been fearless in exposing their pickpocketing of the treasury on behalf of their corporate cronies. It's unlikely we'll get anyone as honest if Bush gets to nominate them, assuming he doesn't just let the office remain unmanned, which would serve his nefarious ends even better.

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Media Bytes -- Crown of Creation edition

By Libby

Song in my head. I used to really love the Smothers Brothers show and on the theme of variety, I have a mixed bag of links for your Sunday amusement.

I'm glad this showed up in my referrals because I've been wanting to get 300 women bloggers onto the blogroll. I keep losing the link.

Speaking of losing, Kucinich may have lost his bid for the White House, but he still has the hearts and minds of his constituents who say, Thanks Dennis.

Hillary may have lost some momentum, but she's not out yet and has something for the girls.

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick writes a Dear John letter to Obama.

In other news, I didn't know Google News has a new feature. If you enter a city name or zip code, it's supposed to deliver a bunch of local news. It didn't work that well for me but maybe you'll have better luck.

Fiore explains FISA as only he can.

Under the heading, macroeconomics for dummies, here's a powerpoint that deciphers the subprime meltdown so even I can understand it. Make sure you click on the link to get the whole slide show.

Less comprehensible is this fetish flow chart. I can never follow those things but it's interesting to see them all together and the colors are nice.

If you're in the mood for some Sunday reading, I'm only going to post this here because I don't want the wingers to get hold of it, but I really enjoyed this article on the love boat for old wonky hippies. Some NYT reporter went on the Alaskan cruise set up by The Nation. Not to be confused with the annual cruise sponsored by the neocons at The National Review which apparently was only a day behind them.

This is not as light, but I can't remember if I posted the link here and I want it archived for furture reference. Busting the myths on Canadian national health care. This one will come in handy for future debates on a single payer system in the US.

And finally, a few odd links from the last week.

The top ten signs from the neocon's lovefest at CPAC. You can see why they claim the mantle of civility.

For Star Trek fans, a nice video of Nichelle Nichols whom you knew as
Lt. Uhura.

And if you feel like a home project, make your own butter. I used to do this when we lived on the farm. We used to buy fresh unpateurized milk and it came with a couple of inches of heavy top cream. More than you could use in coffee and cooking so I made butter quite often for a while. It doesn't take that long and the results are worth the work.

[Via Avedon, Ezra, Tits, John Cole and George Lessard]

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You've come a long way, baby

By Libby

Following up on a cranky post I did at Newshoggers yesterday, the title of this post was once a slogan for a cigarette targeted at women, Virginia Slims. It was an ad campaign created at a time when the battle for women's rights was peaking and we were just breaking the chains of prescribed expectations. It looks pretty sexist today but it was kind of a breaktrough then. At that time women were still expected to go to college to 'catch' a good husband and then settle down and become good little homemakers who produced the requisite 2.5 children. 'Good girls' didn't use their education to pursue careers and if they worked, it was with few exceptions, only in subordinate roles within a male dominated hierarchy.

As the slogan said, we've come a long way since we burned our bras and stopped hiding our sexuality and our smarts, but we haven't exactly shattered the glass ceiling yet. So I'm sympathetic to the argument that electing a woman president might help blast that thing into smithereens. However, I don't think complaining about it is useful anymore.

BTD posted a long letter from some very prominent feminists in support of Clinton today. It was really well written but I think they should have cut this graf.
How many of us have heard brilliant and resourceful women in the workplace dismissed or devalued for “detail-orientation” in contrast to a man’s supposed “big picture” scope? How many of us have seen what, in a man, would be called “peerless mastery,” get called, in a woman’s case, “narrowness”? How many women have we known—truly gifted workers, professionals, and administrators—who have been criticized for their reserve and down-to-earth way of speaking? Whose commanding style, seriousness, and get-to-work style are criticized as “cold” and insufficiently “likable”? These prejudices have been scandalously present in this campaign.
Yes, these prejudices still exist but electing Hillary isn't going to magically make them go away in the ordinary workplaces of America and it strikes me that making the case women should vote for Hillary because she's a woman who has suffered from discrimination, is in its own way kind of sexist because it makes gender bias the issue instead of competency. Also, it frames her as a victim instead of a leader.

I would think it more effective to stop complaining and find some way to frame Hill within the context of other strong women who were pioneers in their fields. Something like Hillary -- the Marie Curie of politics. It would certainly be more inspiring than listening to a laundry list of greivances.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sarah Silverman blows Jimmy Kimmel Away

Just a few fun items from Sunday morning Singapore.

by expatbrian

If you haven't seen this, it's a must.

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Stuff White People Like

by expatbrian

I just saw this link over at Huffington. Fun stuff but you might want to bookmark it and read a little at a time.

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John Cleese’s “Letter to America”

by expatbrian

John has the answer to all of the enormously complex problems facing America. I’ve heard worse ideas.

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A consensus is emerging on "superdelegates"

Interesting article in the NYTimes reporting that Al Gore is emerging as the central figure in the debate over Democratic superdelegates. The short version is that he's leading the consensus that the superdelegates to remain neutral for now and eventually cast their votes based on the voting.

With Howard Dean tied up in the mess over Florida and Michigan, Al Gore is probably the only credible figure to lead this discussion.

Here's the most challenging bit, near the end.
Several senior officials cautioned that the party elders had not yet determined whether superdelegates should be urged to cast their votes for the candidate who has the most delegates, or the one who won their state or Congressional district, or the winner of the popular vote. Because Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton might lead in different categories, the question is a vital one.

There may end up being a meaningful difference between who won the state/district, delegate count, or popular vote, but, I think it's notable that not a single one of these party insiders or "elders" proposes the current Clinton spin, that superdelegates are somehow obligated to ignore the people's vote.

The bottom line is that a consensus appears to be building that would seem to shoot down the Clinton argument, meaning she has to win this thing through the voting. (How weird is it I have to write that sentence?)

The next question is Florida and Michigan. Most of the quotes I've seen from neutrals tend to echo what Ms. Pelosi says in this article, "the nomination should not be decided by delegates from Florida and Michigan allocated on the basis of voting in primaries there last month."

I think the Dem insiders are hoping a winner will be clear enough that Michigan and Florida won't matter, but neither of these states as they stand will be allowed to change the outcome.

Oh, and also it appears there will be no Edwards endorsement
At a private dinner that Mr. Edwards, a former senator, held at his home last Saturday for a dozen close friends, he said he had spoken recently with Mr. Gore about the benefits of neutrality, someone who was at the dinner said. ....Mr. Edwards said he intended to remain on the fence for the time being, the person said.

(So, was the "Edwards endorsing Clinton" story a campaign pushed rumor?)

[Posted by Mike - Born at the Crest of the Empire]
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Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Josh

By Libby

Josh Marshall of TPM turned 39 today. He's wondering if he should feel old, or something. I remember turning 39 and wondering the same thing. Looking at it now, 17 years later, I realize how very young that still is. You learn a lot in a decade and a half. Mostly that not much you believed then is necessarily true now.

But he's right about one thing. Becoming a parent changes everything. Much more so than any single trip around the sun. It changes the stakes in ways that aren't easy to quantify.

Anyway, it's worth the click over to see the picture. He's got a really cute kid.
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Child Forced to Give Priest Enemas

by expatbrian


Just when you thought it was safe to sneak back into the confessional, here we go again. I've posted so many stories about the disgusting behavior of priests over at World Gone Mad that I can't list them here. If you're interested, just pull up the religion category and read on.

Father Philip Magaldi, a Fort Worth priest, who has already had several sexual abuse claims lodged against him, has now been exposed as being HIV positive. Well, isn't that special.

His boss, Vicar Michael Olsen, came out and said that "with an abundance of caution" he had notified three individuals who had made claims of sexual misconduct against Magaldi. Abundance of caution?

He's a pedophile, who is HIV positive, who forces sex on children and notifying the abused is considered "abundance of caution"? WTF is the matter with these Catholic "authorities" anyway? And just where did he get the HIV?

"Magaldi was removed from active priesthood in 1999 by the late Bishop Joseph Delaney after allegations of sexual misconduct arose in Rhode Island and Fort Worth. In August 2006 Bishop Kevin Vann removed Magaldi from all ministries. Bishop Vann also is in the process of seeking “laicization” of Magaldi, which is a request to remove Magaldi from clerical status. The request is pending at the Holy See."

This is not the first problem this priest has had. He's not only a pedophile, he's a thief.

Magaldi originally was a parish priest in Rhode Island. He arrived in the Fort Worth Diocese in 1990 and served until 1992 as pastor of four churches. He left the diocese in 1992 and pleaded guilty to embezzling $123,000 from a Rhode Island parish at which he was pastor and was sentenced to two years in prison that involved a work release program.

So, let me get this straight. He goes to prison in 1992 for embezzlement. He gets out and gets his old job back where he can't keep his hands out of little boys' pants. In 1999 he is removed from the active priesthood due to the resulting child sexual abuse claims. In 2006 his superiors move to have him defrocked (finally) and it is still pending at the Holy See? How Holy is that?

One report, filed in 1997 exposes just what a sleaze this guy is.

He offered dinner and drinks to an 18-year-old who came to him for confession in 1995, hugged him, groped his buttocks, kissed him and paid him to administer enemas.

Father Magaldi denied abusing the young man but admitted paying for the enemas, saying he needed help with a medical condition. Oh. And I'm sure that the fact that this was an 18 year old boy and not a medical practitioner made perfect sense to the good Father. In fact, if I was a good Catholic parent, I wouldn't think it the least bit strange for my priest to have my child clean out his butthole. Right? It's the least I could do.

The church found him guilty of sexual exploitation and made him do volunteer work. They also let him continue on as the chaplain of the Diocese Boy Scout program.

Jeez, are all the Catholic church officials this fucking dumb or just all the ones we read about?

The bottom line here is this. Why is this guy still a priest? Why does it take the Vatican years to make up their minds about defrocking him? Why was he allowed to continue working around children after the offenses? Because they are the Catholic Church, they protect, not their parishoners but their own, and they have absolutely no shame.

cross posted at World Gone Mad

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Money for blogging

By Libby

I've been blogging for almost five years now and people occassionally ask me for advice. The first thing I tell them is don't expect to make money on it, especially if you're blogging about politics. The field is crowded and unless you're already famous or well connected to an established media outlet, chances are you won't make a dime. However, there's always an exception to every rule...
Do you maintain a political weblog and attend college? Would you like $2,000 to help pay for books, tuition, or other living costs? If so, read on.
It's awarded annually. Click the link for more info.

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