Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Don't Use the StarForce, Luke

Atrios links to boingboing, which has been threatened with a lawsuit by StarForce for warning the public about its problems. Says Avi of Brownian Emotion: "Their business seems to depend on people not knowing how much they suck."

What is StarForce?
Starforce is a controversial copy-protection system. Reports about destroyed CD ROM devices, unstable or slower-running Windows systems after installing a video game (even after it was removed!), and corrupted drivers as a possible result of Starforce, have made many computer gamers wary of this copy protection technology.

I hadn't heard of StarForce until I read boingboing, but when I did, a bell rang in my head. My parents bought a Garfield game for one of their granddaughters to play, and it crashed not one, but two of their computers. Sure enough, it uses StarForce.

Here's a list of other released games which use StarForce.

Its Distant Inhuman Roar Nears

When The Scalitomas rears its ugly head, starts smashing things to bits and spinning its cocoon on Tokyo Tower, remember who voted it into existence.


“I made it possible for you to come here! I welcomed you to this Earth – you made it a charnel house!”





photo & quote And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

Feingold/Gonzales SJC Smackdown; Feb. 6th on C-SPAN

Feingold letter to Gonzales:


I am writing to let you know in advance about some of the questions I intend to ask you about when you testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee's February 6 hearing on"Wartime Executive Power and the NSA's Surveillance Authority."

...

I am particularly interested in asking about your misleading testimony at your confirmation hearing on January 6,2005, when I specifically asked you if the President has the authority to authorize warrantless wiretaps in violation of statutory prohibitions.

...

Judge Gonzales. Senator,this President is not- it's not the policy or the agenda of this President to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.

Senator Feingold. Finally, will you commit to notify Congress if the President makes this type of decision and not wait 2 years until a memo is leaked about it?

Judge Gonzales. I will commit to advise the Congress as soon as I reasonably can, yes, SIr.

In light of recent revelations that the President specifically authorized wiretapping of Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and did so years prior to your confirmation hearing at a time when you were White House Counsel, I find this testimony misleading, and deeply troubling. I will expect a full explanation at the hearing.

Other explanations required:
  1. Legal standard used by Admin for wiretapping.
  2. Legal advice given to Admin by DoJ and/or Gonzales, and how it may differ from current WH justifications.
  3. The limits, if any, to the Administration's legal theory that the President has the authority either under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force or as Commander in Chief to violate criminal laws of the United States. What other statutes or treaties are being or might be violated under this legal theory? Would this legal theory permit surveillance of communications by U.S. citizens solely within the United States or the
    assassination of U.S. citizens within the United States? If not, why not?

It's still the middle of winter, but Washington D.C. must be getting pretty dank from all the nervous sweat.

2 Mosquitos + Mud Hole = Human Being? There's ID "Science" 4U.

The Gov. of South Carolina speaks unintelligently about science while defending Intelligent Design non-science:
"The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics."

Not only do two mosquitos in a mud hole have nothing to do with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, they also have nothing to do with the theory of evolution. It's a strawman definition.

And just to debunk the thermodynamics crap ("No process is possible in which the sole result is the transfer of energy from a cooler to a hotter body," or "The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease."):
... life is not a closed system. The sun provides more than enough energy to drive things. ... Snowflakes, sand dunes, tornadoes, stalactites, graded river beds, and lightning are just a few examples of order coming from disorder in nature; none require an intelligent program to achieve that order. In any nontrivial system with lots of energy flowing through it, you are almost certain to find order arising somewhere in the system. If order from disorder is supposed to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, why is it ubiquitous in nature?

Monday, January 30, 2006

An Example of How Headlines Matter

Two essentially identical articles with opposing headlines.

Frist defends Schiavo actions
Frist reconsiders stance on Schiavo

Forceful Letter to Editor

We need more like this one.

House Reps Don't Lie, They Keep Their Fingers Crossed

Thursday will be the vote to replace DeLay as majority leader.
Ohio Republican John Boehner is one of three candidates, along with Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Shadegg of Arizona.

They're all claiming to have widespread support. One contender said he has 120 votes, another boasts 90 and the third said he has about 50.

They can't all be right, since the totals far exceed the number of lawmakers eligible to vote.

No More Passionless Whipped Losers, Please

Even if we fail, we need to try. Not filibustering because it's ultimately doomed to fail sends a defeatist message. Democrats can't say "Alito is so dangerous to our country and the Constitution that he mustn't be confirmed" and then just wash their hands. They have to go down fighting to the last, not just because it sends the right message, but because it is the right thing to do.

But these are our national Dems.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, also said Sunday he would vote to continue debate. "But the truth of the matter is I think this is done," he told CNN's "Late Edition

With Wolf Blitzer."Asked whether the move represents "simply a symbolic statement," he said, "On my part, quite frankly, yes." Biden added

Et tu, Obama?
"I will be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values," Obama told ABC's "This Week."

But he added, "These last-minute efforts, using procedural maneuvers inside the Beltway, I think, has been the wrong way of going about it."

Predicted Obama: "Judge Alito will be confirmed."

This is passionless, whipped loser talk.

Part of fighting to the end is not admitting defeat until after it's done. And not even then. On the Jay Marvin show a couple of weeks ago, a caller said Dems need to act like Paul Newman getting beaten by George Kennedy in Cool Hand Luke. Refuse to stay down. At first I laughed about it, but as I thought on it, it was right. That shows passion, determination, grit, heart, guts, stamina ... all those virile, manly qualities that are respected and trusted.

Instead we get passionless, whipped losers staying down!

No one should wonder why national Democrats don't win. They gave up trying years ago. If they don't care, why should anyone else?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sgt. Schultz Syndrome

Nikko Tashogo Shrine, Japan from deadbuzzard.net

“If we do not hear, see, or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil.”


A music teacher in Bennett, CO, is in trouble for showing 1st - 3rd graders a segment of the opera Faust. It was an unrated video meant to teach people to enjoy opera, and it was on the shelf at school. So she used it.

Now I don't doubt a production of Faust could have images that would seem scary to a little kid. My son leaves the room or covers his ears and averts his eyes when the movie preview When a Stranger Calls is on TV (which I can tell already is not nearly as scary as the original). And the teacher admits she made a mistake by showing it to kids too young for dark, scary images which apparently gave some nightmares for a week.

But the problem isn't all the teacher's. In fact, I mainly blame the parents for creating an environment of fear so intense that a short image of a singing Satan causes nightmares for a week. A week? Here's the reaction of one of the parents:
Casey Goodwin, whose 9- year-old daughter also saw it, called it a "satanic video" during a phone call. Asked about that in a later conversation, she said, "I think it glorifies Satan in some way, yes."[emphasis added]

Obviously, to some, Satan is real, not just a literary or artistic device. I was raised with a belief in Satan and demons. It's a terrible thing to teach children, because it means that they are not safe, not even in their own homes. I remember, in my fear of the dark, that it was these evil spirits that terrified me. It took a month of being an atheist at age thirteen to cleanse me of that fear. And I'm not saying my parents were constantly harping on it, but it's the kind of thing that sticks with a child, and when you have parents who don't deny the reality of an external evil out to get you, the fear intensifies.

This fear of a real Satan and demons is the reason those children had nightmares, not an image of Satan tempting an unhappy man. And instead of comforting their children, telling them they are safe, nothing will happen to them because mommy and daddy are there, or even that God is protecting them simply because they are children, they most likely just blamed the teacher for showing their children the scary "reality" in action.

Allegories are beyond literal thinkers. The same lack of advanced thought lead to the objections to The Last Temptation of Christ because it showed Christ having sex with Mary Magdalene, not understanding that it wasn't actually Christ actually having sex or even fantasizing about having sex, it was a temptation, an image given to him by Satan. And by Christ's own words, "let this cup pass," I would think a normal life with wife and children and no crucifixion would be the ultimate temptation. But he resisted it, and that's the point.

What good is a temptation, both in Faust and The Last Temptation of Christ, if it's not tempting, if it's not something you really want before Satan even enters the room? An attractive, glamorous, charming devil can convince you to do evil while thinking it's good. A scary, ugly devil will send you running back to God. Considering all the evil done in the name of good, I think Satan's m.o. would be the former.

But the people who rage the most about vices are the ones who, deep down, know they will succumb to those vices. It only makes sense that those people who shudder at the sight of Christ's temptation or a glorified Faustian Devil are the ones who are most likely to be seduced by a charming stranger who brings temptations of sin.

And that's really what this is all about, the belief that evil is an external, tangible force out to get them, and that weaknesses or vices are not really theirs, but are from an external, tangible force. It is not they who feel urges to do naughty things, it's the devil making them feel that way. If they can expunge all temptations from their surroundings -- including accurate but unhelpful information and attractive images of the devil -- they are resisting evil and being good. But it is really another abrogation of responsiblity for one's own actions, impulses and failings. Is it any wonder their children had nightmares? I've had plenty over the past several years, thinking about Dear Leader making decisions from this belief system.

But here's what's really twisted about this. They blame all evil on Satan's ability to charm and tempt, yet refuse to show Satan being charming and tempting, thus ill-equipping their children to resist actual charm and temptation, or to understand their own weaknesses. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, and evil will not find you.

Read this post by Mahablog on the nature of evil. It's very good.

You can read my Firefly geek post about it, too.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I Actually Agree With Tancredo

He's "hailing" the settlement of a lawsuit against a U.S. company that hired illegal aliens.
The $1.3 million settlement, announced late Monday, was the result of a lawsuit filed against top executives of Zirkle Fruit Company of Selah, Washington, using the RICO organized crime statutes.

...

Court documents show that as late as 2004, more than 12,000 of Zirkle’s employees—70 percent of its workforce—gave phony Social Security numbers on their employment applications. A Zirkle employee noted that the documents the company accepted were obviously fraudulent...

...

“Employers lobby Congress to keep our borders open and the cheap labor flowing. Cheap labor is only cheap to the employers: as this lawsuit shows, working Americans suffer real wage losses due to illegal, unfair competition,” said Tancredo.

Where we still disagree is the solution.

For instance, instead of building a wall and shutting down the border, end NAFTA's unfair trading and business practices and create a huge worker program -- with a system for employers and immigrants to find each other, transportation from the border to the workplace, and housing -- which allows many more immigrants in the U.S. to work, requires fair pay and taxation, and allows immigrants to earn citizenship.

Just an idea.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The New Bill of Rights

Jesus' General received an advanced copy of the new Bill of Rights, just waiting to be slipped into a midnight bill by Sen. Frist, which, under new Senate Rules also changed in the middle of the night, will Amend the Constitution.

Here's one of them.

Amendment III
No soldier fighting keyboarder shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house required to leave his basement for the purpose of procuring Cheetos, without first receiving from his mother, a sum equivalent to the cost of a single family sized or six "Big Grab" bags the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but with the additional funds equivalent to the cost of a six-pack of Mountain Dew and a package of pepperoni in a manner to be prescribed by law.


Alito said it was okay.

White House Encouraged by Duped Public

Andrea Mitchell reported (via Media Matters) that when the Administration lies to the American public about spying, the American public isn't too upset about spying.
"Democrats think their best argument is that the program is a power grab by the president and will ultimately prove to be unpopular. Despite the political furor, the White House is encouraged by recent polls, showing little public outcry over the program, especially when they tell people it is limited only to those who talk to Al Qaeda."

Huh.
However, according to The New York Times' initial report and its subsequent reporting on the surveillance program, government sources tell quite a different story from the one suggested by the administration and advanced by Mitchell, namely that the program involves only the surveillance of "those who talk to Al Qaeda" and that only international calls are monitored.

The White House is also encouraged to continue lying and breaking the law by brainless mouthpieces on television.

Spider-Man Song

I used to have to sing the Spider-Man song (as I remember it, which means mixing up stanzas and forgetting words) all the time when I was putting my son to bed. So I made up this funny version one night a few months ago. He loves to sing it, and it still makes me giggle sometimes:
Spider-Man, Spider-Man
Threw his suit in a garbage can
Why does he smell so strong?
He uses his Right Guard wrong.
Look out, here's comes a stinky man.

I remember giggling and being impressed at my dad's creativity when I was a child about my son's age. If history repeats itself, that will end in about six years, and then come back in another six to eight years. Enjoying it while I can.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Spike Movie Spin-off

Buck at No Blasters reports that the WB is ready and willing to do a Buffy spinoff, possibly a Spike movie or miniseries.

I started watching the re-runs on FX halfway through the last season of Angel, and didn't realize until a week before the end that both series had been cancelled. At the time in Florida, Buffy and Angel were being aired on three different stations, with no fewer than four episodes per day (except the weekend) but I had no interest in watching either series -- despite being touted by Atrios -- until I got confused during my channel surfing.

I noticed that sometimes Angel was good, sometimes bad; sometimes Spike was good, sometimes bad; sometimes they were friends, sometimes enemies. So I started watching to see if I could suss it all out. Since it was on so frequently, I caught up pretty quick, but not in time to watch the last season of Angel. By then I was hooked, and thoroughly disappointed that I missed the whole thing, dammit.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

With Us or Against Us Depends on Who "Us" Is

The Bush Administration has gone on record many times saying variations on "You're either with us or against us," apparently meaning you have to fall in line with whatever policies Bush chooses to enact. Any dissent against or criticism of Administration policies, no matter how backward or ineffective, is evidence of support of terrorists. Obviously, given my writings, I am not "with" the Bushies, as I think most everything they do is detrimental to the "us" I support, namely the U.S.

Here is yet another example of this dangerous mindset the Bushies have. A Swiss citizen and Muslim scholar, Tariq Ramadan, is still being denied entry into the U.S. under a provision of the PATRIOT Act which bans foreigners who endorse terrorism, an act which is now being challenged in court by the ACLU.

Speaking to reporters in August 2004, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Russ Knocke, cited the Patriot Act clause as the reason why Mr. Ramadan's visa was canceled. The clause, adopted with the original act in October 2001 and amended last May, bars foreigners who "endorse or espouse terrorist activity or persuade others" to support terrorism.

Specifically, the clause in Section 411 says,

`(VI) has used the alien's position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization, in a way that the Secretary of State has determined undermines United States efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities...

Problem is, Mr. Ramadan has never endorsed terrorism, having in fact condemned it as a tactic. But he has been an outspoken critic of the Administration's policies in the Middle East.

At an interview in December in the United States consulate in Bern, Switzerland, Mr. Ramadan said he was mainly questioned by American agents about his views of the war in Iraq.

"It's clear there is nothing in my record supporting terrorism," said Mr. Ramadan, who is now a visiting professor at Oxford University. "I told them what I have said many times publicly, that I think the war was a mistake and illegal. I think the resistance is legitimate, but the means they are using are not."

Though this may be support of an insurgency against U.S. occupation in Iraq -- asymmetrical warfare that could still be effective using stealthy techniques and targeted strikes on U.S. forces rather than using suicide bombs, kidnappings, and attacks on civilians -- it is certainly not support of terrorists or terrorist activity.

Hell, I think Iraq could be another good place for civil disobedience, since the eyes of the world are upon them, and the U.S. occupation is being run in an entirely corrupt fashion. Popular support for an insurgency grew after the abuses of Abu Ghraib, and is still fostered by the experiences of ordinary Iraqis of the corruption. If there were not such a culture of corruption and war profiteering in this Administration, the insurgency would lose much support and moral high ground, leaving only the true terrorists and terrorist organizations, which are not legitimately present and active. Of course, civil disobedience relies on the capacity of the oppressor to be shamed, and I'm not sure that exists in Bush or his agents.

But Mr. Ramadan doesn't need to be present in the U.S. to make his progressive Muslim views known, including his support of Muslim feminism and anti-violence. You can read his blog at tariqramadan.com, and see that he supports justice, peace and love.

Mr. Ramadan specifically addresses this Adminstration's "with us or against us" worldview:
Global terrorism and the Global War against Terrorism both fuel, in equal and pernicious ways, the global ideology of fear.

...fear, naturally and often unconsciously, breeds a relation of mistrust and potential conflict with the “Other.” A binary vision of reality [emphasis added] now begins to impose the outlines of a protective “us,” and of a threatening “them.”

...Our “good reasons” and our “just causes” are praised by the general public without critical examination, while at the same time their “bad reasons” and their “evil intentions” are indiscriminately condemned. Fear authorizes us to forgo all explanations, all understanding, all analysis that might allow us to understand the Other, his world, his hopes. In the new regimen of fear and suspicion, to understand the Other is to justify him; to seek out his reasons is to agree with him. [emphasis added]

...Swept away by our emotions, trapped in binary, reductive logical structures, lost in the rising tide of “as it happens” events and politics, it has become impossible for us to see, to understand or even to hear the Other. The ideology of fear has produced a devastating deafness: [emphasis added] the Other’s world, the reasons he behaves as he does are inaudible; to attempt to hear them more clearly is to reveal one’s own ill-being, or, at worst, the vilest of treacheries.

...The upkeep and feeding of the “ideology of fear” has become a political weapon, particularly as part of the opportunistic strategies of the great economic powers of the day. Far from true political debate, shielded from objective criticism of the consequences of the world economic order, they perpetuate a state of fear and vulnerability, which in turn grants a license for security policies of the most dangerous and discriminatory kind, for the exceptional measures most inimical to freedom (particularly with regard to human and citizen’s rights) in their gravity.

It's clear why this Administration considers him such a danger. Reasoned, educated debate is a danger to this Administration.

There may, of course, be those who reference certain accusations about him. One especially insidious accusation and logical fallacy is that, as a Muslim, he is therefore a practitioner of taqiyya ("And he ventures on this long journey armed with the doctrine of the taqiyya, or the art of dissimulation, a typical Islamic practice on enemy soil." [emphasis added]) a tactic of lying which is sometimes used by some Muslims. He would have to be one hell of an actor, in that case, and after so many years and so much writing and speaking must surely have brainwashed himself to actually believe by now. At any rate, here are his answers, ending with this sentiment:
The very moment Muslims and their fellow citizen realize that being a Muslim and being American or European are not mutually exclusive they will enrich their societies.

To which I would add that the moment Americans and Europeans realize that being American or European does not mean being Christian they will enrich their societies.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

They Found Me

I got a call from a member of the local Relief Society. I thought at first that it sounded familiar, but couldn't quite place where I knew it from. Even the word "ward" didn't quite ring a bell at first, it's been so long. But even as I asked, "Relief Society? What's that?" I remembered.

The Mormons found me.

I was told they recently received records that I am a member of the church, but like Judas, I denied it ... well twice instead of three times. And I feel no guilt at all about doing it. I get annoyed when phone companies call me every three months to switch, I don't need Mormons coming to the door.

Those Mormons do search out and keep records, probably more thoroughly and effectively than the NSA. Maybe the Bush Administration should ask them for help.

What a Tangled Web

They can't stop lying, even though the loose ends of their lies keep wrapping around their throats to strangle them.

Yesterday Gen. Hayden claimed the Administration may use a lower evidentiary standard than required by both the Constitution (when it comes to citizens) and FISA (when it comes to non-US persons). The Administration claims that their domestic spying is legal and Constitutional and approved by Congress.

But Glenn Greenwald (via Atrios) identifies yet another lie in the Administration's argument.
In June, 2002, Republican Sen. Michael DeWine of Ohio introduced legislation (S. 2659) which would have eliminated the exact barrier to FISA which Gen. Hayden yesterday said is what necessitated the Administration bypassing FISA.

...

During that time, the Administration was asked to advise Congress as to its position on this proposed amendment to loosen the standard for obtaining FISA warrants ... submitted a Statement from James A. Baker, the Justice Department lawyer who oversees that DoJ's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review ...

The response from Bush's Administration: FISA's provisions were adequate, the Administration was not having any problem getting the warrants it needed, the evidentiary standard was not an obstacle, and it might very well be unConstitutional to change the standard, therefore the Administration would not support DeWine's amendment.

Congress also failed to pass DeWine's amendment.

Even during the debate over the Amendment, the Administration had already begun bypassing FISA. Yet now they claim it was all aboveboard and legal, and that Congress was briefed and approved.

Liars all.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Tancredo's Pony Knows One Trick

Chasing Mexicans. I do wonder why he never looks to the Canadian border. Colorado is half-way between the two, after all.

Tancredo is calling for the investigation of a Spanish-language radio station in Texas that is reporting the locations of the Border Patrol, apparently to help illegal immigrants avoid capture.

Which is all well and good, but since he's in the mood, perhaps there's some other investigations he could call for. I wish I could think of one.

Rewriting the Constitution

As Atrios points out, the standard of evidence is not required by the courts, it is required by the Constitution:
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who led the National Security Agency when it began a program of warrantless wiretaps, vigorously defended the program today, but acknowledged that it depends on a lower standard of evidence than required by courts.

...

The standard laid out by General Hayden - a "reasonable basis to believe" - is lower than "probably cause," [sic] the standard used by the special court created by Congress to handle surveillance involving foreign intelligence.

The 4th Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Personal Update

Yesterday was my son's 6th birthday, a celebration that lasted two days, since my in-laws came down Saturday instead of Sunday so they wouldn't miss the Broncos game (sigh, no Super Bowl).

We're going to begin the search to buy a house, since we now know we want to stay in this area. My father-in-law offered to help us financially to get into a really nice house, but he had some strings attached, one of which was to get active in some sort of church. When I joked about joining the Church of Satan, since that is a church, he backed off and suggested we get involved in some sort of social activities, particularly activities that each of us can do alone, to have some "away time" from each other. The suggestions annoyed me at first, enraged me later, but now I've cooled off.

I think he's worried that we don't get out and socialize very much, and the effects that might have on our children. What he doesn't seem to understand is that our children are extroverts who love to get out, involve themselves in activities and socialize (in fact, my son is very excited to start a new "youth activity" tonight). My husband and I are introverts, and getting involved in social activities causes us a great deal of stress and dread. What may be beneficial to most people would actually be detrimental to us, especially since we tend to snap at each other when we get stressed and filled with dread. (Okay, I'm the one who snaps first).

We would like to have friends, those people who we click with naturally, but we've always found them in the normal course of our lives. Spending time searching out such relationships would be tedious and frustrating, and the few times I've tried ("mother's" groups, for instance) have been horribly uncomfortable and disappointing.

And maybe we're an unusual couple in my father-in-law's experience, because we truly enjoy being with each other nearly all the time. And when we get tired of each other, one or the other of us will give the stressed person a break. One of us gets alone time while the other watches the boys. In fact, we don't think we spend enough time with each other as it is.

I'm also going to look for some sort of job that will give us extra money that won't be negated by daycare expenses. That severely limits my options, since my husband's schedule during the week is often very fluid, which basically leaves me about 4 hours on Saturday and 4 on Sunday for work. There's one prospect that is promising, though, and it shouldn't crimp my blogging anymore than usual life does.

At any rate, we're turning down my father-in-law's offer, as tempting as the cash may be. He's very generous and caring about us, but these strings go way too far into control over our very happy and contented personal lives.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Innocents Swept Up in Van Susteren Tantrum

It's mainly meant as an eye-catching title, but it's accurate enough. Instead of calling the Orlando Sentinel herself to ask for a retraction or correction, she stamped her feet and held her breath and got her goon squad to write emails and call for her. As Bob Somerby would say, the pampered and powdered millionaire pundit was too busy measuring the basement in her McMansion to pick up the phone.

Hopefully this is the concluding chapter in the Greta Van Susteren saga to prove she's not a fascist, as there is no evidence that she is (though she works for a Neo- or Pseudo-Fascist company, so is a willing cog in the wheel -- yes, reasonable minds may differ on that).

My usual source for media news, Mike James, author of NewsBlues, gets caught up in the fray, with hilarious -- well, mildly amusing -- results.

About NewsBlues, from Orlando Magazine
Van Susteren's blog demands were also noted in a Web column by Mike James, a former Orlando journalist who now writes a successful Web site called Newsblues. Thousands of journalists all over the country subscribe to the site, which follows the television news industry. James often breaks stories about television news and he has become a major thorn in the side of television executives who, while dealing in broadcasting information, want to keep their own maneuvering secret.

When we started reading NewsBlues, the site was mainly a place for journalism-types to network: find market size, contact information, reconnect with old co-workers, and my favorite part, get the inside poop on what it's like workign at a particular station. That turned into a he said/she said bitch session that got him a lot of complaints, so no more.

The first two chapters:
Sensitive Susteren
Van Susteren Not a Supporter of Fascists; A Retraction

Refreshing Honesty from Bush Administration

Ezra Klein
I do like this new policy of honest arguments from the White House. Used to be that they'd do bad things and lie, distort, and spin their way out. Now they just suggest their critics are traitors helping the other side, respond to allegations of domestic spying by saying, essentially, "damn right we're spying on you," open McCarthyesque investigations into whoever leaks their illegal secrets, and justify their actions on the theory that the president can do as he damn well pleases. It's refreshing. And so's the paper, which simply reprises
arguments the Congressional Research Service report demolished weeks ago. Such a Focaultian willingness to deny the authority of legal experts is a welcome display of postmodern thinking from an administration all too often trapped in absolutes. As I said, refreshing.

Via Atrios.

Southglenn Mall's Redevelopment

Rash Nussell of Midnight Aloft actually went to one of Southglenn's open houses on the redevelopment, and has posted a link for keeping track of the plan. The artist's rendering is pretty cool.

Salazar To Oppose Alito

Though he's not pledged a filibuster, I don't see how he could decline to filibuster after saying of Alito:
"Judge Alito’s judicial philosophy will expand Executive power too far, hurt the checks and balances built into our Constitution to protect us all, and roll back important civil rights protections that were achieved in our country through the sacrifices of many."

If he believes Alito's going to be that damaging (which I think he will be) then to not filibuster would be unconscionable dereliction of duty to the United States Constitution.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Bob Martinez calls Salazar a "partisan pawn who is simply toting the party line of the extreme liberals within his party," which is laughable.

And thank you RMN for fact checking Martinez's ass, showing him to be the partisan pawn, not for his conservative Republican constituents, but for his party.
Since joining the Senate one year ago, Salazar has struck a middle ground with his voting record. A recent analysis by CQ Weekly, a publication of Congressional Quarterly, found that Salazar voted to support President Bush's position 48.9 percent of the time in 2005.

Yep, that's a line toter. :rolleyes (:sad that I don't have BBcode)

I would credit Salazar's decision to my phone call to his office that went something like this: "I would like to urge the Senator to oppose the nomination of Judge Alito," to which the man on the phone said, "I will certainly let the Senator know." But Salazar doesn't listen to extreme liberals like me.

My Letter to Ken Salazar on Flag-Burning Amendment
His Letter to Me

Christianity in Perspective

Isn't it funny how atheists and agnostics seem to know more about Christianity, its history, and its true meaning than so-called "Christians?"

Read WashParkProphet for a nice rant and lesson in putting religiosity in its proper perspective, spurned on by Marc Holtzman's tirade/bid for attention against Mayor Hickenlooper.
"A year ago, the mayor tried to cancel Christmas," said Holtzman, referring to a brief controversy over a plan to replace the words "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" on the City and County Building.

BTW, this was my first Christmas in Denver, and I thought the City and County Building was lovely. I did notice, however, that it was ruled exclusively by "Christian" Christmas traditions. I looked all over for a menorah or any other sign of any other religious tradition, but saw not a one.

I especially noticed this part of WPP's post
Indeed, it is hard to imagine anything which is more of a secularist agenda, in the sense that it has no religious basis, than a policy of trying to enforce an immigration regime based upon secular nation-state boundaries, whose arbitrary nature is particularly evident in Colorado, some parts of which were once parts of France. (See this map), only 203 years ago, and other parts of which were part of Mexico even more recently.

because a few months ago, I recall a letter to the editor from a "good Catholic" couple who were planning to withhold monetary donations from their diocese for offering aid to illegal immigrants. Their point was that illegal immigrants are breaking the law, and their diocese should be obeying the law of the land. I thought, shouldn't the Catholic church be offering aid to people no matter their legal status because that is God's permanent law, and not the impermanent law based on men and their artificial boundaries?

Roger Barnett, AZ Vigilante, Welcome Tancredo Supporter

Tancredo has said of his political contributors, "If they want to send me money, that's their business."

Meet welcomed Tom Tancredo campaign contributor, Roger Barnett, who says he first became aware of the illegal immigrant problem in 1998, when they kept leaving trails and trash across his property.

I do think that illegals crossing and trashing private property is not right (though the property is 80% leased public land), and that there needs to be a solution to the problem. I disagree with Tancredo's and Barnett's solutions.

Mr. Barnett, frustrated at the border policy, has taken to hunting Mexicans (his brother, Don, has a stuffed polar bear). He claims to simply round them up and turn them over to Border Patrol, a catch and release hunt. But his anger and frustration may have sent him over the edge.

In 2000, two years into his human hunt, Roger "reportedly threw one of the migrants to the ground and threatened him. More than once, the brothers have taken their activities beyond the confines of the ranch to capture migrants traveling on a nearby public road." He's not actually a Border Patrol Officer, so he doesn't get to do that.

But here's what he had to say of his experiences in 2004, when he claimed to have apprehended 12000 in 6 1/2 years.

Question: Have you felt endangered?

Barnett: Oh, yeah. Several times you can just feel the hate in their eyes and you don't want to turn your back on them or they would hurt you. They're illegals. We don't get hold of mules [drug runners], I mean they run so much faster... I yell at them and they don't stop a bit. I've only caught one - scared the shit out of him so bad he passed out on the side of a mountain.

...

Question: Do you put these people at gunpoint when you catch them?

Barnett: Don't need to. Generally they give up. With authority, you just tell them to sit down, and they sit down.


He makes it sound like what he's doing is so benign, but he does pack heat, and he wears a faux Border Patrol outfit (his says Patriot Patrol), and reportedly commits assault and kidnapping. Four years earlier, he was a known problem:
[Cochise County Sheriff] Dever...says that nobody wants to move against the Barnetts unless the case is bulletproof. The Barnetts have been careful so far about not stepping too far over the line - or at least careful not to leave evidence when they do, he says.

In 2005, Roger was sued for abusing, at gunpoint, some of those passive Mexicans who think they're being apprehended by actual law enforcement.

The ten Mexican plaintiffs, 5 women and 5 men, say that the sinister Barnetts assaulted them at gun point, battered them and threaten them with death while resting at a wash in Douglas, Arizona. Roger Barnett held the group captive at gunpoint and threaten that his dog would attack or that he would shoot anyone who tried to leave. During the assault, Roger Barnett kicked a female plaintiff as she was lying on the ground.

There have also been murdered and lynched Mexicans found near his ranch. Yes, it's a nasty implication.

However, besides being a trophy hunter, Roger Barnett is also a businessman, so he should recognize that the border problem is not an issue of crime to be solved with guns and walls. It is an economic problem for both the U.S. and Mexico. If he wants a more effective solution, he should really be lobbying to overturn NAFTA.

...Since NAFTA, unemployment in these areas has risen. In Douglas, right across the line from Agua Prieta, Sonora, the unemployment rate is 17 percent, up from 13 percent in 1990. Ironically, the Douglas economy depends on shoppers from Agua Prieta crossing the line to patronize American stores. Most popular is a newly constructed Wal-Mart.

NAFTA has led to a doubling of the Mexican poverty rate, and U.S.-run businesses in Mexico which pay less are shutting down Mexican-run businesses; U.S. agribusiness has put many Mexican farmers out of work. But those U.S. businesses have made out great. In 1999, they made $5 billion on Mexican investments. Not much of a businessman, to care so little about economic interests.

Makes me wonder if this is why he leased all that land on the border.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tom "Show Me the Money" Tancredo

Tancredo's losing support in his own home district, my home district, for his strong anti-immigrant stance. He says it's because businesses dread losing the cheap labor, which is probably true.

But he's amply made up for the local shortfall in individual out-of-state contributions.
Among these new donors are some prominent and controversial anti-immigration activists such as Roger Barnett, a vigilante who boasts of having rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants on his Arizona ranch, and Barbara Coe, director of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform.

Barnett has been quoted in High Country News as calling Mexicans "animals." Coe frequently refers to them as "savages," according to numerous reports.

Tancredo says he rejects racist statements and doesn't want to fight the immigration issue based on race. However, he doesn't control what his contributors say or do, he says. "If they want to send me money, that's their business."

I don't know, but I think I would reject contributions from blatantly bigoted individuals and organizations. But I have principles. That's why I'm poor.

Via Patrick Ruffini.

Fact Check: It was Roger's brother, Don, who called Mexicans animals.
Don worked as a deputy sheriff in the 1970s and 1980s. Like many border natives, he remembers when citizens of both countries casually crossed la lÆnea, to drink or shop or work. The Mexicans were different in those days, Barnett says. "They acted like human beings. I guess they had respect then," he tells me. "Now they’re trespassing. They’re animals."

Citizens Commission of Inquiry

It's so sad that we citizens have to take this matter into our own hands because we have such a corrupted Republican House and Senate.
Is the Bush Administration guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity? Even raising this question has been ruled out of order and out of bounds in the U.S. today, but on January 20-22 in NYC an unprecedented citizens Commission of Inquiry will ask -- and seek to answer -- exactly these questions and alter the terms of debate about this government.

Internationally-known expert witnesses and whistleblowers from the US and UK will testify in five areas: war, torture, global environment, global health (AIDs and reproductive rights), and the administration’s response to Katrina. Witnesses and judges include former commander of Abu Ghraib prison Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former British ambassador Craig Murray (quoted today by Al Gore) who exposed US use of torture in Uzbekistan, Scott Ritter, Dennis Brutus, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Dahr Jamail, Guantanamo prisoners’ lawyer
Michael Ratner, David Swanson, Katrina survivors, former US diplomat and retired US Army Reserve Colonel Ann Wright.

From my Democrats.com email.

Mel Gibson©

I would have thought the spurious Latin might be a clue that it's a parody site. Via Atrios.

Even if Mel Gibson© had a big © tattooed in the middle of his enormous forehead, we could still use his picture and name to make fun of him.



Bonus: As I was Googling his image, I thought of Mel Gibbon, and there it was.

Al Gore Reads My Blog

Gore:
Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

Me:
What Bush is claiming goes right to the heart of the Constitution, and requires a serious response. To let it go is not an option. Consider what else Jefferson had to say about a little rebellion:
I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.
What happens when we don't bother holding any kind of rebellion at all? Bush must be impeached, because his encroachments must not stand.

Of course he says it more succinctly, and he's calling for investigations and oversight, not impeachment ... but I said it first! Okay, so Jefferson said it first. Please, may I have my moment?

Media Starting to Fact Check?

I think Al Franken played a clip of Scott McClellan, in the course of criticizing Gore's speech, saying that the Clinton Administration conducted warrantless searches, such as on Aldrich Ames. My reaction, since I know the facts, was, "What a %*&#ing liar."

Seems that was the reaction of some of the media as well, for a change. Think Progress, via Eschaton (come to think of it, it was someone from Think Progress who brought the clip to Al Franken's show) has the AP story that fact checks McClellan's ass.
But at the time of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.

See, it wasn't a law at the time, and now it is. Clinton never violated FISA.

It's nice to see a major media outlet, rather than a major blogger, finally do their job.

ID As Philosophy Dropped

Via Pharyngula, the school in El Tejon that was trying to teach Creationism/Intelligent Design as philosophy has decided to drop the course at the urging of Casey Luskin, attorney for the Discovery Institute.

Remember the Discovery Institute, who can't say what science is?
Attempts to locate methodological “invariants” that provide a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for distinguishing true science from pseudoscience have failed.10 Most philosophers of science now recognize that neither verifiability, nor testability (nor falsifiability), nor the use of lawlike explanation (nor any other criterion) can suffice to define scientific practice.

And Casey Luskin, who, despite his client's disdain for lawlike explanations, attempted to explain ID "science" in a lawyerly way, so says PZ Myers:
Casey Luskin, the IDEA club coordinator and president, has written an utterly awful article "rebutting" part of Ken Miller's testimony in the Dover trial. It is embarrassingly bad, a piece of dreck written by a lawyer that demonstrates that he knows nothing at all about genetics, evolution, biology, or basic logic.

Shadegg's Taint

He said it himself, his taint isn't as bad as those other guys. And for supplying the Daily Show with the Best. Extended. Metaphor. Ever. John Shadegg (R-AZ) should get DeLay's job.

Please catch tomorrow's Daily Show rerun, or you will miss the map of Washington which identifies where the taint lies. As Ed Helms said, it's hard to put your finger on it, but Washington's taint is dirty.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

For Right-Wingers, Their Ideology is, By Definition, Constitutional

The Supreme Court decision upholding Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law (insofar as it says the Attorney General may not decide that physician-assisted suicide is an illegitimate medical practice) goes a long way to illustrating the absolutely skewed philosophy of our government's Constitutional structure and laws that is held by those currently in power.

It is an especially onerous philosophy because it holds that only those with the correct political philosophy, namely neo-cons, corporatists, and religious political conservatives -- hereafter referred to as "right-wingers"-- may do whatever they deem necessary to uphold one particular view of the Constitution.

Those who do not fall into those categories are "liberals" and "activists." The reason they believe they may disregard what "liberals" like judges, lawyers, and some Congresspeople say about the Constitutional limits, structures and laws is that liberals misconstrue what the Constitutional limits, structures, and laws are. Only right-wingers know and can correctly apply the Constitution, and by definition, anything a right-winger does is Constitutional.

For example, right-wingers disdain "liberal activist" judges who overrule the will of states on right-winger issues, and support the same type of activism by judges who overrule the will of states on non-winger issues. "States' rights!" they cry. States should have the right to deny the vote to racial minorities, to outlaw certain sex acts, to allow companies to poison their residents. But states don't have the right to determine the vote count for President, or to make any laws which allow a brain dead or dying person to die.

I've argued before that it may have been true at one time under our Constitution, but the 14th Amendment changed that. Now, when it comes to determining Constitutionally guaranteed rights to all Americans, the Federal Government has a greater role, as we have "forged a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," even poor politically powerless homosexual black men, no matter what state they happen to be in. States' rights do not trump all other rights as determined by the Congress and the Supreme Court, except, especially, when Congress is silent or specifically recognizes a right.

The three right-winger Justices, held in such high esteem by our King because they are right-wingers, in keeping with this philosophy, ruled against the states' rights aspect of the Oregon case, as well as upheld the notion that a right-winger may ignore the plain language and history of legislation to further a personal agenda.

The Controlled Substances Act gives the Attorney General power to regulate substances for legitimate medical uses, to prevent addiction and abuse, and determine who may dispense them. But, it reserves to the states the right to define legitimate medical uses of controlled substances, as long as they don't conflict with Federal law.

Oregon, a state, defined dispensation of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide as a legitimate medical practice, as regulated by narrow rules. There is currently no Federal law prohibiting physician-assisted suicide, but AG Ashcroft said that his own judgment and philosophy may determine what a legitimate medical practice is, that he was given implicit authority by Congress to do so.

Sound familiar? It's the same disingenous justification King George has claimed to disregard FISA and the Constitution and conduct warrantless searches on American citizens. It ignores the plain language of the law, the legislative intent, the history of court cases and the law as applied. It's a justification that says, "regardless of all that has come before and my Constitutional role, my judgment is right."

The three right-winger justices go to great lengths to show how very wrong the majority is, though they end up saying what the majority has said: that the Congress gave to the AG the power to control and schedule certain chemical substances, and to register and de-register physicians, giving physicians the power to prescribe controlled substances for "legitimate medical purposes."

It's this last phrase that is the crux of the decision.

The right-wingers choose definitions and sources which suit their purposes and reasoning, which is to prohibit physician-assisted suicide. They rely heavily on provisions in the law that specify "medical use" and "abuse."

As they say, medical means "[t]he science and art dealing with the prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease."

The use of the word "legitimate" connotes an objective standard of "medicine..." virtually every medical authority from Hippocrates to the current American Medical Association (AMA) confirms that assisting suicide has seldom or never been viewed as a form of "prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease," and (even more so) that assisting suicide is not a "legitimate" branch of that "science and art."

When a disease has not been prevented, cannot be cured, and the only way to alleviate it -- in fact the impending, unavoidable outcome of it -- is death, isn't it reasonable to interpret the alleviation of disease to mean hastening death? Why, yes, it is, which is why doctors do it now and have done it throughout history. (see below) That is why using drugs to hasten death is a medical use. Nor is it an abuse, since death is the intended outcome of using the drug.

The Justices also don't mention the fact that the AMA is stacked with doctors who apparently don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the general medical community.

Whitney said the opinion of the rank-and-file reflects concerns with their patients' suffering, whereas AMA leaders are more apt to be concerned about the demands of making public policy, moral concerns and the difficulty of crafting legislation with all the necessary safeguards. He said he intentionally phrased the survey question broadly.

The survey found 61.6 percent of AMA delegates said they oppose physician-assisted suicide , compared with 33.9 percent of ordinary doctors. Whitney, who described himself as "a cautious supporter" of legalization, stressed that, in his opinion, the survey showed no consensus. In no geographic region, doctor specialty or gender, did a majority of participants either oppose or favor legalization.

...

He said a lot of people wrote on the questionnaire "it depends." [emphasis added]

It's not a settled issue in the medical community, and in fact, many doctors do give their patients palliative care, for instance giving so much morphine it suppresses respiration, causing death. This is not a new phenomenon, and carefully crafted legislation, such as Oregon's law, could overcome the AMA's objections.

But the three Justices and the AG have their own moral objections to physician-assisted suicide, thus they choose to ignore an objectively common medical practice in favor of the official, politically considered stance (winkwink) of the AMA. This has the effect of "de-legitimizing" a "legitimate" practice, substituting their own philosophies for that of the general medical community, the state of Oregon, the Congress, and the Constitution.

They are right-wingers, and their judgment trumps everything else.

Monday, January 16, 2006

When is a Sergeant a Private?

When his privates are public. It's not a good joke when you have to explain it, but I mean a Sergeant is a private person when he's out of uniform, not acting in his official capacity for the military.

As I said in a previous post, there seems to be some confusion between private and public.

Private conduct can actually mean something done in public, and public conduct can mean something done in private. It's the difference between the act and the actor.

For instance -- since we always like to throw Clinton in there -- though President Clinton was a public official who broke the law when he lied under oath in a public proceeding about sex, he committed private misconduct.

President Bush is also a public official who, though he broke the law privately when he authorized eavesdropping on millions of Americans, committed public misconduct.

One is related to official acts of a public officer, the other is related to private acts of a public officer.

Now consider this letter to the RMN editor today:

At first glance, the new U.S. Air Force Academy policy on religious expression appears reasonable and fair, but when this policy silences the public expression of religious beliefs and the promotion of those beliefs, then this policy interferes in the "free exercise" of religion, and thus violates the First Amendment.

...

Americans enjoy freedom of religion, a freedom not restricted to private expression only.

Should the U.S. Air Force be instilling in its members and staff a sense of shame regarding Christian proselytizing (Matthew 28:18ff), or of any public expression of Jesus the Christ? Pray but don't use the "J" word; practice your faith but don't make proselytes? [emphasis added]

This person limits the use of the words "public expression" and "private expression" to mean acts in relation to the presence of others. Ignored is the fact that some people at some times are acting for the state, not for themselves. At those times, a person is said to be acting in a public capacity, no matter whether they do a thing in the presence of others or not.

Should uniformed U.S. Air Force members be proselytizing to their cadets? No, because at those times, they are speaking for the state. Though there is a group who thinks that this is a Christian nation, I still doubt they think the state should be proselytizing to seek converts to Christianity. It would violate the Establishment Clause as much as prohibiting Air Force officers an expression of religious belief violates the Free Exercise Clause.

Why do I think the Establishment Clause trumps the Free Exercise Clause when it comes to public officials acting in a public capacity? The letter writer knows:

Coercion is often cited as the reason for this new policy.

At all times at the Air Force Academy, the officers are officers, the cadets are cadets. They have an official relationship with each other, regardless of how chummy they wish to be. Coercion is a main factor in military training. Cadets follow orders and adhere to a strict hierarchy. If a commanding officer feels compelled by his religion to "make proselytes," then a cadet may feel compelled by his rank to at least pretend to be a proselyte. This is not the act of a private person, it is the act of a public person whose relationship with another is so intertwined in a government capacity that it is a public, official act.

I couldn't find the quote, and it might have been someone else's analysis, but I recall a sentiment attributed to Thomas Jefferson concerning his opposition to recommending a National Day of Prayer when he was president. Not only did he think it was not the place of the government or any public official to proscribe any religious exercise, he felt it was not the role of the government to put anyone in a position of having to not participate in a religious exercise, as they may feel compelled to "go along to get along," thus inhibiting religious liberty. Of such coercion he wrote:
Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

It's the basis of even seemingly mundane objections to state-sponsored expressions of religious belief, such as "under God" in the pledge and "In God We Trust" on our money. They may seem innocuous, but it is the principle.

The writer continues:

If true, then a double-standard exists since the nonneutral, coercive course "Respecting the Spiritual Values of All Peoples" is mandatory for all personnel at the Air Force Academy.

Witch-hunts, female genital mutilation, widow burning, peyote-induced stupors, are all behaviors based on "spiritual values."

Do we want future Air Force officers respecting these behaviors?

Is this a strawman or a red herring? The acts listed above are not "spiritual values," they are acts based on "spiritual values." In fact, they are all acts which are illegal in the United States, as they are considered detrimental to individual rights and public safety. Such laws are violations of the Establishment Clause narrowly defined as they surely prohibit free exercise, yet they are generally accepted.

And Academy cadets are certainly taught to respect the laws of the land, which include not burning widows. They should be coerced to respect the right of others to their own spiritual beliefs and values within the limits of the law.

Let us protect freedom of religion be it private, or be it public.

Since the writer is referring only to acts performed in public or private, I agree. But as far as official versus non-official expressions of religious belief, we part ways. To put it another way, the Office of the President does not believe in God, though the President may.

"Abyss"mal Failure

Does this sound familiar?
... Saddam has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the inspectors.


Oops, I got that quote wrong somehow. Let me copy and paste it this time.
... the Executive Branch has followed a determined strategy of obfuscating, delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial branches to restore our constitutional balance.

Whomever goes to fight monsters should take care not to become a monster himself. And when you stare too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you. -- Frederick Nietzsche

Impeachment is a Little Rebellion

There are some arguments for not pushing for impeachment. Mainly it's because the Democrats don't have either house, and we should be concentrating right now on taking one or both back.

Another argument against is that we don't want to get in the same situation that happened when Clinton was impeached. It turned the populace against the Republicans for a time, and it could do the same for Dems.

Yet another argument is that, even if we impeach and remove King George, we still get Unca Dick. Bush is a lame-duck president, anyway.

Those are all practical reasons for not impeaching Bush. But what Bush has declared about the president's role under the Constitution is so egregiously flawed and dangerous that it would be unprincipled as well as impractical to not hold him specifically accountable. The strongest message possible must be sent to all future presidents. We demand checks and balances.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical." He considered armed rebellion a necessary evil, like a smack upside the head to get the nation's attention and keep our government in check.

I can't advocate for violence against my own government or countrymen. Not just because I'm concerned that I'm being monitored by my government, but because I still think there are remedies short of violence -- plus, I wouldn't advocate for something I myself would be unwilling to do, and I have no intention of doing physical harm to anyone.

Rebellions need not be armed. Impeachment is just such a smack upside the head. People were upset at the Republicans for impeaching Clinton -- it's what angered me into paying attention to politics -- and it cost the Reps some seats. Dems need not worry about impeachment fatigue, as there is now majority support for impeaching Bush.

Al Gore's MLK Day speech explains why:

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother. But as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is to disrespect the whole legislative process and the constitutional division of authority between President and Congress."

...

And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.

For example, the President has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation, and that, notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to argue that the President or his appointees have made a mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.

At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.[emphasis added]

People weren't upset at the impeachment itself, they were angry at the bullshit reason for the impeachment. We mostly agreed that what Clinton did was wrong, just not of sufficient Constitutional weight to warrant impeachment.

Most people may not pay as close attention to news and politics as we would like, but most certainly recognize the difference between private misconduct and public misconduct. I know some do confuse the two (which I will rant about in my next post). Anybody can lie to a court, as so many do everyday, many of whom, like Clinton, get caught and punished.

But not just anyone can use the power and resources of the United States to tap a boyfriend's phone, imprison an unruly neighbor who flicks cigarette butts on the lawn, or force a child to stand in the corner for 40 hours until he admits to breaking the lamp.

What Bush is claiming goes right to the heart of the Constitution, and requires a serious response. To let it go is not an option. Consider what else Jefferson had to say about a little rebellion:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.

What happens when we don't bother holding any kind of rebellion at all? Bush must be impeached, because his encroachments must not stand.

Via Eschaton.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Mother's Revenge

And so it begins.

My nearly six-year-old son just said, "Mom, when I grow up, I'm going to let my kids do everything naughty."

"Keep it at your house," said my husband.

Continued the boy, "I'll tell them, 'I'll take you to the toy store if you ruin everything in the house.'"

Mwahahaha. I'm going to enjoy being a grandparent.

...Yes, I have actually said, in all seriousness, "This is why we can't have nice things."

Absolutely Stunning Arrogant Ignorance

Via Pharyngula, the Ohio Board of Education is putting a creationist class in its curriculum. It's bound to happen in some places, but take a look at this statement by a member of the school board who is a devout Creationist:
"We spend all this malarkey and baloney when 99 percent of all the people who are taught this have nothing to do with the rest of their lives. These scientists, they don't care about wasting their own time or anybody else's time. In business we don't waste time. To me, [the lesson] is not a big deal." According to Baker, the real reason scientists want to do away with the lesson plan is, as he said to a group of scientists at a board meeting concerning the lesson plan, "[They] think [they] know everything. [They're] just a bunch of paranoid, egotistical scientists afraid of people finding out [they] don't know anything.""

Got that? This man cares nothing about education. Since most of what is taught in science, math, and history classes has nothing to do with the rest of our kids' lives, it doesn't matter what we teach them. Hell, make the entire curriculum Bible-based, and we'll have a generation of kids measuring circumference in cubits, thinking bats are birds, and treating snakebites by looking at a snake on a brass pole.

But scientists "think they know everything?" Here's something you hear scientists say: "We know to a medical/scientific certainty..." To a responsible scientist that means that we're as sure as we can be about anything, but that nothing is 100% certain. Things change. We learn new things.

Here's what scientists don't say: "Because I said so." That's what Creationism amounts to, "God said so in the Bible, therefore it is so, even if all available evidence points to another conclusion."

I find it stunning that a businessman who doesn't "waste time" would support such a proposition. If making money is his main objective in life, then he should be appalled at encouraging the kind of sloppy thinking and science that a Bible-based curriculum in any field would produce. How much time and money would be wasted if engineers measured circumference and distance by their forearms, rounding to the nearest whole number? NASA wasted years and hundreds of millions of dollars because someone forgot to convert to the metric system.

Of course, Mr. Baker wouldn't waste time and money with things like space programs. Learning about our solar system and the development of life on other planets cuts into valuable resources better spent on yacht-lounging.

...Another thing occurred to me. Uneducated people will buy whatever crap you're peddling, because they don't know any better. Since Mr. Baker has nothing but crap to sell, he needs an ignorant population to buy it. If we were all as educated as the Belgians, Mr. Baker would be a pauper.

The Life of Sam

Based on The Life of Brian, a play in half a scene
Cast of Characters:
Brian -- Judge Samuel Alito
Reg -- General J.C. Christian
Judith -- Kate O'Beirne
Loretta -- Gary Bauer
Francis -- Adam
Goliath -- Martha-Ann Bomgardner
Spectator -- Lindsey Graham
Crowd -- MSM

BRIAN: Are you the Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution of Glory?
REG: Fuck off!
BRIAN: What?
REG: Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution of Glory. We're the Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution! Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution of Glory. Cawk.
FRANCIS: Wankers.
BRIAN: Can I... join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.
BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Democrats as much as anybody.
G.C.C.C.R.: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
REG: Schtum.
JUDITH: Are you sure?
BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Dems already.
REG: Listen. If you really wanted to join the G.C.C.C.R., you'd have to really hate the Dems.
BRIAN: I do!
REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
BRIAN: A lot!
REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Dems are the fucking Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution of Glory.
G.C.C.C.R.: Yeah...
JUDITH: Splitters.
G.C.C.C.R.: Splitters...
FRANCIS: And the Cultural Revolution of Glorious Christian Conservatives.
G.C.C.C.R.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution.
G.C.C.C.R.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
REG: What?
LORETTA: The Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution. Splitters.
REG: We're the Glorious Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Glorious Christian Revolution of Cultural Conservatives.
REG: Conservative Christian Cultural Revolution! C-huh.
FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Glorious Christian Revolution of Cultural Conservatives, Reg?
REG: He's over there.
G.C.C.C.R.: Splitter!
GOLIATH: [pant pant pant] Ooh. Ooh. I-- I think I'm about to have a... cardiac arrest. Ooh. Ooh.
SPECTATOR: Absolutely dreadful. Hmm.
CROWD: [cheering]
REG: Yes, brother! Ha ha. What's your name?
BRIAN: Brian. Brian Cohen.
REG: We may have a little job for you, Brian.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How

Fill out an Al-Qaeda application, strap on a bomb, and blast away 180 pounds.


(Updated, and I have to admit funnier -- sorry, General -- application here.)

They Went!

When can we finally lay to rest the lie that the Right cares more about the military than the Left? In addition to horribly ill-equipping the military, it seems these days, anyone who is in or has been in the military is just used as a stepping stone, even if it means stepping on that military person with a vicious smear.

They attacked Al Gore, John Kerry, Max Cleland, and now John Murtha, all veterans who apparently didn't give good enough service. Gore didn't shoot anyone, Kerry shot a diapered child in the back, Cleland didn't get horribly maimed in combat, and Murtha didn't get hurt bad enough.

But they went! They did their duties! I'll bet they all could have gotten deferments (Gore's influential father didn't want him to go), but they didn't. They went willingly into a war zone, where people died just for standing too close to an exploding child.

Go after them for their policies or ideas, but not for failing to live up to some John Wayne/General Patton ideal.

BTW, the Biggest Hypocrite Asshole Award in the Swiftboating of John Kerry went to Bob Dole, who questioned whether Kerry deserved a Purple Heart for richochted shrapnel from his own weapon, the same circumstance that got Dole a Purple Heart!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Priorities

Heard this on Randi Rhodes just now. Mine safety has been slipping under Bush.
At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company a scant $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died earlier this week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

...

The analysis shows:
  • The number of major fines over $10,000 has dropped by nearly 10 percent since 2001. The dollar amount of those penalties, when adjusted for inflation, has plummeted 43 percent to a median of $27,584.
  • Less than half of the fines levied between 2001 and 2003 - about $3 million - have been paid.
  • The budget and staff for the enforcement office also have declined, forcing the agency to make do with about 100 fewer coal mine enforcement personnel.
  • In serious criminal cases, the number of guilty pleas and convictions fell 54.8 percent since 2001. In the first four years of the Bush administration, the federal government has averaged 3.5 criminal convictions a year; in the four years before that the average was 7.75 per year.


Randi put it in perspective by comparing it to Howard Stern, who, during his career on commerical radio, was fined $2.5 million dollars by the FCC over his career for talking about toilets and boobies.

What Was That Exasperated Sigh?

This is why we like Howard Dean (video via Fables of the Reconstruction)

Dean doesn't pussyfoot around trying to mince words diplomatically, thus he gets the message out clearly in the allotted time.
There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

But what was that heavy, exasperated sigh Wolf Blitzer gave at the end? Was he frustrated the Dean wasn't rolling over? Upset that he didn't have time to sneak in another Republican talking point? That, once again, he fell for the right wing lies?

Or could it be that in that three seconds of silence, he realized again how much of a tool he is? It's easy to forget when most people who aren't Dean don't confront him with the unequivocating truth.

Another Excellent Reason to Pass on Alito

Quotes Kevin Drum, via Atrios
....He doesn't have a screw loose; what he has is a piece missing, conspicuously, radiantly, displaying the absence of any sense of, well, justice. Not a case came up for discussion in which he registered that one or another outcome was just wrong, outrageous to a sense of decency, or to him.

He's on record in a memo as believing that to shoot an eighth grader, known not to be armed, who was trying to climb over a fence in escape, is a proper use of deadly force by a policeman. In a discussion of immigration cases that have been regularly occasioning inexcusable, vile, un-American heartbreak on people who missed obscure deadlines or violated arcane requirements, all he could say was that the courts get bad transcripts and it was hard to find translators for some of the plaintiffs, but that was a problem for Congress.

It wasn't exactly Pilate washing his hands, but the man appears to be completely comfortable dealing with frightful social wrongs by moving the issue down the hall to another office. Sometimes the Court has to do this, but to Alito it's an especially good day's work, not a disappointment.

Sociopaths run our country.

Excellent Reason to Pass on Alito

Payola -- We're All Doin' It

Via Eschaton, another payola creep gets his.

Another reason to not trust Fomento -- he's a liar:
In his column right before that one, Fumento opened with, "Everybody's talking about it, but few seem to realize how exquisite a maneuver reducing U.S forces in Iraq is - unless you just want to cut and run as does Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha." [emphasis added]

In the interest of full disclosure, I think I took payola once. I made television commercials for a local TV station, and shot at a restaurant. After the shoot, I was given a little bag with fresh baked bread and four tumblers with the restaurant's logo. All the tumblers have since broken. The bread was delicious.

Am I going to jail, even though I was going to make the commercial anyway, and it probably still looked like crap, since it was so dark?

Like I Said, Subjugation of Women

We can only surmise why Mrs. Alito cried. I know I did.

After seeing this video via Crooks and Liars, maybe they're having a rough patch in their marriage. Or maybe, like I said, she knows he will use his position on the Supreme Court to subjugate women. Then he and Justice Thomas will link arms and skip down the hall.

How I Learned to, If Not Love, Then At Least Not Worry Too Much About the Bomb

So, Iran is going ahead with their nuclear plans, which frightens the bejesus out of a lot of people. One of the many reasons the Bush Administration gave for invading Iraq was their weapons of mass destruction-related programs, and the incredibly tenuous link to terrorists.

Well, Iran actually has real links to terrorists, unlike Iraq did, and also has real weapons of mass destruction-related programs that are nearly complete, as opposed to a wistful dream of someday.

But just as Saddam -- that is, if he'd had a real nuclear program anywhere near completion and any real links to terrorists -- wouldn't have shared the nukes for the danger they could have presented to himself and his own country, I don't think Iran would use or share nukes, for nukes also present a potential danger to themselves or their friendly neighbors.

Consider the coerced testimony -- for what it's worth -- of a waterboarded prisoner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
As part of his initial proposal for the attack on America, he had "considered targeting a nuclear power plant," KSM said. But al-Qaida chieftain Osama bin Laden "decided to drop that idea," evidently concerned about a Chernobyl-type fallout that might threaten countries adjacent to the United States.

It kind of makes me sick to think OBL has enough humanity to consider the safety of Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the other Caribbean nations. It's a lot easier to think of him as an insane, soulless monster.

But even soulless monsters have a sense of self-preservation (though it's true the insane ones don't necessarily make life-preserving decisions). I highly doubt OBL would have ever strapped a bomb to himself. That's for the expendable foot soldiers. Though he may have found plenty of people willing to kill themselves in a nuclear blast, OBL still had himself to consider. Just having, storing, hiding a nuclear weapon is a dangerous and difficult thing.

So it may actually have been a helpful preventative measure to have done something so apparently irrational as to have attacked Iraq. It showed the leaders of other countries and terrorist organizations that we don't really care where the attack came from; we will use the opportunity to lash out at those who are on our shit list. And a nuclear attack which could harm surrounding countries could mean a nuclear response which could also harm surrounding countries.

Nope, Iran will keep its technology to itself. Nukes are not a good striking weapon since they are so destructive and so many other people have them. But they are a good fear and intimidation weapon, giving a country or organization power and leverage. Which, frankly, is still a good reason to keep them out of some people's hands.

But I don't think I'll lose any sleep like I did in the 80s after watching The Day After. We won't be suffering a nuclear winter anytime soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Wood Shop of Intelligent Design

Having failed at getting ID declared a science, nutcases are now attempting to teach ID pseudo-science as a pseudo-philosophy.

A school in El Tejon, CA, has put and ID course on the curriculum under "philosophy." The course is basically the arguments that IDers have been using all along, plus a bunch of awesome Christian videos about the Creation.
Topics that wlll be covered are the age of the earth, a world wide flood, dinosaurs, pre-human fossils, dating methods, DNA, radioisotopes, and geological evidence. Physical and chemical evidence will be presented suggesting the earth is thousands of years old, not billions.

Sometimes a radioisotope is just a radioisotope? Dating methods using Aristotle's Golden Mean shows the Earth is neither apathetic nor irascible, it is equanimous?

Notice also that the curriculum, called "Philosophy of Intelligent Design" is blatantly Creationist.

And the teacher is singularly unqualified to teach either science or philosophy:
Name: Mrs. Sharon Lemburg
Department: Special Education
Brief Biography: B. A. Degree in Physical Education, Social Science: with emphasis in Sociology, Special Education
Class Description: Special EducationClub Advisor or Coach? Soccer and Softball
Of course they're being sued. So when this effort fails as miserably as the attempt to teach a religious belief as science, can we expect to see ID being taught in other, equally inappropriate courses?

The Sport of Intelligent Design
The Musical Theory of Intelligent Design
The Wood Shop of Intelligent Design

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