Monday, July 31, 2006

Contempt for Competence

In the face of an increasing swell of desire for competent governance, Jonah Goldberg yearns for a return to the right ideology over competence. (Bush has the incompetence, alright, just coupled with the wrong ideology.)
WASHINGTON is atwitter with 2008 Presidential talk.

One particular qualification has emerged above all others: competence.

On the liberal side this is hardly new. Democrats have been the party of government, so their shtick is to claim they can steer the leviathan state around any rocky shoals to the coastline of nirvana.

He goes on to list the Republicans who are now running on results, competence, and problem-solving ability. And that's a bad thing!

That's because competence gets in the way of ideology. The ideology is that government should be small so it doesn't interfere too much in people's lives. Jonah desires that the government be run incompetently as a means of destroying itself. Which is a form of competence, I suppose. If the goal is to reduce the federal government's size and influence, the most efficient means of attaining that goal is to destroy it from within.

When government works to actually better the lives of a greater number of people - as it has done since the New Deal - it's harder to convince people that government is the Big Bad. But a lot of people, including former ideologues, are apparently starting to realize that the real Big Bad isn't government's size, but government's actions. You can have a large government run well or badly, and you can have a small government run well or badly.

The neo-cons, Jonah acknowledges, are running the large government extremely badly.
Indeed, there is a hunger for competence out there. In foreign policy, the less-than-turnkey operation in Iraq and the wiliness of the Axis of Evil have created a longing for sober-eyed realism. Indeed, at no point in my lifetime has amoral Kissingerian realpolitik had greater appeal on both sides.

Yeah, it's not that that Bush Administration is stunningly incompetent, it's that the Axis of Evil has turned out to be far more wily than expected. Even though their "wiliness" was actually very predictable behavior. And I'm not all that familiar with Kissingerian realpolitik, but I think it had to do with using death squads and covert military action to reshape parts of the world for the financial and military benefit of the United States. Which is exactly opposite the realpolitik of the Left that opposed the Iraq war and further meddling in the ME, and many other places, for short- to mid-term political and monetary advantage.
After Hurricane Katrina, a host of avowedly “post-partisan” commentators have focused on a widespread desire for, in the words of the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, a “party of performance.”

The prevalence of this thinking is best illustrated by its penetration into the GOP. The most salient arguments for one candidate over another hinge on the question of competence.
This is the conservative ideology. Government shouldn't solve people's problems. Government actually helping to solve people's problems, therefore, is a bad thing. And politicians running on their competence to actually help solve people's problems is a worrying sign. As Goldberg continues:
Until recently, the conservative objection to such “competence” worship was that it steals an intellectual base; it takes it as a given that the government is the solution to our problems. This is the opposite of the Reaganite view that the government, more often than not, is the problem.

The right ideology must take precedence over competence. The problem with this bullshit ideology is that, except on certain occasions when individuals are dealing with each other, the solution to every problem every American has is to go through a government. A government, by the way, specifically created by the people, for the people, and of the people to solve problems.

Have an unresolvable dispute with a neighbor? Go to court. Feel threatened by a neighbor? Call the police. What's the conservative alternative, shoot 'em in the face at the least provocation? For some, yes. Need a system of any kind which regulates behavior so we don't all bump into each other all the time? Create laws through legislation, adjudicate them and enforce them. That's all government, baby, whether on the Federal, the state, or the local level. Most problems are in fact solved by a government.

Of course, some governments, regardless of size, just create more problems, but that's because they're incompetent (see Fort Collins). Generally, the larger the population, the more complex the society, the more laws are needed to help regulate relations.

It's been my theory that the reason people who live in heavily populated areas are Democrats and people who live in sparsely populated areas are Republicans is a direct reflection of this reality. Dense populations require more regulations.
And while it is surely true that we live in times that require considerable policy savoir-faire, it’s worth remembering how we got here.

George W. Bush didn’t run as a small-government conservative in the first place. He ran as a “reformer with results,” and his big-government conservatism was his attempt to make good on that promise.

Well, to be fair, Bush was lying. It wasn't big government that got us where we are today, it was incompetence paired with an ideology that shuns facts and reality. Sort of like Reaganism. In fact, let's talk about Reagan's small-government respect for a second. Let's talk about breaking the law for political expediency, trading arms to terrorists, funding secret wars. What about using the might of the Federal government to reshape the world for the financial and power gain of a few? I guess Goldberg's right, though; conservatives don't want to use government to solve people's problems, they want to use it to create more problems for the world.
Some may claim — with some merit — that today’s longing for a problem-solver on a white horse is a response to Bush’s record. But this gets the causation backward. And the great irony is that Bush’s most enduring legacy, after the War on Terror and his heroic Supreme Court picks, will in all likelihood be the political vindication of Michael Dukakis.

It was Bush's desire to be a problem-solver on a white horse that caused Bush's record? Every politician wants to be a problem-solver in some way. Reagan wanted to solve the "problem" of big government. But that didn't stop him from abusing the power of the big government to serve his particular ideology. At least Reagan, however, was pretty competent at getting his message across.

Apparently, Grandma was a whore

Growing up in a huge German Catholic family, I would hear the stories my parents and grandparents would tell about the mistrust and prejudice they saw in their small town neighbors. The Lutheran ministers would tell their parishoners to cross the street if they saw a Catholic coming (to be fair, the priests did the same thing and extended the hate to Bohemian Catholics). My grandfather's family found a cross burning on their lawn because they were the only Catholics in their small Iowa town. The same grandfather's platoon buddies in WWII asked what he would do if the pope said to support the Axis. Mormons wanted to know where my dad's family kept their bunker full of weapons for when the pope ordered them to take over the country. I had never experienced any bigotry myself. Then the fundies felt confident enough to blather on continuously.

I linked to Jack Chick's fundie cartoon site through fark. A good portion of the tracts rehash the same bullshit about the Roman Catholic church being the whore of Babylon and the pope being the anti-christ. My favorite is this one. What a surprise to find that Catholics worship angry Jesus, dead Jesus and baby Jesus as entirely separate deities. Once again, a fundie is pulling history out of his ass. Last year's Justice Sunday was held at R. Albert Mohler, Jr's church. Mohler has told Larry King that Catholicism is a false religion. That didn't stop William Donahue of the Catholic League from jumping on the "government and liberals and gays and the ACLU are persecuting us" bandwagon. Does he really think Catholics will get a hefty piece of the theocracy pie? My guess is the Catholics will be #5 on the "not real Americans" list.

From reading this blog, most would rightly assume that Julie and I are not religious. I stopped short of Confirmation because I got to the moody teen years and didn't want to commit to anything. As an adult I won't disrespect those of faith by committing to something I don't entirely believe. I see a sadness in my mom because we don't belong to the church and my dad will ask me where the closest Catholic church is to every new home we've moved. I've learned to find the church and get mass times but we all know I haven't been inside. I think they worry this has made them bad parents. I have tried to explain that they raised me to be a man of conviction and not live my life going through the motions but their religious conditioning runs deep. However, mom has made it clear that even though I don't consider myself a Catholic, God does. It's human nature to feel oppressed and antipathy toward authority and my reluctant Catholicism feeds this beast. A blond, blue-eyed teutonic six-footer has to look long and hard for "the Man."

Having a B.A. in European History, I understand the Catholics have a lot to answer for themselves. The Crusades and the many inquisitions were nasty bits of business indeed. Queen Mary really enjoyed lighting up the new English protestants but that could be considered revenge for her little brother Edward VI sparking up the Catholics who survived their father, Henry VIII. Of course, the protestants had the upper hand in England and Ireland with Cromwell and Catholic exclusion that lasted well into the 20th century. Yes, the Catholics have siezed and maintained power in the ugliest ways throughout history but when they have lost power, its has been to other faiths that only seek the same ugly power. Protestants, Muslims, Athiests (Communism) all have blood on their hands from ruling the multitudes.

I still have major problems with the dogma of the Catholic church: birth control, celibacy for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, but I have a great deal of respect for a religion that refuses to change overnight for the flavor of the day. Therefore, I feel justly annoyed when fundies like Chick and Mohler claim superiority of their equally faulty faith and douchebags like Donahue point their fingers the wrong way.

BTW, Grandpa would have switched religions before switching sides and dad turned the weapons bunker into a swinging bachelor pad with a conversation pit where a bloke named Kierkegaard would bite the heads off whippets.

Tancredo Blog Gone

Seems Tom gave up on his blog, as there's no link on his website anymore.

It's just as well. I don't think he had posted anything since January, and that was just a fluff piece comparing how many words are in various documents.

Picture = 1000 Words

I could make arguments all day about how a flag-burning amendment would be an unenforceable thought crime placed into the Constitution, but Doonesbury can do it in eight panels.

Via Pharyngula.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Buddha Buffer Fun Zone

I don't think creating a Lebanese buffer zone is going to do much to solve anything, not with Israel, or heck, just about anybody else occupying it. It will create more of the same problem that Israeli occupation, or most any occupation, creates.

What they need is a buffer that is more than just a physical distance between the two nations; they need to create a political and religious buffer, as well.



So I officially propose with all sincerity from the bottom of my heart that the twenty miles of southern Lebanon should be filled with displaced Tibetan Buddhist monks. They're peaceful and quiet. They don't require much. They're not decadent westerners. Think of the effects the entrancing chanting could have over the entire region. For a while, at least, they'd probably just cause a lot of heads in the Middle East to tilt from side to side like puppies considering a squeeky toy.

And if that stops working, we can replace the Buddhists with large stuffed pillows, wind chimes, puppies playing with squeeky toys or some other somewhat pleasing but totally neutral and non-offensive material that will throw everybody off balance for a while. It would be best if it could happen secretly, in the middle of the night, at irregular intervals.

Imagine being Hezbollah or the IDF, waking up to find tens of thousands of kittens chasing balls of string and battery-run fluffy mouse toys. Who could you bomb that day? Not when you've got to run home to get the kids and the camcorder.

In fact, why don't we just lay down border-to-border plush carpeting and require anyone who enters the buffer zone to wear breezy white cotton nightgowns and take off their shoes, with shoe cubbies like at McDonald's Playplace? I don't suggest allowing snacks, as spills cause stains and stickiness and could cause a whole new war over who should clean the carpet. But bubble machines could be fun.

Hell, why not have it all at the same time. Ohming Buddhists, giant pillows, wind chimes, puppies and kittens, bubble machines, and border-to-border plush carpeting.

I feel happier already.

Bush Priorities

Maru makes a joke about believing Andy Borowitz' Onion-like article on Truth Dig:

The widening crisis in the Middle East took on graver proportions today when President George W. Bush indicated that if the hostilities continue, they could threaten his traditional August vacation at his Crawford, Texas, ranch...

...“No one wrecks my vacations,” Mr. Bush said with steely resolve. “Not on my watch.”


Thing is, as Sine Qua Non Blog points out, it's based on a serious and true story.

Ritter's Denver Post Profile

The ridicule. The Denver Post started with Holtzman, continued with Beauprez, and now we finally have Ritter. And all I can say is, dang. There is a huuuge difference in tone from the first two profiles.

Maybe I'm too much of a partisan, but I can't find so much to ridicule about Ritter's profile. Holtzman felt entitled, Beauprez was a phony, but Ritter is described as authentic and principled.

Here's a point of concern, given the current NSA spying:
Family members remember Ritter with a book under his arm, cracking jokes or sneaking to the top of the stairs to eavesdrop on siblings' conversations.

"He couldn't stand not to know what was going on," says older sister Suzie.

But even that is immediately tempered by the description of his early experiences which lead to his dedication to civil rights.

Unlike his more privileged opponent, he has a deep, personal understanding of the need for social safety nets and public aid. After his dad got kicked out for being an abusive drunk (and he's gotta have respect for women with a mom who refused to be a co-dependent punching bag)
Everyone needed to find extra work to bring in money, [Ritter's mom] told them. Ritter and his brothers hauled wood, performed roof repairs. His sisters babysat. Mom applied for Aid to Families With Dependent Children and took a bookkeeping job.

...

Ritter earned a reputation as a disciplined student at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado law school. He used federal aid and construction jobs to pay his tuition.

There is the concern that he lets the police kill people without fear of retribution, besides monetary settlements. And of course there's his anti-abortion stance, though it is a personal one, not a matter of public policy.
Because of his abortion views, some have jumped to the assumption that he's a social conservative. Many are surprised, Ritter says, to learn in conversations with him that he believes in evolution, supports stem-cell research and backs domestic partnership benefits for gays, some of whom are close friends.

Scooter Nation

Vestal Vespa's not wrong. People luv scooters. I'd love one, too, if I didn't have kids to shuttle about.
Denver, host to two national scooter rallies this weekend, has averaged seventh of 210 U.S. metro-area markets in scooter sales for three years motoring - remarkable given the region's cold-weather months.

...

The scooter population has grown 308 percent in the Denver metro area since 2000 and 317 percent statewide, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, a national advocacy group based in Irvine, Calif.

Besides being fun, stylish and popular the scooters are a way to patriotically serve the nation.
An average scooter gets 85 miles per gallon and is driven 3,500 miles a year. And the average car in the U.S. gets 22.4 mpg. So Denver-area scooter drivers could be responsible for as many as 1.2 million gallons of unburned fuel a year.

One thing I didn't know about scooters, though, is that they are exempt from stopping at stop signs. I learned that today when an old fart on a scooter blasted through a stop sign as I stepped onto the crosswalk. I said, "Nice stop," to him, but he didn't hear. He probably had one of those helmets with a built-in radio so he's exempted from pulling over for emergency vehicles, too.

But for the crowd who don't like to violate traffic laws like scooters require (facetiousness), or those with families to tote, another cool option are electric cars, like the GEM, which radio talk show host Ed Schultz recently bought. They have the added benefit of doors and heaters for the winter.

Of course, many of us still don't practice what we preach. My husband and I just got a second car that's less fuel-efficient than our main car; it's a Buick LeSabre. But the price was way below blue book and it is in excellent shape, so it won't be breaking down any time soon. It had one owner, a 97-year-old man who only drove it to church. We won't be using it much more than that. It's mainly for those occasional days when we both need a car at the same time.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why Does Mel Gibson Hate Jews?


Tradition!

It makes you wonder why he would work so hard to look like Tevye.

Now, in his apology for being a belligerent asshole during his DUI arrest, he says he said things which were despicable and which he does not believe to be true. However, I think it's most people's experience that drunkeness causes us to say what we basically believe to be true, though they it come out in not quite the way we may mean it.
But I don't know how one can nuance "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" to mean something other than exactly what those words mean. Obviously, the warmongering Jews are always hovering near the top of Mel Gibson's mind for him to spontaneously make such a declaration. Unless there's something more than being a drunkard going on with him, like some sort of mental illness. Either way, it's sad.

This is My Limit

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!

Dave Letterman

Via The World Wide Rant.

A trip down memory lane for my husband, who probably remembers seeing these when they first aired. There was an entire decade during which he only missed one of Dave's shows ... because he had to attend his grandmother's funeral. The man knows how to commit.

Update: from Crooks & Liars, the vlogging continues with a clip from Friday's Letterman in which he responds to mAnn calling Bill Clinton gay.

Ach Du Lieberman

He really is a Bush boy, an insecure tyrant who stage-manages appearances, forbidding anybody who might disagree with him in any way (like asking hard questions) from entering an event, such as Spazeboy and Jane Hamsher.

Check out Jesus' General for the great Lieberman ad.

Get Your War On

GYWO does needs a regular, paying gig.







Hint: click on the picture.

The Man in Black

Atrios has Cash's video cover of NIN's Hurt. Poignant.

End Times Days Are Here Again

(Appropriately, I was listening to Jet's Look What You've Done while reading the interview; it includes the lyric "you've made a fool of everyone.")

Tim LaHaye gloats at the self-fulfillment of a 2500 year old "prophecy" in a Newsweek interview, and I mock his idiocy.


NEWSWEEK: How do you interpret what’s happening in the Middle East? Are you seeing signs that these are the end of days?
Tim LaHaye: Biblically speaking, the very nations that are mentioned in prophecy—and have been mentioned for 2,500 years as occupying the focus of the tension of the last days—are the very nations that are involved in the conflict right now.

The brand of monotheism that foretells this particular end time prophecy began in the Middle East 2500 years ago. So earlier religious nuts wrote "prophecies" about the region of their experience and birth of their religion (imagine how impressive it would have been if they had written prophecies about places they couldn't possibly have known anything about), and 1000 years later began actively pursuing the fulfillment of those prophecies with the Crusades. So really, it only took about 1500 years of poking and prodding this region to get it to explode in nearly uncontrollable violence in the proper, "foretold" manner.


That may be one of the reasons there’s a sudden interest in bible prophecy because all of a sudden they realize end-time events could possibly take place and break forth right now.

And that's why he wrote his crappy novels ... the same reason Tom Clancy's Cold War novels were so popular during the Cold War. Fear = $. The greater the fear, the greater the cash flow.


But first-century Christians believed that the end of the world could come during their lifetime.
We call it the belief in the imminent return of Christ. It’s a motivational factor to serve the Lord and not let the world be so much with us that we don’t serve the Lord in the spiritual environment.

We also call it "Daddy's Gravy Train." The constant fear helps us maintain control and power.


Couldn't almost anything then be taken as a clue that any point in history might be the end times?
Down through the years that’s true. But never the accumulation of events as we have today. I have often said that no one knows the day nor the hour that Christ will come, but no generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation. We have more reason to believe that Christ could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.

The interviewer, self-admittedly neither biblical student nor scholar, later manages to pick out the shortcoming of this fear tactic.


But my understanding is that current biblical scholarship reads some of the apocalyptic scenes in the Bible as metaphorically addressing events that were taking place as the Bible was being written.
These are usually liberal theologians that don’t believe the Bible literally.
The problem isn't that the Bible was written, translated and edited by scientifically ignorant men; the problem is that you, the liberal unbeliever, reject what some modern scientifically ignorant men interpret the Bible to mean.


So the Revelation should not be interpreted, for example, as a polemic against Rome?
That’s what they say. We believe that the Bible should be understood literally whenever possible. The next big event is the second coming of Christ. That’s preceded by a number of signs. And some of those signs could be could be stage-setting right now. They’re not going to come out of nowhere. For example, the Bible predicts when the antichrist comes and sits at his kingdom after the Rapture, he’s going to have one world economy and one world government and one world religion. We’re already moving rapidly in the direction of those very things.
Discern the barely contained incredulity at this patently ridiculous assertion in the next question.

Really? It seems we’re a ways off from one world religion.
That’s the least developed, but there are many particularly liberal theologians that just think that "Oh, if we could just get everybody together of all beliefs ..." If you don’t have a strong belief system, you’re willing to compromise your beliefs with other religions.
How deliciously ironic that people striving very hard to create a One World Religion of Fundamental Christianity (failing miserably, just like the other sect of the same monotheistic religion is striving hard to create a One World Religion of Fundamental Islam) are worried that liberal theologians, who inherently acknowledge and respect the diversity of beliefs and religions that exist on the planet, will somehow magically create One World Religion.

And isn't that Satan deliciously tricky? The people working the hardest to get all people to believe in One World Religion (fundies) and bring about the Second Coming of Christ are the people causing the most strife in the world which is pushing more people to be more tolerant of people with different beliefs, thus postponing the creation of One World Religion and the return of Christ, thus extending Satan's rule on Earth! I mean, how Satanically tricky is it that peace, love and tolerance means Satan is ruling, while strife, war and hatred are the signs that Christ's will is working. Damn tricky! Counterintuitive, even!

There's a few more Q&As in the interview, but I can't top that last bit. We'll leave it with a Newsweek link to HuffingtonPost about LeHaye's Christian Orwellianism "faith" cop out.
Michael Standaert is a critic of yours who has written recently in a blog that this belief in the end of the world in a big explosion of violence, reflects a “spiritual malaise” a “hopelessness in humanity” and that you’re “making money off of fear and hopelessness” in your “Left Behind” series. How do you respond to that?
I would say that he’s just betraying his poverty of faith. If he had faith in the Bible, faith in the future and Jesus Christ, he’d recognize that our passion is just like the theme song in our books: we don’t want anybody to be left behind.
Obviously that kid in the wheelchair can't walk after the faith healing because he just didn't have enough faith. It's that stupid kid's fault, not Jesus' fault.

Update: Michael Standaert says he doesn't understand the desire to see the world end. I do. Right after college I slipped into depression. I wanted nothing more than for the world to end since that would mean my misery would end. I couldn't anticipate a future, anyway. Think of what miserable bastards many fundies are, and the miserable things they do to others, as well as the planet. They can't anticipate a future for themselves, let alone their children, so it doesn't matter if they create a hell on earth. Of course they want it to end.

Update 2: We all knew it, but we can now count Bush officially of that depressed number who "just want it all to end, please dear Lord, just let it end."
Via Mahablog.

WindSource Premium - How Long?

Over a month ago I wrote a letter to Xcel asking about the comments of spokeswoman Ethnie Groves, who told the Denver Post,
"This is a premium price program, and customers that elect to join the Windsource program have decided to pay more to build up wind power in the state," Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves said. "This was never designed to be competitive with traditional generation."

It took a while but I got a response.

I'm not clear on blogger ethics (quick, someone convene a panel!) about publishing letters from company executives without having informed them of my intention to publish as a blogger first. My gut told me to disclose my intentions and ask permission to publish the letter, even though I'm probably legally free to do so. It's again taking forever for Xcel to get back to me, despite an assurance that I would receive a response by last Monday, so that is why I'm writing up this summary of what the Xcel representative wrote.

He said that Windsource is one of the first of its kind, one of the largest producers of wind energy in the country, and there are plans to expand the program by 2008. It was designed from its inception as a premium to bring renewable, clean energy to Colorado, and customers who choose to pay more for Windsource are helping to expand the program. The increase in traditional fuel costs coupled with tax credits is helping to make wind power more cost effective, plus the Windsource program helps Xcel meet its Amendment 37 requirements.

Most of that I understood, but I still had a question, so what follows is my letter in response:

Dear Mr. K.,

Thank you for taking the time to so thoroughly respond to my questions. But I'm still not quite understanding Ms. Grove's comments even in the context you provide.

I agree that seeking and developing renewable energy sources is a worthy and necessary cause that I would willingly pay a few extra dollars to help fund. I, too, am proud that so many Coloradans think enough of our planet that they willingly pay premiums to help develop these sources, and that we have an energy company, Xcel, which is working to develop them. And I do understand that developing new technologies and increasing infrastructure to meet increased demand requires an initial cost increase.

As you stated, it is the intention of Xcel to expand the use of Windsource, an increasingly viable and cost effective energy source,
particularly in light of the higher costs of other fuels. That suggests that at some future date Windsource prices will lower, thus being
competitive with those other fuels. That is why Ms. Grove's statement that Windsource is a premium which "was never designed to be competitive with traditional generation" is a cause for confusion.

It suggests that Xcel will always keep the cost of Windsource higher than traditional generation, thus always keeping it non-competitive and merely profiting off the desire of so many Coloradans to be responsible consumers.

I hope you understand the concern that statement would cause in many consumers. Could you clarify whether Windsource will ever be considered a non-premium, competitive product?

Thank you for your time,
Julie O.


He called me twice, after this letter and one other reminding him that I was waiting for a response. He was very nice and personable, said he would ask Ms. Groves for a clarification and also that he would ask corporate if he could give me permission to reprint his letter.

He said I wasn't the only person to contact him with concerns on this issue, so I would think it would behoove Xcel to let the public know that WindSource will someday be competitive. Unless there are no plans for it to ever be competitive.

If I ever hear back, Dear Reader, I will inform you.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Denver Not a Sanctuary City

It never has been, although I've heard my mom call it that a time or two. Yes, she listens to Peter Boyles. It was always a toss off point in a larger conversation, so I never looked it up before.

Now Colorado has its own Media Matters to look into these things for me. (via SquareState)

There is a difference between policy and practice. Sometimes the police have failed to detain suspects because of their legal status. But it has never been the policy of the police to refuse to cooperate with the federal government.

Colorado Media Matters says, "A federal immigration spokesman has stated that he knows of 'no Colorado city' that has a policy against reporting illegal immigrants to federal officials, a policy that is prohibited under Colorado law" as of May 1. However,
The News article also referred to Section 104.52 (3) of the Denver Police Department Operations Manual, which states: "Generally, officers will not detain, arrest, or take enforcement action against a person solely because he/she is suspected of being an undocumented
immigrant." However, the manual further explains that "when a suspect believed to be an undocumented immigrant is arrested for other charges, a 'Refer to Immigration' charge will be added to the original charges. Sheriff's Department Personnel will then notify the I.N.S. authorities according to their procedures.' " According to the News, "Denver sends ICE the names of jailed foreign-born inmates. So do other counties in Colorado."

The police have sometimes failed to send ICE the names of jailed foreign-born inmates. The wording of the DPD Operations Manual requires police to do something they have sometimes failed to do. But that is a violation of policy, not a policy of sanctuary.

So the newly enacted law which Boyles touts as proof that Denver was a sanctuary city makes law, not mere policy, the requirement to report foreign-born inmates. I don't see where the penalty is for officers or departments who fail to comply.

Plus, the law still doesn't require police to take action against detainees who may be suspected of being illegal immigrants. So nothing has really changed.

But What About the Stargate?

I suppose that moving NORAD to Peterson Air Force Base simply means the SGC will have more room and freedom to operate.

Considering that the SGC was struck just as dumb and impotent on 9/11 as President Bush was
Twenty-three minutes later, General Hammond and Dr. Janet Frasier sat in the SGC briefing room, staring almost shell-shocked into the TV displaying the Fox News Channel.

...

Jack held his head in his hands. Sam and Daniel jaws dropped, and the major breathed an "Ohmigod," while nearly all of the linguist's interest in the Temple of Zeus vanished from his mind. Even the usually stoic Teal'c's eyes grew wide and lip quivered.

there's no reason for them to intermingle. I mean, with NORAD just upstairs giving the SGC immediate info, you'd think the brilliant scientists and military minds with access to alien technology who could defeat the Goa'uld and find a lost team member on an uncharted planet would be able to whip up a plan to find and neutralize two missing hijacked planes on earth.

Or, given the limited timeframe they had to work with, shouldn't they have been able to find Osama bin Laden by now?

That's what we get when our most brilliant minds watch Fox News, I guess. I mean, Air Force General Hammond doesn't even wonder why the jets weren't scrambled.

RMN Treason

That is what you would call it when a newpaper reports on speed traps so motorists can avoid them, right? The RMN must be pro-terrorist speeder.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Breastfeeding Outrage


What is this continued outrage over breastfeeding? And it's women who apparently got outraged over this magazine cover. When I look at it I have fond memories of breastfeeding my first son (I try to block out the unpleasant memories, and am sad I couldn't breastfeed my second). Why are women squeamish about other women breastfeeding in public?

Here are some of the comments the magazine received in protest:
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," [a member of the itty bitty titty committee] wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third.

Says another advocate of private breastfeeding, "I just think it's one of those moments that should stay between a mother and her child."

Considering that a baby has to eat every few hours, what this opponent of public breastfeeding is saying is that mothers should always stay home. It would be great if there were a private, clean room for breastfeeding or pumping everywhere you go. But there isn't. How much does anyone see, anyway? Most women try to be discreet and do it under a blanket. Unless you're making a concerted effort to see it, you won't.

But the real reason many women are squeamish about other women breastfeeding in public:

"I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."

There is no such thing as a breast your husband or son doesn't want to see. What she means is that she doesn't want her husband or son seeing it.

Just how insecure and uptight do you have to be to not want the men in your life to see a woman breastfeeding her child?

Hit Ad ... Literally

I had the severe displeasure of seeing Ed Perlmutter's hit ad about Peggy Lamm.

But then I discovered a new campaign in support of Tom Tancredo that puts Perlmutter to shame. TakeBackTheHouse of DailyKos and Square State announced a contest for a billboard in support of Bill Winter and got targetted by trolls, particularly by a Joe Sylvester who had this to say:

"You fucking assholes. Id like to beat your fucking skulls in with a ball pean hammer... That comment was directed to you anti Tancredo bastards."

Lestatdelc in comments at DailyKos made up this billboard, but forgot the bloody hammer, which I added.








This must be illustrative of something, but I can't quite grasp it. You know, like how the Left uses the destructive, negative energy of the Right to create something wholesome and pure.

[update: I corrected the billboard since I realized Bill Winter's name wasn't anywhere on it, and he has enough name-recognition problems]

Update 2: More ads.




Monday, July 24, 2006

Still Having Trouble

It's still difficult for me to sit at the computer and type. I got hurt and haven't been able to bend at the waist very well, though I get better every day. It has been rather pleasant to lay in bed or on the couch with a heating pad and watch television or read all day, however.

I predict by Thursday I'll be blogging up a storm.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No Part of the Constitution is Safe

Rep. John Conyers is having to sue the Administration for signing a bill which passed only the Senate (via TalkLeft).

Article 1, Section 7

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Some parts of the Constitution are somewhat ambiguous or hard to understand. This isn't one of them. Two houses. Both have to vote on the same bill. Not different versions of a bill with the same name. The same bill, with all objections reconsidered and approved.

It seems the case was started (via Senior Journal) by an Alabama law attorney, Jim Zeigler, who filed suit in federal court.
The bill's troubles stem from provisions regarding Medicare payment for oxygen equipment used in the home. Up till now, Medicare has paid for the rental of such equipment as long as the patient needs it. But in the Senate version of the bill, which narrowly passed in December with Vice President Dick Cheney flying back from the Middle East to cast the deciding vote, payment for oxygen equipment was capped at 36 months. At the same time, the Senate bill capped payments for other equipment rented by Medicare beneficiaries, such as wheelchairs, at 13 months.

When the Senate sent the bill to the House, however, the 36-month limit for oxygen tanks was mysteriously inserted into the section of the bill dealing with the other equipment, so 36 months replaced 13 months – an estimated $2 billion error.

This was the version of the bill that passed the House by two votes. The Senate clerk then corrected the error and this version -- the version only the Senate had passed -- was apparently certified by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AL), the president pro-tempore of the Senate, and sent to the President for his signature.

It's apparently not the first time two separate bills were passed, as there is a previous Supreme Court case
Zeigler said he is aware of an 1892 ruling by the Supreme Court, Field v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649 (1892), that may affect the outcome of his action. In that case, the Court ruled that once a bill is deposited in the public Archives, a court should not look behind the President's signature to question whether it in fact passed both houses.

The year 1892 was apparently a year of unimpeachable character, trust in authority, a wonderfully naive time without video and audio recorders.

First they point out the purpose of Article 1 Section 7
'the object of the whole clause is to insure publicity to the proceedings of the legislature, and a correspondent responsibility of the members to their respective constitutents. And it is founded in sound policy and deep political foresight. Intrigue and cabal are thus deprived of some of their main resources, by plotting and devising measures in secrecy.'

Like writing up changes to thousand page bills which they insert 15 minutes before a vote.

Then the reason for ruling against the case
It is said that, under any other view, it becomes possible for the speaker of the house of representatives and the president of the senate to impose upon the people as a law a bill that was never passed by congress. But this possibility is too remote to be seriously considered in the present inquiry. It suggests a deliberate conspiracy to which the presiding officers, the committees on enrolled bills, and the clerks of the two houses must necessarily be parties, all acting with a common purpose to defeat an expression of the popular will in the mode prescribed by the constitution. Judicial action, based upon such a suggestion, is forbidden by the respect due to a co- ordinate branch of the government.

Imagine, a Republican controlled House, Senate, and Executive colluding to defeat an expression of the popular will in the mode prescribed by the constitution by screwing over House Democrats on a bill that barely managed to squeak through the first time. Unthinkable! 1892 was also apparently a time when co-ordinate branches of government actually respected each other.

Back to the Senior Journal article, which points out a crucial difference between the 1892 case and the Deficit Reduction Act:
A crucial question seems to be when the Republican leadership knew they had a problem with the bill. According to a Congressional Quarterly article cited in the blog Balkinization, the mistake apparently was discovered in mid-January, but was not then corrected because "no agreement could be reached between the House and Senate about how to resolve the difference from the Senate version other than passing a corrective measure after enacting the reconciliation bill."

"I know the speaker knew this was an invalid bill and still gave the go-ahead to send it to the President,'' Pelosi said. Her demand for an ethics investigation into the bill's passage was shelved on a party-line vote.

The 1892 case deals with an apparent inadvertent omission by a clerk recording in the journal, while the current case deals with the leaders of the House and Senate knowingly passing along a bill which wasn't approved by both houses because they probably wouldn't be able to get the votes needed to pass the bill they wanted. In other words, collusion with a common purpose to defeat an expression of the popular will in the mode prescribed by the constitution.

[ed: I fat-fingered some combination of keys which is apparently a keyboard shortcut for posting. If you've seen both posts, you may have preferred the first, shorter version. I don't blame you.]

Brainstorming Out of ME Conflict

It's better than just sitting there getting bogged down in despair over the Israel/Lebanon/Syria/Iran/Palestine war. Sure, we can't do anything about it, but it feels good to at least try.

Mike Brisgeek comes out strong with a couple of suggestions. Several months ago he posted about Edward de Bono's lateral thinking solution to the Israeli/Palestinian problem: let each side vote in the other's elections so extremists can't get elected. I thought it an intriguing idea, but didn't dwell on it. Now I think it's a brilliant idea.

But there is a further problem. I know one of the obstacles to peace is that the Palestinians demand the right of return. Israel is rightly concerned that the returning Palestinian's majority would create a democratic way to be rid of Israel. But that need not be. Shouldn't it be possible to create a constitution which guarantees the existence of Israel, the rights of Jews and Muslims, proportional representation, and an amendment procedure which would protect Israel from being voted out of existence? Combine that with allowing Palestine and Israel to vote in each other's elections, and everyone's rights should be fairly well protected.

Of course there would still be extremists working to destroy one side or the other. Decades of bloody war have ensured that. But when people have peaceful and effective means of improving their lives (democratic participation, for instance) they will give less support to the extremists.

And if all else fails, have a rant (like the Fifth Column) and move whole populations about like pieces on a gameboard. Why would this work any less than what's going on now? Okay, that's not really constructive, but it's reflective of the frustration at a lack of a solution by now.

Any other constructive suggestions?

Green-e Energy

I'm still working on getting information about Windsource from Xcel about a comment by Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves who told the Denver Post
"This is a premium price program, and customers that elect to join the Windsource program have decided to pay more to build up wind power in the state," Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves said. "This was never designed to be competitive with traditional generation." [emphasis added]

I've been told to expect a specific response on Monday, July 24.

Meanwhile, Mr. K at Xcel told me that Windsource is Green-e certified, a program I'd never heard of before. Apparently, Colorado is the only Western state, besides California, that is. It's a voluntary program for energy producers who seek to assure consumers with third party verification that they are getting high-quality, renewable energy as advertised.

The certification process is overseen by a Board of Governance comprised of individuals who have committed careers in alternative energy and environmental advocacy. For indepth info about their standards, click here.

I don't know if the Green-e logo is on Xcel paper bills because I've started getting electronic bills. I don't see the logo anywhere on their website. But this is what to look for.
logo

Sorry For the Light Posting

As Pither said, I've been very unwell. I'm still suffering the dregs, and today is the first day I've been able to sit upright. As bad as I felt, though, I feel especially bad for Pither, since he's been getting up in the wee hours to go to work and come home at 9:30 to basically play single dad all day. Early mornings and single parenthood are not easy.

So a salute to all you hardworking parents out there.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I wish I were dead

Julie isn't feeling well and I'm working early mornings so postings will be scant this week.

Denverites: Has Cherry Creek always had that trendy douchebag-y vibe?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Armageddon It On

Following the developments in the ME as sparsely as I am, trying to imagine how it could possibly play out, I can't help but seeing in my mind the final scenes in Wargames in Cheyenne Mountain while the computer tries to figure out a way to win. The outcome is always the same, and it's a lose.

I really don't mean to make light of the situation. The movie seems quaint now, but recalling how I felt watching the movie in the 80s, it was a frightening scene.

Status quo in the ME was scary and awful enough. The unknown is even moreso, and the articles maha excerpts don't help matters much. Given the foreign policy paralysis and marginalization of the Bush Administration, and the potential overreaching of Israel ... what if Israel loses? Or what if it wins by resorting to nuclear strikes?

And I'm not asking the extremes of either side. I know what their reactions would be in each situation.

Is the most we can hope for a return to the previous status quo? That seems unacceptable as well.

Documenting the Atrocities

Usually refers to Sunday talking heads, but I don't watch those.

These atrocities are more examples of the the violent rhetoric of the RWNJs (Greenwald via Atrios), who are, in fact, mainstream members of the political right.

With Campaign Supporters Like These, Who Needs Democrats?

Katherine Harris is crazy. So says her own supporters who wish her well.
''I wish Katherine Harris the best,'' [former campaign manager Glenn] Hodas said, ``but it appears all the old patterns are repeating themselves: Tantrums. Minor things cause her to blow. She doesn't take advice. Micromanaging to the Nth degree. It's nothing new. But I didn't have the energy to move on with the campaign, considering everything.''

...

''It drove her crazy, but it didn't take long to get her there,'' said [Ed] Rollins, Harris' former advisor and a top Reagan Republican strategist.

Last summer Joe "dead intern" Scarborough was courted to run against Harris, who, even before her rapid decline, Republicans thought would lose in a landslide to Democrat Bill Nelson. The panicked Ms. Harris called major donors about Joe.
''This [story] encapsulates everything wrong with her as a candidate,'' [former campaign manager Jim] Dornan said. 'She reacted without thinking. She made stuff up. She called people she had no business calling. And when confronted with the insanity of her -- I use this term lightly -- `strategy,' she denied it and tried to blame someone else.''

...

... Harris ... called donors like Pensacola developer Collier Merrill. Merrill told The Miami Herald that Harris suggested Scarborough was going to have trouble when ''they start asking questions . . . about that dead girl,'' Fort Walton Beach staff member Lori Klausutis.

Dornan said he overheard Harris tell more than one donor: ``I don't know what he's thinking when he's got this whole issue of a dead intern on his hands.''

via WTF Is It Now?

Email Scams

We all get them.

But the one I got today really annoyed me. Here's part of the text.
Am Hamed Fareed, a merchant in Cuba,I am suffering from esophageal Cancer that was discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business.

My uncle died of esophageal cancer a few years ago. So did Bernhand Bernhand, Jr of Portugal in 2002 and Barukh Mellamed of Iran in 2004. However, although my uncle didn't make any money off his own death, he did have his loving family with him, so he wins.

The reason it annoyed me was that, although the moment I saw it on my list I knew it was a scam, I started to actually feel bad for the guy as I read it.

Not everyone knows these are scams or how to find out if they are. I know someone who fell for one a few years ago. It involved receiving $50,000 in what turned out to be stolen checks from overseas, the FBI, and restitution to the bank for money which this person didn't have. It was a mess. But desperate people will sometimes do desperate things.

Including the very scammers themselves.

The Nigerian-type scams are called 419s, after the Nigerian criminal code which lists such scams in section 419. However, the scam emails don't just come from Nigeria.

Usually I just delete them after enjoying their bad grammar and spelling and googling them to see the variations. But this one almost made me upset enough to want to respond somehow. I don't advocate responding in any way, but there is a group that sometimes does, and I am pleased to have my feelings of striking back satisfied by reading about their exploits in scamming the scammers.

The website is 419eater, where there are many stories and pictures of scammers doing ridiculous things. There's even a section of badly photoshopped pictures of the scammers trying to scam the scammer scammers!

I feel better.

NSA Bill Providing Cover for Political Spying?

I had read about the possibility of Specter's new sham FISA bill giving the President cover for any spying on his political opponents he may have been doing, as Xsociate Files points out.

But it occurred to me that, had the President been using the NSA to spy on his political opponents, wouldn't it be the Democrats who were being charged with crimes and scandals left and right?

I suppose Rove could be storing up all the good stuff (meaning all the stuff, since there's been next to nothing) for an October Surprise. Then again, the President having the goods on some legislators would explain a few things. The GOP is set to lose both houses this year, which again points to stunning incompetence in the use of the NSA to spy on political opponents, which wouldn't really be that surprising considering everything.

Then again, maybe there's just not a whole lot to get on Democrats these days. No pedophilia, addictions (except Kennedy), adultery, corruption (except Jefferson). Mostly what they get Dems on is being French, rich, nuanced and educated.

That better be one hell of an October Surprise. Wouldn't it be funny if the October Surprise were the Apocalypse? "Well played, Mr. Rove, well-played."



... Of course, just because I doubt that it was happening before doesn't mean that it's not a terrible idea to create conditions which would make it even more likely to happen in the future, if not with this president then with another. The branches of government need true oversight and checks.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I'm a Wishy-Washy Agnostic

I don't post much on theological topics, mainly because my agnosticism leaves me with not much to say. And not having thought much on the topic for many years leaves me inadequately equipped to express cogently what I would want to say.

Even now I'm having problems beginning this. So let's go to what prompted this particular post, the comments thread to PZ Myers' post, Moran on Theistic Evolution.

In fact, it's a reaction to the general anti-religious sentiments I've come across over the years on the Darwin Awards Philosophy Forum, on Pharyngula, or wherever else I've come across very scientifically-minded people who congregate and rationalize away religious belief. I just can't get totally behind anti-religious sentiment, even though I greatly respect and trust the scientists about their conclusions and I know religion is one of the most destructive forces on earth for humanity.

That is, it's a tool which has been most effectively used by bad people to get large groups of ignorant people to do bad things over sustained periods of time. Large groups of people may do good things prompted by religion for short amounts of time; even during the bad times, small groups of people may do good things prompted by that same religion. But overall, I think religion's history is pretty dismal.

And I know that religious beliefs about deities and the natural world are fictions, expressions of primitive understandings of scientific phenomena and human nature, or out of a more sinister intention of power and control.

I know that science is not a faith, although, being a non-scientific person myself, I have to take on faith what scientists tell me. I keep trying to understand science. I did a math workbook from the library in an attempt to learn the math I never grasped in high school. I read TalkOrigins and Pharyngula, and I think they know what they are talking about. But I don't understand it, not really. My mind doesn't work that way, apparently, and it never has.

And maybe that's why I can't shake the feeling that science is not all. Maybe that byproduct of evolution which allows humans to be self-aware is not fully developed in my brain and it makes me feel more consciously connected to everything else. Maybe that other byproduct of evolution which helps humans see patterns in nature is over-developed in me causing me to detect meaning in unrelated events.

Am I biologically built to be agnostic? Am I just smart enough to not be a blind follower, but not smart enough to fling away all superstition? If so, is it beyond my ability to change? Is everyone who is intellectually limited doomed to religion and everyone who has a finely attuned scientific ability doomed to godlessness?

But it's not that clean cut. I would bet (based on a most unscientific supposition) that most people are somewhere in the mushy middle, and based on particular mental makeup and life's experiences, fall on different places on the theist/atheist spectrum.

For me I don't think it's just social conditioning or brainwashing. At first it was. But I chose to be an atheist for a short while. It was a very cleansing experience. And though I tried, I could never find a religious belief system that suited me.

I know that a month of intellectual atheism can't overcome several years of half-assed religious indoctrination (my parents were not big church attenders while I was growing up and for years have gone to church about as much as I have, which is not at all. Oh, wait, I've been to a Catholic mass in the past several years, so I've actually been to church more often than my parents.) And it did take me a long time to totally banish the superstitious fear of Satanic forces and things that go bump in the night. Actually, I'm still afraid of a thing that goes bump in the night, but I think it could be a genetically-altered beastie that escaped from a local science lab.

I hate to see my son as an experiment, but it'll be interesting to see how my son's belief systems turn out, since we're raising him in an a-religious home. The closest we get to indoctrination is telling him what we believe (and that's pretty wishy-washy, as in "we're deists or agnostics, we tend to believe that there's some sort of god-like entity or something, but we don't know").

He gets more indoctrination from friends, neighbors and television than at home. When he comes home with religious ideas, I tell him that some people believe certain things, but no one knows, and that he doesn't have to believe anything, not to let anyone else tell him what to believe, except this one thing: THERE IS NO HELL and YOU'RE NOT GOING TO HELL, DON'T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT, THEY'RE WRONG. Other people can believe and go to hell if they really want to, but I don't want my son growing up with that particular fear.

But anyway, back to the conflict.

And it is a conflict. Here I am stuck in the middle of two sides. I have an intellectual side that wants to embrace fully and exclusively the scientific view of the universe, but I have a, for lack of a better word, spiritual side that won't let me. My spiritual side makes me want to believe in something beyond the known physical reality, but my intellectual side won't let me. So I feel the attacks of both sides who hurl accusations of ignorance and confusion.

Thing is, I am ignorant of and confused about many things. I never had an affinity for scientific subjects. They don't come easily, like the general arts. If I could get some intensive tutoring and fully understand science, would that fix me, explaining away my spiritual feelings? On the other side, I have enough intellectual ability to think somewhat logically about things. If I dove headlong into a religious discipline, repeating mantras until I brainwashed myself, would that drive away the pesky intellectualism and make me feel whole and at peace? Do I even have the ability to do either?

I don't care what either side says, there has to be a reasonable way for those of us who are inadequate in both religiosity and intellectual ability to be able to find a way to bring those two sides together.

In geek terms: we have to find a way, like Batman, to learn to live with and embrace the two sides of our nature. Otherwise, like Two-Face, we will be destroyed.

But What About mAnn?

I hear you ask. She's a great conservative, a role model, a respected member of the journamalistic world. She wears the chain and lock (which is an outward symbol of the belt beneath) of Christian chastity publicly and proudly, even though she doesn't submit to the authority of a man, not being married, which isn't her fault.

But here's the problem, which you can see in the picture below:














She wears her own key!

If she wants to maintain her prominent role in conservative circles, she needs to come clean about who she is. Only a shemale may submit to her own authority.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Perfect Conservative Family

The conservative uniform was nice, but he seemed too unreal and lonely. No conservative man is complete without a normal, heterosexual family.

And who could be more real, better examples of conservative role models than televangelist Joel Osteen, the Madonna, and a cherub?




















Thanks to Jesus' General for his inspiration and support in my clothing design efforts, and to the General's commenter db for further inspiration.

Once Upon a Time ...

there lived a cock-throppled hurrion named mAnn.

A cautionary tale at Halfway There.

City Spites Face, Cuts Off Nose

The old white bigots of Hazleton, PA hate the brown people more than they love the rejuvenation of their dying city.
The city reached its peak population in the 1940s, at 38,000, then began a steady decline as mining and textiles work disappeared. The 2000 census showed a population of 23,000, with a median age of 40.

Immigrants, flowing in from New York and New Jersey, changed that trajectory, bringing the city's population back up to between 30,000 and 31,000.

The influx brought economic growth. Donna Palermo, president of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, said Latino immigrants built 50 to 60 new businesses in the city's downtown and helped boost the value of some homes to $90,000 from $40,000. In an October 2005 interview with the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal, Barletta said the population boom had brought the city's economy to its healthiest state in decades.

The old, dying people were getting squeezed by the higher cost of living that success brings, therefore the old, dying people prefer an old, dying city. Plus, despite the financial boom, the Latinos were bringing extra crime.
Barletta acknowledges that he can't point to data proving that illegal immigrants are responsible for most of the city's crimes, or even establish how many illegal immigrants live here. But he said that any time police spent responding to calls involving illegal immigrants was a waste of city money, and "we are arresting illegal individuals much more often than we ever have."

Oh, so, maybe not. But he's still right. Since a proportional increase of any kind is "more often than we ever have."

But speaking of wasting city money, Mayor Barletta introduced a bill to stop these successful, contributing, rejuvenating brown people from being successful, contributing and rejuvenating members of the community with a potentially budget-draining extra bureaucracy.
Under the new law — which is a modified version of a ballot initiative proposed in San Bernardino — anyone seeking to rent a dwelling in the city will have to apply to the city for a residency license, and submit to an investigation of citizenship status. Landlords found renting to people without licenses will be fined $1,000 a day. Business owners found hiring, renting property to, or providing goods and services to illegal immigrants will lose their business permit for five years on a first offense and 10 years on a second.

I bet all you smart people can already see the millions of dollars this is going to cost a city of 30,000 which is about to lose about 10,000 of its most productive citizens.

Processing the papers and background checks for all of the thousands of renters who wish, for whatever reason, to live in Hazleton ain't gonna come cheap. And when they realize how much of a strain it's going to put on the budget which will be reduced by the expulsion and suspension of their most productive members, they're going to let the obvious non-immigrants (read: white) slide. And when that happens, how much money will it cost the city when it gets sued? Again.

The city's already getting sued for passing laws which should be under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

And check that last part out: businesses aren't even allowed to sell anything to illegal immigrants. So they will only be selling to white people. Apartheid.

This is a city intent on destroying itself. Unless the skinheads move in, and then won't it be a Trailer Trash Wonderland. Those property values should plummet nicely for the old people. And how safe it will be, those nice young, white tattooed men patrolling the streets to keep their meth labs secure.

Unaired Buffy Pilot

Need I say more? (via Pharyngula)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Introducing Pither

I invited him to guest blog a couple of times, but now I invited him to be a regular part of the blog if he chooses. You may recognize his different writing style, but you can also identify his posts by the name Pither which appears at the bottom of the post.

BTW, he's my husband.

Free money in Fort Collins

My family has always been amused by the stunning incompetence of the Ft. Collins City Council. In the 80's and 90's it was municipal road projects that were bungled. After the bidding process it would come down to a choice between two contracts. The lowest bid would create traffic nightmares, block off dozens of homes forcing residents to hike to thier homes and prompt businesses to sue the city for violating code and hindering thier trade. The higher bid would take into consideration all of the problems and actually make it worth fixing the problem. The City Council would then vote to accept the lowest bid, the city would get sued and be forced to pay for both bids.

A few years ago, the city denied a liquor license to an applicant because the Council didn't want another bar in the Old Town district next to the half-dozen that were already there. The applicant promised to sue the city if another bar was granted a license. Stay tuned for that lawsuit.

Last year, the jewish organization Chabad of Northern Colorado asked to include a menorah in the city Christmas Display. A compromise allowed the menorah to be lit briefly each night of Hanukka. No pogroms, no ACLU demonstrations, no O'Reilly sobbing that Ft. Collins hates Christmas and the baby Jesus and the bible. No lawsuits. Sensing the crisis of a lawsuit-free holiday season, City Councilman Kurt Kastein told the Rocky Mountain News, "Instead of knocking yourself out with being inclusive, we're just going to have a Christmas tree." "The Christmas trees aren't a problem because they were originally pagan" Councilman Ben Manvel nods assuredly. "I read that somewhere or maybe the bartender at City Park Nine told me it" he did not add. True, pagan cultures included trees in thier religious holidays especially the pre-christian Germans who would hang live animals and slaves from the branches. (THAT would be a great holiday tradition) However, it took them until the 16th century to undoubtedly associate the fir tree display with Christmas. Queen Victoria and her sausage-sucking husband Albert made the tradition British and American and still Christian. Definitely an argument even a mediocre lawyer could and will make. He will also add that both Councilmen referred to CHRISTMAS trees.

Perhaps the City Council could save themselves the controversy and this December place stacks of cash in Old Town Square.

The Wilsons Are Gonna Sue

They're going after Rove, Cheney and Libby. (via TalkLeft)

I bet Cheney has a "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" moment in his deposition.

Winter Wins

Here's another reason I'll never be a big blogger: I sometimes just don't feel like going online at all and miss out on even stuff I was specifically waiting to report on but just forgot about. Such as the response from Xcel that I got five days ago but only read today. And I checked MapChangers on the morning of July 11, intending to check back in the afternoon when they said they would publish the results, but forgot.

Well, Bill Winter won (via ColoradoLib) and Mark Warner will be bringing himself and a lot of publicity to Colorado and to Tom Tancredo's fairly unknown political opponent. Congratulations, Bill.

Also congratulations to Square State, ColoradoLib and DemNotes, who I specifically know contributed and got the voters out. And congratulations to anyone else involved who wasn't constantly reminding me to vote or whose efforts I missed.

This state is soooo going blue.

Green Machine

Lots of green things going on recently.

I've started going through An Inconvenient Truth which Rash Nussell loaned me, so I was happy to get this news from ColoradoLib. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is committed (he apparently can teach Bush a few things about that) to making Denver a green city.

Also, if anyone remembers, I've been trying to contact Xcel about the Windsource program, and have gotten a response, both in writing and in a phone call. I'm just waiting for more clarification to post on the response.

Bush: I'll Abide By the Constitution ... Not!

Bush knows his numbers are in the crapper, which could seriously affect the mid-term elections and unfavorably shift the balance of power. His advisers know the picture that's being painted of Bush's Administration is sticking: he's grabbing too much power, acts unilaterally, isolates himself from opinions he doesn't share such that the decisions he makes are not sound.

That's why he's seemingly making mollifying steps to make it look like he's not such the dictator he really wants to be, such as pretending to submit to the constitutional oversight of the FISA court.
Specter said President Bush has agreed to sign legislation that would authorize the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s most high-profile monitoring operations.

...

“If the bill is not changed, the president will submit the Terrorist Surveillance Program to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Specter said. “That is the president’s commitment.”

The President is committed. As long as he's committed, well, that's good enough for me!
An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the bill’s language gives the president the option of submitting the program to the intelligence court, rather than making the review a requirement.

The official said that Bush will submit to the court review as long the bill is not changed, adding that the legislation preserves the right of future presidents to skip the court review.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee’s senior Democrat, said Bush could submit the program to the court right now, if he wished. He called the potential legislation “an interesting bargain.”

“He’s saying, if you do every single thing I tell you to do, I’ll do what I should have done anyway,” Leahy said.

Constitutional requirements are for Democrats. Guess that makes Democrats the Party of the Constitution.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It's So Easy in the Movies

To tell who the bad guy is. Moral choices aren't hard when you have backstory, asides and all those tricky plot points to explain that this guy is good, this guy is bad, and there was a clear moral imperative for the good guy to off the bad guy. You get to see it up close, see the evil intent in the eyes of the bad guy, see the good guy realize the evil intent, and see the hero decisively take action. It lets the hero off the hook when he takes the bogus law into his own hands and goes all vigilante on people's ass.

My husband and I have been watching the Dirty Harry series. That's how it works.

And that's how Ralph Peters, who wrote an op-ed in the NY Times, would fight the war on terra. (via Xsociate Files, who raises the serious questions, unlike me who merely mocks).

Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

Now, who are these terrorists we've captured on the battlefield? What battlefield? Where are they being kept that we can't dispose of them? What makes enemies captured on battlefields "terrorists?"

That's right, he's talking about the Gitmo prisoners, captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan or by jerks who hand innocent bystanders over to the Americans for the reward money, apparently half of whom aren't terrorists, but who've discovered a great new form of asymmetrical warfare, suicide.

And, see, when a foreign force invades America, you'd better not pull out your gun and start fighting the invaders until you've pulled out some kind of uniform that you keep in your closet [update: might I suggest this uniform?]. Otherwise you are a spy, an assassin, a terrorist.

Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies - beyond the pale of law.

Traditionally, those who masquerade as civilians in order to kill legal combatants have been executed promptly, without trial. Severity, not sloppy leftist pandering, kept warfare within some decent bounds at least part of the time.

I guess he never saw The Patriot and knows nothing of the American Revolution. Some of our greatest American heroes who fought against tyranny didn't wear uniforms, and even committed questionable acts. Why? Because when you're fighting an asymmetrical war and you're the inferior power you use what you've got. When the rag tag Americans lined up on the battlefield against the highly disciplined Redcoats, they were slaughtered. When they dressed in buckskins and shot from the trees, they had half a chance. Guerrilla warfare is as American as you can get, apparently.

But, hell, the vast history of warfare shows even uniformed soldiers committing unspeakable acts without fear of war crimes trials. Every few hundred years someone makes up a new combat rule, like wearing a uniform or not sacrificing or enslaving the wounded and captured, until we got to the Geneva Conventions. Why even have those if the whole world doesn't sign on? Why should we be constrained at all in our actions when survival is on the line?

It must depend on whose side you're on. If you're the good guy, you're a freedom fighter and patriot; if you're the bad guy, you're a terrorist and assassin. And if you were just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, you're SOL.

And I guess he never watched those WWII films I grew up watching, either. Those propaganda films are where I got my idealistic view of America and the military. No matter how awful the Nazis were to American POWs, the Americans were better than that, even though Americans did commit some of their own atrocities. I'm grown up now, and I understand that war does things to people, even the best people. But now we don't bother with that kind of propaganda or play with the notion that Americans are somehow noble and worthy. We just come out and say we're no better than the enemy. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" "Screw you, Mark. I want to live!"

Instead of worrying over trumped-up atrocities in Iraq (the media give credence to any claim made by terrorists),

What chance do the terrorists stand when everyone, including the Prime Minister of Iraq, is considered a terrorist. I guess Ralph Peters also doesn't read the newspaper that carried his op-ed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki charged on Thursday that American forces had regularly attacked Iraqi civilians and said that the Iraqi government would take this conduct into account in determining how long American troops should remain in Iraq.

Maybe Maliki doesn't watch the movies, either. 'Cause he doesn't seem to realize that those who don't always side with the good guys learn the hard way who they should have trusted.

300-Year-Old Witch Cheated Justice

It's not just for modern billionaires anymore.

In 1706, Grace Sherwood, an apparently unorthodox woman, was thrown into the water because she was a midwife, sometimes wore men's clothes, ruined crops, killed livestock, summoned storms, and caused a miscarriage. She floated. Makes me wonder if she was wearing men's clothing, thus no heavy stays or waterlogged yards of fabric, and had large ... female attributes. That would help her float, even with her thumbs tied to her toes.

It seems the scapegoat was imprisoned for awhile, but reclaimed her properties and lived to a ripe old age. But her conviction still stood.

Due to the advocacy of Belinda Nash, who has researched Sherwood and performed a re-enactment every year, the Governor gave the "witch" an informal pardon, which, much to the chagrin of Pat Robertson, was read aloud by the mayor of Virginia Beach.
“With 300 years of hindsight, we all certainly can agree that trial by water is an injustice,” Kaine wrote. “We also can celebrate the fact that a woman’s equality is constitutionally protected today, and women have the freedom to pursue their hopes and dreams.”

With 3000 years of religious stupidity causing all kinds of harm to all kinds of people, can we all certainly agree that any kind of religious persecution and scapegoating, including that perpetrated by Virginia Beach's Pat Robertson, is an injustice?

I Don't Hate Dittoheads

My parents are dittoheads, as I've said many times, fully immersed in rightwing media for years. So I think my anger has been correctly focused on those people in the rightwing media who lie to my parents, although I acknowledge my parents' willing participation in being lied to.

And the willing participation is what gets me exasperated and disappointed. Like Al Franken's Resident Dittohead.

I know some really don't like Franken's Resident Dittohead. I do, and I appreciate what Al is doing and why because I sometimes do the same thing in the hopes that people I care about will eventually come to realize that Rush Limbaugh, and all their other news and opinion sources, is a Big Fat Liar.

Today Al played a clip of Limbaugh using a quote wrongly attributed to Jack Murtha. That's fine, that's what he does. But while the newspaper that made the mistake corrected it, Limbaugh continued to attack Murtha for saying something he didn't say. And Limbaugh has still not corrected it.

If Resident Dittohead would just say, "Rush should have corrected it, or at least shouldn't have referred to it again. That was wrong of him," then what could we say? But he didn't. He claimed Rush might not know about the correction. And he claimed that we can't demand that Rush circle around to old subjects, even though it was only two days old and Rush continued to attack Murtha based on that erroneous quote.

That is a familiar phenomenon. Even when I show my mom, on various occasions, why something she thought was wrong because her news sources gave her wrong information, she still goes back to them and attacks my sources. Because she doesn't want to have her view of the world challenged.

However, I often look for contradictory opinion. I wonder, what's the other side saying about this, what's the other opinion? Who can debunk this?

And I do that for one reason: I don't like to be wrong. I admit it. And I don't avoid being wrong by ignoring those things which make me wrong; I avoid being wrong by being right.

But since I'm very often not sure whether I'm right or wrong, I'm cautious in many of my opinions and statements, which is why, as I told my husband yesterday, I will never gain attention like Deb Frisch did. Her blog apparently got about as much traffic as mine, but because of her trolling behavior on other people's blogs, she got a whole lot of attention, nearly all of it highly negative.

That's a second reason I'm cautious about what I write. I don't like negative attention so I don't write things that I can't defend. And again, contrary to the wingnut m.o., that's because I don't shut myself off from other opinions, as dittoheads do.

Here's something else I do to avoid being wrong: make qualified statements, like "AFAIK," "sometimes," "often." And I throw in an acknowledgement of the other side, like "And I know that there are many left wing nut jobs who also avoid having their preconceptions and prejudices challenged."

However, Limbaugh, Hannity, and the Fox News ilk are high profile RWNJs who have a huge influence on opinion in this country and get taken very seriously and believed. On the internet it's people like Malkin and Instapundit. They are at the center of right wing thought. And there is a threshold of influence at which individuals (I'm thinking of bloggers here) stop being Dittoheads and start being the liars. They are also deserving of anger and attacks.

The LWNJs on our side, like Ms. Frisch or Ward Churchill, are generally marginal, unknown and ignored.

Progressive Women's Blog Ring
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