Monday, October 30, 2006

Bush: If Dems Win, Terrorists Win

I've heard that clip twice today, Bush coming right out and saying that the terrorists will win if the Democrats win. One commentator characterized it as Bush's belief that a good defense is a good offense. I think it just sounds desperate, despite Unca Karl's protestations to the contrary.

And it illustrates that the operative word is good. Seems to me a good offense would be to not call more than half the country that wants the Dems to win terrorist enablers. It's not a good offense, it's just an offense. And stupid.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crass Fox

Here's how gross and stupid (via Hullabaloo) Rush Limbaugh, Matt Lauer, and Susan Estrich (not to mention The Corner - please don't mention The Corner) are.

Now consider this, as I was reminded by a caller on Ed Schultz' show this afternoon. Where was all the outrage when Michael J. Fox crassly used his disease to endorse Republican Arlen Specter in 2004 because Specter supported stem cell research?

Compare Fox's crass performance in the McCaskill ad with his crass performance for his own website which was posted to YouTube four months ago. Being an advocate for a cure and not hiding one's disease from polite society is soooo crass.

Judge Retention Recommendations

In case you're still grappling with this, I found the Commissions on Judicial Performance recommendations for this election.

The Hon. Russell E. "Carpal Tunnel" Carparelli got a "retain" next to his name, as did the Hon. Marilyn Leonard "Hot Pants" Antrim.

If you don't fully trust a Commission that says everybody should be retained (shouldn't there be at least one scapegoat? ;-p), you can find a full report of the criteria used to determine judicial fitness by clicking on their names. In detail, not all judges got a "retain" unanimously. For instance, the Hon. Christopher J. "Butt" Munch only got 8 out of 10.

Awesome Rocky Letters Today

November 7th is fast approaching, and the letters are showing it.

No, judges do not serve 'for a lifetime'
Third, rather than "growing stale," in most professions - like medicine, surgery, teaching, executives in business - it is widely understood that experience enhances professional performance. It is the same in the law. Judging means being conservative, exercising judgment and applying precedent to current cases, not being "dynamic" and "fresh," as Horowitz prefers.

The Federalist Papers made a similar argument against limiting judges to short terms.
... [T]here can be but few men in the society who will have sufficient skill in the laws to qualify them for the stations of judges. And making the proper deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge. ... a temporary duration in office, which would naturally discourage such characters from quitting a lucrative line of practice to accept a seat on the bench, would have a tendency to throw the administration of justice into hands less able, and less well qualified, to conduct it with utility and dignity. In the present circumstances of this country, and in those in which it is likely to be for a long time to come, the disadvantages on this score would be greater than they may at first sight appear; but it must be confessed, that they are far inferior to those which present themselves under the other aspects of the subject.

The argument against term limits continues,
That inflexible and uniform adherence to the rights of the Constitution, and of individuals, which we perceive to be indispensable in the courts of justice, can certainly not be expected from judges who hold their offices by a temporary commission. Periodical appointments, however regulated, or by whomsoever made, would, in some way or other, be fatal to their necessary independence.
Tancredo's classless flier is the final straw

I'm not sure how sincere this letter is. It bemoans the lack of principled debate and the unhealthy hyper-partisanship that exists in politics, attacking Tom Tancredo for only slinging mud against Bill Winter. But the letter itself does what it bemoans and ends, " ... [W]e deserve someone who will actually discuss all the issues and bring 'class' back to Congress. So, on Nov. 7, I choose a different direction - I choose Bill Winter."

Those last two words are the only mention of Bill Winter, and they say nothing about the man or his positions. The letter simply slings mud (albeit well-deserved mud) at Tancredo and claims Winter is the opposite. That is my experience. I've heard nothing from Tancredo but illegal immigration, whereas Winter has spoken on many subjects including illegal immigration, which he deals with practically and intelligently. But the letter should practice what it preaches - spend a paragraph complaining about Tancredo and three extolling the virtues of Bill Winter.

Polar opposites in 6th
And now a letter from someone who isn't even in Tancredo's district and obviously knows nothing at all about Bill Winter while tossing out the same old tired talking points that aren't even working anymore.
Tancredo has a spine and is unafraid of saying what needs to be said about the Islamofascists who wish to destroy us and our way of life.

65 percent rule for schools too inflexible
Another letter from a surprising number of sensible people in Centennial (it's a red stronghold, very conservative, but I've seen plenty of signs supporting Democrats. I think Angela Engel must live nearby, as there is especially a concentration near my house.)
The costs of heating, building maintenance, transportation, nurses, counselors, insurance, CSAP testing, communications, and on and on - all will vie with school security for leftover funding under the 65 percent rule; and some, like CSAPs and rural school buses, are untouchable. Plumbing leaks increase water bills.

Insurance is essential. Yet emergency money will have to come from somewhere. Amendment 39's potential for attempts to teach disturbed or ailing youngsters without counselor and nurse support is appalling. And in these times, how can we possibly want to cut down on security positions and equipment?

Rep. Berens should know strings attached

How seriously can you take a letter that starts out, "I am outraged!"?

The letter highlights Republican Rep. Berens getting lobbyist money for making a hole-in-one and ends
I am shocked at the horrendous decision-making that Berens showed when he took the cash. I demand, as his constituent, that he return it! Further, I will not be voting for him in his re-election bid. On Nov. 7, I will vote Democrat. I will not support influence-peddling-as- usual, especially on such a local level!

My smell-o-meter is going off with this one. I doubt this letter writer would have voted for Berens, anyway.

We can't afford to let Dems regain control

Sadly, a letter we can take all too seriously.

I reprint the letter in all its RWNJ glory so I can add appropriate linkages.

This midterm election boils down to this: If you want to appease terrorists who want to destroy our way of life, if you want illegal immigrants to invade our country, if you want to cut and run from Iraq and let extremist Muslims control the Middle East, if you want massive tax increases, if you want another stock market collapse, if you want more politics of personal destruction, if you want more hatred of America, if you want your guns taken away, if you favor abortions, if you want gays to be married, if you want more government regulations on everything, if you don't want to fix Social Security, then vote Democratic.

This is what they stand for. They have no agenda but to regain power.

The Dow Jones index is at a record high. Unemployment is at an all-time low. We are winning the war on terror despite the media's attempt to discredit it. This country cannot afford to let the Democrats take back control of anything. They will only destroy the gains we have made since the Bill and Hillary Clinton's scandalous, do-nothing presidency.

D. Shaeffer

Betcha didn't know it was the Bill and Hillary Clinton Presidency.

GOP reality bizarre

Provides a succinct follow-up to the previous letter's bizarre reality.

Too many cherrypick their Scripture lessons

Trots out the usual negative Biblical regulations about killing mouthy children and owning slaves to highlight how ridiculous it is to look to the Bible for legal guidance and morality.

But what about the positive Biblical regulations?

Sure, the Bible says most sex is a sin, thus the basis for the bibliocentric to oppose all sexual liberty. But the Bible also requires giving generously to the poor, tending to the sick. So why do the religious conservatives generally oppose taxes, welfare, and universal healthcare? If Biblical mandates can be used as justification for limiting personal sexual freedom, why not use Biblical mandates to justify limiting personal financial freedom? (Libertarians are exempt from this argument ... I'm looking at you, Ed).

Graffiti small potatoes

Under this heading are two letters which call Denver a "sanctuary city."

It. Is. Not.

1000th Post

This is it.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Retaining Judges on the Ballot

I think I almost always vote to retain judges because I don't know anything about them. So, instead of voting all "yes" or, like Pither, voting to retain judges based on whether or not I like their name (Judge Russell E. Carparelli reminds me of carpal tunnel syndrome, so I'd probably vote no; Judge Marilyn Leonard Antrim makes me think of a Dutch woman in leopard-skin pants, so I'd vote yes 'cause it's mildly amusing), I've been trying to look them up for some idea of their judicial philosophies.

I've only searched a couple (the aforementioned judges), and haven't come up with much, thus wasting my time and making me feel bored and frustrated.

Anybody know of an easily searchable database about the judges on the ballot, or have any opinions about them?

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Toughest Interview in Washington

The Colbert Report.

I think everyone has been very unfair to Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). He co-sponsored a bill that requires the Ten Commandments be displayed in the U.S. Capitol, but in his interview with Colbert, could only name three of the Commandments. Apparently, lots of liberals have contacted Westmoreland's office complaining of hypocrisy.

But Westmoreland is the perfect example of why the Ten Commandments must be displayed everywhere. Churches are obviously doing a terrible job of educating their members. When private organizations fail in their objectives to serve the public, it becomes the role of the government to do it. In this case, it is the role of government to religiously indoctrinate the public.

I hope it's clear that was sarcasm.

Rocky Infighting

Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute has a problem with the Rocky Mountain News's bias, and the Editor John Temple says, "Right back at you."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Illegal Immigrant Scapegoating

Apparently, it has now been documented that illegal immigrants aren't overburdening the welfare state because they weren't participating in it. (via SquareState)
According to the state Department of Human Services, the number of public-aid recipients - 39,500 cases for welfare or related assistance since Aug. 1 - is virtually unchanged from a year earlier. The same is true for the number of food-stamp cases - nearly 89,300 - although the immigration laws don't affect that type of aid.


Meanwhile, the volume of state-issued identification cards - critical to getting any type of public aid - has exploded since August.

Which means that the fear tactics employed by anti-immigrant forces has ended up costing the state more money in ID card issuance.

Illegal immigration is a problem, mainly for the immigrants themselves as well as for suppressing American wages. But the over-statement of the problem is, as in this case, not solving anything. In fact, such as in the case of ER closings and hospital costs, anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric and focus distracts from real solutions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How I Wasted Last Night

We watched Fahrenhype 9/11 for the first time last night. I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 a couple of weeks ago, and we figured that we ought to give the other side a hearing.

I thought it would make me angry. But besides a lot of the stupid points various people made, for a lot of it, I was wondering what it had to do with rebutting Fahrenheit 9/11 at all. Most of it seemed to be an emotional jerk off. Mostly I found it, especially after two years, nearly entirely irrelevant.

Although you do have to credit the filmmakers with holding out an entire 57 minutes before invoking Godwin's Law. Then they really laid on the Nazi/Hitler references thick.

I did think it made some good points, though. I found the Afghanistan pipeline theory questionable, for instance. And I wasn't much persuaded by Moore's "single Trooper on the Oregon coastline" bit, either.

The filmmakers also made a lot of Michael Moore's statement that "there is no terrorism threat." Ed Koch and Dick Morris were particularly disgusted by this notion, and after Coulter said that we'd been attacked by terrorists continuously for 20 years, Pither had to pause the DVD so I could have a mini rant.

I can't speak for Moore's meaning as gleaned from Fahrenhype, but he went on after that statement to acknowledge there have been and will continue to be terrorist attacks, therefore acknowledging that terrorism is a threat. So how might one reconcile this apparent contradiction?

Terrorists had been attacking us for over 20 years and had not managed to do a goddamned bit of real harm to the U.S. It wasn't until this large and stunning act of violence that the Administration and its enablers started eroding the Constitution and Bill of Rights, arguing for a unitary Executive, dismantling our system of government. With all due respect to the victims of 9/11, America is not groups of people, buildings or airplanes. It is the system of government, the enumerated rights we have. Terrorists can't touch the latter, only we can. In that sense, terrorism is as meaningless to our way of life as wind sheer, lightening strikes or serial killers.

I find it interesting that the film had no problem showing the interviews of soldiers and their families who were proud to lay down American lives in Iraq, but then balked at the idea of putting their own lives on the line by holding onto our most basic liberties and rights, such as Habeas Corpus. If a terrorist attack now and then slips through, that's a price we have to be willing to pay for not having the government declaring us enemy combatants and imprisoning us indefinitely without charge in stress positions. If dying in Iraq is somehow tenuously tied to giving one's life to preserve American freedom and rights, dying on American soil because one refused to allow the government to spy on all Americans without warrant is equally as noble a sacrifice.

Just a couple of other stupid points people made that I remember: 1) Oh my god, the Russians are corrupt?!?!?! It's a good thing the U.S. was overseeing those Oil for Food contracts, then, just like the U.S. was overseeing the CPA; 2) Ron Silver saying that the War on Terror could end up worse than 1945 because we might have a nuclear bomb detonated in a major city. I think he means the War on Terror could end just like 1945; "[Moore's] un-American, he's un-British ... he must be French." WTF!?

A Slice of Kitten Pie, Anyone?

The principal who shot kittens on school grounds because their mother had been killed in an animal trap quit his job.
[Acting Sheriff John] Mastin said the shooting put no one in danger but said [Wade] Pilloud used "poor discretion and poor timing," especially amid the growing fear of gun violence in schools.

How about being a sick son of a bitch who would rather enjoy killing animals instead of calling the ASPCA? I wonder who set the animal trap?
Melchett - You used to have a lovely little rabbit. Beautiful little thing. Do you remember?
George - Flossy.
Melchett - That's right. Flossy. Do you remember what happened to Flossy?
George - You shot him.
Melchett - That's right. It was the kindest thing to do after he'd been run over by that car.
George - By your car, Sir.
Melchett - Yes, by my car. But that too was an act of mercy when you would remember that that dog had been set on him.
George - Your dog, Sir.
Melchett - Yes, yes, my dog. But what I'm trying to say, George, is that the state young Flossy was in after we'd scraped him off my front tyre is very much the state that young Blackadder will be in now. If not very nearly dead, then very actually dead.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Blair Became Bush's Poodle

Pither and I have wondered for a while what Bush had on Blair. We missed his 2002 assertion which indicates an answer.
Britain must be prepared to pay a "blood price" to secure its special
relationship with the US, Prime Minister Tony Blair has told the BBC ahead of talks on Iraq with President Bush.

Randi Rhodes had a guest who wrote a book about it (I missed who he was and the title). He said Britain was stuck between choosing a "special relationship" with either the U.S. or the European Union. Britain has a visceral dislike of the Continent and the E.U., so they chose the U.S. I'm not exactly sure how Bush would have punished Britain for its "disloyalty." Doesn't seem like a credible threat. France is doing okay despite the renaming of various American foods and the infamous O'Reilly boycott.

And the author credited the Bush Administration with very neatly and cleverly undermining the E.U. by expanding NATO and getting Britain to split from the EU stance on the Iraq War.

Yep, you have to credit the Bush Administration for their ability to undermine or destroy stuff.

Letters to the Editor, October 16 2006

From Rocky Mountain News:

Shootings a result of greater secularization
This is the second time I've seen someone try to blame the recent school shootings on secularism, specifically in this letter in the Rocky on Secular Humanism. The theory is that Secular Humanists don't fear Hell or a punishing afterlife, so there is no barrier to murder/suicide, just like the fear of Hell prevented such atrocities during the several millennia before Secular Humanism came about. :rolleyes.

Does that mean that the only thing that's keeping letter writer H. Eberhard Roell from killing people is a fear of Hell? That is one sick human being. One can only imagine the fantasies running through his twisted mind. Probably Saw I, II and III. So maybe in his case, he has a good point.

Evict United Nations
What could be of more immediate importance than kicking the U.N. off U.S. soil in retaliation for a couple of foreign leaders who said rude things about the President? All I have to do is tweak the last sentence of this letter to find out.

If the American people don't realize what a noxious organization the [Bush Administration and Republican Congress is] and fail to demand action, our very existence as a nation is in serious peril.

Now it has the proper focus.

Gay-rights proposal will affect children, too
Yes, it will give them the opportunity to have stable, secure lives with two parents.

There's no guarantee kids will have better lives with two same-gendered parents than with a single parent, two heterosexual parents, or foster care. But the presumption against Referendum I in this letter is that having two parents of the same gender is automatically worse than a single parent, heterosexual parents, a co-habitation with no security, or foster care.

Once again, anti-gay bigotry is the only reason offered to oppose same-sex couples having the same rights as everyone else.

Dr. Romano?

Can real life jump the shark?

In 1997, a woman was put into a coma when a Macy's parade float knocked a lamppost onto her head.

A few days ago, Cory Lidle's plane crashed into her apartment.

That's so contrived. ;-)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Light Posting Indefinite

Since all the school-related activities started, I've been running around like some kind of soccer mom. There's a before school activity one day; an after school activity on another; volunteering at school for two different things; PTO.

Ben also joined Cub Scouts. Yes, I know, there's the religious requirement and the anti-gay Scoutmaster policy. But he asked to join, so I'm operating like it's a "don't ask, don't tell" situation. We were told there is no specific religious requirement except the belief in some non-specified "greater power" which the Scout Pledge refers to as "God." I asked Ben if he believes in some greater power, he said yes, so that's that.

And I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in activities with him. Sure, we could do that without an organization, but having a little outside pressure helps me get my introvert butt off the computer chair and into the real world. We just went out over the weekend to sell popcorn door to door and I was so proud of how well he did. He made me stand on the sidewalk while he went up to the door to take care of business. Except for the one time he wanted to play in the leaf pile with the other kids. I took care of that sale.

So, I've been tired to near exhaustion every day for the past couple of weeks, leaving me just enough brain power to play Gamecube. Pither has a friend who passed it on, along with a few games, for cheap. He told his friend, "you need kids, because you can afford way too much cool stuff." But if they pass that cool stuff on to us, I'm okay with their childlessness.

Anyway, that's why I haven't and probably won't be posting too much for the next few months. I'm just so busy and tired. But I'll try to get at least one brilliant observation in per day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bush's New America

All of that was done by the Bush administration to an American citizen detained on U.S. soil — without any charges ever being brought against him, let alone convicted of any crime. All along, the Bush administration insisted it had the right to abduct and detain U.S. citizens indefinitely and deny them access to any courts or even to any lawyers, to either contest the validity of their detention or the legality of their treatment. That is still the Bush administration’s position, and the Congress less than two weeks ago purported to give the President the legal authority to do virtually all of that.

From Glenn Greenwald, via Big Ink.

Dear Senators who voted for this,

What the Hell is wrong with you?

Very sincerely,

Julie O.

Ed, is it alright if I call the Bush Administration and its enablers in this atrocity of a policy un-American?

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

AP Clintonizing Reid

When I read about Harry Reid's property "scandal" in the Rocky, I didn't quite understand it. It said he transferred the property for a stake in a company, then it said he sold the land for the same amount of the purchase.

But as fuzzy as the facts were, it seemed to me there was a general insinuation that Reid used his power in Congress to increase the value of the property, and the $1.1 million was a payoff for helping out his friends. The article itself quoted people as saying everything Reid and the zoning commissions did was normal and aboveboard, except for the fact that Reid didn't declare his stake in an LLC to Congress, which he should have, and that he and his buddies paid each others' property taxes on occasion, leading to some potential and unknown but very small tax liability. It just doesn't sound like either an abuse of power or a big scandal, unless the insinuation is correct.

TPM Muckraker explains why the insinuation is incorrect, though they agree that Reid should have been more astute in his declaration to Congress.

And TPM makes its own well-made insinuation about the author of the article. When I read the article, I thought, "How many times are people going to drag out these overblown 'scandals' about Reid?" Well, it's not "people" doing it, it's one man, John Solomon of the AP, and he seems to have a specific vendetta about Reid that makes Solomon fudge facts to yellow up the story.
It’s not the first time that Solomon has published a misleading story about Reid. This is the third such story by Solomon over the past six months. Each time, Solomon has hit Reid for taking actions which might create the appearance of ethical impropriety.
On two earlier occasions, Solomon has over-inflated his stories on Reid. TPM readers might remember his expose on Reid's involvement with Jack Abramoff (which, after exhaustively detailing an Abramoff’s associate’s contacts with Reid’s office, failed to mention that Reid didn't vote the way Abramoff wanted him to) and his stories on Reid's acceptance of passes to a boxing match from the Nevada Gaming Commission (which managed to expunge a host of mitigating details too plentiful to name here).

This is how it started with Clinton. The numerous scandals about Clinton were mostly questionable at best and outright lies at worst, but added up to create an air of absolute corruption around him and his Administration that too many people still believe.

The New York Times created the White Water scandal involving Clinton, and now it appears the AP's Solomon is looking to do the same to Reid. Did Reid touch Solomon inappropriately or something?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Amendments 38 & 40

We received a brochure from Active Citizens Together encouraging us to vote yes on Amendments 38 and 40. Amendment 38 is Petition Rights and 40 is Term Limits for Judges.

I like the idea of being able to petition local governments, which 38 would codify universally. However, 38 seems to have been drafted by people who had trouble getting enough legitimate signatures to get their pet issues on the ballot.

I didn't even have to read past Table 1 to decide against Amendment 38.

1. Minimum Requirement - State and municipal clearly give reasonable numbers to attain, 5% for state, 5 - 15% for municipal. Amendment 38 requires "not more than 5% ... ." I think, since some municipalities require more than 5%, 38 would limit all municipalities to 5%, but allow for smaller percentages. I think 5% should be the minimum.

2. Signatures - currently signatures are counted and verified against voter registration files, and faulty or duplicate signatures, or those that don't appear on the files, are discarded; the burden falls on the petitioner to prove eligibility. The new law would simply count and not verify, leaving some un-named party to protest suspect signatures.

3. Protests - The above is more problematic when coupled with the protest time limit. Currently, state and municipal requirements for challenging an inauthentication are 30 and 40 days respectively. The new law would limit the time to 10 days for the authenticity of the signatures to be challenged, and a requirement to resolve the matter within another 10 days.

4. Time Limit - Currently, petitioners have up to 6 months to gather signatures, and if the minimum number aren't collected or turned in on time, the signatures are void. Under 38, petitioners would have 12 months, which isn't necessarily completely objectionable. However, if the proponents do not gather enough signatures or turn them in on time, the same signatures can be submitted for the next November election, giving petitioners in effect 2 years to collect signatures.

When combined with the signature and protest requirements, this last issue is proof positive that this Amendment makes it way too easy for marginal issues with little support to make it onto the ballot. Six months is a much more reasonable time frame to hold people to their decisions. In two years, a person may change their mind, move out of state, die -- things which are not necessarily reflected in voter registration files. Petitioners get to turn in a two-year-old signature while giving the opposition checking the signatures (whoever that may be) ten days to protest and only ten days to verify.

This Amendment is ridiculously weighted to create way too many ballot issues at all levels of government, and when I vote, I'm already going to have a heck of a lot of issues to decide. If petitioners can't get enough signatures in a timely fashion, then there is not enough initial support to waste everybody's time on election day when lines are long.

Arguments for Amendment 40 limiting the terms of judges are contradictory and ignorant, especially considering the previous argument in favor of 38.

First the brochure says, "Courts need to be more accountable. Judges too often legislate like politicians, ignoring the constitution. Their job is to apply the laws, not rewrite the laws." Then it says, "Outrageous court rulings have allowed 12-year-olds to marry ... ." That ruling was a perfect example of the courts applying law, not rewriting it.

Where written laws do not exist, common law does.
In 1877, the United States Supreme Court stated, in an action which questioned the validity of a nonceremonial marriage, that marriages which were valid under common law were still valid unless the state passed a statute specifically forbidding them. Meisher v. Moore, 96 U.S. 76 (1877). Since the Colorado legislature has never enacted such a statute, Colorado is part of the minority of states which recognize the validity of common law marriages.

In fact, what was described as surprising about the decision was not that it lowered the common law age of marriage to 12, but that it set one at all. Previously, Colorado common law had no minimum age. The court went by English common law as precedent, which sets the minimum for girls at 12.
Harhai said that, while surprising, the appellate decision was not logically or legally flawed and was in line with other established Colorado law.

Therefore, said Harhai, it would likely require action by the state legislature if Coloradans are uncomfortable with the result of Thursday's ruling.

In fact, the ruling seemed to offer an "invitation" to legislative correction, Harhai said, by including the phrase "in absence of a statutory provision to the contrary."

There was no law to rewrite, only precedent and common law. There may be failings in the courts, decisions we disagree with; but the failings of so-called anti-activist zealots in their understanding of the law at all far outweighs those shortcomings. The complaint against "activist judges" only comes when people are upset about a ruling they don't like. And then they complain when judges aren't being activist and legislating from the bench about things they support.

This is indeed a bald attempt to make the judiciary more subject to the short-term, uninformed whims of the body politic.

I'm voting "no" on Amendment 40, as well. Both Amendments seem designed to give too much power to marginal, uninformed, uneducated boobs who want to make it easier to push their marginal, uninformed, uneducated agendas on the general populace.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Grim Speaker

Pic Courtesy of Hell
Vice President Cheney sometimes starts speeches with a Ronald Reagan quotation about a "happy" nation needing "hope and faith." But not much happy talk follows. Not a lot of hope, either. He does, though, talk about the prospect of "mass death in the United States."
Bush, he says, is "protecting America" while the Democrats advocate "reckless" policies that add up to a "strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies."

- Washington Post

Smear and fear. But isn't it ironic that their own downfall will be the queer? (h/t Al Franken's The Truth (With Jokes), now available at all fine booksellers, including my Amazon link to the right).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Sweet, Sweet Battlestar Galactica

The best stories, particularly ones told on far distant planets, are topical. And thought-provoking.

It's always beneficial to do thought exercises, to practice one's empathy. Imagine yourself in someone else's shoes. What would you do?

Of course, Cylons aren't humans. But collaborators are.

If America were invaded by a foreign force and occupied, what would we do? Wouldn't we throw our lot in with the White Supremacists, the militants with guns and bombs and the will to use them ruthlessly? At least keep quiet about their identities, maybe toss a little aid their way once in a while? And then deal with them when the foreign occupier is repelled.

Why is it so hard to understand asymmetrical warfare? I suggest it isn't, it's just the asymmetry has favored the U.S. so long, we've forgotten what it means to be truly oppressed and fighting for our lives, the way we want to live them.

Or do we really think the humans must be made to realize the Cylons just want to "free" them? If the Cylons want to lead, particularly to a new spiritual awakening, they need to lead by example, not collective punishment and oppressive terror, not by force.

I'm Julie O., and I approve this message.

Schrute Power

Last night Michael Scott tricked Dwight into thinking Jan had demoted Michael and given Dwight the management of Dunder Mifflin.

I did not care for what I saw. Dwight is amusing as a power-hungry toady, frightening and disturbing as a boss. And what's most frightening and disturbing is that power-hungry toadies like Dwight often become bosses (current Administration is a great example).

For insight into Dwight's management style, see his own words.

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Atrios has video of the type of reaction this Administration should get every time it speaks.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Dragging Out the Old History to Make a Stupid Point

Billmon (via Atrios) reports a GOP talking going around that the Dems started the whole page sex scandal business with their gay page sex scandal in the 80s. I had referenced it in a previous post, but assumed (you know what they say - I'm an ass) that Dan Crane (R-IL) was fondling boys. It was Gerry Studds (D-MA) who had a sexual relationship with a male page; Dan Crane's was female.

Well, the GOP talking point goes like this:
Gerry Studds (D-MA) had sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1983. He was reprimanded. Republicans wanted to censure him. But 79 Dems voted against upgrading the condemnation.

First of all, he had sex with the guy in 1973. Second, while I don't know exactly how many Dems voted against the upgrade because I don't have a print version of the 98th Congressional Roll Call, the actual vote was 338 to 87. Dan Crane did much better since he had sex with a girl, getting 289 to 136.

Somehow that seems to tranlsate to the RWNJ brain as Dem hypocrisy. A majority of Dems - since the House was majority Democratic in 1983 - voted to censure Studds. For the Republican who had sex with a girl, either more Dems voted in his favor, or more Reps did. Possibly both. If it's wrong to have sex with an underage boy, it's wrong to have sex with an underage girl. The hypocrisy lies with those who supported Crane while censuring Studds.

Cocktober Surprise

Ed Schultz just said this will be remembered as the Cocktober Surprise.

Because the Republicans are fighting like bantam roosters. Nice FCC cover, Ed.

Congressional Gay Cabal; A Statistical Analysis

Besides the multiple defenses of "I knew nothing/only a little and acted/everything and was asked not to act so I didn't," there's now the GOP strategy of the Gay Cabal covering up for Mark Foley (via ThinkProgress).
CBS News has learned that several other top Republican staffers who handled the Foley matter are also gay. Their role in this controversy has caused a firestorm among Republican conservatives who charge that a group of high-level gay Republican staffers were protecting a gay Republican congressman.
All I can say to that is, of course several staffers involved were also gay, it's a high statistical probability.

For decades, based on the Kinsey Report, it's been commonly believed that 10% of the population is gay. More recently, conservative religious groups dispute that percentage and claim a very low 1.1%. The Family Research Group's number is those who admit to having exclusively male partners in the past ten years. It's a ridiculous number since it excludes young people who have been sexually active less than ten years, people who have more recently come out of the closet, or those who experimented with heterosexuality or are more often bisexual. And it only references activity, not orientation or preference. It apparently also excludes women.

Still, it's a very difficult number to track because of the personal nature of the subject and the social stigmatization with concurrent societal punishment that often accompanies it. However, it may be fair to say that 1 - 2% of the population is openly and exclusively gay, leaving some unknown number in a more complicated category or closeted. The 1993 Janus Report puts the number of those who have had more than occasional homosexual relationships closer to Kinsey's numbers.

But what if I shoot a number straight out of my ass and double the Family Research Group's estimate? Say another 1.1% of the population are closeted and self-loathing gays. What political party is perfect for closeted, self-loathing gays who don't want the same human or civil rights afforded every other American? That's right, the Republican Party.

In 2004, when Kirk Fordham failed to inform Hastert of Foley's emails, but still begged Hastert to keep them a secret, 37.2% of American adults were self-identified Republicans. That's 10,468,878 people. If, say, 55% are men, and a generous (for the Republican Party) 1.1% of those men have had exclusively male partners for the past 10 years, then over 63,000 Republicans are openly and exclusively gay. But the Log Cabin Republicans only claim "thousands of members," not tens of thousands, so the Republican share of 1.1% must be much smaller, meaning the pool of closeted, self-loathing Republican gays must be much, much larger.

Suffice it to say, statistically speaking, it would be incomprehensible to think that, in every Republican scandal, there weren't several gay people involved. You can't swing a dead cat in the Republican Party without hitting a self-loathing gay.

The important admission here is that the Republican Party is full of cabals that cover up crimes for personal gain and to hold on to political power.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

October Surprise?

If, as Dennis Hastert is saying (via ThinkProgress), the timing of the Mark Foley story is a liberal October Surprise ........

Focus on Family's Twisted Notions

They really, honestly do believe that liberals are naked hedonists with no limits or self control who want to have sex with everything. This from Tom Minnery of FOF, via Colorado Confidential,
Minnery added that the public's outraged reaction to the incident "indicates that as a society we do understand there are limits to 'tolerance' of our culture's anything-goes view of sexuality."

"If any lasting cultural good could come out of this awful incident," he added, "it would be Americans discarding the politically correct notion fed to us by those on the left that obscenity is just another form of free speech."

So the fear that gay marriage would lead to marriage to box turtles and horses is an actual fear, not just political rhetoric. They actually believe this stuff, most likely because they need to be protected from themselves, as Mark Foley and Dennis Hastert have proven. They would marry box turtles and horses if it were publicly allowed and the Dennis Hasterts looked the other way.

But that doesn't bother me so much as the fact that Minnery chastises us for making this issue "political," and then he makes it political to suit his own purpose.
"... it's sad that so much of the dialogue today is so political in nature," Minnery said.

"... Americans discarding the politically correct notion fed to us by those on the left that obscenity is just another form of free speech."

If you're opposed to the politicization of this issue, then don't politicize it.

But even more annoying is this part,
"Those truly interested in protecting children from online predators should spend less time calling for Speaker Hastert to step down, and more time demanding that the Justice Department enforce existing laws that would limit the proliferation of the kind of filth that leads grown men to think it's perfectly OK to send lurid e-mails to 16-year-old boys."

when Speaker Hastert spent several years doing nothing within his power to help the Justice Department enforce its existing laws against a grown man stalking 16-year-old boys via email because it might disrupt Republican political machinations.

How honest are you when you cover up the failings of your own agents in Congress for a very specific problem while blaming the opposing political party for a general viewpoint difference which your own agents in the Congress don't even share? Hello?!? The people who "agree" with you are the people who are failing you! Get a clue. You're being used as badly as you are using them.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley's Proclivities Were Common Knowledge

How does the internet count for Degrees of Separation?

'Cause I have exchanged comments with Zeno of Halfway There, and he knows a conservative Republican whose daughter was a page who had dinner with other pages and Mark Foley. Then again, I've also exchanged emails with my Representative in Florida, who must have known Rep. Foley. I don't think the internet counts. You have to actually meet.

Anyway, as much as it can be confirmed amongst fellow bloggers, Halfway There confirms what I had heard on Franken this morning that, for years, it was common knowledge amongst male pages to avoid being alone with Rep. Foley. Therefore it must have been common knowledge amongst the other Representatives and particularly the leadership that male pages were wary of Rep. Foley. This "no one made me aware" is as much bullshit as Condi Rice's excuses about terrorism.

Like Zeno's friend said, “Oh, they knew, but they didn't want to know.”

Gay Marriage, School Shootings and Scapegoating

I was looking up something else and found this interesting fact:
At this point, any heterosexuals engaging in intercourse were considered married.

The Reformation brought with it the establishment of formal marriages, which led to rampant prostitution and extramarital sex, which at this point was taboo.

Maybe gay people should stick to civil unions. Rather than being a stabilizer, formal marriage has apparently always been the downfall of Western civilization.

Anyway, what I was attempting to research was the claim by Brian Rohrbough, father of a Columbine victim, that school shootings are caused by the teaching of evolution and the legalization of abortion, as both devalue life and a greater meaning and purpose.

For an honest liberal like myself, my vague understanding of history shouldn't be enough to counter his vague understanding of modern life. I like to have specific documentation to back up my beliefs which originate from my vague understanding and common sense.

However, I don't expect a simple and brief internet search will get me the kind of scholarly input I desire, so I'll stick with my common sense and vague understanding of history and assert that religions of all stripes, including Christianity, are responsible for way more child murder than a few decades of secularism, including Stalin's contribution.

Consider the millennia before evolution was known about or abortion was legalized. Child sacrifice was the greatest sacrifice, and exposing undesireable newborns to die in the elements wasn't unheard of. Do we really think the incredibly high infant and child mortality rates were just because of illness and accident? Child murder is not new. And look at all the recent cases of mothers who've murdered their children for religious reasons. Even if they were crazy, it wasn't secularism's fault.

Anyway, the Amish school shootings weren't a secular crime, since the shooter was angry at God. Godless abortionists and evolutionists just don't get angry at God. And pedophilia, as the above Wiki link about child sexual abuse shows, is hardly a modern secularist phenomenon.

But I don't want to blame such perfidy on religion. I blame it on people, no matter what their particular reason may be. We people are basically the same as we have been for all of our existence. Though we have great technology, a sense of self and of morality, we still have basic instincts, one of which is to scapegoat "the other" for our troubles.

Hmm, I thought the two parts of this post were mostly unrelated. But I think the same impulse that lead Brian Rohrbough to blame evolutionists and "abortionists" for the deaths of school children is the same that prompts him to oppose gay marriage (you know he does). He fears, loathes and scapegoats "the other," those people who fall outside his comfort zone and understanding. They make him queasy, therefore they are the cause of all his problems and must be punished, or at least oppressed. It is unfathomable to him that anyone who believes the same sorts of things he does could possibly be a bad person. Therefore the opposite is more likely to be true in his mind: bad people don't believe the same sorts of things he does.

Oh, wait. Why am I going on and on trying to substantively counter Brian Rohrbough? He obviously is just using the death of his son to get attention and for his own political gain. That is a valid counter-argument, right?

But with all this focus on horrible things that happen to children, here's a story with a happy ending, and a scenario I've had nightmares about myself (I've had plenty of nightmare scenarios about awful things happening to my kids. I have a theory that such unbidden thoughts in parents is not a subconscious anger at or hatred of children, but is a way to get a shot of adrenaline and concern to be hyper-aware of our children.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Toldja They Were Theocrats

The religious right in Congress passed a law making it easier for them to violate the Constitution and use government to impose religion. (h/t Evil Mommy & Feministe.)

For thirty years the government, if it is successfully sued for violating any Constitutional or civil rights, must pay the attorney fees. Losers don't get paid. That empowers even poor people to stand up for their rights in court and discourages frivolous lawsuits.

Now the American Taliban has passed a law, H.R. 2679, which would exempt the government from having to pay attorney's fees only for violations of the Establishment Clause, which means the government will be much freer to violate the 1st Amendment with impunity.

Here's the thing. People and governments can and will do whatever they can get away with. (Maybe not whatever. For instance, most people will refrain from killing even when they could get away with it.) We argue a lot about ideology, how things should be according to our world view. Most of us agree about the kinds of human, Constitutional, civil rights we should all be afforded. Some disagree, or at least agree they should have the rights while others shouldn't.

But it doesn't matter if most of us agree, have similar ideologies. It doesn't matter if it's written on a piece of paper such as the Constitution. All that matters is what we will allow others to get away with, and that we either are the people who stop them, or we force our representatives to be the people who stop them.

Like the neocons say, it is a goddamned piece of paper if we allow it to be. And like the neocons say, they do create reality if we don't check their asses and introduce them to our reality, strip them from power and put them in prison for treating our Constitution like a goddamned piece of paper and creating their own unconscionable reality.

Here's the list of American Taliban who despised our Constitution by passing H.R. 2679.

Notice my Senator's brother, John Salazar, voted for it. So we're pretty sure which side Ken Salazar will be leaning. Always away from freedom in favor of enforcing his own personal morality.

I Hate HOAs

We live in townhouse with an HOA. Our landlords pay the fees and are the members, but we're subject to the rules, of course. I can't find our copy of the HOA rules, but as I recall they're mostly common sense about the outsides of buildings, the common property and being decent neighbors.

But there is a new group in charge who, like my husband said, must think this is the Taj Mahal.

Not long after we moved in, my son and a couple of other kids who live in the townhouses threw clumps of dirt in the street and rolled some landscaping rocks down the hill. They were correctly made to clean them up, and we were correctly warned that such behavior could get us fined. After that I made it very clear Ben was to stay off the rocks and out of the wood chips, which he did.

Now, since most of the egregious behavior has been taken care of (like the people who let their pets use the common lawn as a toilet without cleaning up), the HOA officials get upset about minor infractions, and we got a notice warning us that our child was crossing the rock borders. Not stepping on the rocks, jumping across them to get to the grass or sidewalk. They're also completely anal about the wood chips that keep getting on the sidewalks because there's no edging, which they can't have because edging is apparently a tripping hazard. It's true a couple of kids (not mine) step on the wood chips, but animals do, too.

And now I've heard the angry old busy bodies have begun throwing away kids' bikes. There are a bunch of boys in this immediate vicinity who like to ride their bikes, and they park them on the sidewalk for hours at a time. I've warned Ben to put his as far to the side as he can or on our front porch.

A neighbor told me there are some who either will throw the bikes away or call the police to have them removed, without having warned anyone that such action might be taken. I'm not even sure if that's bikes on the townhouse sidewalks or the public sidewalk.

Since I can't find the HOA rules, I can't say whether we signed away any right to complain about our property being disposed of without notice. I'm just venting right now, I'm so angry. I'll have to get more info.

I'm so glad this is our last lease here.

Pederasty is a Republican Problem

That's all I can assume from the fact that
Hastert is to meet with Page Board Chairman John Shimkus and current Clerk of the House Karen Haus to "review procedures" on the page system and to "discuss how to prevent this from happening in the future." According to an aide for Hastert, they will also discuss "how to protect people after they leave."

It should be noted that Haus was not the clerk last year, and Shimkus is being called in without the presence of Dale Kildee, the Democrat on the page board.
But that's not all (via Leo's Blog at Illinois Dem Net). Despite their aversion to history and their penchant for forgetting inconvenient facts, Repubs still do remember.
... as a historical footnote for all the grayheads out there: there was a previous House Page Sex Scandal in 1983 and Republican Congressman Dan Crane (brother of Phil) was implicated. He was censured for his behavior and, despite tearful apologies, lost in the following election.

Although I am not yet a grayhead, I do recall this.

The AP reports what they think is an irony, as well.
Ironically, Foley, who is 52 and single, could be found to have violated a law that he helped to write as co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

The irony reported is not so ironic when it fits into a pattern of behavior. Rather than being ironic, it is typical, and it's just another piece of evidence of Republican projection (from Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon).

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