Monday, July 31, 2006
(Ed.: I hope seniors will remember this in November.)
When angry Democrats briefly shut down the Senate last year to protest the slow pace of a congressional investigation into prewar intelligence on Iraq, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) claimed a rare victory.
Republicans called it a stunt but promised to quickly wrap up the inquiry. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is overseeing the investigation, said his report was near completion and there was no need for the fuss.
That was nine months ago. So where is this report?
Ed.: We’ll not see this before November, I assure you! Hey, Harry – what ya gonna do ‘bout this?
The maneuver was aimed at defusing the minimum wage increase as a campaign issue for Democrats while using the popularity of the increase to achieve the Republican Party's longtime goal of permanently cutting estate taxes.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed Democrats would kill the hybrid bill, along with its 10-year, $300 billion-plus cost. "The Senate has rejected fiscally irresponsible estate tax giveaways before and will reject them again," Reid said. "Blackmailing working families will not change that outcome."
The GOP package would increase the wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years. Under current law, the estate tax is phased out completely by 2010, but jumps back to 55 percent on estates larger than $1 million in 2011.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass,: Its political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. Members of Congress raised their own pay — no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect."
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio:"It's outrageous the Republican Congress can't simply help poor people without doing something for their wealthy contributors."
Charles B. Rangel, D-New York on C-SPAN
Ezra Klein: “According to my sources on the Hill, Democrats do plan to stand against this, but it's unclear whether they can really block the effort. That said, they should do their damndest. The elimination of the estate tax would deprive the government of billions that currently go to programs that help the neediest Americans -- the practical effect of this bill, then, would be a lift in wages, but also further instability and frugality in such programs as Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and Social Security.”
The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute voters guides that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?
After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called The Cross and the Sword in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a Christian nation and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
“Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”
Sermons like Mr. Boyd’s are hardly typical in today’s evangelical churches. But the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq.
“There is a lot of discontent brewing,” said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the emerging church, which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.
“More and more people are saying this has gone too far the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right,” Mr. McLaren said. “You cannot say the word Jesus in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word Christian, and you certainly can’t say the word evangelical without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people. Because people think, Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about activist judges.”
“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.”
Mr. Boyd lambasted the hypocrisy and pettiness of Christians who focus on sexual issues like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson’s breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.
Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act,” he said. “And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed.”
Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church’s Sunday school. “They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,’” she said. “It was some of my best volunteers.”
Mr. Boyd now says of the upheaval, “I don’t regret any aspect of it at all. It was a defining moment for us. We let go of something we were never called to be. We just didn’t know the price we were going to pay for doing it.”
CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war — now branded as Crisis in the Middle East — but you won’t catch anyone saying it’s Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report.
The steady falloff in Iraq coverage isn’t happenstance. It’s a barometer of the scope of the tragedy. For reporters, the already apocalyptic security situation in Baghdad keeps getting worse, simply making the war more difficult to cover than ever. The audience has its own phobia: Iraq is a bummer… Americans don’t like to lose, whatever the season. They know defeat when they see it, no matter how many new plans for victory are trotted out to obscure that reality…
[While no was looking this month] 44 U.S. service members have died in Iraq -- including 10 in Anbar province during the past week. That underscores the threat to U.S. troops from Sunni insurgents, despite the attention paid to recent sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Baghdad.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
In a 53-page report, “No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq,” US soldiers reveal that contrary to previous statements by the Bush administration, detainees were routinely beaten, put in stressful positions, deprived of sleep and exposed to hot and cold extremes. Human Rights Watch bases its report on interviews, memoranda and sworn statements.
The report, consists of first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel and provide details of detainee abuses that are at odds with previous statements by the Bush administration. The official program of torture took place at "...an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq." Soldier accounts allege that abusive techniques "...were authorized by the military chain of command". This directly contradicts various Pentagon statements and cover stories. It directly refutes the "few bad apples" defense.
The report is consistent with widely reported efforts by the Bush Justice Department to find legal justification for torture even as various administration officials were denying that it had taken place or that it was widespread.
REPORT: Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk. These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.” —John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch.
John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience: George Bush has repeatedly insisted, "We do not torture." Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has repeatedly claimed that the United States does not engage in "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. And CIA Director Porter Goss affirms that his agency "does not do torture. Torture does not work." But no one believes the Bush administration on this issue and for good reason.
Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation said Monday that FEMA’s policy restricting media access to residents living in FEMA-managed trailer parks is absurd, outrageous and denies park residents their rights as American citizens.
“FEMA just strikes you as a bureaucracy that’s out of control,” said U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner. “You don’t lose your fundamental rights just because you’re living in temporary housing. It’s an outrageous pattern of behavior.”
Jindal was referring to a July 15 article in which The Advocate detailed an incident in a Federal Emergency Management Agency-operated trailer park in Morgan City where a reporter and photographer were ordered off of the site.
The two had been invited into a trailer occupied by resident Dekotha Devall and her family. But during the interview a security guard ordered the reporter and photographer to leave.
The security guard called the police after the reporter attempted to give Devall a business card, an act the guard said was forbidden.
Later, the security guard told another resident, Pansy Ardeneaux, she was not allowed to speak to the media through a chain link fence surrounding the park and ordered Ardeneaux to return to her trailer.
When FEMA officials were told of the incident, they said the media has to be escorted at all times by FEMA representatives. “If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview,” said Rachel Rodi, a FEMA spokeswoman. “That’s just policy.”
Jindal said that policy is ridiculous. “How in the world can you stop someone in their home from talking to whomever they want?” Jindal asked. “It’s a freedom of speech issue; it’s a freedom of association issue.”
The media campaign will cost $250,000; its organizers said it was the largest-ever purchase of print advertising space by gay rights supporters.
Ed.: WTF? Now? Three months before the election? Why is GLAAD taking their eye off the ball and giving the wingnuts a reason to go to the polls?
Focus, people: George W. Bush (boob), Dick Cheney (evil), Don Rumsfeld (incompetent), Iraq War, foreign policy failures (Iran, North Korea, Israel-Lebanon – take your pick or add to the list), budget deficits, tax cuts for the rich, stem cell research, Plame leaks, illegal wiretaps, signing statements, Jack Abramoff payoffs, Tom Delay re-districting shenanigans, House and Senate “leadership” (gave themselves raises while denying minimum wage increases to millions), and the list goes on and on and on and…
With the Repubs desperately trying to rally their base and raise funds for the fall elections by debating same sex marriage and flag burning in the House and Senate this summer, and considering how well the marriage amendments did in bringing out the wingnuts during the last election, why – pray, tell! – is GLAAD snatching defeat out of the mouth of victory with this advertising campaign right now? Nothing against the ads (they sound great), but let’s face facts: once those ads start the talking heads at FOX News will beat the drums so loudly any constructive debate will be impossible.
Once the November election is over and the Dems have a few weeks to get organized (ever the optimist here), THEN run the ads when the new Congress can focus on your message and not just how the ads will affect their campaign.
Got an opinion on this? Share it with Neil G. Giuliano, President, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
John Aravosis: "If we've got a quarter of a million dollars to piss away on ads, I'd like to think there are a lot better uses for that money, like, oh, say promoting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would ban anti-gay job discrimination, which polls at around 70% support, and which has relatively strong support in Congress."
Monday, July 24, 2006
"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will... authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.
Specter's announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to either sign a bill, veto it, or take no action.
Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.
"That non-veto hamstrings Congress because Congress cannot respond to a signing statement," said ABA president Michael Greco. The practice, he added "is harming the separation of powers."
Bush has challenged about 750 statutes passed by Congress, according to numbers compiled by Specter's committee. The ABA estimated Bush has issued signing statements on more than 800 statutes, more than all other presidents combined.
Signing statements have been used by presidents, typically for such purposes as instructing agencies how to execute new laws. But many of Bush's signing statements serve notice that he believes parts of bills he is signing are unconstitutional or might violate national security.
Still, the White House said signing statements are not intended to allow the administration to ignore the law. "A great many of those signing statements may have little statements about questions about constitutionality," said White House spokesman Tony Snow. "It never says, 'We're not going to enact the law.'"
Specter's announcement intensifies his challenge of the administration's use of executive power on a number of policy matters. Of particular interest to him are two signing statements challenging the provisions of the USA Patriot Act renewal, which he wrote, and legislation banning the use of torture on detainees.
Bush is not without congressional allies on the matter. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former judge, has said that signing statements are nothing more than expressions of presidential opinion that carry no legal weight because federal courts are unlikely to consider them when deciding cases that challenge the same laws.
– Laurie Kellman
UPDATE: Arlen Specter's FISA bill would put President Bush above the rule of law, just as an earlier president would've wanted. Specter's bill (S. 2543) is titled the National Security Surveillance Act, and it is framed as a series of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA. His bill makes it optional, rather than mandatory, for the president to subject himself to judicial oversight when eavesdropping on Americans, in effect returning the nation to the pre-FISA era. Essentially, the president would be allowed to eavesdrop at will, precisely the situation that led to the surveillance abuses of the Nixon White House and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.
How is capturing two soldiers an act of terrorism? Are Israel's enemies not allowed to fight at all? If they have to audacity to challenge Israel in any way, do they automatically become terrorists? Why is Israel allowed to take bold and aggressive military action (let alone the US) and no one is allowed to respond? If anyone has the nerve to fight back -- terrorists!
I wonder how many of us would be "terrorists" if we were attacked and occupied by a foreign country? Was the resistance to German occupation in France during World War II a terrorist operation? (Oh no, that's right, they were on our side, so they couldn't possibly be terrorists. They were freedom fighters.)
How many civilians do you have to kill before you become a terrorist? Right now Hezbollah has claimed 17 civilian lives during their shelling of Israeli towns; Israel has claimed 350 civilian lives in their bombardment of Lebanese towns.
I'm not making a value judgment or a statement on who started it or who had it coming. I'm asking a simple question – when do you become a terrorist?
– Cenk Uygur, co-host of The Young Turks, for huffingtonpost.com
Maybe after six years the Bush administration has finally figured out that the Middle East is far more complicated than the president's walnut brain can comprehend. It's not as simple as flight suits and Fox News Alerts.
– Bob Cesca for huffingtonpost.com
- You become a terrorist when Tony Snow or CNN says you are, facts and reasonable thought be damned.
- Only in other places are "freedom fighters" called terrorists.
- Bush is the worst "terror" monger. He gets to vacation in Crawford while all this "shit" (his own diplomatic word here) goes on. He vetoes stem cell research because he doesn't like "murder", BUT it's okay to kill people after they're already born and grown. THAT'S okay, right George? You should know– you saw hundreds on death row in your adopted state of Texas go to their deaths and you’ve seen thousands ("Oh, 30,000 give or take”) die under your watch, but throw away an unused embryo is way better than using it for research that can possible cure future diseases or human ailments. Two words for Bush....murderous hypocrite.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Conservative? Liberal? Republican? Democrat?
No matter how you vote, it's unlikely that any one of these words perfectly reflects your views. Politcal beliefs are often intuitive and personal, and no party, platform, candidate or external label can encompass them exactly.
We at OkCupid designed this test to explore our users' ecomonic and social ideas and then place them into the spectrum of political thought: liberal, conservative, progressive, radical, and so on. We tried to accurately translate a person's own sense of where he stands into a place in the real poiltical world.
OkCupid's Politics Test is short and, as always, highly accurate. At the end, you'll get nifty graphs and charts, and you can compare your score to both your friends' and famous people's.
Cheers!Ed.:Test yourself! My Score? I am a Social Moderate (56% permissive) and an Economic Liberal (25% permissive) best described as a Democrat. I exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness. Now, how about you?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
George Bush has always supported a culture of death. From his days in Texas presiding over the most executions of any Governor before him and mocking one condemned soul who pleaded for her life, to signing the law that allows Texas hospitals to kill patients who can no longer pay the bills for life-sustaining services. From ignoring the bloodshed in Lebanon as children die to refusing to attend any soldier funerals in America. From the torture chambers in Gitmo to the sands of Iraq, George W. Bush has left a trail of blood and death wherever he has gone. While that is reprehensible enough, it is nothing but blatant hypocrisy he shows when pretending to then care about life by refusing to allow scientists to use embryos slated for destruction to possibly ease human suffering.
– Anthony Wade, OpEd News
Ed.: Great piece! I encourage you to read it in its entirety.
(New York Times) NEW ORLEANS, July 21 — To the list of daily aggravations in the new New Orleans, add one that augments the heat, spoils the food and drains the cash register: power failures.
The wind blows and a neighborhood’s power goes out. Or it rains and the power goes out somewhere else. Thunder crashes distantly and out goes the power.
Ten months after Hurricane Katrina, the city still does not have a reliable electrical system. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of repairs are still needed on a system devastated by flooding, the local utility is in bankruptcy and less than half the system’s prestorm customers have returned. Of those who have, many have endured hot and sleepless nights with no air-conditioning.
“How do you expect the city to recover when you don’t have a reliable source of electrical power?” asked Robert Harmon, an engineering consultant in the Bywater neighborhood.
John Aravosis: Regular power failures. Hmm... what other city has regular power failures? Oh yeah. Baghdad.
Female investigators posing as pregnant 17-year-olds seeking advice telephoned "crisis pregnancy centers" that receive funding from the Department of Health and Human Services. Twenty of 23 centers reached "provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion," said the report.
The report says there were three major topics of misinformation: first, the purported relationship between abortion and breast cancer; second, the purported relationship between abortion and infertility; and third, the purported relationship between abortion and mental illness.
According to the investigators, in one instance, a center compared the post-traumatic stress of an abortion to that seen in soldiers returning from Vietnam and said that it "is something that anyone who's had an abortion is sure to suffer from."
"This tactic may be effective in frightening pregnant teenagers and women and discouraging abortion," the report concludes. "But it denies teenagers and women vital health information, prevents them from making an informed decision, and is not an accepted public health practice."
Ed.: The Bush Admin strikes again! Hmmm... scare teens into having their unwanted children, but don't provide any medical help or financial assistance for them to take care of these children. I don't personally believe in abortion, but I do believe in choice; further, I believe teens especially need truthful information from their doctors – and all medical professionals, government funded or not, should be free to provide truthful information – in order to make an informed choice. More manipulation by 'the man.'
UPDATE: Adding insult to injury, a bill that would make it a crime to take a pregnant girl across state lines for an abortion without her parents' knowledge passed the Senate (Tuesday, July 24). Republican sponsors said the bill supports what a majority of the public believes: that a parent's right to know takes precedence over a young woman's right to have an abortion. Democrats complained that the measure was the latest in a series of bills designed chiefly to energize the GOP's base of conservative voters and spent the day trying to carve out an exemption for confidants to whom a girl with abusive parents might turn for help. It was rejected in floor negotiations. "Congress ought to have higher priorities than turning grandparents into criminals," said U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
During the debate leading up to the vote, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) provided these eye-opening stats:
- Great Britain– the teen pregnancy rate is 47 young women per 1,000
- Canada – the teen pregnancy rate is 46 young women per 1,000
- Sweden – the teen pregnancy rate is 25 young women per 1,000
- France– the teen pregnancy rate is 20 young women per 1,000
- Germany – the teen pregnancy rate is 16 young women per 1,000
- Belgium– the teen pregnancy rate is 14 young women per 1,000
- Netherlands– the teen pregnancy rate is 12 young women per 1,000
- U.S. – the teen pregnancy rate is 84 young women per 1,000
Ed.: So, let me make sure I understand this – those countries that are the least uptight about sex-education have the lowest teen pregnancy rates. Hmmm…
For those who have not yet heard, Bolton's nomination is being resurrected by the White House. Bolton will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next Thursday morning [07/27/06] at 9:30 a.m. on the subject of confirming his appointment and ending his "recess appointment status" as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
– Steve Clemons for huffingtonpost.com
Ed.: Considering his “successes” to date – either in achieving World Peace or in lessening the import of the U.N., – why should Bolton continue to represent the U.S.? He’s a failure, and his intentions are moronic. His “our-way-or-the-highway” approach to diplomacy is so last century. Given that the terrorists and other threats to our safety and security are multi-national, shouldn’t we be courting more friends rather than alienating them?
– Craig Crawford for huffingtonpost.com
Despite the howls of voters for more aggressive and cohesive policy initiatives, for more muscular critiques of the administration and the Republican-controlled congress, one is hard pressed to find a pulse in the Democratic Party, which apparently has not yet addressed its addiction to focus groups, play-it-safe political consultants, and apologize-and-retreat campaign strategies. As in election years past, they are relaxing on the 9th hole, or at the beach, certain that voters will choose Democrats simply because they aren't Republicans…
I'm tired of blaming Republicans for everything. We have a two-party system. When is the other party going to suit up? …
This [Democratic] party has learned nothing. Their failure to stand on principle - for anything - has not only damaged their credibility but had had horrific, long-lasting consequences for the world. How many people are dead - in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Israel and Lebanon, in India, Spain, London, and New York - how many millions of people at tremendous risk from North Korea and Iran, all thanks to Bush's failures and lack of meaningful opposition? How much damage has been done to America's reputation, because no one has held the President responsible? The fact of the matter is, Bush, Cheney, DeLay, Rumsfeld et. al. couldn't have gotten away with half of the crimes they've committed if the Democrats - who after all control 45% of congress - had not abdicated their responsibilities as policymakers and statesmen, if they hadn't passed up countless opportunities to present an opposition. And the irony is, they've been so docile for fear of losing elections….
So while Republicans are spending the summer trying to get their mojo back, reminding Americans what they stand for – discrimination against homosexuals, bribery, theft, criminal war, the repealing of the Bill of Rights, whistling while terrorists acquire nuclear weapons, etc. – Democrats are looking at wallpaper samples for the new offices they think they're going to win…
– Andrew Foster Altschul for huffingtonpost.com
"Daily Show” host Jon Stewart seized upon Bush’s stem cell veto to explore the president’s “culture of life” inconsistencies. Where the potential of a frozen embryo is concerned, life is precious. The lives of Iraqi civilians, on the other hand, fail to carry the same weight.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been playing a leading role in battling the Bush administration's attacks on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and international law, has declared today to be Impeachment Day, with teach-ins scheduled around the country.
Seems like a great occasion to offer up 10 reasons for impeaching the president, as presented in Barbara Olshansky and Dave Lindorff's The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office.
Now I know you cynics out there will say this is just political posturing in an election year, but is the failed war in Iraq, the tenuous situation in Afghanistan, the trampling of the rule of law, the massive deficit, failed energy policies, global warming, and sagging employment really more important? We should be proud that congress has the courage to tackle this hot issue that is on the lips of every person in America right now. Sleep soundly America because the GOP is in charge.
Read Cenk Uygur’s complete blog at huffingtonpost.com
UPDATE: Same opinion, different writer. In the LA TIMES, Jonathan Chait asks, "Is Bush Still Too Dumb to Be President?" [Ed.: Still? When was he ever smart enough to be President?] Chait writes, "...it is now increasingly clear that Bush's status as non-rocket scientist is a serious problem. The problem is not his habit — savored by late-night comedians — of stumbling over multi-syllabic words. It is his shocking lack of intellectual curiosity." [Ed.: Not intellectually curious, or does he suffer from A.D.D.? I'm curious as to why this is just now news. "W's" recent lackluster performance at the G8 meetings may be the most recent example of this shortcoming, but his lack of curiousity is something that those of us in Texas have known all along. Did anyone in the national press look into his tenure as Texas governor? Stories abounded of his lack of intellectual curiousity, that his briefings were more for the others in the room. FYI — "W" also was well known for delegating EVERYTHING and surrounded himself with those who'd make the decisions for him, thus always providing him some plausible deniability should anything go wrong. Does that sound familiar? The "Decider?" What a joke! That's why Cheney is the perfect VP — "W" passes everything along to Cheney to handle. Cheney knew he'd never be elected President; he also knew that "W" would delegate all of the decisions to him, so that's why (as head of the committee to find a VP candidate) he nominated himself. None of this should be news to anyone paying attention.]
Ed.: I thought the definition of insanity was repeating the same act over and over again under the same circumstances and expecting a different result.
The documents were released by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of student groups that protested against recruiters who visited their campuses in April 2005.
Ed.: Student protestors tracked as terrorists... deja vu all over again!
The Born Different advertising campaign is a $900,000 effort funded by the Denver-based Gill Foundation. The ad campaign features a super-cute pooch named Norman who "moos" on theaters, billboards, buses and street lamps. The cuddly canine also stars in radio and television commercials. The message: People are born gay. It's exclusively running in Colorado Springs, a bastion of right wing hate groups, including Focus on the Family.
The subtext of the message aims right at the heart of Focus on the Family's anti-gay conversion therapy program, Love Won Out. It suggests that asking gay people to go straight is as ridiculous as suggesting a dog act like a cow. The power of this campaign is that it skillfully uses a puppy to take the politics out of this emotional issue.
The Born Different web-site also has an illuminating and humorous cartoon that explains to people that sexual orientation isn't a choice and challenges viewers by asking, "When did you choose to be straight?"
Wayne Besen, 365gay.com
Ed.: Watch the TV spots -- very cute!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Chicago Tribune contacted a dozen top stem cell experts about Rove’s claim. They all said it was inaccurate. So who wrote the “studies” that Rove was referring to?
White House spokesman Ken Lisaius on Tuesday could not provide the name of a stem cell researcher who shares Rove’s views on the superior promise of adult stem cells.
In a letter to President Bush last year, a group of 80 Nobel laureates wrote that “current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential.”
Ed.: On a personal note, this debate now strikes very close to home. I can’t say that I actually thought much about stem cell research until last week – that’s when I found out I have developed diabetes. Now “I’ve got a dog in this fight,” as stem cell research offers hope for finding possible treatments and cures for a number of diseases and afflictions, including diabetes.
I actually don’t mind Pres. Bush’s veto of the stem cell funding question today. Reasonable people can differ in their opinions on this issue, and the President has consistently offered the same opinion on stem cell research funding. [Note: The President vetoed funding, not the actual research. However, any research facility that receives any type of federal funding, as in a university research program, may not do stem cell research - even with private money - without fear of losing their federal funding. Therefore, only purely private programs using private money only may do this type of research.]
I hope those that feel the importance of this issue as I now do (and apparently news reports are estimating that 72% of the general public does believe stem cell research funding is important) will consider their Congressional representatives’ votes on this issue when they go to the polls in November.
What I do mind is the President’s advisor, Karl Rove, once again disseminating false information in order to mislead all those gullible and empty-headed right-wingnuts. Rove was the brains/gall/ego behind W's transformation from boozer/drugger to born-again "leader"/figurehead, and his dirty little tricks bring dishonor to the Oval Office and stain what little integrity is left of the Bush Presidency. If Rove isn't lying, he’s leaking. He was fired in the Bush 41 White House, and he should have been fired from the Bush 43 White House for his treasonous act of outing a CIA agent. Hopefully this weasel will be gone before long!
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee today that President Bush personally halted an internal Justice Department investigation into whether Gonzales and other senior department officials acted within the law in approving and overseeing the administration's domestic surveillance program.
The investigation, by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, was halted when lawyers who were going to conduct the investigation were denied the security clearances that would have allowed them to view classified documents related to the surveillance program. President Bush made the decision to deny the security clearances for the investigators, Gonzales said in his testimony today.
"The president of the United States makes the decision," Gonzales said in response to a question by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who wanted to know who denied the clearances to the investigators.
Murray Waas, National Journal
Ed.: Wolf guarding the hen house! Should it surprise anyone that the one breaking the law is also blocking an investigation of that action?
BEIT EL, Israel – Are Israel's troubles in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and the Hezbollah rockets slamming daily into major Israeli population centers here a result of the Jewish state's tacit support for a homosexual parade slated for next month in Jerusalem? Some rabbis seem to think so, and they are attempting to block the event from taking place in Judaism's holiest city.
Ed.: So, WWIII (as Newt is calling it) was begun because a gay pride parade was planned for Jerusalem? Hmmm, I guess we gays have more power on the international scene than we thought! Let’s send some drag queens to organize a parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, and see if we can’t divert Kim Jong Il’s attention away from his missiles.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Just in case the U.S. Senate had not thoroughly mauled the dead horse that is the Federal Marriage Amendment last month, the House is going to use our tax dollars to discuss the same motion that will most certainly fail when put to a vote. Republicans are hoping that bringing up the issue in advance of this year's elections will keep just enough people mad at the gays so that they turn out on Election Day and maintain the Republicans congressional majority.
In the face of such legislative theatrics, we try to remain optimistic and hope that even the dumbest of Americans can see through such a cynical ploy and demand that the Republicans answer some of the more difficult questions, such as those about the war, gas prices, and why the Canadian dollar will soon be the highest valued currency in North America.
Filed by Frank
UPDATE I: House Rejects Gay Marriage Ban Amendment The House on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, ending for another year a congressional debate that supporters of the ban hope will still reverberate in this fall's election. The 236-187 vote for the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment. It followed six weeks after the Senate also decisively defeated the amendment, a top priority of social conservatives.
UPDATE II: Serious about preserving marriage? Why not outlaw divorce? Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis, a Democrat from Tennessee, voted for the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage even though it doesn't go far enough. If the sanctity of marriage is to be preserved, Davis deadpanned, Congress should "outlaw divorce" and make adultery "a felony." In addition, Davis said, "We should prevent those who commit adultery or get a divorce from running an office. Mr. Speaker, this House must lead by example. If we want those watching on C-SPAN to actually believe that we're serious about protecting marriage, then we should go after the other major threats to the institution." [As Judd Legum notes at Think Progress, at least 29 members of Congress are divorced, but there is "no official data on how many members have committed adultery."]
UPDATE III: Keith Alexander wonders, "Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage?" My guess, Keith, is that shellfish have a better funded lobbyist!
What does Joe Lieberman find appalling? Blow jobs? Hell yeah. Torture at Abu Ghraib? Not so much. Digby (at Hullabaloo) writes:
On marital infidelity, Joe Lieberman, moral conscience of the Democratic party, is uncompromising. On torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners he sees shades of gray. From where I sit, Joe Lieberman's failure to publicly and resolutely condemn this torture regime, (much less vote to reward those who instigated it) puts the lie to his claim to moral superiority and personal integrity. A man who cannot see unequivocally that torture is wrong cannot be a moral leader. I resent the fact that he seems to believe that he's entitled to the benefits of that reputation when he has proven he is actually little more than a puritanical sexual scold --- on the big moral question of the day he has fallen very, very short.
Lieberman was quick to leap to Rumsfeld's defense when the Abu Ghraib torture photos appeared, and accused Democrats of trying to "politicize" the situation by calling for a Congressional investigation. It all played rather well on Fox News.
Ed.: Sorry, Joe, your 15 minutes are up!
In your lifetime, has the US ever exercised less global leadership?
The Middle East is burning. Iraq is disintegrating. Afghanistan is collapsing. North Korea is escalating. Iran is cheering.
And all President Bush can do is dither. The Administration has no foreign policy. At least the invasion of Iraq, though wholly misguided and strategically disastrous, was an example of decisive action. Today, in the face of crisis after crisis, Bush does nothing.
"In the current crisis, which has the potential to be as or more dangerous than previous ones, the need for a concerted American-led crisis management role is as great or even greater than in the past," writes Duke Professor Bruce Jentleson.
Why isn't Condi Rice in the Middle East right now, working round the clock to defuse the violence as Warren Christopher did during the Clinton Administration in 1993 and 1996? Why aren't we talking directly to North Korea? Why do we refuse to negotiate with Iran? Why are we told we can't leave Iraq even though it's increasingly unclear why we need to stay? Why are we letting the Taliban regroup in Afghanistan?
Why doesn't the Bush Administration have a convincing answer to any of these questions?
If cowboy diplomacy is supposedly over, as Time magazine recently proclaimed, the Administration better find a replacement foreign policy, soon.
I agree with these humorous observations:
- He's not just dithering; he's riding his bike.
- Given that Dear Leader's policies always result in failure and destruction, isn't it actually better that he do nothing? Anything he does will undoubtedly only make things worse.
- Cowboy diplomacy has been replaced with... DUH-plomacy
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Gingrich says it's World War III (Seattle Times) – Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich says America is in World War III and President Bush should say so. In an interview in Bellevue [yesterday] morning Gingrich said Bush should call a joint session of Congress the first week of September and talk about global military conflicts in much starker terms than have been heard from the president.
Rice Calls Idea That Iraq War Contributed To Regional Instability ‘Grotesque’ Today on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos pointed out that the Bush administration repeatedly promised that war in Iraq would bring peace and stability to the Middle East. But as the recent violence in the Middle East has shown, the region has actually fallen deeper into instability and unrest since the war began. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Stephanopoulos it was “grotesque” to suggest that the Iraq war contributed to that instability. [Ed.: None are so blind as those who refuse to see.]
Helen Flusters Tony, Who Then Confuses Iran and Iraq Watch the video. [Ed.: This dumbass showboat kinda makes me miss Mr. Personality, that cuddly ole Scott McClelland].
Additional Blogs On The Middle East Worth Reading
Josh Marshall: “What Stands Out To Me Right Now Is The Seeming Irrelevance And Marginality Of The United States”
Matthew Yglesias: “The Major Powers – Including Especially The United States – Desperately Need To Step Up To The Plate Here”
Gary Hart: The Hornets’ Nest Kicked Open By The Iraq Invasion Is Now Swarming In The Middle East
James Wolcott: Bush's Stance Is “That Of An Interested Bystander”
Eric Boehlert: CNN's Lebanon Problem
Excerpts from Rich's Times column today:
"Following the president's leadership, Congress has also embraced the virtual governance of substituting publicity stunts for substance… Instead of passing an immigration law, this Congress has entertained us with dueling immigration hearings. Instead of overseeing the war in Iraq or homeland security, its members have held press conferences announcing that they, if not the Pentagon, have at last found Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (degraded mustard gas and sarin canisters from the 1980s). Instead of promised post-DeLay reforms, the House concocted a sham Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act that won't do away with the gifts and junkets politicians rake in from the Abramoffs of K Street. And let's not forget all the days devoted to resolutions about same-sex marriage, flag burning, the patriotism of The New York Times and the Pledge of Allegiance.
"By the calculation of USA Today, the current Congress is on track to spend fewer days in session than the "do-nothing Congress" Harry Truman gave hell to in 1948. No wonder its approval rating, for Republicans and Democrats together, is even lower than the president's. It's not only cowboy diplomacy that's dead at this point in the Bush era, but also functioning democracy as we used to know it.”
When he was running for Majority Leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) pledged to end the K Street Project for lobbyists and “lead the effort to bring about the kind of reforms the American people are expecting from Congress.”
But a new review of financial holdings shows Boehner has raised corporate and lobbyist contributions at a faster clip than even corrupt, criminally-indicted former Rep. Tom DeLay.
Ed.: Hey, Olbermann! How many days has it been since Bush-lite suited up, sat second seat, and flew onto an aircraft bearing the victory banner?
UPDATE (07/20/06): It seems like just yesterday that the National Republican Congressional Committee had itself up in arms over a Democratic Web ad that showed flag-draped coffins in the belly of a military transport plane. So we're sure it's only a matter of time now before we'll get an e-mail from NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds condemning a new TV ad that relies on an image of the World Trade Center burning on 9/11.
Or maybe not. See, the new ad is different. It comes from a Republican, Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine. And then there's this: While the flag-draped coffins in the Democrats' ad were real, the 9/11 photo in DeWine's ad is not.
Ed.:Can the hypocrisy be anymore blatant? You can't make this stuff up!
Who should I believe? I’m so confused!
[Telegraph.co.uk] According to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve, a ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare time bomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency.
Prof. Kotlikoff, who teaches at Boston University, says: "The proper way to consider a country's solvency is to examine the lifetime fiscal burdens facing current and future generations. If these burdens exceed the resources of those generations, get close to doing so, or simply get so high as to preclude their full collection, the country's policy will be unsustainable and can constitute or lead to national bankruptcy."
Does the United States fit this bill?
Experts have calculated that the country's long-term "fiscal gap" between all future government spending and all future receipts will widen immensely as the Baby Boomer generation retires, and as the amount the state will have to spend on healthcare and pensions soars. The total fiscal gap could be an almost incomprehensible $65.9 trillion, according to a study by Professors Gokhale and Smetters.
The figure is massive because President George W. Bush has made major tax cuts in recent years, and because the bill for Medicare, which provides health insurance for the elderly, and Medicaid, which does likewise for the poor, will increase greatly due to demographics.
"This figure is more than five times US GDP and almost twice the size of national wealth,” says Prof. Kotlikoff. “One way to wrap one's head around $65.9trillion is to ask what fiscal adjustments are needed to eliminate this red hole. The answers are terrifying. One solution is an immediate and permanent doubling of personal and corporate income taxes. Another is an immediate and permanent two-thirds cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits. A third alternative, were it feasible, would be to immediately and permanently cut all federal discretionary spending by 143%."
[National Review Online] Thomas E. Nugent, Contributing Editor for National Review Online, says the supply-side Bush tax cuts of 2003 worked and that the lower tax rates have led to bulging tax revenues. [Consider:]
In the first nine months of fiscal 2006, tax revenues have climbed by $206 billion, or nearly 13%. As the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, ‘That increase represents the second-highest rate of growth for that nine-month period in the past 25 years’ — exceeded only by the year before. For all of fiscal 2005, revenues rose by $274 billion, or 15%. – Wall Street Journal editorial
The main reason [for the increased tax revenues] is a big spike in corporate tax receipts, which have nearly tripled since 2003, as well as what appears to be a big rise in individual taxes on stock market profits and executive bonuses. – New York Times
Nugent says the Laffer Curve, and the notion that if you tax something less you get more of it, is working. To avoid a backward turning of this ongoing recovery, he says, Republicans should use the Laffer Curve as the basis for proposing another reduction in personal tax rates.
Does cutting tax rates make economic sense, or does it simply add to the ballooning budget deficit? Is this Laffer Curve real, or just more Republican BS to justify tax cuts to the wealthy?
Ed.: Silly, John, there will be no return to the draft. Can you imagine the uproar in country if that happened? Those of us old enough to remember or to have served (or at least registered to serve) in Viet Nam know that there is nothing more divisive than an unpopular war that inserts U.S. troops in another country’s civil war. Do you really think baby boomer parents will allow a draft of their coddled princes? No, this war will continue to fought by young men and women who, for the most part: (a) are there to earn college benefits their parents cannot afford; or (b) don’t want to go to college and are looking for a career without an “apparent” glass ceiling for those without a college degree. While I somehow wouldn’t discount the chutzpah of the chicken hawks sitting inside the Oval Office to float the idea of a draft, the spineless politicians in Congress (on both sides of the aisle) will not give up feeding at the publicly-funded trough by voting for a military draft. Ain’t gonna happen!
Friday, July 14, 2006
Is it me, or has this been a strange week? Just consider:
Middle East crisis: round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows Oye! And this is in addition to the daily reports of death and destruction coming from Iraq and Afghanistan... the U.S. military is stretched thin and we've few friends... what is a superpower to do?
Newspaper Drops Coulter's Column When “Conservative Readers Felt That Their Views Were Being Misrepresented”... Even the conservatives are finally saying to this old horseface, 'You've gone to far!' I'm all for protecting Ann's First Amendment rights, but I will not support any outlet - newspaper, website, chat show or bookstore - that provides a platform for her hateful speech.
Sen. Russ Feingold: “New Orleans Looks Worse Off Than Banda Aceh Did A Year After The Tsunami”… This is a failure of government AT ALL LEVELS. I regularly point the finger of blame at Brother Bush (always with good reason), but this is not just a failure of leadership at the federal level - state and local governments are as much at fault for the continuing failures of rebuilding this city. There is enough blame to go around. So let's stop whining about who's fault it was and just rebuild this great little city!
Deputy Attorney General to Senate: “The President Is Always Right”... How does Bush-lite keep all his toadies towing the line? Does Shrub have pictures of ALL his people with underage male prostitutes? Is there an endless supply of "special Kool-Ade" at the White House? I know the Crawford ranch isn't that far from Waco, so is he channeling David Karesh? What am I missing that his supporters see in him? It has to be something more than 'he's not Bill Clinton.'
GOP congressman says Mexicans should be treated like "livestock" - electrocute them at the border and they won't come in How much electricity would it take to keep this asshole on the other side of the border? I say we test this electric fence with Rep. King! Let's see how much he wants to get back to the U.S. and what is the level of pain he's willing to take.
"Would Jesus discriminate?": Ads Suggest Gay Relationships Can Be Moral Jesus never said one word about homosexuality. Read the Gospels for yourself.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Valerie Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, accused Cheney, Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of revealing Plame's CIA identity in seeking revenge against Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives Iraq.
The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children's lives at risk by exposing Plame.
"This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of ... (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country," the Wilsons' lawyers said in the lawsuit.
Ed.: You go, girl! And remember, Cheney has “deep pockets” from all of his cozy deals as the former Halliburton CEO. So dig deep!
At the December 2005 trial of James Tobin, phone jamming co-conspirator Allen Raymond testified that his firm, GOP Marketplace, went out of business in 2003. But did GOP Marketplace really go out of business? After being implicated in two election crimes, and serving time in prison for one, was Allen Raymond forced to abandon his career as a teleservices broker for Republican campaigns?
That is unless if by 'go out of business' you mean close down GOP Marketplace and reopen a seemingly identical operation under a different name.
Allen Raymond's current firm, Telus Communications, is GOP Marketplace's identical twin. GOP Marketplace & Telus are so similar, even Allen Raymond can't keep them straight. According to Telus' web site, the company "brokers outbound teleservices" for "government" and "political clientele".
Ed.: They'll be calling on a community near you just in time for the election!
On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand
jury testimony of both men.
[Rove had been one of the "two senior administration" officials who had been sources for the July 14, 2003, column in which Novak outed Plame as an "agency operative." Rove and Novak had talked about Plame on July 9, five days before Novak's column was published.]
Suspicious that Rove and Novak might have devised a cover story during that conversation to protect Rove, federal investigators briefed then-Attorney General John Ashcroft … [on] the September 29 conversation... because of the concerns of federal investigators that a well-known journalist might have been involved in an effort to not only protect a source but also work in tandem with the president's chief political adviser to stymie the FBI.
Rove... told the grand jury, according to sources, that in the September 29 conversation, Novak referred to a 1992 incident in which Rove had been fired from the Texas arm of President George H.W. Bush's re-election effort; Rove lost his job because the Bush campaign believed that he had been the source for a Novak column that criticized the campaign's internal workings.
Rove told the grand jury that during the September 29 call, Novak said he would make sure that nothing similar would happen to Rove in the CIA-Plame leak probe.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) offers a few more lessons learned:
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the President said we continue to be wise about how we spend the people's money. Then why are we paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'? Maybe I can save the taxpayers $100,000 by running through a few of the lessons this White House should have learned by now.
Lesson 1: When the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State say you are going to war without enough troops, you're going to war without enough troops.
Lesson 2: When 8.8 billion dollars of reconstruction funding disappears from Iraq, and 2 billion dollars disappears from Katrina relief, it's time to demand a little accountability.
Lesson 3: When you've 'turned the corner' in Iraq more times than Danica Patrick at the Indy 500, it means you are going in circles.
Lesson 4: When the national weather service tells you a category 5 hurricane is heading for New Orleans, a category 5 hurricane is heading to New Orleans.
I would also ask the President why we're paying for two 'Ethics Advisors' and a 'Director of Fact Checking.' They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the President. Maybe the White House could consolidate these positions into a Director of Irony.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Progressive Christians tend to be nonjudgmental and to feel that challenging the intolerance of others is itself intolerant. For that reason we often sit by silently when Fundamentalist Christians criticize homosexual persons. We tend to think of this as being open minded.
Not that long ago, it was considered consistent to be a Christian, and yet, hold slaves.
The day came when slavery was understood as an affront to the gospel itself. I want to suggest that the day has come when Christians must declare that gay bashing is an attack on the gospel and that real Christians do not participate in any form of discrimination.
Several years ago, I was asked to do the funeral of a gay man who had been beaten to death in a hate crime. At that time, I had never thought deeply about the danger many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face in this culture. That week as I worked on the service, I kept hearing a local “Christian” radio station blaming gay and lesbian people for everything wrong in America. By the end of the week I understood the link between religious hate speech and the funeral I was performing.
I know that critics of homosexuality do not consider themselves to be hateful. They would say they “love the sinner but hate the sin.” If the shoe were on the other foot, however, and someone were attacking their families, trying to take their children away, and constantly working to pass legislation to deprive them of basic civil rights, at some point they would understand that “homophobia” is too mild a word for such harassment. “Hatred” is the only proper term.
I was raised in Dallas, Texas and had classmates who were in the Klan. I remember that they did not consider themselves to be attacking other people. They perceived themselves to be defenders of Christian America. Their “religion” consisted of an unrelenting attack on people who were black, Jewish or homosexual. If anyone challenged these views, these Klan members considered themselves under attack and believed that their right to free exercise of religion was being threatened. In other words, they felt that harassing other people was a protected expression of their own religious faith.
In the Gospel, biblical literalists and judgmental people were the negative example in many of the stories. The point of those stories was to teach us the hypocrisy of judgmental religion. When a woman was caught in adultery, the Biblical literalists lined up to protect family values. They pointed out that the Bible literally says that adulterers are to be stoned. If Jesus took the Bible seriously, they claimed, he would have to participate in the mandated biblical punishment of an adulteress.
Instead of following scripture, Jesus tells the woman to get her life together and tells everyone else to drop their stones of judgment. The only way to take this story seriously is to conclude that real Christians don’t use the bible to condemn other people.
It violates the teaching of Christ to say that God will get angry if America does not confront homosexuality as a sin. Jesus did not mention homosexuality and it is a lie to say he did. Furthermore, Jesus said “judge not or you will be judged.” These false prophets are saying “judge or else you will be judged.”
Jesus was kind and understanding, but he was not silent about those who abused the vulnerable. He called them “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Christians must follow the example of Jesus and confront those vicious predators who use the Christian religion as a camouflage for bullying. We must be as understanding and kind as we can be, but to be tolerant of the oppression of others is not true tolerance.
I believe the time has come to say that genuine followers of Jesus Christ do not participate in discrimination against gay and lesbian persons. Is it intolerant to challenge intolerance? Are we doing the same thing as those we are challenging?
Gay bashing is not just an opinion, it is an assault. Just as the Klan did, religious fundamentalists have a right to believe that homosexuality is a sin. They even have a right to preach a message of hate. But when they harass people in public, it is time for Christians to rise to challenge their intolerance. We have an obligation to protect our neighbors from harassment and slander, especially when it is done in our name.
It is time to say that gay bashing is not only wrong, it is unchristian. If Christianity is grace, then judgment is the ultimate apostasy. If Christianity is love, then cruelty is the ultimate heresy.Ed.: I wish I lived in Austin... I'd be in the front row of Rev. Rigby's church every Sunday!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The highest courts in two states dealt gay rights advocates dual setbacks Thursday, rejecting same-sex couples' bid to win marriage rights in New York and reinstating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Georgia.
Activists had hoped to widen marriage rights for gays and lesbians beyond Massachusetts with a legal victory in liberal New York, but the Court of Appeals ruled 4-2 that the state's law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman was constitutional. Current law bars same-sex couples from marriage and the hundreds of family protections provided to married couples.
In the prevailing opinion, Judge Robert S. Smith nonetheless wrote, "We express our hope that the participants in the controversy over same-sex marriage will address their arguments to the Legislature."
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the New York Court of Appeals decision. "We are disappointed by the court's decision, but we will continue to fight for marriage protections for our family," said Amy Tripi of Highland. Tripi is raising a child with her partner of nine years, Jeanne Vitale.
"Today's decision refuses to recognize that gay and lesbian New Yorkers and their families are full citizens of this state. But this struggle is far from over," said Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on Hernandez v. Robles, one of four marriage cases decided today by the Court of Appeals. "The majority of New Yorkers recognize that it's only fair to allow same-sex couples to marry. We call upon Mayor Bloomberg and Attorney General Spitzer to fulfill their promises to work with state legislators to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry."
The court adopted justifications for the state law barring marriage by same-sex couples advanced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Pointing out that stable relationships between parents are important for children, that straight couples can conceive children by "accident," and that gay couples can only have children with advance planning, Bloomberg and Spitzer argued that straight couples need the stability of marriage, but gay couples do not.
The decision comes two years after gay and lesbian couples, supported by gay-rights groups who saw a chance for a major court win in a populous state, sued for the right to wed.
"Clearly, in bringing the case and pushing it as hard as they did, it's pretty good evidence that they thought they had a substantial chance of victory," said Ohio State University law professor Marc Spindelman, who tracks lesbian and gay legal issues. "It's hard to read the decision as anything other than a rebuff of gay and lesbian couples."
In response to today's NY gay marriage decision, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean has issued the following statement:
"As Democrats, we believe that every American has a right to equal protection under the law and to live in dignity. And we must respect the right of every family to live in dignity with equal rights, responsibilities and protections under the law. Today's decision by the New York Court of Appeals, which relies on outdated and bigoted notions about families, is deeply disappointing, but it does not end the effort to achieve this goal.
"As that essential process moves forward, it is up to the State legislature to act to protect the equal rights of every New Yorker and for the debate on how to ensure those rights to proceed without the rancor and divisiveness that too often surrounds this issue."
In Georgia, where three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004, the top court reinstated the ban Thursday, ruling unanimously that it did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that the ballot language was misleading, asking voters to decide on same-sex marriage and civil unions, separate issues about which many people had different opinions.
The twin rulings, which came less than two hours apart, become part of the nationwide debate that has continued to evolve since a Massachusetts court ruling in late 2003 ushered in a spate of gay marriage controversies from Boston to San Francisco.
- Colonel Sanders Gets a Makeover
- “South Park" Episode that Disses Tom Cruise Up for an Emmy
- Candy Spelling’s Mansion Secretly On the Market for $150M
- Sophia Loren (71) Poses Naked
- Employees At Camera Repair Firm Under Investigation For Stealing Brangelina Baby Shower Pics
- Russian President Vladimir Putin Explains Kissing Child's Stomach
- David Hasselhoff's Shaving Incident
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Thursday it is hard to read North Korea’s motives in firing a missile with the potential to hit the United States or Canada, but said the U.S. cannot afford to misjudge the situation.
"I think we've got to plan for the worst and hope for the best," Bush said.
Ed.: That’s it? That’s the plan? “Hope for the best?” An isolated Korean dictator is firing missiles in preparation of lobbing the big one at the west coast; Iran, though it isn’t quite ready to test them, is putting together nuclear weapons so it can run with the big dawgs in the Middle East; insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan have painted more targets on the backs of US soldiers than ever; Israel and the PLO are staring at each other through gun sights; an Islamist militia has gained control of Somalia, and that’s only the latest in a string of smaller nations currently on the tipping point; and our relationships with countries around the world has deteriorated so much that we have few allies willing to “play ball” with the U.S. – and Bush’s plan is to “hope for the best”? That’s fucked up! (Makes you question the sanity of ANYONE who wants to follow Bush into the White House in 2008.)
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
We may still be the home of the brave – witness the troops risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan – but we are no longer the land of the free, and now I feel sad when I see pictures of the Liberty Bell accompanied by the slogan, "Let Freedom Ring."
I blame President Bush and his administration of fear-mongers, willing to strike fear of terror in the heart of every American to fulfill his bid for unbridled executive power, for the demise of our civil liberties. We had an attack on 9/11 and yes, many people died. But that did not warrant taking away the very constitutional rights that made us the beacon of liberty in the free world. I also blame the radical right henchman in Congress, like James Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo, as well as xenophobic Americans, who would put a "closed" sign on the Statue of Liberty.
I look to where we are headed. Records of our telephone calls and financial records will be logged into a secret data-mining program. The cop who stops you for a traffic ticket will punch a few keys on his dash-mounted computer and pull up everything from your credit record to your lawsuit against your neighbor. Our e-mails and Google searches will be scrutinized for inappropriate content. "Sneak and peek" search warrants will be used to enter our homes without leaving so much as a piece of paper to let us know law enforcement was there. Maybe they won't take anything and will just turn on your computer and make a copy of your hard drive. Maybe they will leave an unseen device that will record a copy of every keystroke you type.
I never used to be a paranoid person. But our Supreme Court is close to being stacked with right-wing ideologues and Congress keeps stripping judges of their power to serve as a check and balance on a runaway executive branch that operates in unprecedented secrecy and a Congress that wants to treat the Constitution as a rough draft by passing unnecessary and misguided amendments. Today is a day we should be reveling in the greatness of our nation, but instead I fear for the health of our democracy.
Jeralyn Merritt blogs daily at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime
Here are a few of the responses to this blog:
- “I see the military pushing back. I see the Supreme Court pushing back. I see Americans no longer buying Bush's crap. There are good reasons to celebrate today. I will raise a beer to honor the idea of America, and the 67% who see we need to take a new course.”
- “The great nation that once was America is slowly fading away, thanks in large part to this fascist administration. But the blame also falls on a subservient press and a cowardly populace that has decided it would rather be safe than be free. As long as Americans can drive their SUV's, eat their Big Macs and watch their favorite shows on cable, the freedoms they have now and possibly forever given up are a small price to pay. One day they will look back and wonder when it was all taken away from them. The American people have gotten what they deserved...no more, no less. It’s not a Republican or Democratic problem so much as it is an American problem. We have gotten fat and lazy and too self absorbed to worry about our liberties being taken from us. The powers that be have now consolidated their powers to the point that any attempt to roll them back will only be met with the phrase “it’s all about national security." The USA is closer to the old USSR than to the old USA. Shame on us all. Our forefathers would be ashamed of us. And rightfully so.”
- “Bush told America Saddam and the terrorists were threatening our way of life. You know, "they hate us cuz we're free." While America was so preoccupied with the terrorists and Saddam, they didn't notice George at the paper shredder with the Constitution in hand.”
- “I am not celebrating today. I'm staying home. I will not celebrate until freedom comes back to America. It was never a perfect country, but it was never neo-fascist like it is now. It used to be our home, not a corrupt empire. We used to have representatives, not thugs and gangs. Why on earth should I celebrate liberty and freedom when the "free press" right this very minute has been threatened with jail? What freedom is left when all our civil rights are being eroded away and even established law (as Judge Roberts puts it) is in jeopardy? Our tax money is being drained through this black hole called the Dept of Homeland Security, and we cannot dare challenge the King. And we are to celebrate? For one to celebrate a victory over tyranny, doesn't one have to win it first?”
Monday, July 03, 2006
President Bush told the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case that he directed Vice President Dick Cheney to personally lead an effort to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that his administration had misrepresented intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq, according to people familiar with the president's statement.
Bush also told federal prosecutors during his June 24, 2004, interview in the Oval Office that he had directed Cheney, as part of that broader effort, to disclose highly classified intelligence information that would not only defend his administration but also discredit Wilson, the sources said.
But Bush told investigators that he was unaware that Cheney had directed I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, to covertly leak the classified information to the media instead of releasing it to the public after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes.
Bush also said during his interview with prosecutors that he had never directed anyone to disclose the identity of then-covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife. Bush said he had no information that Cheney had disclosed Plame's identity or directed anyone else to do so.
Libby has said that neither the president nor the vice president directed him or other administration officials to disclose Plame's CIA employment to the press. Cheney has also denied having any role in the disclosure.
On October 28, 2005, a federal grand jury indicted Libby on five felony counts of making false statements, perjury, and obstruction of justice, for allegedly concealing his own role, and perhaps that of others, in outing Plame as a covert CIA officer.
One senior government official familiar with the discussions between Bush and Cheney -- but who does not have firsthand knowledge of Bush's interview with prosecutors -- said that Bush told the vice president to "Get it out," or "Let's get this out," regarding information that administration officials believed would rebut Wilson's allegations and would discredit him.
A person with direct knowledge of Bush's interview refused to confirm that Bush used those words, but said that the first official's account was generally consistent with what Bush had told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
Libby, in language strikingly similar to Bush's words, testified to the federal grand jury in the leak case that Cheney had told him to "get all the facts out" that would defend the administration and discredit Wilson. Portions of Libby's grand jury testimony were an exhibit in a recent court filing by Fitzgerald.
LONDON (AFP) - People in Britain view the United States as a vulgar, crime-ridden society obsessed with money and led by an incompetent president whose Iraq policy is failing, according to a newspaper poll.
The United States is no longer a symbol of hope to Britain and the British no longer have confidence in their transatlantic cousins to lead global affairs, according to the poll published in The Daily Telegraph.
- 77% of respondents disagreed with the statement that the U.S. is "a beacon of hope for the world".
- 12% of Britons trust the U.S. to act wisely on the global stage. (This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.)
- 83% of those questioned said that the U.S. doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks.
- 1% consider Bush a "great leader"; 77% deem him a "pretty poor" or "terrible" leader.
- More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination; and 81% of those who took a view said President George W. Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.
- US policy in Iraq was similarly derided, with only 24% saying they felt that the U.S. military action there was helping to bring democracy to the country.
- In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and – in the most overwhelming result (90% of respondents) – dominated by big business.
[Ed.: And this is from one of our strongest allies. May you wonder what the French think of us!]
(1) Transcript from THIS WEEK (07/02/06) between George Stephanopoulos and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA):
STEPHANOPOULOS: The White House said they briefed the Congress on this matter and there is no law called into question. Do you believe that a law is called into question and that this program might have been illegal?(2) NORMAN HOROWITZ: Why talk about a failed war, atrocities in Iraq, Katrina, our humungous debt, energy prices, global warming and such when you can rant and shout about the “un American” NY Times?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I’m on the Intelligence Committee. I can tell you when I was briefed and when the committee was briefed — and that was when it became apparent that the New York Times had the story and was going to run it. And that’s when and why they came to us and briefed us.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you knew nothing about it before the New York Times was asking questions?
FEINSTEIN: That’s correct.
(3) JEFF JARVIS: Thirty-five years ago yesterday, in the Supreme Court ruling that stopped the government from suppressing the secret Vietnam War history called the Pentagon Papers, Justice Hugo Black wrote: "The government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people."
(4) LARRY BEINHART:
But why should we imagine that the Bush administration is more competent in secret than it is in public?
This is the administration that went to war against Afghanistan to catch Osama bin Laden and his protector, Mullah Omar, but didn't get either.
A secondary purpose was to get rid of the Taliban and put in a Western friendly regime. The Taliban is making a comeback and opium production is back with a rush as well. [Ed.: "Western officials in the country have admitted that the country is to produce its largest ever poppy harvest."]
This is the administration that went to war against Iraq because they had WMD.
They claimed that they would rebuild Iraq, that the oil would flow and it would pay for Iraq's reconstruction and even the war itself. They spent forty billions dollars, or
more, half ours and half theirs, and Iraq is in worse physical condition than under Saddam Hussein.
They claimed we would be greeted with open arms, democracy would ensue and we would leave.
This is the administration that came into office with a budget surplus.
This is the administration that sat and watched and did nothing as an entire American city was lost. The promised reconstruction, like the reconstruction of Iraq, has never taken place. It has been spectacular instead for its mismanagement and corruption.
This is the administration that designed a prescription drug program that is incomprehensible and benefits only the pharmaceutical companies.
This is the administration that has created the least effective and least efficient bureaucracy in American history, the Homeland Security Administration.
Let us count how many terrorists have been caught. How many terrorist operations have been interrupted? How many terrorist financial supporters have been caught?
The administration and its supporters will claim – in the name of national security and secrecy – that there are many more than we can be allowed to know about. I expect not. This is an administration that crows the slightest triumph, from "Mission Accomplished," to the "past-Zarqawi era," to the arrest of the pathetic seven al Qaeda wannabees who were more "aspirational than operational."
(5) And, finally, harkening back to the illegal domestic call screening,
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.
The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.
``The Bush Administration asserted this became necessary after 9/11,'' plaintiff's lawyer Carl Mayer said in a telephone interview. ``This undermines that assertion.''