Thursday, March 31, 2005

Point - Worthless Counterpoint

Billmon from Whiskey Bar conducts a very fitting evisceration of the GOP's association with the fringe religous / rapture ready right. While the old phrase, "lay down with dogs, you get fleas", pops immediately into my head for some reason, Billmon discusses the kennel infestation with a bit more thought:

But marriage, as we all know, is a sacred bond, and while some GOP politicos may regard this as a marriage of convenience, the religious right tends to focus on the " 'til death to us part" bit. Without the grassroots muscle of the Christian conservatives, George W. Bush doesn't get elected, not even once, and the Republicans probably don't control the House and Senate. And the more important GOTV becomes (and in a closely divided, media-saturated electorate, it's very important) the more indispensable is the party's alliance with the "End Times Conservatives."

So Danforth and the "mainstream" Republicans can whine all they want about intolerance and sectarian agendas and the need to get back to good old-fashioned conservative economic values. The reality is that the modern GOP and its business paymasters need the religious right the way Terri Schiavo needed her feeding tube.

Much of Billmon's rant is based on a N.Y. Times Op-Ed today by former senator (and U.N. Ambassador and Bush front-man) John Danforth. Danforth is shocked, shocked to find out that the fringe lunatics have squatted in the GOP house, and there's apparently no way to evict them.

Of course, a good GOP footsoldier like Danforth breaking ranks with his leadership could not go unanswered by the Rovians. In fact, I'm willing to bet that Karl was on the phone with Hugh Hewitt moments after the NYTimes early edition hit the newsstands. Had to be. That's the only way Hewitt could crank up his sliming of Danforth in the Weekly Standard so quickly:

So Danforth's essay is really a poorly-camouflaged complaint that his positions on stem-cell research, gay marriage, and Terri Schiavo are not the positions of the Republican party. It is fair for him to try and persuade people to endorse his positions but it is wrong and demagogic to attempt to question the right of people of faith to participate in politics...

Danforth is hardly a liberal wallflower, in fact, he was always one of the creepier, Straussian-neocons in the Senate during his time. So why the attack? What Sen. Danforth has apparently failed to recognize is that you're either with George Bush or against him. There's no middle ground. No room for criticism in the GOP. If you're not on message, you're off the reservation.

John McCain learned the hard way, and his stock has gone from high-flying former presidential candidate (and possible Kerry running mate) to Bush butt boy. John Danforth is about to learn - even in retirement, you don't fuck with the agenda of the boss. The incredible creepy slime machine, from Limbaugh to Hewitt, has now been set in motion to marginalize Danforth as a flaming, gay-loving liberal.

Try a Hartz flea collar next time, Sen. Danforth.

The Circle of Life

Almost every one of us will have to deal with the agonizing life and death decisions that Michael Schiavo has had to confront for the past fifteen years. I want to say that with his wife's passing this morning, he can now move on with his life. But he did what most of us do when confronted with these decisions a long time ago.

We mourn, we move on. Not to sound trite, but it's the circle of life. Life is for the living. We mourn the passing of our loved ones who always leave us too early; we celebrate their lives, and keep their memories alive.

The saddest thing about this whole affair is that the events of the last few weeks will forever taint the happy memories of Terri Schiavo for everyone that loved her.

For that alone, the Randall Terry's of the world should burn in hell.

Rest in peace, Terri. Live in peace, Michael.

Santorum Doesn't Get It

Pennsylvania's Man on Dog in Washington, Rick Santorum, took some time during the Senate's Easter recess to go and grandstand outside the Pinellas Park hospice where all those protesters are. I suppose he wants to connect with his whacko "base." During his visit, which could have been accomplished privately so as not to stir a very contentious controversy, Mr. Santorum talked to the press to excoriate the decisions by dozens of judges. When all of Congress and the President himself have read the polls and, like they were hit with a brick up the side of their heads, discovered they were on the WRONG SIDE of this issue, Rick Santorum keeps blundering along. Frankly, I'm hoping Rick Santorum continues to show that conservatism to him means pandering to the religious right rather than an adherence to constitutional principle.

"We cannot continue to expect that the laws that we pass and the intentions are clear, that are just simply ignored by the judges and have their nose, basically thumb their noses at us," Sen Rick Santorum, (R-Pennsylvania) said Tuesday, demanding that two judges who ignored the Congressional legislation and federal subpoenas issued in the Terri Schiavo case should be held accountable.

What's becoming clear is that conservatives are beginning to be willing to speak about what used to be conservative values, like federalism. Indeed, Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr., who authored opinions upholding a couple of the most conservative decisions in recent history, the Alabama Sex Toy ban and the Florida Gay Adoption Ban, came out yesterday to slam Bush and the Congress on their meddling in the Schiavo case.

Yet, in Wednesday's 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to deny a rehearing to Schiavo's parents, Birch went out of his way to castigate Bush and congressional Republicans for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for governance of a free people - our Constitution."

Birch said he couldn't countenance Congress' attempt to "rob" federal courts of the discretion they're given in the Constitution. Noting that it had become popular among "some members of society, including some members of Congress," to denounce "activist judges," or those who substitute their personal opinions for constitutional imperatives, Birch said lawmakers embarked on their own form of unconstitutional activism.

In the same article constitutional scholar Dave Garrow places Birch firmly in the Scalia/Thomas camp, though I would doubt Scalia and Thomas would be so strictly originalist. They have shown their willingness to pander to the religious right before, after all. Still, the Republicans, including Pennsylvania's Man on Dog in Washington, Rick Santorum, have always said they want judges who rule as Judge Birch has done.

You know, I hate the sound of dogs whining. I think Rick Santorum has been around those dogs too much lately, because his whining is about as shrill as chihuahua faced with a rolled up newspaper.

Amazing Grace

...or, "say AMEN, brother"

Yesterday evening, I was doing some research for my "Talking to the Reptile" series, when I quite by accident ran into an exceptionally relevant sermon on Beliefnet. I urge you to read the entire sermon by Forrest Church, Senior Minister of All Souls Church (Unitarian) in New York City. Not only is it timely, but it takes the evangelical fundamentalists to task on many issues, using the Schiavo debacle as a jumping off point for talking about the "culture of life" that apparently is so near and dear to the fundies.

Here's an excerpt:

...I wish I could add that my compassion--always an elevating sentiment--extends to the politicians who have opportunistically seized upon this family tragedy to trumpet their piety. Jesus warned against public displays of piety. He knew that self-righteous display is the opposite of righteousness before God. Among other things, such displays promote hypocrisy. Today, with respect to our born-again Congress, this hypocrisy is most evident in the ongoing debate over next year's budget. Terri Schiavo's care, and that of others like her, is largely underwritten by Medicaid, even as national funding for health care is being frozen and may soon be slashed.

One can make a moral case against all forms of euthanasia, but to do so responsibly requires a commitment to underwrite the massive costs such a position must entail. As for all the pious political expostulation against starvation, cutting back on food stamps here at home or slicing foreign aid to abate famine abroad rips out untold numbers of feeding tubes. Children daily die in Africa by the hundreds, by the thousands, without fanfare--children not in a vegetative state, who might otherwise have lived a full and active life. While ignoring or rejecting so many other humanitarian pleas, when our legislators take time off from cutting the human services budget to promote a feeding law designed to address the plight of a single human being, they turn President Bush's 'culture of life' mantra into a parody...

I suppose that it's not any surprise to regular ASZ readers that I'm not a church going individual, though I hold my own ersatz spiritual beliefs, as do many of us. And granted, the Unitarian Church is certainly not within the mainstream of organized, holier-than-thou religion. But for Beliefnet to give such a prominent position to a sermon that is clearly miles outside of the mainstream fundamentalism that Beliefnet typically pushes (or at least its core readership espouses) can be termed as one hell of a shift.

Rev. Church hits one out of the park. Has the backlash started?

Update, 9:00AM, 3/31/05 - I'd really like to get some comments from the same "culture of life" fundies who are laying prostrate on the streets of Pinellas Park, Fla. about US Army Capt. Rogelio M. Maynulet. ASZ readers may recall that I blogged about Capt. Maynulet back in September, 2004. He is the Army officer who was caught on camera doing what his defense termed as a "mercy killing" of a wounded, unarmed, Iraqi insurgent.

Yesterday, Capt. Maynulet was convicted of manslaughter, which carries a military prison sentence of up to 10 years. What's maddening is that the same people carrying signs outside of Schiavo's hospice in Florida were (and will be) defending Capt. Maynulet's point blank murder of the Iraqi as a "compassionate response to the suffering" of the wounded man.

The hypocrisy continues apace.

End Game?

Pulled from the comments at AmericaBlog (which at the moment looks like it's been hacked)

From dailykos....

Your rights under fire: No more private domain registration for .US
by jbeach
Wed Mar 30th, 2005 at 17:05:52 PST

I use as my registrar. just minutes ago I received this email:

Today I have the unfortunate responsibility of informing you that there has been a decision made by bureaucrats of a Federal agency that takes away your right to privacy as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. This decision was unilaterally made by the National Telecommunications and Information Association ("NTIA") -- ...

The effect of this decision is to disallow new private domain name registrations on .US domain names. In addition, if you already own a private .US domain name registration, you will be forced to forfeit your privacy no later than January 26, 2006...

This comes after an anarchist website was forced to give up the IP addresses of some of it's posters, and the FEC is looking into restriction of political blogs.

Guess what, people - they're finally attacking the real enemy: the Internet.

The website to petition against this is at

As Bob Parsons, head of, quite eloquently continues: I personally find it ironic that our right to .US privacy was stripped away, without due process, by a federal government agency -- an agency that should be looking out for our individual rights. For the NTIA to choose the .US extension is the ultimate slap in your face. .
US is the only domain name that is specifically intended for Americans (and also those who have a physical presence in our great country). So think about this for a moment. These bureaucrats stripped away the privacy that you're entitled to as an American, on the only domain name that says that you are an American. I am outraged by this -- you should be also.

Except that he should know that it wasn't any bureaucrat who made this decision... 59 million cows are coming home.

Then there is this continuing saga of the little, bitty, tiny people that the BradBlog has been covering:

RNC Political Director Cites Report by RNC 'Voting Rights' Front Group to RNC Email List!

Report from 'American Center for Voting Rights' (ACVR) Used as Political Smokescreen to Deflect from Real 2004 Election Irregularities...

Cynical, Deceptive GOP anti-Election Reform Agenda gets Underway as Baker/Carter Commission Convenes...(And apparently ACVR Knew About it Before Anybody Else! Go Figure!)
The ACVR report was presented by the GOP front group to Congress in a U.S. House Adminstrative Committee hearing on the Election Mess in Ohio. The then-three-day old group, masquerading as a "voting rights" organization, was the only such group called as witnesses in the hearings convened by the committee's Chairman, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH).

As well, the creation of the ACVR seems to be smartly-timed with the creation of a supposedly "bi-partisan" blue-ribbon commission convened to study and recommend solutions for Electoral Problems in 2004. The Commission was seated in secret, announced on Thursday at 2pm, and lauded in a Press Release published by ACVR just 24 minutes later!

The commission, as announced, is set to be co-chaired by James A. Baker, III, the mastermind and architect of the 2000 Bush/Cheney strategy to ensure that votes were not counted in the state of Florida. The other co-chair is former-President Jimmy Carter who led a similar commission with respected elder statesman, former-President Gerald Ford after the 2000 Election debacle led by Baker on behalf of the Bush Family.

The RNC email, sent to believers on Tuesday, described the ACVR report as "document[ing] massive amounts of voter intimidation by Democrats and their third-party allies".

Of course, the report doesn't. Neither does it document the thousands of verified instances of real election fraud, irregularities, intimidation, disenfranchisment, miscounted and uncounted votes that occurred in Ohio and elsewhere in the last general election. Many of the real documented reports of evidence of went actually went wrong last November are contained in a 102-page report submitted to Congress after months of investigation by the minority staff of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

While the media has been feeding the frenzy over whether to pull Terri's feeding tube or not, the Republicans have been working feverishly to stack the voting rights/reform deck. In the last week they have managed to manufacture a "non-profit voting rights" group and have its "leaders" testify before congress as experts. And to top it off James Baker III has been selected to co-chair an election reform panel.

If fair elections matter at all to you it's time to start talking about what is going on and quit pretending that the last 3 elections weren't horribly "flawed" - and quit pretending that "the next time it will be different, if only..."

White Powder

Ok, I'm just going to throw this up here and let the commenting and speculating begin.
State Rep. Habay charged in white powder hoax
A state lawmaker already awaiting trial for alleged ethics violations was charged today with making up a story that he received a suspicious white power in the mail and with retaliating against and harassing constituents who questioned his political finances.

State Rep. Jeffrey E. Habay, 38, a five-term Republican lawmaker from Allegheny County, faces 20 new counts as a result of the latest complaint, including a felony charge of possessing or using a facsimile weapon of mass destruction.

Habay had claimed that he got a letter with suspicious white powder last May from George Radich, a constituent who along with four others had asked for a court audit of Habay's political action committee.

Postal officials determined the powder was harmless, and noted that Radich did nothing to hide the source of the mailing -- he paid for it with a credit card.

"The day that the postal inspectors came here, they were serious," Radich said today. "I'll tell you, I was scared because you're being accused by a powerful Harrisburg politician."

I'll wait while you go finish the article. ... ...

So, what do you think? Just another Republican run amok?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Addressing the National Press Club/Guckert issue

The Agonist seems to have it well in hand, with a letter protesting how the National Press Club action and signed by many of us in the Left Blogzome.

Talking to the Reptile - Pack Your Shit

Prologue - Maslow
Part 1 - The Petition

George Carlin on a bad case of fleas:

...The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles...hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages...And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet...the planet...the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE!

We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet'll be here and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance...

News item, 3/30/05: UN Report: Two-thirds of world's resources "used up":

The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

"Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it says...

Jared Diamond on How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed:

Natural climate changes may make conditions either better or worse for any particular human society, and may benefit one society while hurting another society. (For example, we shall see that the Little Ice Age was bad for the Greenland Norse but good for the Greenland Inuit.) In many historical cases, a society that was depleting its environmental resources could absorb the losses as long as the climate was benign, but was then driven over the brink of collapse when the climate became drier, colder, hotter, wetter, or more variable. Should one then say that the collapse was caused by human environmental impact, or by climate change? Neither of those simple alternatives is correct. Instead, if the society hadn’t already partly depleted its environmental resources, it might have survived the resource depletion caused by climate change. Conversely, it was able to survive its self-inflicted resource depletion until climate change produced further resource depletion. It was neither factor taken alone, but the combination of environmental impact and climate change, that proved fatal.

Santorum Getting Out of Frying Pan?

Todays papers are reporting here and here and here, that the embarrassment for Senator Santorum concerning his sending his kids to Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, which then charged Penn Hills even though Santorum was not a resident of their district, will be worked on through arbitration.

A negotiated settlement would eliminate the need for a public hearing on the high-profile dispute between the Penn Hills School District and the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

Both sides have agreed to work toward resolving the matter without a hearing, department spokeswoman Bethany Yenner said. A state-appointed hearing officer has set a May 9 deadline for the parties to present settlement terms, she said.

Two things. First, why should an issue vital to our picking an honest Senator be decided behind closed doors? And why isn't Santorum involved in this anymore?

No matter. Santorum is still in trouble, at least as evidenced by two recent articles in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that Right-Wing rag that normally would support Santorum or any Republican. No, they're on the attack. On the 26th, the Tribune-Review's Colin McNickle, famous for ambushing Teresa Heinz back in the 2004 Presidential election, was upset by Santorum because he thinks Santorum will let politics trump his principles. Well, duh! That's Santorum's M.O., after all, and he wouldn't be a Republican if he actually had principles he stood by. But this isn't just McNickle quibbling, he uses some pretty biting language (pun intended). On Santorum's "principles" he writes:

...And to him homosexual marriage is an abomination that will open the door to legally sanctioned man-canine matrimony, right? Woof-woof.

So it's not just the progressives making fun of Rick "man on dog" Santorum anymore.

McNickle isn't isolated at the Tribune-Review. They're actually posting letters to the editor criticising Santorum on his voting record and the school issue here, and a Republican letter-writer skewers Santorum in the Tribune-Review over betraying principles here.

Could it be that Rick Santorum is losing his base? I wouldn't count on that yet, but the Tribune-Review criticising Rick Santorum is welcome news, even on a day when we see signs that his education fiasco with the Penn Hills School District my be settled behind closed doors.

Sign the Petition

Or we shoot the pooch. We've got a blog and we're not afraid to use it. Click here, dammit.

5000 signatures needed. We're 4,996 short right now. Help us out, eh?

America's Christian Terrorists, Meet Al Qaeda

Surely nobody here will be surprised that the Aryan Nations folks (we wrote about them at the beginning of this month), who clearly identify themselves as Christians, and whose leaders all claim to be Pastors of their Church, have made some noises about joining up with Al Qaeda. The Church of Jesus Christ Christian has kicked these fellows out (I won't link to Neo-Nazi sites, so please take my word for it), but they've formed their own church, The Tabernacle of the Phinehas Priesthood. It is clear they consider themselves part of the Christian Identity movement still, yet one more name for terrorist in my view. Yes, our own American Christian terrorists are trying to join up with Al Qaeda, according to CNN.

Not a peep from the usual suspects among the American Right-Wing Christian Clerics. Dobson, Sheldon, Falwell, Robertson? Nope, I'm not hearing one of them denounce these Americans who plot terrorism in the name of Jesus. Evidently Dobson, Sheldon et. al think gays are far more of a threat than those American terorists. Further, even with stiffer anti-terrorism laws, these guys aren't being harrassed by our own security forces. Evidently Homeland Security thinks these babies are more of a threat.

And I am left wondering why groups like Aryan Nations and the Christian Identity movement are given a pass by the Religious Right. I do not claim they are connected, but I wonder, given the evil they represent, why Dobson, Sheldon, et. al. do not work at least a little to warn the public against these groups.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Mile in My Moccasins

Or a Mile in Yours, or Anybody Else's...

"Every picture has its shadows
And it has some source of light
Blindness blindness and sight
The perils of benefactors
The blessings of parasites
Blindness blindness and sight
Threatened by all things
Devil of cruelty
Drawn to all things
Devil of delight
Mythical devil of the ever-present laws
Governing blindness blindness and sight"
(The Lady Joni... Shadows and Light)

I have nothing pithy to say to you tonight. I have some links gathered over the course of the day. Just some things to remind you that none of us can stay hunkered-down on our overlooks for very long... 'cos it all catches up to us. Oh, and I hear that Johnny Cochran'll have to look that one up yourselves. Here's what I foraged and stored:

Krugman, What's Going On?

Red Lake Shooting Arrests

US Preparing for Military Dictatorship

Loss Prevention and the FBI

Opus Dei and the Sec. of Education

Robert Fisk:Religious Martyrs

And John Lennon:

"As soon as you're born they make you feel small,
By giving you no time instead of it all,
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school,
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool,
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years,
Then they expect you to pick a career,
When you can't really function you're so full of fear,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see,
A working class hero is something to be,
A working class hero is something to be.

There's room at the top they are telling you still,
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
A working class hero is something to be.
A working class hero is something to be.

If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
If you want to be a hero well just follow me."

NEWS from Blondesense!

New T-Shirt design! I bet these sell like hotcakes. Unfortunately, there's a problem the Bush Administration has with T-Shirts, at least according to Attytood. Will links to this article at the Denver Post, where it is revealed that the Bush campaign strategy of restricting of audiences only to the faithful is being extended to taxpayer funded Social Security Bamboozlepalooza events.

The same moment the Bush Administration crows about freedom in Iraq they pull these cheap stunts. Soon they will have weeded out so much of their audiences that they'll have to have the rallies at the National Press Club with an audience entirely made up of male hookers. It appears the National Press Club is willing to provide the venue. The quality of the prostitutes is yours to figure out.

Yo, Spin'ster, do you remember giving me that T-Shirt many, many moons ago? I believe it said "Lick Bush in '88." DAMN I'm OLD!

Making Money Off of Terri Schiavo

Some of you may know a bit more about privacy in the fundraising business. I know that I've never worked for a nonprofit that sold its lists of donors. We felt we had a responsibility to those who supported us to keep their history of support private.

Well it sure ain't the case with the fundraising folks on the right, and that includes some heavy hitters literally related to Lou Sheldon, of the Family Values Coalition.

The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

. . .

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

"I think it's amusing," said Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. "I think it's absolutely classic America. Everything is for sale in America, every type of personal information."

What do you bet that direct mail they are using to raise funds doesn't go into the pockets of the Schindlers to help pay legal expenses, but lines the pockets of Randall Terry and the like?

It is all about filthy lucre, folks. And those gullible enough to send in cash to the Schindlers are now going into mass-marketing/fundraising HELL!

Talking to the Reptile - The Petition

I think most of us can agree that of all issues confronting us at a both a macro and micro level, energy issues lead the way. Whether it's filling up the tank of your Hummer at $2.50 / gallon, or turning the thermostat down to 60 degrees because you just can't afford those $300 per month heating bills anymore, energy issues are affecting everyone's pocket book.

Even more importantly, energy issues are completely and totally driving Bush administration policies, both foreign and domestic. Have been, since day one. As much bitching as BushCo did on developing a rational energy plan for the nation, they still haven't articulated anything that actually makes sense from a national security standpoint. The U.S. is much more vulnerable today to the vagaries of the energy marketplace than it was when George W. Bush took office in 2001. And that vulnerability is clearly a national security issue. Bush administration energy policy can be summed up in the old Frito-Lay ad pitch: "Consume all the energy you want, we'll make more!"

(Or more accurately, "...we'll go on an imperial conquest for more".)

The energy shackles that economically bind and constrict every one of us don't need to do so. What drives me absolutely batshit is that the Bush administration has made the U.S. so economically and politically insecure because of its allegience to the century-old Rockefeller Standard Oil cabal. In raw terms of national defense security, and the personal economic security of each of us, we're much worse off in 2005 than we were in 2000.

There's a variety of components to a sane national energy strategy. Personal energy consumption accounts for a vast majority of the increasing demand for energy, regardless of the form the consumption takes (gas for the car, electricity for the lights, or natural gas / propane / oil for the furnace).

I'll go into specific personal strategies in a future post, but for now, I'd like to ask everyone to take one small step with me. ASZ has created an online petition targeted at Rep. Rick Boucher, D-VA, who is the ranking minority member of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. The petition addresses a pet peeve of mine going back many years - the lack of federal tax credits for individuals to purchase alternative / renewable energy products and systems to serve their homes. Alternative energy technologies certainly exist that would, if implemented on a large scale, one house at a time, dramatically impact national energy consumption. The technology is becoming more affordable, but for most of us is simply not yet an option from a personal economics standpoint. Tax credits would put such technology within the financial reach of many more people, and have the added benefit of significantly increasing employment in the renewable energies field. It seems win-win to me.

But it's not win-win for the big energy companies. Throwing off the energy shackles means you don't send in your budget payment to Gigundo Gas or Mongo PowerCo every month. The power, gas, and oil lobbies are extremely powerful (no pun intended) and will try to beat back every attempt at offering consumers a way to throw off the shackles. As long as they can meet demand-driven supply requirements, there's no incentive for them to either be competitive or offer alternatives themselves. And that is a national security issue of the first order, particularly when so much fossil fuel has to be imported into the country.

So, your first progressive Maslow / Cranium action point: sign the specifically targeted Consumer Renewable Energy Tax Credits petition. There are several alternative energy bills currently pending in congress (click the link, and enter "energy" as the search term). These type of bills come up every year, typically receive very little public notice, and either die in committee or quietly on the House floor - because there is little or no public interest. When you sign the petition, you'll also receive an email that allows you to forward the petition to others on your personal email list.

Let's do a little viral marketing. Promote this petition as a national and personal security issue to your own contacts, and on other blogs where you participate. I set an aggressive goal of 5000 signatures. It should be easy to obtain at least that many signatures if we work together.

That's one small step in throwing off the energy shackles...more to come shortly.

Drinking Liberally

I haven't been in a month and boy am I thirsty! For those of you in Philly, the place to be tonight for Happy Hour is Ten Stone, at 21st and South Streets. Last time I was there the tables were full and the conversation was heady. I'm hoping the same tonight. Who else is attending? Heck if I know, though I ran across eligere @ Noblesse Oblog last week and understand she will be putting in an appearance.

I hope to be there from 6-7:30 or so, then it is off to meet the fiancee and maybe some tanning. Vanity tanning? No, I am just averse to sunburn, and we're headed out next week for a week in the sun. I'd like to enjoy without worrying about a burn, so the tanning is in preparation.

Hope to see some of you at Drinking Liberally this week. I'll be the one with the very gray hair.

Talking to the Reptile

We all gnash our teeth and whine and wonder how the GOP and the evil spinmasters such as Karl Rove and Frank Luntz get away with snookering the 'murican public on a daily basis. Much more importantly, we progressives bang our heads on brick walls and continue to be befuddled as to why policies that are clearly anti-family and anti-individual continue to be pushed and prodded through the halls of congress, aided and abetted by the tacit support of Joe and Joetta Trailerpark. There's actually a very easy answer. And in that answer lies the solution to effectively communicating a progressive message.

Mark Sumner at TwoTaboos wrote a great posting that didn't get a lot of play in Left Blogistan, but which really does an effective job of analyzing the root of the problem and offering a framework for countering the current idiocy that seems to envelope the country. Here's how Sumner frames the situation:

There's been a lot of talk about getting our message across effectively. In short: we don't. We rail against the media (which deserves it) and against our own politicians (who also deserve it), for being such ineffectual purveyors of our ideas. Fencing, framing, or plain old propaganda, the right seems to have done a much better job at turning their message into terms that resonate with the public.

There's also been a lot of talk along the "what's the matter with Kansas" vein -- head scratching about why people vote against what seems to be their own self interest. Poor people continually vote to give their money to the rich. They turn on the system that's lifted them up for a century as if its the cause of their troubles.

At the same time, we think the right is ... well, stupid. It's painfully frustrating. How can Bush babble such idiocy, and still get the rabid support of the very people he's hurting most? Truth is, the right wing message is stupid. Literally. And that's exactly why it works...

Sumner then effectively diagnoses why the babbling and pandering to the lowest common denominator works, using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. (Note: the TwoTaboo's posting has a graphic of the hierarchy; I like this one, updated in the 1990's, much better in terms of explaining Maslow's theories as they apply to today's political situation.) In short summary, the GOP and their spinmasters have been much more effective at communicating with the reptile in each of us, addressing our basic human needs, than have progressives, who tend to target the rational being in each of us.

Okay, so the problem has been identified. How do we take this knowledge and do something with it? Sumner suggests:

So how do we win? How can we win, when the Republicans are camped out on the brain stem?

We win by going lower. By that, I don't mean fighting dirtier -- though I'm more than willing to sling sewage with the worst of them, and we'll probably be required to swim through an ocean of manure before this is over. When I saw lower, I mean we win by convincing people that Republicans are not only not delivering on their promises of safety, they're actually a threat to those things at the bottom of the pyramid.

Ever wonder why Republicans spend even more time trying to make "environmentalist" a dirty word than they do "liberal?" Why "tree-hugger" is one of the first jabs at anyone who so much as dares to question their policies? Because they are scared, scared to death, that people might actually pay attention to these issues. It's the environment stupid. That's where we have to fight if we hope to win. Convince people that Republicans are a threat to having safe food to eat. They're a threat to having clean water to drink. Republicans are a threat to the very air you breath.

Back during the past election cycle, I opined that I didn't think Democrats were doing enough to make the Bush administration's gutting of the clean air act an issue. One of the more critical components of this gutting was the increase (or "tradeoff" of credits) of mercury emissions in fossil fuel power generation. What a great campaign issue! Who in their right reptilian brains would support increased heavy metal contamination in their water, their food chain, their air, and their children's bloodstream? Apparently, at least 51% of 'muricans. And you know why? Because neither the GOP or Democrats made an issue of it in a health framework - the lowest tier of the Maslow pyramid - the GOP by design, the Democrats by (apparently) omission. A self-preservation issue, and it was never discussed. Why?

Because Democrats were trying to appeal to the "rational being". Knowledge. Aesthetics. Well, we learned something -- most people don't want to learn. They want to be led and presented with the illusion of safety. That's why BushCo has been so exceptionally effective at using the events of 9/11 as subterfuge for a decidedly anti-family, anti-individual agenda. And the only way to take back the message is to communicate, as Mark Sumner suggests, at the lower level of the Maslow pyramid.

Beginning today, I'm going to be modifying my own approach in presenting strategies for progressives to work with, both for individual consumption and when working in groups. The first issue I'm going to tackle is energy - and I'm not going to discuss policy, at least per se. I want to frame the discussion in terms of how it affects the physical safety of and environmental impact to you, your loved ones, and everyone around you. We need action points that address both our physical and economic well being (and the intersection of those "well beings"), and that's where we'll start.

The bitching is done. The Schiavo (and other circus distractions) blogging is over for me.

So, who else is in?

National Press Club Goes Down

If there were any doubts that the Press were a bunch of whores this should put that notion to rest:

The National Press Club Welcomes ... Jeff Gannon?
Yes, the same day that the prestigious Washington, D.C., journalism organization plans to present a lunch talk by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, it will also allow the former White House reporter/sex site operator to be on a panel discussing bloggers and online journalism.

John at Americablog has the rest.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I'm Almost Ready to Say DeLay is Going Down

Look, the weasel isn't called "The Hammer" for nothing. I haven't come out yet during this long winter of unethical revelations to claim Tom DeLay is going down. Even the Schiavo embarrassments he's perpetrated have not caused me to do so. But now, with Rawstory's reports of the Wall Street Journal's latest, and then some pretty strong denunciations in the comments on a Southern Republican website, I'm getting awfully close to thinking Tom DeLay has little time left.

Of course, that Press Conference by God yesterday was pretty impressive, wasn't it? DeLay's got to be smarting after that!

I wonder what God meant by "or else?"

The Log in Randall Terry's Eye

His son Jamiel is gay. On Media Matters we can also find that he raises money from the Pro-Life movement in order to afford a big home, that he declared bankruptcy to get out of the payments to Planned Parenthood due to lawsuits, etc. Most important to me is that Randall Terry has a gay son at the same time he rails against gays. Yes, this is the true face of the supposed "culture of Life," that men like Randall Terry will publicly turn against their own kids while professing to fight for life. Well, it seems to me he did so here in an article at Beliefnet, an article artfully written to appeal to the fundies while betraying his son at the same time.

But is Randall Terry anything except about making money for himself through gullible Christians? I can't see it. Here at his web site there's a link to "contributions" and also to his "bookstore." Then there's the organization he fronts, The Society for Truth and Justice, which is also plastered all over with money-making schemes.

Yup, there's a whole lotta filthy lucre going on, not just attacks on his own son, Jamiel Terry. Jamiel deserves to be heard. And you can read his story excerpted and reprinted from Out magazine here, as well as an interview for Beliefnet here. I am moved by the interview, where Jamiel, with every motive to betray and paint his father as the despicable man he is, calmly paints Randall Terry as a good, if misguided, father.

And I can only say Randall Terry does not deserve such a good son.


Hey, it's great to be back to reality. It'll take me a few hours to get back into full metal snark mode, but in case you need a good laugh to make your Monday more palatable:

U.S. News and World Report - Extreme makeover, congressional style:

The changes have been gradual, but the effect is undeniable. Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum is working to reinvent himself as he gears up for what will be a tough 2006 re-election battle. Santorum, for a long time the Senate's most strident antiabortion advocate, was notably not the face of the GOP in the Terri Schiavo debate. And GOP sources are peddling an analysis of his recent votes that shows him to be the 'least conservative' GOP Senate leader...

Heh. Where has U.S. News and World Report been? They must have missed this and this and this, among others. In fact, a search of google news on 'santorum' and 'schiavo' yields 822 results.

It's a bit soon for revisionist history and political makeovers as a result of recent polls.

Who are those Protesters?

One of the most cogent comments I've heard during the Schiavo controversy is from a woman who is a veteran on the Pro-Choice issue. She notes that this issue is akin to that issue, in that the whole group out their protesting would deny women any decisions regarding their bodies. Well, that's an easy concept to understand with the prominence of Randall Terry in Pinellas Park, but, as seen on DKos, Steve Gilliard and Jesus' General, it seems like even some of the protesters are virulently anti-women.

Remember young Joshua Heldreth, pictures at the right there with his Dad Scott, and how young Joshua made all the papers with pictures of him getting arrested? Well, there's an article out there that urges us to believe young Joshua begged his Dad to take him to help rescue Terri Schiavo. The conceit of the Heldreth testimony is that the innocent young boy was the one concerned about Terri Schiavo, not his father, a veteran of Operation Rescue protests and also the Florida Sex Offender List and the Illinois Sex Offender list, from which he is a fugitive. On the Florida list Scott Heldreth is listed with TWO rapes. He's not merely a guy who has been arrested numrous times while protesting with Operation Rescue.

I'm willing to go a bit out on a limb here. While there may be real spiritual reasons for one to be against abortion, and even against abortion rights, Operation Rescue in their actions have shown themselves over the years to hound women who are trying to exercise their legal rights. While I had always assumed these folks practiced more virulent formsa of abuse against women and their rights, I suppose it surprises me that one of them turns out to be a rapist.

Seems like a family with little respect for the law to me. It's all for the Lord, at least on
Scott Heldreth cried when he saw his son arrested. Ordinarily those would be tears of sorrow for a father watching his son being handcuffed. But Scott's tears were tears of joy because Joshua, in attempting to bring water to Terri Schiavo, had taken to heart the mandate in Matthew 25:35-36. “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.“

Such a sweet emotional scene, yet I've read Scott Heldreth's conversion testimony, now available only in the google cache. Here's a guy put away for a couple years for rape and he glosses the crime over, almost as if it was someone else's fault. I suppose now he thinks he's helping other victims.

At the core of these protests is a violence far worse than anything happening to Terri Schiavo. Yes, they're teaching that violence to their children.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A View of the Holy War From Floriduh

I haven't had the time to get over to Blondesense and get Patricia's take on it, but the Orlando Sentinel has an excellent piece today on the local reaction to the circus in the neighborhood of the facility where Terri Schiavo's being cared for. Her parents have brought the holy war to a quiet community. And now they're counselling the warriors to go home.

Fat chance that. They started the war and they don't know how to turn it off now.

The warriors are intent on staging a stand.

That's the view from an internet kiosk in Fla.

How Tom DeLay Handled it

Linked at Atrios is an article about how Tom DeLay and his family handled a tragedy in the family somewhat similar to the Schiavo family's tragedy. Certainly it appears everyone in his family agreed on the course of action when it came to his father. Thankfully they weren't interfered with in such a solemn and difficult decision.

Billmon is a bit more caustic when he considers the issues, though he doesn't dwell on Mr. Delay. . . much. Delay's words certainly seem over-the-top considering he helped make a decision similar to Michael Schiavo's.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Oddity: Jeb Bush Tried to Kidnap Terry Schiavo?

This story is fascinating in what it suggests, that Jeb Bush actually did order his police to go in and kidnap Terri Schiavo and the only thing stopping him was the Sheriff and other police in Pinellas Park who were committed to obeying Judge Greer's order.

You know, if he'd had the stones, Jeb would have caused a constitutional crisis where policemen were shooting at each other.

Many thanks to Patriotboy, who is the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Well, that's what I heard! Come on, you don't believe me?

Another Day... Paradise ... The Happy Planet

This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends...

See Steve Gilliard's piece: This business will get out of control.. It's already out of control of course... Steve. And I can't help but think that the reptiles in DC are scrambling for ways to make it work for them in any way they can. There was already the guy with the boxcutter robbing the gun store, and the stand-off between local and state cops... and now there's the guy caught soliciting assassinations.

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

T.S. Eliot, 'The Hollow Men'

Some of us have known what's coming and what is for a long time, but...

"We are the hollow men.
We are the stuffed men."

See the edge... admire the edge.

Update: Fans Helping Fans

This is the Mirolli family, helped by Fans Helping Fans with a check that enables them to take care of little Luke, there in the middle. They are Eagles fans, as you can tell. Fans Helping Fans is a grassroots charity organized on the internet and devoted to helping out other Eagles fans in emergency need.

That's the twins Leah and Logan up front, and older brother Leo is in back there, a boy completely devoted to taking care of his little brother Luke. (I swear Leo is a Stepford child, he's so helpful to Mom Kelly and Dad Leo there at the side of the picture, that you forget the kid is a teenager.)

I'll be writing a full report on the day over at Philly Future later in the day. Just a selfish comment for now. It was a wonderful time giving them the check yesterday, playing around with Logan and Leah until my back was sore from the piggyback rides. Oh, they think I did it to get the kids out of their hair for a few moments, but I was charmed by them.

Yeah, this is the culture of life, and it happens every day in this country. It's just normal folks helping each other. And it is as rewarding as anything I can imagine.

Friday Night Fright

Pulled shamelessly from Democratic Underground

It's Friday night and it's high time we had a laugh, it's been a loooooog week with longer weeks ahead. In one of the comment threads below, regular commenter and lyric meister Jeff asked for porn. (I think he's having Gannon-Gate withdrawals) Remember Jeff you asked for it.


"Why is Bush so hostile to the idea of gay marriage? Perhaps because until 1987, George W. Bush was gay. According to a group of 29 Yale classmates who comprise Gay Ivy Leaguers for Truth, Bush was "known to be at least sexually experimental throughout his time in college." One of Bush's alleged former boyfriends, Anthony Berusca (class of '70), told The Dallas Morning News that Bush was "deeply conflicted about being gay, even somewhat self-hating." Berusca is convinced that this conflict led to Bush's drinking problems, but describes the President as a "gentle, caring lover". In 1986, the Bush family arranged for George to join Worthy Creations, a church group in El Paso that focuses on converting homosexuals through faith. A year later, Bush claimed to be straight, born again, and engaged to Laura Welch (Kitty Kelly in THE FAMILY wrote that Bush's twin daughters were not his offspring, but from a donor at a fertility clinic). Bush at all-male Phillips Academy in Andover , Massachusetts was "head" cheerleader. Drama club and cheerleading are where the gay boys hang out. George earned the nickname Lips Bush for his skill at giving blow jobs to his fraternity buddies, according to Kitty Kelley. Bush has gay-style excrement nick names for the people he hangs out with: "Turdblossom" term for Karl Rove Note the classic juxtaposition of the obscene with the feminine to come up with a nickname for a gay man. For example, the late David Lewis went under the name Sally Suckemsilly. "Bulldog" term for both Victor Ashe and Jeff Gannon aka Jim Gluckert "Pooty Poot" term for Vladimir Putin, Russian President. "Mr. Big O" term for lispy treasury secretary Paul O'Neill."
—Roedy Green, The Wit and Wisdom of George Bush

Ok, so here's the deal, this is a "Who has Dubya Nicknamed Contest", consider it your weekend Easter Egg hunt.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Election Reform Ramblings

If you haven't been to the BradBlog in a while you're missing out on some interesting stuff. The latest thing Brad has uncovered is a newly formed "non-partisan" voting rights advocacy group. The Orwellianly named group, American Center for Voting Rights, is actually a front for more GOP/Bush-Cheney inspired evil. After being outted as being high-level GOP operatives they did respond, well sort of. But the congressional committee wasn't informed during testimony of the Bush/Cheney '04 connections:
Monday's testimony to a U.S. House Committee by Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, the leader of the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) -- who also happens to be the National Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04, Inc. -- has just been added to the website of the "non-partisan", tax-exempt, one-week old "Voting Rights" group.

In his testimony, Hearne failed to mention to the U.S. House members, either his connection to Bush/Cheney or his long roots in the Republican party going back to the Reagan Administration. The testimony was given last Monday to the U.S. House Administration Committee at hearings held on the Ohio Election problems. The hearings to which Hearne was invited were held just 3 business days after the ACVR suddenly appeared for the first time on the Internet...or anywhere else that we've been able to find. More on that here.

Some intrepid BradBlog reader did a little research and found the headquarters of ACVR.

Little, bitty, tiny people work here.

Brad's got more on this group, and the latest on Blackwell. Go visit him and pitch into his donation jar, he's been doing some good work.

Other news on the voting reform front, Jimmy Carter to Chair Election Reform Commission

This is a mixed bag, guess who's co-chair - James Baker.

Ok, time for the Divestiture for Democracy plug, go send a letter to the voting companies and tell them to comply or die.

Some of you may know that Rep. Conyers has his own blog and a few may have visited, he's got a new feature - he's turned the comments on, and he wants your input on election reform.

Imagine that a representative of the people who actually wants to hear from the people.

See, there is hope and truth can prevail.

Bush's New Social Security Proposal

I need to read it over completely, and I'm only seeing it in this one news source, but it appears that Bush will have trouble pushing this one through. Still, it might help solve a couple problems, mightn't it, especially if the fundies become so enamored of his proposal that they sign up in droves?

The proposal is here.

Is This the "Culture of Life?"

Yeah, a man in Florida, Michael W. Mitchell, who'd come all the way from Rockford, Illinois to protest outside the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri Schiavo is being cared for, tried to steal a gun in order to "save" her.

His weapon in the violent burglary at Randall's Firearms? A BOXCUTTER!

No, you just can't make this stuff up. Thanks again to the Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch, the writer behind the Attyood blog, which is fast becoming a force in the blogzome.

It's Okay To Say "I Told You So"

Really, it is.

And it's one of the powerful ways to affirm your connection to reality on the Happy Planet. It's not snotty or sassy as my mom used to say. It's not being a smarty-pants. She liked to say that too. Dad would have said it was just "getting too big for my britches". At the well-ripened age of 52 I stand before you to say they were flat out wrong. Not their fault, I suppose. They were trained to think that way, parent that way, but that particular nifty generational transmission thing failed with me, and I'm daily damned grateful about it... albeit frequently disquiet. I like that word. I'll say it again. Disquiet.

One of many cases toward my point... about the old Bush Dynasty friend, Melvin Sembler, the now US Ambassador to Italy. You remember Italy, yes? Aren't they among the "coalition"? Didn't he have to be confirmed by the US Senate for that little job? I don't recall the US media talking about good old Melvin's history. In fact I don't recall them talking about Melvin at all. But it's one of those reality-testing things we all might find ourselves doing on our journey to the kingdom of the sublimely absurd and futile. So go on now. Read it: His Own Private Abu Ghraib (By John Gorenfeld). I'll give you a few minutes. Take your time ...

Enjoy? I thought you might, in an absurd sort of way. I know I did, and I'm also liking being able to say loudly and proudly that I've been warning people about ShrubCo, and the Bush Dynasty for many years. It's felt a lot like screaming into the vacuum of deep space all along, but now I realize that the person who needed to hear me screaming was ME. As I said at the top, it is a powerful way to confirm one's grip on reality. Say it loud and proud: I told you so!

And speaking of that long, hard road on the journey to the kingdom of the sublimely absurd and futile, the man who brought Richard and I together, our barkeep, Billmon, has stepped out from behind Photoshop and timely quotations (and by describing it so, I'm not criticizing or minimizing ... just noticing, Barkeep) to say more about his own journey to Now Now Now. I think you might like it as much as I did. My Back Pages

Say it loud and proud: I told you so!
Got sunglasses? ;-)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What's Up With Florida?

That's what I want to know. What the hell is WRONG with Florida? Too much orange juice? Too much sunshine? One Bush too many, or what?

We've all heard or read the stories of cops using tasers on students, I wrote about it here. Just don't try tasing your own child, it will get you arrested for felony child abuse. At least this 5 year old girl got off easy, she wasn't tased, but was handcuffed, shackled, put in the back of a police cruiser and arrested, for throwing a tantrum.

Besides the Schiavo sideshow and the kid tasing cops the Florida lawmakers are stepping up to the plate with their own piece of zeal aimed at "empowering" university students to sue their “dictator professors” for foisting their “leftist totalitarianism” on them.
Capitol bill aims to control ‘leftist’ profs


TALLAHASSEE — Republicans on the House Choice and Innovation Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to stamp out “leftist totalitarianism” by “dictator professors” in the classrooms of Florida’s universities.

The Academic Freedom Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, passed 8-to-2 despite strenuous objections from the only two Democrats on the committee.

The bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House.

While promoting the bill Tuesday, Baxley said a university education should be more than “one biased view by the professor, who as a dictator controls the classroom,” as part of “a misuse of their platform to indoctrinate the next generation with their own views.”

The bill sets a statewide standard that students cannot be punished for professing beliefs with which their professors disagree. Professors would also be advised to teach alternative “serious academic theories” that may disagree with their personal views.

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Well FUCK! I know it's not just Florida that has gone 'round the bend, there's a good part of the people in this country that are barking up the theocracy tree, and are allowing and enabling the schools to be turned into theocratic re-education camps instead of education centers.

"Life" Protesters: Truly Brainwashed? Or True Believers?

I don't begin to know the answert to that question. This is not to say I cannot understand concern for life, even in its extremist forms. Sometimes, led by such as Randall Terry, concern for "life" can go off the deep end whereby you can actually see just contradictions dripping off. I've seen protests outside abortion clinics where protesters scream and vilify a woman, clearly eight months pregnant, who is there for her check-up. Yeah, that's just dripping with irony and contradiction.

Of course these folks are not silenced by anyone. And the "life" position has not been silenced. In virtually every report they repeat lies about the case and are not challenged about those lies. The forces of life have a string of talking points about Michael Schiavo, for instance, that begins with charges of abuse that supposedly led to her heart attack and condition. (Articles about the protests can be found here and here.)

Some of the protests are just silly:
Fourteen-year-old Josie Keys and her two young brothers knelt before a row of sheriff's deputies, cradling cups of water they hoped to give to Terri Schiavo.

They were among 10 protesters arrested yesterday for trespassing on the grounds of Woodside Hospice, which has become a place of religious pilgrimage since the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube was removed under court order last Friday.

I've got no problem with kids at protests, and have taken my seven year old nephew to a pro-choice march back in the early nineties. I guess I do have a problem with coaching your kids to be arrested, though. Call me old-fashioned in that way. And I have a problem with letting your children think they could save this woman with a glass of water. Beyond the fact that Terri Schiavo has fluid for a brain and only God can save her, a glass of water would drown her. The actions they pantomine are in one sense those of death.

For the most part this is an open thread, as I'm busy a good bit today. But I hope for some insightful commentary about these protesters and what they must be thinking. Of course, this is an ASZ crowd, so I'll get an earful, for sure.

Oh, and mad props to my friend Ronnie Polaneczky in the Philadelphia Daily News for her article yesterday. And to the Daily News as a whole, a tabloid that has for the most part resisted the urge to put Terri Schiavo on the front cover day in and day out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Blue Moon. . . .

A China paper is reporting that 700 Taiwanese children are gathering together to protest the recent anti-secession legislation. They will be dropping their drawers and mooning towards China across the straights of Formosa.

Perhaps we should institute this sort of thing for the United Nations. Surely there is a chance it might work to bring about world peace. And wouldn't it be fun?

I guess i must thank a couple who found this first. PSoTD is the first, and also thanks to Recess Time, which is a funny little blog. Yes, i think i've found another blogger in Cookie Christine of Recess Time who I might read regularly.

We Made the News AND the Blogzome!

Many of you will recognize the logo if you've been around here a while. I'm on the Board of this small charity, and I've plugged us before. We're a bunch of Eagles fans who got together to rasie money to help Eagles Fans in need. I serve by guiding us on fundraising and PR.

This is a bit odd. ASZ is mentioned all the time on, but this is the first time they mentioned Fans Helping Fans. And amazingly, they caught some press out in the middle of the state that we hadn't caught as yet. (I thought they were waiting until Friday evening.)

At any rate, the articles both spell out this grant we're giving, but they don't show the heartbreaking pictures of little Luke. He's about a year old and sweet and cute and in need of dramatic help in order to breathe. I think I'm right to be proud that we're able to help his family rewire their house in order to allow them to bring him home.

That's the culture of life at work.

How's Your "Culture of Life"?

With all the screeching about the "Culture of Life", you'd think the talibanshees would take a good hard look at the "Culture of Life" training that the military is receiving and passing on to the people it encounters. Or is "Culture of Life" a convenient catch-phrase, a "hook" designed for maximum primal emotional response? Sure, it sounds good, it's easy to say - Culture of Life - but what does it mean? And what do the invokers of "Culture of Life" mean when they utter those words? Do they mean anything at all?

Sean Baker had some training in the military's "Culture of Life" for the prisioners at Guantanamo Bay.
On Wednesday, ABC News interviewed Sean Baker, a former US Army Specialist First Class, who was nearly killed by his fellow soldiers during a training exercise at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp. The interview conducted by Brian Ross presented a chilling real-time counterpoint to Bush administration denials that it routinely ordered the torturing of prisoners. It revealed instead a compelling picture of training in the kinds of systematic violence and abuse being meted out to prisoners both at Guantanamo and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The "Culture of Life" training, Bush administration style, for prisioners at Guantanamo led to near death and brain-damage for SFC Baker. This story started surfacing last fall and 60 Minutes II interviewed and ran a story on SFC Baker. Lisa Rein's Radar has links to the video of that program. Something you've got to remember, they stopped beating him after they found out he was a fellow soldier - do you think the beating would have stopped if he had been a real prisoner?

So, why am I writing about something that's sooo last fall? Well, because last fall's story was just the beginning, and the story continues.

Lawyer: 500 hours of Guantanamo Bay inmate abuse was videotaped
Mr Kenny said the US military videotaped the actions of the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) who were responsible for prisoner control at Guantanamo Bay. He said evidence of the violence used by the IRF came to light when a member of the US military, whom he identified as Specialist Baker, applied for a medical discharge after being involved in a training session.

“He was dressed in an orange jump suit and the IRFing squad was instructed that he was a detainee who had abused a guard and was to be moved to another cell.

“What happened to him only came to light in Specialist Baker’s later hearing for a medical discharge from the military for the brain damage he suffered in the beating he received at the hands of that trainee squad.”

During the "investigations" into the torture at Abu Ghraib Rumsfeld blamed the cameras and the amature "photographers" who took the pictures for the abuse that was taking place, or at least for shedding light on the practice of abuse, humiliation and torture that was the "Culture of Life" for the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. All the work of a "few bad apples" Rumsfeld proclaimed. Now we have 500 hours of video taped humiliation, beatings and torture at Guantanamo Bay that are coming to light and a soldier who's life will forever be changed due to brain-damage he sustained while undergoing "Culture of Life" training at Gitmo.

While we're busy spreading the democracy and "Culture of Life" around, remind me again how many of these detainees have been charged with any offense? How many have had access to due process?

Santorum Pulls a Bart Simpson on Republican Schiavo Memo

"I didn't do it! Nobody saw me do it! You can't prove anything!"

Yeah, that's the face of personal responsibility of Republicans, but not as funny. They plot to make Terri Schiavo a political football, then they get caught. But the polling comes out against politicians using Terri Schiavo as a political wedge issue, so what does the second-ranking Republican in the Senate do? He denies he's ever seen the memo dug up by ABC, the Washington Post, etc.

Does Santorum deny the memo to ABC? No. He's not man enough. Does any Republican leader deny the memo to any major news outlet? No. They've been caught cold trying to make a poor brain-dead woman a political issue. But Santorum has reassured his base that he didn't know a THING about the memo.

Remember, Santorum didn't deny that the memo was real. He made sure, though, to tell the Pennsylvania version of the Drudge Report,, that he knew nothing, NOTHING!

Maybe Bart Simpson isn't the right image here. He's talking much more like Sargeant Schultz, that old windbag from Hogan's Heros. Heaven forbid Rick Santorum or any Republican ever take any personal responsibility for their actions. Perhaps that would be the first sign of the apocalypse?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Admin Note

While everyone waits breathlessly to see if Michael Jackson shows up at court tomorrow in his tighty whities, rest assured I won't care. For the next few days, I'm turning over ASZ to the capable hands of Doc, Kate, Forrest and sukabi while I take a bit of a spring break. I'm leaving the laptop at home (on purpose) and disconnecting from the real world.


Yo, boy, get me another Margarita, please. Light salt. Yo.

See you Monday!

Santorum Unfit for the Senate

Yeah, Santorum is unfit for the Senate, in this case because he shows he knows nothing about the role of the judiciary, or the power of his own Senate law, evidently. Remember, part of a Senator's job is to Advise and Consent on judicial nominations. If you don't know how the judiciary works, how could you possibly do that?

Here's what he had to say on Newsmax today:
"You have judicial tyranny here," Santorum told WABC Radio in New York. "Congress passed a law that said that you had to look at this case. He simply thumbed his nose at Congress."

"What the statute that [Whittemore] was dealing with said was that he shall hold a trial de novo," the Pennsylvania Republican explained. "That means he has to hold a new trial. That's what the statute said."
"What he's saying is, 'I don't have to hold a new trial because I've already determined that her rights have been protected,'" Santorum said.

"That's nice for him to say that. But that's not what Congress told him to do," he added. "Judges should obey the law. And this judge - in my mind - simply ignored the law."

What Mr. Santorum doesn't understand is that every action brought into a court must pass a test in order to be tried. The law he helped pass gave the Schindlers the right to appeal, and even the right to a trial, but they still need to pass a threshhold in order for the case to be accepted. In this case, they needed to show a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits" in order to be provided relief. In this case that refers to the tube being reinserted. It is my understanding that despite seven years of litigating this case the Schindler's lawyers were not prepared to provide evidence to make such a valid claim.

That Santorum doesn't understand this is telling concerning his fitness for the job of Senator. Or is he willfully misunderstanding? In that case, he's clearly unfit.

Thanks here go to Atrios via Attytood. My, those Philly bloggers are GOOD!

More from the Front of the Refrigerator

Back in 1990 while still kicking ass and taking names...

Image hosted by In 1990 (although the full page ad from the Orange County Register pictured left is from 1997), I took a six-week course which was at the time called, Model Mugging. I still have the VHS tape of my "graduation" in front of family and friends.

The woman in the photo is not me, but the mugger behind her is the one I learned to take out. The giant head is a padded NFL helmet, and is part of the 75 pounds of padding worn by my "mugger" in the full-contact defense course. The program is now called Impact.

The now-yellowed ad was on the front of my 'fridge for almost eight years to remind me of the experience and the accomplishment of learning to deck the predator and live... it was about learning to know where part of my "power" lived -- in my body. For more about what was and is Model Mugging you can read here:

In the end I think it all comes down to me (or you) against the mugger. In my weakened condition of late it seems important to remember.

Casey, Santorum, Bush Hurting in Keystone Poll

The Pennsylvania Senate race is neck and neck now. A couple weeks ago Casey led by six, but now it's 44%-43% in the latest Keystone Poll. That's bad news for Bob Casey, whose campaign is slow to get off the ground, is that he was six points ahead just a couple weeks ago. The good news? Santorum's favorables are at 39%, and in that he trails Ed Rendell (48%) and George Bush (43%). The news is worse for Casey when one looks at the favorables, though, and I'd bet it is because of his Anti-Choice stance. His favorables hover at 33% despite the fact that the Casey name is familiar, having been on a statewide ballot for 40 years.

Christine M. Flowers certainly thinks it is the "Ghost of Bob Casey" the elder who is going to haunt this Bob Casey, and she cites that he sounds more like a Republican on many issues in her column today int he Philadelphia Daily News. I'm more inclined to think Casey's woes are temporary, as yet. He's been slow to get moving. I've heard of few appearances, and Casey certainly has been slow to get off the blocks on the internet, thus there is little in the way of buzz in the Blogzome in favor of Casey. The Bob Casey for Senate web site, for instance, is lacking in depth and information, and he is slow to respond even if one does register there. Even the latest "news" is nearly three weeks old on the web site.

I registered at his site nearly three weeks ago, for instance, and got my first email a few days ago. Note that the message, very short, does not mention Casey's conservative stances.
I want to thank you for joining my campaign for U.S. Senate. I look forward to a spirited campaign ahead and fighting for the issues that matter to Pennsylvania.

I am running for the U.S. Senate because it has become apparent in recent months that the Republican leadership in Washington is viewing last November's election results as a mandate to push our nation further to the political right. I believe that is the wrong course for America. As Senator, I will fight to keep the focus on helping middle-class families, and I'll put the needs of Pennsylvania first.

I think that strategically Casey is making a mistake. Sure, this email is to a Democrat, so he may want to stress those parts of his stance that are progressive, but I think Pennsylvanians will react more positively to a guy who forthrightly says what he believes. Casey's anti-choice stance is virtually all anyone knows of him in Pennsylvania, and trying to hide that elephant isn't going to work for this primary season. But such a stance can take an honored role in an across-the-board progressive platform. Concern for life, if you want to call it that, can be linked to concern for peoples all over the world, and to an anti-war stance as well.

The problem is deeper, though. Casey isn't anti-war. He's got an image to construct still.

Monday, March 21, 2005

One is the loneliest, two's a party, three's a quorum!

Wonderful to see how easy it is to pass laws in our great nation!

Only three members of the 100-member U.S. Senate, however, were present to approve the measure by a voice vote.
When I'm Senator, I will be focusing my energies on improving my capacity for stealthiness, so I too can sneak into chambers and make any law I damn well please, regardless of how idiotic it is. Then those of other parties can sneak around in attempts to thwart my actions. The federal government can become one giant version of Spy vs. Spy!

Also, since state judiciaries have been deemed irrelevant, I can force my stupid ass laws on everyone!

If bills can become law like this, can constitutional amendments be passed as well? Can impeachments be conducted?

Oh wait, the Republicans in question forgot the Constitution, once again. Article I, Section 5, Clause 1 specifically states that a majority of members must be present for business to be conducted.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
This edition of "Republican Constitutional Erosion" brought to you via upyernoz with special thanks to Eschaton.

    Dresden Redux

    Saturday, I blogged about the sanitization of corporate media reports coming from Iraq. On the way home today I listened to what was actually a half decent report regarding the situation in Fallujah, on NPR's All Things Considered.

    Between the NPR report, and Dahr Jamail's earlier on-scene independent reports, I think we can reliably conclude that U.S. forces have perpetrated another Dresden there, only on a much larger and nearly genocidal scale. Secrets this big can't be hidden forever.


    Right after the election in November, one of my favorite bloggers turned out the lights.

    Today, Tristero returns (however briefly) to ask the question, "Now what?" Just the tip, just one time...just one time...

    "Now what?", indeed. Since there's no commenting on Tristero, feel free to answer the question here. It's one we're all struggling with.

    Decimating the Military

    Two in-depth reports have run over the past few days regarding the current state of the U.S. military, and how what's happening to / with today's troops will affect military readiness in the future. Neither story paints a particularly hopeful picture.

    On Saturday, The Guardian ran a ubiquitously titled special report, They can't train you for the reality of Iraq. You can't have a mass grave with dogs eating the people in it. No pun intended, but that's a mouthful.

    The Guardian report focuses on a growing movement among military men and women who are refusing to return to Iraq. What's surprising is that so few are fleeing (or have fled) north of the border to Canada. Most are choosing to stay stateside and fight their battles legally, or accept their lumps in military prisons. Some of the resistance is moral, some ethical, and some is just downright motivated by self preservation.

    ...Soldiers' advocates and peace activists believe the first signs of opposition within the military could slowly grow - as it did for Vietnam - turning disgruntled soldiers and their families into powerful anti-war advocates. A number of Iraq veterans have begun to speak out. The root causes for more widespread dissent are there...

    Regardless of the reason, it's hard to imagine that the increasing number of incidents of pre-deployment desertions are not going to even further adversely affect military morale and combat readiness.

    The second story, from the Washington Post, leans more in the direction of the service branches not meeting recruiting goals - hell, not being within a country mile of recruiting goals - and the lack of equipment as well as manpower.

    ...The unexpectedly heavy demands of sustained ground combat are depleting military manpower and gear faster than they can be fully replenished. Shortfalls in recruiting and backlogs in needed equipment are taking a toll, and growing numbers of units have been broken apart or taxed by repeated deployments, particularly in the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.

    "What keeps me awake at night is, what will this all-volunteer force look like in 2007?" Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, said at a Senate hearing last week...

    To give you an idea of how hard hit the Army is, they actually pulled 2,500 recruiters out of their slots and shipped them out with combat units. In civilian terms, that would be like GM pulling nearly half of their sales force off the street and putting them on the production line. Not only would quality likely suffer, but so would the ability to sell cars. And the endless spiral starts - less sales personnel mean less cars sold, less cars sold means the production line get the idea.

    And the military keeps playing musical chairs with limited equipment:

    As it rounds up troops for deployments, the Army has had to allocate limited equipment. It has shuffled thousands of items from radios to rifles between units, geared up new industrial production, and depleted the Army's pre-positioned stocks of tanks, Humvees and other assets to outfit units for combat.

    Army stocks in Southwest Asia are exhausted, and those in Europe have also been "picked over," one U.S. official said. Roughly half of the Army and Marine equipment stored afloat on ships has been used up, the official said. Refilling the stocks must wait until the Iraq war winds down, Army officials say...

    Add to the mix the fact that many members of the "coalition of the bribed / duped / blackmailed" are deciding to pull out of Iraq, which will leave gaping staffing holes, particularly in areas South of Baghdad, border-to-border.

    What's especially galling to me is reading statements like this from Bush Department of War officials, in publications whose target audience is military personnel:

    Although the war in Iraq has hurt recruiting, Harvey noted that retention in the ranks is high.

    “The retention is a good story and that’s important because it’s end strength that counts,” he said. “It’s a combination of recruiting and retention.”

    Why is retention a good story? Quite simply - "stop loss" orders - when a soldier's enlistment is extended involuntarily "at and for the convenience of the government". In other words, they can't get out anyway, so a lot of soldiers are being sold on taking the next best option - grabbing some bonus money - and committing themselves to another few years because they figure they're still going to be there anyway.

    Our government is whistling past the graveyard - heaven forbid if another country were actually to challenge our ability to respond either now or in the near future. Our armed forces would have a hard time meeting the challenge, at least with conventional troops and weaponry.

    Update, 7:10PM - I meant to add this earlier...another sign of how bad things are getting is that the enlistment age for the Army Reserve and National Guard is being raised five years, from 34 to 39. This is for first-time enlistees only.

    Now, I don't know about you, but I figure if someone hasn't decided what they want to be when they grow up once they hit 39, and then decide to play GI Joe for the first time, I'm not sure that's the person I want covering my back. Certainly there's exceptions to the "fit for duty" rule, but honestly there's just not a lot of folks approaching grandparenthood age that should be considering joining the Army. This is another example of how damn desperate the military is getting for warm bodies, and another indication of just how much the Bush cabal has broken the armed services.