The Wayne Williams/Atlanta Child Murder Case

CNN is reporting that this case - which represented a brutal period in Atlanta's history - is being reopened.

I mention it here because after doing a fair amount of research several years ago, I was left with the strong impression that Williams is innocent, that he was railroaded as a black man in part to shut up the hue and cry from the blacks of Atlanta whose children were being murdered in droves. The only "concrete" evidence against Williams, besides the prosecution's painting him as a very strange guy, was an officer's "odd" recollection of something hitting the water beneath a bridge where a spot check had been set up. One of the bodies was then found.

In truth, I suspect a racist group of multiple individuals was behind the deaths. Williams was only arrested when Bush I, then VP, basically rode into town and told the cops to find someone, anyone, to prosecute. To have it be a black man was just icing on the cake to the white men who wanted this "embarrassment" over. Williams was a very convenient choice. That he was an "uppity black" probably made it especially tasty to some.

CNN cites 29 deaths but, in point of fact, there were far more deaths, many of whom never made it onto the official list. The manner of deaths, the age of the victims, and other circumstances differed wildly. But the more you read, the more you realize how much was covered up.

Whatever comes of this case, it should never be forgotten. The terror that reigned in Atlanta was so palpable, and yet it made it into the nation's awareness only after years of this went on. That a grave injustice perhaps was also done to Williams makes it worse.

For those with some interest, I recommend two books: one fiction, one not.

    * Toni Cade Bambera's "These Bones are Not My Child" (extremely compelling novel), and
    * "The Atlanta Youth Child Murders and the Politics of Race"

Mother's Day: A Day Dedicated to Peace

As you hustle about to remember your mother this Mother's Day, take a moment to remember that this holiday is not an invention of greeting card makers, restaurateurs, or even chocolatiers.

While it was celebrated for different reasons in other parts of the world, Julia Ward Howe began its practice here in the U.S. for mothers to speak out against war and to demand an end to them and a pursuit of peace.

Tell a mother you love. And if she's interested, tell her why she should speak out, too. If she scoffs that Howe must have been a wild-eyed liberal with no concept of the realities of war and life, tell that mother that Howe wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Thank you, Julia. And many thanks to the mothers out there who use the day the way Julia intended.

Happy Mother's Day and peace!

More Green Mountain Greats

NTodd at Dohiyi Mir has his Vermont Progressive blog list far more up to date than mine so I'm shamelessly lifting his additions to add to mine (since the listing site won't open for me).

They are (Ethan Allen drum roll, please!):

I'll get these added to my Vermont blog list ASAP (which means as soon as I remember to do so).

PBS Can Still Tell a Compelling Tale

I caught the tail-end of a very compelling story tonight on WNET (PBS), that of a Japanese man named Sugihara who risked his life and went against his government to save Jews during World War II. It brought tears to me eyes, even before they ran the old Jewish saying at the end:

    If you save just one life, it's like saving the entire world.

If you get a chance to see it, I'd recommend it highly.

Lovely New Federal ID System

In a word, good God! I completely missed this being passed. Yoohoo! Where are the good judges, please? Pretty please? Pretty please with Tom DeLay's balls on a kebab?

Again, from Skippy International, this posted by Cookie Jill:

    starting three years from now, if you live or work in the united states, you'll need a federally approved id card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect social security payments, or take advantage of nearly any government service. practically speaking, your driver's license likely will have to be reissued to meet federal standards

    homeland security is permitted to add additional requirements--such as a fingerprint or retinal scan--on top of those. we won't know for a while what these additional requirements will be.

    ...the real id act says federally accepted id cards must be "machine readable," and lets homeland security determine the details. that could end up being a magnetic strip, enhanced bar code, or radio frequency identification (rfid) chips.

    in the past, homeland security has indicated it likes the concept of rfid chips. the state separtment is already going to be embedding rfid devices in passports, and homeland security wants to issue rfid-outfitted ids to foreign visitors who enter the country at the mexican and canadian borders. the agency plans to start a yearlong test of the technology in July at checkpoints in arizona, new york and washington state. - cnet / npr
and to think this was snuck into a bill for arming our troops and sending aid to tsunami victims. also tacked on is an attack on the environment. this is just morally wrong.

The Department of Homeland Con Jobs

Pudentilla posted this at Skippy International (le chateau d'roo to your inner Frenchman):

    u.s. to spend billions more to alter security systems - washington, may 7 - after spending more than $4.5 billion on screening devices to monitor the nation's ports, borders, airports, mail and air, the federal government is moving to replace or alter much of the antiterrorism equipment, concluding that it is ineffective, unreliable or too expensive to operate. [--snip--]

    the federal government will probably need to spend as much as $7 billion more on screening equipment in coming years, according to government estimates.
ok, so we’re not any safer. but some folks are making a boatload of dough on this boondoggle. we wonder to whom they make political contributions.

That Post Vince Alerted Us To Made Me Think

(That previous post is here.)

You know, a really shitty economy:

  • where your choices are go to Iraq and get your ass blown off or work at Wally-Mart or MickeyD's for minimum wage
  • where getting into colleges is getting tougher and tougher
  • where the cost of living IS much higher than what many Americans make each week
  • where more than 1 out of 5 Americans has no health care and even fewer have a parachute if an illness knocks out their way of living
  • where even if you're doing OK you see so many around you are not
  • where you can SEE that speaking out can affect whether you continue to work and survive
  • where the so-called Patriot Act allows the government to do whatever it likes with you without letting you - or those who love and depend on you - know why under the guise of "protection from terrorism"
all makes it extremely certain that people won't ask too many questions or pay much attention to what the guys (and oh, yes, they ARE men) behind the curtains are doing to them. Many Americans can't. They're in too much deep shit themselves.

Those few of us who are in deep shit and still do pay attention and do ask questions are swatted heavily. But isn't it nice and ooooooh so convenient for them that Mr. Bush and his people have crafted an economy to make certain there are relatively few people who pipe up? And they did so by terrifying people with lies to allow them to remain in office (well, that and the rigged voting machines).

In fact, Mr. Bush got the majority vote of people on welfare, people living in homeless shelters (who voted), and yes, people working at Mickey D's and Wally-Mart. And he'd be just as happy if these people - the poor he has said so often he doesn't understand didn't even exist... except to serve drinks to his daughters and clean his toilet.

What Americans Really Worry About

Vince at SpazzzdicMusings also brings us this from Where are the Weapons (who got it from SoCalDem at DU):

You make $12k per year, rent a crappy apartment and drive a clunker car and yet our "media" would have us believe that "your" main concerns are:
    1. selection of judges

    2. whether a woman you never met has a feeding tube re-inserted

    3. making sure that only "super-rich" people can still file bankruptcy

    4. making sure that super-rich people can hold their family "booty" untaxed for generation after generation

    5. making sure that public schools get little, if any federal funding

    6. making sure that only rich people can use the judicial system when they are injured or defrauded

    7. making sure that no woman has any reproductive choice

    8. making sure that your employer has easy access to off-shoring YOUR job if he cannot get you to work for less
There's much more. Go read.

Weapons of Massive Burritos

Vince at Spazzzzdic Musings brings us this real and pressing (not to mention flatulent-laden) danger!

"Does a Pew Fit in Your Cubicle?"

Saw this on ABCNews:

Faith is finding its way onto the payroll as members of the clergy increasingly use their experience for a stint at the 9-to-5 grind.

These contracted employees are not arriving to show off a new business degree or attend a management meeting. The workplace chaplains are looking to use a different skill set to help the bottom line — solid morals and a patient ear.

In between meetings, client calls and routine daily tasks, some companies are giving their employees the option to chat with a chaplain.

"Human resources managers are realizing that employees, especially at a time of crisis, have needs that a chaplain or a spiritual person can address," explained Michigan-based chaplain Ron Klimp.

And recognizing those needs makes good business sense, according to Klimp, whose clients have noticed an increase in loyalty and a drop in absenteeism after employing the pastor's nonprofit group, Workplace Chaplains. His business has gone from servicing four companies when it started in 1999 to the current slate of 24 clients.

I can't say I like this idea. Do I feel my faith is part of my work? Yes. But do I need a minister at my job? No.

How do you feel about something like this? I just see far too much potential for abuse.

Pastor Chandler, the Chicken-Shitted Hearted Bully

Apparently, Pastor Chandler - the not-much-of-a-Christian creep who demands that all his congregants vote the way he tells them to - does not have much courage (like most bullies). He's refusing to answer the phone or show his face.

Here's this:

A pastor who led a charge to kick out nine church members who refused to support President Bush was the talk of the town Saturday in this mountain hamlet, with ousted congregants considering hiring a lawyer.

Pastor Chan Chandler did not return calls, and no one answered the door at his parsonage across the street from the East Waynesville Baptist Church.

Members of the congregation said Chandler told them during last year's presidential campaign that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry needed to leave the church.

Longtime member Selma Morris, who was treasurer at the church, said Chandler's sermons remained political after Bush won re-election. This past week, his comments turned to politics again at a church gathering that ended with nine members voted out.

Morris said Saturday that some of the ousted members planned to meet with an attorney on Monday to discuss their options. "We're hoping he (the attorney) will make him leave so that the church members can come back," she said.

So where's the Baptist Church hierarchy in all of this? Why aren't they forcing this pastor out? I wouldn't let this man lead my compost pile, let alone tell me how to vote. By not speaking out against him - although some other NC Baptist ministers have - the powers-that-be are implicitly saying that this man has the right to do this.

But I have an infinite amount of respect for the men and women who said no to this megalomaniac, including the Republicans who voted for Bush but still find it outlandish that a so-called man of God (and why do I think God isn't too happy with Chickenshit Chan either?) would abuse his power this way.

Jersey Man Carves Runaway Bride's Image on Toast

Gee, does he have too much time on his hands?

A man has made the case of runaway Georgia bride Jennifer Wilbanks the toast of eBay. Perry Lonzello, 48, says he carved a rudimentary drawing of Wilbanks on a piece of toasted Wonder Bread and posted it on eBay on a whim.

"I just carved it on there real quick and put it on there as a joke," Lonzello told the Daily Record of Parsippany for Friday's newspapers.

As of about 5 p.m. Friday, Lonzello's eBay posting had 134,300 visits and 111 bids made on the toast, with a top bid of $15,400. Bidding closes Sunday.

Well, Wonder Bread is appropriate for this twit of a woman: looks like bread but without any nutritional value. But I wouldn't even take the time to cross the street to kick some sense into her ass, where she perhaps hides her brain.

And in the silly details department, did you hear that Jennifer Wilbanks - in her fourth non-apology apology - has said part of her worries stemmed from the fact that she and her intended groom (who became a "born again virgin" in his church) had never had sex? They lived together but platonically.

Can you imagine how fast she'll run once she finally sees his penis? Twit. And yes, it's twit. Not that similarly spelled word that I'm sure Ms. Wilbanks is not familiar with.

If You're Having Trouble Seeing HaloScan Comments

Try reloading the page. They should be there beneath the pale green line that bears the unique link for each post.

If that doesn't do it, and it's not a case of seeing the "Done but with errors" on the status (bottom) line of the browser (all too common for me these days in IE), give me a holler at either this address or this one.

I am Now a Firefox Fan!

I believe in giving credit where credit is due. And having spent about 10 hours now working with Firefox and testing it, I'm a fan.

A few of you have known me long enough to know how I groused about some versions of Netscape's browser. And how I groused louder when Netscape was purchased by America Online which has a history - with notable exceptions - of buying something to kill it. Sure enough, AOL harvested what it wanted and shat out the rest.

I use and like Microsoft's products (and in the nature of full disclosure, I'm one of Microsoft's MVPs - Most Valuable Professionals). I like Internet Explorer and it's been my preference for several years. But IE's had some problems. Yet not all IE's problems are the product; many of them originate with the way we use and abuse our systems and it's very difficult for mere mortals to tell where their trouble ends and IE's begins.

But lately, I've had numerous IE issues, including the inability to load my own damned blog. None of the traditional fixes worked and none of the advanced ones either (and I'm knowledgeable enough that I know them all). After more than a week of trying to make IE behave, including a full format and reinstall, I decided on a whim last night to try Firefox.

I am thrilled so far. If Firefox continues to be this wonderful, I'm probably going to feel tempted to make it my default browser. We'll see.

Try it yourself, especially if you're having some IE issues or question whether your problems are browser- or connection-based. At under 5 MB for a download, it's reasonable even on a low-speed connection. I had it downloaded and running in minutes (and on a busy Friday with a non-speedy connection). And yes, Firefox and IE peacefully co-exist. I've got them both open right now, working.

Archives Back

OK, I'm leaving this sucker alone before more breaks.

Fatah Movement Ahead in Palestininian Local Elections

From the BBC:

The Fatah movement founded by Yasser Arafat is in the lead over Islamist movement Hamas in Palestinian local elections, preliminary results suggest.

The Election Commission said Fatah won control of 50 of 84 municipalities in the West Bank and Gaza to 28 for Hamas in the latest round of local voting.

Smaller factions took four councils, with two municipalities undecided.

Hamas, which trounced Fatah in the first round of voting in Gaza, said it was too early to concede defeat.

I'm not sure what this means.

Had You Ever Heard of These al Qaeda Supposed Bigwigs Caught This Week?

Yeah, neither had I.

Does it make you wonder? It does me.

Especially when it all came out during the week of a ... oh... mild embarrassment that we still haven't caught bin Laden or al Zarqawi.

Sort of like how the American Idol "scandal" broke just as May Sweeps started, as AI's ratings aren't quite as high as they used to be. Funny, I heard their ratings are up now in light of the "scandal".

OK, We're Back to One Set of Comments

Now if I can only find my archives. [choke]

25 More Dead in Single Iraq Car Bomb

Nor will that be the only car bomb today, most likely.

Really, have you asked yourself if the dead in Iraq just at our hands have exceeded the number of deaths under a similar period of time under or perhaps even Saddam's full reign? Not that Saddam was better, anything BUT. Still, a thinking person needs to question this.

Why don't we keep count of civilian casualties there? The Bushies say they don't. There is evidence to the contrary, however. Is it because the volume of deaths is so egregious they don't want the public to know? That it would make Americans realize the lie that is "Iraqi freedom from the tyranny of Saddam"?

Tyranny is tyranny. Occupation is occupation. Death is death.

Oops... It's Vermont Greenup Day!

I need to go pick up trash. And no, I don't mean Condi, Noni, and Rummy.

May I Assume Chafee Wants to Retire?

From CNN/wire services:

A centrist Republican senator who opposes President Bush's proposal of private investment accounts for Social Security is endorsing the president's call for a change in calculating benefits that would cut future checks for all but low-income workers.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, part of a group of moderates whose support both parties feel will be necessary to achieve any Social Security compromise, said Bush could boost his sales pitch -- and force Democrats into outlining plans of their own -- by dropping his talk of personal investment accounts.

"If you take private accounts off of the table, it kind of calls the opposition's bluff," Chafee said in an interview published in the Kent County Daily Times of West Warwick, Rhode Island.
Similarly, former President Clinton, who saw his administration's Social Security reform effort stall, urged Democrats to offer their own fix. To date, party leaders have said the program is solvent for the foreseeable future, so they will not discuss changes until Bush drops his private accounts proposal.
There are a couple of things to note here.

First, it's always struck me as rather warped and convoluted that the government would have to pay Social Security to everyone. A dear friend's mother - living in a million-dollar home (in a time when a million dollars was worth something) and with a portfolio rich with investments - couldn't wait until she got her first Social Security check, for example. So I don't have a huge problem in eliminating payout to the higher end of the spectrum.

HOWEVER. If we turn Social Security into nothing more than a welfare system, as parts of Bush's proposal suggest and as Chafee now endorses, we're just signing the program's death warrant. The only reason SS has survived this long is because of people like this dear friend's mother who don't NEED the check but very much want that check.

Also, I can understand why Clinton was quoted as saying Dems should offer their own fix. But what are we fixing? The Bushies tell us SS is hopelessly broken. But that isn't true. It needs some fine-tuning perhaps, but evidence suggests there is no immediate crisis nor is the program hopelessly broken. Contrary to the MSM, it's not that FDR and Company failed to plan for a time when Americans would live much longer; from what I've read, their formula for how long Americans would live by now was pretty much right on the mark.

So why do Dems need to offer a fix if they actually believe a repair is not needed?

Finally, let me add that I'm very sorry to see Chafee join this bandwagon. I've enjoyed him as one of the grand New England moderates. I think Chafee is more representative of average Republicans than powers like DeLay, Frist, and Bush and their rhetoric.

But he's signing his own death warrant here. I won't be happy to lose him in the Senate. But he made his choice.

Before I Turn Off Blogger-Based Comments in Favor of HaloScan...

I wanted to thank Xavier and Vince Novak - whose messages I was finally able to read but could not seem to respond to - for giving me some much-needed inspiration to continue blogging. Reading through Sagan again - the last time I picked up the "Demon-Haunted World", I could NOT get into it - also helped.

That old saying about it being better to light a candle rather than cursing the darkness has hit home for me again and again this past week. I'm not saying this blog offers a great deal of candlepower, but that's OK - there are a lot of other candles lit out there as well. The cumulative effect is far brighter than we would have otherwise.

Science As a Candle in the Dark

It's sort of by accident that this week, I began reading again Carl Sagan's "Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark". Sagan's been dead almost a decade now, and yet this book warns very much of this time we're going through where people are basically arguing that "If you don't allow America to return to the Dark Ages, it's a war against people of faith!"

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not Ms. Science. I may work in technology, but I'm a person of faith and hope and I think I understand the power of spirituality in the lives of many humans.

But I've watched - especially during the Bush years - the wholesale destruction of critical thought, the so-called moral types arguing for the most amoral of all, and a war on science.

I've never heard science tell me how to think, or how to vote, or what to believe. I do not believe that faith and science are mutually exclusive. If you must believe in a completely literal interpretation of the Bible, you are no longer faithful because you chose to eliminate the "faith" aspect of still believing in a higher power despite the obvious errors in what the Bible contains.

Myself? I think the Bible was written by men - many different men over many different centuries. It no longer perhaps has a great deal to do with the word of God but on man's need to control society, true of most religious doctrine regardless of religion.

Despite the Bible's many contradictions, I believe. But I do not see the need to kill science and institute a period of intense mental darkness in order to further my beliefs.

The war being waged is not AGAINST people of faith but BY some people of faith against the rest of us who either do not believe or have faith even knowing the Bible tells us so many untruths. To have Kansas try to rewrite the definition of science - which is based on an ability to constantly test and analyze theories to determine whether something holds up under scrutiny - to make it include pseudoscience to me is very much an argument to return to the Dark Ages. To punish those who do not believe exactly as they do. To replace critical thought with blind membership.

The Blasts at the British Consulate Brouhaha

This week - at least here, where I can see NY TV stations from the emerald hills of Vermont - there was a dirth of almost everything but the "mysterious blasts" that happened outside the British Consulate in Lower Manhattan. So much was made of it that you'd think it was 9/11-lite.

But it wasn't. Two "novelty" (wtf!) grenades went off outside where there are massive cement planters. No one was injured.

Yet the media continued on with this story, pointing out how the government was looking long and hard at some Dutch worker at the UN for this, and that it might have been to protest Tony Blair's re-election or something to do with Jews Opposed to the Occupation (of Palestinian lands).

Would that the media would only look so long and hard at just one of Bush's harmful actions. Or not blow a reasonably minimal event so out of proportion to scare a population still affected by the awful morning of 9-11 into looking warily at their neighbors.

It's not that I think setting off novelty grenades is a good idea. I don't. I don't believe the road to "better" is paved with acts of violence, either real or implied. Yes, the grenades got attention without ANYONE being hurt. But it's still not "good".

Yet I want the media to have some perspective on this. In a week where we saw the Bush Administration again and again "investigate itself" on Abu Ghraib, the soldier who killed those unarmed or injured (and sometimes old) men in a mosque, on the attack on the Italian journalist's escape vehicle - and ALWAYS pronounce itself innocent, instead, all the attention went to a rather nothing event. No one was hurt. There was no intention for people to be hurt. There was no real threat.

Compare that to the ruin that comes to anything and everything the Bushies touch.

Say Hello to

NJ Spoken Word and Nordette Adams whose blog I feasted for breakfast.

At the very least, it will help remind you that New Jersey does not all speak with one voice. But there's so much more. Nor do I use the word "feast" lightly with Nordette's blog. I really did come away feeling like I had a nice brunch of thoughts and ideas.

I notice, too, that I'm seeing more Young Democrats groups cropping up. Young Republicans always seemed to have the sole operation on a lot of campuses. I'd love to see that change. I mention this now only because I noticed one in Jersey as well.


Firefox gave me my blog back. [wiping tear, blowing nose][honk!]

I'm Downloading Firefox...

Largely because it would be nice if I could read my own blog occasionally. For a week, I've had to go elsewhere or reboot just to see it.

Emptied caches x 100, all updated, ran spyware checkers, disabled add-ons, and nada.


Jim Cabezel is Creepy

Surprisingly creepy for someone who doesn't seem all that bright. I was very surprised that he was chosen to play Jesus Christ whom, we have to think, probably was not a 7-watt bulb.

Everytime I see him, he really creeps me out. I'm not sure I'd trust children and puppies around him, nor anything that could start a fire. And it's not the whole Mel Gibson thing. I saw him once before I realized who he was and he bothered me so much that I listened only long enough to find out who he was so I could avoid him again. That stunned me! There have been some reasonably OK depictions of Christ on film and for them to choose this fellow really makes me wonder what Manic Oppressive Mel was thinking.

Right now, Cabezel makes a point of telling us how he had an audience with the Pope three times and no, he's not Catholic. Plus then he had to drop everything because the Vatican asked him to come to the Pope's funeral. Don't let me get started on the collusion I think has gone on between the White House and the Vatican.

The (Cough) Great State of Kansas

Well, I'm perfectly willing to admit that many in Kansas did NOT evolve.

From Washington Monthly:

MAYBE THE WORLD REALLY IS FLAT....I've been ignoring the recent outbreak of idiocy over evolution in Kansas because it's just too depressing to think about, but I really have to highlight this paragraph from today's LA Times account:
    The hearings in Topeka, scheduled to last several days, are focusing on two proposals. The first recommends that students continue to be taught the theory of evolution because it is key to understanding biology. The other proposes that Kansas alter the definition of science, not limiting it to theories based on natural explanations.
Why yes, that would alter the definition of science, wouldn't it? Perhaps while we're at it we should also alter the definitions of history, literature, and religion. Seems like those fields have been stuck in a rut for a while too and could use a swift kick from the Kansas state board of education.

By the way, I'm glad to see that the Kansas folks aren't wasting time pretending that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion or creationism. Newly elected board member Kathy Martin is open about where she stands: "There are alternatives. Children need to hear them....We can't ignore that our nation is based on Christianity — not science."
Uh, Ms. Martin? My family was one of the first of the "new" settlers to America (and the other part was the Native Americans already here). This country was not founded specifically on Christianity. They left the religious intolerance of Mother Britain.

It's nice to know school board members are this learned. (cough)

It's Time to Tax Churches. All of Them

I'm serious. If their leaders can't keep their noses out of everyone else's business, can't hold themselves back from politicking, it's time they lose their tax-free status. That extends to the Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell circuses and all of that.

I no longer see any reason for any religious institution to have tax-free status. Many churches seem to find the money to give to politicians and to let their ministers, priests, etc. live better than many of their congregants. So let them pay taxes. Oh yeah, and no more special tax rules for clergy. It's not like clergy are actually a gift from God. It's a job. We pay taxes on income from our jobs. They can do the same.

Robert McNamara: The US Using Nukes as Foreign Policy is Immoral, Illegal, and Destructive

"Apocalypse Soon" indeed.

From Foreign Policy:

Robert McNamara is worried. He knows how close we’ve come. His counsel helped the Kennedy administration avert nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, he believes the United States must no longer rely on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. To do so is immoral, illegal, and dreadfully dangerous.

It is time—well past time, in my view—for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. At the risk of appearing simplistic and provocative, I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Far from reducing these risks, the Bush administration has signaled that it is committed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal as a mainstay of its military power—a commitment that is simultaneously eroding the international norms that have limited the spread of nuclear weapons and fissile materials for 50 years. Much of the current U.S. nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years.

Today, the United States has deployed approximately 4,500 strategic, offensive nuclear warheads. Russia has roughly 3,800. The strategic forces of Britain, France, and China are considerably smaller, with 200–400 nuclear weapons in each state’s arsenal. The new nuclear states of Pakistan and India have fewer than 100 weapons each. North Korea now claims to have developed nuclear weapons, and U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that Pyongyang has enough fissile material for 2–8 bombs.
Indeed, when did foreign policy mean - as it means to the Bushies - that "my gun is bigger than yours"? And yet I've never heard an administrative whine and bully so much when another country acquires nuclear anything.

No, I don't want N Korea or Iran to have nuclear weapons. But I don't want the U.S. or Israel to have them either.

Fundraising GOP Style

Offered without comment. But if he's still a Republican, well... you get what you pay for and sometimes you deserve what you get.

HARTFORD, Conn. - A year after federal agents raided his home in a terrorism investigation, Muslim businessman Syed Maswood is lucky to get on an airplane without being detained and searched.

But that didn't stop him from getting an invitation to dine with President Bush.

Maswood, a nuclear engineer who has not been charged with any crime and has been trying for months to get his name off no-fly lists, received an invitation to serve as an honorary chairman at a Republican fund-raiser with Bush in Washington next month.

A Republican who has donated money to GOP campaigns, Maswood said he briefly considered attending but his wife refused to fly. The last time they were in Washington, he said, they were held for hours at the airport.
Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

While I Rarely Recommend George Will Columns...

he's been occasionally making sense lately (perhaps the bow tie is no longer cutting off his oxygen).

This one (entitled "The Christian Complex") concerns the claims that there is a "war" on people of faith, and finds it bogus.

I'd take it one step farther. I would argue that there is an assault on America by people of faith, a small percentage who is awfully loud and arrogant.

Yet here's a hoot. I'm not sure these people are faithful at all. Was Jesus' message one of intolerance, hatred, and condescension? Or are they hiding behind the Bible to spew their particular flavor of hatred against anyone they despise, fear, or simply don't understand?

Let's Not Rush to Burn Down the School, OK?

Some wingnuts seem to be going nuts over a story that a teenager has been suspended because he took a call from his mother serving in Iraq, against school policy.

But read on in this story from CNN:

COLUMBUS, Georgia (AP) -- A high school student was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a cell phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, school officials said.

The 10-day suspension was issued because Kevin Francois was "defiant and disorderly" and was imposed in lieu of an arrest, Spencer High School assistant principal Alfred Parham said.
The kid was not suspended because he took the call but because he went batshit when he was told to end the call. Nor was he told to end the call immediately; other reports say he spoke for several minutes before being asked - finally - to end the call.

Yes, I understand that the mother probably can't always choose when to call her son. But I think schools have a right to insist that calls not come in during school hours. Personally, I'd be tempted to ban cell phones from a school, myself.

To treat this as a case of a school abusing its power is ridiculous. If the kid had not really lost it - some reports say he became physically threatening and used excessive profanity - there would have been no trouble.

FDA Plan to Ban Gay Male Donors

Here we (fucking) go again.

The FDA wants to ban ALL donors who acknowledge they are gay from providing sperm for donation. But before you nod and say, hey, they must be doing it to save us from those promiscuous gays, think again.

Yes, an argument can be made that "protecting" the sperm donations from those who engage in risky sex is an issue. But gays do NOT have the monopoly on risky sex. In fact, some of our greatest health risk statistically comes from so-called straight men who go outside their relationship to bop whatever's available. In Jersey, for example, there's a big issue about middle-aged men (in suits, with nice cars and a wifey at home) who go out soliciting young males at rest stops. Then they take their sexually transmitted diseases home to the unsuspecting wifey.

Also, as a society, we're so damned eager to make it impossible for gays to live in committed, monogamous relationships. It's like the abortion issue: in one case, they want to cut of all means of contraception and then insist that if a woman gets pregnant, she's stuck with the child (while also removing any aid to that woman or child). With gays, these folks want to keep gays from trying to have a committed, safe relationship, trying to prevent even the use of condoms, and THEN they condemn gays for being profligate.

Perhaps I know "unusual" gays, but those I know generally are pretty monogamous and darned careful about contracting or spreading disease. I wish I could say the same about many of the straight people I know.

This is all about punishing gays for what the Bushies see as gays' poor "choice". This is laughable when you stop to ask yourself, "Did I choose to be heterosexual?" I didn't. I just am. I don't think gays sit down at age 15 or 30 and say, "Wow, I'd like to be gay" anymore than we straights do. Considering how many of us are trained to conform, I would think that if being gay was a decision people could make, many would choose differently. Don't you?

How can I say this is all about punishment? Because the FDA standard does NOT discriminate against straights screwing everything in sight (and we know how fond PA senator Rick Santorum is about dog sex) and does nothing to prevent people from lying about their sexual orientation. There's NOTHING there to protect us from someone who is happily married in a heterosexual relationship but, like those Jersey businessmen, pick up 2-3 strangers every evening at a rest stop.

Once again, we throw out all reason and science so a few people can feel they've done "God's" work. Bullshit.

As More Americans Go Hungry, the Feds Justify Cutting Food Stamps

From David Sirota:

If ever there was an example of how the Bush administration robs Peter to pay Paul, this is it.

Hard-right political hacks at the Department of Health and Human Services are actually sending out a fact sheet to Capitol Hill and the public about the new Medicare bill that justifies eliminating food stamp benefits to Medicare recipients. This is radical conservatism, without even a hint of compassion.Specifically, page 2 of the fact sheet asks a hypothetical question that Medicare recipients might ask: "Will I lose my food stamp benefits if I apply and qualify for extra help paying for the new Medicare prescription drug coverage?"

The Bush adminstration's answer: "With the Medicare prescription drug coverage, you may see your food stamp benefits go down" and even possibly eliminated. How could they be so heartless to do that? Because they say, "you spend less on drugs" and "the extra cash you will have to spend on food makes up for not getting as much in food stamps." Download the fact sheet sent out by HHS at my website and see this travesty for yourself.In other words, for the poorest of the poor, the new Medicare "benefits" aren't necessarily an overall benefit, because the Bush administration openly admits they are taking that benefit out of poor people's ability to put food on their table. This comes on top of Bush's earlier proposal to gut food stamp funding. How disgusting.
David says it well, disgusting.

Probably like many of you, I've never been on any form of public assistance. In the days when I earned practically nothing (and trust me, being a writer isn't exactly the road to wealth and glory), I probably qualified for aid but... man, the idea did not appeal to me.

But I think many of us have really liked to know that there was a program out there, not just for us should the circumstances get so grave, but to know that kids and others were able to get a meal. One of the few things I really don't mind seeing my tax dollars go to are programs that educate kids, feed and provide essential medical care and shelter for the very poor.

Even Ronald Reagan could not have conceived of the gutting of basic human services that George - who says he can't understand poor people - has accomplished at the same time he's made the richest Americans so much richer.

Let's face it: if we lived in a meritocracy, George Bush would starve to death because he's never done anything right, never done anything to justify his existence. Thankfully - for him - we don't.

Pastor Chandler, Asshole in Pastoral Clothing

This dick - and I use the term loosely since I'm rather fond of penises - told people in his East Waynesville, NC congregation that he would begin to get rid of congregants who refused to follow his political beliefs. Nine people have already been forced out because this asshole said John Kerry was "for homosexuals" and no one should be allowed to vote for him. On Sunday, he demanded that anyone who would not agree to follow that pastor's - and trust me, I use THAT term VERY lightly - political beliefs either had to get up and REPENT or leave the church. Anyone knew coming into the church, he said, would be required to sign a pledge that they would vote exactly the way this pastor told them to.

Some of those who have walked out are Republicans who feel this is terribly inappropriate for one man to tell them how to vote. Some of those who walked out DID vote for Bush rather than Kerry.

Good for those people. Clearly they have a better grasp on what a Christian and an American should be than this so-called man of God (I'm sure God doesn't care much for Pastor Chandler, however).

And may Pastor Chandler rot in hell, hopefully with whatever disease he's picked up because he's no doubt one of those types who doesn't practice what he preaches himself.

Microsoft (Re)Reverses Position on Gay Rights Bill

I'm thrilled. I am.

I just wish I saw where they stopped paying Ralph Reed his $20K in monthly blackmail. And there is no doubt that's what Reed's fee is. It's like the protection money people have paid to mobs and corrupt cops and others.

How Could So Many Millions of Brits Be Sooooo Wrong?

OK, OK. Tony Blair isn't quite the villain our belooped leader is, but still, it was disappointing to see the country who jeered us for allowing Mr. Bush to slide back into office with a pretty narrow majority to re-seat Toney Tony who has yet to hear a plan of Mr. Bush's he didn't try to sell to the EU.

With all that said, however, I'm not sure how much of a difference Mr. Blair's chief opponent would have made for a better future for the Brits. After going out and searching articles about the man's position, I'm not sure I understand him any better (whether that's a flaw of my reading or the press pieces, I can't say).

RIP David Hackworth

I had to drop everything when reader CK mentioned in comments that we lost a supreme warror, Colonel David Hackworth. I did not know he was close to death.

For those who don't know him - and you can find more here - this man in the last few years especially has been an outspoken warrior against the abuses by the Pentagon in ways that hurt both our soldiers as well as America.

Funny, my first exposure to the man was on - of all places - Geraldo's old show on MSNBC or CNBC in the leadup to the war after 9-11. I wasn't impressed then, but soon became very impressed when I saw this man speak out so often (mostly through his Web site site his criticism apparently made him unwelcome on network TV) about what Rumsfeld et al were doing so badly.

Another irony is that the rabid right likes to point any of us who criticize the Bush wars as anti-American and anti-soldier. That's far from the truth. While the back-patting Bushies say one thing out loud to the troops and then slash essential services to our soldiers, many of us who did not want these wars have been vocal opponents of the attempts to a) use our soldiers improperly and b) remove support and services for our soldiers and vets. I've written more letters in support of troop and veteran services than I have opposing the war, for example. Instead, we want our soldiers to only make sacrifices when the situation warrants it, and I do not believe Iraq (or even Afghanistan with the exception of capturing - which we haven't done - bin Laden) meets that standard. Soldiers should not be used as political pawns, as they have too often been.

Likewise, "Hack" as he was called, not only served bravely and long in the military, he spent his retirement years calling attention to the abuses, the lies, and the outright treacheries.

Thank you, Col. Hackworth, for fighting the good fight for so long. You will be terribly missed.


The Runaway Bride: Hard to Find a Woman With Less Class

Not that Jennifer Wilbanks is worth our time, but her non-apologies and all the people she's sending out to say she didn't think she did anything wrong and felt no need to say she was sorry is sickly laughable.

Why do people like this get everything they want? But if you're a good person, with some hint of a conscience and a modicum of social responsible, get screwed every time?

Thre is ZERO question she voted for Bush in the last election. I mean, really. There isn't. And yes, of course, she identifies herself as a very good Christian (Baptist, of course).

[OK, OK. Trust me, I don't have a particular issue with Baptists. It's just there seems to be no middle ground with Baptists. They can a) really be the best people with hearts as big as Bill Gates' wallet or b) the most reprehensible people on the planet while insisting they are God's chosen.]

Wow, American Idol is Rigged

Oh my God. Whatever will we tell the children?

My only request is that I get five minutes alone with Simon Cowell. No, I've literally never seen the show. But I've gotten stuck watching Simon - who gets quite fat during the off season - and I want five minutes to rearrange his attitude.

Playwright August Wilson

I found this story on CNN about a playwright - August Wilson - finishing a 20-year journey about middle class blacks fascinating. I heard his name at least a half dozen years ago from someone who had seen something he'd done and said it was marvelous.

Almost wish I was close enough to New Haven to see his most recent play in the series.

Armadilloes Have Looooonnnnnnnggggg Penises

As anyone who watched Letterman last night is no doubt now aware.

I wonder how many red state righties called the FCC because they happened to tune in CBS after watching their tape of the last "Desperate Housewives".

One Dumb Question: Who is the State of California Protecting When They've Spent 535 Days (Thus Far) in This Investigation on Michael Jackson?

I'm serious.

If Michael Jackson screwed around with kids, hey, toss the book at him. But if California spent just a portion of the money on catching other real abusers that they have on Jackson, one assumes California would be a lot safer.

But they haven't. Instead, we have this circus where the primary accuser is from a family that can't seem to tell the truth - or say anything without a large paycheck and boob jobs for the Mom.

Ask the Pope

OK, so the Conclave didn't pick me for Pope - their loss (I would have been a pip as Pope!).

But the great Roy at GeeFlat kindly shared this with me - the Ask the Pope blog - when I dearly needed a laugh. Hint: the new Pope is a little pissy about his fluorescent lights.

Afghanistan: "It's a Slaughterhouse"

Talk about burying the lead paragraph way down in the story to prevent embarrassing this president:

BAGHDAD — A suicide attack killed 60 people in the northern Kurdish city of Irbil and assaults in the capital claimed at least 31 more lives Wednesday and today, in the bloodiest 24-hour period in Iraq in more than two months.U.S. and Iraqi officials said the Irbil attack was carried out by a bomber who blew himself up about 9 a.m. Wednesday in a crowd of job seekers outside a police recruitment center in the Kurdish provincial capital.

In a statement posted on a militant website, the radical group Ansar al Sunna claimed responsibility for the bombing. The building where the attack occurred also housed the local offices of the Kurdish Democratic Party. Ansar's statement said the attack was revenge for Kurdish cooperation with U.S. forces. Streets were streaked with blood as more than 150 wounded people were taken by taxi and ambulance to hospitals.

"It's a slaughterhouse," said Jwan Abdul Qader, a 30-year-old nurse at Irbil's Rezgary Hospital as she and other staff members struggled to aid the wounded.
Mr. Bush, uncontent in just turning America into a horror, has now killed two other countries. And he and Condi have their eyes on Iran, Syria, Cuba, and hell, anything else they can get their hands -and bombs and depleted uranium - on.

And Vermont's GOP Leader Can Kiss My Royal Rump

The head of Vermont's GOP, who put out a call two months ago for outside money to defeat Jim Jeffords, now has the unmitigated nerve to brand anyone and everyone within the state of Vermont who responded to MoveOn's request to see if they should back Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) for Jeffords' open seat as extremists who want to hurt the state.

Let me get this right, Einstein: dirty money flowing into Vermont from Tom DeLay in Texas is good, but actual Vermont residents - who responded in droves and not all, I hear, Dems - who say that Sanders should run for the post are crap beneath your feet? Oh, this guy is a real winner. Thank God we do paper ballots here (at least, in many communities).

Interestingly enough, the Vermont governor, Jim "never met a corporation I didn't love love love" Douglas, courted by Bush to take Jeffords' seat, has said no. Jim isn't ready for prime time and perhaps he has the good sense to know it. I think a couple of people realize that close association with Mr. Bush, as Douglas has, may not necessarily be a good thing.

As GM and Ford Go, So Go the Nation

Today's announcement that Standard and Poor's had basically trashed the two auto companies' credit rating, with more than 10x more debt than collateral just didn't strike me as a surprise.

It's sad, yes, but this is Mr. Bush's American economy and in it, there is spend spend spend and no concern about debt. Well, no concern about debt except for those of us struggling to get by, watching companies go ballistic if you're even one day late on a bill. Funny when the big companies are paying their debts more and more slowly. I'm sitting here begging for people I worked for in January-March to pay me now that it's May.

The automakers' debt situation is far better than the U.S. government's, where Mr. Bush has become the single biggest spender on any president since the 60s. And remember, the '60s were still relatively boom times. We don't have boom times now. And when we spent in the 60s, it was on real people and real programs. Mr. Bush can't make that claim. Bush pays cronies for homeland security, and we're less protected than we were before 9/11. Meanwhile, the airlines are safe from old ladies with lighters.

So if you're one of those who think Ford and GM are just limited case scenarios and not indicative of a much bigger problem, I've got bridges in Brooklyn, swamp land in Florida, and rattlesnake gulches in Texas to sell you at a really great price.

Osama bin Laden's head in a box and other heads presented on stakes for our Belooped Leader?

How sick is that?

What happened on 9/11 was terrible and beyond comprehension. But I daresay that what has happened since - the rapid destruction of our society, the rabid righteousness of people who are neither right (as in correct) or holy, and the unholy terror we have wrought on the rest of the world now makes 9/11 almost a dim memory.

Sadly, while I have not joined the camp of conspiracy theorists, I now believe our government was at least complicit in 9/11 to allow sweeping changes that have hurt not just every American, but the whole rest of the world. We are now both more vulnerable than 9/11 because despite massive spending, we have no protection, but we are now FAR more hated in the world than we were on 9/11. And every step of the way, Bush has led this effort.


Respinning a Children's Rhyme

"Jesus hates me this I know
for the Bushies tell me so.
Since I'm not among their throng.
They are great, all else are wrong."

"God hates judges, this I know
for Pat Robertson tells me so.
Judges rule by way of law;
they aren't under Pat's fat paw."

"The lord hates Dem'crats, this I know
for Tom DeLay tells me so.
The GOP are the chosen ones,
the rest of us are no better than Huns."

Let's Not Pat Ourselves on the Back Just Yet

Just got this mail from John Lapp of the Democratic Congressional Committee and once you read it, you may understand my concern.

I'm writing to both thank you for adding your name to our petition, and to congratulate you on a startling victory.

On Wednesday the GOP suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of an outraged American public, with House Republicans voting overwhelmingly to restore the House ethics process. You'll recall that back in January, when they thought no one was watching, more than 200 of them voted in favor of the very weakened rules that they voted to repeal Wednesday, making this perhaps the greatest mass flip-flop in modern Congressional history.

While we might have a hard time convincing ourselves that the Republicans have had a true change of heart about putting their party before their country especially since one top GOP aide admitted to the Washington Post that it was simply "impossible to win the communications battle" - the restoration of a serious ethics process in the House is a resounding victory in its own right. This change happened because of you and thousands like you, who signed our petition to repeal those rules, who stood up and told the Republicans that the American people will not stand by as their government is turned into an unaccountable, "pay-for-play" free for all.
That's not all of it, and yes, I'm happy to see the Ethics Committee rules rolled back. Sure, I'm thrilled people came together and spoke out.

But as I've said too many times, lopping off part of the snake doesn't necessarily remove all the venom, and there's no indication yet DeLay's going elsewhere. I was glad to see Jonathan Alter (please, Jon, update your photo - you haven't had a head of hair like that in ... five years?) of Newsweek agree that we'd probably do best to leave DeLay in office until Texas voters kill him off in 2006. IF they kill him off, of course.

And even if they do kill him off, we've still got a lot of snakes in Congress on both sides of the aisle. Tom should be specifically ordered not to have his hand in politics again and no one is EVER going to go against Tommy boy that way. As long as he and his machine live, his taint will be everywhere. His machine will survive him. His rot exceeds him.

Pat Tillman: Another Example of the Military "Using" Our Soldiers

Yes, friendly fire happens. It does. In the heat of battle, certainly, it must be extremely difficult sometimes to tell who is who and whether the shots you're hearing are coming from the "enemy's" gun or from your buddy's.

But the case of Pat Tillman, the man who left a good sports career to fight for his country, exemplifies how the military - not the grunts but the guys way up the food chain - will do just about anything not to take "heat" for one of these situations. When caught, they'll lie and otherwise obfuscate.

Today, we learned that the military ordered Tillman's gear destroyed in the hours just after his death. Why? Well, because it would apparently be more obvious how he died.

Why did they go to this trouble? They say they didn't want to hurt the family, wanting instead for them to be able to grieve.

I'm pretty sure the family grieved regardless of exactly how Tillman died. But the top guns knew Tillman's death would be notable - as opposed to the way the military treats most of the soldier deaths and ALL of the civilian ones - and they probably really liked the PR of a so-called sports hero giving it all up for his country. To admit it was friendly fire ended the full glory of the sacrifice, at least apparently to Mr. Rumsfeld and Company. To me, and probably to many of you, Tillman's sacrifice is no less because he was killed by friendly fire.

So I tend to think the illusion and the lie became much more important to the military. They used him to get him into the military - we've destroyed Afghanistan but where's bin Laden? and the Taliban is back in full operation including the stoning to death of a woman last week by the morality police - and then they used his death for good PR.

Yes, truth is often referred to as the first casualty of war. But this crew - Rummy and Myers and company - take the cake. They wouldn't know truth if they were fired upon by it. The truth is just one more thing to manipulate, like a Pat Tillman, or some 18-year-old from Kansas no one has ever heard of until his obit runs in the local paper.

First, Sex Scandals. Now, Religious Intolerance

Also from CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it will appoint a task force to investigate allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy.
Some 55 complaints of religious discrimination have been filed going back to 2001, prompting school officials to require that all 9,000 cadets and faculty and staff members take a 50-minute course on religious sensitivity, academy officials said.

In addition, a report last week by a Washington-based religious liberty group accused cadets and staff members of creating a climate that discriminated against non-Christians at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"We have concluded that both the specific violations and the promotion of a culture of official religious intolerance are pervasive, systematic and evident at the very highest levels of the academy's command structure," said the report from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


Note to Terrorists: Please Don't Attack Us; Our Ass Isn't Covered

From CNN:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has issued a report to Congress that said the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts could hamstring the U.S.'s ability to fight other wars, and that future campaigns could last longer and produce higher casualties, a senior military official told CNN. White House spokesman Trent Duffy reiterated Tuesday the president's belief that the military is prepared for whatever it may face.
Elsewhere, probably on today's Democracy Now, I was hearing about how high school recruiters are coaching students to lie about drug use, mental problems, and health issues that could keep them from being accepted into the military. Some kids have even said they were coached on how to lie to their parents if Mom and Dad voice concerns about their children joining the non-stop war machine named George II.

Conservatives Bash Conservatives Who Bash First Lulu's "Comedy" Routine

Oh, good. They're beginning to eat one another. Perhaps they'll all spontaneously combust and leave the rest of us alone.

From the Swift Report:

A conservative Christian organization that lashed out at the First Lady's weekend comedy routine is lashing out again—this time at critics who claim that the group's Bible-based panning of Mrs. Bush's jokes and one-liners was itself a joke.

The Coalition for Traditional Values (CTV) made headlines yesterday when a story appeared on the popular conservative Weblog, the Swift Report. In the story, which was picked up by the Drudge Report, Rush Limbaugh, and other media outlets, CTV chairman Pastor Roy DeLong criticized the First Lady for making jokes that mocked the traditional family structure and publicly undermined her husband at a time when President Bush's masculinity is increasingly under attack.

But hours after the story appeared, a rival group called the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) came forward with its own version of events. Late yesterday, TVC released a statement in which it claimed that CTV's criticism of the First Lady's Performance is part of a systematic effort to undermine its own work. According to TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, "Our computers have seen more viruses than a pediatrician's office. Today's phony press release is just the latest dirty trick aimed at discrediting our efforts on behalf of America's churches."
Courtesy of Buzzflash.

And who's attacking the president's masculinity and does it involve pruning shears?

Pat Robertson: Judges Are Much Greater Threat Than a Few Bearded Terrorists

Don't know if any of you are Frank Zappa fans, but Frank often sang about good old Pat ("Jesus thinks you're a jerk..."). Last year, Pat suggested someone would do America a favor if they drove a bomb-laden truck into the State Department to eliminate Colin Powell.

Now, in his new book, he says that judges (the non-Robertson-activist ones) are killing America and hints that these judges need to be taken out.

You know, I think one of the great evils hurting America are men like Pat, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Randall Terry, and a slew of others. They smile and then slash up America anyway they see fit.

Now 2:1 Opposed is Closer to a Mandate

That's how many Americans in most polls oppose Bush's trashing of Social Security.

Also from The Post:

As the Senate moves toward a major confrontation over judicial appointments, a strong majority of Americans oppose changing the rules to make it easier for Republican leaders to win confirmation of President Bush's court nominees, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

GOP leaders are threatening a rule change to prohibit the use of filibusters to block judicial nominees and have stepped up their criticism of the Democrats for using the tactic on some of Bush's nominees to the federal appellate courts. They say they are prepared to invoke what has become known as the "nuclear option" to ensure that Bush's nominees receive an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

But by a 2 to 1 ratio, the public rejected easing Senate rules in a way that would make it harder for Democratic senators to prevent final action on Bush's nominees. Even many Republicans were reluctant to abandon current Senate confirmation procedures: Nearly half opposed any rule changes, joining eight in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 political independents, the poll found.
Read more about those already-sent-home-once judicial nominees like Janice Brown and Priscilla Owen, and you get a much better idea of a) why Dems would not back them (they're very pro-corporate, pro-their-own-unique flavor of morals, and very anti-normal American) and b) why it's reprehensible that after these judges couldn't get confirmed last time, Bush shoved them back down the throats of the judiciary committee again.

Understand that the courts are quite full of Republicans and conservatives, where they are in the majority on the bench. Many of them are "activist" judges, too, meaning that they go well beyond law to craft their own rulings.

So let's talk about mandates, Mr. Bush.

Bush's "Mandate" Now Getting More Scrutiny

Here's a Washington Post piece discussing it. I just wonder where the press was back when a good many of us were wondering how a fairly slim win last November gave him some universal signal that everyone loves everything he does. Since when does a 51%-49% win - and that's WITH some very questionable election scenarios - translate into a mandate?

I hate what he's doing. Almost everything he touches is ruined. Sure, I'd like to think that he's debasing so much, especially on key issues like Social Security, that he's setting the 2006 mid-term race into a situation where voters will say, "Enough's enough."

But by 2006, we'll see even more voter fraud. And wait too many people are still drinking the koolaid, although not always by choice - I've heard more than a few people say that it's just too dangerous to speak out.

Myself? I think it's too dangerous NOT to speak up, not when we're watching the U.S. turned into a very inefficient corporate empire.

It's a Good Thing if Retirees Must Sell Their Homes to Feed Themselves Under Bush's Social Security Pillaging

I heard this. I read this. I still cannot believe it. ["If you look at it differently, the Holocaust was a good idea because Europe in the 40s had so many problems, those killed probably experienced significant relief over those who lived."]

From Sunday Morning Talk:

Senator George Allen (R-VA) may have gotten in a bit over his head, this morning, on Meet the Press. On private accounts, he suggested that Americans might have to sell their homes to survive in retirement. But, that would be a good thing, because they wouldn't have to trim hedges and cut grass, he noted.

In fact, he was trying to reassure people who are uncomfortable about investing in the stock market with private accounts. So, he recognized that those who do, might reduce their retirement savings in the event of a market downturn (I hear those happen once in awhile). But, he thinks allowing your own home to be your investment would get around that. Although, it would force you to sell it when you retire in order to feed yourself.

Oh, Those Silly "Family Values", "Morals Above All Else" GOPers

Republicans are circling the wagons around U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Tunkhannock, in the wake of an incident involving a 29-year-old woman in his Washington, D.C., apartment last September.

“The only thing you have in life is your reputation,” said Marge Matisko, an activist with the Luzerne County Republican Party. “Don Sherwood has always been very well-respected, and he always valued that. This has hurt him personally and professionally, and that’s a shame.”


Police responded to a 911 call on Sept. 15 from Cynthia Ore, 29, of Rockville, Md. She locked herself in a bathroom in Sherwood’s D Street apartment and told operators that Sherwood “choked her for no apparent reason” while giving her a backrub.
Sherwood, 64, told police he was giving Ore a backrub when she “jumped up” and ran to the bathroom.
Back rub? Apparently, he rubbed her the wrong way. And where was Mrs. Sherwood?

Wife of Filibustered Judicial Nominee Swift Boat Funder

Interesting. Brought to us via Plutonium Page at Daily Kos:

From The Next Hurrah:
    Last week I pointed out the irony that one of Bush's filibustered judicial nominees is the son of the former Republican Senator who led the last filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. Today we'll look at another of Bush's filibustered nominees and his connection to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

    Michigan Court of Appeal Judge Henry Saad was nominated in 2001 for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal. His confirmation was blocked, Bush renominated him, and his appointment is again stalled in the Senate. Saad's wife is Mara Letica, an attorney and vice president of her family business, Letica Corporation. In 1992 she was nominated by the elder Bush as ambassador to Croatia, but the nomination occurred late in Bush's presidency, and like her current husband, she wasn't approved by the Senate, in that case so incoming President Clinton could appoint his own ambassador. In 2004 Letica was one of 105 members of Small Business Leaders for Bush-Cheney '04.

    The small business group was not, however, Mara Letica's only contribution to last year's presidential contest. In addition to some contributions to congressional candidates, she gave $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. (Some of her donations were recorded as "Mara Letica," others as "Mara Letica Saad," and her home address on Michigan campaign finance disclosures is identical to Judge Henry William Saad.) While some people may wish that judges and their familes come to the bench having been above partisanship, that's just not a realistic expectation, and probably shouldn't be. But after all the protests by George W. Bush, his campaign and the White House about being shocked--SHOCKED--to learn about the Swifties' scurrulous attacks against John Kerry, and their denials about any associations between the Swifties and the Bushies, some enterprising reporter might want to ask Bush or Scott McLellan or somebody else at the White House what they think about the wife of one of his filibustered judges giving $10,000 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to help them spread lies about John Kerry's military service in Vietnam.

Tony Blair? Unemployed on Friday or Not?

Tony's goes up for reelection on Thursday and there is some question whether the Brits will allow George's Poodle to return for another term. Of course, some find his major opponent to be rather polarizing as well.

At first, in light of 9/11, I respected Blair for trying to help us even if I thought - and yes, I think I believe even more strongly today - that the Bush reaction to 9/11 was knee-jerk and would only make us more hated in the world. Turns out I was right. Blair had been a good partner with Clinton, and he's in the unenviable position of trying to keep England relevant considering how far it's fallen as a world power just in the past century and trying to serve as a counter balance between the EU and The Empire Strike Everyone (that would be us, the US).

But the more I learned that Blair had been involved in cooking intelligence on Iraq to justify Mr. Bush's war, my respect wore mighty thin. That's OK, though. My family haven't been British citizens for close to 400 years so Mr. Blair does not need to worry about my vote.

Yet - and I know this is sick but - I watch CSPAN's coverage of British Parliament (it's fascinating, especially when they talk about those miserable sods across the Atlantic, which is also us), and I can't despise Blair because he does what Mr. Bush would never do: behave like he's accountable and has to explain his position.

I suspect Blair will be returned for another term but on a much narrower vote than he might have otherwise. Bush has hung the Brits out to dry any number of times so I can understand why Brit citizens would be angry at Bush and want to punish Blair for his participation in The Empire According to a Dick. I wonder, however, if the PM will be as quick to join on Georgie's NeoCon bandwagon after all this.


Lindy England and Abu Ghraib

So now the Lady of the Leash has pleaded guilty. I won't claim to have much sympathy for her, reserving it instead for the men and women she abused at Abu Ghraib and the child she bore in the middle of this mess.

But wait.. that's not quite entirely correct. Ms. England could have gotten through her entire tour of duty in Iraq without having to do what she did. For that, she is very much culpable. Yet there is really little question in thinking people's minds that England wasn't just "one rogue bad apple". The orders for the abuse came from the top, and no one except the sole woman involved with Abu Ghraib (Janice Karpinski) has been charged with anything.

There is no honor at the Pentagon which chose to point fingers at the bottom of the food chain while accessing that they, Rummy and his uniformed cohorts, had no guilt at all. England and her own cohorts represent all of us. But Mr. Rumsfeld himself is directly responsible for them. By coming up with orders that basically told these untrained, not bright soldiers to do whatever they pleased to get the results they wanted, they ensured that an Abu Ghraib would happen.

And Why Do People Live in Florida? You Couldn't PAY Me to Visit There for 5 Minutes

Update: One of our great regulars provided this link to a Sun Sentinel article talking about the girl's appearance in court. And the regular was right: this girl's got more "upstairs" than most of the "authorities" in the case.

Forgive me, I can't find the references now, but on several blogs yesterday, including Shakespeare's Sister, I saw another one of those just lovely Florida children's welfare department cases.

This one involves a 13-year-old girl, in the custody of the department, who became pregnant. Nice. So the department originally requested she be able to have an abortion because well... let's count the obvious reasons, shall we, starting with age 13.

Ah, but Jeb can't allow any death to happen on his watch that he thinks will affect his political future (which I hope is null but trust me, he'll run for prez; the Bushies think it's their due). So now the state has stepped into the case to try to block the abortion because it's not in the best interests of the 13-year-old.

Really? It's in her best interests to bear a child when her body hasn't even finished developing? She's emotionally, financially, and supportively equipped to deal with a pregnancy that should NOT have happened if the department was actually trying to protect and serve her?

Of course this has nothing to do with the girl's best interests and everything to do with Jeb's. The state could not do its job in protecting this girl and now, to keep Jeb from embarrassment, we turn one victim into two by forcing her to carry the child to term.

As I've said (too) many times before, I would prefer if there was never again one single occurrence of an unplanned pregnancy that needs to be resolved through abortion. But we're not there yet. Nor are we going to get there with all the bullshit about Abstinence Only and trying to keep contraceptives out of the hands of women (and men).

For God's sake, don't force this child - and that's what she is, a child - to carry a child to term just because it's "good for Jeb". Enough grand standing.

Why Two Sets of Comments?

If you haven't noticed before, look now and you'll see that both Blogger comments and HaloScan comments are active.

Why? Because some folks - for whatever reason - are still having difficulty accessing at least one set of comments. Until I can resolve why, I'm leaving both up. Once it gets solved, we'll go back to HaloScan which doesn't require registration (Blogger does).

Jesus Was Not a Republican

Say hello to the blog whose name I love.

The Jessica Lunsford Act

Jessica was the young Florida girl abducted and killed by a sexual molester. Shakespeare's Sister tells us about the new bill signed by King George's little brother, Jeb, to make conditions tougher on the people who would do this thing. She also shares her concerns.

Let me share mine as well. And - just for comparison sake - I should tell you that I experienced molestation as a child and I've experienced rape. Both facts certainly affected my life. To this day, I still cannot imagine how anyone sees a child or even another adult as just a sexual object there for their folly - something to be used and thrown away. Another adult, at least in theory, has some chance of fighting back more effectively than a child. But, especially with a child, I don't think many of us can quite get our heads around seeing a child of 7 or 9 or 12 and "clicking" on the idea of sex.

However, with that said, I've still got some big worries about what we're doing here. No one wants to see kids abused like this, much less killed. But the harsher we make the situation for someone who so much as looks twice at a child in what someone else would perceive as a sexual manner, doesn't it make it more likely that a predator who acts on an urge will kill that child, hoping that this will give them more of a chance to escape than if the child lives to tell?

But I'm very worried about treating sex offenders so much different than any other category of criminal: tracking them forever, even when they've served their sentence and even if they show no symptoms of repeating the behavior. In what other crime do we a) not allow people to return to their community and b) act like their time in prison doesn't count because we can sentence them to a life of monitoring and being pulled in every time some child goes missing? Is this really the right thing to do? Or is it the expedient bandage we apply to a situation to make us feel better?

I believe that aside from the fact that we make child cases like Lunsford's into a big media event, sexual predators do NOT represent the single largest danger to children. Last I read, parents are statistically much more likely to hurt and/or kill a child than any outside bogeyman. Only very rarely, once a parent has harmed or killed a child does a court put some condition on that person that they can never have contact with another child.

Beyond the issue of parents, it's not a sexual predator/stranger like the fellow in the Lunsford case who is most apt to get access to a child to harm them: it's someone close to the child like a clergy person, a family friend, or a relative other than the parents. In my case, my molestation occurred not from a stranger but two mature males, pillars of our community and two local churches, who had access to our home because they had been friends of my deceased father. I've read that this is the case for most kids.

People like the men in my case would probably never get processed through the system, would never be identified as sexual predators, and would not be monitored. Granted, reporting of childhood sexual abuse is taken a great deal more seriously today than it was when I was a small child in the late 1960s, but I believe the statistic stands.

We're too eager to assign bogeyman status to the poor, the mentally ill, and the transient, while being very resistant to see the dangers posed by those close to home.

Jeb Bush had strong words today for anyone who commits such a crime against children. But my, wasn't he eager to join in the fanfare the last few weeks for not one but two Popes who acted to conceal clergy who had committed these acts against kids?


No Matter How Bad You Expect Your Monday to Be, Remember This

At least you're not Jennifer Wilbanks who waited until after the last of her eight - count 'em - eight bridal showers to run off, involve hundreds of people in trying to find her, and then have the chutzpah to call the police and claim an Hispanic man kidnapped her. Then she wears a blanket over her head walking through the airport. The only reality TV show I'd like to see is Jennifer having to wash dishes from now until age 60 paying back the costs of trying to locate her. Want to bet someone will offer her a book deal? I'm sure Oprah and Dr. Phil will have her on.

Oh, and the best part? Since the feds were involved in trying to find her, we ALL get to pick up part of the tab for her little escapade and not just the working class stiffs of Duluth, Georgia.

Laura Bush, Just Soooooo Funny

The press fell all over themselves praising Laura Bush for her great wit (they also like her half-wit, George) at some appearance last night. But for some reason, I didn't find it too funny. Maybe it was because she and hubby keep giving us all these pleasant spins on Iraq when so many people have lost their lives there in the last few days - not to mention the last few years. Somehow, I don't quite see the humor in having to wonder if the number of deaths caused by the U.S. action there, along with the atrocities, have surpassed the number of people who died under the evil dictator, Saddam Hussein, and his two miserable sons.

But even if you excuse George, Iraq (harder to swallow), and the Trollop Twins who single-handedly are out to prove what great results you get when you have such Godly parents, just the little bit Mrs. Bush did about "Desperate Housewives" turned my stomach. As the ratings keep telling us, shows like "Desperate Housewives" and the women who apparently will bed just about anything with a pulse are a hit chiefly in those "God-fearing and we'll tell you what's good morals" red states. You know, the same people us "Godless, America-destroying liberals" are supposed to treat as our moral superiors. In blue states and homes, the witches of Wisteria Lane aren't quite the ratings grabbers.

Nor does it strike me particularly ha-ha that these great arbitors of religion and "good clean living" types hasten to make PBS into a mindless cesspool and censor cable TV because "they don't adhere to perfect Christian values" - my God, they even mentioned "evolution" on PBS last week so watch their budget get hit even harder - but they love the swill on soap operas and "Desperate Housewives."

But then, Laura's never exactly been a housewife. Oh, no, it's not because she's a teacher and a librarian. In fact, she worked just a couple of years at that, and listening to her speech, one worries about the quality of those she taught. She likes to say she decided to leave her work to be a mother to her twins. Of course, about four or five years passed from leaving that job to actually having the twins. And from what we've seen of the twins, they spent way too much time with their dimwit parents and not exactly reading from the Bible. Or they were sitting there watching quality programming like "Desperate Housewives" because the very non-liberal Daily News and Post have reported many times about how the twins like to dance simulating sex acts while totally shit-faced in bars and parts in Godless New York.

Perhaps Laura will give us all a big laugh and enlist the twins in Iraq. Now that will be a hoot. Especially when we remember that the twins often run up bar tabs of several thousand a night - far more than the president wants to let the feds spend to educate your child for a year.

Pretty righteously ha-ha, huh?

Another Vermont Blog

It's FlameApe and sometime soon I've got to get it added to my Vermont blogroll. You know, sometime in between my blog disappearing, reappearing, appearing halfway... that sort of thing.

For My Fellow Vermonters

Cathy Resmer of 802 Online lets us know that Seven Days, the thought-provoking and artful free weekly, now has a blog. I love the publication; it's a must-read in our household and one of the few things that my significant other will actually leave the house just to pick up (and unlike my requests for the occasional roll of Necco wafers, he doesn't even grumble about going out for a Seven Days).

Who Saw "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"?

And your review is what? ::grin::

North Korea

So they conducted a missile test.

Mind you, I don't like anyone having nuclear weapons. But would someone explain to me why the two bigger nuclear bullies - the U.S. and Israel - have the right to tell everyone else that they can't have nuclear weapons? The reasoning continues to elude me.

So much for stability

At least one person just said they can't open the blog right.

Back to tinkering.

In the "If it Ain't Broke Too Badly, Stop Fixing it" Department

There are some odd problems here and there, including the fact that the blog breaks again whenever I add back HaloScan comments, but I've decided to stop trying to fix it before I fix it out of commission again.

So bear with me and we'll get back to blogging rather than slogging.

And a thanks to Vince who wrote a helpful note. It's not my cache that was sticking things: on four different systems, the blog would simply never open or only open partially (although, you're correct: a stuck cache can do horrible things). Some of you seemed to be able to get in fine yesterday while at least three others I communicated with could not.

If Any Major Media Outlet Offers to Pay the Runaway Bride

for her story, so help me, I won't scream. I'll mount a letter writing campaign the likes of which they've never known.

I am so tired of society's fuckups (Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Toby Keith, and yes, our beloved "leader") getting the most attention, the most air time, and the most money.

Now Let's See

how this breaks as I begin to add features back. What fun!

Amusing Notes

Through all the problems I had trying to bring the blog back, I hadn't bothered to look at who's been visiting lately. Then I found profound amusement to notice folks like CBS News and The New York Times, one of the Seattle papers and a few other "big names" have happened by.

But you know what? The people I'm always happiest to see are the regulars. There's someone from a local library system, for example, who stops by often, and a number of others - and I think you know who you are - that always make my day. I also love it when someone new comes by and starts coming back.

I don't do the blog to get noticed by the big guys (I know how to get them here and choose not to do it) but because I think it's important that normal Joes - and Janes! - talk about what's happening, share their perspectives, and try to make sense of what is going on.

I say this because I've been re-evaluating many things lately and one of the things I've wondered is if I should continue to blog. It does get me some negative attention and has cost me a few contracts because (even when the folks there say they agree with my positions) I can be so blunt that they are concerned that what I do might attract unwanted attention in unrelated realms. Doesn't matter that I keep my worlds very separate - some bridging happens.

I could tell you about the really nasty year-plus in which, after an article of mine appeared on the front page of a Los Angeles newspaper, got me on a "religious right nut case" hit list. It was a serious list, too, in which my name appeared with other "horrible, horrible antiAmericans" like Bill Clinton, Mario Cuomo, and yes, even the last Pope. Everytime my byline appeared anywhere, some nut would write to the publisher telling them I should be silenced. My crime? I showed that too many special interests were trying to "Disney-fy" the Internet and silence too many voices. This was during the big Telecom act in the late 1990s that was eventually thrown out by federal courts - and some brave judges. It's those types of judges - who read the law and try to respond fairly, despite threats - that we see being warred upon now by Tom DeLay and his type. We need judges like that as much as we need places other than the mainstream media to get our information.

This weekend, several have dropped notes ("look at this" or "thanks for saying that" or "it's nice to have a sane place to go" or other personal things) and I came on this morning to see many of you and... you know what? I don't think I can chute the blog.

We need each other, perhaps more now than ever.