Ask Not What Sacrifice You Can Make For Your Country; Instead, Ask What Gift Mr. Bush Can Give the Ultra Rich

Morbo, posting at The Carpetbagger Report, raises a topic that toasts my cookies (er... uh... oatmeal, not chocolate chip):

Great political leaders are not afraid to call on the American people to sacrifice.

[snippety snip snip]

I have to wonder if Americans today — even if they had a visionary leader worth following — could be successfully called to sacrifice again.

The question is kind of academic right now. The narrow and crabbed MBA worldview of President George W. Bush does not permit him to conceive of such a thing as “sacrifice.” A leader with vision, a leader capable of inspiring the people, could call for shared sacrifice and perhaps do great things — maybe even save Social Security. That’s not Bush.

Bush has spent five years encouraging Americans to be selfish and fantasy-prone. Why should anyone sacrifice for the greater good when the reigning ideology in Washington are the twin messages of “Just look out for yourself” and “Buy, buy, buy”? (What were we told to do after Sept. 11? Go buy something.)

Consider terminology. The very term “Social Security” conjures up the image of the greater society around you. It’s two simple words, but they convey a powerful message: We’re all in this together.

Contrast that to the Bush alternative: private accounts. What message does that send? It says, “You are on your own. Make the right choices, and you’ll live well in retirement. And the guy down the block who made bad choices? Not your concern.”
Oh, absolutely.

If these wars were so just, so real - real in the sense of responding to some legitimate threat from Afghanistan as a whole or Iraq plus or minus Saddam - wouldn't the president be asking for sacrifice?

But there's the nasty issue of Bush creating an American condition where perhaps he doesn't have to reduce himself to ask. There would seem - recruitment slumpage notwithstanding - to be no end of young people ages 17-27 who don't have a full-time job paying a livable wage, who can't get into college because scholarships and ed loans are tough to come by, and who don't have much in the way of an immediate future. That these young people are not all hopping to join the war may be an indication of how even red state America doubts this war and this president's game plan (one we're not allowed to question).

It also reminds me of a discussion - if you can call it that - with a fellow who likes to tool around everywhere around here, usually when his lard ass is the only occupant of the vehicle - in his huge-o Hummer. Its large rear end - to differentiate from his large tusch - is decorated with several "support the troops" emblems.

Me, unable to contain myself as he stood in line at the village market boasting yet again of his vehicle, asked, "So how do you think you're supporting the troops by driving around in a vehicle larger than some low income housing units, that gets 2 mpg, when the troops are sent in to fight wars for the fuel you burn so freely, and when most of those troops will never make as much in a single year of pay as you spent on that gas guzzling monster?"

This guy's idea of sacrifice is to plaster some cheapo ribbons on the back of a vehicle that symbolizes the reason we're at war.

Mr. Bush, for his part, not only changed tax code so that this fat ass could buy this monster with a big tax break, but his idea of sacrifice is to give more of the tax money from the middle and lower class wage earners to millionaires and billionaires - those who support him, anyway. Where's the first family's sacrifice? Barb and Jen had to cut back on those $5K a night club tabs? Hardly.

Hillary in 2008

Posted over at Slate:

Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow: A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has renewed premature frenzy—on both sides of the aisle—about a possible Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy. A majority of respondents to yesterday's poll said they were either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to cast a vote for the New York senator in 2008. More than half had a favorable view of Clinton, while 39 percent reported an unfavorable view. CNN suggests the poll sends "mixed messages" to the divisive politician.
I think you already know how I feel about Hillary. I think she's far more centrist and capable than the right would ever possibly appreciate.

As a woman, I'm thrilled that people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of a woman as the country's designated alpha male. ::smirk:: But I'm not sure this poll, and the dialogue surrounding it, is in spite of her gender. Part of it, of course, is something I hear frequently among non-Dems, "Makes you almost wish we could bring Bill Clinton back." Just almost?

But beyond, I think it's indicative of growing unhappiness with this particular administration and the right's heavy thumb on everything and everyone. If the current situation continues on course, I believe you could raise Richard Nixon from the dead and - except for the Diebold machines pre-programmed for Bush - he'd win hands down. Crap, I'd take Tricky Dick over Cushie Bush.

Yet I don't want Hillary in '08. I feel as favorable toward her as I would ::choke:: another run by John Kerry. Since Howard Dean can't run, I don't have a single candidate who's expressed interest that I could express interest in.

How about you? And how would you feel about Hillary making a bid for top dog in '08? Hillary might not be warm and fuzzy, but compare her to Dick Cheney (or even Lynne), and she looks a lot better.

More Deadly Stuff in Iraq

Perhaps as many as 100 people - at least, those counted, have been killed or injured in attacks there today in what is becoming a far more deadly "post election" period (not that the runup to elections was any too wonderful either). Among the dead is a Japanese hostage killed by his captors.

Did you know the going price for a "secure ride" between downtown Baghdad and the airport, a journey of about 5-6 miles, is now nearly $40,000? Many people, of course, don't make it alive even with this security detail.

Thank you, Mr. Bush!

Tennessee State Senator Resigns After "Sting"

While this CNN article doesn't explicitly state Ford's political affiliation, I'm assuming he's a Democrat, since his brother and nephew, also politicians, are.

But if even some of these allegations are true, he should be gone. I don't like corruption any better from Dems than I do Reps. People who get in office and then use every nasty little trick in the book to line their pockets have no place in government.

Yes, what Ford is accused of pales in comparison to a DeLay's corruption machine, but none of this is acceptable.

And Speaking (Also) of Things the Press is Ignoring...

Social Security.

While seniors are up in arms, and the Bamboozlepalooza Tour rages on, the media has apparently decided that covering this issue in any great detail doesn't bode well for the Bushies, so they've stopped mentioning it much.

I wish I could remember where I read it today, but there was a report that many high income earners deliberately cheat the SS fund out of taxable earnings (to the tune of about $15 billion a year) because they claim they don't take salaries when they pocket profits of more than $100K a year each. These same folks though are right there in line for every freebie SS hands out once they get to retirement age.

Speaking of Tom

Did you hear that his political action committee got hammered by a Texas court this past week for failing to report the better part of a million dollars in mostly corporate donations?

Probably not. The court was fairly careful to stay away from blaming Tom for something Tom formed, Tom commands, Tom has his nasty little nose in from start to finish. And the media was too busy still bashing Newsweek and telling us how much Israel and Egypt just loves the very homey Laura Bush.

Tom Can Dish it But He Can't Take it

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has some intelligent discussion of Tom DeLay's great affront at the folks at Law and Order: Criminal Intent whose final episode of the year featured a story line where a judge is killed by a white supremacist only to have one of the detectives quip they should look for someone wearing a Tom DeLay t-shirt.

As a Law and Order fan (more of the original than its various incarnations which are rarely as tight and smart), I happened to catch a little of the episode the other night and choked on my coffee when I heard that line. But I choked more when I saw the Reuters story about Tom's supposed outrage.

For a man so mean-spirited, so ready to get in front of a camera and look down on everyone else, to pronounce them as bad, wrong, and worthy of whatever trouble they receive, Tom is terribly, terribly thin-skinned. In that respect, he's very representative of today's GOP leaders who unleash hatred, intolerance, and threats and then - oh my - are so appalled when anyone from the other side even frowns.

As Josh puts it... such delicate flowers.


Wear Out Wal-Mart

Creative? Inspired? Don't want America's best deal on toilet paper at the expense of the workers?

If so, this site has a t-shirt creation contest that might interest you.

On the Job Front

I've had two amusing things happen.

First, I got called by a sort of headhunter offering what sounded - at first blush - like the PERFECT job opportunity (short of getting that political editor's job, hint hint). A sci/tech Web sr editor for a major media company. I was salivating.

That is, until I heard who the company was. Faux News.

I can just imagine what happens the first time I process a story about evolution where I have to state - with straight face - that "everyone knows man was created from dust, and women from that dust's rib". Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather starve.

The second was when I checked out Journalism Jobs and found this ad:

Newsweek Magazine seeks a PUBLICIST. You will be responsible for pitching stories to TV and radio producers, securing TV and radio appearances for reporters, drafting trade and editorial press releases, managing the communications department on weekends and supervising weekend writers and assistants. You will also interact with top editors and counsel reporters for interviews, promote breaking news on the internet, place photos from Newsweek events in trade publications, promote special issues, assist with awards entries, and update and monitor biographies and headshots.

The ideal candidate will have at least two to five years experience in PR (preferrably in Journalism or Non-Profit organization) a related field, experience working in a high pressure environment, be able to juggle many responsibilities, and act as a spokesperson for the magazine. You must have a thorough and broad understanding of the news, exceptional communications skills, and strong writing skills. Supervisory experience is a plus. A BA degree is preferred. You must be available to work weekends on a rotating schedule.
Let me say that Newsweek needs a publicist FAR LESS than they need a set of balls.

"If You Do It Too Much, You'll Go Blind!"

Apparently, that old wives' tale doesn't just apply to masturbation.

Word is out that blindness seems to strike (quickly, within minutes) some users of Viagra.

My only concern with Viagra is that a) STDs are waaaaaay up among those who use Viagra, including among many older and elderly women whose promiscuous partners (such as in retirement communities) are "sharing" the wealth of their erections and b) the drug clearly isn't being used just by those with bonified (no pun intended) erection disorders.

While you've heard me say that I've happily never met a man who needed Viagra, that's not a joke. Most men have experienced one time or another where an erection is difficult to achieve or maintain. But an erection isn't the only aspect of sex. I think it's great there are impotency drugs out there for those who ARE impotent, yet evidence suggests that the great volume of users are treating it as a party drug, not for medical necessity. Among teen and young adult males, for example, the usage can be pretty high, some taking multiple pills a night.

Only an immature woman would consider a flaccid penis a horror. Some of us just assume it's a bit of a challenge and challenges are designed to be overcome.

Sorry About the Lightness of Posting

I find myself overwhelmed by some severe personal issues which are turning out to be not quite so easy to resolve. However, I promise to try to pull my head out of my rump since the rest of the world also seems to be going to hell on an express shuttle. ::grin::


Homeland Security: Everything BUT Federal Security

I was channel surfing a few minutes ago and happened to stop on Court TV just in time for a spot about how 10 different federal agencies, coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, swooped in to arrest those making copies of "Revenge of the Sith" available for downloading over the Web.

You know, at some point, someone is actually going to attack this country again. But the Department of Homeland Security, which seems to exist largely to make Bush cronies richer and protect the interests of the extremely wealthy, will prove its down just about nothing to actually make the nation's ports or points of access more secure.

I mean, George Lucas has made so much he could build his own police force. But our tax dollars have to rush into action for this. Now, obviously, making pirated copies of his film available is wrong - no question about it.

But again and again, we hear the DHS has been involved in the Michael Jackson case, here, and in all this other nonsense, while we keep getting demonstrations of how the security that screens old ladies shoes at the airport can't catch anything. It boggles the mind.

The Bushes Nod in Approval at Egypt's Brand of Democracy

It is, after all, just what democracy under George is like.

Read the entire thing at The Whiskey Bar, but here's a teaser:

First lady Laura Bush on Monday praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's controversial plan for elections this year, which some opposition groups say would prevent them from participating.

"I would say that President Mubarak has taken a very bold step," the first lady told reporters after touring the pyramids here. "You know that each step is a small step, that you can't be quick."

[snippy snip snip]

A nationwide referendum on multi-party elections in Egypt turned violent Wednesday as pro-government mobs attacked and beat demonstrators on the streets of the capital.

Officials of President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party, or NDP, led hundreds of young men who attacked anti-government demonstrators. Journalists and witnesses at the scene of several incidents, including this correspondent, saw riot police create corridors for stick-wielding men to freely charge the demonstrators.

Adopt a BlastoCyst; Call it "George", "Dick", or "Tom"!

I like Rude Pundit's take on Bush's phenomenally dumb speech the other day that single cell embryos were far more precious and deserved far more protection than any living, fully cooked human (fully cooked pretty much excludes George and the Twins, of course).

The Rude Pundit is not going to try to outline the science for you. You can find some great primers on stem cells out there. But let's just say this: if you believe that blastocysts created for in-vitro fertilization should be protected as if they were living, breathing, walking, talking, shitting, fucking beings, then you should offer up yourself or your wife or your mistress or your daughter to be constantly implanted with these cute lil' babies to make sure they're all adding to your voting base.

As with the Terri Schiavo debacle, the over-the-top rhetoric reached its pinnacle with Tom DeLay, who said during the debate on stem cell legislation in the House of Representatives, "An embryo is a person, a distinct, internally directed, self-integrating human organism. We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth." And so was Hitler. And so was Saddam Hussein. And so was Tom DeLay. So the fuck what?

Doesn't it just hit you in the gut, like a sumo wrestler leaping on a wayward toddler, to hear George Bush say with a straight face and no sense of irony, "We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life"? Bush tried so hard to not say that his crazed Christian beliefs were the reason why he threatens to veto the stem cell research bill. Instead, he used a tortured version of ethics, some fucked-up idea that it is more ethically sound to use leftover blastocysts for the occasional baby than for research that has the potential to help, well, every real and living person on earth. Somewhere, Benedict de Spinoza is screaming, "Are you fuckin' kiddin' me?"

We're Still Not Allowed to Ask: "For How Long?"

From David Sirota:

Polls show 57 percent of Americans believe going to war in Iraq was not worth it. Yet, this week, almost 70 percent of lawmakers (including, pathetically, top members of the Democratic leadership) in the House of Representatives voted against a bipartisan, non-binding resolution asking the President to submit a plan to Congress explaining an exit strategy from Iraq.

Possibly more insulting than the vote itself was the fact that Republicans actually equated asking for an exit strategy to abandoning America's troops. Apparently to the GOP, continuing to have no exit strategy at all and leaving our young men and women in a violent Middle Eastern quagmire is the real way to show our troops respect.
Shouldn't we be firing these lawmakers? Imagine any other situation billed as a "cakewalk" and "it'll pay for itself in no time" and "we'll be in and out in 2-6 months" that, after persisting for more than two years, through tens of thousands of deaths, and hundreds of billions of dollars lost (to everyone but Halliburton and company), where no one is allowed to ask a simple question like "How much longer?"

The Illumination of Walter Jones

Who's Walter Jones? He's the GOP House Rep from North Carolina who brought us the happy horseshit involved in changing the name of french fries to "Freedom fries" and French toast to... well, you get the idea... when the French balked at joining the Coalition of the Blackmailed and Bullied in the leadup to the cooked Iraq War. You remember this. Bush jumped on board the bandwagon and insisted the name of all this food get changed in the Hill dining room and on Air Force One (even though Bush has at least one taxpayer-paid French executive chef on staff).

But Walkter Jones, along with much of the rest of the country, has become disillusioned with events far closer to home than gay Paree. In an interview this week, he had very strong words for the falsification of material to allow Mr. Bush to bulldoze and bomb his way through Baghdad, saying it was wrong, that Mr. Bush was wrong (and implying it was more than an error but an outright campaign of horse poop to deceive). Mr. Jones is not happy and regrets the whole "Freedom Fries" episode.

So why am I bringing this up? Because I was highly critical of Mr. Jones a few years ago. I'm sorry it took him so long to reach the same conclusions many of us came to well before we entered Iraq. But considering how many in Washington are afraid to say boo to a president who lies his way through everything, I commend Mr. Jones for speaking up.

See? I can say nice things about Republicans, especially when they cut down on their Koolaid consumption. ::grin::

Flushing of the Koran

If you blinked last night, you missed it, but the ACLU provided evidence from FBI files that as early as 2002, a Gitmo detainee talked about the destruction of the Koran and flushing it down the toilet.

Quickly, however, this administration said, "oh no, that's wrong!" Now they claim they re-interviewed the detainee who has now "changed his story".


What Has Happened to Barack Obama

David Sirota questions how the seeming great hope of the Democratic Party, who rode to an overwhelming victory in Illinois, is doing now that he's in the Senate. I've been wondering, too.


No Longer Even Pretending

I happened to watch both NBC Nightly News and part of Lehrer News Hour tonight and - through story after story - I noticed that everything was presented this way:

    * How conservatives want things to go
    * How things are going
    * How moderate Republicans may differ from that
    * Why this isn't making Mr. Bush happy (and that seems to matter most)
    * How much the nut wing doesn't like moderate Republicans differing from that
    * What the nut quotient will do about those moderate Republicans
Notice anything missing there, like:
    * Democrats
    * Anyone else who's not a conservative, a Republican?
    * How this affects MOST Americans?
    * Why this is a bad idea?
They're not even pretending that anyone else other than a small section of extreme GOP matters anymore. I find that not simply disappointing, but downright scary.


Gee, folks, I though The Corner was a parody already. But Poor Man brings us this, and a request for your help if you happen to be a Corner (ir)regular:

I’m trying to write a parody of The Corner. Naturally, this requires reading The Corner. Sadly, it’s horrible. So, as I way of motivating myself, I’ve been trying to come up with a list of 100 things that are incontestably worse than reading The Corner, so when my determination fades, I’ll be able to tell myself that there are at least 100 things that I could be doing that are worse, so quit whining. Here’s my list:

1. Catching incurable all-over flesh-melting body cancer
2. Being eaten alive by fire ants
3. Spending all eternity in Hell as Bruce Vilanch’s human beard-comb
4. Being eaten alive by regular ants who just ate some really spicy buffalo wings
5. Reading Michelle Malkin

80th Anniversary of the Indictment of a Teacher Named Scopes

Attaturk posting at Atrios - and The Times, read here - remind us that it was this day, 80 years ago, when a teacher, John Scopes, was indicted for having the unmitigated nerve to try to educate his students about evolution.

Sadly, there are many - including the current head of the fed Dept of Education, members of Congress, and this president - who would be very happy if they could dig up poor Mr Scopes (and Darwin, for that matter) and put him through a monkey trial all over again, this time, with the results assured through cooked kangaroo courts filled with judges Mr. Bush and his cronies hand-picked.

A day - and an era - that lives in infamy. Apparently those who don't like history are condemning the rest of us to repeat it over and over until they get the results they like.

Voinovich Breaking Down in Tears During Bolton Discussion

Did anyone see that today? Evening news kept playing the video again and again.

I thought it was poignant and definitely not scripted. But I felt it wasn't just about Bolton being a disastrous choice - which he is, really - but also reflected the intense pressure the Ohio Republican has been placed under by trying to buck this administration.

Tears in politicians - at least I find - put me off. But I thought he seemed very human and not weak. Sometimes, I suppose, it's useful to remember they're human. Bolton's nomination has certainly moved me to angry tears (but then I'm one of those estrogen-prone she-bloggers Little Green Assholes Football Nazis warn you about and Kevin Drum would quote and link to if only the girls had something worthwhile to say ::sarcasm mode off::).

A Personal Note on Anonymous Blogging

One of the reasons I was glad to see that Mike Krempansky offered to compile comments to the FEC is because I'd seen and heard from a few folks who didn't want to comment if it required giving their full name and address. I don't think it's purely by accident the FEC wants these either, not considering how poorly this administration accepts any criticism.

By the same token, however, I'm not always comfortable with the idea of solely anonymous blogging. When I was starting one, I debated long and hard about putting my name out there - while my full name doesn't appear on the blog - it's pretty easy to find and I use my full name frequently when commenting elsewhere or respond to mail. As a woman working online back at a time when there weren't many other women out there, a desire to remain anonymous was strong.

I ultimately felt that if I was going to speak my mind and offer both criticism and praise, I had to be willing to say the same things whether or not people could identify me. Now, my reasoning does not have to match yours. I understand why some prefer the anonymity. There are compelling arguments both pro and con. And trust me, more than a few times, I've considered rethinking my stance. It does bring me some unwanted scrutiny. But damned - if it weren't so critically important, I wouldn't be doing this anyway.

For Those Wanting to Comment to the FEC About Attempts to Restrict Blogs

This relates back to the information I posted last night - link here - about a short window left to state your opinion on federal attempts to control blogs and political commentary by the Federal Election Commission.

But Mike Krempansky of The Online Coalition - contact him here - is making a generous offer to compile comments for those who don't want to broadcast their private details to the FEC (I filed directly with the FEC; it's not like they don't have a file on me somewhere already). Specifically:

Since our update last night, many of you have raised an important question that illustrates one of the major problems with the process at the Federal Election Commission - that they require your name and address to even accept a comment on a proposed piece of regulation.

We all know that not only do many bloggers operate anonymously or with a pseudonym, but that one of the near-cardinal rules for life on the internet is *don't publish your address*.

Accordingly, I am prepared to submit your comment on your behalf - using my name and address to meet the FEC's requirement. I will compile as many bloggers' comments as I receive by Friday close-of-business, May 27th.

If you'd like to take advantage of this - just email me your blog URL, blog title, and if you'd like - your name, along with whatever comment you'd like the FEC to receive. They won't be edited, simply compied into one document with an introduction explaining the problem - and why it shows such a weakness in their approach to regulating the internet.


Applauding Senator Voinovich

I'm impressed. I think this senator may be more interested in the good of the U.S. and the world than merely being a tool to the Bushies. Good for him.

The maverick Republican who denied
President Bush's U.N. nominee a smooth sail through the GOP-led Senate asked colleagues Tuesday to vote against a "controversial and ineffective ambassador."

The Senate is expected to vote on John R. Bolton's nomination before leaving for a Memorial Day break, and Republicans said they are confident he will be confirmed.

The vote would end weeks of wrangling over whether Bolton mistreated co-workers or took liberties with government intelligence.

"In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective ambassador to the

United Nations," Sen. George Voinovich (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio, wrote to all 99 other senators. "I worry that Mr. Bolton could make it more difficult for us to achieve the important U.N. reforms needed to restore the strength of the institution."

Maryland Governor Loses Bid to Ban Reporters Who Don't Praise Him

Poor baby (and I do mean baby):

A coalition of the nation's leading news organizations filed a legal brief Monday supporting The Sun in its lawsuit against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., contending the governor's ban on two Sun journalists was an act "characteristic of repressive regimes."

The 27-page amicus brief was filed in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., by lawyers representing the New York Times Co., The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Time Inc., CNN, the E.W. Scripps Co. and Advance Publications Inc. An array of news professional associations also joined the brief.

"The First Amendment is designed to protect the press and the public against governmental attempts to restrict speech disapproved of by those in power," the brief said. "Yet the Governor's order, by his own admission, seeks to do precisely that: he seeks to coerce journalists into providing coverage that is pleasing to him on pain of being subject to an official boycott if they do not."

The brief argues that Ehrlich cannot exclude journalists from the normal channels of news-gathering -- such as interviewing state officials -- based on the content of their reporting. The Sun is not asking for special treatment or to have every phone call returned, the brief said, but merely to have access to the ordinary channels available to all other reporters.

Ehrlich's ban harms not only The Sun -- in its ability to assign reporters of its choosing to the State House -- but also other news organizations, the brief said. "In short, the retaliation against The Sun's reporter and columnist has an undeniable chilling effect on all those who report on the affairs of Maryland state government," the brief said.

Blogebrity is Definitely Sub-F list

Pharyngula mentions the arrival of Blogebrity, a rather nothing Web site that apparently touts itself as the authority on blogs. What makes them an authority seems rather impossible to discern since most of their site is fushcia-on-black. Period.

This is a blog with just SOOOO much to offer like... well, dividing the blog up to A-list, B-list and C-list. And you should see who gets A List.

If you're heard of them at all - and it's unlikely many names will stand out - it's because these are people you wouldn't want to read. Like Glenn Reynolds aka "the Mickey Kaus of the Hair Club for Men", Michelle Pelikan.. er.. Malkin (pelicans are more attractive and have more brain power), Andrew ("I'm so conflicted but since I have an accent, I'm like waa-aa-y cool") Sullivan, Matt Sludge, Ana Marie ("I don't even bother to blog anymore, that's how famous I am") Cox, and the like.

Now, there were a couple of acceptable A listers whom I would agree are A List material, like Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo (whom I respect so much I'd like to be hired by TPM Cafe, Josh, really ::cough::::cough:: - so much I would be willing to turn down a job well into the 6 figures to take it), Dan Gillmor (whose work I've enjoyed for many years and a few different newspapers), James Wolcott, and Markos Moulitsas (DailyKos). Atrios (Duncan Black) is a required listing there, I suppose - eh, that sounds snarky and it should not. Atrios has been a very valuable resource. I just think it sometimes suffers from "blogebrity" but some of the comments are very good. Likewise, Matt Yglesias and Eric Alterman sort of fall into the same category (again, I respect Eric but I don't read him much anymore and don't even hear many refer to him anymore).

But while they're well known, I would never put Mickey ("They pay me to say I'm a Democrat so I can then call the Dems names with impunity, like Susan Esterhaus") Kaus, Jeff Jarvis, and several of the others there.

The "B" list is really mystifying. LaShawn ("Am I really important yet? Am I? Really? No, I must because they put me on TV on a show that has like 8 viewers... OK, not every day, but I'm black so it's like they get two minorities for the price of one and no, I don't mind selling myself out as a black woman because at least I'm on TV and I contrast real good against that really white woman, Monica.") Barber? I wouldn't let La Yawn copy edit Steve Gilliard's stuff and he barely made the "C" list. Digby also was C list and that's just wrong.

Virus to PC Owner: "Pay $200 Or I Download the Paris Hilton Sex Tape and Play it Endlessly to the Macarena"

These folks are such compelling thieves you'd think they were Bush-loyal Republicans. From CNN:

Computer users already anxious about viruses and identity theft have new reason to worry: Hackers have found a way to lock up the electronic documents on your computer and then demand $200 over the Internet to get them back.

Security researchers at San Diego-based Websense Inc. uncovered the unusual extortion plot when a corporate customer they would not identify fell victim to the infection, which encrypted files that included documents, photographs and spreadsheets.

A ransom note left behind included an e-mail address, and the attacker using the address later demanded $200 for the digital keys to unlock the files.

BTW, If You're Planning a Vermont Vacation in the Near Future

Bring your parka and rain gear.

It might be late May, but it's been cold and gray and raw. We had a few days of relative warmth early in the month but since then, it stays around 50 tops and much worse on the very wet days. Even the black flies and mosquitoes are wearing flannel (I don't happen to own much flannel but I'm still wearing the same three layers of clothing near Memorial Day that I did in early March).

The Right's Favorite Chant: "Why Should My Tax Dollars Fund THAT?"

I keep hearing all these whity righties saying this with regard to stem cell research.
Kind of ironic, no? They expect our dollars to fund:

  • lying to kids saying condoms don't work and only abstinence will
  • senseless wars
  • their prescriptions for Viagra while denying basic GYN care and contraceptives to women
  • only teaching their creationism in public schools
  • tax free status for their hate-mongering preachers
  • their trips to Wal-Mart so they can buy toilet paper really cheap from the world's richest store that refuses to pay health insurance for its employees
  • their insistence on gas-guzzling huge trucks and SUVs
  • their desire to use vouchers to keep their kids away from "coloreds and spics"
  • their nutso politicians and judicial nominees
  • their agenda
  • their nutso causes
So who starts listening to the other half of Americans who don't want just creationism taught, senseless wars lied about to wage, the inequity between paying for male erection drugs but not contraceptive and womens GYN health, fair and balanced judiary and representative bodies?

Ah.. but that's the message from the whacky right: "We love life so the rest of you drop dead!"

Culture of Life my glutimus maximus (although my Bush years diet is making it more minimus all the time).

Speaking of Josh and Talking Points Memo....

Josh brings us this. A compromise on Social Security to benefit high income earners? Crap! Gee, I know that if you compare the harm to lower income people when SS is killed or the harm to high income people, of course, we should worry about the same people who've gotten tax cut after dividend after freebie.

In Business Week, Howard Gleckman reports that behind the scenes Republicans and Democrats are moving toward a compromise on Social Security. I'd say this has a great deal to do with which Democrats and which Republicans he's talking to. But, as you'll see in the article, which I highly recommend you read, he seems to be painting a picture in which carved out private accounts are tossed, the cap is raised, though not removed, and various benefit cuts are imposed.

There's also this snippet that suggests Ed Kilgore has been on the right track is supposing that Republicans will try to find their way out of this morass by turning it into a tax windfall for upper-income earners ...

There are three possible pieces to such a package. Republicans would like to see income limits removed for IRAs, 401(k)s, and especially Roth IRAs, whose withdrawals are tax-free. Democrats want new savings incentives for low-income workers, and lawmakers of both parties see the need to fix defined-benefit pensions.

There's a lot to talk about here. But, for my part, all of the Democrats' mental energy should be going into strengthening retirement security for middle-income Americans. Period. That's really not an issue to hash out with Republicans because most of the things the president's party wants to do either damages retirement security or is irrelevant to it.

On the Good Side

I've now had five great job interviews or offers for top companies and top jobs in the last five days.

On the bad side, it's the least paying one that has not so much as called me - hint hint hint, in case they're reading - that I want the most, because it would allow me to wed my blogging to my ethics and journalism. Really, Josh... you should consider me. ::cough:: I can live on a lot less money if it's for something I believe in.

Thank Goodness, Bushies never have to worry about ethics. And their beliefs are clearly always for sale.

A Short Time Left to Save Blogs from the Bushies

From the good folks at The Online Coalition:


Time is running out at the Federal Election Commission. The period for public comment on the proposed rulemaking regarding the Internet closes June 3, 2005.

As a blogger, or blog reader - you have valuable input from your firsthand experience that the FEC desperately needs. You don't have to be a lawyer, and you've got a duty to weigh in. Please take a moment and read over and endorse the 11 Principles for Online Freedom we've written up with the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Institute for Politics, Technology, and The Internet: http://fec.cdt.org/signup.php

If you'd like to file your own comment, here are two places where you can find help and instructions:

RedState.org: http://fec.redstate.org/story/2005/5/20/122244/721
DailyKos.com: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/23/103820/231

Once you do submit a comment, please consider sending us a copy. Knowing what bloggers are telling the FEC will help throughout this process.

The Fed Secretary of Education is a Ninny

And a lobbyist ninny, at that.

Margaret Spellings said the other day that there is far more fact to prove that humans were created by "creationism" than any other "theory." She did NOT however answer what those facts were. If it's the Bible, that text also says man was created from dust and that woman created from a rib taken from Adam, and that consuming knowlegde is a bad thing (to me, all evidence that the Bible is a work of man to keep other people in place rather than the word of God - at least, I've never heard God claim authorship).

Through many revisions, the Bible was specifically edited by different people who interjected their own biases, their own lessons.

But set that aside. The person in charge of our schools says there is far more evidence that creationism is how humans were created. I find that scary but hey, Maggie Poo was a lobbyist and "Bush's consultant" on Texas schools that helped turn those schools into even more of a laughing stock than they used to be (and it was hard to go lower - I've never heard an educator EVER say that Texas offers quality education; most have voiced an opposite opinion since I was a kid, which wasn't exactly yesterday).

Instead, I think Maggie has just sold herself again, this time for a job where her biggest duty is to get people to abandon public schools. This president and his people want public schools to close as surely as they want to destroy Social Security, health care, the judiciary and yes, the rest of the government along with the military. Destruction is their thing.

Senator Threatens Bill Maher When Government Keeps Screwing Soldiers

Cookie Jill posts this at Skippy (International):

    a congressman says comedian bill maher's comment that the us military has already recruited all the "low-lying fruit" is possibly treasonous and at least grounds to cancel the show.

    ..."i think it borders on treason," bachus said. "in treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country." - ustoady
well...senator. if you want to draw up a mccarthy-like list of "treasoners", based on your definition, you might want to start off with:

the people who leaked a cia covert operative's name to the press
the people who printed that name
the people who said that invading iraq would be a cake walk.
the people who said saddam was behind 9/11
the people who gave a male prostitute access to the white house press corps
the people who won't fund port security
the people who won't print the actual news and not just press releases
the people who cut soldiers pay
the people who overcharge our government for work in iraq/afghanistan
the people who charge our government for work never done in iraq/afghanistan
the people who are knowingly hiring illegal workers
the people who have offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes
The Senator should be more worried about whether he's doing enough to make George Bush and Bill Frist happy since, of course, they and Jimmy Dobson are the only ones in the world who matter.

Scarborough and Buchanan Are Trying to Argue that

John McCain is a pompous, power-seeking egomaniac madman and committed the worst act of betrayal since Judas.

These people are cartoons. Unfunny cartoons.

Focus on the Family and Dobson

I keep hearing how they were betrayed.

It's interesting to see how in Washington lately, it's always the people ATTACKING who insist that they're the victims, the poor innocents.

James Dobson and Tony Perkins are among the worst of the worst. These aren't men of morals or faith or God - they're hate-filled idealogues who are happy to destroy the country, its stature, its system of justice - and destroy many lives - in the pursuit of their power trip. Dobson is starting to make Jerry Falwell look like a choir boy - a felonious one perhaps but still - by comparison.

What Dobson objects to is that he - a man we did not and would not let near the presidency by a democratic vote - cannot hand pick every politician, every judge, and every Supreme Court Justice. I find myself wondering what's hiding in his closet. Someone can't hate that much without having an incredible amount to hide. And to have Tony Perkins - a man synonymous with a man terribly conflicted by his need to hide his homosexuality in Hollywood - in there is just too perverse.

Notice How Frist Came Out and Said Today

"all options are still on the table"

Basically, he's saying that the nuclear option is still there. Of course, he has to say that because Dobson's working the whitey righties up to foaming at the mouth, not a huge distance to travel for some of them. Nor is Frist willing to take any blame.

But it's interesting to watch them go after McCain. Now here's a man who spent a very long time as a POW for a war people like Dick Cheney, Georgie Porgie, Tommy Boy and Billy Boo wouldn't waste their time considering, and yet this same crew is happy to denounce McCain.

My feeling is that McCain is to be respected for his service, appreciated for the sacrifice he made. But he betrays the American people more than he betrays men like Frist, who aren't worthy to lick McCain's shoes.. and McCain is by no means the worst of the lot. But he's inconsistent as all hell; kissing George's tush on a regular basis when there is no reason for a man like McCain to do that. Sometimes, he stands for principles but lots of times, it's really impossible to figure why John does what he does.


one of the six posts I've made since 6 PM will show up.


96% of 120,000 Respondents Say Senators Acting Like Spoiled Children

That was the vote this morning on CNN.

I wonder what the results would have been if they asked that question about Mr. Bush? Who, after all, is the most churlish, the most spoiled, the most demanding of them all?

9 Soldiers Dead in Iraq in Just 24 Hours

And whenever you see soldiers dead, you know that exponentially more innocent Iraqi civilians have died because that's just the way a Bush war goes.

And what of Pat Tillman's parents, not only griefstricken but coming to the horrible realization that not only did the military lie about it, but every level of the military involved themselves in great ad grave deceit over this man's death?

I don't happen to agree with the choice Pat Tillman made because I do not believe the war in Afghanistan was any more just than the war in Iraq.

But at the same time, I greatly admire that Tillman believed he was doing what he thought was right. I grieve for his death as much as I grieve for all the other soldiers - and the countless (because we don't count them) others who have died.

And I am terribly angered that not only was this man killed by friendly fire, not only was his death highly preventable, but that there was an actual conspiracy engaged in from Tillman's fellow unit members all the way up to Schwarzenegger, Mr. Rumsfeld, and this president.

We owe the Tillmans far better than they got, just as we owe the many other dead and disabled soldiers better than they got. And we cannot give them any better so long as Mr. Bush and company are allowed to remain in power.

Stem Cells

So Mr. Bush wants us to adopt them. Well, I'd certainly rather adopt a stem cell than George.

But his arguments are both getting increasingly ludicrous as well as increasingly against the best interests of the American people. While this is nothing new for our fickled leader, arguing that a stem cell is a baby who just hasn't been adopted yet is astonishly dim-witted.

Embryos are lost everyday, and not just through abortion.

He's now to the point of arguing that a single cell is not only life, but is a far more precious life than a living, breathing, full developed human being who suffers from a life-threatening illness. Have we really reached the point where the only valuable life is that which has not yet been born? Because he's happy to disconnect living humans from life support so long as their name isn't Terri Schiavo, happy to execute them or have them involved in wars with no basis, happy to lock up tons of people who he cannot prove are guilty of committing any crime, and happy to let lots of elderly and poor Americans starve because of his policies.

Perhaps we should give single cell embryos the right to vote? It sure would be tougher for them to argue that Diebold is cheating or that their vote wasn't counted.

In other words, Mr. Bush's so-called political capitol is as bankrupt as every company he ever managed - including Company America - and his soul. Really, folks, isn't it time to consider impeaching this fool? I don't say this lightly. Everything this man touches turns to shit.

Followup to the Female Sources Piece

Pacific Views offers up this handy-dandy (doesn't look too good for the estrogen side) chart on the topic (of which I, as a female, should probably not speak... er... write... er.. blog... oh forget about it).


Women and the Media

On a different note, Roxanne brings us this:

Prediction: The topic you know and love is coming soon to a popular liberal blog near you. Or, Amy Sullivan. And looking at the calendar, we're almost overdue. The cause? This:
    ...In all media outlets, women are cited as sources far less often than men, according to a new Project for Excellence in Journalism study to be released on Monday.

    Cable news and the PBS NewsHour ranked lowest in terms of percentage of stories with at least one female source, at 19% and 17% respectively. Network TV came in at 27%, morning shows at 34%, news Web sites at 36%, and print newspapers at 41%.

    Even though newspapers are the news medium most likely to cite at least one woman in a story, they are still more than twice as likely to consult at least one male source (88%), according to the nine-month study.

    Across all media, the subject women were least likely to be cited on was foreign affairs. The only topic where female sources appeared in more than half of stories was lifestyle.

    In the study, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which is affiliated with the Columbia University j-school and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, examined four nightly newscasts, three network morning news shows, nine cable news programs, and nine Web sites.
Hmmm... Must be that we have nothing to say or, if we do, nothing really valuable to offer.

Feingold Displeased

Kos brings us this (which probably most accurately reflects how I feel):

For those who want to be angry at the deal, Feingold is with you:
    This is not a good deal for the U.S. Senate or for the American people. Democrats should have stood together firmly against the bullying tactics of the Republican leadership abusing their power as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. Confirming unacceptable judicial nominations is simply a green light for the Bush administration to send more nominees who lack the judicial temperament or record to serve in these lifetime positions. I value the many traditions of the Senate, including the tradition of bipartisanship to forge consensus. I do not, however, value threatening to disregard an important Senate tradition, like occasional unlimited debate, when necessary. I respect all my colleagues very much who thought to end this playground squabble over judges, but I am disappointed in this deal.

Big Loss for Theocrats?

From Steve Gilliard:

This is a major defeat for the theocrats.

This is what happens when amateurs play at politics. Dobson was under the delusion that he could control the Senate with his money and Bill Frist's dick in his pocket. This didn't work.

The Dems don't have the bodies to challenge and win this outright, which is why the wingnuts Brown and Owen will get their votes. But Frist looks weak and indecisive and most importantly foolish.First, the Schiavo mess, then failing to even control his own caucus. What kind of weak leadership is he providing? Making an alliance with the antischrist and failing is not a good way to get support in the future.Of course, there's a lot of whining about how the Dems don't fight, but part of fighting is to know when to not fight.

Like the Schiavo mess, the GOP had set a trap, this time, undone by their own side.Their reward will, of course, to be challenged by Dobson's lackies in their next race. If successful, we should get some seats back.

"Marginal Win"

That's how Lambert at Corrente puts it (and I went there because the good folks at Corrente often offer some much-needed perspective), citing that it's a big loss for Bush and Frist:

So, all in all, a marginal win for our guys, but a win:
1. No rules changes (at least this session) by 51 votes.
2. Frist is going to be hung out to dry by Dobson because he couldn't deliver on all the nominees (see Drum, it looks like there's an unwritten codicil that not all the judges go through.
3. Bush gets slammed for not consulting in advance: That means the Republicans have no stomach for a brutal fight on Rehnquist's replacement.
4. Bush couldn't muscle 51 Republican votes. Quack, quack.

NOTE: Yeah, the judges, the judges. But ya know? Sometimes they do grow in office. After all Judge Greer in the Schiavo case was a good man, in addition to being a Republican and a Southern Baptist.

Speculation, Anyone?

I've been mute on the "deal" tonight because I don't like it. In fact, the only "up" side I see is how many wingnuts are going ballistic, insisting the Dems won and they'll never support another GOP candidate. I certainly don't see that the Dems won.

This, from Ezra Klein, formerly of Pandagon:

Crisis averted. Seven Republicans and Seven Democrats brokered a deal (short PDF) averting the nuclear option. Three of the president's nominees will go to the floor (Brown, Owens, Pryor), two won't (Myers, Saad). The filibuster is not blocked in future cases and all parties pledge to vote against attempts to end it for the duration of the 109th Congress. Jeff Dubner is unhappy, but I don't really see why. The deal, crucially, says:
    "In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules change in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or rule XXII."
With these seven promising to vote against any more attempts to end the filibuster for the duration of this Congress, it seems like we got what we wanted -- the preservation of the filibuster for the Supreme Court nominee. It seems, too, that the right didn't get what they wanted -- the end of the filibuster before Rehnquist retires. So long as the question was appellate judges, few would see why it was such a big deal. A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, however, is widely understood to matter, and trying to end the minority's options on that will prove significantly harder in the court of public opinion. Plus, the Republicans wanted this vote to happen and the Democrats didn't. That the vote was averted is, in the end, a defeat for them.

So I'm happy. Most of all because I think Democrats would've lost the fallout. Eliminating the judicial filibuster over some obscure judges just wouldn't, I fear, strike people as a big enough deal to shut down the Senate over. It may well be the principled move, but the idea of an up-or-down vote is intuitively appealing, and you can only grind government to a halt for so long before folks start getting pissed. Better yet, we can still hang this power grab on the Republicans' neck come 2006.
Happy? Not my description of this.

Now Dobson Goes After Trent Lott

From Kos:

If Frist fails, expect more of this.
    "James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?" Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. "Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don't appreciate it," the senator said.
Dobson is seriously overreaching, and he'll be scapegoat number one if Frist fails. And since Frist has hitched his wagon to the Dobson express...


Here's a Nasty Spike: Abortions Are Up

Howard Dean on Meat and PissMeet the Press with GE's favorite blubber boy, Tim Russert, confirmed a statistic I read elsewhere: abortions are up in this country by a whopping 25% since Captain Flightsuit took office.

The reasons why are rather obvious: economic downturn coupled with the rabid right's efforts to do everything in their power to make certain that birth control is not permitted. I also suspect an underlying factor in this rise is the ill-advised "abstinence only" programs Mr. Bush pushes that are actively lying to both teenagers and adults about the effectiveness of birth control.

While I'm for teaching kids and even adults about abstinence (it worked for me at a time in my life), making it the only method you teach - combined with outright lies that condoms and birth control pills are 70-80% ineffective (when they're usually more than 90% successful) - is going to result in more unplanned pregnancies which in turn is going to lead to more abortions.

But the rabid right will look at these statistics and say, "All the more reason to end ALL abortions", thinking people should question these programs and policies that are denying birth control at pharmacies, in clinics, in education programs, and those foolhardy - and foolish - protestors blocking women from getting into places like Planned Parenthood.

Again, I'm a big fan of Planned Parenthood. Not because I wanted an abortion (I've never had one), but because they taught me how not to get pregnant unless I wanted to do so. Among other things - including their health screenings that alerted me to things like a breast mass, performed on a sliding scale fee - they informed me about all my options, includin abstinence. When I wasn't a good candidate for the pill, they helped me find methods that would work well and didn't hurt my health.

Planned Parenthood has never been about abortions, except to those who want to deny women any right to choose. Many Planned Parenthood offices, to my knowledge, perform NO abortions. Yet they are constantly targeted by the nut quotient.

The Supremes Take on Abortion

And I'm not sure we'll be better for it.

This, from The Times:

The Supreme Court today accepted its first abortion case in five years, an unexpected development that, despite the rather technical questions the case presents, is likely to add even more heat to the already super-heated atmosphere surrounding the court and its immediate future.

The new case is an appeal by the state of New Hampshire of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down a parental-notification requirement for minors seeking abortions.

The Supreme Court has dealt with parental-notice statutes for many years, and has upheld those that contain safeguards for minors, including the option of bypassing the notice requirement by going before a judge. This case does not require the court to revisit those precedents.

Rather, it presents two questions that the court has not previously addressed in the context of parental-notice laws. One is whether such laws must explicitly provide an exception for minors whose continued pregnancy is a threat to their health. The other is what standard courts should use in evaluating a judicial challenge to abortion laws that like the New Hampshire law, enacted in 2003, have yet to take effect.
With Noni Scalia hell-bent (and yes, I chose this term carefully rather than casually) with becoming the Chief Justice - and if I were Rehnquist, I wouldn't accept any food or water from his Associate - I wouldn't put it past him to use this case as a way to make the Bushies very happy just in case they go for Thomas instead.

With that said, however, I am legimately concerned about the Supremes suddenly accepting this case as this time.

Yet let me add one more thing. While I believe very much in a woman's right to choose - and, like most people including the overwhelming majority of pro-choice advocates, I do not like that abortions happen - I am NOT opposed to parental notification. Parents must be notified of just about every medical procedure performed on a minor, and abortion is a medical procedure.

But unlike many others, to me, notification is just that: notification. It doesn't necessarily give the parents veto power over the child's desire to terminate a pregnancy. Nor should it. So what should happen if a girl wants an abortion and her parents say no? Good question. I'm not sure one answer fits all but I do not believe a woman - even a minor - should be forced to carry a child to term if she chooses not to do so. Likewise, if a girl becomes pregnant, I don't think parents should be able to force her to abort.

Many parents of 15-17 year olds are parents in name only; these kids no longer live at home or are supported by their parents. In such cases, I don't feel that notification is an absolute requirement. To keep such minors from obtaining an abortion because a parent who doesn't support them says no would be ludicrous.

Goodbye to Bad Rubbish

Daniel Okrent is leaving his spot as the "omnibudsman" for the New York Times. He won't be missed, especially after using his final column to not only lambast Times' columnists, but to lambast exclusively non-GOP apologist columnists. In fact, that seemed to sum up Okrent's job at The Times, gifted to him after the Jayson Blair debacle, apparently to make the right-wing less murderous toward the newspaper.

Here's this from his Sunday column:

Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults. Maureen Dowd was still writing that Alberto R. Gonzales "called the Geneva Conventions 'quaint' " nearly two months after a correction in the news pages noted that Gonzales had specifically applied the term to Geneva provisions about commissary privileges, athletic uniforms and scientific instruments. Before his retirement in January, William Safire vexed me with his chronic assertion of clear links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, based on evidence only he seemed to possess.

No one deserves the personal vituperation that regularly comes Dowd's way, and some of Krugman's enemies are every bit as ideological (and consequently unfair) as he is. But that doesn't mean that their boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., shouldn't hold his columnists to higher standards.

I didn't give Krugman, Dowd or Safire the chance to respond before writing the last two paragraphs. I decided to impersonate an opinion columnist.
I don't hold with the opinion that Krugman cherry picks. First, I've learned a great deal about issues like health care, America's finances, Social Security and more from him. Second, what Krugman says is often confirmed by solid, apolotical economists appearing both in print and online. That he's become a target by the mad right (and yet again, I remind folks that I distinguish moderate and reality-based righties from the crop currently in power).

So why doesn't Okrent use the space to discuss the sheer lunacy of Brooks' columns, the many Safire columns that existed just to lament the fact that Dick Nixon was not only dead but forever disgraced? And this doesn't even touch on Safire's replacement, Tierney, who graces us with lovely bullshit like how great being fat can be.

Okrent clearly had one job: kill any columnist who didn't lick the royal rumps of the Bushies. Shame on The Times for hiring him. Glad he's gone. Now who the hell hired him next? The Bush Propaganda Office?

BTW, you may want to check out Daily Howler on this issue. They're even angrier than I am.

Disturbing? You Betcha

I happened to visit some non-political blogs over the weekend and - without any attempt to guess the political ideation of the authors - I noticed that several, who normally keep politics out of the discussion, were saying things like, "Are we in the last moments of a democracy? That's what it feels like."

Several quoted that line from the new Star Wars ("Revenge of the Sith") film that I put up the other day: "This is how democracy ends - to thunderous applause." (Paraphrase)

Some of us have been noticing the big swings away from what we considered a given in this country: relatively fair elections, freedom of speech, a system that didn't assume people were guilty. Now, perfect it never was. We usually just patted ourselves on the head for having this system in place, blithely ignoring the inequities we heard about. But a lot of us have been watching, protesting against, and fighting against these attempts to usurp the last vestiges of democracy that Mr. Bush has allowed to remain in place - while others just smiled and said all was fine and good.

But seeing apolitical voices say things like this makes me wonder what these folks are seeing/hearing/experiencing that has turned the light bulb on for them. I also wonder how widespread this phenomenon is. There's a tension around everywhere right now that seems disproportionately high considering how little the public upposedly "gets" the issue of the Bush atrocities, the new battles about the Patriot Act, the Senate "filibuster" battle, and more.

Lost Doggie No Longer Lost

Forget the earlier post with the picture of the sweet lost dog.

My partner drove around the neighborhood and happened to find someone home who thought it might be the dog of her visiting grandson. It was, and she's back home, safe and sound.

We seem to end up being "lost pet central" here. At least a couple of times a year, a dog or cat arrives on our deck or jumps in the dog door in the solarium (a fancy word for a mostly glass room that we also call "Ben's office) - Ben is our dog, my 105 lb baby.

Hopefully, Karlo - the great champion of "stop cat blogging - didn't get too worried. ::grin::

Anyone from Colorado Missing a Female Dog

This little girl showed up at our house this morning with full tags - but no identification - showing her rabies shots were done in Colorado. She's both very friendly and very hungry (less hungry now that we fed her) and walked right into the house, making friend with my dog and his girlfriend.

I'm also faxing out her picture and details to the Central Vermont Humane Society.

Just What Makes Rick Santorum Think He's So Special?

After reading a piece on Santorum in NYT Magazine, who's sure he's God's chosen (I wonder if God feels that way), I happened on this discussion about good ol' Rick here.Rick, as you'll recall, was a real chest-beater for that disastrous bankruptcy bill. You'd wonder why, however, if he really can't live on the $160K plus he gets from his Senate job, along with all those corporate perks like riding around on the Wal-Mart jet. This is a man you wouldn't hire to wash your car and certainly not trust with your pets.Santorum actually gets his elderly parents to send him a sizeable check out of their pension every month so he can make ends meet? He's how old? Yes, he has a slew of kids. Many Americans, however, have to factor in their financial picture in whether they can support so large a family. Not "out of touch" Santorum who got PA to give him free housing, got them to pay an incredible sum to "tutor" his children remotely (PA wants that money back since Rick doesn't even bother to go through the sham of pretending to live in the state he represents).I've had several folks in PA - more than a few of them Republicans - remark that Santorum is particularly out of touch with the plight of average wage earners. The more I read, the more I have to say I agree - even before his completely nutso comparison of Dems to Nazis - another sore point since anytime Dems utter the word "Nazi", they are hounded; but the GOP levels this charge at Dems in every other breath and the pat themselves on the back and say, "Good job."In reality ( a concept that eludes ol Rick), few if any people or entities compare to a situation that resulted in the extermination of 6 million Jews. Nor were only Jews targeted. They killed dissenters, Catholics, and other ethnic groups Hitler hated. Sadly, however, today's GOP heads seem to think extermination of the only large political party to oppose them isn't such a bad idea. The double standards they apply to someone like Dean when Tom DeLay does nothing but spout vile and bile is just astounding and sickening.Still, among a leadership of really freaky people like DeLay, Frist, Hastert, Cheney, Rove, and Bush, Santorum manages to stand out. How can anyone claim that $160K a year with all the freebies he receives - including the best health care package available anywhere in America for him and all his progeny - is just not enough to "scrape" by? Since when did election to Capitol Hill mean that everyone was entitled to be a multimillionaire? Remember, the House and Senate - regardless of how bad times are financially for the rest of us, regardless of how many of them take incredibly long vacations - give themselves a health pay hike every single year.


Something Else That Needs to Change

This is one I'm lobbying for not just on the blog. Yes, I've been writing letters, making phone calls, being a general pest.

No more situations like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 where the Secretary of State, charged with administering the elections, are also the statewide campaign managers FOR Mr. Bush.

But I don't want this across the board: Dem, GOP, or the Polka Dot Party, this must stop.

If You're Inclined to Say No, Now Would Be The Time

If you're so inclined, and haven't signed the petition or contacted your Congress critters, it's now or never.

From MoveOn:

This is it — they've pulled the trigger.

On Tuesday May 24th, the Senate will vote on a motion to end debate on judicial nominations, and when that motion fails Senator Bill Frist will launch the "nuclear option" — an unprecedented parliamentary maneuver to break the rules of the Senate and seize absolute control over lifetime appointments to the highest courts in the land. The vote is going to be incredibly close, and there are as many as 6 votes still up in the air — more than enough to win. We must act now.

We've launched an emergency petition and, starting Monday, we'll deliver your signatures and comments to the Senate floor every three hours until the vote is complete. As the debate rages on, Senators fighting to preserve our independent courts will read your statements from the floor of congress. And every senator, every 3 hours, will receive thousands of pages from their constituents demanding that they stand up and do the right thing.

We have less than 72 hours to win this vote and save our courts. Please sign today.

If you care about the minimum wage — and you don't want judges ruling it unconstitutional — now's the time to act.

If you care about environmental laws — and you don't want judges striking them down — now's the time to act.

If you care about your right to privacy — and you don't want the government telling your family how to live, worship, or even how to die — now's the time to act.

As the fight escalates in Congress, thousands of MoveOn members will gather outside of Senate offices and courthouses in every state in the country, staging round the clock "Citizens' Filibusters to Stop the Right Wing Power Grab." We'll also deliver your comments to all the gatherings in your state, so your words will combine with thousands of others to show the public, the media, and our representatives in Washington that we will not give up the fight for our democracy.

It's a rare moment when a vote of such importance is actually too close to call with only hours left and a real chance to win - please sign the petition and add your voice right now.
AND! As an added bonus, you'll be making George Bush and Chilly Bill Frist very unhappy.

Priscilla Owen Isn't Much Loved Among Fellow Jurists in Texas

This, from the Bar Association in Texas, reported by the Houston Chronicle:

Supreme Court of Texas
Judge Outstanding Acceptable Poor
Scott A. Brister (422) 36.9 20.7 42.4
Nathan L. Hecht (327) 40.3 17.4 42.3
Wallace B. Jefferson (270) 53.4 29.7 16.9
Harriet O'Neill (334) 55 30.5 14.5
Priscilla R. Owen (350) 39.5 15.2 45.3
Dale Wainwright (316) 48.7 25.7 25.7

[Sorry, no matter what I try to do here, the formatting goes back to sucky.]

I think what bothers me most here is how few of her colleagues find her acceptable, and that a significant majority find her knowledge and practice of law POOR. Once you get into specific cases she's handled, however, the situation gets much, much worse.