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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

He's Not Crazy, I Think Fred Phelps Is Gay

Leonard Pitts Jr.
won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. His column runs every Monday and Friday in the Miami Herald.

Column: Fire and Brimstone, the surest way to say you're gay

Allow me to share with you an epiphany. I think Fred Phelps is gay.

Not that I'd have any way to know for sure, and not that there's anything wrong with that. But it seems obvious to me that Freddie has spent a little time up on Brokeback Mountain, if you catch my drift. I'm thinking he's secretly into show tunes, interior decorating and man-sized love.

Granted, that's not the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about the Fredster, who is defined by an apparently pathological hatred of all things homosexual. Perhaps you remember how his followers desecrated the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was beaten and left to die on a prairie fence in Wyoming eight years ago. They showed up at the funeral bearing signs that said, ``God Hates Fags.''

Now Phelps has updated his act. His ''thinking,'' if you want to use that word, is that the casualties of the Iraq war are divine retribution for this country's tolerance of homosexuality. So, he says, thank God for the IED's, improvised explosive devices, that have sent so many American soldiers home in dead and broken pieces.


Phelps' followers -- he pastors a church in Topeka, Kan., where most of the congregants are members of his family -- have been showing up at military funerals to express this view. Picture it: As your son, sister, wife, brother is being consigned to the soil, these idiots pop up with signs, loudly celebrating his or her death.



Hear me out. How often have we seen public moralists railing against that which they themselves secretly indulge in? Think Jimmy Swaggart with his prostitute. Think Dr. Laura's pose in the nude. And for goodness' sake, how many times have we seen homosexuality condemned by those who turned out to be closeted themselves? There was Pat Robertson biographer-turned-gay activist Mel Stewart, Spokane Mayor James West who spent his days opposing gay rights and his nights in gay chat rooms, and Gary Cooper and Michael Bussee, who founded a group that purported to cure people of homosexuality, but gave it up when they fell in love with each other.

Consider all that, and then consider the sick ferocity of Phelps' attack:

God hates ``fags.''

Gays are vomit-eating dogs.

Gays are ``worthy of death.''

Can you say ''self hatred,'' boys and girls? Come on, isn't it obvious? The poor fellow is gayer than a Bette Midler AIDS benefit. In San Francisco.

He needs not our condemnation but our understanding. Maybe someday he'll find the strength to stop living this lie. He might just go on to be the greatest gay rights activist this country has ever known. Maybe then, in the arms of the right man, he'll stop hurting.

Kind of chokes me up to think about it.

The Reverend Phelps has issues. He needs to find someone to experiment with and thereby confront his inner pervert

What are the odds in this universe that a two person genes could combine and become a unique individual. You are so lucky to be alive!  An even higher improbability is that matter could combine, form into a sentient creature , and have that creature grow up to be the good Rev. Phelps.

How could you waste your one in a billion chance of life and intelligence on voluntarily being Rev. Phelps? It makes me think that God must be like W.C. Fields.

categories: Outrages
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3:15:54 PM    

Monday, February 27, 2006

CorruptoCo Blogfest: Army & DuPont To Dump VX In Delaware River

Lily at LOSE THE NOOSE says next week is "Corporate Appreciation Week" and asks us all to do our part.


VX gas is one of the deadliest of all the nerve agentsever developed by man. In its normal state, it is odorless and tasteless, and is usually delivered as an aerosol. The agent can do its work through skin contact, eye contact or inhalation. During the Cold War, the Army created more than 1,200 tons of VX, which has been stored at the Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana since President Nixon ordered a ban on chemical weapons in 1969.

Now, due to concerns about reducing targets for terrorism attack after September 11th, 2001, the Army has decided to rid itself of its chemical weapons stocks. The way to neutralize VX is to mix it with hot sodium hydroxide and hot water. This process, used on the 1,200 tons of toxin will result in two to four million gallons of caustic wastewater known as hydrolysate. This is where the Army decides it needs to borrow a river.

Once the bulk of the neutralization takes place in Indiana, the Army Chemical Materials Agency wants to transport the wastewater to the DuPont Company's Deepwater Plant in New Jersey to complete the rest of the treatment on the hydrolysate. Once the wastewater has been treated, the Army and DuPont want to release the water into the Delaware River - Deepwater sits about 25 miles downstream from Philadelphia.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency won't oppose the U.S. Department of Defense and DuPont Co.'s plan to dump a wastewater byproduct of a deadly nerve agent into the Delaware River.

The agency said it's assured of a safe treatment for up to 4 million gallons of caustic wastewater created in the treatment for VX, a chemical weapon with a pinhead-size potency to kill a human. DuPont is treating VX for disposal at its Newport Chemical Depot in Indiana.

The agent, once neutralized, would be shipped to DuPont's Chambers Works plant in Deepwater, N.J., for discharge into the river.

"EPA believes that all of our previously identified ecological concerns have been resolved," said Walter Mugdan, director of the agency's Environmental Planning and Protection division in New York, in a letter released Friday to CNN and obtained by The News Journal in Wilmington, Del.

The agency's position angers opponents of the disposal plan. They're concerned the wastewater would harm the Delaware, which supplies drinking water to millions. Furthermore, opponents say the EPA's opinion is premature and raises more questions about the wastewater's effects on river health.

The EPA forwarded its findings to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where analysts are considering health risks posed by the Army and DuPont's plan. A final report from the CDC is expected to go to the region's congressional delegations in April. An earlier study by the agency was inconclusive as to the health effects of the discharge.

Tracy Carluccio, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Riverkeeper based in Washington Crossing, criticized the EPA for its action.

"This report [by the EPA] is not conclusive in any way," she said Saturday.

Leaking the report "interrupted the normal procedures," and injected the EPA's bias into what was supposed to be an independent review of the data. She's concerned the EPA's publicized opinion in favor of the disposal plan would unduly prejudice any independent review of the data for the CDC.

"It's important from a scientific point of view is that the cumulative impact of all of these chemicals is known before you start discharging," she said.

Maya van Rossum, who heads Delaware Riverkeeper, also was critical. "Its premature release smacks of strong-arm politics to push the Army's and the present [Bush] Administration's biased agenda."

Delaware Riverkeeper bills itself as "vigilant protectors and defenders of the river."

Facing a large and skeptical crowd, the Army and the DuPont Co. struggled Friday night to ease public apprehension over a proposal to treat chemical weapon disposal wastes at a riverside plant near Wilmington.

The sometimes heated session, which drew more than 150 residents to Delaware Technical and Community College in Wilmington, mirrored reactions during a larger meeting Wednesday in New Jersey.

Several environmental groups have announced opposition, though others said they are still studying the idea.

"The safest and most responsible route is to dispose of it on site" in Indiana, said Tracy Carluccio, special project director for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a regional conservation and environmental group. "Don't cheap out for a quick fix."

The Army wants to begin destroying the VX nerve agent this year to reduce risks from terrorist attack on weapons stockpiles and to keep the nation in compliance with a global treaty.

Under the proposal, one or two truckloads of the caustic wastewater would be shipped daily to Chambers Works. Once it arrives, the company would add a chemical to break down one compound known to cause foul odors, then process the liquid through a patented system.

Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is examining several concerns about the plan, including:

A report that even very low VX levels can cause high death rates among striped bass exposed to wastewater containing the nerve agent.

Risks from chemicals formed during the neutralization that would pass untreated through DuPont's process.

Calls for more study into the effect that one byproduct - phosphorus - could have on algae blooms in the river.

John Kearney, who directs the Clean Air Council in Delaware, said Chambers Works already releases more than 1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Delaware River each year. Approval of the nerve agent wastewater disposal plan would only increase that pollution, he said. "If they get this contract, you can guarantee they'll get more," Kearney said.

It's obvious that dumping the waste isn't completely without risk nothing ever is and so the question is what level of risk is acceptable for the people living along the river?.

I suspect for the company that answer is something like 1 in 1,000. For the people living along the river it's probably a lot closer to Zero.

What Else Has DuPont Been Up To?

With Enforcement Decision Pending, Documents Show Continuing Pattern of Information Suppression by DuPont

DuPont Hid Teflon Pollution For Decades

Reckless Practices In a Rush To Grow Genetically Engineered Corn for Human Consumption

categories: Outrages
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10:37:40 PM    

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I Was Tagged by Tina at Fuzzy and Blue

Not again... I was tagged by Tina @ Fuzzy and Blue. I hate these things because I get a "brain cramp" trying to think of clever little things, and then feel disgusted because I overlooked hundreds of better choices I should have thought about instead.

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?
Usually color, BUT all film noir movies can ONLY be enjoyed the way they were filmed in black and white especially "Good Night and Good Luck". Ted Turner should be drawn and quartered for colorizing Kiss Me Deadly (1955), Blue Dahlia (1946) , The Third Man (1949), and D.O.A. (1949) among others.

2: What is the 1 single subject that bores you to near-death? Anything that can be heard coming from George Bush, Dick Cheney and Fox News.

3: MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?
MP3s, after all the 'good CD songs' have been ripped and burned to CDs or downloaded to my iPod.

4: You are handed one 1st class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and $10 million cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going ⦠Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?
Nope, I can't see that happening.

5: Seriously, what do you consider the world's most pressing issue now? Lethal Violence and the will and means to deliver it on fellow humans like in GUNS, BOMBS and LANDMINES.

6: How would you rectify the world's most pressing issue?
Make a "New Rule #1", No one can have any kind of weapon more lethal than a stick, stone or fist. The budget of the giant Military-Industrial-Complex recycled into free nursing homes for the elderly, free hospitals for children and channeled into food-production to eliminate the world's hunger.

7: You are given the chance to go back and change 1 thing in your life; what would that be? I guess it would have been to choose to be  "richer and better looking" instead of merely studly and intelligent.

8: You are given the chance to go back and change 1 event in world history, what would that be? I can go with Tina on this one. I would render Barbara and George H. Walker Bush infertile. But I could also live with a miscarriage or an abortion as well!

9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole' Opry âWhich do you choose? WOW, that's pretty much a toss-up! I would go to the Grand Ole' Opry to see Willie Nelson and the Opera for the Student Prince to hear 'Drink, drink, drink' or Carmen to hear the 'Toreado Song' are just a few on a very short-list of possibilities.

10: What is the 1 great unsolved crime of all time you'd like to solve?
What ever happend in 1947 around Roswell, New Mexico when something crashed, or was shot down.

11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?
George Orwell. A fine pork roast with all the trimmings. "All animals are created equal, but some animals are more tasty than others".

12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky â what's the 1st immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact? Very little, but "Give Peace A Chance" and "All You Need is Love" comes to mind for starters

For the moment, I won't tag anybody else, but don't anybody mess with me, OK!

categories: Mind
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1:15:06 PM    

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Don Knotts, TV's Barney Fife; Rest In Peace

Don Knotts, who kept generations of TV audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on ''The Andy Griffith Show'' and would-be swinger landlord Ralph Furley on ''Three's Company,'' has died. He was 81.

Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, said Sherwin Bash, his friend and manager.

Griffith, who had visited Knotts in the hospital before his death, said his longtime friend had a brilliant comedic mind and wrote some of the show's best scenes.

''Don was a small man ... but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions,'' Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday. ''Don was special. There's nobody like him.

''I loved him very much,'' Griffith added. ''We had a long and wonderful life together.''

Unspecified health problems had forced Knotts to cancel an appearance in his native Morgantown, W.Va., in August.

The actor's half-century career included seven TV series and more than 25 films, but it was the Griffith show that brought him TV immortality and five Emmys.

The show ran from 1960-68, and was in the top 10 of the Nielsen ratings each season, including a No. 1 ranking its final year. It is one of only three series in TV history to bow out at the top: The others are ''I Love Lucy'' and ''Seinfeld.'' The 249 episodes have appeared frequently in reruns and have spawned a large, active network of fan clubs.

As the bug-eyed deputy to Griffith, Knotts carried in his shirt pocket the one bullet he was allowed after shooting himself in the foot. The constant fumbling, a recurring sight gag, was typical of his self-deprecating humor.

His favorite episodes, he said, were ''The Pickle Story,'' where Aunt Bee makes pickles no one can eat, and ''Barney and the Choir,'' where no one can stop him from singing.

''I can't sing. It makes me sad that I can't sing or dance well enough to be in a musical, but I'm just not talented in that way,'' he lamented. ''It's one of my weaknesses.''

In recent years, he said he had no plans to retire, traveling with theater productions and appearing in print and TV ads for Kodiak pressure treated wood.

The world laughed at Knotts, but it also laughed with him. He treasured his comedic roles and could point to only one role that wasn't funny, a brief stint on the daytime drama ''Search for Tomorrow.''

''That's the only serious thing I've done. I don't miss that,'' Knotts said.

Here's a special Don Knotts treat!  Don Knotts as Dubya

categories: Soul
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11:35:45 PM    

CorruptoCo Blogfest: Corporate Angel Network: A Real Angel In The Skies

Next week many bloggers will devote space to "Corporation Appreciation Week". A week where we temporarily turn the lights on in the roach-infested world of Corruptco. Before the week begins I wanted spotlight one of the best Corporate activities I know about, so this is a salute to one of the good guys that deserves a White Hat and much respect.

Corporate Angel Network is the only charitable organization in the USA whose sole mission is to ease the emotional stress, physical discomfort and financial burden of travel for cancer patients by arranging free flights to treatment centers, using the empty seats on corporate aircraft flying on routine business.

Based in White Plains, NY, Corporate Angel Network occupies an office donated by the Westchester County Airport. 50 part-time volunteers and five paid staff work with patients, physicians, corporations, flight departments and leading treatment facilities to arrange 1,200 flights a year.

Eligibility to participate in our program is open to all cancer patients, bone marrow donors, and bone marrow recipients who are ambulatory and not in need of medical support while traveling. Eligibility is not based on financial need, and patients may travel as often as necessary.

Thanks to the generous cooperation of 500 of Americas top corporations, including 56 of the top 100 in the Fortune 500, Corporate Angel Network has coordinated more than 17,000 flights since its founding in 1981. The program offers an obvious and meaningful benefit to cancer patients along with the opportunity for companies with corporate aircraft to provide a wonderful community service by merging business activities with social responsibility.

In 1981, three people shared the dream of using empty seats on corporate aircraft to transport cancer patients to treatment centers nationwide. Leonard M. Greene, founder and president of Safe Flight Instrument Corporation, Priscilla H. Blum, a licensed commercial pilot, and Jay N. Weinberg, then owner of a Mt. Vernon, NY Avis Car Rental franchise together developed the idea of asking corporations to accept these patients as guest passengers.

As cancer survivors, Blum and Weinberg knew how expensive and grueling transportation is for cancer patients who must fly long distances for specialized treatment. Greene too had firsthand experience, having lost his wife to cancer. He contributed his foundation, funds, business expertise, and aviation contacts to the effort.

On December 22, 1981, Greene, a pilot, personally flew the first Corporate Angel Network flight, bringing a patient home to Detroit for Christmas from treatment in New York City. From that day forward, Corporate Angel Network literally soared. One by one, corporations across America were asked to participate and one by one, they joined.

Since its inception, Corporate Angel Network has received numerous awards in recognition of its service to cancer patients, including the highest volunteer award from the President of the United States, The Volunteer Action Award. The organization has coordinated more than 17,000 regularly scheduled corporate flights with cancer patients aboard and attracted into its network 500 corporate participants, 56 of them in the top 100 of the Fortune 500.

Corporate Angel Network welcomes support in the form of cash, bequests, and donation of airline tickets. Contributions come from grateful patients for whom we have arranged free flights, from their relatives and friends, from enthusiastic individuals who want to ensure that our program is available to all who need it, from Corporations, and from foundations.

We also need volunteers. Individuals in the vicinity of Corporate Angel Network's White Plains, NY offices can volunteer to enter corporate flight schedules into the secure database, schedule flights for patients, write thank you letters to corporations and contributors, help arrange ground transportation, research and contact new corporations, solicit pro bono advertising, and help with reception and telephones. Volunteers work with patients and their families, corporate flight schedulers, pilots, secretaries, dispatchers, mechanics, fixed-based operations (FBOs), doctors and nurses, social workers, and private car operators.

Regardless of where they live, volunteers are needed to locate companies with aircraft that could become Corporate Angels, and to find ground transportation, lodging and other support services in key cities, such as Boston, Houston, Seattle, and Raleigh-Durham, where the majority of our patients are treated.

categories: Soul
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9:07:18 PM    

Friday, February 24, 2006

Keep Your Legs Crossed In South Dakota

South Dakota's just admitting openly, like they do in, say, Iran, that the legal and social status of women is equivalent to that of livestock. And everybodys cheering, because this returns control of reproduction, from the dirty ignorant sluts who arrogantly aspire to human status, to the male-led state. The natural order is preserved. White "babies" will not be aborted. Praise Jesus.

Jane is asking people to contact Naral and Planned Parenthood to ask them to support Ned Lamont in the Connecticut senate race against Lieberman, whose loyalty to the Gang of 14 Milquetoasts was stronger than his loyalty to women. This is getting very serious now and it's long past time for the anti-forced childbirth groups to play hardball.

Susan from Iowa comments on Digby's Innocent Life "Likewise, comments about a late-term abortion performed "at whim" show ignorance about how many of these abortions are performed and how difficult it is to obtain one."

The reference above to "whims" is so depressing. It takes a man, who has never experienced ANYTHING that women experience in connection with their fertility, to use a loaded word like that.

Before Roe, thousands of women died every year from illegal abortions. They knew the risks, yet subjected themselves to the most horrific experiences you can imagine. Why? Because for some women, the fact of pregnancy makes them desperate to end it, for all sorts of tragic and terrible reasons.

If abortion becomes illegal again, it will not be unavailable. There are always going to be desperate women, and illegal abortionists, and deaths in the back alleys from infection, perforated uteruses, and loss of blood. Those who want to outlaw abortion are conceding that these deaths are an acceptable consequence, which underscores Digby's point about punishment.

Men cannot fully comprehend how emotionally powerful and physically overwhelming pregnancy is. Your health can be profoundly affected, both during and after, especially if the mother is very young or over 30. For nine months it takes over your life, your hormones are roaring, your body swells until you can't see your feet, which are also swollen. The hoped-for end to it all is that you are finally able to push that grapefruit-sized head through an opening that is definitely smaller, and a live, healthy baby is eventually handed to you by the people who have been listening to you scream and grunt for hours, while someone sews you up. All that is followed by decades of doing your best to help that baby grow up into a decent human being.

Pregnancy can be exhilarating and joyful, terrifying and depressing, all of the above, but even if you desperately want to be pregnant, it is a an unbelievably difficult physical and emotional experience. And for women who work, who are trying to get a job, who are caring for other children or elderly parents, no one gives you extra energy to meet all these demands in addition to the physical ones, like morning sickness, gestational diabetes, insomnia, and feeling like you can't get a breath or your balance. And you haven't really lived until you've waddled into a job interview in a dress the size of a circus tent.

The decision to end a pregnancy is also an overwhelming one, and the experience itself is painful and traumatic, even in the first trimester. Because abortion is so stigmatized, most women do not want to come forward to explain why they did it. This gives the anti-choice camp more leeway to fling phrases like "abortion on demand" and "on a whim," as if women are flighty creatures incapable of making such a profound decision.

The decision whether to undertake the life-changing experience of bearing a child should be personal, between women and their doctors, and whoever else women themselves choose to involve.

I believe that every child has the right to be wanted, loved and cared for.

I am not pro-abortion, but I am pro-choice. I think that Bill Clinton's formulation of "safe, legal and rare" is where we should focus. I think that those who oppose abortion should be able to agree that sex education and contraception are important tools to prevent it.
Unfortunately, many of the same people who claim to be pro-life, are the ones who oppose information and contraception. We have all seen those male pharmacists on TV who just can't distribute birth control pills because it bothers their conscience, or what passes for it.

We are also eliminating basic health care for poor women all over the world, in order to make sure that our religious beliefs are not violated somewhere in Africa by a poor woman receiving contraception at the expense of the United Nations. It's immoral and despicable.
"The legislation, which states that "life begins at the time of conception," would prohibit abortion except in cases where the pregnant woman's life was at risk. Felony charges could be placed against doctors, but not against those seeking abortions, the measure says."

The egg is alive as is the sperm. The cells that make up both are alive. So why don't they outlaw tattoos or scarification, or taking blood as all these actions kill live cells. Damn, then you'd have to outlaw the death penalty because that kills even more. What they really care about is punishing women for having sex. Because you never see them picketing outside in vitro fertilization clincs do you? And yet the end result is the same -- creation of embryos that will only die. If life begins at conception, then in vitro fertilization is murder too. Period.

Harvard government professor Michael Sandel, also a member of the Bioethics council, noted that "If the embryo loss that accompanies natural procreation were the moral equivalent of infant death, then pregnancy would have to be regarded as a public health crisis of epidemic proportions: Alleviating natural embryo loss would be a more urgent moral cause than abortion, in vitro fertilization, and stem-cell research combined." APPARENTLY BIBLE-GOD devalues these same eggs n' embryos, as this sort of non-sentient life is almost as cheap as menstrual blood... since pregnancy ends in "taking of life" (presumably by bible-god) in approximately 30% of all conceptions, 15% of which are recognized clinically as "miscarriages"!

WE CAN only conclude the Intelligent Designer really had a major "brain cramp" when it came to the most basic and fundamental act of reproduction! DAMN, WHEN you throw in ectopic pregnancies, multiples, congential anomalies, genetic illness, fetal demise... not to mention operative deliveries, maternal morbidity and death, it seems that the "Almighty" either is extremely inept or twisted and nefarious.

Save the unborn, screw the born. That's how this Administration, driven by its fundie base, sees the abortion issue. IT IS not only illogical, but extremely demeaning to OPPRESSIVELY force women to bear children, against their will. THIS REPRESENTS the worst sort of misogynistic bigotry. TO PURPOSEFULLY ignore cases of rape and incest, or grossly malformed fetuses, reveals the utter maliciousness and contempt of these pandering political, morally bankrupt, evangelical fanatics.The new SD legislation proposes that life begins at fertilization, so a miscarriage at, say, week 7 clearly would be the death of a bona-fide fully recognized by the law human being. What's the reporting requirements for deaths in SD? People having gone through a miscarriages, would be stressed out if they had to fill out a death certificate at that point. Personally, I'm not going to be happy until we create little cemetaries for all the sanitary napkins carrying what's left of all those fertalized eggs. We'll call the cemetaries Kotex Necroblastocropoli and they'll have teeny-tiny angel statuary which we make out of match sticks and pipecleaners and hangers. I can hardly wait!

UPDATE: South Dakota To Women: "Bend Over And Smile" Twisty Faster @ I Blame The Patriarchy says:

Once the honky dudes control access to abortion, the Sanctity of Motherhood, already one of the most pervasive patriarchal lies, will once again assume its place as the centerpiece of female existence.

Of course, not every woman will be allowed to revel in the sanctity of motherhood. Controlling reproduction is not limited to restricting abortion. It's only a short hop from telling a victim of incest, as they may now do in South Dakota, "Tough shit, you sick little Lolita" to the flipside: court-ordered sterilization of undesirables: junkies, loonies, cripples, women with genetic abnormalities, "welfare mothers" who just can't say no.

It's already happening. If you're a lesbian trying to get turkey-basted in a fertility clinic, good fucking luck.

This shit comes directly from godbaggery. The religious right have successfully transplanted the moral authority of their deity to an unthinking police state incapable of moral insight.

categories: Outrages
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1:44:08 AM    

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blowing The Roof Off Iraq

Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss. Juan Cole worries that Iraqi's in considering how the fate of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra might cause the country to unravel ...

The day started out with a protest by ten thousand people in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, against the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. These days, Shiites are weeping, mourning and flagellating in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Prophet's grandson, Imam Husayn. So it is an emotional time in the ritual calendar. when feelings can easily be whipped up about issues like insults to the Prophet. An anti-Danish demonstration in Karbala is a surrogate for anti-American and anti-occupation sentiment. The US won't be able to stay in Iraq withiut increasing trouble of this sort.

Then guerrillas set off a huge bomb in a Shiite corner of the mostly Sunni Arab Dura quarter of Baghdad, killing 22 and wounding 28. Another 9 were killed in other violence around Iraq. These attacks are manifestations of an unconventional civil war.

Then real disaster struck. The guerriillas blew up the domed Askariyah shrine in Samarra. The shrine, sacred to Shiiites, honors 3 Imams or holy descendants of the Prophet. They are Ali al-Hadi, Hasan al-Askari, and his disappeared son Muhammad al-Mahdi. Thousands of Shiiites demonnstrated in Samarra and in East Baghdad, against this desecration.

The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return. Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.

Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad. Baghdad Burning says tensions are high and Things are not good in Baghdad.

The mosque damaged with explosives today is the âAskari Mosqueâ which is important because it is believed to be the burial place of two of the 12 Shia Imams- Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari (father and son) who lived and died in Samarra. The site of the mosque is believed to be where Ali Al-Hadi and Hassan Al-Askari lived and were buried. Many Shia believe Al-Mahdi âal muntadharâ will also be resurrected or will reappear from this mosque.

We woke up this morning to news that men wearing Iraqi security uniforms walked in and detonated explosives, damaging the mosque almost beyond repair. Itâs heart-breaking and terrifying. There has been gunfire all over Baghdad since morning. The streets near our neighborhood were eerily empty and calm but there was a tension that had us all sitting on edge. We heard about problems in areas like Baladiyat where there was some rioting and vandalism, etc. and several mosques in Baghdad were attacked. I think what has everyone most disturbed is the fact that the reaction was so swift, like it was just waiting to happen.

All morning weâve been hearing/watching both Shia and Sunni religious figures speak out against the explosions and emphasise that this is what is wanted by the enemies of Iraq- this is what they would like to achieve- divide and conquer. Extreme Shia are blaming extreme Sunnis and Iraq seems to be falling apart at the seams under foreign occupiers and local fanatics.

No one went to work today as the streets were mostly closed. The situation isnât good at all. I donât think I remember things being this tense- everyone is just watching and waiting quietly. Thereâs so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous planâ¦

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray.

I see Bill O'Reilly says we should get the hell out of Iraq as soon as possible. He says there is to many crazies over there and America underestimated them. More evidence that the decision to invade Iraq is one of the largest strategic mistakes in U.S. history and in the military history of the world.

Can we redeploy the troops soon? Really? No threat to the US, and now Civil War? Well, who could have seen that coming? There were reports of flowers, and certainly no history of ethnic strife... Is this another Rove plot to get Portgate off the front page news? I doubt it. Irational as the wingnut opposition on the ports deal is, I can't imagine Arabs blowing up Muslim holy sites is going to make the angry parts of the base any less upset about Arabs running operation of US ports.

Looking forward to learning how this is all really the Dem's and/or MSM's fault. Or how civil war in Iraq is part of Bush's grand plan to protect us ("If they're killing each other over there, they can't kill us over here.") Redstate.com, do your thing BUT this Iraq tipping point could mean that the same-old propaganda and spin won't work in the next election!!

If you have a moderately large third world country that requires much of the combat power of the US military to (fail to) suppress a largely domestic insurgency, then I think that is irrefutable evidence that there is, in fact, a civil war taking place. The only question is whether the civil war will remain low-grade or whether it will spiral into something truly ugly.

As everyone knows, millions of us - MILLIONS - said the threat assessment was overstated, the war would be easy and the postwar difficult, and that a civil war was the likely outcome.

So now some of us are bitter, some are angry, some sad, but not one of us is happy that george bush and dick cheney led us down this path, and not one of us is celebrating that we knew what we were talking about and the pundits and the president didn't.

UPDATE: My Other Fellow asks a very real question, Why did they kill her?
I am unsurprised by the violent reaction to this despicable crime, because the fundamental dispute between Shiites and Sunnis outrageously spawns hatred, nonstop. I am unsurprised, therefore, by the reprisal attacks at Sunni mosques.

As a Shiite, I am shocked, however, at the murder of three Sunni journalists in Samarra. They were covering the bombing in the Askari shrine for the al-Arabiya TV network when they were kidnapped by gunmen. Their bodies were discovered the following day.

Nobody knows who have murdered them, so we can't learn about the killers' motives, but I really like to know why journalists were targeted. Either Shiites slaughtered them to take revenge because the anchorwoman of the team has been so popular in Iraq. Or Sunni insurgents have committed this crime to foment more violence or possibly a civil war.

During the cartoon crisis, we said the freedom of speech must respect religious sanctities to avoid inciting hatred, but what should we do when religious hatred butchers freedom of speech?

categories: Outrages
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1:51:52 AM    

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Defeat Hillary by Being a Skank

Indeed, there's nothing Hillary Clinton fears more than being mauled by a brigade of Republican hookers.

Of the advertisement (left) to be found on many a Right Wing website, Brad R. writes: "Indeed, there's nothing Hillary Clinton fears more than being mauled by a brigade of Republican hookers."

I know I know, it's juvenile, but it's funny. I mean, how the Big Tent of the Right covers the nuts who tried to prolong Terri Schiavo's suffering, those who seek to change gays, the tax-cutting fundamentalists, normal folk who pay little attention and like the color red better than the color blue, the global war fanatics, AND the beer-swilling tailgaters who create these ads, is beyond me.

I'm just shocked that any Repub would wear the hammer and sickel without a big Ghostbusters NO symbol around it. I mean, they aren't known for understanding subtlety - as evidenced by the rest of the shirt...

On usflag.org, I learned that the US Code, Title 36, Chapter 10 tells us of the patriotic customs associated with Old Glory. Under the section "Respect for the Flag", we learn that "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." And yet this model is wearing hot pants made from a flag. Go figure.

So I'm unpatriotic if I burn the flag but it's patriotic to leave skid marks on it. Cool.

Ummm, good thing it's the liberals and not the cons who continue to pollute our culture with sexually suggestive pictures, movies, music and videos.

Are these the same folks who are always whining about Britney Spears and scanty attire?

Bet she won't look so great in that T-shirt when she's been barefoot and pregnant for a few years in a row. Isn't that the IDEAL Repug woman these days?!!! I guess she will obtain her birth control or abortion one way or the other - even after the Repugs outlaw it ALL!!!!! 

categories: Politics
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2:34:12 PM    

Thoughts About The Dubai Ports Deal

The story about the sale of P&O's port assets to Dubai Ports World (DPW) and the CFIUS approval of the deal has become a political firestorm in the past week. A number of people have pointed out that opposition to the UAE-US port management deal has a 'racist' tint to it. Bogus. The problem here is that we are giving a foreign company and country (it's state-owned) control over a vital national security concern. What's worse, is that we're considering giving it to a country/company that has links to non-state actors. The same non-state actors that blew up the WTC, the Pentagon and the Cole.

An interesting fact: if DP World buys P&O, the Dubai-based company will take over port operations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle, in addition to its current operations in Adelaide - five of the top seven Australian ports ranked by value of trade.

Australia understands the al-Qaeda threat as well as any other nation due to the Bali bombing in 2002. So why not even a peep of concern in the Australian media or political establishment about this deal from a security perspective?

Its a complex story, in large measure because of the complexity of port operations today, with so many different participants across the supply chain: port authorities, terminal operators, shipping agents, freight forwarders, stevedores, etc. DPW would take over P&O's position as terminal operator at a number of key U.S. ports via a management lease, but they would not "own the port." And it's worth noting that the terminal operations industry is already nearly entirely non-American: the large players Hutchison, Maersk, Temasek, and P&O are from Hong Kong, Denmark, Singapore, and the UK respectively.

Looking at the deal, I think we need to ask the following questions: Does this transaction pose a risk to port security today? And could it create new risks in the future?

I know about the connections between the UAE and terrorism, some of which are concerning (e.g. UAE recognition of the Taliban) and some of which are spurious and/or guilt-by-association (e.g. 9/11 hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi's UAE citizenship, even though he was clearly radicalized in Hamburg, Germany). But I've seen nothing yet to indicate a connection between DPW and its key financial backers and terrorism. If real ties were to be found, then that would be reason to block the deal. But if not, then I think it's unfair to claim that there is a security risk today from this transaction.

The DPW purchase of P&O could create a strong incentive for al-Qaeda and related groups to cultivate insiders at DPW to learn about security operations at ports. It's not difficult to imagine scenarios where a well-positioned insider could learn sensitive tactical information such as the conditions used to select containers for additional screening (perhaps via retrospective analysis of selectees) or the daily cycle of security operations at key ports, which could assist with attacks and/or smuggling activities. Of course, there is known terrorist activity in the countries where all of the other major port operators are headquartered, so any of them could be similarly infiltrated today. The question is whether the insider threat would be greater with DPW.

A second longer-term implication is what impact that this would have on US intelligence, both in terms of preventing an attack and conducting a post-incident investigation. Would this impair the information flow related to critical counterterror and counterproliferation activities in the maritime domain? And if there were an attack involving an American port, would DPW open up its corporate records in Dubai and allow its non-US-based employees to be questioned by the FBI in the same way that a British-owned company would? If any new information is found that causes direct national security concerns, then the Congress and the Administration should block the deal via authority under CFIUS.

I wish that everyone who is expressing outrage about this deal would channel their anger into the issue of the government's underinvestment in port security over the past 4 1/2 years. That's the real issue. The potential vulnerabilities created by this deal are nothing in comparison with the real vulnerabilities that exist in our port system today due to the failure to make adequate security investments in port and supply chain security. The Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 provided a solid framework for improving port security, but Congress has not supplied the resources to effectively implement MTSA, which the Coast Guard had estimated would require a total of $7.3 billion over the 2003-2012 period. Congress has provided only a fraction of that: $175m for port security grants in current fiscal year, which itself was a significant improvement on the administration's request. There have been many solid steps taken for port security, such as C-TPAT and the investments in radiation portal monitors at ports, but not the same system-wide commitment that we see today in the federal government to commercial aviation security.

At the rate things are heading, this could become a top story for weeks to come. If that leads indirectly to renewed attention to port security and increased federal funding for ports, then perhaps that's a good thing. But I fear that the Dubai ports story could become a distraction from more urgent homeland security issues, such as passing the Collins-Lieberman chemical security bill or strengthening our disaster response system before the next hurricane season.

So why get all so worked up over Dubai operating our ports on the East Coast? What is stunning to me is that we do not seem to be able to do a lot for ourselves anymore. Whats up with that? As much as Americans might hate it, more and more of America's assets are going to be owned by brown people with funny names soon. They have the money, and they intend to invest it in wider industries to diversify away from oil and away from the risk of owning US financial assets that will evaporate as inflation gets hot in a couple years.

Americans don't have any money. They have debts. Without savings they can't make investments, so they should be grateful that someone else wants to. It will help slow the inevitable decline of the US economy as it stagnates from a borrowing binge that will ultimately bring to a close the American era as an economic superpower.

I'd really be shocked and distraught about all of this if it made a difference. What I am saying is why worry about the security of our ports when we already have been told Bush and his administration have done a really poor job improving our security since 9-11. Yeah the 9-11 commission told us that and the numbers of Ds and Fs they have issued on various parts of what BushCo are not doing tell us even more.

You don't think that after the scathing report the 9-11 Commission issued along with its report card that our governmental overseers would step up to the plate and hold a hearing and find out what really needs to be done and make it happen do you? That would be just too fucking much to ask. No but dickwads like Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Peter T. King can grandstand on this issue but do nothing to ensure adequate security for our nuclear plants, our chemical plants, our vital infrastructure and on, and on, and on. We've got problems a hell of a lot bigger than Dubai operating our ports along the east coast. And more than enough evidence to tell us Homeland Security is one of those Orwellian phrases that mean nothing less than "If there's trouble, you're on your own."

categories: Outrages
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3:52:47 AM    

Monday, February 20, 2006

Nobody Knows I'm A Lesbian

How did we become so much less respectful of free speech than Australia?

A STUDENT being asked to remove a T-shirt with a lesbian slogan has sparked a protest at a school in Melbourne's northwest.

About 30 students at Strathmore Secondary College last week rallied behind Year 12 classmate Stephanie, 17, after she was told by teachers to change out of the T-shirt for school photos.

Stephanie, who did not want her surname published, said she had worn a T-shirt bearing the slogan Nobody Knows I'm A Lesbian to school on several occasions without concerns being raised by staff or fellow students.

"I've had it for ages," she said.

But she said things changed when she wore it on school photo day, sparking concern among Year 12 co-ordinators.

She was quickly asked to take the T-shirt off.

"They said it was because certain parents would complain," Stephanie said.

Her mother, Susan, said she had had the controversial T-shirt printed for her daughter when she was about 15.

Susan said her daughter was brave to wear the T-shirt in public and particularly at school.

"I'm proud of her," she said. "I love her and I don't care what she is."

Stephanie said she was disappointed by the school's request for her to remove the T-shirt, but understood the concerns.

She said she would wear the T-shirt to school again once the issue had calmed down.

The incident triggered a protest by other Year 12 students, who turned up at school wearing T-shirts with similar slogans. They included "Nobody knows I am bulimic", "Nobody knows I'm pregnant" and "Nobody knows I'm on steroids". The students said they found the request to Stephanie discriminatory and an attack on free speech.

Stephanie said she was shocked by the amount of support she had received.  "It's pretty cool I guess," she said.

The school declined to comment this week.

Yes, there would be tons of wailing and crying if any girl wore a T-Shirt with the word lesbian on it here in the states. I suspect some parents at the school would pull their children out, right after having kittens on the sidewalk in front of the school.
I always get the feeling that when lesbians look at me, they're thinking, "That's why I'm not a heterosexual." 
George Costanza, in Seinfeld

Indeed, Miss Manners has come to believe that the basic political division in this country is not between liberals and conservatives but between those who believe that they should have a say in the love lives of strangers and those who do not.   Miss Manners

categories: Outrages
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2:23:14 PM    

Mardi Gras 2006 - New Orleans Is Down But Not Out

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- As in past years, labor attorney Eve Marie Stocker plans to fly from Virginia to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, ride costumed on a float with her mother in the all-female Krewe of Iris parade and catch up with family and friends.

This year, however, she says the mission takes on a serious note: New Orleans, venturing into an uncertain Mardi Gras season after Hurricane Katrina, needs a successful celebration to get its sputtering economy started -- and give its storm-shocked residents a break.

"Mardi Gras is a compass," said Stocker, a former New Orleans resident. "This is what's normal for the city, and everyone needs a little bit of normalcy."

Mardi Gras, which always holds a bit of mystery for outsiders with its fun, frolic and debauchery, is a mystery itself this year for New Orleans, where an estimated two-thirds of its half-million, pre-Katrina populace remains elsewhere.

Any infusion of cash will be welcome in a city that saw most of its tax base washed away by Katrina on August 29 and the ensuing flooding after levees broke. Basic services, such as police protection and firefighting, are being held together with a $120 million federal loan that will provide funding only until spring.

The city is not only ready, says Mary Herczog, author of Frommer's New Orleans and a part-time resident, this will be an amazing year to be there.

"This is a city that has gone through cataclysm, and its citizens are desperately ready to let off some steam," says Herczog, who expects a cathartic, once-in-a-lifetime experience for locals and visitors alike on this 150th anniversary of the event. "This is going to be a Mardi Gras for the ages."

The celebration, Feb. 18-28, just six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated a wide area of the city, will include just eight days of parades instead of the usual two weeks to keep costs down for the cash-strapped city. And parade routes have been shortened. But most of the parading krewes that have rolled in past years are returning. And tourism leaders, who see the event as a sort of coming-out party for the city, say the tourist districts are ready.

"When you get downtown, it's almost like Katrina didn't touch it," says Marriott's Mark Sanders, who oversees the company's 14 hotels in the city. "There's still a lot of misunderstanding, and (Mardi Gras) is a chance to really let people know that we're open."

Though the storm dealt areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward an apocalyptic blow, it largely spared the French Quarter and the Garden District, the city's key tourism areas. And major attractions, such as the National D-Day Museum and Café du Monde, long ago reopened. Harrah's casino just announced it'll reopen Feb. 17, in time for Mardi Gras.

Foodies will find almost all the big-name eateries, such as K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, Galatoire's and Emeril's, back in action (exceptions include Commander's Palace). And most tourist-area hotels are open. (Of Marriott's 14, only the Ritz-Carlton remains closed.)

The problem for revelers will be getting a room on peak days of the festival. Though the first wave of relief workers has begun leaving the city, it's being replaced by a crowd from local companies such as Harrah's that are restarting operations, Sanders says.

As of Wednesday, three Marriotts in the city still had openings for Feb. 24, starting at $229 a room. The chain was sold out on Feb. 25 and had only one hotel opening on Feb. 26 (the New Orleans Marriott, for $249).

Getting to the city is less of a problem, even a bargain, as airlines ramp up flights. Last week, Southwest said it would add 36 round-trip flights over Mardi Gras. This week, American Airlines sold non-stops to New Orleans from New York and other East Coast cities over Mardi Gras for $163 round trip.

More significant are the thousands of men and women who have decided that no place in the world is quite like New Orleans. They are rebuilding, a brick, a board, a shingle at a time, remaking their own small piece of the city that knows better than any other what life truly is.

Throughout its history, New Orleans has battled poverty, sweltering heat, epidemics and disease, fits of racism, rule by invading armies, slavery, floods from the river, and hurricanes from the sea. In every case, New Orleans has chosen its own unique way to put joy above melancholy and has birthed much of what is now most prized in American culture.

We love New Orleans. When we read the scolding of pinched-faced editorialists chiding us for planning to celebrate Mardi Gras six months after Katrina, we shake our heads: they dont get it. Mardi Gras is our affirmation, the entire city saying, Were alive, were back, and we aint leaving. To all those people, who have sacrificed a piece of their own lives to help us in our time of need: thank you. Laissez les bons temps rouler.

categories: Soul
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1:19:21 AM    

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Iowa Man's Wifely Expectations

The worst thing is that this will give some men *ideas*.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- An Iowa man is accused of kidnapping his wife, and prosecutors allege he devised a marriage contract to establish what his wife was to do, and when she was to do it. Travis Frey, 33, is accused, among other things, of giving his wife chances to win "good behavior days."

Frey is already charged with first-degree kidnapping, which is a crime punishable by life in prison without parole. Frey also faces a charge of domestic assault causing bodily injury on his wife. "The allegations are that he confined and subjected his wife to sexual abuse," said Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.

According to court records, Frey's wife told police her husband tied her to their bed with a rope and sexually assaulted her at least three times. Frey's wife also provided police with an alleged "marriage contract," which was entitled "Contract of Wifely Expectations."

In it, Frey allegedly gave his wife chances to earn "good behavior days" -- or GBDs -- by complying with certain demands, such as hygiene and self-care. "You will shave every third day," the contract states. "You will be naked within 20 minutes of the kids being in bed." The document spells out how many points can be earned by performing certain sex acts. Frey's wife said she never signed the contract."

I don't know how they can tie this to my client making any demands on his wife. I mean, I could have put these together. I mean, there's no names. There's names on them and everything, but anyone could have put these documents together," McGinn said.Frey was in court Friday after he turned himself in to Pottawattamie County authorities on separate charges of downloading child pornography onto his home computer. A judge told the Council Bluffs man that the charges stem from March 2005. Frey's attorney, Bill McGinn, said the Pottawattamie County Attorney's Office must prove their case." They have to show, first of all, what the images are. Second, they have to show he was the one that actually did the downloading," McGinn said.Frey's attorney said he intends to plead not guilty on all counts, and is expected to bond out of jail this week.

Frey's Contract of Wifely Expectations. at the Smoking Gun.

Oh my God. How could someone receive a document like that and *not* run for the hills? That's the creepiest, sickest thing I've ever seen! Because running for the hills WITH your children, prior to gaining full custody (good luck with that) gets you jailed and leaves your kids in the care of the nutter.

Yeah, sure, some women like being dominated and ordered around, or humiliated, or even rough-housed (and we've all dated some of them). But that contract just ain't sexy. There's no fun in it. It's tedious and the guy comes across as a pussy, not a dominant guy.

"Good Behavior Days"? It sounds like a bureaucrat or an accountant fantasizing about being a prison warden. It's just not sexy. It's sick, but it's not sexy. Whether she signed it or not, such a contract is basically one of slavery, or at best servitude, isn't it? Which is to say, not legally binding, right? I mean, even if you signed such a document, which she says she didn't, it's not like he can use it as an affirmative defense in court?

Does it get any better if I tell you that a lot of men out there who would happily sign such a contract and live by it. I mean heterosexual, employed, church-going men. And if you adapt the dressing rules then you get an even larger number of men...

During My Time you -
1) Be subservient, submissive, and totally obedient.
2) To do what you are asked, when you are asked, exactly how you are asked.
3) Be cheerful and adoring towards me.

The whole thing's disturbing, but it's that third point that shows his disconnect with reality. It's not enough for him to control her every action, his real need is to control her internal emotional state. If she's someone who wants to participate in this contract, that point is superfluous. And if she's not, it's pointless.

categories: Outrages
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10:00:19 PM    

If A Gun Appears Onstage, It Has To Ultimately Go Off

PRES. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: My fellow Americans, this evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen. We have been compelled to create a permanent armament industry of vast proportions. Three-and-a-half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. The total influence, economic, political, even spiritual, is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

"Why We Fight," argues that the United States is permanently on the edge of war because it ignored Eisenhower's warnings of a "vast military-industrial complex."

"Why We Fight" was a question Frank Capra posed in a series of World War II propaganda flicks. His conclusion: Because it's the right thing to do.

Both the question and the answer seemed simpler then. Six decades later, Eugene Jarecki, director of a documentary of the same name, decided to pose the same question, this time framing the question across a political arc that stretches from World War II to President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 warning about the "military-industrial complex" to Vietnam to the war in Iraq.

Jarecki's conclusion, after nearly three years of filming: We fight because it's lucrative, thanks to collusion among the defense industry, Congress, the Pentagon, think tanks and the media. "Why We Fight," which won the best documentary prize at Sundance, is now in theaters.

To bolster his argument, Jarecki ("The Trials of Henry Kissinger") prowled the corridors of the Pentagon, haunted weapons trade shows, filmed Iraq before and during the war and visited a bomb factory where a worker confesses that she'd rather be "making toys like Santa Claus."

He points his camera at some unlikely subjects to highlight doubts about the war: a retired New York police officer who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks and requested that his name be printed on a bomb headed for Iraq but later regretted his decision. A retired lieutenant colonel who was working in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and now declares that she forbids her sons to serve in the military because "you are pursuing an imperialistic agenda." A Vietnam War refugee who describes, with some misgivings, the bomb she engineered for her adopted country: "Our mission was to quickly weaponize a penetrator" bomb in Iraq. The cash-strapped youth who enlists after his mother dies. "Because of you," he tells the Army recruiter, "I'm going to retire real nice."

Jarecki picked military insiders, he said during a recent visit to Washington, because "the insider has far more mileage."

"Life is ambiguous," said the Princeton-educated director, whose brother Andrew directed the Oscar-nominated 2003 documentary "Capturing the Friedmans." "It isn't black or white. They're not evil geniuses sitting in dark rooms."

Q. Why did you make "Why We Fight"?

A The simple answer: Eisenhower. He caught me off-guard. He seemed to have so much to say about our contemporary society and our general tilt towards militarism. ... The voices in Washington and the media have become so shrill. ... It seemed important to bring a little gray hair into the mix.

Q. How would you classify your politics? You've been accused of being a lefty.

A I'm a radical centrist. ... If Dwight Eisenhower is a lefty, I am, too. Then I'll walk with Ike.

Q. In "Why We Fight" you talk about the rise of fascism. Are we becoming less of a democracy? Is our democracy in peril?

A I think our democracy is very much in peril. And the forces that are imperiling it are the forces Eisenhower warned us about. It begins with his concern about the military-industrial complex and extends to other forces of corporatism in our society. Which is what he meant when he said, "The power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded."

They're not only trying to build a product; they're trying to keep it from being shut down. ... And so we find the B-2 bomber has a piece of it made in every single U.S. state. Why? So when the B-2 bomber comes under review ... the halls of Congress fall eerily silent. Because everybody is getting a piece of the action.

Q. You know that you're going to get the inevitable comparison to "Fahrenheit 9/11." Does that bother you?

A There's a reason for that. There aren't that many political documentaries being made.

Q. What did you think of "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

A Boy, that's a tough question. Whatever one thinks of Michael Moore's content or his approach, the most important thing one can note ... is that Michael Moore inspires young people to be engaged in the politics of our time. And that is a tremendously valuable contribution.

Q. With "Fahrenheit 9/11," I felt like I was being manipulated in places. But with your film, there's not that sense. You're not in it, your voice isn't in it. It's very measured.

A I hope it's measured. And at the same time, no one should lie to anyone and pretend their films are objective. My film is a subjective film like all films. What I hope is clear about my film, though, is that I am rigorous in challenging my own inclinations.

Q. What were your thoughts on March 19, 2003, "Shock and Awe" day?

A I thought March 19, 2003, was an extremely sad day for democracy in America and for the global tradition of democracy. It marked a tragic outcome to an administration's subversion of American democracy. ...

The pressures driving the administration to battle were so great. ... We know now from the Downing Street memo the intelligence was being fixed. ... So we know of the manipulation now, so that suggests intent, not accident. ... So when the bombs began to fall, that process of degradation was, in a sense, partially complete. That's how I felt.

One had the feeling when one saw the pre-deployments that the toothpaste was already being squeezed out of the tube. ... Bertolt Brecht always said that if a gun appears onstage, it has to ultimately go off.

"Why We Fight" is a somber polemic that presents a convincing case against using war as an economic booster -- although, Jarecki argues, that is precisely what the United States has been doing under every president since Truman. The military-industrial complex has become the American way. Somewhere Ike, that pinko peacenik, is surely rolling over in his grave.

categories: Outrages
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6:28:50 PM    

Friday, February 17, 2006

 A picture Worth $14 Million

The Medicare drug program disaster could cost Republicans control of Congress.

If any single issue crystallizes the defects of Republican rule in the age of George W. Bush that issue is the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act. (It's also the single issue most likely to lead to the end of Washington's one-party regime.) Spawned by a White House under the influence of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, rubber-stamped in a Congress bought by lobbyists for those interests, and imposed on the nation with prevarication, duplicity and outright bribery, the drug bill represents everything Americans hate about the federal government today. Within its 400-plus pages, the act contains something to offend everyone, including a potential majority of voters in November.

Congressional leaders still proclaim that problems with the new program will be worked out and smoothed over well before Election Day, but they know that their political survival is threatened. On Tuesday, a delegation of some 30 Republican senators attended a closed meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and Medicare administrator Mark McClellan (the older brother of the White House press secretary) to discuss how to prepare a political defense against anticipated Democratic attacks against the program. Meanwhile, newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner has admitted that the program's inauguration was "a disaster."

After the compromised Scully had performed his part, the Republican congressional leadership took over. When the bill reached the House floor, Democrats were not permitted to offer a single substantive amendment. Roll-call voting on the final bill was held open for three hours instead of the normal 15 minutes so that DeLay and his deputies would have extra time to break arms and stuff pockets. At least one reluctant Republican, Nick Smith of Michigan, who finally voted "yea," later said that DeLay -- whose wife was paid by Alexander Strategy Group -- had both threatened him and offered a $100,000 bribe in the form of promised campaign contributions to his son, who planned to run for the father's House seat.

And again, the industry reached inside to fix the process. Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee and served as the bill's lead sponsor, soon retired from politics to accept one of the most lucrative jobs in Washington. The smooth-talking Tauzin became the new president of ... PhRMA!

To Washington insiders, this tawdry chronology is not news. To voters who rarely see how the legislative sausage is made in the capital, however, the manufacturing of the hated Medicare drug bill could prove decisive. They're already angry, and they don't even know what happened to them yet.

categories: Outrages
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12:39:35 PM    

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sweden Plans To Be First Oil-Free Economy

"Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations."

15-year limit set for switch to renewable energy
Biofuels favoured over further nuclear power

News Link

Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.

The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises.

"Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020," said Mona Sahlin, minister of sustainable development. "There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline."

According to the energy committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, there is growing concern that global oil supplies are peaking and will shortly dwindle, and that a global economic recession could result from high oil prices.

Ms Sahlin has described oil dependency as one of the greatest problems facing the world. "A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices," she said. "The price of oil has tripled since 1996."

A government official said: "We want to be both mentally and technically prepared for a world without oil. The plan is a response to global climate change, rising petroleum prices and warnings by some experts that the world may soon be running out of oil."

Sweden, which was badly hit by the oil price rises in the 1970s, now gets almost all its electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric power, and relies on fossil fuels mainly for transport. Almost all its heating has been converted in the past decade to schemes which distribute steam or hot water generated by geothermal energy or waste heat. A 1980 referendum decided that nuclear power should be phased out, but this has still not been finalised.

The decision to abandon oil puts Sweden at the top of the world green league table. Iceland hopes by 2050 to power all its cars and boats with hydrogen made from electricity drawn from renewable resources, and Brazil intends to power 80% of its transport fleet with ethanol derived mainly from sugar cane within five years.

Last week George Bush surprised analysts by saying that the US was addicted to oil and should greatly reduce imports from the Middle East. The US now plans a large increase in nuclear power.

The British government, which is committed to generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012, last month launched an energy review which has a specific remit to consider a large increase in nuclear power. But a report by accountants Ernst & Young yesterday said that the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target.

"The UK has Europe's best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential," said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young.

Energy ministry officials in Sweden said they expected the oil committee to recommend further development of biofuels derived from its massive forests, and by expanding other renewable energies such as wind and wave power. Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970.

The Swedish government is working with carmakers Saab and Volvo to develop cars and lorries that burn ethanol and other biofuels. Last year the Swedish energy agency said it planned to get the public sector to move out of oil. Its health and library services are being given grants to convert from oil use and homeowners are being encouraged with green taxes. The paper and pulp industries use bark to produce energy, and sawmills burn wood chips and sawdust to generate power.

Still, this is what a grown-up approach to energy policy looks like. Nothing mind-blowing. Nothing impossible. All you need is a government willing to act. The contrast between the Swedes and an administration that backtracks from even modest statements on ending our oil addictionand then lays off 32 workers at the National Renewable Energy Lab because of a $28 million budget shortfall therepretty much speaks for itself. Lucky us.

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10:34:28 PM    

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Will You Be My Electronic Anti-Valentine?

To the lovelorn who mock Cupid as stupid and can't wait for another Valentine's Day to pass: Relief is closer than you think.

For most, there is no crueler day of the calendar year than that of Valentine's Day. While a tiny fraction of the population can look forward to a holiday of wine and roses, poetry and song, the vast majority of us can anticipate a day of nausea and grimacing, trauma and grief. A day in which minutes seem like hours, and hours like days, as we reflect sorrowfully on yesteryear's romantic indignities, today's loneliness, and the unknowable but certain heartbreak that will be visited upon us repeatedly in the years to come.

The primary motive behind Valentines is MONEY. And plenty of it! Hallmark is cleverly cashing in on the sales of Valentines Day greeting cards. The same with people who sell flowers, Candy and cute cuddly bears. They all do this under the guise of something called Love.

Valentine's Day is like herpes: just when you think its gone for good, it rears its ugly head once more. No wonder some people prefer to call it VD.

Whether you got dumped on New Year's Eve or were stood up in Central Park, you can still get in a last dig at that not-so-special person on the Internet, where bitter candy hearts and testimonials to romance lost abound.

On anti-Valentine's Day sites across the Web, the lonely commiserate over breakups and the lack of movie-perfect romance. Some sites suggest pranks for that heartless "ex." Others lambaste the faux-holiday as a marketing enterprise that portrays love as being all chocolates and roses.

"For a long time, I wasn't in a relationship and it was a really a torturous holiday," said Megan Green, 35, a graphic designer in New York. "You are surrounded by people who are expecting all this stuff and you go home to nothing."

This year, instead of bon-bons, Green bought two boxes of BitterSweets, an anti-Valentine's candy from Despair Inc., a cynics' novelty retailer.

Shaped like the ubiquitous chalky "I Love You" hearts, these candies are inscribed with slogans like "Do My Dishes" and "Pre-Nup Okay?" Green shared some with friends at a party where guests felled a Cupid-shaped pinata.

"Almost everybody, no matter how happy they are in their relationship now, has been through an unhappy, dysfunctional and toxic relationship at one point in their lives," said Despair Inc. founder E.L. Kersten.

"I'm actually surprised at the amount of reactionary movements that are popping up you don't see it happening with Christmas, Easter or Halloween," said Marc Leonard, a Black Hearts Party producer and co-editor of the Internet site.

He cited protests by hardline Hindu groups in India where heart-shaped greeting cards were set ablaze last year who say the Christian saint's day encroaches upon their culture.

"Valentine's Day is intruding on people's personal lives...(Love) should not be mandated by the marketing division of Hallmark and the idea that everyone in the world should celebrate that specialness at the same time strikes us as false," Leonard said.

categories: Heart
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1:50:27 AM    

What Is WH Hiding About The Chenney Shooting?

I wonder if there were shots involved prior to the shooting?  Rough sport. Driving around in an Escalade that has a wet bar in the back. Stopping to get out and shoot farm raised birds that come when called. Brave men!

Did any of you tune into the afternoon press conference at the Christus Spohn Hospital (Corpus Christi Memorial), where Dick Cheney shooting victim Harry Whittington is being treated? It wasn't as exciting as the White House briefing earlier this afternoon.

Peter Banko, the hospital administrator, and Dr. David Blanchard, director of emergency services, stuck to their main talking points: Whittington is definitely not croaking; he's in stable condition, not serious or critical; he's being moved out of the ICU, although he's not being released today; and he's in good spirits, even cracking jokes. (Banko and Blanchard declined to share any of Whittington's jokes.)

Then came the press questions which turned out to be as silly as those posed at the White House conference that we blogged about previously. After Banko and Blanchard rehashed their talking points about four times, Dr. Blanchard slipped up and deviated slightly from the script: he admitted that not all of the shotgun pellets would be surgically removed from Whittington (who was hit in the face, neck, and torso).

The White House said today that President Bush was informed Saturday evening that Vice President Dick Cheney had shot a fellow hunter in South Texas earlier in the day, although the news was not disclosed publicly until Sunday afternoon.

The shooting, which occurred at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, left a prominent Austin lawyer and Republican campaign supporter, Harry Whittington, wounded by shotgun pellets in the neck, shoulder and chest.

"Chief of Staff Andy Card called the president around 7:30 p.m. to inform him that there was a hunting accident," a statement released today by the White House said. "He did not know the vice president was involved at that time. Subsequent to the call, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove spoke with Mrs. Armstrong. He then called the president shortly before 8 p.m. to update him and let him know the vice president had accidentally shot Mr. Whittington."

In a contentious news briefing with White House reporters earlier about a subject that captivated the capital today, Scott McClellan, the president's spokesman, said he himself did not learn until about 6 a.m. on Sunday that it was Mr. Cheney who had shot Mr. Whittington, 78, when the two were on a weekend quail hunting trip along with several others at the Armstrong Ranch.

I'm thinking the shooting victim is trying really hard not to let loose on Cheney... Look at the following statement...

"Whittington sent word through a hospital official that he would have no comment on the incident out of respect for Cheney."

It sounds like a nice thing to say, but it really isn't. If he were being a pal, he'd say, "Darn! My fault! shoulda told him I was behind him"

Just maybe Cheney wasn't tippling, and maybe his pacemaker or defib device (whatever it is) didn't malfunction; maybe the adultery angle is not an issue. Maybe it was just pure chickenshittedness. Cheney didn't want to deal with a misdemeanor investigation and that bad PR. If so, chickenshittedtness may be what finishes him off as VP. That would be poetic justice. I think that sums up a lot about this case, including the shooter trying to put all the blame on the shootee. I think that sums up most people's gut reaction that they will not be able to avoid no matter what their politcal leanings: "What a chickenshit!"

If this is true, he would have had a far better chance of surviving this if he had just dealt with the laws and regulations like a stand up responsible type of guy.

Burr was a good VP while wanted for murder in two states. Maybe Cheney would have seen the error of his ways and shaped up.

How many wingnuts will be able to say "Geeez, it was just *shooting* some guy!" Or, "Well, if he had done everything according to those overly burdensome regulations, then the liberals would have...." Or blame it on the "feminization" of society, you know, getting all upset over knife wounds and gunshots and sissy things like that.

categories: Outrages
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1:13:07 AM    

Thursday, February 09, 2006

H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads To Africa

The first case of H5N1 bird flu in Africa is likely to be followed quickly by others, creating a "very severe situation", the UN's top expert says.

The UN's World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed that the expected and worrisome spread of highly pathogenic H5N1 into Africa with the positive tests from poultry flocks in Nigeria (BBC News).

Dr David Nabarro of the World Health Organization (WHO) told the BBC the virus "might be quite widespread".

It comes after the strain deadly to humans was detected on a farm in Kaduna in northern Nigeria.

Officials are investigating whether poultry in other states have also died from the virus.

Dr Nabarro said the WHO was anticipating further outbreaks in other parts of Africa.

"If it's in Nigeria it might also be in other countries that are less well-equipped."

He said governments and ordinary people would have to take "very, very strong precautions" to protect themselves and stop the disease spreading.

Nigeria says it will cull all infected birds and compensate farmers.

But a northern Nigerian farmer told the BBC News website that people fear they will not be paid.

"The dead birds are being sent to market to be sold as meat... because people are not sure if the government will assist them," said Auwalu Haruna from Kano.

It is thought bird flu may have been carried to Nigeria by migrating birds or the smuggling of infected chickens from abroad.

Dr Nabarro said the WHO was anticipating further outbreaks in other parts of Africa.

"If it's in Nigeria it might also be in other countries that are less well-equipped."

Experts point out that cross-infection to humans is still relatively rare, and usually occurs where people have been in close contact with infected birds.

China and Hong Kong, too, are reporting fresh outbreaks (Reuters). In China's coal-mining north several hundred thousand chickens were culled.

China has both more people and more poultry than anywhere else, and they live closely together. There are been more than 30 official poultry outbreaks in China and ten human cases, but most experts believe the actual number of each is greater. The first human cases were reported in Hong Kong in 1997 and since then the City has taken timely and extremely strong control measures, most recently banning all backyard poultry farming. But authorities concede the disease is now endemic there, illustrating the futility of wiping out this disease by controlling it in birds.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is moving from a regional panzootic to a global panzootic. Since its reappearance in southeast Asia in 2003 it has rapidly picked up speed in geographic spread. Because migratory bird pathways tend to run North - South it is unclear how long it will take to reach birds in North and South America.

Could bird flu reach North America through migrating birds? Biologists in Alaska and Canada are keeping an eye out and say it's possible by next year.

Scientists from several agencies have been monitoring large flocks in the northern part of this continent since last summer, collecting both live birds and thousands of samples from bird droppings. The results of those tests are pending, but so far scientists have not found the virus that is spreading across Asia.

Of course, the bigger fear is that bird flu will mutate into a flu that is both contagious and deadly to people and which would quickly spread around the globe through international travel. The current bird flu is not easily spread to people.

Among the Arctic species under suspicion are hardier, long-distance fliers like eiders, gulls and geese. "It probably will be spread by one that isn't killed very easily by it,'' Brand said.

Many bird researchers say more dangerous transmission routes are the commercial poultry trade and the illegal trade in parrots and other rare birds for pets and collections. In both cases, birds are raised and transported in very cramped conditions.

The lone case of bird flu in Britain was a South American parrot that died while in quarantine with birds from Taiwa

"If avian influenza has one predictable property, it is that it is not predictable,'' said Ohio State University biologist Richard Slemons. "It has made a fool of us more than once.'' Predictions with this virus are, like the virus itself, dangerous. So take this guess for what it's worth, about the price I am charging you for it.

categories: Outrages
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11:38:06 PM    

Russian MP Says US To Attack Iran Late March

Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.   The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%. Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.   Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.

As news breaks of four more demonstrators being shot dead in Kabul, fresh evidence has surfaced lending credibility to the assertion that the Muslim riots are a staged psyop or at the very least based on false pretenses.

Yesterday leading Russian MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that the riots were a manufactured psychological operation on the part of the US in an attempt to enlist hardened EU support for a military strike against Iran.

More evidence has come to light that confirms fake and misleading caricatures were bundled in with the more tame cartoons that were printed in Danish newspapers. Muslims were misled into believing that all the images were printed in newspapers when they were not.

The feasibility of demonstrators in Gaza having immediate access to a plethora of pristine Danish flags as soon as the furor began has also been put under scrutiny.

Were the misleading images intended to add fuel to the fire? Many have pointed out that depictions of Muhammad appear universally throughout the world. A stone sculpture in the US depicting Muhammad has been in place since the 1930's. An Australian newspaper piece lists depictions of Muhammad, both flattering and insulting that appear regularly in the West and beyond.

Many painters, including William Blake, Gustave Dore, Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali, have depicted Mohammed in illustrations of Dante's Inferno, where the Muslim prophet ends up in hell with his entrails hanging out."

Why the outrage now? And why were more degrading images that were not even printed thrown into the mix?

A CNN International news anchor reported that the United Nations had foreknowledge that protests in Beirut were going to erupt on Sunday.

"ANTHONY MILLS, CNN INTERNATIONAL: My understanding is, as well, that UN sources were reporting this morning that this was going to be a chaotic day, if you will... Or, certainly they were reporting --they were suggesting -- their workers shouldn't go to work today."

So, indications in advance, I think, probably that something was going to happen here, that some form or sort of violent protest might erupt."

A top Russian parliamentary leader has told Ekho Moskvy radio station that an attack on Iran is inevitable and that it will occur on March 28th. The leader of the Liberal Democrats Vladimir Zhirinovsky also believes that the Muslim riots were orchestrated by the US to garner European backing for the military strike.

Rhetoric has heated significantly in the past week with Donald Rumsfeld yesterday warning that a military option was on the table, echoing the comments of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who said that the US was prepared to take military action.

Also, Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that Iran would pay "a very heavy price" if the Islamic Republic defiantly resumes full-scale uranium enrichment to build nuclear weapons.

Zhirinovsky told the Russian radio station that, "The war is inevitable because the Americans want this war. Any country claiming a leading position in the world will need to wage wars. Otherwise it will simply not be able to retain its leading position."

"The date for the strike is already known it is the election day in Israel (March 28). It is also known how much that war will cost, said Zhirinovsky.

Commenting on the Muslim riots sweeping the Middle East and Europe, Zhirinovsky (pictured above) said that the publication of the offensive cartoons was a planned psyop on the part of the US and aimed to provoke a row between Europe and the Islamic world.

It will all end with European countries thanking the United States and paying, and giving soldiers, said Zhirinovsky.

The possible inorganic manufactured nature of the riots has to be seriously considered. The three most offensive cartoons that caused the outrage were not even printed in the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper but were added in and handed out by Danish imams who circulated the images to brethren in Muslim countries, according to the London Telegraph.

It also appears highly suspicious that Muslims in Gaza City and other places had gained access to a plentiful supply of Danish flags to burn in front of the waiting world media as soon as the controversy broke out.

The violent demonstrations, on the back of last November's French riots, are clearly having the effect of hardening European sympathy towards Muslims, even as the governments of major European countries open the floodgates to mass immigration. This greases the skids for an accelerated invasion of Iran who yesterday announced they were cutting trade with Denmark over the offensive cartoons.

Director of the Russian Political Research Institute Sergei Markov previously warned that Israel was likely to conduct air strikes against Iran in the spring.

TEHRAN - The United States and Israel may be contemplating military operations against Iran, as per recent media reports, yet Iran is not wasting any time in preparing its own counter-operations in the event an attack materializes.

A week-long combined air and ground maneuver has just concluded in five of the southern and western provinces of Iran, mesmerizing foreign observers, who have described as "spectacular" the massive display of high-tech, mobile operations, including rapid-deployment forces relying on squadrons of helicopters, air lifts, missiles, as well as hundreds of tanks and tens of thousands of well-coordinated personnel using live munition. Simultaneously, some 25,000 volunteers have so far signed up at newly established draft centers for "suicide attacks" against any potential intruders in what is commonly termed "asymmetrical warfare".

  Behind the strategy vis-a-vis a hypothetical US invasion, Iran is likely to recycle the Iraq war's scenario of overwhelming force, particularly by the US Air Force, aimed at quick victory over and against a much weaker power. Learning from both the 2003 Iraq war and Iran's own precious experiences of the 1980-88 war with Iraq and the 1987-88 confrontation with US forces in the Persian Gulf, Iranians have focused on the merits of a fluid and complex defensive strategy that seeks to take advantage of certain weaknesses in the US military superpower while maximizing the precious few areas where they may have the upper hand, eg, numerical superiority in ground forces, guerrilla tactics, terrain, etc.

Today, in the evolution of Iran's military doctrine, the country relies on increasingly precise long-range missiles, eg, Shahab-3 and Fateh-110, that can "hit targets in Tel Aviv", to echo Iranian Foreign Minister Kemal Kharrazi.

Chronologically speaking, Iran produced the 50-kilometer-range Oghab artillery rocket in 1985, and developed the 120km- and 160km-range Mushak artillery rockets in 1986-87 and 1988 respectively. Iran began assembling Scud-Bs in 1988, and North Korean technical advisers in Iran converted a missile maintenance facility for missile manufacture in 1991. It does not seem, however, that Iran has embarked on Scud production. Instead, Iran has sought to build Shahab-3 and Shahab-4, having ranges of 1,300km with a 1,600-pound warhead, and 200km with a 220-pound warhead, respectively; the Shahab-3 was test-launched in July 1998 and may soon be upgraded to more than 2,000km, thus capable of reaching the middle of Europe.

I'm wondering whether or not bush will go after Iran. They say that most of Iran's oil is in the part of the country which is nearest Iraq. I'm not sure about that, but saying it implies that bush has the option of grabbing for it.

And if the US or Israel does airstrikes on the reactors, the Iranians can lay enough anti-ship mines in the Straits of Hormuz that you could walk across on them, without getting your feet wet. And there's the little matter of the Shia and what happens in Iraq and Afganistan after the bombings start.

Sadr, and Musharraf, in Pakistan, have both recently said that they will support Teheran if bush attacks Iran. Sadr and Musharraf's offer won't include troops, but they have lots of ways to bedevil us, if they want to. If Bush attacks Iran, we won't have ENOUGH F-16 squadrons to give Pakistan, to get them to keep letting junior sniff Bin Laden's abandoned bicycle seat.

I just don't think that Bush has the Iran option, anymore. But then, he can't stop and admit that the dream of an American Century of Empire is already over. All he can do is keep screaming: "If we don't go deeper into the swamp, the crocs will get us."  When the Shock & Awe looks more like Crash & Burn, the question is if Bush marches on, who besides the ChickenHawks will be following him.  God only knows what happens in Iraq, but it won't be pretty.

categories: Outrages
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12:59:28 AM    

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coretta Scott King:  Rest In Peace

UPDATE: Well that didn't take long. But rather than old white men, it's an old white woman of the far-right wing of the Republican party telling black leaders to mind their place.

At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, the grande dame of America's civil rights and progressive activist community, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, a revered elder of that same community, criticized President Bush, and the war, and the fact that America still has so many poor and needy. Kind of something you'd expect at the funeral of a woman who after her husband was assassinated, yet the day before he was buried, led a civil rights march of 50,000 people. A woman who spoke at an anti-war rally in NYC only 3 weeks after her husband was mattered. A woman who devoted her entire life to non-violence.

I say this because you know it's only a matter of hours before the Republican Swift Boating of Rev. Lowery and Coretta's funeral begins. How dare a black man not know his place at a funeral, they'll say. As if the Republican party and its surrogates have any right whatsoever to speak on behalf of Mrs. King, to tell black America what they can and cannot do to honor one of their most revered leaders.

A party that doesn't have a single African-American member of Congress has no right lecturing black people about knowing their place.

And you know that lecture they will.

They'll be all over Coretta and Lowery, with the help of the media they'll trivialize her funeral, her death, the honor being paid to her, by claiming her funeral was all a big stunt, a big act, one big political opportunity for the Democrats to abuse a poor old dead woman, they'll say.

Just watched the "Snappy" O'Beirne video. She now thinks Jimmy Carter is as bad an ex-President as he was a President. All that curing the sick, housing the homeless, negotiating treaties, and monitoring elections - yeah, the guy's been a disgrace. He should have just whored himself out for corporate get-togethers like her hero did.

Add that to thinking it's disgraceful to talk about politics, civil rights, and injustice at the funeral of a woman who lived these things all her life. I can honestly say, as a white guy largely ignorant of such things, that there's no woman who symbolized the black civil rights movement for folks like me than Coretta Scott King.

Just how shallow do you have to be to make a living as a pundit? I'd think that at least some knowledge of one's culture would be required.  Oh yes. The wingnut freeper contigency is howling how "Liberal have no respect for the dead". It's obvious that they love the dead, they've created so many of them recently.

Maybe they thought that Chimpy McFlight should have been cut some slack, since he attends so few funerals. We shouldn't spoil it for him.

I think former President Clinton said it best yesterday:
"Her children, we know they have to bear the burden of their mother and father's legacy," Clinton told the crowd. "We clap for that, but they have to go home and live it." He challenged the mourners. "You want to treat our friend Coretta like a role model? Then model her behavior."
The best way to honor Mrs. King is to live by her example. Speak truth to power. Be kind to those who need a helping hand, and stand up for what you believe to be the right thing, even when that act of standing is difficult in the face of overwhelming odds.

One voice -- one single, solitary voice -- speaking truth into the darkness can become a beacon for the entire world. Dr. and Mrs. King were such lights. Such courage and insight is difficult to find, and although we may never see their like again, we should be that change we wish to see. And in doing so, we honor all those who have walked the long march before us in the name of liberty and freedom.

Jeff Greenfield reported how the GOP trash the Democrats and the furneral worked.

Jeff Greenfield on CNN this morning explained clearly how it worked. He pointed out that Drudge had the whining up on his website before the service was even finished. Hannity and Limbaugh then picked it up. Kate OBeirne then whined on MSNBC with Tweety. That's how the story was developed.

Mehlman and Rove are laughing all the way to the polls: "angry, disrespectful Democrats trash dignified funeral!"

Behold, the Mighty Wurlitzer, in all its gorey.

"The love, the respect and the honor for Mrs. King shines through in so many of the faces and the words."

And then there's the petulant moron and his Stepford Wife - the contrast was amazing.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Rest in Peace Coretta Scott King | Dr. B.'s Blog | Guest Book - Coretta Scott King | Guest Book - Coretta Scott King | Guest Book - Coretta Scott King | Guest Book - Coretta Scott King | US News Article | Reuters.com | Coretta Scott King , 78, Widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dies | La Shawn Barbers Corner » Coretta Scott King , 1927-2006 | Coretta Scott King : Rest In Peace | Fired Up! America | Coretta Scott King has passed away - www.ezboard.com

4:01:35 PM    

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

French Cheese Eating Rescue Monkeys?

The French are
back in the news. This should make some RW heads explode.

A delegation of French businessmen and politicians toured the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina with the aim of aiding in the reconstruction of New Orleans.

Executives from leading energy, waste management and construction companies were on hand to discuss plans to help the city rebuild from flooding that broke through levies, wrecked transportation and sewage lines and left tens of thousands of residents without power for months.

They made commitments to donate several million dollars to the reconstruction, brining total contributions by French companies and their US subsidiaries to more than 22 million dollars.

The French government has also contributed a million dollars to help rebuild the city's French schools.

"We are moving away from the phase of emotion and compassion and the generosity of French companies to help on a humanitarian basis, to the happy phase of reconstruction," Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador to the United States, told AFP following a meeting with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

Levitte said the delegation discussed the possibility of redeveloping the African-American Treme neighborhood -- which is noted for its rich musical heritage -- with "French expertise."

Nagin said France's relationship with the hurricane-battered city has moved up to a "totally different level."

France was "one of the first countries to step forward with humanitarian aid," the mayor noted.

"Now we're getting ready to move into the rebuild phase and there are legitimate business opportunities to link French companies up with local companies or US companies to do good business."

Executives from energy and waste management groups Suez and Veolia along with those from construction company Vinci and real estate company Nexity met with local business leaders to discuss reconstruction plans in the aftermath of the August 29 storm.

Nagin praised the French for their continued contributions, including 20 tonnes of emergency supplies and a team of military divers to help rescue people from the floodwaters, benefit concerts by New Orleans artists and musicians in France, and the loan of art work by the Louvre Museum to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

"They didn't come with generalities. The French come with specifics. And they come with expertise, some of the best in the world," Nagin said.

May be the French want New Orleans back. I can not believe that our government can not or will not take care of New Orleans. The Bush Administration is too busy giving corporations welfare but it can not take care of one of our most important city's

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: cheese eating surrender monkeys | Monkeys (Harpers.org) | All AgitProp, all the Time: The Bloody French Archives | Jokes about the French from The Joke File | Insults Unpunished » Burger- Eating War Monkeys | BBC NEWS | Magazine | E-cyclopedia's glossary of 2003 | BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | E-cyclopedia's glossary of 2003 | TV Monkey : The Simpsons | French Are Unmoved by US 'Frog Bashing' | Telegraph | Opinion | Would you share your currency with this lot?

2:19:31 PM    

Help Repay Wounded Soldier For Lost Body Armor

Give me an effin break. This is real? No way! What do they charge for uniforms with bullet holes in them? What do they deduct if you're blown out of your boots? This just sucks, pure and simple.

It was a case of financial insult added to injury. Now an article in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-News has sparked a fundraising appeal on a popular political blog.

The newspaper reported today that a local man, 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV, had recently paid a bill for $700 for lost body armor he used in Iraq -- which was pulled off his body after he suffered severe wounds in a roadside bombing one year ago. The last time he saw the body armor "he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered," the article revealed.

From the Charleston Gazette-News:

The last time 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood.

A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook's right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again.

But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago.

He was leaving the Army for good because of his injuries. He turned in his gear at his base in Fort Hood, Texas. He was informed there was no record that the body armor had been stripped from him in battle.

He was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks, perhaps months.

Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday.

"I last saw the [body armor] when it was pulled off my bleeding body while I was being evacuated in a helicopter," Rebrook said. "They took it off me and burned it."

....Rebrook, who graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., spent more than four years on active duty. He served six months in Iraq.

Now, Rebrook is sending out resumes, trying to find a job. He plans to return to college to take a couple of pre-med classes and apply to medical school. He wants to be a doctor someday.

"From being an infantryman, I know what it's like to hurt people," Rebrook said. "But now I'd like to help people."

His mother, Beckie Drumheler, "said she was saddened -- and angry -- when she learned that the Army discharged her son with a $700 bill. Soldiers who serve their country, those who put their lives on the line, deserve better, she said. 'It's outrageous, ridiculous and unconscionable,' Drumheler said. 'I wanted to stand on a street corner and yell through a megaphone about this.'"

When John Aravosis, creator of the Americablog site, read this story, he immediately put up an appeal for funds at his site, along with a couple different ways to earmark money for Rebrook, at: http://americablog.blogspot.com/

"We liberal folk may disagree with the Bush administration over the reasons for going to war and over how they're fighting this war," he declared, "but one thing you'd expect no disagreement over would be the treatment of our soldiers. They fight for their country and they deserve some respect in return. And that means not charging them for their body armor because someone blew them up on the battlefield."

Thanks John for organizing this. When I see folks with those yellow Support Our Troops magnets on the back of their vehicles, I wonder how many of them really are supporting the troops (other than moral support).

It's like the old saw about asking a grunt the difference between a crack whore and the U.S. Army...
The crack whore will stop fucking you after you're dead.

UPDATE: Readers at Americablog have already donated over $5,000, so John is pulling the plug on the donation link for now. I wouldn't be surprised if the need arises again, given our government's treatment of our troops. Please continue to share this story it's important. Thanks!

According to the latest from Editor & Publisher, Rebrook has said he's going to donate the money to the mother of a soldier who saved his life in Iraq - she lost her home in New Orleans to Katrina - and he may also give some to charity. Which is fine with me. First, it's his money to spend as he likes. But more importantly, the point was and is that the money go to help someone in need - and it's going to do just that - and at the same time it's inadvertently helped raise some awareness about the ongoing issue of body armor and the Bush administration's (and Republican Congress') callous treatment of our service members. All of that is a good thing.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: War Amputees: October 2004 | Wounded vet receives unexpected homecoming - Today - MSNBC.com | Common Ground Common Sense > For injured US troops, financial | You Big Mouth, You! » Heroes | Obsidian Wings: Unbelievable | » Extra Armor Could Have Saved Lives, Secret Pentagon Study Shows | Patriot Daily :: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS | Dire Medical Threats on the Non-Linear Battlefield must be solved | Soldiers Stories | ISCA: Military

1:32:20 PM    

Monday, February 06, 2006

You! Stop Asking Questions About NSA Spying!

You're either with US, or with the Terrorists! NSA Hearing begin today. Democrats keep hitting on an important point. If the President maintains he'll do everything to prevent another 9/11, why doesn't his program apply to purely domestic Al Qaeda-to-Al Qaeda calls? The terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 were within our own borders, communicating domestically. Gonzales responds with spin about Presidential judgment and the outcry that would result if the program was purely domestic.

I've been burning a candle in my window since 911 and it has stopped 5 terror attacks and kept AQ off our shores.Would anyone like to buy one of these candles and help keep our homeland safe?

Glenn Greenwald has made some great points this morning thus far:

(1) This is an American scandal and about the President breaking the law. Republicans as well as Democrats are apalled by this, and there must be some oversight -- some check -- on this power of surveillance, or we live in a nation where the laws no longer apply.

(2) Democrats and Republicans alike want surveillance. But the President must follow the law. The President asked for, and got, amendments to FISA in the wake of 9/11, and then turned around and started spying in secret anyway -- after publicly praising the amendments. The President asks that we "trust him" on this matter -- but he has repeatedly lied to the nation about whether or not warrants have been sought.

And a note -- the "fear factor" that Rove has been playing has a very strong pull. There is a great need for combating that fear -- but getting through the constant fear with facts is going to be a tough, uphill battle. Let's start talking about ways to effectively cut through that pee-your-pants fear that Rove and company have been stoking in this country since 9/11. We need a strategy.

Fear is an emotion: it can't be countered by facts; feelings never can. That said, simple messages like, "You're not STILL afraid, are you?" in personal conversations, or the slogan, "I'm an American, I'M not afraid" or some such thing, I think might work. That's taking their strong suit and using it against them, like Rove does against us, right?

UPDATE: OMG, I am laughing so hard, and I've spewed coffee all over myself. Prof. Turner on C-SPAN just said that terrorists may be imbedding messages in Viagra spam. Mwahahahahaha. Erectile dysfuntion emails,

Prof. Turner really needs to forward some of those spam to Homeland Security, the FBI and the Secret Service explaining his suspicion. I think they have a special inbox for tips like that. And a name (or at least a psychological profile) for senders of such tips.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Amazon.com: If You 're Not a Terrorist, Then Stop Asking Questions | The CEO Refresher - So Many Questions | BudPlant.com -- IF YOU 'RE NOT A TERRORISTTHEN STOP ASKING | Stop Asking Me That! Use Your eNewsletter To Handle FAQs [Content] | You ! Stop Asking Questions ! Poster > You ! Stop Asking Questions | How it is that we stop asking questions @Everything2.com | If You re Not a TerroristThen Stop Asking Questions !, Seven | Chris Widener's MadeForSuccess.com | If Bush & Co. Declare Cybermartial Law Whats The Worst They Can Do | Stop Asking Questions (poem) by Linda J. Alexander on AuthorsDen

2:32:09 PM    

Bush Has A License To Kill People In The US?

Geez, where have you guys been? They don't obey Miranda, Habeas Corpus, Probable Cause or Congress. They are above the law. We are in deep trouble!

NEWSWEEK Feb. 13, 2006 issue - In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States. Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.

Current and former government officials said they could think of several scenarios in which a president might consider ordering the killing of a terror suspect inside the United States. One former official noted that before Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, top administration officials weighed shooting down the aircraft if it got too close to Washington, D.C. What if the president had strong evidence that a Qaeda suspect was holed up with a dirty bomb and was about to attack? University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says the post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Al Qaeda empowered the president to kill 9/11 perpetrators, or people who assisted their plot, whether they were overseas or inside the United States. On the other hand, Sunstein says, the president would be on less solid legal ground were he to order the killing of a terror suspect in the United States who was not actively preparing an attack.

Interesting. Does that include assassinating US citizens -- without a trial, without properly ascertaining whether or not they are innocent or guilty, without anything other than the say of the Preznit? Do you trust this Administration to make these sorts of choices without messing up?

Would you bet your life on it?  What ever happened to due process? I can hear it now - oops, wrong guy, my bad.

Sure, there are options for dealing with suspects who pose an immediate physical threat -- say holding controls for an explosive device or an AK-47 in a crowded shopping mall. But a Presidential ordered assassination without any particular showing of exigent circumstances and immediate need? That's a Constitution of a different color altogether.

Attorney Yoo (of the torture memos) was asked if the President had the authority to order a childs testicles to be crushed. He paused and said "it depended on the Presidents intent". Ballsy, huh?

Remember when Limbaugh and Falwell were accusing Clinton of murder?  I guess it's OK now.

Jose Padilla is one good example of what it would be like for an innocent caught in the wireless wiretaps to inexplicably be linked with terrorists or terrorist activity. No one could trust this administration to admit the wrong or, more importantly, to correct it.

It's not just that we don't trust this president to do the right thing with unaccountable, unchecked, and unbalanced powers (although we surely, and for good reason, do not). The point is that we live in a constitutional republic and we don't want any president (or other office holder) to have unaccountable, unchecked, and unbalanced powers -- especially over such sensitive matters as surveillance, detention of persons suspected of wrondoing, treatment of such detainees, and the use of deadly force. A preznit could be a saint to whom I would trust my life, and I still would not want him or her to have such powers. It's quite simply the difference between a constitutional republic and a dictatorship.

Because this president thinks he is above the law (THE LAW IS THERE FOR EVERYONE TO FOLLOW,) Senators are now considering a constitutional amendment to limit the war powers of the President. If they had done their jobs in the first place, they wouldn't need to consider such amendments.

categories: Outrages
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12:27:00 AM    

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blame It On Newsweek!

"Who could have foreseen that cartoon caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed would piss off Muslims?" Where the hell is
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy for the Middle East? Shouldn't she be, I don't know, working what little diplomatic mojo she has to try and quell this chaos?

Lebanese demonstrators have set the Danish embassy in Beirut on fire in protest at the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Thousands of people attended a rally and clashes broke out with security forces sent to protect the building.

Lebanese leaders condemned the attack and Interior Minister Hassan Sabeh announced his resignation.

The violence came a day after mobs in neighbouring Syria torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.

Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller has called for a calming of tensions.

"It is a critical situation and it is very serious," he told Danish public radio.

Denmark urged its citizens to leave Lebanon as soon as possible.

The cartoons first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and caused outrage among Muslims, who consider any images of Muhammad offensive. One of the cartoons shows Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.  Newspapers across Europe have republished the pictures in recent days, saying they are defending freedom of expression.

Some Muslim clerics helped to persuade the crowd to disperse as the violence died down, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from the scene.

Lebanon's most prominent Sunni leader, Saad al-Hariri, vowed to track down and prosecute those involved in the attacks.

"We tell our Christian brothers that any stone thrown against a house or a car was an insult to Muslims," he said from Paris.

In other developments:

  • Hundreds of people rally in Afghanistan in protest at the cartoons
  • Iraq's transport ministry freezes contracts with Denmark and Norway
  • Iran recalls its ambassador to Denmark
  • An Iraqi militant group in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi calls for attacks on Danish and non-Muslim targets in Iraq
  • Two tabloid editors in Jordan, arrested after publishing some of the cartoons, plead not guilty to charges of insulting religion.

Denmark and Norway have condemned Syria for failing to stop Saturday's attacks in Damascus and urged their citizens to leave the country.

"The principle of diplomatic relations is that diplomats can work safely and the fact that this has been broken is extremely serious," Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference in Oslo.

The US also criticised Syria's approach, saying it was "inexcusable" for such damage to be inflicted on diplomatic missions.

While only 12 cartoons were intially published, there are fakes circulating which are incredibily inflammatory. Extremists have taken advantage of the situation and have fueled the flames with fake cartoons and dangerous rhetoric. But I don't care how damn offensive you find a cartoon, violence is unacceptable. Period.

If there's a lesson to be learned here - and I assure you there won't be - it's that Arabs rather obviously don't hate America any more than any other country. We just provide them with more opportunity to show it. If the Danes would just step up to the plate more often, maybe we could sneak our troops home from Iraq and no one would notice.

Can someone please point out to the Catholics that, if you are going to get all upset at the elephant dung Virgin Mary, piss Christ, and Last Temptation of Christ, you need to learn tactics from these Muslims? Catholics need to learn to threaten to blow up embassies, take people hostages, and burn stuff in violent demonstrations. I mean, little prayer vigils ain't gonna get it done.

enozinho in Washington Monthly comments:

As a Muslim, I find this whole episode really sad. Yes, the cartoons are and were meant to be an insult. Yes, it is a sin as far as Muslims are concerned to make images of Muhammad. But so is drinking, eating pork, men wearing gold etc. Muslims can't go around holding other people to their own standards.

This is what people do when their leaders are neutered. Sweat the small stuff while your leaders sell your future for an f-16.

My point is that the leaders in most Muslim countries are satisfied to let foreign powers do all kinds of actions that are not in the best interest of their constituents in exchange for financial aid. They prop themselves up by encouraging the rubes to blame America and others.

This works most of the time, but every once in a while you get a Muhammad Atta or a Timothy McVeigh.If anyone is really interested, the actual "sin" committed is two-fold.

First, Muslims aren't supposed to worship men. On the day of Muhammad's death one of his companions said roughly "For those who worshipped Muhammad, let them know that he is dead. For those that worship God, let them know that he lives and never dies."

Second if you want to get really fundamentalist about it, Muslims aren't supposed to draw any living form, because it is considered akin to competing with the creator.

Maybe this stuff is stupid, but it's what people believe, and it has had positive repercussions. Calligraphy, geometric artwork, and even architecture flourished because of the need for Muslims to express themselves without committing what they perceived to be a sin.

For anyone in the Washington DC area, or visiting, the Freer Gallery, just off the Mall steps from the Washington Monument, has the most amazing collection of Islamic art, and is worth it for anyone who is A. an art lover, B. Hoping to better understand Islamic culture, or C. Both.

Before any of us get too smug, a blatantly racist cartoon in a major US newspaper (say, USAToday) would have rather enormous implications. Can anyone really say how Compton or South Central would react?

I'm not saying this to equate the two types of outrage. Certainly there's something bottomlessly ironic about wrecking things and threatening violence to protest being portrayed as backward and violent. But we really can't judge this through our smug democratic eyes alone. Obviously Muslims feel this is a grave offense (and I think this prohibition is in the Sunnah -- the collection of traditions around the prophet Mohammed -- rather than in the Koran itself). And yes, you can look at Turkey who called off a prosecution of one of its more prominent authors because he said a few lines about the Armenian genocide. Their leaders realized that their dream of joining the EU would immediately go down the crapper if they imprisoned this guy for "insulting Turkish honor."

How do we, as Westerners, disabuse people of this kind of mindset? Of the kind of infantile narcissism that says even people in an entirely different culture can't act in ways prohibited by their own?

I don't know. I do know that it sure seems to help make Benjamin Barber's arguments that democracy demands a certain degree of cultural requisites before it facilitates progressive values ...

This incident doesn't bode well for what we can expect from Hamas, either, sad to say ...

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Don't Blame the Saudis - Newsweek World News - MSNBC.com | Fighting Anorexia: No One to Blame - Newsweek Society - MSNBC.com | Saudis, pilgrims trade blame over hajj disaster - Mideast/N | How Bush Blew It - Newsweek Gulf Hurricane 2005 Coverage - MSNBC.com | Assigning Blame - Newsweek National News - MSNBC.com | Plenty of Blame to Go Around - Business Edge - Newsweek - MSNBC.com | Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | 'Not just the media is to | Fort Wayne news, sports, jobs, homes, cars | Blame the Cubs - Newsweek Society - MSNBC.com | A Leftist Youth Journal Based in the US

3:36:05 PM    

Lieberman Keeps War With Iran "On The Table"

"We are capable, if necessary, of continuing to pursue our aims militarily in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere and, if necessary, conduct a military attack on Iran." And Syria, and Venezuela, and... Joe Lieberman has been Republican lite for years. Now he's a Bushite. It's great to see that Democrats are finally acknowledging it.

When you have a big hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. As long as we continue to invest outrageous amounts of money in the military and the military-industrial complex, all our solutions to all problems remain military solutions. We abandon diplomacy rapidly as diplomacy is not our strong suit, but military is. In the end, we just have more guns, so we resort to "smokin' 'em out" rather than finding a way to deal like grownups.

The outrage here is not that Lieberman is supporting McCain but that both of them are wanting to start a war that would be a cataclism for the world and most certainly escalate into nuclear exchanges. We need to raise holy hell starting now to prevent a military strike on Iran. According to reports the date has been set for the end of March with bunker busting nuclear tipped bombs and missiles. Does anyone really think it will end there? This will be a major military confrontation with China and Russia. The exchange of missiles will escalate within minutes and the whole Muslim world will rise up in defense of Iran. This must be avoided at all cost, and now. If the American people are alerted, they will oppose such a reckless and dangerous endeavor.

The two call each other John and Joe, and even though McCain is an Arizona Republican and Lieberman is a Democrat from Connecticut, they often cross party lines to work together _ sometimes to the chagrin of their peers.

When McCain later told the gathering of the world's top defense officials that "every option must remain on the table," when dealing with Iran on its nuclear program because "there's only one thing worse than military action, that is a nuclear-armed Iran," Lieberman did not elaborate much.

"I agree with John," he told the gathering, tossing out his prepared remarks on the Iran issue to spend more time instead lobbying for greater international involvement in Sudan.

"It is not unusual for Senator McCain and I to agree on matters of policy, but as people in the United States know, when we do agree it doesn't mean we are speaking for either the Democratic or Republican parties," he said to laughter. "But in this case I do believe we are speaking for the overwhelming majority."

Ned Lamont hasn't formed his committee yet so you can't give to him yet, but you can give to Blogpac, and that money will go to Lieberman's opponent.

UPDATE: Oh. My. God. Lieberman is tacitly supporting right-wing Republican John McCain for President.

"Every now and again we're asked that, and McCain always says we couldn't do it because each of us would want to be vice president," Lieberman told The Associated Press. "And my presidential campaign days are over _ I hope his aren't."

The Dems damn well need a strategy on this one.

You know why? Because to Bush, the strategic implications of hitting Iran won't matter -- if they decide to strike militarily, they will time it nicely for the 2006 midterms, and use it as a cudgel against Dems.

The Dems don't need much of an actual policy stance on this --they have no power, and they are not going to be consulted with in any honest way by this administration.

But they damn well need a political stance on this. I'm not sure what it'd be: probably that a military strike is on the table, with international support only, but that they have grave misgivings that Commander Codpiece could actually do it right. He has the reverse Midas touch -- everything Bush touches turns to shit.

And we need to be prepared for the crippling oil embargo if Bush does strike.  The Iranians have at their disposal the following retalitaory options: stopping all oil shipments out of the Gulf, a Shiite uprising in Iraq, a possible Iranian invasion of southern Iraq, missile strikes against Saudi oil infrastructure.....

This is some serious shit. The loyal oppostion (we Dems) must continuely press and challenge the administration to be clear, transparent and forthwright in addressing this issue. Posturing for electoral or PR advantage - not acceptable.

Remember, if we attack Iran in any way, we will be attacking the Islamic world (once again) Against that backdrop, this week's cartoon riots might just seem, well, cartoonish.

In other words, there will be no good options, just some that are slightly less miserable than others.

In other news, the guy down the block from me with a huge collection of guns has heard that I'm considering the purchase of a derringer. Word is he's planning a massive assault on my home to make the neighborhood safer.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Legislators demand more action on Iran - Americas - International | Daily Kos: Lieberman Says Filibuster Is ON The Table ! | Welcome To The American Cause | THE TALK SHOW AMERICAN: Legislators demand more action on Iran | THE TALK SHOW AMERICAN: Joe Lieberman : US Prepared for Iran Strike | danieldrezner.com :: Daniel W. Drezner :: Liberal absurdities on Iran | village voice > news > Mondo Washington by James Ridgeway | Iran Focus-Legislators demand more action on Iran - Iran (General | MyDD :: Lieberman Calling for Iran Strike? | CNN.com - Transcripts

2:24:31 AM    

Friday, February 03, 2006

Why We Love New York And Charles Rangle

A couple of people have mentioned that they weren't familiar with Congressman Rangel before this post. For more Rangel-goodness, check out this video at Crooks & Liars, to which Paul the Spud originally linked back in June. Rangel's a good guy; check it out.

Hat Tip:Shakespear's Sister
"A couple of people have mentioned that they weren't familiar with Congressman Rangel before this post."

He's only just going to be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 110th Congress!!!

It's very funny, but of course it's completely backward: Bush shatters the myth of white *superiority*, but he spectacularly confirms the fact of white supremacy. As does every dumb schmuck who enjoys a Senator's office while all the talented and qualified black aspirants have to wonder if they'll be the one to double the size of the Senate Black Caucus.

Is it possible that Bush has a closer understanding with human/animal hybrid clones than we all know??? So much for an Intelligent Designer.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Charlie Rangel (D-Al Qaeda): "Clark can save this G*dd*amn Nation | Archive | February 19, 2001 | Uncompassionate liberalism | American Renaissance News: Rangel Blasts Clinton as a Redneck | Unintended Consequences | Brooklyn's Ascendant: Metropolitan New York's Second City - May 8 | The National Debate: Where Policy, Politics and the Media Meet | BartCop's most recent rants - Political Humor and Commentary | BartCop's most recent rants | Roger L. Simon: The New Bushes | AmericanPolitics.GIF E-Mail Us! THE DAILY COMMENT Pundit Pap for

1:34:48 PM    

Cartoonist Association Blasts Joint Chiefs Attack On  Toles WP Cartoon

Sometimes cartoons are one of the highest art forms, and Tom Toles is very consistently good.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff just sent a menacing letter to the Washington Post over a cartoon. as its veracity was not yet confirmed, we waited until E&P was able to confirm that is is for real.

Here's the letter the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote to the Post.

And why not have the Pentagon try to stifle a free media while supposedly promoting freedom in Iraq? The US government just arrested one of President Bush's top political critics for threatening his life with a t-shirt. So why not now threaten a top political cartoonist for drawing a cartoon that the Pentagon doesn't like? Why not use the power of government to try to censor the media, something that's a direct violation of that pesky and quaint 1st Amendment to the US Constitution - you remember, that document the Bush administration doesn't think is relevant.

I have no problem with citizens speaking out about political cartoons they find offensive. But when the government does it, that's a whole other story that smacks of censorship, especially
when that government is the Pentagon threatening you during wartime.

Today from E&P:
"They should be as concerned with the soldiers in the field as they are with a cartoon in The Washington Post," said Bennett, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC), when reached Thursday by E&P. "Maybe they should provide the body armor soldiers need to help avoid the sort of injury shown in the cartoon."

"It appears they [the Joint Chiefs] interpret cartoons as accurately as they do pre-war intelligence," Bennett said. The Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Christian Science Monitor added: "It was a tough cartoon on [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, but he certainly deserves tough cartoons."
It's called a bitchslap!  Ahhh, chief joints, sticks and stones can break your bones, but cartoons can never hurt you (physically).  Ya can't bleed from a t-shirt, either. unless of course that's what you are provided for body armor.

The artist was responding to Rumfelds highly inappropriate remarks about the condition of the Army by attempting to get by with a catchy phrase "Battle Hardened" instead of answering the legitimate charge that the US Military was stretched too thin and was hurt by the ongoing war in Iraq.

I think the cartoon is brilliant and it in no way demeans or trivializes the casualties of the war. Quite the contrary--it depicts the ridiculousness of Rumsfeld's remarks, and how he trivializes real suffering. "Battled Hardened" my touche.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Defense articles and sections on washingtonpost.com | The Washington Monthly | | NucNews - June 9, 2000 | comics research bibliography: L - R | comics research bibliography: S - Z | | THE BRAD BLOG: Archives July 2005 | | Julien's List

1:14:15 AM    

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We Are In Iraq To Win, And We Are Winning

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds, and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces. I am confident in our plan for victory I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning. It is, really, an amazing record of progress.

Holy crap. Take a look at this. When Bush paints his rosy picture about how great Iraq is going, Lieberman is the first one out of his seat cheering Bush on. My goodness. It's like the spry old bastard is spring-loaded.

Not the first Democrat, mind you, but the first person in the entire building period. Faster than the fastest, most enthusiastic Republican acolyte.

That's him at the bottom of the screen:

That screen shot will make the perfect campaign poster for Lamont. Jumpin' Joe loves his presdint. If anyone hasn't watched it, the clip is really quite funny. Lieberman leaps up out of his seat like he's got a firecracker up his ass. Bush must have given him the script beforehand.

CNN's Chief Int'l Corresp. Amanpour has been taking some heat from the Bush apologists because she interjected some truth into her reporting on Larry King during a segment on the danger to journalists in Iraq. (Transcript)

Amanpour: And, it's really tough when you go out and do that and for sure every time I go out with either the U.S. or the Iraqi Army I am very conscious that this is a potentially life-threatening exercise and, you know, you basically pray from the minute you go out to the minute you come back and you thank God when you've come back.... The war in Iraq has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it, paid for the privilege of witnessing and reporting that and so have many, many other people who have been there....

"How does one report the facts," asked Rob Corddry on "The Daily Show," "when the facts themselves are biased?" He explained to Jon Stewart, who played straight man, that "facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda," and therefore can't be reported.

How's this for quick? Jack Murtha responds to the sotu.
In December 2005, an ABC News poll in Iraq produced some noteworthy results. 57% of Iraqis identified national security as the country's top priority. When asked to rate the confidence in public institutions, they gave Iraqi police a 68% confidence level, the Iraqi army 67%, religious leaders 67%. But the U.S./U.K. forces scored the lowest, a mere 18%.

Over 80% of Iraqis want U.S. forces to leave Iraq and 47% think it is justified to attack Americans. 70% of Iraqis favor a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces, with half favoring a withdrawal in the next six months. In fact, 67% of Iraqis expect day-to-day security for Iraqi citizens will improve if U.S. forces withdraw in six months and over 60% believe violent attacks, including those that are ethnically motivated, will decrease. Our military presence is the single most important reason why the Iraqis have tolerated the foreign terrorists, who account for less than 7 percent of the insurgency. 93% of the insurgency is made up of Iraqis. Once our troops are re-deployed, the Iraqis will reject the terrorists and deny them a safe haven in Iraq. The Iraqis are against a foreign presence in Iraq of any kind.

Some of our troops have been deployed four times over the last three years. Enlistment for the regular forces as well as the guard and reserves are well below recruitment goals. In 2005, the Army missed its recruitment goal for the first time since 1999, even after offering enlistment bonuses and incentives, lowering its monthly goals, and lowering its recruitment standards. As Retired Army officer Andrew Krepinevich recently warned in a report to the Pentagon, the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk 'breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.

The harsh environment in which we are operating our equipment in Iraq, combined with the equipment usage rate (ten times greater than peacetime levels) is taking a heavy toll on our ground equipment. It is currently estimated that $50 billion will be required to refurbish this equipment.

Further, in its response to Hurricane Katrina, the National Guard realized that it had over $1.3 billion in equipment shortfalls. This has created a tremendous burden on non-deployed guard units, on whom this country depends so heavily to respond to domestic disasters and possible terrorist attacks. Without relief, Army Guard units will face growing equipment shortages and challenges in regaining operational readiness for future missions at home and overseas.

First a soldier in Iraq had to worry about improvised explosive devices, land mines, being shot by a sniper, being blow up by a suicide bomber at a check point, or just when he was on patrol, being shot in the back by the Iraqi soldiers he is training, or having kids and young men screaming with joy if he was wounded and dying in the street; or walking into the cafeteria to have lunch and being blown up there, and having Halliburton supply him or her with polluted filthy water. How much sacrifice can we ask of the soldiers? It is time to bring our troops home. This is insanity.

Iraqomo from the Freeway Blogger.

If you didn't like Toles, you're really gonna hate this :-)

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Johnny Isakson, United States Senator from Georgia | National Strategy for Victory in Iraq | Daily Kos: Howell and Hardball: We 're Winning the Long Struggle | Bush vows to stand firm in Iraq - Forbes.com | The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town | CNN.com - Bush: ' We have to win the battle after the battle' - Dec | CNN.com - Bush: Iraq pullout would hurt credibility - Dec 18, 2005 | The Democratic Party | Are We Winning In Iraq ? | Bush on Iraq : ' We 're winning ' -- Newsday.com

7:30:21 PM    

Never Mind What Bush Said About 'Oil Addiction'

Bush was never much on ending addictions .   Maybe he could have proposed a twelve-step program.  They backed off that so fast they're leaving a wake Maybe the White House press corps can ask Scotty which other parts of the speech Bush meant literally, and which parts were, um, not literal.

Even for Bush, this is absolutely unbelievable.
One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally....

The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025."

He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

What the president meant,
they said in a conference call with reporters, was that alternative fuels could displace an amount of oil imports equivalent to most of what America is expected to import from the Middle East in 2025. 
"Could" is not a policy,  Just as "second guessing" is not.   I could theoretically learn how to harness the energy latent in the cat litter box, but I'm not betting the farm on it.

Bush and Rove know that, but they have figured out that they can pick up points by saying things that sound good at the moment. Trip to Mars? Rebuilding New Orleans? Become independent of Middle East oil? Surely no Democrat is ever going to call them on any of this on TV. So why not say it.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Blogs for Bush : The White House Of The Blogosphere | Global War - 'It's the oil stupid' | TIME.com: Eyewitness: "I Never Heard the Word 'Bomb'" -- Page 1 | CNN.com - Report: Iran lifts ban on CNN - Jan 17, 2006 | CNN.com - US dismisses call for Chavez's killing - Aug 23, 2005 | The Stakeholder:: Read Ahead | CISAC News - CISAC faculty discuss US election and foreign policy | Kaiser on Bush Presidency | TMS Newsletter - Voices and Viewpoints | Hypocritical Concern for the "Right to Privacy"

2:08:43 AM    

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