- FRC working to keep US from exerting pressure against Uganda's kill-the-gays bill
'According to the [Family Research Council's] official lobbying report for the first quarter of 2010, they paid two of their henchmen $25,000 to lobby Congress against approving a resolution denouncing Uganda's plan to execute homosexuals. The resolution passed in the Senate on April 13th, but remains languishing in the House almost four months after being referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Did the FRC's lobbying kill it? As we learned last week with Malawi, international pressure CAN sway even the most virulently anti-gay government.'
Before the Uganda bill surfaced, I was having an argument with some breeder-privileged fuck on Facebook who told me I was overreacting when I said that the same religious right activist groups and churches who cheated, lied, and stole in order to strip us of marriage equality had, as their ultimate goal, our murder. I think stuff like this pretty definitively proves I was not overreacting.
They may not often say they want us dead. They may bitch and moan when we try to expose their actions, or their donor lists. They may say "hate the sin, love the sinner" out of one side of their mouths while they invoke fire and brimstone out of the other. They may want to offshore our murder to the third world, where they hope it will go unnoticed by the American media. But the Family sends missionaries over to Uganda to push them to introduce legislation calling for our round-up and execution, and the imprisonment of anyone who tries to help us there; then, when word gets out, the FRC lobbies to try and stop the US from exerting any diplomatic pressure to oppose the bill.
They ultimately want to kill us, plain and simple.
'Unmanned aircraft have proved their usefulness and reliability in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the pressure's on to allow them in the skies over the United States...
'"There is a tremendous pressure and need to fly unmanned aircraft in (civilian) airspace," Hank Krakowski, FAA's head of air traffic operations, told European aviation officials recently. "We are having constant conversations and discussions, particularly with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, to figure out how we can do this safely with all these different sizes of vehicles."'
What could possibly go wrong?
- Disturbing Kagan memo from '96: She sides with Mormons, thinks anti-discrimination laws limit freedom of religion
In her role working in the Clinton administration in 1996, Elena Kagan wrote a memo which "urged Clinton to side with religious conservatives in a case dealing with a landlord's objection to renting to an unmarried couple, because it went against his religious beliefs."
Kagan has left little to constitute a record -- and I agree with Greenwald that that's a troubling indicator that she's placed her own ambition ahead of any deeply-held principles that she might have left behind in written opinions. That, out of a paucity of opinions generally, she should have left such a pro-religious-right opinion as this is, seems to me a pretty searing indictment of our "fierce advocate's" nominee, and, obviously, has deeply disturbing implications for the chances this Supreme Court might give a DoMA-repeal victory, let alone challenges to hate crimes legislation or ENDA, should that somehow pass.
Given Obama's pro-corporate and anti-gay actions generally, she seems like a perfect fit for him.
- Compare and constrast
'"The President undertook health care because it was the right thing for the country even though it was politically risky," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. "We don’t share the media’s obsession with poll numbers, particularly months and months from an election."'
'CHENEY: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
'RADDATZ: Two-third of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
'RADDATZ So? You don’t care what the American people think?
'CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.'
Change we can believe in.
(To be clear: Polls indicate that most people opposed to the recent health care legislation are on crack and think it's some sort of socialism, but that a substantial minority (of which I'm a part) opposes it because it's too conservative -- in my case because it's a wealth-transfer from working-class Americans to the insurance industry, without much in the way of meaningful protections, and with right-wing, misogynist restrictions on reproductive rights, plus a big chunk of change for abstinence-only 'education.' Regardless, Obama doesn't seem to be doing a great job of bringing people together on this issue: he's pissed off the right, yet made countless 'concessions' to Republicans that didn't manage to convince Republicans to vote for it, yet alienated and disheartened huge swathes of the Democratic electorate. And his administration's continued spouting of new right-wing talking points gets depressing.)
- Obama issues orders Health and Human Services to prevent discrimination against partners of gay patients for hospital visitation rights
This is definitely good news. The cynic in me, though, wonders at the timing, and the scope -- if Obama suddenly has found the courage and ability to issue statements on this, what's preventing him from doing so on DADT, etc.? And could this be to distract gays' attention from his administration's mishandling of DADT -- handling so dire and disingenuous that even the obsequious Barney Frank was moved to call out the administration on it?
I also wonder about this bit: "This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person." What the hell does that mean?
Still, if this prevents even one repeat of the despicable, mean-spirited, bigoted, and unchristian (yet cloaked in the hypocritical language of Christian 'values') behavior of Miami's evil Jackson Memorial Hospital towards Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, it'll be fantastic.
- Propaganda: Greenwald on Obama's paid informant and Cass Sunstein's hilariously ironic infiltration plan
'In the midst of my lengthy discussion yesterday of Cass Sunstein's proposal to "cognitively infiltrate extremist groups" by employing covert agents and secretly paying so-called "independent" analysts to tout the government line, I noted the recent controversy surrounding MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber. Specifically, Gruber was receiving large, undisclosed payments from the Obama administration at exactly the time when the Obama White House (and Gruber himself) were holding him out as an "objective" expert endorsing various parts of the President's health care plan...
'I noted that many Democrats who strenuously objected to non-disclosure scandals during the Bush years have been minimizing the conduct at issue in the Gruber matter...
'Minimizing or excusing unethical behavior when done by Your Side is exactly what normalizes the behavior, and turns ethical failures into nothing more than a partisan tool cynically used by each side, which in turn trivializes these issues.'
Why do I get the feeling that Obama apologists (and I must sadly include Krugman in that list now) seem to be becoming just as relativistic as Bush apologists were during the last administration?
- Probation over for single-payer advocates that Sen. Max Baucus had arrested
'"Despite the outpouring of requests," said Katie Robbins of Healthcare-Now.org, "we were clearly told that [single-payer advocates] would be excluded. This cemented our growing impression that the healthcare debate was at best, political theater, and that we would have to try a different tactic in order that the only really affordable health reform solution, that addresses the real health care needs of 100% of our nation be heard."
'Kevin Zeese of ProsperityAgenda.US called the committee "pay to play" because, as he said, "Every seat at the Roundtable was bought by the lobbyists. Senator Baucus received nearly $2 million in campaign contributions from the health industry in 2008 and the entire Senate Finance Committee received over $13 million in 2008...”
'In addition to probation, the prosecutor insisted that the three defendants who lived in the Washington, DC area also perform 40 hours of community service. "I spend every day serving my community," said Adam Schneider who is employed by Health Care for the Homeless. "I'm proud of the stand we took and had no problem doing an extra 40 hours of service to my community. But if there was any justice in the world, Senator Baucus and his corporate sponsors would have also been required to spend 40 hours with my clients to understand their desperate need for access to healthcare before they give a $500 billion bailout to the private health insurance industry."
- (old): spokesman for Stand for Marriage Maine, Bob Emrich, praises Uganda's death-to-gays legislation
'Bob Emrich is the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Bible Church in Plymouth, Maine. He was also a campaign leader and spokesman for Stand for Marriage Maine, the organization primarily responsible for the passage of Question 1 which reversed the Maine Legislature’s law enacting marriage equality. Emrich was, in many ways, the voice and face of the anti-gay marriage movement in Maine...'
Emrich sent out an email:
'I have just recently returned from two weeks in Uganda, ministering the Word among village pastors and Churches... But as I work my way back into ministry here at Emmanuel Bible Baptist Church (Plymouth) and with the Maine Jeremiah Project, I wanted to share the following article I found in Uganda’s largest daily newspaper. I had tucked it into my journal and found it yesterday as I reviewed some of my scribbling. I think it speaks for itself, but I hope you will wonder, as I do, where our own culture lost its way.'
The article he cites includes such examples of Christian philosophy as this:
'No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptise him an enemy of the people.'
As Kincaid concludes at BTB, it is indeed very difficult not to believe that Mr Emrich is praising the Ugandan bill, and wishing that "The West" could be more like Uganda in terms of how it treats gay people.
Putting the lie to the notion that, just because they don't want us to be married, doesn't mean they hate us or wish us harm. These guys are neck deep in the effort to impose state-sanctioned murder on gays in Uganda -- and neck-deep in the effort to repeal equal marriage rights at the state level. I have trouble seeing the part of their philosophy Christ would have liked.
- Matt Taibbi on Geithner lifting the cap on aid to Fannie and Freddie -- and on the conspiracy of the banking industry, the Fed, and the media to loot the treasury
'For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the future.
'That is a terrible story and it is also sort of a taboo story, since we don’t really have a system of media now that is willing or even able to digest that dark and complicated truth. Instead, our media — which has always been at best an inadvertent accomplice to these messes — is basically set up to take every revelation about the underlying truth and split it down the middle, feeding half to one side of the political spectrum and one half to the other, where the actual point is then burned up in the useless smoke of a blame game...
'Everyone had a hand in the bubble, from the congressmen who killed regulatory initiatives to the regulators who snoozed at the wheel to the GSEs to the Fed to the banks to the ratings agencies to the lenders. I don’t think it’s really controversial to say that, but it does seem like there’s an argument brewing about what that across-the-board complicity means...
'This GSE story is a big one, but if it gets used as a path back to a "The Market Reacted Rationally" version of history, we’re screwed. It has to be looked at as an important part of a diabolical whole, a symbiotic scheme in which the banks and the state were irreversibly intertwined in an enterprise that on both sides was never about market economics, but crime. Because otherwise… the diversionary notion that one side or the other is wholly to blame is part of what makes the whole scam possible.'
Taibbi's been writing very lucid analyses of big industry evil and corruption lately, both in the insurance and banking markets.
- Coverage of the Olson/Boies Federal court challenge to Proposition 8
Comments thread is entertaining:
'The high court on Monday said it will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue. It said that Monday's order will be in place at least until Wednesday...'
'Judge Walker just said [that of the public comments he solicited regarding whether the trial should be broadcast, there were] 138,542 in favor and 32 opposed. Number of comments were [sic] received by 5:00PM Friday...'
'The same people who are advocating that prop 8 remain the law of the land because of its popularity with the people of California (52% is hardly all of the people), want total anonymity at trial while "the people" vote to see it on Youtube at over 4,000 to one! LOL'
The blatant hypocrisy of the defense is entertaining, but the idea that bigotry proponents are subject to violence if they make their views public is a dangerous meme, particularly when reinforced by the SCOTUS. An obviously absurd claim, its reiteration erases the violence and bigotry, the increased incidence of hate crimes, done to gay people in the wake of Proposition 8 -- not to mention the fundamental violence of stripping millions of Californians of their rights, which Proposition 8 itself did.
- Reuters reports that Uganda's death-penalty-for-homosexuality bill is likely to pass; Sweden cutting Uganda aid
'"Activists and political observers expect the private members' bill, which proscribes the death penalty for 'serial offenders' and is still in the committee stage, to pass with little opposition and some minor changes. Likely changes may include modifying the death penalty to life imprisonment, altering clauses nullifying international treaties, conventions and protocols that contradict the act, and removing a section about extradition. 'It's catastrophic,' said Frank Mugisha, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a local activist group. 'People are being arrested, intimidated already. What's going to happen if it's passed?'"
'Sweden has announced it's cutting aid to Uganda over the bill.'
Good for Sweden. And it's a shame our "fierce advocate" in the White House can't bring himself to so much as censure the Ugandan government for its intended genocide against gay people.
It's worth noting that evil politicians and religious figures like Obama's BFF Rick Warren and Mr. marital-sanctity Mark Sanford are helping to fund this shit via The Family, among other ties. (Follow the links at towleroad for documentation.) The fundies repeatedly claim they've got nothing against gays, they just want to prevent us getting equal rights like marriage -- but, like Marx always said, "Follow the money, dumbass." By funding a literal holocaust against gays, they demonstrate not only their duplicity (and their almost definitive lack of Christian morals), but the deep, oozing, black, putrid, stinking evil at the core of their beings.
- Bernie Sanders trying to block Bernanke's Fed chairmanship
'Bernie Sanders, as he did earlier in the year with the nomination of Gary Gensler of the CFTC, is placing a hold on the re-nomination of Ben Bernanke to the chairmanship of the Fed. I wonder sometimes if Bernie is the only Senator who is actually worrying about who is running our key financial institutions.
'The problem with the Fed is that almost nobody outside the financial community understands how it works, and as a result the popular outrage over its behavior is not nearly at the level it should be. The Greenspan legacy of providing a sort of permanent, built-in backstop for Wall Street by continually loosening the money supply every time the financial services sector blows itself up in this or that idiotic speculative craze is something that should make every citizen muy enojado. Now it’s even worse — direct bailouts of companies and billions in discount window lending coupled with zero transparency, zero taxpayer access to the Fed’s books...
'The Sanders release summed up Bernanke’s record:
'"As head of the central bank since 2006, Bernanke could have demanded that Wall Street provide adequate credit to small and medium-sized businesses to create decent-paying jobs in a productive economy, but he did not.
'"He could have insisted that large bailed-out banks end the usurious practice of charging interest rates of 30 percent or more on credit cards, but he did not.
'"He could have broken up too-big-to-fail financial institutions that took Federal Reserve assistance, but he did not.
'"He could have revealed which banks took more than $2 trillion in taxpayer-backed secret loans, but he did not."'
I'm starting to think Sanders may be my favorite post-Teddy Kennedy Senator.
- Box Turtle Bulletin has a warning about the political future of anti-equality Senators in NY
'On February 11, 2004, Massachusetts State Representative Vincent Ciampa, Democrat, voted to define marriage as "one man one woman".
'Ciampa feared no one – he could do what he wanted. He served in a Democratic safe seat and had done so for 16 years. Republicans didn’t even run candidates against him.
But in Ciampa’s lived a young man named Carl Sciortino... [who] was furious that his representative had voted to define him as a second class citizen. So Carl did the unthinkable; though only 26 and having no political machine or public service experience, he ran against Ciampa.
'But Sciortino had something that Ciampa was missing. He had a moral cause – to advance equality – and a community that was outraged by elected officials that endorsed discrimination. So he fought the system.
One thing the corporate media don't focus on is the electability of pro-gay politicians in the US these days, particularly in the Northeast -- and the electoral damage anti-gay politicians cause themselves. It's illustrative to look at the reelection campaigns in MA since the legislature voted down a ballot initiative that could have (unconstitutionally) stripped equal rights from our gay and lesbian citizens: many old-time anti-civil-rights Democratic legislators have been booted; yet, despite the hysterical claims from the press and the religious right, pro-gay legislators have a fantastic track record of reelection.
Clearly, New York isn't as progressive as either Vermont or Massachusetts (or, apparently, New Hampshire. New Hampshire!!). Yet the electorate isn't getting older. Gays are a big financial donor demographic to the Democratics. Politicians who squander our good will, whether at the local, state, or Federal level, are truly inept strategists.
- Trans protections pass unanimously in... Cleveland?!
Surprising, but it's nice to see LGBT civil rights progress in parts of America that aren't New England.
- Breaking News: NY Senate more regressive than NH, ME.
NY Senate just voted down equal marriage rights by 38 to 24. Sen. Fuckwit Diaz, D-Bigotville, said approving gay marriage would be "treason."
- 'WH defies court order -- top openly gay official's dept seeks to bar partner health benefits'
'you'd think the better part of wisdom for the Obama administration would be to let Kozinski's rationale allow the benefits to go into effect without challenge, given that legal fig leaf. In a report by TIME mag, this "fierce advocate" administration makes what has to be the most DOMA-paranoid, politically homophobic decision on this case.
'"The [court] order was not published, and garnered little or no notice at the time. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts moved to comply with the judge's ruling, submitting [federal employee] Golinski's insurance form to Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the case would have probably gone away - had the Obama Administration not stepped in. 'After the AO submitted Ms. Golinski's form, I thought this matter had concluded,' [Judge] Kozinski wrote. 'The Executive Branch, acting through the Office of Personnel Management, thought otherwise. It directed the insurance carrier not to process Ms. Golinski's form 2809, thwarting the relief I had ordered. I must now decide what further steps are necessary to protect Ms. Golinski and the integrity of the Judiciary's EDR [employee dispute resolution] plans.'"'
Nothing here really surprises me. I have only two points to add.
First, I find it interesting to read the comments on this page. Even six months ago, I feel like there would have been raging debate over holding the administration's feet to the fire, or giving Obama more time, or there being more important things for the administration to deal with. I'm happy to see consensus building around the position I understood as soon as Obama campaigned with Donny McClurkin -- that he is simply a homophobe, using the gays when it's politically expedient. I wonder what caused the shift over the last few months. Is this pattern becoming too obvious for even Obama apologists to ignore? Perhaps the "more important things" meme is dying as people realize that the more important things Obama would concentrate on are, you know, breaking campaign promises by sending more troops to the Middle East, or breaking campaign promises by working against single-payer health care and touting legislation to give Big Insurance a captive market, or sending the millionaires at Goldman another blank check with no accountability.
Second, I start to wonder whether Obama is consciously attempting to guarantee a one-term presidency. There's political expediency, and then there's stabbing every element of your base. He's systematically betrayed gays and lesbians, pacifists, health-care-reform advocates, working-class people, unions, women. There's yet another poll out this week showing Democratic voters tremendously demotivated, and it's hard to argue that the Republicans won't sweep Congress next year -- which means the Obama Administration is going to be facing a more conservative, obstructionist Congress, and won't be able to get new legislation through. The administration has already demonstrated its terror of pushing "controversial" topics near election times, so it's clear we won't get any major policy initiatives after next Summer. So what happens in 2012?
The base can look back at an administration record of, um, writing an insufficient stimulus bill; appointing and then standing by Fed guys with close ties to the entities that destroyed the economy, didn't see the crisis coming, and then failed to do much of anything about it; failing to get us out of the Middle East; opposing efforts on real health-care reform; and screwing over the gays at every turn (DOMA, DADT, etc.). This is the record he's going to get reelected on? Wouldn't it be wise to offer the merest appearance of crumbs to the base?
- Hypothesis that pro-gay, pro-Constitution "judicial activism" generates homophobic backlash deflated by Maine vote on Question 1
'[T]he narrow passage of Prop. 8 represented pretty feeble evidence for claims that judicial rulings produce a unique level of backlash. Most significantly, a 2000 initiative banning same-sex marriage passed 61.4 percent to 38.6 percent; Prop. 8 passed 52.2 percent to 47.8 percent. In other words, the California court's ruling did not arrest long-term trends in favor of same-sex marriage...
'This brings us to Maine, which represents the best control case imaginable. Maine and California are both liberal states, in which an authoritative state institution announced a change granting marriage equality to same-sex couples in a similar time frame, causing reactionary opponents of the change to mobilize and get an initiative seeking to overturn the new status quo on the ballot that November. While no political comparison is perfect, this one is close: The only meaningful difference is that the courts were responsible for the policy change in California, while the legislature changed the laws in Maine. But the outcome was virtually identical, with opponents of same-sex marriage actually getting a slightly higher share of the vote than they did in California. In a rational world, this should finally stop people from claiming that judicial review is the key variable accounting for opposition to same-sex marriage.
'And this should not have been surprising. The extensive overlap between people decrying "judicial activism" in the case of same-sex marriage and expressing outrage over the failure of courts to overturn the decisions of elected officials in the areas such as eminent domain and affirmative action makes it clear that conservative activists have no principled opposition to judicial intervention into contested policy disputes (as opposed to selective opposition to judicial opinions they dislike on the policy merits).'
Maybe someday American "progressives" will realize that doing what's right shouldn't be tied to doing what's popular, and that "justice delayed is justice denied." I'm not holding my breath.
In related news, did you know that it wasn't until 1994 that some polls indicated overall public support for Loving v Virginia? Guess those activist judges should have waited 27 years to issue their ruling, until it wasn't too disruptive to the delicate sensibilities of the majority. Assuming that the opinions of that majority were in no way swayed by the legality of interracial marriage...
- Anti-gay hate crimes around LA rose last year, while others drop, thanks to Prop. 8
'Los Angeles County saw an overall 4% drop in hate crimes last year, while crimes against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people increased, prompted in part by last November’s highly charged Proposition 8 initiative, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California, according to a new report released today.'
Thanks, Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, and Rick Warren! Ready to admit that you incite anti-gay violence yet?
- (old): Obama White House delays release of video of domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes answering a question in a pro-marriage-equality way
'In the talk, Barnes was asked by BC law student Paul Sousa about gay marriage. Sousa claims that Barnes allegedly expressed sympathy for the position that gay couples should be permitted to marry. Monday evening, the White House vehemently denied to Sam Stein at Huffington Post (see link above) that Barnes said anything other than the White House official position, opposing marriage equality for gay couples.
'That's when things get interesting. BC took a video of Barnes' talk. Sousa says that he has spent the past four days trying to get the college administration to release the video, to clear up once and for all what Barnes actually told the students at the public meeting. The video is only now reportedly to be released tomorrow, Friday afternoon (the traditional time in Washington for embarrassing documents to be dumped publicly). Sousa claims that numerous employees of Boston College told him that the video couldn't be released because the White House wouldn't let the college release it...'
Fierce advocate and most transparent administration ever my ass. This wouldn't be controversial if the White House weren't displaying Nixon-like levels of paranoia. What the heck?
- Christian Leaders: We're still gay-hating misogynists who value zygotes more than we do adults suffering from genetic diseases!
'"The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America. They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage..."
'Part of the goal is to reach younger Christians who may have more progressive notions about gays and remind them that the church thinks gays are bad.'
Because helping to end the suffering of Lou Gehrig's Disease patients, etc., by allowing research that could cure their diseases is clearly "antilife." Evil hypocrites.
- Jeanne-Claude, partner of Christo, is dead
'Jeanne-Claude, who was born Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon to a French family in Casablanca, met Christo in 1958 and soon started collaborating on art projects. Their signature style involved wrapping public structures in fabric. In 1964, they moved to New York, where they have been based ever since.
'Among the outdoor structures and buildings they wrapped were the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Pont Neuf in Paris; and the Reichstag in Berlin.
'One of their most recent projects was "Over the River," which involved fabric panels suspended horizontally above the Arkansas River.'
We've been sporadically watching "5 Films about Christo & Jeanne-Claude" from Netflix. It's fascinating to watch the logistical hoops the artists have to jump through -- plus the requisite ego-stroking of the locals -- to get their projects done. The process is perhaps as interesting as the final result. Fascinating and recommended.
- Obama DOJ: Just because the Feds don't recognize some of them doesn't mean definitions of marriage aren't up to the states
'Stating that “There is, however, no fundamental right to marriage-based federal benefits,” the feds are saying that therefore they can pick and choose to whom they will provide benefits. They are, of course, failing to acknowledge that such benefits are, and have always been, based on qualifications that are defined by states...
'Either the Federal Government recognizes marriages as defined by the states, or it has some unique recognition of its own. Either it accepts the registration of the states, or it applies a consistent nation-wide registry with rules relating to age, blood-line, testing, counseling all consistent from sea to shining sea. And considering that states have jealously held family law as their purview, such a usurpation of states’ rights would likely result in political revolt.
'But without such a registry, the feds may be facing a tough legal challenge. It is difficult to argue for recognition as defined by the various states – with a narrow exception solely to exclude same-sex marriages – without running foul of the problems that Colorado found in Romer v. Evans. You cannot create and define a group of people solely for the cause of denying them the rights shared by others. And with a handful of states now recognizing, registering, and solemnizing same-sex marriages, excluding just those couples seems to me to be a clear violation.'
Of course, pro-gay Apartheid Obama apologists will claim that the DOJ is "compelled" to defend laws it doesn't agree with -- just like Obama has to fund policies like DADT, even though he "disagrees" with them. To which I reply, Oh, you mean just like how the Obama administration's not enforcing drug laws?
I guess following federal guidelines for criminal prosecutions is clearly less important, and completely different, than following federal guidelines for denying civil rights. Or federal guidelines mandating employment discrimination while we're engaged in a couple illegal wars.
Sometimes you've just got to believe your Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation seems to be that Obama and his DOJ hate them some homo. And so do all of the apologists blinded by their worship of this economically and socially conservative, hypocritical, cowardly administration.
- Goldman Sachs International adviser Brian Griffiths: We're selfish, just like Jesus
'Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths explains it this way: that Christ’s famous injunction to love others as one would love oneself actually means that one should love oneself as one would love oneself. This seemingly baffling outburst by a Goldman executive in what appears to have been a prepared speech — someone actually wrote this, and thought about it, before saying it out loud — gets even weirder when one tries to figure out what could possibly have motivated this person, and by extension his employer Goldman Sachs, to make such statements in such a place as St. Paul’s Cathedral...
'[T]hey actually believe this to be true, or are trying to believe it is true, and by making the case publicly hope to persuade the world to see the light (and just maybe reaffirm to themselves in the process) and embrace the Orwellian propositions that greed is love and taking is sharing.'
The Onion headlines just write themselves sometimes.
- Banks fail to pay TARP dividends to the Treasury
'Of the 34 miscreants, two are pretty large, namely AIG and CIT, But the next on the list is First Bancorp, which received a mere $400 million from the TARP. Probably more important than the number is the trend, since the number of institutions that skipped dividends nearly doubled. In a supposedly improving economy and with a steep yield curve (at least until very recently), things appear to be getting worse rather than better.
'I didn’t post on this because I assumed the MSM would be all over it. So I am pretty surprised to see it has gotten very little coverage. The usual suspects (Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) were silent.'
- Scientists create microwave 'black hole'
'An electromagnetic "black hole" that sucks in surrounding light has been built for the first time.
'The device, which works at microwave frequencies, may soon be extended to trap visible light, leading to an entirely new way of harvesting solar energy to generate electricity...
'The key to making light curve inwards is to make the shell's permittivity – which affects the electric component of an electromagnetic wave – increase smoothly from the outer to the inner surface. This is analogous to the curvature of space-time near a black hole. At the point where the shell meets the core, the permittivity of the ring must match that of the core, so that light is absorbed rather than reflected.
'Now Tie Jun Cui and Qiang Cheng at the Southeast University in Nanjing, China, have turned Narimanov and Kildishev's theory into practice, and built a "black hole" for microwave frequencies. It is made of 60 annular strips of so-called "meta-materials", which have previously been used to make invisibility cloaks.
'Each strip takes the form of a circuit board etched with intricate structures whose characteristics change progressively from one strip to the next, so that the permittivity varies smoothly. The outer 40 strips make up the shell and the inner 20 strips make up the absorber.'
- Obama admin files motion to get DADT challenge thrown out
'In a move consistent with other contradictory behavior on LGBT issues, the Obama administration has directed its Justice Department to file an extraordinary motion to get Log Cabin Republicans' lawsuit against the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law thrown out of court, despite a federal judge's ruling that it can proceed. The 11th-hour move for interlocutory appeal, which seeks to stay proceedings and block discovery, was surprisingly formulated at the same time that President Obama was reassuring LGBT activists that he still firmly opposes the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law at the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner earlier this month in Washington, DC.'
(from San Diego Gay and Lesbian News)
Fierce advocate for screwing the gays, I'd say.
- Will the future be more progressive?
'I was going to respond in comments, but it got too long. I am unaccustomed to disagreeing with Chicago Dyke very often, but I don't actually feel that hopeful about new generations being more progressive*. My experience is that some of the greatest forgetfulness about how we got here comes from those who are simply too young to remember it...
'But there's a younger generation out there that, as BDBlue points out, grew up in the Reagan era and doesn't even appreciate what Social Security has accomplished. Young, healthy kids who are now seeing Democrats who were put in power by liberals openly transferring taxpayers' wealth to criminal banksters, and who are about to force them to buy overpriced crappy insurance from the same criminals who've been denying them health care all along.
'And the only people who are suggesting in public that these Democrats might be doing them wrong are...right-wingers whose stock-in-trade is bashing the left. And there's no one on TV telling them that it's not "blacks" and "liberals" and "gays" and "illegal aliens" who are responsible for this.'
I'm increasingly inclined to agree with this. I'm not saying everything was better back in the day -- we have made progress since Stonewall, after all -- but on economic issues, Democrats like Johnson were a lot better than Democrats like Clinton, who was a lot better than Democrats like Obama. On civil rights issues, whether we're talking about taking political risks with the Civil Rights Act, or the acceptable discourse about America as a torturing state, Democrats like Johnson were also infinitely better than Obama. But the single most dangerous thing Obama's done, in the long-term, was to embrace the movement during the primary to paint him as a progressive. He's not; never has been; never will be. Yet his economic policies, which will prove to be disastrous; and his preventive rendition and pro-torture policies; and his pro-health-insurance-industry health care policies are all going to be eventually blamed on this so-called "progressive."
He's moved the window of acceptable discourse on torture far to the right -- Republicans like Bush and "progressive" Democrats like Obama are both in favor of Gitmo and torturing Arabs. He's moved the window of acceptable discourse on war in the Middle East to the right -- both Republicans and "progressive" Democrats say we've got to stay in Iraq, and expand in Afghanistan, and threaten Pakistan, and that Iran's evil, given our unsupported claims that they're developing the same nuclear technology we've had for decades. He'd already moved the acceptable discourse on gay marriage to the right, even before he got elected, when he was quoted in those pro-Proposition 8 ads, and now with all those media comparisons of his "progressive" position being the same as Carrie Prejean's.
Democrats as a party are, these days, far from progressive, and enacting regressive and corporate-friendly policies at every level. The economy continues to nose-dive, the Dow to be divorced from the reality of employment rates; inflation for things like MBTA fares and food prices is nuts, yet officially there's little or no inflation, and wages are certainly stagnant at best. And "progressive" Democrats will own this once it's continued under their presidency and congressional majority for a few years.
And I am occasionally stunned in conversations with younger friends, who defend torture by saying things like "sometimes you just need to get information." I feel like the far right burned the usefulness of that line for people my age, when they were distinguishing the US from the Evil Empire. If we could face down the Soviet Union and potential nuclear armageddon while still heralding our free speech and the Geneva Conventions, why should we be afraid of some rinky-dink terrorists? I also notice gay people too young to be experiencing a profound sense of deja vu over DADT, etc. Those of us a little older have lived through this all before; those of us a little younger say "give him time," or "he's really pro-gay, you know." So was DoMA- and DADT-signing Bill Clinton, supposedly, and look at the civil rights I lack, and the tax penalty I pay, for that one.
Karl Rove couldn't have planned the ruination of the progressive brand image better. There will be less homophobia in a couple decades (despite the inaction of spineless "progressive" politicians), and I hope it will be harder to be openly racist when half the country is Hispanic. But when everyone's grown up with for-profit prisons and multi-thousand-dollar insurance premiums, and perpetual war in the Middle East as official foreign policy, and torture as an American "necessity," and restrictions on abortion availability, and hospitals where medical personnel have the conscientious "right" to refuse treatment to gays and drug users and pregnant unmarried women, and wages such that it's impossible for the middle class to live comfortably and securely on two incomes, let alone one -- that won't really strike me as a more "progressive" future. And I'm not sure voters will embrace the corporate Democrats who brought us there. This is why I'm skeptical when people claim that the Republican party is dead.
- Greenwald on the financial industry's control of government
'[T]he single most insightful article on the financial crisis was written by former IMF Chief Economist and current MIT Professor Simon Johnson in the May, 2009 issue of The Atlantic, when he argued that "the finance industry has effectively captured our government" and detailed how the U.S. has become very similar to failed emerging-market nations in both its political and economic culture...
'Geithner spends an amazing amount of time on the telephone with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JP Morgan: "Goldman, Citi and JPMorgan can get Geithner on the phone several times a day if necessary, giving them an unmatched opportunity to influence policy." Other than the President, virtually everyone else -- including leading members of Congress -- are forced to leave messages...
'Neil Barofsky, the independent watchdog of the TARP program, recently said that while the Wall Street bailout did avert full-scale financial collapse, it plainly failed in its principal stated goal of increasing lending (because banks used the money to buy other institutions, create capital cushions, pay out bonsues, etc.)... Worse, he said that the U.S. economy is more dependent than ever on these same "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions, which have grown in size, and the U.S. economy is thus more vulnerable than it was even a year ago to an actual collapse....
'As Kaptur said, given the size and scope of "the largest transfer of wealth from the American people to the biggest banks in this country," one would expect there to be massive public interest in what happened and why, and, more so, whether any of this is being fixed (it plainly isn't). One would particularly expect the Democratic Party -- which has long branded itself as being the populist party against Wall Street -- would be leading that charge, for political benefit if not for substantive reasons. But that's clearly not happening, and the primary reason why is because both political parties, as institutions, are dependent on and thus controlled by the very industry that is at the heart of it...
'Among the two parties, there's no outlet for the populist anger that Kaptur understands and is voicing because each party is eager to serve the interests of those who fund them. And that's why Democrats have largely ceded the populist anger over Wall Street to GOP operatives who are exploiting the "tea party" movement as the only real organized citizen activism over these issues.'
Read the whole article.
I think Greenwald is among the best contemporary political commentators. He's been doing a stellar -- if depressing -- job lately. I think he's right on the money about the Democratic leadership failing to seize on the populist anger, and letting the GOP take that. That's going to be a profound tactical (not to mention moral) mistake, come the mid-term elections.
- 'One more time: it's not just Obama's inaction, it's his actions [against gay rights] that are the problem'
'Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) said yesterday that he withdrew an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would have weakened the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy because of “pressure” from the White House...
'PS Of course comparing gays/lesbians to incest/pedophilia in his official court defense of DOMA wasn't exactly the smartest thing to do was it?'
I post this because, in all the msm coverage I've read or watched of the gay rights march in Washington this past weekend, there was no mention of gay rights supporters being alarmed and infuriated by the Obama administration's active hostility in some areas -- instead, the march was painted as purely driven by frustration about not moving fast enough. No mention of Donnie McClurkin, or Obama's Justice Dept. comparison of my marriage to underage incest in court briefs. No mention of this pressure put on Hastings. And barely any mention of the inherent contradiction in Obama's claims that we're deserving of equal rights, just not the right of marriage.
Straight people just don't seem to know this stuff. They don't know he campaigned with people who called me and my friends murderers of America's children. They don't know that their vaunted constitutional scholar doesn't understand that separate but equal isn't. They don't know that he doesn't understand that "God is in the mix" isn't a constitutionally valid excuse for discrimination. They don't know that he's actively used the power of his office to insult and denigrate us, and to prevent legislative change that would expand our rights. They hear his pretty words, and think that's the whole story.
- Greenwald on today's Nobel Peace Prize announcement
'[F]ar more important than the lack of actual accomplishments are some of the policies over which Obama has presided that are the very opposite of peace. Already this year, he not only escalated the American war in Afghanistan, but has ordered air raids that have produced things like this:
'That was from a May airstrike in which over 100 Afghan civilians were killed by American jets -- one of many similar incidents this year, including one only a week ago that killed 9 Afghan civilians. How can someone responsible for that, and who has only escalated that war, possibly be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the very same year that he did that? Does that picture above look like the work of a Nobel Peace laureate?...
'Beyond Afghanistan, Obama continues to preside over another war -- in Iraq: remember that? -- where no meaningful withdrawal has occurred. He uttered not a peep of opposition to the Israeli massacre of Gazan civilians at the beginning of this year (using American weapons), one which a U.N. investigator just found constituted war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. The changed tone to Iran notwithstanding, his administration frequently emphasizes that it is preserving the option to bomb that country, too -- which could be a third war against a Muslim country fought simultaneously under his watch. He's worked tirelessly to protect his country not only from accountability -- but also transparency -- for the last eight years of war crimes, almost certainly violating America's treaty obligations in the process. And he is currently presiding over an expansion of the legal black hole at Bagram while aggressively demanding the right to abduct people from around the world, ship them there, and then imprison them indefinitely with no rights of any kind.'
Go read the whole thing, if you have the stomach for the pictures. I'll only add that it's important to maintain a sense of perspective: the 1973 honoree was infamous war criminal Henry Kissinger.
- Reason to be proud of our 'uniquely American' system
'Conclusions. Uninsurance is associated with mortality. The strength of that association appears similar to that from a study that evaluated data from the mid-1980s, despite changes in medical therapeutics and the demography of the uninsured since that time.'
(from the American Journal of Public Health)
(When I say 'uniquely American,' I'm citing the president.)
- Obama DOJ defends DoMA -- again
'The U.S. Department of Justice Friday filed a motion to dismiss Gill v. Office of Personnel Management -- a legal challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocate Defenders.'
As a[n in]famous leader once said, you're either with us or against us. Is there anyone out there who can coherently argue, at this point, that Obama's fiercely advocating for gay equality these days? He looks to me like about as much of a homophobic bigot as W ever was. And this brief "doesn't really address" the legal case -- so his DOJ isn't merely evil, it's incompetent, too. Nice to know the Bush years are behind us.
- Baucus's health insurance bill: government for the insurers, by the insurers, of the insurers
'But, as William Ockham points out, it's actually Liz Fowler's health care plan (if you open the document and look under document properties, it lists her as author). At one level, it's not surprising that Bad Max's Senior Counsel would have authored the Max Tax plan...'
'[I]n the two years before she came back to the Senate to help Max craft the Max Tax plan, [Fowler] worked as VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint.
'So to the extent that Liz Fowler is the Author of this document, we might as well consider WellPoint its author as well.'
That would be this WellPoint. It gives one such faith in the legislative process.
- Obama administration fine with banning reproductive health services from health plan
'Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pledged Sunday that President Barack Obama will support barring public funding for abortion in any health care overhaul legislation.'
(mcclatchydc.com via Corrente)
Ah, sweet misogyny. Who could have predicted that a guy who idolized Reagan during the campaign -- and directed classic woman-hating comments at his chief rival -- would turn out not to be willing to take risks for reproductive freedom and a woman's right to choose?
- "The coming wave of healthcare taxes"
'Employer Mandate Tax. $400 per employee if health coverage is not offered. Note: this is a huge incentive to drop coverage, as $400 is much less than the average plan cost of $11,000 for families or $5000 for singles (Source: AHIP...
'· Medicine Cabinet Tax. Americans would no longer be able to purchase over-the-counter medicines with their FSA, HSA, or HRA'
Come on, that Baucus bill is awesome!
- Pelosi says House won't pass health care bill without a "strong" public option
'"If someone has a better idea for promoting competition and reducing health care costs, they should put it on the table," Pelosi said. "Eliminating the public option would be a major victory for the insurance companies who have rationed care, increased premiums and denied coverage."'
I'm pretty revolted by the Senate these days, particularly when scumbags like Durbin say stuff like this, but at least there are a few sort-of-left-wing people left in the House.
(Which is not to say that a public option like the one the administration was floating earlier this summer, that's only available to a few million people, is any sort of reasonable substitute for universal single-payer. Or that we shouldn't perhaps *define* this nebulous public option before speculating on its passage. It's just less of a handout to the insurance industry.)
In related news, in case you wonder what Pelosi's referring to when she mentions "denied coverage," see this news about the California attorney general investigating endemic denial of coverage by insurers:
'The nurses union said some of the companies had denial rates between 27 percent and 40 percent during the first six months of this year, with PacifiCare rejecting 39.6 ercent of claims it received.
'The CNA said Cigna rejected 32.7 percent, Health Net 30 percent, Kaiser Permanente 28.3 percent and Blue Cross 27.9 percent.'
Lovely. But at least it's not the government rationing care, right?
- Teddy Kennedy is dead
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power... died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77...
'During the administration of Republican George W. Bush, Senator Kennedy led the Senate’s antiwar faction as the president persuaded Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq.'
Kennedy was one of only 23 senators who voted against giving Bush the authority to wage unconstitutional war for no good reason. The country was in a bloodthirsty, racist, fact-phobic hysteria (so what else is new), and ordinarily smart people like John Kerry succumbed, despite the obviousness of the lies. Teddy Kennedy stood his ground.
He was also one of only 14 to vote against the unconstitutional and blatantly discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. Kennedy did what was right, despite the pressure of isopraxis.
For that, for his support of truly universal healthcare, for working for the poor and disenfranchised, for his unwavering support of gay rights, for his unabashed liberalism -- and for his great accent -- circa75 thanks Senator Kennedy. We will miss him.
- 'Obama's [health insurance] overhaul fight is being won by the industry'
'"It's a bonanza," said Robert Laszewski, a health insurance executive for 20 years who now tracks reform legislation as president of the consulting firm Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc.
'Some insurance company leaders continue to profess concern about the unpredictable course of President Obama's massive healthcare initiative, and they vigorously oppose elements of his agenda. But Laszewski said the industry's reaction to early negotiations boiled down to a single word: "Hallelujah!"
'The insurers' success so far can be explained in part by their lobbying efforts in the nation's capital and the districts of key lawmakers.
'The bills vary in the degree to which they would empower government to be a competitor and a regulator of private insurance. But analysts said that based on the way things stand now, insurers would come out ahead.
'"The insurers are going to do quite well," said Linda Blumberg, a health policy analyst at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, a Washington think tank. "They are going to have this very stable pool, they're going to have people getting subsidies to help them buy coverage and . . . they will be paid the full costs of the benefits that they provide -- plus their administrative costs."'
- Glenn Greenwald breaks down what is doable for the White House and what the White House wants to do on health-care
'As the leader of his party, the President commands a vast infrastructure on which incumbent members of Congress rely for re-election. His popularity among Democrats vests him numerous options to punish non-compliant Democrats. And Rahm Emanuel built his career on controlling the machinations within Congress. The very idea that Obama, Emanuel and company are just sitting back, helplessly watching as Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and the Blue Dogs (Rahm's creation) destroy their health care legislation, is absurd on its face.
'When it comes to defiant progressive members of Congress -- as opposed to supposedly defiant Blue Dogs and "centrists" -- the Obama White House has proven itself extremely adept at compelling compliance with the President's agenda. Consider what happened when progressive House members dared to oppose the war supplemental bill which Obama wanted passed:
'"The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday.
'"'We're not going to help you. You'll never hear from us again,' Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen"
'When progressives refuse to toe the White House line, they get threatened. Contrast that with what the White House does with Blue Dogs and "centrists" who are allegedly uncooperative on health care -- they protect them:
'"The Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported this morning that Rahm Emanuel warned leaders of liberal groups in a private meeting this week that it was time to stop running ads attacking Blue Dog and "centrist" Dems on health care.
'"I'm told, however, that Emanuel went quite a bit further than this.
'"Sources at the meeting tell me that Emanuel really teed off on the Dem-versus-Dem attacks, calling them 'f–king stupid.' This was a direct attack on some of the attendees in the room, who are running ads against Dems right now."...'
'[I]sn't it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn't really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House's central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama's clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm's protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists "centrists," it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the "public option" jettisoned, because that's the bill they want -- this was the plan all along...
'Isn't that how it always works in Washington? No matter how many Democrats are elected, no matter which party controls the levers of government, the same set of narrow monied interests and right-wing values dictate outcomes, even if it means running roughshod over the interests of ordinary citizens (securing lower costs and expanding coverage) and/or what large majorities want.'
- William Greider on Obama's health insurance FAIL
'Barack Obama mainly did this to himself. To avoid the accusation of socialized medicine, he intentionally shrouded his objectives in bureaucratic euphemisms like "public option." What the hell does that mean? It doesn't mean anything. The vagueness allowed anyone to fill in the blanks and anxious people did so in apocalyptic ways... Instead, that objective is now at risk. The right still calls Obama a covert socialist.
'There is a more cynical interpretation of Obama's flexibility. He is coming out right about where he wanted to be. Forget the good talk, it is said, this president never really intended to do deep reform that truly alters the industrial power structure dominating our dysfunctional healthcare system. He just wanted minimalist reforms he could sell as "victory." Not until years later would people figure out that nothing fundamental had been changed.
'In this scenario, Obama has always been more comfortable with the center-right forces within the Democratic party--Senator Max Baucus and the Blue Dogs--and the Clintonistas of DLC lineage who now fill his administration. His real political challenge was to string along the liberals with reassuring talk until they were stuck with lousy choices-- either go along with this popular president's pale version of reform or take him on and risk ruining his presidency. This sounds a lot like the choices Democrats faced during the Clinton years. Candidate Obama said it was "time to turn the page." We are still waiting to see what he meant.'
- On the evils of implementing a Canadian-style system here
'A new poll conducted by the Toronto-based Nanos Research points to overwhelming support — 86.2 percent — for strengthening public health care rather than expanding for-profit services.
'"With more than 8 in 10 Canadians supporting public solutions to make public health care stronger, there is compelling evidence that Canadians across all demographics would prefer a public over a for-profit health care system," said Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research.'
- A nurse talks about the degree to which private insurance meddles in medical practice in this country
'The phone is ringing again. Patient B, who had horrible, horrible gastric and chest pain in the past, has been happy and stable for months on his acid reflux medication, but is having a problem. The pharmacy won’t fill his Aciphex – they say it needs pre-authorization. I pull his chart, and take a look. “What?” I say, “I got that authorized for 6 months, just 4 weeks ago!” Oh, wait, his employer has changed insurance plans again. This is a new company. We’ll have to do it all over again. So I call. I go through a phone tree, then get put on hold (3 times), and after about 30 minutes, finally get a person. They say he has to try the (cheap, totally different drug) Zantac first, for at least 6 weeks. I tell them that he already had a 6-week trial on Zantac, with no relief. The Aciphex is working. I’ll gladly fax them over the records, proof that he just HAD a trial on the cheaper drug a few months ago. No dice. He has to do the process all over again, with this new insurance.'
But heavens forfend that the government be involved in making medical decisions, or rationing care. That would be *completely different* from what happens now, wouldn't it? Wouldn't it?
- Bill Moyers interviews Trudy Lieberman and Marcia Angell to clearly explain the fatal flaws in the President's health insurance plan
'The big drug companies are already so pleased with what they've been promised that they've brought back Harry and Louise -- the make-believe TV couple who helped take down the Clinton health care plan...
'TRUDY LIEBERMAN: I feel the American people need to know what is in that bill. And what's in the bill is an individual mandate that is going to require all Americans with a few exceptions, to carry health insurance. And that means if you do not get insurance from Medicare or Medicaid or your employer. You're going to have to go out and buy health insurance.
'And that is a lot of money for most people because most of them would buy it now if they could afford it. About 85 percent of the uninsured require subsidies, because they can't afford it. And I think this is going to come up as a big surprise to people to realize they're going to have to buy insurance from private insurance companies or face a tax penalty.
'MARCIA ANGELL: Well, that goes to the cause of the problem. We are the only advanced country in the world that has chosen to leave health care to the tender mercies of a panoply of for-profit businesses, whose purpose is to maximize income and not to provide health. And that's exactly what they do.
'BILL MOYERS: The President, as you were saying a moment ago, is saying to everybody who's not covered, we're going to mandate that you exercise that right. We're going to mandate that you buy some form--
'MARCIA ANGELL: We're going to deliver the private insurance companies a captive market. That's right. And they love that...'
'BILL MOYERS: More coverage from the private insurers.
'TRUDY LIEBERMAN: At whatever price they want to charge. It will be a bonanza for the health insurance industry. And a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry. And for the doctors, too. Because the doctors are going to get more paying patients, because people will now have this ticket, this insurance card, that they can whip out when they need medical services.
'BILL MOYERS: So, does this explain why Harry and Louise, who were around 15 years ago to help defeat Bill Clinton's health plan, Bill and Hillary Clinton's health plan, are back now in support? Seemingly to be in support?...
'MARCIA ANGELL: A lot is said about how the public wants to cling to what it has. What I'm finding is something that confirms the polls that have been done. Showing that something like two-thirds of the public would favor a Canadian style or a Medicare for all style single payer system.
'The same is true of physicians, now. About 60 percent of physicians favor Medicare for all, or a single payer system. So, what is against it? The pharmaceutical and the insurance industries are the biggest lobbies in Washington. They spend millions and millions on influential members of Congress. And the amount that they are spending now to the Chairman of the relevant health committees has increased enormously in the past few months...
'TRUDY LIEBERMAN: We've heard these arguments since 1948. And what amazes me -- they opposed a national health system under President Truman. So, that notion, that conventional wisdom in America is pretty ingrained and pretty deep. What they fail to say here is that people are waiting in line in America. We ration care in America. We do it by income. People who don't have money and the ticket to health care, do not get the care.
'So that rationing is taking place. But even people who do have insurance are waiting months for mammograms. In Florida, there's been a horrible shortage of places where women can go and get mammograms. And most people have to wait a long time to get an appointment with a doctor for an annual physical.
'MARCIA ANGELL: If we continue to spend what we do, right now, on health care, but had a system that distributed it according to medical need, there would be no rationing. And if we held it at that cost, there would never be any rationing. So, it's simply not right. The problem is not the money, it's the system. There is more than enough in the system already. And that's why I don't think it's a good idea to pour more money into a dysfunctional system.
'Obama said, in his press conference, the worst thing we can do is nothing. The most costly thing we can do is nothing. Now, I disagree with that. You can throw more money into this system and make it even more costly. But in a sense, we are at a point now, where we have to act. And we have to confront the private insurance industry directly.'
Go read the whole thing. Now.
It's astonishing to me the number of people who irrationally think that, despite overwhelming public support (recent polls place desire for single-payer between 60 and 70% of the public), a single payer system is unobtainable. It's astonishing the number who think that some sort of self-funding public plan that competes with weakly-regulated private insurance is *not* going to become a dumping ground for the sick and expensive-to-insure, driving the public plan's prices into the stratosphere. It's astonishing the number who think that, despite delivering more customers to the insurance industry, regardless of whether those customers can afford it; despite the secret deals not to control costs; despite the *added* bureaucracy about plans and carriers, which is what already makes our health care costs the highest in the world -- this vague plan will somehow, despite CBO estimates, magically control costs and help everyone.
This is our chance to pass single payer, as in HR676. I don't see the way in which the Obama plan will be better than nothing. The public option, given what little we know about it, is likely to sour Americans on the idea of government-run insurance -- which is probably the goal. After all, given Obama's collusion with big pharma, is it too much to believe that there's some White House collusion going on with big insurance, as well?
- Corrupt finance industry breaks Jefferson Co., Alabama
'America’s collapse into a Third World banana republic is accelerating: Alabama’s most populous county, Jefferson County, is so broke it’s closing down courthouses and laying off so many cops that it’s now planning to call in the National Guard to maintain order...
'"The county relied on advice from a bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., to arrange its funding, rather than use competitive bidding.
'"The county paid banks $120 million in fees — six times the prevailing rate — for $5.8 billion in interest-rate swaps. That was supposed to protect the county from rising rates for their bonds. Lending rates went the wrong way, putting the county $277 million deeper into debt..."
'"'It's ironic that the Fed can do corporate welfare for the banks, but they can’t bail out a county that was victimized by these banks,' says Craig Greer, a Catholic chaplain at a Birmingham hospice.
'"The SEC and Justice Department are probing whether the banks that financed Jefferson County conspired nationwide to fix prices for derivatives, violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, according to target letters sent to bank employees."'
Unregulated free markets at work.
- Nikon introduces camera with built-in projector
'Nikon Europe today announces the introduction of the world’s first camera with integrated projector as part of its brand new range of COOLPIX cameras. The ground-breaking COOLPIX S1000pj is expected to shake up the compact digital camera market as people begin to see the benefits of sharing and viewing photos and videos using personal projection.'
File under: things that make me feel like I'm living in the 21st Century. Now, when does the holographic projection version come out?
- Banking execs made out like bandits during bailouts -- pretty much literally
'The nation's nine largest banks handed out $32.6 billion in bonuses last year even as they ran up more than $81 billion in losses and accepted billions of dollars in emergency federal aid, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo says in a report released Thursday.
'Cuomo's investigation into pay practices at Wall Street's largest firms found that nearly 4,800 executives and other employees were each awarded at least $1 million. Of those, more than 900 worked for Bank of America and Citigroup, which have been among the largest recipients of government bailout funds.'
How's that transparency and accountability working for you, Mr. President? I want my share of unaccountable bailout money -- daddy wants a new sports car, and a vacation home.
- 'Top Ten Ways To Tell Your President & His Party Aren't Fighting For Health Care For Everybody'
My favorite is No. 9:
'The president and his party, and the corporate media have spent more time and energy silencing and excluded the advocates of single payer health care, mostly the president's own supporters, than they have fighting blue dogs and Republicans.'
- More fierce advocacy against gay equality, national security, and cost savings from the Obama White House
'Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings has withdrawn an amendment that would have prevented the military from using money to carry out the provisions of its Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which prevents gays from serving openly in the military.
'The Democrat said he pulled the measure under pressure from the White House and colleagues...
'[T]he military has spent over $95.1 million on retraining soldiers because of the law.
'"What is the holdup, then?" he said. "Last month, 76 of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take leadership on this issue and to work together with Congress to repeal this law. More than a month later, I have yet to receive an official response."'
- Anti-gay terrorism in Copenhagen
'Before the men's 4x200 track relay in the afternoon, two bombs were thrown onto the track exploding instantly, according to a witness in an e-mail obtained by The Advocate. An Outgames athlete was taken to hospital with injuries to his right hand from flying shrapnels,[sic] He was later released from the hospital, and is expected to recover. Participants from the field were unharmed but a little shaken up. Less than an hour later, a second bomb was thrown in another stadium. Luckily, no one was injured, but track events were delayed for 90 minutes.'
Sounds like they caught the guy. It will be interesting to see who he is.
- Schwarzenegger cuts CA funds to poor kids and AIDS prevention
'Schwarzenegger described the overall package as containing "the good, the bad and the ugly," the ugly referring to his additional cuts to child welfare programs, health care for the poor and AIDS prevention efforts...'
'"The governor's heartless act is not only deadly, but guaranteed to cost California taxpayers millions more in the future," said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.'
(AP via Google)
Color me shocked that the sick, the poor, and the gays and the blacks always get screwed by Republicans. As I've said before, it's disgusting (not to mention un-Christian, unconscionable, and unproductive) that, in California, it's easier to strip an entire class of people of their rights than it is to pass a budget.
- Taxpayer Spending on Wall Street Banker's Bailout May Top $23 Trillion, TARP Inspector General Says
'U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program...
'Barofsky’s estimates include $2.3 trillion in programs offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., $7.4 trillion in TARP and other aid from the Treasury and $7.2 trillion in federal money for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, credit unions, Veterans Affairs and other federal programs...
'Barofsky offered criticism in a separate quarterly report of Treasury’s implementation of TARP, saying the department has “repeatedly failed to adopt recommendations” needed to provide transparency and fulfill the administration’s goal to implement TARP “with the highest degree of accountability.”
'As a result, taxpayers don’t know how TARP recipients are using the money or the value of the investments, he said in the report...
'The inspector general surveyed 360 banks that have received TARP capital, including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. The responses, which the inspector general said it didn’t verify independently, showed that 83 percent of banks used TARP money for lending, while 43 percent used funds to add to their capital cushion and 31 percent made new investments.
'Barofsky said the TARP inspector general’s office has 35 ongoing criminal and civil investigations that include suspected accounting, securities and mortgage fraud; insider trading; and tax investigations related to the abuse of TARP programs.'
And yet universal health care and recognition of gay marriage are too expensive. (Though increases in the Federal defense budget are not.)
- Appellate court: Just because it would be hard to count money owed Indians doesn't mean US doesn't have to cough up
'Today’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the Indian Trust case makes clear that the government’s duty to account continues and that the government “cannot simply throw up its hands and stop the accounting,” Lead Plaintiff Ms. Elouise Cobell said...
'The appellate court reversed the trial court’s $455.6 million award in restitution, stating that the district court may not relieve the government of an accounting duty as a matter of law.'
This overturns an earlier ruling that said, essentially, that, because misappropriation and accounting errors were so widespread, it would cost too much money for the U.S. Government to accurately count what it owed the Indian trust, so they'd just (under-)estimate the sum at 455 million and call the score settled.
- Merce Cunningham is dead
'In 1964, Cunningham's company made its first international tour. In Paris, "people threw things at us -- eggs and tomatoes," original company member Carolyn Brown told the Guardian in 2000. "During the interval, they went out to get more." The reception in Venice was markedly better, and in London the company became a sensation.'
Cunningham was a widely influential choreographer, and also John Cage's long-time partner (in both the romantic and artistic-collaboration senses.) We will miss this unabashed modernist.
- (old): Max Baucus says he won't put single-payer option on the table
'Senator Max Baucus met Wednesday with advocates for single-payer healthcare, including Senator Bernie Sanders, and told them that he might drop criminal charges against 13 people arrested for speaking up in his hearings, but that he would not include any supporters of single-payer health coverage in any future hearings.'
- (old): Max Baucus has single-payer advocates arrested
'On Tuesday, at the second Finance Committee session, dozens of California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee members and their allies showed up to protest the heavy-handed tactics. At the opening of the hearing, roughly thirty of them rose and turned their backs to Baucus. On their backs were signs reading: "Pass Single-Payer" and "Nurses Say: Patients First." Other signs, reading "Stop AHIP," protested the collaboration by the Obama administration and Baucus with the country's most powerful industry lobby, the America's Health Insurance Plans group.
'While the health-insurance lobby has been welcomed to the roundtable discussions organized by Baucus, the nurses and their allies were told to leave. When five objected to their exclusion from the hearing, and to the the exclusion of single-payer from the debate about how to fix a broken private healthcare system, they were arrested.'
- (old): White House "live blog" of its Iowa Health Care Forum apparently censors mentions of single-payer
'Can you find Dr. Fiedorowicz's question? Can you find even the words "single payer"? I can't.'
- Google thinks you're stupid
Not sure how long this has been going on, but Google now "auto-corrects" your search term in some cases, and shows results for the auto-corrected term on the same page as results for what you actually searched for. I noticed this this morning when I was searching for "rails http_origin" and saw (utterly irrelevant) results for the auto-corrected term appear ABOVE the real results.
Google fail. Bad google.
I think this is even worse than the iPhone auto-correcting what I type. Have all the usability professionals been hauled off to Gitmo or something?
- David Mixner: time to start calling separate but unequal US laws "Gay Apartheid"
'As our elected officials search for new words, new institutions and new arrangements to avoid giving us full equality, it is important for people to remember that right now all we have amounts to basically a system of separate but unequal. We have a set of laws at the national, state and local levels that separates LGBT folks from the rest of America.
'Let's call it what it is - Gay Apartheid.
'Now some of you might think that is a loaded and unfair word. I have chosen the word very carefully and deliberately. Apartheid is when a group of citizens of a nation is by law separated from all other citizens and the rights, benefits and protections all others are granted.
'Having DOMA and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" as laws of the land are apartheid laws.'
I'm starting to like this guy. He's angry, and he's good at emotional framing of issues. Rock on.
- The more things change...
Homophobic cops allegedly raid and beat patrons commemorating Stonewall at a gay bar in Fort Worth:
'Another patron, Chad Gibson, was slammed to the floor by the cops and his sister reported to the Voice that he was hospitalized and has bleeding in his brain.'
The news coming out of Texas lately about police behavior is shocking. Generally, this is yet another demonstration of why the LBTQ community needs federal laws protecting us from violence and discrimination.
- (old): Antigay Bias Killings Highest in 10 Years
'The number of people murdered in anti-LGBT bias incidents increased by 28% in 2008 compared to the previous year, according to a report released on Tuesday by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. The 29 murders represent the highest number documented since 1999 and, when compared to statistics for other anti-LGBT crimes, suggest an increase in the severity of violence.'
This is where statements from presidents, governors, and media figures can make a difference. If the president demonstrates he's afraid of the political consequences of supporting our equal rights, we know that Prop 8 supporters are going to use his words in their ads. Is it so much to believe that questioning youth will take that opportunity to take violent impulses out on gays? When there are millions of evil Baptist churches and whacked-out politicians and groups shouting about how I'm a "threat" to "traditional marriage," is it surprising that some people hear those as calls to violence? Particularly in the absence of anyone using his or her bully pulpit to point out, unabashed and uncowed, the absurdity, the immorality and un-Christian nature, of such claims?
This is what I see as the gravity and responsibility of holding executive office. And I'm sad to say I don't think any president since Carter has understood it.
- (old): Barney Frank says Obama's odious DOJ brief was AOK.
'"Now that I have read the brief, I believe that the administration made a conscientious and largely successful effort to avoid inappropriate rhetoric. There are some cases where I wish they had been more explicit in disavowing their view that certain arguments were correct, and to make it clear that they were talking not about their own views of these issues, but rather what was appropriate in a constitutional case with a rational basis standard – which is the one that now prevails in the federal courts, although I think it should be upgraded."'
(Boston Herald via towleroad.com)
Because appropriate constitutional cases always involve comparing my marriage to pederastic incestuous ones.
Seriously, the litany of defenses I've seen for this brief is truly staggering, ranging from "oh, you're overreacting, when the DOJ said that gay marriage was like uncles marrying nieces, they didn't mean it in a negative way," to "Obama absolutely needed to defend this law as stridently as possible (just like he does the Geneva Conventions, or the Fourth Amendment, or... oh, never mind)" to "one comparison to incest isn't so bad in the scheme of things -- just think how bad it was under Bush," to "you greedy privileged white marriage-obsessed fags, that's not offensive at all," to the tired old "BUT THERE ARE SO MANY MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING STRAIGHT PEOPLE THAT MR OBAMA NEEDS TO CONCENTRATE ON!" I guess people who say that last one are impatient or jealous -- they're not content to see only the gays and transgendered people get shat on, but want Obama to hurry up and finish collapsing America's industrial manufacturing sector (by bankrupting us with handouts to the banks so that we "can't afford" not to shaft autoworkers and pensioners), destroy our international manufacturing competitiveness (and bankrupt millions more Americans, straight and gay) by handicapping health-care, and push through his Stalinesque preventive rendition program.
America is becoming seriously unhinged over teh gay, and the gay politicos in positions of power are starting to seem as much a part of the problem as the overt anti-gay bigots. Meanwhile, hate crimes are on the rise. I wonder why.
- The Universal Edition Mahler Blog
It's amazing how prolific a blogger ol' Gustav is.
Seriously, I just read the transcript of the prickly Barenboim interview from earlier this month. It's fun to see what intelligent people have to say about this biggest of 20th-Century "projection" targets in music -- even if they're completely wrong.
- Riversimple announces affordable British hydrogen car, with infrastructure deal
''The Riversimple car can go 80km/hr (50mph) and travels 322km (200mi) per re-fuelling [sic], with an efficiency equivalent to 300 miles to the gallon.
''The cars will be leased with fuel and repair costs included, at an estimated £200 ($315) per month.
'The company hopes to have the vehicles in production by 2013.
'Next year, it aims to release 10 prototypes in a UK city which has yet to be confirmed.
Riversimple has partnered with gas supply company BOC to install hydrogen stations for the cars in the city where the prototypes are launched...
'Its four motors are powered by a fuel cell rated at just six kilowatts, in contrast to current designs that are all in excess of 85 kilowatts - required because the acceleration from a standing start requires a great deal of power.
'Riversimple's solution is to power the car also from so-called "ultracapacitors..."'
I eagerly await the arrival of our future hydrogen economy.
- GLAD wins DOMA suit over same-sex couples being allowed to change names on passports
'A plaintiff in a lawsuit against the federal Defense of Marriage Act will be allowed to get a U.S. passport in his married name, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders announced on Wednesday. The victory is the result of a recent change in State Department policy for the issuance of passports to people who change their name after marrying someone of the same-sex...
'The passport complaint involved Keith Toney, who was able to change his last name from Fitzpatrick on his Massachusetts driver’s license after he married Al Toney III in 2004. However, the federal government denied his request to change his name on his passport, citing DOMA, which resulted in a frustrating discrepancy in his legal identification.
'According to a letter sent to GLAD by the Department of Justice, the State Department will now issue passports to all married same-sex couples based on the name on their marriage certificates, provided the state issuing the certificate recognizes the name change in law.'
So it doesn't sound like this case actually got to court. Was this a Clinton decision? The article's a bit light on the details. Regardless, it's good news for Massachusetts residents, and a chip off the evil facade of DoMA.
- Obama via Sebelius: No single payer health care, ever
'As lawmakers on Capitol Hill hammer out legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system this year, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that a single-payer option is not on the table...
'"[T]he president feels strongly, as I do, that dismantling private [profit-driven] health coverage for the 180 million Americans that have it [and screw the tens of millions who have none], discouraging more employers from coming into the marketplace, is really the bad, you know, is a bad direction to go."'
Obama, of course, never claimed to be pro-single-payer. But in the view of c75, tying a for-profit insurance system to employment is the very reason that health care costs in the U.S. -- which has the only non-single-payer health care system in the industrialized world -- are the highest in the world. It's also one of the profound competitive disadvantages for our domestic auto industry, and a reason G.M. is now bankrupt.
The straw men arguments about socialized medicine resulting in denial of care don't take into account that denial of care is exactly what the insurance companies are in the business of offering. Ask anyone you know who's chronically ill, or has had major surgery lately. I've seen prescription co-pays triple in the last ten years, while my employer contribution gets more and more expensive -- and the insurance companies continue to profit.
This is a handout to the profitable insurance business, plain and simple. It's not hope. It's not change. It's not progress. It's a greedy handout at the bequest of insurance industry lobbyists.
In a more general sense, it's become quite clear that Obama was, despite his campaign rhetoric, never a progressive. The clues to that came early and often (hagiographies to Reagan, opposition to gay marriage, courting misogyny and homophobia, and an inability to articulate a health-care plan during the primary) -- but self-proclaimed progressive voters ignored them. That was a profound mistake.
Circa75 continues to believe that if you want to know how a politician will treat one disenfranchised group, you should look at how he treats others. Want to know how he'll treat the ill, the elderly, the poor, the wrongfully-imprisoned? Look at how he treats the gays and the Indians, and the "suspected" terrorists. Despite millennia of political lessons on this, primary voters last year still didn't get it.
We're pleased that America, including the mainstream media, is finally waking up to the lies about gay rights that his campaign fed voters. However, I've seen very few put together the pieces of the puzzle -- the anti-nonprofit, anti-auto-industry health-care position, the anti-Constitutional positions for terrorist defendants' right to trial, the anti-Geneva Conventions positions on torture, the pro-big-business/big-government FISA vote, the continued anti-gay actions -- to see that Obama is a conservative, plain and simple.
If it walks like a Bush, and talks like a Bush, and acts like a Bush, it's probably not a progressive Democrat.
- NY Times Editorial Slams Obama on DOJ DoMA Homophobia
'The Obama administration, which came to office promising to protect gay rights but so far has not done much, actually struck a blow for the other side last week. It submitted a disturbing brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is the law that protects the right of states to not recognize same-sex marriages and denies same-sex married couples federal benefits. The administration needs a new direction on gay rights...
'In arguing that other states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages under the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause, the Justice Department cites decades-old cases ruling that states do not have to recognize marriages between cousins or an uncle and a niece...
'The brief also maintains that the Defense of Marriage Act represents a “cautious policy of federal neutrality” — an odd assertion since the law clearly discriminates against gay couples...
'If the administration does feel compelled to defend the act, it should do so in a less hurtful way. It could have crafted its legal arguments in general terms, as a simple description of where it believes the law now stands. There was no need to resort to specious arguments and inflammatory language to impugn same-sex marriage as an institution.'
I'm not normally a fan of the Times, but kudos to the mainstream media for taking Obama to task on his administration's discriminatory, bigoted, hateful actions against gay people (the Wall Street Journal and CBS News also have pieces up about the DoMA briefs last week) -- and for having the courage to mention the incest comparisons Obama's DOJ made.
- The Obama DOJ brief comparing gay marriage to incest and pederasty
Just in case anyone's wondering what's got c75's knickers in a twist:
'The courts have followed this principle, moreover, in relation to the validity of marriages performed in other States. Both the First and Second Restatements of Conflict of Laws recognize that State courts may refuse to give effect to a marriage, or to certain incidents of a marriage, that contravene the forum State's policy. See Restatement (First) of Conflict of Laws § 134; Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 284.5 And the courts have widely held that certain marriages performed elsewhere need not be given effect, because they conflicted with the public policy of the forum. See, e.g., Catalano v. Catalano, 170 A.2d 726, 728-29 (Conn. 1961) (marriage of uncle to niece, "though valid in Italy under its laws, was not valid in Connecticut because it contravened the public policy of th[at] state"); Wilkins v. Zelichowski, 140 A.2d 65, 67-68 (N.J. 1958) (marriage of 16-year-old female held invalid in New Jersey, regardless of validity in Indiana where performed, in light of N.J. policy reflected in statute permitting adult female to secure annulment of her underage marriage); In re Mortenson's Estate, 316 P.2d 1106 (Ariz. 1957) (marriage of first cousins held invalid in Arizona, though lawfully performed in New Mexico, given Arizona policy reflected in statute declaring such marriages "prohibited and void").'
So, gay marriage is just the 'marriage of uncle to niece,' of '16-year-old female,' or of 'first cousins.'
Keeping it classy, Obama. Way to go.
- Obama administration defends DoMA
'"The U.S. Justice Department has moved to dismiss the first gay marriage case filed in federal court, saying it is not the right venue to tackle legal questions raised by a couple already married in California..."
'This is a President who said he is a "fierce advocate" for our rights. This doesn't look much like an advocate, it looks more like an enemy pulling the pin on the grenade and tossing it at us...
'But the real PR disaster for the administration is how can they explain away the virulent anti-gay defense it is presenting. Among the highlights offered by the "most pro-gay administration" in history (please read all of John's post for the citations, I'm drawing the thumbnail sketch here of the horror):
'* Obama invoked incest and people marrying children.
'* The Obama admin argues that the incest and child rape cases therefore make DOMA constitutional
'* DOMA is good because it saves the federal government money
'* DOMA is constitutional (!!!)...
'Friends, is this is the watershed mark, the line in the sand, the utter moral betrayal of this administration in black and white?'
Obama is spending our tax dollars so that the DOJ can come up with reasons DoMA is constitutional (reasons which require the acceptance that, recent state cases to the contrary, gays and lesbians are not a protected class.) He's spending our tax dollars to have the DOJ argue that DoMA is not discriminatory (with pretty much the same argument as that with which Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry Carrico claimed antimiscegenation laws weren't discriminatory -- so much for progress.) He's spending our tax dollars to do exactly the opposite of what he promised on the campaign trail.
The administration is doing this on the 42nd anniversary of the decision in Loving v. Virginia -- and around the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. It is spitting in the collective face of the GLBT civil rights movement.
The Obama administration is also making the distance between the positions of Democrats like Obama and Republicans vanishingly small with the tried and true incest argument. It's losing no sleep about using the most disgusting and insulting parallels of the right wing to fight against equality.
There couldn't really be a clearer way for the Obama administration to demonstrate its contempt and clear, active opposition to civil rights in this country. This is what fierce advocacy looks like, coming from a lying misogynistic corporate shill.
But I forgot that I was the one who was crazy for seeing him for the homophobic bigot he is during the primary, when he had Donnie McClurkin speak for him, even after nationwide gay-rights groups expressed outrage. I was the crazy one for not excoriating Clinton for her husband's signing of DoMA, 14 years back. I was the crazy one, for doubting that Obama would do squat after, as Senator, he never took a stand for gay rights, failed to cosponsor the Uniting American Families Act, and lied about supporting equality legislation in Illinois. I was the crazy one for doubting his claims that he would stand in stark contrast to Bill Clinton's disasters with DADT and DoMA. Hey, Clinton's a massive hypocrite for signing DoMA while bonking an intern, but at least he *tried* to make positive change in the military, even if it ended with DADT. At least he didn't campaign with an evil pastor who said that all gay people wanted to murder America's children. At least he didn't have his inauguration blessed by a fat fuck who played a pivotal role in Proposition 8, one of the most disastrous changes in civil rights law in American history.
Bitter? Damn right I'm bitter. I've talked to lots of people who say "who could have known?" that Obama wouldn't do what he said he would. But here's the thing -- he's a politician. You want to know what politicians do? You ignore their rhetoric, and you take a look at their track records. Who knows how Clinton would have behaved had she won, but she at least had a history of marching in pride parades, and of taking stands on controversial issues. Yeah, she voted the wrong way on the Iraq War -- but at least she took a stand, rather than diss her opponents for their stands, not having risked taking her own, and bullshitting that she'd never do such a thing. Obama, on the other hand, won the primary by (both personally and via his campaign) slinging woman-hating mud and screwing over Michigan and Florida primary voters, and consorting with gay hating religionist crazies (McClurkin was when I knew I'd never vote for the guy in the primary, but all my straight friends said I was overreacting). No sooner had he won the primary, than he violated a campaign promise by voting for FISA legislation. That should have been writing on the wall right there -- that was the moment I knew I'd be voting for McKinney in the general.
And now we see how much better than Bill Clinton he's been on DADT and DoMA. Yes, I guess it's far too early in the administration to expect him to work for us on DoMA, rather than prioritizing "more important" things (to those people who already have the thousands of financial and legal rights that come with marriage). It's too early to expect him to stop spending my tax money to fund costly DADT discharges and fighting DADT lawsuits -- while we're waging two illegal wars in the Middle East, unable to meet recruitment goals, with our intelligence-gathering capabilities are limited by our lack of adequately-trained straight military translators. And, on those "more" important issues, he's doing such a knock-up job -- god forbid the country and its citizens all save on nationalized health-care when there are so many profitable opportunities for private insurance. God forbid we have money for public transit or infrastructure work or education, when the millionaires on Wall Street really wanted some accountability-free cash. God forbid we follow the U.S. Constitution when it comes to the right to trial by jury, or that we honor the Geneva Conventions when it comes to torturing people we have too little evidence to prosecute. But it's not too early for him to spend time and money that could be spent on the economy or on health care or VA hospitals making the most blatantly bigoted arguments against the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans. And timing them just right for pride, and for Stonewall.
Damn right I'm bitter. We, as so-called progressives, elected the most conservative Reagan-style Democrat in recent history, a spineless, lying, anti-Constitution wonder, ignoring his stances on the issues, simply because we thought it would be cool to have a black dude in the White House.
And yes, it's nice to see a person of color there. And it's nice to have a Commander-in-Chief who recognizes the need for a two-state solution in the West Bank.
But you know what? It would be nice to have someone who wasn't an outright enemy of gay people in that position. It would be nice to have someone who didn't have to get there by running the most misogynistic campaign since 1984. It would be nice to have someone who wasn't pushing for legislation to give himself cover to proactively go around arresting and deep-sixing Americans without charges or possibility of trial under mere suspicion of "terrorism." It would have been nice not to have seen the left blogosphere revealed as the hypocritical, tribalistic, gay-hating, woman-hating frat boy party it is. It would have been nice if any of his supporters, the ones who are bemoaning how no one could have predicted his sharp rightward turn, had actually been aware of his stances on the issues, of his voting record, of where he stood on health care and Indian rights, of whom he chose to represent him on the campaign trail -- before voting him the winner of the damn primary.
To all of you who voted for Obama in the primary: this is your fault. Fuck you. And your little dog too. You should have known better. The parallels to the runup to the Iraq war are clear. "No one could have known" Obama would have turned out to be a homobigot, just as "no one could have known" that Bush and Colin Powell were lying about WMD. No, actually, I knew; my husband knew; my parents knew; as did most of my gaybors, the ones old enough to have been on this amusement park ride before, during the Clinton campaign. To everyone who claims not to have known: you let your willful ignorance put this evil, bigoted piece of shit in office. This is your fault, and you're too chickenshit to take responsibility.
Fuck you all.
- Gov Lynch says he'll sign the NH same-sex marriage bill today
'By a vote of 14-10 in the Senate and 198-176 in the House, the changes in HB 73 create the last piece of a gay marriage puzzle that the Legislature has assembled.
'Lynch spokesman Colin Manning said the governor plans to sign the package of gay marriage bills at 5:15 this afternoon.'
The Governor's theatrics were a bit much for my taste, but I'm happy that the law will change so that my home state will recognize my marriage!
- California Supreme Court to Gays: FUCK YOU!
Or, "read about the awkward mental hoops we had to jump through to claim that gays and lesbians aren't eligible for equal protection."
The dissent is less strained, and relatively articulate:
'The majority upholds Proposition 8 by reasoning that it does not “fundamentally alter the meaning and substance of state constitutional equal protection principles as articulated” in the Marriage Cases, because it merely “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples . . . .” (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 7.) The majority protests that it does not mean to “diminish or minimize the significance that the official designation of ‘marriage’ holds” (ibid.), but that is exactly the effect of its decision...
'Describing the effect of Proposition 8 as narrow and limited fails to acknowledge the significance of the discrimination it requires. But even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment that has pervaded the California Constitution since 1849...
'As discussed, there is no “underlying” principle more basic to our Constitution than that the equal protection clause protects the fundamental rights of minorities from the will of the majority. Accordingly, Proposition 8’s withdrawal of any of those rights from gays and lesbians cannot be accomplished through constitutional amendment...
'Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.'
Circa75 to California: Fuck you, and your bullshit assertion, regarding the word 'marriage,' that separate is really as close to equal as makes no difference.
- Obama Administration misses extension deadline it asked for to appeal DADT case
'The case of decorated Air Force major Margaret Witt -- a lesbian discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" -- could force the military to discharge gay soldiers on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to blanket expulsions of out personnel.
'A San Francisco federal appeals court ruled last year that the government must justify the expulsion of Witt, an Air Force nurse, individually, and that the universal defense of "unacceptable risk" to military morale and "unit cohesion" is no longer adequate following the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision that struck down sodomy laws. The Obama administration missed two deadlines to appeal the San Francisco court's decision to the Supreme Court -- The Wall Street Journal reports that the case will now return to the district court, along with this new precedent...
'The Obama administration faced an early March deadline to appeal the federal appeals court's decision to the Supreme Court, but Obama aides filed two requests for extensions that were granted. The most recent deadline, May 3, passed with no movement from the Obama team.'
Obviously, I think the court's finding is good news. As the Democrats have made clear, progress on gay rights isn't about to come about through the chickenshit, unprincipled Federal legislative or executive branches, so the courts continue to be our best option. (Recent developments concerning marriage in New England indicate that local legislatures may be more responsive to their constituents.) A supreme court challenge to DADT might be sticky with the current court, but it sounds like we aren't headed there just yet.
However, the administration's extensions requests and subsequent failure to meet them -- and its plan to continue to defend DADT in the lower court -- raise questions about what exactly Obama is trying to do. Did this one fall through the cracks? Is this some sort of reading-the-tea-leaves message he's trying to send? (I believe the bloggy term is "11-dimensional chess.") Why is he spending taxpayer money defending an overwhelmingly unpopular policy, the repeal of which he campaigned on? And why is he unwilling to challenge this at the federal level? Is he hoping that this will keep the issue low-profile? (If he believes that, he's dumber than I would have thought -- DADT has been all over CNN, the Journal, WashPo, Maddow, Anderson Cooper, etc. lately. It's too late to make it go away.) Are the political instincts that got him this far really that bad, that he thinks backing DADT is a good move? Or is he, at heart, just a vehement homophobe?
I don't like to speculate about politicians' private beliefs, but this administration's actions, and the symbols it invoked at the inauguration, continue to speak loudly about just what sort of a 'fierce advocate' of gay rights the president is. We have now a policy which is overwhelmingly unpopular with the public, a political embarrassment, a national security disadvantage, a civil rights injustice, a drain on the nation's troubled economy, and which then-candidate Obama swore to discontinue -- and yet he refuses to move on it. If he won't move when the stars are aligned as they are currently, and every factor should be telling him to take this advantage, I have trouble believing he'll ever lift a finger to help the rights of people like me.
- Pentagon spokesman: no efforts to repeal DADT underway
'Morrell said the White House has not asked for the 1993 policy to be scrapped.
'"I do not believe there are any plans under way in this building for some expected, but not articulated, anticipation that don’t ask-don’t tell will be repealed," Morrell told reporters at the Pentagon.
'"They’re aware of where the president wants to go on this issue, but I don’t think that there is any sense of any immediate developments in the offing on efforts to repeal don’t ask-don’t tell," Morrell said.'
Good thing that, as Obama made clear in the primaries, he's not one to sell out any of his principles, like that unscrupulous Bill Clinton did.
- New studies quantify the boost gay marriage gives the Massachusetts economy
'[T]wo new studies show that marriage equality has helped bring more than $100 million to the Bay State’s economy.
'The studies, released by UCLA’s Williams Institute on Friday, show that Massachusetts has gained clear economic advantages from the young, highly educated "creative class" of professionals drawn by marriage equality, and from the boost that same-sex weddings give to the economy...
'Data show that same-sex couples in the "creative class" were 2.5 times more likely to move to Massachusetts after 2004 than before, while local businesses have benefited from the marriages of more than 12,000 same-sex couples, who on average spent $7,400 on their weddings in the state.'
Good for the local economy, and correlated with the lowest divorce rates in the nation. What could be better than same-sex marriage?
- More delays over case of hundreds of millions the gov't owes Indians for oil and gas royalties
'"Has it only been 13 years?" Chief Judge David Sentelle said today in court, where more than 100 people interested in the case gathered in the ceremonial courtroom to hear argument. "Some of us didn’t have gray hair when this started," said D.C. solo practitioner Dennis Gingold, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "Some of us had hair," Judge Douglas Ginsburg responded.
'The plaintiffs, including Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe in Montana, allege the government owes billions of dollars for mismanaging a trust fund for the collection and dispersal of royalties from oil and gas companies, among others, that leased Indian land.
'U.S. District Judge James Robertson last summer ordered the government to pay $455.6 million to the plaintiffs stemming from mismanagement of the Individual Indian Money trust. Both sides appealed the ruling. Robertson called a full, historical account "impossible" considering the cost of such a pursuit...
'Gingold, arguing for the plaintiffs, said: "Your honor, it is simply not a good excuse to say, 'We don’t have the money to account for your funds.' Inherent in the trust itself is the duty to account."'
- N.H. Gov Lynch says if the Legislature gives him extraneous religious exemption language, he'll sign the marriage bill
'"I have heard, and I understand, the very real feelings of same-sex couples that a separate system is not an equal system. That a civil law that differentiates between their committed relationships and those of heterosexual couples undermines both their dignity and the legitimacy of their families.
'"I have also heard, and I understand, the concerns of our citizens who have equally deep feelings and genuine religious beliefs about marriage. They fear that this legislation would interfere with the ability of religious groups to freely practice their faiths.
'"Throughout history, our society's views of civil rights have constantly evolved and expanded. New Hampshire's great tradition has always been to come down on the side of individual liberties and protections...
'"I have examined the laws of other states, including Vermont and Connecticut, which have recently passed same-sex marriage laws. Both go further in protecting religious institutions than the current New Hampshire legislation.'"
The language he's asked to add is overly broad and vague, and, of course, completely unnecessary, given the U.S. Constitution's first amendment. On the flip side, his statements about separate being unequal are a good bit more progressive than, say, the President's.
Here's hoping the legislature works this out in a way that ends up with N.H. recognizing same-sex marriage, and doesn't allow civil servants and hotels to claim religious exemption.
- Obama cuts funding for fuel-cell research
'In a reversal from the Bush administration, President Obama on Monday drastically cut federal funding for fuel-cell vehicles. President Obama eliminated President Bush's $1.2 billion fuel-cell initiative, saving $100 million a year from the government's bottom line...
'"We're going to be moving away from hydrogen-fuel cells for vehicles," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. "We asked ourselves, is it likely in the next 10 or 15, or even 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy? The answer, we felt, was no."'
Leaving aside the questionable nature of the assertion about 20 years, given what we know now about peak oil and atmospheric carbon, lord knows that staying focused on oil worked so well for us under Bush. And it's not like there would be any potential economic benefit to this research. We'll just let Iceland and the rest of Europe own the new hydrogen economy, and we can be as beholden to them later in this century as we are to OPEC now.
- An Ari Fleischer-style press conference on Obama and Separate but Equal for teh gay
Am I the only one who feels that Robert Gibbs is channeling any of a number of Bush admin press secretaries in this exchange? We've got the requisite non-answers, we've got the outright lies (I sure don't remember Obama addressing the separate-but-"equal" rights for gays question a "number of times" on the campaign trail, and I think I followed his slaps in the face to gay people as closely as anyone during the primaries), and we've got the "I can pull you something on that" promise that will never materialize.
This exchange is also notable, of course, because it confirms that the President is _choosing_ not to do anything to stop the discharge of gays in the military, like Dan Choi and Sandy Tsao, as he promised he would, and as he can, despite what his spokesperson says, without congressional approval.
He's too busy violating international law to keep his campaign promises, I guess.
- Less than four months in, Obama is in clear violation of international treaty
'Mr. Smith said that by attempting to keep evidence of Mr. Mohamed's "abuse" [sic] secret, the U.S. official who communicated the threats to the British Foreign Office was in breach of British law, specifically the International Criminal Court Act of 2001.
'"The U.S. is committing a criminal offense in Britain by seeking to conceal this information. What the Obama administration did is not just ill-advised, it is illegal," he said.
'Independently, Article 9 of the Convention Against Torture requires that "States Parties shall afford one another the greatest measure of assistance in connection with civil proceedings brought in respect of any of the offences referred to in article 4, including the supply of all evidence at their disposal necessary for the proceedings."'
(from Glenn Greenwald at salon.com)
Yup, such a progressive. Change I can believe in, fer sure.
What the evil, gay-hating, law-evading, pro-torture, anti-healthcare, anti-environment fuck? Wasn't he supposed to be a Democrat?
- Our Liberal (ha ha) Media: 'NPR Will Out Latifah, Not Politicians'
'National Public Radio edited a review of the film by critic Nathan Lee, cutting out the names of some of the alleged gay politicians like former senator Larry Craig and Florida governor Charlie Crist...
'An NPR superior said he cut the names from the review to protect the privacy of public figures. However, as Movieline.com has pointed out, the same news organization was quick to label American Idol standout Adam Lambert as gay while he has not actually confirmed the rumors himself... Another segment on the show News and Notes following comedian Wanda Sykes's coming-out in November asked whether other African-American stars like actress and musician Queen Latifah might follow suit.'
Raise your hand if you're shocked at media behavior that protects political elites from the same standards everyone else is held to.
Yeah, I thought not.
The frame here is that NPR thinks acknowledging a politician is gay is insulting and damaging, even when, as Outrage points out, the fact of a politician's being in the closet has a direct bearing on his votes for issues affecting the gay community. And, of course, anyone who remembers the 90s knows that the whole a-politician's-sex-life-is-private thing can't possibly hold water. It's purely about teh gay.
- Obama's Interior Dept. Secretary Ken Salazar lets stand Bush Admin. rules barring actions to protect polar bears
'The Interior Department on Friday let stand a Bush administration policy barring the federal government from using the precarious state of the U.S. polar bear population as a reason to crack down on global warming, upsetting environmentalists and cheering oil and gas companies...
'"It just doesn't make any sense to recognize that the polar bear is threatened and then exempt the primary threat to the species," said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
'Andrew Wetzler, who directs the endangered species project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the decision was illegal and that the group would "continue to fight it in court."
'Energy industry groups celebrated Friday, as did many Republicans...
'President George W. Bush's Interior Department listed the polar bear as threatened last year. But shortly before Bush left office, the agency issued a rule prohibiting the government from using the bear's status under the Endangered Species Act to curb greenhouse gas emissions, closing what Bush officials called a "back door" to climate regulation.'
- Eugene Robinson Op-Ed in WaPo: Obama "MIA on Gay Marriage"
'Before his inauguration, President Obama called himself a "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans." Now, with the same-sex marriage issue percolating in state after state and with the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy ripe for repeal, it's time for Obama to put some of his political capital where his rhetoric is....'
'It seems to me that equality means equality, and either you're for it or you're not. I believe gay marriage should be legal, and it's hard for me to imagine how any "fierce advocate of equality" could think otherwise.'
This week, along with the passage of same-sex marriage in Maine, has seen a trifecta of major media outlets asking what happened to the "fierce advocate" Obama billed himself as during the election. First was the NYT editorial yesterday -- then the CNN report last night (quoting the most anti-gay of recent federal marriage polls I've heard of) -- and today, the Washington Post. I don't really expect the Journal or MSNBC to join in, but it's good to see Obama's hypocrisy on gay rights -- his rhetoric about being our advocate during the election, being a man able to multi-task, and then his backpedaling, his anti-marriage statements, and his palling around with people who equate my marriage with incest and pederasty once elected (though they don't report that part) -- hitting the major media.
One notable fact is that the Times reported that the administration had been "noticeably silent" after Iowa, when, in fact, they issued a statement saying Obama believed in civil unions, not marriage, and that he believed in "protections" for gays and lesbians -- not "equal rights," merely "protections." Accuracy is still too much to expect from the major media, I guess.
- Maine's Gov. Baldacci signs same-sex marriage into law
'“In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions,” Governor Baldacci said. “I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”'
California, you've been punk'd on progressive street cred.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
- Maine House passes same-sex marriage bill!
'The Maine house of representatives approved a bill 89-58 on Tuesday that would extend marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples, following a successful round of voting in the senate.'
It's unclear whether Gov. Baldacci will veto.
It's been an amazing couple of months.
- Mainstream TV news shockingly silent on its own propaganda peddling
'The New York Times' David Barstow won a richly deserved Pulitzer Prize yesterday for two articles that... "revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended."
'By whom were these "ties to companies" undisclosed and for whom did these deeply conflicted retired generals pose as "analysts"? ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox -- the very companies that have simply suppressed the story from their viewers...
'Identically, CNN ran an 898-word story on the various Pulitzer winners -- describing virtually every winner -- but was simply unable to find any space even to mention David Barstow's name, let alone inform their readers that he won the Prize for uncovering core corruption at the heart of CNN's coverage of the Iraq War and other military-related matters. No other major television news outlet implicated by Barstow's story mentioned his award, at least as far as I can tell.'
In the olden days we would have termed this sort of collusion between government and press to fund the (war- and murder-based) profits of private companies with close government ties as "Fascism." Good thing we don't have that in America, and that our free press is untainted by propaganda.
Follow the money, people. It's the only route to the truth in this morality-forsaken land.
- Gov't watchdog for TARP: program "inherently vulnerable to fraud", publicizes risk, privatizes profit
'Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), said in a report that subsidies for public-private investment partnerships (PPIP) to buy assets could expose taxpayers to higher losses without corresponding increases in the potential for profit.
'"Aspects of PPIP make it inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse, including significant issues relating to conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants and vulnerabilities to money laundering," said Barofky's second quarterly report since he took office in December.'
This is pretty much what Krugman has been saying since last year, is it not?
- Angie Zapata killer found guilty of first-degree murder, sentenced to life
I'm really surprised. I cannot recall a murder case where the law found a trans victim to be worthy of full personhood. This is encouraging -- though it's sad that it's a surprise. The whole thing is tragic.
- Top TARP recipients are lending less now. Heckuva job on that stimulus plan.
'In a monthly snapshot of lending by the 21 largest banks receiving Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, the Treasury said credit being offered fell 2.2% across all commercial-lending and consumer-lending categories in February, compared with the prior month.
'Particularly problematic: continued deterioration in commercial real estate and general business lending, as well as the credit being made available for student and auto loans.
'The lone bright spot remained home loans, with consumers eager to take advantage of record-low interest rates to refinance their mortgages.'
The bit about mortgages is classic. Because, clearly, housing prices are on their way back up now. And commercial credit and education are completely unrelated to the depression we're in now.
I continue to believe it's useless to view the success or failure of economic programs through any other lens than that focused on the flow of money. So far with TARP, it's all been going to rich bankers on Wall Street. Given Bernanke's and Paulson's and and Summers' inability to coherently answer the question of what, exactly, TARP was designed to do, I think it's reasonable to deduce that it was designed to do exactly what it's doing. In which case, it appears to be a resounding success.
- On the coming Google Health apocalypse
'When Dave deBronkart, a tech-savvy kidney cancer survivor, tried to transfer his medical records from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to Google Health, a new free service that lets patients keep all their health records in one place and easily share them with new doctors, he was stunned at what he found.
'Google said his cancer had spread to either his brain or spine - a frightening diagnosis deBronkart had never gotten from his doctors - and listed an array of other conditions that he never had, as far as he knew, like chronic lung disease and aortic aneurysm. A warning announced his blood pressure medication required "immediate attention."
'DeBronkart eventually discovered the problem: Some of the information in his Google Health record was drawn from billing records, which sometimes reflect imprecise information plugged into codes required by insurers...
'"Claims data is [sic] notoriously inaccurate and notoriously incomplete with respect to an expression of the problems a person has," said Dr. David Kibbe, a senior technology adviser to the American Academy of Family Physicians.'
Though I have to say that I personally would not be gung-ho about giving everyone's favorite search engine monopoly access to that sort of private, sensitive data. Google has already demonstrated the strength, or lack thereof, of its commitment to do-no-evil.
- Elizabeth Warren, chair of Congressional Oversight Panel, blasts TARP
'There's no discussion of the overall policy... It's frustrating because without a clearly articulated goal and identified metrics to determine whether the goal is being accomplished, it's almost impossible to tell if a program is successful...
'...for every $100 of taxpayer money put into the financial institutions, the taxpayer got back about $66 in current value.
'Q: So what accounts for the $34 difference?
'A: Treasury specifically designed a program that had the effect of subsidizing the financial institutions, and simultaneously represented to the panel and to the American people that there was no subsidization...
'I believe that ultimately, the banks exist to serve the American people. Not vice versa.... The whole Treasury program began as a top-down analysis: Large financial institutions are at risk of failing; how can we prop them up? We might have asked a different series of questions: Large financial institutions are failing; how do we make sure that there are some financial institutions to keep the economy going forward while we let the failures go?'
Good points, well put. I think the point about metrics is particularly important, as I encounter people who ask why I'm so opposed to the bailout, and how I know it's not working. I mean, the banks are making profits again, right? Um, yeah. And autoworkers are doing great. Jobless claims are spectacularly awesome, too. And we have no money for healthcare or education on green power, so Congress needn't have pesky debates about that crap. Long as we have enough money to send more bombs and troops to the Middle East, clearly, the bailout is a raging success.
- Banks: up. Unemployment claims: up. Go, stimulus package!
'[B]anking giant Wells Fargo & Co. surprised the market with an early profit report that blew past analysts' expectations thanks to a strong pickup in its lending business...
'In economic news, new jobless claims fell more than expected last week, but those continuing to receive unemployment benefits set another high. The total number of laid-off Americans receiving unemployment rose to 5.84 million from 5.75 million, the most on record since 1967 and more than analysts expected.'
(AP via yahoo finance)
Good news for rich investors, bad news for peons trying to earn their wages. And the Dow, of course, surges. Welcome to the New Progressivism. Sort of like New Labor, I guess, in that it's neither new nor progressive/pro-labor.
- Looks like the VT legislature has voted to override Governor Douglas's veto of marriage equality
'The Senate voted 23-5, overriding the veto by a wide margin, while the House squeaked through with a 2/3 majority with a 100-47 vote.'
Go Vermont. Looks like it will become the first state to legislatively enact gay marriage rights. That's a big deal -- progress from MA, CT, and Iowa, where same-sex marriage came about through the courts.
- Predator drones over the homeland?
'In a further crackdown on the northern border, federal authorities are planning to use a drone-like, unmanned aircraft to police the United States-Canada boundary between Michigan and Ontario.
'The $10.5 million Predator aircraft, which flies at 19,000 fleet, carries no weapons, but it has an awesome camera that can spot a person crossing the border from 25 miles away, said Juan Munoz-Torres, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.'
(from freep.com -- the Detroit Free Press -- via correntewire.com)
We're patrolling the Canadian border? What are we looking for? Pro-universal-health-care pacifists trying to cross the border to bring in their crazy ideas about pensions?
- White House health care reform summit turns blind eye to universal health care options
'"Prevention" was the word of morning at the White House Western forum on health care reform in downtown LA...
'None of the two hours set aside today in largely scripted testimony dealt with the public option to the private market or mandatory health insurance and how to make it affordable....
'The California Nurses Association brought nearly one thousand nurses and activists to a rally on the street outside the forum. Their calls for a Medicare For All system weren't heard in the auditorium, but guests couldn't miss the message as we entered the auditorium. The testimonials from patients inside were heart breaking, but none of the answers from so-called stakeholders inside were compelling. None of the solutions dealt with how patients who lost coverage would be able to afford it again under an overhaul where the only cost savings come from medical prevention.'
Disturbing that single-payer is still off the table as far as the administration is concerned. That alone would be a much more useful option for resuscitating the big three than the bailout baloney.
- Obama admin statement pisses on marriage equality
'The President respects the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage. Although President Obama supports civil unions rather than same-sex marriage, he believes that committed gay and lesbian couples should receive protection under the law.'
Circa75 respects the rights of the American public to elect a faux-progressive anti-gay President. Although we believe that half-black "constitutional law scholars" whose parents directly benefitted from Loving v. Virginia have no excuse to tout "Separate but Equal" as good policy, we continue to support common cause between the LGBT community and racial minorities against our shared Republican oppressors.
- Iowa Supreme Court rules for marriage equality!
'The Iowa Supreme Court this morning struck down a 1998 state law that limits marriage to one man and one woman.'
(desmounesregister.com, via towleroad)
The article has some rather backwards language and quotes -- 'protect traditional families,' '"Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa'" (because, you know, states that fought in the Revolution know nothing about American values) -- but the news is good.
- GAO: Treasury needs to get concessions from financial industry, renegotiate contracts
'"Treasury could require that AIG seek to renegotiate contracts with its employees, similar to the contract for retention bonuses with AIG Financial Products’ employees, and with existing counterparties that would face substantial losses were AIG to have its credit downgraded or fail," the GAO said.'
(from bloomberg.com, via correntewire)
This sounds shockingly like the kinds of concessions the Obama administration has been demanding from organized labor for the auto bailout. The GAO seems to be suggesting we should force the same concessions from overpaid billionaire bankers that we demand of pension-less, uninsured auto workers. Shocking.
- Hawaii civil unions bill dead
'An effort to force a vote on same-sex civil unions [and remove it from committee] has failed in the Hawaii Senate, essentially killing the measure.'
- Kruman on being on the cover of Newsweek
'...when you see a corporate chieftain on the cover of a glossy magazine, short the stock. Or as I once put it (I’d actually forgotten I’d said that), "Whom the Gods would destroy, they first put on the cover of Business Week."'
- Obama admin's treatment of Indian trust fund lawsuit: just like Bush admin, but with new "window dressing"
'As one of the many people in Indian Country who looked to the Obama administration for change, I am deeply disappointed with what it is saying about our 13-year-old lawsuit over the government's admittedly broken Indian Trust...
'In short, what Secretary Salazar seems to saying is we will continue to fight through the courts the idea of giving any money at all to the Indian plaintiffs. And only after the appeals court rules, will we reluctantly talk settlement.
'That's not the way change happens. All we seem to be getting is window dressing by the secretary. Interior is doing nothing more than following the old Bush line topped with a new PR claim of sincerity.'
- Citigroup, BoA doing more looting now, thanks to Geithner's plan
'It certainly looks as if Citigroup and Bank of America are using TARP funds, not to lend, which was one of the primary goals of the program, but to scoop up secondary market dreck assets to game the public private investment partnership.'
From NY Post via Nakedcapitalism.com
As Greenwald puts it, they do this "because they now know that, under Geithner's plan, they will be able to sell them at a substantial profit courtesy of public funds (i.e, the Government will buy those crippled assets at well above their current market price)."
Way to go, Geithner/Obama. No one could have predicted, based on past behavior, that the banks would continue to be selfish at the expense of the taxpayer, if only their losses were nationalized. Well, except for Krugman, and a few thousand other people.
- Governor Jim Douglas is an evil homobigot opposed to the rights of his constituents
'Vermont Governor Jim Douglas said today he will veto a same-sex marriage bill if it comes to his desk...'
- Banks extorting the administration behind the scenes over bonuses
'Several big firms called Treasury and White House officials to urge a more reasonable approach, both sides say. The banks' message: If you want our help to get credit flowing again to consumers and businesses, stop the rush to penalize our bonuses.'
From the Wall St Journal, via shakespearessister
- Geithner's new plan, same as the old plan
'The Geithner plan... proposes to create funds in which private investors put in a small amount of their own money, and in return get large, non-recourse loans from the taxpayer, with which to buy bad — I mean misunderstood — assets. This is supposed to lead to fair prices because the funds will engage in competitive bidding.
'But it’s immediately obvious, if you think about it, that these funds will have skewed incentives. In effect, Treasury will be creating — deliberately! — the functional equivalent of Texas S&Ls in the 1980s: financial operations with very little capital but lots of government-guaranteed liabilities. For the private investors, this is an open invitation to play heads I win, tails the taxpayers lose.'
- Newly-elected Floridian City Commissioner Anthony Niedwiecki disproving the lies about how it's politically dangerous to be out
His husband has a piece up at Pam's House Blend talking about the misconceptions and bad advice a lot of people gave them during the campaign -- which echoes a lot of what I've been posting here.
'Many people told us to not even bother with large parts of the voter pool, especially those "value voters."
'Again, that's not who we are.
'We decided to take the "family values" argument and make it our own....
'I think this had some of the most profound effects on people. It was amazing to hear from extremely conservative people who told us how moved they were by our family and how we had forced them to think about their biases and beliefs.'
Great stuff, challenging assumptions about racial and religious demographic divides. The advice these guys got seems to me to be people buying into ill-founded and incorrect conventional wisdom because of their own homophobia. It's the same deal as people saying a presidential candidate can't be pro-marriage-equality. Really? We have no data to back that assertion, and quite a bit on the local level that directly contradicts it. Out and pro-gay politicians can be successful, if they don't back down, don't let their opponents smell fear or shame. This story demonstrates that.
It's great to see some positive news about gay power, especially in backwards, antigay, Christianist-dominated states like Florida.
- NYT poll: The Beltway fantasy of bipartisanship is not supported by the people
'48. Which do you think should be a higher priority for Barack Obama right now — working in a bipartisan way with Republicans in Congress or sticking to the policies he promised he would during the campaign?...
'Working bipartisan way: 39[%] Sticking to policies: 56[%]...
'49. Which do you think should be a higher priority for Republicans in Congress right now — working in a bipartisan way with Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress or sticking to Republican policies?...
'Working bipartisan way: 79[%] Sticking to policies: 17[%]'
The public seems pretty clear on this: it's Republicans who should be more bipartisan, and Democrats should stick to their campaign promises. Astonishing.
I'm troubled by the growing apparent disconnect between the conventional wisdom from inside the Beltway, and how Americans at large are responding to polls. Whether it's about single-payer health care, gays in the military, financial stimulus, or bipartisanship in general, politicians and the media in Washington seem, more and more, to be ignoring the will of the people.
- Obama admin adopts Cheney executive privilege args in court
'The brief filed by Obama on Friday afternoon (.pdf) has to be read to believed. It is literally arguing that no court has the power to order that classified documents be used in a judicial proceeding; instead, it is the President -- and the President alone -- who possesses that decision-making power under Article II, and no court order is binding on the President...
'From page 5 of the Obama Brief, filed after its loss on Friday:
'"...the Court does not have independent power... to order the Government to grant counsel access to classified information when the Executive Branch has denied them such access."'
Sounds pretty much exactly the same as Bush/Cheney to me. And also sounds like a pretty blatant violation of what Obama was promising during the campaign.
- (old): Sharpton attacks hypocrisy of Christianist bigots
'"But all of a sudden, when Proposition 8 came out, you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you."...'
'"There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you. It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."'
Not much I can add to that.
- Welcome to the for-profit police state: PA judges admit to sentencing kids to for-profit detention centers for kickbacks
'In the plea agreement, Ciavarella and Conahan admitted they "abused their position ... by secretly deriving more than 2,600,000 (dollars) in income ... in exchange for official actions."'
'Among the judges' alleged offenses: "14-year-old ... Bernadine [Wallace] was charged with terroristic threats after getting into an argument on MySpace. ...The teenager was not advised of her right to an attorney and was pressured to plead guilty. She was taken from Ciavarella's courtroom in shackles and spent time in PA Child Care and at a youth wilderness camp."'
Why is it that we have the highest percentage of incarcerated people in the industrialized world? It's the free market, man! Capitalism rules!
- An old but worthwhile broadside from Barney Frank on partisanship
'This brings me to my particular concern with Senator Obama's vehement disassociation of himself and those he seeks to represent from "the fights of the nineties." I am very proud of many of the fights I engaged in in the nineties, as well as the eighties and before. Senator Obama also bemoans the "same bitter partisanship" of that period and appears to me to be again somewhat critical of those of us who he believes to have been engaged in it.
'I agree that it would have been better not to have had to fight over some of the issues that occupied us in the nineties. But there would have been only one way to avoid them -- and that would have been to give up. More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle.
'It would have been nice in the nineties not to have had to fight to defend a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, and I would be very happy if that fight ended tomorrow. I was troubled when Newt Gingrich and his right wing band took over Congress after the election of 1994 and sought to put an end to programs to deal with continuing racial discrimination and the resulting inequality, and I am even more distressed that we have to continue to fight that battle against a Republican party largely opposed to all of these efforts -- consider the Bush Justice Department and its role in dealing with people's right to vote. As a gay man, additionally, I would have been delighted in the nineties if our conservative opponents had been willing to recognize our rights to be treated fairly under the law, and I would have saved a lot of time, as recently as this past year, if there was not continued strong right wing opposition to the "radical" position that people should not be denied jobs because of their fundamental nature, or that hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity should be treated less seriously than those based on racial or religious prejudice. These are three of the major fights in which I was engaged in the nineties, and I literally do not understand what Senator Obama means when he says that he does not want to keep fighting them...
'Finally, I do take pretty strong exception to Senator Obama's evenhanded denunciation of "the same bitter partisanship" of the nineties. It is true that American politics became much more partisan in the nineties, but that was primarily the result of the successful right wing takeover of the Republican Party, embodied at the time--he has since become a little more moderate for some tactical purpose--by Newt Gingrich. Again I do not think those of us who fought back against Gingrich's poisoning of the atmosphere should apologize for that. If anything, the apologies should come from those who were too slow to respond. It was Gingrich and his right wing allies who decided to inject a much harsher note of partisanship by explicitly rejecting the notion that the Democrats were honorable people with whom they disagreed, and instead decided, as Gingrich's own printed and taped materials argued, to portray us as treasonous, corrupt, immoral and otherwise vile... If Senator Obama was denouncing the outrageous tactics of Gingrich and DeLay, I would be very much in support of his comments. Instead, he evenhandedly denounces the "bitter partisanship" of that period and seems to me to be distancing himself equally from the Gingrich/DeLay attack and the efforts of many of us to combat it.'
Go read the whole thing. It's worth it, if it's also a little distressing that this straightforward refresher on recent history is something that has been gallingly absent from political theater and its representation in the media since the start of the primary season.
- Blue Cross hikes rates over 30% in CA
'"How could they just charge a 31 percent increase?" said Fink, 55, who already has raised his annual deductibles from $2,500 to $5,000 per family member. He said his 23-year-old son, who is on a separate policy, got a 40 percent increase...
'Marinow, who is working with a broker to find more affordable health coverage, was already told by a Blue Shield of California representative that she would not be considered because she has a pacemaker....
'"We are absolutely trapped in this plan," said McNamara, who will be paying about $1,200 a month for coverage.'
How's that free market working out for us, health-care wise? You can either be priced out of health coverage, even with stratospheric deductibles, or denied entirely based on pre-existing conditions. Good thing nationalizing health insurance isn't on the government's agenda any time soon.
- Obama extends Bush's unconstitutional Faith-Based Initiatives program
'President Barack Obama signed an executive order last Thursday that created a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships -- a 2.0 version of the Bush administration’s faith-based initiative...
'The program, which President Obama initially outlined in a campaign speech last summer, immediately agitated LGBT activists who fear any such initiative could be problematic on several levels: Religious organizations that receive federal funding could discriminate against LGBT people in their hiring practices and they could also decline to provide services to the LGBT population; certain organizations may not qualify for funding depending on the criteria established; and individuals who receive services might be proselytized to....
'"We’re not trying to tell churches they can’t hire a pastor who believes in what the denomination believes," said Harry Knox, director of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion and Faith Program, "we’re simply saying that if they hire a social worker or a cook in the kitchen or a youth outreach worker, that person's beliefs and whether they’re pro-LGBT or LGBT themselves should not stand in the way of their being hired." But even with such an executive order, LGBT people are left vulnerable in many areas of the country because no federal employment laws currently protect people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
'President Obama did not address these thorny issues directly last week, instead painting rhetorical broad-brush strokes over deep divisions...
'Materials sent to The Advocate stated that although no federal employment protections exist for LGBT people, “federal funding recipients -- including faith-based organizations -- should have to comply with existing federal, state and local laws, including laws prohibiting discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”'
Saying that recipients of federal funds must comply with hiring laws is redundant and self-evident: everyone's supposed to comply with the law. The thing is, there are no legal workplace protections for LGBT employees in most states. Perhaps if Obama had lent his weight to passing a national ENDA first, I might be a little less cynical about this, but it appears that, once again, he's giving my tax dollars to fund right-wing religionist discrimination against teh gay.
Way to be a uniter, dude. Also, way to bring change to Washington. Gay baby Jesus knows we didn't have enough of this sort of thing under Bush.
- Clinton says she is moving "expeditiously" to equalize treatment of LGBT employees at State Dept
Clinton says that 'equalizing treatment of the State Department’s LGBT employees and their partners is being reviewed and “is on a fast timeline” to be remedied.
'“We are reviewing what would need to be changed, what we can legally change,” Secretary Clinton said. “A lot of things we cannot legally change by a decision in the State Department. But let’s see what we can determine is within our realm of responsibility, and we are moving on that expeditiously.”'
- 9th Circuit Judge rules DoMA unconstitutional?
'...a ruling by Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies benefits to gay federal employees' spouses.'
(from LA Observed)
Huh? I'm not sure exactly what's going on from this article. What exactly is the ruling?
- Mormon church reveals it spent at least $190K to pass Proposition 8
'While many church members had donated directly to the Yes on 8 campaign - some estimates range as high as $20 million - the church itself had previously reported little direct campaign activity.
'But in the filing made Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints reported thousands in travel expenses, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals for the campaign. The church also reported $96,849.31 worth of "compensated staff time" - hours church employees spent working to pass the gay marriage ban.'
(from the Sacramento Bee)
I won't hold my breath that the government will revoke the church's tax-exempt status. This is, after all, a nation where pro-gay-equality groups get classified by the government as terrorist groups.
- More backpedalling from Obama on Don't Ask, Don't Tell
'[T]he military has been assured it will have wide latitude to undertake a detailed study of how a change in the policy would affect the military.'
The administration is, in effect, giving opponents of gays in the military time to get their act together, and letting military officials put together a case to oppose repeal, so that Obama, when he does nothing about DADT, can paint it as the military's decision. This at a time when polls of public opinion show overwhelming support for the repeal of DADT. Most politicians would jump at the opportunity to pass such popular legislation -- unless it involves the dreaded gay, apparently.
- Union membership grows in MA
'Union membership [in Massachusetts] grew to 458,000, or about 15.7 percent of workers in 2008, up from 379,000, or about 13.2 percent, in 2007.'
This is a heartening metric, and, from what I've read, an indication of a trend that extends well past Massachusetts. I guess it gives me some hope that there is a groundswell of progressivism, regardless of politicians who increasingly cater only to the ruling rich, with their bankers' bailouts and anti-universal-healthcare policies. It is also, of course, yet another parallel with the 1930s.
- Exxon Mobil exceeds record for US corporate profit by 11%
'Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a U.S. company, even as its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33 percent from a year ago.
'The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which the world's largest publicly traded oil company set in 2007.'
At least we can take comfort in knowing we're all sharing the current financial hardship equally. Well, except for Bush/Cheney's oil industry exec frieds getting fat off the blood of Americans and Arabs. And the Wall Street types with their record bonuses fueled by the TARP payout. And all the other super-rich getting richer as real wages fall. Hmm. Come to think of it, this is all starting to feel a bit Tsarist.
- Boy Scouts stewarding the land by clear-cutting
'"In public, they say they want to teach kids about saving the environment," said Jane Childers, a longtime scouting volunteer in Washington state who has fought against scouts' logging. "But in reality, it's all about the money."
'Scout councils nationwide have hired loggers to carry out clear-cutting and salvage harvests in ecosystems that provided habitat for a host of protected species, including salmon, timber wolves, bald eagles and spotted owls, records show.'
Once again demonstrating that organizations opposed to one progressive cause (equal rights for gays, equal rights for atheists) are generally opposed to others (responsible environmental stewardship.)
- "Christian's" (bullshit) definition of "Christian-bashing" versus gays' definition of gay-bashing (video)
Or, the difference between exercising free speech and exorcising teh gay with a baseball bat
- Post-partisanship fails with stimulus package, as always: Greenwald breaks it down
'Those claiming that Obama has masterfully depicted the Republicans as arrogant obstructionists by extending the hand of compromise should review this latest Rasmussen Reports poll, which finds the public split almost evenly on whether they support the Obama/Democratic economic recovery package, with a clear trend towards increased opposition.
'This is what happens every single time: the Democrats do everything possible to "accommodate" the Republican position and then get attacked anyway... Here, they did everything possible to change their bill to please Republicans and nothing is happening except full-scale GOP opposition accompanied by a constant barrage of GOP attacks against them as big-spending, reckless, wealth-transferring liberals.
'Ultimately, the success of this program will be measured by whether it produces successful results, so why shouldn't Democrats use their majority to enact the policy they think is most likely to achieve that? That's true on this issue and in general.'
- Krugman on Obama and the financial crisis
'...an updated version of an old Communist-era joke may be appropriate: under Bush, financial policy consisted of Wall Street types cutting sweet deals, at taxpayer expense, for Wall Street types. Under Obama, it’s precisely the reverse.'
Or, as I might frame it: if it would've been offensive had Bush done it, it should still be offensive when Obama does it.
- Post-Gazette editorial: 'I'm ashamed of my hate-filled fellow Christians'
'The point is that these preachers consider both "fornication" and "homosexual acts" to be sins, so how can they justify discriminating against only gays? Because they think they know one when they see one, I suppose, as opposed to fornicators.
'Of course, Christ taught we all are sinners -- a nondiscrimination policy if ever there was one.'
(from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via Pam's House Blend)
- Iceland to get world's first out head of state?
'The current Minister for Social Affairs, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir of the Social Democrats, said she is prepared to assume the position of prime minister as long as she senses that her position is backed by sufficient trust...
'If Sigurdardóttir does become prime minister, she will be the first woman to serve as prime minister in the country’s history and also the first openly gay prime minister in the world.'
- Obama team cuts pro-gay invocation from television broadcast
'But [gay Bishop Gene] Robinson’s invocation never aired on television – he was cut from the telecast of the Lincoln Memorial event.
'In a call placed to HBO, the premium pay channel on which the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial aired, a spokesperson told After Elton the decision not to air Robinson’s prayer was made by the Obama transition team.'
Apparently, Robinson's prayer was all but inaudible to the live audience, as well, due to "technical difficulties." Hmm.
- Rick Warren exhorts his followers to follow Christ like... Hitler youth followed Hitler?!
'So, let's see. Rick Warren is not only virulently anti-gay, anti-choice, and misogynist, and murderous, he also believes that Christians should follow Jesus like people followed Hitler, Lenin, and Mao, doing "whatever it takes" to "cover the planet" with Christianity to bring the Rapture'
Way to bring people together, dude. Because, you know, everyone like totally respects the Nazis and stuff. What in gay baby Jesus's name were the Obama people thinking?
- The myth of pro-equality meaning unelectable: 'Legislators Who Voted to End Marriage Discrimination for Same-Sex Couples Have a 100% Re-Election Rate'
'A review of all of these votes [on marriage equality in state legislatures] from 2005 to the present shows that legislators who vote to end marriage discrimination for same-sex couples are consistently re-elected. The success of more than 1,100 state legislators who voted to support the freedom to marry stands in bold contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers. In fact, these legislators are re-elected no matter what party they represent or if they changed their vote from opposing to supporting marriage equality. Even better, legislators who run for higher office win after voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.'
- As the meme goes, Obama was for gay marriage before he was against it
Many Obama apologists are citing this as a good thing -- saying that this proves, in his heart, Obama really loves teh gay, and just changed his public stance to get elected.
The converse, of course, is that Obama was cynical enough (despite the noises he made during the campaign about being a different kind of politician, particularly during the battle with Hillary Clinton) to waste no time putting aside his beliefs, his knowledge of what was right, to throw gay people under the bus driven by hateful, violence-inciting bigoted mythical-man-in-the-sky-believers like Donnie McClurkin and Rick Warren. I'm much less concerned with what a politician believes in her heart than I am with how she legislates and what policies she enacts.
Also, if Obama really secretly loves teh gay (and I simply don't believe that anyone who cares about LGBT rights would lend credibility to people who call us murderers of America's children, and who actively work to strip us of our rights), but isn't willing to state so in public now for fear that there will be a political price to pay (a fear that, for the record, I don't think is based in reality), then he is, by definition, homophobic. As Dr. King said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, popular, or political; but because it is right." Obama, as we've all clearly seen by now, is more concerned with politics than justice. After the last eight years, that bodes very poorly for the nation.
- U.N. possible war crimes investigation over Israeli missile attacks?
'UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the UN report [about Israel shelling a house in Gaza to which Israeli military had evacuated civilians, and then denying Red Cross medical teams access] should be the basis for an investigation of "war crimes elements." Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, said the "war crimes elements" would refer to allegations that Israel impeded medical teams trying to care for wounded civilians and failed to care for those injured in the attack.
'Pillay told an emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that any harm to Israeli civilians by Hamas rockets was unacceptable, but it did not excuse abuses carried out by Israeli forces in response.'
- UN says Israeli military has been evacuating civilians to positions they then bomb; also attacking UN schools
'At least 30 people were killed in the Zeitoun district of Gaza after Israeli troops repeatedly shelled a house to which more than 100 Palestinians had been evacuated by the Israeli military, the UN said today...
'The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in a report it was "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" against Hamas militants in Gaza by the Israeli military on 27 December... The report also complains that the Israeli Defence Force prevented medical teams from entering the area to evacuate the wounded.
'Among the dead were nine members of the Samouni family; a picture of three of the family's children in blood-stained clothing laid on a morgue floor and in front of their grieving father was shown in the Guardian on Tuesday. The father, Wael Samouni, said dozens of people had been sheltering in the house after Israeli troops ordered them and neighbours to stay inside...
'More than 40 Palestinians were killed in another incident on Tuesday after missiles exploded outside a UN school that had been sheltering hundreds of people in the Jabaliya refugee camp, despite the UN saying the school was clearly marked with a UN flag and its position reported to Israeli military.'
Odd that we don't see much coverage of this in the US press. A marxist might point out that the corporate media are unlikely to report negatively on the US arms industry's biggest outside customer.
- Explosive piece of Rick Warren's much-touted African AIDS work
'Warren’s man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa...
'"With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. 'Arrest all homos,' read placards. And: 'A man cannot marry a man.' Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. 'Homosexual promoters,' he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding."'
(Max Blumenthal, via towleroad.com)
- Briefs filed in Prop 8 challenge
'"If Prop 8 is permitted to stand, it would be the first time an initiative has successfully been used to change the California Constitution to take way an existing right only from a historically targeted minority group," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. "Such a change would defeat the very purpose of a constitution and fundamentally alter the role of the courts in protecting minority rights."'
- Breaking news: Christian hate-monger caught in lie! Shocker!
Rick Warren this week:
'I have been accused of equating gay partnerships with incest and pedophilia. Now of course as members of Saddleback Church you know I believe no such thing, I never have. You've never once heard me in 30 years heard me talk that way about that.'
Rick warren this month to the Wall Street Journal:
'Mr. Warren: I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.
'Beliefnet/WSJ: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?
'Mr. Warren: Oh, I do'
As far as Christianists are concerned, isn't lying supposed to be a sin or something? I seem to vaguely recall reading something about "bearing false witness" in that book they're constantly prattling on about... Maybe I missed the revision where God said bearing false witness against teh gay is okay. Or maybe Warren's just a lying, immoral, hypocritical, sanctimonious sack of shit. Time to go dig out the ol' Occam's razor.
And also, Kudos once again to Mr Obama for making this a focus of national media attention, when we don't have any other pressing issues to deal with, regarding wars, equality, the economy, health care, etc. Way to bring people together, dude.
- On gay apologists for Rick Warren's bigotry and lies
'So when did we buy into the fact that polite hate is okay? As long as you hate us with a smile and a nice cardigan sweater, we have to accept it?
'Maybe that's the real problem with our movement.
'It seems that some think that by calling polite haters out, we somehow weaken our cause. I would argue that it is just the opposite. By allowing polite bigotry, hate with a smile, to pass unchallenged, we make it more acceptable and palatable to society as a whole.
'Yes, the Phelps Clan represents outrageous, pure hatred in its most heightened form. But that very over the top nature has made them largely irrelevant and easy to write off as nutty extremists. I doubt they move many opinions to their point of view.
'The same cannot be said, however, for the Rick Warren's of the world. His smiling, affable brand of hate (the fact that he can laugh as he compares us to pedophiles and then offers us doughnuts) is far more insidious and damaging to our cause...
'And let's be clear- just because he gives Melissa Etheridge a hug and says he loves gay people doesn't make it so. His actions (and a lot of his words) show what he really thinks about us:
'* He compares our relationships to pedophilia, incest, and polygamy.
'* He supports "ex-gay" ministries.
'* He actively fought to strip away marriage rights
'* He says that the only difference between him and James Dobson is tone...
'He is calling me the hateful names, saying my relationship is comparable to a sexual deviants, and saying my family isn't as good as his. That is hate, no matter how flowery his language is or how much he claims otherwise.'
- Obama's Cabinet: 2 Republicans, 0 gays.
'Not that anyone’s counting, but the cabinet as announced/projected at present includes three Latinos, two Asian Americans, one African-American, three women, and, yes, two Republicans.'
The Republicans brought us the last eight years of terror attacks, assaults on the Bill of Rights, extraordinary rendition, corporate corruption, economic meltdown, gay-bashing, total lack of accountability, and war.
Nice to know that there's more room in Obama's administration for them than for people who helped get the evil gay-bashing fucker elected. Can anyone articulate how this pro-secret-unconstitutional-eavesdropping, anti-accountability-for-criminal-activity-in-the-white-house, pro-fundamentalist-christian, anti-gay administration is going to be different from the current one again, exactly?
- So, Obama's inviting preachers who think Jews are incestuous polygamists to speak at the inauguration, right?
Or that Asian-Americans are pedophiles. After all, he's characterizing gay people's objections to fundamentalist lying preacher Rick Warren's comparisons of gay marriage to "incest, pedophilia and polygamy" this way: it's "important for Americans to come together despite disagreements on certain social issues."
Mr Obama, you're a bigoted Jew-killing idiot who believes in a hateful and vindictive invisible man who lives in the sky. Your irrational hallucinations about that mean you should be kept far away from the big red button. Furthermore, your "Christian" culture is a despicable one of murder and xenophobia, the most famous proponent of which was Adolf Hitler. That you torture gay babies in your basement in Chicago at a shrine to Hitler should preclude you from airing any opinions on morality ever again.
If you find that offensive, well, never mind -- it's just that we disagree on a few social issues.
- Obama to gays: "Fuck you, again!" (Lying homophobe and Prop 8 backer Rick Warren to give invocation at inauguration)
This moral authority has spewed these oh-so-wise words:
"For 5,000 years, EVERY [sic] culture and EVERY [sic] religion -- not just Christianity -- has defined marriage as a contract between men and women. There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2% [sic] of our population. This is one issue that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on [sic]. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have publicly opposed the redefinition of marriage to include so-called 'gay marriage.' Even some gay leaders, like Al Rantel of KABC oppose watering down the definition of marriage..."
Fuck you, Mr Obama. Fuck. You.
- In breaking news, NJ Commission finds that separate but equal is not.
'The Civil Union Review Commission, tasked with evaluating the state's two-year-old civil unions law, determined that marriage was superior. "This commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children," the report says, according to the AP.'
What was Han Solo's line? "I'm glad you're here to tell us these things... Professor."
- Democrats screw the gays again, this time in NY
"A big deal went down between Democrats in the New York Senate today forged by pressure from the so-called gang of three (Sen. Carl Kruger, Sen.-elect Pedro Espada Jr., and Sen. Ruben Diaz), and the likeliness of a same-sex marriage vote coming to pass in the next session of the legislature went down the tube as a result, even though the deal gives Democrats a solid majority."
Why on earth should any gay person give money or support to this party, again? To individual candidates, perhaps, but the party as a whole, nationally and in many states (with the notable exception of a few like MA and CA,) courts us when it needs our money and votes, but fails to deliver much of anything. ENDA, DADT, DoMA, marriage...
Or for that matter, war, bankruptcy, bailouts, wiretapping, and protecting overwhelmingly unpopular politicians from prosecution for their war crimes.
- Odetta died this week
'Every time I hear her voice -- that majestic, booming instrument that seemed to descend from on high -- I’m reminded of how transformative music really is. To me, Odetta harnessed a visceral energy, a vibe as fierce as her Afro, whether she was singing folk, blues, spirituals, or pop songs. I dare you to watch the brief clip of Odetta performing “Water Boy” in “No Direction Home,” Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary on Dylan, and not get the chills. Or maybe you’ll feel a little terrified when she starts barking and bellowing as the camera suddenly draws back almost as a reaction to the force she unleashes...
'She was full of surprises in recent years, too. Indie-pop auteur Stephin Merritt recruited Odetta to sing “Waltzing Me All the Way Home” on the 6ths album “Hyacinths and Thistles” in 2000. He later said Odetta had told him she thought the song was about two gay black soldiers during World War II, which was news to Merritt.'
- A Founding Father on Religion and the State
'During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.'
Wise words from James Madison, as apt now as they were 223 years ago. This is from a letter to the Virginia General Assembly, opposing the establishment of state-backed teaching of Christianity. The notion that the founders were some sort of fundamentalists who were pro-Christianity and anti-Atheist or anti-non-Judeo-Christian religions is a myth. Separation of Church and State happened for a reason -- people like Madison were perceptive enough to notice the "bigotry and persecution" that resulted when the Church got its claws into the State.
As I've said, what happened in California with Proposition 8 was un-American.
- Nationwide Anti-Proposition 8 Protests
'The crackling outrage against California's vote to ban same-sex marriage spread across the nation Saturday as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered throughout the country to protest the Nov. 4 victory of Proposition 8...
'In San Diego, a crowd estimated by police at 20,000 and by organizers at 25,000 demonstrated against Prop. 8, while in Los Angeles police said between 10,000 and 12,000 people marched peacefully though the downtown area.'
The SF Chronicle and the LA Times are the only national newspaper websites to put this on the homepage. The NY Times has a wire story today, while the Boston Globe had a scant 100 word story. At this point, it's hard to imagine that the Eastern corporate media are our friends.
- Trans woman murdered execution style; more antigay violence post-Proposition 8
'Duanna Johnson, a transgender woman who was suing the city of Memphis, Tenn., for alleged civil rights violations, was shot and killed execution-style on November 9, according to WPTY News.
'Johnson was arrested on prostitution charges in June. During her time in jail, two Memphis police officers brutally beat Johnson while using transgender slurs. The officers were fired after investigators reviewed the beating on tape, and Johnson sued the city for $1.3 million.'
- 15K+ rally against Proposition 8 in Manhattan
'On the same day that the state of Connecticut began allowing same-sex marriages... over 15,000 people gathered... in protest of Proposition 8'
And still no coverage on the NYT homepage.
- CA Supreme Court asks Attorney General to respond to Proposition 8 challenges
'The California Supreme Court has asked state Attorney General Jerry Brown to reply by Monday to lawsuits challenging the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage - a sign that the justices are taking the cases seriously and will not dispose of them quickly.
'Two groups of gay and lesbian couples and local governments led by the city of San Francisco filed the suits a day after the Nov. 4 election, when Proposition 8 passed with a 52 percent majority.
'They argue that the initiative, a state constitutional amendment, violates other provisions of the California Constitution by taking rights away from a historically persecuted minority group and stripping judges of their power to protect that group. The couples' suits contend that Prop. 8 makes such fundamental changes that it amounts to a constitutional revision, which can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.'
- NYC Proposition 8 protest -- and our pseudo-liberal media at work
'We're not sure of the numbers yet, but between 5K-15K turned out in NYC yesterday to peacefully march and exercising [sic] their First Amendment rights to express their opinion of the Church of Latter Day Saints' involvement in the passage of Prop 8 in California, and to show unity and support for the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.'
Coverage on the New York Times homepage of the biggest gay protest there in a decade? Zip. Same for the Boston Globe. Our media continue to marginalize minorities and anti-establishment protests, just as they did at the start of the Iraq war.
- Obama indicating he'll let Lieberman keep his chairmanship?
'President-elect Barack Obama has informed party officials that he wants Joe Lieberman to continue caucusing with the Democrats in the 111th Congress, Senate aides tell the Huffington Post.
'Obama's decision could tie the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has been negotiating to remove Lieberman as chair of the Homeland Security and Government Reform committee while keeping him within the caucus. Lieberman has insisted that he will split from the Democrats if his homeland security position is stripped.'
There's lots of conjecture on this one. I'll merely add that allowing Lieberman to go unpunished for campaigning for McCain sends a message that the Democratic Party does not value party unity, and sends a message that the party will bow to bullies like Lieberman who make demands after spitting in the Democrats' symbolic faces, and offer nothing in return. Allowing that to continue is not post-partisanship, it's simply accepting abuse from political enemies.
- CA Legislators file friend of the court brief against Proposition 8
'"The citizens of California rely on the Legislature and the courts to safeguard against unlawful discrimination by temporary, and often short-lived, majorities," said the legislators. "Our state's few deviations from this duty have proven, with the perspective of historical distance, to be the most abhorrent chapters in our State's history... The Legislative Amici urge this Court to prevent the momentary passions of a bare majority from compromising the enduring constitutional promise of equal protection under the law. Proposition 8's radical change to our constitutional protections cannot be considered a mere 'amendment.' The California Constitution -- 'the ultimate expression of the People's will' -- requires the involvement of the Legislature in a constitutional revision of this magnitude."'
- Obama transition team pledges not to discriminate on gender identity
'The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.'
That's a big deal. I've been very critical of the Obama campaign, but I give them props for this.
- 'Thousands in S.F. march to protest Prop. 8'
'Thousands of demonstrators marched down Market Street in San Francisco on Friday night to protest the passage earlier this week of Proposition 8, which effectively bans [sic] same-sex marriage in California.'
[Prop 8 actually also alters the constitution to strike down the former constitutional barriers that barred the state from discriminating in granting marriage rights - ed]
'One of the organizers of the demonstration, Ryan Kerian, 28, a gay lawyer and San Francisco resident, said the rally was designed to "show that we won't be silent.
'"We've had rights stripped away from us," he said. "We aren't going to give up and go away."...
'Uriah Findley, 27, who is straight and was born and raised in conservative Orange County, said he believes that Prop. 8 will be a fleeting event in California history.
'"This is their last hurrah," he said. "Proposition 8 is the last gasp of a dying way of thinking."'
- InvalidateProp8.org - fund legal efforts to repeal this bigoted addendum to the CA constitution
'Send a message to the Mormon Church, whose members raised more than $15 million to fund the deceitful advertising campaign for Proposition 8, the initiative that takes away the right to marry for same sex couples in California!
'Make a donation, in the name of the president of the Mormon Church, to support the legal organizations working to invalidate Proposition 8 and to fund grass-roots activities in support of full marriage equality. For every donation of $5 or more, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center will send [a] postcard to President Thomas Monson’s office in Salt Lake City, acknowledging your donation in his name...'
- No Tax Exemption for Political Churches
'In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).'
The Mormon Church is doing just that -- expending its resources to influence legislation, intending harm to the GLBT community.
It's time to stop letting your tax dollars help them do that.
- 'Thousands protest gay marriage ban in Los Angeles'
'More than 2,000 people protesting California's new ban on gay marriage marched through streets Thursday, snarling afternoon rush-hour traffic on the west side as hundreds of police officers sought to contain them...
'Also demonstrating was Rakefet Abergel, 29, who married her partner of seven years the day gay marriage became legal this year.
'"We just want to have the same rights as everyone else gets. We're tired of being second-class citizens when we are citizens of America," she said. "You don't have to agree with us but you have to let us be."
'Demonstrator Taylor Miller, 28, was perplexed by the victory of Proposition 8 in the same election that swept Democrat Barack Obama into the presidency.
'"It's strange because with Obama winning there's been a surge of really motivated liberalism," she said. "This is just ignorance and ignorance is so last presidency."'
- Proposition 8 Opponents Rally outside Mormon Temple
'At Wednesday night’s rally in West Hollywood, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean invited the crowd to join her Thursday at 2 p.m. at Los Angeles’s Mormon Temple.
'Some 2,000 people lined the sidewalk in front of the temple, located just outside of Century City, waving banners, talking to the press, and screaming “Shame on you” as church members looked on from behind the temple’s gates...
'The message was simple -- the Mormon Church raised, depending on estimates, anywhere from 48% to 73% of the money behind the effort to pass Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in the state of California.
According to demonstrators and volunteers from the No on 8 campaign, the Mormon Church violated laws governing the church’s tax-exempt status by involving itself financially in a political battle. Protesters stood in front of the temple with signs urging that the denomination be taxed.'
- CA churches as polling places may have violated election laws regarding No on 8 volunteers, and CA didn't stop them
'Throughout the day, churches insisted that the right to electioneer 100 feet away did not apply to them, based on calls of complaint places to No on 8 volunteers. Churches argued that their parking lots are private property and tossed No on 8 volunteers off the premises.'
- Obama opposes Columbia University's gay equality policies now?
- Amy Goodman interviews Rep Dennis Kucinich on Bailout: Obama did not want homeowner bankruptcy provisions?
'REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: ...We were told that our presidential candidate, when the negotiations started at the White House, said that he didn’t want this in this bill. Now, that’s what we were told.
'AMY GOODMAN: You were told that Barack Obama did not want this in the bill?
'REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: That he didn’t want the bankruptcy provisions in the bill. Now, you know, that’s what we were told. And I don’t understand why he would say that, if he did say that. And I think that there is a—the fact that we didn’t put bankruptcy provisions in, that actually we removed any hope for judges to do any loan modifications or any forbearance. There’s no moratorium on mortgage foreclosures in here. So, who’s getting—who’s really getting helped by this bill? This is a bailout, pure and simple, of Wall Street interests who have been involved in speculation.'
I continue to be astonished at the gall displayed by the House. There's no evidence that this bailout will fix anything. It will reinforce evil behavior on the part of rich investors. And it will do nothing to help the less-rich people who've been affected by this -- the homeowners.
Also curious, of course, whether what Kucinich says about Obama is true, and what the reasoning was behind that, if so.
- "Key senators dispute FBI's anthrax case against Bruce Ivins"
'The Democratic Chairman of the Committee, Pat Leahy (who was a target of the anthrax attacks) told Mueller categorically that he simply does not believe that Ivins was the prime culprit if he was a participant at all, and said he is absolutely convinced that there were others involved in the preparation and mailing of the anthrax. Leahy began the hearing by identifying the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground and the private CIA contractor Battelle Corporation -- but not Fort Detrick -- as the only two institutions in the U.S. capable of producing anthrax of the strain that was sent to him and Sen. Daschele. Leahy asked Mueller whether he was aware of any other institutions capable of producing the anthrax, and when Mueller -- amazingly though unsurprisingly -- claimed he couldn't answer, Leahy demanded that he obtain the answer during a break and tell the Committee today what the answer is.'
(from greenwald at salon.com)
The FBI is demonstrating some offensive ineptitude here -- self-contradictory testimony, ill-preparedness, and (small-c) contempt for the Congress. Don't you feel safer now, than you did eight years ago?
- American credibility shot: 'Less Than Half the World Believes al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11 Attacks'
'Sixteen thousand people in 17 countries -- allies and adversaries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East -- were asked the open-ended question: "Who do you think was behind the 9/11 attacks?"
'On average, fewer than half of all respondents said al Qaeda (although there was significant variation between countries and regions). Fifteen percent said the United States government itself was responsible for the attacks, 7 percent cited Israel, and fully 1 in 4 said they just didn't know.'
This is the long-lasting effect of the Bush years -- America has no credibility with other countries any more. Regardless of what exactly you believe to have happened on 9/11, these numbers are pretty shocking.
- Obama backs off on promise to repeal DADT
'Obama said in an interview to run in gay publications Thursday that he wants to work with military leaders to build a consensus on removing the ban on openly gay service members in the armed forces. He said that wouldn't be accomplished by attaching a signing statement to a military spending bill, a process that President Bush has used to set other military policies.'
(AP via Google)
Isn't this exactly the trap that Bill Clinton fell into -- trying to build consensus with obstructionists who hate teh gay, rather than just making an executive order to Do the Right Thing? What happened to Obama's message of change, again? And why, oh why, can't we get Democratic nominees who can learn from the mistakes of their predecessors? Christ almighty.
- Obama planning another 'Faith' conference with gay haters
'CBN names Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec as one of the religious surrogates who will hit the road stumping for Obama. Kmiec wrote a June 13 op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle supporting California's Proposition 8, the ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage, titled "On Same-Sex Marriage: Should California Amend Its Constitution? Say 'No' to the Brave New World." Kmiec's first two sentences in the piece read, "The California ballot initiative intended to set aside the state supreme court's judicial invention of same-sex marriage deserves public support. Maybe it is enough to say, as many do in conversation, that it merely re-secures a millennia of tradition and common sense."'
Not announced: that Obama will be recruiting prominent Southern Baptists who will urge his followers to overturn Loving v. Virginia, citing Biblical references to slavery as justification.
Come on people. This isn't a difference of opinion. Every time you give a stage to one of these bigots, particularly in the name of 'Faith' (because we all know Jesus spent most of his time preaching about the importance of discriminating against those different from you), it's giving justification to some confused teenager somewhere to go out and bash gays and trans people.
From my perspective, we don't need any more of that this year, and we certainly don't need the 'progressive' candidate in the presidential election encouraging it.
- Separation of church and who? Palin's church tried to ban sale of pro-gay book at the time she asked the town librarian about banning books
'Palin has acknowledged she twice raised the issue in 1996 of how books could be removed from the shelves, but said it was only a "rhetorical question" and that she did not ask for any books to be banned.
'Palin's church at the time, the Assembly of God, had been pushing for the removal a book called "Pastor I Am Gay" from local bookstores, according to the book's author Pastor Howard Bess, of the Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, Alaska.'
How frequently do you think politicians 'rhetorically' ask about the procedures for banning books? Give me a freakin' break.
- And you think the GOP won't disenfranchise voters to steal the election again this year? Michigan GOP to keep foreclosed homeowners from voting
'"We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses," [Republican] party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed....
'"You can't challenge people without a factual basis for doing so," said J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department who now runs the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington D.C.-based public interest law firm. "I don’t think a foreclosure notice is sufficient basis for a challenge, because people often remain in their homes after foreclosure begins and sometimes are able to negotiate and refinance."...
'When asked for further details on how Republicans are compiling challenge lists, [Carabelli] said, "I would rather not tell you all the things we are doing."'
Yeah, I wonder why he'd rather not share that information.
Not that anyone should be surprised by what Republicans will sink to at this point, but this is among the most disgusting things I've heard of yet. Truly reprehensible behavior, even for shameless slimeballs. How do people like James Carabelli live with themselves?
- Palin and McCain lie about Bridge to Nowhere
'In the 2006 debate, Palin was asked whether she supported this earmark, or whether she would pledge to cancel it as governor. Rather than responding with "thanks but no thanks" to federal funding for this "access" road, Palin said:
"I wouldn’t [cancel the project]. I’m not going to stand in the way of progress that our congressional delegation — in the position of strength that they have right now — they’re making those efforts for the state of Alaska to build up our infrastructure. I would not get in the way of progress."
'Palin did [not return the Federal funds]. To this day, the state of Alaska "is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone -- because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government."'
- Barbara Boxer on McCain's Maverickiness
'In the 16 years that we have served together in the Senate, I have seen John McCain fight.
'I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times...'
- No Miranda rights, either
''Get on your stomach or I'm gonna tase you!'" He asked them what he had done, but they wouldn't say. Instead, they asked him leading questions about other people they'd just arrested. "They said, 'so, who was in the white van you were associated with?" "I was like, white van? I don't know what you're talking about...."'
'I asked him if he had been read his rights. "No, they didn't read me my Miranda rights at all. ... They cuffed me, and when I complained to one one guy about the cuffs being too tight, he was like, 'Oh yeah? Well, let me tighten that up for you.'"'
- 'Fascism In MN'
Like I said, we all knew free speech was gone. Just a reminder that that includes freedom of assembly, too:
'Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff’s department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff’s department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.'
- Goons in riot gear quash the free press at the Republican Convention
We all knew that free speech was history. Now we find that the press gets arrested these days for trying to cover stories:
'Amy Goodman of Democracy Now -- the radio and TV broadcaster who has been a working journalist for close to 20 years -- was arrested on the street and charged with "conspiracy to riot." Audio of her arrest, which truly shocked and angered the crowd of observers, is here. I just attended a Press Conference with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Police Chief John M. Harrington and -- after they boasted of how "restrained" their police actions were -- asked about the journalists and lawyers who had been detained and/or arrested both today and over the weekend. They said they wouldn't give any information about journalists who had been arrested today, though they said they believed that "one journalist" had been, and that she "was seemingly a participant in the riots, not simply a non-participant." I'll have video of the Press Conference posted shortly...'
'...A photographer for Associated Press was also arrested today while covering the protests (h/t Edward Champion). An AP spokesman said of the arrest: "covering news is constitutionally protected, and photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news." Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Donna Brazile was hit by pepper spray on her way into the Xcel Center.'
Good thing we're so much better than the awful Chinese government, which trundled off all those people trying to ask questions about Tibet. Uh, wait a second...
- Gay-Bashing in Boston's South End
'Fabio Brandao of Framingham pled not guilty to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and civil rights violations in Boston Municipal Court today. The charges stem from his involvement in an apparent gay bashing in Boston’s South End in the early morning hours of Aug. 24.'
Brandao was reportedly one of four men who drove by a group of four friends, shouted anti-gay slurs, then got out and attacked them.
- Homophobia at NBC
'When asked why at no point during the coverage did NBC mention [upset gold-medal-winner and only out gay man to compete] Mitcham was gay or that his partner was in the stands, Hughes said, "In virtually every case, we don’t discuss an athlete’s sexual orientation."
'When it was pointed out that in fact the network does exactly that by telling viewers about Olympic athletes’ various spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, and even in one case a heterosexual “love triangle” Hughes responded, "Not in every case..."'
- Exxon posts highest quarterly profits *ever* for *any* US company
'Exxon Mobil reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation.'
Meanwhile, the number of applicants for unemployment benefits is at a 5-year high.
Ah, the wonders of the Bush economy.
- Massachusetts House votes to repeal 1913 antimiscegentation law!
The House voted yesterday to repeal the 1913 law that disallowed people from getting married in MA, if their marriage would be illegal in their home states. Originally used for race-baiting, and then ignored for a few decades, this law was famously enforced again by then-governor Mitt Romney in order to keep same-sex couples from other states from marrying. (So much for people who argue that anti-gay discrimination is nothing like racial discrimination. If the same laws are used to do the same things to minorities of different types, well...) Since then, of course, marriage equality has become law in CA, and RI and (maybe) NY have chosen to recognize MA marriages. The state Senate voted earlier this month for a repeal. The bill now goes to Governor Patrick, who has pledged to sign in.
Many thanks to MassEquality for their work on this!
Update: The link includes the roll-call of who voted how, which I've had trouble finding elsewhere.
- A first-hand account of the shooting by a conservative American terrorist at a UU church in TN
'In the minutes leading up to when the police arrived Jaime and I saw children with escorts looking for their parents. We saw children and adults with blood on their clothes. We saw the worst side of human cruelty we had ever seen. We knew people had been shot but we didn't know who...
'While we were congregated together I noticed our friend. She is a transgender youth. She told us that Greg, her foster father, had been hit. That really hit home.'
This is a pretty heart-rending account, pointedly demonstrating the naivete of assuming that all hateful acts of inhumane terrorism are committed by fundamentalist Muslims. Some are committed by white people who watch O'Reilly!
- Barney Frank warns Obama about dissing the gays
'Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told the Rothenberg Political Report Friday that he "would have a hard time voting for the [Democratic] ticket" if Sen. Barack Obama picks former United States Sen. Sam Nunn as his vice-presidential running-mate...
'The Massachusetts Democrat cites a number of examples of what he calls Nunn's "real record of hostility" toward gays, placing greatest emphasis on Nunn's September 1996 vote against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which failed in the Senate by a single vote...
'Frank argues that adding Nunn to the Democratic ticket would cost Obama support in the gay community and would make it impossible for the Massachusetts Congressman to be a strong advocate for the Democratic Presidential nominee.'
I'm glad to see someone as powerful as Frank bringing this issue up, and attempting to push it into the mainstream press. However, given what we've seen from Obama regarding gay rights - refusing interviews with gay press; choosing a right-wing preacher who'd formerly called gays murderers to be the key speaker at an Obama campaign event, where, nominally representing the campaign, he said homosexuality was a choice; refusing to appear with pro-marriage-equality politicians; and stating that marriage isn't for gay people - I'd be surprised if Frank's input matters.
Now that Obama has announced his support for Bush's authorizing-unconstitutional-spying bill, it seems like straight people have started realizing he may not be the idealistic politician he sold himself as. I'm disgusted to see prominent so-called progressives like Atrios denouncing him on this, after they downplayed the pseudo-Realpolitik Obama demonstrated with McClurkin. The whole thing demonstrates that if you're willing to sideline the interests of the minorities that make up your base, you'll soon find yourself sidelined as well. That's something I thought progressives were supposed to understand viscerally by now.
What concerns me is that these are the sorts of actions that I believe cost Kerry the election - not that middle America saw him as too far to the left, but that they saw that he wouldn't stand up for the left, and deduced he wouldn't stand up for anything. Which is precisely what it seemed to me, during the primary, that Obama supporters detested about Hillary. I don't think Kerry's vote for war authorization helped him in the presidential campaign. It certainly didn't help Clinton. I see no reason to believe that Obama's anti-gay-marriage rhetoric will help him - it certainly didn't win the White House for either of the last two people who spouted it. I don't think Obama's FISA vote will help, since it just plays into Rove's framing of national security as an area where the Republicans are always right. And I don't think choosing Nunn would be any more useful than Kerry choosing Liebermann. How many failures does it take mainstream Democrats to realize this? How many super-right-wing Democratic VP nominees who oppose the interests of the Democratic base will they choose before the light dawns?
Grow a spine, and you'll win true cross-party respect - just as Bush enjoys, even with a 27% approval rating from the public. Demonstrate that you'll cave on any issue, and not only will your base detest you, your opposition and the undecided voters will as well.
- Police brutality alive and well in Memphis
'Surveillance video of the incident shows an unidentified officer hitting Johnson several times with handcuffs wrapped around his knuckles, as another officer holds Johnson's shoulders as she tries to protect herself.
'After being struck repeatedly, Johnson rose to protect herself and was maced in response.'
And it's all on video.
- Daughters of Bilitis founders, gay rights activists, finally legally wed!
'Cheers filled San Francisco's City Hall shortly after 5 p.m. as longtime lesbian activists Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, partners for more than 50 years, began their second wedding - and their first legal union.
'Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated the ceremony in the reception area of his office, said it was a fitting way to memorialize last month's state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in California, which took effect at 5:01 p.m.'
We need more politicians like Newsom. And more good news about equality and progress, like this.
- Willie Brown: Obama refused to be photographed with Newsom because of gay marriage
'Just four years ago, current Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is said to have declined to have his picture taken in San Francisco with Newsom, who was then at the center of a national uproar over his decision to allow same-sex marriage in San Francisco.
'"I gave a fundraiser, at his (Obama's) request at the Waterfront restaurant," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. "And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."'
I remember Newsom saying what is referred to in the article -- that one of the top Dem. candidates refused to be photographed with him.
- Krugman on the media and comparisons to Reagan
Just go read the thing.
I continue to be astounded that any Democrat thinks it's a good idea to speak positively about Reagan's leadership. Did these people sleep through the 80s? Do they remember thinking we were all going to die in nuclear armageddon when we started bombing Libya? Do they remember the budget deficit, the crappy economy of the late 80s, the blatant government homophobia involved with ignoring AIDS, the racism of the war on welfare (and the war on drugs, for that matter), the lying to Congress, the illegal arms sales, the propping up of Saddam Hussein, the opposition to the ERA? Seriously, have they forgotten these things? My recollection of the Reagan years is not of an "optimistic" era. It's of a daily dread of fiery death, and a constant war on the poor, on minorities and women, on anyone but rich white businessmen.
Reagan hagiography is not about optimism, it's about revising history. I don't recall Bush speaking reverently about Carter while he was running, so why is it not considered shocking for Obama to talk about Reagan this way?
- How did I miss this? Beverly Sills died last year.
She was a great artist and a great advocate for classical music, and for the New York City Opera. Out of the compendious Times obituary, perhaps most notable is this: 'In the spring of 1976 she sang Violetta in “La Traviata” at the Met, having gotten the company to agree to invite her longtime colleague Ms. Caldwell to conduct, making her the first woman to take the Met’s podium.'
Good for her.
- EPA administrator overruled recommendations of his underlings to block CA's greenhouse emissions initiative
'Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson overruled the unanimous opinion of his legal and technical staff in blocking California's effort to cut greenhouse gases from cars and trucks - a new revelation that California officials say shows his decision was based on politics, not the law.'
Is the Bush admin. intentionally setting out to portray themselves as comic book villains?
- CIA destroys evidence and obstructs investigations to shield itself from consequences of breaking the law
'The CIA destroyed video evidence of the coercive interrogation of al-Qaida operatives held under its secret rendition programme in order to shield agents from prosecution, it was revealed yesterday...
'Officials from the September 11 commission told the New York Times yesterday they had formally requested from the CIA evidence of interrogations, and had been informed that all materials had been handed over.'
- 'Renaissance in plesiosaur research' yields dividends
'Initial excavation of a site on the Svalbard islands in August yielded the remains, teeth, skull fragments and vertebrae of a reptile estimated to measure nearly 40 feet long, said Joern Harald Hurum of the University of Oslo.
'"It seems the monster is a new species," he told The Associated Press...
'"We are regularly seeing new species of plesiosaurs popping up — in a way because, in the past 10 or 15 years, there has been what we call a renaissance in plesiosaur research," Evans said by telephone.'
(AP via sfgate.com)
- Military demands return of signing bonuses from soldiers wounded in the line of duty
'Fox was seriously injured when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle. He was knocked unconscious. His back was injured and lost all vision in his right eye.
'A few months later Fox was sent home. His injuries prohibited him from fulfilling three months of his commitment. A few days ago, he received a letter from the military demanding nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus back.
'"I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they're telling me they want their money back," he explained.
'It's a slap for Fox's mother, Susan Wardezak, who met with President Bush in Pittsburgh last May. He thanked her for starting Operation Pittsburgh Pride which has sent approximately 4,000 care packages.
'He then sent her a letter expressing his concern over her son's injuries, so she cannot understand the U.S. Government's apparent lack of concern over injuries to countless U.S. Soldiers and demands that they return their bonuses.'
- Poll: most American voters think Bush has committed impeachable offenses
'A total of 64% of American voters say that President George W. Bush has abused his powers as president. Of the 64%, 14% (9% of all voters) say the abuses are not serious enough to warrant impeachment, 33% (21% of all voters) say the abuses rise to the level of impeachable offenses, but he should not be impeached, and 53% (34% of all voters) say the abuses rise to the level of impeachable offenses and Mr. Bush should be impeached and removed from office.'
(American Research Group via thinkprogress.org)
- FBI finds Blackwater unjustified in killing Iraqi civilians
'Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.'
- Poor old Ronnie, always 'inadvertently' becoming a strike-breaking racist thug
'So there’s a campaign on to exonerate Ronald Reagan from the charge that he deliberately made use of Nixon’s Southern strategy. When he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980, the town where the civil rights workers had been murdered, and declared that “I believe in states’ rights,” he didn’t mean to signal support for white racists. It was all just an innocent mistake.
'Indeed, you do really have to feel sorry for Reagan. He just kept making those innocent mistakes.'
- MIT's suing Gehry over leaky building
'The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge, one of the most celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.'
The biggest issue I've got with Gehry buildings like this one is that they've got far more joints than they need, where walls or planes meet. When you gratuitously project boxes out for windows, or tack on angled doohickeys, this is what you get. The net effect is to increase the overall surface area of the building, making it less energy efficient than it might be, and increasing the chance for leaks and drips. This isn't modernist form-follows-function. It's postmodern form-follows-form -- architecture as sculpture, rather than architecture to create, you know, *buildings*. When you turn your back on centuries of what builders have learned about making leak proof houses for a purely visual effect, you've no right to be surprised at the consequences.
I think his Pritzker bandshell in Chicago is great. But that very nearly *is* a piece of sculpture. The shape of the building at MIT is gratuitous. It's not surprising that it's got leaks. It's not designed for habitation or efficiency, but for visual impact. Bleh.
- Bush: Most Unpopular President EVARRR!!!
'[F]or “the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they ’strongly disapprove’ of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.”'
- In more gay UAE news, Sheikh to be tried in Switzerland for assaulting man who rebuffed his sexual advances
'Swiss officials announced Wednesday they will try the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates for allegedly assaulting an American man who rebuffed his sexual advances in a Geneva hotel.'
Funny how the most anti-gay institutions in the world (e.g., the Republican Party in the states, or the UAE government), seem to be that way because they're simultaneously the most self-hating gay institutions.
- Dubai officials blame victim of gay rape, not assailants
'The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.'
In related news, did you know that Barneys New York is now owned by a Dubai company?
- Is Clinton as anti-gay as Obama? More on the McClurkin debacle
'Obama was assailed last week for allowing gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to appear at a South Carolina campaign event, but the endorsement of Clinton by at least two anti-gay black ministers has so far not generated similar outrage...'
'McClurkin claims to be “ex-gay.” According to HRC, McClurkin in 2003 accused gay Americans of “trying to kill our children” and in 2002 called homosexuality a “curse.”'
My take is that this is apples and oranges. The Obama campaign invited McClurkin to speak at a campaign event. Not to defend Clinton, but her campaign has not denounced an endorsement from a couple preachers -- that's pretty different. The McClurkin thing is offensive and hateful. His comments encourage violence against gay people ("trying to kill our children," for Pete's sake?!) They also don't pass the 'would it be offensive if we substituted the word Jew?' test. The Clinton issue is less than ideal, but she's not recruiting someone who promotes the ex-gay program as a campaign spokesperson.
- Breaking news from NJ: 'Separate but equal' still not equal
'New Jersey’s 8-month-old civil union law has failed to live up to its promise of giving same-sex couples all the protections of marriage by another name, the state’s top official for enforcing civil rights said yesterday.'
- So the gays aren't more affluent after all? New study shows straight men make more.
'Gay men who work in management and male-dominated blue-collar careers make less money than their straight counterparts, according to a study released today by the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics.
'According to the research, men who live with other men earn 23% less than married men and 9% less than unmarried straight men who cohabit with women.'
- NY State gets million dollar settlement from Verizon for misleading customers
'Attorney General's investigation found that Verizon Wireless prominently marketed these plans as "Unlimited," without disclosing that common usages such as downloading movies or playing games online were prohibited. The company also cut off heavy internet users for exceeding an undisclosed cap of usage per month. As a result, customers misled by the company's claims, enrolled in its Unlimited plans, only to have their accounts abruptly terminated for excessive use, leaving them without internet services and unable to obtain refunds.'
Another reason not to patronize customer-hostile Verizon for anything, if you can help it.
- 'In this game, all candidates have been associated with homophobes'
'Hillary Clinton recently trumpeted her friendship with Harold Mayberry, of the First African Methodist Church in Oakland; her press release on the meeting/endorsement left out the fact that Mayberry believes homosexuality to be comparable to thievery.'
Unlike the author of this article, I'll note that Obama's on record saying "my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman," and using that to justify marriage discrimination against gays and lesbians. That makes him utterly unacceptable as a candidate to me.
- Obama hearts homophobes
'The Obama campaign is coming under fire for staging a campaign gospel tour that includes gospel singer Donnie McClurkin, an antigay crusader who has railed against "the curse of homosexuality."'
And no, I'm not exaggerating.
- Fossilized remains of enormous new dinosaur species, "Futalognkosaurus," discovered in Argentina
'The skeleton of what is believed to be a new dinosaur species — a 105-foot plant-eater that is among the largest dinosaurs ever found — has been uncovered in Argentina, scientists said Monday.
'Scientists from Argentina and Brazil said the Patagonian dinosaur appears to represent a previously unknown species of Titanosaur because of the unique structure of its neck. They named it Futalognkosaurus dukei after the Mapuche Indian words for "giant" and "chief," and for Duke Energy Argentina, which helped fund the skeleton's excavation.'
(AP via sfgate.com)
- Schwarzenegger once again vetoes legislature bill recognizing same-sex marriage
'In his veto message, the Republican governor said it is up to the state Supreme Court and then, if necessary, voters to alter Proposition 22, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman in California.'
Funny how when the courts are pro-equality, they're "activist judges" who should abide by the laws written by the legislative branch, and not perform any of that pesky interpretation that the constitution says the courts are for. But when it's the legislature that's pro-equality, then they should wait for the courts.
Oh wait, that's not funny - it's just disgusting Republican hypocrisy.
- Californian brings anti-trust lawsuit against Apple over iPhone provider monopoly and bricking
'A civil lawsuit filed in California accuses Apple of creating an unlawful iPhone monopoly and vindictively releasing a software update that turns hacked devices into "iBricks."
'The lawsuit, filed by attorney Damian Fernandez on behalf of a California man, accuses Apple of creating a monopoly by barring US customers from choosing a cellphone service provider other than US telecom giant AT&T.'
- Bush vetoes legislation to provide health care to poor kids; of only four vetoes he's ever made, this is the third to restrict health care or health research
'President Bush, in a sharp confrontation with Congress, on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.
'It was only the fourth veto of Bush's presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could carry steep risks for their party in next year's elections.'
- Lambda Legal on the suspended ENDA bill: Not only allows discrimination against trans people, but adds loopholes for discrimination against other gays and lesbians
'As a point of clarity for the community: The recent version is not simply the old version with the transgender protections stripped out - but rather has modified the old version in several additional and troubling ways.
'In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians and gay men who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.
'This version of ENDA states without qualification that refusal by employers to extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees that are provided only to married couples cannot be considered sexual orientation discrimination....
'In the previous version of ENDA the religious exemptions had some limitations. The new version has a blanket exemption under which, for example, hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups can fire or refuse to hire people they think might be gay or lesbian.'
Holy crap. The blogosphere has done a terrible job of communicating that this is more than just a bill stripped of transgender protections, but actually cover for the religious right to persecute gays and lesbian employees in ways they cannot currently. I'm shocked and dismayed, but glad that NGLTF and others were able to (at least temporarily) halt this damaging legislation.
- Greenwald on the hypocrisy of Fox News in comparing people to Nazis
'If Jane Hamsher and MoveOn.org are routinely held up on Fox News as "Nazis," and Media Matters and Markos Moulitsas continuously branded as "Hitler" and "the new Gestapo," then isn't the only logical conclusion that these terms signify nothing significant, that they are merely commonplace insults? And isn't that the outcome which these groups -- sitting silently by -- are supposedly dedicated to preventing? Shouldn't the ADL, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and like-minded groups be vigorously condemning Fox News and the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Tammy Bruce and Mark Levin for this reckless and "trivializing" behavior?'
Um... Silly question. This is the USA, where everything someone to the left of Reagan does is Evil! and everything a neocon does is perfection itself. Duh.
- Civil unions in NJ, shockingly, don't seem to get all the rights and privileges of marriage after all
'New Jersey's civil unions law has failed to provide all the benefits of marriage to at least one in five same-sex couples, a gay rights group told a panel Wednesday that will report its findings to the governor and state legislature.
'More than 300 of the 1,514 same-sex couples who have joined in civil unions have complained to Garden State Equality, the state's leading gay rights group, about employers denying them benefits under the law, said David M. Smith, the group's deputy director....
'Craig Ross said that when he lost his white-collar job and tried to get benefits on his partner's plan, the couple were denied despite their civil union because they aren't ''married.''
'''Calling our relationship and our legal status a civil union, I believe, gives my company an easy out,'' Ross said. ''Calling it what it is -- a marriage -- makes denial of those benefits obvious for what it is: discrimination.'''
- Congress throws trans people to the dogs in effort to pass ENDA
Dems and progressives appear to have learned nothing from the battle over marriage equality. We'd never have that in MA, if we'd settled for civil unions. We'd never have civil unions in NJ, I think, if MA had settled for them. You have to reach far to get anything done. If you compromise right out of the gate, your political opponents (accurately) sense weakness and go for blood.
- Shocking: Data indicate that rich people are much more likely to attend Hahvahd
'Just how skewed the system is toward the already advantaged is illustrated by the findings of a recent study of 146 selective colleges and universities, which concluded that students from the top quartile of the socioeconomic hierarchy (based on parental income, education and occupation) are 25 times more likely to attend a “top tier” college than students from the bottom quartile.'
- Scary list of extensive information tracking Homeland Security performs on all Americans
'By keeping tabs on what individual citizens read and with whom they associate, the Department of Homeland Security is collecting data on the free exercise of 1st Amendment activities in direct violation of the Privacy Act 1974.'
- Demographics: Party Affiliation and Income Level
Here's a citation for the claim I made when writing about Verizon -- a Pew poll demonstrating the correlation between increasing income levels and Republicanism. (Look at the bottom.)
- Verizon: Now they don't just give your data to the Feds, they censor what you can say via text messaging, too!
'Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program...
'In turning down the program, Verizon, one of the nation’s two largest wireless carriers, told Naral that it does not accept programs from any group “that seeks to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users.” Naral provided copies of its communications with Verizon to The New York Times.
'Nancy Keenan, Naral’s president, said Verizon’s decision interfered with political speech and activism.
'“No company should be allowed to censor the message we want to send to people who have asked us to send it to them,” Ms. Keenan said. “Regardless of people’s political views, Verizon customers should decide what action to take on their phones. Why does Verizon get to make that choice for them?”...
'Texting has proved to be an extraordinarily effective political tool. According to a study released this month by researchers at Princeton and the University of Michigan, young people who received text messages reminding them to vote in November 2006 were more likely to go to the polls. The cost per vote generated, the study said, was much smaller than other sorts of get-out-the-vote efforts.
'Around the world, the phenomenon is even bigger.
'“Even as dramatic as the adoption of text messaging for political communication has been in the United States, we’ve been quite slow compared to the rest of the world,” said James E. Katz, the director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University. “It’s important in political campaigns and political protests, and it has affected the outcomes of elections.”
'Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia, said it was possible to find analogies to Verizon’s decision abroad. “Another entity that controls mass text messages is the Chinese government,” Professor Wu said.'...
'Professor Wu pointed to a historical analogy. In the 19th century, he said, Western Union, the telegraph company, engaged in discrimination, based on the political views of people who sought to send telegrams. “One of the eventual reactions was the common carrier rule,” Professor Wu said, which required telegraph and then phone companies to accept communications from all speakers on all topics.
'Some scholars said such a rule was not needed for text messages because market competition was sufficient to ensure robust political debate.'
Keeping in mind that large companies, with boards of directors composed of the very rich, automatically tend towards conservatism (remember, in the U.S., there is a high correlation between increasing wealth and increasing tendency to vote Republican), the idea of communication providers using their "discretion" to decide what messages people are allowed to send should seem a little troubling to anyone not a neocon.
The article is right about the power of texting as a tool for organizing political activism and protests. The immigration rights protest we saw in Tucson was absolutely fueled and coordinated by text messaging.
The bit at the end about competition giving a market niche to providers who don't censor is obvious, blatant, transparent BS. Does anyone really think it's realistic that all of NARAL's subscribers are going to change their mobile provider in order to get text messages?
- With his blatant exploitation of 9-11 for political gain, Giuliani looks poised to be our next president
Then again, Romney's displayed the most base hypocritical pandering -- he was for gay rights when he was trying to become governor of Mass., and now that he's running for president, he's against then. I think it's time for McCain to laugh while executing someone, just to put all the Republican contenders on a lever, walking-in-Bush's-footsteps playing field.
'The International Association of Fire Fighters accused Republican Rudy Giuliani of exploiting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because a supporter is holding a $9.11-per-person fundraiser for the presidential candidate.
'The union — already a vocal critic of Giuliani's — said Tuesday that the fundraiser's "$9.11 for Rudy" theme is an abuse of the image and symbols of the 2001 attacks.
'"It is nothing short of disrespectful to the legacy of the thousands of civilians and 343 brave firefighters who died at ground zero," IAFF president Harold Schaitberger said.'
- You mean there's still racism in the United States? Jena may reportedly praises neo-Nazi white supremacist counter-deomnstrators
'The incident capped months of racial unrest after three white students hung nooses from a shade tree at the high school after black students asked permission to sit under it. School officials dismissed the noose incident as a prank, angering black students and their parents and triggering a series of fights between whites and blacks. The whites involved were charged with misdemeanors or not at all while the blacks drew various felony charges.
'McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist—an assertion the mayor repeated in an interview with Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss., who asked McMillin to "set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks."
'"I am not endorsing any demonstrations, but I do appreciate what you are trying to do," Barrett quoted McMillin as saying. "Your moral support means a lot."'
- Last Friday: The Day the U.S. Dollar Dropped to Equal the Canadian Dollar
'Responding to a reporter's question that speculation was driving the loonie higher, [United States] Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, in the Ottawa area to sign a new bilateral tax agreement, said there were sound economic fundamentals supporting the Canadian currency...'
'The loonie opened at par Friday but moved lower on a disappointing retail sales report that suggested Canada's economy was slowing.
'However, by early afternoon, the loonie was trading well above parity, peaking at US$1.0040 (four one-hundredths of a cent above parity), before closing at 99.91 cents US in Toronto, up four-hundredths of a cent from Thursday.'
- "Goodbye, Habeus corpus:" Tucson Weekly's 10 most-censored stories of the last year
'Habeas corpus, a constitutional right cribbed from the Magna Carta, protects against arbitrary imprisonment. Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers, called it the greatest defense against "the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny."
'The Military Commissions Act has been seen mostly as a method for dealing with Guantánamo Bay detainees, and most journalists have reported that it doesn't have any impact on Americans. On Oct. 19, 2006, editors at The New York Times wrote, in quite definitive language, "this law does not apply to American citizens."
'Investigative journalist Robert Parry disagrees. The right of habeas corpus no longer exists for any of us, he wrote in the online journal Consortium. Deep down in the lower sections of the act, the language shifts from the very specific "alien unlawful enemy combatant" to the vague "any person subject to this chapter."
'"Why does it contain language referring to 'any person' and then add in an adjacent context a reference to people acting 'in breach of allegiance or duty to the United States'?"'
- Krugman on pro-Republican media subjectivity
From his newly-accessible blog. I can't believe I actually like something that's on the NY Times!
'After the 1994 election, the cover of Time showed a charging elephant, and the headline read “GOP stampede.” Indeed, the GOP had won an impressive victory: in House races, Republicans had a 7 percentage point lead in the two-party vote.
'In 2006, Time’s cover was much more subdued; two overlapping circles, and the headline “The center is the new place to be.” You might assume that this was because the Democrats barely eked out a victory. In fact, Democrats had an 8.5 percentage point lead, substantially bigger than the GOP win in 1994. Also, the new Democratic majority in the House isn’t just larger than any the Republicans achieved over their 12-year reign; it’s much more solidly progressive than their pre-1994 majority.'
- But remember, there's no such thing as global warming, right?
'Shattering previous records, the sea ice in the Arctic shrank 1 million square miles more this summer than the average melt over 25 years, an area larger than Alaska and Texas combined, according to NASA satellite data released Thursday.'
- The Luminous Landscape on a new fiber-based, baryta-coated inkjet paper for prints
This guy's saying that it's the baryta coating that gives traditional silver gel fiber prints their look, and that applying that to inkjet prints is revolutionary:
'The reason this paper felt familiar is that Harman gloss is made with the same fiber base, baryta coating, and glossy surface as Ilford darkroom papers. In fact–– it is produced in Ilford’s coating facility. Baryta (barium sulfate) is a familiar term to traditional photographers. All fiber-based, gelatin-silver papers consist of natural fibers coated with baryta, silver and gelatin. Baryta’s presence whitens the paper base and provides a smooth surface and has been in photographic papers for over one hundred years, with a proven record of archival permanence. When baryta is used in an inkjet paper, it dramatically improves the look of the paper. Prints made on this paper exhibit a classical elegance. They look like traditional photographs. The baryta layer offers an unexpected surprise. It improves the image structure. The baryta inhibits the ink droplets from spreading on the paper which creates sharper dots and sharper looking prints. When the same image was printed both on Harman Gloss and a plastic paper, viewed side by side, the Harman gloss print looked sharper.'
- Cheney voted against a 1986 resolution for the release of Nelson Mandela, calling Mandela a "terrorist"
From 2000, but a heady reminder:
'Yet Republican vice presidential candidate Cheney still defends his vote, saying on ABC's ``This Week'' that ``the ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization. . . . I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.'' What, then, does this tell us about what information Cheney considers before he takes a decision? And what the long-term consequences are likely to be, and on whom?'
I didn't hear about this back in 2000. Not so shocking, of course.
Also notable is that Reagan vetoed this resolution. Funny the people the American media choose to glorify.
- "The Cult of Leica"
Article on Leica history over at the New Yorker. Anthony Lane seems to get what it is that's so attractive about rangefinder cameras.
- Pavarotti died today
'Luciano Pavarotti, whose glorious, unforced tenor voice and gusto as a performer helped redefine tenor stardom at a level scarcely seen since Enrico Caruso, died today at his home in Modena, Italy, after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, his manager said. He was 71.'
Not sure about the "unforced" part - he was, after all, an Italian tenor - but he certainly was (and remains) a major figure in Opera. I love that recording of Turandot.
- Coolest Digital Camera Ever
Man, I want one of these. A digital F4, fer pete's sake!
- Wake up people - Republicans are trying to change the electoral rules to be even more in their favor
'Two weeks ago, one of the most important Republican lawyers in Sacramento quietly filed a ballot initiative that would end the practice of granting all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes to the statewide winner. Instead, it would award two of them to the statewide winner and the rest, one by one, to the winner in each congressional district. Nineteen of the fifty-three districts are represented by Republicans, but Bush carried twenty-two districts in 2004. The bottom line is that the initiative, if passed, would spot the Republican ticket something in the neighborhood of twenty electoral votes—votes that it wouldn’t get under the rules prevailing in every other sizable state in the Union.'
This will make battles like the last two elections' over Florida and Ohio simply unnecessary, and make it possible for Republicans to hold the White House indefinitely, even if their candidates (continue to) lose the popular vote by spectacular margins. Think about that.
- Executive Director of the NGLTF on Democratic leaders as fair-weather friends of gay and lesbian Americans
'Time and again, we’ve been thrown under the political bus by politicians either in the White House or those who want to get there....
'All of this misery has been exacerbated exponentially by the spinelessness or unwillingness of all but a few national leaders to take a stand for us and denounce the animus unleashed on us. Many of our “friends” have simply looked the other way.
'We bear our scars and yet remain unbowed. But, we are still waiting for the country’s political leadership to defend our right to live and thrive as a matter of principle, not parse our dreams as a matter of misguided political calculation....
'But, what of the Democrats? Sadly, mostly silence. You can find our issues explicitly referenced on only three candidates’ sites (Kucinich, Richardson and Gravel). Frontrunners Clinton, Obama and Edwards carefully parse their support of our people into specific reforms. We find no evidence that the Democratic frontrunners counter Republicans’ anti-LGBT speech with routine and positive inclusion of LGBT people in their visions for a whole and healthy society....
'We deserve and we must demand from the Democratic 2008 presidential candidates the simple and straightforward statement that our humanity requires full respect and fair treatment by all and, further, an equally simple and straightforward condemnation of those who seek to use our lives for political gain. This needs to be said in front of all audiences — not just in front of us.'
- 'DOUBLE STANDARD: Bush's leniency for Libby doesn't jibe with administration's push to enforce mandatory minimum sentences'
'President Bush's rationale for sparing Lewis "Scooter'' Libby from prison -- that his 2 1/2-year sentence was more severe than the former vice presidential aide deserved for lying to a grand jury -- is at odds with his support of new legislation that, by the administration's description, would make such sentences mandatory....
'The administration is now proposing to toughen sentencing rules. The Justice Department announced legislation last month that it said would require federal judges to sentence criminals to at least the minimum term provided by federal guidelines -- the term that Bush found too harsh for Libby in commuting his sentence July 2.'
Like everything else with this administration, laws are things for other people to abide by.
- Iraq's costing $12 billion a month now.
- Republican Senator David Vitter, bitter gay marriage opponent, on DC Madam's phone list
Vitter is one of the sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment, the Republican plan to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into the U.S. Constitution. I guess the institution of marriage faces a greater threat from women marrying women than it does from hypocritical senators writing discriminatory laws who cheat on their wives. With hookers.
I'm really having a tough time keeping up on the complicated set of rules that describes Family Values. It's okay to be gay, as long as you're an antigay preacher, or a gigolo who spends his days being an undercover administration operative in the White House Press Corps, or the President's chief political advisor. It's only okay for you or your wife to have an abortion if you lie about thinking abortion is always wrong. And it's only wrong to cheat on your wife if you lie about it to Congress, but no problem if you try to write laws that make it illegal for other people to get married at all. So, what if I'm a lesbian hooker who's cheating on my husband, while writing laws to make it hard to get abortions, and I want to lie to Congress? Is that okay, or do I have to make sure my girlfriend is an antigay hooker-preacher?
Hell, I need to start drawing some truth tables to figure this all out.
- UPS: NJ Civil Unions don't count; NJ Legislature: Um, yes they do
'In its letter denying coverage, UPS said it does provide health benefits to its employees’ spouses, including spouses of the same sex who are married in Massachusetts. But it said New Jersey’s decision to recognize same-sex relationships as civil unions rather than marriages tied its hands.…
'In its letter, UPS said the New Jersey Legislature, in enacting the state’s civil union law, “did not go as far as Massachusetts and afford same-sex couples the ability to marry. Had the New Jersey Legislature done that, you could have added Ms. Aurand as a spouse under the plan.”
'The letter concluded that “New Jersey law does not treat civil unions the same as marriages.”'
'One of the laws sponsors, Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, can’t seem to understand UPS’ rationale, "We made it clear through the language and the intent that when it came to issues like this, we fully expected civil-unioned couples would be covered"'
- Bush threatened to veto appropriations bill unless anti-gay language was reinstated
And Congress capitulated. Our wonderfully "progressive" House of Representatives at work.
- Straights don't get to vote down our marriages after all: Legislators defeat MA ballot initiative
'A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was swiftly defeated today by a joint session of the Legislature by a vote of 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008. The measure needed at least 50 votes to advance.'
- Fundamentalist Mormons, Continued: 'Polygamist community faces rare genetic disorder'
'The twin border communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, have the world's highest known prevalence of fumarase deficiency, an enzyme irregularity that causes severe mental retardation brought on by cousin marriage, doctors say....
'The community of about 10,000 people, who shun outsiders and are taught to avoid newspapers, television and the Internet, is home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a sect that broke from the mainstream Mormon church 72 years ago over polygamy.
'The group, who wear conservative 19th-century clothing, is led by Warren Jeffs, who was arrested in August and charged as an accomplice to rape for using his authority to order a 14-year-old girl against her wishes to marry and have sex with her 19-year-old cousin...
'"Once you get people within in the same community marrying, then the chances grow of having two people carrying the exact same mutation."
(Reuters via Yahoo News)
- 'Nuremberg Prosecutor: Guantanamo Trials Are Unfair'
'“I think Robert Jackson, who’s the architect of Nuremberg, would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going on at Guantanamo,” Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King Jr. told Reuters in a telephone interview.
'“It violates the Nuremberg principles, what they’re doing, as well as the spirit of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”'
(Reuters via crooksandliars.com)
- 'Fundamental[ist] Mormons seek recognition for polygamy'
'Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds, while at the same time stamping out abuses such as forced marriages of underage brides.
'The growing confidence of polygamists and their willingness to go public come at an awkward moment for mainstream Mormons, who are now in the spotlight as Republican Mitt Romney, a prominent Mormon, seeks the U.S. presidency.'
(Reuters via Yahoo)
- Have you heard the one about the Pentagon trying to build a 'gay bomb?'
This has made the rounds before, but...
'Edward Hammond, of Berkeley's Sunshine Project, had used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the proposal from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
'As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."
'The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.'
- Federal Appeals Court: Bush can't ignore law
'A divided panel from a conservative federal appeals court delivered a harsh rebuke to the Bush administration's anti-terrorism strategy [sic] Monday, ruling that U.S. residents cannot be locked up indefinitely as "enemy combatants" without being charged.
'The three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government should charge Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident and the only suspected enemy combatant on American soil, or release him from military custody.'
(AP via Yahoo)
- Thimerisol Court Convenes
'Nearly 5,000 families will seek to convince a special "vaccine court" in Washington that the vaccines can cause healthy and outgoing children to withdraw into uncommunicative, autistic shells -- even though a large body of evidence and expert opinion has found no link. The court has never heard a case of such magnitude....
'Economics and politics intersect in the case with questions of health and the deepening mystery of soaring autism rates. Advocates of the vaccine theory have argued that the increase in cases was triggered by a mercury-based preservative in vaccines that, they say, is toxic to children's brains.
'Under pressure from the advocates and to keep the issue from disrupting vaccination programs, U.S. officials began phasing out the additive, thimerosal, in children's vaccines around 1999, while maintaining that there was no hard evidence that it was dangerous. But thimerosal is still used in vaccines across much of the developing world.'
- Larry's at it again - seeking documented evidence of lawmaker malfeasance
'"Hustler" publisher Larry Flynt -- just days after posting a $1 million bounty for verifiable information on the sexual exploits of U.S. Congress members and political leaders -- says he's already been deluged by more than 200 leads pouring in from around the country, "80 percent of them on Republicans."
'"I'm not interested in exposing anyone's sex life," Flynt said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "It's the hypocrisy I'm after."'
- Strange bedfellows - Lieberman and... gay rights?!
'Two U.S. senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would end federal tax inequities that apply to employer-provided health insurance for domestic partners. Independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Gordon Smith from Oregon are the Senate sponsors of the bill, a version of which was introduced into the House in March by Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State.'
- Pelosi Scores One for CA's Environmental Limits on Greenhouse Gases
'House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responding to pressure from California officials and environmentalists, has slapped down a new proposal by top House Democrats that would have wiped out California's ability to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and trucks.
'In a brief but pointed statement Tuesday night, the San Francisco Democrat said, "Any proposal that affects California's landmark efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or eliminates the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will not have my support."
'Her message was a shot at two House Democrats -- Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., both leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who have been crafting new energy legislation that would have thwarted the state's ability to set tougher-than-federal standards to cut vehicle emissions.'
- Democrats in CA legislature pass gay marriage law, again
'For the second time in three years, the state Assembly approved legislation Tuesday allowing same-sex marriage in California...
'On a party-line vote, Democrats supported San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno's effort to make California the first state in the country to legislatively end the prohibition on gay marriage. The bill advances to the state Senate, but even if it is approved there, it's likely to face a veto from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.'
- 'Prison for Libby in Leak Case'
'Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation....
'"People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said.'
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Mourns 'Leader of America's Anti-Gay Industry'
'The death of a family member or friend is always a sad occasion and we express our condolences to all those who were close to the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America’s anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation’s appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation.'
- Another Republican senator calls for Gonzales to resign
'Sen. Chuck Hagel on Wednesday became the latest Republican to call for Alberto Gonzales' resignation, saying revelations about a sick bed visit to his predecessor have undermined his moral authority to lead the Justice Department...
'At issue in 2004 was Bush's no-warrant wiretapping program, which Comey described as so questionable that Ashcroft refused for a time to reauthorize it as required in March, 2004.
'Senior government officials had expressed concerns about whether the National Security Agency, which administered the program, had the proper oversight in place. Other concerns included whether any president possessed the legal and constitutional authority to authorize the program as it operated at the time.
'Days before the program's required recertification in March, 2004, Ashcroft suddenly fell ill enough with pancreatitis that he transferred the powers of the attorney general to Comey. Acting Attorney General Comey, too, refused to certify the program's legality.
'On March 10, Gonzales, then White House Counsel, and Bush's former chief of staff, Andy Card, took the matter to Ashcroft as he lay in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital. Tipped to their impending visit, Comey raced there with the sirens of his security detail blaring, he told the committee Tuesday.
'Comey arrived at Ashcroft's bedside moments before the president's aides walked in, Gonzales holding the presidential order of recertification.
'Ashcroft rebuffed them, pointing out that Comey held the powers of the attorney general at that moment. Gonzales and Card left the room without acknowledging Comey.
'Card later demanded that Comey come to the White House. Comey said he demanded a witness accompany him after the conduct he'd seen at Ashcroft's bed side.
'Card "replied, 'What conduct? We were just there to wish him well,'" Comey recalled.'
- Bush threatens to veto popular hate crimes bill
'The White House issued a veto threat Thursday against U.S. legislation that would expand federal hate-crime law to include attacks motivated by the victims' gender identity or sexual orientation.
'The hate-crimes bill, with strong Democratic backing, passed the House of Representatives Thursday. Similar legislation is moving through the Senate.'
- Gingrich admits to hypocritical marital infidelity while he was leading the Clinton inquest
'Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.
'...His first marriage, to his former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, ended in divorce in 1981. Although Gingrich has said he doesn't remember it, Battley has said Gingrich discussed divorce terms with her while she was recuperating in the hospital from cancer surgery.'
- 'Justice Dept.: FBI Misused Patriot Act'
'The audit by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that FBI agents sometimes demanded personal data on individuals without proper authorization. The 126-page audit also found the FBI improperly obtained telephone records in non-emergency circumstances.
'The audit blames agent error and shoddy record-keeping for the bulk of the problems and did not find any indication of criminal misconduct.'
Baloney. Everyone knew at the time that doing this was unconstitutional. They just didn't care.
- 'Bush administration's account of the firings... has shifted repeatedly'
'More than two weeks after a former U.S. attorney in New Mexico alleged he was fired for not prosecuting Democrats, the White House and Justice Department are still struggling to explain the roles of President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other key officials in the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors late last year.
'On Friday, the White House retreated from its 4-day-old assertion that former counsel Harriet Miers had started the process two years ago by proposing the firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys.
'"It has been described as her idea ... but I don't want to vouch for origination," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
'In addition, Kyle Sampson, who resigned Monday as Gonzales' chief of staff, disputed the reasons given for his departure in a statement issued through his attorney Friday night.
'"The fact that the White House and Justice Department had been discussing the subject for several years was well known to a number of other senior officials at the department, including others who were involved in preparing the department's testimony to Congress," said the statement by Sampson's lawyer, Bradford Berenson.
'Snow's comments mark the latest revision of the Bush administration's account of the firings, which has shifted repeatedly over the past week as new e-mails and other evidence have come to light. The precise roles of Gonzales, presidential adviser Karl Rove and Bush himself remain unclear, even as calls for Gonzales' resignation mount.'
- NY Times opinion page explains why what the Bushies and their friends did was illegal
'The Bush administration has done a terrible job of explaining its decision to fire eight United States attorneys. Story after story has proved to be untrue: that the prosecutors who were fired were poor performers; that the White House was not involved in the purge. But the administration has been strangely successful in pushing its message that the scandal is at worst a political misdeed, not a criminal matter.
'...It is illegal to lie to Congress, and also to “impede” it in getting information.
'...As part of the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms, Congress passed an extremely broad obstruction of justice provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c), which applies to anyone who corruptly “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,” including U.S. attorney investigations.'
Shocking to see this laid out in the Times, of all places. Where were they when it came to spelling out the lies that got us into Iraq? Cheerleading Bush, that's where.
- 'Tony Snow says president must let his senior advisers testify under oath'
Only, that was then, this is now. During the Clinton impeachment, Snow said:
'"Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up."'
There's a joke in here someone, but it's a sick joke, and it's on the American people...
- ACT UP still acting up, because people still dying from AIDS
'Nearly 30 people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience Thursday after 50 body bags were lined up on a New York City street to represent the number of people who die of AIDS complications every day. Venerable activist group ACT UP—AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power—commemorated its 20th anniversary by reenacting its first protest, which took place 20 years ago, also in New York City's financial district. Upward of 800 people showed up to march down Wall Street, calling out to health care providers and pharmaceutical companies.'
- Google AdSense has double standard for risque straight and gay content
Do no evil my ass.
Meanwhile, hosting blogs inciting hate crimes, not so much a problem for Google.
- NJ to import Mass. same-sex marriages as civil unions
Note the misleading headline - "N.J. to recognize gay marriage." No, NJ does not recognize Mass. marriages as such. Tell me again what this so-called liberal media consists of?
'Attorney General Stuart Rabner of New Jersey said that same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, which is the only state in the country to allow them, will be considered as civil unions in New Jersey.'
- So much for tool use separating us from other animals
'Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning spears from sticks and using the handcrafted tools to hunt small mammals -- the first routine production of deadly weapons ever seen in nonhuman animals.'
- The brave new world of data sharing makes it harder to travel
'There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was "a person who was inadmissible to Canada.'' The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.
'Welcome to the new world of border security. Unsuspecting Americans are turning up at the Canadian border expecting clear sailing, only to find that their past -- sometimes their distant past -- is suddenly an issue.
'While Canada officially has barred travelers convicted of criminal offenses for years, attorneys say post-9/11 information-gathering, combined with a sweeping agreement between Canada and the United States to share data, has resulted in a spike in phone calls from concerned travelers.
They are shocked to hear that the sins of their youth might keep them out of Canada. But what they don't know is that this is just the beginning. Soon other nations will be able to look into your past when you want to travel there.'
'President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to just 31 percent, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll. Bill Clinton's lowest rating during his presidency was 36 percent; Bush's father's was 29 percent, and Ronald Reagan's was 35 percent.'
- War crimes charges for Rumsfeld?
'A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo'
- 'Democrats take control of the Senate'
'Jim Webb's squeaker win over incumbent Sen. George Allen... gave Democrats their 51st seat in the Senate, an astonishing turnabout at the hands of voters unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq. Allen was the sixth Republican incumbent senator defeated in Tuesday's elections.'
(AP via news.yahoo.com)
- Rumsfeld's stepping down
What more is there to say?
- 'Same-sex marriage ban rejected in Arizona in historic first'
The Advocate's also reporting the ban died in AZ. I haven't read any update on the absentee ballots. Here's hoping.
Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin have all embraced consitutional bigotry, though, which is sad. Apparently by smaller margins than previous marriage bans. There's lots of work to do, but people seem to be, slowly, coming around.
- AZ may be first state where voters defeat an anti-marriage amendment at the polls
'In a triple setback for conservatives, South Dakotans rejected a law that would have banned virtually all abortions, Arizona became the first state to defeat an amendment to ban gay marriage and Missouri approved a measure backing stem cell research.'
(ap via myway.com)
The latest I'd heard elsewhere on the AZ thing was that there was a large number of absentee ballots still to be counted, so that was still undecided. I'm particularly concerned about that one, as those ballots can tend to push things towards the right wing. Still, it would be fantastic, and revolutionary, news, if this turned out to be true.
- 'A Sharp Rebuke of President Bush'
'The political pendulum in American politics swung away from the right yesterday, putting an end to the 12-year Republican Revolution on Capitol Hill and delivering a sharp rebuke of President Bush and the Iraq war.'
- Republican House Majority Leader blames the U.S. military for failure in Iraq
'Wolf, I understand that, but let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld... But the fact is the generals on the ground are in charge...'
Way to support the troops, you hypocritical, evil liars.
- Keith Olbermann on Bush, the root of political incivility
'This President must apologize to the troops - for having suggested, six weeks ago, that the chaos in Iraq, the death and the carnage, the slaughtered Iraqi civilians and the dead American service personnel, will, to history, quote "look like just a comma."
'This President must apologize to the troops - because the intelligence he claims led us into Iraq proved to be undeniably and irredeemably wrong.
''This President must apologize to the troops - for having laughed about the failure of that intelligence, at a banquet, while our troops were in harm's way.'
Read the whole thing.
(from MSNBC, via Crooks and Liars)
- NJ Court: Marriage for all, but the Legislature can decide what to call it
'Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.'
- Former Bush Administration golden boy brings out most damaging charge yet: Rove refers to evangelical leaders as 'nuts'
'The book, "Tempting Faith," not out until Monday, but in our third story tonight, a Countdown exclusive we've obtained a copy and it is devastating work.
'Author David Kuo's conservative Christian credentials are impeccable; his resume sprinkled with names like Bennett and Ashcroft. Now, as the Foley cover-up has many evangelical Christians wondering whether the G.O.P. is really in sync with their values, "Tempting Faith" provides the answer: No way.
'Kuo, citing one example after another of a White House that repeatedly uses evangelical Christians for their votes while consistently giving them nothing in return;
'A White House which routinely speaks of the nation's most famous evangelical leaders behind their backs, with contempt and derision.
'Furthermore, Faith-Based Initiatives were not only stiffed on one public promise after another by Mr. Bush - the office itself was eventually forced to answer a higher calling: Electing Republican politicians.
'Kuo's bottom line: the Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians for suckers.'
- She gets it! Rep. Pelosi charts out House's actions for the first 100 hours of Democratic rule
'Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
'Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
'Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
'Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds — "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.'
Finally, a Dem learns from the Republicans. If this is the new Contract with America coming from House Democratic leadership, I'm all for it. After all, who can argue with implementing the suggestions of the 9/11 commission?
- MA court rules that RI residents can wed in Mass
'In a significant victory for gay rights advocates, a Superior Court judge ruled today that a lesbian couple from Rhode Island may wed in Massachusetts, finding that Rhode Island’s laws do not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages.
'The ruling by Judge Thomas Connolly is the first to find that same-sex couples from outside Massachusetts may wed under the Supreme Judicial Court's 2003 ruling that legalized same-sex weddings in the Bay State.
'Wendy Becker and Mary Norton of Providence, R.I., had argued in court that a 1913 law that forbids out-of-state residents from marrying in Massachusetts did not apply to them because Rhode Island does not specifically ban gay marriage.
'In a 9-page ruling, Connolly agreed with the couple.
'"No evidence was introduced before this court of a constitutional amendment, statute, or controlling appellate decision from Rhode Island that explicitly deems void or otherwise expressly forbids same-sex marriage," he wrote.
'Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who had defended the 1913 law in court, said officials in Rhode Island could challenge the decision, but said his office would not appeal.
'"In Massachusetts," Reilly said in a statement, "pursuing this matter further in the courts would be a waste of time and resources."'
It's so odd to see logic and equality prevailing in the courts these days. A welcome change after the disgraceful arbitrariness of the WA decision.
- Executive, Legislative branches pass law suspending write of habeas corpus; whither America?
'The removal of habeas corpus came under particular criticism, from both sides, with even some Republicans who voted for the bill nonetheless predicting it likely that the Supreme Court would strike down the legislation because of its scrapping of the right of prisoners to challenge their own detention.
'Democrats also criticised the sanctioning of harsh interrogation techniques which they said would border on torture. "This bill gives an administration that lobbied for torture exactly what it wanted," said Senator John Kerry
'"I’m convinced that future generations will view passage of this bill as a grave error," said Harry Reid, a Democrat and Senate Minority Leader.'
- Bush falsely claims National Intelligence Estimate draws politically favorable conclusion, calls Iraq war opponents (including majority of US) "naive"
'In announcing yesterday that he would release the key judgments of a controversial National Intelligence Estimate, President Bush said he agreed with the document's conclusion "that because of our successes against the leadership of al-Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent."
'But the estimate itself posits no such cause and effect...
'In describing Iraq as "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the document judges that real and perceived insurgent successes there will "inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while losses would have the opposite effect. It predicts that the elimination of al-Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed after the estimate was completed in April, would probably leave that organization splintered into disparate groups that "for at least a time, pose a less serious threat to U.S. interests" than the current al-Qaeda structure.'
Of course, we've failed to go after or capture bin Laden, and Bush has described capturing him as not a priority.
- Dude lists Bush's lies in his UN address
Like shooting gimp fish in a toy-sized barrel:
'"This morning, I want to speak about the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized by the peaceful majority. This world can be ours if we seek it and if we work together."
'Under President Bush, the United States has seriously undermined the ability of the international community to work together to empower voices of moderation and marginalize extremists. For example, the Bush administration has gone to great efforts to undermine the International Criminal Court, which could play a critical role in bringing to justice extremists responsible for crimes against humanity. Similarly, with bipartisan support in Congress, the Bush administration attacked the International Court of Justice for its landmark 2004 ruling on the obligations of signatories to enforce the Fourth Geneva Convention. The United States, the world's number one arms supplier, has also blocked UN efforts to curb the trade in small arms used by terrorists. Currently, the United States sends more arms and security assistance than any other country to autocratic regimes and other violators of universally recognized human rights in the Middle East and elsewhere.
'"Recently a courageous group of Arab and Muslim intellectuals wrote me a letter. In it, they said this: 'The shore of reform is the only one on which any lights appear, even though the journey demands courage and patience and perseverance.' ... Together we must support the dreams of good and decent people who are working to transform a troubled region ..."
'What President Bush failed to mention is that that letter... also stated that it "is our belief that the main problem with U.S. policies in the Middle East (in particular in Iraq, Palestine, and elsewhere) is precisely their failure to live up to America's democratic ideals of liberty and justice for all."
'"To the people of Iran: The United States respects you; we respect your country ... The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions ... We're working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom -- and America and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause of peace."
'Given that the United States was responsible for the coup that overthrew Iran's last democratic government back in 1953 and subsequently backed the Shah's brutal dictatorial regime for a quarter century, platitudes regarding respect for the people of Iran and hope that they may live in freedom do not carry much weight. Indeed, though Iran's electoral process is seriously flawed on many levels, elections there have tended to be freer and more representative than those in the seven U.S.-backed regimes praised by President Bush.'
- 'Judge overturns Bush policy on new forest roads'
'In a rebuke of one of the Bush administration's first environmental policies, a federal judge has overturned a rule that would have allowed roads to be built through nearly 60 million acres of national forest land, including 4.4 million acres in California.
'The decision, announced Wednesday, came as several states were preparing to allow road construction on untouched wildlands, opening them to activities like logging, mining and driving off-road vehicles.
'U.S. District Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte ruled that the policy ignored both the National Environmental Policy Act and the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Laporte reinstituted a Clinton administration policy implemented in 2001 that prohibited new roads on some pristine wildlands, including large swaths in the Inyo and Stanislaus national forests...
'Conservationists said the decision vindicated their contention that the Bush rule was an attempt to log and mine public lands by illegally overturning the Clinton policy.'
- Dylan's Modern Times at Number 1 in the charts
'Bob Dylan reached the top of the U.S. pop albums chart for the first time in 30 years on Wednesday, becoming the oldest living person to launch a new disc at No. 1....
'Dylan last reached No. 1 in 1976 with his album "Desire," which led the field for five weeks.'
- Bank of America has innocent man arrested
'Earlier this month, a bank vice president, William Minnes, wrote to Shinnick's lawyer to say that "Bank of America can certainly understand that your client is angry at the bank."
'However, he said, BofA has no legal liability in the case because of the 2004 Supreme Court ruling. Minnes warned that "litigation would not prove financially beneficial" to Shinnick.'
- More than 46 million Americans without health insurance
'Nearly 1 in 6 Americans, or 15.9 percent of the country, was uninsured for some or part of last year, compared with 45.3 million, or 15.6 percent, in 2004.'
- Decent overview of geothermal heat pumps
Geothermal is vastly more efficient than alternatives, doesn't have to rely on fossil fuels, and has low operating costs. Unfortunately, installation is expensive. The big question is whether heat pumps make sense.
'Managing director Andrew Sheldon points out that 97% of all new buildings in Sweden are powered by heat pumps.'
There's your answer.
- U.S. Gov't continues to play terrorism plot story for political gain, even when it hurts the U.K.'s ability to stop the terrorists
'Anti-terror police in Britain have made an angry request to their US counterparts asking them to stop leaking details of this month's suspected bomb plot over fears that it could jeopardise the chances of a successful prosecution and hamper the gathering of evidence.
'The British security services, MI5 and MI6, are understood to be dismayed that a number of sensitive details surrounding the alleged plot - including an FBI estimate that as many as 50 people were involved - were leaked to the media.'
- Stories damaging to Republicans that the Times delayed
'This Sunday the New York Times' Bill Keller got dressed down on the paper's letters page, with scores of readers taking the executive editor to task for being evasive in his previous explanation regarding why--and for how long--the Times held back publishing its December 2005, Pulitzer Prize-winning scoop about the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping program under president Bush. A program recently deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge. At the time of publication in 2005 readers were told the story, which the White House pleaded the Times not to publish, had been delayed for "a year." But last week Times public editor, Byron Calame, confirmed the story had been held for 14 months, which, as many had suspected, meant the Times could have published the scoop during the height of the 2004 presidential campaign...
'According to the reporting of David Lindorff, writing for Fairness and Accuracy in Report's Extra!, Nelson was told by a Times reporters that the bulge article, complete with his compelling imagery, would run Oct. 28, five days before the election. Instead, on the night of Oct. 27 the story was killed. In an email the next day, one of the Times reporters apologized to Nelson: "Sorry to have been a source of disappointment and frustration to you." Two months later, executive editor Keller explained, "In the end, nobody, including the scientist who brought it up, could take the story beyond speculation. In the crush of election-finale stories, it died a quiet, unlamented death." In other words, the Times article would have easily proven there was a bulge underneath Bush's jacket during the debates, which would have undercut all his campaign's public denials and thereby raised questions about Bush's credibility. But because the story could not authoritatively say what the bulge was (and because Bush aides still refused to acknowledge its existence), the article was not worth printing.
'As for Keller's insistence the story died a "quiet, unlamented death," that was not true. At least one of the reporters assigned to the article, Andrew Revkin, publicly expressed his frustration with the decision to kill the story, noting the oddity of accepting the Bush campaign's flimsy explanation about a tailor's mistake over the word of an esteemed scientist who produced images that were impossible to ignore. The Times' public editor later said he also thought the paper should have run the bulge story.
'Meanwhile, can anyone think of a single bad-news-for-Kerry story that news outlets politely sat on during the 2004 campaign?'
- Detroit federal district court rules that Bush violated FISA, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, separation of powers doctrine, orders halt to warrentless surveillance
A quick scan of the ruling indicates it is lucid and thorough. Highly recommended reading.
'It is undisputed that Defendants [i.e., the NSA] have publicly admitted to the following: (1) the TSP [i.e., secret surveillance program] exists; (2) it operates without warrants; (3) it targets communications where one party to the communication is outside the United States, and the government has a reasonable basis to conclude that one party to the communication is a member of al Qaeda, affiliated with al Qaeda, or a member of an organization affiliated with al Qaeda, or working in support of al Qaeda. As the Government has on many occasions confirmed the veracity of these allegations, the state secrets privilege does not apply to this information....'
'Finally, Defendants assert that they cannot defend this case without the exposure of state secrets. This court disagrees. The Bush Administration has repeatedly told the general public that there is a valid basis in law for the TSP.9 Further, Defendants have contended that the President has the authority under the AUMF and the Constitution to authorize the continued use of the TSP. Defendants have supported these arguments without revealing or relying on any classified information. Indeed, the court has reviewed the classified information and is of the opinion that this information is not necessary to any viable defense to the TSP....'
'Consequently, the court finds Defendants’ argument that they cannot defend this case without the use of classified information to be disingenuous and without merit....'
'Here, Plaintiffs are not asserting speculative allegations. Instead, the declarations asserted by Plaintiffs establish that they are suffering a present concrete injury in addition to a chill of their First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs would be able to continue using the telephone and email in the execution of their professional responsibilities if the Defendants were not undisputedly and admittedly conducting warrantless wiretaps of conversations. As in Friends of the Earth, this damage to their interest is sufficient to establish a concrete injury....'
'These cases constitute acknowledgment that substantial burdens upon a plaintiff’s professional activities are an injury sufficient to support standing. Defendants ignore the significant, concrete injuries which Plaintiffs continue to experience from Defendants’ illegal monitoring of their telephone conversations and email communications. Plaintiffs undeniably have cited to distinct, palpable, and substantial injuries that have resulted from the TSP.
'This court finds that the injuries alleged by Plaintiffs are “concrete and particularized”, and not “abstract or conjectural.” The TSP is not hypothetical, it is an actual surveillance program that was admittedly instituted after September 11, 2001, and has been reauthorized by the President more than thirty times since the attacks.21 The President has, moreover, emphasized that he intends to continue to reauthorize the TSP indefinitely.22 Further, the court need not speculate upon the kind of activity the Plaintiffs want to engage in - they want to engage in conversations with individuals abroad without fear that their First Amendment rights are being infringed upon. Therefore, this court concludes that Plaintiffs have satisfied the requirement of alleging “actual or threatened injury” as a result of Defendants’ conduct....'
'The President of the United States, a creature of the same Constitution which gave us these Amendments, has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders as required by FISA, and accordingly has violated the First Amendment Rights of these Plaintiffs as well....'
'In this case, the President has acted, undisputedly, as FISA forbids. FISA is the expressed statutory policy of our Congress. The presidential power, therefore, was exercised at its lowest ebb and cannot be sustained....'
'Finally, in the case of Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), the separation of powers doctrine is again discussed and, again, some overlap of the authorities of two branches is permitted. In that case, although Article III jurisdiction of the federal courts is found intrusive and burdensome to the Chief Executive it did not follow, the court held, that separation of powers principles would be violated by allowing a lawsuit against the Chief Executive to proceed....'
'In this case, if the teachings of Youngstown are law, the separation of powers doctrine has been violated. The President, undisputedly, has violated the provisions of FISA for a five-year period....'
'Under Hamdi, accordingly, the Constitution of the United States must be followed. The AUMF resolution, if indeed it is construed as replacing FISA, gives no support to Defendants here. Even if that Resolution superceded all other statutory law, Defendants have violated the Constitutional rights of their citizens including the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and the Separation of Powers doctrine....'
'The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.
'We must first note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all “inherent powers” must derive from that Constitution....
'We have seen in Hamdi that the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is fully applicable to the Executive branch’s actions and therefore it can only follow that the First and Fourth Amendments must be applicable as well.51 In the Youngstown case the same “inherent powers” argument was raised and the Court noted that the President had been created Commander in Chief of only the military, and not of all the people, even in time of war.52 Indeed, since Ex Parte Milligan, we have been taught that the “Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace. . . .” Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 120 (1866). Again, in Home Building & Loan Ass’n v. Blaisdell, we were taught that no emergency can create power....'
'The argument that inherent powers justify the program here in litigation must fail....'
'For all of the reasons outlined above, this court is constrained to grant to Plaintiffs the Partial Summary Judgment requested, and holds that the TSP violates the APA; the Separation of Powers doctrine; the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and the statutory law.
'Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the final claim of data-mining is granted, because litigation of that claim would require violation of Defendants’ state secrets privilege.
'The Permanent Injunction of the TSP requested by Plaintiffs is granted inasmuch as each of the factors required to be met to sustain such an injunction have undisputedly been met.59 The irreparable injury necessary to warrant injunctive relief is clear, as the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Plaintiffs are violated by the TSP. See Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965). The irreparable injury conversely sustained by Defendants under this injunction may be rectified by compliance with our Constitution and/or statutory law, as amended if necessary. Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.'
- Tolerance blossoms in the Middle East (or not)
'Chief rocket coordinator for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank of Israel' wants to defeat 'Israeli army full of gay soldiers.'
- Chairman of Oregon Christian Coalition is an admitted child molester
'The longtime leader of the Oregon Christian Coalition and staunch opponent of gay rights in the state admits in a newly released police report that he sexually touched three underage girls years ago, despite denials of such behavior to a newspaper.'
- Border skirmish between Japan and Russia kills a fisherman
'A Russian patrol boat opened fire on a Japanese vessel in disputed waters Wednesday, killing a fisherman and triggering a harsh protest from Tokyo. Moscow reportedly urged Japanese boats to stay out of its waters.'
(AP via sfgate.com)
- Bush exploited terrorism plot for political gain
'LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.
'British officials knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
'In contrast to previous reports, one senior British official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports....
'The official shed light on other aspects of the case, saying that while the investigation into the bombing plot began "months ago," some suspects were known to the security services even before the London subway bombings last year.'
So, just to gather some threads... The Brits wanted to collect more evidence to take to trial and convict these guys, and, presumably, to find more conspirators. Meanwhile, in the U.S., there was this primary election taking place in Connecticut, and the Bush Administration was pressuring for an earlier arrest, though there was, according to this report, no urgency, and though it may have weakened the case British Authorities had against the terrorists. So Bush potentially sacrificed some degree of progress in prosecuting terrorists, in a maneuver which just happened to be politically convenient, distracting domestic press attention from the wholesale shift in voters' attitudes on his supporters in Congress. Talk about wag the fucking dog. This is irresponsible, despicable, craven, reprehensible, and supremely immoral.
- Fundamentalist terrorists attack parade, make bomb threat
'A group of unidentified assailants attacked a gay pride parade in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on Saturday, beating participants and throwing stones and sticks at them, injuring about 15 people, organizers said. The start of the parade was also delayed by some 20 minutes due to a bomb threat made before the event.'
Sad. Tallinn's a pretty city, and seemed pleasant enough, if a bit on the cheap-and-rowdy side, when I was there about a year ago. I wonder whether we will hear the Bush Administration denouncing this act of terrorism. Or is terror only bad when it's used by mostly non-white political enemies of the Administration and its policies, and A-OK when it's for gay-bashing? (Sorry, that was a rhetorical question.)
- US helped plan Israeli invasion of Lebanon?
'The US government was closely involved in planning the Israeli campaign in Lebanon, even before Hizbullah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross border raids in July. American and Israeli officials met in the spring, discussing plans on how to tackle Hizbullah, according to a report published yesterday.'
- Eric Boehlert's cogent analysis of the media propaganda about Lamont
'Beltway mainstay Stuart Rothenberg was in a tizzy that Lamont's win would "only embolden the crazies in the [Democratic] party," the "bomb-throwers." (Like Broder, Rothenberg opted for terror terminology to describe the democratic process unfolding in Connecticut.)...
'But what I think is essential to understanding the Lieberman media phenomena is that, for the most part, the pundits who assailed Lamont's rise during the campaign were the same ones who signed off on the disastrous war in Iraq and now appear spooked that voters in Connecticut finally decided to hold Lieberman, the de facto Democratic co-sponsor of the invasion, responsible for that foreign policy debacle. They're spooked because for the last three-plus years there's been something of a gentleman's agreement that nobody inside the Beltway, whether at the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, or inside the corporate media world, has been asked to pay any sort of professional price for backing the disaster that is Iraq. But suddenly Democrats in the Nutmeg state have decided enough's enough. That's not a trend Beltway insiders want to see spread nationally, which is why so many pundits were eager to marginalize Lamont and his anti-war backers as "crazies" and "elitist" "bomb throwers."'
- Winning hearts and minds: Our Iraq misadventures are causing more Iraqi gays to be brutally killed; UK asylum seekers increase
'Hardline Islamic insurgent groups in Iraq are targeting a new type of victim with the full protection of Iraqi law, The Observer can reveal. The country is seeing a sudden escalation of brutal attacks on what are being called the 'immorals' - homosexual men and children as young as 11 who have been forced into same-sex prostitution.
'There is growing evidence that Shia militias have been killing men suspected of being gay and children who have been sold to criminal gangs to be sexually abused. The threat has led to a rapid increase in the numbers of Iraqi homosexuals now seeking asylum in the UK because it has become impossible for them to live safely in their own country.'
- The melting of Greenland's ice cap is accelerating
'According to the scientists' data, Greenland's ice is melting at a rate three times faster than it was only five years ago....
'According to the researchers, surface melting of Greenland's ice cap reached 57 cubic miles a year between April of 2002 and November of 2005, compared to about 19 cubic miles a year between 1997 and 2003.'
- Rove reportedly calls to offer support to Lieberman. So how much did the Bush Admin. pay Lieberman for his fearless support?
'According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President's political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: "The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do."'
'Independent Democrat' my ass.
- Gays: to teens disenchanted with commitment, we're the only positive role models for getting married?
'Not all messages teens receive about relationships are bleak. Glass has an uncle who's lived with his partner for 25 years; the only married people Glass says he knows are a gay couple who live across the street . But Glass has gotten good advice from his aunt on how to make a relationship work.'
- Lamont defeats Lieberman
'With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Lamont led with 51.79 percent of the vote, to Lieberman's 48.21 percent...
'``They call Connecticut the land of steady habits. Tonight we voted for a big change," Lamont said last night to cheers at his campaign celebration in Meriden. ``Stay the course -- it's not a winning strategy for Iraq, and it's not a winning strategy for America."...
'Turnout topped 40 percent, breaking the state's 36-year-old record for a non-presidential year despite predictions that turnout would be low because the primary was held in the middle of vacation season...
'[Lieberman] said his campaign will offer an alternative to the bitter partisanship that he said has gripped Washington, and described himself as an ``independent Democrat."' That part's funny. Lieberman doesn't seem to believe in partisanship, except when he's acting like a member of the Republican party, and lecturing Democrats, admonishing them not to criticize Bush on the war in Iraq -- which most Americans now oppose. Further, running as an independent and causing the Democrats to lose a seat in the Senate doesn't make you an "independent Democrat," it makes you a not-Democrat. What else have you learned from Karl Rove today, Joe?
- Fidel Castro temporarily steps down, for health reasons
'For nearly half a century, the CIA and Cuban exiles in Miami have been trying to assassinate Fidel Castro but have never been able to remove him. Today came the news that the world's longest-serving leader was, at least temporarily, relinquishing power to his brother, Raul, because of ill-health caused by an "intestinal crisis" necessitating an operation.
'Raul Castro, the 75-year-old first vice-president and armed forces minister, has been cited as the likely successor to his brother for years.'
Don't we have laws against assassinating heads of state?
- Mel Gibson, allegedly a drunken bigot
'The report forwarded to prosecutors cites Gibson as making disparaging comments about Jews, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
'[TMZ.com] reported that Gibson said, "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew?"'
In case anybody wasn't sure, after the Passion of the Christ, that this homophobic son of a Holocaust-denier was a bigot.
Note to Israel: perhaps, with those airstrikes over Lebanon, you guys are going after the wrong folks.
(AP via sfgate.com)
- Violence begets violence: 30-year-old man, angered over U.S. mid-east policy, shoots up Jewish charity
'Haq, a U.S.-born Muslim, told authorities he was angered by the war in Iraq and U.S. military cooperation with Israel. According to a statement of probable cause, Haq told a 911 dispatcher: "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East."...
'Haq's parents are devastated and struggling to understand how their son strayed from the teachings of Islam, [family friend Muhammed] Ullah said.'
- Navy plane kills Canadian
'A Grumman TBM World War II Navy airplane taxied up behind a homebuilt R.V.6 and as it caught up with the significantly smaller homebuilt, the Grumman's propeller sliced into the R.V.6. The passenger in the side-by-side seat R.V.6 was pronounced dead at the scene while the pilot of the aircraft was not injured, authorities said.'
- "I call that being totalitarian"
Or, undercover cops infiltrate antiwar group, attempt to instigate violence, claim it's all about stopping terrorism, when it's really about silencing dissent. Can we all admit that the tactics of those in power across this nation are, in fact, fascist after all, and reek of what we in the U.S. used to rail against, when they were used by Eastern European countries, third-world dictatorships, or other totalitarian regimes? Can we face up to the terror that our leaders are now inflicting on those of us who still believe in free speech, in the U.S. Constitution, in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Or should we all just take some more Prozac and relax?
- The "we embrace discrimination" ruling from the Washington Supreme Court
This is worth reading (particularly in contrast to the ruling when the SJC in Massachusetts legalized equal marriage rights here), just to see the contortions the majority justices had to go through to come up with reasons to forsake their constitutional duty to stop discrimination. Marriage is for procreation, so gays can't marry. Except that marriage for non-procreating straight people is okay, and we're going to ignore the fact that gays can procreate, too. Um. Marriage is for straights, because, historically, it has been for straights, and that's what all the other courts are saying lately. Except for MA and VT, which we'll ignore, because to do otherwise would require us to support equality. Um. This is totally unlike Loving v Virginia, which discounted the tradition argument we're relying on, because miscegenation was okay by the time that was decided by the Supreme Court, because the state courts had already mostly overturned anti-miscegenation laws, setting aside the tradition argument, just as MA and VT have already in this case. But we won't do that, because this is different. It just is - don't ask why. Um. And Lawrence v Texas was different, because even if there's a fundamental right to privacy regardless of whether you're in a discriminated-against class, there's no fundamental right to marry the adult you love. Because I said so.
Read this. And, if you live in Washington State, be very, very ashamed.
- Washington State says "No" to equality
Constitution twisted, distorted. Notion of equal rights laughed at. Ruling, paraphrased: "Everyone else says the courts shouldn't discourage legal discrimination these days, so we won't, either (we're ignoring Massachusetts.)"
- On-site safety officer for I-90 Big Dig connector warned superiors that ceiling tile design that failed last week wasn't safe, was ignored
'The on-site safety officer for the Interstate 90 connector directly warned his superiors at contractor Modern Continental Construction Co. that the tunnel ceiling could collapse because the bolts could not support the heavy concrete panels, and feared for his conscience if someone died as a result...
'Keaveney, in an interview last night, said that after he raised the concern, his superiors... told him, "'John, this is a tried and true method,'" he recalled. He also raised the concern in person with Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff officials in subsequent conversations, but they said simply that they were doing the work to design specifications and that the ceiling would hold.'
- 'Sen. Specter Readies Bill to Sue Bush'
'"We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.'
(AP via sfgate.com)
- 'President George Bush's [signing statements]... a violation of the constitution and a danger to democracy'
'The American Bar Association, an independent lawyers' organisation, issued a report on President Bush's prolific use of "signing statements" and found he was using them to create unconstitutional loopholes to laws passed by Congress.
'The ABA found that the president used signing statements to make more than 800 challenges to congressional legislation, 200 more than all previous US presidents put together. Signing statements have been issued since the nation's founding but they have traditionally served a ceremonial function, extolling the virtues of the legislation just signed.'
- "In the name of Judaism?"
'As a child of Holocaust survivors I always wanted to be able in some way to experience and feel some aspect of what my parents endured, which, of course, was impossible...
'It was not until I lived with Palestinians under occupation that I found at least part of the answers to some of these questions. I was not searching for the answers; they were thrust upon me. I learned, for example, what sheer terror looked like from my friend Rabia, eighteen years old, who, frozen by fear and uncontrollable shaking, stood glued in the middle of a room we shared in a refugee camp, unable to move, while Israeli soldiers tried to break down the front door to our shelter. I experienced terror while watching Israeli soldiers beat a pregnant woman in her belly because she flashed a V-sign at them, and I was too paralyzed by fear to help her...
'Within the Jewish community it has always been considered a form of heresy to compare Israeli actions or policies with those of the Nazis, and certainly one must be very careful in doing so. But what does it mean when Israeli soldiers paint identification numbers on Palestinian arms; when young Palestinian men and boys of a certain age are told through Israeli loudspeakers to gather in the town square; when Israeli soldiers openly admit to shooting Palestinian children for sport; when some of the Palestinian dead must be buried in mass graves while the bodies of others are left in city streets and camp alleyways because the army will not allow proper burial; when certain Israeli officials and Jewish intellectuals publicly call for the destruction of Palestinian villages in retaliation for suicide bombings, or for the transfer of the Palestinian population out of the West Bank and Gaza; when 46 percent of the Israeli public favors such transfers and when transfer or expulsion becomes a legitimate part of popular discourse; when government officials speak of the "cleansing of the refugee camps "; and when a leading Israeli intellectual calls for hermetic separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the form of a Berlin Wall, caring not whether the Palestinians on the other side of the wall may starve to death as a result.'
- Judge refuses to dismiss EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for spying on citizens
'A federal judge in San Francisco refused [yesterday] to dismiss a privacy-rights group's lawsuit against AT&T for allegedly cooperating in illegal government electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens, and flatly rejected the Bush administration's claims that such litigation threatens national security.
'"Dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security,'' Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said in a 72-page ruling denying dismissal motions by both the federal government and AT&T....
'Allowing private parties to claim that their rights were violated by the company's role in the program would not expose state secrets or assist terrorists, Walker said...
''"AT&T's assistance in national security surveillance is hardly the kind of 'secret' that . . . the state secrets privilege (was) intended to protect or that a potential terrorist would fail to anticipate,'' said Walker, who was named to the federal bench by Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, in 1989.
'While other lawsuits have been dismissed on the grounds that they would inevitably expose state secrets, Walker said, none of them involved claims of "ongoing, widespread violations of individual constitutional rights.''
'He also rejected AT&T's claim that customers lacked legal standing to sue because they would be unable to show that the federal government had monitored their calls. The gist of the suit is that the company "has created a dragnet'' that illegally diverted the customers' communications to the government and violated their rights, Walker said.'
This is sounding more and more like Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain. We are talking about the American government spying on American citizens, right? Where are the impeachment proceedings for violating the Bill of Rights? Or are we back to a pre-1776 mentality?
- 55% of the U.S. House of Representatives want to amend the Constitution to discriminate against gay people
What more can I add? Politicians so woefully out-of-touch they still support the war in Iraq are pushing for this amendment pandering to a position fewer and fewer Americans support each year. Meanwhile, the U.S. state with the lowest divorce rate is the only one where gay marriage is (for now) legal. Draw your own conclusions about the sanctity of marriage.
- California considers constitutionality of "separate but equal" for marriage
'The state "is simply maintaining the definition of marriage as it has always been,'' said Deputy Attorney General Christopher Krueger.'
Well, that's a lie. Marriage has, historically, been constantly changing. Are wives chattal in the 21st Century? Are dowries the norm now? Can slaves in the U.S. marry in the 21st Century? Can interracial couples marry? Can men have multiple wives, or concubines, as they did in the Bible, or in 19th-Century Utah? What about divorce? The concept of "marriage as it has always been" is meaningless, and anyone who employs that phrase is either ignorant of history, or trying to mislead his audience.
'At the same time, he said, California is "committed to providing equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples'' by granting registered domestic partners most of the same rights available to spouses under state law.'
Well, again, "equal" means... equal. I thought we as a nation had already determined that "separate but equal" was, by definition, not equal at all. Besides which, "most of the same rights" certainly doesn't sound like equality to me.
The appeals court heard (and appears to have rejected) arguments that marriage was an institution whose purpose was procreation: 'Those arguments were challenged by Justice J. Anthony Kline, who noted that neither California nor any other state denies marriage to couples who have been sterilized or are too old to have children.'
All of the marriage opponents' arguments, of course, ignore the study just out that concluded marriage equality bans actually hurt children. As much as they might claim it is, their motivation in this battle is not really about the kids at all.
At any rate, this is a good article, and worth reading if you want to get a sense of the arguments that the court hears from both sides. I think it's important for progressives to understand the extent of the duplicity and what I would term "lies" that marriage-haters employ:
We hear the usual conservative appeals to a fictional, perfect 1950s moment, which they erroneously claim encompasses all of "history" and "tradition."
We hear so-called conservatives make ignorant claims about how the courts and legislature have interacted in the past, as defined in the Constitution. They're really not conservative at all, since they want to fundamentally change the role and power of the court system -- at least, when it's opportune. They also carefully avoid making references to Loving v Virginia, or Brown v Board of Education, where the courts were what removed inequality in the law.
We hear their willful ignorance of how marriage has been changing even amongst heterosexuals, and their insistence that straights-only marriage is just for the welfare of children, which has no basis in fact. Scientific studies have *repeatedly* demonstrated that being raised by same-sex couples doesn't harm children at all, and a new study shows that marriage inequality *does* harm children.
Most galling to me, we hear them claim that "equal" doesn't really mean "equal": they would have us believe that "most of the same rights" in a separate but un-equal system should be "equal" in the eyes of the law. This is the same mind-set that brought us "freedom isn't free." The descent into Orwellian double-speak is chilling.
This is what we as a progressive nation are up against: radical activists who deeply hate the constitutionally-defined tripartite nature of our government, and, while frequently citing their supposedly deeply-held morals, must rely on lies and mischaracterizations to construct anything resembling a logical argument to support their discrimination. If one were to employ Occam's Razor to attempt to find the root of their motivation, one would conclude that it's not the children; it's not the role of the courts or the legislature; it's not the fallacy of a concrete, unchanging definition of marriage. I think the only thing left is nothing less than bigotry, which they want enshrined in law and precedent, no matter the cost to the children they always claim to be fighting for, or to the Constitution they ignore, or to the workings of our government. Turning bigotry into law, for them, is more important than all of that.
- Novak hides treasonous administration source
Novak acknowledges he IDd administration sources for Fitzgerald, but won't go public with one of them. Who's the third WH traitor?
'In a column to be published today, Novak said he told Fitzgerald in early 2004 that White House senior adviser Karl Rove and then-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow had confirmed for him, at his request, information about CIA operative Valerie Plame. Novak said he also told Fitzgerald about another senior administration official who originally provided him with the information about Plame, and whose identity he says he cannot reveal even now.'
- One of the Signs of the End Times: NY Times Editorial makes sense
'New York's highest court has harmed both the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and its reputation as a guardian of individual liberties by denying same-sex couples the right to marry...
'The ruling involved some twisted legal reasoning. Judges on both sides agreed that marriage is a fundamental right entitled to the highest level of constitutional protection. But the majority decision, written by Judge Robert S. Smith, an appointee of Gov. George Pataki, said this fundamental right applies only to heterosexuals. It said limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples could be based on a sense that children benefit from being raised by two natural parents, even without any hard evidence to show that.'
- Republican congressman indicates there's another secret extralegal Bush-Administration-spying-on-Americans program
'The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the White House briefed his committee on another "significant" intelligence program only after it was brought to his attention by a government whistleblower...
'"We can't be briefed on every little thing that they are doing," Mr. Hoekstra said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "But in this case, there was at least one major – what I consider significant – activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on. And I want to set the standard there, that it is not optional for this president or any president or people in the executive community not to keep the intelligence committees fully informed of what they are doing."'
- New study in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal: gay marriage bans bad for kids
'A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics is confirming what same-sex marriage advocates have been saying for years: that marriage equality can only help the children of gay parents. The Academy studied all three variations on state-recognized same-sex unions and found that "simply put, same-gender civil marriage harms no one, whereas prohibiting civil marriage for gays and lesbians harms these couples and their children."'
Won't somebody please think of the children?
- Activist NY court to gay families: screw you
'"It is uniquely the function of the Judicial Branch to safeguard individual liberties guaranteed by the New York State Constitution, and to order redress for their violation," [Chief Judge Judith Kaye] wrote [in a dissent]. "The court's duty to protect constitutional rights is an imperative of the separation of powers, not its enemy. I am confident that future generations will look back on today's decision as an unfortunate misstep."'
- Times versus Le Monde Deathmatch!
In which the Times editorializing is shown to be not only illiberal, but juvenile and superficial as well. Shocker!
- Jellyfish-like creatures may move perform carbon sequestration
'In the May issue of Deep Sea Research, scientists report that salps, about the size of a human thumb, swarming by the billions in "hot spots" may be transporting tons of carbon per day from the ocean surface to the deep sea and keep it [sic] from re-entering the atmosphere. Salps are semi-transparent, barrel-shaped marine animals that move through the water by drawing water in the front end and propelling it out the rear in a sort of jet propulsion.'
- 'Bush administration did not have the legal authority' for Gitmo military tribunals, Supreme Court rules
'The case was a major test of President Bush's authority as commander in chief in a wartime setting. Bush has aggressively asserted the power of the government to capture, detain, and prosecute suspected terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
'The high court was ruling on the case of Ahmed Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni native captured in Afghanistan in 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks. He is accused of conspiracy, which his lawyers say is not an internationally approved charge.
'His lawyers argued that President Bush exceeded his authority by setting up military commissions to try terrorist suspects, whom the administration terms "enemy combatants," rather than prisoners of war. The term means the suspects do not have the rights traditonally afforded prisoners of war, as outlined in the Geneva Conventions.'
- US Senate unanimously passes bill to remove Navajo from ancestral homelands in Black Mesa, AZ
- Bush 'Following in Hitler's Goose-Steps'
'From the German point of view and for most EU member states, the United States is philosophically closer to Russia, Iran and China than it is to the democracies that honor and fight for human and civil rights and equality for all. It would appear that Europe learned its lesson from Fascism while America failed to learn enough from Slavery and Segregation....
'Bush has pretty much sidelined Congress, much as Hitler did with the German Parliament. And while there has yet to be any bloodshed or bombings, the net result, impotence, is the same.
'And, if you watched his anti-Gay speech on Monday, it was less about gay rights than it was about courts that disagree with White House policies. Had the Bush view of "activist judges" and the will of the people prevailed in our past, America would be a nation in which most people of color are slaves, where women have neither the right to vote nor control over their own bodies, where Jews would be segregated in ghettos, where the Third Reich would be a world power and where Christianity would be our state religion...
'If anything, Bush is using the gay rights smokescreen to consolidate executive power. Much in the way Hitler did with the Jews.
'At one time in history, the Germans and many other European fascists portrayed the Jews as a species apart, a group of people so aberrant in their behavior as to not deserve the same rights and protections of Christian Europe. Today, our President makes the same case against gay men and women. And he proposes laws in this regard, again following in Hitler's goose steps.'
- George Bush's Pentagon takes another un-American step towards Nazism.
'Washington -- The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to military officials, a step that would mark a potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards....
'However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, Defense officials acknowledged...
'...the move to restore U.S. adherence to Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] was opposed by Vice President Dick Cheney's office and by the Pentagon's intelligence arm, government sources said.'
- More on the so-called liberal New York Times: All the Democrat-smearing news that's fit to print
'How fitting that the profoundly embarrassing newsroom saga of Wen Ho Lee came to close last week with the announcement that five major media companies had agreed to join forces with the federal government and write checks totaling $1,645,000 to the former Los Alamos atomic scientist falsely accused of being a Chinese spy. The checks were written in order to make Lee's problematic civil lawsuit go away. It's ironic, because the unprecedented, seven-figure settlement--feel free to call it hush money--sprang from Lee's accusation that the government and the press had joined forces in 1999 to portray Lee as a treasonous mastermind. In other words, despite what's taught in classrooms about the importance of the press in a democracy remaining independent from the government, the two teamed up to smear Lee in `99, and then had to buddy-up again in 2006 to pay for their sins. It's only fitting...
'Of course, the Wen Ho Lee tale and the Times' wildly over-heated reporting (eagerly hyped by the paper's editorial page, run at the times by Howell Raines) did not spring from a vacuum. Instead, it occurred at the pinnacle of the press corps' Get-Clinton years and fit into a distinct and troubling pattern at the newspaper of record. Recall that the Times embarrassed itself in the 1990s with its now-discredited Whitewater coverage; a story often fed to the Times by anonymous partisan Republican sources. The Times embarrassed itself with an innuendo-heavy Loral investigation that suggested the Clinton White House gave away weapons secrets to the Chinese in exchange for campaign contributions; a story often fed by anonymous partisan Republican sources. The Times embarrassed itself with its one-sided Wen Ho Lee coverage; a story often fed by anonymous partisan Republican sources. And more recently, the Times embarrassed itself with its pre-war WMD coverage; a story often fed by anonymous partisan Republican sources.'
(Eric Boehlert at huffingtonpost.com)
- Brookline, MA Town Meeting asks MA Congresspeople to introduce a resolution to impeach George W Bush
'Whereas, President George W. Bush has repeatedly violated his oath of office by failing to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, in particular by directing and countenancing numerous violations of the Constitution and the Laws of the United States, and by purposely misleading the citizens of the nation so as to cause the United States to commence war in Iraq, therefore be it Resolved, that this Town Meeting urges our Representative in Congress to introduce and/or support a resolution impeaching President George W. Bush...'
- "Ask yourself: What prominent Republican is routinely portrayed in the media as a phony the way Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton are?"
Jamison Foser on the corporate media's double-standard (how Democrats are always deceitful, and Republicans are always honest, plain-talking do-gooders, even when they're not):
'Reporters who offer the excuse that they and their colleagues covered Clinton "scandals" so much because sex sells, and is easily explained and understood, are cherry-picking. They are ignoring the obsessive coverage they gave to Clinton "scandals" that had nothing to do with sex, and that were not widely understood.
'They are ignoring, for example, years of coverage of Whitewater, an obscure land deal in which the Clintons lost money and that was investigated by multiple independent counsels, congressional committees, federal agencies, and every news organization in the country -- none of which found any wrongdoing by the Clintons. Whitewater had nothing to do with sex, and nobody understood it -- probably because there was nothing to understand. And that's not even going into Travelgate, Filegate, Vince Foster's suicide, or the myriad other "scandals" the media covered that did not involve sex.'
'The New York Times -- the same newspaper that couldn't be bothered to report a single word about new evidence suggesting that George W. Bush possessed insider information when he dumped his Harken stock -- this week devoted 2,000 words and a portion of its front page to examining the state of the Clintons' marriage, tallying the days they spend together and rehashing long-forgotten baseless tabloid rumors of a relationship between former President Bill Clinton and Canadian politician Belinda Stronach.
'Rather than ignore or denounce the Times' decision to interview 50 people for a story about the Clintons' private lives, the Washington media elite embraced it, turning the pages of the nation's most influential newspapers into glorified supermarket tabloids. And television, predictably, was worse.
'The Washington Post's David Broder -- the "dean" of the nation's political journalists -- quickly jumped in, suggesting that the Times might have explored the purported Clinton-Stronach relationship in greater detail and declaring the Clintons' private lives a "hot topic" if Sen. Clinton runs for president. As Media Matters detailed, Broder has previously argued that journalists delve too far into the private lives of political figures.'
Ah yes, our so-called liberal media at work. Read the whole thing. The bit about the iPod playlists is priceless, and almost unbelievable.
- Advocate commentator takes the Democratic Party to task for lacking convictions
The subject here is one I've been contemplating a lot lately, and the article is well-written. I agree with it absolutely.
Personally, I cannot continue to support a political party that has repeatedly demonstrated that it will sell me down the river at the first opportunity, in an attempt to curry favor with voters who will never support the party anyway. My impression during the 2004 election cycle was that Howard Dean understood why such a plan -- which John Kerry was busy implementing, to guarantee his loss in the election -- wouldn't work. (I've since spoken to "pro-gay" Republicans who've stated that, had Kerry articulated a pro-gay-marriage position, he would have at least given them something to differentiate his policies from Bush's, and perhaps gotten their votes.) Dean's offensive anti-gay, anti-marriage comments on the 700 Club recently demonstrated that he's as clueless as any DC operative in that regard. In light of that, I can no longer give money or support to the national party, until they find a way to demonstrate that they're not Republicans.
Republican-Lite is not an effective party philosophy. Talking out of both sides of your mouth is not an effective party philosophy. I'm not suggesting that Democrats should talk about their support for gay marriage all the time. Like racism, homophobia is still, unfortunately, a huge problem in this country. I'm saying that Democrats should concentrate on issues that most Americans can agree on, but, when pushed for answers on the divisive ones, should give responses that indicate firm moral principles (e.g., torture is un-American; marriage-discrimination is un-American, just as antimiscegenation was). Articulating such principles, and putting them in the context of personal morals, convictions, and beliefs, would be a tremendous advantage for any politicians able to do so. Voters respect conviction, even if they disagree with it (for example, countless people claimed that was a reason they liked George W. Bush, even when they disagreed with his policies.) The Democratic leadership's utter failure to realize this demonstrates a profound and troubling political naivete. I'm beginning to think resuscitating the party is a lost cause, and progressives' efforts would be better spent forming a new party infrastructure, while supporting progressive Democrats and third-party candidates at the local level, but not supporting or funding the party itself.
Although some Democrats in the Federal and state congresses are effective and principled politicians -- I'm speaking of people like Sen. Edward Kennedy, who voted against the Iraq war, like Congressman Barney Frank, who recently took Massachusetts Democrats to task for failing to adequately support minority candidates, like Pat Jehlen, who's been a local force for good here in the Commonwealth -- all of these have been staunch supporters of gay rights -- the Democratic party itself has failed gay Americans, over and over and over. The party has failed progressives of all stripes, as it has failed disenfranchised Hispanics, blacks, the poor, and the uninsured. A party with no convictions has no future. The Republicans at least worship at the altar of the almighty dollar. The Democrats have nothing. Perhaps it's time for progressives to put their energies and money behind a force that will repay them in kind.
- 'Home sales slow dramatically in April'
'Sales of homes and condominiums plunged in April, the heart of the spring selling season.
'In Massachusetts, 4,142 single-family homes sold last month, a 16.5 percent drop from the same month last year...
'Single-family home sales in April are the lowest for that month since 1995, The Warren Group said.'
- Adjunct prof resigns BC post over Secretary of State's commencement speech
'I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.
'I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation....
'Honestly, Father Leahy, what lessons do you expect her to impart to impressionable seniors?
'That hard work in the corporate sector might gain them a spot on the board of Chevron? That they, too, might someday have an oil tanker named after them? That it is acceptable to lie to the American people for political gain?...
'I cannot, in good conscience, exhort my students to pursue truth and knowledge, then collect a paycheck from an institution that displays such flagrant disregard for both.
'I would like to apologize to my students and prospective students. I would also urge them to investigate the words and actions of Rice, and to exercise their own First Amendment rights at her speech.'
'President Bush’s job-approval rating has fallen to its lowest mark of his presidency, according to a new Harris Interactive poll...
'Roughly one-quarter of U.S. adults say “things in the country are going in the right direction,” while 69% say “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”...
'The Harris poll comes two days after a downbeat assessement of Bush in a New York Times/CBS News poll. The Times, in analyzing the results, said “Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades.”'
'President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections. The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%....
'Bush's fall is being fueled by erosion among support from conservatives and Republicans. In the poll, 52% of conservatives and 68% of Republicans approved of the job he is doing. Both are record lows among those groups.'
- Woeful forecast of the effects of the now-popped real estate bubble
'The message is clear. Five years of superheated price gains rescued America from stock market collapse, put billions in consumers' pockets, and ignited a building boom that bolstered the nation's economy. (To relive the frenzy, see "Riding the Boom.") But it's over. The great housing bubble has finally started to deflate....
'"The buyers' sense of urgency is gone," says Bob Toll, CEO of luxury builder Toll Brothers (Research), who has long been a housing bull. "They see the market going soft, so they stall."...
'Prices will have to come down, and incomes will have to move up. Right now the ratio of home values to incomes in the bubble zones is about 40 percent above its historical average. So the only question is how much of the adjustment will come from rising incomes and how much from falling prices...
'For the past few years the housing boom has driven the economy, adding jobs in construction, remodeling, and real estate services. And consumers gorged on the equity in their homes, taking out a total of $2 trillion via loans, refinancings, and sales over the past five years.
'Those powerful stimulants, which added a full point to annual GDP growth, will soon vanish. If corporate spending or some other force doesn't come along to pick up the slack, we could go into a recession that would cut income growth to zero...'
(from Fortune, via money.cnn.com)
- New residency regulations "facilitate" same-sex relationships across the EU
'New residency regulations that went into effect throughout the European Union Tuesday allow same-sex couples to live anywhere in the region and to have their relationships "facilitated" even in countries that do not have same-sex partner laws. Only five of the EU's 25 member countries have ratified the new requirements, but European justice commissioner Franco Frattini reminded national governments that the law is “immediately applicable,” whether or not it is ratified.'
- 'Bingham's mother gets her wish in Moussaoui case'
'Alice Hoagland, the mother of gay United 93 hero Mark Bingham... did not wish to see Moussaoui executed and become a martyr for his role in the terrorist attacks.
'"Al Qaida, other fundamentalist Muslim groups—even mainstream Muslims—would be tempted to view Moussaoui's death as a martyrdom," Hoagland said. "This man does not deserve that honor."'
- 'Foreclosure activity hits highest level in two years'
'Foreclosure activity across the Bay Area and California ticked up to its highest level in two years in the first quarter as the pace of home price gains slackened, according to a real estate information firm...
'In its quarterly report, La Jolla's DataQuick found that 2,583 notices of default were filed in the nine-county region during the first three months of the year, up 8.3 percent over the first quarter of 2005 and nearly 13 percent over the fourth quarter of 2005...
'In other regions of the state, the increases were much higher. Southern California, for instance, saw a 33 percent jump in notices of default, from 8,330 in the first quarter of last year to 11,102 in the first quarter of this year.
'Still, DataQuick analyst John Karevoll noted that foreclosure activity had been "unnaturally" low for the past several years amid scorching price appreciation. The average quarterly default tally in the Bay Area is just over 4,000. The peak came in early 1996 with 6,830 notices filed.'
- Wired News admits it's all "interpretation and opinion" that, naturally, shills for the GOP
Boehlert, over at HuffPo, does a pretty good takedown on the role Wired played in propagating the "Gore claimed he invented the internet" myth:
'On March 11 1999, Wired's Declan McCullagh posted a nasty article mocking Gore for his little-noticed comments to CNN's Wolf Blitzer that, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet." Inelegant wording perhaps, but Wired treated Gore's statement as an outrageously false claim. (McCullagh later bragged, "I was the first reporter to question the vice president's improvident boast.") To give the story some oomph, Wired downplayed the real role Gore played legislatively in helping shepherd the Internet's commercial applications to life (even Newt Gingrich vouched for that), did not call the Gore campaign for additional comment or explanation, but did include a quote from conservative flak who ridiculed the VP. In fact, the GOP partisan was the only person apparently contacted by Wired for its Gore story.
'The caustic Wired story was quickly picked up by Republicans who, busy planting the Gore-is-a-liar narrative in the press, began the mantra that Gore claimed to have "invented" the Internet. He never did.'
Wired posts comments from readers echoing Boehlert's views -- and some of these readers place possibly undue importance on Wired's role, which as I see it wasn't so much causal ("Wired letting people think Gore claimed he invented the net caused him to lose the Presidency") as symptomatic ("Wired is an example of the systemic failure of the media to offer balanced coverage; instead, like countless other media outlets, it preferred to sensationalize and bend the facts to the GOP's advantage; the net result was a much more negative public impression of the VP amongst people who relied on the faux-media for their news than amongst those who worked hard to keep themselves well-informed.") All the same, I think it's clear they could have done more to clear up the over-the-top comments, exaggerations, and slander made by one of their own, before it turned into a major GOP talking point.
The inelegant and tactless response of Wired News's editor, Evan Hansen, is two-pronged: shirk any responsibility (by saying that Wired News and Wired magazine are different! and that that author doesn't work here any more!), and blame the (non)election all on "Ralph Nader, Florida election officials, the U.S. Supreme Court, democratic strategists and, yes, the performance of the candidate himself."
Hidden in there is the galling statement "Writer Declan McCullagh's interpretation was just that -- interpretation and opinion." I guess Wired News doesn't claim to be "news" any more: gone is the oh-so-pre-9/11 mentality that news media have a duty to present the truth and check their sources. These days, it's all "interpretation and opinion," just like Jesus intented.
- Welcome to the Totalitarian States of America
'President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.'
(from this Sunday's Boston Globe)
Read that a couple times through, and be sure you absorb what it's saying.
Back where I come from, we used to call that a "dictatorship." The man thinks he's not only head of the Executive, but the Judicial (interpreting the Constitution to declare laws valid and invalid) as well, and with the power to ignore anything the Legislative does. But conventional wisdom these days says he doesn't have "Benito," or "Adolf," or "Hugo," or "Fidel" in his name, so he can't possibly be a dictator. Besides, this is America, right, and even if our President meets the dictionary definition of a dictator, it's America, so he can't be one, right?
The print edition contains a nice graph showing the numbers of laws that the last three administrations have challenged, which aptly demonstrates that Clinton was far more "conservative" in that regard than either W or his pappy. But, like I say, it's not those leftist elite liberal dictionaries that define what things mean: if MSNBC says Bush is conservative, he is, gosh darnit.
- It's not fascism if we're not spying on peaceful citizens... Oh, wait, we are.
'The surveillance documents, called TALON reports, were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by SLDN in January and revealed that the Pentagon carried out surveillance of gay and lesbian groups that conducted protests at New York University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. The campus protests denounced the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bars gay, lesbian, and bisexual military personnel from serving openly.'
This isn't news any more, just official confirmation of something which we can all stand to be reminded is going on, in the United States, under the Bush Administration.
- Eames Demetrios's blog
File under "children of modernist icons." Hosted on interfaceflor.com.
- Bush Administration behind push to make illegal immigrants into felons
'So as House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) prepared his border security bill last year, the Justice Department asked him to include a provision making unlawful presence in the U.S. a crime. Sensenbrenner, on the House floor in December, said the idea came from the Bush administration, and an administration official last week, speaking anonymously, confirmed his account.'
- 'Libby Says Bush Authorized Leaks'
'Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media to defend the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq, according to papers filed in federal court on Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case.'
- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is a Democrat with a backbone, and with respect for the history of civil rights that has made this country great
'"Denying people this basic American right is the kind of discrimination that has no place in our laws, especially in a progressive state like Wisconsin. The time has come to end this discrimination and the politics of divisiveness that has become part of this issue."'
No waffling here.
- SF Chronicle profiles Pelosi, painting her as a disciplinarian who enforces Dem. party unity, and might give us a chance to take the House back from the [lying, spendthrift, war-hungry, poor-people-hating] Republican party
'Pelosi presides over the House Democrats not because of her public image but because she has unified her caucus in their opposition to President Bush, seized on GOP disharmony and led her party members to believe they can soon become the majority.
'She is her party's No. 1 money raiser. She is a disciplinarian, who threatens to revoke privileges of members who buck the party line. And she knows how to manage the other 200 egos that constitute the House Democratic caucus.
'Interviews with dozens of members of Congress and their aides portray Pelosi as in command of her caucus because she is a pragmatist who lives and breathes a single quest: to bring Democrats back to power in the House of Representatives.
'...Pelosi made it clear that the perks she controlled -- committee assignments, fundraising visits, assignments to high-profile legislation -- would go to those who had worked hardest for her Democratic team and would be withheld from those who didn't.
'When Brooklyn Democrat Edolphus Towns voted with Republicans on a trade bill, and missed a close budget vote in November, Pelosi told members that she might remove him from his coveted seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Since he had a private meeting with the leader, Towns has not strayed from the party line.
'...In the 1970s and much of the 1980s, when Pelosi arrived in Washington, Democrats had such fat majorities, it didn't matter if 20 or 30 members peeled off to vote with Republicans. When they lost the majority in 1994, House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt did little to enforce party discipline, in part because he believed the party needed to protect its most vulnerable -- and typically its most conservative -- members.
'As they enter the new legislative year, House Democrats are more unified than at any time in at least half a century.'
- Archdiocese fires freelance photographer for publishing photo of Scalia gesturing and making obscene comment in church
'A freelance photographer has been fired by the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper for releasing a picture of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia making a controversial gesture in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sunday. '
'...[T]he archdiocese said there’s no proof that Scalia uttered an obsenity in the church. Smith said Scalia said, “To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” while making the gesture. That’s Italian for (expletive) you [up the ass].'
What's that the Republicans were saying during the Clinton years about the dignity of the office? Does that not apply to the Supreme Court? And I guess the modern-day Catholic Church only cares about politicians telling people to go fuck themselves in church when those politicians are progressive -- and the Church still tries its hardest to bury the truth about the viciousness and obscenity of its reactionary bedfellows.
- SJC rules application of antimiscegenation law to prevent out-of-state gay marriage legal
'[T]he state's highest court ruled today that Governor Mitt Romney and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly had the authority to invoke a 1913 state law that Massachusetts used to block out-of-state gay couples from marrying here when same-sex marriage became legal in 2004.
'The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the 1913 law when it was used to block same sex-couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, because gay marriage is prohibited in those states.
'The court, however, did not rule on the claims of the couples from New York and Rhode Island because state laws there are unclear about whether same-sex marriage is barred...
'The Supreme Judicial Court said the state did not overstep its bounds, though a lawyer for eight lesbian and gay couples from outside Massachusetts had argued in October that the officials had dusted off a 48-word law that had "sat on the shelf unused for decades" in a blatantly discriminatory and unconstitutional ploy.'
What, you thought that whole bit about "equal protection" was for real? Ha ha ha.
- Avie Tevanian to leave Apple
Tevanian has been responsible for much of Apple's OS X in various senior roles at Apple (VP of Software Engineering, Chief Software Technology Officer.) I wonder what effect this will have on the platform.
- 'The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration'
'The presidency possesses no power not granted to it under the Constitution. The powers the current administration seeks in its "war on terror" are not granted under the Constitution. Indeed, they are explicitly prohibited by acts of Congress.
'The Founding Fathers, who always come to mind when the Constitution is in danger, anticipated just such a possibility. Writing in the Federalist Papers, James Madison defined tyranny as the concentration of powers in one branch of the government.'
'More than 100,000 rally in LA for immigrants' rights -- Tens of thousands of immigrant rights advocates from across Southern California jammed downtown to march Saturday in protest of federal legislation that would build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border and make helping illegal immigrants a crime.' (from AP via SFGate.com)
Here's the answer to the question: what do Republicans in Washington have to do for people to finally take to the streets?
This is big.
- 33% - "lowest ever," yet again
'Several recent polls, including the AP-Ipsos poll, have found Bush's approval ratings in the 30s. The Pew poll found Bush's job approval at 33 percent, the lowest ever in that poll.'
That's less than 1 in 3, people. Where's your mandate now?
- 34% - 'All-Time Low' for Bush approval - again!
Deja Vu, or, "How many successive weeks of 'Bush Approvall Ratings Hit All-time Low' do we need before congressional Democrats find a backbone?"
- Bush team's arrogance, violation of Constitution endangers terrorism case in court
'An angry federal judge considered Monday whether to dismiss the government's death penalty case against confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui after a federal attorney coached witnesses in violation of her rules...
'"This is the second significant error by the government affecting the constitutional rights of this defendant and more importantly the integrity of the criminal justice system of the United States in the context of a death case," Brinkema told lawyers outside the presence of the jury.'"
(from ap via yahoo.com)
- Third Infantry Division charged for beating up the gays
'Five Third Infantry Division soldiers are in jail for attacking a man over the weekend. Police say the soldiers beat the man outside a Savannah gay club.
'The beating has left one man a bloody mess, and an entire community looking over their shoulders, wondering if they could be next.
'Now prosecutors in Chatham County are telling the story of five men ganging up on one and leaving him beaten half to death. It happened early Sunday morning in front of Blaine's Back Door Bar on Perry Lane in Savannah.'
But at least the military isn't carrying out witch-hunts against a whole class of people.
- 'Catholic Church shutters adoption agency to spite gays'
'The Boston archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church announced Friday it would turn its back on children who need homes rather than continue to consider gay parents as equal to straights, as Massachusetts state law demands.'
File under 'Well, at least we don't have witch-hunts like back during McCarthy days.'
'The poll suggests that most Americans wonder whether Bush is up to the job. The survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday of 1,000 people, found that just 37 percent approve of his overall performance. That is the lowest of his presidency.
Bush's job approval among Republicans plummeted from 82 percent in February to 74 percent, a dangerous sign in a midterm election year when parties rely on enthusiasm from their most loyal voters. The biggest losses were among white males.'
(from AP via sfgate.com)
- Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham wins longest sentence ever for a U.S. Congressperson
'"I think what you've done is you've undermined the opportunity that honest politicians have to do a good job," the judge said. "The amount of money involved emasculates prior bribery crimes."'
(from an AP story that skirts around the word 'Republican,' via sfgate.com)
- 'Bush Declares War on Freedom of the Press'
'"This is the first administration that I can remember, including Nixon's, that said we need to think about a law that would put journalists who print national security things up in front of grand juries and put them in jail if they don't reveal their sources," says David Gergen, who served as President Regan's director of communication and also worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses.
'Political scientist George Harleigh, who worked in the Nixon administration, says such use of federal law enforcement authority was illegal when Nixon tried it and still so today.
'"We're talking about a basic violation of the Constitutional guarantee of a free press as well as a violation of the rights of privacy of American citizens," Harleigh says. "I had hoped we would have learned our lessons from the Nixon era. Sadly, it appears we have not."'
- Concentration camps next? Cop reportedly prevents CPR for gay man, who dies
'A small-town police chief was accused in a federal lawsuit Thursday of stopping a would-be rescuer from performing CPR on a gay heart attack victim because he assumed the ailing man had HIV and posed a health risk.'
Welcome to George Bush's fascist America. But it's okay, it's not like one class of people is getting systematically killed by authority figures or anything. Oh, wait.
- West Philadelphia auto shop students build biodiesel sports car
'To Hauger, the soybean-powered car shows what kids — any kids — can do when they get the chance.
'"If you give kids that have been stereotyped as not being able to do anything an opportunity to do something great, they'll step up," he says.
'Stepping up is something the big automakers have yet to do. They're still in the early stages of marketing hybrid cars while playing catch-up to the Bad News Bears of auto shop.
'"We made this work," says Hauger. "We're not geniuses. So why aren't they doing it?"
'Kosi thinks he knows why. The answer, he says, is the big oil companies.
'"They're making billions upon billions of dollars," he says. "And when this car sells, that'll go down — to low billions upon billions."'
- When Democrats Fight Back: Anti-GOP-adoption bill
An Ohio lawmaker points out the utter ridiculousness of GOP-sponsored anti-family, anti-child, anti-gay legislation to ban gay adoption by saying he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The proposed legislation states that '"credible research" shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."'
This is the funniest thing I've read in a while.
- Dolly Parton on her Oscar-nominated song "Travelin' Thru" for trannie movie "Transamerica"
'Dolly Parton has no trouble relating to outsiders. "I've always been a weird, out-there freak myself," she says...
'Growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee, she was used to not being accepted. "My grandfather was a Pentecostal preacher. It was a sin to even pluck your eyebrows, and they thought it was a sin for me to be there looking like Jezebel."
'"Having a big gay following, I get hate mail and threats," she says. "Some people are blind or ignorant, and you can't be that prejudiced and hateful and go through this world and still be happy. One thing about this movie is that I think art can change minds. It's all right to be who you are."'
- 'The Case for Impeachment'
Rep. John Conyers introduced legislation last December "to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment." He did this "To take away the excuse," he said, "that we didn't know." So that two or four or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, "Where were you, Conyers, and where was the United States Congress?" when the Bush Administration declared the Constitution inoperative and revoked the license of parliamentary government, none of the company now present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity, can say that "somehow it escaped our notice" that the President was setting himself up as a supreme leader exempt from the rule of law."'
- 'Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low'
- Bush's latest CBS News polls have him down to 43% in handling terror
I think this is the first time that number has been below 50% since 9/11. We should all be very worried.
(CBS News via Eschaton)
- On why Lisp rocks
'And the reason everyone doesn't use it is that programming languages are not merely technologies, but habits of mind as well, and nothing changes slower.'
- 'Average American Family Income Declines' in 2004
'The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace.
'The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the drop in inflation-adjusted incomes left the average family income at $70,700 in 2004. The median, or point where half the families earned more and half less, did rise slightly in 2004 after adjusting for inflation to $43,200, up 1.6 percent from the 2001 level.'
Remember the good old Clinton years?
- A lot of evidence seems to indicate Cheney was drunk
'According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up....
'"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."
'One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. A memo reportedly written by one agent has been destroyed, sources said Wednesday afternoon.
'If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.
'But we will never know for sure because the owners of the Armstrong Ranch, where the shooting occurred, barred the sheriff's department from the property on the day of the shooting and Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III agreed to wait until the next day to send deputies in to talk to those involved....
'Secret Service officials also took possession of all tests on Whittington's blood at the hospitals where he was treated for his wounds. When asked if a blood alcohol test had been performed on Whittington, the doctors who treated him at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial in Corpus Christi or the hospital in Kingsville refused to answer. One admits privately he was ordered by the Secret Service to "never discuss the case with the press."'
If this is all true, even regardless of what actually happened at the shooting, there is the appearance of a *great* deal of impropriety here, which indicates that the Vice President and his secret service have a great deal of contempt for the intelligence of the American public, and for American ideals like transparent government.
- Things that Make Me Feel 21st-Century: Laser beam teleportation
'A new experiment has now demonstrated “quantum telecloning” – transporting a whole laser beam to two separate places.
'However, the two new beams differed slightly from each other and the original – an inherent difference arising from quantum mechanics, says Sam Braunstein at the University of York, UK, one of the researchers.
'Photons generated simultaneously by the same light source can display a peculiar entanglement if the two photons are sent in different directions. Quantum teleportation takes advantage of this entangled state.
'Quantum mechanics dictates that the entangled photons' properties remain unknown until they are measured – but observing one photon instantaneously determines the properties of its "entangled" partner, no matter how far apart the two are.'
- NH congressional committee says no to anti-marriage amendment
'A legislative committee has voted two-to-one against a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in New Hampshire. The vote Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee in Concord was 14 to seven to recommend that the amendment not be adopted.' (from advocate.com)
- Delay in ruling on whether the antimiscegenation that Governor Romney uses to prevent out-of-state gay marriage in MA will stand
'The state's highest court has waived a self-imposed deadline for ruling whether same-sex couples from other states can marry in Massachusetts. The supreme judicial court in Boston heard arguments on October 6 about a 1913 state law that rules that out-of-state couples cannot get married in Massachusetts if their home states do not recognize such unions.'
- Ann Coulter reportedly commits a voting fraud felony
'Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home - and that could be a big no-no.
'... Here's the sticky part for The Right's Lady Macbeth: She wrote down an Indian Road address instead of Seabreeze on her voter's registration application. And she signed to certify the information as true.
'"She never lived here," said Suzanne Frisbie, owner of the Indian Road home. "I'm Ann's Realtor, and she used this address to forward mail when she moved from New York."
'... No matter, Florida statutes make it a third-degree felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. Lying on a voter's registration can cost up to $5,000 and five years behind bars.
'... "If someone brings us proof that a person falsified a registration, we'll check into it, then refer the matter to the state attorney's office if necessary" [says Elections Chief Deputy Charmaine Kelly.]'
- Greenland's glaciers are speeding to the ocean
'Greenland's glaciers have begun moving faster, almost doubling the rate within the last five years at which they dump ice into the Atlantic Ocean, new satellite images reveal. The data has sparked warnings that experts have underestimated how much sea levels will rise in the future.
'...Rignot's team used satellites to monitor glacier positions and to calculate their velocity. They combined this data with ice thickness estimates to discover Greenland's net ice loss. According to the new analysis, the amount of ice loss due to glacier glacial flow rose from 50 cubic kilometres per year in 1996 to 150 km3 in 2005.
'...The researchers suspect that a rise in air temperatures of 3°C in southeast Greenland caused the loss of ice. They reason that with warmer temperatures, there was more water available to act as a lubricant beneath the glaciers, easing their inexorable slide to the ocean.
'Rignot and his colleagues say that Greenland contributes about 17% of the annual 3-millimetre rise in global sea levels. And they stress that more melting ice from Greenland will bump this number up further.
'The Greenland Ice Sheet covers an area roughly the size of Mexico and measures up to 3 km thick in some places. Scientists have calculated that global sea levels could rise by about 7 metres if the ice sheet melted completely.'
So, we not only breathtaking numbers here, we have yet another positive feedback system, where warmer temperatures accelerate the rate at which glaciers race into the ocean. Great.
- "White House Knew about Levees"
Documentation surfaces that Bush was lying when he said that no one anticipated the levee breach. Not that catching Bush in a lie is unusual or surprising...
'In all, 28 federal, state and local agencies reported levee failures on Aug. 29, according to a timeline of e-mails, situation updates and weather reports — a litany at odds with the Bush administration's contention that it didn't know the extent of the problem until much later. At the time, President Bush said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
'After the levees gave way, thousands of people were left stranded on rooftops and hundreds died of the flooding and its aftermath.
'Democrats say the new documents raise questions about whether the government moved quickly enough to rescue storm victims from massive flooding.
'The White House has barred some top advisers and staffers from answering Senate investigators' questions about the administration's response, saying that certain discussions and documents must remain confidential. But Brown, who quit FEMA shortly after the storm and left the federal payroll Nov. 2, is no longer covered by that confidentiality protection.'
- The 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005
'41. Charles Krauthammer
'Charges: Considered an intellectual authority among neocons, Krauthammer, like his colleagues George Will and Tony Blankley, really only presents a passable facsimile of gravitas, substituting vocabulary for intelligence, mischaracterization for argument, and intolerable haughtiness for authority. The fact that this wanton fascist’s opinions are not only considered fit for mainstream consumption, but among the cream of the conservative crop, is a maddening indictment of both the media and conservative movement.
'Exhibit A: Posed a hypothetical scenario involving 9/11 "architect" Kalid Sheikh Mohammed to advocate legalizing torture, when the actual Kalid Sheikh Mohammed was actually tortured without any such legislation.
'Sentence: Lockheed-designed bionic exoskeleton he receives from Dick Cheney in exchange for opposing stem cell research goes berserk, ignoring Krauthammer’s excited protestations as it uses its powerful titanium arms to pulverize his loved ones and donate his life savings to Hamas.'
- Has Libby sold Cheney down the river? Or are there more revelations to come about just how filthy this administration is?
'In a letter to Libby's lawyers, obtained by CNN, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said it is his understanding that Libby testified he was "authorized to disclose information about the National Intelligence Estimate to the press by his superiors."
'The letter does not name who the superiors are. But the National Journal, which first reported on the Fitzgerald letter, named Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House officials as authorizing Libby to disclose the classified material.'
- Senator says Bush broke the law
'Mr. President, last week the President of the United States gave his State of the Union address, where he spoke of America’s leadership in the world, and called on all of us to “lead this world toward freedom.” Again and again, he invoked the principle of freedom, and how it can transform nations, and empower people around the world.
'But, almost in the same breath, the President openly acknowledged that he has ordered the government to spy on Americans, on American soil, without the warrants required by law.
'The President issued a call to spread freedom throughout the world, and then he admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment -- to be free from unjustified government intrusion.
'The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA’s domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.
'The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.
'How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed.'
- Bush administration, Republicans, have a pre-1776 worldview
Senator Feingold: '"This administration reacts to anyone who questions this illegal program by saying that those of us who demand the truth and stand up for our rights and freedoms somehow has a pre-9/11 world view. In fact, the President has a pre-1776 world view. Our government has three branches, not one. And no one, not even the President, is above the law." (from talkingpointsmemo.com)
- President says Bush broke the law
'"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision — we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Carter told reporters. "And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act."
'..."I hope that eventually the case will go to the Supreme Court. I have no doubt that when it's over, the Supreme Court will rule that Bush has violated the law."'
- Possibly-illegal charges against Cindy Sheehan for wearing "2,242 Dead" t-shirt dropped; other t-shirt-wearer wasn't arrested, but then her shirt was pro-war
'Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan said she had just settled into her front row seat in the elevated public gallery surrounding the House of Representatives chamber awaiting President Bush's State of the Union address when a U.S. Capitol police officer noticed her T-shirt.
'"Protester!" he yelled, before he "dragged me out of my chair, pinned my arm around my back, and roughly pushed me up the stairs," Sheehan told The Chronicle Wednesday.
'The Vacaville woman said she was handcuffed, led to a holding cell just outside of the Capitol, transported to two facilities, accused of disorderly conduct and released roughly four hours later.
'The T-shirt read: "2,242 Dead. How many more?"
'Several hundred feet away, Beverly Young, wife of Rep. C.W. Young of Florida -- Republican chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee -- sat down in her seat about six rows from first lady Laura Bush when another officer noticed her T-shirt.
'She also was told to leave the chamber, according to the St. Petersburg Times, and left voluntarily -- then argued once in the hallway.
'"They said I was protesting," she told the paper. "I said, 'Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.' "'
The accounts I've read by Sheehan say she was never offered the option to leave "voluntarily." And now it's all just a misunderstanding, according to the D.C. police chief. Just like it's a coincidence that hate crimes rise under Republican rule.
- Welcome to George Bush's Massachusetts, where teenagers shoot up gay bars
'A teenager armed with a hatchet and handgun opened fire inside a gay bar early Thursday, wounding at least three people in what police are investigating as a hate crime.
'A bartender at Puzzle Lounge told The Associated Press that the young man, dressed all in black, ordered a drink and asked if Puzzles was a gay bar. He finished his drink shortly after midnight, ordered another, then started attacking people, the bartender said.
'Police were searching for Jacob D. Robida, 18, Police Capt. Richard Spirlet said.'
- SF Chronicle reacts to Bush's speech with bemused derision
'President Bush's call for Republicans and Democrats to work together, for America to engage the world and for the nation to quit its addiction to oil will sound to many skeptics like Barry Bonds calling for an end to steroid use in baseball.
'It was not Bush's failure to solve these problems over the course of the first five years of his presidency that required him to highlight them in his State of the Union address, his critics insist; it was Bush's contributions to these problems that elevated each to a matter of significance.
'For Bush to convince an increasingly skeptical public that it should embrace his vision for the nation -- and his agenda for the rest of his presidency -- and to dig his way out from his weak standing in the polls, he will need to demonstrate that his soothing rhetoric is more than just words. Partisanship, stormy international relations and heavy oil consumption have been hallmarks of Bush's tenure thus far.
'... Bush spoke about the need for America to reject "the false comfort of isolationism," using unusually philosophic terms to describe how U.S. leadership in the world is necessary to protect Americans, and spread progress around the globe....
'"It seems like he's arguing with himself,'' said P.J. Crowley, a senior fellow at Center for Democratic Progress and a member of President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff.
'It was Bush's insistence in waging a war in Iraq without United Nation's backing and the U.S. abrupt withdrawal from treaties on global warming, land mines and international justice that prompted international criticism of the administration's unilateralism.
'...Similarly, Bush's call to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil follows five years of promoting U.S. oil production and rejecting calls for conservation.
'...And last year, the administration threatened to veto a Senate energy bill that called for a much less significant reduction in oil consumption -- albeit over a longer period of time -- than Bush called for on Tuesday night.'
- Another connection emerges between the corrupt Bush administration and Abramoff
'The Bush administration's former chief procurement official tipped off lobbyist Jack Abramoff that the government was about to suspend the federal contracts of an Abramoff client, newly filed court papers say.'
(AP via sfgate.com)
- Google screws up UI, collaborates on Chinese government censorship
'"We made a big mistake," Mayer, who oversees all of Google's search products, said Tuesday. "You can't come out and launch a product like Google Video and say 'CSI' and 'Survivor' are there if they're not on the home page."
'The video service has "fallen far short" of competitors such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes music and video offering, said Allen Weiner, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. "What Apple has done with the iTunes store sets the bar really high."
'...Google video won't let consumers play copy-protected shows on portable video devices, including the iPod or laptops that aren't connected to the Internet, Pogue said. That means they can't be viewed on long plane or car journeys.'
'In other Google developments, the company started a search engine in China on Wednesday that censors material about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing... Within minutes of the launch of the new site, bearing China's Web suffix ".cn," searches for the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement showed scores of sites omitted and users directed to articles condemning the group posted on Chinese government Web sites.
'The move has been criticized by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which also has chided Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.com for submitting to China's censorship regime.
'"When a search engine collaborates with the government like this, it makes it much easier for the Chinese government to control what is being said on the Internet," said Julien Pain, head of the group's Internet desk.'
- The James Bond future beckons: Russians announce moon-base to mine fusion fuel
'"We are planning to build a permanent base on the moon by 2015 and by 2020 we can begin the industrial-scale delivery ... of the rare isotope Helium-3," Nikolai Sevastyanov, head of the Energia space corporation, was quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency as saying at an academic conference.'
- Bush Administration imitates Nazis, follows Iran's lead on bigoted policies on UN gay rights work
'(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2006) - In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.
'..."It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic."'
Tell me, again, why you think we're not on the brink of rounding up all the gays, Arabs, and dissidents in the U.S. and sticking them in concentration camps. Our government continues its fascist totalitarian trend (and trust me when I say I use the term very carefully -- how else do you explain us siding with China, Iran, and the Sudan -- and, for that matter, Nazi Germany -- when it comes to gay rights?), ever more openly. It's just a matter of time, thanks to the most America-hating presidential administration in U.S. history.
- Senator Reid on Bush Cronyism and Doublespeak
'Watching the video earlier, I was reminded of another lesson from college, this one taken from George Orwell and his book, 1984.
'In that book, Orwell spoke of "doublespeak" - naming something just the opposite, in order to cover how unpleasant it is in reality.
'As we saw in the video, the President has been giving us doublespeak for years. He utters platitudes about helping Americans, when he's really helping his special interest friends.
'When he wanted to let energy companies release more pollution into the air, he called it the "Clear Skies Initiative."
'When he wanted to give tax breaks to his special interest friends - even though it meant adding more than $50 billion to the deficit, he called it the "Deficit Reduction Act."
'His "Leave No Child Behind Act" is leaving children behind every day because he refuses to fund it. And his new Medicare drug benefit hardly resembles a "benefit" for seniors.
'Tuesday night, it is time for President Bush to end to this pattern of deceit. In his State of the Union, it is not enough for him to declare that the "state of our union is strong."
'America can do better, and only the pessimistic would suggest anything less.
'In his speech, the President needs to tell the American people what he is going to do to end the culture of corruption and lay out solutions that will make America strong.
'The President can start with national security.
'In his 2005 address, the President said: "In the three and half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans."
'It took only seven months and the winds of Katrina to prove he was wrong.
'Americans have heard tough talk from President Bush over the last five years, but the reality is, his policies have made America less safe.
'The President's failed record speaks for itself.'
- Once more, we visit our (ha ha ha ha ha) liberal media...
Wherein we hear CNN calling Cindy Sheehan "a pretty big prostitute" for power and/or money. Because, you know, she's so rich. And powerful. Unlike, say, Dick Cheney, who might as well dry off his car with hundred-dollar bills from Haliburton, after washing it with the blood of American soldiers. Or our sniggering chimp of a President, who giggles at people on death row. Or his mother, who claims evacuation was the best thing that ever happened to all those "underprivileged" Katrina victims. Or Tom DeLay, who claimed there was just no room in the poor army for him to join up and fight in Viet Nam -- see, all the coloreds had joined up first. Or, you know, Jack Abramoff. Nope, none of those people has ever whored themselves out as much as a grieving mother who wanted to hear an answer to the question, "Why did my son go to war?" according to our joke of a media-industrial complex. Fair and balanced my feathered ass.
Remember, next time someone says the words "liberal media" to you without irony, to ask them why they're taking part in a Stalinist scheme of stripping the meaning out of language, thus denying us the mightiest of weapons, rational debate.
- Konica-Minolta to get out of photo business
'Konica Minolta Photo Imaging Inc. has decided to withdraw from the photo business, it said Thursday. The Japanese company plans to exit the film and digital camera markets by March this year and will transfer part of its assets related to digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras to Sony Corp., it said.'
This is pretty sad. The industry's changing quickly -- it was just last week that Nikon said it would cease development of new film cameras. Minolta's made some great stuff: the first SLR I ever owned was a manual Minolta. I've still got it, and, after drops and scrapes and bangs and a lot of abuse it still functions perfectly. I learned to shoot 35mm on my Dad's old SRT-101 which he bought in Japan while he was in the Viet Nam war. That had the easiest-to-use, most intuitive in-camera metering controls I've ever seen, and a fabulous lens that's the equal of any Nikkor I've used. Its in-camera metering was revolutionary for the time. It took some amazing pictures over the years. The shutter still works fine on that, too, though the meter's dead. (I've been shooting some Tri-X with it.)
Some day we'll all be sitting around telling our grandkids how we used to have to capture pictures on plastic coated with chemicals, and how wonderful it all was.
- Feds want Google records of 1 million "random" web addresses -- is yours one of them?
'The case worries privacy advocates, given the vast amount of information Google and other search engines know about their users.
'``This is exactly the kind of case that privacy advocates have long feared,'' said Ray Everett-Church, a South Bay privacy consultant. ``The idea that these massive databases are being thrown open to anyone with a court document is the worst-case scenario. If they lose this fight, consumers will think twice about letting Google deep into their lives.''
'Everett-Church, who has consulted with Internet companies facing subpoenas, said Google could argue that releasing the information causes undue harm to its users' privacy.
'``The government can't even claim that it's for national security,'' Everett-Church said. ``They're just using it to get the search engines to do their research for them in a way that compromises the civil liberties of other people.'''
This is a classic Republican/totalitarian creeping tactic: first they come after what are ostensibly porn sites (just as they go after Arabs in airports). Then they get a few hundred thousand Google Mail records, and hey! Look! Unpatriotic dissent! Let's start some wiretapping!
- James Lovelock on Gaia's Morbid 100,000-year fever
'This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news.
'...before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
'By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us.
'To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys.'
Time to start a new SimEarth session?
- WTC workers dying of respiratory problems
'NEW YORK - James Zadroga spent 16 hours a day toiling in the World Trade Center ruins for a month, breathing in debris-choked air. Timothy Keller said he coughed up bits of gravel from his lungs after the towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. Felix Hernandez spent days at the site helping to search for victims.
'All three men died in the past seven months of what their families and colleagues say were persistent respiratory illnesses directly caused by their work at ground zero.
'While thousands of people who either worked at or lived near the site have reported ailments such as “trade center cough” since the terrorist attacks, some say that only now are the consequences of working at the site becoming heartbreakingly clear.'
Why is the current administration, which ignored warnings about these attacks, not being held accountable?
- Vice President Gore lays out how Bush is destroying the United States Constitution
- Poll shows far more Americans support impeaching Bush than did Clinton, yet our (ha ha ha) liberal media maintain such views are fringe
'By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to consider impeaching President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's approval, according to a new poll commissioned by AfterDowningStreet.org, a grassroots coalition that supports a Congressional investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
'The poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 U.S. adults from January 9-12.
'The poll found that 52% agreed with the statement:
'"If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."
'The strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests. The lack of coverage of impeachment support is due in part to the fact that not a single Democrat in Congress has called for impeachment, despite considerable grassroots activism by groups like Democrats.com (http://democrats.com/impeach).'
- Swampscott contemplates our wind-power future
'To help conquer the energy crunch, Swampscott is the latest community to study harnessing the power of whipping seaside winds.
Selectmen have unanimously approved exploring four windy sites in town to erect a turbine that could pump out up to $800,000 worth of electricity a year.
Construction of a 100-foot wind turbine would cost about $2 million while providing between $700,000 to $800,000 a year worth of electricity, the board was told.'
- Anonymous Sources and Ideological Agendas
This is a good summary of a lot of the issues around the media's use of anonymous sources to advance the sources' agendas. I think it's notable that the end result with a lot of these cases (e.g., Wen Ho Lee, and administration officials' disclosing of Valerie Plame's CIA identity) is that the targets of leaks suffer harm, or baseless legal proceedings against them, or potential loss of life, because of the publication of the sources' accusations; meanwhile, the media is providing a pulpit for the sources, who, as long as they remain anonymous, are protected from any legal action, including libel proceedings.
It's also worth noting that there's a distinction between being a truthful whistleblower trying to act in the interest of the public good, and merely airing information to discredit honest people (Plame), or airing false information (Plame and Wen Ho Lee).
This practice is a pretty big win for anonymous sources with agendas or vendettas, isn't it? If the Constitution gives citizens the right to face their accusers at trial, are the media going against the spirit of the American Constitution by spreading these anonymous, unaccountable accusations -- particularly when, by doing so, they're advancing the political power of the corporate oligarchy?
- Computer languages and "hyper-enthusiasts"
'And of course, who can ignore Rails? The backlash from heavyweight web frameworks has been significant. We now know that EJB 1 & 2 were based on an entirely flawed set of use cases. Because of the damage this (still slowly dawning) realization has wrought to Sun's reputation, it's hard to know whether EJB3, which probably should have been called something else to disassociate it with the failures of its predecessors, will succeed, despite the fact that EJB3 is like a breath of fresh air. You look at the code and it makes sense; no bizzarre and obscure interfaces and concepts to puzzle over while thinking, "I wonder why I have to do this? Well, these guys are clearly smarter than I am." (I tried to understand EJB1, but when I first heard that entity beans didn't actually work, my brain refused to let me invest any more time, which turned out to be the right choice). As a result of all this, someone said "hey, all I want to do is create a database and use it from the web. Why should I do all that work?" As it turns out, such activities seem to be about 90% of all we ever do in "Enterprise" programming, and EJB 1/2 were solving an entirely different problem, and making the 90% incredibly difficult in the process. Thus, the Rails approach of "just connect the database to the web."'
I'm still surprised to be seeing this meme coming from a lot of directions nowadays. It's certainly one I agree with -- after all, I've been saying it since 2001. However, it's also a meme that has elicited some pretty nasty, holier-than-thou war-of-faith reactions from interviewers and self-proclaimed experts. Funny that it's turning into the conventional wisdom now. How long till we see this show up at a Gartner presentation?
- 'Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.'
'It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.
'In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name. Thank Congress for small favors, I guess.
'This ridiculous prohibition, which would likely imperil much of Usenet, is buried in the so-called Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and two years in prison.'
- Good thing we don't have witch-hunts in the military any more: followup
'Private Lawson’s nose was broken and he was later threatened with a knife after a friend revealed during a battalion party in October 2005 that Lawson is gay. While Pierre was originally charged with aggravated assault by civilian police, Fort Huachuca officials have decided not to prosecute the case “for reason fort officials say they are not at liberty to explain,” according to media reports...
'Fort Huachuca officials also continue to refuse to explain why the civilian police recommendation to charge Pierre with felony assault was overruled or to explain discrepancies between their various press statements and the police officer’s account of the incident. Officials have also declined to cite any measures that may have been taken to hold Pierre accountable for the attack, citing privacy laws.
'“The privacy laws cited by Fort Huachuca do not prohibit military officials from explaining an appropriate course of punishment for similar incidents and confirming that punishment in a specific case was consistent with those options,” said Osburn. “The command at Fort Huachuca owes Private Lawson, Congress, and the public an explanation about why an antigay attack appears to have gone unpunished.”'
- More on our (ha ha ha) liberal media and the "All the news that's fit to print on my ass" New York Times
The scary thing about this is it's not so much satire as it is a laundry-list on the current state of the nation.
'Goddamn it. Fuck the New York Times. Those assholes have known for over a year that Bush has been taping our phone calls and we're just finding out about it now? Good thing we weren't making any important decisions 14 months ago. The next person who starts bitching about how hard the so-called "liberal media" is on the president is gonna get a jackboot upside the head. And don't get all excited that the Times finally did get around to telling us about this little caper. They only printed it because they found out they were about to get scooped by their own reporter. All the news that's fit to print on my ass.
'Right, except the government defines "terrorist" as anyone to the left of Ann Coulter. Want more bike lanes? Well, hello, Mr. Bin Laden. Been caught kissing at a protest? You are, I shit you not, a "credible threat" to the country. Hell, they even sent spooks in to infiltrate the Catholic Workers Group because it has, and I'm quoting a government agent here, a "semi-communistic ideology." Since when are the semi-communists dangerous enough to warrant their very own undercover operative?
'Hang on a minute, are we still fighting fucking communism? I thought we won that war. Remember? Reagan said some shit about a wall, and then poof! Eastern Europeans got all hopped up on freedom fries and kicked out the Soviets and their damned secret prisons. Thank goodness for that, too-otherwise where would we have found room for our secret prisons?'
- Cherokee women wed
'The top court of the Cherokee Nation has declined to strike down a gay marriage in what is seen as a pioneering case in American Indian country, the couple and officials said on Wednesday....
'"Members of the Tribal Council, like private Cherokee citizens, must demonstrate a specific particularized harm," the court ruled. "In the present case, the Council members fail to demonstrate the requisite harm."
'Historians say Native American culture before the arrival of European settlers tolerated homosexuality, although the settlers' religious teachings ultimately turned the tribes against it.
'"Since the tribe has become so Westernized and adopted Christian religions and European ways, they strayed away from traditional Cherokee values of indifference," Reynolds told Reuters. "Cherokees are very private where they respect each other and respect how they live."
'[The lawyer for the Tribal Council, Todd Hembree,] said it was also possible that the U.S. government would have to recognize the marriage because of the sovereign status of Indian tribes, which could, in theory at least, make them eligible for federal tax benefits denied to date to gay couples.'
- The press on the hypocrisy of the press
Greg Mitchell is a little surprised how reactionary people are to suggestions of presidential impeachment:
'We got a lot of negative mail about that article, even though we didn't take a position on the matter, but simply pointed out that the "I" word was now being uttered in some surprising places (Barron's magazine?). Certainly, it's no "slam dunk" -- to coin a phrase -- that the president should be impeached...
'Still, it amazes me when people make fun of the very notion that a president under a dark cloud might be asked to leave office, or given a push, in light of the very recent experience involving one William Jefferson Clinton. This seems especially poignant, in light of President Clinton leaving office with an approval rating over 60%, while the current occupant of the White House sits at around 40%. Then there's the perennial debate over the relative demerits of fooling around with an intern vs. fooling an entire country into going to war based on false evidence (and anything else you'd care to add on top of that).'
- GLAD (the folks who brought us marriage equality) moves to stop the anti-marriage, anti-equality ballot initiative
'"The Attorney General simply got it wrong,” said Gary Buseck, GLAD’s Legal Director. “Our state constitution says there can be no citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that `relates to the reversal of a judicial decision.’ This proposed anti-gay, anti-marriage amendment is meant squarely and solely to reverse the decision in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health that ended marriage discrimination in Massachusetts.”' (from 365gay.com)
- Maybe Osama has already won
'One wonders if Osama bin Laden didn't win after all. He ruined the America that existed on 9/11. But he had help.
'If, back in 2001, anyone had told me that four years after bin Laden's attack our president would admit that he broke U.S. law against domestic spying and ignored the Constitution -- and then expect the American people to congratulate him for it -- I would have presumed the girders of our very Republic had crumbled.
'Had anyone said our president would invade a country and kill 30,000 of its people claiming a threat that never, in fact, existed, then admit he would have invaded even if he had known there was no threat -- and expect America to be pleased by this -- I would have thought our nation's sensibilities and honor had been eviscerated.
'If I had been informed that our nation's leaders would embrace torture as a legitimate tool of warfare, hold prisoners for years without charges and operate secret prisons overseas -- and call such procedures necessary for the nation's security -- I would have laughed at the folly of protecting human rights by destroying them.
'If someone had predicted the president's staff would out a CIA agent as revenge against a critic, defy a law against domestic propaganda by bankrolling supposedly independent journalists and commentators, and ridicule a 37-year Marine Corps veteran for questioning U.S. military policy -- and that the populace would be more interested in whether Angelina is about to make Brad a daddy -- I would have called the prediction an absurd fantasy....
'I evidently have a lot poorer insight regarding America's character than I once believed.... I would have expected proud defiance of anyone who would suggest that a mere terrorist threat could send this country into spasms of despair and fright so profound that we'd follow a leader who considers the law a nuisance and perfidy a privilege.'
(from the Miami Herald Online)
- Did Keller and Sulzberger, at that bastion of the so-called Liberal Media, the New York Times, consciously bury a story to ensure that Bush would "win" the 2004 election?
'NEW YORK In an unusually tough column on Sunday, Byron Calame, public editor at The New York Times, called the newspaper's explanation of its decision to hold for over a year its major scoop on the National Security Agency's domestic [spying] "woefully inadequate."
'He also charged Executive Editor Bill Keller and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. with "stonewalling" his attempts to get the readers more information, "despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency."
'...Calame added that he had e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Keller on Dec. 19, and got no response.'
'...The "most troublesome omission" in the newspaper's explanation, Calame observed, "was the failure to address whether The Times knew about the eavesdropping operation before the Nov. 2, 2004, presidential election. That point was hard to ignore when the explanation in the article referred rather vaguely to having `delayed publication for a year.'"'
- Willie Nelson's biodiesel plans
'"The tailpipe smells like French fries. I bought me a Mercedes, and the Mercedes people were a little nervous when I took a brand new Mercedes over and filled it up with 100 percent vegetable oil coming from the grease traps of Maui. I figured I'd be getting notices about the warranty and that stuff. However, nobody said anything."' (from news.aol.com)
- Rep. Barney Frank gives Army Chief of Staff a hard time about endorsing a culture of bigotry
'"I am deeply disappointed by the failure of the Army, which you head, to protect a young man who has been repaid for volunteering to serve his country by being assaulted, and seeing his assailant go unpunished," Frank wrote in a letter to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, chief of staff of the United States Army.
'Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton claims the commanders took "appropriate action" against the assailants although the Army didn't take the case to court. Citing privacy laws, Linton didn't say what specific action was taken. Civilian police have made an arrest, though, and charged a soldier with class 3 felony aggravated assault for punching Lawson in the face [and breaking his jaw.]...
'"Pentagon leaders have failed to keep their promise. The time has come for them to do just that, or for Congress to hold them accountable if they do not,"' said Patricia Kutteles, 'mother of Barry Winchell, an Army private murdered in 1999 by fellow soldiers.'
I was talking with a coworker last week, who'd just seen "Good Night, and Good Luck." He was saying how at least these days we'd made progress: the army wasn't conducting witch-hunts and expelling people whose family relations were rumored to be communists. No, they don't seem to be these days. They're just conducting witch-hunts and murdering people whose sexual relations are rumored to be gay. Totally different. And then the higher-ups are obfuscating their own refusal to reprimand underlings by citing "privacy" concerns.
Let's see: we've got pointless deaths and violence, a distinct lack of transparency in government, government officials who refuse to take responsibility for the agencies they head... This somehow reminds me of something -- like the last five years of the executive branch. The actions and policies of the executive ("protect marriage," etc.) send a clear message of what's acceptable to every part of government, and I think we see the consequences of such messages in anti-gay violence and witch-hunts like this.
- Mac Mini-based mobile robot
I found this via http://www.apple.com/macmini/bigideas.html -- now I want to build one.
- The Post on Bush pressuring newspapers and GOP propaganda via Abramoff
'"When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion," [Leonard] Downie [Jr., The Post's executive editor] says. "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said.'
Wouldn't this sound shocking if we heard about it happening in another nation? "Saddam Hussein sent for newspaper officials multiple times when he heard they wanted to publish stories critical of his administration."
'The admission by two columnists that they accepted payments from indicted Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be the tip of a large and rather dirty iceberg....
'Peter Ferrara of the Institute for Policy Innovation has acknowledged taking payments years ago from a half-dozen lobbyists, including Abramoff. Two of his papers, the Washington Times and Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, have now dropped him. But Ferrara is unapologetic, saying: "There is nothing unethical about taking money from someone and writing an article."'
What? How can people take seriously a press where reporters don't see a conflict of interest when they're paid by a subject of a story or column? Or where a newspaper will bury a story at the behest of its subject?
- Bush has destroyed the US image abroad: Italian judge issues EU arrest warrants for CIA operatives in extraordinary rendition and torture case
'An Italian judge has issued European arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA operatives wanted for the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, a prosecutor said Friday....
'Prosecutors are seeking the suspects' extradition for their alleged involvement in the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr from a Milan street in February 2003.
'The suspects are all described as U.S. citizens.
'Prosecutors have identified one of them as Robert Seldon Lady, a former CIA station chief in Milan who has since returned to the United States....
'Prosecutors allege that Nasr, a cleric believed to belong to an Islamic terror group, was flown from Italy to a military base in Germany before being put on a flight to Egypt, where he was tortured.
'The alleged abduction was purportedly part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terrorism suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval.
'Prosecutors say the abduction was a serious violation of Italian sovereignty that has hindered Italian terrorism investigations.'
- Times reports Bush lied about the scope of the NSA spying on American citizens
'The volume of information harvested from telecommunications data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the paper said, quoting an unnamed official.
'The story quoted a former technology manager at a major telecommunications firm as saying that companies have been storing information on calling patterns since the Sept. 11 attacks, and giving it to the federal government. Neither the manager nor the company he worked for was identified.'
- Impeachment buzz is rising, yet the corporate media refuse to take it seriously
'Newsweek online noted a “chorus” of impeachment chat, and its Washington reporter, Howard Fineman, declared that Bush opponents are “calling him Nixon 2.0 and have already hauled forth no less an authority than John Dean to testify to the president’s dictatorial perfidy. The ‘I-word’ is out there, and, I predict, you are going to hear more of it next year — much more.”
'When chief Washington Post pollster Richard Morin appeared for an online chat this week, a reader from Naperville, Ill., asked him why the Post hasn't polled on impeachment. "This question makes me mad," Morin replied. When a second participant made the same query, Morin fumed, "Getting madder." A third query brought the response: "Madder still."
'Media Matters recently reported that a January 1998 Washington Post poll conducted just days after the first revelation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky asked about impeachment.
'A smattering of polls (some commissioned by partisan groups) has found considerable, if often qualified, support for impeachment. But Frank Newport, the director of the Gallup Poll, told E&P recently that he would only run a poll on the subject if the idea really started to gain mainstream political traction, and not until then. He noted that he had been besieged with emails calling for such a survey, but felt that was a "well-organized" action.'
I'm curious: I want to know about this "well-organized action" to push impeachment polls, because I want to join in. I consider myself fairly plugged-in to Left Blogosphere, and I've heard nothing, so my guess is there is no "well-organized action:" it's just Americans who want a president impeached for shredding the Constitution. But that's just crazy talk these days.
- 'President Bush's claim that he has a legal right to eavesdrop on some U.S. citizens without court approval has widened an ideological gap within his party.'
'But the current debate over using the National Security Agency for domestic surveillance -- which the administration has defended as legal and necessary -- hit a rawer nerve because it pits national-security concerns against a core constitutional right, in this case, the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
'"It seems to me that if you're the president, you have to proceed with great caution when you do anything that flies in the face of the Constitution," said Warren Rudman, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire who has served on a number of government intelligence advisory boards. He calls the administration's surveillance program "a matter of grave concern."
'Since 1978, Congress has required the executive branch to seek warrants through a secret federal court for domestic eavesdropping on foreigners or U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage. Such permission is all but automatic and usually is granted within hours. The court granted warrants at the rate of almost five a day last year -- and rejected none....
'Yet some prominent conservatives reject that argument. Some even have accused the administration of treading on the Constitution and stretching the prerogatives of the presidency to the detriment of balanced government.
'David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, described the spy program as a case of "presidential overreaching" that he said most Americans would reject. Columnist George Will wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that "conservatives' wholesome wariness of presidential power has been a casualty of conservative presidents winning seven of the past 10 elections."
'Bob Barr, a Georgia conservative who was one of the Republican Party's loudest opponents of government snooping until he left Congress in 2003, says the furor should stand as a test of Republicans' willingness to call their president to task. "This is just such an egregious violation of the electronic surveillance laws," Mr. Barr says.
'Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has called the program "inappropriate" and promised to hold hearings early next year. Republicans joining him include centrist Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Sununu of New Hampshire, along with limited-government types like Larry Craig of Idaho.'
(from the Wall Street Journal Online)
- New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies
'Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show....
At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.
Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.'
Does this sound Stalinist yet?
- On the NYT revelations about FISA and Bush's belief in dictatorial power
'[Yoo's memo is] a dense read and a terrifying piece of legal contortionism, but it basically says that the president has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country ... merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And according to the memo, this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world.
'This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.' (from schneier.com)
- Senator on Impeachable Offenses
'On Sunday, December 18, former White House Counsel John Dean and I participated in a public discussion that covered many issues, including this surveillance. Mr. Dean, who was President Nixon's counsel at the time of Watergate, said that President Bush is "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense." Today, Mr. Dean confirmed his statement. This startling assertion by Mr. Dean is especially poignant because he experienced first hand the executive abuse of power and a presidential scandal arising from the surveillance of American citizens.' (from senate.gov)
- Not becoming a totalitarian state my ass: more Stalinist watch-what-you-think Homeland Security spying on U.S. citizens
'A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."
'Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.
'The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said. The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list"... Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
'"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.
'Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. ' (from southcoasttoday.com)
- 'Big Brother Bush / The president took a step toward a police state'
'It appears that the phone and e-mail messages of thousands of Americans and foreigners resident in America have been or are being monitored and recorded by the NSA. Such action is not supposed to be taken without an application to and an order approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Mr. Bush issued an executive order in 2002, months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, removing -- secretly -- that legal safeguard of Americans' privacy and civil rights.... The idea that all of this is being done to us in the name of national security doesn't wash; that is the language of a police state. Those are the unacceptable actions of a police state.' (from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- More Government Spying: The U.S. military spying on protests to don't ask, don't tell? (Rummy thinks there's nothing scarier than a kiss-in.)
'NBC News was able to obtain only eight pages of the 400-page report, but that small portion showed that Pentagon investigators kept tabs on April protests at the University of California, Santa Cruz; State University of New York at Albany; and William Patterson College in New Jersey. A February protest at NYU was also listed, along with the law school's gay advocacy group OUTlaw, and was classified as "possibly violent."...
'The database indicates that the Pentagon has been collecting information about protesters and their vehicles, looking for what they call a "significant connection" between incidents. Of the four "don't ask, don't tell" protests listed, only one—the University of California, Santa Cruz, where students staged a "gay kissing" demonstration—is classified as a "credible" threat.'
- Another guilty verdict in GOP's conspiracy to stop get-out-the-vote drive, firefighters in NH
'A jury convicted a former national Republican official of two telephone harassment charges for his role in a phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats on Election Day 2002....
'In August, the Republican National Committee acknowledged it had spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin with lawyers from a high-powered Washington law firm....
'For nearly two hours on Election Day 2002, hundreds of hang-up calls overwhelmed Democratic get-out-the-vote phone banks and a ride-to-the-polls line run by Manchester's firefighters union....
'The state GOP's former executive director, Chuck McGee, who admitted hatching the plot, has completed a seven-month sentence for conspiracy.'
- Bush admin authorized NSA to spy on citizens, perhaps illegally
'President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.... Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies at George Washington University, said the secret order may amount to the president authorizing criminal activity.' (from washingtonpost.com)
- Congressional Research Service report demonstrates that Bush lied when he said Congress had access to the same intelligence he did
'[T]he President, and a small number of presidentially-designated Cabinet-level officials, including the Vice President (3) - in contrast to Members of Congress (4) - have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods.... The President is able to control dissemination of intelligence information to Congress because the Intelligence Community is part of the executive branch.... Thus, as the head of the executive branch, the President generally is acknowledged to be "the owner" of national intelligence.' (from senate.gov)
- Seniors are in a "political insurgency" against Republicans since last year
'By a 65%-19% margin, Americans age 65 and above disapprove of the performance of Congress; those under 65 are also negative but less lopsidedly, 58%-27%. Moreover, senior citizens say by 47%-37% that they want Democrats rather than Republicans to win control of Capitol Hill. Those under 65 prefer a Democratic victory by a narrower 45%-39% margin.... In the Journal/NBC poll, for instance, Americans under 65 disapprove of Mr. Bush's job performance by a margin of 16 percentage points, while those 65 and above disapprove by a margin of 20 percentage points.' (from the Wall Street Journal online)
- "Under Pressure From KKK, Ford Pulls Ads From Black Media"
'But even a manufacturing company like Ford needs to attract creative people. And creative people - even straight creative people - are unlikely to be attracted to a company that treats its commitment to diversity so lightly. Just as important, Ford needs to understand that companies have an obligation to society that goes beyond the need to appease a vocal minority.' (from holmesreport.com)
- Frank Wright On Beth Woodcome
"One of the most talented, original, and hard-working poets in the country." (from pshares.org)
- Massachusetts health care fraught with long waits to see doctors
The Globe realizes that the perennial excuse for keeping our broken health-care system - that at least in capitalistic corporate health-care, you don't have to wait for appointments - is a myth. They (inaccurately, I think) attribute this mostly to only Boston-area problems. (from boston.com)
- Santiago Court of Appeals strips Pinochet of his immunity
'Gen. Augusto Pinochet was stripped of his legal immunity by an appeals court [in Chile] on Wednesday, allowing his trial in the disappearance of 29 additional dissidents during his 1973-90 dictatorship... The missing dissidents are among 119 who were killed in the early years of Pinochet's rule in a case known as Operation Colombo.... According to an official report, 3,197 people were killed for political reasons during [Pinochet's] dictatorship....'
His defense lawyer is claiming that it's inappropriate to try him because of his failing health. Isn't that a little... baldly hypocritical, given all the people he's on trial for having executed/disappeared/tortured? Failing health vs. killing... hmm...
- Welcome to your robotic future
In which your biological pets clash with their cyber housemates. File under "things that make me feel 21st-Century." (from earlygirl.com)
- Ford stops advertising in gay publications with help of former White House staff?
'Remember how Microsoft had all sorts of suspicious dealings with Ralph Reed at the time it embraced the religious right? Well, now we have Ford embracing bigotry and the deal is worked out by - who? - two senior (former) Bush White House officials. Surprise, surprise.' (from americablog.blogspot.com)
- Support Ford no more
'"We are ending the boycott of Ford," said Donald E. Wildmon, Chairman of [the vehemently homophobic American Family Association]. "While we still have a few differences with Ford, we feel that our concerns are being addressed in good faith and will continue to be addressed in the future."...
'According to a list of demands on AFA's website, the organization insisted Ford and all of its brands stop donating -- whether with cash, vehicles or endorsements -- to homosexual social activities. This includes donations to "gay pride" parades and pride weekend celebrations; homosexual organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and ending all advertising on homosexual websites and other gay media outlets.'
I'm sure it's pure coincidence that, just as the boycott was due to be reinstated, Ford stopped advertising for Land Rover and Jaguar in national gay publications.
- Scott Shields wonders why any Democrat would support John McCain
'Shorter McCain: Kerry's a wimp and Murtha's a dumb, sappy geezer. A stubborn stay-the-courser like McCain apparently can't imagine that fellow veterans like Kerry and McCain might actually be basing their shifts on the reality on the ground in Iraq. I simply can't understand how some Democrats can continue to think John McCain cares one iota about their interests after knives in the back like these.' (from mydd.com)
- Phil Donahue on why his well-ranking show was cancelled
'Remember, I was working for General Electric [the parent company of NBC and MSNBC]. You know, one of General Electric's biggest customers is the Pentagon. Do I know for a fact that that's germane [to my show being canceled]? No, I can't prove this. But I can prove that a memo was certainly leaked to the media in which management said I was presenting a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war…at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity."
'What's surprising to me is that NBC News had been taking surveys to determine what people watched and what people liked. I mean, the news division is doing focus groups to determine what people like? The news division is supposed to gather the news, whether it makes people happy or not. But we've become so corporatized.' (from Time Out New York)
- Nature reports that the Atlantic Gulfstream currents appear to be weakening
'The North Atlantic's natural heating system, which brings clement weather to western Europe, is showing signs of decline. Scientists report that warm Atlantic Ocean currents, which carry heat from the tropics to high latitudes, have substantially weakened over the past 50 years.
Oceanographers surveying the 'Atlantic meridional overturning circulation', the current system that includes the warm Gulf Stream current, report that it seems to be 30% weaker than half a century ago.' (from Nature.com)
This is a really big deal, and, from what I can tell, happening a lot faster than people predicted. If the gulfstream gets wiped out (for example, by a massive chunk of the Greenland ice sheet shearing off into the North Atlantic and melting), New England, the Maritimes, and northern Europe will all get *very* cold.
- Maybe "No man, no problem" wasn't the only time Republicans idolized Stalin
'"It is enough that the people know there was an election. Those who cast the votes decide nothing, the people who count the votes decide everything," is a quote commonly attributed to Joseph Stalin. Below is an article taken off the net proving that the Stalinist voting philosophy has been implemented in America. That Americans still believe their votes are (accurately) counted rather proves that Stalin's assessment of human nature was correct.' (from proliberty.com)
- 'Jane Fonda's War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon by Mary Hershberger'
Funny how, 35 years later, we have many of the same characters using the same lies to make the same bad arguments: "On 2 May 1970, Nixon told his aides that protesters were to be accused of `giving aid and comfort to the enemy'. On 9 May, Nixon's enforcer Chuck Colson told the FBI to send its Fonda files directly to the White House. `What Brezhnev and Jane Fonda said got about the same treatment,' an aide later recalled. Why the obsession? What threat did a pin-up pose? Timing is one clue. May 1970 was when Nixon, having won the presidency promising to draw down the war, expanded it into Cambodia instead. It was a massively unpopular move. Fonda popped up at a moment of maximum political danger, just when the president needed to isolate and destroy his critics....
"She arrived as US bombers appeared to be making preliminary strikes against North Vietnam's system of dikes, which if breached would destroy farmland and starve the population. The Pentagon denied the raids. At a press conference in Paris Fonda presented film proving that they had taken place. That same day, the State Department cancelled its scheduled rebuttal. One of the diplomats laid low by the humiliation was America's UN envoy, George H.W. Bush. `I think that the best thing I can do on the subject is to shut up,' he told the press, after promising them evidence of American innocence." (from London Review of Books)
- Homosex and the Hollywood closet-builders
I remember watching the pilot (I think) for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and noting that there was one guy walking by in a miniskirt uniform. I remembered Gene Roddenberry making some comment about how the future would be inclusive and egalitarian, and how that included gay people -- but then nothing ever came of it: there were no gay regular characters or even guest stars, and then we got Enterprise, aka Bush in Space. For a long time, I hadn't thought about what might have changed to straightwash the future, and then I read this article.
- Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, compares the bigotry of American Christian fundamentalism to Hitler
'The leader of the largest branch of American Judaism blasted conservative religious activists in a speech Saturday... "What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God?"... "We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations," Yoffie said. "Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry."' (from news.yahoo.com)
- Fitzgerald's putting together a 2nd grand jury
'In filings obtained by Reuters on Friday, Fitzgerald said "the investigation is continuing" and that "the investigation will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment" against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.' (from Boston.com)
Tee hee. Come on, 30.
- Bob Woodward told Fitzgerald a source blew Plame's CIA cover to him in 6/03 - and it wasn't Libby?
My money's on Big Time.
- Kerry voted against habeus corpus
I've had enough of the junior Senator from Massachusetts claiming to be liberal while repeatedly voting against the rights and freedoms that make America great. Can we get someone else in office please?
- Medicinal Vinyl LPs
I have nothing more to say.
- Bush really is Reagan's heir
'For those who see Judith Miller's complicity in the lying sprees of the Neocons as a signal of the decline of the New York Times from some previous plateau of objectivity and competence I suggest a review of its sometime defense correspondent Richard Burt in the late Carter years, as Al Haig's agent in place. Burt relayed truckloads of threat-inflating nonsense about the military balance in the Cold War, particularly in the European theater, most of them on a level of fantasy matching the lies Miller got from Chalabi's disinformers and trundled in print. When the Reaganites seized power in 1981, Burt promptly threw down his press badge and went to work.' (from counterpunch.org)
- 36% -- and that's on Fox News
'Today, 36 percent of Americans approve and 53 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president. For comparison, two weeks ago 41 percent said they approved and 51 percent disapproved...' (from foxnews.com) Where's your "mandate" now, bigot? Watching the neocon movement implode is *such* fun...
- 'Congress May Curb Some Patriot Act Powers'
'Under the agreement, for the first time since the act became law, judges would get the authority to reject national security letters giving the government secret access to people's phone and e-mail records, financial data and favorite Internet sites. Holders of such information - such as banks and Internet providers - could challenge the letters in court for the first time, said congressional aides involved in merging separate, earlier-passed House and Senate bills reauthorizing the expiring Patriot Act.' (news.yahoo.com)
- 'Deconstructing Cheney'
James Carroll's damning summary of the VP's history, from yesterday's Globe, is a little shocking. It seems that the media's five-year timidity is still wearing off. 'The 9/11 Commission found that, from the White House situation room, Cheney warned the president that a ''specific threat" had targeted Air Force One, prompting Bush to spend the day hiding in the bunker at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska. There was no specific threat. In Bush's absence, Cheney, implying an authorizing telephone call from the president, took command of the nation's response to the crisis. There was no authorizing telephone call. The 9/11 Commission declined to make an issue of Cheney's usurpation of powers, but the record shows it.' (from Boston.com)
- Another instance of the Myth of Liberalism at the New York Times
'The New York Times reported the visit’s principal reason as one where Chalabi could tell the Iranians of his concern regarding their interference in Iraq... Oddly, nowhere can one read of Chalabi’s tough line with Iranians except in the Times; rather, one reads of “increased economic cooperation”, and sees pictures of smiles and handshakes... Chalabi, like the child of feuding divorced parents (U.S. and Iran), knows well how to play them against each other. And the New York Times, even without his darling Judith Miller, remains the paper of choice to disseminate his propaganda.' (from huffingtonpost.com)
- Carter pounds Bush
'Carter acknowledged that both he and Bush proclaim their Christian faith as part of their governing philosophy, but the similarity ends there.
"I don't have any doubt that he is very sincere about his Christian faith," Carter said of Bush. "There are some differences in interpretation. ... I have a commitment to worship the Prince of Peace, not the prince of pre-emptive war. I believe that Christ taught us to give special attention to the plight of the poor."
Bush, he said, "has committed himself to extol the advantages of the rich."' (usatoday.com)
- The Independent interviews Karlheinz Stockhausen
'When he conducted the 1951 world premiere of Kreuzspiel (Crossplay), a work for oboe, clarinet, piano and percussion, at the Darmstadt summer school for new music, the music so incensed the public that a riot broke out. Stockhausen explains: "A public fight broke out between between Antoine Golea, the French music critic, and Olivier Messiaen. All the predominant composers at the time - including Wolfgang Fortner, Hans Jelinek, Hans Eisler, Boris Blacher, Conrad Beck, Karl Amadeus Hartmann and so on - were all against my music. Golea shouted that I was no musician but a dilettante, while Messiaen insisted that I was a gifted composer."' I would have paid money to see that.
- Why Judy Miller is no First Amendment hero, but rather a propagandist squelching free speech
This is one of the more articulate refutations of the absurd notion that Judith Miller was defending free speech as she helped the White House lie to the country:
'The spirit of a law is more important than the letter, but the reporters who fought to avoid testifying to the grand jury in the investigation that snared Libby upheld neither. They were acting as knowing accomplices to a top White House official's attempt to discredit a whistle-blower. As the indictment makes clear, this was a case in which the reporters had direct knowledge relevant to the commission of a crime perpetrated by at least one top administration aide. "They're the eyewitness to the crime," Fitzgerald said.'
- Bush said Alito wasn't an activist judge. Bush lied, again.
'Alito was also the sole dissenter in 1996 when the appeals court upheld the ability of Congress to prohibit individual ownership of fully automatic machine guns.' So, Alito has no problems overturning laws passed by the Congress. Isn't that the definition of activist judge? Or am I just being silly for not acknowledging that "activist" is Republican code for "not vehemently gay-hating?"
- Seymour Hirsch talks about Fitzgerald and the broader conspiracy involving the Plame-outing treason
'"He's going to save America," Hersh predicted, on the phone from his home in Washington, just days before Fitzgerald announced indictments against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, on Friday.
"Because it's not just about Wilson," maintained Hersh, who, as a New York Times reporter in the late 1960s, first blew the lid off the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and, more recently, exposed abuses at Abu Ghraib, the prison west of Baghdad where U.S. forces engaged in torture and humiliation of prisoners...
"Fitzgerald's going deep. He may just unravel the whole conspiracy," continues Hersh, who might be proven right. While Libby resigned after being indicted for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements, Fitzgerald continues to investigate Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's influential deputy chief of staff.' (from TheGlobeAndMail.com)
- Strange Synchronicity: Tiefenbrun founds Cure Crohn's Colitis
Ivor Tiefenburn, founder of Linn Products, has launched a charity to fund a research team at Oxford, looking for a cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. (I couldn't find a link.) (from theherald.co.uk)
- Bush's popularity continues to fall, and the public (unlike the media) sees him as less ethical than Clinton
'Bush's overall job approval rating has fallen to 39 percent, the lowest of his presidency in Post-ABC polls... By a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.' (from Washingtonpost.com)
- Paul Begala lets rip over "honor and dignity"
'The plain fact is that after a seven year non-stop investigato-rama, no senior
Clinton White House official was ever even charged with wrongdoing. Much less
indicted. Much less convicted. In fact, the highest-ranking Clinton official to
be convicted of wrongdoing in connection with his public duties was the chief of
staff to the Agriculture Secretary... In the first year of George W. Bush's presidency, one major media
figure told my wife and me to our faces that the difference between the Clinton
crowd and the Bush team was that, "They're just better people than you are.
They're more loyal to their President, more patriotic, less self-interested and
ambitious. They're just better people."
Now we learn that these Better People have turned the White House into a criminal
enterprise. And that the purpose of that enterprise was to mislead the country
into going to war. 2,000 Americans killed. 15,000 horribly wounded. $200 billion
gone. And a Muslim world -- and a non-Muslim world, for that matter -- that hates
our guts. Al Qaeda is recruiting terrorists faster than we can kill them. And
there is no end in sight.
But thank God there were no blow jobs. They really are Better People.'
- The Libby Indictment
(PDF from usdoj.gov)
- Libby indicted on 5 felony charges
Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff was indicted today on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements, and perjury. 'The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about CIA official Valerie Plame's identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. The information was classified.' Remember when the Bush administration promised to bring honor and dignity back to the White House? They lied. Remember when Bush and Scott McClellan assured the American public that charges the White House was involved in the leak were ridiculous? They lied. (sfgate.com)
- The Boston housing market finally slowing
'The fall slowdown not only represents a sea change for sellers, who for years have enjoyed multiple offers and higher prices, but also indicates the region's bull housing market is at an end. Real estate agents say a long-predicted market correction appears underway as the gap between the price of housing and peoples' incomes -- now even wider than at peak of the 1980s housing boom -- has become too great to sustain the recent pace of sales and appreciation.' (from Boston.com)
- "The greatest strategic disaster in United States history," and "Worse than watergate."
Arianna reminds us all that no one can ridicule Republican evil-doing like reformed Republicans. 'I'm not saying that Plamegate is the same as Watergate. I'm saying it's worse. Much, much worse. No one died as a result of Watergate, but 2,000 American soldiers have now been killed and thousands more wounded to rid the world of an imminent threat that wasn't.' (from huffingtonpost.com)
- Buckminster Fuller retrospective
'Fuller was, in all things, assiduously unorthodox. He was, Gorman said in a telephone interview, ''a throwback to these people you'd get in the 17th century who would attempt to rebuild all of human knowledge from first principles."' Right on! (from Boston.com)
- Powell's former Chief of Staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, blasts the Bush Administration
'Wilkerson said "we have courted disaster in Iraq, North Korea and Iran" and said that if there is another attack in the U.S. such as a nuclear explosion in a U.S. city "you are going to see the ineptitude of this government."' (another juicy story on Newsday.com)
- Will we ever again have fair U.S. elections when not even the losing party can acknowledge the unfair ones of 2000 and 2004?
'And until the left faces the rot that defines the Democratic Party, there is no hope for a fair election in this country. In other words: those who think the White House can be retaken in 2008, but refuse to face the theft of the vote in 2004, should prepare to be ruled by the likes of Jeb Bush, now and forever... Ohio has a long history as a test market. New products like white bread and spam are brought here first, to see how they'll fly with America at large.' (from commondreams.org)
- This would be a case of the chickens coming home to roost (or, 2%, with a 3% margin of error)
In which MSNBC rightfully savages the Bush administration. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
- "No Paper Trail Left Behind: The Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election"
"In order to believe that George Bush won the November 2, 2004 presidential election, you must also believe all of the following extremely improbable or outright impossible things..." (from projectcensored.org)
- Another Prominent Republican Idicted! DeLay steps down as majority leader
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post. (from Boston.com)
- Pat Jehlen wins!
She won Charles Shannon's seat in the state Senate. Score one for progressive politics at the local level.
- We're all Republican Party strategists now
In which we see how the American public learns from Dear Leader. Make a mistake, then, when those you've wronged demand accountability, blame them for somehow being the cause of the problem; extra points for distracting and confusing the issue by trying to capitalize on a tragedy for your own benefit. (from newyorker.com, without irony, as far as I can tell.)
- Yay! Reid shows backbone, says he'll oppose Roberts
'Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he would oppose confirmation of Chief Justice-nominee John Roberts, questioning Roberts' commitment to civil rights and accusing the Bush administration of stonewalling requests for documents that might shed light on his views.' (from SFGate.com)
- What is this "Dark Lady" you speak of?
The Queerty.com guide to Providence mentions a club I haven't heard of.
- "Vandals target Jehlen lawn signs"
In which no one is surprised to learn that it's the progressive candidate's supporters whose homes are vandalized. (from the Somerville Journal)
- 157 to 39
'A year after the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages went into effect, the Massachusetts legislature on Wednesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban same-sex marriage but legalize civil unions.' (from Advocate.com).
How is this possible in the same America where Bush is president?
'Every now and then most Finns want to get highly intoxicated. This is traditionally and acceptably achieved by drinking too much Koskenkorva - a dry, clear drink and fairly strong at 38% ABV.' (from bbc.co.uk)
- The truth about Rehnquist
'Justice Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of Stanford’s history: “When my father was at Stanford, he could not join any of the social organizations because he was Jewish, and those organizations, at that time, did not accept Jews.” Rehnquist not only benefited in his class ranking from this discrimination; he was also part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be an associate justice in 1971, I learned from several sources who had known him as a student that he had outraged Jewish classmates by goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory that housed the school’s few Jewish students. He also was infamous for telling racist and anti-Semitic jokes.' (from huffingtonpost.com)
- 'Gore airlifts victims from New Orleans'
'Gore criticized the Bush administration's slow response to Katrina in a speech Friday in San Francisco, but refused to be interviewed about the mercy missions he financed and flew on September 3 and 4.
However, Dr. Anderson Spickard, who is Gore's personal physician and accompanied him on the flights, said: "Gore told me he wanted to do this because like all of us he wanted to seize the opportunity to do what one guy can do, given the assets that he has."' (from CNN.com)
Imagine: had we had a president like this, would Katrina have killed so many? No excuses, just action.
- What's that, you say? We don't live in a fascist state where the mass media express only views praising the totalitarian leaders?
In which Fox TV, WNYW 5, bans ads it says are "disrespectful to the office of the president" (from advocate.com)
- What's that, you say? We don't live in a fascist state where the mass media express only views praising the totalitarian leaders?
In which Fox TV, WNYW 5, bans ads it says are "disrespectful to the office of the president" (from advocate.com)
- California Legislature approves gay marriage bill!
'The measure, which passed with no votes to spare, marks the first time that a legislative body in the United States has approved a bill that legalizes gay marriage. Schwarzenegger has not taken an official position on the legislation but has hinted that he would veto it.' (from sfgate.com)
- 'Katrina medical help held up by red tape:
Doctors waiting to treat victims in tax-funded, state-of-the-art unit'
'"We have tried so hard to do the right thing. It took us 30 hours to get here," he said. That government officials can't straighten out the mess and get them assigned to a relief effort now that they're just a few miles away "is just mind-boggling," he said.' (from cnn.com)
- 'The bad idea behind our failed health-care system'
'The issue about what to do with the health-care system is sometimes presented as a technical argument about the merits of one kind of coverage over another or as an ideological argument about socialized versus private medicine. It is, instead, about a few very simple questions. Do you think that this kind of redistribution of risk is a good idea? Do you think that people whose genes predispose them to depression or cancer, or whose poverty complicates asthma or diabetes, or who get hit by a drunk driver, or who have to keep their mouths closed because their teeth are rotting ought to bear a greater share of the costs of their health care than those of us who are lucky enough to escape such misfortunes? In the rest of the industrialized world, it is assumed that the more equally and widely the burdens of illness are shared, the better off the population as a whole is likely to be. The reason the United States has forty-five million people without coverage is that its health-care policy is in the hands of people who disagree, and who regard health insurance not as the solution but as the problem.' (from www.newyorker.com)
- CA Senate approves gay marriage bill; is the future of the Democratic party in local gov't?
'The California senate approved legislation Thursday that would legalize same-sex marriages, a vote that makes the chamber the first legislative body in the country to approve a bill establishing marriage equality for gays and lesbians. The 21-15 vote sets the stage for a showdown in the state assembly, which narrowly rejected a similar bill in June... The vote ran almost exclusively along party lines, with 21 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation, and 14 Republicans and one Democrat voting against it. "The actions of Democrats ensured this victory for California families," said Eric Stern, executive director of Stonewall.' (from Advocate.com).
Why do we have great, progressive Democrats working for equality at the local level, all across the country? We've got progressive Dem. governors across the red-state West, great state reps in MA and NY and CA and MN. Then we've got national-level Democrats like Hillary Clinton and fucking John Kerry, who angrily denounce the progressive base that's showing the only resistance to Bush and his party's violent push for discrimination. What gives?
I think Howard Dean's right: the future of the party, and of American politics overall, is definitely in local politicians who can capture the fanatical zeal of the public. I'm tired of waiting for the Pat Jehlens of the world to replace the Kerrys and Clintons. We need U.S. Senate Dems with balls and ideals, not incompetent apologists for the most currupt presidential administration in national history, who decide to make their bids for the presidency by hiring campaign managers with a perfect record of failures.
- More on the coming economic apocalypse...
'A rash of insider selling in recent months at red-hot homebuilders appears reminiscent of a similar trend right before the technology bubble burst in 2000, Merrill Lynch said Monday.' (from investors.com)
- More reports of Congress and Bush shafting LA, even while people knew the danger of a big hurricane
'[T]he Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.
Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars...
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.' (from editorandpublisher.com)
- DC Politicians declined providing federal aid to LA; now thousands could be dead
'As recently as this summer, Louisiana pleaded for federal help to protect the state's rapidly eroding coastline -- a key natural defense against floods and major storms like Hurricane Katrina -- but the state was rebuffed by an administration and a Congress bent on budget-cutting and reluctant to pay for expensive preventative measures, according to congressional staff and budget-watchers.... Budget watchdog groups and veteran Capitol Hill staff members said it is typical for Congress to reject expensive projects that avoid catastrophe but do not offer an immediate benefit, only to pay out billions in taxpayer money on a disaster that could have been prevented. This time, huge federal tax cuts and the spiraling costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have limited the amount of money Congress can spend on domestic projects, they said' (from Boston.com)
- Americans dissatisfied with Bush, and fed up with Democrats for not offering opposition, says ABC News poll
'Slightly more than half of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with congressional Democrats for not opposing Bush more aggressively.' (from washingtonpost.com)
- Number of Mass residents without health insurance jumped 10% last year
'The number of Massachusetts residents without health insurance jumped about 10 percent last year, surpassing the growth in the uninsured nationally and raising concerns whether climbing private health insurance premiums are shutting out middle-income workers.' (from Boston.com)
- Scotland makes plans for the New Hydrogen Economy
'ScottishPower plans to harness surplus electricity generated by turbines during high winds and convert it to hydrogen gas, which can be stored and used as fuel.
It envisages that urban refuelling stations — selling compressed hydrogen generated by rooftop turbines instead of petrol — could become commonplace across Britain, with the first appearing as early as 2010.' (from timesonline.co.uk)
- Pope says it's the gays that are destroying civilization, but that, still, he should have diplomatic immunity for covering up child rape in the church
'Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.' (from suntimes.com)
- Grain silos as cheap modular housing?
'BOZEMAN, MONT. – On the inside, it's a rustic yet stylish tea room, complete with vintage gas stove, stairs of rough-sawn fir, softly curving walls, and a bathroom with accent lighting. On the outside, it's all grain bin, a hulking mass of glistening steel much like you would find on many farms.
So is this just a quirky experiment in farm architecture or the next wrinkle in environmentally friendly housing?
For some designers, grain-bin conversion may be the next wave in adaptive architecture, with promised applications ranging from homes to guest retreats to refugee shelters.' (article, complete with grammatical errors in the last paragraph, from csmonitor.com)
- The Right? All hypocrites. A U.S. Army Sergeant writes to the guy who ran over memorial crosses put up by antiwar protesters in Crawford
I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.
While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.' (from dailykos.com)
- Commentary in Nature calls to reintroduce lions, elephants, and other large mammals to North America
'Elephants, lions, cheetahs and camels could one day roam the western US under a proposal to recreate North American landscapes as they existed more than 13,000 years ago, when humans first encountered them.
The plan, proposed in a commentary in Nature and co-authored by 13 ecologists and conservation biologists, would help enrich a North American ecosystem that was left almost devoid of large mammals at the end of the Pleistocene period. It would also help preserve wildlife that faces the threat of extinction in Africa and Asia.' (from newscientist.com)
- Pee powered battery!
'The researchers report that with just 0.2 millilitres of urine the battery will provide around 1.5 volts, with a maximum power output of 1.5 milli-Watts.' (from theregister.co.uk)
- Boston's lesbian swans trying to hatch eggs
"Boston's beloved pair of swans -- feted by city leaders, residents, and tourists alike as one of the Hub's most celebrated summer attractions -- are a same-sex couple. Yes, scientific tests have shown that the pair, named Romeo and Juliet, are really Juliet and Juliet." (from boston.com)
- A pair of teenagers performs a C-section on a dead cat, delivering two of its kittens alive
'Kim borrowed a sweater, knife and some cotton swabs from a nearby house.
They decided Monica would do the surgery. She told the newspaper she wasn't sure where to cut, but made an incision into the mother cat's belly and could see the kittens.
She pulled them out and found that two of four kittens were still alive, so she cut their umbilical cords and wiped the mucus from their noses.' (from cbc.ca)
- A new paper studies a trophic cascade, where no wolves means no woods
'Willow trees, riparian willow warblers and beaver dams once were bountiful in an
area near the town of Banff, Alberta, Canada. But once wolves left this area, elk
grew more plentiful, browsing heavily on young willows. Today, there is little
trace of beavers, and sparrows have replaced the warblers in what is now a
grassland meadow.' (from eurekalert.org)
- Tenth Planet Discovered?
'"Get out your pens. Start re-writing textbooks today," Mike Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology, said announcing the discovery.
"The new object is covered in methane ice and lies nine billion miles from earth and it's the farthest object ever discovered to orbit around the sun," he said. "I'd say it's probably one and a half times the size of pluto."' (from rediff.com)
- With the passage of CAFTA, Harken will sue Costa Rica for lost profits if not allowed to drill off its coast
'Upon close examination, one realizes that CAFTA is not
a "free trade" agreement, but a corporate trade
agreement that transforms foreign investment from a
privilege to an inalienable right.
CAFTA is like having a house guest who cleans out your
refrigerator, claims your nicest bed, spends hours in
the bathroom, takes exclusive control of the
television remote control, and then-like Paris
Hilton-demands that you pay for the pleasure of her
company and then writes you off as a business expense.' (from commondreams.org)
- Clearchannel pulls gay bilboard in Cambridge in response to fringe group
5 calls from local anti-gay activists prompted Clearchannel to pull a gay.com billboard that's been towering over Cambridge for ages. I think we can muster more than 5 calls in response.
Media giant Clear Channel plans today to take down a billboard ad featuring two bare-chested men, wrapped in each other's arms and the American flag, after receiving complaints from local activists opposed to gay rights.
Clear Channel received about five complaint calls yesterday, Hoffman said. They were the first protests the company fielded since the billboard went up in early April, he said.
Brian Camenker, director of the Article 8 Alliance, a Waltham-based group working to overturn same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, said people affiliated with his group made the complaints. The activists posted a picture of the Gay.com ad, along with addresses and phone numbers for regional and national Clear Channel offices, on Article 8's website yesterday, he said.
Here's who you can contact if you'd like to let Clear Channel know what you think about their actions.
Clear Channel Communications
Stoneham, Massachusetts (Regional Office)
National corporate headquarters:
2850 East Camelback Rd., Suite 300
Pheonix, AZ 85016
(Paul Meyer, President & CEO)
- More on the relationship between that infamous reporter from the "liberal" New York Times (har har har), Judith Miller, and the Bush administration
'Foer cites military and New York Times sources as saying that Miller's assignment
was so sensitive that Don Rumsfeld himself signed off on it.... According to Kurtz, she wasn't
afraid to throw her weight around, threatening to write critical stories and
complain to her friends in very high places if things didn't go her way.
"Judith," said an Army officer, "was always issuing threats of either going to
the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about
In one specific instance, she used her friendship with Major General David
Petraeus to force a lower ranking officer to reverse an order she was unhappy
about. (Can we stop for a moment and take the full measure of how unbelievable
this whole thing is?)' (from huffingtonpost.com)
- Did Judith Miller reveal Valerie Plame as a CIA operative as payback for undermining the faulty "intelligence" she helped disseminate?
' This version of events has divided the Times into two camps: those who want to
learn everything about this story, and those who want to learn everything as long
as it doesn't downgrade the heroic status of their "colleague" Judy Miller.' (from huffingtonpost.com)
- Parrotes grok "Tea" and "No tea"
In which a Brandeis study ends up with a Gray Parrot who understands the advanced mathematical concept of zero. (from wired.com)
- Canadian Senate OKs bill to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide
Oh, Canada. (from advocate.com)
- seeingtheforest.com - a tactical blog for those of us with principles
I'm always happy to find blogs that concentrate on tactics and positive criticism rather than just fear and outrage. This seems to be a neat one.
- President Bush praises Joe Wilson - no, not that President Bush
'This toughness impressed President George H.W. Bush, who called Wilson a "truly inspiring" diplomat who exhibited "courageous leadership" by facing down Hussein and helping to gain freedom for the Americans before the 1991 war began.'
- Rove - a pathological leaker?
"Rove fired from Bush Sr's '92 campaign over leak to Novak. Karl Rove was fired from the 1992 re-election campaign of Bush Sr. for allegedly leaking a negative story about Bush loyalist/fundraiser Robert Mosbacher to Novak."
- The White House Press Pool - Again with the backbone!
MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.
QUESTION: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.
You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?
- It's not the sex, it's the lying
Wherein the AP collects a few of McClellan's self-contradictions and lies about Karl Rove leaking classified information about the identity of a CIA operative, in violation of Federal law. (from news.yahoo.com)
- Paging Iceland: Time to ramp up that hydrogen economy
"Oil prices hit new record highs above $61 a barrel on Thursday, driven by short-term supply fears as the first hurricane of the season threatened crude production and refinery operations in the Gulf of Mexico. But private warnings also point to a worsening long-term outllook, with Saudi officials saying that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be unable to meet projected western demand in 10 to 15 years." (From ft.com/The Financial Times)
- Is Iraq going to be the base of operations for an invasion of Iran?
'''It became very apparent to me that these 10 divisions were to fight some future war against Iran. It had nothing to do, nothing to do," with taking Iraq over from the Americans and fighting the insurgents.' - "former Pentagon official, journalist, and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie Gelb" (from Boston.com)
- Is George Bush the new Cotton Mather?
- Our press, showing signs of a backbone! When did this happen?
What's next, someone asking McClellan if he's worried about the impeachable offenses of this administration?
- Yay, the propaganda posters have arrived!
in which the MARC commuter train, in DC and Maryland, gets peppered with exhortations to snitch, complete with high-Soviet era graphics. Amerika, we salute you. (Between this and the whole Apple-Intel thing, I'd swear this week was April 1st.) (from artiloop.blogspot.com)
- How the military industrial complex treats whistleblowers
'A Los Alamos lab whistleblower scheduled to testify before
Congress was lured to a bar and then badly beaten in an attack his wife and
lawyer believe was designed to keep him quiet.
Tommy Hook was in a Santa Fe hospital recovering from a fractured jaw and other
injuries, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday. She said the assailants told him
during the attack early Sunday that "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep
your mouth shut."' (from news.yahoo.com)
- Things I Didn't Learn in History Class: the Port Chicago Disaster
"Despite the clear questions about unsafe working conditions and the unequal treatment
of black enlistees compared to their white commanding officers, the case went to
court-martial, and it took the seven white officers less than an hour and a half to
sentence the 50 men to dishonorable discharges and prison sentences of eight to fifteen
years. Apparently their hearts were moved to spare them a visit to the firing squad." (from rotten.com library)
- SupportFord.com and activism
"There is growing conventional wisdom that right-wing attacks have little to no financial impact. Disney enjoyed banner years during a 9-year-long boycott that just ended, as did the seven-month campaign against Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble." (from Commercialcloset.org)
- "I have never read the verse where it says, 'Gay people can't marry.'"
Texas Rep Senfronia Thompson: "When I was a
small girl, white folks used to
talk about 'protecting the
institution of marriage' as
well. What they meant was if people of my color tried to
marry people of Mr. Chisum's
color, you'd often find the
people of my color hanging from
a tree... So...
now that blacks and women have
equal rights, you turn your
hatred to homosexuals, and you
still use your misguided
reading of the Bible to justify
- Google, where are your "Do no evil" principles?
"Dan Senor, the company's new Global
Communications and Strategy VP, has a CV guaranteed
to have Register columnist Otto Z Stern firing a
celebratory fusillade skywards from his compound in
A former Senior Associate at the Carlyle Group, Senor
was briefly Scott McLellan's deputy as White House
spokesman before becoming head of the the Coalition
Provisional Authority in Iraq's information
department." (From theregister.co.uk)
I think we can all agree that anyone with the Carlyle Group is pretty evil.
- The Blade-Runner future has arrived, in Russia
The neighboring space center outlines the regions that have the highest risk of being exposed to space debris several days before every launch. Hunters, mushroom pickers, fishermen and reindeer breeders are all emphatically warned of the dangers of being in the area. They do leave, but afterwards scores of local residents, some equipped with tractors, get into the area to reap little-damaged Soyuz first stages.
- Bill Moyers on the state of journalism
"Without a trace of irony, the powers that be have appropriated the Newspeak vernacular of George Orwell's 1984. They give us a program vowing no child will be left behind, while cutting funds for educating disadvantaged children; they give us legislation cheerily calling for clear skies and healthy forests that give us neither, while turning over our public lands to the energy industry."
- Meme for This Week: If the Commander in Chief isn't commanding, who is?
"Might there be something wrong with protocols that render the president unnecessary when the alarm is going off at his house?"
- Death by Numbers, 2
"In Montgomery County, two precincts recorded a combined undervote of almost 6,000. This is to say that that many people waited to vote but, when their turn came, had no opinion on who should be the president, voting only for lesser offices. In these two precincts alone, that number represents an undervote of 25 percent, in a county where undervoting averages out at just 2 percent. Democratic precincts had 75 percent more under- votes than Republican ones. In Precinct lB of Gahanna, in Franklin County, a computerized voting machine recorded a total of 4,258 votes for Bush and 260 votes for Kerry. In that precinct, however, there are only 800 registered voters, of whom 638 showed up. Once the “glitch” had been identified, the president had to be content with 3,893 fewer votes than the computer had awarded him." (Christopher Hitchens, originally from Vanity Fair)
- Death By Numbers
"Let’s simply ask why the lines were so long and the voting machines so few in Columbus and Cleveland and inner-city and college precincts across the country, especially in the swing states, causing an estimated one-third of the voters in these precincts to drop out of line without casting a ballot; why so many otherwise Democratic ballots, thousands and thousands in Ohio alone, but by no means only in Ohio, recorded no vote for president (as though people with no opinion on the presidential race waited in line for three or six or eight hours out of a fervor to have their say in the race for county commissioner); and why virtually every voter complaint about electronic voting machine malfunction indicated an unauthorized vote switch from Kerry to Bush."
- With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?
Kerry's still an antigay bigot, and too stupid to realize that that doesn't play in the Commonwealth. Remember, every pro-gay-marriage Democrat up for reelection last Fall won. If the party backs down, they'll lose; without principles, without projecting an image of what you stand for and what's different about you, why should people vote for you?
- Yay, more anti-gay discrimination from the Government
"A new rule is in the works that would bar gay men from serving serving as anonymous sperm donors."
- Where's your liberal media bias now?
ABC claims not to show "religious" advertising when the UCC ad promotes diversity, but has no qualms airing the commercials of gay-bashing bigots, Focus on the Family. But, obviously, I'm just being a chicken little when I say Big Media is out to get us.
- Are You Scared, Yet?
In which the State endorses particular religions: "The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled a Virginia county can refuse to let a witch give the invocation at its meetings by limiting the privilege to clergy representing Judeo-Christian monotheism." Remember, governments like ours don't take a single big leap to become fascist; they take many small steps. Aligning the State with a single flavor of religion is one of those steps.
- More on Forced Pregnancy...
"Flores resorted to an abortion using illegal drugs sent to her from Mexico and wound up in jail for four months under a rarely used state law that makes it a crime for a woman to perform an abortion on herself... Prosecutors had considered charging her with murder, sheriff’s reports said."
- "McCarthyism Is Alive and Well"
'Agent Lanham "asked me several times to sign a form about releasing my medical records, and I refused," she says. "That was kind of annoying."'
- Bush's government sending terror "suspects" to Uzbekistan for torture
"Uzbekistan's role as a surrogate jailer for the United States was confirmed by a half-dozen current and former intelligence officials working in Europe, the Middle East and the United States... Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported" (from Americablog.blogspot.com)
- Alabama lawmaker wants to ban books by gays from public school libraries
'"I don't look at it as censorship," says State Representative Gerald Allen. "I look at it as protecting the hearts and souls and minds of our children." Books by any gay author would have to go: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has lesbian characters. Allen originally wanted to ban even some Shakespeare. After criticism, he narrowed his bill to exempt the classics, although he still can't define what a classic is.'
- Microsoft's Christian Coalition Connection
"Ralph Reed is more than a Friend of Bill -- he is a paid GOP consultant, getting $20,000 a month from Microsoft to help shape the software behemoth's image in the global marketplace.
Judging from Reed's past -- he was the former head of the evangelical Christian Coalition -- that means serving up vitriolic viewpoints about gays and lesbians.
Judging from Microsoft's actions -- the company just yanked its support of a legislative bill in Olympia to protect gays -- the Reed brand of insight is shining through." When will people wake up and realize that not only are these guys incompetent at making software that works, they're also evil, helping pay for Bush's runs for the presidency and sending money into the purse of the evil "Christian" Right?
- FBI invoking privacy rights for Osama bin Laden?
" Judicial Watch... announced today that it has obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act (*FOIA*) in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (*FBI*) has invoked privacy right protections on behalf of al Qaeda terror leader Osama bin Laden."
- "Pope Benedict: His role in the Nazi years"
"Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau concentration camp for being a conscientious objector, recalled: 'It was possible to resist and those people set an example for others.' She added: 'The Ratzingers were young and made different choices.'"
- New pope intervened against Kerry in US 2004 election campaign
"German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican theologian who was elected Pope Benedict XVI, intervened in the 2004 US election campaign ordering bishops to deny communion to abortion rights supporters including presidential candidate John Kerry." (from news.yahoo.com)
- The rhetoric of hatred and the coming apocalypse
For anyone wondering why I deplore a church that hypocritically claims to be the source of moral authority on Earth while issuing venom-filled, cloaked calls for violence against gays (which bear a striking similarity to current Republican calls for a cleansing of the judiciary), here's a little context of what the new pope's Führer and his Bushian regime did to us:
"Experiments had been ordered involving living subjects and phosphorus: methods of treating phosphorus burns were to be developed and tested. I must be silent about the effects of this series of experiments, which proceeded with unspeakable pain, fear, blood and tears: for it is impossible to put the misery into words."
"The pink triangles were spurned by all other groups in the concentration camps, and most non-gay survivors even today refuse to acknowledge the existence of their fellow gay prisoners. After the war, homosexuals were denied the reparations given by the German government to other groups, because they were still classified as criminals under German law."
- John Brown, the abolitionist
"'We must show by actual work that there are two sides to this thing and that they can not go on with this impunity,' Brown declared, after watching his fellow-abolitionists quake and tremble in the face of violent pro-slave mobs." Much about Brown and his context seems shockingly contemporary.
- An ode to the dead ringleader of a cult of child-abusing authority figures
"And this man, this soon-to-be saint had written and said that homosexuality is, 'part of a new ideology of evil...'" (from Advocate.com). Look, it's not that I'm anti-Catholic. I'm just opposed to people invoking Jesus Christ to punish those he would have defended -- hypocrites who act like there's a commandment against gay marriage, and ignore the ones against graven idols, or killing, or infidelity, or greed. Wait, I guess that *does* make me anti-Catholic. Hmmm.
- Who said fooling around with Social Security was nutty?
President Bush I, that's who! "I think it's a nutty idea to fool around with the Social Security system." I guess this is up there with "voodoo economics" as Bush II policies that his father has publicly mocked. It's so tough to keep up with what's in style in neocon fantasy-land these days...
- "Judge in California marriage case a Catholic Republican," in which Republicans once again demonstrate that they don't understand the roles of the three branches of government.
When is "a Catholic Republican appointed to the bench by a former GOP governor" a ludicrous judicial activist? When he doesn't agree that a state constitution allows people whose business it isn't to withhold marriage rights from gays and lesbians. With choice quotes like "We do not believe it is appropriate for judges in this setting to overturn the will of the people," they pretty much demonstrate that they think this whole "constitution" thing that lays out how goverment operates is "inappropriate." And they have the nerve to call us progressives and liberals unamerican? wtf??? (from advocate.com)
- If Republicans and Conservatives were really interested in reducing state expenditures, they'd vote for gay marriage?
"The study, released by two national think tanks on Tuesday, estimates that the state [of Connecticut] would save at least $3 million per year and as much as $13 million if same-sex couples could marry... The biggest savings would come from decreasing the number of individuals needing and being eligible for means-tested state benefit programs, thereby saving the state money. Marriage and civil unions mean a spouse's income is included when determining eligibility for state benefit programs." (from Advocate.com)
- Local officials paying attention to the Constitution? Terrifying to those "states-righter" fascists.
"'We have taken an oath to uphold the constitution of Massachusetts,' said Catherine Flanagan Stover, clerk of the town and county of Nantucket. 'The SJC has already said that, within the commonwealth, discriminating against gay and lesbian couples seeking to marry violates the constitution. We believe the governor's orders put us in the position of violating our oath of office. We are asking the SJC to clarify the law so that clerks are not put in that position.'"
- The Warnings of History
"Playing on this new implicitly racial nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations in October, 1933..." Remember, it's okay to compare Hillary Clinton to Hitler, but not Dear Leader. (from commondreams.org)
- NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars
"A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials... that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars, hidden away in caves and sustained by pockets of water... What Stoker and Lemke have found, according to several attendees of the private meeting, is not direct proof of life on Mars, but methane signatures and other signs of possible biological activity remarkably similar to those recently discovered in caves here on Earth." (from space.com)
- Is Our Campaign Contributors Learning How to Ship Weapons of Mass Destruction?
"A Halliburton Co. shipment of radioactive material that landed in New York in October was lost en route to Texas, and was not found until Wednesday, when it turned up in Boston." (from news.yahoo.com)
- More on Guckert
A detailed log on breaks in this story, which dailykos has been doing a great job of coordinating. Remember kids, it's not the sex, it's the [White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan] lying.
- Gannon/Guckert administration fiasco in the Times
The Gannon story (about an uncredentialed "journalist", who appears to have been an administration propagandist, gaining access to White House press events under a pseudonym, spouting virulent anti-gay rhetoric while operating hookup websites, and who also may have been a leak in the whole Valerie Plame affair (remember, when someone in the White House disclosed the identity of an undercover CIA operative as political retribution, in violation of Federal law?)) is starting to show it has legs. (nytimes.com -- I hate registraiton-required sites, but...)
- On Iraqi Elections (and the taken-for-granted hypocrisy of the Right)
"[Congressman Cheney] voted against a resolution calling for the South African regime to release Nelson Mandela from prison and negotiate with the African National Congress, on the ground that Mandela and his organization were terrorists who would establish a Communist dictatorship." Defender of freedom, indeed. (From newyorker.com)
- The Cuddly Menace: My Little Golden Book about Zogg
Hats will conceal budding pineal antennae.
- "Texas teens had more sex after abstinence programs"
So, not only do a lot of these abstinence programs lie ("Abortions cause breast cancer!," "Sex will make you depressed!"), but -- and I know this is a shocker -- teenagers figure out when they're being patronized and react by doing exactly what they're told not to! Who would have guessed!
- On the difference between "what I say," and "what I want."
"The fetishization of true randomness is such a engineering thing to do. True serendipity comes from designing a user experience not calculating an abstract one, and a great algorithm comes from studying humans, not studying math." (from eleganthack.com)
- Cheryl Jacques on the myth of the gay rights backlash
"The lessons of history are clear: Equality cannot wait for a convenient time; society moves toward equality only when challenged to do so. Change does not come through cautious inaction but through principled insistence. A backlash isn't a reaction, it is the surfacing of long-standing resentments and misunderstandings that can only be addressed if brought out into the open." (from Advocate.com)
- Donald Rumsfeld's Dirty Fantasy?
- More on "objective" reporting in our fascist, anti-gay media
Retired Laramie Police Chief Dave O'Malley said the ABC 20/20 crew filming the history-revising special last month on Matthew Shepard left printouts of emails on his dining room table outlining "their pre-conceived focus that this was not a hate crime. [That] this was a drug crime" -- and he's angry. "These guys lied to me." And they lied to the American public. O'Malley refutes ABC's implication that the murderers were on a meth-fueled binge when they killed Shepard, and that it wasn't a hate crime.
- GOP votes to reduce Pell Grant eligibility
Remember in the debates when Bush touted how big a proponent of these grants he was? Well, breaking news: he's an evil liar. Under his distinguished leadership, the GOP-controlled congress voted to reduce eligibility by about 85,000, and reduce grant amounts for 1.2 million other students. Don't hold your breath for his line-item veto. (from blogforamerica.com)
- Bill Moyers' Speech at Pentecost 2004
"What has been happening to the middle and working classes is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual collusion, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that has made an idol of wealth and power, and a host of political decisions favoring the powerful monied interests who were determined to get back the privileges they had lost with the Depression and the New Deal." (from sojo.net)
- Joe Trippi on the future of the Democratic Party
Go read. This is a guy who knows his stuff, and repeats what sane Democrats have been trying to get heard for years.
- Mandate My Ass
Or, the first blog for the new era. Go read filkertom's welcome right now, then browse the rest of the posts so far. This is it, boys and girls -- a blog that doesn't raise my bile by prevaricating, or by insulting progressives, and actually offers a few concrete suggestions and common sense. Check it out.
- ABC News sanitized anti-gay bigotry
The ABS News report Evangelicals to Bush: Payback Time quotes a nutjob saying "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," as evidence that the Christian Wrong merely wants to outlaw gay marriage, rather than silencing the existence of gays in public. Remember people, media apologists for bigotry and implied violence only pave the way for fascism.
- Dedham Company Owns Jet that Carried Al Qaeda Suspects to Be Tortured
"After nearly two years in prison, [one Egyptian suspect who had applied for asylum in Sweden, and claims to have been abused, despite diplomatic assurances given to the Swedish government] was released and cleared of all charges without ever going before a judge."
"'I am appalled and saddened to learn that a company linked to Massachusetts appears to be aiding and abetting the transport of prisoners to foreign nations where they are likely to face torture in violation of the Geneva Convention,' said [Representative] Markey." (from Boston.com)
- Economic 'Armageddon' predicted
"Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley [predicts] America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic 'armageddon.'" I guess it's a good thing we don't have those economically naive Democrats in charge, eh? (from bostonherald.com)
- "Florida Vote Fishy"
"Electronic voting machines in Florida may have awarded George W. Bush up to 260,000 more votes than he should have received..." The issue isn't just whether the Bush administration once again did something criminal: the issue is whether the American people retain the right to cast a meaningful vote, which is crucial to Democracy. (from Wired.com)
- Democrats Elect Reid as Senate Minority Leader
Do Democrats have a clue yet? Signs point to no. I know, let's appoint an anti-choice, anti-free-speech, pro-Republican milquetoast to lead the Senate and spread the word on what the Democratic party stands for. If this kind of thing continues, it's time to start thinking about forming a viable third party. (from nytimes.com -- no registration required.)
- "On the trail of Kerry's failed dream"
Some more evidence that marketing and messaging is the Dems' biggest weakness. "The president's strategists had intended to pursue a tried-and-true strategy: Define your opponent and do it early. Now Kerry himself had handed them the words to do just that." (from Boston.com)
- Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism
"Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each."
- Military tanks disrupt LA anti-war protest
"The tanks 'got stuck at a traffic light,' and that's why they just happened to stop in front of an anti-war protest in the middle of a major US city." (from Americablog)
- Welcome to the Police State
"Some students and parents [at Boulder High School] apparently let the Secret Service and talk-radio stations know they were unhappy with the plan of a trio of students to do a poetry reading of the song [Bob Dylan's Masters of War]."
Because snitching on your neighbors was one of the reasons we were all told to fear the USSR back in the 80s. Because armed G-men visiting and questioning your kids -- about what their fellow students assumed they were going to say -- is, make no bones, impairing freedom of speech and stifling dissent. What ever happened to good old American values -- like freedom, to assemble, from harrassment, of thought and speech? Is 9/11 an adequate excuse to turn the US into one giant Stalingrad?
- Congress must investigate the integrity of the voting process in the 2004 election.
MoveOn is urging people concerned about voting rights to contact their Congresspeople. Ask them to investigate possible voter fraud in Ohio and elsewhere. The more I read about Ohio and Florida, the more I feel like something sketchy went down. The two fundamental ingredients for democracy are a free and accurate press, and reliable voting. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, unless one party has something to hide. Every valid vote must be counted. Every valid vote must be counted. Without that, there can be no democracy.
Remember, Congresspeople give more weight to phone calls and snail mail than to emails and faxes.
- The Ohio Factor: Did Homeland Security and the FBI interfere With the Vote Count?
"In Warren County, Ohio, election officials took a rather unprecedented action on November 2: They locked down the building where the votes were being tallied, blocking anyone from observing the vote counting process. President Bush won 72% of the vote in the county... [In] Ohio's Franklin County... 638 people cast ballots. Yet, George W Bush got 4,258 votes to John Kerry's 260. In reality, Bush only received 365 votes." (from democracynow.org)
Who's totalitarian now?
- Resistance day #8
"A resistance a day keeps fascism away."
- Electronic voting bias in the 2004 elections?
Says Chris: "A lot of nice analysis, and a lot that I'd never heard. Spread it around." (from wikipedia.org)
- That liberal media...
"The New York Times assigned three editors to this story and had it scheduled to
run five days before the election, which would have raised questions about the
president's integrity," until, that is, the paper killed the story. (fair.org)
- Our mighty press corpse
Bush scolds a reporter implying lack of patriotism for asking more than one question of the President: "Again, he violated the one-question rule right off the bat. Obviously, you didn't listen to the will of the people." (from mediamatters.org)
- Homeland Security
"The US Air Force has admitted that it made the
attack, and confirmed that it was an F-16 bomber that
attacked Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in southern
New Jersey late last night." (from theregister.co.uk)
- Bush lied when he just claimed he never said this
In tonight's debate, Bush accused Kerry of making shit up when Kerry quoted Bush saying he wasn't that concerned about Osama bin Laden. Bush lied, as usual, baldfaced and shamelessly, on national television.
- How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power
"George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany." (from guardian.co.uk)
- Kerry's History of Fighting Terrorism vs. Bush's Ties to Terrorist Organizations
A good reality check from washingtonmonthly.com
- Linguistics prof. George Lakoff dissects the "war on terror" and other conservative catchphrases
Sort of a rehash of his earlier writings, Lakoff hammers out some more points about the politics inherent in language use, and how progressives must learn to manipulate language for political gain as the NeoCons have been doing for decades. (from Berkeley.edu)
Just like voting Republican, I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would willingly use Inernet Explorer. Content-light site, but fun reasons not to use IE, and testimonials from (ugly male PC-using) switchers.
- "Cheney breaks rank on same-sex marriage"
On the heels of the Bush girls announcing they're excited to go to a friend's gay wedding, Cheney seems to speak in favor of gay marriage at a campaign stop in Iowa!
"Freedom means freedom for everyone. People ought to be able to free -- ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to."
I should not be the only one embarrassed that the first candidate on a major party Presidential ticket to endorse gay marriage and incur the wrath of the evil Family Research Council is a Republican.
- Another indication the economy has turned the corner?
Well, no, not really. Soaring trade deficits, soaring budget deficits -- it's like the late 80s all over again. And that was not a great time for American workers. Let's get a budget-conscious Democrat back in the White House and get back to Clinton-era wages, people.
- In Alabama, a gay teen reaps what Bush has sown
If the man who pledged to be "a uniter, not a divider," and then told the nation that gay marriage was the greatest threat facing it in 2004, were truly Christian, truly "moral," would he feel responsibility for his words and actions supporting murders like this -- supporting Southern bigots murdering kids, and setting kids on fire? Somehow, I doubt the Republicans will ever apply the label "terrorist" to murdering bigots, as long as they're white and "Christian."
- The United States Constitution
Also, Constitutional Amendments and The Declaration of Independence: I find it a little scary thinking about how difficult it would be to pass these amendments in Congress today. Honestly, who thinks Bush wouldn't veto every frigging one of them?
- The Bush Campaign: Celebrating American Independence by Violating the First Amendment
"Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president." (AP story on Yahoo.com) Hmm. Last I heard, that was illegal -- abridging freedom of speech, right to peacably assemble, and what-not. Guess things are different in 2004 in Bush's America. Let's get this criminal out of Washington.
- Upper Left Scandal Scorecard
A list of "official" GOP scandals. It just goes to show what honest people Republicans are.
- New Media's Age of Anxiety
A one-time Forbers.com editor launches a new media watchdog column on Wired. Some of his logic may be puzzling, but the sentiment seems promising.
- Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune refuses to run ad of two men kissing
Just when you think we're making progress, what with gay marriage and all: 'Two men kissing was clearly meant to be inflammatory. It was not in good taste,' says Ben Taylor, the newspaper's senior vice president of communication (from advocate.com)
- Injudicious Behavior
"Few things can more damage public confidence in apolitical courts than if the principles that guide relations between the presidency and judiciary seem to shift based on the solicitude of judges for the incumbent administration." [leftcoaster.com]
- This is what they meant about bringing "dignity" back to the white house
Angy Cheney tells senator to "F*** off" (Bostonherald.com)
- Bob Barr opposes FMA
"The federal government should not be stepping in and dictating social policy to the states," according to Republican Bob Barr, author of the antigay "Defense of Marriage" act. " You don’t turn to the constitution and amend that sacred document simply to help buttress your argument."
- Gay Old Party: Weld, Swift attend Republican grooms' wedding
Former Governor Bill Weld: "If I had been down (in Washington), I think I would have been testifying on the opposite side [from Mitt Romney, who testified before Congress for an anti-gay amendment this week]"
- Bushisms -- Adventures in George W. Bushspeak
More grammatical and syntactic learning thingamabobs from fearless leader
- "Jimmy Carter explains how the Christian right isn't Christian at all."
Words of wisdom from everybody's favorite president: "First of all, we worship the prince of peace, not war. And those of us who have advocated for the resolution of international conflict in a peaceful fashion are looked upon as being unpatriotic, branded that way by right-wing religious groups, the Bush administration, and other Republicans." Remember when the people we elected -- people able to form coherent sentences -- ended up being president? (www.prospect.org)
- Jamie hosts pictures from our latest party
What's there to say? We had a party. Much drinking ensued. A good time was had by all (I hope.)
- The Bush Administration's View of Compassionate Conservatism
... which seems to be, "We're happy to say, now we can fire you for just being gay!"
- Google's new location search
So far, the results seem too corporate (a search for 'Saab' turns up dealers 50 miles away, but not my local mechanic), and I wish there were a more visual-centric search tool than the clunky results map. Still, an overdue idea (sign an NDA and I'll tell you my better one!) The application of geographic information to searches fascinates me. If only the GIS company I worked for years ago had made it!
- Positive Feedback article on the Audio Classics used hi fi store
Free hi fi comes to the US?
- More Kerry Confusion
"I don't want gays to marry in Massachusetts, but if they do, I'll give them all the federal rights of marriage!" seems to be John Kerry's message these days. Color me utterly confused, and left feeling anxious and cynical about his "actual" position. (link from Advocate.com)
- Kerry backs state ban on gay marriage
A very slightly more detailed account of Kerry's announcement to the Boston Globe, which mentions what had previously been a Kerry puzzler: "Earlier this year, Kerry was the only member of the state's all-Democrat congressional delegation who chose not to sign a letter urging the state Legislature to reject a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage." (from axisoflogic.com)
The blog of one of our good friends. I think he's on crack, but... I am entertained.
- Kerry backs Mass. amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage
Kerry betrays us all by saying he backs an amendment to the state constitution to outlaw gay marriage, as long as it provides for separate yet intrinsically unequal civil unions. Just call him the anti-miscegenation candidate. By the way, vote for Dean or Kucinich or someone who's not a bigot if your primary hasn't happened yet. (link from advocate.com)
- [Democratic] Leaders run from a fight
"The broadside Kennedy delivered on the Senate floor yesterday was aimed at President George Bush for his endorsement of a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but it could just as well have been directed at like-minded legislative leaders in Massachusetts. The question is, why wasn't it?" (from boston.com)
- Google Outrage -- Ask Google Why They Canceled Oceana's Ads
A site bought ads with Google; those ads linked to a site which is trying to pressure Royal Caribbean to change the sewage treatment practices on its ships. Google cancelled the ads, saying they won't run advertisements critical of the cruise industry. This sort of reeks of CBS refusing to run "political" ads -- by which they meant, only left-of-center political ads -- during the SuperBowl. Google has close enough to a monopoly in the search industry to make this a serious issue for those concerned with the future of advertising and information search on the net.
- A Pen Lover's Paradise
This is a pretty neat store for all things fountain-pen-related. I just bought a couple of Pelikano Jrs from them. Good service, pretty wrapping, nifty products.
- Opinions of the Justices to the Senate
The Massachusetts SJC responds to the State Senate request for civil unions. Worth reading for those who would insist that the SJC is overstepping its bounds, and also for those who fear that we have no friends in a bigoted government.
- Broadband for All
Capanina is a program to provide broadband to rural Europe via... Airships! For real!
- Take the fun Bush Quotes quiz
Gain insight from the man who said "And that way it can begin to get its legs, legs of responsibility back."
- "Flight Sim enquiry raises terror alert"
...in which a woman is startled to find state police shining a flashlight through her living room window after she asks at a Staples about buying flight simulation software for her son (from theregister.co.uk)
The world beard championships, where you can see beards that clearly should have been part of the costuming for the original Dune movie.
- Dead iBook Owners Take Protest to Macworld
A good article highlighting some of the quality control issues Apple urgently needs to address
- Why Civil Unions Are Not Enough
"The Massachusetts Supreme Court's Ruling Gives Gays and Lesbians the Right to Marry" A good article pointing out the hypocrisy of those who would deny us marriage. (from FindLaw)
- UC Berkeley professor George Lakoff tells how conservatives use language to dominate politics
"The conservative moral system... has as its highest value preserving and defending the 'strict father' system itself. And that means building infrastructure."
- Margaret Cho Blog
"Basically, you are a refill away from breaking into a Tercel to steal a radio or smoking chunks of plaster board hoping it is crack or shoplifting shit from Saks"
- abstract Deinsea 8-2001 C.W. Moeliker
The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard Anas platyrhynchos
- Eames Collector
About the best site I've seen for links, articles, and pictures about the work of Charles and Ray
- This Modern World (syndicated by LiveJournal.com)
The Tom Tomorrow weblog?
- electric sheep comix
Oh, my fucking god. See such wonders as the Book of Revelations a la Pokemon, and a futurist nympho weblog.
- The Thirty Year Itch
"Three decades ago, in the throes of the energy crisis, Washington's hawks conceived of a strategy for US control of the Persian Gulf's oil." (motherjones.com)
- Greenpeace, the No War blog
- Liberty and justice for... well, never mind.
Your tax dollars at their racist work: "Canadian in Passport Fiasco" - from thestar.com
- Other People's Stories
This is what the web used to be like before corporatism took it over. Fun, weird, touching.
- This Modern World - The Christian Broadcasting Network meets al-Qaida
"There is a clear connection between al Qaeda and the Christian Broadcasting Network" (from Salon.com)
- Price of the 'Liberal Media' Myth
"[T]he national coverage of the civil rights movement could be viewed as the origin of the conservative grievance against the 'liberal media.'" (from consortiumnews.com)
- Piracy is Progressive Taxation
a clear-headed essay on the wrongheadedness of much of the current DRM battles from someone who knows
- President Jimmy Carter's Nobel speech
Imaging our current white house resident attempting to utter even one of these sentences (from salon.com)
- From the Horse's Mouth: "Keep Big Brother's Hands off the Internet"
or, given the hypocrisy of the surprising speaker, perhaps horse's ass is a more relevant term... (from USIA Electronic Journal, Oct 97)
- Bill Moyers on Election 2002
"[I]t is a heady time in Washington a heady time for piety, profits, and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money." From pbs.org
- The airline blacklist grows
Peace activists and Green Party members now among those subjected to harassment at U.S. airports; federal agencies deny existence of list
- Leaving the Autoroute
On the importance of contextualizing one's skills -- by Ms. Information Architecture herself
- Talking to your kids about fascism
It's important, folks. (From counterpunch.org)
- Wired 10.10: Caught in the Kid Porn Crusade
More of John Ashcroft's dirty tricks. It's time that we as a nation decide whether the Bill of Rights applies online.
- The latest Bush hypocrisy
"Gov. Jeb Bush calls for jail time for nonviolent drug offenders as his daughter gets sent to rehab" (from Salon.com)
- Hate Crimes Jump in LA County
In a shocking turn of events, studies indicate that hate-mongering incites violence.
A *very* large page illustrating album covers, and the spoofs they incite. Ah, what we lose by ditching vinyl for CD...
- Steal This Car
"General Motors wants to take its pioneering electric automobiles off the road. But the geeks who drive them won't let go of the steering wheel." (From salon.com)
- Get Your War On
"Oh my God, this War On Terrorism is gonna rule! I can't wait until the war is over and there's no more terrorism!" (from mnftiu.cc) -- this guy should be Gore's 2004 campaign manager
- Evidence of FBI Corruption grows
Knowledge of murders and ensuing coverup went all the way to the top, begging the question: What exactly is the mission of law enforcement in the US?
- FreeBSD Basics at O'Reilly ONLamp.com
Useful documentation about an open source OS? No. I don't believe it. (Most of this applies to Mac OS X.)
- A Bill declaring war on media-giant exploitation
A cool furniture shop in Vermont. We at c75 are getting addicted to modernism. And we like the name.
- Losing (inter)face: Customer Experience and its Discontents
I've been thinking a lot about whether there's societal decline in customer service...
- Restoring the Imperial Presidency
Salon looks at parallels between "executive-branch abuses" under Nixon and Bush II
- Mac OS X Version Control with CVS (on apple.com)
As usual, five months after I complete the painful process of figuring out how to do something, referencing inadequate open source project documentation "efforts", Apple goes ahead and provides a clear, simple document of their own that would have saved me two days of effort, had it been sent backwards through time.
- Anita Bryant reaps what she has sown
Anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant's career and marriage hit the skids after boycotts in the 80's, and today she's being chased by creditors in three states trying to collect over a million dollars in debt
- Mating rituals of the northeastern heterosexual
Wherein readers of a regional newspaper's website (mostly female) submit their catty and hilarious dating horror stories. No wonder no one gets married anymore.
- Using google ads for poetry
A poet subsitutes non-ad messages in google's AdWords feature, and gets banned. Interesting stats on word costs.
Join your peers in collaborative filtration of totally random stuff. Is Stanley Kubrick better than a giant rabbit?
This is what the internet is for.
- CNET backgrounder on travel website rivalries
Antitrust accusations fly. The moral of the story: try airline sites for the best fares.
- Street spam [mirrored]
Herbalife pyramid scam behind 90% of all "work from home" and "loose 30 lbs in 3 weeks" signs, flyers and pamphlets
- The truth is out there?
Georgia rep accuses Bush, Carlyle Group of ties to terrorist attacks
- Cops snooze, domain bought by porn site
Local cybercop also unclear on difference between registrar and domain owner...
- The Institute of Official Cheer
Pining for a simpler time? Nostalgic for decades past? The IOC will shake you out of it. Food, fashion and design viewed through the harsh lens of advertising.
- Need To Know
Wry British weekly with a no-bullshit view of the net. Don't miss Anti-News and the Memepool. Fridays.
- Risks Digest
a.k.a. the ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy's Forum On Risks To The Public In Computers And Related Systems. Since 1985(?), the ACM's Risks list has debated and chronicled the problems created by the interaction of people, computers and machines. Always thought-provoking, with a focus on issues caused by poor architecture and usabilty, and an interest in the fail-safe control systems used by airplanes, trains, and nuclear power plants.
- Adventures in Flash
Is this what happens when you send Russian animators to Japan and make them drop lots of acid?
- excitementmachine.org's 1980 jc penny catalog
Oooh baby. The Western look, Underoos, and those wacky red and white Nike training shoes...
- Toad a la Mode
Let's just call this a topical 'zine.
- Federal disability ruling could hurt people with HIV
"The High Court's reading of the ADA... has produced a result in which an employee who is afflicted with severe carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of her assembly line job is considered too disabled to keep her job but not disabled enough to be covered by the ADA,"
- Design Your Own O'Reilly Cover
Fill out a form and see the O'Reilly Book Cover of your dreams, in fabulous HTML!
- Linn Product Histories
Page of changes and updates to Linn stereo components, broken down by model. Off the Linn list at Topica.
- Unamerican on a Stairmaster
"Rant about capitalism in the gym, and FBI may pay you a visit. A tale of the new police state." (from SFGate)
- Police photograph peace vigil crowd
"Worcester police photographed a peace vigil this week, an act that a participant said may have been done with the intention of intimidating the demonstrators." (from Worcester Telegram and Gazette)
- Freedoms Curtailed in Defense of Liberty
A spoof, but not far from the reality: "In the past, Ashcroft said, efforts by federal agencies to restrict personal freedoms were 'severely hampered' by such factors as the judicial system, the Bill Of Rights, and 'government by the people.'" (From theonion.com)
- The Awful Truth
"Thompson is a walking bullshit detector, exactly the sort of talented person who, you understand immediately, rankles glad-handers and corporate smoothies. She's a hell of a reporter, with contacts and sources honed from years of community reporting but, to be plain, she seems too much like a real person to jibe with the tweaked and coiffed image that has come to define TV journalists." (From salon.com)
- Some cry foul over latest arrests
"Rights advocates worry authorities overstepping bounds" (from MSNBC/Washington Post)
- Rally round the flag?
There are two kinds of patriots: The "God Bless America" kind and the "This Land Is Your Land" kind. I'm the latter. (from salon.com)
- Terrorists are made, not born
In the wake of the Sept. 11 carnage, the major media outlets have been distressingly quick to lay blame, and slow to call for tolerance. Surprisingly, Salon came through with one of the first anti-arab-killing articles on Wednesday. (from Salon)
- When being a gay victim of hijacking isn't patriotic enough
This is something I have yet to see mentioned on any other site -- that there were non-heterosexuals on some of those flights, and that they too left behind spouses and loved ones. CNN, the LA Times, et al. have been straight-washing all such accounts, predictably. I guess mentioning that there are gay people (just as there are muslims and arabs) who died is considered divisive and anti-american by the cretinous news editors. (from advocate.com)
- "The Next Casualty: Bill of Rights?"
Another step down the road to fascism: "Tuesday's explosions were not an hour old before terror pundits such as Anthony Cordesman, Wesley Clark, Robert Gates and Lawrence Eagleburger were saying that these attacks had been possible 'because America is a democracy.'" Well, we'll just have to change that, I guess. (from latimes.com)
- Reports of aryan-style violence in the US
Yet another article at Salon (I know, I know, but CNN has already taken its ra-ra-war, we'll-only-cover-racism-and-violence-when-it's-against-white-christian-people stance), this one about the inflammatory racist sentiment in America right now, from middle-american "christians" "protesting" outside mosques to drunken, bitter, old men trying to run down pakistani women in parking lots (oops, wrong nationality; no matter, I guess -- as far as these people are concerned, they're all brown, so they're all the same.) (From salon.com)
- "Diminished Intelligence"
Another Salon article, this one detailing intelligence failings in warning about the attacks, and one of few I've seen lately mentioning that Bin Laden used to be on the US payroll (from Salon.com)
- Rabbit Wisdom
A sort of pictorial rabbit-log. In Japan. With good pictures. (Link is to google translation -- original is here)
Another design/furniture store. Because, hey, consumerism is fun.
- Current World Nuclear Arsenals
Breakdown of nuclear weapons capacity by country (from Center for Defense Information)
- US admits losing nuke
"A NUCLEAR bomb, 100 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima, is lying 10km off the east coast of the United States" according to newly-declassified documents. (From theaustralian.news.com.au)
- Abridged Dictionary of the TMRC Language
The words defined in this dictionary are the property of the Tech Model Railroad Club of M.I.T. and all rights to use and define these words are strictly reserved.
- The Jargon Lexicon
Definitions of both common and obscure-east-coast-elite-intelligentsia hacker terms. Like "foo."
- The Bush Dyslexicon
according to media scholar Mark Crispin Miller's scathing new book, The Bush Dyslexicon, to conclude merely that Bush is dimwitted would be a grave mistake. The President's linguistic fumbles, argues Miller, mask a deep and shrewd political vindictiveness. (From thenation.com)
- Major media coverage of the Genoa summit
"After a police officer shot Carlo Giuliani in the head, Time magazine published a requiem of sorts -- explaining that the 23-year-old Italian protester pretty much got what he deserved" (from fair.org)
- The rigged missile defense test
"The target destroyed in the 'successful' defense shield test contained a global positioning satellite beacon that made it easier to detect. Why has the media mostly ignored the story?" (from salon.com)
- G8 Britons tell of police 'brutality'
Some rather serious accounts from British protesters at the G8 summit (from BBC online)
- The Commercial Closet
A big collection of advertising featuring GLBT people -- portrayed in both positive and negative lights
[Soon to return from the dead!] Look at all the latest commercials without all that tedious tv viewing
- The Saab Network -- Bulletin Boards
Got a question about a Saab? Go here.
It would be *so* derisive to say that this was like slashdot for information architects.
- Student essays, poems or drawings that contain violence can lead to expulsion or incarceration
"Civil libertarians say they understand the need for making sure schools are safe but worry that children's free-speech rights may be violated." (from SFGate.com)
- Bayreuther Festspiele
The Bayreuth Festival, Wagner's purpose-built opera theater
- Audio Review - Product Reviews
- Advocate News Headlines
- Human Rights Campaign
- Sibelius music notation
- Audio Asylum
- Pink Fish Media Flat Earth Page
A British flat-earth company that makes amps and CD players
- alt.culture: Xena
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- The Election Story Never Told
most of the others wrongly barred from voting were white and Hispanic Democrats.
Beginning in November, this extraordinary news ran, as it should, on Page 1 of the country's leading paper. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong country: Britain. (From mediachannel.org)
- Ars Technica
- Urban Legends
- Design Within Reach
- elegant hack weblog
Nice blog for UI and Information Architecture, plus random stuff
- Reagan Redux
- Mother Jones
- Advocate News Headlines
- Neat Acoustics
A British loudspeaker manufacturer
- Protest letter to the U.S. Secret Service
"The Reporters Committee objected to the interrogation of a journalist by Secret Service agents over a satirical editorial asking Jesus to 'smite' the President."
- International Museum of Gay and Lesbian History
"Our mission is simple: build the first world-class museum showcasing both the remarkable historic contributions made by gays and lesbians and the unique heritage and culture of the GLBT community."
- The Advocate
The Advocate's front page, including news headlines of relevance to gays, lesbians, and transgendered people.
- Suicide rates in Massachusetts
Broken down by sexual orientation, about 40 percent of gay and bisexual students attempted suicide, compared to about 10 percent of their heterosexual peers. (from Boston.com)
- Zero Population Growth
- Naim Audio
- Ashcroft Appearance on Schlafly's 1997 Conspiracist Video
- Be a Man
"When boys take up guns to kill those who torment them with words like 'faggot,' we shouldn't be surprised. They're just doing what we have taught them to do." (from Advocate.com)
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Twisted Village
Record store in Cambridge, Mass, with a selection of avant-garde 20th century, electronica, etc.
- dwell magazine
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
A big reference site for artists, recordings, composers, etc. in most music genres.
- ACLU Document on Ashcroft's record on civil liberties and the Bill of Rights
"the vast majority of Sen. Ashcroft's policy positions indicate that he fundamentally disagrees with core tenets of the Bill of Rights and Constitution as they are currently applied."
- Laurie Anderson
- Jane Siberry
Another collaborative filtering movie recommendation site; less elegant interface than Movielens, but more filter features
- Interface Hall of Shame
- Cat Haikus
- Mac OS Rumors
MOSR has been batting close to zero on recent Mac developments, but it's interesting to read nonetheless.
- Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
"The nation's oldest and largest legal organization working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, and people with HIV/AIDS."
- Computer Stupidities
- iMac Today
- Cruel Site of the Day
- BSO tickets
Order Boston Symphony tickets online
- Center for Democracy and Technology
- BEAM Robotics
- Human Rights Campaign
- Attorney general nominee praised white supremacist magazine
When Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft praised the neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, he was endorsing a publication that defends slavery, white separatism, apartheid and David Duke (fair.org)
- The Ants
a site that uses collaborative filtering/affinity networks to give you movie recommendations based on ratings of movies you've seen
- People who live in glass lofts shouldn't throw stones.
The author cares for the loft of an ex-dotcom millionaire, which comes complete with its own online fanclub.
- The Retrocomputing Museum
- Internet Movie Database
- The Ashcroft Double Standard
"...if John Ashcroft were a Democrat, he would oppose his own nomination as attorney general. For once, he would be right."
- Car Talk
- Metcalfe's Law in Reverse
from Jakob Nielen's site
- in salon
Guess which recent president the justice department is describing: "I would warrant that whoever is responsible for the pardons did not read the record of the trial and did not know the facts of the case." If you guessed Ronald Reagan, you win the prize.
- Bernie ][
- How to Manage Geeks
- AudioWeb audio classifieds and auctions
- Libretto List
List of public domain opera libretti
- The Oracle of Bacon at Virginia
Find the distance between any actor and Kevin Bacon
- perl mongers
- Naim North America
- Break Up Microsoft
- Ask Tog Home Page
- Naim Forum
- Unofficial Linn Forum
- Linn HiFi
Linn Products is the Scottish company that revolutionized ideas of system-hierarchy and brought attention to the importance of the source. It's one of the true original Flat Earth companies.
- O'Grady's PowerPage
- Baen Free Library
- MacNN: The Macintosh News Network
- Human Factor and Ergonomics Resources
- Christian Analysis of The Blair Witch Project
From ChildCare Action Project
The anti-drudge: a continually updated source of left-wing news, rumors, and innuendo.
- MacRocks.com - iMacRocks
- Voices From The Hellmouth Revisited: Part 10
"kids ought to have the right to be openly confronted with the accusationthat they're a menace to society, and to respond, rather than wonder if some angry classmate has branded them for life on an anonymous toll-freeline run by a profit-making..."
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