Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More fools

Well somebody else down south has gone and put six tons of Ten Commandments on the courthouse steps.

I got nothing against the Ten Commandments, although with one or two exceptions, I've probably broke every one of them. I just don't understand why southern Christian fundamentalists keep trying to make a legal suppository out of them.

It's a safe bet that these are the same type of people who, only this week, ran some Evangelical minister out of office as the head of the Christian Coalition because the man had the audacity to want to expand the Coalition's agenda to include issues like poverty and the environment.

I really, really hope there's a rapture. I hope all us sinners get swept away and their Jesus comes back to live happily with them forever and ever.

Because living forever with people like that would be 100% pure hell.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mission evidently not accomplished yet.

The fool who started this catastrophe says we won't leave Iraq until we achieve victory.

If victory means a solid, functioning government in Iraq, take a seat. This is going to take awhile. The Hatfields and McCoys of the Middle East aren't done shooting. After all, it's only been a thousand years. They're just getting started.

The fool who started this catastrophe doesn't seem to feel any sense of urgency. The civilians getting kidnapped, tortured and executed aren't his family. Neither are the Americans who are actually on the scene.

More than 600,000 dead Iraqis according to the medical journal "Lancet." Nearly 2900 dead Americans.More than 20,000 American wounded. The fool who started this catastrophe still wants victory.

The Economy Is Strong

Well, here you go. More of those glowing economic numbers for middleclass America. Has there ever been a better time to be blue collar?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The George W. Bush Presidential Library

He wants a $500 million legacy. Thousands of dead Americans and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis aren't enough.

War and Christmas Shopping

While Iraq Burns

By BOB HERBERT
Americans are shopping while Iraq burns.

The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight.

A Wal-Mart in Union, N.J., was besieged by customers even before it opened its doors at 5 a.m. on Friday. “All I can tell you,” said a Wal-Mart employee, “is that they were fired up and ready to spend money.”

There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.

Representative Charles Rangel recently proposed that the draft be reinstated, suggesting that politicians would be more reluctant to take the country to war if they understood that their constituents might be called up to fight. What struck me was not the uniform opposition to the congressman’s proposal — it has long been clear that there is zero sentiment in favor of a draft in the U.S. — but the fact that it never provoked even the briefest discussion of the responsibilities and obligations of ordinary Americans in a time of war.

With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. In an interview last week, Alex Racheotes, a 19-year-old history major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said: “I definitely don’t know anyone who would want to fight in Iraq. But beyond that, I get the feeling that most people at school don’t even think about the war. They’re more concerned with what grade they got on yesterday’s test.”

His thoughts were echoed by other students, including John Cafarelli, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, who was asked if he had any friends who would be willing to join the Army. “No, definitely not,” he said. “None of my friends even really care about what’s going on in Iraq.”

This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. While shoppers here are scrambling to put the perfect touch to their holidays with the purchase of a giant flat-screen TV or a PlayStation 3, the news out of Baghdad is of a society in the midst of a meltdown.

According to the United Nations, more than 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in September and October. Nearly 5,000 of those killings occurred in Baghdad, a staggering figure.

In a demoralizing reprise of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, the U.N. reported that in Iraq: “The situation of women has continued to deteriorate. Increasing numbers of women were recorded to be either victims of religious extremists or ‘honor killings.’ Some non-Muslim women are forced to wear a headscarf and to be accompanied by spouses or male relatives.”

Journalists in Iraq are being “assassinated with utmost impunity,” the U.N. report said, with 18 murdered in the last two months.

Iraq burns. We shop. The Americans dying in Iraq are barely mentioned in the press anymore. They warrant maybe one sentence in a long roundup article out of Baghdad, or a passing reference — no longer than a few seconds — in a television news account of the latest political ditherings.

Since the vast majority of Americans do not want anything to do with the military or the war, the burden of fighting has fallen on a small cadre of volunteers who are being sent into the war zone again and again. Nearly 3,000 have been killed, and many thousands more have been maimed.

The war has now lasted as long as the American involvement in World War II. But there is no sense of collective sacrifice in this war, no shared burden of responsibility. The soldiers in Iraq are fighting, suffering and dying in a war in which there are no clear objectives and no end in sight, and which a majority of Americans do not support.

They are dying anonymously and pointlessly, while the rest of us are free to buckle ourselves into the family vehicle and head off to the malls and shop.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Swell... Just stinking swell...

This from the New York Times.

November 26, 2006
U.S. Finds Iraq Insurgency Has Funds to Sustain Itself

By JOHN F. BURNS and KIRK SEMPLE
BAGHDAD, Nov. 25 — The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.

The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by “corrupt and complicit” Iraqi officials.

As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year.

A copy of the seven-page report was made available to The Times by American officials who said the findings could improve understanding of the challenges the United States faces in Iraq.

The report offers little hope that much can be done, at least soon, to choke off insurgent revenues. For one thing, it acknowledges how little the American authorities in Iraq know — three and a half years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein — about crucial aspects of insurgent operations. For another, it paints an almost despairing picture of the Iraqi government’s ability, or willingness, to take steps to tamp down the insurgency’s financing.

“If accurate,” the report says, its estimates indicate that these “sources of terrorist and insurgent finance within Iraq — independent of foreign sources — are currently sufficient to sustain the groups’ existence and operation.” To this, it adds what may be its most surprising conclusion: “In fact, if recent revenue and expense estimates are correct, terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq may have surplus funds with which to support other terrorist organizations outside of Iraq.”

Some terrorism experts outside the government who were given an outline of the report by The Times criticized it as imprecise and speculative. Completed in June, the report was compiled by an interagency working group investigating the financing of militant groups in Iraq.

A Bush administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the group’s existence. He said it was led by Juan Zarate, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, and was made up of about a dozen people, drawn from the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Treasury Department and the United States Central Command.

The group’s estimate of the financing for the insurgency, even taking the higher figure of $200 million, underscores the David and Goliath nature of the war. American, Iraqi and other coalition forces are fighting an array of shadowy Sunni and Shiite groups that can draw on huge armories left over from Mr. Hussein’s days, and benefit from the willingness of many insurgents to fight with little or no pay. If the $200 million a year estimate is close to the mark, it amounts to less than what it costs the Pentagon, with an $8 billion monthly budget for Iraq, to sustain the American war effort here for a single day.

But other estimates suggest the sums involved could be far higher. The oil ministry in Baghdad, for example, estimated earlier this year that 10 percent to 30 percent of the $4 billion to $5 billion in fuel imported for public consumption in 2005 was smuggled back out of the country for resale. At that time, the finance minister estimated that close to half of all smuggling profits was going to insurgents. If true, that would be $200 million or more from fuel smuggling alone.

For Washington, the report’s most dismaying finding may be that the insurgency now survives off money generated from activities inside Iraq, and no longer depends on sums Mr. Hussein and his associates seized as his government collapsed. American officials said that as American troops entered Baghdad, Mr. Hussein’s oldest son, Qusay, took more than $1 billion in cash from the Central Bank of Iraq and stashed it in steel trunks aboard a flatbed truck. Large sums of cash were found in Mr. Hussein’s briefcase when he was captured in December 2003.

But the report says Mr. Hussein’s loyalists “are no longer a major source of funding for terrorist or insurgent groups in Iraq.” Part of the reason, the report says, is that an American-led international effort has frozen $3.6 billion in “former regime assets.” Another reason, it says, is that Mr. Hussein’s erstwhile loyalists, realizing that “it is increasingly obvious that a Baathist regime will not regain power in Iraq,” have turned increasingly to spending the money on their own living expenses. The trail to these assets “has grown cold,” the report adds.

The document says the pattern of insurgent financing changed after the first 18 months of the war, from the Hussein loyalists who financed it in 2003 to “foreign fighters and couriers” smuggling cash in bulk across Iraq’s porous borders in 2004, to the present reliance on a complex array of indigenous sources. “Currently, we assess that these groups garner most of their funding from petroleum-related criminal activity, kidnapping and other criminal pursuits within Iraq,” the report concludes.

One section of the report is dedicated to the role played by “sympathetic donors,” including Islamic charities and nongovernmental organizations. It says that “intelligence reporting” indicates that only 10 to 15 of the 4,000 nongovernmental groups support terrorist and insurgent groups, but that those few take advantage of lax Iraqi regulation to divert funds to insurgent and other armed groups and, in some cases, “to provide cover for insurgent recruitment and the transport of weapons and personnel.”

The possibility that Iraq-based terrorist groups could finance attacks outside Iraq appeared to echo Bush administration assertions that prevailing in the war here is essential to preventing Iraq from becoming a terrorist haven, as Afghanistan became under the Taliban. But that suggestion was one of several aspects of the report that drew criticism from Western terrorism and counterinsurgency experts working outside the government who were given the outline of the findings.

While noting that the report appeared to reflect a major effort by the administration to learn more about the murky world of insurgent financing in Iraq, the experts said the seven-page document appeared to be speculative, at least in its estimates of the funds available to the insurgent and terror groups. They noted the wide spread of the estimates, particularly the $70 million to $200 million figure for overall financing, the report’s failure to specify which groups the estimates covered and the absence of documentation of how authors had arrived at their estimates.

While such data may have been omitted to protect the group’s clandestine sources and methods — the document has a bold heading on the front page saying “secret” and a warning that it is not to be shared with foreign governments — several security and intelligence consultants said in telephone interviews that the vagueness of the estimates reflected how little American intelligence agencies knew about the opaque and complex world of Iraq’s militant groups.

“They’re just guessing,” said W. Patrick Lang, a former chief of Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who now runs a security and intelligence consultancy. “They really have no idea.” He added, “They’ve been very unsuccessful in penetrating these organizations.” He said he was equally skeptical about the report’s assertion that the insurgent and militant groups may have surpluses to finance terrorism outside Iraq. “That’s another guess,” he said.

“A judgment like that, coming from an N.S.C.-generated document,” he said, is not an analytical assessment as much as it is a political statement to support the administration’s contention that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. “It’s a statement put in there to support a policy judgment,” he said.

Several analysts said that, except for the possibility that Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia might be transferring money to Qaeda factions elsewhere, the assertion that insurgent money might be flowing out of the country was doubtful considering the single-minded regional focus of most of the militants operating here.

Dr. Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defense College, an author of extensive studies of the Iraqi insurgency, said he doubted Iraqi groups were ready to finance terrorism outside the country. “There’s very little evidence that they’re preparing to export terrorism from Iraq to the West,” he said. “I think it’s much too early for that.”

The document tracing the money flows acknowledges that investigators have had limited success in penetrating or choking off terrorist financing networks. The report says American efforts to follow the financing trails have been hamstrung by several factors. They include a weak Iraqi government and its nascent intelligence agencies; a lack of communication between American agencies, and between the Americans and the Iraqis; and the nature of the insurgent economy itself, primarily sustained by couriers carrying cash rather than more easily traceable means involving banks and the hawala money transfer networks traditional in the Middle East.

“Efforts to identify key financial facilitators, funding sources and transfer mechanisms are yielding some results, but we need to improve our understanding of how terrorist and insurgent cells interact, how their financial networks vary from province to province or city to city and how they use their funds,” the report says. It also says the United States must help the Iraqi government “to excise corrupt officials from its law enforcement and security services and its ministries” and “to prevent smuggled Iraqi oil from being sold within their borders.”

Another challenge for the United States, the report says, was to persuade foreign governments to “stop paying ransoms.” It gives no details, but American officials have said previously that France paid a multimillion-dollar ransom for the release in December 2004 of two French reporters held hostage by an insurgent group. Italy, these officials have said, paid ransoms on at least two occasions, in September 2004 for the release of two women, both aid workers, and in March 2005, a reported $5 million for the release of Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist for the Rome newspaper Il Manifesto.

Several American security consultants, all former members of government intelligence agencies that deal with terrorism, said in interviews that the ineffectiveness of efforts to impede the revenues to the insurgents was reflected in the continuing, if not growing, strength of Iraq’s militants. “You have to look at what the insurgency is doing,” Mr. Lang said. “Are they hampered by a lack of funds? I see no evidence that they are.”

Jeffrey White, a defense fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, also a former Middle East analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed. “We’ve had some tactical successes where we’ve picked off a financier or whatever, but we haven’t been able to unravel a major component of the system,” he said. “I’ve never seen any indication that they’re strapped for cash, never seen any indication that they were short on weapons.”

He said the insurgency had demonstrated tremendous regenerative properties. “The networks fix themselves, they heal themselves,” he said. He pointed to the success of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia in withstanding the loss of hundreds of combatants and dozens of major leaders. “They keep coming back,” he said, “and I think the same thing has happened to the financial system.”

Friday, November 24, 2006

Electronic voting machines

An Electronic Canary
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, November 24, 2006; A41


Americans can be grateful that Sarasota County is in Florida and not in Montana or Virginia.

There's nothing wrong with Sarasota, a lovely place. But if the voting snafus in the contest for Florida's 13th District had hung up either of this year's two closest Senate races, we still would not know which party had won control of the Senate.

Supporters of new voting technologies have been patting themselves on the back, saying there were no big voting problems this year. Let them go to Sarasota.

Here's the story so far: The official vote count in the battle for -- you won't believe this -- Katherine Harris's seat put Republican Vern Buchanan 369 votes ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings out of roughly 238,000 votes cast.

But in Sarasota County, there was an "undervote" of more than 18,000 -- meaning that those voters supposedly didn't choose to record votes in the Buchanan-Jennings race. Jennings carried the county 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Sarasota undervote in the congressional race amounted to nearly 15 percent. Kendall Coffey, Jennings's lawyer, has pointed out that in the other four counties in the district, the undervote ranged from 2.2 to 5.3 percent. Put another way, roughly 18,000 of the 21,000 undervotes in the contest came from Sarasota County.

It's hard to believe that Sarasota's voters had a different view of the race than voters everywhere else in the district, considering that the undervote on the county's absentee ballots, cast on paper, was only 2.5 percent. The upshot: Any reasonable statistical analysis suggests that only 3,000 to 5,000 of Sarasota's undervotes were intentional, meaning that 13,000 to 15,000 votes were probably not counted.

If you believe that these machines operated properly, then you must also believe that I missed my true vocation as an NBA center.

Imagine if 18,000 votes had just disappeared in either of the key Senate races. Or imagine a presidential election in which the electoral votes of Florida were decisive and the state was hanging in the balance by -- to pick a number that comes to mind -- 537 votes. And, by the way, in 2000 we could at least see those hanging and dimpled chads. In this case the votes have -- poof! -- simply disappeared.

Despite the Sarasota problem, the state Elections Canvassing Commission certified Buchanan's "victory." Jennings has gone to court to demand a new election.

But there is good news here: This is a problem in just one congressional district. Control of the House does not depend on how this race turns out. It is therefore in the interest of both parties, not to mention the country, to be simultaneously aggressive and judicious in figuring out what went wrong in Sarasota and to use that knowledge to fix the nation's voting system before a major disaster strikes. Sarasota is the canary in the electronic coal mine.

On Tuesday, Judge William L. Gary decided not to move the case along quite as fast as Jennings had requested. That will prove to be an excellent decision if the delay is part of an effort to collect every bit of information we can on Sarasota's machines.

Jennings's lawyers have asked the judge to give her campaign full access to at least eight of the voting machines and their software -- a fair request. If the taxpayer-supported companies that sell this equipment are not willing to be 100 percent open about how their machines and their programming work, they should not be allowed to record and count the people's votes.

And if anyone still needs evidence that all electronic systems should provide verifiable paper trails so real ballots are available in the event of a recount, let them go to Sarasota.

If the courts punt, Congress, which has a right to judge the credentials of its members, should get to the bottom of this. It may be asking the impossible, but Democrats and Republicans should not make this a fight about which party picks up one more seat. Instead, they should conduct a joint inquest into this contest to provide a basis for bipartisan legislation creating national standards for improving our voting systems.

The U.S. Supreme Court has insisted that "[h]aving once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person's vote over that of another." Thousands of voters in the 13th District have an interest in demanding that the system live up to those words, which came from the decision in a little case in 2000 called Bush v. Gore.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Delay Screws Texas One More Time

When Congress convenes in January, Texas will find itself out of power, thanks to Tom Delay's off-year gerrymandering a few years back.

Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"The economy is strong." - G.W. Bush

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the pre-election optimism is beginning to moderate. The economy sucks for the middle class, which means the economy sucks for everyone except bigtime stockholders and the inside the beltway idiots, whose jobs depend on telling Wonder Boy the economy is strong.

Somebody needs to get the point across to those people - If you aren't rich in America right now, you're worried about your job and your future. If you're worried about your job and your future, you're not in the market for a new car or a new home - or for a lot of Christmas presents either, for that matter. If you're not in the market for something new, then the people who make whatever-that-something-new is have good reason to be more worried about their jobs and their futures, and everything gets that much tighter.

The future of this economy depends on what the new congress can do to control corporate tax breaks, restore fiscal discipline and shore up programs that secure the middle class.

Olbemann on Bush in Vietnam

Go here.

Message from voters may not have been heard clearly.

November 21, 2006
Guest Columnist
Same Old Party

By THOMAS B. EDSALL
Washington

Last Friday, the Republicans gave the Democrats a gift that will keep on giving: Roy Blunt of Missouri.

After an election repudiating the politics of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, Republicans elevated Blunt from the number three spot in the leadership to number two.

Roy Blunt embodies the insidious, half-legal corruption that has permeated the G.O.P. majority since 1995. Blunt’s election as minority whip, by a 137-to-57 margin, was a defiant Republican rejection of calls to clean up their act. Warnings by Blunt’s challenger, John Shadegg of Arizona — “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a ...tighter grip on power” — went unheeded.

In 1998, DeLay put Blunt on the leadership ladder, making him chief deputy whip. Blunt modeled himself on DeLay, creating an identical network of state and federal political committees that raised money from the same lobbyists, corporations and trade associations that financed what became known as DeLay Inc.

If one political operation captured the essence of DeLay’s leadership, it was the Republican takeover of Washington’s influence-peddling industry. This industry, grossing $2.36 billion last year alone, eagerly accommodated DeLay’s demands to replace Democratic lobbyists and association executives with Republicans. In a mutually rewarding relationship, lobbyists who financed DeLay Inc. wrote amendments and bills, while DeLay received a flood of cash to build a multimillion-dollar network of PACs. These committees lavished contributions, corporate jets and year-round entertainment on Republican House members, ensuring their loyalty, and channeled cash into local political parties, helping to win control of state legislatures that, in turn, gerrymandered districts to implement a long-term strategy of larger G.O.P. Congressional majorities.

In 2003, after DeLay moved up to majority leader and turned the so-called K Street Project over to him, Blunt promptly converted a legion of Republican lobbyists into an arm of the House whip operation. Lobbyists have always been close to Congress, under rule by either party. What DeLay and Blunt did was to sacralize this relationship. In doing so, they transferred a chunk of power from Capitol Hill to business interests.

This unholy alliance was a crucial factor in transforming the G.O.P. into an army of spenders whose earmarks, appropriations and tax cuts rivaled the government largess of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.

In 2004, Blunt turned his lobbyist team loose to win passage of a bill eliminating a $50 billion corporate tax break that the World Trade Organization had ruled in violation of international agreements. These lobbyists inserted $143 billion worth of new corporate tax breaks, turning the bill into a Fortune 500 Christmas tree.

Blunt is not the easy target DeLay was. DeLay, a born-again Southern Baptist, by his own account had battled demon rum and the playboy life. Once he started down the path of righteousness, moralizing and sermonizing, he made enemies, painting a bull’s-eye on his back.

Blunt, by contrast, is bland, unctuous and adept at keeping a low profile. But there is plenty to see. After divorcing his wife of 35 years to marry a tobacco lobbyist, Abigail Perlman, he cleared his second marriage with the House Ethics Committee to get “a waiver of the limitations of the gift rule to allow me to accept gifts in connection with my wedding.”

Blunt unblushingly told the Heritage Foundation this month that Republicans “have allowed our efforts to defend traditional values to be defined as little more than a politically driven effort to appease ‘family groups.’ ”

For Blunt, the blurring of boundaries is a family tradition. His son Matt is the governor of Missouri. Another son, Andrew, is one of the state’s top lobbyists. Almost all Altria subsidiaries — Kraft, Miller Brewing, Philip Morris (remember Abigail Perlman) — hired Andy Blunt, along with other financial backers of Roy Blunt.

In Blunt, House Republicans have kept on display a top official reminding voters why they cast ballots for Democrats on Nov. 7. After winning the post of minority whip last week, Blunt declared that the Republicans had “come together ... frankly, to get rid of the bad habits that we may have developed in 12 years in the majority.” This is precisely the opposite of what they actually did, which was to affirm their bad habits. The burden on the Democrats will be to make the elusive Blunt a nationally recognized figure.

Thomas B. Edsall holds the Pulitzer-Moore Chair at Columbia University. He is a guest columnist this month.

Friday, November 17, 2006

U.S. housing starts plunge to six-year low in October - MarketWatch

I have such very low food security I could eat a horse

Bush in Vietnam

Well, he finally got there.

He says the lesson of Vietnam is that we should not quit in Iraq. I say the lesson of Vietnam - the lesson I took away when I left there three decades ago - was that if you're not connected like George Bush was back then, the government can - and will - fuck with you whenever and however it wants.

Easy for him to send kids back to his quagmire three and four times. His life isn't on hold. It wasn't on hold back then.He was not inconvenienced then. He is not inconvenienceed now.

In two years, he will amble off into the sunset, leaving his mess to someone else. What a sadd, shallow, empty little man.

Rummy may be gone, but that doesn't mean we can't expect more of the same.

George W. Bush may have thrown Rummy overboard, but he's not exaactly bringing in new blood. William Rivers Pitt lays out the connnection between W's White House, alumni of his father's administration (including his nominee to replace Rummy) and the Carlysle Group. Turns out we've seen it all before.

More on the moron economy

Finally, something on the Wall Street Journal editorial page a regular Joe caan agree with. Without a vibrant, growing middle class - a middle class that understands they have an opportunity to do better in the future, the economy isn't strong. It's a house of cards.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

STFU

I've gotten this email from a bunch of leties, and (in spite of my rant about Trent Lottbelow) it seems to me to be exactly the kind of thing we don't need right now. It sounds simpy, and catty - the kind of thing a 13 year-old "mean girl" might say. It doesn't advance the national cause one iota and gives anyone who is not rabidly lefty one more reason to hate.

We don't have the luxury of crap like this. There's too much to doand too many people to enfranchise in the job.

So let's all please not do this kind of stuff.

From Michael Moore:

A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives

November 14th, 2006

To My Conservative Brothers and Sisters,

I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.

Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.

Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:

Dear Conservatives and Republicans,

I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:

1. We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.

2. We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.

3. We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.

4. When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.

5. When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.

6. Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.

7. Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.

8. We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.

9. We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.

10. When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.

11. We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.

12. We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.

I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.

Signed,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
(Click here to sign the pledge)
www.michaelmoore.com

P.S. Please feel free to pass this on.

Further proof of how out of touch the R's are

Hot damn. He's baack...

Nothing reaches out to minorities quite like naming a man who lauded known racist Strom Thurmond's 1948 white supremecist run for the presidency to be second in command in the Senate.

Former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts' father, a black man, said it best: A black voting for a Republican is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

Regardless of race, who can ever forget (or forgive) the sight of Trent Lott, Senate Majority Leader, honchoing Bill Clinton's Senate trial after the silly-assed impeachment?

The idiots presently ensconced in the Executive Branch lied us into a war, drove the middle class into the ditch and mortgaged the future of the country with snakey-sneaky accounting and tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy. The idiot in the White House should - but won't be - impeached.

This same pack of idiots now have the gaul to put this simple, foolish, shallow, hack back up there for all of us to look at and remember what they did.

They are fools.

Interesting post-election poll

An interesting piece of post-election polling by the AFL?CIO here. Clearly the United States of America where working people live feels differently about the economy than does the United States of America where the shareholders live.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"The economy is strong." - G.W. Bush

For those of us living in the United States of America on planet Earth, it is good to see our leader emerge from "les nuages" and hold a meeting like this.The American auto industry is more than just stagnant. It is dead. There is not one make or model that can compete - genuinely compete - for a share of the consumer market here in America, let alone globally.

Our mileage sucks. Our designs are generic and bland. Our warranties are barely adequate. And even if you were to get 100,000 trouble-free miles, they would be 100,000 of the dullest, most mediocre miles you ever experienced.

American auto workers are among the best automakers in the world. There's nothing they can not or will not do to build those cars and trucks right - and take real pride in their work. But, thanks to crappy design and bottom-line management and globalization, American auto workers are damned near an extinct species. And so are the American workers who used to make all the parts and components that went into American cars.

Right up through the election, Bush and his people were touting the strong economy. They talked up all the jobs they were creating.

The jobs are for shit. People who used to make light trucks but got laid off and found work making lattes. Luckily, they took time off and went to the polls and voted their own interests.

And now the president is holding meetings. Not making promises, mind you, but holding meetings.

Maybe, with the help of a Democratic congress, he'll figure out that the economy is as much about Main Street as it is about Wall Street.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Waiting for the Commission Report

You haven’t lived until you’ve found yourself stuck in a war zone and getting shot at while the people in Washington diddle-dork and dawdle with formalities and wait for commission reports. Weeks and months go by. Real men, women and children die.

The people in power, being out of the line of fire, don’t care. They’ve got a process, and we all know that a process can take time.

They’re saying that the report by the Baker-Hamilton Commission may not be done until the end of the year. George W. Bush says he is looking forward to reading it.

Assuming two casualties a day for 45 days, that’s 90 more dead soldiers – men and women who are alive and walking around and who hope to come home to their families – who’ll die while the Baker-Hamilton Commission does whatever the hell it is that they’re going to do.

And, assuming 30 dead Iraqis a day for 45 days, that’s 1,350 more dead civilians.

Thanksgiving will come and go. Greedy retailers will bombard you with Christmas shopping commercials. Everybody will work themselves up to a frenzy of peace on earth and good will towards men. But the killing won’t stop. It won’t even slow down.

There should be some sense of urgency to all this. There isn’t. There never is. Urgency is a sign of weakness, I guess; a tool to be used against you in negotiations.

But there should be. Somewhere in Iraq tonight roughly 1,440 dead men, women and children are walking around, hoping for the best, unaware they are about to become statistics – blips and ticks on some cosmic meter – while people in Washington diddle-dork and dawdle.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What hath we wrought?

There’s always a bit of political postpartum in the days and weeks after a big election. The people have spoken, albeit along gerrymandered lines, and now the nation must sit down and parse whatever the hell it was that the people said.

All too quickly, reality sets in. That which, only the other day, looked like a brave new world reveals itself to be more of the same old crap.

To the victors belong the spoils. Only the spoils don’t go directly to the victors. They go to central committees, where tin-eared party bosses divide and distribute them along lines that strengthen their own power bases.

Idealists, losers and swing voters are left to contemplate what might have been if the election had gone the other way.

What might have been, of course, is that the bosses on the other side would have been doing the dividing, distributing and power base building. But that reality is lost upon idealists and party loyalists who really believed.

Meanwhile swing voters, stung to witness the winning party bosses taking care of their own people first, are stunned at the new reality they helped bring about.

All this in gray, dismal November. November, birthplace of seasonal affective disorder. The days are shorter. Lame duckery saturates the political soul. The scoundrels on the way out pack up like light-fingered hotel guests grabbing everything they can get away with – soap, shampoo, sewing kits, towels, ashtrays, last minute legislation and appointment approvals – everything.

January can’t get here quickly enough. The pale sunlight will be getting a little stronger every day, and the newly-elected scoundrels, having raised their right hands and taken the oath of office, will be able to get to work on the business of selling influence, corrupting themselves and fleecing the rest of us in the process.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Did Republican happy-talk about the economy cost them the election?

As the Republicans look at the election results and try to figure out what went wrong, they would do well to examine what they said about the economy – and how they said it.

“The economy is strong,” didn’t ring true. Not even with the Dow Jones soaring.

Evidently, the route from Wall Street to the kitchen table was a bit too surreptitious and serpentine for Joe and Mona Minivan to follow. The record earnings on the Big Board never showed up in the paycheck. The real money got siphoned off before it could trickle down.

Adding insult and a bigger co-pay to injury, employers (most of whom are perceived to be Republican) shifted a bigger share of rising healthcare costs onto employees already feeling the effects of static wages.

Globalization, union busting, huge corporate bankruptcies, and a pro-business Federal court added to uncertainty, forcing wage concessions from loyal long-term blocks of employees, shutting down manufacturing plants.

Entire pension plans disappeared down the rapacious maws of unregulated, engulf-and-devour businesses like Enron. Other companies dumped their pension plan liabilities onto the Federal government. The Republicans responded by proposing to privatize Social Security.

When campaigning Republicans cited jobs growth, Joe and Mona weren’t so sure. The new jobs they see cropping up – the jobs their kids are taking – don’t come with benefits or a sense of a secure future. They are hourly wage, strip mall and office park jobs tied a bit too closely to a tentative, consumer-driven economy. They are jobs to get by on, not jobs to get rich on – and certainly not jobs to retire from.

When campaigning Republicans cited tax cuts, Joe and Mona didn’t buy it. Their property taxes have gone up to offset the flim-flam of unfunded mandates, funding cuts and what-have-you at every level of government between Washington and their little house on the cul-de-sac.

Speaking of their little house, they’re busting their butts to hold onto it – even as the “For Sale” signs crop up and the market goes soft. Their home is their nest egg. Their biggest investment. It’s not increasing in value like it used to.

Across the board, Joe and Mona have visceral feeling that things aren’t going well. And who are they going to believe? A Department of Commerce quarterly report or their day-to-day experience trying to make ends meet?

To say that the economy is strong is to say that you don’t understand what Joe and Mona are up against. It is to say you don’t share their perspective or their experience.

In an election year, it is the same as saying “Don’t vote for me. I work for the other side.”

Which, in fact, most of the Republicans who lost bids for reelection did.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Corruption is always just around the corner.

Just in case you thought the Democrats were above reproach, click here. The District of Columbia will never be rid of influence peddlers.

You would think, though, that the party that just rode a wave of anti-corruption sentiment into office would not get both front trotters back in the slop trough right away. It just doesn't look good.

How soon will we'll see a Democratic Abramoff? A Democratic DeLay or Ney?

One thing the election didn't change.

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers and two Marines died in Iraq in the past two days, the U.S. military announced Friday.

One Marine died Thursday from wounds sustained due to "enemy action" during operations in Anbar province, the military said. The Marine was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5. A second Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Friday from "non-hostile causes" while operating in Anbar province, the military said.

Two soldiers were killed and a third was wounded Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb west of Baghdad, the military said Friday. All were assigned to 89th Military Police Brigade.

Also Thursday, one soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command was killed and another was wounded during a patrol when their truck was hit by a roadside bomb west of Haditha, the military said.

With the deaths, 2,844 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraq war. Twenty-six military personnel have died in November as of Friday's announcements, bringing total U.S. military deaths in Iraq during 2006 to 664. (Posted 1:58 p.m.)

Lawmaker: N.Y.'s Rangel owes Mississippi an apology - CNN.com

Mississippi is one of those states that gets more - much more - than it gives in terms of federal dollars.

If I remember correctly, Pickering's father was one of those right wing activist judges that Bush put on the Federal bench with a recess appointment. Then there is Trent Lott, who said the country would have been much better off if Strom Thurmond had been elected presdient in 1948. The state has a long history of racism, and as part of the Confederacy, helped kill hundreds of thousands of American soldiers. Lawmaker: N.Y.'s Rangel owes Mississippi an apology - CNN.com

Democrats are set to subpoena - Los Angeles Times

The key to sustaininng the D's momentum will be to strike the right balance between oversight and bipartisanship. There is no room for "payback" - or for personal vendettas (as much as the Republicans in the House and Senate deserve it).The damage to the Constitution and the deficits are too great.

All together now: "Two, four,six, eight - C'mon Democrats moderate.Democrats are set to subpoena - Los Angeles Times

Krugman's take on the election

An end to "Movement Conservtism", not an end to conservatives

The Great Revulsion

By PAUL KRUGMAN
I’m not feeling giddy as much as greatly relieved. O.K., maybe a little giddy. Give ’em hell, Harry and Nancy!

Here’s what I wrote more than three years ago, in the introduction to my column collection “The Great Unraveling”: “I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country.”

At the time, the right was still celebrating the illusion of victory in Iraq, and the bizarre Bush personality cult was still in full flower. But now the great revulsion has arrived.

Tuesday’s election was a truly stunning victory for the Democrats. Candidates planning to caucus with the Democrats took 24 of the 33 Senate seats at stake this year, winning seven million more votes than Republicans. In House races, Democrats received about 53 percent of the two-party vote, giving them a margin more than twice as large as the 2.5-percentage-point lead that Mr. Bush claimed as a “mandate” two years ago — and the margin would have been even bigger if many Democrats hadn’t been running unopposed.

The election wasn’t just the end of the road for Mr. Bush’s reign of error. It was also the end of the 12-year Republican dominance of Congress. The Democrats will now hold a majority in the House that is about as big as the Republicans ever achieved during that era of dominance.

Moreover, the new Democratic majority may well be much more effective than the majority the party lost in 1994. Thanks to a great regional realignment, in which a solid Northeast has replaced the solid South, Democratic control no longer depends on a bloc of Dixiecrats whose ideological sympathies were often with the other side of the aisle.

Now, I don’t expect or want a permanent Democratic lock on power. But I do hope and believe that this election marks the beginning of the end for the conservative movement that has taken over the Republican Party.

In saying that, I’m not calling for or predicting the end of conservatism. There always have been and always will be conservatives on the American political scene. And that’s as it should be: a diversity of views is part of what makes democracy vital.

But we may be seeing the downfall of movement conservatism — the potent alliance of wealthy individuals, corporate interests and the religious right that took shape in the 1960s and 1970s. This alliance may once have had something to do with ideas, but it has become mainly a corrupt political machine, and America will be a better place if that machine breaks down.

Why do I want to see movement conservatism crushed? Partly because the movement is fundamentally undemocratic; its leaders don’t accept the legitimacy of opposition. Democrats will only become acceptable, declared Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, once they “are comfortable in their minority status.” He added, “Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.”

And the determination of the movement to hold on to power at any cost has poisoned our political culture. Just think about the campaign that just ended, with its coded racism, deceptive robo-calls, personal smears, homeless men bused in to hand out deceptive fliers, and more. Not to mention the constant implication that anyone who questions the Bush administration or its policies is very nearly a traitor.

When movement conservatism took it over, the Republican Party ceased to be the party of Dwight Eisenhower and became the party of Karl Rove. The good news is that Karl Rove and the political tendency he represents may both have just self-destructed.

Two years ago, people were talking about permanent right-wing dominance of American politics. But since then the American people have gotten a clearer sense of what rule by movement conservatives means. They’ve seen the movement take us into an unnecessary war, and botch every aspect of that war. They’ve seen a great American city left to drown; they’ve seen corruption reach deep into our political process; they’ve seen the hypocrisy of those who lecture us on morality.

And they just said no.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lobbyists

If you thought the corruption problem would go away come January, read this. Chances of the D's staying pure - zero. The whole town is addicted to cash. The only hope is changing the system. Unfortunately, the people who havve to change the system are the addicts themselves.

House Races - Elections 2006 - AOL News- Bush's Congressman Is a Democrat - AOL News

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Well Let's Hope:

That the new Congress will find ways to work in a much more bipartisan fashion.

That Washingotn can keep corruption at bay for awhile.

That fiscal sanity reemerges.

That government begins to work more for people - and less for corporations.

Etc...

Etc...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Way News - New Rules, Machines Trouble Voters Early

"We got five machines - one of them's got to work," said Willette Scullank, a trouble shooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board...My Way News - New Rules, Machines Trouble Voters Early: "'We got five machines - one of them's got to work,' said Willette Scullank, a trouble shooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board."

Mo. elections chief in election dispute - Yahoo! News

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's a Candidate Calling. Again. - washingtonpost.com

One last set of dirty tricks from the Karl Rove and Lee Atwater wing of the Republican Party. The fundamental immorality of this seems to be lost on hard core Republicans. Why?
It's a Candidate Calling. Again. - washingtonpost.com

If you haven't been saved by their Jesus, well then - you just haven't been saved,

These people are just plain insane.

A different approach to gay religion

Or perhaps Revernd Ted could embrace his gayness...


TESTING THE FAITH
Parish cancels 'Catholic' drag queens' bingo games
Outcry leads to quashing of risqué event by 'Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence'
Posted: November 4, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Joni Durling
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com



A group of homosexual drag queens who dress up in outlandish nun costumes has lost its lease to hold risqué bingo games at a San Francisco parish after outcry from faithful Catholics throughout the United States. In September, the "Sisters of PerpetualIndulgence," a self-described "leading-edge order of queer nuns," began holding "Revival Bingo" games at Most Holy Redeemer parish in San Francisco's homosexual Castro neighborhood. The next game, featuring master of ceremonies "Peaches Christ" -- was scheduled for Thursday, All Souls Day, when Catholics typically pray for deceased loved ones.
The Sisters' motto "Go and sin some more" is indicative of their use of mockery to express opposition to Catholic moral norms. They are infamous for their offensive street theater, in which they use Catholic symbols and images to shock opponents and entertain allies. Catholics who walked in the West Coast Walk for Life in 2005 and 2006 report they were heckled and jeered with blasphemous catcalls by the group.

The bingo games came to light after a San Francisco reader posted information about them on Mark Shea's weblog. Catholics nationwide immediately began contacting the San Francisco archdiocese and Most Holy Redeemer parish to put a stop to the event.

A letter to the archdiocese posted to The Threshing Grain weblog cried, "I am so very scandalized by this behavior and ashamed that such deplorable and blasphemous actions would take place where the presence of OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST RESIDES -- the Tabernacle-IN HIS TEMPLE! I plan to alert the Vatican, the USCCB, and others of this unseemly and scandalous behavior against the BODY OF CHRIST."

Most Holy Redeemer is pastored by Father Stephen Meriwether, the chancellor of the San Francisco Archdiocese under Archbishop George Neideraurer. Father Meriwether was appointed to his current post by former Archbishop William Levada. Levada was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year and heads the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to a parish assistant, Father Meriwether was aware of the blasphemous bingo games.

Most Holy Redeemer parish has a long history of "pro-gay" activism. The parish regularly marches in the annual San Francisco "gay pride" parade, and its website displays photos of Pastor Meriwether blessing this year's "pride" participants. The parish's AIDS support group receives grant monies from the "Sisters."

A Sept. 14 article by "Sister Dana Van Iquity" in the homosexual newspaper San Francisco Bay Times stated, "The long awaited return of the Castro's longest running Bingo – Revival Bingo —kicked off at Ellard Hall on Sept. 7 at 100 Diamond Street and 18th [the address of Most Holy Redeemer] in the heart of the Castro. The new home includes more space, more seating capacity, a big stage, and a brand new sound & video system (thanks to Dave the bear) with all players on one main floor instead of having to hang from the rafters at the old venue. … A gaggle of nuns -- dozens really -- opened the show, carrying candles and acting rather solemn with slow, marching steps. But when the sound system played 'Gonna Make You Sweat,' the Sisters commenced to clapping and dancing wildly down the aisles, getting everyone's energy up."

The article went on to describe sexual "punishments" meted out to participants whose cell phones ring during the game or who call a false bingo. Prizes distributed to winners, according to the article, range from "wines to porn DVDs to sex toys to toasters and more."

After the games were discovered late last week, Catholics across the country contacted the San Francisco Archdiocese to demand a stop to the perverse event. On Oct. 30, archdiocese spokesman Maurice Healy issued the following statement:


Permission to use Ellard Hall should not have been given to the [the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence]. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has directed the parish to end the arrangement immediately. For years the group has directed contempt and ridicule at Catholic faith and practices. The particular targets of the group's derision are women in religious communities, for whom Catholics, and many non-Catholics, have a special reverence and respect. Fr. Meriwether is on leave from his duties.
On October 31, the "Sisters" issued the following statement on their website confirming they lost their bingo lease at the parish hall:


The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are stunned and deeply saddened by the Archdiocese of San Francisco's abrupt cancellation of their lease for Ellard Hall, the location of their charitable monthly bingo fundraising event.
The Sisters want to apologize to the organizations that depend on our support, including the AIDS Emergency Fund and the Positive Resource Center. Both of these worthy organizations were to be the recipients of this week's proceeds, however due to today's decision by the Archdiocese, we will no longer be able to hold bingo. The Sisters would also like to apologize to the SFPD Pride Foundation, UCSF AIDS Health Project, Saint James Infirmary and Tenderloin Tessies Holiday Feed, all of whom were scheduled to be beneficiaries for future bingos. And, of course, the Sisters extend our apologies and regrets to the many players who purchased tickets and were anticipating many more joyous evenings of fundraising.

The primary mission of The Sisters is involvement in and support of the local community. This includes working with and supporting many local community organizations whose ability to serve their constituency is dependent on contributions from charitable groups like the Sisters. Without the thousands of dollars raised by the consistently sold-out monthly bingo event, their services may be cut at a time when charitable giving is more critical than ever.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence believe that our commitment to giving is in alignment with the philosophy of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which represents a cross-section of the San Francisco population. It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that this appears not to be the case, and that our shared values cannot overcome our differences of opinion when it comes to how we serve the community.

The Threshing Grain Catholic weblog commented, "I don't think that masquerading and parading around on Catholic diocesan church property blaspheming the Catholic Church and displaying this behavior near the Blessed Sacrament while on the same property is 'shared values'! The ends DO NOT justify the means! Charity!? Please! Where is their charity in their displayed and deplorable antics against Holy Mother Church and Christianity!?"

Archbishop Neideraurer was said to be unaware of the lease or the bingo games prior to late last week. It is not known if former Archbishop Levada was also unaware of them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Haggard confesses to 'lifelong' sexual problem - CNN.com

"There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life," Haggard said in the letter read by Pastor Larry Stockstill, a member of the board of overseers of New Life Church.Haggard confesses to 'lifelong' sexual problem - CNN.com: "'There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life,' Haggard said in the letter read by Pastor Larry Stockstill, a member of the board of overseers of New Life Church. "

A few thoughts on Reverend Ted

So Reverend Ted Haggard says he bought crystal meth but didn’t use it. He says he came to his senses and threw it away.

Right. You wake up clean and straight one morning. You're the pastor of a 14,000 member evangelical church. You lead a 30-million member asssocialtion of evangelical christians. The president of the United States has you on speedial.

And you say, “What a great day. Think I’ll call a gay prostitute and buy some crystal meth.”

Clearly, Reverend Ted had was on some sort of slippery slope. The slippery slope seems to have been gay sex.

Evidently, he had another calling.

We are all sinners. Nobody is perfect. It is wrong-headed to put anyone on a spiritual pedestal – Reverend Ted obviously included.

But from outside looking in, it appears the whole evangelical movement has put itself on a spiritual pedestal. They seem to want the rest of us up there with them. From abortion to embryonic stem cells to gay marriage, they are on a mission to unite church and state.

There is an ominous plastic homogeneity to it all – a surreal, jackbooted righteousness. Those people don’t just want you saved. They want you saved by Jesus as they understand Jesus. And, once you’ve been saved, they want you to vote the straight (cough) Born Again ticket.

Meanwhile, born again and saved people like Reverend Ted continue to struggle personally with all those earthly vices and temptations they’re trying to smite on a public policy level.

Imagine the nightmare Reverend Ted has been living. Imagine being compelled toward crystal meth and homosexuality from the pulpit. Imagine having a perfect evangelical wife and five (home schooled?) kids and a church committee meeting every night of the week and those nonstop impure thoughts about some gay prostitute.

Talk about your own personal little corner in hell… Talk about your dark night of the soul… Whoa.

No doubt at some point in the near future, Reverend Ted will ask for “forgiveness” and we’ll all move on. And his legions of evangelicals will affix themselves to some new Reverend Ted and continue their latter day crusade/inquisition/effort to get our government to go "all Christian all the time" – and stamp out the personal, intimate demons that lurk deep in their hearts and come out to torment them in the dark of night.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

War simulation in 1999 pointed out Iraq invasion problems - CNN.com

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friedman on Kerry, Bush, Cheney et al

I don't always aggree with Thomas Friedman, but today, I'd say he's a genius:

November 3, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Insulting Our Troops, and Our Intelligence

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you’re stupid. Yes, they do.

They think they can take a mangled quip about President Bush and Iraq by John Kerry — a man who is not even running for office but who, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, never ran away from combat service — and get you to vote against all Democrats in this election.

Every time you hear Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney lash out against Mr. Kerry, I hope you will say to yourself, “They must think I’m stupid.” Because they surely do.

They think that they can get you to overlook all of the Bush team’s real and deadly insults to the U.S. military over the past six years by hyping and exaggerating Mr. Kerry’s mangled gibe at the president.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men — to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld’s response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you’ve got — get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well? The Bush team has created a veritable library of military histories — from “Cobra II” to “Fiasco” to “State of Denial” — all of which contain the same damning conclusion offered by the very soldiers and officers who fought this war: This administration never had a plan for the morning after, and we’ve been making it up — and paying the price — ever since.

And what could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in Iraq than to send them off to war and then go out and finance the very people they’re fighting against with our gluttonous consumption of oil? Sure, George Bush told us we’re addicted to oil, but he has not done one single significant thing — demanded higher mileage standards from Detroit, imposed a gasoline tax or even used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive conservation — to end that addiction. So we continue to finance the U.S. military with our tax dollars, while we finance Iran, Syria, Wahhabi mosques and Al Qaeda madrassas with our energy purchases.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century — to bring out the best in us. His “genius” is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country’s health, prove him wrong this time.

Let Karl know that you’re not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has — through sheer incompetence — brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

Let Karl know that you think this is a critical election, because you know as a citizen that if the Bush team can behave with the level of deadly incompetence it has exhibited in Iraq — and then get away with it by holding on to the House and the Senate — it means our country has become a banana republic. It means our democracy is in tatters because it is so gerrymandered, so polluted by money, and so divided by professional political hacks that we can no longer hold the ruling party to account.

It means we’re as stupid as Karl thinks we are.

I, for one, don’t think we’re that stupid. Next Tuesday we’ll see.

Five U.S. troops die in Iraq - CNN.com

Never forget that the people in power in the United States chose to invade Iraq. Five U.S. troops die in Iraq - CNN.com

Consortiumnews.com

Last chance to change course is next Tuesday...Consortiumnews.com

Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | To stay the wrong course

The end of the line for Karl Rove? Probably not. You knw what they say about roaches and nuclear war. We can hope, though... Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | To stay the wrong course

The BRAD BLOG : EXCLUSIVE: LEAKED 2003 REPORT ON MARYLAND'S DIEBOLD VOTING SYSTEMS REVEALS SERIOUS SECURITY CONCERNS WERE WITHHELD FROM ELECTION BOARD

They know electronic voting machines can be hacked. They know electronic voting machines will be hacked. Tuesday is going to be wall-to-wall hell.The BRAD BLOG : EXCLUSIVE: LEAKED 2003 REPORT ON MARYLAND'S DIEBOLD VOTING SYSTEMS REVEALS SERIOUS SECURITY CONCERNS WERE WITHHELD FROM ELECTION BOARD, GOVERNOR, PUBLIC!

Md. Democrats Say GOP Plans to Block Voters - washingtonpost.com

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Raw Story | Party lawyers, consultants and strategists gird up for possible post-election recount battles

Voter fraud? What voter fraud?

State ordered to stop prosecuting part of election law

USATODAY.com - OPINION

Unlike Kerrry, this ex-Army officer is not joking.USATODAY.com - OPINION

Baghdad Attacks Target Busy Areas - washingtonpost.com

Just in case you didn't notice (what with all the Kerrry coverage):Baghdad Attacks Target Busy Areas - washingtonpost.com

The Raw Story | Video: Olbermann 'special comment' on White House campaign tactics

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Many eyes will watch the polls - USATODAY.com

They could multiply the number of observers by 1000 and still not get off a clean election. Many eyes will watch the polls - USATODAY.com

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Abandoning An American Soldier

Not a bg Andrew Sullivan fann, but I have to agree with him here. Something fundamental took place in Iraq yesterday - something that puts our troops at even greater risk. If our guys have to stand back and let Shiite militias in and out of Sadr City because that sham Iraqi Prime Minster says so, our guys are in an untenable stuation.Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Abandoning An American Soldier

Iraq Around The Clock

Police on Wednesday confirmed the kidnapping of more than 40 Shiites along a notoriously dangerous highway just north of Baghdad, as the death toll from a suicide bombing at a wedding party rose to 23, including nine children.

The abductions on Tuesday near the town of Tarmiyah marked a further outbreak of sectarian violence in a region where scores were killed last month in bloody attacks and reprisal killings among formerly friendly Shiite and Sunni neighbours in the city of Balad.

Unarmed men checked identification cards and seemed to be looking for familiar faces among travellers stopped in heavy traffic, said an eyewitness, who asked to be identified only by the pseudonym Abu Omar for fear of reprisals.

Armed gunmen stood nearby during the abductions, just out of sight of US soldiers who were disarming a roadside bomb further down the road, Abu Omar said. He and other Sunni travellers were allowed to travel onward after showing their ID cards, he said.

At least 40 travellers were missing and feared abducted, said an officer at the Joint Cooperation Centre in the city of Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kerry's Foot - Kerry's mouth

Repubabubba writes:

Bubba,

What in the hell was Kerry thinking? You got to love this guy!

You think this will take care of his presidential run?

I never thought the October surprise would come in this format, and I sense the sheep are beginning the move to conservative pastures. I’m hearing the races are beginning to tighten up all over. The repubs are putting on the final kick for the finish - add this to the republican voting equipment that you talk about and I’d say we still have a chance.

Oh I almost forgot; I hear Kerry’s coming to visit MN to prop up Amy. Could this get any better?

Repubabba

Bubba writes back:

Why do you say, "we?" Who is "we?"

I could understand using "we" if Bush, Snow and those people were fiscally and socially conservative Republicans. But the people posturing and going on about Kerry's admittedly stupid comment are neither conservative nor Republican in the traditional sense of the word.

The "we" that "still has a chance" took a huge budget surplus that was there when they came into office and turned it into a huge, very un-Republican deficit. Not content to stop there, they have actually grown the Federal government.

They chose to invade Iraq. No one forced their hand. They opted to start the war and they bungled things badly. They fired a general who told them it would take 500,000 troops. Now they have 140,000 Americans stuck between a bunch of crazy-assed factions. 100 of our guys died last month. Suicide bombers are taking civilians out 20-25 people at a time. The puppet they installed is so afraid of one of the shiite militias that he actually ordered the Americans to withdraw checkpoints in and out of Sadr City, rather than face the wrath of the mullah.

Three years after they declared the mission to be accomplished, "we" is burning through more than $2 billion a week there. They are borrowing the money from Communist China. The money is not reported as part of the looming deficit they created. For the first time in American history, the country has gone to war without raising taxes to pay for it. That would be a good thing (to the extent that choosing to invade a sovereign nation could be considered to be a good thing) if they weren't borrowing all that money from China and putting our children and grandchildren in ever-deepening debt.

The vast majority of the American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. They don't even have to watch the war on television news. (News outlets have been banned from photographing the coffins coming home, if you will recall) All this while a minority - a very small minority - kids from middle and lower middle class homes for the most part - have paid to the tune of nearly 3,000 dead and more than 20,000 wounded.

As for the Iraqis, a statistically sound, scientific, peer-reviewed report by "Lancet" (a British medical journal) says that 650,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of "we" choosing to suspend the UN Weapons Inspection Program and invade Iraq. Millions have been displaced. They are refugees. Water and electricity - services they former dictator delivered without problem - are rationed.

And we're torturing people. I heard an Iraqi joke. It goes like this: One Iraqi in an American-run prison says to another Iraqi prisoner, "I don't know why after all this time the Americans can't bring electricity to Sadr City. They brought it to my ass the first week I was here."

And, fully five years after 9/11, "we" still have not been able to find a 6/4" dialysis patient hiding somewhere in the Stone Age that is the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

The "we" to whom you refer boasts that the economy is strong, and it is for those who own stocks and get dividends. Others in the shrinking middle and working classes are not as optimistic.

They have to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs (if they are fortunate enough to have a job with benefits). Their wages are stagnant. College tuition costs are skyrocketing, forcing their kids to take out larger loans - and more debt - money owed to banks in which "we" seem to have plenty of stock.

And, from where they sit, the housing market is beginning to feel like that 2001tech bubble - with lower property values leading to a real loss of $$ and confidence. Property taxes are going up as the Federal government shifts programs and costs (No Child Left Behind, for example) to the state and the state cuts funding to education and local government.

Most recently, "we" has enacted legislation giving George Bush the authority to throw anyone in jail indefinitely, without the benefit of habeas corpus - a legal principle that has been part of Anglo-American jurisprudence since the Magna Carta 1215.

Elsewhere, "we" would appear to be actively suppressing the vote in minority and poor communities. Voter registration rolls in Ohio and Florida (that we know of) have been purged. Hundreds of thousands of mostly-Democratic voters will not be allowed to participate in the election.

Is that the "we" you're referring to? Do you see yourself as part of that "we?"

Becausee, if it is, we are all in big trouble.

MiamiHerald.com | 10/28/2006 | Glitches cited in early voting

Here... we... go... Election Day chaos is starting early.MiamiHerald.com | 10/28/2006 | Glitches cited in early voting