Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Quote of the Day: "The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won..."

Those were the almost laughable words of disgraced - and indicted - U.S. representative Tom Delay (R-TX), who spoke at something called the "War on Christians" conference this week. Clearly, Delay's very public fall from grace in the House has turned him into a delusional mess, lashing out at phantom "enemies" intent on destroying both him and his Christian faith.

In short, he's just lost all touch with reality.

There are those who would say Tom DeLay lost his job as House majority leader because he was indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of money laundering and conspiracy, or because of his extensive ties to lawbreaking lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But they would be wrong.

In fact, the Texas Republican fell from power because he is a Christian.

That, at least, is the view of Rick Scarborough, convener of a conference this week called "The War on Christians."

"I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ," Scarborough said, introducing DeLay yesterday. When DeLay finished, the host reminded the politician: "God always does his best work right after a crucifixion."

This would seem to be an odd time to declare Christianity under siege. A Christian conservative president has just nominated two Supreme Court justices who take an expansive view of religious rights, and religious conservatives are ascendant in a Republican Party that controls both chambers of Congress.

Sadly, regardless of one's religious views, it is people like these - along with the likes of the Pat Robertsons of the world, of course - who give religion a bad name. They hide their agendas of hate and greed behind a filthy veil of virtue and piousness. Meanwhile, they take advantage of their weak-willed believers, who collectively cough up cash into the millions as they lash out at "enemies" unseen.

Of course, it's all a big political ploy that exploits religion for personal gain. Delay has done it before and he's doing it again. Apparently, the many times he's been cited in the House for ethics violations, along with his recent indictments and the conviction of close associates like Jack Abramoff, have taught Delay nothing. Once a carpetbagger always a carpetbagger, I suppose.

Delay's only true enemy of virtue seems to be staring right back at him from the mirror. Take a good look, Tom. It's not a pretty sight!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Those treacherous Russians?

Why on Earth would the U.S. government publicly divulge that the Russians may have shared U.S. military intel on Iraq with Saddam Hussein before it bothered to confront the Russians about it directly?

The only logical answer is that this revelation -whether true or not - was meant solely for the public's consumption. And while some may believe this sets up an excuse for the United States' failures in Iraq, I'm not convinced that this is the sole rationale.

Given the growing intensity of the debate surrounding Iran's apparent nuclear ambitions, the Bush administration needs to paint the Russians as being untrustworthy, especially as it relates to their efforts to broker a deal that would simmer the possibility of military conflict with Iran.

Clearly, much as we saw with Iraq, the Bush administration wants to provoke conflict with Iran. It's almost "deja vu all over again", as Yogi Berra would say. By painting the Russians as being untrustworthy, it eliminates them as viable peacemakers in the public's eyes. In turn, that gives the U.S. an excuse to downplay any effort the Russians may expend to secure an agreement. And it opens the door for unilateral military action by the U.S.

The mind games continue from our glorious leadership.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

Two recent news items, both of which build upon previously prominent stories, are dire indicators that the United States is, indeed, under attack from within. But contrary to what many seem to believe, the attack isn't one carried out with bombs, guns or even hijacked aircraft. No, the attack is an insidious one. It's a quiet one. It's a largely unnoticed one. But it's one that may change the course of a nation thought to be the epitome of personal freedom.

The attack currently underway is built upon the premise that one man and his appointed sycophants can undo over 200 years of governmental checks and balances in order to create an autocracy that resembles the USSR far more than it does the USA.

So what are the two most recent examples of this attack?

The first was the revelation that President Bush issued another of his infamous signing statements when the revised Patriot Act legislation was enacted earlier this month. In effect, the signing statement affords the President the discretion to do whatever the hell he pleases regardless of what the law says.

The second was the DoJ's indication that the NSA's warrantless surveillance program could legally wiretap calls between doctors and their patients as well as calls between attorneys and their clients. So much for our long-held beliefs that doctor-patient confidentiality and attorney-client privilege should be among our most cherished and necessary privacy protections. This interpretation would appear to allow the government to eavesdrop on conversations taking place between a lawyer and a criminal defendant being prosecuted by that same government. Regardless of strict legalities, that's just not right.

This President and his administration are in the midst of not just defiling but destroying the very foundation of our republic. Their abuse of power and their overt willingness to break the law and subvert the Constitution are unprecedented in our nation's history. They are taking us to a place never thought possible by the majority of Americans who grew up assuming that our freedom and privacy would be protected forever.

Little by little and day by day, it becomes more and more apparent that we are - most certainly - not in Kansas anymore, Toto. But instead of landing in the merry old land of Oz, we are being led to a dark and distant land that would frighten the bloomers off of the Wicked Witch of the West. The yellow brick road, alas, is nearing a dead end.

Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

When freedom turns to "fraudom"

Nice to see that our newly "democratic" friends in Afghanistan understand the nuances of what is one of the United States' most cherished rights: freedom of religion.

The case of an Afghan man who could be prosecuted and even put to death for converting to Christianity has unleashed a blizzard of condemnation from the West this week and exposed a conflict in values between Afghanistan, a conservative Muslim country, and the foreign countries that have helped defend and rebuild it in the four years since the fall of the Taliban.

The case of Abdul Rahman, a longtime Christian convert who lived in Germany for years and was arrested last month in Kabul, has also highlighted the volatile debate within Afghanistan over the proper role of Islam in Afghan law and public policy as the country struggles to develop a democracy.

I guess freedom is in the eye of the beholder. Or the beheader, as the case may be.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bush administration says discrimination is now acceptable

What happens when government power goes unchecked, as it is now with Republicans in charge of the executive, legislative and, arguably, the judicial branches? Tim Grieve from's War Room gives us an initial glimpse of what looks like an initial salvo in a systematic plan to degrade Americans' civil rights.

Security clearances were very much in the news last year as Democrats tried, unsuccessfully, to get Karl Rove's revoked after it became clear that he had leaked Valerie Plame's identity to several reporters. But there was another security clearance story out there that didn't get so much attention: While the rest of us were worried about leaks from the White House, the White House was apparently worrying about the security risk posed by . . . homosexuals.

As the Associated Press reports, George W. Bush signed off in December on language changes in the rules for security clearances that sure seem aimed at making it easier for the government to deny clearances to gay men and lesbians. The old rules said that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance." Under the new rules, a security clearance cannot be denied "solely" on the basis of sexual orientation.

A spokesman for the National Security Council tells the AP that the language change "was not intended to alter the way sexual orientation is treated." But if that's the case, why was the language changed? If the White House has an answer for that question, it's not in the AP report.

Gay advocacy groups apparently discovered the language change in a document distributed on Dec. 29, without any public fanfare, by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. So far as we know, Hadley isn't gay -- he's married with two kids -- but maybe he shouldn't have a security clearance anyway; it has been suggested that Hadley was the administration official who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Woodward and Robert Novak.

It was just a matter of time. The only question that remains: How much worse will it get?

Unchecked, absolute power in a nation rarely is a good thing. Sadly, we're about to get a lesson in just how bad it can be in this country. It won't be pretty.

Boston Legal Sticks It!

On Boston Legal the other night, James Spader's wonderful character, attorney Alan Shore, delivered a closing argument that spoke volumes about what's going on in this country right now. A must read/see/listen for every American who loves this country and cannot bear to see its foundation assaulted by the very people sworn to protect it.

Watch it here.

Read it below.

Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't. Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute. Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorist suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did. And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't. In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended. There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people even seem to notice. Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest. Stop for a second and try to fathom that. At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you’re wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed. This! In the United States of America. This!In the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed? He sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge.

Judge Robert Sanders:
Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.

Alan Shore:
Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.

Judge Robert Sanders:
Please get out of the chair.

Alan Shore:
Actually, I'm sick and tired.

Judge Robert Sanders:
Get out of the chair!

Alan Shore:
And what I'm most sick and tired of… He get’s up and out of the chair. …is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled un-American.

D.A. Jonathan Shapiro:
Evidentially, it's speech time.

Alan Shore:
And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say, "Stick it"!

D.A. Jonathan Shapiro:

Alan Shore:
I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it, they're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!

Judge Robert Sanders:
Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.

Alan Shore:
Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29-year-old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism." Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.”

Thanks to Boston Legal producer David E. Kelley for having the guts to say what needed to be said. And well said, it was.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mizzou Madness, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, The DrewL Bucket noted that the Missouri legislature was interested in passing a law that would make Christianity the state's official religion.

Well, if that wasn't wacky enough, now the Missouri legislature has voted to ban birth control from state-funded county health clinics. We're not talking abortion here. We're talking birth control.

The House voted 96-59 to delete the funding for contraception and infertility treatments after Rep. Susan Phillips told lawmakers that anti-abortion groups such as Missouri Right to Life were opposed to the spending.

"If you hand out contraception to single women, we're saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that," Phillips, R-Kansas City, said in an interview.

That's right, not only is the "moral minority" outlawing access to birth control, but they're also trying to stamp out sexual promiscuity. Are these people on crack?!

At least some in Missouri have a clue.

Others, including some lawmakers who described themselves as "pro-life," said it was illogical for anti-abortion lawmakers to deny money for contraception to low-income people who use public health clinics.

"It's going to have the opposite effect of what the intention is, which will be more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions," said Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Kansas City.

The other alternative is for low-income women to give birth to more children, which is only likely to drive up the state's costs to provide services to them, said Democratic Rep. Melba Curls, also of Kansas City.

The nutty thinking of the right never ceases to amaze. They don't want people to have abortions, yet they pass laws almost ensuring that people will need to seek abortions now that they can't get access to birth control.

Perhaps the real motivation is to increase abortions, which have been declining in recent years. The right would lose a vital wedge issue if abortions were to go away. So, by banning access to birth control, they'll ensure that abortion can be an available political football for decades to come. Brilliant!

Then again, why is it that Missouri Republicans don't seem intelligent enough to have thought of that? No, I suspect they're just doing what many Republicans seem to be doing these days, namely telling others how to live their lives. Yes, that would be the Republicans who used to rail against government intrusion in people's lives. Apparently, that was just a facade.

Missouri Right to Life said it was concerned with the contraception language because it was loosely written and could have included emergency contraception - often referred to as the morning-after pill.

The Missouri Catholic Conference also opposed the birth control funding.

"State taxpayers should not be required to subsidize activities they believe are immoral or unethical, relating to contraceptives or abortions," said Larry Weber, executive director of the state Catholic Conference.

Their true colors are finally showing in the "Show Me State." And it doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Television Nazis strike again

The Parents Television Council - aka the Television Nazis - have struck again with their manufactured letter-writing campaigns to the FCC. And their baby-faced, Republican facilitator at the FCC, Chairman Kevin Martin, apparently agrees with the PTC's claims, based on the FCC's decision to fine numerous CBS affiliates a combined total of $3.6 million for a 2004 episode of Without A Trace.

"The number of complaints received by the commission has risen year after year," said the FCC's Martin. "I share the concerns of the public — and of parents, in particular — that are voiced in these complaints."

According to Martin, indecency complaints are way up. Gee, I wonder why?

Because the PTC consistently has sponsored letter-writing campaigns among its members and supporters, designed to provoke the FCC to take action. Are indecency complaints really more numerous or is the hullabaloo being manufactured by a very small minority of Americans?

Tyranny of the majority? Not in this case.

But it's not just the PTC that's to blame. The FCC's Martin seems to have his own ideas about controlling what appears on our televisions, based on what he said late last year.

"Parents need better and more tools to help them navigate the entertainment waters, particularly on cable and satellite TV," Martin said. "You can always turn the television off and of course block the channels you don't want, but why should you have to?"

So much for the "conservative" belief that government should have a limited role in people's lives. Today's "conservatives" want to tell all of us what to watch and not watch on television. That doesn't seem terribly American to me. Does it seem that way to you?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Feingold: The Lonesome Dem

At least one Democrat in Congress has the courage to call President Bush on his illegal domestic spying activities. Too bad his colleagues have no spine.

Can nobody stand up to these criminals? What do they have to do before we see some outrage? Create another 9/11?

Kudos to Senator Feingold...and to hell with the rest of the cowards!

Feingold for President in 2008!

UPDATE: Three cheers to Molly Ivins for a brilliant statement on the state of affairs in D.C. among Democrats. She hits the nail, as usual, right on the head and drives it straight home! Read it HERE.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

20-year-olds are adults, too

With word that University of Oklahoma starting quarterback Rhett Bomar was cited for underage drinking at a New Orleans Hornets game in Oklahoma City on Friday night, it continues to amaze me just how many things 20-year-olds such as Bomar are allowed to do except drink alcohol.

For instance, 20-year-olds are allowed to:

  • Join the armed forces and die for their country...or Iraq
  • Vote
  • Drive a car
  • Smoke a cigarette
  • Have sex with another consenting adult
  • Get married
  • Become a parent
  • Own a home
  • Use a credit card
  • Pay taxes
  • Play college football so that universities, coaches and sponsors (including beer companies) can make millions of dollars and gamblers can accept millions in bets on games
Yes, a 20-year-old can do all of these things, yet he or she cannot legally drink a beer at a basketball game...or anywhere else, for that matter. We can entrust our nation's security to an 18-year-old with an M-16 but we can't entrust him or her to consume alcohol. Okay.

Meanwhile, reports of binge drinking among young adults continue to increase long after the legal drinking age was raised in most states from 18 to 21. Does it take a rocket scientist to understand that the illegality of alcohol consumption by young adults simply augments the high they get from drinking?

Let's start treating adults like adults, regardless of the activity in question. It's amazing how young people can begin to act like adults as soon as we stop treating them like children.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Father to Son: Join GOP or pay for college

A Highland Park, Texas, man has instructed his 17-year-old son to become a member of the Republican party if he wants his father to pay for his college education. The son, an avowed Democrat, has sworn not to give in to his father's demands.

Highland Park isn't exactly a slum. In fact, it's one of the wealthiest suburbs in the United States, chock full of multi-million dollar homes. Affording his son's college tuition isn't the issue. It's all about political ideology.

So, instead of relying on his father for his college tuition, Teddy Gambordella has embarked on a scheme to finance his own education via the Internet. Good for him.

Blood may be thicker than water, but does it trump political allegiance?

Not for the father and son duo of Ted and Teddy Gambordella.

Ted Gambordella dislikes the idea that his only son, a Highland Park High junior, is a Democrat. He loathes it so much that he has flat-out refused to pay for his son's college education unless he becomes a Republican.

"Yeah, I'm serious," said Mr. Gambordella, a 57-year-old martial arts expert. "He's got to earn his own way."

That suits Teddy just fine.

The 17-year-old said there's no way he'll switch to the GOP just to get his father's financial backing. He recently started a Web site – – to raise money for college.

"It's not about the money," said Teddy, who spent two years wrestling for W.T. White High before joining Highland Park's team last fall. "It's about spreading knowledge about Bush and his administration and proving my dad wrong. It's more of a principle thing."

The premise is similar to, started by a 21-year-old Brit in August to pay for college.

Supporters purchase pixels – dots on a computer screen – as advertising space.

The pixels cost $1 a pop, with a minimum purchase of 100.

With just 10,200 out of a million pixels sold, Teddy has a long way to go.

Amaya Smith, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, couldn't resist using Teddy's story to take a shot at the White House.

"If he doesn't get money from his parents, he's going to need to raise it on the Internet because he's not going to get it from this administration," Ms. Smith said. "Republicans in Congress have cut more than $12 billion in student aid."

Ken Fairchild, acting executive director of the Dallas County Republican Party, said Democrats give the same response to everything. "Blame it on Washington," he said, chuckling.

Mr. Fairchild said that while he admires Teddy's initiative, he's sorry that he has been brainwashed into supporting the Dems.

"I would urge him to listen to his parents," Mr. Fairchild said.

Not going to happen, says Teddy.

"I don't see him changing my mind," he said, seated next to his dad, who shook his head and rolled his eyes. "I see me changing his mind. It's easy to come up with a million reasons" to dislike President Bush.

Mr. Gambordella countered that he was liberal in college. Now the martial arts instructor and author listens to Rush Limbaugh daily and backs Republicans with his pocketbook and at the ballot box.

Though Teddy admits he's new to the political scene, it's something he wants to stick with.

He went to a Dallas County Young Democrats meeting in mid-January and attended a Young Democrats meeting at Highland Park High School last week. He said it was cool to hang out with people who see the world the way he does.

"They weren't crazy like my dad tries to make me believe," he said.

Jeff Barrows, sponsor of the Young Democrats club, isn't surprised to hear about Teddy's online venture.

"He is an entrepreneurial spirit," Mr. Barrows said. "He's one of those guys where if the solution lies within his reach, he's going to go for it."

Debra Gambordella, also a Republican, supports both her son and husband but doesn't want to get into the scuffle. She says becoming a Democrat is a better way to rebel than drinking or doing drugs.

Mr. Gambordella said he may not agree with his son's politics, but he's proud that Teddy is showing initiative. He hopes Teddy's site kick-starts some "intelligent" discussions.

"Democrats are too extreme. If they had some moderate voices," Mr. Gambordella said, his voice trailing off as Teddy's eyes rolled back into his head.

"I could be that voice," the teen suddenly chimed in.

His father chuckled and shook his head.

"He'll grow out of it."

Here's hoping Teddy doesn't "grow out of it." Mr. Gambordella Sr. listens regularly to Rush Limbaugh, yet he thinks Democrats "are too extreme?" Please!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Spreading fear far and wide

Headline tonight on

FBI warns of possible terror threat at sports events

First sentence of story (emphasis mine):

The FBI said Friday there is no specific, credible threat of a terror attack aimed at college basketball arenas or other sports stadiums but acknowledged alerting law enforcement to a recent Internet posting discussing such attacks.

What else is there to say? I just don't get it.

Bush: I'm worried by message sent by failed port deal

So, Bush is worried Arab nations will be disturbed that Congress and U.S. public opinion didn't support the DP World port management deal.

President Bush said Friday he was concerned about the "broader message" that the failed port operation deal with a United Arab Emirates company sends to other Arab allies in the U.S. war on terrorism.

"In order to win the war on terror, we've got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East," Bush told a meeting of the National Newspaper Association in Washington.

Is President Bush really as ignorant as his statements make him out to be? For crying out loud, the past four-plus years have been nothing but fear, fear, fear, terror, terror, terror, war, war, war almost non-stop. In fact, he's banked his entire presidency on such fears ever since 9/11/01. And despite Bush's bold predictions that he would bring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden "to justice", the truth is that OBL hasn't been caught.

Should Bush really be surprised that people in the United States cast a wary eye toward having a UAE-owned company controlling major U.S. ports? If he is surprised by the reaction, then he has nobody to blame but himself and his neo-con co-horts. They've fanned the flames of fear more than anyone when it comes to U.S. perceptions of Arabs and Muslims.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Come join Bush's "He-man Muslim Haters" Club

Based on a new poll from the WaPo and ABC News, more Americans today have a negative impression of Islam than they did shortly after the attacks of 9/11/01.

As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll found that nearly half of Americans -- 46 percent -- have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence.

Well, it seems that the Bush administration and its neo-con/PNAC core are getting just the results they want in order to sustain "The Long War" that they've so desired. You can't justify substantial military expenditures and far-flung engagements without an enemy. And as long as the American people believe that Muslims are the enemy, then the neo-cons can continue to push for their dream of "American global leadership".

Isn't it ironic that it's now the Bush administration that's complaining because Americans are concerned about the DP World port management deal? Assuming that the deal is on the up-and-up, Bush and company should be reminded of an old adage: You reap what you sow.

And, isn't it a sad state of affairs when "a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence"? Maybe it's just me, but I seem to recall at least a few instances in the history of mankind in which Christians did, um, just a bit of killing. Which reminds me of another old adage...something about throwing stones from glass houses.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This Democrat makes most Republicans seem downright liberal

How's this for a Democratic platform in Ohio's U.S. Senate race?

  • Make homosexual behavior punishable by death
  • Defend the Second Amendment
  • Secure U.S. borders
  • Lower taxes
  • Allow prayer in public schools
  • Convert Muslims to Christianity
  • Refute evolution
  • Oppose the U.N.
  • Oppose abortion
  • Deny global warming

Believe it or not, that's exactly the agenda on which Democratic Senate candidate Merrill Keiser, Jr. is running in his attempt to unseat incumbent Senator Mike DeWine.

Keiser, 61, says he's running as a Democrat because that's how he was registered the last time he voted.

The trucker, who hails from Fremont, Ohio, says there needs to be more adherence to biblical values in government, business and education – something he claims DeWine is not promoting.

"I believe that the United States has been moved in a Godless direction by the courts," he told the Sandusky Register. "To get good men on the court, we need good senators."

With Democrats like Keiser, who needs Republicans?!

DP World a red herring?

The more we get into this port security issue surrounding DP World, the more I begin to wonder if it's nothing but a red herring designed to prop up the beleaguered Republican members of Congress.

There's no question that President Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet right now, and the remaining 2-3 years of his administration portend little more than lame duckiness. He can't run for President again, but he can "take one for the team" by helping to improve the odds that Republicans in Congress can hold onto their seemingly tenuous majority status. Recent ethics violations - not to mention indictments and convictions - among Republicans have given Democratic challengers a wide berth in their effort to re-gain seats in the House and Senate.

The DP World purchase of a UK company responsible for operating several major U.S. ports has allowed Republicans in Congress to appear tough on national security and willing to challenge a President who is more reviled than liked at the moment. Sure, Democrats can appear equally tough on the issue, but what the Republican Party is interested in is retaining its majority status. If Republicans can get away from the ethics issues, in particular, and focus on their tough stance on security, then they have a message that plays well with their constituents in an election year. It also allows Republicans to distance themselves from an unpopular president as they hope to avoid being dragged down by Bush's myriad problems.

Time will tell if there's anything to this, but the entire episode appears just a bit too choreographed to have happened by chance. Bush doesn't have to worry about re-election. But if Democrats were to take back the House and/or Senate this fall, he would have to worry about a lot of other things.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

FEMA kills $17 million morgue after just 10 weeks

It's so nice to see that our federal government is spending our hard-earned tax dollars wisely.

The latest example of government financial ineptitude comes to light in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, where FEMA's state-of-the-art, $17 million morgue is being shut down after a mere ten weeks in operation.

The morgue, which can decontaminate and examine 150 bodies a day and has living space for nearly 500 workers, is closing because the number of bodies coming in has dwindled to about one a week, said Chuck Smith, a FEMA official.

Smith said Tuesday the morgue had been developed when officials believed there would be 5,000 deaths. Instead, there have been about 1,300 in Louisiana so far and it was apparent within a few weeks of the hurricane that the number of deaths would be 1,000 to 2,000.

"It is the Taj Mahal of forensic science; it is a beautiful place," said Frank Minyard, the New Orleans coroner. "But by the time we moved there we were finished with all the autopsies."

The sheer magnitude of wasted spending by this administration's incompetent cronies is almost beyond belief. If just a fraction of that money had gone toward saving lives and providing necessary food, shelter and care to those in need during Hurricane Katrina, much of the post-hurricane spending would have been unnecessary.

No one seemed to know what would happen to the 70,000-square-foot, or 6,500-square-meter, building that housed the morgue, built from the ground up on private land belonging to Bear Industries, a construction supply company.

In addition to the morgue, a warehouse, and rows of never-used cubicles, it included a cafeteria and fitness center.

Sounds like quite the facility. Who knew dead people needed to exercise?!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Definition of PATHETIC

Here is the definition of PATHETIC, as defined by the state of South Dakota:

The bill would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life. It would make no exception for cases of rape or incest.

Governor Mike Rounds signed the legislation today, effectively saying that South Dakota women no longer may make their own choices about their bodies, and compromising the ability of medical professionals to treat their patients as they see fit.

A sad day for the state of South Dakota and for those who believe that the government should not dictate how people choose to live their lives.

Pathetic, indeed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mizzou Madness

Apparently, the Missouri legislature is considering a resolution that would make Christianity the state's official majority religion, according to a report by KMOV, Channel 4 in St. Louis.

Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.

House Concurrent Resolution 13 has is (sic) pending in the state legislature.

Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.

Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing and email campaign to stop the resolution.

The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs.

The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."

State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.

KMOV also contacted Gov. Matt Blunt's office to see where he stands on the resolution, but he has yet to respond.

I have just one question: On what freaking planet do these loons live?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Quote of the Day: "Now, it appears that the crisis has passed."

Those were the brilliant words of General George Casey, the United States' top military commander in Iraq. He uttered them today, barely twenty-four hours after attacks in Iraq claimed 58 lives, which followed several days of additional attacks and killings that followed the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra.

It's just kind of amusing that such a short respite - if, indeed, there has been a respite - from the violence would spur someone to claim that "the crisis has passed."

Something tells me that crisis situations in Iraq are kind of like the weather in Texas: wait a minute and things will change.

Casey continued with his assessment of the situation.

"But we all should be clear: Iraqis remain under threat of terrorist attack by those who will stop at nothing to undermine the formation of the constitutionally elected government."

He added, "I think it's safe to say that a major attack, particularly on a religious site, would have a significant impact on the situation here coming in the next couple of days."

Hmmm. That doesn't sound so much like the crisis has passed. It sounds more like everyday life in Iraq. I suppose optimism in Iraq doesn't require a "glass is half full" perspective. Just a tiny drop in that glass may offer optimism enough. And sometimes, one even has to pay for that much optimism.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Catch 22: Torture banned at Gitmo, but law can't be enforced there

The good news: Detainees at Guantanamo Bay cannot be tortured under the provisions of Sen. John McCain's recent legislation banning torture.

The bad news: That law cannot be enforced at Gitmo because of a provision in the same law that bans access to the U.S. court system for detainees at Gitmo unless it is to appeal their enemy combatant status determinations and convictions by military commissions.

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.


U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said in a hearing yesterday that she found allegations of aggressive U.S. military tactics used to break the detainee hunger strike "extremely disturbing" and possibly against U.S. and international law. But Justice Department lawyers argued that even if the tactics were considered in violation of McCain's language, detainees at Guantanamo would have no recourse to challenge them in court.

So, even if someone at Gitmo is tortured, that person has no legal remedy available either to report it or to stop it. And while that seems ludicrous to most observers, even critics agree that nothing short of new legislation can change the situation.

"Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts."

Thomas Wilner, a lawyer representing several detainees at Guantanamo, agreed that the law cannot be enforced. "This is what Guantanamo was about to begin with, a place to keep detainees out of the U.S. precisely so they can say they can't go to court," Wilner said.

So, it looks like torture is out...that is, unless the detainee is at Gitmo or the President says it's a matter of national security. And we all know that the President is a man of his word, right?

So much for the ballyhooed anti-torture legislation.

Ain't it great to be an American? Ugh.

Quote of the Day: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Okay, so it's an old quote from last August, but it's destined to become a timeless classic in the annals of the American presidency. Especially now that a new video has been released confirming that the President was, in fact, briefed on the impending danger to New Orleans' levees a full day before Hurricane Katrina hit the Crescent City.

So, as we've seen before and, no doubt, as we will see again, President Bush seems to have no problem with lying to the American people. His statement, two days after Katrina hit, claiming that nobody anticipated the breach in the levees was just that: a lie! Of course people anticipated it. And he knew it.

President Bush is a liar, plain and simple. Sure, President Clinton lied about a personal relationship that was nobody's business but his and his family's. Tragically, though, President Bush's lies actually have resulted in the deaths of countless people around the world. In Iraq. In New Orleans. And who knows where else?

Impeachment? Nah, that's too civil for this liar. He belongs in prison. Close the cell door and throw away the key. He's nothing short of a disgrace and an embarassment.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bush's lexicon of lingo lives on

President Bush, in his surprise visit to Afghanistan today, was asked a question about Osama bin Laden. Not surprisingly, his response was riddled with the same old buzzwords and catch-phrases we've been hearing from him for the last four years. This really is beginning to sound like a broken record.

Q: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, there was a time when you talked about getting Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Why is he still on the loose five years later? And are you still confident that you'll get him?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I am confident he will be brought to justice. What's happening is, is that we got U.S. forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden, but anybody who plots and plans with bin Laden. There are Afghan forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden, but those who plot and plan with him. We've got Pakistan forces on the hunt. And part of my message to President Musharraf is, is that it's important that we bring these people to justice. He understands that. After all, they've tried to kill him four times. So we've got a common alliance, all aimed at routing out people who are evildoers, people who have hijacked a great religion and kill innocent people in the name of that religion.

We're making progress of dismantling al Qaeda. Slowly but surely, we're bringing the people to justice, and the world is better for it, as a result of our steady progress.

"What's happening is, is that we got U.S. forces on the hunt..." Nice grammar, Dubya.

Nothing but the same old rhetoric from the same old, grammatically-challenged dimwit. Way to go, Duh-bya.

What an embarassment.

What the Fukuyama?! A noted neo-conservative changes his stripes

One of the original members of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and a noted neo-conservative, Francis Fukuyama, recently renounced his neo-conservative ties in a New York Times Magazine essay. In essence, Fukuyama says that the original foundation for neo-conservativism devolved into an overly militaristic and interventionist approach by the Bush administration and its neo-con idealists.

"Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support."

Fukuyama even goes so far as to equate today's neo-conservative doctrine as "Leninist" in its belief that "history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will." He says that their idealistic view of the U.S. as a benevolent hegemon has turned into fantasy as the harsh realities of the Iraq War, in particular, continue to reflect the pitfalls of such forceful advocacy of democracy.

The Failure of Benevolent Hegemony

The Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters did not simply underestimate the difficulty of bringing about congenial political outcomes in places like Iraq; they also misunderstood the way the world would react to the use of American power. Of course, the cold war was replete with instances of what the foreign policy analyst Stephen Sestanovich calls American maximalism, wherein Washington acted first and sought legitimacy and support from its allies only after the fact. But in the post-cold-war period, the structural situation of world politics changed in ways that made this kind of exercise of power much more problematic in the eyes of even close allies. After the fall of the Soviet Union, various neoconservative authors like Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol and Robert Kagan suggested that the United States would use its margin of power to exert a kind of ''benevolent hegemony'' over the rest of the world, fixing problems like rogue states with W.M.D., human rights abuses and terrorist threats as they came up. Writing before the Iraq war, Kristol and Kagan considered whether this posture would provoke resistance from the rest of the world, and concluded, ''It is precisely because American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality that other nations find they have less to fear from its otherwise daunting power.'' (Italics added.)

It is hard to read these lines without irony in the wake of the global reaction to the Iraq war, which succeeded in uniting much of the world in a frenzy of anti-Americanism. The idea that the United States is a hegemon more benevolent than most is not an absurd one, but there were warning signs that things had changed in America's relationship to the world long before the start of the Iraq war. The structural imbalance in global power had grown enormous. America surpassed the rest of the world in every dimension of power by an unprecedented margin, with its defense spending nearly equal to that of the rest of the world combined. Already during the Clinton years, American economic hegemony had generated enormous hostility to an American-dominated process of globalization, frequently on the part of close democratic allies who thought the United States was seeking to impose its antistatist social model on them.

There were other reasons as well why the world did not accept American benevolent hegemony. In the first place, it was premised on American exceptionalism, the idea that America could use its power in instances where others could not because it was more virtuous than other countries. The doctrine of pre-emption against terrorist threats contained in the 2002 National Security Strategy was one that could not safely be generalized through the international system; America would be the first country to object if Russia, China, India or France declared a similar right of unilateral action. The United States was seeking to pass judgment on others while being unwilling to have its own conduct questioned in places like the International Criminal Court.

Another problem with benevolent hegemony was domestic. There are sharp limits to the American people's attention to foreign affairs and willingness to finance projects overseas that do not have clear benefits to American interests. Sept. 11 changed that calculus in many ways, providing popular support for two wars in the Middle East and large increases in defense spending. But the durability of the support is uncertain: although most Americans want to do what is necessary to make the project of rebuilding Iraq succeed, the aftermath of the invasion did not increase the public appetite for further costly interventions. Americans are not, at heart, an imperial people. Even benevolent hegemons sometimes have to act ruthlessly, and they need a staying power that does not come easily to people who are reasonably content with their own lives and society.

Finally, benevolent hegemony presumed that the hegemon was not only well intentioned but competent as well. Much of the criticism of the Iraq intervention from Europeans and others was not based on a normative case that the United States was not getting authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but rather on the belief that it had not made an adequate case for invading Iraq in the first place and didn't know what it was doing in trying to democratize Iraq. In this, the critics were unfortunately quite prescient.

The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally. The misjudgment was based in part on the massive failure of the American intelligence community to correctly assess the state of Iraq's W.M.D. programs before the war. But the intelligence community never took nearly as alarmist a view of the terrorist/W.M.D. threat as the war's supporters did. Overestimation of this threat was then used to justify the elevation of preventive war to the centerpiece of a new security strategy, as well as a whole series of measures that infringed on civil liberties, from detention policy to domestic eavesdropping.

Interestingly, the neo-cons of PNAC argued in September of 2000 that the United States needed to drastically increase military spending in order to better position itself for "American global leadership." In fact, PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses was, in many ways, a blueprint for ensuring the United States' own global pre-eminence and dominance in the 21st century.

That's why Fukuyama's confusion about the neo-con rush to war is a bit odd. After all, a reading of Rebuilding America's Defenses should have left little doubt that the build up and flexing of U.S. military muscle - and the enormous expenditures that go along with it - was central to the PNAC agenda. And to read Fukuyama's essay, one can't help but wonder if he's truly changed his stripes or if there's a more tacit agenda at work. Clearly, he is distancing himself from his neo-con brethren, but for what purpose? And at what price?

One would hope that Fukuyama's essay is nothing less than an open admission that the neo-con agenda is beginning to exhibit cracks in its foundation. And while it's encouraging to see that at least one noted neo-con - apparently - is viewing the world with a bit more realism, I won't be convinced that neo-conservativism in its present form is dead until we hear similar contrition from other, more prominent neo-cons.

Something tells me we may be waiting a while for that to happen.