Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spain Investigates Clergymen Over Homophobia Claims

Spain Investigates Clergymen Over Homophobia Claims
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 28, 2007 - 11:00 am ET

(Madrid) Two Spanish clergymen - one a Protestant evangelist, the other a Roman Catholic bishop - are under attack for alleged homophobia.

The Rev. Marcos Zapata, the head of an evangelical group that operates centers for troubled children in the Galicia region, recently held a seminar for parents titled: "How to Raise Heterosexual Children".

People who attended the speech say that Zapata called homosexuality an illness and an addiction, comparing it to alcoholism and drug abuse. He went on to say that that homosexuality could be "cured" through therapy.

Zapata said that in his own family he reinforces masculine roles for his two sons by watching professional wrestling.

He also told fathers to "hug your sons as much as you can, because if you don't, perhaps another man will".

The regional government said it has opened an investigation to determine if the speech violated Spanish law which bans hate speech against gays.

A Spanish national LGBT rights group said it may take Zapata to court on a charge of libeling gays.

Evangelical preachers, mostly trained in the US, have been making inroads in mostly Catholic Spain attracting a large number of followers.

Meanwhile, the Catholic bishop of the Canary island Tenerife is under fire for comparing homosexuality to pedophilia and drug addiction.

Bernardo Alvarez said in an interview that "homosexuality harms society, and we will pay for it."

The conservative bishop also claimed that many young people who are abused were themselves responsible.

Alvarez claimed that many minors seek out adults for sex.

"If one isn't careful, they could even provoke it," Alvarez said. "Sexuality is more complicated than one suspects."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Colbert Chosen AP Celebrity of the Year

Not since Johnny Carson has America had a late-night comedian make such an impact on how Americans think, interpret, and dissect the news of the day. Also, not since Gracie Allen's 1940 run for president has a celebrity with such high visibility made such an impact in a presidential race with their candidacy.

Americans wait with breathless anticipation for Colbert's "the Word", possibly the most well-written piece of political satire ever.

By JAKE COYLE, AP Entertainment Writer

While most TV characters remain boxed inside the frames of our sets, Stephen Colbert has routinely injected his on-screen persona into everything from the presidential race to ice cream.

In 2007, the mock pundit on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" exceeded the influence of most real pundits, orchestrating an ill-fated (and Doritos-sponsored) run for president and topping the best-seller lists with his book "I Am America (And So Can You!)."

Colbert failed to get onto the primary ballot in his home state of South Carolina, dooming his hopes for the White House. And his show went 0-for-4 at the Emmy Awards, including an especially painful loss to Barry Manilow.

But Colbert did win one honor: He was voted AP Celebrity of the Year by newspaper editors and broadcast producers who said Colbert had the biggest impact on pop culture in 2007.

He finished just a nudge above J.K. Rowling, who authored the final book in her enormously popular "Harry Potter" series. Finishing third was Al Gore, whose year included an Oscar, an Emmy, a Nobel Peace Prize and the global concert Live Earth.

Voting was otherwise spread out across many entertainers, including pop star Britney Spears, "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus, rapper Kanye West, comedy director and producer Judd Apatow and country singer Kenny Chesney.

But it was the slight, bespectacled Colbert — his hair never ruffled, suits forever pressed — who dominated the year. Even from the relatively small stage of late-night cable TV, his satire spread into all corners of media and society — and for a few weeks made a mockery of the democratic system.

Colbert has declined interviews during the writers strike that has shuttered his show, but he told The Associated Press by e-mail:

"In receiving this award, I am pleased that I was chosen over two great spinners of fantasy — J.K. Rowling and Al Gore. It is truly an honor to be named the Associated Press' Celebrity of the Year. Best of all, this makes me the official front-runner for next year's Drug-Fueled Downward Spiral of the year. P.S. Look for my baby bump this spring!"

Julio Diaz, entertainment editor for the Pensacola News Journal, explained his vote for the faux newsman:

"Colbert is more than an entertainer, he's a force of nature," said Diaz. "He's influenced the way we look at the news and even the way we speak. Whenever a major news story breaks, one of my first thoughts is what Colbert's spin on the story will be."

Colbert began his year by facing off against his inspiration, Bill O'Reilly. In one afternoon, Colbert and the Fox News commentator traded guest appearances on each other's shows in an exchange Colbert called "a meeting of the guts."

The meeting had been anticipated since Colbert's 2005 debut of "The Report," a deadpan fun-house mirror held up to "The O'Reilly Factor" and other conservative news programs.

In early 2007, Colbert became the namesake of the new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor "Americone Dream." This followed in a tradition of naming things after Colbert, like the mascot for the Saginaw Spirit, an Ontario Hockey League team, "Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle."

While taping an episode on June 27, Colbert fell and broke his wrist — a minor event for most, but weeks of fodder for Colbert. The following month, he unveiled a "wrist awareness" campaign in which he urged anyone famous to wear a "WristStrong" bracelet (similar to Lance Armstrong's "LiveStrong" bands).

Showcasing his extremely detail-centric sense of humor, Colbert said on a September show: "If (Alan) Greenspan can do for my bracelets what he did for secured short-term lending through federal repurchasing agreements — can you imagine how great that would be?"

But Colbert's main act would be the run-up to his White House campaign and his ensuing bid for the nation's highest office. While promoting his new book, Colbert appeared on news programs and wrote a guest column for The New York Times mocking the dance many candidates go through before officially declaring their candidacy.

Colbert eventually announced on his program on Oct. 16, where he made it clear he aimed to parody everything about image-sensitive political campaigns. He appeared beforehand on "The Daily Show" sitting on a bale of hay and drinking a beer to show that he was an Average Joe.

The 43-year-old comedian jokingly suggested his ticket could read "Colbert-Huckabee," referring to former Arkansas governor Republican Mike Huckabee. Huckabee had made several appearances on "The Report" (making him a "friend of the show"). Huckabee's candidacy was then something of a joke; now he has zoomed to the top of the polls.

Colbert's announcement set off dialogue across the political landscape about the legitimacy of his candidacy and how he might impact the primaries.

Wrote New York Times columnist David Carr: "It is Mr. Colbert's ability to both mimic and amplify the tics of political convention and play them back with just a little more topspin that makes his satire so discomfiting."

Colbert said he would run only in his native South Carolina, but after he applied to get his name on the state's Democratic primary ballot (the Republican fee was too high), party officials voted 13-3 to keep Colbert off, claiming he "serves to detract from the serious candidates."

Soon thereafter, Colbert announced that he was withdrawing: "Although I lost by the slimmest margin in presidential election history — only 10 votes — I have chosen not to put the country through another agonizing Supreme Court battle. It is time for this nation to heal."

Colbert's withdrawal may have been hastened by the Hollywood writers strike, which shut down production on "The Report" in early November. Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom Inc., announced Thursday that both "The Report" and "The Daily Show" will return to the air on Jan. 7, with or without their writing staffs.

On his last episode of the year, Colbert said: "As you know, except for my 13 writers and production crew, I do this show single-handedly four nights a week. I'm also raising a family, promoting a book and, hey, two weeks ago I said, `Let's run for president.' I haven't gotten a wink since I blacked out talking to Tim Russert."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Well Put

Quotes from the candidates

Unless Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback
Mountain to tell us something different, we need to keep that
understanding of marriage.

- Mike Huckabee

It's the acts, it's the various acts that people perform that
are sinful.

- Rudolph Giuliani on homosexuality

I don't want civil unions or gay marriage.

- Mitt Romney

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Political Cartoonists

You know, America's political cartoonists really are producing some of their best work in over a decade. It seems only natural, especially in these times of the most corruption anyone has seen so blatantly displayed in Washington since Watergate.

It's a shame the American public doesn't seem to notice. They're all too busy shopping at Wal*Mart and thinking it's just great...or trying to find ways to make enough money to afford the gas and electric bills this winter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Variety of Toons

Something of a variety show collection of some recent fine works I found:

Monday, December 3, 2007


Thanks to Caleb.

1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can't legally get married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously, gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if Gay marriage is allowed, since Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.

5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are property, blacks can't marry whites, and divorce is illegal.

6. Gay marriage should be decided by people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.

7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country That's why we have only one religion in America.

8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

10. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children.

11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven't adapted to things like cars or longer lifespans.

12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a "separate but equal" institution is always constitutional. Separate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as separate marriages for gays and lesbians will.

A Letter to Dr. Laura

It's been circulated a lot, but always worth another read!

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have
learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as
many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle,
for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be
an abomination. ...End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however,
regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

1.. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord - Leviticus 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They
claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2.. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus
21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3.. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of menstrual cleanliness - Leviticus 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I
tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4.. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine
claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why
can't I own Canadians?

5.. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him

6.. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination
- Leviticus 11:10, is it a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't
agree. Can you settle this?

7.. Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have
a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8.. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around
their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27. How
should they die?

9.. I know from Leviticus 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10.. My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two
different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of
two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse
and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of
getting the whole town together to stone them? - Leviticus 24:10-16. Couldn't
we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people
who sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can
help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

in defense of biblical marriage

With thanks to Caleb.

in defense of biblical marriage...funny

House of Representatives
February 25, 2004
Remarks by Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA)

Mr. Speaker,

The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray for the President as he
seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be
according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of
marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government."
This is true..

A. Marriage shall consist of a union between one man and one or
more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or
wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a
virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9;
Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State,
nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses
to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine
of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-
10; Deut 25:5-10)

Finally, it says that since there is no law that can change things, divorce is not possible...

Think about it! Does this sound like the America that you want to live in? Do you think
that codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles is a good idea?

homophobia leads to these things...

Just something found on my friend Caleb's MySpace site:

homophobia leads to these things...

I am the boy who never finished high school, because I got called a fag everyday

I am the girl kicked out of her home because I confided in my mother that I am a lesbian.

I am the prostitute working the streets because nobody will hire a transsexual woman.

I am the sister who holds her gay brother tight through the painful, tear-filled nights.

We are the parents who buried our daughter long before her time.

I am the man who died alone in the hospital because they would not let my partner of twenty-seven years into the room.

I am the foster child who wakes up with nightmares of being taken away from the two fathers who are the only loving family I have ever had. I wish they could adopt me.

I am not one of the lucky ones. I killed myself just weeks before graduating high school. It was simply too much to bear.

We are the couple who had the realtor hang up on us when she found out we wanted to rent a one-bedroom for two men.

I am the person who never knows which bathroom I should use if I want to avoid getting the management called on me.

I am the mother who is not allowed to even visit the children I bore, nursed, and raised. The court says I am an unfit mother because I now live with another woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who found the support system grow suddenly cold and distant when they found out my abusive partner is also a woman.

I am the domestic-violence survivor who has no support system to turn to because I am male.

I am the father who has never hugged his son because I grew up afraid to show affection to other men.

I am the home-economics teacher who always wanted to teach gym until someone told me that only lesbians do that.

I am the woman who died when the EMTs stopped treating me as soon as they realized I was transsexual. (yes, this actually happened)

I am the person who feels guilty because I think I could be a much better person if I didnt have to always deal with society hating me.

I am the man who stopped attending church, not because I don't believe, but because they closed their doors to my kind.

I am the person who has to hide what this world needs most, love.

I am the person ashamed to tell my own friends im a lesbian, because they constantly make fun of them.

I am the boy tied to a fence, beaten to a bloody pulp and left to die because two straight men wanted to "teach me a lesson"

I am the person that cannot be him self in his house cause my parents are religious and in the bible it says that Adam is suppose to be with Eve not with Steve.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

U.S. Banana Republic

Cartoonist: Kirk Anderson

Why do 'liberal media' go so easy on Bush?

Dave Zweifel — 11/26/2007 11:38 am

If a president can be impeached for lying about an extramarital affair, then why aren't we impeaching a president who lied to his country to start a war that is soon to have lasted five long years?

We saw another example last week of the double standard that permeates so much of America's media these days, the media that so many conservatives claim are "too liberal."

A sneak peek at former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's soon-to-be-published book reveals that virtually every bigwig in the Bush administration passed along lies about who was involved in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame -- including the president himself.

McClellan in 2003 stood at the White House press room podium and said that neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby, the two most senior aides to George Bush and Dick Cheney, had anything to do with leaking to several members of the press that Plame was an undercover CIA agent. She was exposed in an apparent retaliation for a guest column her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had written for the New York Times, claiming that Bush had lied about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in his State of the Union address.

As it later turned out, not only was Bush's speech a lie, but McClellan's defense of Rove and Libby was also an outright lie. McClellan's memoir, to be published next spring, claims that five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in his telling that lie to the press and the rest of the nation: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself.

But the McClellan excerpts got little play last week in our so-called anti-George Bush liberal media.

Contrast that with what would have undoubtedly happened had the president been Bill Clinton.

Not only would Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter have begun a 24/7 feeding frenzy, but every TV network and big city daily newspaper would have carried major stories about the president being fingered in another lie.

Wisconsin's own intellectual giant of a congressman, James Sensenbrenner, would have insisted on the House Judiciary Committee calling for an investigation that would surely lead to impeachment proceedings.

They did all that, after all, when Bill Clinton was caught lying about messing around with a White House intern. Had Bill Clinton lied his way into starting a war and then instructed his press secretary to tell the American people lies about underhanded dealings by his staff, the Washington politicians and the national press would have run the man out of town on a rail.

Perhaps this administration has lied to the American people so many times that it doesn't qualify as news anymore.

But, I say again, if a president can be impeached for lying about an extramarital affair, then why aren't we impeaching a president who lied to his country to start a war that is soon to have lasted five long years?

Dave Zweifel is editor of The Capital Times.

'Fair and Balanced' Media

Progressive Daily Beacon
A. Alexander, November 24th, 2007

Conservatives used to decry American media as being "Liberal," but what they really meant was that our media used to practice good judgment and common decency. Talent-less hatemongers such as Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity would never have been deemed worthy of a national television or radio audience. Hannity especially, with nothing to offer but rage and hate, most certainly would not have been given his own television program.

And why would the Coulters and Hannitys not have been provided a stage from which they could spread their hate? Was it really because the media had a "Liberal bias"? The answer, of course, is no! Common decency and ethical standards would have and still should, preclude spiteful and rage-filled people from being given an outlet. After all, what real value do Hannity, Coulter and most Conservative media personalities really provide society? The answer is that they contribute nothing to American society and even less to genuine political discourse!

And sorry, but not providing merchants of hate and ignorance a national media outlet is not infringing upon their right to free speech. Hannity and Coulter and all the other Conservative peddlers of hate could express themselves on blogs, or stand on street corners, or have billboards erected ... and all this they could do without anybody impeding upon their right to do so. However, it is morally and ethically unacceptable that television and radio companies provide time on public-owned airwaves for the likes of Hannity and Coulter to insult and willfully mislead the American people -- to lie to the American people -- and to spew their hatred. More than that, it shows a total lack of good judgment and common decency!

So, if in the past common decency would have prevented American media from providing airtime to purveyors of hate, what changed? What changed is that so-called Conservatives searched the globe and found an Australian man, Rupert Murdoch, who didn't care a spit about the wellbeing of the United States or common decency. The Republican Party helped Mister Murdoch's News Corp gain a toehold in America, so that his vast media empire could be used as the means through which the United States would be converted into what it has become today: A government corrupted and perverted by corporate greed and a military tool to be used solely for the purpose of securing petroleum and other resources for global corporations.

Mister Murdoch's media, especially FOX News, has been designed for one purpose and one purpose only: To serve as the megaphone through which the voices of hatred and intolerance can be amplified and, in this manner, use base emotions, especially fear, to keep people distracted from real issues ... real issues, like the fact that their freedoms and liberties are being erased, while a self-anointed privileged class robs the government's treasury and gives all the taxpayers' money to corporate crony pals.

Republicans know that none of this could have been accomplished through the traditional American media, which was owned and operated by corporations and people that at least pretended to have the United States and American peoples' best interest at heart. Traditional American media used to employ some small degree of good judgment and common decency as a guide in determining who was or wasn't granted access to the peoples' public-owned airwaves. The Conservatives' Rupert Murdoch uses only what is best for his and his corporate buddies' bottom line to guide his programming decisions. That is what Conservatives mean by 'Fair and Balanced' media.

Friday, November 23, 2007

$46 Thousand Dollars!!!!

The surge in Bush war spending

Robert Scheer, Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What can you get for a trillion bucks? Or make that $1.6 trillion, if you take the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as tallied by the majority staff of Congress' Joint Economic Committee (JEC). Or is it the $3.5 trillion figure cited by Ron Paul, whose concern about the true cost of this war for ordinary Americans shames the leading Democrats, who prattle on about needed domestic programs that will never find funding because of future war-related government debt.

Given that the overall defense budget is now double what it was when Bush's father presided over the end of the Cold War, at a time when we don't have a militarily sophisticated enemy in sight, you have to wonder how this president has managed to exceed Cold War spending levels. What has he gotten for the trillions wasted? Nothing, when it comes to capturing bin Laden, bringing democracy to Iraq, or preventing oil prices from tripling and enriching the ayatollahs of Iran while messing up the American economy.

But that money could have paid for a lot of things we could have used here at home. As Paul points out, for what the Iraq war costs, we could present each family of four a check for $46,000 - which exceeds the $43,000 median household income in his Texas district. He asks: "What about the impact of those costs on education, the very thing that so often helps to increase earnings? $46,000 would cover 90 percent of the tuition costs to attend a four-year public university in Texas for both children in that family of four. But, instead of sending kids to college, too often we're sending them to Iraq, where the best news in a long time is they aren't killing our men and women as fast as they were last month."

How damning that it takes a libertarian Republican to remind the leading Democratic candidates of the opportunity costs of the Iraq war that most Democrats in Congress had voted for. But they don't need to take Paul's word for it; last week, the majority staff of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress came up with similarly startling estimates of the long-term costs of this war.

The White House has quibbled over the methods employed by the JEC to calculate the real costs of our two foreign wars, because the Democrats in the majority dared to include the long-term care of wounded soldiers and the interest to be paid on the debt financing the war in their calculations. Of course, you need to account for the additional debt run up by an administration that cut taxes, instead of raising them to pay for the war, by relying on the Chinese communists and other foreigners who hold so much of our debt. As the JEC report, compiled by the committee's professional staff, concluded, "almost 10 percent of total federal government interest payments in 2008 will consist of payments on the Iraq debt accumulated so far."

However, even if you take the hard figure of the $804 billion the administration demanded for the past five years, and ignore all the long-run costs like debt service, we're still not talking chump change here. For example, Bush just asked for an additional $191 billion in supplementary aid for his wars, which is $55 billion more than the total spent by the U.S. government last year on all of America's infrastructure repairs, the National Institutes of Health, college tuition assistance and the SCHIP program to provide health insurance to kids who don't have any.

In fact, on this matter of covering the uninsured, it should be pointed out, to those who say we (alone among industrialized nations) can't afford it, that we could have covered all 47 million uninsured Americans over the past six years for what the Iraq war cost us. How come that choice - war in Iraq or full medical coverage for all Americans - was never presented to the American people by the Democrats and Republicans who voted for this war and continue to finance it?

Those now celebrating the success of the surge might note that, as the JEC report points out, "maintaining post-surge troop levels in Iraq over the next 10 years would result in costs of $4.5 trillion." Until the leading Democratic candidate faces up to the irreparable harm that the red-ink spending she authorized will do to needed social programs over the next decades, I will be cheering for the libertarian Republican. At least he won't throw more money down some foreign rat hole.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Something I Never Thought I'd Read

Morning Edition, November 15, 2007 · A teenager faces charges of stealing furniture that doesn't exist. The youth in the Netherlands was on one of those Web sites where you create virtual people to wander around virtual buildings spending what amounts to real money. You pay cash for credits to spend online. The 17-year-old allegedly stole $5,800 worth of imaginary furniture. Real police arrested him. They suspect other teens of receiving the stolen goods.

OK. Let me get this correct: People spend REAL money to buy IMAGINARY stuff?!

The IMAGINARY stuff is stolen?!

I think I need to go run my head against the wall....

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gay Dog

Is the dog in Garfield's neighborhood gay or what?

Monday, November 12, 2007

And to Think....

...there are still some people in America who support Bush and the Republicans.....and the equally reprehensible Democrat running for president.

Well, here's some reminders that there are still some sane people who can think for themselves in the USA today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

From the Mouths of the Right

Here they are, being "Christian":

"Oh, you're one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die,
you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You
got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have
got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it."

Right-wing radio talkshow host Michael Savage
"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them
to Christianity."

Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter
The debate over Bill Clinton should be about "whether to impeach or

Ann Coulter

(And what has she said of Bush's lying, warmongering, and hundreds of other impeachable offenses that actually affect the people of the U.S. and the world? Oh yeah, all that's OK.)
"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I
could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it."

Right-wing CNN commentator Glenn Beck
"I wanted to bludgeon her with a tire iron."

Right-wing commentator Michael Graham (speaking about Hillary Clinton).
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the
feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to
make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American
Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the
finger in their face and say 'you helped this (the 9/11 terror
attacks) happen.'"

Right-wing pastor Jerry Falwell


Just something on Yahoo yesterday that made me laugh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Olbermann's Special Comment: Rationalizing Torture to Cover Bush's A__

The Last Great True Patriot: Olbermann Says the Presidency is Now a Criminal Conspiracy
Olbermann continues his fight for the Republic
Olbermann continues his fight for the Republic
Countdown - MSNBC, November 6th, 2007

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists...

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

"Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them ... was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not torture."

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd forgotten — that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're better than that.

We're better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn't black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded "too independent" and "someone who could (not) be counted on."

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn't count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words … that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said "enough."

Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney general, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a "no" out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The "yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: Why were they waterboarded?

Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared.

If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn't interrupt.

If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the Constitution,

Well, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist?

He'll tell you everything he ever fantasized doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you "flew" onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you'd won in Iraq.

Now if that's what this is all about, you tortured not because you're so stupid you think torture produces confession but you tortured because you're smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction — well, then, you're going to need all the lawyers you can find … because that crime wouldn't just mean impeachment, would it?

That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

Daniel Levin's eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish, and him with it.

Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists.

Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed.

From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people ... into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country's history ... and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And We Thought Bush Loved the Troops

Study: Rising number of veterans are uninsured, many ineligible for VA care

Associated Press
Oct. 30, 2007 01:24 PM
WASHINGTON - About one of every eight veterans under the age of 65 are uninsured, a finding that contradicts the assumption many have that all vets qualify for free health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, says a new study.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School projected that about 1.8 million veterans overall lack health coverage. That's an increase of 290,000 since 2000. The researchers said most uninsured veterans are in the middle class and are ineligible for VA care because of their incomes. Still others cannot afford their copayments, or lack VA facilities in their community.

"Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people - too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor and a physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

The study is based on an analysis of government surveys released between 1988 and 2005. Veterans do fare better than the overall population when it comes to obtaining health insurance. Still, the Harvard researchers said the rising number of uninsured vets points to the need for more funding for the VA. The best solution, they said, would be for universal health coverage in the United States.

"Only the government can put men and women into military service and only the government can guarantee that they are covered after they serve," said Dr. Jeffrey Scavron.

The study notes that the VA in January 2003 ordered a halt to the enrollment of most veterans who are not poor. The move was designed to reduce the backlog of patients waiting for care.

But Peter Gaytan, who monitors veterans' issues for the American Legion, said veterans now make as little as about $24,000 a year in some regions and still do not qualify for health coverage from the VA.

"That decision created a large number of veterans who have served in the U.S. military who are denied access," Gaytan said.

Gaytan said the number of uninsured vets could rise in coming years if soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have trouble getting back their old jobs.

"It will be an increasing issue that needs to be dealt with," Gaytan predicted.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Continued Disenfranchisement of the People Can Only Lead to Violence Pooh says: "Think. Think. Think..."

Progressive Daily Beacon
Opinion Piece
Continued Disenfranchisement of the People Can Only Lead to Violence
Silence Dogood, October 25th, 2007

The disconnection between the American people and their elected and designated representatives has never been greater. The peoples' growing sense of isolation from their government and their governing officials is unsustainable. If the government doesn't begin to deconstruct its bunker mentality and move quickly to alter its aggressive, "we know what's best for you" posture toward the public, both the Executive and Legislative branches run the very real risk of fomenting and nurturing what could easily evolve into a violent response. It isn't a matter of "if" this will happen. If nothing changes and soon, it is only a matter of "when" it will happen.

Today's Congressional Republicans and their President, such as he is, are actively attacking the will of the people. The people demand healthcare for their children - Bush and Republicans stubbornly refuse to consider the demand. The people demand an end to the endless war in Iraq and, based upon the misguided belief that they know better, Bush and Republicans arrogantly defy their wishes. The people are hurting and crying out for an economic paradigm that meets their needs, and Bush and Republicans refuse to alter their ideologically motivated failed course of tax-cuts for the wealthiest, nothing for the working person.

Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats aren't much better. They refuse to end the war in Iraq. Instead of simply ending all funding except for the money needed to begin withdrawal and to return the troops home, Democrats offer lies about how they are powerless to do anything. To whom are the people to turn? Who will bend to the will of the American people? The answer to both questions, sadly, is no one.

Not too long ago, frustrated by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats' excuse making and lying, a group of protesters camped outside the Speaker's home and demanded an end to the Iraq War. Too cowardly to look them in the eyes, as Miss Pelosi marched passed the group she declared, "You are not my constituents!" And to think, some assumed that as Speaker of the Peoples' House, every citizen was her constituent. Apparently not!

What was Nancy Pelosi's message? Was Pelosi saying that both she and the Democratic Congress, like the Bush White House, will represent ONLY those American citizens who agree with their policies and positions? If the protesters aren't Nancy Pelosi's constituents, then who in the government represents them and their legitimate interests? Finally, if a growing proportion of the population is being told that they have no voice in their supposed democracy and their government becomes hostile toward their legitimate demands what recourse, other than violence, is left to them?

The government's growing isolation and disconnect from the people, and the increasingly confrontational posture between citizens and their officials was on full display when Condoleezza Rice was challenged by a protester brandishing bloodied hands. Though the protester's approach certainly highlighted an aggression born out of desperation, the look upon Rice's face made it clear that she held nothing but contempt for this citizen's desperate attempt at having her government acknowledge her legitimate concerns. Indeed, Rice's cold glare made crystal-clear that the government no longer considered the people as being legitimate participants in policy decisions.

At every level of government the people are being marginalized, ignored and trivialized. If the Executive and Legislative Branches of the government continue this aggressive posture toward the people, it will only be a matter of time before some people respond with violence. Let's hope someone in Washington DC figures it out before it is too late.


posted by Katherine HOlland
on October 25th, 2007 at 6:49AM
This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing gov, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or revolutionary right to dismember or over throw it. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Sound advice & great wisdom. Where do we start? It seems only a few members have the guts to speak up for truth.

posted by Paul Coffman
on October 25th, 2007 at 11:58AM
At last, none to soon, the truth and it's reality. I, as a lone voice having not been heard, agree with and advocate this entire article. We, as American citizens, must realize our Constitutional rights, as we once knew them, are gone. If going to the streets is the only way to gain them back, quoting the moron in the White House, "Bring it on"!!


...our 'allies' in Europe ought to strike not along side us at Iran, they ought to strike right at us! It'll be a quick, simple takeover. All our forces are already in Iraq and Afghanistan. There'd be none left defending the US, so don't worry about bombs, mass casualties, and destruction. The only ones left to defend us would be the members of congress, and most of them dodged their military service, so it would be a relatively simple takeover/take-back.

With an appointed leader from say, the Netherlands, in the White House, the country could be brought back around to some sense of sanity in the world. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights could be reinstated, a new congress elected, and WWIII would have ended very quickly...if the Europeans are smart enough to do it.

Read on as to why they should:

Rosa Brooks:
Straitjacket Bush
The president's warmongering remarks on the Iranian threat suggest he is psychotic. Really.
October 25, 2007

Forget impeachment.

Liberals, put it behind you. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shouldn't be treated like criminals who deserve punishment. They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment.

Because they've clearly gone mad. Exhibit A: We're in the middle of a disastrous war in Iraq, the military and political situation in Afghanistan is steadily worsening, and the administration's interrogation and detention tactics have inflamed anti-Americanism and fueled extremist movements around the globe. Sane people, confronting such a situation, do their best to tamp down tensions, rebuild shattered alliances, find common ground with hostile parties and give our military a little breathing space. But crazy people? They look around and decide it's a great time to start another war.

That would be with Iran, and you'd have to be deaf not to hear the war drums. Last week, Bush remarked that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III . . . you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." On Sunday, Cheney warned of "the Iranian regime's efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power . . . [we] cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions." On Tuesday, Bush insisted on the need "to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat."

Huh? Iran is now a major threat to Europe? The Iranians are going to launch a nuclear missile (that they don't yet possess) against Europe (for reasons unknown because, as far as we know, they're not mad at anyone in Europe)? This is lunacy in action.

Writing in Newsweek on Oct. 20, Fareed Zakaria, a solid centrist and former editor of Foreign Affairs, put it best. Citing Bush's invocation of "the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon," Zakaria concluded that "the American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. . . . Iran has an economy the size of Finland's. . . . It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are . . . allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?"

Planet Cheney.

Zakaria may be misinterpreting the president's remark about World War III though. He saw it as a dangerously loopy Bush prediction about the future behavior of a nuclear Iran -- the idea being, presumably, that possessing "the knowledge" to make a nuclear weapon would so empower Iran's repressive leaders that they'll giddily rush out and start World War III.

But you could read Bush's remark as a madman's threat rather than a madman's prediction -- as a warning to recalcitrant states, from Germany to Russia, that don't seem to share his crazed obsession with Iran. The message: Fall into line with administration policy toward Iran or you can count on the U.S.A. to try to start World War III on its own. And when it comes to sparking global conflagration, a U.S. attack on Iran might be just the thing. Yee haw!

You'd better believe these guys would do it too. Why not? They have nothing to lose -- they're out of office in 15 months anyway. Après Bush-Cheney, le déluge! (Have fun, Hillary.)

But all this creates a conundrum. What's a constitutional democracy to do when the president and vice president lose their marbles?

The U.S. is full of ordinary people with serious forms of mental illness -- delusional people with violent fantasies who think they're the president, or who think they get instructions from the CIA through their dental fillings.

The problem with Bush is that he is the president -- and he gives instructions to the CIA and military, without having to go through his dental fillings.

Impeachment's not the solution to psychosis, no matter how flagrant. But despite their impressive foresight in other areas, the framers unaccountably neglected to include an involuntary civil commitment procedure in the Constitution.

Still, don't lose hope. By enlisting the aid of mental health professionals and the court system, Congress can act to remedy that constitutional oversight. The goal: Get Bush and Cheney committed to an appropriate inpatient facility, where they can get the treatment they so desperately need. In Washington, the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a "court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization."

I'll even serve on the jury. When it comes to averting World War III, it's really the least I can do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If This Doesn't Make You Mad, Nothing Will!

And, tell me this doesn't sound like the storyline of a bad Hollywood B-movie?

(Somebody go find out what movies Dubya has been watching the past 8 years.)

Bush Won’t Pay for Kids’ Health Care But Flew Billions in Shrink-Wrapped Bundles of Taxpayer Cash into the Iraq War Zone - a Fortune That Can’t Be Accounted for Now

Posted by Jon Ponder | Oct. 21, 2007, 7:58 am

“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?” — Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Pres. Bush said he vetoed the Democrats’ expansion of the SCHIP children’s health insurance program because it was too costly. This confirms what we know about the president’s priorities. But the cost to cover 10 million additional children would be $35 billion, Democrats have pointed out, which is roughly what it takes to run Bush’s war in Iraq for 41 days.

An even more apt example of the misplaced values of Bush and his party — of taxpayer money squandered in Iraq that could have been put to good use in the United States — is the story of the $12 billion or so that was flown into Iraq and then went missing and will never be recovered. It sounds like a financial scandal of historical proportions, and yet it is one of the most under-reported story of the war:

The United States flew nearly $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent.

The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a U.S. congressional committee.

In the year after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 nearly 281 million notes, weighing 363 tons, were sent from New York to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and US contractors. Using C-130 planes, the deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest of $2,401,600,000 on June 22, 2004, six days before the handover.

After this was revealed in an investigation into Bush’s handling of his invasion of Iraq, Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee was prompted to ask:

“Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?”

Security in the war zone was so lax as to be non-existent:

“One [Bush Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)] official described an environment awash in $100 bills,” the memorandum [on the investigation for Waxman’s committee] says. “One contractor received a $2 million payment in a duffel bag stuffed with shrink-wrapped bundles of currency. Auditors discovered that the key to a vault was kept in an unsecured backpack.


“They also found that $774,300 in cash had been stolen from one division’s vault. Cash payments were made from the back of a pickup truck, and cash was stored in unguarded sacks in Iraqi ministry offices. One official was given $6.75 million in cash, and was ordered to spend it in one week before the interim Iraqi government took control of Iraqi funds.”

The Bush team — many of whom were inexperienced Republican Party operatives, cronies of the president and their twenty-something kids — lost or ripped off millions of dollars from the UN that was intended to feed Iraq’s poor people:

On April 12, 2004, the [CPA] in Erbil in northern Iraq handed over $1.5 billion in cash to a local courier. The money, fresh $100 bills shrink-wrapped on pallets, which filled three Blackhawk helicopters, came from oil sales under the UN’s Oil for Food Programme, and had been entrusted by the UN Security Council to the Americans to be spent on behalf of the Iraqi people.

The CPA didn’t properly check out the courier before handing over the cash, and, as a result, according to an audit report by the CPA’s inspector general, “there was an increased risk of the loss or theft of the cash.”

Paul Bremer, the American pro-consul in Baghdad … kept a slush fund of nearly $600 million cash for which there is no paperwork: $200 million of this was kept in a room in one of Saddam’s former palaces, and the US soldier in charge used to keep the key to the room in his backpack, which he left on his desk when he popped out for lunch. Again, this is Iraqi money, not US funds.

To get a sense of the Bushies’ attitude about the loss of the money, here is retired Admiral David Oliver, who was Bremer’s financial advisor, on the loss of billions of Oil for Food dollars:

“I have no idea. I can’t tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn’t - nor do I actually think it’s important.”

Q: “But the fact is billions of dollars have disappeared without trace.”

Oliver: “Of their money. Billions of dollars of their money, yeah I understand. I’m saying what difference does it make?”

The reason Adm. Oliver should have cared — aside from the fact that finance was his purview — is that some of this cash very likely fueled the insurgency that ensued a few months later. It is also likely the money ended up in the hands of terrorists who used it to buy weapons to kill our troops.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On Bush's Payroll

Bush couldn't find people willing to back his federal ban on same-sex marriage, so he hired journalists and talk show personalities to promote it on the air and in testimonies to the Senate!


Read on...

Stations Face Fines Over Use Of Bush Anti-Gay Shill
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: October 19, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) Two broadcast companies are facing FCC fines totaling $76,000 against two broadcast companies for failing to tell viewers that programs in 2004 featuring conservative columnist Armstrong Williams were sponsored by the Education Department.

Williams was hired by the Bush administration to promote its so-called marriage initiative that would have banned same-sex marriage in the Constitution and to promote the No Child Left Behind Act.

Williams was paid nearly a quarter million dollars in 2003 by the White House to promote the President's agenda in his columns and nationally syndicated talk show.

Williams did not reveal the existence of the contract even as he expressed his support for the agenda on the air.

The Federal Communications Commission says the two companies, which own multiple stations, violated sponsorship identification rules by not revealing Williams' financial relationship.

Sonshine Family Television Inc., owner of WBPH-TV in Bethlehem, Pa., is liable for a fine of $40,000 for airing five episodes of "The Right Side with Armstrong Williams."

The shows aired on 10 occasions in the first half of 2004 and included Williams speaking about the education law.

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. of Baltimore was hit with a proposed fine of $36,000 for airing an episode of "America's Black Forum" in September of 2004, which also included Williams talking about the legislation.

The Sinclair stations involved are WABM-TV in Birmingham, Ala.; KSMO-TV in Kansas City, Mo.; WVTV-TV in Milwaukee, Wis.; WUXP-TV in Nashville, Tenn.; KOCB-TV and WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Fla; WPMY-TV in Pittsburgh; KABB-TV in San Antonio; and WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Fla.

The FCC said it began investigating following a complaint from Free Press, a public interest media watchdog group, and "several thousand other complainants".

The attorney-general reportedly is also looking into the relationship between Williams and the White House.

In 2005 the Government Accountability Office launched its own probe and concluded that the Education Department engaged in illegal "covert propaganda" by hiring Williams without requiring him to disclose that he was being paid. The Education Department's inspector general also reviewed the Williams deal.

Williams is a former aide to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In a column following the 2004 election Williams linked gay rights advocates with organized crime.

"Despite the rhetoric that you hear from the homosexual Cosa Nostra, the lack of support for the gay marriage amendment has nothing to do with prejudice," he wrote.

"It's not about trying to dictate to adults what they should do in the privacy of their own homes. Let's be clear about that. Opposition to the gay marriage amendment isn't about disallowing homosexuals the same basic rights we extend to everyone else. It is about recognizing that marriage between man and woman is the bedrock of our society. It is about the citizens of this country saying, en masse, that they are unwilling to deconstruct certain basic and essential norms in our culture and society."

After Williams was exposed the White House pulled the plug on the operation, but sources close to the investigation say that Williams did not return any of the money, nor did the administration request it.

After Williams was exposed two other cases came to light where the administration hired journalists to promote its agenda in the guise of unbiased commentary and news.

Syndicated conservative columnists Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus were paid by the administration to promote the marriage initiative.

In 2003 Gallagher testified before a Senate subcommittee in support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage but failed to mention she was on the White House payroll. (story)

McManus, whose syndicated column, "Ethics & Religion," appeared in 50 newspapers, was hired as a subcontractor by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I am Relevant

...and let's remember: it is more important for President Bush to be relevant than for children to have health care. And Mr. Bush's definition of relevancy, as he has implied is actually "dictatorial" in the dictionary; not that Mr. Bush could probably define either "dictatorial" nor "dictionary", since he probably thinks they are synonymous, not that he knows what a synonym is either.

Bush: 'I Am Relevant'

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; 1:10 PM

A defensive President Bush insisted that he was still relevant this morning in a news conference dominated by his bitter complaints about the Democratic Congress.

Asked how he found himself vetoing a children's health insurance bill that had passed Congress with bipartisan support, Bush insisted that using a veto is "one way to ensure I am relevant."

When a reporter followed up and asked Bush if he felt he was losing leverage and relevance, Bush replied: "I've never felt more engaged and more capable of getting the American people to realize there's a lot of unfinished business."

Which, let's be blunt, is hard to believe.

Everything you need to know about today's hastily scheduled press conference was telegraphed by John Whitesides of Reuters: "Deepening unhappiness with President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress soured the mood of Americans and sent Bush's approval rating to another record low this month, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday. . . .

"Bush's job approval rating fell to 24 percent from last month's record low for a Zogby poll of 29 percent. A paltry 11 percent gave Congress a positive grade, tying last month's record low."

"There is a real question among Americans now about how relevant this government is to them," pollster John Zogby told Whitesides. "They tell us they want action on health care, education, the war and immigration, but they don't believe they are going to get it."

Bush has now tied President Nixon's all-time low approval rating as measured by the Gallup Poll. But Congress is doing even worse.

"Congress has little to show for all the time that has gone by" since Democrats gained control in January of both the House and the Senate, Bush said.

At the end of the press conference, Bush celebrated what he called his "bully pulpit," telling reporters "I was trying to get your attention focused on the fact that major pieces of legislation aren't moving, and those that are, are at a snail's pace. And I hope I did that. I hope I was able to accomplish that."

'Common Ground'

Bush said that "now it's time to put politics aside and seek common ground." But New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg asked: "This morning, you gave us a pretty scathing report card on Democrats. . . . I'm wondering, how would you assess yourself in dealing with Democrats this past year? How effective have you been in dealing with them on various issues? And do you think you've done a good job in finding common ground?"

In his response, Bush demonstrated that his idea of common ground involves Democrats caving in and giving him whatever he asks for.

Nobody Likes Their Flaws Pointed Out to Them

Washington Post reporter Peter Baker noted that there are signs Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to continue ruling Russia after his term expires next spring, possibly by becoming prime minister.

Baker asked if Bush should get tougher with Putin -- and "what it would mean for Russian democracy if, when you leave power -- assuming you do in January 2009 -- (laughter) -- that Vladimir Putin is still in power?"

Bush responded vaguely: "My leadership style has been to try to be in a position where I actually can influence people. And one way to do that is to have personal relationships that enable me to sit down and tell people what's on my mind, without fear of rupturing relations."

Bush added that Putin doesn't like it. "You know, nobody likes to be talked to in a way that may point up different flaws in their strategy."

Spoken like someone who has been busy dodging questions and criticisms for a long time! Let's see: we know Bush has dismissed defense and intelligence analysts who don't feed him information that will support his imagined plans. Anytime he is confronted with a challenge to his ideology or actions, he avoids answering the question.

One report has accumulated over 1,000 impeachable offenses against Bush and Cheney, yet Congress has not acted on any of these. Over 1,000!!! Why we continue to allow Bush and Cheney to sit in the nation's highest offices is indeed worth questioning and DEMANDING answers! Why are there NOT hundreds of thousands marching and demonstrating in DC against these KNOWN liars, KNOWN criminals?

You know why?

They're all working 2 and 3 jobs to support their families. And without health care, they can't very well sit or march in the autumn cold of DC! By forcing Americans to work ALL THE TIME, Bush & Co. have effectively made mass demonstrations impossible.

In the 1930s, Bush's grandfather helped organize a failed plot to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a military coup. If only that could happen now....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And what are we doing? Nothing.

Where we should be doing some good instead of being in Iraq.

A frame grab taken by a member of the Democratic Voice of Burma and released October 1, 2007, shows the body of a dead Buddhist monk floating in the Pazondaung River in Yangon. (Photo courtesy Reuters)

'People Will Never Forgive the Murders'

By Jürgen Kremb, Der Spiegel, Oct 8, 2007

Following the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests, the Burmese regime has placed thousands of people in internment camps. The junta has also announced that it intends to hunt down the remaining journalists in the country.

Meetings like this are extremely dangerous for both sides, but the underground opposition in Burma has insisted on this encounter. "This is the only way that we can prove that the government propaganda is a web of lies," says the middleman.

It takes two days to organize the logistics of a secret interview with one of the leaders of the demonstrations in Yangon. Finally, everything is arranged and a taxi is waiting at the agreed location.

This taxi symbolizes the catastrophic state of Burma's economy, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. Virtually the whole of the interior trim is missing, the seats are ripped, and the passenger door is in constant danger of falling off. After an hour-long circuitous journey through the streets of Yangon, the vehicle rolls into the dark courtyard of a wooden single-family house in the eastern part of this city of 5 million people.

The wiry man who awaits the arrival of the taxi is dressed in civilian clothes and has a shaved head. He speaks passable English and introduces himself as the leader of the All-Burma Monks' Alliance, the organization that led the recent demonstrations against the military junta. "Call me U Min," he says hastily. It is 8:30 p.m. in Yangon and there's not much time to talk -- the curfew begins at 10 p.m. "It's not true that the demonstrations have ended," says Min. In Sittwe, in the western state of Arakan, the resistance has not yet been broken, he says. But he knows that it won't last long.

"We've sent the young monks back to their home villages," says Min. He says that monks are now being tortured all across the country. Local people found the body of a man in a red robe, dumped into a sewage canal near Min's house. There are also reports that a number of dead monks have been found in rivers in Shan State in northern Burma.

"They must have been hundreds of deaths," says Min. "We'll never find out the exact number." The military is said to have given orders not to leave any victims on the streets and to burn all corpses immediately. But what shocks the monks' leader most of all is an incident that occurred at the beginning of the week before last.

Min was among a group of monks who were singing and praying as they walked up the steps to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the symbol of the country. "There, the military opened fire on us from above," he says. "It's tantamount to shooting at the priests in St. Peter's." A number of monks immediately fell down dead; there are no traces of those who were wounded in the incident.

Most of Min's fellow monks are on the run, headed for Thailand. But he intends to stay because he firmly believes that the uprising will flare up again. "People are hungry and they will never forgive the murders," says Min at the end of the interview. "The people are trembling with rage -- we won't wait another 19 years."

But the people are also trembling with fear. In contrast to the summer of 1988, when soldiers opened fire on crowds in the streets of Yangon and mowed down at least 3,000 demonstrators, the regime's hunters now come at night. They silently take away opponents of the regime and people who are suspected of taking part in the demonstrations.

There are also reports of a brutal crackdown in South Okkalapa Township, a slum in eastern Yangon. Clashes continued here long after troops had quelled resistance in the center of the city. When the soldiers tried to storm a monastery in Biezar Yaniar Street which was home to particularly rebellious monks, they met with resistance from local residents.

People in South Okkalapa, a quarter of day laborers and the poor, have nothing left to lose. In this part of town, the head of a household rarely earns more than 1,300 kyat a day, the equivalent of 60 euro cents. By comparison, a kilo of rice costs 2,500 kyat.

When the troops advanced on the monastery, there were suddenly hundreds of people on the street, but they could do nothing. The soldiers surrounded the complex and butchered the crowd with bayonets. Inside the monastery they went on a murderous rampage. The monks, who are sworn to a life of non-violence, offered no resistance. "The monks had to stand in a row and then the soldiers smashed their heads against a brick wall," says a local resident.

There are no independent confirmations of such reports. On Wednesday evening last week, Burmese state radio announced that foreign saboteurs were in the country disguised as journalists. German correspondents were explicitly warned. "We will hunt you down," said the radio announcer.

This is a warning to outsiders, but it is mainly aimed at the domestic audience. Local people who talk with journalists are abducted. In South Okkalapa, military trucks are stationed around the clock in front of the rebellious monastery. US diplomats who visited Yangon's monasteries over the past few days found at least 15 which no longer had any monks. Military personnel have occupied the Sule Pagoda in the heart of the city. They march with their boots through the holy site and camp among the Buddha statues -- a sacrilege for all Buddhists.

At night, the feared Swan Arr Shin militia, made up of small-time criminals who do the regime's dirty work, patrol the outlying areas of town, armed with bamboo poles, clubs and knives. In Yangon alone, the government has set up three internment camps. One of them has been built on the grounds of an old horse racing track and another is reportedly located near Yangon International Airport in Mingaladon. Roughly 800 monks have been taken to the grounds of the Yangon Technological University, where for the past few days carpenters have had to build 300 wooden cells, each measuring just three meters by three meters. Since many of the monks are still refusing to receive alms from the military in protest, they have in effect embarked on an involuntarily hunger strike.

Officially, the curfew is from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, but in the outer districts of Yangon, soldiers block intersections every night at 6:00 pm. At nightfall, the population is placed under house arrest.

"Even such a brutal repression will not end this crisis," says one knowledgeable observer, who prefers not to give his name. The fact that he works for the government as an economic advisor lends him a certain degree of protection. He wears a checkered Burmese longyi -- a kind of traditional sarong -- and a carefully ironed white shirt. "What we've seen over the past few days was a revolt inspired by hunger," he says. In his opinion, the military leaders don't care where the country is headed.

Nonetheless, he finds it encouraging that UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari actually met twice with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit to the country. The opposition leader has spent more than 11 of the past 18 years under house arrest or in prison.

Between his two meetings with Suu Kyi, Gambari also met with the 74-year-old junta leader Than Shwe. According to the economic advisor, subtle pressure from China and unusually harsh condemnation from ASEAN -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- may have had some effect on the regime. In any case, state media reported last Thursday that Than Shwe would be prepared, "under certain conditions," to meet with "the Lady," as Suu Kyi is affectionally known. However the junta said Monday that Suu Kyi will remain under house arrest under a new constitution is approved, which most analysts consider a very distant prospect.

There is not much hope left in Burma. During the uprising, speculation was rife about a possible split in the military, fuelled in part by a photo printed in the junta mouthpiece The New Light of Myanmar after the UN special envoy's visit to Yangon. It shows Gambari with the four top military leaders who are on the "State Peace and Development Council," which is the official name of the military regime in Burma. Wasn't there a slight gap between junta boss Than Shwe and the other generals? And wasn't the senior general actually holding Gambari's hand?

But immediately following his return on Thursday, Gambari had some sobering news for his boss, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. According to the special envoy's report, the mission was unsuccessful.

A Responsibility to Honor the Truth

Of course, die-hard neo-cons will dispute all of this as lies, proving it is THEY who are un-American, not those they berate daily.

Read on:

Progressive Daily Beacon
Opinion Piece
A Responsibility to Honor the Truth
A. Alexander, October 8th, 2007

There are no shortage of ill-intended and manipulative people, most associated with today's extremist Republican Party, that like to remind us all that 'freedom ain't free'. An odd perspective considering the fact that 'inalienable rights' are about as free as free can be.... As usual today's radicalized Republican Party and the Conservative movement have reality exactly backwards. Freedom is as free as the air we breathe.... If something is 'inalienable' it is unchallengeable, absolute, immutable, not able to be forfeited, unassailable, incontrovertible, indisputable, and undeniable. It is free!

But that is the problem with today's fanatical Republican Party and militant Conservative movement: It is completely unmoored from reality and operates in a universe of lies and deceit of their own making, which they insist to be the truth.

The Republican Party's confusion couldn't be greater. They honestly don't understand that freedom is indeed, free. However, with freedom, as with great power, comes great responsibility. And that is what today's fringe Conservative movement and extremist Republican Party fail to understand.

One cannot walk into a crowded theater and, under the guise of free speech, scream fire when there is no fire. Such an act could lead to people being trampled and killed as they try to escape. The point is that along with 'inalienable' rights comes an inherent responsibility to practice it in a way that is not harmful to others or to the form of governance that enables and allows such human freedoms to flourish.

How wise is it to allow corporations, political parties, and individuals the legal means through which to broadcast dangerous ideological opinions that are dressed up as factual news? Do corporations, political parties, and individuals have the right to willfully and intentionally mislead and con supposedly free people into behaving, acting, agreeing, or voting in such a way that the doing undermines their freedom and destroys their democracy? Isn't that very much like yelling fire in a crowded theater? Isn't the person yelling fire exercising their right to free speech in a manner that is potentially harmful to others? Isn't manipulating mass media information in such a way that it harms the people and weakens democracy also, an abusive implementation of rights and freedoms?

When FOX News intentionally misleads the public through terrorism-related fear mongering; refuses to report actual news that reflects poorly upon their Republican Party masters; when the network lies and claims everything in Iraq is going just great when it has come completely undone; when their morning show lies and claims a Democrat attended a 'terrorist' training school; and when their captions intentionally misleads the people in one of a hundred different circumstances, isn't that using freedom of the press and free speech in a manner that harms the American people and undermines the democratic process?

Today's Republican Party and extremist Conservative movement's foundation is the notion that simply because they believe something, it is true and deserving of equal media representation. Never mind Republicans rarely, if ever, possess evidence or facts to support their version of what they consider the "truth." Republicans believe whatever it is that they believe and have bullied the media into accepting their "impassioned belief" as being of equal value to evidence and facts. This, of course, is insanity. And the danger that this illogical reasoning poses to the nation's wellbeing, has been made more than obvious by the Iraq War.

The Bush administration and quasi-think tank supporters insisted Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and links to al-Qaeda. They couldn't prove either case and had no evidence to support their ridiculous claims. The international community and MOST of the legitimate (non-administration created and sponsored) U.S. intelligence community had facts-based evidence directly refuting the administration and its supporter's claims. However, the administration insisted that their claims -- absent fact or evidence -- merited greater weight because it was THEIR strongly held opinion and they were able to better package their perspective for mass media consumption. Insanely, most of America's media agreed and ignored the evidence-based facts that directly contradicted the administration's Iraq-related opinions.

The point is that everyone has a right to their own opinion, but they don't have a right to present their delusions as being either fact or reality. What's more, institutions and media outlets have a responsibility not to present dangerous and misleading ideology-based opinions as fact or reality. And, contrary to what some might believe, including people on the Left who've bought into the Republican con that public figures and so-called news agencies have every right to present their opinion as fact, refusing to allow or participate in the perpetuation of opinions-as-fact insanity is not infringing upon anybody's free speech.

Nobody is saying that James Dobson cannot say, though it is completely dissociated from reality, that the Founding Fathers formed the foundation of America's government on biblical teachings. Dobson and his followers have every right to say and believe whatever delusions they wish to, however; the media has an obligation to America's freedoms and democracy to both correct the falsehoods and too, not to allow peoples' delusions to be presented in a forum or manner that could be perceived as legitimizing the illegitimate.

If it hurts James Dobson's feelings that his delusions aren't being presented in a manner that would make them appear legitimate, that is too bad. The media's job isn't to placate either the Right or Left's feelings or agenda - it is to be an honest mediator and disseminator of factual information.

Even the President of the United States has the right to his opinions, but the media has an obligation to freedom and democracy to ensure that not even the President of the United States' opinions are presented as fact. And when there is a gray area and, perhaps, the truth appears somewhat murky - responsibility to freedom and democracy demands that conclusions be based upon the preponderance of available evidence...regardless of how strongly one might believe their own self delusions.

Finally, when someone's opinion is stated as fact and is done so without evidence supporting the claims, responsible people have a duty to freedom and democracy to make certain the opinion is not repeated without being properly challenged. Again, a lesson that Iraq should have made clear.

Today's extremist Republican Party and fringe Conservative movement members need to understand that they have a right to their opinions, but responsible media has a duty to freedom and democracy to challenge such misguided delusions and to ensure such opinions are not disseminated as fact. Indeed, in a public forum, along with free speech comes a great responsibility on the speaker's behalf to ensure that what is said is honest and truthful...otherwise nobody is obligated to provide them a platform from which to lie.