Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Who Knew Jesus Could Be So Sneaky?

The Jeffersonian - this one's for you.

They are having a contest at some freakshow's website to rename/rebrand Creationism. Apparently, about every 10 years or so, they like to mix it up a little bit, to confuse those of us who'd prefer that science and facts are taught in schools rather than religious dogma.

This ain't no halfass contest, neither. The winner gets a trip to Disney World for the whole family! I assume it's on one of the non-gay days...

Click HERE For Free Horror

Atrios has a post linking to another guy who links to a video about the United States' penchant for chemical and nuclear war, and the repercussions of chemical and nuclear war, (birth defects, mutations; you know, the usual). The video is so disturbing that I wanted three degrees of separation between my blog and that video.

You've been warned.

Foxes Guarding the Henhouse

Remember our cute, naive little friend, Dr. Graham over at the FDA? Turns out, there's more to the story.

In yet another example of the deadly joke that is our governmental watchdog apparatus, Dr. Graham was about to publish his study of Vioxx and, you know, how it kills people, when the powers-that-be at the FDA contacted him, tried to block the article, made him feel as though his job was threatened, etc. etc.

Just days before a medical journal was to publish a Food and Drug Administration-sponsored study that raised concerns about the safety of the arthritis drug Vioxx, an FDA official took the unusual step of calling the editor to raise questions about the findings' scientific integrity, suggests e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.

Lead author David Graham says the call was part of an effort to block publication of his research, an analysis of a database of 1.4 million Kaiser Permanente members showing that those who took Vioxx were more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those who took Celebrex, Vioxx's rival.

This is the fucking FDA! Not Merck. The taxpayer-funded, government agency, the Food and Drug Administration - trying to block a study that shows a drug is killing people.

Maybe we should just count our blessings that word got out at all...

Segregation Forever!

Welcome to the 19th Century, Alabama. You'd never have guessed, but some... no, a majority of Alabama folks are still fighting the Civil War.

There was a vote on a referendum to remove certain segregation-era language from the Alabama constitution. And surprise, surprise! It failed. Here are some doozies that will be staying on the books:

"Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race."

"To avoid confusion and disorder and to promote effective and economical planning for education, the legislature may authorize the parents or guardians of minors, who desire that such minors shall attend schools provided for their own race."

Another shocker - guess who's been campaigning against the referendum. Our old friend, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Good to see he's keeping busy...

While we're on the topic of Alabama, here's something from the article that I didn't know:

This year Moore's former aide, Tom Parker, was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court even after it became clear that he had been handing out Confederate flags while campaigning and had attended a function honoring the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.


How Quaint

Red Cross Finds Detainee Abuse in Guantánamo

*Gasp* No way!

...investigators had found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners at Guantánamo, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions." Investigators said that the methods used were increasingly "more refined and repressive" than learned about on previous visits.


...an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings."

So adorable...

"I'm satisfied that the detainees here have not been abused, they've not been mistreated, they've not been tortured in any way," [General Hood, commander of the detention and interrogation facility at Guantánamo] said.

What a relief! I'm glad we cleared this whole mess up.

The Pentagon also said the medical care given detainees was first-rate. Although the Red Cross criticized the lack of confidentiality, it agreed in the report that the medical care was of high quality.

Translation: After we remove the electrodes from a prisoner's testicles, we have a first rate ointment for him to soothe his wounds.

I'm so full of pride in my country, I could weep.

Power to the People

In Ukraine, they're out in the main square 24 hours a day in below-freezing weather demanding that they be heard. "What do we want? DEMOCRACY! When do we want it? NOW!" (But you know, in Ukranian...)

Meanwhile, as I have noted previously, everything in Ukraine is the same shit that went down in Ohio.

Where is our outrage? Where is our 24 hour rally? Aren't we supposed to be the shining beacon of freedom and democracy to which the rest of the world aspires? Aren't we?

God bless America.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Fingers in Dozens of Different Pies

A story about Bush's plan for his new economic team.

Aides said many other such moves will be announced, because Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove are determined to "implant their DNA throughout the government," as one official put it.

Wasn't that what got Clinton in trouble?


Check your barn door there, Mr. President.

(from The Minority Whip)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

We should take this occasion to recall all the things we still have going for us...

In no particular order,
100 Things (Political) For Which I Am Thankful

  1. The Constitution of the United States
  2. William Jefferson Clinton
  3. The filibuster
  4. Senator Barack Obama
  5. Susan B. Anthony
  6. The 1st Amendment
  7. Thomas Jefferson
  8. Martin Luther King Jr.
  9. Al Franken
  10. MoveOn.org
  11. Senator Charles Schumer
  12. George Soros
  13. Blogs
  14. Senator Robert Byrd
  15. Paul Krugman
  16. Zell Miller is retiring from the Senate
  17. Joe Conason
  18. John Kerry received more votes than any past presidential candiate in the history of the United States
  19. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  20. The New Deal
  21. John F. Kennedy
  22. The United Nations
  23. Maximum number of days Bush is Constitutionally allowed to remain in office: 1515
  24. He could be gone before then
  25. Tom Tomorrow
  26. Justice David Souter
  27. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  28. Justice Stephen Breyer
  29. Justice John Paul Stevens
  30. Eric Alterman
  31. Salon.com
  32. Newt Gingrich is no longer in elected office
  33. We're going to have a new chair of the DNC
  34. Senator Carl Levin
  35. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
  36. Abraham Lincoln
  37. Susan McDougall
  38. Tom DeLay is about to be indicted
  39. Nicholas Kristof
  40. Lawrence and Garner v. Texas
  41. There hasn't been a terrorist attack in the US since 9/11
  42. Antonin Scalia will die someday
  43. The 13th Amendment
  44. The New Yorker
  45. John Ashcroft is no longer the Attorney General
  46. Colin Powell might write a tell-all
  47. Daily Kos
  48. Labor unions
  49. Jon Stewart
  50. Progress always marches forward
  51. Trustbuster Teddy Roosevelt
  52. Michael Moore
  53. The 21st Amendment
  54. Jimmy Carter
  55. Frank Rich
  56. The Atlantic Monthly
  57. Woodward and Bernstein
  58. World leaders who oppose Bush's policies
  59. Arianna Huffington
  60. Civil Rights Act
  61. Medicinal marijuana
  62. Senator Joe Biden
  63. Roe v. Wade
  64. Rock the Vote
  65. The 19th Amendment
  66. Reunification of Germany
  67. History has the final say on Bush's legacy
  68. Paul O'Neill
  69. Reagan isn't on money yet
  70. NASA
  71. C-SPAN
  72. Center for American Progress
  73. John Brady Kiesling
  74. Bill Maher
  75. Mikhail Gorbachev
  76. Lawrence O’Donnell
  77. Senator Ted Kennedy
  78. Edward R. Murrow
  79. Separation of church and state
  80. Stem cell research
  81. Richard Clarke
  82. Joseph N. Welch
  83. Sandy Berger
  84. Nelson Mandela
  85. Howard Dean
  86. The 9th Circuit Court
  87. Al Gore
  88. Horace Greeley
  89. John Hancock
  90. Rosa Parks
  91. Winston Churchill
  92. George Marshall
  93. George Orwell
  94. Thousands of pending lawsuits against Wal-Mart
  95. Checkpoint Charlie is a museum now
  96. Benjamin Franklin
  97. The concept of democracy
  98. All the investigations into Bush's malfeasance
  99. National Public Radio
  100. Throughout history, fact and reason always win... eventually

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Sir, I Challenge You to a Duel!

Why does anything surprise me anymore? Read what Rush Limbaugh had to say about the Pistons/Pacers brawl:

"Just rename the city of Detroit to 'New Fallujah, Michigan,' and then what happens at the palace of Auburn Hills will be understood by everybody who goes there."

1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... 8... 9... 10...

OK. For those of you who are unaware, I'm originally from Detroit. Or more specifically, from the suburbs of Detroit - but closer to the city than Auburn Hills is, where the Pistons actually play. (Fun fact - I grew up in the same city as Eminem. Ooh!)

Alright. So now, did he really just fucking compare my home town to the base of operations of the insurgency in Iraq? In the 25 years that I lived there, I can't remember a single instance of a reporter being beheaded. Nope, don't remember anything like that. I can't remember ever seeing thousands of dead and dismembered bodies littering the streets - not even outside the raves I used to go to, (back in the good ol' days). Furthermore, I'm pretty sure, at least in the last quarter-century, they've not had a terrorist attack of any kind. So, Rush, what the FUCK are you talking about??

Good news - he continues:

By the way, has anybody noticed all these outbreaks, all this violence, all this stuff happens in blue cities, ladies and gentlemen? I mean, you don't see this happening in Charlotte. You don't see this sort of stuff happening. But you do see it happening out of Miami; you do see it happening in the blue cities out there. So, you know, call L.A. "New Mosul, California." You could call New York "Baghdad, New York," and this helps people put this in perspective. But you just listen. You listen to all these ex-NBA players saying, "I'm not going to get dissed. Any fan touches me is going to get his head knocked off." You're going to hear that said all over the place. It's all about this hip-hop culture not getting dissed and not being embarrassed in terms of your manhood and all this.

I'd like to pretend that I thought of this, but as they point out in Salon, did Rush not see the huge fight in South Carolina just THIS PAST WEEKEND!?! Refresh me, Rush - is South Carolina a blue state or a red state? Ass.

Anyhow, his two comments are linked by two things - racism and wild irresponsible generalizations. Typical, I suppose.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Democracy Marching All Over the Place

Elections in Ukraine. Why does this sound so familiar?

"A concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or cooperation of governmental authorities," the senator [Lugar] said Monday in Kiev.


Mr. Yushchenko,
[the challenger and presumptive loser] himself a former prime minister, has described the incumbent bloc of state power as crooked and hidebound,


[Mr. Yushchenko] support in the capital, and among young voters, is palpably high. His campaign - deprived of equal media coverage and pressured by the resources of the Ukrainian state, according to the reports of international observers - has adopted the tactics of the underdog.

The victory for the prime minister, by a margin of nearly 3 percentage points, that was given in official results diverged sharply from a range of surveys of voters at polling places that gave the opposition as much as an 11-point lead. Opposition organizers pushed for protest and mass action.

Mr. Yushchenko, addressing the public, began a multipronged effort to block Mr. Yanukovich's claim on office. He urged his supporters to remain united and in the streets, and called for an urgent session of Parliament to review extensive allegations of state manipulation of the election, and for the judiciary to investigate documented complaints.


The findings of the international election mission included abuse of state resources in favor of the prime minister; the addition of about 5 percent of new voters to the rolls on election day; pressure on students to vote for the state's choice; pressure on state workers to turn over absentee ballot forms for presumptive use by someone else; widespread abuse of absentee voters, including some who were bused from region to region; the blocking of poll workers; suspiciously, even fantastically, high turnouts in regions that supported the prime minister; inaccurate voter lists and overt bias of state-financed news media.


"Fundamental flaws in Ukraine's presidential election process subverted its legitimacy," the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, sponsored by the Democratic Party in the United States, declared in its preliminary report. The institute, which had an observer mission in Ukraine, cited "systematic intimidation, overt manipulation and blatant fraud" that were "designed to achieve a specific outcome irrespective of the will of the people."


He then worried aloud that what seemed to be the election's illegitimacy might serve to split Ukraine into a north and west supporting Mr. Yushchenko, and a region in the east supporting the prime minister.

Democracy Marches On

Here's the tale of a war correspondent who almost led the Iraqi ex-army after the fall of Saddam.

Some clips:

Despite the euphoria in the White House over Iraq's liberation, on the ground I kept hearing this refrain: "It was better under Saddam." Given my opinion of the dictator, that was shocking to hear -- but I had lessons to learn about Arab pride and Iraqi culture. "Many young people I know cried when his statue fell," a student in her mid-20s told me as we talked by candlelight inside her apartment. (She was afraid to venture outside for fear of rape.) "He was Baba Saddam -- Father Saddam -- and he was all we ever knew."


"Should we march, Mr. Richard?" Azzawi asked me. Here was a dilemma I'd never faced before and certainly never would again. I'd earned a measure of respect from the men, if only because I was polite enough to hear and write down their grievances. (And bear in mind, they had no idea what a free press was -- many probably thought I was taking their names for the rumored jobs list.)

Certainly I couldn't give orders, not to this ex-enemy army or any other. But I could provide a bit of basic P.R. advice. "Do you have protest signs?" I asked Azzawi. "Do you have a petition? You need a plan. If you just show up, the Americans will have no idea what you want. If you march unannounced, you might end up getting shot."


With a tinge of anger in his voice,
[former U.S. Administrator in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Jay] Garner went on: "There was a plan to bring back the Iraqi army. I briefed Condi [Rice] on it. I briefed the president. I briefed [Paul] Wolfowitz. Everyone agreed on it. We had budgeted to pay the Iraqi army; Carl Strock had rounded up the Iraqi army to pay them. We had also lined up training for the regular Iraqi army." A Virginia-based defense contractor that had retrained the Croatian army after the Bosnian war was all set to do a similar job in Iraq.

What happened? Even now, Garner doesn't seem entirely sure, or won't say. He says he was never told why he fell from favor. "A lot of stuff in that Pentagon operation is clandestine," he said, referring to the machinations of the civilian leadership that prosecuted the war. "And the vice president's office is a shadowy organization."

God Works in Mysterious Ways

A grilled cheese sandwich, with a bite out of it, mind you, was sold on eBay for $28,000. Why is that, do you suppose? Someone imagined that they saw the Virgin Mary embedded in its toasty-cheesy-goodness, and some other idiot paid her for it.

"I would like all people to know that I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother of God," Duyser, a work-from-home jewelry designer, said

Duyser said she took a bite after making the sandwich 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her. She put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her night stand. She said the sandwich has never sprouted a spore of mold.

a) Why is Jesus going around posting pictures of his mom all over the place? Man, that guy needs a blog.
b) Once again, it brings up the age-old philosophical debate - Can God make a sandwich so hot that even he can't eat it?
c) What if she had eaten it, without noticing? The sandwich doesn't have any mold after 10 years, right? So, by extension, would she have been free of illness for the rest of her life? Might she have gotten super powers? What if I've already eaten a Virgin Mary-wich? What if I ate a Satan-wich? Am I going to get cancer?

So many questions!

UPDATE: Capitalism at its Finest
For kicks, I went to eBay and did a search on "cheese sandwich". Check out how everyone is cashing in on the phenomenon that is the Virgin Mary-wich...


Bill Clinton to ABC News: Bite me!

...as Clinton looked back on his presidency with ABC anchor Peter Jennings. But Clinton flashed real irritation when Jennings suggested some historians thought that Clinton's presidency had lacked "moral authority," without mentioning its having been tarnished by independent counsel Kenneth Starr's multiple investigations.

"You don't want to go here, Peter," snapped Clinton, who proceeded to criticize the reporting of ABC News, in particular, in the 1990s. "Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that's like."

Monday, November 22, 2004

We Hate Your Father

Over at Gawker there is a wild rumor about the Bush Twins' inability to get a table at the Lower East Side trendfest, Freeman's.

And I love it:

Freemans, tuesday night the 16th of nov. the bush twins , along with 2 massive secret service men, tried to have dinner. they were told by the maitre'd that they were full and would be for the next 4 years. upon hearing, the entire restaurant cheered and did a round of shots... it was amazing!!! [Ed: We're hearing that this is actually true.]

And today, a follow-up:

The Aftermath Of The Bush Twins At Freeman's

At first, we didn't quite believe it: we heard that the Bush twins showed up for a table at tasty Lower East Side hotspot Freeman's and were promptly told by the hostess that there wouldn't be seating available for the next four years (so best). We totally confirmed the report, but then Freeman's owners wrote us a stern denial once word spread (as it is wont to do on this superhighway of ours). So, in order to settle the issue, we put on our trenchcoats and fedoras and went to Freeman's for dinner. On the way out, we moved in for the kill with someone who seemed to be in charge:

GAWKER: Hey, dinner was great. Thanks. By the way, I read something on some website about the Bush twins coming in here...
FREEMAN'S (with faux wide eyes): Oh, God, I've heard about that.
G: So is it true?
F: Um, well, nobody knows.
G: You mean not a single employee was working when the incident allegedly happened?
F: Um. Well... We don't know.
G: You really don't know? That's funny. Well, I hope it's true.
F (visibly uncomfortable): Heh. Um, yeah.

Good Riddance!

Salon does a very good piece detailing just how big of a liar William Safire has been throughout his career. A career that began, by the way, as an aide in the Nixon administration. Big surprise.

Faith-Based War Coverage

From Sunday's New York Times, Frank Rich points out that it's not too big of a step from self-censoring Saving Private Ryan to self-censoring the news, specifically the coverage of the war in Iraq.

If you're not scared, you're not paying close enough attention.

Heather, Will You Marry Me?

I'm going to take a step back from politics to shill for one of my favorite writers these days. Heather Havrilesky writes the always amusing I Like to Watch column for Salon every Monday. And she maintains the equally entertaining Rabbit Blog as well. She's a TV critic and she's very funny - and those happen to be two of my favorite things. So check her out.

Maybe she'll go ego-surfing one of these days, and come across the DoG, and email me with thanks, and then...

What? Are you still here? Oh, um... OK, well, here's a clip from today's ILTW:

Land of the fee, home of the depraved
Speaking of inappropriate, did you know that soldiers facing death don't swear, and guys who watch football blush at the slightest hint of nudity? These are the first hearty laugh lines of a new, improved, FCC-patrolled America. Tee-hee!

Two weeks ago, a handful of ABC affiliates pulled "Saving Private Ryan" from their schedules, fearing fines from the FCC for the film's profanities despite assurances from ABC headquarters that the company would pay any fees. And last week, the FCC was investigating a skit at the beginning of ABC's "Monday Night Football" broadcast in which Nicollette Sheridan of "Desperate Housewives" drops her towel to lure Terrell Owens away from the game.

Forget that the complaints about the skit obviously had everything to do with its being not only painfully bad and horribly acted, but also shamelessly tacky in cross-promoting an ABC show. No one's calling for an end to the rampant mixing of advertising and content, though. After all, marketing these days is so pervasive and so indistinguishable from the programming itself that most of us have given up and abandoned ourselves to being tattooed with tiny ads from the inside out. Besides, if the leader of our great nation believes we should let massive corporations have whatever their little hearts desire, from our sporting events (Outback Bowl, anyone?) to the war in Iraq (Halliburton Bowl, anyone?), who are we to stand in his way? Corporations make stuff better! It's the boobies that are bad! It's the boobies that are bringing us down as a people!

Ever since Justin Timberlake released a trap door on Janet Jackson's bustier, allowing her right boob to range free at last, the FCC has been on a filth-fighting crusade. But instead of setting forth clear, reasonable standards, they reacted to the Great Boob Emancipation of '03 with all of the calm, measured tones of a Salem preacher rallying an angry mob to burn any and all sneaky-looking local women at the stake. Did the FCC scan a copy of "Saving Private Ryan" and let ABC know whether the profanities (which Steven Spielberg quite reasonably refused to have removed) would result in a fine? No. They took the cowardly path and waited to see how a pious minority might react instead.

Breathtaking, isn't it? How efficiently and effectively the FCC has signaled to this country that social conservatives will be the true enforcers of what's broadcast on national television!

And now the NFL is jumping on the dog pile, proclaiming the "Desperate Housewives" skit "unsuitable" for its viewers. Ah yes. If those boobies are bouncing around under an obscenely tight sweater in a nearly pornographic Coors-sponsored ad, no problem. But if we can imagine them pressed up against the football uniform of a black man? Well, that's just obscene.

Open Letter to the Red States

Author and friend of The Minority Whip, Stephen Elliott, put this letter up on his blog. I really like it. It expresses how I feel about the red states telling us (the most in danger of terrorism), how best to deal with terrorism. Where do they get the nerve?

Letter To The Red States
by Susan Schroeder


Sorry, I try not to deluge people with my ramblings. But I had to write this and, having written it, had to send it. Even though I don't know anyone I can send it to (without alienating my Republican in-laws, who are the only "middle country" people I know.)

I am writing this letter to the people in the red states in the middle of the country -- the people who voted for George W. Bush. I am writing this letter because I don't think we know each other.

So I'll make an introduction. I am a New Yorker who voted for John Kerry. I used to live in California, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. I used to live in Washington, DC, and if I still lived there, I would vote for Kerry. Kerry won in all three of those regions.

Maybe you want to know more about me. Or maybe not; maybe you think you know me already. You think I am some anti-American anarchist because I dislike George W. Bush. You think that I am immoral and anti-family, because I support women's reproductive freedom and gay rights. You think that I am dangerous, and even evil, because I do not abide by your religious beliefs.

Maybe you are content to think that, to write me off as a "liberal" -- the dreaded "L" word -- and rejoice that your candidate has triumphed over evil, immoral, anti-American, anti-family people like me. But maybe you are still curious. So here goes: this is who I am.

I am a New Yorker. I was here, in my apartment downtown, on September 11th. I watched the Towers burn from the roof of my building. I went inside so that I couldn't see them when they fell. I had friends who were inside. I have a friend who still has nightmares about watching people jump and fall from the Towers. He will never be the same. How many people like him do you know? People that can't sit in a restaurant without plotting an escape route, in case it blows up?

I am a worker. I work across the street from the Citigroup Center, which the government told us is a "target" of terrorism. Later, we found out they were relaying very old information, but it was already too late. They had given me bad dreams again. The subway stop near my office was crowded with bomb-sniffing dogs, policemen in heavy protective gear, soldiers. Now, every time I enter or exit my office, all of my possessions are X-rayed to make sure I don't have any weapons. How often are you stopped by a soldier with a bomb-sniffing dog outside your office?

I am a neighbor. I have a neighbor who is a 9/11 widow. She has two children. My husband does odd jobs for her now, like building bookshelves. Things her husband should do. He uses her husband's tools, and the two little girls tell him, "Those are our daddy's tools." How many 9/11 widows and orphans do you know? How often do you fill in for their dead loved ones?

I am a taxpayer. I worked my butt off to get where I did, and so did my parents. My parents saved and borrowed and sent me to college. I worked my way through graduate school. I won a full tuition scholarship to law school. All for the privilege of working 2,600 hours last year. That works out to a 50 hour week, every week, without any vacation days at all. I get to work by 9 am and rarely leave before 9 pm. I eat dinner at my office much more often than I eat dinner at home. My husband and I paid over $70,000 in federal income tax last year. At some point in the future, we will have to pay much more -- once this country faces its deficit and the impossible burden of Social Security. In fact, the areas of the country that supported Kerry -- New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts -- they are the financial centers of the nation. They are the tax base of this country. How much did you pay, Kansas? How much did you contribute to this government you support, Alabama? How much of this war in Iraq did you pay for?

I am a liberal. The funny part is, liberals have this reputation for living in Never-Neverland, being idealists, not being sensible. But let me tell you how I see the world: I see America as one nation in a world of nations. Therefore, I think we should try to get along with other nations. I see that gay people exist. Therefore, I think they should be allowed to exist, and be treated the same as other people. I see ways in which women are not allowed to control their own bodies. Therefore, I think we should give women more control over their bodies. I see that people have awful diseases. Therefore, I think we should enable scientists to try to cure them. I see that we have a Constitution. Therefore, I think it should be upheld. I see that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Therefore, I think that Iraq was not an imminent danger to me. It seems so pragmatic to me. How do you see the world? Do you really think voting against gay marriage will keep people from being gay? Would you really prefer that people continue to die from Parkinson's disease? Do you really not care about the Constitutional rights of political detainees? Would you really have supported the war if you knew the truth, or would you have wanted to spend more of our money on health care, job training, terrorism preparedness?

I am an American. I have an American flag flying outside my home. I love my home more than anything. I love that I grew up right outside New York City. I first went to the Statue of Liberty with my 5th grade class, and my mom and dad took me to the Empire State Building when I was 8. I love taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I loved living in Washington DC and going on dates to the Lincoln Memorial. It is because I love this country so much that I argue with my political opponents as much I do.

I am not safe. I never feel safe. My in-laws live in a small town in Ohio, and that town has received more federal funding, per capita, for terrorism preparedness than New York City has. I take subways and buses every day. I work in a skyscraper across the street from a "target." I have emergency supplies and a spare pair of sneakers in my desk, in case somethng happens while I'm at work. Do you? How many times a month do you worry that your subway is going to blow up? When you hear sirens on the street, do you run to the window to make sure everything is okay? When you hear an airplane, do you flinch? Do you dread beautiful, blue-skied September days? I don't know a single New Yorker who doesn't spend the month of September on tip-toes, superstitiously praying for rain so we don't have to relive that beautiful, blue-skied day.

I am lonely. I feel that we, as a nation, have alienated all our friends and further provoked our enemies. I feel unprotected. Most of all I feel alienated from my fellow citizens, because I don't understand what you are thinking. You voted for a man who started a war in Iraq for no reason, against the wishes of the entire world. You voted for a man whose lack of foresight and inability to plan has led to massive insurgencies in Iraq, where weapons are disappearing into the hands of terrorists. You voted for a man who let Osama Bin Laden escape into the hills of Afghanistan so that he could start that war in Iraq. You voted for a man who doesn't want to let people love who they want to love; doesn't want to let doctors cure their patients; doesn't want to let women rule their destinies. I don't understand why you voted for this man. For me, it is not enough that he is personable; it is not enough that he seems like one of the guys. Why did you vote for him? Why did you elect a man that lied to us in order to convince us to go to war? (Ten years ago you were incensed when our president lied about his sex life; you thought it was an impeachable offense.) Why did you elect a leader who thinks that strength cannot include diplomacy or international cooperaton? Why did you elect a man who did nothing except run away and hide on September 11?

Most of all, I am terrified. I mean daily, I am afraid that I will not survive this. I am afraid that I will lose my husband, that I will never have children, that I will never grow old and watch the sunset in a backyard of my own. I am afraid that my career -- which should end with a triumphant and good-natured roast at a retirement party in 2035 -- will be cut short by an attack on me and my colleagues, as we sit sending emails and making phone calls one ordinary afternoon. Is your life at stake? Are you terrified?

I don't think you are. I don't think you realize what you have done. And if anything happens to me or the people I love, I blame you. I wanted you to know that.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Mass hysteria!

Browns vs. Steelers; Pistons vs. Pacers; South Carolina vs. Clemson...

Now, United States vs. Chile?

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I just finished watching The Hunting of the President, the movie based on the book by Gene Lyons and my favorite, Joe Conason. Watch this movie. It's about the Clinton Whitewater scandal, yes, but it goes after the broader points of the Right Wing Conspiracy; of power unchecked; of a compliant media that is going for, (as someone in the movie said), the STORY instead of the TRUTH. These points are perhaps even more relevant today.

One thing I took from the movie, that I overlooked at the time, is the story of Susan McDougall. She is a modern day hero with a sense of honor and decency that is noticeably absent from society these days. She was exonerated of all Whitewater charges, but Ken Starr wanted more from her. He trumped up some charges against her to force her to make a statement about the Clintons. They insisted that she knew something sordid about Bill and Hillary; she insisted she didn't. She told them she had nothing to offer them, and they told her - that doesn't matter, we'll tell you what to say.

They'll tell her what to say.

She refused, and guess what? She went to jail. They put her on murderer's row, and when you're in a women's prison for murder, that usually means you killed your kids, and are therefore lowest on the prison foodchain. You get a special red dress when you're a murderer, so everyone knows what you did. People spat on her. Men would urinate on her and masterbate over her on the bus from the prison to the courthouse. A judge ordered that she be released from the high security prison to a more decent one, but her captors refused. She stayed - they only take orders from the Independent Council's Office, they said. But she never lied for them. She stood up for what is right. She deserves her own statue in Little Rock, if not Washington.

You see, red-staters? This is what they're capable of. It's a matter of fundamental freedom. This could happen to any of us - and McDougall isn't the only one. There was a whole list of innocent bystanders brought down by this juggernaut of right-wing operatives.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. When you rent this DVD, (and I know you will), make sure you check out the special features. President Clinton spoke after the premiere screening in New York. He was inspirational. I miss him so much, especially when compared to this talking monkey we have in the Oval Office today. He spoke eloquently, putting his presidency in the context of history. There were times in the history of the country when we were forced to make decisions about where we're headed. Near the end of Washington's second term, they fought for years, deciding how the country would be assembled for the future. But eventually, they settled their differences, and there were 40 years of smooth sailing. Before and during Lincoln, obviously, we came to a crossroads about slavery and the nature of the Union. But by the time Grant was elected to office, things had settled down, and again, decades of peace. The Industrial Revolution came along and again - the turmoil. Teddy Roosevelt to Taft to Wilson and they got it together. Another crossroads after World War II. And again with the civil rights movement. But each time, we got through the turmoil, chose a path, and everything settled down again.

With Clinton, he says, there was the information age. The internet, cable news, and maybe most importantly, the lack of a giant enemy, i.e. - The Soviet Union. And right now, we're still in the middle of that turmoil, so it might be hard to find our way out of it. But we have a choice, and we're 50/50. Do we choose the path of facts and reasoned argument? Or do we choose the politics of fear and personal attack? We have a choice, people. It seems clear enough to me...

Oh, and a final message to my friend who asked me to point out examples for his right-wing relative of the problem with single party rule. Well from the (last successful) President's mouth - here is your example. The Republican congress dismissed the Republican, but reasonable, original Independent Council who cleared Clinton of all charges. Nixon appointee William Rehnquist selected three judges to choose the new IC, and those judges chose the Republican attorney, Ken Starr. We all know the rest. The Constitution was designed around a concept of checks and balances. When those who make decisions and those who keep an eye on the decision-makers are all working towards the same goal, no matter what that goal might be, we lose discussion, we lose facts, we lose ideas. We lose our way.

We deserve better.

When the Inmates Run the Asylum

What's that? Drugs are bad?

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Dr. David Graham, the reviewer in the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Drug Safety, used fiery language to denounce his agency as feckless and far too likely to surrender to demands of drug makers.

Oh, I see... Dr. Graham is under the mistaken impression that the FDA is an agency charged with protecting the American people! How cute... No, no, they are an advocacy group that exists to protect the interests of the pharmaceutical industry, silly! Much like those Beef, It's What's for Dinner guys.

This is Bush Country, baby! The agency set up to protect our forests is stocked with folks who used to be the ones chopping them down. The agency that's supposed to protect our air and water hires the people who most enjoy polluting them.

Come now, Dr. Graham, who's more important - your grandma with arthritis, or the multi-billionaires over at Merck? It's a no-brainer!

Send us out on a high note, Doctor:

"We have case reports of people dying clutching their Serevent inhaler," Dr. Graham said.


But I Don't Wanna Be a Pirate!

The Puffy Shirt in the Smithsonian.

I miss Seinfeld...

Power Corrupts...

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

When it's a Democrat in trouble, then he'd better step down. When it's a Republican in trouble, well, by all means - keep on the job! Ethics, schmethics!

While we're on the Times Op-Ed page, Bob Herbert has another good one:

Competence has never been highly regarded by the fantasists of the George W. Bush administration. In the Bush circle, no less than in your average youth gang, loyalty is everything. The big difference, of course, is that the administration is far more dangerous than any gang. History will show that the Bush crowd of incompetents brought tremendous amounts of suffering to enormous numbers of people. The amount of blood being shed is sickening, and there is no end to the grief in sight.

Our Noble Foreign Policy

Just a reminder, in case you've forgotten, that when Saddam "gassed his own people" or used chemical weapons against Iran - it was with the tacit approval, and sometimes assistance, of the United States.

Did the first Bush administration cynically choose to ignore Saddam's use of chemical weapons in March 1991, just as the Reagan administration did in the late 1980s? And has the current Bush administration brushed this history of complicity with real WMD under the rug, while using nonexistent WMD as a reason for war? The indisputable answer is yes.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

It's About Race

I tend to agree with the author of this article. The Terrell Owens thing isn't about sex - it's that she was a white woman, and he was a black man. They won't admit it, of course. They'll talk about "the children." Think of the children! That's the smokescreen to cover up their (poorly) hidden racism.

When Will the Poor Learn to Just Stop Being Poor?

Do you ever think - They wouldn't dare! Oh, they dare. Their hubris knows no bounds!

I need to segment my rage into smaller bits, to keep my head from exploding:

the administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals [sic] gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth

Hmmn... Interest, dividends, and capital gains. Question #1 - Which of the following two groups has those types of income? a) Rich. b) Poor.

Secondly, notice how they slip in, without evidence, what they want us to think is a given - that "simplifying" the tax code automatically "encourages economic growth."

the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns

Did you read my other post, It's the Cities, Stupid? It was a link to an article saying that we, in cities, need to declare war (policy-wise) on the country folk. Well, guess what! They went Bush Doctrine on our asses! I live in New York City. My local taxes are very expensive. The City charges a hell of a lot for the services they deliver (cops, firemen, for example). So now, I don't even get a federal deduction for it. (now there's some double-taxation they can live with!) And guess who doesn't pay taxes to their cities? You guessed it - the red-staters who live in the middle of nowhere.

and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance

That's the whopper. Question #2 - which of the following groups gets health insurance from their employer? (circle all that apply) a) Rich. b) Middle Class. c) Poor.

Question #3 - Which of the following groups tends to own companies that provide health insurance? a) Rich. b) Poor.

Question #4 - When companies no longer get the tax break for providing health insurance to their employees, do you think they will a) Pay more to provide health insurance. b) Stop providing health insurance.

Well, it's not like there's a health-care crisis or anything, right?

the president will pursue a tax system where all income -- whether from wages, dividends, capital gains or interest -- is taxed only once.

This one always gets under my skin. It is the one of the biggest fallacies that Bush has perpetrated upon the American people.

You don't tax money. You tax people!

Get it? Everything is a double tax. For example - my company makes, say, $1,000,000. At 10% tax rate, (made up numbers), they have $900,000 left. Out of that ALREADY TAXED $900,000, they give me whatever they give me, and guess what, I get taxed too! DOUBLE TAXATION! No. They're taxing ME, not my money. And guess what? With whatever's left from my salary, I go out and buy a mack-dad new iPod. Holy shit! Sales tax! TRIPLE TAX?! No. They're taxing Apple Corporation, which happens to be the cost to Apple in exchange for the State of New York giving them permission to sell their goods in New York. (Or they're taxing me again for giving me permission to buy goods in New York - it doesn't matter which, it's not going to stop).

OK? So, once and for all, can we stop with this bullshit about double taxation?

That would mean eliminating taxes on dividends and capital gains paid out of fully taxed corporate profits.

That's the kicker, isn't it? I don't know what else to say, but that's the line that demonstrates the evil of this administration. And red-staters, I'd love to ask - How much do you make from your dividends and capital gains? Do you even know what a capital gain is?

The administration will also push hard for large savings accounts that could shelter thousands of dollars of deposits each year from taxation on investment gains

Question #5 - Who has significant amounts of money such that they would be helped by tax-free savings accounts? a) Rich. b) Poor.

So, there we have it. Eliminating taxes on the rich, passing the burden on to those most in need, and least able to afford it. Someone, please tell me how they can justify this! Tax work, protect wealth. That's not America. It's corruption run amok. And it needs to be stopped.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Get Your Kicks on Route 69

Sometimes, the news is so absurd, you can't believe that it's not a Saturday Night Live sketch. Apparently, Jesus got together with Congressman John Hostettler, Republican from Indiana's 8th, to explain to him what 69 means in the plebeian vernacular. (courtesy of fan favorite The Minority Whip)

"Every time I have been out in the public with an 'I-69' button on my lapel, teenagers point and snicker at it. I have had many ask me if they can have my button. I believe it is time to change the name of the highway. It is the moral thing to do."

That bears repeating - "It is the moral thing to do." Which commandment is it again? Oh yeah - "Thou shalt not name a thoroughfare something that makes teenagers giggle."

That aside, it still begs a couple of questions:

  • Why on earth does he have a lapel pin of any interstate highway? What - he's got a favorite one?
  • If he's so moral and chaste, how did he find out what 69 means to us sinners? Married or not, sodomy is sodomy, Congressman.

    UPDATE: The Jeffersonian informs me that there is a proposal pending to extend I-69 or something, (TJ is totally into Indiana politics). I say "or something" because I really couldn't care less about the details. Apparently, it's been Rep. Hostettler's pet (pork barrel) project for some time, (along with policing everybody's dirty, dirty thoughts, that is). It stands to reason, I guess, that he might have some sort of ad for the proposal on his person, and thus - both a lot of snickers and an explanation for the snickers from a colleague who is perhaps more worldly than Saint Hostettler is. But I still stand by initial thought - who wears a button with an interstate highway on it? I mean, get a bumper sticker or something. Where does his trite American flag pin go?

    Indiana blows anyway. I've been there. Maybe I'm for the extension of the highway if it gets me out of there quicker.

  • Jesus Strikes Again!

    Big Brother (AKA - the FCC), have their panties in a bunch again - this time over a ridiculously harmless shot of a woman's back during a Monday Night Football broadcast on ABC. Seriously, red-staters, kids go to the beach, you know. It's likely that your precious baby just might see a woman's naked back at some point before his wedding night, when he loses his virginity in a confusing and traumatic, but church-sanctioned love-making ceremony.

    Here is FCC Commissioner Michael Powell's money quote:
    "I wonder if Walt Disney would be proud."

    ABC is owned by Disney, if you live under a rock. You know what else Disney has been responsible for?

    E! Entertainment Television
    Lifetime Television
    NYPD Blue
    The Bachelor
    Boston Legal
    Pulp Fiction
    Kill Bill
    Madonna: Truth or Dare
    Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
    Gangs of New York
    From Dusk Till Dawn
    The Crow

    And any number of other Jesus-offending motion pictures and television programs. I think Walt is resting just fine. Or is he?

    And America is Safer

    Good lord, look at this headline:

    Russia Is Said to Develop New Nuclear Missile

    Are you fucking kidding me? They changed Leningrad back to St. Petersburg - I thought we didn't have to worry about them anymore. Are they going to try to put them in Cuba again?

    Crash and Burn

    There's more about the shakeup at Langley today. It's a little more speculative, and looks a little deeper at the major players involved.

    Now, with Goss at the helm and the independence of the agency under siege, many at Langley fear that the Bush administration won't have to worry anymore about being told anything it doesn't already believe.

    Mr. President!! We're begging you - stop it! Stop making the federal government into your own supersized frat house. Remember that filing cabinet of old tests up in the unused bedroom at the Deke House? Well, they don't have one of those at the CIA. There's no cheating when it comes to national security. And people are going to die. I know it's just us Kerry voters who will be dying, but that doesn't make it right.

    There was a line from an episode of Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin's other show: "If you're stupid, surround yourself with smart people. If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you."

    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    It's the Cities, Stupid

    The Urban Archipelago. I like that. This article is fantastic. It has *just* the right balance of vitriol and policy ideas. A taste:

    It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America. We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion--New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on. And we live on islands in red states too--a fact obscured by that state-by-state map. Denver and Boulder are our islands in Colorado; Austin is our island in Texas; Las Vegas is our island in Nevada; Miami and Fort Lauderdale are our islands in Florida.


    In short, we're through with you people. We're going to demand that the Democrats focus on building their party in the cities while at the same time advancing a smart urban-growth agenda that builds the cities themselves. The more attractive we make the cities--politically, aesthetically, socially--the more residents and voters cities will attract, gradually increasing the electoral clout of liberals and progressives. For Democrats, party building and city building is the same thing. We will strive to turn red states blue one city at a time.

    Get a Grip, People!

    Personal anecdote: There is a police car parked outside my office with a "Support Our Troops" sticker on the trunk. Someone walking by stopped, pulled out a permanent marker, and drew a swastika on the sticker.

    People, people, people... I'm the first person in any group to use the f-word (fascism) in reference to these criminals we "elected" to run our country. But look:

    a) Is there anything more tepid than saying "we support our troops?" It's almost meaningless. Whether or not they're being used in a morally defensible way (World War II), or in a blatantly Dr. Evil take-over-the-world sort of way (Iraq), the troops are still just a pack of frightened 18 - 21 year old kids dying for a cause, however misguided that cause might be. They don't make policy. They just wanted to put food on the table for their families.

    b) It's unbecoming of someone who believes in progressive causes to damage private (or in this case, public) property. It makes us all look bad. It's the kind of thing that some right-winger type sees and says, "That's just what I'd expect from one of them damn troop-hatin' liberals."

    c) What are you going to solve with a swastika? People turn off when they see stuff like that. Is someone going to see that swastika and think, "yeah - that Bush really is a Nazi." No! They're going to think, "what a fucking moron, comparing supporting the troops to fascism."

    d) We're liberals. We DO support the troops, which is why we wouldn't have sent them off on this fool's errand in the first place. Don't forget that. And don't forget that we need them. We're the United States, and regardless of how you feel about this place, if we had no army, we'd be invaded in a heartbeat. Hell, even Sweden has an army.

    So stop it, people! You're angry, I understand. I'm angry. But we don't solve the world's problems with graffiti.

    Who Won Ohio?

    Last night, at my weekly press conference, there was a public outcry: "Where do you stand on the voter fraud situation? Why haven't you written about it?"

    Good question. I have been thinking about writing something, but I'm not quite sure where I stand. Today, in Salon, they have a mini-debate on the subject, for what that's worth.

    My reaction: I can't sit here and wring my hands over some voting machine messups or provisional ballots (nicely summarized here), because the whole fucking system is fucked. We have the people in charge of maintaining fair and accurate elections simultaneously acting as Bush Campaign chairs. We have any number of unidentifiable groups calling up old people and minorities and telling them the wrong place to go vote. Or the wrong date. We have computers mass calling easily confusable voters telling them that they need not go to the polls, they can vote right now, on the phone. We have assholes going door to door collecting absentee ballots, as a so-called service, but then shoving them in the trash. We have the governor of Florida handing voter registration cards to new citizens with the Republican box already checked. We have people putting up signs in minority neighborhoods telling potential voters that if they haven't paid their child support, they'll get arrested at the polls. We have the President's brother using a provably bogus felon list to expunge tens of thousands of legitimate Kerry voters, (and don't get me started on the Constitutionality of not allowing felons to vote in the first place!)

    You see? I spent my allotment of voter fraud rage over the last six months reading about all the tricks they had up their sleeve to begin with. Once we get down to nuanced stories like faulty machines and provisional ballots, I say to myself that this thing wouldn't even be close if the Republicans hadn't already spent the last four years conjuring up ways to undermine our democracy in the first place. Does it really matter if so-and-so Betty Smith doesn't have her vote count when millions of voters were pre-emptively kept from voting at all?

    And to those nuanced stories, I have this to say: the fraud in Florida-2000 was so egregious and clearly tied to Bush, yet Bush was still declared the winner. This time around, they were a lot better at covering their tracks. There's not going to be any way to prove that anything illegal was done. Some of the shit they pull is full-on legal too! (e.g. - my favorite democracy-destroying device, the paper-trail-less voting machines manufactured by Bush operatives). And that's not even getting into the compliant media, which is happily following the "it's more important that the election is called quickly than called correctly" directive issued from the White House.

    So to sum up - Yes, the election was stolen. No - we can't prove it, and even if we did, no one would care; they would mock us with allusions to tinfoil hats. So for once, I'm just walking away. We should hang our heads in shame that our elections are as fair and open as the last Saddam Hussein landslide. We should lose sleep at night that we live in a corrupt plutocracy in which the mainstream media functions as an ad-hoc propaganda arm of the Bush Administration. But nothing can be done to fix 2004. Let's focus on outlawing their shenanigans in time for 2008. But I'm not holding my breath on that one either...

    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Binge and Purge (cont.)

    As Emery wrote yesterday, the purge is on at the CIA.

    In their own words:
    "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats."

    But of course, since the CIA is traditionally a non-partisan agency supposedly kept above politics and infighting, what they really mean is, "get rid of anyone who disagreed with Bush." Now, let's think about that - we know for a fact that most everything Bush said about Iraq was false; doesn't that make anyone who disagrees with Bush, correct? And wouldn't that mean that anyone who actually got the intelligence right is about to be fired? And everyone who got it wrong is about to be promoted? What the fuck is this, bizarro world? Up is down, black is white, wrong is right... oh wait. I forgot who I was talking about.

    What's more important, Mr. President? Our fucking safety or your crusade against reality? Sigh... I forgot again.

    Anyway, the thing that really bothers me, and I'm not sure I can put it into words - but doesn't this talk about purging people with ideological differences just reek of Thought Police and the Ministry of Love? I know Orwell references are too easy, but as another (better) blogger once said, "I'll stop making Orwell references when the Bush people stop using 1984 as their political playbook."

    Speaking of Resignations...

    Holy shit, William Safire is stepping down!! Hooray!!

    This man was one of the worst apologists/liars for the Bush administration. I've written a number of letters to the Times pointing out his inconsistencies and lies. Right-wing liars are a dime a dozen these days, but this guy worked at the New York Times. The New York Times! The bastion of the liberal elitist media, right?

    Nevertheless, the ideology of the Times or Mr. Safire is beside the point. I mean, it's one thing to be biased - I'm biased - he was a liar, and I have a big problem with that. If you like Bush propaganda, look to the New York Post or the Washington Times. I'd prefer to read the Times without feeling the need for a shower afterwards, if at all possible.

    Lovin' the Trash Talk

    One thing, hopefully, to come from the current spate of Cabinet resignations is a flood of tell-all books about this evil administration. Looks like George Tenet will be the first to market.

    Should Condoleezza Rice be worried about the memoir that ex- CIA director George Tenet is peddling?

    The former spy chief "trashes" the national security adviser in his book proposal, one publishing insider tells us.

    "He claims she was incompetent, that she didn't do her job" when it came to protecting the country from terrorists, the source says.

    Sounds good, to start. But I'm looking forward to Colin Powell's...

    Random Thought

    Was I the only one who was confused by simultaneous news reports about Cheney's "heart problem" and the death of The O.D.B.? You can't say Cheney went to the hospital and then that The Old Dirty Bastard is dead. That's just too confusing.

    The Other Superpower

    So, socialism never works, eh? Are you sure about that? Read this article before you answer.

    I've been going on about this topic for a few years now. Europe is quickly catching up, if not passing us, in the battle for the title Supreme Economic Superpower. Do you remember when they ripped Howard Dean a new one for the mere suggestion that the United States wouldn't sit up top forever? Well, don't look now, folks, but it's happening sooner than even he expected. And the way we pump money into China, I'm thinking in a generation, we'll be down to number three. Bush would have a bit of a different attitude if he had to make nice with at least a few countries wouldn't he?

    Anyhow, here's a taste of the article. The whole thing is a good read...

    Whatever your intellectual and emotional responses may be to this burgeoning transatlantic conflict, it's difficult for any American to read Rifkin's book and not feel ashamed. The U.S. has fallen significantly behind the EU's Western European nations in infant mortality and life expectancy, despite spending more on healthcare per capita than any of them. (While 40 million Americans are uninsured, no one in Europe -- I repeat, not a single person -- lacks some form of healthcare coverage.)

    European children are consistently better educated; the United States would rank ninth in the EU in reading, ninth in scientific literacy, and 13th in math. Twenty-two percent of American children grow up in poverty, which means that our country ranks 22nd out of the 23 industrialized nations, ahead of only Mexico and behind all 15 of the pre-2004 EU countries. What's more horrifying: the statistic itself or the fact that no American politician to the right of Dennis Kucinich would ever address it?

    Perhaps more surprisingly, European business has not been strangled by the EU welfare state; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Europe has surpassed the United States in several high-tech and financial sectors, including wireless technology, grid computing and the insurance industry. The EU has a higher proportion of small businesses than the U.S., and their success rate is higher. American capitalists have begun to pay attention to all this. In Reid's book, Ford Motor Co. chairman Bill Ford explains that the company's Volvo subsidiary is more profitable than its U.S. manufacturing operation, even though wages and benefits are significantly higher in Sweden. Government-subsidized healthcare, child care, pensions and other social supports, Ford says, more than make up for the difference.

    The new EU constitution ... bars capital punishment in all 25 nations and defines such things as universal healthcare, child care, paid annual leave, parental leave, housing for the poor, and equal treatment for gays and lesbians as fundamental human rights. Most of these are still hotly contested questions in the United States; as Rifkin says, this document all by itself makes the European Union the world leader in the human rights debate. It is the first governing document that aspires to universality, "with rights and responsibilities that encompass the totality of human existence on Earth."

    Again and again I have to explain this to die-hard capitalists, but as you can see from the European example - when we look out for the least among us, whether it's social security, medicare, unemployment insurance, universal health care, it elevates the country as a whole. It's not just some sappy, bleeding-heart, feeling sorry for them policy. It's purely selfish. When the whole country is fed; when the whole country is cared for - the whole country prospers. Look to the Europeans! If we don't, they'll soon be telling us what to do.

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship

    Sweet Fancy Moses! I shudder to think who Bush is going to replace all these people with. I doubt they'll be more moderate voices.

    Sunday, November 14, 2004

    Binge and Purge

    Looks like the purge has begun at the CIA. It shouldn't take them long to get rid of everybody that might actually question this administration, or point out inconvenient facts they might not want to hear. Yellowcake for everyone! There's another story about it here.

    Anyone remember diplomacy?

    This is certainly good news. Hopefully it will stick. Anyway, it's nice that nobody had to, you know, get invaded or anything.

    The effects of deregulation

    So, what are the arguments in favor of relying on companies to do what's right, again? Anbody? Maybe we really DO need governmental regulations to police companies whose only real concerns are their bottom lines and their investors? See also:
    Enron and Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Halliburton, Harken Energy, and on and on. This laissez-faire ideal of the "free market" is a joke. Business is just like the game Monopoly. Without rules, everyone would just steal money right out of the bank and put up hotels everywhere to try and screw everyone else.

    Get well, get well soon, we want you to get well...

    Let's all wish Dick Cheney a big "get well soon." Our country can't afford to be without it's leader right now.

    Because the Bible tells me so...

    After reading this story, I wonder, if she said some movie or video game had convinced her to sacrifice her kids, would certain people be calling for that movie or game to be banned? The answer, of course, is yes. Isn't it then hypocritical for those same people to not call for the Bible to be banned? If not, why? Show your work.

    Friday, November 12, 2004

    There's Hope! (Sort of...)

    This article is a fascinating read. It talks about every two-term president's second term from the 20th century, and how badly it went for him. And then it delves into the pile of crap that Bush has to face over the next four years.

    Check out their description of Woodrow Wilson, and tell me it's not a little eerie...

    A historian examining America in 1918 and 1919, expecting to find a nation basking in military victory, instead finds a people roiled by debates over civil liberties, women's rights, influenza epidemics and idiotic nostrums intended to restore a sense of prewar tranquillity (Prohibition). While embroiled in the League debate -- a fight he lost because of his unwillingness to admit mistakes or work with the opposition -- Wilson also surrendered his administration's prestige by tolerating an abusive attorney general willing to suspend civil liberties in order to bully critics.

    In any case, there are plenty of reasons to think that Bush will have neither the time nor the ability to enact any of his reactionary domestic policies because he's going to be so buried in foreign affairs over the next four years. And as Iraq sinks deeper and deeper into oblivion, so will Bush's political capital. Unfortunately, as Bush's rep goes, so goes America's standing in the world. Perhaps it's the price we have to pay to rid ourselves of a tyrant.

    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Your New Attorney General

    Protecting every American's right to be executed and tortured! Not necessarily in that order though.

    Suck it, world!

    As one would expect, the red-staters have countered our heartfelt apology to the world, in the only way they know how - with a metaphorical one-fingered victory salute. Natch. It has the catchy and original title, We're Not Sorry.

    But don't dismiss it so quickly. The pictures posted there are illuminating for those of us insulated in our Reality-Based worlds such as New York City (in my case), Boston, Madison, Ann Arbor, wherever. Here, we can see the faces (and rotund bodies) of the people who voted for Bush unapologetically.

    For starters, here's my favorite. Notice how he's peering suspiciously out his window with an arsenal of firearms in his pants. What's he looking for out there? Is he holding a group of hostages, and he's checking out the FBI and ATF parked outside? Is he the victim of multiple alien abductions and he's worried the aliens are due to return soon? Or is it just the commonplace spying on his teenage neighbor taking her weekly outdoor shower? We'll never know...

    Special New D/G Feature! The first person to submit a final count of the number of firearms present in the pictures receives a special, secret prize!

    Happy counting!

    (In keeping with the tradition of pseudonymous D/G staffers, I'd like to thank our newest addition to the team, who I shall call The Minority Whip until she demands I change it, for bringing this site to my attention.)

    More From Jesusland

    Here's a little something from Bob Jones III. You know, the President of Bob Jones University, the place that didn't allow inter-racial dating until the year 2000.

    Anyway, it's basically a congratulatory letter to Bush for winning the election. Let's look at it together, shall we?

    Dear Mr. President:

    The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

    Of course, he also received the most votes against any president in America's history too. But who's counting?

    In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism.

    What kind of America-hater is this guy? America doesn't deserve a reprieve from god? What about a Get out of Hell Free Card? A copy of the God Home Game? And what the heck is the "agenda of paganism?" A pentagram in every home? Federal holidays on any and all Solstices? Cloven hooves and pan-flutes for all?

    You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet.

    In Revelations, isn't the coming of the apocalypse heralded by trumpets blasts? Does this guy know something we don't? (Of course not! We all know Bush is doing all he can to bring about the apocalypse!)

    Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

    I call blasphemy! I interpret that to mean that the Lord is following orders from Bush! And as any Bible-thumper knows, one's interpretation of any ambiguous statement can be twisted and manipulated to serve one's own agenda!

    Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

    Um, actually I despise Bush even without taking Jesus into account. In fact, I'm not sure who Bush's Christ is, anyway. He's certainly not the really admirable one, the one who taught peace and love and understanding and forgiveness and blessed are the meek, poor, and humble and all that jazz. Bush actually appears to worship one of those "Bow down before me or I'll sling a lightning bolt up your ass" kinda gods. Like Odin. Or The Emperor from Star Wars.

    Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it.

    "I say unto thee, thou speakest bullshit." (II Emeryroolz 11:11) By the way, I Thessalonians 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." So, apparently, if Bob Jones were getting his genitals gnawed off by a pack of rabid apes, he'd still have to give thanks. That's fucked up.

    It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term.

    Yet Christ couldn't allow the goddam Lions beat the Redskins last week? Even though I prayed like a motherfucker. Well, "God DAMN it, can't you guys EVER win?" is sort of a prayer, right? Jesus needs to get his priorities straight.

    Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government.

    Alrighty then. I guess that means that a woman who has her period is "unclean" and can have no contact with her family (Lev. 15:19-24), anyone caught working on the Sabbath shall be immediately killed (Exodus 35:2), you're free to give your virgins daughters over to an angry rape-mob (Gen 19:6-8), and about a million other things that don't make any goddam sense. And what the hell does the Bible have to say about limited government?

    You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

    Four years is a short time? God created the world in 6 days! He should be able to ruin this country in less than four years, right? Even if Bush insists on taking another 600 vacation days...

    Christ said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour” (John 12:26).

    I think he also said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9) But that was probably somewhere near the back.

    The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference.

    There have been "stops" in all this time? Jesus...

    If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them.

    Done and done. Except maybe for Cheney. He looks pretty weak to me. I bet I could bench more than him.

    Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

    Can't... stop... laughing... crying... and throwing up...

    PS: A few moments ago I read this letter to the students in Chapel. They applauded loudly their approval.

    When I told them that Tom Daschle was no longer the minority leader of the Senate, they cheered again.

    "Then I told them we were going out to picket a gay kid's funeral and bomb a planned parenthood office, and they all cheered again."

    On occasion, Christians have not agreed with things you said during your first term. Nonetheless, we could not be more thankful that God has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House, never taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows the Bible to be eternally true.

    A jacket? Yeah, a straight jacket maybe! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I'm tired.

    Veteran's Day

    I confess, until a few years ago, (you can figure out when), I really didn't give much thought to Veteran's Day. To me, it was just another one of those days when the mail doesn't come and you can't go to the bank. But I guess having a war on, (a major offensive today, no less), makes you really think about what's going on over there. Of course, the President doesn't want us to think about it. In fact, he has suggested, in as many words, that it's unpatriotic to worry about what happens on the battlefield. He discourages reporters from interviewing wounded vets, he forbids the filming of the flag-draped caskets coming home, he refuses to attend a single Iraq war vet's funeral.

    Well, war is a bitch, Mr. President. And as much as it turns our stomach to think about what you've done, we should make it a matter of honor to, in no doubt the smallest way possible, try to understand what our troops go through. They won't be sitting comfortably at Arlington National Cemetery, making some pro-war remarks. They won't be gathering flowers and sweets from the grateful Iraqis that they've "liberated." No - they're facing death every minute of every day. Something your father and John Kerry both knew something about. The only death you faced in wartime was possible alcohol poisoning or a coke overdose.

    The television tonight presents an opportunity to gather some perspective about the situation we've gotten these kids into.

    ABC is airing Saving Private Ryan tonight at 8pm Eastern. It's not the best war movie ever made, but it certainly depicts the horrors of battle in a very direct way. Mad props to Steven Spielberg for insisting that it be aired completely unedited, and to ABC for doing so. Of course, the powers-that-be don't want you to watch, with some bullshit story about inappropriate language and violence. They just don't want you reevaluating your pro-war fervor with any concern for the troops. Well, watch it anyway, if your local affiliate isn't one of the Big Brother stations.

    Perhaps even better, at 9pm Eastern - HBO's Last Letters Home, a documentary in which the families of soldiers read the last letter they sent before they were killed. Sounds almost impossible to watch, but you know, when you consider what they've given up for us, the least we can do is TiVo tonight's normal TV fare and listen to the last thing they'll ever say.

    And Mr. President, (because I know you read this every day), maybe you should watch too. Maybe then, you wouldn't send these poor kids off to die on any more of your half-baked world domination schemes.

    Social Security

    CNN has a story about how Bush is moving forward with "his" plan (I doubt he's ever had a real plan in his life, other than "We're goin' drinkin'!") for Social Security privitization. There are a few points that make me furious (surprise surprise):

    For future retirees, base benefits would be cut by tying them to inflation instead of wage growth, with stock market gains assumed to make up any shortfall. The concept gained support in the stock market boom of the late 1990s.

    Here we see one of the major problems with most of this administration's plans. They are always assuming. They assume that growth will continue at the current rate, so we can have huge tax cuts for the rich; they assume that Iraqis will welcome us with open arms, so they don't have to plan for the peace; and now they assume that the stock market will just go up and up and up, increasing the value of our privitized accounts and making up for all the new cuts in Social Security benefits. My advice to all you seniors out there, better start stocking up on canned goods and dog food now, while the stock market is up, because if we have another recession or terrorist attack, the Bush administration will have once again made an ASS out of U and ME.

    So back to the article. How are they going to pay for all this?

    ...the yearly price tag of $80 billion to $100 billion could be funded by closing tax loopholes, cutting pork barrel spending, borrowing money or temporarily raising the payroll tax cap on earnings.

    Well, we know the first two things sure as hell aren't going to happen, which leaves us with the last two. Borrowing more money, that sounds like a great idea. We've already got the biggest deficit in US history, why not pile on a few billion more dollars? Of course, the alternative is they could raise the payroll tax cap. This might not be so bad, because it would only affect people making over $87,900 a year (the current cap). Will Bush actually raise taxes on higher income earners? I'll answer that when I stop laughing.

    Here's the most aggrivating part:

    But supporters of accounts say Democrats can no longer criticize partial privatization without offering their own plan to deal with Social Security's $3.7 trillion, 75-year shortfall.

    Um, I seem to recall Al Gore using the phrase "lock box" about 3.7 trillion times during his campaign. And who was it, pray tell, who spent all that surplus money that was supposed to shore up Social Security on a tax cut for his friends?

    And you know what really sucks? We've been paying higher payroll taxes for the last 20 years so the government could build up a surplus to shore up Social Security against the apparently apocalyptic event know as The Retiring of the Baby Boomers. This was advocated at the time by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan. In 2001 Greenspan advocated returning that surplus to the people (i.e. the rich people) through Bush's tax cuts. Then, in 2004, he said that because that surplus was gone, we're going to have to cut Social Security benefits. So, follow the bouncing ball here:

    Republicans raise taxes in the 80's on lower- and middle-class workers though higher payroll taxes (remember, you are only taxed on the first $87,000 bucks of your income for payroll taxes, everything above is exempt), then in 2001-2004 they give that money away disproportionately to the rich, THEN they start advocating cutting Social Security benefits. We get less for our forced investment in Social Security, while the rich get fatter off our money.

    To learn more about how we're getting screwed, consult your local library. Or just be lazy and read some of these articles:
    The Unlocked Box
    Maestro of Chutzpah by Paul Krugman
    Greenspan Warns Against Deficits
    Is Social Security Really Even in Trouble?

    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    Good news, ladies! Jesus just got hired at your local pharmacy.

    For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control.

    "I was shocked," says Lacey, 33, who was not able to get her prescription until the next day and missed taking one of her pills. "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."

    Some pharmacists, however, disagree and refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. And states from Rhode Island to Washington have proposed laws that would protect such decisions."

    This is a huge step forward in finally acknowledging what we already know to be true - women are incapable of making their own decisions. Especially those who confer with some elitist doctor who was brainwashed in one of Satan's many liberal universities and medical schools. I, for one, applaud this, and suggest we take it one step farther. Let's go back to the good-old days when women couldn't decide who to marry, what clothes to wear, or who should hold elective office. Gosh, weren't things so much better back then?

    Come to think of it, those burqas look kinda hot...

    What the Right is saying update. If you have the stomach for it...

    My favorite bit of violent imagery comes courtesy of Canadian fascist (oxymoron, or just plain moron?), Adam Yoshida, in his column entitled, Four More Years! AKA: Take That, You Sons of Bitches:

    The Democrats and their allies staked everything on the defeat of this President. All of the resources they had accumulated over a generation of struggle were thrown into this battle: and they have failed. Despite all of their tricks, despite all of their lies, the people have rejected them. They mean nothing. They are worth nothing. There’s no point in trying to reach out to them because they won’t be reached out to. We’ve got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and out [sic] boot above their head. Now’s the time to curb-stomp the bastards.

    There you have it, red-staters, why waste time trying to find one of them godless homos to drag behind your Hemi Pickup, or a darkie to tar and feather? Expand your horizons! Kill any liberal you run across!

    And for fun, let's examine what Grover Norquist has to say, and what he really means:

    "The next four years are a wonderful opportunity for the GOP. They're a chance for the party to see what its governors and senators can achieve in lowering and simplifying taxes,"

  • Transferring the tax burden completely onto the backs of the working poor.

    "offering parents school choice,"
  • Gutting the public school system, forcing parents to send their kids to a school where their child will be indoctrinated with religious dogma.

    "ending abusive lawsuits,"
  • eliminating all safety standards on products made in the United States, thus protecting behemoth corporations from any liability or responsibility whatsoever. Anyone take any Vioxx lately? Sucks to you!

    "protecting gun rights and other liberties,"
  • giving terrorists and thugs easy access to military-style machine guns.

    "and furthering decent, limited government."
  • Ending all of the safety net social programs the government offers. Are you poor? Old? Sick? You die.

    Oh yeah. The next four years are gonna be a HOOT!

  • Out of the frying pan, into the pits of hell. So in place of Ashcroft, we're going to get Alberto Gonzales?!

    John Ashcroft may not like the the way you move, but at least he didn't torture Andre 3000.

    Nation's Poor Win Election for Nation's Rich

    The Onion's take on the election. It's funny 'cause it's true.

    Good news, everyone! According to John Ashcroft's resignation letter, “The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." We're all safe! I guess we can pull all those troops out of Iraq and stop looking for Bin Laden now. Whew, what a relief...

    I wish I wrote this one.

    In the meantime, the South actually wants to secede again. Oh god, please do. I'm begging you!

    Just for fun, here's a taste of the latter article:
    "For many decades, conservative citizens and like-minded political leaders (starting with President Calvin Coolidge) have been denigrated by the vilest of lies and characterizations from hordes of liberals who now won't even admit that they are liberals--because the word connotes such moral stink and political silliness. As a class, liberals no longer are merely the vigorous opponents of the Right; they are spiteful enemies of civilization's core decency and traditions."

    For the record, people, I am a liberal. No doubt about it. And red states, blue states, purple states, whatever - you are too. More to come on this, but I am sick and fucking tired of people thinking that liberalism isn't exactly what made this country great. Civil rights, health care, medicare, social security, unions enforcing humane labor laws... I could go on and on. Who is watching out for civilization's decency and traditions exactly? Oh yeah...

    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Another great quote sent my way:

    "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
    -H.L. Mencken


    Wondering what the rest of the world thinks about us?
    Watch this.

    I can't say I disagree with any of it.

    I wanted to write something seconding my coeditor's piece about the six people who most threaten American Democracy, with one minor change. I think John Ashcroft deserves more than honorable mention. He's up around #3 or #4 in my book. But then our favorite pseudonymous researcher, The Jeffersonian, directed my attention to this.

    Today, we are all truly blessed. This man... What to say about this man? He never would have gotten the Attorney General gig if he could have beaten a dead guy in his Senate reelection bid. He believes that drinking and dancing are a sin. His disgraceful record in Congress is well summarized here. There's the rounding up of thousands of innocent people and dropping them off in the no-man's land that we call Guantanamo Bay. And last but not least, there's the Patriot Act. Oh, Patriot Act. I'd love to say that we'll miss you, but you're not going anywhere, are you? Like a boil that can't be lanced, you'll be hovering over us, watching our every move 'til the end of time...

    Sayonara, Mr. Ashcroft. Hope the job didn't weaken your heart, or destroy your family, or give you the night terrors. All our best in your future endeavors!