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Monday, April 30

Breaking News


Western hairstyles have been banned in Iran. Men may NOT groom their eyebrows either. Or wear makeup. (CNN)

Corporate Donations Shift to Democrats

Oh goodie. Now the Democrats will bend over backwards to appease corporate giants.

Dirty little secrets? Oh my.

Randall L. Tobias resigned as deputy secretary of state Friday after confirming he was on the list of patrons of the Pamela Martin firm, an 'escort" service. He claimed that it was only for "massages." Of course it was. We always call 'escort services' for a 'massage' at $300/hr.

Interestingly Randall Tobias defended the official US policy, urged by the so called religious-right, that any US-based group receiving anti-AIDS funds to take an anti-prostitution “loyalty oath.” uh oh. And here's the clincher- Tobias said in an "Ask the Whitehouse" online chat in 2004 where he commented on the policy that he was overseeing several “highly successful” relationship programs “aimed at men and boys to help them develop healthy relationships with women.” I wonder what Mrs Tobias has to say about all this? If he was behaving himself, there would have been no reason for him to resign, now would there be?

Brian Ross of ABC News will go over some of the prominent men and women on the list on 20/20 this week. Ross said,
“There are thousands of names, tens of thousands of phone numbers. And there are people there at the Pentagon, lobbyists, others at the White House, prominent lawyers — a long, long list.” Ross added that the women who worked for the service, potentially as prostitutes, “include university professors, legal secretaries, scientists, military officers.”
I don't think that everyone on the list ought to be outed even if they are prominent. Why drag the women into it unless they promote 'abstinence only' legislation and faith based funding of AIDS groups. Same for the men. It's none of my business otherwise. My job is to out hypocrites.

CondoLIEzza

Dr Rice made the television rounds yesterday to counter George Tenet's book. (Not that anyone is taking every word in his book to be true.)

Yesterday on CNN's Late Edition, Dr Rice countered Tenet's claim that there was no serious debate before the US invaded and occupied Iraq by saying, “We all thought that the intelligence case was strong,” adding that even “the U.N weapons inspectors [thought] Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” She concluded, “So there’s no blame here of anyone.”

Even I remember the lead up to the war and that the UN weapons inspectors claimed that there were no WMD's in Iraq. I sort of remember the bushista's character assassinations of the inspectors as well. Think Progress was so kind to look up some of the news back then. (and don't forget that the wingers will call this "spin" because to them, the truth makes them feel bad.
[On March 7, 2003], the head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, reported that there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had any nuclear weapons or was in the process of acquiring them. Mr Blix said: “By then, Mohamed ElBaradei revealed that Niger was not authentic.” British intelligence falsely claimed Iraq had been trying to acquire uranium from Niger. [4/28/05]

So frustrated have the inspectors become that one source has referred to the U.S. intelligence they’ve been getting as “garbage after garbage after garbage.” … The inspectors find themselves caught between the Iraqis, who are masters at the weapons-hiding shell game, and the United States, whose intelligence they’ve found to be circumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong. [2/20/03]

Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix told the U.N. Security Council that his inspection teams had not found any “smoking guns” after visiting some 125 Iraqi sites. [1/9/03]
I think a lot of us remember that. In fact I had a hard time trying to explain this to people in 2003 who I knew were in support of the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a pre-emptive strike (that being the reason for invasion du jour at the time.)

In an extreme example of irony, Dr Rice also went on Face the Nation yesterday to respond to Tenet's charge that no one in the administration took action in July of 2001 when the threat of a terrorist attack [9/11] had become evident. He wrote in the book about July 2001, "We need to consider immediate action inside Afghanistan now. We need to move to the offensive."
She commented, “I don’t know what we were supposed to preemptively strike in Afghanistan. Perhaps somebody can ask that.”

Um. How about going after Osama bin Laden?

Tenet's book also describes al Qaida's plan to assassinate Vice President Al Gore in Saudi Arabia and that U.S. intelligence agencies “established that Al Qaeda had clear intent to acquire chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons to cause mass casualties in the United States.” While the US was busy invading Iraq, "Saudi extremist elements were planning to conduct a cyanide gas attack on the New York subway system in fall 2003 using a homemade device.” Tenet's book also outlines al Qaida's efforts to actually acquire WMD's from scientists in Pakistan. Al Qaida's goal is to set off a nuclear device in a US city, preferably NY. But no, let's give lots of Homeland Security money to everywhere else but NY, why don't we. And Mr America's Mayor is so full of shit, I could scream.
Just read this thing


But getting back to the war on Iraq, Dr. Rice decided to explain what "imminent" means in bushista. On ABC's morning program "This Week" she explains it to George Stephanopoulos. [Raw story]
"I think that -- an imminent threat. Certainly Iraq posed a threat," Rice responds. "The question was, was it going to get worse over time or was it going to get better."

Rice goes on to say that the Bush administration assessment was that the threat from Iraq was "getting worse" and had to be dealt with.

"But [Iraq was] not an imminent threat," presses Stephanopoulous.

"George, the question of imminence isn't whether or not someone will strike tomorrow, it's whether you believe you're in a stronger position today to deal with the threat or whether you're going to be in a stronger position tomorrow," replies Rice. "It was the president's assessment that the situation in Iraq was getting worse from our point of view."

Rice's redefinition of the term "imminent threat," comes just over a month after former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton appeared on CNN claiming that the President never made the argument that Saddam Hussein posed an "imminent threat."
Silly me. mushroom cloud mushroom cloud mushroom cloud Of course I didn't understand what "imminent" meant before she explained it, or I wouldn't have been an anti-war, unpatriotic, pinko, commie, America-hater all this time.

Condoleeza Rice. You're our biggest lying sack of spew of the week.

Sunday, April 29

"Durbin kept silent on prewar knowledge"

"The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.
"The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.
"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."


Rest of article in The Washington Times.

Blast From the Past


Miss Atomic Bomb 1957


makes you think doesn't it?

"Women's Town" puts men in their place- in a commie country no less

This is happening in China.
Who would have guessed? It's kind of like Fantasy Island.
"The motto of the new town would be "women never make mistakes, and men can never refuse women's requests," Chinese media have reported.

When tour groups enter the town, female tourists would play the dominant role when shopping or choosing a place to stay, and a disobedient man would be punished by "kneeling on an uneven board" or washing dishes in restaurant, media reports said.
I would imagine that a real Chinese 'Fantasy Island' would put their government in its place. I can't see authoritarian (to put it a nice way) men wanting to vacation there with their wives. It almost sounds kinky, doesn't it?

It's really just a gimmick to make investors (probably men) rich.

Happy Springtime: Bush is over




Hat tip to Dirruk for this inspiring find

Saturday, April 28

WTF!!

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - David Huckabee, a son of GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was arrested at an Arkansas airport yesterday after a federal X-ray technician detected a loaded Glock pistol in his carry-on luggage.

Huckabee, 26, later pleaded guilty in Little Rock District Court after being charged with a misdemeanor count of possessing a weapon in a prohibited place.

The dolt brought a loaded gun (a Glock is a gun, right?) through his carry on luggage and all he got was a misdemeanor charge? What about Guantanamo?

Jesus Christ, I'd throw the book at this guy if I were a prosecutor. He'd be on his way to Guantanamo. In every airport I've been at, including the dinky ones (which are usually the hardest to get through), it is more than evident what is allowed and isn't allowed in your carry on luggage. Perhaps, he didn't equate that having a loaded gun is as just as dangerous as a 4 oz. bottle of Lubriderm. If that is the case, then perhaps he ought to be committed to an adult home for the freaking stupid.

Speakin of airports (my favorite subject since 9/11): In NYC airports, you are greeted by National Guardsmen in camouflage wielding M16's at the gates (flirting with the TSA gals who seem annoyed that you dare to interrupt them) and god forbid you spend more than 30 seconds dropping off or picking up your loved ones- they've got the freaking bomb squad all over you and the TSA traffic guys who only know a few words of English crying, "Put your hands on the car! Don't move!" while a tow truck speeds in to haul your car away while you are begging for mercy. (I am not exaggerating)

The Department of Homeland Security rifled through my checked luggage on Monday at the Dallas/Ft Worth airport. When I opened my bags back in NY, the Department of Homeland Security had left their stickers on my hot sauce bottles purchased in Fort Worth. Imagine my surprise. (My surprise that my luggage was actually at the baggage pickup in NYC.) My things were all messed up in the luggage and containers I had carefully packed to avoid leakage, were spilled all over the inside of my bags. Perhaps some of the chemicals they let leak could have combined and made an explosive while it was on the plane, the idiot asses. I packed my stuff in clear plastic bags so that if it was searched it would be evident that I was a jeweler and like my food spicy, not a bomb maker. All liquid containers were clearly labeled and in their original packaging. Thanks for leaking them you idiots. In NY, they didn't give a shit what was in my checked bags, only the carry-on. Typical. All bark. No bite.

...and speaking of how absurd it all is,
Box of Condoms Leads to Evacuation
ANKENY, Iowa - Several classrooms at Des Moines Area Community College were evacuated after college officials became nervous about a suspicious package.

College officials called police and postal inspectors after the box was delivered Thursday. What they found inside wasn't a bomb _ it was a box containing 500 condoms.

The package was sent to a teacher of a human sexuality class, and was sent by a person who had been a previous speaker at the class, said Rob Denson, the college's president.

Bill Moyers and Jon Stewart -- THANK YOU! (there's a glimmer of hope in my world today)

The world sure works in mysterious ways. I thought I was in for the longest night of my life this past evening. The Jr. Prom was last night. I gave my precious baby boy the keys to my car, said be careful, and immediately entered into that dream like feeling --you know, the quiet panic that takes over your whole body. A defense like mechanism that turns on inside every mother during events like these. I was excited for him of course, but still had that picture of the mangled and charred cars that they put out in front of the high school during prom week. It's part of the DWI video program they show the kids the day before the prom. The "scared straight" type of film. It does have a profound effect on a lot of them. He said all the girls were balling during the video. I'm hopeful many boys got the message also.
I'm glad these kids are being made aware of this first hand, IN LIVING COLOR. I wish they showed these films when we were growing up.

Now.... what do I do for the rest of the evening? I gave him til 3am. How do I keep myself from losing my mind? Where's the remote? What stooopid nonsense is on the tube tonight?

OMG I forgot Jon Stewart was on Bill Moyers!! I tunned in half way through their conversation. I was at ease within seconds. I've never seen Jon Stewart outside of his show and stand up routine. It was amazing. I never thought it was possible to be in love with that man any more than I already am. He is absolutely, without a doubt, my ALL TIME HERO. Put him together with Bill Moyers and let me tell you folks -- I quickly moved out of that panic mode and into that feeling of hope. Just watching these two guys having a REAL conversation about REAL issues was a welcome change from our 24/7 non-stop talking heads. here's the link to the transcript of their conversation:

Here's where I started watching:

END CLIP: THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART: (This is the McCain interview on TDS)

BILL MOYERS: I saw McCain shrivel. I mean, he's been on your show...

JON STEWART: He didn't believe me. I think anybody who's been in a POW camp for five years can-- take eight minutes on THE DAILY SHOW.

BILL MOYERS: But something happened. You saw it happen to him. What you saw was evasive action. It wasn't shriveling, it was merely

BILL MOYERS: But he dropped his head, and you could you could

JON STEWART: Actually, he-- began to he stopped connecting and just looked at my chest and decided, "I'm just gonna continue to talk about honor and duty and the families should be proud," all the things that are cudgels emotionally to keep us from the conversation. But, things that weren't relevant to what we were talking about.

BILL MOYERS: So many people seem to want just what you did, somebody to cut through the talking points, and get our politicians to talk candidly and frankly. And I know you...

JON STEWART: Not that many people. You've seen our ratings. Some people want it. A couple of people download it from iTunes.

BILL MOYERS: But it was this time, this moment, this week that you decided that, what it

JON STEWART: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Coming back to him.

JON STEWART: Well, it's also at the fore now, because the Senate and the House are working on timetables, which by the way, who knows if that's an issue, either. It's but it's again, the conversation that the Senate and the House are having with the President was very similar to the conversation that McCain and I were having, which was two people talking over each other and nobody really addressing the underlying issues of what kind of country do we want to be, moving forward in this? And it's not about being a pacifist or-- suggesting that you can never have a military solution to things. It's just that, it appears that this is not the smart way to fight this threat.

BILL MOYERS: Your persistence and his inability to answer without the talking points did get to the truth, that there's a contradiction to what's going on in Vietnam in there's a contradiction. Yeah, exactly, that there's a contradiction to what's going on in that war, that they can't talk about.

JON STEWART: That's right. There is a there is an enormous contradiction, and it is readily apparent, if you just walk through simple sort of logic, and simple rational points. But the thing that they don't realize is that everyone wants them to come from beyond that contradiction so that we can all fix it. Nobody is saying, "We don't have a problem." Nobody is saying that, "9/11 didn't happen." What they're saying is, "We're not a fragile country, trust us to have this conversation, so that we can do this in the right way, in a more effective way."

BILL MOYERS: Why aren't we having that conversation? Well, that's a very good point, Why is the country not having this conversation, the kind of conversation that requires the politicians who are responsible for the war to be specific to the concerns of the American people. I mean, they do come out and a kind of gauze goes up.

JON STEWART: Because I don't think politics is any longer about a conversation with the country. It's about figuring out how to get to do what you want. The best way to sell the product that you want to put out there, but not necessarily for the products on you know, it-- it's sort of like, when a dishwashing soap you know, they want to make a big splash, so they decide to have more lemon, as though people are gonna be like, "That has been the problem with my dishes! Not enough lemon scent!"

BILL MOYERS: Well, what is your thinking about why it is as-- the war enters its fifth year, and the President has announced - an extension of tours to 15 months, and they're going to call up the National Guard. And April was the bloodiest month so far since the war started, and there was one day in April that was the bloodiest day. That people have seen they have no way to get the guys in Washington, and Condoleezza Rice, to listen to them. That there seems a detachment emotionally, and politically in this country from what is happening.

JON STEWART: It's very hard to feel the difficulties that the military goes through. It's very hard to feel the difficulties of military families, unless you're in that environment. And sometimes you have to force yourself to try and put yourself in other people's sort of shoes and environment to get the sense of that.

JON STEWART: You know, one of the things that I do think government counts on is that people are busy. And it's very difficult to mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it's over really crucial-- you know, foundational issues. That come sort of sort of a tipping point.

BILL MOYERS: War? War?
JON STEWART: But war that hasn't affected us here, in the way that you would imagine a five-year war would affect a country. I think that's why they're so really — here's the disconnect. It's sort of this odd and I've always had this problem with the rationality of it. That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect there between — you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it. I'm sure what he would like to do is send 400,000 more troops there, but he can't, because he doesn't have them. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft. And the minute you do that, suddenly the country's not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart. So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.
Keep checking this link today for the actual video of Jon on PBS



Then....Then....THEN Bill Moyers had an interview with:JOSH MARSHALL -The blogger and publisher of talkingpointsmemo.com, gives his perspective on the role of politics in the recent firings of federal prosecutors

I fell asleep sometime during this conversation. WOW - Now I must read the entire transcript. Can't believe I fell asleep -- It was such a treat to be watching REAL journalists at work. I guess maybe I finally felt like "ok, I can rest easy now, we've got some REAL people, with no loyalties to anyone or any group, who are getting the REAL deal out to the people." Off I went into dreamland (slept a sound, much needed 6 hours straight) with visions of Jon Stewart doing a weekly show on PBS. That could happen ya know!! Wouldn't that just be the best!!!

Speaking of the draft.....

I shot up in bed and came out of my sound sleep at 3:15. Looked out the window and saw my car in the driveway, which meant my kid was back home safe and sound. Dad said he heard him come home around 2am (what a good boy - I wonder if he'll give us any of the details when he wakes up sometime around the crack of noon).

Since I don't go back to sleep very well, I get up so I don't start worrying about the next thing whilst lying in bed. I lived through him going off to the prom -- and he did too!

Now I can start worrying about the very real possibility of him going off to a war. Stewart is right. It's the only thing that will get this country's attention. I sure hope Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers find a way to get the people's attention before a draft becomes necessary.

I don't even want to think of the odds of him not coming home from that event. Maybe we should ask our high schools to start showing these kids some videos of what happens when you go off to war. Now THAT would get their attention. Imagine if our parents were shown the REAL deal instead of the "turtle" video Duck and Cover?.

Our kids today may not be stupid enough to fall for "duck and cover" anymore, but they are a complacent bunch that needs the biggest wake up call of their lives. Jon Stewart has a huge opportunity to wake them up here. I hope he, and others are given the chance.

Keep your fingers crossed -

Friday, April 27

Which One's Yours?

As the Dow Jones Industrial Average sets new records every day, economic growth slows to its lowest rate in years, the dollar drops against other currencies, and the housing market is in a serious slump. Seems a bit of a disconnect unless you see it as two different economies.

My sense is if you make a half a million a year or more, you're feeling pretty good about how things are going. You're benefitting from higher worker productivity and lower costs for the companies you hold stock in, and your portfolio's soaring. So you're able to shop at Neiman-Marcus and Tiffany's. We depend on you to keep those consumer spending numbers high. You haven't noticed that eggs are more precious than hens teeth, and that onions now top a dollar a pound. You don't lay awake at night wondering how you're going to afford to send your kids to college. Even if Junior is a delinquent and flunking out of his third private high school, you know you'll find a college somewhere that'll take him, because you can afford the full load of tuition and room and board.

On the other hand, the rest of you aren't so happy. You're the worker being squeezed to support that growth in corporate productivity, so you're being worked harder and longer for the same pay (if you're lucky). And, what with groceries and gas going through the roof, and the value of your house declining, you're probably losing ground in your long term financial planning. You've been priced out of the market of sending your kids to a private college unless you hand over the keys to your house and the account number of your 401(k). So you stay on top of your kids to make sure they can compete academically and get admitted to a good public university. You shop at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, and yes, those hackers have your credit card number. Let's not even talk about how much you're spending on health care. We used to call you middle class.

Which represents your economy and why?

Obligatory Friday Sex Post

Sex, Lies and White Supremacy

Tenet finally speaks

It would have been nice if he had opened his mouth before bush got "re-elected." He says that there was never a serious debate about whether Iraq posed a threat. You and I already figured that out.

How useless is the FDA anyway?

I don't want my food supply to have anything to do with China. It's not like they are good at manufacturing anything, let alone food. They've decided to cooperate with the US FDA after all. But seriously. It's not just pet food ingredients that are made in China. Why have an FDA if our country is outsourcing food ingredients? Don't we grow stuff here? Why have an FDA if they only act for political reasons- fascist political reasons? You cannot expect industries that exist for profit to regulate themselves. The tainted pet food got into hog feed and tainted pigs are on the market. This is a disgrace.

Riverbend Cuts and Runs

Richard Cranium of All Spin Zone reports that Riverbend, the Iraqi girl blogger is leaving her home.

In her last post, The Great Wall of Segregation, she writes of the wall around the Sunni's, "let no one say the Americans are not building anything." Indeed. She goes on to wonder if the Nazi concentration camps started this way, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here..." She criticizes the pundits for saying that the Sunnis and Shia were always in dispute because it isn't true. She writes, "I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward..." Now she has to make the decision of where to go and what to bring.

-------
I certainly wouldn't compare life in the USA to life in Baghdad, but think about this. Before the war in Iraq, people (at least in my neck of the woods) didn't care what ethnicity you were, what religion you were or what party you belonged to. I don't remember any north/south, red state/blue state nonsense being spewed. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but seriously the bushistas have wrought nothing but divisiveness since they illegally came to power in 2001. Perhaps we unconsciously harbored all these divisive feelings before the bushistas, but at least it was considered impolite to express them- and tolerance, at least pretending you were tolerant, was the only acceptable way to present yourself in the company of others. Now you sometimes feel like a freak for caring about those on the fringes of society and those caught in war. You find yourself almost hating those who support the bush regime. I'm so mad at myself for instantly resenting anyone who proudly claims to be a Republican or worse, a christian conservative. What happened to my tolerance? It hit the breaking point. Heckuva job, Bushie.

Thursday, April 26

Sure as hell, it's global:

"Taiwan stung by millions of missing bees"

REUTERS:
"Taiwan's bee farmers are feeling the sting of lost business and possible crop danger after millions of the honey-making, plant-pollinating insects vanished during volatile weather, media and experts said on Thursday.
Over the past two months, farmers in three parts of Taiwan have reported most of their bees gone, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported. Taiwan's TVBS television station said about 10 million bees had vanished in Taiwan."


More at Honeybees are disappearing and Bees sense quantum fields, and that's why they are disappearing.

UPDATE: Destructive mite threatens Hawaii bees.

Moyers: Buying the War

Did you watch Bill Moyers' "Buying the War" last night? If you didn't, you can read about it at PBS.org.

Most interesting was that you could actually watch on television what has been discussed by thinking people over the years-- that the MEDIA FAILED US in the lead up to the war. But we already knew that. We already knew that journalism had taken a turn for the worst and that "reporters" were simply mouthpieces for the government. We already knew that pundits or "experts" had replaced real reporting. Does it make me feel better that I was right and everyone else was wrong? Not at all. It's rather depressing.

There are 2 intrepid reporters who worked for Knight Ridder, now McClatchy, who were on top of the story of the nonsensical excuses to go to war since the get go. They are Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. Read more about them at the website. No one paid attention to them because they didn't write for papers in mainstream. They had reliable sources in DC though. You probably read some of their reporting on the internet or in your local paper. I remember following the UN weapons inspectors before the war and waiting for the mainstream media to report on their findings in order to prove that Colin Powell lied before the UN.

Dan Rather called television 'reporting' "journalism on the cheap." Rather than actually investigating a story, television news calls in "experts" to debate the stories, leaving no one with any actual facts. But we already knew that. Facts don't make for good television, do they?

Moyers discussed pundits like Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, Richard Pearle, Judith Miller, and Peter Beinhart who led the sheeple in the country to support the illegal war. It wasn't clear why these people were so adamant in their support for the invasion of Iraq. What was in it for them? And seriously, what kind of horrible people are these?

It still infuriates me, literally, when I meet people who take Fox News and reporters at other news organizations at face value. I don't know what could ever make up for the propaganda that tricked so many Americans into submission and my resentment for them... and my utter and total disdain for those in the media who failed us miserably. I feel like I just watched a documentary on the end of the USA as we knew it and there is nothing we can do about it.

Quote of the week

"No one suffers more than their president and I do" - Laura Bush on US troops being sent into harms way in Iraq.

-----------

Meanwhile the president is not listening to the American people. And neither is most of the Republican wing of congress. A close vote in the House, 218-208, on Wednesday passed a $124.2 billion supplemental spending bill that contains the troop withdrawal timetable according to the AP. It will likely be passed by the Senate. It's expected to be quickly vetoed by the president. The American people do not see a withdrawal as a surrender, contrary to what the pundits and political operatives declare. John McCain on The Daily Show 2 nights ago said that he speaks to US Troops in Iraq regularly and reports that they tell him that support what they are doing in Iraq, as if that is supposed to be a reason to stay in the war. The troops are following orders, not directing the war... and you wonder what type of duress they are under if and when any of them tell the Senator that they wish to stay and fight. feh

Wednesday, April 25

Did Anybody Say Treason?

Last week, at a press conference President Bush to prove that his surge is working, had a large display map of Baghdad and it's surroundings with the American Outposts marked on the map. How clever!

This week one of those outposts was attacked by insurgents. It was a double suicide attack; one car bomb penetrating the outer layers of the reinforced Outpost, the second a truck bomb exploding inside the outpost.

The result: nine US solders killed and twenty injured.
Did the Media miss connecting the dots, or perhaps is too harsh to report it?!

What's going on with Internet Radio?

While surfing the music blogs this morning, I came across this great song:

Posted by Mister Toaster at 7:35 PM
"A little Joni to welcome the spring, which is quickly turning into hot, muggy summer (thanks, Al Gore!). And, considering the looming end of Internet radio on May 15 when the new royalty rates kick in, I've chosen "You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio)" to commemorate the moment.

One of my all-time favorite songs, Joni sings sex as if it were a glorious road trip with the radio. Which it is. Obviously."
Have a listen here (song is at bottom of link)

Hey "Be Cool" all you Chili Palmer's battling this one out.
I had no idea this was going on.
Why are there ALWAYS so many hands out in the music industry?
Will the musicians EVER get all the money????

Here's an interview from popular Internet radio provider Pandora and one of the most vocal proponents for lower webcasting royalty rates.

Supporters of this decision argue that these new, higher royalty rates will ensure that musicians are paid fairly for their work as the music industry shifts its focus from traditional media to the Internet. Currently, record labels and recording artists don’t receive any royalties at all from terrestrial radio, which is required to pay only composers and publishers. However, detractors argue that the new rates are ruinously high and will lead to bankruptcy for the vast majority of webcasters, eliminating a resource that entertains more than 70 million Americans and financially supports tens of thousands of recording artists.

Here's NPR's story - New Royalty Rules May Reshape Internet Radio

Speaking of all this digital music; I'm still in awe of the whole itune world. Do you think itunes has helped musicians financially? I sure think it's the best deal in town. I love that I only have to spend a few dollars on 2-3 songs instead of buying the entire CD. (must not be a good deal for the musicians)

and now Amazon is supposed to be launching their new download store: Is Amazon's Music Strategy Stalled?

Music makes the world go round
or, is it
"MONEY makes the world go round"?

MUSIC makes the world go round ~ my world, anyway

Vote Democrat in 2008 and the Terrorists Will Kill YOU

****UPDATE Thursday, April 26th: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann gave Rudy Giuliani a slapping last evening. See bottom of this post.


Rudy is warning you:
"Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped."
How can that be? How does he know?
I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”
He listens "a little" to Democrats? And which Democrats said that? He doesn't say. He appears to be speculating.
“This war ends when they stop coming here to kill us!” Giuliani said in his speech. “Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for [terrorists] to attack us if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense!”
I thought that they would stop coming here to kill us when the US military pulled out of Saudi Arabia which we did. There must be a new "they." I don't want to put words in his mouth, but is he implying that if he is president that America will remain at war? Does he read the polls?
Giuliani said terrorists “hate us and not because of anything bad we have done; it has nothing to do with Israel and Palestine. They hate us for the freedoms we have and the freedoms we want to share with the world.”
Where have we heard that before? And don't you just love how we "share our freedoms with the world?"
"Giuliani continued: “The freedoms we have are in conflict with the perverted, maniacal interpretation of their religion.” He said Americans would fight for “freedom for women, the freedom of elections, freedom of religion and the freedom of our economy.”

"Addressing the terrorists directly, Giuliani said: “We are not giving that up, and you are not going to take it from us!”

"The crowd thundered its approval."
Freedom of elections? Puhleease. Remember Florida? Ohio? Women's rights? hah.
The crowd must not have been paying close attention in Manchester, NH. I wonder how many were in that "crowd."

I think most Americans will take their chances on our being attacked again. It will be pretty funny when Rudy completely bombs in NY at primary time.

-----------
UPDATE
Excerpt from Keith Olbermann on Wed, April 25th Read the rest here.

"How dare you, sir?

"How many casualties will we have?" - this is the language of Bin Laden.

Yours, Mr. Giuliani, is the same chilling nonchalance of the madman, of the proselytizer who has moved even from some crude framework of politics and society, into a virtual Roman Colosseum of carnage, and a conceit over your own ability — and worthiness — to decide, who lives and who dies.

Rather than a reasoned discussion — rather than a political campaign advocating your own causes and extolling your own qualifications — you have bypassed all the intermediate steps, and moved directly to trying to terrorize the electorate into viewing a vote for a Democrat, not as a reasonable alternative and an inalienable right… but as an act of suicide.

This is not the mere politicizing of Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic 'softness' from a delusional Vice President.

This is casualties on a partisan basis — of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani's party knows all and will save those who have voted for it — and to hell with everybody else.

And that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the Messiah-of-the-moment.

This Saturday: IMPEACH CHENEY

WWW.IMPEACH.ORG

SATURDAY, APRIL 28 A NATIONWIDE DAY OF PROTEST DEMANDING IMPEACHMENT AND LAUNCHING IMPEACHMENT SUMMER

Find an impeachment rally here! or here


We're expecting good weather in NY on Saturday. NYers will head to to fabulous Coney Island:
At New York’s Coney Island, one thousand people will form a giant human mural with their bodies on the beach. A plane towing a giant IMPEACH banner will circle the city and then fly over the beach to take aerial photos. Bring a beach towel or tarp to lie on, and dress warmly.
Dress like a mermaid or a merman.

Tonight 8 P.M. (CENTRAL Standard Time):

Bill Moyers' Journal PBS "Buying the War"

Herewith the description from the "Best Bets" section of my TV Listings:

"Don't mess with Bill! One of the most respected names in journalism returns to PBS with an excellent new series that asks the questions nobody else does. That's certainly true of the premiere episode, "Buying the War," in which Moyers investigates the mainstream media's failure to question the government's official line on the reasons for going to war with Iraq. Dan Rather, Tim Russert and Bob Simon ("60 Minutes") are interviewed."

Summayouse might wanna tape it.

Tuesday, April 24

Is this the beginning of the end for the "Teflon Don"?

No, I don't mean John Gotti. I mean Karl Rove. The reason I named him that, because he brought into the US Government the philosophy and Operating Procedure of the Mob. The more I watch the Soprano series, the more they remind me how Rove operates. Political loyalty is rewarded, disloyalty is punished, and the Boss (Karl Rove) of the Mob operates through proxies, like a good boss would, to avoid any back-track to his orders. Several laptops, blackberries to confuse the tracking and ultra-loyal liaisons (Monica Goodling) to carry out the orders about the mob hits.

L.A. Times and A. P. is reporting that the OSC ( Office of Special Counsel) is investigating Karl Rove for using Government Agencies for carrying out his political deeds (i.e. establishing a single party Republican majority government of the USA)

The OSC started it's investigation at the complaint of US Attorney fired David Iglesias.
Read more here!

GOP's Cyber Election Hit Squad Exposed

- by Steven Rosenfeld and Bob Fitrakis, via TomPaine.commonsense

In Bushland, who exactly are the American people anyway?

From Sheryl Crow and Laurie David:
"...In his attempt to dismiss us, Mr. Rove turned to head toward his table, but as soon as he did so, Sheryl reached out to touch his arm. Karl swung around and spat, "Don't touch me." How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow? Unfazed, Sheryl abruptly responded, "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us." Karl then quipped, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people." To which Sheryl promptly reminded him, "We are the American people."

...

Ultimately, we were left wondering what on Earth Mr. Rove was talking about when he said "the American people." If more than 60% of American voters, the Supreme Court, over 400 cities, the US National Academy of Sciences, numerous major US corporations, and others don't constitute the American people, then what does..."

------------
". . .government is instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people, and not for profit, honour, or private interest of any man, family, or class of men. . .the origin of all power is in the people, and they have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation, vested with certain powers to guard the life, liberty and property of the community. . ."
-Mercy Otis Warren 1728-1814, (poet, historian, patriot, and advocate of the Bill of Rights)

Forgotten Soldier

Don't watch this report, from Bob Woodruff, ABC News over at Think Progress about Army Sgt. James Coons, who was once a proud soldier who served in Iraq and ended up killing himself in that fateful "hotel" in Walter Reed, if you want to start the day off on an up beat. My heart goes out to his parents and his wife. Transcript here.

Monday, April 23

It's from Pravda so it has to be the truth. Doesn't it?

The real reason Don Imus got fired.

"American radio icon Don Imus disgraced, fired after threat to reveal 9/11 secrets"

"In a clear sign of its intent to reign in dissident American media personalities, and their growing influence in American culture, US War Leaders this past week launched an unprecedented attack upon one of their most politically 'connected', and legendary, radio hosts named Don Imus after his threats to release information relating to the September 11, 2001 attacks upon that country."

For none of the news that's unfit to print, check out the rest of the article at PRAVDA.

War News:

From the DEBKAfile:
"US military discloses 6 US soldiers killed in Iraq Saturday as new ambassador presses for Iraqi".

From the AP:
"Nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 20 wounded Monday in a suicide car bombing against a patrol base northeast of the capital in Diyala province..."

I'm Baaaaack

Just got home from Texas. I actually had a great flight, thank you very much. The flight crew all understood English very well and I had 2 seats to myself. Did you know that they don't even give you peanuts anymore?

The folks working on the ground in both Dallas/Ft Worth and JFK in NY were unable to understand English, but they had their English answers memorized and picked from one of them when someone asked them a question. "Can I .....?" "Take off your shoes." "Where do I...?" "Take off your shoes."

Here's how it went in the airport shops: "Do you take debit cards?" "Credit card. Yes." "But do you take debit cards?" "Credit card. Yes." Do you take cash?" "Credit card. Yes." "How much is this?" "You want to buy?" "How much is it?" "Credit card. Yes."

I would have found it quite comical if the non english speaking man who brought me to the airport with my overstuffed bags full of heavy art supplies would have dropped me off within a half mile of a curbside check in or if one of the half dozen guys with official uniforms at JFK could have answered me when I asked what terminal we were in or which way to the baggage claim. Thank gawd I didn't have to take a cab home. Lord only knows where I'd end up. I happen to love foreigners. Very much. They are what made America great. It's just that I get irritated when someone doesn't understand English when we're dealing with time tables and transportation. Maybe I ought to start an English class for TSA workers. That's the ticket.

And tell me, what did I miss while I was gone?

Sunday, April 22

On Mental Illness, Part Deux

Thanks to everyone for their kind and intelligent comments to Part Un below. I want to talk with you today about the intersection between mental health and American jurisprudence. It's not a pretty picture, and it raises some challenging questions. It is a complex, dense problem, and there are no easy answers.

As late as two generations ago, the mentally retarded and mentally ill populations were simply "put away"; the poor to state mental health institution (in Florida, the state mental hospital was called Chattahoochie; when we were teenagers, we always used "Chattahoochie" as slang to imply someone was just not right in the head), the rich to nicer, private "sanitariums". The family rarely discussed "Aunt Jill" and "Uncle Joe", and when the kids asked about them, they were hushed up. Mental illness was not discussed, not acknowledged unless absolutely necesssary. If a person "needed" to be institutionalized, the family went to the local judge, and they were granted commitment papers for the "care, maintenance and tratment" of the patient.

In the late 1960s, a lawsuit called O'Connor v. Donaldson was filed by the ACLU on behalf of a mental patient had been confined (coincidentally at Chattahoochie) because of some psychotic episodes. During his confinement, he regularly petitioned for his release, contending that the hospital was depriving him of his consitutional right to liberty. The case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and the Court's unanimous decision was very direct: a person who is mentally ill is a person nonetheless, and therefore is entitled to the same constitutional rights as any other person; and that under the 14th Amendment's guarantee of liberty, a mentally ill person may not be deprived by the state of his liberty, without due process of law. In this context, due process to the Court meant that, "[a] finding of 'mental illness' alone cannot justify a State's locking a person up against his will and keeping him indefinitely in simple custodial confinement. Assuming that that term can be given a reasonably precise content and that the 'mentally ill' can be identified with reasonable accuracy, there is still no constitutional basis for confining such persons involuntarily if they are dangerous to no one and can live safely in freedom."

The O'Connor decision worked a tremendous shift in legal landscape vis-a-vis mental health issues. As the decision ultimately was refined by lower court cases, we end up with the legal landscape we have today: A mentally ill person cannot be confined (deprived of his liberty) unless he is an imminent danger to himself or others. To justify depriving him of his liberty, the state must prove the danger by clear and convincing evidence (a lower burden of proof than reasonble doubt, but still a high standard of proof). Assuming an involuntary commitment, he may be institutionalized only so long as he remains a danger to himself or others, and even then, periodic court hearings must be held to determine whether the patient is a continued threat. Once determined not to be, he must be released unless he agrees to further treatment voluntarily. In exigent circumstances, a state may lock a patient up without a court hearing, but this "temporary hold" cannot exceed a designated period of time (which varies from state to state but usually is something like 72 hours) before a court hearing must be held. A mentally ill person may be not be forced to accept treatment (i.e., forceably medicated) against his will.

(I've been through this cycle a number of times with my mother. She would have a psychotic episode and get taken to the county mental health facility, she would be medicated and stabilized, occasionally she would commit herself voluntarily for an additional few days or a week, and then the facility would have to let her go. (The ultimate "catch and release", if you will.) She would be referred to the county mental health clinic for outpatient treatment, which she would promptly ignore. Her medication expended, she would go off it, hold it together for a period of time, but inevitably, there would be another psychotic outburst. My mother was lucky in one respect, and that is that she had a house to go back to and an income from social security and her children. Others are not so fortunate.)

This Supreme Court decision is, ladies and gentlemen, in a nutshell, how we ended up with several million mentally ill people living on the streets. Civil liberties cannot be constrained by practicalities such as what happens to the mentally ill when you say they cannot be confined against their wills if they are not a danger to themselves or others. If they are not committed to the state's care, if the state may not restrain them, then they must be left to their own devices. If you live in a city of any size, you see the mentally ill every day, walking the streets unkempt, muttering to themselves, pushing a grocery cart with all their posessions inside, living under bridges, queuing in the line at the soup kitchen. I bet if you're like me, you often avert your eyes because it's too painful to see that bag lady having a conversation with the air, or you move out of the way so that the crazy man screaming his greivances as he strides down the block won't focus on you. What would you have the state or city government do? Pick them up and take them where? Supposing the bag lady was taken to a local mental health clinic and she didn't want to stay, then what? In light of O'Connor, she can't be forced to stay and she can't be forced to take medication.

Did Ronald Reagan have his fair share in making a bad situation worse? He certainly did. Ronald Reagan never met a social welfare program that he didn't love to cut, and mental health services were certainly no exception. Were numerous state mental institutions closed? They certainly were, but given the legal standard for commitment enunciated by the Court in O'Connor and its progeny, this makes complete sense. There was no longer a need for mass institutions such as these because very few of their inmates ever were an imminent threat to themselves or others, they were simply being warehoused. Under the Court's decision in O'Connor, they had to be released regardless of whether there were adequate arrangements for their continued care. A sensible policy toward community based treatment, with adequate financial support, may or may not have ameliorated the sufferings of the numerous mentally ill people released, but we will never know. These programs were underfunded well before Reagan came to office because of the financial drain of the Viet Nam War and the stagflation of the late 1970s. It also does not change the fact that treatment cannot be forced against those unwilling to accept it. Even in the ideal situation of a supportive family with the monetary and psychological resources to deal with a mentally ill family member, there is no certainty that a patient will accept the need for treatment. I am the last person ever to defend anything that St. Ronnie did, but I cannot lay the full blame for the current state of mental health services at his doorstep. The blame, if we can call it blame, lays with the Bill of Rights. This is one of the costs of our liberty.

So, was the Supreme Court wrong in O'Connor? In the absence of imminent danger, should the state have more authority to involuntarily commit a person, or force a mentally ill person to accept treatment, "for his own good"? I hope you appreciate fully the civil liberties implications before you answer. Among the Justices on the Supreme Court that decided the O'Connor case were the liberal lions of the last century: William O. Douglas, William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall. These guys were absolutists on civil liberties issues. I am sure they understood some of the consequences that would flow from their decision. To them, the constitutional issue was more important.

We all would like to see the mentally ill receive treatment, even those, like my mother for many years, who cannot or do not recognize that they need treatment. We want to see these folks receive treatment from our impulse to help, from a place of compassion. As we struggle to understand what could have been done to help Cho before he went off like the bomb he was, remember why the Supreme Court says that we cannot willy nilly lock people up, that there must be some due process before even the mentally ill are deprived of their liberty. You and I might want to see these people committed for the right reasons, because we want them to be helped. But as a fundamental matter of our constitutional rights, it would be the wrong result.

Because we must recognize that when we grant the State the power to compel, to restrict and impinge upon one person's civil liberties, there is the possibility (indeed, with current regime, one might say probability) this power may be misused. As we struggle through the questions of why Cho wasn't locked up so he could not have committed this awful act, think of what the Supreme Court said in O'Connor and ask yourself whether you would want it to be easier for the current government to lock people up for being mentally ill? If you answer yes to that question, I'll leave you with this final thought. It was commonplace in the Soviet Union to institutionalize political dissidents for mental illness. After all, they must be crazy if they disagreed with the perfect political state.

[Sorry for the long post, but even this just scratches the surface. I could go on for days.]

News and Opinion from Israel

Hi gang! I've been in Israel for the past few days; in a virtual way that is. I'm sick of the talking heads here, the nonsense news and the upcoming gun debate here in the 'Land of the Free' and 'Home of the Brave' as we challenge the 2nd Ammendment -- state by state by state by state.... in the coming days.

I think it was these two articles that set me off:
Don't Let Go of Your Guns

The Democrats are Traitors Too


Somehow I ended up in "Israel" -- probably trying to get the Zionist movement straight in my head again after reading the two articles above.

The headlines in Israel parallel our headlines in so many ways. Here's a few I picked to share with our readers. Check out the site if you have time - (I need to take a few history classes before I go back to read more!)


Don't give 'em guns -Last thing Palestinian Authority needs at this time is more weapons

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wishes to boost Palestinian President Abbas. President George W. Bush also wishes to strengthen him.......


Bold move needed to halt weakning dollar -
Interest rates must be slashed in order to close gap between Israel, West


"The dollar exchange rate has dropped by almost 12 percent in the past year and by almost 20 percent since it hit a peak five years ago."

Well, I guess we don't have to worry about this "housing crisis" bringing down the economy here!! (I have a feeeeling that interest rates are going back down here in the US to "help the subprime market")

There is also similar bitching about the media:
British journalists' union boycott motion reflects deep animosity towards Israel

Marriages are in trouble:
Researchers discuss a growing phenomenon in recent years: More middle-aged couples getting divorced

He Said/She Said issues:
Women often find themselves in a difficult situation: Carried away by momentary passion, they regain their composure midway through the act. The Supreme Court has ruled that a woman has the right to say 'no more' at any stage. I believe the same should be true for men regarding the rights to their sperm


The Pope's been popping up in the news over there also (well, not the current one. Something about Pope Pius XII and his wartime conduct) First, the Vatican’s Ambassador said no to attending the holocaust remembrance event due to a caption at a museum describing The Pope's behavior during the war:

“Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest," …and didn't write a thing. He did not intervene even when Jews from Rome were deported to Auschwitz.

"His silence and the absence of guidelines obliged churches throughout Europe to decide on their own how to react."
The Pope's response as outlined above is also controversial according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The memo was indeed concealed. There is no evidence of public protest by the Pope against the Holocaust.

I think the Ambassador did attend.

School visits to Poland make teenagers better Jews and Israelis - Therefore, shaping Holocaust consciousness is critical in shaping the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

(I need my chart now!!)

I was particularly interested in this headline while I was over there visiting:

Secrets of the Jewish mind - Can Jewish memorization techniques improve our maligned leadership? Interesting article about, well, I'm not quite sure. Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister is mentioned.

He was a man of prodigious energy - physical and intellectual. "He was a mercurial man," wrote Israeli author Amos Oz, "almost violently vivacious." --After the 1967 Middle East war, Ben Gurion argued against holding on to Arab territory beyond Jerusalem. The fright that Israel was given in the 1973 war when the Arabs enjoyed success revealed, in Ben Gurion's view, a dangerous sign of arrogance and complacency.

For more background on Ben Gurion, read here and here.

Sounds like he was a well liked? -- Not sure anymore.

Hey, ya gotta like a guy who stands on his head! Here he goes... steady, steady....NOT BAD!!

And people make fun of our Rosie -- I LOVE YOU ROSIE!!You know where it's at!
So, standing on your head is good exercise for your mind, and hanging upside down helps to battle depression. So much to learn!

And what's up with the benefits of "swaying" -- as in the swaying and chanting kind. I only know this kind of "Swaying" (guys, you'll probably enjoy this "sway" version better)

and lastly, what do you think of this headline:
We need to kill him --Israel should not shy away from threatening to kill Iran's Ahmadinejad
-- WOW -- to the point.

What would Ben Gurion think about that statement?

Was Ben Gurion a good man?

I never liked "Limbo" anyway

The Pope in a nutshell: The good news is that your babies won't be going to hell if they are unbaptized. The bad news is that YOU'LL probably still go to hell... unless of course you have declared that Jesus Christ is the only way to god and too bad if one lives in some remote area and practice a pagan religion.

It makes for good fear-based religous PR. There is religion and there is theology. Theology is a study of god, of existence, of a reason to exist. Religion should be an initiation into theology and deeper reflection, but often it's not. There are fundies who prefer to reflect on the creator's vengeance for those who don't share their beliefs exactly. Sometimes rabid atheists can be compared to fundies in their zeal. Some folks insist that they couldn't possibly behave properly on earth without religon. There are agnostics like me who conscientiously consider that anything is possible, who don't discount any reasonable explanation for our existence. There is a religion to suit just about everyone on earth.

Existential angst has been my muse since I became aware and it probably is true for many of you out there- at least at some point in your life. Limbo was never a Catholic doctrine and I never liked it anyway. I gave the nuns a hard time all the way in second grade when we were taught the concept. It didn't fit with my once religious view of Jesus as a loving and forgiving representative of God on earth. Faith is hope. That's the best that I can come up with. If people are hopeful, you would think that they would be kinder to one another, but that's not always the case. If there is indeed a heaven and a hell, I hope that heaven is where I will land after I die. I have a Jesus-based philosophy on how to live, but still, I can only hope that it's the right way to live. Jesus' philosophy makes sense to me- love one another, look out for each other, forgive each other. It certainly makes for a nicer world even if our existence turns out to be a huge cosmic accident. Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan sums it all up.

The Pope's renouncing of limbo, is at the very least, a step in the right direction for Catholics. It will hopefully open up people's minds for further reflection. It's proof that the many, many Catholic theologians who are this close to being brought up on heresy charges are making inroads. In Catholicism, you must understand that it takes decades or centuries to make inroads. You'd be surprised how many Catholic scholars and theologians make perfect sense. My favorite theologians assert that god lives inside us, not outside of us. It's just that you won't be hearing their views from the pulpit or the Vatican. Contributions would drop and one thing we all know about religion and politics is that money talks.

The above is my humble opinion and I could very well be wrong and that God really is a mean dude living in heaven and wants to punish the very creatures he made.

"All you need is love, love. Love is all you need."

Sunday's Song for Atheists -- "The Limbo Rock"

Let's sing along with that cartoon character Sebastian....

while we wait for dictionary.com to get orders from the pope to remove their contributions for the definition of "Limbo"

ROCK ON brothers and sisters!

Saturday, April 21

Stolen from the Signs-of-the-Times:

Tired of the God bothering and fear mongers

Why is it that whenever a tragedy strikes too many arseholes of the religious and political persuations show up and try to use it as a way to prove 'God' is punishing unbelievers?

And yes, this week I am referring to the horrific events at Virginia Tech. One of the most in your face offenders is Dinesh D'Souza who uses the mass murders to take a knock at atheists, claiming that we are no where to be found, or that our response is 'get over it, the universe doesn't care', what a wanker. He goes as far as to make up (read fabricate, lie) about Dawkin's response and notes that Dawkins wasn't asked to speak at the memorial. Well neither were the Pope, Dali Lama, or Thetans, but he doesn't seem to comment on that.

Let me tell you this, I would take the comfort of one of the most fire-breathing, nails-across-the-blackboard, godless athiest I have ever read over the crocodile tears of D'Souza.

And shall we even bother with the "If everyone had a gun this wouldn't have happened" idiots?

And best of all... so good in fact that I'm going to include the meat of the story right here. Phelps the walking corpse and his family of Baptist zombies and their "God-filled" view and plans:


An anti-gay religious group known for protesting at the funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq is planning on appearing at services for those killed on Monday as well.

The Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), which is not affiliated with any national Baptist organization, announced plans to protest at victims' funerals only hours after 32 people were killed in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. They also may protest at other events on the Virginia Tech campus.

The organization, founded and led by Fred Phelps, believes the United States has condemned itself to destruction by accepting homosexuality and other "sins of the flesh." Phelps' daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the Virginia Tech teachers and students who died on Monday brought their fate upon themselves by not being true Christians.

"The evidence is they were not Christian. God does not do that to his servants," Phelps-Roper said. "You don't need to look any further for evidence those people are in hell."

Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech student responsible for the killings who took his own life after the shootings, was sent by God to punish those he killed, and America as a whole, for moral decline, said Phelps-Roper, while adding that she believes Cho is also in hell for violating God's commandment to not kill.

"He is in hell," Phelps-Roper said. "But he was also fulfilling the word of God."


Now besides the whole heartlessness factor, you have this woman (who claims to be xtian) stating that everyone killed was NOT xtian. This in a school in the South, in America....

I'm telling you, if these are the sort of people who are getting into heaven, I'll put up with the smell of sulphur just to stay away from them.

Whaddaya doin' next Wednesday?

"The most powerful indictment of the news media for falling down in its duties in the run-up to the war in Iraq will appear next Wednesday, a 90-minute PBS broadcast called "Buying the War," which marks the return of "Bill Moyers Journal." E&P was sent a preview DVD and a draft transcript for the program this week.
"While much of the evidence of the media's role as cheerleaders for the war presented here is not new, it is skillfully assembled, with many fresh quotes from interviews (with the likes of Tim Russert and Walter Pincus) along with numerous embarrassing examples of past statements by journalists and pundits that proved grossly misleading or wrong. Several prominent media figures, prodded by Moyers, admit the media failed miserably, though few take personal responsibility."


Rest of the article at Editor and Publisher.

Friday, April 20

The president speaks: "Death is terrible"

The president was on his terrorism tour yesterday in Ohio. After warning folks of how the terrorists want to kill them, he rambled on unscripted. Highlights:

_"Politics comes and goes, but your principles don't. And everybody wants
to be loved _ not everybody. ... You never heard anybody say, `I want to be
despised, I'm running for office.'"

_"The best thing about my family is my wife. She is a great first lady.
I know that sounds not very objective, but that's how I feel. And she's also
patient. Putting up with me requires a lot of patience."

_"There are jobs Americans aren't doing. ... If you've got a chicken
factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what
I'm talking about."

_"There are some similarities, of course" between Iraq and Vietnam.
"Death is terrible."

_"I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at
times."

As he has before, Bush told the story about how his first presidential
decision was to pick a rug for the Oval Office, a task he quickly cast to his
wife. He told her to make sure the rug reflected optimism "because you can't
make decisions unless you're optimistic that the decisions you make will lead to
a better tomorrow."

Later, when he talked about his hope for succeeding in Iraq, Bush said,
"Remember the rug?"


I have to add some of these to my list of "bushisms."

He ought to be Gonzo

Mr Gonzales who supposedly 'prepared' for his testimony before congress, seemed to have developed memory loss. Oh my. I haven't heard so many, "I don't recall's" since President Reagan. 71 times.

Here's how some of the Senators told Gonzo that he is a liar:

"Your characterization of your participation is significantly, if not totally, at variance with the facts." Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

"Since you apparently knew very little about the performance about the replaced United States attorneys, how can you testify that the judgment ought to stand?" Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)

“... you can’t have it both ways. If your chief of staff is implementing a major plan that contradicts what you just told the U.S. senator from that state, in my view, you shouldn’t be attorney general. And if, on the other hand, what you said to Senator Pryor contradicts the plan, you also shouldn’t be attorney general.” Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY)

"There are some very serious problems, Mr. Attorney General." Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

"It is generous to say the attorney general's communications about this matter have been inconsistent." Sen. Tom Coburn R-Okla.


President Bush was "Pleased" with his testimony. heh

On Mental Illness

I've blogged before about the fact that my mother has mental health issues. Actually, that's a bit of an understandment. The truth is that my mother is and has been for a long time profoundly mentally ill. Although she is now medicated, she spent years out of touch with Mother Earth. She actively hallucinated, she heard voices, she believed people were trying to control her by taking over her brain, she believed people meant her harm, she believed people were trying to kill her. She would become fixated on one person as the source of all evil in her life and would chant or pray or perform "witchcraft" to free herself from the perceived tyranny of this malicious individual. Eventually, she would move on to become fixated on another person and the cycle would begin again.

My mother was very clever at hiding the depths of her illness. On one level, she operated perfectly normally. She could get up every morning and prepare herself breakfast, take a shower, clothe herself, go to the grocery store, work in her yard, and so forth. She would confide some of the more bizarre ideations only in those whom she still trusted: myself, my brother, the occasional close friend. Sure, to the casual observer or friend, some of her behavior was "odd" but insignificant enough that it was passed off as eccentricity. As she would reveal some of these strange notions, though, one by one, her friends deserted her, until she was alone and isolated, and then the disease just overwhelmed her. Because she was almost 1,000 miles away from where I lived, I did not know until years later that her neighbors had restraining orders against her. Apparently, she would stand at the fenceline of her property and scream at them. Her grievance? She believed that I had born a child and her neighbors were holding me and her grandchild hostage in their basements. Never mind that I had just spoken to her by phone a day or two before and told her I was fine. Never mind that this was Florida, where no houses have basements because the water table is too high. Never mind that the neighbors were perfectly nice people who didn't even know her name or anything about her. In her mind, my captivity was a fact from which she could not be dissuaded. Thankfully, she apparently never thought of getting a gun, but had she done so, there is no doubt in my mind she would have used it to "protect" or "rescue" me and the phantom grandchild.

I think we are all trying desperately to understand how and why Cho could have done what he did. But in doing so, we are trying to impose reality-based thinking on something that was not based on our reality as rational human beings. Words fail me, but the closest I can come to expressing it is: in his mind, the grievances he expressed in his so-called manifesto were real. I have heard and read comments from people speculating that he may have been bullied and mocked by his classmates in high school, that he may have been abused by his parents, and that these experiences triggered his alientation, with the shooting as the result. I think this is indicative of how poorly mental illness is really understood in this country. It may be true, though I doubt it, that he was victimized to some extent by classmates, and maybe even his parents, but that did not "cause" his mental illness. The more logical explanation is that they shunned him because of his odd behavior, as my mother's friend shunned her because of her "oddities." It's more appropriate, in my view, to view their aversion to him as the "effect" of his burgeoning mental illness and not the cause of it. Mentally ill people are born, not made. Their experiences with others or with life events (in my mother's case, a World War) may exacerbate the underlying illness, but it does not create it or cause it in the first instance.

I spent years trying to impose upon my mother this same reality-based thinking. I would reason with her, provide her with proof positive that her ideations were incorrect in fact. I begged her to see a doctor, to get some kind of treatment, to persuade her that what was going on in her head was not real. To her it was real, and she could not and would not be persuaded otherwise. If we ever hear from Cho's parents, I think we will hear an equivalent story.

I know I am in a significant minority when I say that I feel a lot of compassion for Cho. The way his illness expressed itself is awful in the extreme, and my heart bleeds for the people who died. But my heart also bleeds for Cho. I can't help myself; I do indeed pity him.

Thursday, April 19

In Memoriam -- To Life

Post title via BlueKat (our reader known as Demokat), from her blog Demokat

A song and video that brought me much needed tears of joy:

somewhere over the rainbow what a wonderfull world
sung by Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwo'ole. I have hummed this tune hundreds of times, never knowing it was the intro to his version of somewhere over the rainbow what a wonderful world. I think many of you will be suprised when you hear this hauntingly familiar melody. It has been in numerous television shows, movies, and commercials over the years.

Here's the longer version (with what a wonderful world included)


Iz died in 1997 at the age of 38, from complications due to his excessive weight. He was the most popular singer in Hawaii.



Perfect timing DemoKat -- just what the doctor ordered! Thank you.

Male Chauvinist Pigs

The Supreme Court.

Where do these "men" get off supposing that a late term abortion is merely a procedure of "convenience?" How dare they ignore physicians and highly trained doctors who have testified that a late term abortion is a procedure to save a woman's life in almost all cases, not something a woman would do on a whim. This is just plain hostility towards women. How the hell dare they interfere with a painful decision that is between and woman and her doctor? Now her doctor will be considered a criminal for saving her life. more

The "Death and Destruction" Tour

The president is taking the opportunity this week, in light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech to warn high school students to be terribly afraid... of the terrorists who want to kill them. more

Wednesday, April 18

"Ismail Ax"

Via Townhall.com:

By Jerry Bowyer: The Shooter Was Another 'Son of Sacrifice'

First it was Johnny Muhammad, now it was Cho Sueng Hui aka Ismail Ax. Precisely how many mass shooters have to turn out to have adopted Muslim names before we get it? Islam has become the tribe of choice of those who hate American society. I'm not talking about people who grew up as Muslims, confident and secure in their faith, good fathers, sons and neighbors. I'm talking about the angry, malignant, narcissist loners who want to reject their community utterly, to throw off their 'slave name' and represent the downtrodden of the earth by shooting their friends and neighbors.

This morning I read that the Virginia Tech shooter died with the name Ismail Ax written in red ink on his arm. The mainstream press doesn't seem to have a clue as to what this might mean. To quote Indiana Jones, "Didn't any of you guys go to Sunday School?"

The story starts with a man named Abraham. He is the father of the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians. He was born in Iraq, the son of a wealthy idol manufacturer. He came to believe that there was only one true God and, according to tradition, took up his ax and destroyed his father's idols.

Eventually he left Iraq and moved to what is now known as Israel. He had a son with his concubine whom she named Ishmael. The Muslim world prefers the Arabic spelling of the name: Ismail. Eventually Abraham had a son by his rightful wife and named the son Isaac. Ishmael and his mother were disinherited and sent out into what is now Saudi Arabia. Isaac became the heir.

Eventually, God decided to test Abraham by telling him to kill his son, Isaac. Abraham took up the knife, but God stopped him at the last moment. Isaac lived and eventually became a man of great wealth. Ishmael became a desert warrior chieftain.

The Jews are the descendants of Isaac, the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael.

In the 7th Century, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, re-wrote the story, claiming that Ismail was the true faithful descendant of Abraham and that it was he, not Isaac, who God told Abraham to sacrifice. Ismail was the one saved. For Muslims, Ismail (not Isaac) was the true 'Son of Sacrifice.' In the original version of the story, Abraham used a knife, in some of the later Muslim versions, he used an Ax.

Flash forward 1,400 years: a sullen, angry young man who rages against rich people and apparently against Christians, writes a play in which a mother and son try to kill his step-father, but in the end the boy (age about 13, the age many think Ismail was when he was exiled) is murdered by the step-father with 'a deadly blow'. Father issues? Yeah, I think so.

Cho Sueng-hui cum Ismail Ax hated the American society to which he had been brought 15 years earlier. His play McBeef (a poor pun from an English Lit major on Macbeth) is one endless screed against the corruption of American culture. A cheesy re-telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, it involves a young man abused by his step-father, a former NFL football player. The son, throws epithets at his father calling him a 'Catholic priest'. And makes derisive comments about McDonalds. It seems that none of the foundational structures of Western Civilization, Christianity, capitalism, family, are spared his rage. In other words, he really meant what he said in his last words: "you (that is us, America) made me do this."

This article originally appeared on TCS Daily

Here is an up to date account:

Between his first and second bursts of gunfire, the Virginia Tech gunman mailed a package to NBC headquarters in New York containing photos of him brandishing guns and video of him delivering an angry, profanity-laced tirade about rich kids and hedonism.

"You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today," 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui says in a harsh monotone, in an excerpt shown on "NBC Nightly News." "But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."

He rails against Christianity and the rich.

"Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats," he says, apparently reading from a manifesto. "Your golden necklaces weren't enough you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything."



So, what can we expect next?

Will ANYONE (besides us) be discussing the nonsense surrounding the "religions" of our world?

Will ANYONE in a position of authority in our society say (or be allowed to say) ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Will ANYONE say "It's time to let the Sky Daddies go"?

Haven't enough people been killed in the name of "GOD"?????

Will we ever be able to let reason reign over religion???????

America suffers from an infectious disease.

America suffers from an infectious disease. And it calls on all it's experts, how to treat this disease. The ideas vary from expert to expert, from pundit to pundit, from politician to the common folk, reaching a kinda hysteria: "what are we going to do about?", "how are we going to save our children?", "what country are we going to invade, to cool our heads and get it out of our system?"

The ideas abound and we hear:
• "We should wear gas masks with anti-bacterial filtration system"
• "We should hermetically insulate our homes, with duct tapes around the windows, recirculate air through an anti-bacterial filtration system"
• "We should dispatch health care police to interview and identify the potential carriers of the disease"
• "We should apply strict personal hygiene, wear rubber gloves, and tape our cloths at wrists and ankles"
• "We should offer counseling to the already infected, insulate them from the public, with a complete background check of him/her and people that they came in contact with"
• "We should install airosol-spays throughout our living areas"
• "Disease free ID cards should be issued to healthy population, that can be presented before coming in contact with other individuals"
• "We should implement checklist with every individual to comply with our recommendations"

"We definitely should not have the audacity to use antibiotics! Antibiotics may infringe on the Constitutional rights of several species of bacteria, viruses or carriers of such!"

A Modern Fairy Tale

Once upon a time
In a land far away,
A beautiful, independent,
Self-assured princess
Happened upon a frog as she sat
Contemplating ecological issues
On the shores of an unpolluted pond
In a verdant meadow near her castle.

The frog hopped into the princess' lap
And said: "Elegant Lady,
I was once a handsome prince,
Until an evil witch cast a spell upon me.
One kiss from you, however,
And I will turn back
Into the dapper, young prince that I am
And then, my sweet, we can marry
And set up housekeeping in your castle
With my mother,
Where you can prepare my meals,
Clean my clothes, bear my children,
And forever feel
Grateful and happy doing so. "

That night,
As the princess dined sumptuously
On lightly sauteed frog legs
Seasoned in a white wine
And onion cream sauce,
She chuckled and thought to herself:

I don't fucking think so.

More Death

As we continue to dwell on Monday's awful events at Virginia Tech, let's not forget that there's a place where that kind of carnage happens on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. Like today when 100+ Iraqis were killed by a suicide bomber.

Their lives were no less precious, their deaths no more comprehensible.

Quotes of the Day

The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service: Albert Einstein

I have seen men march to the wars, and then I have watched their homeward tread, And they brought back bodies of living men, But their eyes were cold and dead: Edmund Vance Cooke

When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart." : Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is an open thread...

Blogging From Texas II

Freaking me out.

I mentioned earlier that I'm at an artists' retreat. I certainly didn't expect to come across this from artsy fartsy people:
"If everyone carried guns, there wouldn't have been a massacre at Virginia Tech..."
and other lovely sentiments. Perhaps there wouldn't have been a massacre there but surely there would be other massacres and shootouts across the country. I'm just thinking about what fun it would be in a subway at rush hour in NY if everyone carried guns. God forbid. Huge metropolitan areas do not need legalized weapons. It would be a blood bath.

Last night I met up with a couple of grandmotherly women from Baton Rouge. They were fun, playful, humorous and quite talented. I did notice however that they were very afraid- they slept with the lights on and kept the tv on at all times in their room. I don't know how immigration came up, but it did, and somehow I was informed that all the evils in this country come directly from immigrants- legal, illegal, naturalized citizens, green card people. Naturally, I objected- politely- and I asked if there was a solution at this point. Why certainly- The US should just require that everyone who isn't born here must go home.
"Naturalized citizens?" I asked.
"Of course. You know that all the 9/11 hijackers were naturalized US citizens."
"Most of them were Saudi's."
"In Baton Rouge, we were told that they were naturalized citizens."
"That's incorrect information. Who told you that?"
"I don't know."
"Fox News?"
"I don't know."

Later on...
"What do you think about the war in Iraq?" I asked.
"I think it's a disaster," she said.

I was relieved.

She went on to clarify, "The problem with the US is that ground wars should never be fought. The only way to wage war is to annihilate... to just decimate the whole country."

I picked myself up off the floor, "But we were supposed to "liberate" the Iraqi's from the "evil" Saddam who had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorists. If we nuked Iraq, we would have killed millions of innocent people."

"Honey, you ought to read the bible. God would want us to annihilate them."

"I have read the bible, but I am more of a Jesus person- help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick, blessed are the meek, etc."

"Well I am a christian pastor. So is my husband. And we take the bible very seriously"

Uh oh. Here we go, I thought. My first, in person, dialogue with one of those people I read so much about- the killer christianistas. I told myself to stop thinking that because I am just as prejudiced as they are.

"I have a masters degree in theology and it's not one of the tenets of christianity to annihilate people. Of course in the history of christianity, a whole lot of ground wars were fought. But annihilation? nah. Not nowadays.

"Oh yes it is. Jesus had a lot to say about that."

"Really? I must have forgotten that part. It's been a long time. Would you please show me that in the bible?"

Needless to say, she was flipping through the bible and did not come up with the parts where Jesus orders us to annihilate our enemies. She attempted to show me stuff from the historical parts of the Old Testament, but I declined to discuss that part because it is irrelevent to christianity.

I changed the subject after that because the ladies had wheels and I wanted to go to the mall. I was also rather flabbergasted at how such "sweet" ladies could harbor such intolerance and condone so much hatred in the world. I had to sleep on it.

At first, I was ready to write them off as a lost cause. I was upset because our federal lawmakers are influenced by these people and it impacts my life all the way up north. I don't appreciate that people of these beliefs can wage war in my name, thank you very much. But then it came to me while I was talking to Billydoom on the phone last night...

These folks need MORE immigrant infusion- sorry DAR- immigrants from all over the world and a lot more Jews and Muslims and Catholics and Episcopalians and Buddhists and Pagans. It would take a generation or so, but the only way to eradicate this fear and hatred for others is to live with them side by side. When people all start to intermarry, the separations become minute. I'm saying this from the perspective of someone who lives in an area where it seems sometimes that everyone is from somewhere else in the world. Sure we have bigots where I live, but their opinions are not welcome in the greater society.

You know how sometimes you don't like a painting or a whole groups of paintings by a particular artist or the art of a whole period in history? When you learn about the time and place and the philosophy of those who created the works, you can learn to appreciate them, even if you wouldn't want to hang the painting in your living room.

So I just think if enough folks from somewhere else lived in some parts of the south and interacted with the folks daily, there'd be a change in the weather. But that's just my opinion and I could be wrong.

Next time, I'll tell you about my interviews with folks from Colorado Springs.