Friday, December 21, 2007

Romney Sorta Makes Stuff Up

Apparently Mitt Romney "saw" his dad march with Martin Luther King in much the same way I "saw" my dad abducted by aliens.

Really, it's pretty sad when Dennic Kucinich's claim to have seen a UFO is more credible than your claim to have seen your dad march with MLK.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Face of our Fears

The term pre-9/11 mentality has been used by Republicans as a pejorative term to describe Democratic opponents who (these Republicans would have us believe) do not exhibit the requisite sense of urgency and understanding of the nature of the terrible "terrorist threat" that lingers over our nation. But reading the story of Eva Ósk Arnardóttir you get a sense that perhaps the only sane people left in this paranoid asylum we call America are the blessed few who still cling to the vestiges of that same "pre-9/11" mentality.

Eva is a blonde, Icelandic woman who recently travelled to New York to do a little Christmas shopping. But upon discovering that on one of her several vacations to the U.S. (and not the most recent one either) Eva had overstayed her Visa by three weeks, DHS officials had her detained, chained, imprisoned and deported, without so much as a call to the Icelandic embassy or the benefit of a consular visit.

This, folks, is one of the many faces of New Paranoia, propagated by alarmist demagogues such as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rudy Giuliani, Fox News, Pat Roberston and the entire Neocon commentariat. It is sad to say that her case will prove compelling to many, simply because she is a pretty, young blond woman who was forced to endure 24 hours of humiliation over a rather trifling lapse that she had good reason to assume had been long ago forgiven or forgotten. Sadly, that assumption proved naïve to say the least. America is slowly transforming itself into a Security State where privacy, civil rights and even common sense give way to the vigilance of our paranoid overseers. Of course, other less lucky and less fair skinned travelers have endured far more savage treatment at the hands of our lawless proto-fascist security agencies (and those same agencies have shielded themselves from responsibility, recompense or oversight by invoking various secrecy acts.) But in a nation that sits zombielike, glued to the 24 hour machine-gun coverage of cable news outlets every time a young blond woman is abducted or murdered by a depraved husband or lover, perhaps Eva's story will make some inroads and help rouse a dozing populace from this pernicious nightmare we are dreaming.

Rudy Delivers

Q: What does Rudy want this Christmas?
A: "Peace through strength."

Tasteful, and not tacky at all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Something Odd About That Picture

Fox News is not shy about supporting candidates it likes and trashing those it doesn't (though the network will never admit to its obvious bias). It's also relatively well known that higher-ups at Fox have got a thing for NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and are pretty much actively supporting his presidential run. So I found it rather curious to surf on over to Fox this afternoon and see the following image of Mitt Romney on the website. What stuck out, mostly, was Romney's prominent and oddly proportioned chin. Now, Romney certainly has a prominent chin, but I'd never seen him looking like this. Was Fox News digitally manipulating Romney's picture to make him look strange? I can't say for sure. I'll leave it up to you to make up your minds for yourself (click the image to make it larger):

Monday, December 17, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

What Happens in Iraq Stays in Iraq

More reports are surfacing describing the sort of lawlessness that U.S. contractors enjoy in Iraq. This time it is a female employee of KBR who suffered numerous cases of sexual hazing, including a sexual assault at the hands of a State Department official. Despite the State Department's recommendation that the official be charged, the U.S. government has declined to pursue the matter further.

From Hell back to Purgatory

A mother living in Federally subsidized housing in the U.S. sends her son back to war ravaged Liberia for fear of what is happening to him in the U.S.

Augustus had been well schooled in the lessons of Park Hill, which has taken in so many waves of refugees over the last 30 years that it is known in some quarters as Little Liberia. By his teenage years, he had adopted a street name (Ghostface) and a gang affiliation (Bloodline) and learned how drugs coursed through the neighborhood into the hands of customers.

Ms. Sirleaf made her choice and did not look back, even when her son found himself in the midst of war, even when he begged to come home.

“If God give him to me, he will survive,” she told her friends when they asked how she could be so cold. “If he is not mine, he will die.”

Her decision made a strange kind of sense in Park Hill, a row of federally subsidized apartment buildings northwest of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that is home to 3,000 to 4,000 Liberians.

This is an extreme example, no doubt, but it does bring home the horrid circumstances under which poor minorities must live in this country, and just how little the government does to help improve their lives. When people complain about the money that we waste on foreign wars, that would be put to better use at home, this is the sort of thing they're thinking of.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Please, Waterboard my Pilots! (Ha, ha!)

With apologies to Henny Youngman, I note that the Bush Administration's use of and non-denial defense of waterboarding as an interrogation technique has brought this nation to the point that the U.S. Military finds itself in the unenviable position of tacitly green-lighting the waterboarding of downed U.S. airmen by the secret security services of foreign powers.

Witness the stunning exchange between Senator Lindsey Graham and Brigadier General Thomas Hartmann, when Graham asked Hartman if the U.S. military would protest the waterboarding of a U.S. Airman downed over Iranian airspace. Hartman refused to answer the question.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Last to Know

Just so you know (click the image for a larger view):

Faux News vainly hopes you never hear Jones' story.

Swiftboat Veterans For Destroying the GOP

How appropriate that the party that invented "swiftboating" is starting to turn its weapons inward and ripping itself to shreds in a virulent, internecine bout. I've said in the past that Mike Huckabee is the only GOP candidate who truly worries me (what with ol' Fred Thompson languishing in dumpsville and John McCain universally despised by party faithful for fathering a black baby... or something like that). But today the conservative Club For Growth has produced an attack ad that's bound to put one Hell of a chink in Huckabee's armor. The spot is delectable in its underhanded savagery:

I especially love that last line "Nursing Home Bed Taxes." They might as well have followed GOP precedent and called it the pre-death tax.

Jesus Deserved to Die

"Jesus deserved to die." That's the only way one can interpret Mike Huckabee's answer, in 1997, to a question about how he, as a Christian, could justify being a supporter of the death penalty.

"...if there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, 'This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency."
But Jesus did not argue that he deserved clemency, so clearly, his punishment was just.

Monday, December 10, 2007

And Now, An American Victim

In the heady heyday of the great tech-fueled stock market bubble of the 1990's, over-exhuberant con-men and charlatans led the credulous in a chant of "the old rules do not apply." Then, when gagillion dollar market caps for companies with no profits, sales, or even tangible products couldn't be sustained, the "old rules" kicked in, the market collapsed and the rest is history. Iraq today is something like the stock market was back in the 90's... at least the anarchic "old rules don't apply" part of it. For if you're a mercenary sub-contractor you could very well say that in Iraq the "old laws don't apply." And by "old laws" I'm talking stuff like "thou shalt do no murder" and rape being a bad thing and all.

We've heard the stories of Blackwater and other mercenary firms dealing death to the Iraqi civilian population in a rather arbitrary and haphazard manner while suffering no consequence for it. This is in part because the Bush administration, in all it's Orwellian wisdom decided that the best way to bring Democracy to Iraq would be by turning it into a place where Mercenaries could visit and just, let themselves go, secure in the knowledge that they enjoyed immunity from the laws that govern civilized nations.

Now ABC news brings us the story of an American victim of foreign contractors. And by foreign I mean foreign to Iraq, since Halliburton, the contractor in question, is decidedly not foreign to our shores. Jamie Leigh Jones, who was just 21 years old when she worked for Halliburton in Iraq, was gang raped by employees of that company, and then locked in a storage container by company officials who feared the negative consequences for the company if she told her story. It was only after a congressman's intervention (prompted by a phone call from her father) that she was rescued by "agents of the U.S. embassy" and returned to safety. Furthermore, evidence of her rape was destroyed after the Army rape kit was handed over to Halliburton security officials.

To make matters worse, Jones has no recourse under U.S. law. At best she can sue the company in civil court, however, Halliburton is claiming that the employment contract she signed requires her to settle all claims through secret, binding arbitration proceedings. Yes, you read that right, Halliburton is claiming the right to impose a contract that forces a rape victim to sign away her right to settle claims in a public courtroom. Under U.S. law it is illegal to insist that employees sign contracts stipulating that they will never vote to join a trade union, it is legal to have employees sign away their right to sue a company in a public court when they are raped by their employers.

There is so much that is sickeningly wrong about this case it's hard to know weven where to start.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Reagan on Rushmore?

There's something about monumental architecture that gives authoritarians a tingly sensation all over. Thus it's no surprise that Conservatives have always harbored a desire/fantasy/delusion of putting Reagan's face up on Mount Rushmore alongside the visages of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. Today Reverend Sungh Yung Moon's Washington Times quenched its readers thirst with a fantasy proposal:

The caption to the story ran:

Artist Ted Williams has incorporated former President Ronald Reagan into an image of Mount Rushmore that was called "so realistic that it looks like Reagan is really there."
There are two things that I find rather curious about this article.

First is the caption: "it looks like Reagan is really there."

Uh... yeah. It's called Photoshop. Look, here's Ozzy on Mt. Rushmore. Looks like he's really there, too, doesn't it? Uncanny:

But the other thing I noticed about the Reagan on Mt. Rushmore picture is that it seems to involve adding rock to Mt. Rushmore. Hmmm... not really sure they thought that through very closely.


Sort of an addendum to my previous post:

Giuliani has two cards in his deck: 911 (which he's played so many times he's worn a hole right through it) and the notable drop in crime that accompanied his tenure as Mayor of New York City. But he's weak on social issues (as far as GOP voters are concerned). Huckabee, on the other hand, is strong on social issues and potentially weak on crime, (though, this will depend greatly on how the Dumond scandal plays out). Giuliani's strength, then is Huckabee's potential weakness whereas Huckabee's strength is Giuliani's weakness.

I would fully expect the Giuliani campaign to undertake a concerted effort to undermine Huckabee's candidacy based on the "crime" issue. And I suspect that either the Giuliani campaign (or more likely a surrogate) will be the first to launch an attack in this quarter.

I'll admit it: the Huckabee candidacy worries me greatly. Depending on how the female vote lines up, he could well beat Hillary. If he's the GOP candidate I'd much rather have Obama to face him. I suspect Hillary could take any other GOP candidate, but Huckabee... I'm not so sure. Huckabee is genial, wheras Hillary has a mean streak. Obama is genial, whereas Giuliani has a mean streak. I don't think mean streak beats genial with the American electorate. Hillary could take Giuliani, and Obama could take Huckabee. But that's about all I can say with any confidence. I will say that for all the troubles the GOP field is experiencing, anyone who thinks the Democrat is just going to waltz into the Whitehouse is just naive. It's going to be a bitterly contested election.

Romney's JFK Speech

This was his conundrum, as I wrote elsewhere:

It's gonna be a tough juggling act for Romney. He's gotta convince the Christian Right that your religious beliefs shouldn't matter one single bit in our pluralistic, Democratic America, unless, of course, you're a Muslim or, Moroni forbid, atheist! At the same time he's got to convince GOP voters that he's a deeply religious man who is driven by faith, because it would be unthinkable to elect anyone who wasn't (i.e. a Democrat).

And having just watched the speech, that's exactly what he tried to do. There were four main points:
1) It's unfair not to vote for Romney just because he's a Mormon...

2) ...because then we'd be like Islamists want to kill us all because we're not Islamists.

3) But obviously we need a religious man in the Whitehouse...

4) ...because otherwise we'd be like secular Europe with its empty Cathedrals.
Romney's trying to pilot his ship through a very, very narrow strait. On the one hand are the Christian fundamentalists who won't vote for him because they're a lot like the Islamists in terms of their exclusivity of belief and hegemonic evangelism. On the other hand are those on the left who are uncomfortable with the Religious Right's attempt to so closely tie religion to politics.

I for one felt very uncomfortable with Romney's insistence, at the beginning of his speech, that freedom requires religious conviction. It reminds me of the time that George Bush the elder (who introduced Romney at his speech today) questioned whether atheists should be allowed to be citizens or could possibly be patriots. Clearly Romney is trying to have it both ways. He's demanding that the Religious Right be open minded about his own beliefs while assuring them that he's just as intolerant of unbelievers as they are.

Sadly for Romney, I suspect this speech will probably be remembered as his Swan Song. The Religious Right has found its man in Mike Huckabee, and unless Romney and Giuliani make common cause and break out the Karl Rove handbook and pull out all the stops to successfully Swiftboat him based upon the emerging Wayne Dummond scandal, Huckabee's going to sail to the nomination.

One thing I can guarantee: the GOP nomination is about to get nasty. Hillary and Obama are going to look like bestest pals based on what's about to unfold in their opponents' race.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The enemy is us...

Remember when the Likudnik right pilloried Jimmy Carter as an anti-Semite for suggesting that maybe the State of Israel would be better off in the long-term if it ended its occupation of the West Bank and allowed the Palestinians to live their lives like human beings? Well, looks like they've found another vile anti-Semite hiding in our midst... Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, disciple of Carter (and Hitler, obviously)!

(found through Andrew Sullivan)

The President's lies and misrepresentations

The President responds to the latest NIE report, in which 16 separate intelligence agencies concluded that Iran halted work on acquiring nuclear weapons in 2003.

"I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program," Bush said. "The reason why it's a warning signal is they could restart it."
So if it stops raining, put your baseball bat and glove back down, kids. Doesn't mean you can go out an play. It's just a warning that it might start raining again soon. The President has a knack for absurdly inappropriate interpretations of inconvenient facts and data. Remember when he insisted that military operations in Iraq were obviously succeeding because U.S. casualties were rising? Remember what Bush said back when inspection teams concluded that Iraq possessed no Weapons of Mass Destructions, either chemical, nuclear or biological?
We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two. And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them.
It was a similar attempt by the President to look the world straight in the face and tell us all that the moon was made of cheese. Of course, intelligence agencies had concluded no such thing, and were instead inclined to believe that that the mobile laboratories to which Bush was referring were not chemical weapons labs, but rather mobile facilities for the production of hydrogen gas (probably used to fill balloons which were used as targets in anti-aircraft gun training exercises.) So he was lying then too, just as he's lying today.

Reports are now surfacing that the Bush administration kept this NIE assessment under wraps for over a year, even as the President ceaselessly belched apocalyptic rhetoric about the threat of Iran's Nuclear program.

But at least he wasn't lying about sex, right?

Monday, December 3, 2007


Look what country we don't have an excuse to bomb any more.

Rewriting History

The liberal blogosphere is positively livid these days by the following exchange that Karl Rove had with Charlie Rose a few days ago on Rose's TV show:

Rove's suggestion that the Congress' vote to authorize (pdf) the president "use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary" to counter the perceived threat of Saddam Hussein's Iraq somehow "pushed things along" faster than the administration would have liked is simply ludicrous on the face of it. And he has rightly taken much heat for this claim.

Today Rove had to answer for that claim most explicitly on Fox News of all places, a video of which encounter can be found on the Huffington Post. It's great fun, though rather peculiar watching Rove attempt to rebut a counter claim by Ari Fleischer by insisting that Rove was an administration insider whereas Fleischer, presumably was not. Talk about rewriting history. A nice bonus is watching Fox host Chris Wallace trying desperately to change the topic (well aware, it seems, of how ridiculous Rove was sounding).

What to me is interesting in all this is the way Rove is trying to spin his statements. He's placing most of his emphasis on the claim that Congress (which, on the Senate side was nominally Democratic) hurried through an Iraq resolution before the Bush Administration was ready for it, while expending very little effort justifying the more subtle claim that the authorization in question somehow forced the Administration's hand (probably because it's a pretty ludicrous claim).

Now, in all honestly, I am inclined to believe that some members of the administration (though I doubt all) did, in fact, want for the vote to occur after the elections. But the notion that they wanted this to be the case to avoid a "politicized" vote is simply ludicrous, coming from an administration that has sought to squeeze every possible ounce of political advantage from the events of September 11, 2001. As I've written already below, it is very likely there were some in the political wing (and I suspect Rove was among them) who wanted to head into the 2002 elections without such a vote so that they could run a campaign based on the theme that only Republicans were prepared to do what was necessary to defend the country from the menace represented by Saddam Hussein. Having the war authorization vote take place before the elections would neutralize that message to a certain extent, since the president could no longer hit the campaign trail asking voters to elect Republicans so that his hands might no longer be tied and he be allowed to do what was necessary to secure the nation. In fact, even after the vote took place, that message was still central and critical to be GOP's campaign strategy. One need only witness what the GOP did to GA, senator Max Cleland to see how this played out in the field.

So my message to rove, is this: cute, nice try, but too clever by half.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

So Quotas Are OK, Now?

A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor interviews Mitt Romney:

I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."

So now Republicans are for quotas? Apparently so, given that, according to Mitt Romney himself, cabinet positions in a Romney administration would be doled out, not according to the candidate's qualifications, but rather according to the percentage of the population that shares that candidate's faith (and race? sex? sexual orientation?).

(Via: Crooks and Lawyers)

Monday, November 26, 2007

A few comments

I've been off the blog for a few days, so I'll just throw out a few pithy remarks concerning some of the items I've come across over the past few days that have caught my eye.

The first item of note is Fred Thompson's newest campaign commercial which features the Senator in a "local bar" setting casually chatting with the camera and delivering down home, common sense, wisdom on the hot button issues of the day (mostly immigration). Unfortunately, the guy really comes off looking and sounding as phony as a Bartles & Jaymes commercial from the 1980s, with even his "thanks for watching my message" postscript seeming to ape "Bartles & Jaymes" trademark "thank you for your support."

Through Andrew Sullivan I learned that Grover Norquist is endorsing a constitutional amendment to prevent dynasticism in American politics. It would prevent the children, siblings or spouses of presidents from immediately succeeding them. And while such an amendment could be debated on its merits, such a proposal is simply laughable coming, as it does from a man who worked tirelessly to promote the presidential candidacy of George Bush the younger in 2000. More likely Norquist is merely trying to sew seeds of discontent with Hillary Clinton's candidacy in a manner that he hopes might stealthily traverse party lines. In all honesty, I doubt there's a single seed of intellectual integrity to the man, or that he is capable of serious political reflexion and contemplation. Rather his single, overriding goal, his life's mission, his raison d'être is, always has been, and likely always will be the reduction of the tax burden on wealthy Americans. Everything utterance that escapes Norquist's lips, every flourish that leaves his pen is geared toward securing that goal. So: nice try, but no cigar.

Next was this piece in Slate concerning the politicization of the Thanksgiving holiday. It would be just as much a mistake to think of the trend as advocating the "Christianization" of Thanksgiving as it would be to view the whole "war on Christmas" polemic as promoting the same (let's face it, neither of the two holidays has any strict Biblical basis, which is why some ultra-fundamentalist Christians eschew Christmas and "Satan Clause"). The simple fact is, the debate has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the politics of divisiveness. The Right in this country long ago realized that the way to forestall measures that would promote social and economic justice in this country is to divide the working class among religious and racial lines. Recently other issues such as sexual preference have been added to the mix, but the essence of the strategy remains the same. As long as the lower classes can be set at war against themselves, the Republican party can prevent them from demanding fair wages and universal access to health care with a unified voice (and a unified vote). Sorry for the Marxist rhetoric, but despite the spectacular failure of centrally planned economies, much of the Marxist critique of laissez-faire Capitalism and the dehumanization effects it has upon labor (AKA: people) remains just as valid as ever.

More recently I stumbled across this video clip from an interview that Charlie Rose conducted with Karl Rove. Rove has a new book out and has been hired by Time magazine to write a column of political commentary. The brand of commentary that Time can expect is likely foreshadowed in the interview in which Rove, quite stunningly claims that the Bush administration would have preferred that the 2002 Iraq war authorization vote not have taken place at the time it did to avoid the sense that it was being politicized in the context of the upcoming elections. And while I am prepared to believe that the administration would have preferred the vote not take place, the idea that the administration eschewed politicizing the impending conflict is simply laughable. Assuming that the administration did, indeed, wish to avoid such a vote, the motives were more likely driven by a political calculus that saw the Democratic party as more vulnerable to defeat if such a vote had not yet taken place. This is because it would be easier for the Administration to attack vulnerable Senators (and to a lesser extent congressmen) as being too pacifistic to protect the country from "the immediate threat of Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction" (or somesuch) before they'd had a time to vote to authorize the president to takes the measures he saw as necessary. And while I would have much preferred a bold and coordinated strategy of defiance (and a little backbone) from the Democrats, however their far less praiseworthy strategy of voting to authorize the war likely prevented a few more Senators from suffering the same fate as Max Cleland, the Vietnam Veteran double-amputee who was defeated in his reelection bid by an opponent who questionaed his commitemnt to defend the country and ran ads featuring side-by-side images of Cleland and Osama Bin Ladin.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

What's the best thing about Thanksgiving this year?

Fox News with egg on its face:

The details from James Fallows.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What you're allowed to believe...

As one who's been following the recent happenings in the Republican presidential primary I've come to a curious conclusion about what you're allowed to believe and what you're not allowed to believe if you want to remain a member in good standing of the Republican party.

What you're not allowed to believe is that American intervention abroad in any way contributed to the events of 9/11. See, that's Congressman Ron Paul's position and a principal reason why he wants to withdraw the U.S. from Iraq. He feels that, by waging a "pre-emptive" war of choice against a Muslim country that had nothing to do with the events of 9/11, we are generating the sort of hatred abroad that could well come back to haunt us sometime down the road, culminating in another terrorist event on U.S. soil. But that's also a principal reason why Ron Paul is reviled within his own party, why his supporters have been banned from Republican leaning discussion forums and why he's only polling around 3%. Apparently, to be a Republican in good standing you have to believe that the U.S. was attacked because terrorists hate out freedoms, and even the least interventionist foreign policy imaginable would not have prevented the World Trade Center attacks.

However, being a Republican in good standing with the party does not mean that you must ascribe sole responsibility for the events of 9/11 to the terrorists themselves. You can still blame America if you want, but you have to ensure you blame the right people in America. U.S. foreign policy is off-limits, but U.S. domestic policy is fair game. So its OK, for instance, to say that 9/11 was, in part, God's punishment for our society's permissive attitudes toward gays, toward abortion rights, and toward the separation of church and state. The latter is what Pat Robertson believes. And today, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Rudolph Giuliani, who leads the Republican field with 10 times as many supporters as Paul, won a prize he's been eagerly and relentlessly pursuing for the past few months: Pat Robertson's official endorsement.

So again, for those of you keeping score. If you're trying to prove your GOP credentials:

Not OK to believe: U.S. foreign policy breeds the sort of resentment that manifest itself on September 11, 2001.

OK to believe: U.S. society's permissive social mores provoke an angry God who responds by green-lighting the sorts of terrorist events we witnessed on September 11, 2001.
And that, my friends, is today's GOP.

Monday, November 5, 2007

American Hero

John Stewart's been a hero of mine for a while, but even moreso now.

In a show of solidarity with his fellow scribes, the Daily Show host has told his writing staff that he will cover all their salaries for the next two weeks, according to a well-placed source. He has also vowed to do the same for writers on The Colbert Report. A Comedy Central spokesman referred my inquiry about this to Stewart's personal publicist, who has yet to respond. Stewart's intention, says the source, is to ensure his writers will face no financial hardship should the strike, which kicked off at 3 a.m. local time, conclude within that timeframe

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let them [the kids] eat lead.

Just a few days ago we learned that the head of the Bush administration's Consumer Products Safety Board was lobbying congress not to increase funding of the agency and expand its oversight capacity. This was stunning for many reasons, chief among them the long list of tainted consumer products that have been showing up on retailer's shelves these days (Halloween teeth made in China and colored with lead based paint being the most recent example) . Indeed, in an atmosphere of evident need for greater scrutiny and regulation, how could the agency in charge of regulation and inspection reject expanded funding?

The reasons, of course, are principally ideological. Nancy Nord, the head of the agency, was an industry lobbyist before taking the reins at the CPSB. She's just another example of this president appointing an agency head who is fundamentally opposed to carrying out that agency's core mission.

What's more interesting is that today it has been learned that Nord has accepted some 30 travel junkets (to places such as beach resort Hilton Head, SC) paid for by the industries she supposedly regulates. What's most amusing, however, is the explanation for accepting these dubious gifts:

Government-wide travel regulations state that officials from agencies such as the CPSC should not accept money for travel from nonfederal sources if the payments "would cause a reasonable person . . . to question the integrity of agency programs or operations."

But CPSC officials defend the industry-paid trips as a way for the agency to be in contact with manufacturing officials and hear their concerns despite a limited travel budget.

So a few days ago the agency was rejecting an proposed increase in funding as somehow detrimental to the agency's core function, whereas today the agency insists that agency heads were forced to accept travel gifts from industry lobbyists due to the agency's limited funds?

Pretty much what you'd expect to hear from a Bush appointee.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Whohoo, Iraq

Everything's going great in Iraq as evidenced by the rush of career State Department diplomats scurrying to secure one of the prestigious few remaining postings there. No doubt the ambassadorship will be handed over to the next party's biggest and bestest campaign contributor.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A little too honest.

Rudolph Giuliani is asked whether he thinks waterboarding is torture. His answer: "It depends who does it." Click the video below to see an example of an interrogation technique that, according to Rudolph Giuliani, is torture when it's done to us, but Jim Dandy when we do it to prisoners we hold.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hillary 2008 Store: My Favorite Item

I've been taking a gander at the Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign store, and I must say that my favorite item has got to be the official Hillary 2008 "Why don't you come over here and say that to my face, you punk?!" button.

They Paid The Price For Their Hatred

The New York Times reports that two more bodies have been found in a burned out home near San Diego. Maybe if they hadn't hated America they'd still be alive today.

Conservative Dictionary: Most

Most: (adj.) A part equalling between 2% and 8% of the whole. For example:

"The signers of the Declaration of Independence were 'brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.'"

I'm going to try and make the "Conservative Dictionary" a regular feature of this blog starting today. Today we opened with the definition of "most."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blackwater's new logo

Blackwater USA, the North Carolina based Mercenary outfit with a knack for shooting up civilians in Iraq has retired its previous logo and replaced it with a new, kinder, gentler logo.

However, we here at Patriot's Quill have our own suggestion that we feel better does justice to the company's reputation for excellence in urban pacification:

Wait, who hates America?

The New York Times reports today on forest fires in California that have forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes. Many, doubtlessly, have lost everything they own to the flames: the homes in which they were raised, their photographs and memories, family heirlooms, anything they did not have time or room to carry with them as they fled the approaching fires. In most cases, a tragedy such as this would inspire sympathy. But since California is a "blue state" and many of the fire's victims were doubtless Democrats, the devastation is a cause for gloating for some on the Right. Popular conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck, for instance, had this to say about the fires:

"I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today."
Now, to reiterate, Glenn Beck is a right-wing talk show host. So just like Rush Limbaugh, who was never admonished for referring to anti-war veterans as "phony soldiers," you can expect that Beck will suffer no adverse consequences for expressing these vile sentiments. The sad fact is that a media conglomerate will only sanction a host if his audience is appalled by what he says and demands corrective action. That's why Don Imus was fired from CBS and MSNBC when he made shameful, racist remarks about African American basketball players on a women's basketball team. Many of Imus' listeners were liberals or political moderates, and they demanded some sort of accountability. But right-wing radio is different. Its listeners feed on hatred, invective, bile, xenophobia, homophobia and just about any form of bigotry one can imagine. So not only did Beck fail to enrage his listeners when he suggested that California residents were getting exactly what they deserved as they stood helplessly by and watched horrified while flames engulfed their homes, Beck no doubt was expressing what many of them were also thinking.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hollywood Fred goes to Church

So the Republican candidates show up at the "Values Voters Summit" (because, as we've seen already, only biblical-literalist extremists have values) to genuflect before the leaders of the Christian Right and kiss their rings. Which is great, because who isn't tickled pink by a wealthy divorced actor who rarely attends church showing up to one of these with a trophy wife 34 years his younger and proclaiming his undying love for Jeeeeesus? It's almost as amusing as watching the audience lap the performance up as if they truly believed what he was saying (which surely they don't, right? Right? Hello... is this thing on?)

At any rate, this go 'round Fred Thompson hit upon a brilliant gimmick, sure to please the assembled masses when he announced that he'd spend the first hour of his presidency locked in the Oval Office praying for divine guidance (and, presumably, resisting the Devil's offer of all the kingdoms of the world if he will just bow down to him).

Now, ever since FDR put in place most of his New Deal programs within the first 100 days of his presidency, candidates and newly elected presidents have felt the need to outline an ambitious agenda for their first 100 days in office. Ronald Reagan, for instance, vowed to start a nuclear war within his first 100 days and balloon the national debt. George Bush Sr. vowed to sow the seeds of his electoral defeat in 1992. Bill Clinton vowed to know the names and favorite drink of all the interns on his staff, and George W. Bush vowed to stay off cocaine and bring about the second coming of Christ. All of these men kept to their word and that's a large part of the reason why politicians still feel obliged to announce ambitious proposals for their first three months in office. Recent advances in microprocessor technology, however, have allowed politicians to speed things up and compress their time table considerably. When Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in 2006, for instance, newly elected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi , pledged to end poverty, implement universal health care and pull the U.S. out of Iraq within the first 100 hours of the new congress. It was an impressive legislative agenda, but of course, as we all know by now, they pulled it off without a hitch and have the public opinion ratings to prove it.

Well, Fred Thompson knew he had to go a step further and so, eschewing a 100 day legislative agenda, and even a 100 hour plan, Thompson announced a bold plan for the first hour of his presidency. Sure, there will be naysayers out there who, seizing on Thompson's well established tendency to spend his time putting a minimal amount of effort into doing almost nothing, will insist that this "1st hour" plan is little more than an excuse to go into a room, close the door behind him and do very little for the next 60 minutes of his life. However, we at Patriot's Quill aren't quite so cynical, and assume that Fred means it when he says that that's his plan.

We do, however, wonder if Thompson thought things through before making his announcement. As a guy who spends almost no time at church, old Fred may not have realized mow much of a drag it would be to actually lock yourself in a room for an hour, drop down on your knees and pray...for an hour...non-stop. Hell, sitting at the dinner table and waiting for grace to be said as you gaze at a landscape of roast beef, green beans and buttered mashed potatoes can seem like an eternity sometimes. And if the pastor's invited over for dinner then forget it. You're in for a prayer that resembles something of mini sermon, and though it only takes a couple of minutes at most, you'd swear the broccoli whithered, went to seed and sprouted up again in the interval.

So, locking yourself up in the oval office and praying non-stop for an hour? Let's just say that about the only guy I can imagine pulling that one off sucessfully is the albino monk from The Da Vinci Code (and maybe John Ashcroft). I'm not saying Fred's intentions aren't good ones. I'm just saying that if he is elected and does go through with it... well, I hope he sneaks in a Nintendo Gameboy in his jacket pocket.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Never Again.

One of the ugliest by-products of the Iraq was is the recent campaign by right-wing Jewish groups to suppress the memory of a genocide that occurred nearly 100 years ago. Under withering pressure from the Bush administration, congress is shelving plans to vote on a resolution acknowledging and condemning the genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman empire. The Bush administration's motives are purely a byproduct of realpolikal considerations: worried about antagonizing Turkey, a nation that is playing an important support role in Iraq, the Whitehouse would rather that this proposed Armenian Genocide resolution simply fall by the wayside, the way other such attempted resolutions have fallen by the wayside in the past. This is, perhaps, to be expected. After all, why should the Bush administration care about the deaths of a few million foreigners 90+ years ago, when they've shown so little concern for the well being of the American people today. However, when organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League lobby congress to drop such a resolution, this is evidence that something has gone terribly wrong with a group that, on the masthead of its website, proclaims its mission to be the securing of "...justice and fair treatment for all." Joey Kurtzman, writing in the journal Jewcy, focused on this sad state of affair when he called for the firing of Abraham Foxman, president of the ADL:

It is a scandal of unprecedented proportion when one of the most prominent figures in our community, a man who claims to speak on our behalf, publicly challenges the historicity of another community’s genocide. Foxman’s ADL no longer represents the interests of the Jewish community. In fact, it seems the only interests it represents are its own.
This is a scandal, because just as right-thinking people everywhere were outraged when Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called a conference to "debate" the historicity of the Jewish Holocaust, it is unthinkable that a genocide that occurred some 40 years before is still spoken of only in hushed tones for fear of offending or alienating the present-day descendants of its perpetrators. And yet some prominent right-wing Jewish organizations and pundits insist that we continue to do so, lest we upset the tender sensibilities of the Turkish government that is so generously allowing us to use their territory as a staging ground for our occupation of Iraq (though the reasoning is not always explicitly stated). Writing today in the Washington Post, for instance, Charles Krauthammer insists: pass a declarative resolution in the House of Representatives in the middle of a war in which we are inordinately dependent on Turkey would be the height of irresponsibility. The atrocities happened 90 years ago. Not a single living Turk under the age of 102 is in any way culpable.
The Jewish Holocaust ended in 1945. That was over 60 years ago. Should we simply forget it and "move on" in 30 years or so, when there is not a single living German under the age of 102 who is in any way culpable? Should we then raze the Holocaust museum at that time for fear of alienating German skinheads and extreme-right-wing political parties in that country?

But more shameful, perhaps, is this sentence from Krauthammer's column:
Even Mesrob Mutafyan, patriarch of the Armenian community in Turkey, has stated that his community is opposed to the resolution, correctly calling it the result of domestic American politics.
In appealing to the "authority" of one of the descendants of the of the Armenian genocide who is still living as an ethnic minority among the ethnic majority descendants of the perpetrators of the crime, in a state that is at best a tenuous democracy and at worst an authoritarian society living under constant threat of a military coup, Krauthammer shows he hasn't got even the slightest sense of shame about him. For all it matters, it might as well be Krauthammer holding the gun to the man's head and telling him what to say.

Just as hideous is the position of Max Boot, who, arguing against the resolution in Commentary magazine noted that ethnic Armenians:
...form a powerful lobbying group that donates a lot of money to politicians especially in states like New Jersey, Michigan, and California. (It is no coincidence that legislators from those states are leading the push for the Armenian genocide resolution.)
And then, as if to excuse himself from potential accusations of bigotry he immediately adds:
It’s common, and completely innocuous, for various ethnic groups to get involved in lobbying. It’s only a scandal, it seems, when the lobbyists in question are Jewish. In that case, their activities are denounced in odious anti-Semitic tracts, most of them published by groups like the John Birch Society, the Lyndon Larouchites, and the Ku Klux Klan, but some of which appear bearing the imprimatur of supposedly prestigious institutions like Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Way to have you cake and eat it too, eh? Simultaneously denouncing the "powerful" ethnic Armenian lobby while also denouncing as anti-Semites those who say the same things about right-wing Jewish lobbies. That's really quite an audacious rhetorical sleight of hand.

This refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide (even if "just not right now") is so offensive that Alan Dreshowitz (no shrinking violet when it comes to defending the interests of Israel) has felt compelled to object thus:

The Association of Genocide Scholars and the community of Holocaust scholars, as well as numerous others, have written that this horrific event was genocide. In 2000, 126 leading Holocaust scholars -- including Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel -- published a statement in The New York Times that sought both to "affirm the incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide and urge Western Democracies to officially recognize it."
To deny genocide victims their history and suffering is tantamount to making them victims again.

Justice and memory demand that we recognize the Ottoman Turkish genocide against the Armenians for what it was: the destruction of a large part of an ancient and vibrant community as well as the horrible model of what Hitler did to Jews and what the janjaweed is doing to the victims of Darfur.

What's perhaps most important to take from this is that organizations such as the ADL, commenters such as Krauthammer, and lobbying organizations such as AIPAC do not speak for the Jewish people. As much as they attempt to don that mantle, the right-wing politics that they espouse are, in fact, out of step even with the majority of American Jews in many issues. In fact, today, 77% of religious Jews in America say the war in Iraq was a mistake (contrary to Krauthammer, and every other group save African American protestants at 78%) and back in 2002, before the war, the Jewish community was evenly divided on the impending invasion at a time when the country as a whole favored the war at a 2-1 ratio. Of course, you'd never know that fact if you subscribed to a "conventional wisdom" that has been carefully cultivated, manufactured and promoted by a powerful alliance of right-wing Jewish groups, conservative evangelicals and the conservative movement more broadly that sees its interests furthered by the widespread acceptance of such a notion. Even the term "the Jewish lobby" plays into this game, as it allows right-wing pundits and organizations to denounce critics of organizations such as AIPAC as anti-Semites while simultaneously promoting the notion that they themselves are, indeed, representatives of Jewish interests and opinions. Yet in fact, they at best represent a minority view within the community.

I'll conclude with a statement that Krauthammer makes in his piece:

So why has Pelosi been so committed to bringing this resolution to the floor? (At least until a revolt within her party and the prospect of defeat caused her to waver.) Because she is deeply unserious about foreign policy.
It would appear that being deeply serious about foreign policy requires that one be deeply unserious about justice. At least in Krauthammer's mind.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Larry Craig: Internet Mogul

One reason you can be absolutely, positively, without a doubt sure that closeted-self-loathing-gay Senator Larry Craig had no idea that the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport where he was totally unjustly busted for supposedly soliciting gay sex (as if!) had a widespread reputation as a gay hookup zone is that he doesn't use the internet. He never has and would have no idea how to use it even if he wanted to... Or maybe not.

This Man is Insane

Remember back in the day when Oral Roberts stunned the nation by announcing that he'd dreamed a vision of a 900 foot Jesus who had threatened to "call him home" if he didn't raise $8 million for his medical center? Well, as the following video demonstrates, that was probably one of the least crazy things ol' Oral ever preached.

(Warning: explicit language inappropriate for minors)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Video Everyone Should See

Here's a video everyone should see:

Coulter's Site Hacked

Looks like was victim to a hilarious hack earlier today. As of 1:15 pm EST, if you follow this link, you'll still see the following "archived" message to readers (click the image to expand):

The text reads:

An Open Letter to Readers
by Ann Coulter
October 15, 2007

Dear Readers,

I've been participating in a charade for nearly eleven years, now. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it. You have all been a part of a sick joke that I began considering shortly after first getting on the air. At first, it was quite interesting to see how people would react when I would use twisted logic and poorly masked bigotry.

But eleven years is a long time to be living a fake life, and I can no longer tolerate this falsity. Even someone as fake as I tires out eventually.

Here's the truth, I don't care what people believe. Jews don't need to be "made perfect" as I so arrogantly proclaimed to Editor & Publisher not a half week ago. I don't even care if people are Muslim. Granted, I don't know much about the religion or the people, but they are people. This is something that we cannot forget, they are in an abhorrent situation. These people are in need of education. Perhaps if we did not participate in causing them misery, they would not hate us so.

In fact, does it really matter whether we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, or even Pagan? We are one nation. One. We should not let petty differences separate us, we are all American, and should act in that manner.

And with that, my precious viewers, I bid you adieu. My career as a media figurehead is over.


Ann Coulter

P.S. - Oh, and Bill O'Reilly is also just acting.

Haha, did it again. Oh, those silly web admins...they just embarrass themselves.

(Admins, check for an e-mail address in the CMS. Find it. I know you will.)

And though there was much speculation on the internets as to the authenticity of the message (especially given the enigmatic last two lines), increasing the archive count by 1, alas, revealed a follow-up from the hacker that included an e-mail address and the following message:
E-mail me about your security issues and we can talk.
Oh, well. Nice one, though.

(Update: apparently this message was briefly on the site's front page!)

Bob Jones Dean Endorses Romney

"Robert R. Taylor, dean of [the Bob Jones University] college of arts and sciences, said he believes the former Massachusetts governor [Mitt Romney] is the only Republican candidate who both stands a chance of winning the White House and will reliably implement the anti-abortion, antigay marriage, pro-gun agenda of Christian conservatives."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Schoolyard Bullies of the Right

Michelle Malkin hides behind her blog and Fox News as she hurls insults at the left and attacks the lower-middle-class families of sick children who've had the nerve to appeal to the government for help in treating their children's injuries rather than liquidate their assets and become paupers. But when a patriotic blogger challenges her to debate the subject on neutral ground, she scurries away like a cockroach down a drain when the lights are turned on. Here's a sample of one of the right's "fearless" champions justifying her cowardice and lack of spine:

I’m. Trrrrembling.

With. Laughter.

A good-faith debate would require that Respectable Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein actually be a person of good faith. He is treated as such in some elite conservative circles, where his work is linked frequently and intellectual repartee among the Beltway boys’ club is warm and chummy. He is free to continue traveling in those cozy circles where highbrow right-wingers are not so mean and scary.

But I’d just as soon share a stage, physical or virtual, with Respectable Liberal Blogger Ezra Klein as I would with Chris Matthews, Geraldo Rivera, or an overflowing vat of liquid radioactive waste.

So basically, if you disagree with her from the left you're part of the "nutroots" and if you're more principled than her from the right, then you obviously run in the sort of "elite conservative circles" that Malkin wants no part of. Apparently the term "elite conservative circles" refers to those conservatives who aren't afraid to engage their opponents in open debate, or to consider their ideas seriously, as opposed to dismissing them out of hand with an insult and a not-so-clever joke. I must say, though, that I was tickled by Malkin's rejoinder: "I'm trembling / with laughter." It reminds me of a schoolyard bully who's scared to fight the older brother of one of his perennial victims and justifies his cowardice by claiming that, of course he'd like to fight, but he's worried he'd kick his opponent's ass so badly he'd have to go to jail for it. Yeah, right Michelle, lay another one on me. At any rate, if you're curious about the reference to Chris Matthews in Malkin's piece, then youi really should take a look at the following Youtube video. It shows what happens when someone (Matthews) refuses to take any shit from a gutless conservative (Malkin) and insists that she stop hurling baseless insinuations and actually stand behind her calumny, lies and slander:

What a class act...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Great White Hope? Nope.

Well, so I watched the Fred Thompson debate yesterday (at least that's what the media were calling it), and I must say that were I a Republican what I saw would have given me little comfort. It was Fred Thompson's moment in the sun, or at least it was supposed to be. And yet it really turned out more like the Mitt and Rudy show (which one was the cat and which the mouse, I'm still not sure).

The simple fact is that when you take away the slow zoom, the gel lens and the patriotic background music, Thompson just doesn't have all that much stage presence. He's certainly no Ronald Reagan. Most disheartening was probably his answer to Maria Bartiromo's question about the negative effects of a weak dollar on the U.S. economy. Fred seemed pretty clueless... not quite Miss Teen South Carolina clueless and not quite George Bush explains Tribal Sovereignty clueless, but certainly at a loss for words. In fact, he was only able to enumerate the benefits to the export sector of a weak dollar, but not the negatives, which is what the question was about (for the record, a weak dollar makes imports more expensive and makes the U.S. less attractive to foreign investors).

As for the other candidates, I continue to be impressed with Mitt Romney. I find his political views pretty much abhorrent, but the guy does exude an air of competence. And he's not a pie-in-the-sky ideologue or a confused theocrat. Had he been president these last four years I have little doubt that we wouldn't be in anything like the mess we're in today (of course you could say that about a Spongebob Squarepants presidency, too, or just about anybody). It's just too bad for the GOP that they've built their party on religious and ethnic bigotry, because Mitt the Mormon hasn't got a snowball's chance if he turns out to be the nominee. You can't win an election by appealing to unaligned voters and a handful of defectors from the other party but without the support of your base.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Excessive Force

22 Years ago the Philadelphia Police department, in a move that has come to epitomize the use of excessive force and official recklessness, dropped a firebomb on the roof of an apartment building housing a black separatist group known as MOVE. The bomb ignited several barrels of gasoline, burned down over 60 adjacent apartments and caused the deaths of 11 people including numerous children. Before all was said and done, the city of Philadelphia was ordered to pay over $30 million in compensation to victims of the bombing.

The MOVE bombing has become emblematic of why it is a bad idea to employ military grade weaponry and tactics to police civilian populations. And similar scattered incidents that have occurred over the years have led to tremendous anger and even civil unrest on the part of significant segments of the US population. Let us not forget that when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murray building in Oklahoma City, OK, in the single most spectacular (and grisly) terrorist attack on U.S. soil prior to the events of 9/11, he did so out of anger at the Federal government's mishandling of the Branch Davidian crisis in Waco, Texas. And while the full extent of the network that aided and abetted McVeigh in planning and carrying out the OK city bombings may never be known, it is a undeniable fact that the Waco incident that motivated McVaeigh sparked tremendous outrage among certain segments of the population (mostly rural conservatives) and provided a great deal of impetus to the formation and arming of numerous armed paramilitary organizations across the country that were overtly hostile to the Federal Government. These organizations were collectively referred to as "the Militia Movement."

I think it important to review this history, because as our newspapers report once again on the deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of U.S. equipped mercenary bands operating in Iraq with a grant of full immunity from prosecution by authorities in that country, it is vital that we understand (by looking back at our own responses to such outrages) the hatred that such incidents engender in the local civilian population. Try to imagine if the MOVE, the Waco incident, the Kent State massacre were regular occurrences in our own country, carried out by private paramilitary organizations under the employ of a foreign government and who have been granted immunity from prosecution by our civil courts. Today the New York Times reports on two women killed by private "security contractors" in Iraq. As is too often the case in these incidents, the victims were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time:

The women were in a white car that drove into the Masbah intersection in the central Karradah district as the convoy of three white and one gray SUVs was stopped about 100 yards away, according to a policeman who witnessed the shooting from a nearby checkpoint.

The men in the SUVs threw a smoke bomb in an apparent bid to warn the car against coming forward, said Riyadh Majid, the policeman. The woman driving the car tried to stop, but was killed along with the passenger when two of the guards in the convoy opened fire, Majid said.

The pavement where the attack occurred was stained with blood and covered with shattered glass from the car windows.

He said the convoy then raced away and Iraqi police came to collect the bodies and tow the car to the local police station.

There's no possible way we can defeat an insurgency while employing such tactics, and no question that we further drive the civilian population into our opponents ranks. Just ask yourself this question: if it had been your mother and your sister in that car, what would you do? If you answer that question honestly, and are not a coward, then you'll understand why the occupation is just as good as lost.

Monday, October 8, 2007

WTF, people?!

The opening line of this New York Times piece set my head a-spinning:

AFTER the 2004 elections, religious conservatives were riding high. Newly anointed by pundits as “values voters” — a more flattering label than “religious right” — they claimed credit for propelling George W. Bush to two terms in the White House. Even in wartime, they had managed to fixate the nation on their pet issues: opposition to abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.
I've got to ask the question: has the right so dominated the propaganda wars that they've managed to christen themselves "values voters" while implicitly and by extension re-defining the rest of us as hedonistic nihilists?

When in February of 2002 I marched through the streets of New York along with 200+ thousand like minded lefties in opposition to a looming, "pre-emptive" war of choice that would bring death to thousands of innocent men, women and children, were those not my values on display?

When I vote for the candidate who promises to extend health coverage to the needy who cannot afford it, are those not my values on display?

When I pull the lever for the candidate who assures me that he will ensure that our nation's elderly do not sink into destitution when they retire, are those not my values on display?

When I vote for the candidate who promises to allow scientists to inform the people of the environmental dangers we face in the coming decades, without censoring their speeches or de-funding their research, are those not my values on display?

When I rise in protest against a death penalty that almost all other industrialized nations have discarded, and which places these United States in league with totalitarian dictatorships such as Burma and China, are those not my values on display?

When I pen a blog entry lamenting the Bush Administration's promotion of torture as an acceptable form of interrogation for detained suspects, are those not my values on display?

The simple answer to these questions is that, yes, those are my values on display. I am not a nihilist, or a solipsist, or a hedonist. I am a values voter, and so are all the like minded people who I've met along the way, at political gatherings, at rallies, at universities, at churches and at work. And so to all those dime-store propagandists who wear the mantle of "pundit" and who would seek to convince the nation that I and my like-minded compatriots are valueless, I extend a hearty fuck you. I'll put my compassion and love of humanity up against your greed, your xenophobia, your jingoism, your warmongering, your homophobia and racism any day of the week as far as values go.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Not half as funny

OK, so conservatives have talk radio and liberals have satirical, "fake" news shows... and never the twain should meet. You'd think the Right would have figured this out sometime after the disaster that was Fox News' "Half Hour News Hour," but apparently the geniuses at the conservative "media watchdog" site Newsbusters didn't get the message. Take a gander at this nuttyness:

Egad, that's pretty awful stuff, canned laughter and all.

Update: I just realized how much this guy, Mark Ellis, looks like an asshole-fratboy version of Peter Lorre:

Again... not good.

Democrats: their prices are insaaaaane

According to Mitt Romney, supporting the Democratic proposal for an expanded SCHIP program is so unwise that it'd be like offering a customer a 10% discount on top of your already low, low 10% sale price in order to move a product:

“Can you imagine doing something like that in your enterprise, saying we want to get a new customer, so we’re going to lower the price to get this new account by 10 percent but then we’re going to go to all of our old customers and all give them 10 percent off too?” Mr. Romney said.
Which, apparently no businessman would ever contemplate* because they're already selling under invoice, and you can't find prices like these at any of their competitors and they're already losing their shirts at this price and it's just too crazy and insane and just plain zany an idea to even contemplate, but I tell you what: let me run it by my sales manager and see what he says!!!

*Except maybe on President's Day, and the day after Thanksgiving, and maybe Dec. 26, or if you're a mattress salesman maybe every other week... at most.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Patriotism pays off:

It pays to be a patriot:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Torture & Tossed Salad

It happened again the other night. Debate moderator Tim Russert directed the following question at Democratic candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton:

"Senator Clinton, this is the number three man in Al Qaeda. We know there's a bomb about to go off, and we have three days, and we know this guy knows where it is. Should there be a presidential exception to allow torture in that kind of situation?"

To her credit, Senator Clinton responded by disavowing torture under any and all circumstances: "As a matter of policy it cannot be American policy, period," she said. But to her shame, this was not the position she held in October when she told a New York Daily News reporter that there should be narrow exceptions allowing for government sanctioned torture in some cases. Whether her change of position reflects a genuine moral shift or simply a new political calculus cannot be known for certain. But whatever it is that moves this change of position, and the similar disavowal of torture we heard from the mouths the other major candidates at last night’s debate, I’ll take it. It’s certainly better than we’ve seen from the Republican candidates in recent months. Indeed, apart from the very notable exception of John McCain --the only genuine torture survivor among the group-- the major Republican candidates for the presidency all seem to delight in reassuring their conservative audiences that they would not hesitate to grant interrogators the right to torture olive skinned foreigners if doing so might prevent an attack on honest, God fearing Americans.

At a debate in South Carolina last May, both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney responded to a similar question by assuring the audience that they would give interrogators wide latitude in the use of harsh interrogation techniques, while slyly denying that such techniques would constitute torture. You could almost feel the breeze as candidates and audience members traded a collective wink and a nod. Both men went on to specifically endorse water boarding, a method of torture whereby a prisoner is repeatedly brought to the edge of asphyxiation and made to believe he is drowning. And Mitt Romney further insisted that the prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba should be expanded to twice its size rather than boarded up, as some critics contend.

Reflecting a bit on the Republican Party’s fondness for torture, a question occurred to me that I would really, really like to be afforded the opportunity to pose at a future candidate’s forum. The question would go something like this:

"Mayor Giuliani, Governor Romney, this is the number three man in Al Qaeda. We know there's a bomb about to go off, and we have three days, and we know this guy knows where it is. We’ve been torturing him for weeks, but to no avail. He won’t give up the information. But then one day he wakes up and says: ‘OK, OK, I’ll tell you guys where the bomb is. But only if Rudolph Giuliani or Mitt Romney will fly down here to Gitmo and toss my salad.’ I ask you, Mr. Mayor... Governor... Would you do it? Would you toss his salad if it might potentially save hundreds of innocent lives? "

Now, if you don’t know what it means to toss someone’s salad, then I suggest you forego looking the expression up, and just accept that it’s not a very nice thing to have to do. Yes, you will find an explanation for it in the hip & with it, online, Urban Dictionary. But you’ll wish you hadn’t. Trust me. Just accept that tossing someone’s salad is not something you want to find yourself doing every day... or ever, actually. It’s an activity that’s kinda on the degrading side... sorta the way planet Jupiter is kinda on the big side, or the surface of the sun is kinda on the hot side.

And that’s just the point. You see, these candidates and their enablers in the media (I’m speaking to you Brit Hume and you Tim Russert) never seem to tire of assuring us that they would be more than willing to degrade America and drag her name through the dirt, compromise her values and betray her founding principles all in the name of foiling a fictional terrorist attack scenario that exists only in the imaginations of Hollywood script writers and fear mongering propagandists. But what I would like to know is whether they’d be just as willing to degrade themselves, drag their own names through the mud, compromise their own values and betray their own principles all in the name of foiling that same attack.

“Now, hold on there,” I hear you say. “The scenario you’re describing is preposterous. No terrorist is going to ask Rudy Giuliani or Mitt Romney to toss his salad in exchange for information that might enable U.S. authorities to foil an attack.” And right you are. But then, no real-life example of the so-called “ticking time-bomb” scenario, which could have been prevented through torture, is ever known to have occurred in all of recorded human history. This is probably because the scenario itself is so preposterous. Consider all the pieces that would need to fall into place, as described in a recent publication of the Association for the Prevention of Torture (PDF):

· You’d have to have the guy in custody.

· You’d have to know an attack was imminent.

· The attack will kill a lot of people.

· The guy has enough information to prevent the attack.

· If you torture this guy he’ll give up the information.

· There’s no other way to get this information.

· There’s no other way (i.e. evacuation of a building) to prevent a loss of life.

In addition I might add:

· This guy’s important enough to know about the plan, but not so important that the fact that he’s out of commission won’t by itself prevent the plan from being carried out.

· The bad guys don’t know you have this guy, so they won’t alter the plan.

So we’re talking about a very improbable scenario here. Indeed, one has to assume further, that once the bad guys know that we’re torturing their captured officials, they’ll give their field operatives enough leeway in choosing targets and hideouts that no other member of the organization could have enough information to prevent it (this is assuming they don’t already operate in this manner).

“But wait,” I hear you say, “this scenario is not really so improbable. After all, I see it played out every week on T.V. and in the movies” And to this I respond that if movies are your metric for plausibility, then I think that you’ll find plenty of movies in which the bad guys do, in fact, offer to mend their evil ways in exchange for a salad tossing. They’re just found in a different section of the rental store, that’s all, a little dank, musty room in the back alongside a whole host of other unusual titles with names you’ve never heard of and some very unconventional cover-art.

So once again, the question stands: Mr. Mayor, Mr. Governor, if you could prevent a terrorist attack upon these United States of America by tossing a terrorist’s salad, would you do it? Please, don’t be shy, Patriotic Americans wants to know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First Post

This is a first post. Nothing much here, other than a link to my Youtube videos.