Friday, March 30, 2007
Outlawed "post-Muhammad" anachronisms include: mayonnaise, ice coolers, goatees ("Jew beards," according to the extremists), and falafels.
And you know I love me some falafels...
(I'm not hating on Islam, of course, just extremism/falafel-haterism. I mean, I'm against violence. But if you take away a man's delicious chickpeas... Well, it's enough to make me want to fire some attorney generals and start a war with somebody...)
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The Bush administration’s mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina housing crisis has often looked like an attempt to discourage survivors from applying for help. The House has taken an important step toward reversing this policy with a bill that would require the Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue tens of thousands of new housing vouchers under the Section 8 program, which allows low-income families to seek homes in the private real estate market.
Many of these families would have long since found permanent homes and settled into new lives had the Bush administration brought HUD — which was created to deal with these kinds of situations — into the picture at the very start. But Hurricane Katrina arrived just as the administration had made up its mind to cripple HUD and the successful Section 8 program, partly as a way of offsetting tax cuts for the wealthy.
The administration instead rigged up a confusing and inflexible housing program and put the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge. FEMA frustrated landlords and Katrina’s victims alike. Last year, one federal judge likened the convoluted application process — which too often led vulnerable families to lose aid without knowing why or having reasonable recourse to appeal — to something out of a horror story by Kafka.
With thousands of families scheduled to lose their temporary aid by September, the Senate should move quickly to pass this much-needed legislation. Hurricane Katrina’s victims should not have to keep paying the price for the administration’s misplaced animosity toward low-income housing.
EJ--my next-door neighbor, growing up--is originally from New Orleans. His family was displaced by the hurricane and has been moving around the South for a whilenow, from Texas to Georgia to I think Tennessee, shacking up with sundry relatives and unable to return... because there are no houses in their neighborhood. I don't mean that there are just some fixer-uppers or some trailers--I mean nothing. Nada. Grass-&-sky.
Anyway, it just gets my goat.
Three girls at John Jay High School are suspended for saying the word “vagina,” while performing an excerpt of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.
And they say kids today are apathetic.
I say, hell no.
We live in a world where the line between child and adult is irrevocably blurred. Twelve year olds can be tried as adults in the criminal court system; eighteen year olds are dying in Iraq and other war-torn countries; fifteen year old girls in Africa are raising their siblings and their own children after losing their parents to AIDS; the former governor of New York suggested that an eighth grade education should be considered sufficient for most (read: working class) Americans.
And young people are stepping up. They are demanding that their voices be heard, demanding that they and their peers be properly cared for and educated, demanding that we pay attention.
If you want to get to know them better, here are some places to start:
Global Action Project
Sista II Sista
We Got Issues
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Omertå: A code of silence, a refusal to give evidence to authorities.
Watching the latest hearings and the standard administration responses one sees what and who they really are and what they've always been: this White House makes the Sopranos look like the Little Rascals. Their spokemen take their orders without question and eat the paper it's written on. They spout identically metered bullet points with the same dread filled intonations. They stand as an immovable wall of scowling muscle, the blue-suited, flag-on-the-lapel sporting E Ring protecting the seething inner core from which their ideology of greed emanates. They divide and conquer, deride and sneer and of course they are cold-blooded killers. They kill hope, they kill diversity, they kill science, they kill logic. And they occasionally kill people, too. Sure, brown people, poor people, people who sometimes wear camouflage uniforms who have an unflinching commitment to the idea of protecting their mother nation. But still, people. And all these murders performed with their trademark plausible deniability. No transcripts, no oaths, no witnesses. And this nation, utterly gobsmacked at the mob's hubris, is itself shocked into silence and inaction because of the sheer brazenness of such behavior, the lack of care as to its appearance, the daring with which it carries out its mission even as its term may very well be coming to a close. Dons Bush and Cheney, their various consiglieri, capos, soldiers, bought-and-sold judges, street corner dealers, fencers and bag men have virtually rubbed out the very idea of a democratic society and erected in its place a cheaply made (outsourced, naturally) two dimensional proxy, complete with undulating red white and blue backdrop.
For millennia thugs have employed as motivators Fear and Profit to gain dominion over those who just want to live in peace and security and who, at the end of the day, just want to be left alone. We continue our fealty to Omertå at our peril because---make no mistake---the thugs mean to scuttle this country. That's their plan. It's no accidental result of well intentioned but poor planning. Because while they say they do, they actually have no political affiliation, they worship no god, they respect no law, they hold no love for America land of the free home of the brave. They saw an opportunity and, planning very carefully, seized it.
What do we do? Should we just get out of the way of the inexorable tide of corporate-fascist greed that controls the ebb and flow of what we used to call a free society and continue to be scared into paying for protection from the very thing that is killing us? We've been sold out by ruthless Men Without a Country. They are neither patriots, nationalists nor Christians. They are businessmen, pure and simple. The lore and allure of America are but weapons they wield in their war on democracy.
And will our own reluctance to admit all this, that we have been highjacked by the current incarnation of small, petty crooks who think big, be the straw that breaks the back of America's promise of a future of peace and freedom?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
McClatchy newspapers has just broken this thing wide open. It's not just about the guys who they fired - oh no - it's about where those attorneys resided and who they replaced them with. See there are 11 states that the Republicans were targeting for 2008. 11 states that Karl Rove told the Republican Lawyers Association were "in play" and vital for the 2008 election. And guess what? Those 9 US Attorneys who have been 'purged' were from 9 of those 11 states. And guess who they replaced them with? 9 lawyers known for their histories supporting voter suppression of Democrats - you know, like the guy in Florida who purged voter rolls of poor, black people. The only silver lining is we can say goodbye to Gonzo (the AP is reporting the proof of his concerted effort to target these attorneys here).
And you can read the full, unbelievable tale of voter suppression here.
One amazing aspect of this story that only the LA Times has fully reported - this story, the full scope of which we are only now learning, would never have come to light if Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo hadn't taken some time last year to wonder why Carol Lam was fired after she so successfully investigated Duke Cunningham. He kept digging, kept asking questions, kept writing about it - and slowly and surely uncovered another, and then Iglesias, and then another and another. Josh's team at TPM did this country a tremendous service. Now that McClatchy has unearthed this scope and depth of this conspiracy, I shudder to think what would have happened next year without Josh. We owe him. Huge.
The Democrats in the House today passed a bill to start withdrawing troops. But we cannot stop there. We must support our Democrats in both houses so they have the strength to continue these investigations. If you have a minute on Monday, call your Representative, call Harry Reid, call Henry Waxman, call Barbara Boxer and Patrick Leahy and tell them to stay strong. Tell them to never bend to the White House - tell them to force Karl and Harriet and Gonzo to testify under oath, with a transcript. What this administration has done is evil.
As Edmund Burke said, "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
Let's do something.
New to Job, Gates Argued for Closing Guantánamo
By THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER, NYTimes
WASHINGTON, March 22 — In his first weeks as defense secretary, Robert M. Gates repeatedly argued that the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantánamo would be viewed as illegitimate, according to senior administration officials. He told President Bush and others that it should be shut down as quickly as possible.
Mr. Gates’s appeal was an effort to turn Mr. Bush’s publicly stated desire to close Guantánamo into a specific plan for action, the officials said. In particular, Mr. Gates urged that trials of terrorism suspects be moved to the United States, both to make them more credible and because Guantánamo’s continued existence hampered the broader war effort, administration officials said.
Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.
...but Zee Germans are now arbiting Islamic law, wtf...?
German Judge Cites Koran, Stirring Up Cultural Storm
By MARK LANDLER, NYTimes
FRANKFURT, March 22 — A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.
In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.
News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence.
Forgetting even the very concept of the separation of faith and government for a moment, let us examine the basic, common sense-grounded options presented to a judge by such a case: 1) Tell a wife, repeatedly beaten by her husband, to go fuck herself. 2) Help the poor woman (or man, what if it were a man?).
Clearly, this is a fucking no-brainer. How absurd to read news of this judge's hurtful and indefensible decision on the same day we read that Robert Gates--some old-school Commie-stoppin bad-ass general-type--has decided that illegally detaining Muslims in a foreign country for indefinite periods of time is not only not cool, but, more to his point, is doing America more harm than good.
But one line Rahm said really put it all into perspective.
"When you (Republicans) talk like the President did in January and say 'we want the Iraqis to meet our benchmarks' and then you set no benchmarks? Well, I can only say what we say in Chicago - you're all hat and no cattle".
Great friggin' statement.
From the Guardian:
Cut down on flying, sell the car and recycle your bottles. But if you really want to tackle global warming, you should stop your cow from burping.
According to scientific estimates, the methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. And now, German scientists have invented a pill to cut bovine burping.
The fist-sized plant-based pill, known as a bolus, combined with a special diet and strict feeding times, is meant to reduce the methane produced by cows.
Read the whole article here.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Take Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City. This is not a place you'd take for nest of Bush-bashers. But here, in bold black print, we've an article courtesy today's NYTimes:
In Utah, an Opponent of the ‘Culture of Obedience’
By KIRK JOHNSON
[“President Bush is a war criminal,” Mr. Anderson, a Democrat, said at a rally here on Monday marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. “Let impeachment be the first step toward national reconciliation — and toward penance for the outrages committed in our nation’s name.”]
“There’s a real resistance to change and an almost pathological devotion to leaders simply because they’re leaders,” he said, in describing fellow Utahans who do not share his views and who in large numbers support the president (and gave him 72 percent of their vote in 2004). “There’s a dangerous culture of obedience throughout much of this country that’s worse in Utah than anywhere.”
“What he’s doing lets people know that free speech is alive and well in Salt Lake City,” said K. Eric Jergensen, a member of the City Council, which, like the mayor’s office, is formally nonpartisan, though Mr. Jergensen described himself as a Republican.
...also, rather hilariously:
One of the mayor’s former chiefs of staff, Deeda Seed, who was fired in 2005, described her former boss this way: “I used to be good friends with him. He’s incredibly intelligent. He is delightful to talk to. He can be a really, really good friend. He could just benefit from a little therapy.”
(Ms. Seed said Mr. Anderson fired her after they disagreed on policy issues, including how to handle the news media. He said she was “almost a complete disaster as an employee and I had no choice but to fire her.”)
Mr. Anderson, who has been married and divorced twice, with a son now in college, said he believed that divisiveness could be a virtue. For too long, he said, Democrats have run toward the center, away from confrontation. And in a conservative place like Utah, he said, he just has to push harder.
“If you take a principled point of view and people fall down on one side or the other, you can either be characterized as being principled or being tough,” he said. “Or you can be dismissed as being divisive, and I think if that’s the definition of divisive, we need more people in politics who are divisive.”
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16 1953
President Bush has a bust of Eisenhower in the Oval Office.
1. The Senate voted 94 - 2 to revoke Bush's ability to fire US Attorneys without going through the Senate.
2. Elias Zerhouni, Bush-appointed Director of the NIH and a religious FREAK conservative, testified before Tom Harkin's HHS Committee and here was the exchange:
HARKIN: Would scientists have a better chance of finding these new cures, new interventions for diseases if the current restrictions on embryonic stem cell research were lifted?
ZERHOUNI: I think the answer is yes. My experience has been this. In 2001, I think the policy that was put in place was the first one to fund embryonic stem cell research. I think NIH has done a great job in the first three years of that, in establishing infrastructure, funding new scientists which weren’t fundable before. Since 2004, I think it’s very clear, from the point of view of science, and what I have overseen, that these cell lines won’t be sufficient to do all the research we need to do. For the reasons that you mentioned, but the most important one is that these cell lines have exhibited instability from the genetic standpoint, and it’s not possible for me to see how we can continue the momentum of science in stem cell research with the cell lines that we have currently at NIH that can be funded.
So from my standpoint, it is clear today, that American science will be better served — and the nation will be better served — if we let our scientists have access to more cell lines that they can study with the different methods that have emerged since 2001, the different strategies that we now understand, which underlie the fundamental issue, which is nuclear programming, or DNA programming, or reprogramming. So the answer is yes.
This is unbelievable - just simply unbelievable. I don't know what's in the water in DC these days, but Republicans are growing some serious balls. Amazing.
Monday, March 19, 2007
March 17, 2007
The Best Idea In The World
By Neil the Ethical Werewolf
I'm so happy to see John Edwards saying this:
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday outlined his plan to tackle global poverty that calls for educating 23 million children in poor countries and creating a Cabinet-level position to oversee other initiatives.
Seeking to link poverty in other countries to U.S. national security, Edwards argued that militant extremists in nations torn apart by poverty and civil war have replaced government educational systems and are teaching young people to hate the United States.
"When you understand that, it suddenly becomes clear: global poverty is not just a moral issue for the United States -- it is a national security issue for the United States," he said at Saint Anselm College.
"If we tackle it, we have the chance to change a generation of potential extremists and enemies into a generation of friends," Edwards said.
You can read the rest of the address here.
Like the Cold War, our struggle against Islamic extremism isn't going to be won by miring our troops in a sequence of latter-day Vietnams, but by cultural engagement and 21st-century versions of the Marshall Plan. When we win, it'll be by feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and teaching those who would otherwise grow up in ignorance. Actions like these are respected in all human cultures, and for every Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, there are tens of thousands of ordinary Muslims who care a lot more about their children's prosperity than about killing Americans. For them to take our side, we have to take theirs.
I hope what we're seeing here is the beginning of a distinctive Democratic approach to the problems posed by radical Islam, with its own grand story about how we're going to win. Being able to promise that you'll lead America to victory is very important in rallying people around your foreign policy, and one of the reasons why perceived Republican advantages on foreign policy lasted as long as they did, even in the face of wanton dishonesty and catastrophic blunders, was that Republicans kept making the promise of victory in Iraq. Democrats had to face up to the truth that Iraq was collapsing into disaster, and they were too conscientious to make any similarly grand and impossible promises. But plans like the one Edwards expresses here credibly promise victory in the larger struggle of which the Iraq War was supposed to be a part. It's how we triumphed over Communism, and it's how we're going to triumph over Islamic extremism too.
The reason I've given this post such a grandiose title is that global poverty is the biggest problem in the world. Serious though they are, our problems with militant Islam pale before the enormous scale of suffering due to malnutrition, preventable disease, and the other consequences of crushing poverty. Getting America to devote some share of its massive resources to this problem as the best means of waging a general campaign against anti-American extremism would change millions of lives, and be an event of great significance in human history.
March 17, 2007
But... but... but... educating 23 million children might cost somewhere around 120 billion dollars...
Incidentally, the cost of the Iraq War now may be reaching 2.5 trillion, according to a new study.
Posted by: Phoenician in a time of Romans | Mar 17, 2007 3:56:45 AM
Sunday, March 18, 2007
“Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
Isn't there a prison in Syria where we can send this bitch?
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Then yesterday, came this unbelievable exchange with a reporter:
Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”
Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”
(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)
Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”
Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”
Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”
Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”
Mr. McCain: (long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”
Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”
Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”
Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”
Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”
This went on for a few more moments until a reporter from the Chicago Tribune broke in and asked Mr. McCain about the weight of a pig that he saw at the Iowa State Fair last year.
He's not just stupid, he's weak. I'm not sure which is worse, but my guess is the "Straight Talk Express" is going off the rails quite soon......
Today brought us the Congressional testimony of the former covert CIA op Valerie Plame Wilson. She was brilliant. She made mincemeat of the handful of Republicans with the balls to show up, and represented herself and her colleagues admirably and with great conviction. If you didn't get a chance to see it, go to www.cspan.org and check out the highlights.
Speaking of conviction, if you thought Karl Rove might make it through the next year and a half free and clear, think again. "Turdblossom" as his boss so lovingly refers to him, is getting close to the edge. If you haven't heard about the US Attorney purge, check out Josh Marshall's excellent reporting to fully understand the depth and scope of the bamboozlement. You can learn everything you need to know right here. The bottom line is that Karl and Alberto Gonzalez fired US Attorneys that were delving too deeply into Republican corruption (like Carol Lam in San Diego who was in charge of investigating Randy "Duke" Cunningham).
Speaking of Duke - MAN! Those Blue Devils went down to crushing defeat last night - lost to Virginia Commonwealth - first time they lost in the first round since 1997! I have to say that was mighty sweet! But I'm a UCONN fan, and they shit the bed all season and didn't even make it in to the NCAA, so..... you understand my animosity. I have to live with the nightmare of Christian Laettner, March 1990, with 3 seconds left as he hits a shot from half court at the buzzer to send my Huskies home.... oh God, it still hurts.
So buh bye Duke. Buh bye Karl. Buy Bye Alberto.
Life is getting sweeter by the day.....
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
SANTA MONICA, California (AP) -- Officials have tried poison, gassing and euthanasia to control a breeding frenzy among squirrels in a city park here. Now, they plan to give birth control a shot.
Under a new program to start this summer, squirrels in Palisades Park will be injected with an immuno-contraceptive vaccine to stunt their sexual development.
"We don't want to kill them if we don't have to," said Joe McGrath, the city's parks chief. "I personally like squirrels, but we also have to be receptive to the county's concerns."
Health officials say the squirrels, which number about 1,000 in the park, pose a public health risk. They warn that the rodents are aggressive and may carry rabies or host fleas that can spread disease, such as bubonic plague.
Since 1998, Santa Monica has been cited five times by Los Angeles County for squirrel overpopulation. But the suppression methods it has used, including euthanasia, have angered animal-loving activists.
City officials say the infertility shots offer a diplomatic solution.
"There is not a pressing threat of squirrels attacking people," Rich said, "so I don't know why the county is getting their panties in a bunch."
--The Associated Press.
Friday, March 9, 2007
For those of us who have been waiting for some justice, for someone in the Bush administration to FINALLY get his ass handed to him, for Patrick Fitzgerald (FITZ!) to tear down the iron curtain of the White House, to see a Neocon head go rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue - then this was the week to savor! Let's take a moment to celebrate I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's GUILTY verdict. 30 years isn't enough for outing a CIA officer (and let's face it, that's what they did) but it's a nice start. Obviously it would have been better to get 5 guilty counts rather than the 4/5 split, but why be greedy when the news is just so sweet? Nobody had more thorough coverage of the trial from beginning to end than Jane Hamsher and her amazing crew at Firedoglake, but Arianna and the folks at Huffington Post scored a HUGE coup with their in-depth and exclusive interview with "Juror Number 9".
Speaking of the Huffington Post, Ankush Khadori conducted an amazing interview with our own Lawrence Wright, which should be read, and can be read here.
Another spectacle in the news this week was the new low set by that horror show Ann Coulter. As of this afternoon, 7 newspapers had dropped that vampire from their roster and several large companies (thank you Verizon) have pulled all their advertising dollars from her website. Even the conservatives are starting to realize that fruit from the poison tree is, well, poison. Although some of the Republican candidates at CPAC last weekend have yet to denounce her hateful homophobia (hello, Rudy??). Even dear old Dick seems to have forgotten he begat one of those "faggots" Ann so lovingly refers to. Poor Mary Cheney. Poor Mary Cheney's illegitimate child (pray for them). How will Grandpa ever explain to that child his deafening silence while all his close conservative pals condemned the very existence of his daughter and future grandchild? So sad when conservatives eat their own.
Speaking of Rudy, if you haven't heard the one about how the Associated Press got conned into quoting the head of "Firefighters for Rudy" in a major story this week, you just gotta let the folks at Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo tell you all about it.
It's nearly impossible to keep on top of all the Bush scandals this week much less throughout the last 6 years. But somehow that ditzy octagenarian David Gergen seems to have found a way.
It just seems like those Republican conservatives can't catch a break! Earlier this week at CPAC they honored a former military hero, Matt Sanchez. All those giddy neocons just couldn't wait to get their picture taken with the strapping young hispanic vet. Until they discovered his night job - as a gay male porn star. OOPS !! (By the way, I just heart John Aravosis and Americablog. It's the first thing I read every morning and the last I read at night. Can't live without him).
But without question, the most horrific, outrageous ongoing story was documented this week during the Congressional hearings on the Walter Reed debacle. I can barely contain my anger at these people - how dare they campaign and preach about "supporting our troops" while they destroy them in every conceivable way? Forget about putting them in an unwinnable, untenable situation. Forget about not giving them the body armor or sufficient weaponry to do their job. Forget about sending them to this insane war in the first place. But when they come home, wounded, sick, depressed, suicidal - how dare this administration refuse them proper care?! HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN ?!?!
Well, after that sombering news, I thought I'd end on an up note. It really does make a difference when Democrats are in charge. Yesterday Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats announced plans for a BINDING resolution to start bringing home the troops in 120 days. Bush says he'll veto it - Nancy Pelosi says "who cares?". It may be good to be King, but it's damn good to be the Majority Leader and Speaker of the friggin' house!
Have a good weekend !!
--from "Billions Over Baghdad," by JOHN B. TAYLOR