Friday, December 31, 2004

Did Bush flip-flop?

Reports say that the U.S. will now offer $350 million in aid to tsunami victims:

"Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.
"Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster."


This is obviously great news, and to be fair I wanted to make note of this (considering my earlier criticism of the $35 million offer). But one has to wonder, why initially offer $15 million, then $35 million, and only days later increase that figure tenfold? Could it be that Bush was shamed into showing some of that "compassionate conservatism?" Would there have been any increase in aid if we hadn't been called "stingy?" Sounds like a lack of resolve to me...

Happy New Year to everyone.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ominous news from Iraq

Despite your political leanings, this Reuters article should be cause for concern:

A frontal assault on U.S. troops by dozens of Iraqi insurgents in Mosul left an American soldier and about 25 guerrillas dead in one of the boldest attacks yet on occupying forces in Iraq.

It just keeps getting worse, doesn't it?

Battle raged late on Wednesday as President Bush said his forces would do all they could to make it possible to hold next month's election in Mosul and other violent cities. But many residents of Mosul say they are too afraid to vote.

The elections are next month? Anyone actually think they'll run smoothly? Didn't think so.

The soldier died of wounds, the military said on Thursday.
He had been on a patrol that was hit by a suicide car bomb close to a U.S. outpost. Gunmen tried to overrun the area, sending in another suicide truck bomber and firing mortars and rockets in an apparent bid to wipe out an entire U.S. unit.


First the attack on the mess hall, now this. They're only getting bolder.

...Wednesday's attack was one of the stiffest U.S. forces have faced since the guerrilla war began last year.
A series of other attacks in the past 10 days, along with a new endorsement from Osama bin Laden, have underscored the continued vigor of the insurgency despite the loss of Falluja.


I thought we had "broken the back of the insurgency" by taking Fallujah.

The U.S. military has conceded it is not in control of some parts of Mosul and plans to send thousands more troops to Iraq's third city for the election. Many residents of the largely Sunni Arab city of two million still say they are too afraid to vote... U.S. generals conceded this month that they face a "sophisticated" and increasingly effective enemy.

As I've said before, I have a very bad feeling that, despite the outcome of the elections, January 30th will be a very bloody day indeed. Can anyone (this means you, Fox News watchers) point me to something that shows otherwise? I'm waiting, believe me, I'm waiting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

About time someone stood up to bigotry...

An Arkansas court has struck down a law banning gays from becoming foster parents:

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox said the state Child Welfare Agency Review board had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate “public morality,” and in doing so had excluded a pool of effective foster parents.
Having a gay parent, or a gay person in the home, does not increase the risk of psychological or behavioral problems for children, Fox said, adding that there is no proof that heterosexual parents are better able to guide children through adolescence.


I'm sure the fundies are already up in arms on this one.

Do we liberals "hate the troops?"

Of course not. Kos delivers the smackdown to a NYPost writer who thinks we do. Couple the writer's sentiment, though, with this godawful new country song, "The Bumper Of My SUV", and you've got a creepy trend developing.

Blame Clinton!

Via Talking Points Memo:

We liberals get accused of "blaming America first." What about the popular conservative tactic of "blaming Clinton first?":

Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events (concerning the tsunami) effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford...a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain' "...Many Bush aides believe Clinton was too quick to head for the cameras to hold forth on tragedies with his trademark empathy. "Actions speak louder than words," a top Bush aide said...

So far, from what I've found, the U.S. has pledged $35 million in relief, whereas the inaugural festivities will run $30-40 million, not including security costs.

Yes, actions do speak louder than words, loud and clear.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A worthwhile read...

...besides this humble blog, of course! Letters To The President is a blog documenting one man's daily e-mails to Bush. I wonder if he gets any responses?

Permanent vacation - if only...

Not much today that other bloggers haven't covered ably, so how about this - Bush goes on holiday:

Besides monitoring the devastating earthquake in Southeast Asia, President Bush is biking and strolling around his ranch here and pondering tax reform and other goals in his second term..."He's clearing some brush this morning," deputy White House press secretary Trent Duffy said Tuesday...

If only this was the beginning of a permanent vacation away from the White House as opposed to the calm before the storm:

"He's doing some biking and exercising as he normally does, taking walks with the first lady, and thinking about what he wants to accomplish in the second term."

Get out your galoshes and raincoats, everyone!

Monday, December 27, 2004

The future of women's health?

Check out this article from Utne:

Abortion is all but universally illegal in Latin America. In Chile, for example, having the procedure can land a woman in jail for up to five-years. Yet, the region has one of the highest abortion rates in the world and, consequently, an equally staggering rate of failure. Each year, an estimated 5,000 women die as a result of clandestine abortions, and another 800,000 are hospitalized (all totaled, that means about one-fifth of those who pursue the procedure suffer complications).

Is this what Bush wants?

A divider, not a uniter....

I ran across this the other day, but because of Christmas and all that (yes, many liberals celebrate it too!) I didn't get a chance to comment on it until now:

President Bush announced yesterday his intention to renominate 20 people previously blocked by Senate Democrats for federal court seats, setting the stage for renewal of the bitter partisan battles over the makeup of the federal judiciary.
The president's list includes seven appeals court candidates whose nominations were stalled on the Senate floor by Democrats, who labeled them "extremists" because of their conservative views. The others never made it to the full Senate. Buoyed by his re-election victory and a four-seat Republican gain in the Senate, Bush said he would submit the names of the nominees when the Senate returns to work in January.


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Didn't Bush say something after the election about coming together as a nation? Then why resubmit these nominees? Again, I think it's payback to the fundies for their efforts to get him elected. Without them, there's no way Bush would've made it (he barely did with their help), and no matter what one might say about him, he knows not to bite the hand that feeds. The article notes that nominees are connected to anti-abortion efforts and the Gitmo detainee policies - imagine that!

Of course, Dems will try to block them again. So what to do? Oh, yeah - change the rules in your favor, or as I like to call it, DeLaying:

During Bush's first term, Democrats would not allow a vote on 10 of the 52 appointments he made to fill vacancies on federal courts of appeals. The overwhelming majority of Bush's 229 judicial nominees, however, were confirmed by the Senate. In the wake of the GOP Election Day gains, conservative groups have been increasing pressure on Senate Republicans to force votes on Bush judicial nominees. Senate Republicans are considering whether to employ a rare and highly controversial parliamentary maneuver -- dubbed the "nuclear option" -- to declare filibusters against judicial nominations to be unconstitutional.

Crybabies! Go whine to daddy about why everything's unfair, and maybe he'll fix it all for you.

More info: One nominee practiced law without a license for four years, and Kavanaugh and Allen are quite shady as well.

Friday, December 24, 2004

I smell hypocrisy...

I know, I should already celebrating my liberal pagan holidays, but I smelled something funny when I woke up today...the distinct smell of hypocrisy:

After a bruising election and two recounts, Democrat Christine Gregoire emerged as the winner by a 130-vote margin in Washington state's astonishingly close governor's race. But Republican Dino Rossi and his supporters say the election is not over yet...Outside the Capitol, dozens of Republican protesters chanted "Count all votes"..."I know many Washingtonians are hoping this will end soon, but I'm also sure that people across this state want a clean election and a legitimate governor-elect," (the defeated Rossi) said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. "At this point, we have neither."

Read more here.

Fascinating. When there's doubt about election results and Democrats call for "count(ing) all votes," Repugs accuse them of putting partisan politics over the greater good, but see what happens when the proverbial shoe's on the other foot?

Oh well. Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

What the public thinks about Social Security

The latest polls on Social Security "reform" are a mixed bag:

A strong majority of respondents, 63 percent, do not think Social Security will have enough money to pay the benefits they are entitled to, and 74 percent think the system faces either major problems or is in crisis -- as Bush has asserted.

Repeat it enough and they'll believe it! Social Security will need work - but "crisis" is the wrong word to describe its situation. That's the same reasoning that led to the mess in Iraq!

The president also has at least general support from 53 percent of the public for the concept of letting people control some of their contributions to invest in the market...It is on the specifics that Bush faces problems. Support dropped to an even split when people were told that the cost of the transition to a new program could reach $2 trillion over time, as some forecasts project. And 62 percent said they would not participate in such a program if it meant their retirement income would go up or down depending on the performance of their stock picks -- which is the essence of Bush's plan.

Ahh, yes. As I've noted earlier, Bush's plan is to end Social Security; let's not fool ourselves. The good news, it seems, is that if the public learns the truth about it, they won't support it.

The results cast uncertainty not just on Bush's political strategy but also on that of Democrats. In Congress, the opposition party has not yet unified around a position on what promises to be the dominant domestic issue of Bush's second term. The party, according to members of Congress and Democratic policy aides, faces a choice between opposing Bush's plan wholesale on philosophical grounds and critiquing it on practical merits, with at least the possibility that some Democrats would back a negotiated plan that addresses their concerns...Some people described the Democratic options toward Bush's plan as either "yes, but" or "hell, no."

I'm personally hoping for more of a "hell, no." This assault on Social Security is only the first wave of an all-out war on the progressive gains of the 20th century. Democrats had better show some backbone here - otherwise, they're going against their own platform:

We believe in protecting the guaranteed benefits that have kept generations out of poverty. We will not allow anyone to dismantle Social Security through privatization or any other scheme. We will fight for a fiscally responsible budget, fulfilling our promises for this generation and those to come by ensuring Social Security's future.


Update - The Social Security Administration's website seems to be biased towards Bush's plan

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Nineteen sad holidays

I'm sure you've already heard about this:

Nineteen US soldiers have been killed in an explosion at a US military base in Mosul, making it the worst single incident for the US military in Iraq.

I was going to use this post to rage, yet again, against Bush's myopic war in Iraq. I was going to decry the utter hubris, the stupidity of it all. But I just can't right now. All I can think of are the nineteen American families whose holidays will now be laden with sadness, and the 1300 other American families who already are missing a loved one, and one of my best friends, somewhere in harm's way.

Dammit. Sort of makes the whole "War on Christmas" brouhaha seem pretty silly, huh?

Monday, December 20, 2004

"Having an Effect"

Bush says Iraq Bombers 'Are Having an Effect':

In a sobering assessment of the Iraq war, President Bush acknowledged Monday that Americans' resolve has been shaken by grisly scenes of death and destruction and he pointedly criticized the performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi troops. "No question about it," he said. "The bombers are having an effect."






You think?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

"It's a cultural war...an attack on Christ."

This article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, printed yesterday in the LA Times, offers perspective on the current controversy over the "secularization" of Christmas:

This year, as Christmas season swung into gear, Pastor Patrick Wooden's followers fanned out to shopping malls across Raleigh to deliver a muscular message of holiday cheer: As Christian shoppers, they would like to be greeted with the phrase "Merry Christmas" -- not a bland "Happy Holidays" -- and stores that failed to do so would risk losing their business.

Doesn't sound like "holiday cheer" to me...

Emboldened by their victories in November's elections, conservative Christians nationwide have converged around the topic of Christmas, contending that secularists and nonbelievers have tried to obliterate the holiday's religious meaning.

Personally, I think corporations have much more to do with this than Godless liberals do.

"Our position is, if they want the gold, frankincense and myrrh, they should acknowledge the birth of the child," said Wooden, pastor of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ. Conservative Americans feel ready to push back against what they deem "the secularists or the humanists or the elitists" who dominate popular culture, said the Rev. Mark Creech..."It's a cultural war. We are in the thick of it," Creech said. "It's not so much an attack on us. It's an attack on Christ."

Yes, here's where the persecution complex comes in:

Fresh off the fierce debate over same-sex marriage, which he opposes, condemnation from the left does not trouble him. On the contrary, he said: "It seems to me the greater the persecution, the stronger the church." "There's one group of people who get bullied all the time, and that's Christians"...

Right now, conservatives control everything - The White House, Congress, and soon, the Supreme Court, in large part due to the fundie vote. Notice the language: Christianity must be "acknowledged," or else, because it is under "attack!" Give me a break. Thankfully, there are some who have historical understanding of the issue:

Throughout history, religious people have fretted over the holiday's secular aspects, said Penne Restad, a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "Christmas in America: A History"...In pre-colonial days, English authorities looked on the holiday as a riot of drunkenness and hooliganism. American Puritans rejected it completely, preferring to get up and go to work...Not until the 1820s and '30s, with the holiday "getting rowdier and rowdier and more destructive," did Americans redefine it as a safe and private family time...Karal Ann Marling, author of "Merry Christmas! Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday," called complaints about secularization "complete and utter bunk...If you think Christmas meant the baby Jesus in the past, it didn't"...

I'm sure all of this would be dismissed as liberal propaganda by those like Wooden and Creech. Never let reality get in the way of a good narrative!

A major shift took place in the 1990s, when corporations became sensitive to complaints of customers on both ends of the political spectrum, said Russell Sway, international president of the Institute of Store Planners, an Atlanta-based association of design and merchandising specialists.

But I thought it was the ACLU and their buddies! I mean, do fundies actually think that it would be a victory to have Christmas and religious imagery pushed into malls across America? Wouldn't that be, well, a bit tacky? Isn't one's religious faith too sacred to be placed on an equal footing with Sponge Bob?

One more related thought: I watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" recently for the first time in a few years. I was struck by three things: First, the overtly religious theme, which makes it unique among Christmas specials. Second, the anti-commercialization message. Can you imagine what would happen if a new Christmas special pushed the same concept? Maybe it would be called "Wal-Mart Sucks, Charlie Brown!" It would be probably denounced by rightwingers as "socialist nonsense." Finally, the special ends with a plea for "peace on earth, goodwill to all men," basically, peace, love, and understanding. It is this beautiful sentiment that is sadly absent from the current debate over the so-called attack on Christmas.

Ending Social Security...

...is the real goal of Bush's "Social Security reform." Hopefully you already know this, but read Talking Points Memo for more, well, talking points. We all know that conservative at work who will stick up for anything Bush says or does; hit 'em with this next time he/she claims that Bush is trying to "save" Social Security.

Next item on the Bush agenda: saving public education by destroying it and saving Iraq by destroying it. Oh, right, already done. Next!

Friday, December 17, 2004

A moderate voice?

Hmmm...Check this out:

Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Bush environmental official, says in an upcoming book that Republican moderates must speak up or the party could move so far to the right that it will lose its influence and strength...The main focus of Whitman's book "It's My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America," is on her desire for moderate Republicans to regain control of the party. The more conservative wing of the party has claimed much credit for Bush's re-election.
"A clear and present danger Republicans face today is that the party will now move so far to the right that it ends up alienating centrist voters and marginalizing itself," Whitman writes in the book...

Of course, this is the same argument used by Democratic centrists to smear MoveOn and others. But I think it works in this case. C'mon, do you really think that the average American's opinions are similar to Radical Cleric Falwell's? I really, really hope not.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Here we go

AP: Emboldened by their Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season..."There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, `Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left"...In California, a group called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas is boycotting Macy's and its corporate parent, Federated Department Stores, accusing them of replacing "Merry Christmas" signs with ones wishing shoppers "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." The organization cites "the recent presidential election showing political correctness is offending millions of Americans."


Read more.

Leavitt alone

Sorry for the bad pun, but I'm not pleased with Bush's pick for HHS Secretary, Michael Leavitt. First, he did a number on the environment as Governor of Utah, and then became head of the EPA! There, he presided over "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests," neither of which lived up to their names. Now he's going to be in charge of our nation's health - Medicare, Medicaid, and a whole lot more. Great.

Leavitt has already said that medical liability reform is a new priority, and it seems that there are a few conflicts of interest:

Before becoming governor, he was chief operating officer of the Leavitt Group, a family insurance firm in which he maintains an investment worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to a financial disclosure report he filed in 2003. The company owns 100 independent insurance agencies that sell supplemental Medicare policies, among other insurance products...Michael Leavitt also has small stakes in pharmaceutical makers Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co., and in medical equipment maker Medtronic Inc.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, "We're confident that Gov. Leavitt will take the necessary steps to avoid any conflicts of interest."

If you have to take steps to avoid something, that means the potential for it exists, right? I hope you're not surprised by all of this, because I'm not.

Monday, December 13, 2004

SinclairAction

Media Matters has led the creation of SinclairAction, a website that monitors and protests Sinclair Broadcasting. If you remember, Sinclair is the broadcasting group that aired "A POW's Story: Politics, Pressure, and the Media" and whose right-wing bias is well documented. I will be adding SinclairAction to my links soon; check them out.

There's a Sinclair station in my town, and I actually watched "A POW's Story." It put on a pretense of objectivity, but its anti-Kerry bias was evident. I hear so much about liberal bias in the media, but Sinclair and Fox (as detailed in an earlier post) are so tilted to the right that any liberal bias that may (and that's a big "may") exist in other mainstream media is pale in comparison. Can you picture what a liberal equivalent would be? Maybe something like Whitehouse.org.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Iraq elections in trouble

The Washington Post(registration req'd) reports that all is not well in Mosul as the election draws near:

While President Bush and Iraq's interim leadership insist that the country's first free elections are going to be held on schedule, two days of patrolling Iraq's third-largest city with U.S. forces suggests that the security necessary for that to happen remains a distant goal. U.S. troops come under daily attack from insurgents determined to derail the voting.

Great. I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq from the start, but now the election appears to be the only glimmer of hope of reducing our military presence there.
Bush has repeatedly said that an effective Iraqi security force is essential for stability in the region, but read on:

Meanwhile, fledgling Iraqi security forces -- meant to put a local face on the military presence and win over fearful civilians -- are a shambles...Staff Sgt. Dustin Holcomb, 25, of Loma Rica, Calif., said, "They are our biggest liability," referring to the Iraqi National Guardsmen. Another soldier grumbled, "These guys are awful"...In the past month, more than 160 bodies have been discovered in and around Mosul, the commercial and cultural heart of northern Iraq. Many of them are believed to be the mutilated remains of U.S.-trained Iraqi National Guardsmen, an often tough if unskilled force struggling to fight alongside U.S. troops...U.S. military officials say only several hundred U.S.-trained police officers remain in this city of 1.2 million people after the force largely dissolved in the face of insurgent attacks a month ago. Ideally, U.S. officials say, 4,000 to 5,000 police officers will be on the force by election day. But they acknowledge that they will be lucky to have 1,200, stationed in a series of desolate compounds manned now by squads of U.S. soldiers.

Ouch. After reading this article and others like it, I have to admit a grudging respect for the Iraqi National Guardsmen. No matter how I feel about the war, these men are doing what they feel will help their country, against intimidating odds. I also get the feeling that the following will happen: First, the elections will somehow be pushed through, with much unfortunate bloodshed on both sides, even though many Iraqis (like those in Mosul) may not get to participate. Next, Bush will turn over much of the authority in Iraq to these poor, untrained, under-equipped Guardsmen so that he can turn his attention to the next Grand Overseas Adventure. Finally, Iraq becomes even more of a mess, possibly descending into civil war. And Bush can say, "Not my fault!"

I really hope I'm wrong.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Evidence that abstinence-only works?

This news release claims to show that abstinence-only is the way to go:

According to one of the reports, "Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2002" fewer teens are having sex. Declines were particularly large among males age 15-19. That correlates with the finding that the majority of teens reported receiving formal instruction on how to refuse sexual advances. The report also found that adolescents who chose to engage in sexual activity did so at older ages compared with a similar 1995 review..."It's hard to argue with numbers. Abstinence education is reaching kids where they're at and helping them to make healthy choices for their futures," said Leslee J. Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. "Kids want the truth. Contraception educators have been lying to them for decades, saying that sex outside of marriage can be casual and safe. That's just not true and kids have learned it the hard way, by watching their friends get pregnant or contract an STD. They want something better. That's why they're choosing abstinence."

Now, I'm not trying to say that teens shouldn't be taught that they can refuse sexual advances, or even the benefits of doing so. In fact, it's a good idea, as long as it's coupled with frank, truthful discussion of birth control options. Think back to your adolescent days. Many teenagers have sex; they've been doing so since the dawn of time, and it's not because some rotten teacher mentioned condoms in class. The problem is, most "abstinence educators" are actually in favor of abstinence-only education. Check out Abstinence Clearinghouse, the group behind the news release. They seem to put on a moderate face, but they're fundies and wingnuts to the core. Here's a sampling of the people on their Advisory Council: Peter Brandt of Focus on the Family, Heather E. Cirmo from the Family Research Council, and Beverly LaHaye (wife of fundie Tim LaHaye) of Concerned Women for America. Are you surprised that Bush is pushing more funding for abstinence-only education?

Oh, and the logic in the news release is flawed. Correlation does not equal causation.






Fairly Unbalanced

Fox News is still falsely reporting that a California school district banned the Declaration of Independence because it mentions God (courtesy of Media Matters):

Between November 24 and December 7, the Cupertino case has been falsely reported on seven occasions on FOX News primetime programs, numerous times during FOX News daytime programming, as well as on FOX Broadcasting Network's FOX News Sunday. Hannity & Colmes planned a December 8 live broadcast from Cupertino; a promo for that show asserted that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence had been "banned" by a California school that is "erasing God."

Wow. One mistake, okay, but as Bush himself once said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee...that says, fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me...you can't get fooled again!"

I honestly feel bad for those who exclusively rely on Fox News. Many have called for liberals to buy their own network to get the word out; this sounds great to me. For now, I guess we have The Daily Show.

A quick one, while the interrogator's away

I ran across this at The Smoking Gun:

Weeks after the disclosure of the abuse of detainees at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, Department of Defense officials reported continuing brutalization of Iraqi insurgents at the hands of military interrogators, according to a just released memo. When Defense Intelligence Agency officials objected to the treatment, they were allegedly threatened and told to shut up by the interrogators, wrote DIA chief Lowell E. Jacoby in a June 25 memo to Stephen Cambone, the Pentagon's under secretary of defense for intelligence...the DIA workers reported seeing a Special Operations interrogator "punch a prisoner in the face to the point the individual needed medical attention." After a DIA worker took photos of the injured Iraqi, the images were confiscated by his superior...

The actual document is on display with the article; see for yourself. This goes to show that an air of secrecy surrounds the treatment of prisoners in "the war on terror." It also notes that the ACLU helped to make the document public. As if I needed another reason to love those guys!

The God Squad

Bush finally found a cause worth defending: The Ten Commandments!

The Bush administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to allow Ten Commandments displays on government property, adding a federal view on a major church-state case that justices will deal with early next year..."Reproductions and representations of the Ten Commandments have been commonly employed across the country to symbolize both the rule of law itself, as well as the role of religion in the development of American law," Clement wrote.
Clement said the displays are important in educating people "about the nation's history and celebrating its heritage."

I'm thinking it's more about this:

Bob Jones III, president of the fundamentalist college that bears his name, has told President Bush he should use his electoral mandate to appoint conservative judges and approve legislation "defined by biblical norm.' "You have been given a mandate. ... Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ,'' said the letter, dated Nov. 3.

The fundies got Bush elected, and now it's payback time. Here's my prediction: before too long, Bush will speak out in favor of the Ten Commandments and organized prayer in schools. Think I'm wrong? Here's a hint of what's to come:

A high school principal apologized Monday for reading a poem called "The New School Prayer" over the school's intercom, which brought complaints from some parents who said it violated the principle of separation of church and state.

Click here for the text of "The New School Prayer." This is what we're up against - if we're not with 'em, we're against 'em...hey, sounds familiar! Please tell me I'm being paranoid. Please.

Mario Cuomo has a few thoughts on the general subject of church and state that reflect my opinions on the matter. Let me know what you think.









Thursday, December 09, 2004

And now, the news...

A few items in today's news caught my eye.

First, Dean's the man:

Howard Dean, with an eye on leading the Democratic Party in the wake of widespread election losses, said Wednesday that Democrats must campaign on their convictions and not give into the temptation to behave like Republicans..."I think it's time for us to start framing the debate. We have to learn to punch our ways off the ropes"... Dean also told reporters that anyone who becomes DNC chairman should be ruled out as a candidate for president in 2008.

The DNC is the perfect place for Dean to lead; he might not be the right person to run for office, but he can agitate the opposition and rally the faithful. We need him behind the wheel!

Next, Bush has nothing better to do than talk about baseball:

President Bush called on Major League Baseball on Wednesday to take "strong steps" to confront the use of steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing substances by players... Drug use "diminishes the integrity of sports," Bush's spokesman said..."Professional baseball players are people our children look up to. Players who use drugs undermine the efforts of parents and coaches to send the right message to our children."

When I think of people who are sending the wrong message to kids, Barry Bonds isn't at the top of the list. Look, I know that steroid use is destructive. But don't Bush and McCain have anything more important on the agenda? Oh well, I guess it's preferable to invading third-world nations, restricting women's rights, and promoting faulty educational ideas (see previous posts), right?



Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Bush: Friend of the Troops?

The President got to play dress-up today at his latest photo-op, creating more cognitive dissonance than one man should be capable of:

"The time of war is a time of sacrifice, especially for our military families," Bush said, wearing a tan military jacket with epaulets. "I urge every American to find some way to thank our military and to help out the military family down the street." Read more.

Will someone please tell me how Bush is a friend of the military? By hiding out in the Champagne Unit during Vietnam? By sending them to fight in an illegal, immoral war? By cutting veterans' health care? By conducting a "back door draft," as detailed in an earlier post? I could go on, but my last post was a little long. If anyone can show me something concrete that the Bush administration has done to help the military and their families, let me know.

BTW, I have friends and acquaintances in the military, and I can't wait for them to be home safe and sound.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My Adventures In Whackoland

I've spent a lot of time on various blogs, mostly liberal ones, reading up on the events of the day and gathering perspective. I sometimes post comments, and other times I just lurk in the shadows, listening. (scary, huh?) One institution of the blogosphere is the "troll," that peculiar creature that likes to engage the enemy on its own turf. Even though I find the rightwing trolls annoying, I must admit a bit of twisted admiration; at least they're giving it a shot, and against formidable odds at that.

So I decided to experiment with trolldom. I'd find a suitable conservative site and have at it, throwing caution and good sense to the wind! (cue the dramatic music)

After looking around, I found this site, Four Right Wing Wackos. I checked out the site, and it's pretty much what you'd expect: delusions of persecution ("Resources for Embattled Conservatives"), jingoism (the flag and the Pledge of allegiance in the corner), and stereotypes of liberals (we hate the military but are in love with the French and the UN). But it was when I decided to comment on a post criticizing the United Church of Christ's TV ad, the one turned down by NBC and CBS, that their true colors showed.

Below is an excerpt of the comments posted, mine and theirs:

Homosexuality IS a sin biblically therefore cant be accepted by any christian demonination that followes the old and new testament.

However ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Therefore only an UNREPENTED practicing homosexual should be excluded from any church. The same should be for adulterers, drug addicts pedophiles, beastiality etc.
exmarine1 | Email | 12.02.04 - 7:30 pm | #

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Which churches are actually barring homosexuals from attending services? All I've heard about is restrictions on who occupies the pulpit and who can get married.
Murel Bailey | Email | 12.03.04 - 10:15 am | #

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I am not commenting on the issue of homosexuality and religion/Jesus/The Church.

I posted the links because I feel the ad was inappropriate. I think the UCC could have promoted the fact that they are inclusive *without* the disrespect shown to other churches. The ad features white men turning away ethnic minorities, as well as homosexuals. The implication that "Any Church, USA" is bigoted and racist is insulting.

That's my objection with the ad. I'm not upset with the ad due to doctrinal issues, unless you count "don't lie".
Joanne | Email | Homepage | 12.03.04 - 10:51 am | #

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You just don't get it. We all know that almost any church will not turn gays away (they don't wear pink triangles, last time I checked). But will they encounter a welcoming atmosphere inside those church walls? One where they won't be made to feel evil and wretched for the way they were born (YES, born). One where they will be treated as equals? I'm guessing that at many churches, they won't. But they will at the UCC. The commercial uses a metaphor to convey this message - not literal enough for you? Don't like it? Tough, deal with it. There's a lot worse material on TV .
Scooter Blue Homepage | 12.04.04 - 5:21 pm | #

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No, scooter, *you* don't get it. I'm not commenting on or debating the issue of homosexuality and organized Christian worship.

The commercial goes far beyond asserting that "Any Church, USA" isn't welcoming to homosexuals. The commercial is clearly geared to depict the church in general as bigoted and racist.

I attend and support and adore my liberal denomination, thank you.
Joanne | Email | Homepage | 12.05.04 - 1:13 am | #

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Some would find certain churches bigoted because they don't offer gays and some others complete equality. I'm not sure about the "racist" part; you don't see much overt racism in most churches nowadays. But my point in the post above still stands.
I'm not saying that you're wrong to feel unnerved by the ad. Everytime I hear the Cialis ad that reminds us that "four-hour erections may occur, see a doctor immediately" I feel unnerved myself. But many other networks are airing the UCC ad, and sorry for repeating myself, but my main point still stands. Now I don't go to your church, but answer me this: would openly gay people be welcomed with open arms? Would they be given the same opportunities as others in the church? I wonder. I know for a fact they wouldn't at many churches, and that's the whole point of the ad, and that's why I think it's cowardly of NBC and CBS to not show the ad.
Scooter Blue | Homepage | 12.05.04 - 12:58 pm | #

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"Some would find certain churches bigoted because they don't offer gays and some others complete equality. "

It appears that you would be one of those "some", "YES born".

Question! If "gays" are "born that way", by their very nature" they should "breed" themselves out of existence. Why haven't they? Hence the lack of utilizaton of the phrase "Homosexuality runs in my family"

OH! Wait! Perhaps it isn't as "YES born" as scooty would like us to believe. Why would Christian (at least I'm assuming that is where you're directing your "bigot" lable) churches disregard their own teachings (that homosexual acts are a sin) and elevate (what they consider) an unrepentent sinner to a position of leadership or authority within their church?
The Valiant Elephant | Email | Homepage | 12.05.04 - 4:43 pm | #

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Wow. Some of the comments on here are too much. Let me play em back for you:
"Therefore only an UNREPENTED practicing homosexual should be excluded from any church. The same should be for adulterers, drug addicts pedophiles, beastiality etc."

"Question! If "gays" are "born that way", by their very nature" they should "breed" themselves out of existence. Why haven't they? Hence the lack of utilizaton of the phrase "Homosexuality runs in my family'"
- shows absolutely no understanding of genetics BTW

and the best...
"It appears that you would be one of those "some", "YES born"."

You guys just confirmed every stereotype of a fundie conservative -
ignorant and bigoted. And assuming that I am gay because I defended them? Astounding AND wrong.

I'm not lumping Happy Homeschooler in with this. I just disagree with her. Later.
Scooter Blue| Homepage | 12.05.04 - 10:55 pm | #


Ok, so that's pretty much it. You can read it yourself on their site. I actually got schooled later on the genetics thing by The Valiant Elephant - what I meant was that gays don't choose their orientation, from what I've gathered. Even if they did, though, the discrimination is still wrong, IMHO.

Did you feel the seething hatred? That Joanne/Happy Homeschooler isn't that bad, though. But you know what they say about the company you keep...

Oh well, I still think I held my own pretty well. However, I think I'll stick mostly to my own blog, thank you very much.



Monday, December 06, 2004

Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act?

I haven't read anything else about
this yet, but it blew my socks off.

Excerpt: "Some groups are assembling materials and a panel of doctors to help ease the passage of the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, which was introduced by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and co-sponsored by 26 other senators, including Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa....Brownback's legislation would require a doctor performing an abortion 20 weeks after conception to notify the pregnant woman that her fetus could feel pain. If she goes forward with the abortion, the doctor then would be required to offer anesthesia for the fetus."

Wha-at? This sounds suspiciously like a back-door attack on Roe v Wade to me. More "moral ammo" for the fundie conservatives! And good 'ol Santorum, of course, is in the middle of the whole thing.

There's more hilarity, kids: "A number of Republican lawmakers also are primed to reintroduce legislation that would suspend for six months the use of Mifepristone, an abortion drug also known as RU-486, while directing the Government Accountability Office to investigate the process used by the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug during President Bill Clinton's tenure."

However, there's an upside, as I've reported in other posts: "An Associated Press-Ipsos Public Affairs poll of 1,000 adults conducted last month reported that 59 percent said President Bush should nominate a Supreme Court justice who would uphold Roe v. Wade; 31 percent said he should select a justice who would overturn the 1973 ruling, and 10 percent said they were unsure. "

Hold on, we're in for a wild ride. For now, check out
NARAL and join up, volunteer, sign some petitions if you want to do something - it's a start.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

"I don't want you to die," she told her father

A little hometown news, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
Army Guard shipping 2,400 from Pennsylvania to Iraq
Sweeping call-up thought to be the largest in state since World War II:http://www.postgazette.com/pg/04339/421732.stm


The quote in the title of this post comes from the article. Another quote: "We have soldiers coming from everywhere," he said. "We're taking a lot of schoolteachers. We're taking a lot of business professionals. We're taking a lot of federal-type employees."

Sure, these people "knew what they were signing up for." But would you really call this an "all-volunteer Army?"

More abstinence only silliness

I posted recently about the Bush administration's push for abstinence education, even though the efficacy of such programs is under serious doubt. Here's more from Media Matters: http://mediamatters.org/items/200412030007

Keep sticking your heads in the sand, people...you make this too easy.