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CBS and NBC are just f*cking wrong

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This ad aired locally a little while back. A friend of mine saw it.
The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial."

The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ (UCC) seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."

"It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial," says the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president. "What's going on here?"

Negotiations between network officials and the church's representatives broke down today (Nov. 30), the day before the ad campaign begins airing nationwide on a combination of broadcast and cable networks. The ad has been accepted and will air on a number of networks, including ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others.

The debut 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (The ad can be viewed online at <>.)

The networks are really scaring me now. Are gays just a safe-to-discriminate against group? Is the problem that the commercial includes gays with other minorities (singles, seniors, people of color) as the aggrieved parties in the ad? This makes no sense -- except if they expect a right-wing boycott campaign if they ran it.

Their fingers are in the conventional-wisdom wind.

Thanks to John at AmericaBlog for the pointer.

"Torture? What torture?" -- Pentagon Disputes Red Cross Criticism

Lo and behold, the shining beacon of peace, prosperity and democracy believes that the indefinite confinement of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is is A-OK. (AP):
A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that Red Cross officials have "made their view known" that the indefinite detention of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, amounts to torture.

Lawrence Di Rita, spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said, "It's their point of view," but it is not shared by the Bush administration.

He noted that the administration believes it has the legal right to detain such suspects until the end of the war on terrorism because they are unlawful combatants not subject to the protections of the Geneva conventions.

The New York Times reported Monday that the International Committee of the Red Cross has accused the American military of using techniques "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo.

Red Cross inspectors who visited the site in June said interrogators used "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions" to break the will of prisoners, according to the article on the Times Web site.

The Red Cross accusations came in a report to lawyers at the White House, Pentagon and State Department and to the commander of the Guantanamo facility, the Times said.

Di Rita said he could not comment on specific Red Cross reports because they are provided to the U.S. government on condition they be kept confidential.

He added that he was unaware of any Red Cross accusations that specific interrogation techniques or treatment of detainees amount to torture.

Until the end of the war on terrorism? What the hell does that mean?

House Blend meets Big Pharma -- contribute your questions

In related Big Pharma news, I've been asked to give a talk to pharmaceutical sales reps tomorrow AM. I've done this several times before; my endocrinologist asks me to participate in a training workshop that helps reps understand what it's like to be a patient that uses their products. I make sure it is a humbling experience as I am a big critic of these companies, especially in how they pimp to doctors, spending incredible marketing budgets that ultimately are passed on to American consumers in what your prescriptions cost to fill. I am not sure which company I'll be in front of, but it's likely Novartis. Interestingly, the company is developing another arthritis drug in the same class as Vioxx, but apparently they are "withdrawing the application for the EU Mutual Recognition Procedure for 'Prexige' (lumiracoxib) to await the outcome of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) review of all selective COX-2 inhibitors."

A call to action -- what questions should I ask these reps?

I'll mostly be asked questions about my perspective as a patient, but I'll be able to get in a couple of questions that will make them squirm. Post your suggestions. I'll report back how it goes...

Scientist says FDA called journal to block Vioxx article

What the heck is going on here? It's been discovered that the FDA strongarmed a journal to stop important safety information about Merck's Vioxx from being published. Read the whole USA Today article. It is a disturbing chronology of events that shows a system spinning out of control -- the patients are the last thing on Big Pharma's mind, and the government is on their side.
Just days before a medical journal was to publish a Food and Drug Administration-sponsored study that raised concerns about the safety of the arthritis drug Vioxx, an FDA official took the unusual step of calling the editor to raise questions about the findings' scientific integrity, suggests e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.

Lead author David Graham says the call was part of an effort to block publication of his research, an analysis of a database of 1.4 million Kaiser Permanente members showing that those who took Vioxx were more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those who took Celebrex, Vioxx's rival. Graham had reported his study in August at an epidemiology meeting in France, but publication in a medical journal would have exposed it to a wider audience.

...Graham says he pulled his paper at the last minute because he feared for his job.

Another instant replay: Ridge overboard

Tom Ridge resigns, according to CNN. I ran this earlier in the month, but it appeared to be premature. It's real now, lol.

Scary evangelicals to Bush: payback time

Fundies said hellfire awaits if Bush doesn't get on the morality sh*t pronto.

It sends a chill down my spine every time I see comments like this, because it is difficult to believe these people are serious. What's worse is that it's clear they cannot be reasoned with, since their positions are faith-based and not reality-based. And the hate-filled faith they preach is something entirely foreign to me. Anyone who says it isn't intolerant needs to take a look at how these folks frame their faith in their own words -- their God is a damn angry, impatient God. I may be a fallen Episcopalian, but I was never taught anything like this. (ABC).
Among some conservative Christians, there is a belief that President Bush received a "moral mandate" to win the recent presidential election — and they are calling on him to act on their agenda now.

"I believe Our Lord elected our president and I believe he put him in office and it is my prayer that he will sustain him in office," said one woman at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Another was asked if she believed that God intervened in the election. "Absolutely," she said.

"Values" voters delivered for the president, and the president must now deliver for them — especially in the courts, said Gary Cass, head of a grassroots political organization affiliated with Coral Ridge, called the Center for Reclaiming America.

"It's about the next 40 years and how the courts are going to affect the world in which my children and grandchildren are going to be raised in," he said.

Cass wants a U.S. Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage. "Do you want to take your children to a National League baseball game for instance and have homosexuals showing affection to one another? I don't want my kids to see that," he said.

...By one measure, conservative Christians comprised 12 percent of the electorate this year — the same as four years ago. But they see themselves as a crucial piece of the president's political base.

They believe that if their agenda is not implemented quickly — if their concerns are not addressed in a timely fashion — God will be angry.

One leading evangelist recently warned, "God's patience runs out."

Dr. James Kennedy delivers sermons at Coral Ridge which are broadcast to 3 million homes. He said he knows of no timetable for God's wrath, but wants results fast.

MSNBC - 10,000 more to Iraq for the elections

Instant replay: yet another suicide car bomber detonates next to a military convoy, this time near Baghdad airport, where attacks occur daily (Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters).

Jim Miklaszewski is reporting that the Pentagon is scraping together another 10,000 troops to secure the polling places. That's probably because the insurgents are either killing the "trained" Iraqi police or scaring them away, so the U.S. is going to have to pick up the slack. Of course, the military is having to tap forces not usually deployed for this type of work, and they are being sent into a land of chaos.
Faced with the real threat of terrorist attacks during Iraqi elections next month, U.S. military officials tell NBC News the Pentagon is now planning to raise the number of American troops in Iraq by 10,000-11,000 to provide additional security. That's twice the number of needed reinforcements first anticipated and will temporarily raise the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 150,000.

That means soldiers from the Army's 1st Infantry and 1st Cavalry and some U.S. Marines who were scheduled to leave Iraq this month may be ordered to stay longer, while soldiers from the 3rd Infantry and 82nd Airborne could be ordered into Iraq earlier than scheduled.

Even then, it would seem impossible to protect all 9,000 polling places in Iraq from terrorist attack.

"We could probably see 10, 20, 30, 50 people killed on Election Day in Iraq, including some American forces, some Iraqi security forces and some innocent voters," says Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.

NAACP's Mfume Steps Down; IRS targets organization's tax-exempt status

Kweisi Mfume.

The AP story about NAACP President Kweisi Mfume stepping down caught my eye; after all, he's been head of the organization for nine years and shepherded it through some tough times. The more interesting aspect of the article is actually about halfway down...
Last month, the organization's chairman, Julian Bond, announced that its tax-exempt status is under review by the government in an investigation he contends stems from a speech he gave that criticized President Bush. Bond said IRS agents were investigating his keynote address July 11 at the NAACP's annual convention in Philadelphia.

For an organization to keep its tax-exempt status, "leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official organizational functions," according to an Oct. 8 letter to the NAACP from the IRS office in Louisville, Ky.

Did anyone hear about this? I know Bush blew off the NAACP when he was on the campaign trail when the crybaby said the organization was hostile to him. Since his feelings were hurt, I guess he needed to sic the IRS on their asses for payback. Nice.

To be fair, Jerry Falwell's (god, do I have to bring up this bastard's name again?) use of the his tax-exempt Jerry Falwell Ministries' web site for political action got him in hot water with the IRS too; he made the stupid mistake of actually endorsing GWB on the web site. Think he'd know to not to run afoul of the IRS after having done so in 1993 for politicking.

Another queer victory: colleges can bar Army recruiters because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

House Blend reader Paul passed along this good news for queer folks...The NYT reports that colleges can bar Army recruiters without fear of losing federal funds because of the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policies. The policy is in conflict with most universities' anti-discrimination guidelines.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, found that educational institutions have a First Amendment right to keep military recruiters off their campuses to protest the Defense Department policy of excluding gays from military service.

The 2-to-1 decision relied in large part on a decision in 2000 by the United States Supreme Court to allow the Boy Scouts to exclude gay scoutmasters. Just as the Scouts have a First Amendment right to bar gays, the appeals court said, law schools may prohibit groups that they consider discriminatory.

The 1995 law at issue in the decision, the Solomon Amendment, barred the federal government from disbursing money to colleges and universities that obstruct campus recruiting by the military. As amended and interpreted over the years, the law prohibits disbursements to all parts of a university, including its physics department and medical school, if any of its units, like its law school, make military recruiting even a little more difficult.

Billions of dollars are at stake, and no university has been willing to defy the government. Indeed, several law schools that are members of one of the groups that sued to block the law, the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, have not been publicly identified. Among the institutions willing to be named are the law schools of New York University and George Washington University. The law faculties of Stanford, Georgetown and several other law schools are also in the group.

...In the meantime, colleges and universities are free to limit military recruiters' access to their campuses, said E. Joshua Rosenkranz, who represents the law schools in the suit.

"Now every academic institution in the country is free to follow their consciences and their nondiscrimination policies," Mr. Rosenkranz said. "Enlightened institutions have a First Amendment right to exclude bigots. In a free society, the government cannot co-opt private institutions to issue the government's message."

Alabama holds recount on segregation language repeal

It only failed by few votes, but is should have passed in a landslide. Alabamans, please explain to me why the prospect of paying more in taxes (in a notoriously low-tax state) for all kids to get an equal education was the sticking point? (LA Times):
Election officials began a statewide recount Monday after a measure to remove segregation-era language from the Alabama Constitution was apparently rejected narrowly by the voters.

The amendment failed by 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast. State law calls for a recount when a ballot measure fails by less than one-half of a percentage point.

The proposed amendment would delete unenforced sections of the constitution that mandate racially segregated schools and allow poll taxes, once used to discourage blacks from voting.

Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the recount would only increase damage to a state still struggling with its image as a civil rights battleground.

"The perception that is going out after that vote is setting us back 40 or 50 years," said Steele, a former state senator from Tuscaloosa.

The recount may not be completed until next week.

Election officials in most counties began feeding paper ballots by hand through electronic scanners to get a new count. Paper jams and malfunctions caused by crinkled ballots slowed the effort.

Former state Republican Party Chairman Elbert Peters argued it was not lingering racism, but fears the measure would lead to court-ordered tax increases for public schools that led to its defeat.

Alabama's constitution mandated separate schools "for white and colored children" and imposed poll taxes. After the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision banning school segregation, Alabama amended its constitution to say there was no constitutional right to an education at public expense.

Edwards Doing "Farewell for Now" tour in NC

Not that this was going to be a surprise, but John Edwards is probably going to try a presidential run again in 2008, even though he played coy during his speech in Asheville Monday. He's doing a three-day state tour, starting off in Asheville, a politically left-of-center city in the mountains, and in the banking center city of Charlotte. All the signs are there for another run, although I have to wonder what he'll be doing the next four years to keep a high enough profile. He's also building a house next door in Chapel Hill, moving there from more conservative Raleigh. The Chapel Hill/Carrboro public schools are great there for his small kids. The town is one of the most liberal ones in the state (Carrboro elected the first out gay mayor in the state). You know you are doing something right when Jesse Helms referred to CH as "the Sodom of the South." (AP Photo/Chuck Burton).

The government can't Wired links

Monday, November 29, 2004

If you're an information junkie like me, the Internet is just a can research just about with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. However, I didn't know about these cool links posted in an article today on Wired . It really is a treasure trove of links to government-related information, some that Bushies wouldn't want you to see.
For starters, there's Google's little-known government specific search engine. Those proficient with crafting search terms can find Attorney General John Ashcroft's office number, gee-whiz nanotechnology movies and NASA's Microgravity Man comic strip. One can even find homeland security alerts about truck bombs (PDF) and the intelligence needs of the FBI.

Another trove of information is George Washington University's National Security Archive, which contains thousands of documents acquired through patient Freedom of Information Act requests. And there's CoolGov, a blog devoted to ferreting out quirky tidbits such as videos of airline crashes.

Those interested in the nitty-gritty of how and why the government hides information can subscribe to Stephen Aftergood's Secrecy News listserv, which is part of his work as the director of Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.

Aftergood, who publishes a couple times a week, has built up an archive of previously unpublished reports created for Congress and information about the CIA's ongoing opposition to the publication of its budget.

Chris Hoofnagle, a lawyer for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (which is known for its prowess with Freedom of Information Act requests), calls Aftergood's work a must-read for anyone interested in a "nuanced interpretation of government information policy." Aftergood uses FOIA requests only sparingly though, calling them cumbersome, relying instead on contacts and tips.

Russ Kick keeps information alive at The Memory Hole, where he archives documents pulled from government websites. He is famous for successfully using FOIA to obtain and publish photos of American soldiers' coffins being unloaded at the Dover Air Force Base.

John Young, a New York City architect, has been running the encyclopedic Cryptome since 1996, when he was inspired by the Cypherpunk mailing list to start learning about dual-use government technology.

Didn't you think this was possible? Botulism cases may be related to Botox

Personally, I've made it to 41 without plastic surgery, peels or any of that sh*t, I don't see why anyone would want to have needles of poison into your face to paralyze the wrinkles away. It never fails that somehow, something bad happens when folks trust their health and well-being to the (for-profit) medical vanity industry, like exploding, leaking breast implants and this. (AP):
A couple who underwent Botox injections last week were hospitalized with botulism poisoning, and health officials were attempting to determine whether the injections were to blame.

The man and woman, both in their 50s, were in critical condition Sunday at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and were breathing through ventilators, said Dr. Charles Schallop, a neurologist treating them. Hospital officials did not immediately return a call Monday to update their condition.

In New Jersey, Department of Health spokeswoman Gretchen Michael said health officials are monitoring two other patients there who might have botulism. Officials are working with the Florida Department of Health, although no link between the cases has been confirmed, Michael said.

"Botulism is a rare and potentially fatal paralytic illness that affects muscles, eyes, limbs and respiratory tract. Botox is a derivative of the botulism toxin that is used as a muscle relaxant and an anti-wrinkle drug."

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil - Chimpy style

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Nears Record. (AP):
At least 133 U.S. troops have died in Iraq so far this month — only the second time it has topped 100 in any month. The deadliest month was last April when 135 U.S. troops died as the insurgency flared in Sunni-dominated Fallujah, where dozens of U.S. troops died this month.

The Pentagon's official death toll for Iraq stood at 1,251 on Monday, but that did not include two soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad and another killed in a vehicle accident. When the month began, the death toll stood at 1,121, the Pentagon said.

Can we stampede the Merck offices and ask for their heads?

This is crap -- the craven, corrupt corporate heads of the makers of Vioxx are planning for their golden parachutes as the sh*t hits the fan. NYT -- Merck to Offer Big Bonuses to Executives if It Is Taken Over.
With its stock down sharply and its ability to thrive as an independent company uncertain, the drug giant Merck has adopted a plan that will give its top executives a chance for big bonuses if the company is taken over.

Merck has been reeling since it withdrew its arthritis treatment Vioxx from the market on Sept. 30 after acknowledging that the drug can increase the risks of heart attacks. Today, Merck said in a federal securities filing that its board had decided to give its 230 most senior managers the opportunity for a one-time payment of up to three years of salary and bonus if another company buys Merck - or merely buys more than 20 percent of its shares. Any executive who was fired or resigned for good cause would receive the payment.

Merck has said that it is committed to remaining independent, and a spokeswoman repeated that position today. But the plan, which the board adopted last Tuesday, is the first formal acknowledgment that Merck is now so weakened that it may be vulnerable to a takeover.

Many other big companies have so-called golden parachute plans to protect top tiers of executives in the event of takeovers and to keep them from leaving if a takeover is looming. But experts on corporate governance say Merck's decision to adopt such a plan was particularly ill-timed. Critics say the board is rewarding its top executives for its problems with Vioxx and the company's inability to bring new drugs to market.

"It looks terrible, period," said Tom Dewey, a lawyer who has consulted for pharmaceutical companies and their boards.

Merck did not disclose how much the executive payment plan might cost. But analysts said that even if the payments total hundreds of millions of dollars - as would be likely, given the number of people potentially covered by the plan - the amount would probably not be enough to discourage other drug companies from considering a takeover.

It's a great gay day in America...wingnuts take note

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Gay Marriage Law. What a beautiful headline. Once Bush gets his grubby hands on this court, don't expect to see any like this again. (AP):
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to the only state that allows gay marriages, declining to hear an appeal aimed at overturning the Massachusetts law that prompted a national debate on the legality and morality of same-sex unions.

...The decision ended the legal fight over a 4-3 Massachusetts high court ruling last November giving gay couples the right to marry. But both sides say the U.S. Supreme Court's unwillingness to intervene means there will be more fights in courts and legislatures around the country.

"Activist judges are seeking to redefine marriage for the rest of society, and the people's voice is not being heard in this process," said presidential spokesman Scott McClellan. "That's why the president is committed to moving forward with Congress on a constitutional amendment that would protect the sanctity of marriage."

Lambda and other gay-rights groups were heartened that the Supreme Court let the ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court stand. In the past year, at least 3,000 gay Massachusetts couples have wed.

"The bottom line is nobody is being harmed by the Massachusetts state law treating all couples equally," said David Buckel, Lambda's legal marriage project director.

...Massachusetts voters may have a chance next year to change the state constitution to bar gay marriages but allow same-sex couples to form civil unions that make them eligible for the same benefits as married couples.

Legal analysts said the Supreme Court's decision to stay out of the battle wasn't surprising, because the lawsuit made a rarely used claim that activist Massachusetts judges had violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of a republican form of government.

Legal challenges elsewhere in state and federal courts — including whether other states must recognize Massachusetts' gay marriages — are likely as the nation grapples with the issue, said Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who sat on the Massachusetts high court from 1995-99.

Also: AmericaBlog has an action item on board. Rob in Baltimore has a list of all the Massachusetts State Representatives and State Senators that signed onto the rejected lawsuit. Massachusetts folks need to let those *sswipes know what bigots they are, and that folks will vote accordingly when they are up for re-election.

Another suicide bomber takes out 12, mostly Iraqi police; body count rises

U.S. Marines evacuate a colleague wounded in a mortar attack on a base south of Baghdad November 29, 2004. Nine Marines were wounded as they took part in operations forming part of the Marines' six-day-old Operation Plymouth Rock, intended to thwart Sunni Muslim insurgents, and launched as a follow-up to the U.S. assault on the rebel city of Falluja, upstream to the northwest. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters)

At this rate, the insurgents are going to eliminate all the "trained" forces that Bush plans to take over this mess when we pull out. And you know he wants to do that ASAP once elections are held. The carnage that fits into one story is staggering. I post a couple of these a week and it is still shocking how out of cpntrol the situation is. (NYT):
A suicide bomber blew up his car outside a police station this morning in the western city of Ramadi, killing 12 people, most of them police officers, officials at the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

In Baghdad, two American soldiers were killed and three were wounded when their convoy struck a roadside bomb, military officials said.

Violence has been on the rise for weeks in Ramadi, the provincial capital 50 miles west of Baghdad, with American and Iraqi forces there battling an increasingly lethal insurgency. Military officials believe some insurgents may have taken refuge there shortly before the American-led offensive to reclaim Falluja, 30 miles to the east of the capital.

Attacks on Iraqi police officers have been increasing throughout Iraq and especially in the northern city of Mosul, where dozens have been killed in recent weeks. Military officials believe the killings may be part of a loosely coordinated campaign to terrorize and destabilize the Iraqi security forces before national elections are held in January.

In Manila, the Philippine government said today that it was willing to negotiate with Iraqi militants who have been holding a Filipino accountant hostage for almost a month.

...Four Iraqi civilians were killed Sunday afternoon when a car bomb exploded 60 miles north of here in Samarra, and another was wounded, military officials said. In raids to the north, in Mosul, American and Iraqi troops detained 43 people suspected of being insurgents, military officials said.

South of Baghdad, where American and Iraqi forces are conducting an offensive against insurgents, two marines were killed Sunday by a bomb placed along the road near Latafiya, in northern Babil Province, officials said.

In Baghdad, two soldiers were wounded Sunday morning when a car bomb exploded near their convoy on the road leading to the airport, military officials said. A vehicle was damaged and the road, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was temporarily closed, the officials said.

On a day of relative calm in Baghdad, Iraqi political figures continued to react to an effort by leading Sunni Arabs to delay national and provincial elections, now scheduled for Jan. 30, by six months.

...An Islamic Web site posted a statement in which the network of the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for killing 17 Iraqi national guardsmen and an American soldier in Mosul during the past few days, The Associated Press reported. It was impossible to verify the authenticity of the claim. Military intelligence officials have said they believe that Mr. Zarqawi may be in Mosul, having been forced out of Falluja by the American-led military offensive there.

Please god, let this be true -- Rummy's neck on chopping block

The Times Online reports the calls by conservatices for Rummy's head are growing. It cannot come fast enough. This man has overseen one of the greatest military policy blunders/tragedies in recent memory, and he did it in arrogant style to boot.
In a seemingly innocuous Thanksgiving message to readers last week, William Kristol, the neoconservative editor of The Weekly Standard magazine, slipped in a surprise demand for Rumsfeld’s dismissal.

“What remains to be done is to announce new leadership for the department of defence,” wrote Kristol. “This, surely, would be an important opportunity for a strong, Bush-doctrine-supporting outsider, someone who of course would be a team player, but someone who could also work with the military and broaden support for the president’s policy.”

Boiled down, this meant: almost anybody but Rumsfeld, whose performance has not always matched his swagger. His failure to install enough troops on the ground after last year’s invasion of Iraq has upset American generals and alienated supporters of the war.

“I am allergic to Rumsfeld,” said Ralph Peters, a former lieutenant-colonel and robust media champion of the war on terror. “We did a great thing in Iraq, but we did it very badly.

He is an extremely talented man but he has the tragic flaw of hubris. His arrogance is unbearable. My friends in uniform just hate him.”

The calls for Rumsfeld to be dismissed have intensified since the departure was announced of his cabinet rival, Colin Powell, the secretary of state. With the liberal-leaning Powell being the first to go, conservatives no longer see the need to hold back their opinions.

The defence secretary’s job security has not been enhanced by allegations that he lobbied to scupper the intelligence bill in Congress last week against President George W Bush’s wishes.

All young Republicans on campus -- did you know Bush wants to track students?

Wonder if these folks know about this plan?

Hope all the young Republicans on campuses around the country are happy, especially if you've ever been put in a paddy wagon after an all-night kegger sweep or busted for more "innocent fun." BushCo wants to put your personal information, including your SSN in a federal database so they can track you. All done of course, with convenience in mind to judge the "quality" of universities. Privacy hounds are probably howling now. (NYT):
A proposal by the federal government to create a vast new database of enrollment records on all college and university students is raising concerns that the move will erode the privacy rights of students.

Until now, universities have provided individual student information to the federal government only in connection with federally financed student aid. Otherwise, colleges and universities submit information about overall enrollment, graduation, prices and financial aid without identifying particular students.

For the first time, however, colleges and universities would have to give the government data on all students individually, whether or not they received financial assistance, with their Social Security numbers.

The bid arises from efforts in Congress and elsewhere to extend the growing emphasis on school accountability in elementary and high schools to postsecondary education. Supporters say that government oversight of individual student data will make it easier for taxpayers and policy makers to judge the quality of colleges and universities through more reliable statistics on graduation, transfers and retention.

The change would also allow federal officials to track individual students as they journey through the higher education system. In recent years, increasing numbers of students have been attending more than one university, dropping out or taking longer than the traditional four years to graduate. Current reporting practices cannot capture such trends; a mobile student is recorded as a new student at each institution.

Under the proposal, the National Center for Education Statistics at the Department of Education would receive, analyze and guard the data. In making its case for the change, the center points to a history of working with student information and says it has never been forced to share it with law enforcement or other agencies. The proposal, first reported in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, is supported by the American Council on Education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, but opposed by other education organizations, like the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

A department overview of the proposal insisted that data would not be shared with other agencies and that outsiders could not gain access. By law, the summary says in capitals, "Information about individuals may NEVER leave N.C.E.S.," the National Center for Education Statistics.

But Jasmine L. Harris, legislative director at the United States Student Association, an advocacy group for students, said that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the balance between privacy and the public interest had been shifting. "We're in a different time now, a very different climate," Ms. Harris said. "There's the huge possibility that the database could be misused, and there are no protections for student privacy."

...For colleges to hand over information on individual students, Congress would have to create an exemption to existing federal privacy laws, said Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

"The concept that you enter a federal registry by the act of enrolling in a college in this country is frightening to us," Ms. Flanagan said.

She said that officials from some states had already announced they would like to match the data against prison records. In states where such data is already collected from public universities, she added, there has been pressure to check the school data on students against housing records, driver's licenses and employment records.

I'm sure the Patriot Act will be used to swap this information with many other agencies, all in the name of fighting "the war on terror." This should put a nice chill on campus activism. Hope you feel safer as you sleep in your dorms...

Less shopping at Stall-mart

Looks like Wal-Mart had a rough weekend. Despite all the predictions of a big post-Thanksgiving book, sales trickled for the giant, anti-union, sex-discriminating retailer. Is this more of the Bush economy at work? Is the upturn in his own mind?
Worries about the sustainability of the US economic recovery were stoked on Sunday after Wal-Mart, the discount retailer that is a bellwether for the country's retail sector, announced that sales grew by only 0.7 per cent in the year to November.

The world's largest retailer had estimated growth of 2 to 4 per cent just 10 days ago. But Wal-Mart revised its estimates down on Saturday evening after disappointing sales on “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving so called because it is traditionally the time retailers move into profit for the year. It is an indicator of spending for the holiday season, when a quarter of annual retail sales are rung up.

Wal-Mart said sales had fallen “below plan” in the last week of November and sales growth was down on the 2.8 per cent annual rate it had reported for October.

The weakness suffered by Wal-Mart, if repeated elsewhere, would add to concerns about the durability of the US economic upturn. Widespread reluctance by consumers to maintain their free and easy spending habits would slow the economy sharply.

In recent years, and in the recession of 2001, US consumers defied predictions that their appetite for new goods would diminish. A slowdown of consumer spending would add to recent international dollar-related concerns about the prospects for exports to the US.

Sounds like Russert almost had to keep them away from each other's throats

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Meet the Press had a real clash of the religious Right and Left today. There's a good review of the dust-up in a NYT article.
The sometimes heated discussion, which focused on abortion and gay marriage, played out on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority; the Rev. Al Sharpton, the minister-politician who ran in the Democratic primaries; Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine; and Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Commission.

On the Right: Falwell and Land

On the Left: Wallis and Sharpton

The question of a moral divide has come more sharply into focus since the presidential election earlier this month. In an Election Day poll 22 percent of voters named "moral values" as the issues most important to them, and 80 percent of those people voted for President Bush. Critics, however, have argued that the phrase "moral values" is too ambiguous, covering everything from abortion to sexually explicit material on television.

Mr. Wallis said that he had voted for Senator John Kerry in the presidential election and that the values debate should not further divide the United States or its political parties.

"God is not a Republican or a Democrat," Mr. Wallis said. "That should be obvious."

At the heart of this debate is the separation between church and state in America.

Mr. Sharpton, a former Democratic candidate for president, said: "We're talking about whether we have the right to impose what we believe on people that may disagree with us. Even God gives you a choice of heaven and hell. We don't have a right to tell people we're going to force them to live in a way that we want them to live and, therefore, they're going to heaven."

My personal favorite moment was Richard Land trying to explain the Southern Baptist perspective on marriage...
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

We can try to find common ground, but there are differences, and I want to see just how profound they are. The Southern Baptist Convention in 1998 passed this statement on the family: "...A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband... She...has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household..."

And, Reverend Land, you went on to explain it this way: "If a husband does not want his wife to work outside the home, then she should not work outside the home." Is that your vision of America?

DR. LAND: It's my vision for Christian families. I don't think that the law has anything to do with it. That was a statement about the theological belief of Southern Baptists. And, you know, George Will had a real great answer for that when somebody asked him, "Where'd they get this stuff?" And he pulled out the Bible and turned to Ephesians, chapter five: "He got--we got it from Ephesians, chapter five." We almost needed to footnote the Apostle Paul when he said that "Husbands should love their wives the way Christ loves the church," which means husbands will always put their wives' needs above their own. And they are to be the head of their home, which means that they're responsible. It's a servant leadership role.

And my wife, who you met, has a PhD in marriage and family therapy and has worked outside the home since our youngest child was in kindergarten. That was our mutual choice. We're not against women working outside the home unless the husband believes that it's not the right choice. Now, remember, this is a husband who loves his wife the way Christ loves the church and is going to always put his wife's needs above his own. But I would certainly not want to make that a matter of legislation when you-- that's about marriage. It's about what goes on in a marriage and about what we believe is the ideal for the family.

MR. RUSSERT: But you understand that a good Christian woman could disagree with her husband and want to work outside the home?
DR. LAND: Sure.
REV. SHARPTON: Does your Bible have Esther and Ruth in it?
DR. LAND: Sure. Of course.
REV. SHARPTON: I mean, do you have the whole Bible?
DR. LAND: I do.
REV. WALLIS: My wife is an ordained...
DR. LAND: And I would vote for a woman as president.
REV. WALLIS: ...minister, a priest.
REV. SHARPTON: As long as her husband said she could go to work.
DR. LAND: Especially if it were Margaret Thatcher.

Somehow, I don't think women such as Margaret Thatcher would have ever risen to power if Richard Land had been her husband.

Oh, and Falwell was given the opportunity to retract his statement blaming gays and feminists for 9/11. Of course, he didn't.
MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask Reverend Falwell about something and broaden the conversation. We talked about Iraq and the war on terrorism. Something that you said two days after September 11, when you were with Reverend Pat Robertson: "I fear... that [September 11th] is only the beginning. ...If, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve ... I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle ... all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say `you helped this happen.'"

DR. FALWELL: And I went on to say in a sleeping church, a lethargic church likewise is responsible. I do believe, as Ben Franklin said, that God rules in the affairs of men and of nations. I believe that when God blesses a nation, as he's blessed America for a lot of reasons, things happen that don't happen other places. I believe when we defy the Lord, I think we pay a price for it. So I do believe in the sovereignty of God.

What the hell happened to the face of the Ukraine opposition leader?

Look at these two pictures of Viktor Yushchenko, the opposition leader in the Ukraine. It's hard to believe this is the same man, and the pictures were taken only four months apart. The AP reports that there are all sort of theories about what has happened to Yushchenko.
As Ukraine's popular pro-Western opposition leader claimed victory Tuesday in hotly contested presidential elections, the mystery surrounding an appearance-altering illness that twice prompted him to check into a Vienna hospital persisted.

Yushchenko accused the Ukrainian authorities of poisoning him. His detractors suggested he'd eaten some bad sushi.

Adding to the intrigue, the Austrian doctors who treated him have asked foreign experts to help determine if his symptoms may have been caused by toxins found in biological weapons.

Medical experts said they may never know for sure what befell Yushchenko.

But the illness, whatever it was, has dramatically changed his appearance since he first sought treatment at Vienna's private Rudolfinerhaus clinic on September 10.

Known for his ruggedly handsome, almost movie star looks, Yushchenko's complexion is now pockmarked. His face is haggard, swollen and partially paralyzed. One eye often tears up.

Doctors at Rudolfinerhaus declined to comment Tuesday. By the time Yushchenko checked out of the clinic last month after returning for follow-up treatment, physicians said they could neither prove nor rule out that he had been poisoned.

Dr. Nikolai Korpan, who oversaw Yushchenko's treatment in Vienna, said the cause of his illness remained "totally open.''

Doctors were unable to confirm suspicions of poisoning because Yushchenko first checked into the clinic four days after the symptoms appeared -- too late for tests to show if poisoning had occurred, Korpan said.

At Rudolfinerhaus, Yushchenko underwent a week of intensive treatment for several illnesses, including acute pancreatitis, a viral skin disease and nerve paralysis on the left side of his face, Korpan said.

Clinic director Michael Zimpfer said doctors were unable to explain some of Yushchenko's symptoms, particularly his strong backaches.

Hocus Pocus Social Security funding

If we ran our personal finances the way Bush wants to run the government, we'd be in jail. (Reuters):
Facing record budget deficits, the Bush administration probably will turn to short-term government borrowing to help finance its plan to add personal retirement accounts to Social Security, officials said yesterday.

President Bush's economic advisers have been analyzing financing options for more than a year in preparation for Bush's second-term push to overhaul Social Security. Officials say no final decisions have been made.

Bush's advisers contend that a short-term increase in borrowing probably will be necessary to finance the transition to private accounts. They say that this increase is economically feasible and that the long-term cost of doing nothing would be far greater.

Although the nation's debt load would increase initially, it would fall as the changes are phased in, advocates say. ''In talking about moving some of those costs forward to make some reform to the system, it may ultimately involve some borrowing in the short-term,' said Chad Kolton, spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

An analysis this year by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that tapping the bond markets to pay for private accounts would increase the nation's debt-to-GDP ratio by 23.6 percentage points by 2036. The GDP is the gross domestic product.

Under this strategy, the debt held by the public would increase by as much as $4.7 trillion.

...Bush opposes raising taxes or requiring additional contributions from workers.

The White House had once hoped that budget surpluses, projected in 2000 at $5.6 trillion over 10 years, would fund the transition period. But the surpluses have vanished.

The federal budget deficit hit a record $412 billion in the 2004 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. And the Congressional Budget Office has projected $2.3 trillion in accumulated deficits over the next decade.

Bleh...feeling sick today

As the House Blend is a one-woman show, there may be lighter posting today as I am under the weather. I did qualify for (and received) a flu shot, but damn, there are so many polluted people out there. I was looking forward to biking several more miles on the American Tobacco Trail today too. Ugh.

Bush admin has its head in the sand over sex in prison and public health

A NYT editorial by Brent Staples, The Federal Government Gets Real About Sex Behind Bars, shows the incredible negligence of our government in terms of slowing the meteoric rise in HIV in poor minority communities, specifically in black women. I wrote an earlier Blend post on this related to the Cheney/Edwards debate. Neither candidate was prepared for Gwen Ifill's question about this and gave woefully inadequate answers. This is a complex problem and it's a disgrace these issues cannot be discussed openly -- it's affecting public health.

One of the main theories for the rapid rise in the spread of HIV is the fact that so many men in prison are engaging in high-risk behavior. Sharing needles is obviously one factor, but the government just doesn't want to deal with the fact that men behind bars are engaging in consensual high-risk same-sex encounters, getting infected, and then coming back out and infecting women on the outside.
Thirteen million Americans have been convicted of felonies and spent time in prison. The prison system now releases an astonishing 650,000 people each year - more than the population of Boston or Washington. In city after city, newly released felons return to a handful of neighborhoods where many households have some prison connection.

The so-called prison ZIP codes have more in common than large populations of felons or children who grow up visiting their mothers and fathers in jail. These neighborhoods are also public health disaster areas and epicenters of blood borne diseases like hepatitis C and AIDS. Infection rates in these areas are many times higher than in neighborhoods short distances away.

No one can say how many infections begin in prison. But the proportion could be high given the enormous concentrations of disease behind bars and the risky behaviors that inmates commonly practice. They carve tattoos in themselves using contaminated tools borrowed from other inmates. They inject themselves with drugs using dirty syringes.

The most common source of infection could easily be risky, unprotected sex, which, despite denials by prison officials, is clearly a regular occurrence behind bars. A recent study of male inmates in several prisons, for example, found that more than 40 percent had participated in sexual encounters with another man. Most of these inmates, by the way, viewed themselves as heterosexual and planned to resume sex with women once they got out of prison.

[and most of those men are not going to share information about their prison sexual experiences with those women -- Pam]

...But as of now, condoms are banned or unavailable in 48 of 50 state prison systems, on the theory that distributing them would condone illicit sex. When confronted with public health data from abroad, American prison officials have blithely suggested that all the fuss is overblown - because there is little sex to speak of in jail.

Congress seemed comfortable with this fiction until 2001, when the Human Rights Watch organization issued a grisly report titled "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons." The study suggested that rape accompanied by horrific violence was a regular aspect of American prison life. Based partly on the accounts of more than 200 prisoners in nearly 40 states, the report told of prison officials who stood by while sexual predators raped fellow inmates and sometimes sold them - as sex slaves - to gangs and other inmates.

The study led directly to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which sailed through Congress and was signed into law by President Bush. The law, which requires the Justice Department to collect data on prison rape and develop a national strategy for combating it, provided a much needed mechanism for weeding out sexual predators behind bars.

But this law is, at its heart, a public health law. It provides for grants that could be used to underwrite public health initiatives - including sorely needed studies of disease transmission in the criminal justice system. The law has already resulted in fruitful discussions about expanding disease testing and prevention behind bars.

Lawmakers find it easy to discuss prison sex in the context of rape because everyone agrees that sexual assault is horrible and needs to be rooted out. The conversation about consensual sex among inmates will be trickier to handle. Even so, the law will inevitably force prison officials to confront all the varieties of sexual contact that public health researchers have known about for a long time.

The commission created by Congress to oversee the new law is just getting started. But it has already brought some honesty to the historically dishonest conversation about sexual behavior in prison. Commission members who have spent time in the public health world, for example, are well aware that people who participate in sex behind bars do so for a variety of reasons. Some barter their bodies - and risk disease - in exchange for protection from marauding gangs. Others perform sex acts in exchange for necessities like soap, food and access to telephone calls.

Not all sex in prison, however, can be attributed to rape or bartering. Recent research suggests that some of it is consensual among lonely inmates who experience same-sex encounters for the first time - and for many of them, the only time - while in prison.

As long as the government wants to continue to pretend the same-sex behavior isn't happening and doesn't promote the use of condoms, they are failing everyone in terms of this public health crisis. It's part of the Bush administration's aversion to all things sexual, and it's killing people.

I'm still laughing at this one. "Mr. Star Jones" ... a FOD? The Southern Voice Online all but says that, based on his bachelor party. I don't watch "The View,", but the public has been subjected to the over-the-top wedding plans that Ms. Jones, uh Mrs. Reynolds had for some time now. Is this guy on the DL? Well, he really can't be if there is tongue-wagging like this in the gay press...
We already knew that Mr. STAR JONES, nee AL REYNOLDS, had plenty of friends of Dorothy from the super gay Halloween party he attended last month (dressed as a male stripper, no less). But his bachelor party, apparently, was equally enthralling.

The Friday before his Nov. 13 nuptials to Jones, Reynolds hosted the festivities at New York’s Time Hotel. The theme was “Roman Baths” and we all know Romans and bathhouses are notorious for their staunch … heterosexuality.

Anyway, a “spy” at the party told New York Post gossip column Page Six, “You had to sign a confidentiality agreement to get in and then you were sent to the penthouse, where they made you get naked.”

It gets better.

At the party, there were about 60 men sitting around in bathrobes when 10 topless female dancers came out.

“They were butt-ugly except for two of them who simulated lesbian sex on the bed. Ten people left immediately,” the spy says, not noting whether they left because the dancers were ugly or because they were expecting male dancers.

Now it looks like Reynolds will be forced to stay out of the bathhouse for the next two years. According to Page Six, if the marriage dissolves before then, the couples’ pre-nup states that he won’t see any of Jones’s fortune.

Ken Mehlman speaks: on "Realignment" of U.S. Politics

The WP has an article speculating on whether 2004 represents a year of "political realignment" for the country to the GOP for the next several election cycles. There's disagreement about this theory, but of course we get the best of all possible spin below, by someone quite familiar to those surfing the Blend.

Writer John Harris taps RNC-head-to-be Ken Mehlman for his political wisdom:
"Something fundamental and significant happened in this election that creates an opportunity for" the Republicans to remake national politics over the long term, said Ken Mehlman, who managed Bush's reelection campaign and was tapped by the president after the election to be the next chairman of the Republican National Committee. "The Republican Party is in a stronger position today than at any time since the Great Depression."

...The post-election realignment debate is in some ways an echo of the debate among political analysts during the campaign about whether independent-minded "swing voters" still hold the key to electoral success, or whether politics has entered a new phase that places a greater premium on "the base" -- building party loyalty, and ensuring that these activists vote in higher percentages than the opposition loyalists. Bush and Mehlman pursued a strategy that put an emphasis on expanding the base, and it paid off.

..."I'm not seeing that enduring majority," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. "The Republicans have won a series of close elections, but independents are not with them. I just don't see how you can have a realignment if you have swing voters turning against you."

Larry M. Bartels of Princeton University agreed, saying that Bush's victory was less likely evidence of a new realignment than the "last gasp" of an old one that long ago sent the South and culturally conservative whites into the GOP column.

Among political scholars, there is an entire academic sub-specialty to the argument about realignments. The concept developed to describe long-term shifts, such as the labor-driven, urban-dominated coalition that Franklin D. Roosevelt assembled during the New Deal, and helped Democrats dominate national politics for several decades. More recently, the dramatic migration of Southern states from solidly Democratic to overwhelmingly Republican in presidential and most congressional elections is an oft-cited example of realignment.

A preeminent scholar of realignment is Walter Dean Burnham at the University of Texas at Austin, the author 33 years ago of "Critical Elections and the Mainsprings of American Politics." He was out of the office and did not return messages during the week before Thanksgiving, but he recently told the Weekly Standard magazine that long-term trends favoring Republicans among culturally conservative and hawkish voters came to full flower in 2004, and he predicted, "If Republicans keep playing the religious card along with the terrorism card, this could last a long time."

I don't think there is a permanent shift going on here; it is a strategy built on people's fears and ignorance, and thus it has proven to be effective. Dems need to learn how to frame an argument successfully to counter the spoon-fed, easily digestible pablum the GOP dispenses to the voters. The GOP/Mehlman figured out how to appeal to the base emotions and psychological vulnerabilities of people extremely well. Dems assumed the vast majority of voters really do think out the issues and vote with logic in mind. Survey after survey has proven this not to be the case. Simplistic negative ads do work, repeating a message over and over ad nauseum works -- as long as it is consistent, it clearly doesn't have to be true. The Swift Boat crap proved that. The race was close; it really shouldn't have been, given Bush's litany of failures during his term. But knew who to hire to run a successful, if not ethical, campaign.

Headline of the Day: Poor Table Manners Lead to Stabbings

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Some amount of family conflict is the norm at most holiday gatherings, but this turned out more than a difference of opinion (and it was a need for medication). (Newsday):
A Thanksgiving dinner turned violent when a man with a history of mental illness allegedly stabbed two relatives with a carving knife after they criticized his table manners.

Police said the fight broke out Thursday when the relatives reprimanded Frank Palacios for picking at the turkey with his fingers, instead of slicing off pieces with a knife.

Palacios then stabbed 18-year-old cousin Gonzalo Ocasio Jr. in the chest, back and right side, authorities said. His father, Gonzalo Ocasio, 49, suffered a stab wound in his arm. Both men are expected to survive.

...A court forensic psychologist who conducted a preliminary evaluation of Palacios told a judge that the suspect reported a history of hospitalizations for schizophrenia. Palacios told the court he was prescribed psychiatric medications after his most recent hospitalization in March, but stopped taking them in June. Palacios also told the psychologist he had been experiencing hallucinations and delusions.

The religious Left is trying to play catch-up with the fundies

It's about time. I was wondering when you'd start hearing some rumbles from progressive religious figures about framing "values" so that the issues are not owned by the Right. It's going to be a long, uphill battle. (Boston Globe):
Liberal religious figures, concerned about broad moral issues such as world poverty as well as the perception that ''moral values" helped win the election for President Bush, are stepping up their organizational efforts to support left-leaning candidates and their causes to prepare for the 2006 midterms and the 2008 presidential election.

For some, the goal is to recruit Democratic candidates who, like Bush, seem comfortable talking about their faith and its role in making public policy. But for others, the aim is to challenge Republicans who -- opponents say -- favor narrowing debate about religious values and ethics to hot-button issues such as abortion, while ignoring church views on the death penalty or broader moral questions such as responding to the world AIDS epidemic and a US economy increasingly reliant on low-wage labor from abroad.

...The National Association of Evangelicals, which promotes a conservative Christian agenda, represents institutions with about 30 million members but, by some estimates, the number of conservative Christians could be as high as 80 million. The Roman Catholic Church claims more than 60 million members, and the National Council of Churches, on the liberal end of the spectrum, represents institutions with about 50 million members.

While estimates of the number of conservative Christians may vary, the rise of the Christian right has been clear.

Rev. Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches USA and a former Democratic congressman.

''The religious right has been effectively organizing for 35 years, and as I always say, it took Moses 40 years to lead his people out of the wilderness, and it's going to take us a few years more to catch up," said the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA and a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania.

Edgar is part of a group that holds a conference call each Thursday to discuss the liberal response to national and world affairs, a telephonic gathering convened last year in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq.

''While we didn't stop the war, we began to talk and work cooperatively together," he said.

Among as many as 40 people on the line any Thursday are Jim Wallis, who convened Call to Renewal, a faith-based response to world poverty; the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance; the Rev. James A. Forbes Jr., pastor of the Riverside Church in New York; and Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund.

...Keith Jennings, president and founder of the African-American Human Rights Foundation in Washington, said Democrats also should not be afraid to challenge Republicans on moral questions.

''Why is it that abortion is a litmus test and not the death penalty?" he said to applause earlier this month at a postelection round-table discussion organized by Gaddy and the Interfaith Alliance. Jennings cites the Roman Catholic ''prolife" tradition, which includes opposition to both abortion and the death penalty, arguing that some of the arguments on faith put forth by the right are incongruous.

Edgar, Wallis, and the others also believe people on the left should force a political discussion on poverty, Iraq and US foreign policy, and the environment, all of which could lead to positions supported by biblical references.

Edgar favors an appeal to what he terms ''the middle church" -- neither the liberals on the left nor the conservatives on the right -- the same segment that eventually was won over by the push for civil rights during the 1960s.

Freeperland take on the 20/20 Shepard story

Freeper alert. Please read no further if you want to keep your blood pressure down. I've been in Freeperland to see the take on the 20/20 episode. Some are more concerned that the two killers are meth heads and ready to give the lethal injection themselves, others can't get past the homosexuality of Shepard. Anyway, here are some of the actual comments there:
To: foolscap
I always objected to the way the media lionized Matthew Shepard as "crucified." They tried to draw parallels between a man cruising for gay sex who ran into thugs and Jesus Christ.
2 posted on 11/26/2004 4:44:19 AM PST by SkyPilot

To: SkyPilot
They write plays about Jesus being a sodomite. What do you expect? Homos to face reality? They can't even see what they WALLOW in like PIGS. So of course they'll deify Sheppard.
20 posted on 11/26/2004 6:47:05 AM PST by SirLurkedalot

To: foolscap
Anyone who believes that Matthew Shepard didn't die for your sins must be a homophobic Nazi. Doubt me? Discuss this story in NYC....
21 posted on 11/26/2004 6:49:27 AM PST by Great Prophet Zarquon

To: foolscap
Understandable. Looking at video of those two guys after their arrest, they didn't strike me as that much far removed from flamer status as the victim.
25 posted on 11/26/2004 7:13:00 AM PST by bullseye876 ('Hope allah's wearin' Kevlar (tm))

To: foolscap
Yes --- Shepard apparently was just a gay hooker --- trading drugs for sex. Female prostitutes also don't usually live very long and die from violence -- why should gay prostitutes believe that lifestyle should be made completely safe for them?
27 posted on 11/26/2004 8:02:54 AM PST by FITZ

Rehnquist out through the holidays -- get a bobblehead substitute?

Perhaps this Rehnquist can sit in.

Well it looks like Rehnquist is sick enough to to stay out through the next session. Shall we start a Rehnquist clock countdown?

You think the Patriot Act was bad...

I am all about fighting crime, having lived in NYC during the 70s when the city was at the apex of lawlessness. That '77 blackout was amazingly frightening -- you had mass looting and complete anarchy. However, Californians must have been smoking something when they passed Proposition 69 which says the DNA of anyone arrested, even if they are not ultimately charged with a felony, will be put into a database. That is a 100% guarantee that some innocent people are going to get trapped in this system if arrest is the sole criteria.

The Bush Justice Department loves this sort of thing -- wouldn't this add to our "safety" against the war on terror?. And, sadly, there will be mass support by the "sheeple" for this despite the privacy warning lights flashing here. The altruistic goal of this measure (which can be used to clear someone of a crime as well) will ultimately be perverted by people in power. (Wired):
Californians recently approved a measure to create one of the nation's most aggressive criminal DNA databases, but civil liberties groups and privacy advocates are fighting to get it scaled back.

Law enforcement officials say Proposition 69 will be a boon to solving a growing backlog of violent crime cases, but it also raises the possibility of innocent people getting trapped in the vast database along with murderers and rapists and having limited ability to get their file expunged.

The new law, officially called the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act, is expected to add the genetic data of 1 million people to California's databank over the five years, making it the largest state-run DNA databank in the country.

The law, approved by 62 percent of the state's voters in the Nov. 2 election, allows police to take DNA samples from every adult and juvenile convicted of a felony and from all adults arrested for specific felonies such as sexual assault and murder. In 2009, the law will be broadened to enable police to gather DNA data from anyone arrested for any felony -- ranging from residential burglary to murder -- whether or not they are ever charged or convicted with a crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union is planning to file a lawsuit challenging the act before the end of the year, but a spokeswoman from the Northern California chapter of the ACLU would not discuss details of that case, saying the group is still working out the details.

Attempts to legally block DNA databases in other states have not succeeded. In Wisconsin, for example, a
filed earlier this year by prisoners who argued that giving DNA samples violated their 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure was tossed out by a federal appeals court.

Critics say collecting DNA of mere suspects subverts the notion that people are innocent until proven guilty. While 35 other states require DNA samples to be taken from convicted felons, Louisiana is the only other state that requires testing of people arrested for a felony.

Under the new law, the state government has no obligation to remove the files of people who are arrested and later cleared of crimes. To expunge their genetic fingerprint from the state's forensic library, Californians will have to petition first to the trial court presiding the case, then the local district attorney's office and the state Department of Justice. And there's no guarantee that an innocent citizen will prevail: The court can deny the removal request and that decision can not be appealed.

The law was considered so draconian that the editorial boards over 30 California newspapers opposed it, along with a solid array of privacy and political groups.

Even California Attorney General Bill Lockyer voiced doubts about the measure's extensive reach.

"I personally wouldn't have put arrests in the measure," Lockyer said on San Francisco's public radio station, KQED, in October. He also said that he would have made it simpler for people to get their information off the files.

"I think that many Californians were not fully informed about the full scope of the initiative," said Maya Harris, a staff attorney for the Northern California chapter of the ACLU. "The proponents of the proposition misled people into believing it only applied to people that had been convicted of a crime."

Prop. 69 was backed by all California's major law enforcement agencies, including police departments and D.A. offices. Officials point to the success of Virginia's DNA database, which includes nonviolent felons. Virginia has 216,000 DNA profiles in its forensic library which have solved 2,000 cases, according to the Virginia Attorney General's Office. In comparison, California's 274,000 files -- limited to violent felons -- have solved a little over a 1,000 cases.

Proponents of DNA databases argue that innocent people have no reason to fear giving their genetic information to authorities solely for identification purposes, but misidentification through DNA testing is not unheard of.

Tight security measures would make a similar fiascos nearly impossible at California's state crime lab, a California DOJ spokeswoman implied.

"Only three people are allowed to access the databank," said Hallye Jordan.

Do they think we're stupid (well, I guess over 60% of Californian's are at the very least ill-informed)? Of course I believe it will result in more convictions. Of course it will prevent misidentification. That isn't the issue. It's about access and misuse of the DNA records themselves and who gets tossed in the pool. It's because this unerring identifier can and will be handled and seen by human beings that may have more than crime-fighting in mind. Clerical error, mislabeling and downright incompetence usually results when human beings think they've set up an infallible system -- and it is likely to place this information in the hands of the wrong people. But you see how the spin works.

It was a smear -- 20/20 on Matthew Shepard

Friday, November 26, 2004

It was about what I expected. We were treated by 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas spending the first half hour of the program describing the emotionally and physically abusive childhoods of McKinney and Henderson, even to the point of showing how McKinney was an Eagle Scout. It was just meth that made him go out of control, beating Matthew with a 357 Magnum until he was a bloody pulp for the $30 in Shepard's wallet. Henderson comes off as practically an altar boy, that "didn't even touch Matthew" aside from tying up the helpless young man to the fence. I guess that doesn't count. And he made no attempt to call for help because he was afraid of McKinney's meth-fueled fury.

Vargas interviews several people that say McKinney was bisexual, wasn't homophobic and knew Shepard long before that night. McKinney denies having sex with men, or ever having met Shepard prior to the night he killed him. A great deal of time is spent with a specialist describing violence and meth addiction, but not one minute is spent talking to anyone about McKinney's obvious internal conflicts about his sexuality. Also, many of these interviewees that support the theory that McKinney is bisexual have some serious credibility problems of their own -- like having lied or not come forward with information at the time of the murder. After the piece you are left with more questions than answers, but it is clear from the outset that the goal is to "prove" it was not a hate crime, no matter how much of the other information equally muddies the waters.

And, we had Andrew Sullivan, ostensibly as the "official gay voice" of the piece. He didn't add anything substantial, but it was a sorry sight to see him add legitimacy to this carefully edited slam piece. It did the job it intended to do, which was to say "this is not a hate crime" (no matter how many other issues this retelling raises).

Vargas also speculates that Shepard might have been HIV+, depressed and on drugs -- subliminally making it easier for some in the audience to justify that he was already going to die and that this was some kind of mercy killing. Before you think that's preposterous, think again. My brother's girlfriend, a professor at a university in Texas, had to deal with a devoutly religious student that wrote in a paper after viewing "The Laramie Project," that she truly believed that Shepard was a wretched and depraved human being and that what happened to him was a merciful act of God.

There are more like her out there and stories like this just fuel the growing fundamentalist intolerance. It also shows the increasingly sensationalistic and intellectually bankrupt "mainstream journalism" at work.

Earlier posts here, here, and here.

UPDATE (6:30 PM): I've been to Freeperland, and here are some choice comments.

UPDATE 2 (7:40 PM): Here is the statement by from Judy and Dennis Shepard about the show's selective treatment of the "facts".
On November 26, 2004, 20/20 will air a piece that promised 'new information and facts' about Matt's beating and subsequent death. Dennis and I reviewed an advance copy of the show and were dismayed and saddened by the tabloid nature of the show, its lack of serious reporting of facts in evidence, and the amateurish nature of asking leading questions to the people who were interviewed.

I, too, was asked by 20/20 for an interview and agreed to do so to ensure that all of the facts were correctly stated. My only stipulation was that our legal advisor Sean Maloney, Matthew Shepard Foundation Board member and former senior White House staffer, had to be included in the interview to share his legal knowledge and expertise regarding Matthew's murder. He was quite eloquent in stating the facts pertaining to Matt's case, his knowledge of hate crimes in general, and in debunking 20/20's attempt to rewrite history. As you may or may not know, Sean was deleted from the interview entirely. The editing by 20/20 of my interview seems to leave out all of my relevant comments regarding the potential bias of the show and my deliberate restating of the facts of the case clearly ended up on the cutting room floor. My remarks were reduced to a few very personal maternal comments taken out of context to make it appear as if I agreed with 20/20's theories. That couldn't be farther from the truth.

This same subjective editing occurred with Dave O'Malley's interview. Dave, a Captain with the City of Laramie police force at the time, was Laramie's lead investigator in the case and worked in tandem with Rob DeBree, the lead investigator for the Albany County Sheriff's Department, to bring the case to trial and to provide the evidence necessary to convict both Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney. (Both law enforcement officers are in complete agreement with the facts as stated during the trials.)

Dave gave Ms. Vargas a detailed account of the case. He described the elements of hate and gay bias that were found during the extensive investigation and were substantiated in the large body of evidence collected for this case. Dave's comments were severely edited. Perhaps they were left out because he did not give Ms. Vargas the answer(s) she needed to maintain her 'new' theory concerning the murder>. One of the most glaring omissions in the piece was the transcript of Aaron McKinney's in-custody interview which took place a few days after the murder. This occurred before any 'line of defense' had been established by legal counsel for the two defendants. Had that document been included, it would have shown an un-rehearsed and unemotional anti-gay account of the events before, during, and after leaving Matt tied to the fence.

Despite their promotional efforts to the contrary, 20/20 has not presented a 'new' theory. Much of this information was included in a Harpers Magazine cover story in 1999. What is new is the unfortunate downslide of a reputable news magazine show when its highly respected host retires. 20/20 has sacrificed years of professional journalistic ethics and values for a stab at revisionist history ... and ratings.

If Iraq's political leaders say elections should be postponed, where does that leave Shrub's hell-bent election plans?

Yet another car bomb went off today. Leading Iraqi political parties, including the two main Kurdish groups closely allied to the United States, called for elections scheduled for Jan. 30 to be delayed because of Iraq's increasing violence. (Stringer/Iraq/Reuters)

Bush wants these elections at the end of January so he can declare things under Iraqi control ASAP and begin his exit strategy, no matter how many car bombs go off in the streets or rocket-propelled grenades shoot over into the Green Zone. If these Iraqi leaders have any sense, they need to refuse to hold elections until everyone in every city can be assured of the ability to vote without getting killed.
Following a meeting at the Baghdad home of Adnan Pachachi, an influential, moderate Sunni leader and former presidential candidate, 15 political parties and groups signed a petition calling for the election to be put off for up to six months.

"The participants call for elections to be delayed and to be held within six months, allowing for changes in the security situation and completion of necessary arrangements in terms of organization and administration," the petition read.

Three interim government ministers attended the meeting and representatives from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) signed the petition.

A delegate from the Iraqi National Accord, headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, attended but did not sign.

President Bush in Crawford, Texas, said he wanted the vote as scheduled.

"In terms of Iraq, the Iraqi Election Commission has scheduled elections in January, and I would hope they'd go forward in January," Bush said.

...The call for postponement comes amid mounting violence, particularly in Sunni Muslim areas to the north and west of Baghdad, and follows calls from influential Sunni religious and political groups for the poll to be postponed.

British security firm Global Risk Strategies said four of its employees were killed and about 15 wounded in a mortar attack on the heavily defended Green Zone on Thursday.

In recent weeks, the Muslim Clerics' Association, a group of senior Sunni scholars, has called for a boycott of the poll. And the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country's main Sunni party, which also attending the meeting and signed the petition, has said it will boycott the elections if they go ahead as planned.

In the wake of the U.S.-led offensive on the Sunni city of Falluja, and fighting in Sunni-dominant towns such as Samarra, Baquba, Tikrit and areas around Baghdad, the parties argue that there is not enough time to arrange free and fair elections.

A feel-good Turkey Day story: Ellen gives away cruise vacations to families of troops

Ellen DeGeneres, center, joined by actor Tom Hanks, left, during a special taping of 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show's' Thanksgiving episode, appears with military mother Terry Garcia, right, of Long Island, N.Y., at NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2004. During this special Thanksgiving show, in which the studio audience was comprised entirely of family members of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, DeGeneres surprised the audience by giving away cruise vacations for four, courtesy of Celebrity Cruises, along with 5,000 care packages to be sent to Iraq via USO's Operation Care Package Program. (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Chris Polk)

We can't serve in the military, but queer folks can treat the families better than our damn government. Ellen is a peach.

More on the dumbasses that wrecked the local GOP offices

I am all about protesting against the establishment, but this kind of well, "bush-league," behavior accomplishes nothing except to make your argument look stupid. Tar Heel anarchists say vandalism a statement against system (Herald-Sun):
North Carolinians who identify with the anarchist movement say an attack on the state Republican Party headquarters building three days after the general election was a statement against the political system.

Three people were arrested and charged with felony damage. The suspects, who were bailed out of the Wake County Jail after money was raised with an Internet appeal, face a Monday hearing.

Anarchist Steve Roberts, 22, of Winston-Salem, who says he did not take part in the vandalism at GOP headquarters, said destruction of property pales next to the destruction of the human spirit committed by the political structure.

"The system is incredibly flawed, and has been historically," Roberts said. "It is not a product of George W. Bush. It's not a product of the GOP. It's a product of economic interest over human rights interests, of capitalist interests over human interests."

When police arrived at the GOP building on the night of Nov. 5, they found about 20 people in black clothes attacking it. A man who lives on Forest Street, next to the headquarters, discovered two women near his garage shedding black clothes and prevented them from leaving until police arrived.

...Roberts and another anarchist, David Phillips of Charlotte, said the damage was a statement of belief following the Nov. 2 election, in which Bush was re-elected.

"I don't have a moral or ethical problem with breaking windows when entire buildings are being blown up in Fallujah," Roberts said.

According to Roberts, North Carolina anarchists usually work in quiet ways, such as feeding the hungry and organizing against timber interests in western North Carolina.

Phillips said he has found it difficult to go public with his political views because the media oversimplify anarchism by equating it with violence.

[What did I tell you -- dumbasses -- Pam]

"This is a very complex movement," he said. "There are anarchists who are totally pacifist. There are those who won't engage in violent arguments, much less violence."

At least it tells you that we have stupid right- and left-wing behavior here.

This is the homophobic bigot that pushed the Ohio anti-gay marriage amendment -- and he's not stopping at that

Yet another ignorant, self-appointed "moralist" that wants you to live his way or hit the highway. He's a former porn addict. Photo: Lauren Victoria Burke for The NYT.

Remember this guy and others of his ilk. Phil Burress is a name to remember, not only for Ohioans -- we all have to work hard to stop this bastard n-o-w. After Victory, Crusader Against Same-Sex Marriage Thinks Big. (NYT)
The warning call came in December 1995. "Do you folks on the mainland know what is going on here?" a friend from Hawaii asked Phil Burress, an antipornography crusader from the suburbs of Cincinnati.

Mr. Burress confessed that he did not. "They're going to legalize gay marriage here, and it's coming your way," the friend said, referring to a case before the Hawaii Supreme Court dealing with the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Mr. Burress, a self-described former pornography addict, had spent much of the 1990's fighting strip clubs and X-rated bookstores. But here was something he saw as a potentially greater threat to his fundamentalist Christian beliefs and traditional family values: something he called the "gay agenda."

"We saw a stepped program, a plan by gay advocates," Mr. Burress recalled. "It would lead to homosexuality being taught in schools as equal to heterosexuality. And we saw that what they couldn't get from legislatures they would try to get by going to court."

And so Mr. Burress became a Paul Revere for the movement against same-sex marriage, not only sounding warnings across the land but also laying the groundwork for a church-based conservative movement that he hopes will transform Ohio politics for years to come.

Just days after their thundering victories in the fall elections, Mr. Burress and other Christian conservative leaders met in Washington to discuss next year's constitutional amendment battles, which will focus on about 10 states, including Arizona, Florida and Kansas. They hope those fights will be the prelude to their real goal: amending the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, which could take years.

Beyond that, Mr. Burress plans to take his grass-roots movement in Ohio to a new level, using a computer database of 1.5 million voters to build a network of Christian conservative officials, candidates and political advocates.

He envisions holding town-hall-style meetings early next year in Ohio's 88 counties to identify issues, recruit organizers and train volunteers. With a cadre of 15 to 20 leaders in each county, he says he believes religious conservatives can be running school boards, town councils and county prosecutors' offices across the state within a few years.

Kelly J. Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation, a conservative group that is pushing for a marriage amendment in Texas, calls Mr. Burress one of the movement's heroes because he went up against some of Ohio's most powerful Republicans, including Gov. Bob Taft, who opposed the amendment.

Though he strongly supported Mr. Bush's re-election, Mr. Burress says he is furious that powerful Republicans like Governor Taft, Attorney General Jim Petro and Senators George V. Voinovich and Mike DeWine opposed Ohio's marriage amendment. (They asserted that the amendment would harm Ohio businesses by prohibiting employee benefits for domestic partners.)

Mr. Burress attacked those Republicans as "enablers" of what he calls the homosexual agenda, and he has vowed to run candidates against them and anyone else who opposes what he considers pro-family, antiabortion or anti-gay-rights policies.

"I'm not an R or a D," he said. "Both parties are driven by selfishness. They are run by people who are Republican or Democrat because it benefits them or their jobs. Our movement will be built on passion, on values, on fire-in-the-belly morals."

Wake up queer folk and allies. This is war -- the other side is not going to stop and are working night and day. The economic card that the Republican officials played in Ohio was the right tactic, in my opinion, but it wasn't played strongly enough. I think one state that would be receptive to this would be North Carolina. This is a Red state unlike most in that it contributes more in taxes that it takes back. The economic engines that drives this state are the technical, medical and scientific hubs in the Triangle area and the banking and businesses in the Charlotte area. These areas voted blue. The areas that went Red are the rural textile and agricultural areas of the state.

If a Super-DOMA is proposed (again) in a state like NC, it would be economic suicide to pass it; both sides know that if it goes to a popular vote, it would win. The key is to lobby and ally with the universities and businesses with a strong base here, such as Duke, IBM, Nortel, etc. -- all of which have same-sex-equivalent policies that would be wiped away with passage of an amendment such as Ohio's. Mobilized out of the box, they would have a strong influence on state legislators. These NC politicians know who pays the bills in this state, despite the high level of political wingnuts. But we cannot be complacent.

Hope everyone had a good Turkey day

Lots of leftovers. Round 2 today. Posting will be intermittent I think, although I tried to just surf this AM without updating the Blend but I couldn't stop myself, lol. Think I will go and get some fresh scones from Fosters for folks.

It's really drafty in here: U.S. struggles to find troops for Iraq, Afghanistan

Knight Ridder reports that the Pentagon is running out of ideas to keep troop numbers up. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel, having called up as many oldtimers as they possibly could, and extending tours of duty that are stretching currently deployed forces to their limits. As I feared, the NC-based 82nd Airborne is being scoped as fertile territory for new meat. Read the items highlighted in the story; they don't have anything else to try, folks.

Courtesy of AMERICAblog.

I hope all the young Republicans that voted BC04 are now ready to step up and support their president by going into the military; they can be the ones to ensure the draft doesn't return by volunteering.
The Army, which has been hard pressed to find enough soldiers to man the rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, may soon be faced with an urgent request to find another 5,000 to 7,000 troops to increase the number of boots on the ground in Iraq.

Commanders there have been quietly signaling an immediate need for at least that many more soldiers to add to the 138,000 Americans already there. This, they say, is the minimum number needed to allow them to pursue the offensive against the insurgents in the wake of the taking of Fallujah.

Far from breaking the back of the insurgency, the capture of Fallujah only served as a signal for the enemy to launch its own offensive in cities across the Sunni triangle and in Baghdad itself. The fighters and leaders who fled Fallujah before the Americans launched their attack simply moved to other cities and went straight to work sowing havoc.

The daily number of attacks and incidents in Iraq is now running more than 100 per day, or double what it was before the Fallujah offensive began.

...Army planners are looking at a number of temporary stop-gap measures to boost the strength in Iraq during January, including extension of the tours of thousands of soldiers nearing the end of their 12-month combat assignment and speeding up the deployment of the 3rd Mech Infantry Division so more of them arrive before January.

They are also reportedly eyeing the ready brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division - which stands by at Fort Bragg for rapid deployment anywhere in the world in a crisis - as one way to boost temporarily troop strength in Iraq. Those troops, however, are light infantry and do not come equipped with the Bradley fighting vehicles and M1A2 Abrams tanks that are increasingly needed for urban combat in Iraq.

Finding the rest of the troops that commanders want may be difficult. Getting them to Iraq in time and properly equipped to fight in that dangerous environment may be even more difficult; Army and Marine commanders have already used up most of their bag of tricks to find troops for the usual rotations to Iraq.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Army is hard pressed to find enough officers for staff jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan and will double the length of their tours in those countries from 179 days at present to a full 12 months.

...Other extraordinary steps ordered or under consideration include pulling officers out of military schools or delaying entry into such programs. They could also curtail family-oriented programs such as the one that allows soldiers to extend their tours at a stateside base so their children can finish their senior year in high school.

The Army is struggling to fill hundreds of staff jobs for majors and lieutenant colonels in war zone headquarters and in the past month began stripping majors and lieutenant colonels from their Pentagon billets and ordering them to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He's just like a bad penny...

The Jesse Jackson bobblehead edition, a reasonable facsimile of the hypocrite. From

Jesse Jackson is about the biggest blowhard in the world. He's the left's Jerry Falwell in terms of media hogging, self-aggrandizing behavior. I groan every time I hear he's jumping into the latest political fray. He cannot just help himself. Jackson plans rally with ministers to call for election investigation. He and his financially shady Rainbow/PUSH Coalition are going to be protesting the voting irregularities in Ohio. Agita. A worthwhile political cause almost always loses some political legitimacy points once he gets involved; please get this man out of the spotlight.

NYT details Matthew Shepard 20/20 piece: McKinney is a self-loathing bisexual, so it isn't a hate crime

The NYT has seen the 20/20 revisionist history piece on the killing of Matthew Shepard (airing tonight), that reports it was a mere robbery fueled by drugs that "went wrong," and that Shepard was also a meth user. The article is almost fawning in support of reporter Elizabeth Vargas's argument that it was not a bias crime. The bigger "news," based on an interview with one man, a limo driver, is that one of the killers, Aaron McKinney, is bisexual. McKinney denies this today, and in fact used a gay panic defense at the time.
In October 1998, Mr. Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, was found tied to a fence on the outskirts of town. He'd been pistol-whipped and left shoeless in near-freezing temperatures; he was almost dead. Friends who heard about his beating instantly began to tell reporters that he was gay and that his attack might have been an instance of gay-bashing.

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, Matthew Shepard's killers.

Two men, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, were arrested. Mr. McKinney's girlfriend told the press that he had lashed out when Mr. Shepard came onto him. As people across the country held candlelight vigils, this became the dominant refrain: Mr. Shepard was attacked because he was gay.

Then Mr. Shepard died. His funeral was picketed by chilling figures whose placards said he deserved it. Also in attendance were antiviolence activists, who wore white angel get-ups.

As Ms. Vargas says, the crime's stakes then came through plainly: tolerance versus hate, good versus evil. The parable drawn from the crime was supplemented with beauty shots of Mr. Shepard that made him look like a frail James Dean, and arraignment photos of Mr. McKinney and Mr. Henderson that made them look like tight-lipped white power people.

So the details of the extent of Aaron McKinney's meth habit come out (this was brought up at the trial, so where is the new information...that's coming), and they now claim the gay-panic story wasn't true, just a misguided tactic.
Mr. McKinney now says that he and his defense team cooked up a gay-panic defense - the one that said he responded violently when hit on by a man - though it wasn't true. Mr. McKinney's girlfriend, the early proponent of the gay-panic story, has also recanted. For his part, Mr. Henderson, whom Ms. Vargas interviewed in an undisclosed prison, comes across as deeply depressed, almost lifeless. Looking at a picture of himself as an Eagle Scout posing with the governor of Wyoming, he says, "He got lost, on his path." The photo, he adds, "is me as a smart kid, not a stupid adult."

The report also says Shepard was a meth user and that he knew McKinney. The interview also includes information from a male limo driver that purports to have participated in sex with McKinney, who denies having had sex with men.

It turns out that if you like high life in the high plains, you go for limousines - namely, the rental fleet owned and chauffeured by Doc O'Connor. Mr. Shepard hired one of these, which Mr. O'Connor drove, to get to a gay bar one night in Fort Collins, Colo. Mr. O'Connor noticed he was upset on the drive home, and later, Mr. O'Connor tells Ms. Vargas, Mr. Shepard told him he was H.I.V. positive. "20/20" relies heavily on the interview with Mr. O'Connor, who comes across as an invention of David Lynch. (His accusations are not confirmed with anyone else on camera.)

But that's not the end of Mr. O'Connor's involvement in this story. In defending himself from charges of homophobia Mr. McKinney says, noxiously, "I have gay friends," which gives the documentary a chance for a bravura transition.

"One of McKinney's gay friends may have been Matthew Shepard," Ms. Vargas says in voice-over.

What? They knew each other?

Mr. McKinney denies it to Ms. Vargas, but "20/20" then produces several interviews with people who had seen the men together. And then a bomb is dropped.

Mr. O'Connor, ever the mixer here, volunteers that Mr. McKinney didn't hate gays because "I know of an instance where he had a three-way - two guys and one girl at a party, an all-nighter." After confirming that Mr. McKinney had had sex with the man of the trio, Ms. Vargas asks Mr. O'Connor how he knows about such an intimate experience.

"Because he did it with me," the limo driver says.

Now what does this prove? That Mr. McKinney was bisexual, as his girlfriend goes on to confirm? (Mr. McKinney denies that he has ever had sex with a man.) Does that mean he wasn't homophobic? And as for the news about Mr. Shepard - so what if he did meth or had H.I.V.?

Also, the NYT reports that Shepard's parents, have taken the position that the documentary is filled with errors.

That said, if all that above information is correct, it does change the motive, but not the homophobia itself. McKinney was clearly troubled and scared of being labeled as bisexual or gay. Not only that, he was willing to use a "gay panic" defense to deflect attention from his own homosexual acts. It brings to light, yet again, how much more complicated people's relationships are with their own sexuality. The man is still denying it -- apparently being gay or bisexual is more shameful than killing someone.

Earlier posts here and here.

National Guard troops : "I feel like an inmate with a weapon"

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The infamous 2003 Presidential turkey photo op in Iraq; it's all about the "show." The Washington Post reported later that the bird had been roasted by a contractor to use as a table decoration. The soldiers didn't get to eat that bird. Halliburton also stiffed the food services vendor until he said he'd sue.

As we give thanks on this day, you have to feel a special sense of sorrow for those serving our country -- our government doesn't have the decency to provide decent training at Doña Ana or gear as they ship them out to Iraq. It's disgusting that their personal sacrifices mean so little to those chickhawks that are sending them over there. And this lengthy story by Scott Gold shows the stark depth of the problem if the training bases are being compared to a prison camp. It really makes you want to cry. What are we doing, and why isn't the president coming clean about this situation with the American public?

You should register to read this at the LA Times, but I'm reposting here because it is a piece you need to read, especially on this day.(LA Times):
Members of a California Army National Guard battalion preparing for deployment to Iraq said this week that they were under strict lockdown and being treated like prisoners rather than soldiers by Army commanders at the remote desert camp where they are training.

More troubling, a number of the soldiers said, is that the training they have received is so poor and equipment shortages so prevalent that they fear their casualty rate will be needlessly high when they arrive in Iraq early next year. "We are going to pay for this in blood," one soldier said.

They said they believed their treatment and training reflected an institutional bias against National Guard troops by commanders in the active-duty Army, an allegation that Army commanders denied.

The 680 soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment were activated in August and are preparing for deployment at Doña Ana, a former World War II prisoner-of-war camp 20 miles west of its large parent base, Ft. Bliss, Texas.

Members of the battalion, headquartered in Modesto, said in two dozen interviews that they were allowed no visitors or travel passes, had scant contact with their families and that morale was terrible.

"I feel like an inmate with a weapon," said Cpl. Jajuane Smith, 31, a six-year Guard veteran from Fresno who works for an armored transport company when not on active duty.

Several soldiers have fled Doña Ana by vaulting over rolls of barbed wire that surround the small camp, the soldiers interviewed said. Others, they said, are contemplating going AWOL, at least temporarily, to reunite with their families for Thanksgiving.

Army commanders said the concerns were an inevitable result of the decision to shore up the strained military by turning "citizen soldiers" into fully integrated, front-line combat troops. About 40% of the troops in Iraq are either reservists or National Guard troops.

Lt. Col. Michael Hubbard of Ft. Bliss said the military must confine the soldiers largely to Doña Ana to ensure that their training is complete before they are sent to Iraq.

"A lot of these individuals are used to doing this two days a month and then going home," Hubbard said. "Now the job is 24/7. And they experience culture shock."

But many of the soldiers interviewed said the problems they cited went much deeper than culture shock.

And military analysts agree that tensions between active-duty Army soldiers and National Guard troops have been exacerbated as the war in Iraq has required dangerous and long-term deployments of both.

The concerns of the Guard troops at Doña Ana represent the latest in a series of incidents involving allegations that a two-tier system has shortchanged reservist and National Guard units compared with their active-duty counterparts.

In September, a National Guard battalion undergoing accelerated training at Ft. Dix, N.J., was confined to barracks for two weeks after 13 soldiers reportedly went AWOL to see family before shipping out for Iraq.

Last month, an Army National Guard platoon at Camp Shelby, Miss., refused its orders after voicing concerns about training conditions and poor leadership.

"I'm a cop. I've got a career, a house, a family, a college degree," said one sergeant, who lives in Southern California and spoke, like most of the soldiers, on condition of anonymity.

"I came back to the National Guard specifically to go to Baghdad, because I believed in it, believed in the mission. But I have regretted every day of it. This is demoralizing, demeaning, degrading. And we're supposed to be ambassadors to another country? We're supposed to go to war like this?"

Pentagon and Army commanders rejected the allegation that National Guard or reserve troops were prepared for war differently than their active-duty counterparts.

"There is no difference," said Lt. Col. Chris Rodney, an Army spokesman in Washington. "We are, more than ever, one Army. Some have to come from a little farther back — they have a little less training. But the goal is to get everybody the same."

The Guard troops at Doña Ana were scheduled to train for six months before beginning a yearlong deployment. They recently learned, however, that the Army planned to send them overseas a month early — in January, most likely — as it speeds up troop movement to compensate for a shortage of full-time, active-duty troops.

Hubbard, the officer at Ft. Bliss, also said conditions at Doña Ana were designed to mirror the harsh and often thankless assignments the soldiers would take on in Iraq. That was an initiative launched by Brig. Gen. Joseph Chavez, commander of the 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, which includes the 184th Regiment.

The program has resulted in everything from an alcohol ban to armed guards at the entrance to Doña Ana, Hubbard said.

"We are preparing you and training you for what you're going to encounter over there," Hubbard said. "And they just have to get used to it."

Military analysts, however, questioned whether the soldiers' concerns could be attributed entirely to the military's attempt to mirror conditions in Iraq. For example, the soldiers say that an ammunition shortage has meant that they have often conducted operations firing blanks.

"The Bush administration had over a year of planning before going to war in Iraq," said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who has acted as a defense lawyer in military courts. "An ammunition shortage is not an exercise in tough love."

Turley said that in every military since Alexander the Great's, there have been "gripes from grunts" but that "the complaints raised by these National Guardsmen raise some significant and troubling concerns."

The Guard troops in New Mexico said they wanted more sophisticated training and better equipment. They said they had been told, for example, that the vehicles they would drive in Iraq would not be armored, a common complaint among their counterparts already serving overseas.

They also said the bulk of their training had been basic, such as first aid and rifle work, and not "theater-specific" to Iraq. They are supposed to be able to use night-vision goggles, for instance, because many patrols in Iraq take place in darkness. But one group of 200 soldiers trained for just an hour with 30 pairs of goggles, which they had to pass around quickly, soldiers said.

The soldiers said they had received little or no training for operations that they expected to undertake in Iraq, from convoy protection to guarding against insurgents' roadside bombs. One said he has put together a diary of what he called "wasted days" of training. It lists 95 days, he said, during which the soldiers learned nothing that would prepare them for Iraq.

Hubbard had said he would make two field commanders available on Tuesday to answer specific questions from the Los Angeles Times about the training, but that did not happen.

The fact that the National Guardsmen have undergone largely basic training suggests that Army commanders do not trust their skills as soldiers, said David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland. That tension underscores a divide that has long existed between "citizen soldiers" and their active-duty counterparts, he said.

"These soldiers should be getting theater-specific training," Segal said. "This should not be an area where they are getting on-the-job training. The military is just making a bad situation worse."

The soldiers at Doña Ana emphasized their support for the war in Iraq. "In fact, a lot of us would rather go now rather than stay here," said one, a specialist and six-year National Guard veteran who works as a security guard in his civilian life in Southern California.

The soldiers also said they were risking courts-martial or other punishment by speaking publicly about their situation. But Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Dominguez, 45, one of the soldiers who allowed his identity to be revealed, said he feared that if nothing changed, men in his platoon would be killed in Iraq.

Dominguez is a father of two — including a 13-month-old son named Reagan, after the former president — and an employee of a mortgage bank in Alta Loma, Calif. A senior squad leader of his platoon, Dominguez said he had been in the National Guard for 20 years.

"Some of us are going to die there, and some of us are going to die unnecessarily because of the lack of training," he said. "So I don't care. Let them court-martial me. I want the American public to know what is going on. My men are guilty of one thing: volunteering to serve their country. And we are at the end of our rope."

Turkey Day...what's on the menu?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Not that anyone is particularly interested, but here's what's going to be on the menu tomorrow at my house (sorry if there are any vegetarians online -- it's a carnivore household here):
* Leg of lamb
(marinated with lots of garlic, worchestershire sauce, black pepper, celery and carrots)
* Turkey legs (I'm skipping the whole bird this time around)
* Homemade macaroni and cheese
* Kale (leafy greens cooked in vinegar w/salt)
* Green beans
* Mashed cauliflower
* Stuffing
* Yeast rolls
* Waldorf salad
* Homemade apple pie w/vanilla ice cream (just pulled the pie out of the oven)
* Tagamet

Every year I say we're going to go out so I don't have to slave in the kitchen, but I do it every year. :)

ACLU takes up battle for Missouri HS student to be able to wear a Pride T-Shirt

Not much to say here other than this case shouldn't even need to be filed. What is wrong with this school? (NYT):
he American Civil Liberties Union filed suit yesterday against a Missouri high school that twice admonished a gay student for wearing T-shirts bearing gay pride messages. The suit charges that the school violated the youth's constitutional right to free expression.

By the account of the civil liberties union, the student, Brad Mathewson, a 16-year-old junior, was sent to the principal's office at Webb City High School on Oct. 20 for wearing a T-shirt that he said came from the Gay-Straight Alliance at a school he previously attended, in Fayetteville, Ark. The shirt bore a pink triangle and the words "Make a Difference!"

Mr. Mathewson, the A.C.L.U. said, was told to turn the shirt inside out or go home and change. Instead he traded shirts with a friend, who wore the gay pride shirt the rest of the day without incident.

A week later, Mr. Mathewson was again admonished for wearing a gay pride T-shirt, this one featuring a rainbow and the inscription "I'm gay and I'm proud." Told once more to turn the shirt instead out or leave, he chose to go home and was eventually ordered not to return to school wearing clothing supporting gay rights.

Mr. Mathewson began attending the school, outside Joplin, in September. In a statement issued by the civil liberties union, he said: "The school lets other students wear antigay T-shirts, and I understand that they have a right to do that. I just want the same right. I think tolerating each other's differences is a key part in teaching students how to become good citizens."

Since the confrontations involving Mr. Mathewson, school officials have asked students to remove antigay stickers and T-shirts, local news accounts said.

FBI interviews whistleblower about Halliburton's sleazy no-bid deals

Bunny Greenhouse questions Halliburton's cozy relationship with the Bush admin. Photo: Time..

The Blend's first post on this was back in October, when Time ran a piece on the pressure being put on Greenhouse. Now the
FBI is interviewing her regarding the Pentagon improperly awarding contracts without competition to Halliburton. Dick Cheney's office says they had no influence or involvement with the no-bid contracts. Right. (AP):
"They questioned her about all of her concerns, and they asked questions regarding potential involvement of people at higher-level positions," attorney Michael Kohn said in an interview.

The Associated Press reported last month that the FBI had expanded a criminal probe into allegations Halliburton overcharged the government for fuel, adding questions about whether the Bush administration had improperly awarded business without bidding to Halliburton in Iraq and the Balkans.

...Greenhouse has alleged that she began raising questions to her superiors about why the Pentagon was allowing business to go to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary without competitive bidding and then was frozen out from decisions when she pressed her concerns.

Pentagon auditors and congressional Democrats have repeatedly turned up problems with Halliburton's contracts. Some examples:

_The U.S. ambassador to Kuwait intervened to ensure that Halliburton retained a favored Kuwaiti subcontractor for gasoline imports to Iraq. Bush administrative officials have said only career contracting officials made decisions on Halliburton contracts.

_In 2002, Cheney's chief of staff, a political appointee, was told the vice president's former company would receive no-bid work to restore Iraq's oil facilities. Cheney's spokesman said the information was not given to the vice president.

_Halliburton charged the government $2.68 a gallon to import Kuwaiti gasoline to Iraq while a U.S. government agency did the same job for $1.57 a gallon.

Yep, Newspapers Should Really Worry - Wired

Our friends over at AmericaBlog got a big mention in Wired today in an article talking about the increasing influence of blogs and how folks are looking to the blogosphere for news and opinion and turning away from mainstream media (MSM):
...when young people go online, they tend to browse for news in much the same way they window-shop for jeans or sneakers: sampling a headline here, a blog entry there, a snippet of a story there, until their news cravings are satisfied.

For instance, Patrick Reed, a 27-year-old disc jockey, sound designer and record store manager in Manhattan, clicks to Americablog "for indie politics, Slashdot for geekery," as well as daily fixes of and Google News -- "probably five to 10 times a day," he said. Reed is afflicted with digital wanderlust and enjoys getting "different perspectives from around the world."

I mentioned the flip side of this yesterday in my post on Dan Rather; the lack of respect the MSM give the blogosphere and internet is due to the fact that blogs represent a threat to traditional news gathering and analysis -- they just don't get it.

I say, more power to the blogs (on the Left and the Right), because some of today's journalists are about as lazy as can be about major stories, such as the voting irregularities. They shy away from controversy and fear retribution from their corporate masters and advertisers.

Vietnam veteran, 53, called to active duty

Can you feel the draft? This man has not seen combat in 30 years when he was in Vietnam. And he's going to Iraq.
Paul Dunlap, 53, of Pleasant Unity, will leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Monday after being called up as part of Operation Dragoon.

Dunlap, a first sergeant in the Army National Guard Company C 28th Signal Battalion out of Torrance, Westmoreland County, hasn't been in combat since he was a 19-year-old Marine and served 11 months in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971.

"I'm thinking I'm going to be away for at least a year from my family and my grandchildren (and) friends," Dunlap told the Tribune-Review of Greensburg in a story published Wednesday. "I'm thinking it's been a long time since I've been in war."

Dunlap, a machinist, found out about his call-up at work in November.

Dunlap will spend about two weeks at Fort Bliss before linking with the 1st-103rd Armor in Kuwait. He is a signal systems specialist and his unit will likely handle radio retransmissions and fix equipment.

He will leave behind his wife, Mary Dunlap, four children and three grandchildren.

"I know I can handle it. I'll have days when it's going to be a long day and you'll be thinking home," Dunlap said. "I'm more worried about how they'll be dealing with it because they can't visually see what I'm doing or where I'm at or if I'm OK. I think it's going to be tougher on them than it is on me."

Mary Dunlap, said that the couple's 19-year old son, Timothy James, doesn't want his father to go to Iraq.

"He prayed and prayed that (his father) wouldn't pass his physical, just like the rest of us," she said.

She said that although her husband has been a soldier since she met him, "there's a part of me that wonders, at 53 is he going to be up to doing what he needs to do over there?"

Apparently the power of Christ compelled them...

Perhaps they are equating homos with Linda Blair now. If you're gay and Catholic and dare to want to receive communion, you're not going to get a great reception at a church in Minnesota, where police are looking at evidence of an exorcism over this. The age of tolerance is spreading... (KSTP-TV):
"Police are investigating an informal exorcism at the Cathedral of St. Paul, which was directed at gay Roman Catholics and will cost thousands of dollars to clean up, police and church officials said.

They said the ritualistic sprinkling of blessed oil and salt around the church and in donation boxes earlier this month amounted to costly vandalism and possibly a hate crime.

The damage was discovered Nov. 7 after the noon Mass, and after words were exchanged between members of the Rainbow Sash Alliance, a gay rights group, and the opposing group, Catholics Against Sacrilege.

Police speculate the damage could have been done anytime between late Saturday afternoon and during the Mass itself.

The groups are at odds over gays participating in communion, one of the holiest rites in the church. Earlier this year, about 40 men, members of the group Ushers of the Eucharist, knelt in the aisles at the Cathedral to block Rainbow members from taking communion.

The Rev. Michael Skluzacek, rector of the cathedral, said he immediately understood the symbolism when he was told that someone had sprinkled the oil and salt around the church.

'It's a sign of exorcism,' he told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. 'It's a sign of casting out the power of evil.'"

He said salt is used to bless holy water, and the oil, once it is blessed by a bishop, is used for consecrations. By sprinkling the salt and oil, he said, the vandals thought they were making the church holy again.

"Regardless of why they did it, it was a very disruptive act," Skluzacek said.

He estimated the clean up cost at thousands of dollars, involving crews working three days to remove the oil and salt and cleaning the doors, steps and boxes.

A report was filed with St. Paul police, who said the case could be prosecuted as a hate crime if someone is arrested.

"It does have an element of hate and bias to it," said police spokesman Paul Schnell, who noted that the incident seemed aimed to coincide with the presence of the Rainbow Sash group.

Schnell said police have no leads, but several religious people familiar with the case said it is probably the work of fringe Catholics who advocate using sacramentals, or holy objects, to cleanse places where gays take communion.

House Blend reader Paul pointed me to this.

GAO to Investigate Voting Irregularies

As BradBlog has been reporting, the Government Accountability Office, responding to a request from Democratic lawmakers, will investigate the way votes were counted in the Nov. 2 election. (AP):
The investigation will study the accuracy of the count and the methods used to count the vote. Investigators will look at the way officials counted provisional ballots, provided to voters whose names did not appear on voting lists but who contended they are eligible to cast ballots.

Congress' investigative agency cautioned that it is not authorized to take action if irregularities are found.

"Under the nation's legal framework, elections are a matter largely reserved to, and regulated by, the states," a GAO statement said. "As a result, general questions concerning these issues, as well as specific allegations of voting irregularities, should be addressed to state and local officials, such as the secretary of state or the state attorney general."

The U.S. Justice Department has authority to enforce federal voting rights laws and election fraud, the statement added.

Questions have been raised about voting irregularities in many states, especially in Ohio and Florida — crucial states carried by President Bush .

Bodies left in city's streets intimidate police, populace -- it's working

A U.S. Army soldier looks out from his armored vehicle after troops came under small arms fire in Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004. The U.S. military said five more bodies were found Wednesday in northern Mosul, bringing the total to 20 bodies found in the past week. (AP Photo/Jim MacMillan)

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the chaos, corpses and violence is getting to troops and citizens, and this is what the insurgents know -- and they don't have to fire a gun at the troops to cause unrest.
"Almost every morning for the past several days, American soldiers have made the gruesome discovery. Sometimes the bodies are partly burned; sometimes they are dismembered; sometimes they are shot in the head.

When two more victims were found this week slumped on a busy street corner, Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla finally lost it. The Army commander, a bear of a man who usually is the first to crack a joke even in the most dire of circumstances, stormed across the street and began chastising the Iraqis gathered there.

'Why do you not have the common decency to clean them up?' shouted Kurilla, who is in charge of securing much of historic Mosul, as he angrily motioned to the bodies.

'Your fellow Iraqis are lying dead in the streets, and you sit there doing nothing. To say nothing is to support the insurgents. These were Iraqi soldiers who were trying to help your country, to serve you. How can you do nothing?'

Kurilla's outrage stems not just from the fact that Mosul, once a relatively peaceful city, is fast becoming a haven for violent insurgents. His larger concern is that those insurgents seem to have come to a pragmatic conclusion: that they cannot overcome U.S. military might and their best chance to assume control of neighborhoods and the city is to redouble their attacks on fellow Iraqis.

20 bodies in 10 days

During the past 10 days, the bodies of more than 20 Iraqi police officers, soldiers and National Guardsmen have been found in this northern city, where winter has begun to settle with a nearly constant, cold, pelting rain. Masked gunmen have stormed or burned nearly a dozen police stations. And scores of families with members in one of the Iraqi security forces have received death threats or other forms of intimidation.

In just a few days, the police force in one of the most densely populated portions of the city has dwindled to only a few hundred from several thousand, and two Iraqi National Guard units in the region were forced to disband when between a third and half of their soldiers fled, according to a U.S. military official.

...Under the cover of night, the insurgents have taken to the streets and covered the walls of homes with intimidating graffiti: "God be with the mujahedeen forever." Or "Together we will all fight America." Or "Allawi, we will kill you," a reference to the U.S.-backed interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi.

In one neighborhood, insurgents handed out leaflets warning that anyone cooperating with the Americans would be killed; in another they dumped the bodies of those who were.

It appears to be an effective strategy

"We just want to live. We want no trouble here," said Mosul resident Kadhim Kassim al-Tae. "We will not provide information about the bad men to the Americans. If we do, we will be killed. It is that simple."

Topeka Narrowly Outlaws Anti-Gay Bias

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Wow. If you can see this happening in Kansas, you realize change is coming. Topeka's city council has passed an ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination in city hiring or employment. It doesn't cover all bases, but this is still a significant thing to note in the heartland. (AP):
Many activists were disappointed, hoping the council would enact a broader ordinance against discrimination in housing, lending and private employment. Yet a few took some comfort in the small progress they did perceive.

Part of it was timing. The vote on Nov. 16 came two weeks after President Bush carried Kansas with 62 percent of the vote and during an election when 11 states approved constitutional bans on gay marriage.

"We've just come out of an election that was very bruising to the gay community," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "This small step by the Topeka City Council just shows that we are going to keep making progress."

But opponents of any gay rights ordinance saw approval of only a narrow change -- on a 5-4 council vote -- as a significant victory. Still, some worry the new ordinance is a step toward governmental acceptance of homosexuality.

"I wonder if it's just not the camel's nose under the tent," said Francis Slobodnik, manager of the Topeka-area office of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, an organization for Roman Catholics.

Topeka is actually one of many cities in states that went for Bush that have approved local gay rights ordinances. Others include Salt Lake City; Baton Rouge, La.; and Louisville, Ky.

AmericaBlog: Washington Post defense of anti-gay magazine insert doesn't pass the smell test

Birds of a feather?

John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog hit the roof this evening after seeing the F-E-E-B-L-E, insulting response by the WPost to readers that questioned the ethics of running the anti-gay insert "Both Sides" last Friday regarding same-sex marriage. I originally posted on this topic here. The target of the wingnut publication is the religious black community, which the American Taliban/wingnuts feel is fertile territory in the latest iteration of the culture war. I have links to this insert here (large PDF files):

As usual, John can articulately rant; I am copying his rebuttal to the Post's lame-ass excuses for running the insert in total. Action items are at the end. Be sure to visit AmericaBlog.

John Aravosis:
Yes, if you had an ounce of respect left for the Washington Post, feel free to let it go now.

Their response to the virulently anti-gay magazine insert they distributed with last Friday's Post is, quite simply, appalling. Not to mention intellectually dishonest. The way they trivialize our concerns, suggesting we're simply mad because the religious right disagrees with us about gay marriage! Yeah, it had nothing to do with the fact that they printed outright lies about us all dying young, based on studies by a quack kicked out of the major medical associations 20 years ago. Among the man's other studies: one that says 17% of gay men eat feces. He's also the guy who championed the "gays are pedophiles" myth. But no, the Post thinks our concern is our fear of debating gay marriage. Right.

And now this means their ombudsman will likely write some hideous story in next Sunday's Post about how this pamphlet isn't hateful at all! Please feel free to contact him again after reading the update below (his contact info is at the bottom of this email), and also contact Eric Grant, the Post's Director of Communications Affairs. The number is 202 334-6466. These guys need to get the point that this isn't about gay marriage. It's about promoting Mengele-esque science that was debunked 20-30 years ago. Would the Post permit someone to run ads with equally quack science attacking blacks and Jews?

A few of the Post's responses:
- Marc Rosenberg, manager of corporate and public policy advertising for the Post. "The key issue is that it is clearly identified as an advertising message."

MY RESPONSE: No, the key issue is not whether it's clearly identified as advertising. The key issue quoting fallacious "scientific studies" proving blacks are inferior to whites and therefore not deserving of civil rights. The Post wouldn't. Hell, the Washington Post wouldn't even publish my online ad going after Dick and Mary Cheney because it included a cartoon-swear-word - you know, #^$&* Yes, cartoon swear words were too much for the Post, even though it was clearly an ad that I paid for, but saying that gays die at the age of 41 from AIDS is a-okay.

- "We will not allow something hateful to go in the paper," Post Publisher Boisfeuillet Jones Jr. said, indicating he did not believe this incident involved a hateful message. "Gay marriage is a public issue and matter of public debate, and we believed its point of view has a right to be expressed."

MY RESPONSE: Not a hateful message? Really? How do you feel about the studies showing blacks to be phsyically inferior to white people? Ads for skin creams that can make black people white, making civil rights legislation unnecessary since black people who choose not to use the cream have "chosen" to be black? Any views on Hitler's scientific theories on Jews? What an absolute crock to suggest that the problem with that pamplet is that it simply "talks" about gay marriage. The problem with that pamplet is that it promotes Nazi-esque quack science claiming gays are somehow inferior physically to straight people and therefore don't deserve civil rights. For the Post to suggest otherwise is intentionally intellectually dishonest. They know damn well what our complaint is about.

- Post Ombudsman Mike Getler: "They might have insisted more that this be in a format that was clearly not a magazine. You could argue that the disclosure could have been larger. But the Post did not commit a sin by accepting it."

MY RESPONSE: Ah, gotcha. So the trick is that David Duke just needs to use a really large font that says "THIS IS AN AD" when he runs an ad-magazine denouncing your black and Jewish readers as genetically inferior. That's really your position? Because your about to inspire someone to raise some cash to run such an ad. And if you kill the ad, you're going to get a civil rights law suit. And if you run the ad, you're going to have a riot from DC's black community on your hands, and no more black subscribers.
Yes, it was quite gracious of the Post to ignore the question of whether they would print an attack on affirmative action (a valid public policy discussion) that included passages from the Bell Curve, the 1990s book that argued blacks were less intelligent and thus committed more crime, etc. Bet the Post would NO PROBLEM with that kind of logic being printed. Or are lies about gays all having AIDS somehow less offensive than lies about blacks all being stupid?

Contact the Post's ombudsman, Mike Getler. Try to explain to him why you consider this flyer (below) hateful, and be sure to ask him how the Post would feel about a similar ad about Jews or blacks and their physical inferiority to other races and peoples, and how that relates to those minorities not deserving civil rights:
- (202) 334-7582

1. Download a 1.2 meg file of the entire 16 page magazine here. This server is much quicker, and you can download the entire magazine at once (albeit a blurrier version) thanks to our friends at

2. Download the individual pages here (4 pages per link - 16 pages total), still as pdf (I need jpgs of these if anyone can help). These are from a FASTER server, so should be much easier to download (thanks to

If those links are slow, try these as well (Thanks to

Exploding Cell Phones a Growing Problem

I got an LG VX7000, replacing a Nokia that I dropped, broke and put back together (it still worked). I don't think this one explodes...

Sh*t. Ironically I just got a new one yesterday. I hope this model's not an incendiary device. (AP):
Curtis Sathre said it was like a bomb going off. His 13-year-old son Michael stood stunned, ears ringing, hand gushing blood after his cell phone exploded. Safety officials have received 83 reports of cell phones exploding or catching fire in the past two years, usually because of bad batteries or chargers.

Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received. The agency is providing tips for cell phone users to avoid such accidents and has stepped up oversight of the wireless industry. There have been three voluntary battery recalls, and the CPSC is working with companies to create better battery standards.

..."If you're cramming more and more power in a small space, what you're making is a small bomb," said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.

The CPSC is trying to determine if improved venting is enough by itself to ensure safety. "We have seen temperatures as high as 600 degrees, and you can have a torch-like effect if these batteries don't function properly," Wolfson said.

The commission has announced three battery recalls since January, one from Verizon Wireless and two from Kyocera Wireless Corp. Kyocera's first recall was blamed on a supplier whose standards had slipped. The other recalls were attributed to suppliers bringing counterfeits into distribution chains.

Rumsfeld=Shameless Liar

This is truly pathetic groveling. Everyone who's been paying any attention knows Rumsfeld had no interest in intelligence reform. He's apparently had an overnight conversion or Bush reamed his ass and told him he'd be street sweeper if he didn't get with the program. (USA Today):
"I'm a part of this administration. I support the president's position," he told reporters at the Pentagon.

Some Republicans and Democrats in Congress have suggested Rumsfeld had a role in stopping the legislation, which is intended to create a national intelligence director position, because the Defense Department would lose authority over several intelligence agencies that are currently part of the military.

Military officials also have said that losing those agencies to civilian control would threaten the flow of information to soldiers in the field.

Before President Bush announced his support for the creation of a national intelligence chief, Rumsfeld had expressed some reservations about proposed changes to the intelligence system, many of which were outlined in the report of the commission looking into the Sept. 11 attacks.

But on Tuesday, he said, "I favor reform in the intelligence community as the president does, and I have a feeling that they (in Congress) are close."

Falwell called NOW "the National Order of Witches" - he's losing it

Media Matters for America pointed out this one -- man he knows how to step in it... Freepers have been worrying that Falwell would just not be able to shut himself up; he's providing the richest quotes and punchlines of late.
Reverend Jerry Falwell, national chairman of the Faith and Values Coalition and Moral Majority founder, labeled the National Organization for Women (NOW) the "National Order of Witches," said he was going to invite People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to Christian men's gatherings called "Wild Game Night" so that they "can sit there and suffer," and called Americans United for Separation of Church and State "an anti-Christ" group.

From Falwell's November 21 televised service, broadcast from his Thomas Road Baptist Church:

And we're going to invite PETA [to "Wild Game Night"] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer. This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches [sic]. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups.

From the November 22 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:

FALWELL: Up until this generation with the influence of the American Civil Liberties Union and anti-Christ groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State --

COLMES: Oh "anti," that's not true, Reverend. They're not "anti-Christ."

FALWELL: It is true. I know those guys and the fact is they're so anti-religious, anti-Christian that they have tried to secularize the country.

Frontline's worth tuning into tonight -- history of the credit card

The Secret History of the Credit Card is a documentary airing tonight Tuesday on your local PBS station. Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman reports in depth about this industry, which is one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill. The program is also going to show the impact of the bait-and-switch practices of the companies (like teaser rates that double or triple after a time limit) that encourage those who can least afford to pay off a debt to go deeper in a financial hole.

As things stand now, credit card companies can raise your interest rate even if you have made every payment on time, and there is no ceiling on what interest rate they can charge. They've made sure of that by being cozy with politicians of all political stripes.

This is a timely program because the GOP is fighting to make it more difficult to declare bankruptcy. One measure proposed is for credit card debt to "survive" bankruptcy, like IRS payments -- you would still have to pay off VISA/MC even after emerging from bankruptcy.
"The almost magical convenience of plastic money is critical to our famously compulsive consumer economy," Bergman says. "With more than 640 million credit cards in circulation, the U.S. economy has clearly gone plastic."

Millions of Americans use credit cards to make ends meet. Others, like actor and author Ben Stein, use plastic purely for convenience. While it would appear that Stein -- who says he charges a small fortune every month on his credit cards -- is the ideal customer, in reality, he is what some in the industry call a "deadbeat." That's because he pays his balance in full every month.

The industry's most profitable customers, the ones being sought by creative marketing tactics, are the opposite of Stein; they are the revolvers: the estimated 90 million Americans who carry monthly credit card debt.

Ed Yingling, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association tells FRONTLINE that "revolvers are the sweet spot" of the banking industry. This "sweet spot" continues to grow as the average credit card debt among American households has more than doubled over the past decade. Today, the average card-carrying American family owes a record $7,500 on their credit cards. This debt has helped generate record profits for the credit card industry -- nearly $30 billion just last year.

...According to the Better Business Bureau, credit card and banking companies are together the subject of record numbers of complaints. "It's not an accident that the banking and credit card business generates more complaints nationally, across the country, than any other industry.... Out of one thousand industries that we track, they are number one," says Pat Wallace, head of the San Francisco Bay Area Better Business Bureau. "There are irritated, unhappy, dissatisfied customers in this industry."

As Professor Warren sees it, the industry is operating without fear of penalty. "There's no regulator, and there's no customer who can bring this industry to heel," Warren says.

Despite the number of consumer complaints, the ability of state and local governments to investigate the credit card companies has virtually been eliminated. That's because the federal regulator for the banks that issue the majority of the credit cards, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), has been engaged in what some describe as a "turf battle" with the states. The OCC has fought aggressively in courts and Congress to blunt state consumer protection laws and curb enforcement actions, sparking a nationwide battle.

Elliot Spitzer.

New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer has united with his counterparts from all fifty states in opposition to the OCC. "We get thousands of complaints every year about credit card issues...but increasingly over the past number of years what we have heard back from the major banks is that we don't need to deal with you."

The program will be available as streaming video tomorrow on the Frontline site.

There is a piece with more information on the program at Yahoo Marketwire.
NPR also has a piece on this, and interviews Bergman.


I was one of the 90 million with revolving debt for several years, but I'm thankfully now in the Ben Stein "deadbeat" category. I pay that crapper off in full each month (with the exception of Christmas time shopping or if I travel), or it's gone the following month.

Two great gay-themed diaries on Daily Kos you should check out

Daily Kos is one of my must-surf sites each day. Along with the main site posters, the average Kossacks there can put up some amazing, well-thought-out diaries. I've contributed a few myself, but it's always good to give props to others that provide a good read. There are a couple you should check out. One is For straight people--a gay checklist, a great diary by maddrailin. Here's a taste:
Marriage has a built in support structure that has been there through the ages.

Everyone, both gay and straight, are bombarded with the wonders of marriage day in and day out no matter who you are or where you live.

You have wedding announcements in the papers.

You have engagement parties.

Relatives come from all over the country, if not the world, to see your marriage take place and they celebrate, as they should.

...I mean jeeze - you can even get a congragulatory letter from the white house signed by the president when you are married.

To sum it up there is a real support structure built around marriage from your family to your local church and businesses to your town government, state government and finally the federal government.

In contrast - gays and lesbians have no such support structure unless they seek it out and build it themselves and even then it can be torturous.

You may lose family members and friends in the process.

Here in vermont - even after the civil union bill was passed there were town clerks who refused to give out these licenses. Can you understand how embarrasing a situation like that can be?

You have to seek out gay friendly places to have your civil union - and even when you do you still feel nervous and out of place.

If you are religious you have to locate a gay friendly church, unless you choose to hide who you are.

You don't know how any one person might react to your being gay and your consideration of entering into a civil union. You might tell an associate and they could have any reaction - be excited - be angry - or even become violent...

And there is A Gay Apology, another tongue-in-cheek diary by MAJeff. Here is a snippet of Jeff's rant:
I first wrote this back on February 10. For some reason, I can't edit it, so I'm reprinting the diary here. Something tells me it could get ugly in here; oh, well.

I didn't realize how prescient I was back then (especially since this was a couple days before San Francisco began its municipal civil disobedience)...well, at least I was able to foresee what one of the major narratives of the election results would be.

"We're sorry that our donation of resources such as time, energy, money and skills to the Democratic Party had such an impact in detracting from the Democrats' courageous stands against No Child Let Behind, the PATRIOT Act, the invasion of Iraq, Medicare reform, and Bush's budget busting tax cuts. We should have realized this and stayed out of the Party.

We're sorry for the timing of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Courts ruling. We should have done a better job of scheduling their calendar. Also, when the couples suing the Commonwealth, with the assistance of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, filed their suit, we should have foreseen 9-11, the War on Terror, the invasion of Iraq and the extending jobless recovery.

We're sorry our sexual orientation makes some of you uncomfortable. Your comfort should be our paramount concern. We really need to stop make silly demands about being included if it's going to make other people uneasy...

Now, go read the rest. :)

Dan Rather leaving the CBS anchor chair in March

He's going to do it on the 24th anniversary of taking over the seat from Cronkite, according to USATODAY. Did that Bush/National Guard story do him in? Who knows. It's too bad he's going out with this open issue (it was never proven the memo was fake, it was just called into question by the wingnuts). Rather has a long, worthy career of great reporting, including live coverage of the 1968 Democratic Convention when he was shoved to the floor by Mayor Daley's thugs inside the convention hall, while anti-war uprisings occurred outside the hall.

The one thing I fault Rather for, and this applies to many of the current crop of veteran journalists, is that they do not respect the power of the internet as a resource for reporting and analysis. It's like they have their heads in the sand about the impact of blogs and online communities. And when they do pop their heads up to take a look at the "new media", they react in a way that suggests they are intimidated by this outlet of information and verification. The internet is rife with hoaxes and crackpots, but they miss the true journalistic forces out there, ready to question, verify and challenge our public officials and institutions as never before.

And we're going to get more like him on the bench

Scalia Says Religion Infuses U.S. Government and History. Wingnuts are rejoicing everywhere. Run for the hills. He is a nut.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said Monday that a religion-neutral government does not fit with an America that reflects belief in God in everything from its money to its military.

"I suggest that our jurisprudence should comport with our actions," Scalia told an audience attending an interfaith conference on religious freedom at Manhattan's Shearith Israel synagogue.

...Scalia told them that while the church-and-state battle rages, the official examples of the presence of faith go back to America's Founding Fathers: the word "God" on U.S. currency; chaplains of various faiths in the military and the legislature; real estate tax-exemption for houses of worship _ and the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Last year, Scalia removed himself from the Supreme Court's review of whether "under God" should be in the Pledge of Allegiance, after mentioning the case in a speech and complaining that courts are stripping God from public life.

"None of this is compatible with what we say when we express the so-called principle of neutrality," Scalia said.

He could be tapped as a possible nominee for chief justice should Chief Justice William Rehnquist step down because of his thyroid cancer.

..."Our Constitution does not morph," he said Monday, deadpanning, "As I've often said, I am an originalist, I am a textualist, but I am not a nut."

Earlier this year, Scalia cast one of two dissenting votes in a 7-2 Supreme Court ruling that states may deny taxpayer-funded scholarships to divinity students.

At the time, Scalia wrote: "Let there be no doubt: This case is about discrimination against a religious minority."

Bush can continue to screw white collar workers out of overtime

God bless the Bush economy.

Yet another casualty of the need to pass the omnibus budget bill. Dems had attached an amendment to kill the overtime regulations that continues to screw six million white collar workers out of the ability to earn OT. Bush threatened to veto the entire bill if that provision was still in there. (WP):
An attempt to block the Bush administration's proposed changes in overtime rules was killed before the 2005 spending bill received final congressional approval over the weekend.

Democrats attached an amendment to the Senate's version of the bill that would have overturned the overtime regulations, which went into effect in August. The amendment, which would have prevented any worker previously covered by overtime from losing that protection, was deleted in a conference committee.

The White House had threatened to veto the entire $388 billion spending bill if the overtime amendment was included.

"This battle isn't over," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a statement. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Kennedy "intend to push hard" to eliminate the overtime regulations, a Kennedy spokesman said.

The Department of Labor amended the nation's overtime rules this year, saying they needed updating. Critics say the new rules will deny millions of employees overtime pay.

Several groups produced studies and reports pointing out what they say are loopholes in the rules through which white-collar workers -- 6 million, according to Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute -- could eventually lose overtime.

NC's Krispy Kreme stock tanking

Is it the Atkins diet killing the Winston-Salem based donut maker or overextension? Who knows. I can't eat the damn things, but apparently a lot of you do. I know when they have them out at the office they are scarfed up fast.

Perhaps the average man likes being felt up by government workers more than women

The airport experience is bad enough these days, so when you hear stories like these, in today's NYT piece by Joe Sharkey, you really have to wonder is it worth it. Security is one thing, but indiscriminate groping of random women passengers just doesn't seem like it's an appropriate or effective use of TSA staff time. Especially when box cutters, machetes and all kinds of weapons are still getting through the screening process. And I don't think they're getting in by being stashed in a B-cup.
At a security checkpoint recently at the Fort Lauderdale airport, Patti LuPone, the singer and actress, recalled, she was instructed to remove articles of clothing. "I took off my belt; I took off my clogs; I took off my leather jacket," she said. "But when the screener said, 'Now take off your shirt,' I hesitated. I said, 'But I'll be exposed.' " When she persisted in her complaints, she said, she was barred from her flight.

Perhaps the former stage star of Evita is in the same terrorist cell as Cat Stevens.

Heather L. Maurer, a business executive from Washington, had a similar experience at Logan Airport in Boston recently. And a few weeks ago, Jenepher Field, 71, who walks with the aid of a cane, was subjected to a breast pat-down at the airport outside Kansas City, Mo.

These women and a good many others, both frequent and occasional travelers, say they are furious about recent changes in airport security that have increased both the number and the intensity of pat-downs at the nation's 450 commercial airports. And they are not keeping quiet.

In dozens of interviews, women across the country say they were humiliated by the searches, often done in view of other passengers, and many said they had sharply reduced their air travel as a result.

The new security policies on body searches were put into practice in mid-September, after a terrorist attack in Russia a few weeks before that destroyed two planes, killing 90 people. Two Chechen women were thought to have carried nonmetallic explosives onto the planes, officials said. It is not known whether the explosives were hidden in the women's clothing, or whether the women merely boarded unimpeded, carrying the explosives.

...While some men have complained about the groping nature of the searches, women object the most. Several women interviewed said that male colleagues had scoffed at their complaints, saying that a physical pat-down was a small price to pay for security.

"I laugh when men tell me that," said Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, who says she has been selected for pat-downs several times in the last month on trips from New York to Chicago, Washington and Miami on various airlines. "Men don't know how offensive it is to be touched by anyone when you don't want to be touched."

...With the new rules, security personnel are given more latitude to select whomever they want for secondary screenings, whenever they want, and to conduct more intrusive pat-downs and more thorough examinations of carry-on bags. In both cases, travelers have the right to seek a private area, and women can request female inspectors.

A provision in the new rules - which says that a screener's "visual observation" of a passenger is enough to order a secondary screening - seems to single out women, something that many women searched attribute to a belief that bras are good places to conceal nonmetallic explosives.

The provision states, "T.S.A. policy is that screeners are to use the back of the hand when screening sensitive body areas, which include the breasts (females only), genitals and buttocks."

At the Fort Lauderdale airport on Nov. 5, Ms. LuPone says she removed her shirt after vehemently protesting, revealing the thin, see-through camisole that she was wearing. Next, she was given a pat-down by a screener who, she said, "was all over me with her hands," including touching her groin area and breasts.

Ms. LuPone said she demanded an explanation. "We don't want another Russia to happen," she said one of the screeners told her.

Who had their hand in the cookie jar? Istook: "Not me!"

The above is a little ditty my aunt Judi used to sing to me, btw. Anyway, Oklahoma Republican Ernest Istook is scurrying away from any association with a measure in the omnibus spending bill that would allow lawmakers and staffs to review anyone's tax returns. He is the chair of the appropriations subcommittee for goodness sake. (NYT):
... he said on Monday that a measure allowing some lawmakers and their staffs to examine Americans' income tax returns had been inserted in a huge spending bill by a staff assistant without his knowledge.

"I didn't write it; I didn't approve it; I wasn't even consulted," Mr. Istook, a Republican from Oklahoma, said in a statement issued by his office. On Sunday, Mr. Istook issued a statement saying "nobody's privacy was ever jeopardized," but he did not deny any responsibility for the measure.

The chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, Representative C. W. Bill Young, Republican of Florida, said in a separate statement that the provision had been written by the revenue service at the request of the committee's staff and "was simply an attempt to exercise our constitutional stewardship of the I.R.S. budget request, with no intention to review or investigate individual tax returns."

The provision, one sentence in the 3,000-page omnibus spending bill that cleared Congress on Saturday night, states, "Hereafter, notwithstanding any other provision of law governing the disclosure of income tax returns or return information, upon written request of the chairman of the House or Senate Committee on Appropriations, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service shall allow agents designated by such chairman access to Internal Revenue Service facilities and any tax returns or return information contained therein."

During the House debate on Saturday afternoon, there was an exchange between Mr. Young and Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California, in which Mr. Thomas said he understood that the provision "provides the Committee on Appropriations with proper access to I.R.S. facilities for oversight purposes but not the ability to examine individual tax returns, data or information."

Mr. Young replied: "The gentleman is correct. The Committee on Appropriations needs access to I.R.S. field facilities to do our oversight work. That work does not require the Committee on Appropriations to review individual tax returns."

Few people were paying attention to that exchange, and when Senator Kent Conrad's staff learned of the provision, he and other senators from both parties demanded that it be negated. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Saturday stating that the provision "shall have no effect."

..."Of course, people's privacy would have been jeopardized," Mr. Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, said at a news conference in the Capitol. It "would have provided unfettered power to chairmen of the Appropriations Committees now and in the future to assign agents to go review people's tax returns and to reveal them to the public without any civil or criminal penalty."

Kate made me post this...'Virgin Mary' toast fetches $28,000

I really wanted to avoid posting this stupid item, but wifey Kate felt that it was too "wingnutilicious" not to. I mean, this is a quote from the maker/seller of the sandwich -- "We believe that everyone should be able to see it and learn of its mystical power for themselves." An internet casino ponied up the $28K on eBay and, according to the BBC story, said it was a "part of pop culture". will take the sandwich on world tour before selling it and donating the money to charity. No lie.

Actual quote from the "owner" of the grilled cheese, Diane Duyser: "I went to take a bite out of it, and then I saw this lady looking back at me. I hollered for [my husband]. It scared me at first." I think the woman was referring to the grilled cheese, not Mrs. Duyser's makeup.

Kerry votes were strong in the Red states -- we should be proud of the turnout

Monday, November 22, 2004

Take a look at this great diary by daser with a 50-state chart with the distribution of Kerry voters: Daily Kos: Kerry Voters Exist in "Red" States. The chart makes you think differently about the Dem turnout in the states that Bush won. Many of the Red states recorded more votes for Kerry than ones that went Blue. North Carolina, for instance, was #12 in votes for Kerry.

Headline of the Day: Boy Charged With Abducting Exotic Dancer

That's a good one, but the lead sentence almost tops it:
A 13-year-old boy was charged with abducting an exotic dancer when she showed up for an appointment at what turned out to be a vacant house with no electricity, police said Monday.

I don't want to live in any of these cities anyway

You don't want to "win" this title...The most dangerous cities in the country:

1. Camden, NJ
2. Detroit
3. Atlanta
4. St. Louis
5. Gary, Ind.

Apparently Camden beat out perennial winner Detroit this time around.

A Daily Look at U.S. Iraq Military Deaths

The numbers speak for themselves. (AP):
As of Sunday, Nov. 21, 2004, at least 1,221 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 946 died as a result of hostile action, the Defense Department said. The figures include three military civilians.

The AP count is four higher than the Defense Department's tally, which was last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 73 deaths; Italy, 19; Poland, 13; Spain, 11; Ukraine, nine; Bulgaria, seven; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, two each; and Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary and Latvia have reported one death each.

Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,083 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. That includes at least 837 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

Matthew Shepard smear on ABC's 20/20 airs Fri.

I ran an entry on this on November 12 when I learned about it, but it's moving back up top because the smear is supposed to air Friday.

ABC will be running a piece that contends Matthew Shepard's killing is just a mugging gone wrong, and is tied to meth use by the perpetrators. There is a web site up now,, where there are a list of contacts to take action against this outrage. Andrew Sullivan contributed to the piece, which is reported by 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas.

20/20's Elizabeth Vargas

As I said then, the defense team was the proponent of the "gay panic" defense and drug use came up at the trial as well, so if this is now Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson trying to rewrite history while in the slammer, it represents more abuse of the victim.

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, Matthew Shepard's killers.

There is a DKos diary on this as well.

Tom Vilsack Won't Seek Chairmanship of DNC; Dean up?

Iowa Gov. Vilsack's dropping out of consideration. Guess this means Howard Dean may be likely? (AP). Over at Daily Kos they're speculating about Simon Rosenberg, currently head of the New Democrat Network.

Bayer now on hot seat for bad meds

Looks like another player in Big Pharma is taking heat for being slow to withdaw a medication that wasn't safe. (AP):
This time it's Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering medicine that Bayer AG withdrew in 2001 after some people who took it developed a severe and sometimes fatal muscle disorder. A new study found that the risks were far greater than had been believed.

The study concludes that today's top-selling cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, are very safe, but could be risky when taken with other drugs called fibrates by older people with diabetes. It also reveals that fibrates alone can be dangerous. These drugs lower triglycerides and often are taken by diabetics.

Six papers on the issue were released Monday and will be published Dec. 1 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Its editors call for a new, independent office separate from the FDA to monitor drugs after they're on the market.

"It is unreasonable to expect that the same agency that was responsible for approval of drug licensing and labeling would also be committed to actively seek evidence to prove itself wrong," they write.

FDA officials did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Can he not afford a security system?

Guess MTV didn't pay him enough to get one. Ozzy's Home in England Burglarized.

Tolerance on the retreat - cross burning is back in style

Burning Cross Left at Home of Interracial Couple on L.I. Yep. It's a sign of the times, and this time it didn't happen in the redneck, Red-State South. Fashionable sheets with pre-cut eyeholes will be available at a store near you soon. (NYT):
Awakened by a loud bang and the ring of their doorbell, an interracial couple peered out the front window of their Long Island home at 3 a.m. yesterday and saw a cross burning on the front lawn.

They said they immediately called the Suffolk County police, but by the time officers arrived, rain had doused the fire. The police removed the cross, which was three feet tall and made from the slats of a picket fence. By yesterday afternoon, the only remaining trace was a charred circle of grass outside the building, a two-family house in the southwest corner of Lake Grove.

Detective Sgt. Robert Reecks said that the police and the F.B.I. were investigating the incident as a hate crime, but that there were no suspects.

It was the county's first cross-burning since 1998, when a black family in Amityville returned home from church and found a burning cross on their lawn.

The Lake Grove home is a modest green split-level occupied by the couple, who rent the first floor, and another family upstairs.

The couple, who were not identified by the police, said that they had known each other for 30 years, had been married for 22 years and had lived in the house for 8. But they said that yesterday was the first time they felt attacked because of their relationship. The wife is white, and the husband is black.

"My first gut reaction was, how could this happen in the 21st century?" said the wife, who spoke only on the condition that she not be identified because she feared another attack. "I don't understand prejudice."

Richard Eggert, who lives upstairs, said he was asleep when he heard a loud thud against the front door - a sound that he thinks was made to wake up the families.

"I ran into the bedroom, and with all the lights off, you could see the flickering on the front lawn," he said.

By the time he raced downstairs to investigate, the husband was outside and whoever left the cross had vanished.

Yesterday afternoon, residents in the neighborhood, a middle-class community of rental homes, said they were baffled and unnerved by the cross-burning. No one had seen anyone set fire to the cross or drive or run away, and no one had any idea why the couple had been singled out.

Take a look at the map at the Southern Poverty Law Center and see the distribution of hate groups around the country.


While we're on this topic, statistics on hate crimes from the FBI...(AP):
Over 7,400 hate crime incidents occurred nationwide last year, more than half of them motivated by racial prejudice most often against black people, the FBI reported Monday.

Hate crimes motivated by anti-black racial bias totaled 2,548 in 2003, more than double such crimes against all other racial groups combined. There were 3,150 black victims in these cases, including four who were murdered, according to the annual FBI report.

The overall total of 7,489 hate crime incidents reported in 2003 was slightly above the number reported in 2002. Nearly two-thirds of the crimes involved in such cases are intimidation, vandalism or property destruction.

But there are also hundreds of violent crimes, including 14 murders. There were more than 2,700 assaults, 444 bias-related robberies, burglaries and thefts, and 34 arson incidents.

The report shows that crimes categorized as anti-Islamic remained at the about same level in 2003 -- 149 crimes -- as the year before. There had been a spike in such crimes immediately after the 2001 terror attacks, helping drive the overall hate crime number much higher that year.

By far the most hate crimes based on religion were directed at Jews, with 927 incidents in 2003, about the same as in 2002.

The report also found more than 1,200 hate crimes based on sexual orientation, including 783 against male homosexuals. That included six murders.

The FBI hate crimes report is drawn from information submitted by more than 11,900 law enforcement agencies around the country. Only about 16 percent of those agencies reported any hate crimes in their jurisdictions during 2003.

Guess you won't see this book at Wal-Mart or Sam's

Women are suing Wal-Mart in the largest civil rights class-action suit in history.

Salon's Corrie Pikul has a great piece on the woes the execs must be feeling at Wal-Mart since they've been busted for discriminating against its female employees. There's a new book out chronicling the whole thing.
In 2000, a 54-year-old Wal-Mart worker named Betty Dukes filed a sex discrimination claim against her employer. Despite six years of hard work and excellent performance reviews, Dukes said, she was denied the training she needed to advance to a higher, salaried position. Dukes was fed up -- and she wasn't the only one. The suit, Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was eventually expanded to represent 1.6 million women, comprising both current and former employees, making it the largest civil rights class-action suit in history. The suit charged Wal-Mart with discriminating against women in promotions, pay and job assignments, in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion or national origin). This past June, a California judge ruled in favor of the women. Wal-Mart is appealing the decision.

In her new book, "Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart," journalist Liza Featherstone follows the Dukes case from start to finish. Through interviews with lawyers, plaintiffs and witnesses -- and analyses of reports from both sides -- she paints a picture of Wal-Mart as a hypocritical, falsely pious, exceptionally greedy corporation that creates a massive sinkhole for working women. (Wal-Mart officials refused to be interviewed for the book.) Female employees from stores all over the country tell of being repeatedly passed over for promotions, enduring sexist comments from male co-workers, and worst of all, getting paid significantly lower salaries for doing the same amount of work, or sometimes even more.

See this entry for more on employee abuse and wage and hour fraud, all courtesy of the Bush economy.

The rollback of the cultural clock begins now, according to Robert Knight

Brothers in arms: Robert Knight, director of the wingnut Culture and Family Institute (L) and Hollywood morals meister from the past, Will Hays.

Apparently Hollywood is ready to be punished again and Robert Knight wants to lead the charge. Look at this crap, covered in the WPost today:
Robert Knight, director of the conservative Culture and Family Institute in Washington, said evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic groups also want to bring to bear the political clout they demonstrated in the presidential election.

"Just as Reagan was not content to contain communism but announced a rollback, pro-family organizations are not content to protest the latest outrage anymore, but will seek legislation and will punish sponsors of lewd entertainment," he said.

Knight acknowledged, however, that some opponents of the Kinsey film may be reluctant to try to punish its distributor, Fox Searchlight, owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

I guess we'll need to roll back to the Hays Code of the 1930s. Here's a sample of the past that may be in our future...
II. Sex
The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.

1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.

2. Scenes of Passion
a. They should not be introduced when not essential to the plot.
b. Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.
c. In general passion should so be treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.

3. Seduction or Rape
a. They should never be more than suggested, and only when essential for the plot, and even then never shown by explicit method.
b. They are never the proper subject for comedy.

4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.
5. White slavery shall not be treated.
6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races) is forbidden.
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures.
8. Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.
9. Children's sex organs are never to be exposed.

III. Vulgarity
The treatment of low, disgusting, unpleasant, though not necessarily evil, subjects should always be subject to the dictates of good taste and a regard for the sensibilities of the audience.

IV. Obscenity
Obscenity in word, gesture, reference, song, joke, or by suggestion (even when likely to be understood only by part of the audience) is forbidden.

V. Profanity
Pointed profanity (this includes the words, God, Lord, Jesus, Christ - unless used reverently - Hell, S.O.B., damn, Gawd), or every other profane or vulgar expression however used, is forbidden.

VI. Costume
1. Complete nudity is never permitted. This includes nudity in fact or in silhouette, or any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture.
2. Undressing scenes should be avoided, and never used save where essential to the plot.
3. Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden.
4. Dancing or costumes intended to permit undue exposure or indecent movements in the dance are forbidden.

VII. Dances
1. Dances suggesting or representing sexual actions or indecent passions are forbidden.
2. Dances which emphasize indecent movements are to be regarded as obscene.

Thanks to AmericaBlog for the pointer.

Anything for money..."JFK Reloaded" game

Why is this necessary? Company Launches JFK Assassination Game The only thing striking about this story is that it is a UK company. I figured some sick, greedy American firm would have release this first. The PR spin on this is incredibly Yank though...
The Glasgow-based firm Traffic said "JFK Reloaded" was an educational "docu-game" that would help disprove conspiracy theories about Kennedy's death. The game is due to be released Monday, the 41st anniversary of the shooting in Dallas.

Traffic said the game challenged players to recreate the three shots fired at the president's car by assassin Lee Harvey Oswald from the Texas School Book Depository.

Traffic's managing director, Kirk Ewing, said the game — available as an Internet download for $9.99 — would "stimulate a younger generation of players to take an interest in this fascinating episode of American history."

Uhh...John, you're off your back

Guess he could barely hold himself together during that campaign -- he clearly wants to scald Bush's ass now. Up to 50,000 more US troops needed in Iraq: Senator McCain. (AFP):
"We still need more troops. We still need more people there," US Senator John McCain told NBC television Sunday.

When asked how many additional forces would have to be deployed, the maverick Republican senator answered "I would say at least 40,000 or 50,000 more," adding that it will likely also be necessary to increase the size of the army and the marine corps.

"I believe those reports of those young Marines that said, 'Look unless we keep a significant presence here, (the insurgents) are going to filter back in'," McCain said, but acknowledging that finding additional manpower "is an enormous strain."

He made his comments as US and Iraqi troops continued to hunt down insurgents in Baghdad and other parts of the country following a massive operation on the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah where 1,450 suspects have been rounded up.

At least seven people were killed as violence flared in several Sunni Muslim towns on Sunday.

Surprise - Bush admin slacks on civil rights enforcement

No shock here, commission by omission. Expect hate crimes to inch up as the intolerant American Taliban continues to wield its influence on this administration. (AP):
Federal enforcement of civil rights laws has dropped sharply since 1999 even though the level of complaints received by the Justice Department has remained relatively constant, according to a study released Sunday.

Criminal charges alleging civil rights violations were brought last year against 84 defendants, down from 159 in 1999, according to Justice Department data analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The study found the number of times the FBI or another federal investigative agency recommended prosecution in civil rights cases -- from fair housing to hate crimes -- has fallen by more than one-third, from over 3,000 in 1999 to just over 1,900 last year. Federal court data also show the government has sought fewer civil sanctions against civil rights violators.

The study's co-author, David Burnham of TRAC, said the results show that civil rights enforcement dropped across-the-board during President Bush's first term in office.

It's unlikely that the decline has occurred because fewer civil rights violations are occurring, the study suggests. The number of complaints about possible violations received by the Justice Department has remained level at about 12,000 annually for each of the past five years.

The Justice Department had no comment about the TRAC study.

Cowboy behavior by Bush as he "saves" his Secret Service detail from Chilean guards

Click to enlarged version. Bush, center left, reaches in to the crowd for his Secret Service Agent. (AP)

He really buys into his cowboy identity, doesn't he? What was he going to do, sucker-punch them? Embarrassing. (AP):
President Bush stepped into the middle of a confrontation and pulled his lead Secret Service agent away from Chilean security officials who barred his bodyguards from entering an elegant dinner for 21 world leaders Saturday night.

Several Chilean and American agents got into a pushing and shoving match outside the cultural center where the dinner was held. The incident happened after Bush and his wife, Laura, had just posed for pictures on a red carpet with the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and his wife, Luisa Duran.

As Bush stepped inside, Chilean agents closed ranks at the door, blocking the president's agents from following. Stopping for more pictures, Bush noticed the fracas and turned back. He reached through the dispute and pulled his agent from the scrum and into the building.

The president, looking irritated, straightened his shirt cuffs as he went into the dinner. The incident was shown on APEC television.

"Chilean security tried to stop the president's Secret Service from accompanying him," said White House deputy press secretary Claire Buchan. "He told them they were with him and the issue was resolved."

Repub Sen. Pat Roberts -- White House is hampering intelligence reform

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Well, this is probably not being well-received in the White House. Guess Roberts doesn't mind getting on Chimpy's sh*t list. (AP) :
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee blamed the White House and Pentagon on Sunday for resisting intelligence reform and gave the U.S. Congress a failing grade for not passing legislation.

Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas also cited turf battles and unwarranted concerns that proposed changes would somehow harm military operations during a time of war.

"There's been a lot of opposition to this from the first," Roberts said on the "Fox News Sunday" program. "Some of it is from the Pentagon. Some of it, quite frankly, is from the White House, despite what the president has said."

...One sticking point involved the power to be given a newly created national intelligence director over the estimated $40 billion intelligence budget, 80 percent of which is currently controlled by the Pentagon.

Concern that intelligence reform would endanger military efforts during wartime was "a false claim," Roberts said.

"I don't think it was only House Republicans. I think some of us who have been working for reform perhaps underestimated the strong undertow of opposition to this and support for status quo," he said.

"And so you put all those factors together, and unfortunately intelligence reform went down. And as far as I'm concerned, Congress gets a big fat 'F' in regards to that effort," Roberts said.

The public's safety will always take a back seat to the bureaucracy's reflexive desire to protect itself.

Rehnquist's condition is under wraps more than KFC's secret recipe

Why has there been no update on the condition of Rehnquist? (AP):
"Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's health is shrouded in mystery, the extent of his thyroid cancer a closely guarded secret. Several coming events could give the public an idea about the seriousness of his condition. Since announcing his illness in a statement on Oct. 25, the 80-year-old Rehnquist has run the nation's highest court from his home in suburban Virginia. He rules on cases by reviewing transcripts of arguments and passing along his votes to justices. Opinions are largely researched and drafted by law clerks. Administrative tasks fall to a top aide.

The only update on his condition came in a short statement from the court three weeks ago. It said he was receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which some doctors familiar with thyroid cancer said suggests Rehnquist has a fast-growing cancer.

Speculation about whether he will step down and give the court its first opening since 1994 has swirled since disclosure of the illness. Three events could offer telling signs of Rehnquist's future after nearly 33 years on the high court, the last 18 as chief justice.

_The return of the court, which next hears arguments on Nov. 29.
_The annual court Christmas party on Dec. 17, an event Rehnquist relishes.
_President Bush's inauguration on Jan. 20. The chief justice normally swears in the president. Bush could choose another justice or other government official.

The court can function indefinitely without a chief justice; the only constitutionally required duty is to preside over a presidential impeachment trial. But the pressure on Rehnquist to disclose his plans will become too great for him to remain silent, predicted David J. Garrow, a law professor at Emory University and Supreme Court historian.

'I don't think things will stay in abeyance beyond January,' he said.
The Supreme Court has operated "

Freepers react to the anti-abortion provision tucked in spending bill

I wrote an entry about this dead-of-night, slippery-slope travesty slipped into the omnibus bill on Fri.

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, despite pleas from nine female senators to change the anti-choice language, left it in the bill. The measure would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals because of "personal religious objections."

As I said on Friday: rural and poor women will be left with few options. The wingnuts are apparently telling us that they are ready for the back-alley abortion and babies-dumped-in-trash cans to make a nostalgic comeback. Access to contraception is not far behind; any pharmacist, doctor or hospital that believes THAT is morally objectionable will be able to deny it to someone. I knew it wouldn't be long before the right-wing Free Republic (Freepers) jumped on this, with glee. They are not content to stop with this folks.
To: Tarpaulin
When I first saw this, it looked like the Congress had added a provision that would cause the BATFE to go around gunning down abortion doctors on the street. What a relief to know that it really means that if your religion prohibits abortion, the law will no longer put a gun to your head to provide them anyway, and the First Amendment be damned. About time we had some common sense in the legal system.
4 posted on 11/20/2004 4:07:58 PM PST by Hardastarboard

To: Tarpaulin
MY headline: Religeous freedom protection provision tucked into spending bill.
6 posted on 11/20/2004 4:12:12 PM PST by No Longer Free State

To: UpFromTishman
I dont understand why they protect a woman who wants to commit murder and call it harming HER reproductive rights. More has to be done to these women and not protect her.
9 posted on 11/20/2004 4:19:42 PM PST by stopem

To: everyone

Superb move.....could it be the Republicans are going to exercise some muscle with shrewdness?! YES!!!

"Some lawmakers and congressional aides interpreted the House leaders' insistence as reflection of the new strength of the anti-abortion movement and Christian conservatives, who played an important role in re-electing Bush this month."

We ought to call our representatives and let them know we appreciate this brilliant move!! :o) This renews my energy!
10 posted on 11/20/2004 4:33:07 PM PST by SeasideSparrow

To: UpFromTishman
"reproductive health access for women"
AKA birth control. Plain and simple!
11 posted on 11/20/2004 4:41:29 PM PST by LuigiBasco (It's LONG past time to restart The Crusades. (What are we waiting for!)

To: Sloth
Very perceptive. The provision has everything to do with choice---choosuing to have nothing to do with abortions. Shows how terminally wedded the Dims are to their anti-life dogma. Love how my idiot Senator Lautenberg couldn't understand why Republicans didn't come out en masse to hear Daschole speak. Why in the world should they?
12 posted on 11/20/2004 4:59:08 PM PST by exit82 (Righteousness exalts a nation...... Proverbs 14:34)

While the WPost thinks it's OK to take ads spouting homophobic junk science...

Paul Cameron (L), the junk scientist behind the homophobic insert that ran in the Washington Post; Coretta Scott King, a long-time gay-rights supporter.

...the audience targeted by the hateful, factually bankrupt insert -- the black community -- needs to remember that Coretta Scott King is a strong advocate of gay rights.

Here are a few quotes of Mrs. King, from John Aravosis's web site:
"I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice," she said. "But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

"Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood."

"We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be," she said, quoting her husband. "I've always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy."

"For many years now, I have been an outspoken supporter of civil and human rights for gay and lesbian people," King said at the 25th Anniversary Luncheon for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.... "Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Ga. and St. Augustine, Fla., and many other campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement," she said. "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions."

"We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say 'common struggle' because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination."

"We have to launch a national campaign against homophobia in the black community."

"For too long, our nation has tolerated the insidious form of discrimination against this group of Americans, who have worked as hard as any other group, paid their taxes like everyone else, and yet have been denied equal protection under the law.... I believe that freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience.... Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others. So I see this bill [ENDA] as a step forward for freedom and human rights in our country and a logical extension of the Bill of Rights and the civil rights reforms of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. The great promise of American democracy is that no group of people will be forced to suffer discrimination and injustice."

If they're on the no-fly list, how come they don't find out until they are on the plane?

Such incompetence. What is the point of the no-fly list? Makes you feel really secure about holiday travel. A flight from Paris bound for DC was diverted to Bangor, Maine because some bonehead finally figured out a person on the plane was on the no-fly list. (AP):
Air France Flight 026 was diverted to Bangor on Saturday night and the two men were detained at a local jail. They were being transported to Massachusetts Sunday as officials investigated why the passenger was allowed to board the plane in Paris.

The second man detained was traveling with the banned passenger.

Paula Grenier, spokeswoman for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, said the men would be expelled from the country within the next couple of days. She did not comment on why one of the men was on the no-fly list.

Officials at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor where the men were held Saturday night identified them as Abdeluala Ahmed Lahiti, 47, and Mohammed Oukassou, 76.

How Tar Heel members of Congress voted this week

The Durham Herald-Sun has the Congressional roll call votes for the week. No surprises here; all the Republicans swing to the wingnut crowd; Elizabeth Dole was named to head the Republican Senatorial Committee, so she'll be spending most of her time whoring for bucks to elect GOP candidates.
U.S. House

NATIONAL DEBT CEILING: Voting 208 for and 204 against, the House on Thursday sent President Bush a bill (S 2986) to raise the national debt ceiling by $800 billion to $8.18 trillion. This marked the third time since the president took office that Congress increased federal borrowing authority to avert a government shutdown. Deficit spending has totaled $1.4 trillion during Bush's first term and is projected to reach $2.2 trillion by late 2005, when this new limit is expected to expire.

A yes vote was to increase the national debt. [Anyone that voted yes for this, needs to be tossed out next time. I don't EVER want to hear about Dems taxing and spending -- Pam.]

Yes: Richard Burr, R-5 [The wingnut that will take the Edwards Senate seat next session. --Pam], Howard Coble, R-6, Robin Hayes, R-8, Sue Myrick, R-9, Cass Ballenger, R-10, Charles Taylor , R-11

No: C.K. Butterfield, D-1, Bob Etheridge, D-2, Walter Jones, R-3, David Price, D-4, Mike McIntyre, D-7, Melvin Watt, D-12, Brad Miller, D-13

PAY AS YOU GO: Voting 194 for and 218 against, the House on Thursday rejected a bid by Democrats to change S 2896 (above) to give Congress an April 15 deadline for deciding whether to restore pay-as-you-go discipline to federal budgeting. Under "pay-go" rules, cuts in taxes or increases in entitlement spending must be offset by tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The legally binding rules helped Congress achieve budget surpluses in the 1990s. But GOP leaders now oppose them on grounds they would interfere with the administration's policy of using tax cuts to stimulate economic growth.

A yes vote was to restore pay-as-you-go rules.

Yes: Butterfield, Etheridge, Price, McIntyre, Watt, Miller
No: Jones, Burr, Coble, Hayes, Myrick, Ballenger, Taylor

EDUCATING THE DISABLED: Voting 397 for and three against, the House on Friday approved the conference report on a bill (HR 1350) extending through fiscal 2009 the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The 1975 law guarantees a mainstream education for the 6.5 million K-12 students with disabilities. This renewal raises teacher standards; reduces paperwork burdens; strengthens discipline of disruptive students for conduct unrelated to their disability; employs mediation to reduce parents' lawsuits, and enables quicker and more accurate identification of students in need of special help.

Congress originally pledged to cover 40 percent of the additional costs that the law imposes on states and localities. But the federal share now stands at only 19 percent. This bill authorizes but does not require Congress to reach the 40 percent share by 2011. Actual increases will depend on later votes.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

Yes: Butterfield, Etheridge, Jones, Price, Burr, Coble, McIntyre, Hayes, Myrick, Ballenger, Taylor, Watt, Miller

No: None

CATCHALL 2005 APPROPRIATIONS: Voting 344 for and 51 against, the House on Saturday approved the conference report on a bill (HR 4818) providing $388 billion in fiscal 2005 discretionary spending for all Cabinet-level departments except Defense and Homeland Security, whose budgets already have been enacted. In contrast to large increases approved earlier for military operations and domestic security, this bill provides small increases or freezes for most domestic programs in areas such as education, the environment, housing, agriculture, medical research and law enforcement. The bill funds foreign operations at slightly increased levels.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Yes: Butterfield, Etheridge, Price, Coble, McIntyre, Hayes, Myrick, Taylor, Watt, Miller
No: Jones
Not voting: Burr, Ballenger

COMMERCIAL SPACE FLIGHT: Voting 269 for and 120 against, the House on Saturday passed a bill (HR 5382) empowering the Federal Aviation Administration to begin federal regulation of commercial space flights involving human passengers and crew. The bill awaited Senate action at the close of the 108th Congress.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Yes: Butterfield, Jones, Price, Coble, Hayes, Myrick, Ballenger, Taylor, Watt, Miller
No: Etheridge, McIntyre
Not voting: Burr

U.S. Senate

NATIONAL DEBT CEILING: Senators on Wednesday voted, 52 for and 44 against, to raise the national debt ceiling by $800 billion to $8.2 trillion in order to prevent the government from shutting down within weeks. The Treasury had used short-term borrowing from the federal employees' pension fund to keep the government afloat. Congress now has raised the statutory debt limit three times during the Bush administration.

A yes vote was to raise the debt ceiling.

Yes: Elizabeth Dole, R
No: John Edwards, D

Dream or Nightmare for GOP - McCain Not Ruling Out Run for President

McCain, Santorum, Hagel -- GOP opponents in 2008?

I guess it's hard to say what the Republicans think of this. Since the wingnuts have taken over the party, McCain would be a hard sell to those folks in 2008. If the right-ward tilt is halted (by American Taliban implosion/over-reach), then he would easily win over the moderates. Those voters, after four more years of what looks like is going to be oppressive, aggressive attempts at "social change" by the Right, may be willing to piss on a candidacy by someone like Rick "Dog Sex" Santorum in 2008. The latter is a wingnut's wet dream candidate. (AP):
"There will be plenty of time to consider whether to run for president again, but certainly I don't think it's in any way appropriate for me to speculate on that at this time," McCain said on NBC. He was asked when that time might come.

"I would think at least not for a couple of years," McCain said.

At least one prominent Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, already has said he is considering a 2008 run for the White House.

If McCain were to run, he would turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, at the height of the campaign. Only President Reagan was older at his inauguration — 73 at the start of his second term.

Asked whether age might be a factor in his decision whether to run, McCain said: "Yes, I think that would have to be a consideration," he replied. However, he said, "I have a wonderful mother who is 92. Maybe I could use her as an example."

You voted for it, you got it -- conservatives looking at state of heterosexual marriage

Now that the election is over, the self-appointed marriage police, having put gays "back in their place" regarding marriage, are turning to all of you depraved heterosexuals out there.
"Protection of marriage" is now the watchword for many activists fighting to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying. Some conservatives, however, say marriage in America began unraveling long before the latest gay-rights push and are pleading for a fresh, soul-searching look at the institution.

"When you talk about protecting marriage, you need to talk about divorce," said Bryce Christensen, a Southern Utah University professor who writes frequently about family issues.

While Christensen doesn't oppose the campaign to enact state and federal bans on gay marriage, he worries it's distracting from immediate threats to marriage's place in society.

"If those initiatives are part of a broader effort to reaffirm lifetime fidelity in marriage, they're worthwhile," he said. "If they're isolated — if we don't address cohabitation and casual divorce and deliberate childlessness — then I think they're futile and will be brushed aside

Gay-rights supporters, during their recent losing battles against gay-marriage bans in 11 states, often argued that if marriage in America was in fact troubled, it was heterosexuals — not gays — who bore the blame.

"That was the best argument same-sex marriage advocates had: 'Where were you when no-fault divorce went through?'" said Allan Carlson, a conservative scholar who runs a family-studies center in Rockford, Ill. "Any thoughtful defender of marriage has to say, 'You're right. We were asleep at the switch in the '60s and '70s.'"

Carlson hopes the same-sex marriage debate will encourage a broader national conversation.

"For the first time in about 50 years we are honestly looking at the state of marriage in America, and what we have allowed to happen to it," he said. "I hope the conservative side will do a little soul-searching and look for ways to rebuild traditional marriage into something stronger."

Carlson decries no-fault divorce, where neither spouse is held responsible for the breakup, but acknowledges that its demise is not imminent. He proposes more modest steps: tax revisions benefiting married couples, a more positive portrayal of marriage in textbooks, policies aiding young college graduates so they could afford to marry sooner.

In several of the states that approved gay-marriage bans on Nov. 2, initiatives are underway to bolster heterosexual marriage. A bill pending in Michigan's legislature would encourage premarital education; Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife have invited 1,000 couples to join them in a Valentine's Daycovenant marriage ceremony in which they would voluntarily reduce their options for a quick divorce.

Walter Cronkite, a real journalist, sounds off on Iraq

Uncle Walter knows what he's talking about -- he knew when Vietnam was too far gone and the truth wasn't being told by the Pentagon. [He even has a journalism school in his name; perhaps some of today's lazy journalists should consider some refresher classes]. In the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Cronkite tells it "the way it is."
"The public's reaction to Vietnam is going to be peanuts when compared to Iraq if it's not settled soon," he said during a media forum on Fisher Island held to benefit the Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund. "The war is tearing us apart."

During hour-long remarks, Cronkite also spoke out on the presidential election, the national debt and the state of television journalism.

Cronkite, 88, who spent years as a foreign correspondent and covered World War II and the Nuremberg trials for United Press, said the outcome of the presidential election only added to a tense atmosphere in the nation.

"We have one party controlling the White House, House of Representatives and its subsidiaries," Cronkite said. "The nation's severely unbalanced."

The former anchorman said he was pleased with election coverage but noted the press was reluctant to point out fallacies in the candidates' arguments. He was also quick to criticize the Bush administration's tactics in dealing with the media.

"They're not interested in communicating with the public," he said. "They lock up what they don't want the public to know."

Still, Cronkite said he was optimistic about the future of the nation.

"I have faith in this country and somehow we are going to make this work," he said.

Bush is about to screw Tony Blair. Again.

The question is, will Tony like it? After all, he and Shrub were hell-bent on getting into Iraq with bogus information. Then when it all blows back it their faces, Blair still commits Scotland's heralded Black Watch troops to sub while we f*ckup Fallujah, which are now under fire. How much more can the Brits take of the "Poodle"?

Now Chimpy is putting the squeeze on Tony again, this time over
Iran's nuclear weapons development. (Guardian):
Pentagon hawks have begun discussing military action against Iran to neutralise its nuclear weapons threat, including possible strikes on leadership, political and security targets.

With a deadline of tomorrow for Iran to begin an agreed freeze on enriching uranium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons, sources have disclosed that the latest Pentagon gaming model for 'neutralising' Iran's nuclear threat involves strikes in support of regime change.

Although the United States has made clear that it would seek sanctions against Iran through the United Nations should it not meet its obligations, rather than undertake military action, the new modelling at the Pentagon, with its shift in emphasis from suspected nuclear to political target lists, is causing deep anxiety among officials in the UK, France and Germany.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet on Thursday to decide whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for being in breach of non-proliferation measures.

Sources close to the Bush administration have warned that Tony Blair will have to choose between the EU's pursuit of the diplomatic track and a more hardline approach from the White House.

While George Bush clearly favours more stick and less carrot, it is not yet clear what the stick might be: US administration sources say targeted air strikes - either by the US or Israel - aimed at wiping out Iran's fledgling nuclear programme would be difficult because of a lack of clear intelligence about where key components are located.

Despite America's attempt to turn up the heat on Iran, analysts remain deeply uncertain whether the increasingly bellicose noises which are coming from Bush administration figures represent a crude form of 'megaphone' diplomacy designed to scare Iran into sticking to its side of the bargain, or evidence that Washington is leaning towards a new military adventure.

Sh*t, if the U.S. wants to take another military action, we've got no troops to commit.

Sunday Morning Chat Shows...

Guests to be interviewed today on major television talk shows:

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif., former labor secretary Robert B. Reich and former education secretary William J. Bennett.

FACE THE NATION (CBS): Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) .

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former CIA senior analyst Michael Scheuer.

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sens. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.).

LATE EDITION (CNN), noon: Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.); former secretaries of state Henry A. Kissinger and Madeleine K. Albright; former CIA directors R. James Woolsey and Stansfield Turner; comedian Al Franken; Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif. ), Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) and Martin Frost (D-Tex.); Mexican President Vicente Fox."

The "paper of record" massively slacks off on the voting irregularities story

When the NYT making light of this important story, and better yet, chastises the online community for doing its job, it has to be called out. THE BRAD BLOG is pretty damn mad. He's been covering and compiling tons of irregularities. Certainly the Times has enough resources to do the kind of work Brad Friedman is doing, but apparently they either find this story too complicated or too politically charged. I don't think that the tradition of excellent news journalism has any basis to consider this story untouchable. If that's the case now, maybe it's time that the blogging community fill that gap. And that includes all political persuasions, because I'm sure even the wingnuts feel the MSM often miss the boat on stories they care about.

But back to the voting debacle -- many of us are pretty pissed at the shabby coverage by the mainstream media about all the voting irregularities and you can vent about this. Brad's got a link to mass email the appropriate Times people about your displeasure. Here's Brad on the situation:
The New York Times has been bravely leading the way in ignoring the story of America's failure to hold an honest, clean and transparent election. Even though they've had time to dismiss the whole affair as "the conspiracy theories of leftwing bloggers."

Their criticism and sniffing dismissal of those of us who give a damn about getting this story right and told to the American people accurately is ironic coming from the "newspaper of record" which spent a year helping us get into a war by becoming the unquestioning lapdog of the Bush Adminstration's rhetoric and inaccurate propoganda. They had to issue an apology for their crappy reporting. And they've got the gall to criticize "bloggers" for covering this story?!

UPDATE: Brad has added 15 Unanswered Questions about Election 2004 a little cheat sheet for the lazy journalists at the NYT. Armed with this little guide, perhaps they can make a few phone calls and do a little work on this story?

Someone at the Washington Post thinks taking money from gay-bashers is A-OK.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Behind the above unassuming cover lies pages and pages of gay-bashing and base homophobia with generous portions of junk science to "back up" the positions. Where can you find such disgusting filth? The Washington Post.

It would not be surprising for something like this to run in the right-wing Washington Times, but the WPost?

John Aravosis over at one of my regular haunts, Americablog is mounting a call to arms to flood the email box and voicemail of the WPost ombudsman to politely, but firmly get your opinion across:
(202) 334-7582

The insert is here, in four parts:
- bothsidesmag1.pdf
- bothsidesmag2.pdf
- bothsidesmag3.pdf
- bothsidesmag4.pdf

UPDATE: AmericaBlogger Rogue Misanthrope is serving up the files as well to share the load:

And more:


John went on a real tear about this, and I couldn't have said it any better, so I'm reprinting a big juicy hunk:
In it you learn things like the fact that sexual orientation isn't genetic. Why? Because if it were genetic it would have to be passed by gay parents who don't have kids! Putting aside a number of holes in that theory, there's the more general scientific point about recessive genes. My point is that this filth isn't even scientifically correct, and the Post is publishing it. I didn't realize the Post had no problems publishing junk science targeting minority groups. Huh.

What's more, the entire publication is based on race-baiting. It is CLEARLY written for the black community in an effort to piss them off against the gays. Funny, but you'd think the Post would have a problem with a scientifically invalid publication whose sole intent was to enrage one minority community against another. But no.

Oh, and it gets better. The publication informs you that gays die at the age of 41. Yep, all of us. What they don't tell you is that this little "study" was conducted by Dr. Paul Cameron, an anti-gay nutjob who has even been disowned by the religious right (let alone he was thrown out of various medical associations). But does the Post have a problem publishing junk science that suggests that certain minority groups are inferior to others? Not at all!

Oh, it goes on and on. Then concludes by invoking Martin Luther King's memory to attack us. Which is again an outright lie since Coretta Scott King has already said that the gay rights movement is part of the larger civil rights movement her husband embraced.

Where the hell is the Washington Post on all of this? Pay them the right price and they'll publish any crap, no matter how outrageous, no matter how wrong, no matter how hateful and obviously race-baiting (note that the fags in the publication are all white).

This is so beyond the pale. You have got to see this. And we have got to respond. On its face this is publishing junk science meant to attack minorities, and is race-baiting, among other things. I wonder if the Washington Post would publish a magazine insert that, oh, specifically targeted the white community, alerting them to studies suggesting that blacks are genetically inferior to whites, more prone to disease and early death than whites, and that blacks therefore don't deserve affirmative action and other civil rights protections because, you know, they're not as worthy as Jewish people? Also, I hear that if they use the right cream, blacks can become white.

I'm serious about this. If the Post refused to run such an ad we could sue their asses off under the DC civil rights ordinance. We need to get the Post on the record explaining the differences between the two ads because there is NO WAY they can defend the science in this ad, on that I'm an expert. This science is the same crap that says blacks are inferior to whites. And if the Post wouldn't run bigoted race-baiting Aryan science studies about blacks - and they wouldn't - then they'd better treat gays with the same journalistic standard.

Ireland's getting with the program on civil partnerships

Is the U.S. going to be the last country left standing in opposition to this issue? It's depressing when you see the progress everywhere else, but overall it's wonderful to see this happening in a predominantly Roman Catholic country such as Ireland. A proposal is moving forward to to legalize civil partnerships, regardless of sexuality.

This tactic gets to the heart of the difference between religious marriage and civil marriage, which are two distinct things that the wingnuts have chosen to conflate, despite any reasonable, logical attempts to clarify the simple distinctions.
Ireland should legalize civil partnerships between unmarried couples, including homosexuals, but not pursue full-fledged "gay marriage," Justice Minister Michael McDowell said Saturday in his first major policy speech on the matter.

Ireland has become one of Europe's most prominent legal battlegrounds on the matter after a lesbian couple launched a lawsuit this month against the country's tax collection agency for refusing to recognize their 2003 marriage in Canada. Married couples can claim a special income tax credit.

An all-party committee of lawmakers this month also launched public hearings into possible reforms to family law in Ireland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country where homosexuality itself was outlawed until 1993.

McDowell declared that the government today was "unequivocally in favor of treating gay people as fully equal citizens in our society." But he said the current heavy public focus on whether to extend full marriage rights and responsibilities to gay couples "is too narrow."

He listed a wide range of committed relationships outside of marriage that the state should recognize as likely to require reforms to Ireland's laws governing tax, inheritance and pensions.

"There are many cohabiting heterosexual couples. There may be brothers sharing a farm. There may be an elderly parent being supported by a child. These may be people living together who share an economic interdependence without having any sexual aspect to their relationship at all," he said.

He said Ireland's parliament should pass legal reforms that "formally recognize people who have entered into a civil partnership with each other," regardless of their sexuality, and allow the surviving half of such partnerships "to acquire next-of-kin status."

We've got it all under control in Baghdad...

Iraqis chant anti-US and anti-government slogans in front of a US tank after a car bomb exploded killing at least one person in central Baghdad Saturday, Nov. 20, 2004. (AP Photo/Mohammed Khodor)

Let's see, it's not like a knife fight. Look at the weapons these insurgents have. No wonder they're looking to call up 5,000 more troops. This is just in one freaking AP story:
Insurgents attacked a police station Saturday in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad where U.S. and Iraqi troops raided a major mosque the day before in a crackdown on Sunni militants. Iraqi officials were trying to identify four decapitated bodies found in Mosul.

Also, insurgents attacked a U.S. Army patrol Saturday in Baghdad, killing one American soldier and injuring nine others, the U.S. military said. The unit came under coordinated attack, which included roadside bombs, small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, the military said.

In downtown Baghdad, a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle, killing one civilian and injuring another, witnesses said, as a thunderous rumble of explosions reverberated elsewhere in the Iraqi capital.

...In western Baghdad, heavy fighting broke out between gunmen and Iraqi National Guards and American troops. Three Iraqi National Guardsmen were killed by roadside bombs in the same area, police said.

In the nearby Khadra area, two U.S. troops on patrol were injured when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, said policeman Ali Hussein of the Khadra police station. The U.S. military had no immediate confirmation of the incident.

Insurgents also attacked a police station in northwestern Baghdad with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, witnesses said.

Haitian pastor dies in custody of Homeland Security

How can this happen? A 81-year-old Haitian Baptist minister was denied his high blood pressure medication while in the custody of our government. His crime? Applying for political asylum in Miami . There is also the broader question of discrimination of Haitians while Cubans can easily immigrate. (St. Pete Times):
Haitian-Americans watched in awe this week as a group of 44 Cuban entertainers applied for political asylum in Las Vegas, unmolested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The treatment of the Cubans could not have contrasted more sharply with the experience of Joseph Dantica, an 81-year-old Haitian Baptist minister who recently applied for asylum in Miami.

U.S. immigration officials took the Rev. Dantica to jail, where he died before he had the chance to make his case for asylum. His family held a wake for him Thursday at a Miami funeral home.

"He died alone in a hospital bed," said his niece Edwidge Danticat, 35, who is a U.S. citizen. "It's not that the others (Cubans) don't deserve it. But there should be some fairness."

Ah -- shenanigans surface in Durham, NC with 90 people that were not able to vote. Not a large number, but these folks registered properly, but they were entitled to vote, including a man that was declared deceased, but was very much alive.

The Bull City had extraordinary early vote turnout, and went heavily Democrat.

About 1,000 Durham ballots rejected. (Herald-Sun):
Ninety people who weren't allowed to vote in this year's presidential election in Durham County said they tried to register at state DMV offices, but the Board of Elections has no record of receiving their applications.

More than 100 other people said they registered by mail, although at least 12 indicated their forms were mailed after the Oct. 8 deadline.

Those were two findings from The Herald-Sun's review of the provisional ballot applications from the Nov. 2 election. If a voter's name doesn't appear on the registration list when he or she shows up to vote, federal law requires that the voter be given a provisional ballot. The ballot, which remains secret, is placed inside an envelope. On the outside, an application lists the voter's reason he or she should be allowed to vote.

In Durham County this year, 2,820 people voted provisionally out of a total of 111,685 voters. Of those, the Board of Elections said 1,030 applications eventually were rejected. The Herald-Sun's review counted only 998 rejected ballots.

Of the 1,030 rejected ballots, elections officials said Democrats cast 582, Republicans cast 160, unaffiliated voters cast 282, and Libertarians cast six.

Statewide, 49,362 people voted this year using a provisional ballot, and 19,016 of those were rejected.

Mike Ashe, director of the Durham County Board of Elections, said with all the election hype and get-out-the-vote efforts, he expected more provisional ballots. And considering the large number of votes cast, he feels like the system worked.

But even with provisional ballots, the election system still isn't necessarily fail-safe, he said.

Board of Elections notes, for example, indicated that Durham resident Sammy Johnson's vote didn't count because he was deceased. But when contacted by a reporter, Johnson said he not only was alive, but he thought the problem had been resolved and his vote had been counted.

"Well, I got to tell you, I was very upset. I have been voting ever since I was old enough to vote," said Johnson, a 38-year-old who is self-employed. "I can't understand how the [Elections Board] can't get it together."

More creeping American Taliban crap, this time in the Air Force Academy: Bible, E-Mail Don't Mix.
Air Force Academy officials are cracking down on a practice by some staffers to put Bible verses at the bottom of their academy e-mail.

"None of this (Bible or personal signature notes) is appropriate, and it says this in Air Force instructions," Lt. Col. Laurent Fox said Thursday.

Academy officials sent a memo to everyone at the school Sept. 15 explaining the policy for using government e-mail.

Earlier this week, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa said the school would bolster its religious tolerance training after a survey showed evidence of harassment or pressure toward cadets based on their beliefs.

He said about half the cadets who responded to the annual survey reported hearing religious slurs, comments or jokes, and that some cadets felt ostracized because they weren't religious.

Fox said Rosa has been working on the problem since March, when academy commanders admonished cadets for using academy e-mail to encourage people to see "The Passion of the Christ", Mel Gibson's movie about the Crucifixion.

Where will they get them? We have 138,000 troops in Iraq, and they want to call up 5,000 more. U.S. Likely to Boost Forces in Iraq. Notice the announcement comes after the election, as predicted. As if the need didn't exist before Nov. 2.

N.C. study committee to examine electronic voting irregularities is expanded. You've probably heard about the electronic voting problems all over the country. [Brad Friedman over at the hard-hitting BradBlog has been unearthing and collecting massive and disturbing information.] Here in the Tar Heel state, things have gotten so bad that this commission is finally getting more teeth to look into the mess, but as with any government bureaucracy, it's going to be slow going. The issue is to get this resolved before the next election cycle.
Legislative leaders created a special committee Friday to examine electronic voting machines in an effort to ensure that all votes cast in future elections are counted properly.

The 13-member Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting Systems replaces a smaller study commission that had been authorized in July but had never met.

Interest has grown in the subject after Carteret County lost more than 4,400 ballots from a touch-screen voting network that failed to record them after it exceeded its storage capacity.

The lost ballots are the focus of protests filed by candidates for state agriculture commissioner and superintendent of public instruction. Republican commissioner candidate Steve Troxler leads Democrat Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes -- less than the total of lost votes.

Sens. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, and Austin Allran, R-Catawba; Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, and Susan Adams with the Moore County Board of Elections will lead the committee.

Orange County reps on the committee: Kinnaird (l) and Insko.

The other panelists were appointed by Senate leader Marc Basnight, D-Dare, and House Co-Speakers Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, and Richard Morgan, R-Moore.

Committee members include Gary Bartlett, executive director of the state Board of Elections; David Allen, an advocate for paper voting records for ballots cast by electronic voting systems, and Rep. Jean Preston, R-Carteret. Preston was among the voters whose ballots weren't recorded by Carteret's touch-screen machines.

The date of the first committee meeting has not been announced. The panel can make recommendations to the General Assembly before it convenes in late January, with a final report to be issued by the spring of 2006.

More musical chairs at Law & Order, since Elizabeth Rohm is leaving...
Television prosecutor Jack McCoy will have to adjust to yet another new partner on the series "Law & Order." Actress Annie Parisse is joining the cast as an assistant district attorney in the NBC drama, which stars Sam Waterston as McCoy. Elisabeth Rohm, who now plays the prosecutor working with McCoy, is leaving the New York-based series to pursue a film career. Rohm, who started in 2001, appears in 13 episodes this season.

Looks like the hottie factor is going up...

She has appeared in a 2002 episode of "Law & Order" and in episodes of "Friends" and "Third Watch." She played Julia Lindsey Snyder on the daytime serial "As the World Turns."

Friday, November 19, 2004

The "social conservatives" (i.e. wingnuts) are playing hardball with anti-choice measures -- if you're pro-choice, you better take a look at how they plan to chip away at it -- it's tucked in a sure-to-pass spending bill. Negotiators Add Abortion Clause to Spending Bill (NYT):
House and Senate negotiators have tucked a potentially far-reaching anti-abortion provision into a $388 billion must-pass spending bill, complicating plans for Congress to wrap up its business and adjourn for the year.

The provision may be an early indication of the growing political muscle of social conservatives who provided crucial support for Republican candidates, including President Bush, in the election.

It would bar federal, state and local agencies from withholding taxpayer money from health care providers that refuse to provide or pay for abortions or refuse to offer abortion counseling or referrals. Current federal law, aimed at protecting Roman Catholic doctors, provides such "conscience protection'' to doctors who do not want to undergo abortion training. The new language would expand that protection to all health care providers, including hospitals, doctors, clinics and insurers.

"It's something we've had a longstanding interest in," said Douglas Johnson, a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee. He added, "This is in response to an orchestrated campaign by pro-abortion groups across the country to use government agencies to coerce health care providers to participate in abortions."

"I am willing to stand on my feet and slow this thing down," Ms. Boxer said. "Everyone wants to go home, I know that, and I know I will not win a popularity contest in the Senate. But they should not be doing this. On a huge spending bill they're writing law, and they're taking away rights from women."

Ted Stevens is hell-bent on passing this, ignoring the pleas of nine of his female colleagues to change the language of the measure.

Ms. Boxer said that she complained to Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, but that he told her that House Republican leaders insisted that the provision, which was approved by the House in July but never came to the Senate for a vote, be included in the measure.

...Louise Melling, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, which has opposed the provision, said it would effectively strip states of their right to "enforce laws that were designed to protect women's health."

For instance, she said, there are four states - Hawaii, Maryland, New York and Washington - that pay for some abortions for low-income women through their Medicaid programs. Under the language included in the omnibus bill, hospitals would not have to comply with those requirements.

The bill is going to pass, people. The rural and poor women will be left with few options. The wingnuts are apparently telling us that they are ready for the back-alley abortion and babies-dumped-in-trash cans to make a nostalgic comeback. The "New-Old Right to Choose." Don't think contraception is far behind; any pharmacist, doctor or hospital that believes THAT is morally objectionable will be able to deny it to someone.

You have to stop and appreciate the bright spots in this election. Very liberal Senator Barbara Boxer finished as third top vote-getter on Nov 2.
In a campaign year when the GOP picked off most of its Democratic targets, Boxer sailed to a third Senate term Nov. 2 with 6.4 million votes, 200,000 more than Kerry got in the state. Ralph Nader's total for the country: 407,000 votes.

Boxer crushed former California Secretary of State Bill Jones by 20 percentage points and scored a bigger share of the electorate than Democrat Dianne Feinstein, the state's senior and more popular senator, got in her last election.

This from a San Francisco Bay Area liberal who's made a habit of exasperating the GOP, whether taking on the Pentagon over a $7,600 coffee pot — a fight she waged as a junior congresswoman two decades ago — or leading opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"She's certainly one of the most liberal senators in the country, and one that Republicans love to hate," said Ken DeBow, a political scientist at California State University, Sacramento. "And they can't come close to touching her."

Religious homophobes take note. This pervert is heterosexual. Don't blame gay people for all the sickness in the world. Man Convicted Under U.S. Sex Tourism Law.
An 86-year-old man was found guilty Friday of attempting to travel to the Philippines to sexually molest girls, in violation of a new federal law aimed at fighting sex tourism.

A judge found John W. Seljan guilty of six counts, including attempting to travel for the purpose of having sex with minors and possession of child pornography.

Seljan faces a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 270 years when he is sentenced in March.

To have a good laugh, please go here: FauX News - The Most Powerful Smell in News.

Straight pundit without a clue department. How is it possible that Kevin Drum (The Washington Monthly) was completely CLUELESS that of the 11 gay marriage initiatives up for a vote in the national election, eight restricted civil unions as well? He must have had his head in the sand and never surfed the blogosphere.
CIVIL UNIONS....This column is a week old (I noticed it today via Andrew Tobias), but it's worth linking to. Thomas Oliphant points out that of the 11 gay marriage initiatives on the ballot this month, only three of them were solely about gay marriage. If I'd been paying more attention, I would have known that. But I figure that if I didn't know it, a lot of you probably didn't either. Now you do.

Clearly, we've got to get the word out more to the hapless straight crowd that votes.

I think this is one of the understatements of the year: Insurgency a Problem for Iraq Rebuilding (WP). Uhhh...yeah. Rebuilding is the least of your worries.

This Reuters caption says it all: Soldiers with the 3/21 of the U.S. Army's Stryker Brigade secure a police station which had been over-run by insurgents during last week's heavy fighting in Mosul, November 19, 2004. Iraq is hoping to hold national elections in just over two months' time, but events in Mosul last week, where the police force all but collapsed, have underlined just how challenging that plan could prove. In the space of 48 hours, around 3,200 of Mosul's 4,000 police officers dropped their weapons and ran off, intimidated into submission by groups of armed insurgents. REUTERS/Bob Strong

The triumphant Boseman (L), and wingnut liar Mike Adams.

This outrage almost doesn't deserve discussion, because the right-wing writer, Mike S. Adams, has a screw loose. He is basically accusing recently-elected NC State Senator Julia Boseman (and the first out lesbian elected official here) of engineering her opponent's homophobic campaigning against her by committing "one of the most disgraceful episodes of political passive aggression in North Carolina history." I am not f*cking kidding -- read this hateful, ignorant crap:
In order to win the support of a powerful gay rights PAC known as the “Victory Fund,” Boseman had to meet their “stringent criteria and complete an exhaustive screening process” in order to demonstrate that she was a “viable candidate.”

Translation: Boseman had to a) interject her sexuality into the campaign and, b) make her sexuality relevant by supporting initiatives such as gay marriage. In return she got a lot of money.

But after Boseman interjected her sexuality into the campaign, her Republican opponent took issue with her acceptance of money from the “Victory Fund.” The local Republican party then ran an advertisement objecting to her decision to (homo) sexualize the campaign in exchange for out-of-state money. Their reasoning was simple: Gay lobbyists in Washington do not care about our local schools and North Carolinians don’t care for gay marriage.

...And, of course, Julia Boseman won her election. She did it by sitting back and grinning while her opponent was falsely dubbed a “bigot” and a “hate criminal” by hysterical homosexuals and remorseless reporters.

His piece continues with a convoluted secondary story involving the writer having been sued by Boseman for defamation over speculation Adams made about the father of Boseman and her partner's child. The end result is Adams had to issue an apology to Boseman.

Freepers are bashing Boseman at the forum "Evangelicals: America's Taliban."
To: little jeremiah
Julia Boseman is another hate filled gay maggot. She hates Christians, republicans and conservatives:
To: paudio
How in the world did this beotch get elected in North Carolina in the first place?

To: paudio
We need to write volumes to and about this "sinator." Let's track down her address. Further, let's blanket our Republican and RINO senators with correspondence to make certain this windbag goes nowhere but out when she's up for re-election.

To: paudio
Well why not elect Lesbos, etc., to the NC legislature, we apparently already have representatives from every other group of missfits, such as mentally, morally, mutated, misinformed, disinformed, malformed, evoluted, inflated, deflated, constipated, doubledated, overrated, underrated, carbondated, blinddated, and irritating as hell.

Bring them all on. All except those showing any indication of a slant toward rationality-NC has it's reputation to protect, after all.

To: Smokin' Joe
"Lust is their currency, abortion is their sacrament, and sodomy is their communion. Oh, and lies and more lies are the scripture verse of the day."

Lie-berals, especially "gay" agenda promoters. But they've all drunk the same Koolaid.

Someone might want to ask why is a Saudi prince is protecting News Corp's Rupert Murdoch from a takeover bid.

Do you trust them now? FDA Says Approved Drugs Are Safe:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that Senate testimony by a veteran FDA researcher regarding safety risks for five drugs does not reflect the views of the agency.

Dr. David Graham, speaking at a Senate hearing Thursday, singled out Abbott Laboratories Inc.'s weight-loss drug Meridia, AstraZeneca Plc's cholesterol fighter Crestor, Pfizer Inc.'s arthritis treatment Bextra, Roche's acne drug Accutane and GlaxoSmithKline's asthma drug Serevent.

'The five specific drugs that Dr. Graham identified in his oral testimony are currently approved as safe and effective for use in the United States,' Dr. Steven Galson, acting director for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement published on the FDA Web site.

If you're taking these meds, what are you supposed to do now? Your doctor is probably equally concerned.

You can tell Senator Rick "Dog Sex" Santorum (R-PA) is already thinking about his 2006 re-election prospects (and, I believe, ultimately jockeying for a 2008 presidential run). He's adeptly assessing the Arlen Specter battle to head the Judiciary Committee, and weighing the impact of any public support of him in his bid, especially among the wingnut crowd. He's earned some gold stars with them because of his unhinged comments about homosexuality.

Santorum Keeps Low Profile With Specter (WP):
But while home state concerns prodded Santorum to help Specter, a moderate who supports abortion rights, his own budding national constituency of conservatives pulled angrily in the other direction. The result was uncharacteristic reticence on the part of the Senate's third-ranking Republican, a 46-year-old, second-term lawmaker who seems to relish political combat and may harbor national ambitions as well.

"I don't want to usurp the power of the committee by making a recommendation one way or the other," he told reporters Wednesday. "This is the committee's decision," he added of the panel that reviews President Bush's appointments to the federal courts.

Nor did Santorum attend a key leadership meeting this week at which Specter underwent an extraordinary vetting.

Nor was he in evidence Thursday when Specter won his battle after issuing an extraordinary public pledge designed to satisfy conservative skeptics. "I have assured the president that I would give his nominees quick committee hearings and early committee votes," regardless of their views on abortion, Specter said.

Moments later, perhaps inadvertently, he framed Santorum's political dilemma. Asked whether his fellow Pennsylvanian had helped him gain his lifelong political goal, Specter quickly said, "Yes." Then, catching himself in mid-sentence, he added: "Well. It may get him into trouble if I say yes. Let him speak for himself."

...His attitude seemed different two weeks ago, when the controversy first flared. That was when Specter, fresh from a home state re-election victory, said anti-abortion nominees to the Supreme Court would likely find it difficult to win Senate confirmation.

...But while Santorum was telling reporters earlier this week he wasn't taking sides, other Republicans said that came as news to them. "Santorum has been supportive of Specter," Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said, an assessment that other senators confirmed on condition of anonymity.


Outside the Senate, Santorum's initial tilt infuriated some conservatives, still angry that he sided with Specter against a primary challenger, conservative Rep. Pat Toomey, last spring. He did so after reassuring his supporters that whatever Specter's personal views on abortion, he had never applied a litmus test to appointments to the court in the past, and had pledged not to do so in the future.

"I don't expect Senator Santorum to support (Specter)," said Nancy Staible, Pennsylvania state director of Concerned Women for America, a conservative organization that claims 10,000 Pennsylvania members. She said she would "have to reconsider my support" for Santorum, whom she said she has known since before he came to Congress in 1990.

"I think Santorum has really injured himself here," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, head of the Christian Defense Coalition. "I view Senator Santorum as trying to find refuge in a political firestorm, and he's doing what is so common among Washington politicians, which is ... sticking his finger up and seeing which way the wind is going to blow."

Thank heaven for the ethics of the Bush Economy. Employers, clearly in violation of labor laws, think it's ok to think it's ok to work people like dogs off the clock for profit. Despite extremely black-and-white laws in this regard, skirting them is all about getting something for nothing -- but workers aren't taking it anymore. This is a long article, and you should go read the whole thing. It's enraging. (NYT):
Soon after Trudy LeBlue began working at the new SmartStyle hair salon outside New Orleans, her salon manager began worrying that business was too slow and profits were too weak.

To keep costs down, Ms. LeBlue said, the manager often ordered her and the two other stylists to engage in a practice, long hidden, that appears to have spread to many companies: working off the clock.

Many weeks, Ms. LeBlue spent 40 hours in the salon, but was ordered to clock out for 20 of them while waiting for customers to show up, she said. With the salon's computer tracking her official hours, she was told to clean up and stock merchandise during the unpaid stretches.

"If you weren't doing hair or a perm, they'd tell you to get off the clock, but you still had to stay in the salon," she said.

What angered her most was her paltry paycheck, which she said often came to just $200 for two weeks, even after 80 hours at work. For Ms. LeBlue, that worked out to $2.50 an hour, less than half of the $5.15-an-hour federal minimum wage and her official rate, $5.35 an hour.

Workers at hair salons, supermarkets, restaurants, discount stores, call centers, car washes and other businesses who have murmured only to one another about off-the-clock work are now speaking up and documenting the illegal practice.

Trudy Leblue (L) was f*cked over for hundreds of hours she wasn't paid for; Wilfredo Brewster put in 70 hours or more a week, but was told to clock 40 at slave-master A&P in Greenburgh, N.Y. Photos: Cheryl Gerber, NYT/Susan Stava, NYT

"It is prevalent," said Alfred Robinson, director of the wage and hour division of the Labor Department. "It is one of the more common violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act."

Though there have been no formal studies of the practice or of its overall cost to employees, the workers interviewed said off-the-clock work took place at a variety of companies: A&P, J. P. Morgan Chase, Pep Boys, Ryan's Family Steakhouses, TGF Precision HairCutters and Ms. LeBlue's company, SmartStyle, which is part of the Regis Corporation, the nation's largest chain of hairstylists. SmartStyle and many of the other companies say they bar off-the-clock work, and they are fighting the lawsuits.

Over the last year, the Labor Department has brought enforcement actions against several companies that required off-the-clock work, seeking back pay and demanding compliance. The agency has grown more aggressive after plaintiffs' lawyers filed scores of off-the-clock lawsuits, some resulting in multimillion-dollar settlements with prominent companies, including Radio Shack and Starbucks.

Many people who study business practices say off-the-clock work has become more prevalent because middle managers face greater pressure to lower labor costs and because the managers' bonuses may even be tied to cutting those costs. Off-the-clock work is most often found, they say, at workplaces that employ many immigrants, like farms and poultry-processing plants, but the phenomenon has spread, especially among low-wage companies in the service sector.

..."There's more of this stuff going on than 10 and 20 and especially 30 and 40 years ago," said David Lewin, a human resources professor at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. "There are a lot of incentives to engage in these kinds of practices, because they result in higher profits for the company and they can lead to higher bonuses for local managers."

...Adam T. Klein, a lawyer who has brought off-the-clock lawsuits against A&P and J. P. Morgan Chase, said many companies pushed for such unpaid work because it is an easy way to bolster profits.

"Corporate profits are derived from efficiency, and every extra minute off the clock they can squeeze out of a worker generates profits to the bottom line," he said. "Some companies have even institutionalized the notion that preshift and postshift work doesn't have to be compensated."

Eileen Appelbaum, director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University and an editor of "Low-Wage America," a book of essays about the workplace, said more people work off the clock because job insecurity makes them increasingly eager to please management.

"One big reason for off-the-clock work is people are really worried about their jobs," she said.
People...take note of the above companies, especially if you spend your money there.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Talk about air pollution...we're now going to be trashing the Canadian digital airwaves with Fox News Channel. Apologies to our neighbors to the north. Now you'll get to see what "fair and balanced" really means.

Vioxx may give you a heart attack, but I think this will do just as good a job finishing you off.

This is what is really wrong with the health of America. Thanks, Hardee's -- for creating "food porn."

This really makes you feel sick -- who eats this sh*t? 1,420 calories in America's new monster hamburger. (News Telegraph):
America's appetite for junk food has taken on terrifying new proportions in the form of the highest calorie hamburger ever marketed to a nation already sick from overeating.

...[Hardee's] Monster Thickburger consists of two slabs of Angus beef (664 calories) and four rashers of bacon (150 calories) with three slices of processed cheese (186 calories), plus mayonnaise (160 calories), sandwiched between a sesame seed bun (230 calories) spread with butter for a final 30.

The burger requires "two hands, a firm grip and a serious appetite", Hardee's boasts. It is also a "heart attack in a bun", say nutritionists.

..Hardee's previous attempt to seduce big eaters was the plain Thickburger.

"If the old Thickburger was 'food porn', the new Monster Thickburger is the fast-food equivalent of a snuff movie," the Centre for Science in the Public Interest commented.

That said, I don't want to hear about someone suing Hardee's for this; no one is forcing a Thickburger down anyone's throat. Not that it would fit.

Weasel. Snake. Pesticide salesman. Corrupt as hell, and protected by his GOP cronies.

I love this. Accountability. Yesterday, the "Protect Felon-to-be-DeLay" measure was passed, and it looks like trying to get someone on the record as having voted for the measure is a problem. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been making some calls and is not coming up with many answers...
As of 2:30 PM this afternoon we've had TPM readers contacting quite a few Republican members of congress about how they voted on the DeLay Rule. And it seems fair to say that aside from member of congress from tomato-red districts, a very large percentage Republican representatives find one way or another of not answering their constituents when they ask how their rep. voted.

Whether it's Pennsylvania's Jim Gerlach, whose office won't say how he voted, or Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland, who also won't say, most just find some way to dodge the question or insist the answer is private.

Apparently there's one Republican rep. from Florida who claims a vote never even took place. We'll follow up on that and report back if we hear more.

UPDATE: TPM has heard more, and boy these Republicans are like roaches when a light gets switched on in a flop's disgusting. Some tidbits:
What we're hearing a lot of are cases where the Rep. in question either says the vote was private or their staffers claim not to know how they voted. Interestingly enough, there seems to be a high correlation between these responses and whether the member is a moderate and/or in a swing district. We're also getting a slew of reports of members who will only respond to constituents in writing about whether they supported the DeLay Rule.

Besides DeLay Rule letter-writers, there's also a growing list of members who simply tell their constituents it was a "private vote" and refuse to answer any questions.

High on that list is Vernon Ehlers of Michigan, Jim Saxton of New Jersey (though we have some conflicting word there), Howard Coble of North Carolina (though again his staff has made some conflicting statements), and Denny Rehberg of Montana.

...A little side note on the DeLay Rule vote. If we can go by comments released by congressional offices, quite a substantial number of Republican members of congress happened to have stepped out of the room (to get food, go to the bathroom, attend to constituent business, etc.) right about the time they did the voice vote on the DeLay Rule.

Illinois's Tim Johnson, for instance, just couldn't make it. He was there for most of the meeting but had to step out for a "constituent meeting," according to TPM readers who've called his congressional office. He has no official position on the DeLay Rule at all.

Presumably they still had a quorum.

I talked about the Merck/Vioxx fiasco earlier, and today we've basically been told by a government safety expert that the FDA is defenseless against dangerous drugs being foisted on the public by Big Pharma. (WP):
"I would argue that the FDA as currently configured is incapable of protecting America against another Vioxx," said David Graham, who warned that the arthritis drug had been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

He told the Senate Finance Committee that there were at least five other drugs on the market today that should be looked at seriously to see whether they should remain there. He cited the acne drug Accutane, the weight loss drug Meridia, the anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, the pain reliever Bextra, and the asthma drug Serevent.

...Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who chaired the hearing, suggested that an independent board of drug safety might be needed to ensure the safety of medications after they're approved for the market.

"Consumers should not have to second-guess the safety of what's in their medicine cabinet," he said.

Graham told the committee that research indicated that Vioxx caused up to 160,000 heart attacks and strokes.

"If we were talking about Florida or Pennsylvania, 1 percent of the entire state population would have been affected," he said. "I'm sorry to say Sen. Grassley, but 67 percent of the citizens of Des Moines would be affected and, what's worse - the entire population of every other city in the state of Iowa."

As bad as this all is, what is worse is that the Bush administration wants to be able to block consumer lawsuits against Big Pharma because injury claims would "undermine the FDA"!! What kind of circular logic is this?! It's total bullsh*t, and you are the guinea pig.

One of the former Ku Klux Klansmen convicted of murder in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls died in prison.

White-sheet-wearing Bobby Frank Cherry, 74 died in prison today, and is hopefully burning in hell. Thomas Blanton (R) was convicted in 2001 and is serving a life prison sentence. A third Klansman, Robert Chambliss, was also convicted in 1977, also died in prison. (AP)
Cherry was convicted in May 2002 in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a gathering place for civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, and was sentenced to life in prison. It was the deadliest act of the civil rights era.

Cherry was among three former Ku Klux Klan members convicted in the bombing, which killed the four girls as they were preparing to take part in a Sunday morning service.

The Sept. 15, 1963, explosion killed Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11.

[Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham and was friends with one of the girls killed in the bombing.]

Oh my f*cking god. We have NO BUSINESS, after all the shenanigans with our electoral process (BradBlog is on top of this), warning the Ukraine about its voting process. The White House has balls. (AP):
Three days before the presidential election in Ukraine, the White House said Thursday the initial round of voting did not meet a "basic test" of a truly democratic process and that the government should ensure Sunday's balloting is better.

"The people of Ukraine ... have the right and deserve the opportunity to make their choice freely, without intimidation or fear, from outside or within," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in a statement. "The presidential campaign and first round of voting did not meet that basic test."

[How does McClellan get the words out without laughing? Gag me --Pam]

...The White House also raised the prospect of "stronger U.S.-Ukranian cooperation" and other incentives if the election results are deemed to reflect "the true will of the people."

Ancient Animal Could Be Human-Ape Ancestor. (WP).
A nearly 13 million-year-old ape discovered in Spain is the last probable common ancestor to all living humans and great apes, a research team says in Friday's issue of Science magazine.

A husband-and-wife team of fossil sleuths unearthed an animal with a body like an ape, fingers like a chimp and the upright posture of humans. The ancient ape bridges the gap between earlier, primitive animals and later, modern creatures.

This newest ape species, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, is so significant that it adds a new page to ancient human history.

Wait. I think they are wrong. I believe a discovery was actually made in Washington, DC not too long ago...

If only I could clone myself so I could keep blogging while I tend to regular life, work, you know. Paying the bills, lol. So much information to consume, so little time...

Little Pam, Durham, NC (circa 1967).

They're getting sick and the Army doesn't know how or why. Let's see what excuses surface, aside from unsanitary hospital conditions.
An [un]expectedly high number of U.S. soldiers injured in the Middle East and Afghanistan are testing positive for a rare, hard-to-treat blood infection in military hospitals, Army doctors reported on Thursday.

A total of 102 soldiers were found to be infected with the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii. The infections occurred among soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and three other sites between Jan. 1, 2002, and Aug. 31, 2004.

Although it was not known where the soldiers contracted the infections, the Army said the recent surge highlighted a need to improve infection-control in military hospitals.

Eighty-five of the bloodstream infections occurred among soldiers serving in Iraq, the area around Kuwait and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army said in a report published on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Military hospitals typically see about one case per year.

Army investigators said they did not know whether the soldiers contracted the infections on the battlefield, during medical treatment on the front line or following evacuation to Walter Reed, Landstuhl and other military medical locations.

"Although some of the patients identified in this report had evidence of bloodstream infections at the time of admission to military medical facilities, whether the infections were acquired from environmental sources in the field or during treatment at other military medical facilities is unknown," the Army said.

A. baumannii, which is found in water and soil and resistant to many types of antibiotics, surfaces occasionally in hospitals, often spread among patients in intensive care units.

The infection was also found in soldiers with traumatic injuries to their arms, legs and extremities during the Vietnam War.

More sadistic fun in the damn dirty South....MmmmMmmmGood...

Ga. Father Apologizes for Daughter's Cake. (AP):
The father of one of two 13-year-old girls accused of serving poisoned cake to about a dozen students said Thursday he and his daughter were sorry it happened.

"It was a horrible prank that went too far and a lot of people have suffered," the father told The Associated Press. The man asked that he not be identified by name to protect his daughter.

The girls were held on assault charges Wednesday, a day after handing out the cornbread cake at East Cobb Middle School.

Lab tests showed the icing contained an expired prescription drug, bleach, clay and hot-pepper sauce, police said. Eleven students who ate it were treated at a hospital and released.

Looks like TinkyWinky is old hat. The American Family Association has moved along to Shark Tale. Big tips to John at AmericaBlog for this pointer.
Something's Swishy About Shark Tale:
Cartoon Primes Kids with a Pro-Homosexual Message

It is an axiom for many parents that, when it comes to teaching kids what they need to know, "It's never too young to start."

What happens when Hollywood applies the same axiom to teaching young people -- even children -- to accept homosexuality?

That appears to be the case in the DreamWorks animated film Shark Tale, released in theaters in October. While it won't take in the money of last year's Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, the DreamWorks story of life under the sea netted almost $119 million in its first 17 days in theaters.

...It is when Shark Tale turns its attention to Lenny that it veers toward an undercurrent of approval for homosexuality. While it is difficult to prove intent when a film does not explicitly make a character "gay," the story and dialogue demonstrate an implicit approval of homosexuality.

The movie is, as Peter Debruge of Premiere magazine said in a review, "a weak allegory about a macho dad learning to accept his gay son."

A Son Who's 'Different'
In developing this allegory, Shark Tale uses all of the familiar Hollywood plot devices, beginning with the son who is "different," and who fails to measure up to the cultural standards of manhood.

Lenny's mannerisms and voice tend toward the effeminate, notes a review by Scott Tobias in The Onion A.V. Club, but that's not the worst of it. For in sharkdom, masculinity is measured by one's proficiency as a meat-eater.

This insanity goes on and on, but you get the drift. These are the folks that Bush, Rove and Mehlman got in bed with to win.

They are going to self-destruct.

Big cheer for NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg!

Gay marriages of city employees will be recognized in the state. This is big -- the tide continues to turn in the blue states.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that he will direct his appointees on the city's pension fund boards to treat city employees in gay marriages the same way as those in traditional marriages.

Bloomberg's decision, based on a legal opinion by the city Law Department, makes no immediate changes. It is unclear how many people would be affected.

If the idea is approved by the city's five pension fund boards, same sex couples who are legally married or involved in a civil union with a city employee, would receive pension benefits _ including for instance, accidental death benefits.

The mayor does not have a majority of appointees on any of the boards, which cover pension plans for police, teachers and other city employees.

Those eligible would include people in gay marriages and civil unions that have been recently sanctioned in Massachusetts, Vermont and several Canadian provinces, among other places.

New York state however does not officially recognize gay marriage and state law prohibits pension benefits from being awarded to couples in city-sanctioned domestic partnerships.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has ruled that though same-sex marriages could not be legally performed in New York, the state must recognize those performed legally elsewhere.

This of course, only applies to city employees now, but it does mean that gay couples have yet another place to settle and find a job where they can secure equal civil marriage rights.

Wilmington wingnut watch...
House Blend reader Fredda is keeping us informed about the political temperature in the district of newly-elected NC State Senator Julia Boseman. She's the first out lesbian elected to a state office here. [More on that story here.] As one would expect in a Red State, there are folks unhappy with this turn of events, and it's showing up in various ways that you might expect. But there are some Blue letters from folks out there too. NC is a mixed bag; there is progressive hope living alongside the wingnuts.
Letters to the editor (StarNewsOnline)

Enough garbage in the U.S.A.
EDITOR: Cultural liberalism has taken a beating, and it's far past time that this country returned to the moral ground on which it was founded.

The filth and garbage on TV and in movies, epitomized by such as Britney Spears, the Hiltons, Howard Stern, Madonna, Michael Moore, etc., have heard the message, which was large part of the Bush victory.

Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion and related philosophies all outscored Iraq and terrorism issues as Americans went to the polls in record numbers.

The silent majority has finally drawn a line in the sand inside the voting booth. God bless the U.S.A.

Joan E. Stall

You gotta believe
EDITOR: If the Bush administration said the sun was not going to come up tomorrow morning, 70 percent of Americans would believe it.

Once the sun came up, but Dick Cheney insisted the sun was not up, 70 percent of Americans would believe that.

If a blue ribbon commission of sunrise experts deliberated for many months and produced a lengthy, detailed report that stated yes, the sun is shining, 70 percent of Americans would not believe it.

If because of the "sunshine report" the Bush administration finally had to admit that the sun was up, 70 percent of Americans would still insist the sun was not up.

That's one heck of a way to run a democracy.

Evidence does not matter.

It's all about believing whatever you want.

L.E. Dieffenbach

TV chickened out
EDITOR: WWAY and its parent company Liberty (what's in a name?) clucked like a bunch of chickens on Thursday.

They broadcast these brain-dead reality shows, a couple of idiotic comedies and fling more sex through Desperate Housewives on a weekly basis, but then refuse to air Saving Private Ryan on Veterans Day. We talk about paying tribute to our soldiers, and this movie does.

Shame on these people. They should've had some courage, stood up to the FCC, and shown this movie.

Kirk Lohrli

Reach out
EDITOR: In response to the Nov.12 Miles Christian Daniels column "Gay Americans: What's next?"

I commend Mr. Daniels for being honest enough to acknowledge that there is no scientific proof that anyone is born gay.

I contend that there never will be any such proof because God's word clearly views such lifestyle behavior as being an abominable sin and God doesn't change. …

While I'm pleased that America voted a resounding no to the issue of gay marriage, that still leaves gays and the rest of us with the question, "Where do we go from here?"

I hope America's churches will reach out in love to gays, not to endorse their lifestyle, but to help them understand that there is truly a way out.

Michael Sullivan
Ocean Isle Beach

I respect Andrew Sullivan for his thoughtful and often witty essays, even when I disagree with him. He has made an eloquent case for same-sex marriage; I know that had to cost him some of his conservative readership.

However, I think he is absolutely off-base in his criticism of the left for its criticism of Condi Rice:
"I guess I should say that Condi Rice's race and gender are not the most important things about her career and abilities. But I'm still amazed at how little credit this president gets for promoting a black woman to such a position, and, more importantly, by his obvious respect and admiration for her. His management style is clearly post-racial, and his comfort with female peers is impressive. You know, Bill Clinton was celebrated for his progressiveness, and ease with African-Americans. But it's inconceivable that he would have given so much power and authority to a black female peer. Why does Bush get no respect on this score? I guess it reveals that much of the left's diversity mania is about the upholding of a certain political ideology, rather than ethnic or gender variety itself. Depressing."

No, Sully, I do think highly of Bush's ability and desire to think "post-racially." Unfortunately it only seems to apply to people he knows, such as Dr. Rice. The man has no concept of his many policies and political strategies that are not "post-racial." Those affect the millions of people of color. His policies don't affect those in his inner circle that are of the same socio-economic status -- Rice, Powell, Paige and Clarence Thomas. The difficult and complex issues that surround race, gender, sexual orientation, and class (the most neglected on that list) elude him. I would add, though, that this problem is not strictly a Republican one. Democrats, like Bill Clinton as Sully pointed out, didn't feel an obligation or desire to appoint minorities at the high levels Bush has. Comfort with minorities is not the same as hiring them, Big Bill. I think both parties, for different reasons, still don't have a handle on these abovementioned issues and don't speak clearly to them.

But back to Rice. She may be a talented pianist and Russian scholar, but she sucked as NSA and is likely to do just as "well" as Secretary of State. And that has nothing to do with race or her political bent -- it's her track record.

Bush is spreading democracy (and likely narco-terrorism) around the world...U.N.: Afghanistan Becoming 'Narco-State'. Are we really helping the fledgling government there? Doesn't sound like it. (AP):

"It would be an historical error to abandon Afghanistan to opium, right after we reclaimed it from the Taliban and al-Qaida," said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

The illegal trade is booming despite political progress in the country, including the first presidential election, and local drug control efforts directed by British military advisers.

Calling the problem too big for the weak Afghan government to tackle alone, Costa said U.S.- and NATO-led forces should participate in military operations against drug labs and convoys of traffickers.

NATO has said it recognizes the seriousness of the problem but had no immediate comment.

"The fear that Afghanistan might degenerate into a narco-state is slowly becoming a reality," he said in the report. "Opium cultivation, which has spread like wildfire throughout the country, could ultimately incinerate everything: democracy, reconstruction and stability."

Goss Isn't Done With Housecleaning at CIA.

Bush hack and toady Porter "I'm not competent to run the CIA" Goss.

This power-hungry Bush toady is really tearing this place up, and he is compromising our security by either firing or driving out needed senior CIA officials. You don't want to lose the good folks while cleaning out the dead weight. It's apparent that much of the activity is politically motivated.
Current and former intelligence officials said Goss planned to replace the head of the CIA's analytic branch, Jami A. Miscik, with a veteran analyst who already runs one of the agency's major offices. Miscik heads the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, the division that drew much of the blame for erroneous assessments of weapons programs in prewar Iraq.

Goss also is said to be planning to replace other senior officers in the analytic branch and to push through changes designed to encourage analysts to be more aggressive in their assessments of developments on terrorism, weapons proliferation and other priority topics.

Although Goss has focused much of his attention during his first two months as director on the CIA's spying cadre, an agency official close to Goss and his leadership team said: "They had the D.I. in their sights [when they arrived] and still do."

The Directorate of Intelligence is the branch of the CIA responsible for analyzing trends and producing reports delivered to the president and other senior policymakers.

"They haven't gotten to the D.I. yet, but when they do, there will be more people screaming bloody murder," the official said, referring to the outcry this week in Washington over the resignations of the two top officials in the CIA's clandestine service. "There's going to be a new deputy director for intelligence, and there's going to be many senior-level positions that are going to be reassigned."

...One criticism of Goss has been that in clashing with top officials in the CIA's clandestine service, he has focused on the wrong target.

"The directorate of operations … is not the crowd that wrote the national intelligence estimate on Iraq that was wrong, and it's not the crowd that lost the clues leading up to 9/11 either," Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a television interview this week.

Goss also faced criticism over portions of the Monday memo that were interpreted by some as ordering the CIA's rank and file to back the Bush administration. Outlining what he termed "the rules of the road," Goss said, "We support the administration and its policies in our work as agency employees."

What the hell is wrong with this Georgia man?

Motive Elusive in Ga. Crematory Case. This is one of the sickest cases in recent memory. I'm sure you read about this sometime ago. Yet another case that makes it look like some Southerners are off their rockers.
Even after the criminal case against crematory operator Ray Brent Marsh comes to an end, the victims' relatives are likely to be left wondering why 334 bodies were dumped and cement dust was passed off as their ashes.

Marsh was expected to plead guilty Friday to theft and abuse of corpse charges as part of a plea deal in which he will serve no more than 12 years in prison. A source close to the case told The Associated Press that the sentence, which covers all 787 counts against Marsh, will be followed by a probation that would effectively last the rest of his life.

Marsh allegedly stopped performing cremations in 1997, when he took over the family business that served funeral homes in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. After an anonymous tip in February 2002, investigators found bodies scattered on the crematory property — in the woods, in buildings and crammed into burial vaults and behind Marsh's house.

Headline of the Day: Turkey Crashes Through Women's Windshield (AP). Unfortunately, she was was critically injured.

Happy Birthday to Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts! (AP):
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court made the state the first to sanction same-sex marriages a year ago Thursday, and the aftershocks are evident in the daily lives of the thousands of couples who took vows they once didn't believe possible.

...According to an Associated Press review of wedding certificates publicly recorded with the state since May 17, when the court decision took effect, at least 2,980 certificates have been filed by same-sex couples.

During the first months of same-sex weddings, Boston was the gay marriage capital, with 407 couples exchanging vows. Northampton, a gay-friendly community about 100 miles west of Boston, was second with 99 and Cambridge, Boston's liberal neighbor, was third with 92.

But same-sex marriage was not limited to the state's large cities or gay enclaves. Certificates were filed by same-sex couples in 290 of the state's 351 cities and towns, including two couples came from Tolland (pop. 426), in western Massachusetts.

Basically, cops just told Ashcroft that he is full of sh*t. Remember, during one of the debates, Shrub said he would do whatever to keep America safe. Yeah, right. (USA TODAY):
A day after Attorney General John Ashcroft told the nation's largest association of law enforcement executives that the Bush administration had made the nation more secure from terrorist attacks and violent criminals, the group lashed back at the White House on Tuesday.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said that cuts by the administration in federal aid to local police agencies have left the nation more vulnerable than ever to public safety threats. The 20,000-member group also said in a statement that new anti-terrorism duties for local cops - which have come as state and local budgets have declined and historically low crime rates have crept upward - have pushed police agencies to 'the breaking point'.

Among other things, members of the chiefs' group have long complained about localities having to pay millions of dollars in overtime costs when the U.S. government issued terrorism alerts. The group also is annoyed that President Bush is phasing out a $10 billion program begun by the Clinton administration in 1996 to help local departments hire tens of thousands more cops.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Arlen Specter is likely to get the Senate Judiciary chair and the wingnuts are apoplectic. He's not a wingnut, but he's doing some winger bootlicking to land this seat.AmericaBlog is discussing it this evening.

Arlen, watch your back. The wingnuts want your head.

Reaction from Freeperville (my lot in life -- creating the Fresh Blend requires I trudge over to enemy territory to find out what they are "thinking.") :
Please list all the violations of trust. We will stop when the GOP BORKs Specter and does what is right on all issues. Hold politicians to high ethics and standards others are held to; and work to improve the life of Americans, not foreign workers.
1 posted on 11/17/2004 8:04:30 PM PST by Henchman

To: Henchman
Pat Buchanan is right, an ideological civil war is shaping up in the GOP. The battle lines are being drawn now.
2 posted on 11/17/2004 8:06:27 PM PST by Commander8

To: Henchman
GOP and conservatism are not synonymous. Don't expect them to carry out conservative ideals. These guys live to be reelected.
10 posted on 11/17/2004 8:08:50 PM PST by Read2Know

To: Henchman
It's probably better to have Specter inside the tent pi$$ing out than outside pi$$ing in -- provided he swears fealty to Bush on the nominees.
13 posted on 11/17/2004 8:10:30 PM PST by expatpat

To: Henchman
I think the biggest problem is that "some people" want everything to be exactly as they would choose. It doesn't work that way and we have to do the best we can with what we have.
I heard Tony Snow say that the conservative senators have Specter right where they want him and he (Specter) is backed against the wall now if he is the chairman.

According to Snow, Arlen knows he can quickly become yesterday's news if he doesn't toe the line that has been quietly and invisibly drawn and will indeed be replaced.

Therefore, Snow believes that conservatives may get a very cooperative Specter if we get him at all.

Let's give it a chance before we jump over the cliff.
20 posted on 11/17/2004 8:14:38 PM PST by Southflanknorthpawsis (

To: Henchman
"Perhaps we can push the conservative agenda!"
We must push the conservative agenda or we'll end up with a GOP that resembles the Canadian Conservative Party.
22 posted on 11/17/2004 8:15:58 PM PST by Read2Know

Again, no surprise. These f*ckers are incompetent, playing with the health of the U.S. population: FDA Saw Problems at Vaccine Plant in 2003 (WP). The Food and Drug Administration uncovered contamination and unsanitary conditions at a British flu vaccine manufacturing plant in 2003 but failed to re-inspect it until similar problems caused the loss of half the U.S. vaccine supply in October.

Your grandchildren will be paying this off...thanks to the Bush economy: Senate OKs $800B Debt Limit Hike . (AP):
A divided Senate approved an $800 billion increase in the federal debt limit Wednesday, a major boost in borrowing that Sen. John Kerry and other Democrats blamed on the fiscal policies of President Bush.

The mostly party line, 52-44 vote was expected to be followed by House passage Thursday. Enactment would raise the government's borrowing limit to $8.18 trillion - $2.23 trillion higher than when Bush became president in 2001, and more than eight times the debt President Reagan faced when he took office in 1981.

In his first remarks on the Senate floor since his presidential bid ended in defeat two weeks ago, Kerry, D-Mass., said his former opponent had presided over "the worst fiscal turnaround in our nation's entire history."

...This can be called a birth tax, a birth tax that is dumped on the back of every American child unwillingly," said Kerry, who voted against the borrowing increase.


Republican senators did not join in the debate, underscoring how politically uncomfortable the measure is for them. That discomfort was highlighted when they refused to bring the bill to a vote before the elections.

War has been declared on democracy by the Senate wingnuts when it comes to Supreme Court nominations.

GOP May Go "Nuclear" On Judges (CBS):
Senate Republicans are considering taking the rare step of enacting a rules change to disable Democrats' ability to block Supreme Court nominees.

The option has not been utilized since 1975. It is so likely to divide the Senate along the strictest of partisan lines that in Washington parlance it is being referred to as “going nuclear.”

Nevertheless, Republicans are increasingly intent on taking such action if Democrats utilize filibusters to block Supreme Court nominations, likely to begin as soon as next year.

...Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said on Sunday that Democratic use of the filibuster to stall judicial nominations was “intolerable.” He added that a “viable option” would be for Republicans to move for the filibuster to be limited to legislation.

...There is no issue, among evangelicals, that matters more than judicial appointments. Frist’s comments Sunday were applauded by social conservatives.

“This is not something where Bill Frist woke up the day after the election and said let’s go nuclear. They have options and one of them is making the judgment that now is the time for the rules change,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior policy analyst for the influential evangelical organization Focus on the Family.

More on Vioxx, the arthritis drug associated with tripled risks of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. I talked about this fiasco in an earlier post, if you want to take a look, comparing this nonsense with the Rezulin debacle, which was recalled after folks started dropping dead from liver failure.

The FDA is attempting to defend its decisions about this drug and antidepressants found to have equally serious side effects.
With the FDA being criticized for not acting more aggressively when safety concerns arose about Vioxx, antidepressants and other medications, the agency's acting commissioner cited its "well-documented and long-standing commitment to openness and transparency in its review of marketed drugs."

[HOLY CRAP! That was a load of bullsh*t. Are we expected to believe that statement? -- Pam]

Lester Crawford's statement, sent by e-mail to reporters about 16 hours before the Senate Finance Committee's scheduled hearing Thursday morning on Vioxx, also said the FDA initiated and paid for reviews of Vioxx and antidepressants after those drugs had hit the market. "That is evidence the system is working," Crawford said.

Critics contend the agency ignored risks associated with antidepressants and Vioxx, then intimidated its own reviewers when they pointed to safety concerns in both cases.

In October, the FDA ordered that all antidepressants carry warnings that they "increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior" in children who take them. Vioxx's maker, Merck & Co. pulled the drug from the market on Sept. 30 after a study indicated the popular painkiller doubled the risk of heart attacks and stroke when taken for longer than 18 months.

"How can they see that type of problem and look back and say 'We did everything right'?" Birchfield said. "When they're not willing to recognize mistakes, we have no hope for them voluntarily taking measures to correct the situation."

First the price of airline tickets skyrocket, then you pay for crap food on board, now you're going to have to bring your own pillow. It's all part of the Bush economy. Somehow I think the airline execs are probably making it just fine. (AP)
Say goodbye to pillows on American Airlines MD-80 jets.

Bring your own %^*&] pillow.

The Fort Worth-based airline this week removed pillows from its 334 MD-80s in a move expected to save time and money by enabling workers to clean the cabins faster, said spokesman Tim Wagner.

"It will streamline our cabin service," he said. Since crews won't be spending time picking up pillows, they should be able to make cabins cleaner, Wagner told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a story in Wednesday's editions.

Wagner estimated the airline would be saving "in the mid-six figures" because of the move.

The pillows will be relocated to its other planes, Wagner said. The airline doesn't plan to remove pillows on other aircraft.

I know the GOP is f*cking powermad, but why on earth do they have to try to repeal a freaking Food Labeling Law? (AP):
Telling consumers where their meat, fruit and vegetables came from seemed such a good idea to U.S. ranchers and farmers in competition with imports that Congress two years ago ordered the food industry to do it. But meatpackers and food processors fought the law from the start, and newly emboldened Republicans now plan to repeal it before Thanksgiving.

Even fruit isn't safe from the claws of the GOP

As part of the 2002 farm bill, country-of-origin labeling was supposed to have gone into effect this fall. Congress last year postponed it until 2006. Now, House Republicans are trying to wipe it off the books as part of a spending bill they plan to finish this month.

Supporters of the labeling requirement says opponents want the repeal so producers will not have to spend money getting ready to follow the law. The House Agriculture Committee approved legislation this year to substitute a voluntary system for the current law.

The issue divides cattlemen and other livestock producers. Many of the bigger livestock and feedlot operations, as well as food processors, do not want mandatory labeling.

Producers in favor of mandatory labels believe consumers will prefer U.S.-grown food over foreign imports. The law requires companies to put country-of-origin labels on meat, vegetables and fruit.

Putin's developing a nuclear missile "of the kind that other nuclear powers do not and will not have."Maybe Bush should just "look into his eyes" and he'll know Putin's doing him right. White House Reacts With Caution to Russia. (AP)

In an article in the Florida Times-Union, Jeb Bush apparently said "no" to a Florida state amendment to ban gay marriage. Cheryl Jacques of Human Rights Campaign just wrote a letter thanking him.

This has sent Freepers over the f*cking edge in confusion...
To: lilylangtree
"Well if ole Jebbie decides to run for prez, he won't get my vote or support."
Based on this alone, I think he makes it crystal clear he has no intention of doing so.


To: stainlessbanner
This is disinformation. This gay-rights group is using a time-honored agitprop mechanism to drive a wedge between a politician who in reality does not share their views and his supporters, by offering congratulations for something he has not done towards a position that they advocate.
Judging from the variety of knee-jerk reactions on this thread, this tactic appears to work now just as well as it ever did. Unfortunately.


Yes, this is typical of the homosexual activists. Since they have no morals, deception is no problem for them.


To: areafiftyone
Gov. Jeb Bush said he "would not support" a campaign by Florida's Southern Baptists to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages. "My belief is it's not necessary," Bush said Monday in Jacksonville about such an amendment.


To: WildTurkey
Florida already has a Marriage Protection Act which Jeb thinks is sufficient.
Jeb is simply wrong. Of course it's wrong that the homosexuals and other minority loud mouth groups can push their agendas through the courts, but that's the reality of the situation here. Guaranteed: In about 2-3 years, the gays in Florida are going to be challenging the MPA, and if there is not a state consititutional amendment specifically banning gay marriage, the activist/leftists judges are going to declare the MPA "unconstitutional". It's time to wake up.


To: lilylangtree
This was the same guy that wanted to give drivers licenses to illegal aliens in Florida.


To: EllaMinnow
"If there was a threat that gay marriage would be accepted in our state, then I might be supportive of it," Bush said. "I'm not sure it's necessary to do this in a pre-emptive fashion."
Pure BS? Not really, according to the above. Sounds like he doesn't support the Marriage Amendment.


To: B Knotts
"A constitutional amendment, at the state level at the very least, is the only way to keep judges from imposing homosexual "marriage." The Federal Marriage Amendment is the only way to close the legal loophole that allows the activists judges to strike down a state law. There are federal laws on the books that state that one state has to honor another states marriage/ drivers license etc. Any elected official that does not support the FMA and claims this is a "states rights" issue is A) Ignorant of the law B) knows full well what they are doing.. Enabling judges to legislate from the bench.

The people have overwhelmingly voted to ban sodomarriage at the state level. The FMA would reflect the will of the people! Why not support it (on the state level?) Why use the old "don't tinker with the constitution" excuse knowing full well there are pending court cases as we speak? The militant homo activists will not rest until this matter is settled one way or the other. These Elected officials need to be for or against it one way or another. so when we vote we know if we can trust them or not.

UPDATE (2:20 PM EST): Welcome folks coming over from AmericaBlog. I've just spared you the grief of getting your feet muddy over at Freeperville and brought over a few more fresh comments to Fresh Blend from the agitated crowd there. They really cannot handle the fact, as John says, that the Bushes are "backing off of this 'moral majority rules the day' crap, ever since the election."
Some people just don't get it. The same methods they advocate to ban gay marriage will be used to limit gun rights, free speech or freedom of religion in the future.

At least one of these people on another thread already said that the Constitution doesn't matter.

As I said, God help us!


To: dead
Work towards the election of non-activist judges and politicians who would appoint them.
LOL. Same sex marriage is at the door. The situation in Massachusetts will lead to tests of the DMA within a few years.

Any efforts along those lines are far more likely to achieve the desired result, plus produce the positive side benefit of reasoned conservative decisions across the board.

That's well and good on matters where the situation is not dire. Because of the decision in Lawrence, the SCOTUS will have no rational basis not to overturn the DMA. This will happen long before the type of generational shift you advocate would prevent it.

A constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage is very unlikely to be passed anytime in the next few decades, if ever.

On this we agree, in part. The CMA is at present an uphill battle. If it isn't passed in the near future, it never will be.

What I think you have to acknowledge is that once the DMA is overturned, the judges you want to elect won't be able to return the horses to the barn.

105 posted on 11/17/2004 10:47:15 AM PST by Fatalis


To: t_skoz
That will not be acceptable to the homosexual activists. They will insist upon forcing the issue, and the courts will abide them.

And religious freedom is a fairly important issue.

106 posted on 11/17/2004 10:47:46 AM PST by B Knotts


To: Fatalis; B Knotts
I agree with "dead"... if the real fight is with the courts (right?) then we better take the fight there. We'll kill many birds with one stone, because we'll strengthen conservative values there for other issues besides marriage.


108 posted on 11/17/2004 10:54:47 AM PST by t_skoz ("let me be who I am - let me kick out the jams!")


To: lilylangtree
Well if ole Jebbie decides to run for prez, he won't get my vote or support.
Yup. He's off my list now.

110 posted on 11/17/2004 11:03:35 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)


To: WildTurkey
A Marriage Protection Act is not the same as an amendment. It can easily be overturned by activist judges. Why wait until that happens, which IMHO will? Why not send a signal to congress that the other states are doing and make an even STRONGER case for a U.S Amendment to the Constitution. Floria has nothing to lose by doing so. By having a U.S. Constitutional Amendment, the activist judges can not mess with it. They CAN with a state law. Bty, I DO have a life, thank you.

112 posted on 11/17/2004 11:05:51 AM PST by Made in USA (Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers and giving GWB 4 more years.)

And poor Ken's he going to handle the moral values spin as the new head of the RNC?

Lord have mercy...NC Senator Liddy "Sugar Lips" Dole is going to
chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee

Mrs. Viagra, a Salisbury, NC native, is being picked for her ability to "help Republicans win over female and minority voters by putting a "different face on the party." Yes. A highly lacquered one at that.

I have a bit of advice for Mrs. Dole. I hope your administrative staff gets a bit of training on how to use mail merge on your constituent response mailings.

Wifey Kate and I wrote her during the recent failed campaign to push FMA, and her office sent us a response that was, not surprisingly, clearly in support of the President. Unfortunately, it was addressed to us as if we were a married couple. Pretty funny.

Click image to see a larger version.

Yep. Under control. Major combat operations are over. They just keep snatching the newly minted Iraqi police force, and troops continue dying.

Armed Group Kidnaps 31 Iraqi Policemen.
An armed group kidnapped 31 Iraqi policemen who were returning training in Jordan, authorities said Wednesday, and a suicide car bomber rammed a U.S. convoy north of Baghdad, killing 10 people, hospital officials said.

The attacks were part of a wave of violence that has swept across Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland during the U.S. offensive to retake the insurgent bastion of Fallujah. The violence has made November one of the bloodiest months of the Iraqi insurgency.

The American death toll in the war in Iraq surpassed 1,200 with new Defense Department identifications Tuesday night and Wednesday. The total of 1,206 deaths included 1,202 identified members of the U.S. military, three military civilians and one unidentified soldier reported to have died Tuesday in Balad.

God bless the Bush economy.

Consumer Prices See Biggest Gain Since May (AP): Consumer prices -- stoked by more expensive gasoline as well as pricier fruits and vegetables -- heated up in October, rising by 0.6 percent, the biggest gain in five months. ..The consumer price report comes one day after the government released data showing the wholesale costs soared in October by 1.7 percent, the biggest increase in more than 14 years.

The Freepers can be entertaining in their ignorant, right-wing zeal, but every so often their rants cross over into the land of frightening insanity. There is a DKos thread going on -- Freepers advocate murder of Kevin Sites , that really shows you how twisted they are. Kevin Sites is the NBC reporter that captured the Marine on video shooting the injured Iraqi in the Fallujah mosque.

Blame (then kill) the messenger...Apparently, Freepers think Kevin Sites should die for doing his job...

No need for anything overt. Unfortunate things happen in combat zones, and if the reporter fails to hear someone yell "Sniper!!", well, c'est la guerre.
9 posted on 11/16/2004 1:11:50 PM PST by Charles Martel

more along the lines that Mr. Sites life is in danger being around the Marines

I would certainly hope so.
19 posted on 11/16/2004 1:53:38 PM PST by sport

I wish. This guy Sites shouldn't walk away from this unscathed. Red America wants justice.
21 posted on 11/16/2004 1:57:26 PM PST by faithincowboys

I wrote Mr. S.......suggested he best hope he never needs one of our heroes to watch his back.
24 posted on 11/16/2004 2:01:10 PM PST by OldFriend

Or are you proposing some sort of mob justice?

No, I'm predicting it.
36 posted on 11/16/2004 2:22:42 PM PST by TigersEye

He's an effin traitor. He is aiding the enemy. He should be tried and killed.
66 posted on 11/16/2004 4:31:36 PM PST by I got the rope

This b*tch turned on the waterworks for Larry King, talking about how tragic it was for husband (and Bush friend) Kenny Boy Lay to have to sell one of their many homes because of the Enron meltdown. Linda Lay Investigated for Insider Training. (AP)

Poor Linda Lay, no more banquets for you.

Two large, extremely mediocre companies lovingly bond. Sears and KMart Agree to Merge in $11 Billion Deal. (NYT)

There have been quite a few of these kinds of headlines running lately and they are quite suggestive of...something. But maybe it's just me...

* Bush, Rice Share Close Relationship (AP)

* Bush, Rice Are Tightly Bound by Experience (LA Times)


* Bush makes picks for 2 positions: Bush makes picks for 2 positions
Rice's deputy, known as 'Dad,' will succeed her
[WTF?] (

* Bush turns to Rice's finely tuned ear to aid foreign policy (Pretoria News)

* Rice to step from intimate Bush circle to larger stage in her new role (Palm Beach Post)

* "Below Rice, a chain reaction" (Newsday)

* "Bush's faithful 'Warrior Princess' wins chance to drag dissenting department back into line" (Independent)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

NYT: New Bush Cabinet Seen as Move for More Harmony and Control.

Condi and her husb....uh, Mr. President. (Doug Mills/NYT)

Translation: "Harmony and control" means no one on the team better disagree with any Bush cockamamie proposals or they are out the door.

Kerry Says He's Not Ruling Out Another Run. No. Just say no.

Can I be sick now?

Karl Rove in Running for Time's Person of the Year (Reuters).

Boy, I thought the english muffin headline was the best of the day...this one is battling for the top spot: Texas Schools Scrap 'Cross-Dressing' Day. (AP)
A homecoming tradition in which boys dress like girls and vice versa in a tiny Texas school district won't be held Wednesday after a parent complained about what she regarded as the event's homosexual overtones.

TWIRP, which stands for "The Woman Is Requested to Pay," was hosted by Spurger schools for years during Homecoming Week -- to give boys and girls a chance to reverse social roles and let older girls invite boys on dates, open doors and pay for sodas.

...Delana Davies, 33, said she complained after reading a school notice about "TWIRP Day." Davies, whose 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter attend Spurger Elementary, said she viewed the day not as a silly Homecoming Week activity, but rather something related to homosexuality.

"It's like experimenting with drugs," Davies said. "You just keep playing with it and it becomes customary. ... If it's OK to dress like a girl today, then why is it not OK in the future?"

Who wants to protect this cracker?

House Majority Leader (and former pesticide salesman) Tom DeLay's supporters want to propose some House rules changes that will preserve his leadership position if he is indicted in Texas.
The Texas grand jury is investigating alleged campaign finance irregularities in 2002 state legislative races. Republican victories in those contests enabled DeLay ultimately to win support for a congressional redistricting plan that resulted in the GOP's gain of five seats in this month's elections.

House Democrats have a step-aside provision that applies to chairmen or ranking members of committees who are charged with felonies. The language is silent on top party leaders, but Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was nonetheless sharply critical of the proposal to protect DeLay.

"If they make this rules change, Republicans will confirm yet again that they simply do not care if their leaders are ethical. If Republicans believe that an indicted member should be allowed to hold a top leadership position in the House of Representatives, their arrogance is astonishing," Pelosi said.

The language was proposed by Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, who was helped by the redistricting. Bonilla was re-elected in 2002 with less than 52 percent of the vote. After the boundaries were changed, he won this month with 69 percent of the vote.

Headline of the day:
English Muffin Blamed for Wis. Evacuation (AP).

A fire alarm set off by smoke in the state Capitol caused an evacuation before firefighters located the source of the problem - a toaster and a singed muffin.

"It was not too badly singed," said Justin Sargent, an aide to Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, after conceding his English muffin apparently was responsible.

I leave my computer for a couple of hours and look at all the juicy GOP gay sh*t that hits the fan!

Graphic from BlogActive.

1. Looks like our RNC "straight man" Dan Mehlman is going to be outed by The Washington Blade, according to Mike Rogers at BlogActive:
Chris Crain, editor of the Washington Blade has gone on line speculating about the sexual orientation of RNC Chairman-designate Ken Mehlman. The press in the nations capital considers Mehlman's private life relevant!

I'm just going to keep running this picture of Queen Mehlman...

One of my sources inside the Blade told me this piece was coming from Crain. While, I expected it to have something a little more "juicy" -- I will share with you how one very sharp attorney parses his words to make you believe he has no information. As a great American once said, "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is."

Dan Gurley enjoys barebacking; and that's not riding horsies, Mr. Dobson.

2. The Raw Story exposes the "unseemly" desires of recently outed National Field Director and deputy political director for the Republican National Committee Daniel Gurley. Apparently the dodo has an online profile at and he solicited unprotected sex and multiple sex partners. This is, as John Byrne notes, in seeming contradiction with the GOP's call for abstinence and positions on gay issues. Oh, and a screen grab of his profile was made before it was taken down. Nice.

Take the hypocrites down.

God, this is bad. Reuters is saying Al-Jazeera has received a video showing the slaying of Margaret Hassan.

She is the British-Irish aid worker kidnapped last month; Hassan was head of CARE International in Iraq. Video that was broadcast worldwide several weeks ago showed her pleading for her life.

Holy Porky Pig! The Republicans are trying to repeal an open disclosure measure that requires senior federal officials to report assets. Talk about ensuring graft and corruption in the White House in the name of 'security'. (LA Times):
Tucked within the House's 497-page version of the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act" is a provision to repeal the requirement that senior-level officials report their personal financial assets valued at more than $2.5 million. It also would end the practice of disclosing the dates of stock transactions.

The proposal to limit financial disclosures initially covered only top-level intelligence officials. It was recently expanded to include all executive branch officials, according to a draft version of the bill.

...The new disclosure provision was included during the conference committee negotiations. "They're burying it in a large bill that is very controversial on other issues, so no one is going to pay any attention to this," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.

The new disclosure policies would make it harder to detect when officials have personal financial stakes in matters before them, watchdog groups say. The current rules require officials to list the value of their assets in categories, beginning at "none or less than $1,000" and ending at "more than $50 million."

Claybrook said that after her group complained about the special financial disclosure rules for intelligence and national security officials, congressional negotiators "amazingly went even further to limit reporting for all government agency officials."

Find out if your representatives support this bill.

Even the "freakshow" stories turn out to be political intrigue. And I thought this man who set himself on fire was just a whack job.

It turns out he is an FBI informant. (Reuters):
A man who set himself on fire outside the White House on Monday was a Yemeni federal informant on terrorism upset over how the FBI (news - web sites) had managed his case, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Mohamed Alanssi, who had recently discussed his work as an informant in interviews with The Washington Post, told the newspaper by faxed letter and telephone on Monday he intended to "burn my body at unexpected place," the newspaper reported.

The U.S. Park Police said in a statement that a Middle Eastern male in his early 50's approached the northwest gate of the White House around 2 p.m. with a letter for the president. After a brief conversation with Secret Service officers, the man pulled a lighter from his pocket and ignited his jacket, the statement said.

In interviews with the newspaper, Alanssi, who is from Yemen and also uses the name Mohamed Alhadrami, expressed anguish over not being able to visit his family in Yemen.

He told the newspaper that he suffers from diabetes and heart problems and that his wife suffers from stomach cancer. Alanssi said he could not travel to Yemen because he has no money and because the FBI, which expects him to testify at a terrorism trial in New York, was keeping his Yemeni passport.

"It is my big mistake that I have cooperated with FBI," Alanssi was quoted as saying.

"The FBI have already destroyed my life and my family's life and made us in a very danger position . . . I am not crazy to destroy my life and my family's life to get $100,000," he said.

Alanssi said he became a major informant for the FBI after the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States. He said he was paid $100,000 in 2003 but had expected much more and had not received the permanent residency status he was promised, the newspaper reported.

Tom Ridge resigns, according to CNN.

UPDATE: This story seems to have dropped off the radar. Perhaps it was premature. Here is one of the only things I could find when Googling now: Talk Radio News Service:
Tom Ridge Resignation

In response to the question of whether Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was resigning, McClellan answered that there was no announcement to be made but that the White House would keep the media informed at the appropriate time about any announcement.

When sh*t like this is caught on tape, Rummy and Co. must choke. The don't want citizens to see this side of the war. An unarmed Iraqi was shot and killed in a Fallujah mosque by a Marine.

Image taken from pool video shows a U.S. marine is seen, left, raising his rifle in the direction of Iraqi prisoners lying on the floor of a mosque in Fallujah, Iraq Saturday Nov. 13, 2004. The video, in a version aired by CNN showed the Marine raising his rifle toward the prisoners but neither NBC nor CNN showed the shooting itself. The video was blacked out but the report of the rifle could be heard. The bodies in the foreground are other Iraqi prisoners. (AP Photo/NBC News, Pool)

The dramatic footage was taken Saturday by pool correspondent Kevin Sites of NBC television, who said three other prisoners wounded a day earlier in the mosque had also apparently been shot the next day by the Marines.

The incident played out as the Marines 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, returned to the unidentified Fallujah mosque Saturday. Sites was embedded with the unit.

...On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

...The events on the videotape began as some of the Marines from the unit accompanied by Sites approached the mosque on Saturday, a day after it was stormed by other Marines.

...Gunfire can be heard from inside the mosque, and at its entrance, Marines who were already in the building emerge. They are asked by an approaching Marine lieutenant if there were insurgents inside and if the Marines had shot any of them. A Marine can be heard responding affirmatively. The lieutenant then asks if they were armed and fellow Marine shrugs.

Sites' account said the wounded men, who he said were prisoners and who were hurt in the previous day's attack, had been shot again by the Marines on the Saturday visit.

The videotape showed two of the wounded men propped against the wall and Sites said they were bleeding to death. According to his report, a third wounded man appeared already dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing. The fifth was covered by a blanket but did not appear to have been shot again after the Marines returned. It was the fourth man who was shown being shot.

A spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters in the Pentagon, Maj. Doug Powell, said the incident was "being investigated." He had no further details, other than to confirm the incident happened on Saturday and that the Marines involved were part of the 1st Marine Division.

Monica Davies' story in the NYT, Former G.I.'s, Ordered to War, Fight Not to Go is moving and enraging. This backdoor draft only serves to highlight that the Pentagon is wholly unprepared for another war, or even for the military obligations we currently have. A local man is featured in the article.

Todd Parrish, 31, of Cary, N.C., thought his obligation to the Army ended last year, but the Army disagrees. He sued the Army after his call-up. (John Loomis for NYT).
Many of these former soldiers - some of whom say they have not trained, held a gun, worn a uniform or even gone for a jog in years - object to being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan now, after they thought they were through with life on active duty.

They are seeking exemptions, filing court cases or simply failing to report for duty, moves that will be watched closely by approximately 110,000 other members of the Individual Ready Reserve, a corps of soldiers who are no longer on active duty but still are eligible for call-up.

...Others say they do not believe they are eligible to be returned to active duty because, they contend, they already finished the obligations they signed up for when they joined the military. A handful of such former soldiers, scattered across the country, have filed lawsuits making that claim in federal courts.

These former soldiers are not among the part-time soldiers - reservists and National Guard members - who receive paychecks and train on weekends, and who have been called up in large numbers over the last three years.

Instead, these are members of the Individual Ready Reserve, a pool of former soldiers seldom ordered back to work. Ordinarily, these former soldiers do not get military pay, nor do they train. They receive points toward a military retirement and an address form to update once a year.

...Colette Parrish said she burst into tears the evening that her husband, Todd, walked into their house in Cary, N.C., with a letter from the Army calling him back to service. "We had no idea this could happen," she said. "We hadn't been preparing for any of it because we thought it wasn't possible."

At first, Mr. Parrish, 31, said he was convinced that the letter was just an administrative error because he believed that his time in the Individual Ready Reserve had ended.

He had gone to college on an R.O.T.C. scholarship, then served four years as a field artillery officer. He said he resigned his commission after that, became an engineer, and still owed the Army four years in the Individual Ready Reserve to complete his total obligation.

To Mr. Parrish, who has filed a lawsuit against the Army in federal court in North Carolina, that obligation ended on Dec. 19, 2003. But the Army apparently does not agree, and says that it never accepted Mr. Parrish's resignation as an officer.

As the court fight has continued, Mr. Parrish's date to report to Fort Sill, Okla., has been pushed back, again and again, one month at a time. Instead of thinking about long-term plans, for his wife and their future family, he is living in 30-day increments.

He said he always looked back on his service years fondly, and with a deep sense of patriotism.

"I guess I feel disillusioned now," he said. "This isn't about being for or against the war. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's just a contract, and I don't think this is right. If they need more people, shouldn't they get them the right way? How many more like me are there?"

This story will do nothing to deter Blue staters from their beliefs about Red staters. Louisiana, here come the cockfighters...

Cockfighting Supporters Brace Battles. (AP):
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling left Louisiana and New Mexico as the only states where cockfighting is legal, and advocates of the blood sport are bracing for further legal attacks from animal rights activists.

The court declined to hear an appeal that sought to overturn a ban on cockfighting in Oklahoma, passed by the state's voters in 2002. With Oklahoma out of the picture, cockfighters in Louisiana and New Mexico said they expected a new push from animal rights activists to have anti-cockfighting laws passed in those states' legislatures.

Cockfighting remains popular in many rural areas, particularly in the South. Supporters describe it as a family-friendly tradition in which children grow up learning how to breed, care for and match roosters against one another in fights.

"We can't afford a million-dollar race horse or a million-dollar NASCAR car," said 68-year-old Ray Alexander, who raises roosters in Lincoln, Miss. "We can afford a chicken, and we can go out and be competitive with that chicken."

..."Louisiana is viewed by the cockfighting lobby as their last bastion," Pacelle said.

Supporters said Louisiana could benefit from that feeling -- with an influx of Oklahoma cockfighters moving their operations to the Bayou State. The industry, some say, is worth billions nationwide, as breeders and fighters buy chicken feed, cement and other supplies for coops and fighting pits.

"If they're moving to Louisiana because they want a cockfighting refuge, they're going to have a very short stay," Pacelle said. "I'd advise them not to unpack their bags."


And, in equally absurd news, David Lee Roth, formerly of Van Halen, may be . jumpstarting your heart soon as paramedic.

The Bush Health Care Plan: Limit Malpractice Jury Awards . I guess this is so OB-GYNs can continue "to practice their love on women," and so doctors like Senator-elect Tom "Dr. Mengele" Carson of OK can sterilize women without their permission. (AP):
The drive to cap malpractice verdicts - beyond actual economic damages such as the cost of long-term medical care or inability to work - was a staple of Bush's campaign appearances. It was the first health-related topic the president touched upon in his first postelection news conference.

"We must confront the frivolous lawsuits that are driving up the cost of health care and hurting doctors and patients," he said on Nov. 4.

Republicans have expanded their majority in the Senate, so supporters think there could be enough momentum to overcome Democratic-led resistance to limits on malpractice awards.

No one is saying that frivolous lawsuits are OK, or that some awards are unjustified. What is likely to result is a chilling effect on legitimate lawsuits. Sometimes companies -- and incompetent doctors -- need to feel the financial pain of the damage they cause. A better alternative might be if the damages exceed the needs of the complainant, that an amount goes into a legal fund for indigent defendants. We've already got a problem with the lack of public defenders and private attorneys willing to work in that capacity.

Porter Goss's handling of the CIA is really pissing people off.

With two more CIA staff jumping ship, administration and Hill folks are worried about the floodgates opening. And it looks like "Big Dick" Cheney is trying to strongarm people that told the truth about the lack of connection between Iraq and 9/11. Four more years of this is going to destroy any chance we have at shoring up security against terrorism.
The CIA's Deputy Director for Operations Stephen Kappes and his immediate deputy, Michael Sulick, told colleagues Monday morning that they were departing the agency, which was heavily criticized for prewar intelligence lapses in Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It's unclear whether Kappes and Sulick resigned voluntarily or were asked to step down.

Both men were part of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, or clandestine service, which is responsible for covert operations around the globe.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, former officials described intense friction within the agency with Goss now in charge. And some say there are concerns that more officers at the CIA's counterterrorist center and elsewhere may be asked to resign or told that they no longer have a future at the agency.

"It is very fair to say there is tremendous turmoil in the middle ranks of the clandestine service today," said Vince Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism chief. "There may be eight people pushed out."

Cannistraro said there is concern within the agency that Vice President Dick Cheney is ordering changes to avenge leaks to the media indicating there was no connection between former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida terrorists. A spokesman for Cheney did not return a call seeking comment.

Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that while changes were necessary at the CIA, Goss needed to take 'immediate steps to stabilize the situation ... and he must provide some explanation for this rash of departures among senior officials.'

You've also got Goss's former colleagues trashing his legacy in the House; the gloves are off now:
The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, California Rep. Jane Harman, said on CBS's 'Face the Nation' on Sunday that the situation at the CIA was largely the product of 'a highly partisan, inexperienced staff' that Goss brought with him.

'Many of us worked with that staff in the House. Frankly, on both sides of the aisle in the committee, we were happy to see them go,' she said. "

Do you think the French doctors will release Arafat's medical records??

Newly minted Palestinian Prime Minister Qureia Seeks Report on Arafat's Death. Ostenisibly, the inquiry is to dispel rumors that Arafat was poisoned. Others think that there may be a different explanation -- AIDS -- linked to his rumored bisexuality.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Looks like BC04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman is going to be named head of the RNC. Interesting, as he has been dodging questions about his sexuality for some time now. Why wouldn't he, given the reception that this news will get by the religious wingnuts -- they are ready to burn all homos at the stake right about now.

UPDATE (8:55 PM EST): Confirmed -- Mehlman has been named by Bush to head the RNC. Join the active discussions going on at AmericaBlog and BlogActive.

Am I straight or gay? Well, I'm head of the RNC now, honey.

John Byrne at Raw Story has been on this for some time. I wrote the RNC to let them know what I think about the issue last week. They read the mail (I requested return receipt), but -- big surprise -- I received no response.

Folks over at AmericaBlog are having a good time with this one.

ABC reports that Condi Rice will be nominated for Secretary of State. Hope she does less damage than she did as NSA.

Why? Man Sets Himself on Fire Near White House. Reminds me of the street flavor of NYC in the 80s.

You want to know how desperate the Pentagon is to keep people in the military when they think they've fulfilled their obligations? It's worse than you think -- the backdoor draft is sweeping in folks that aren't fit for duty. Look at the people they are calling up -- and deploying. (Post-Gazette) .
Three years after he was honorably discharged from the Army, Frederick Pistorius was surprised to learn he was a deserter.

But there it was, on his doorstep: a letter from Barry W. Kimmons, Deputy Chief, Deserter Information Point Extension Office of the Army Reserve Personnel Command.

"On 12 July 2004 you were involuntarily mobilized to active duty in the United States Army," the letter says. "To date you have not reported to your mobilization station as required by your orders." Possibly Pistorius had not responded for two reasons. The Pistorius family had moved from the address in Sharon, Pa., to which the Army had sent its first letter. More saliently, having served honorably in not one but two branches of the U.S. military, with no additional obligation showing on his discharge papers, Pistorius would have had no reason to think he was subject to anything but his civilian job at a local steel plant.

Wendy Pistorius opened the letter and immediately telephoned an official at the Army reserve command in St. Louis.

"I told him there must be a mistake, because my husband had fulfilled his obligation," she said. "He basically told me that the Army does not make mistakes and that the orders were valid and if he did not show up as per the orders he would be prosecuted and taken to jail."

...When I first spoke to Pistorius, by telephone from the camp, he said nobody had been given a physical. He told his Army commanders that he had a permanent back injury from a car crash. They were unimpressed by a letter from his chiropractor. His pre-deployment health assessment lists him in this word: "Deployable."

Pistorius spoke with his captain.

"He said everybody here's going to Iraq," Pistorius said. "It's unbelievable some of the guys they're bringing down there."

One man arrived with a hospital identification band still on his wrist. He'd just had knee surgery. One 48-year-old from Alabama had a hip replacement and fused vertebrae in his back.

"He showed them the documents, but they still made him come down to be examined by their doctors," Pistorius said. Pistorius spoke of a man called back from upstate New York.

"He had no teeth and he had arthritis in his leg," he said.

Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and now a professor at Boston University, wasn't surprised at the report.

"The Individual Ready Reserve -- that title is a misnomer. They're not ready," Bacevich said. "It's the equivalent of me walking out here on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and taking the first 5,000 people I meet and saying 'you're now in the military.' "

Ready to move to Canada? Check out CNN's story Canadians open arms to Americans. It's about several efforts by Canadian companies to woo us. One is a Vancouver immigration lawyer's plan to hold seminars on how disgruntled Americans can make the move across the border. Another is a web site started up by Vancouver-based Internet company, Communicopia called The AP has a list of reasons Canada is attractive to free-thinking individuals worried about the fundy takeover of the U.S. goverment. :

1. Canada has universal public health care.
2. Canada has no troops in Iraq.
3. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol environmental treaty.
4. More than half of Canada's provinces allow same-sex marriage.
5. The Canadian Senate recommends legalizing marijuana.
6. Canada has no law restricting abortion.
7. Canada has strict gun laws and relatively little violence.
8. The United Nations has ranked Canada the best country to live in for eight consecutive years.
9. Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.
10. Canada has not run a federal deficit since 1996-97.

Source: The Associated Press

In the practical matter of getting spending initiatives approved, it looks like Bush is in for a bit of rough and tumble with Congress on the budget. (LAT):
In the first test of the fresh "political capital" he said he earned in winning a second term, President Bush will try to convince the lame-duck Congress that convenes Tuesday to approve money for a host of spending initiatives, such as helping community colleges and exploring outer space.

But lawmakers, including many Republicans, have their own priorities. The expected budget face-offs as this session comes to a close suggest that the White House may have trouble getting its way on spending when the new, more heavily Republican Congress convenes next year.

...One reason for congressional resistance on spending is that concern over the deficit and mounting costs for U.S. military operations in Iraq crosses party lines. In addition, the president's requests for money for his favored programs collide with lawmakers' desires to spend money on programs they like but which the White House is not enthusiastic about.

"Congress has its own priorities, and they're going to balance those with that of the president," said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

A House GOP leadership aide added: "You're not going to see us throw overboard all these programs that we've cared about for years because the administration wants to fund a bunch of new stuff."

...The lame-duck Congress will have to vote to raise the $7.4-trillion debt ceiling, which the Treasury Department has said will be breached Thursday. Democrats are pushing for a separate vote to make an issue out of what they contend is the Republicans' lack of fiscal discipline.

I don't EVER want to hear the GOP talk about Democrats being the "tax and spend" party when they are "the spend and put your kids in debt party."

Chuck's not running for gov of NY in 2006.

Looks like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), is going to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and take a seat on the Senate Finance Committee. This means he won't be facing NY Atty General Eliot Spitzer, who plans to run for governor of NY in 2006. I don't think the NY GOP is going to be able to field someone that can beat Spitzer.

Faux News and CNN report Colin Powell handed in his resignation. He wants to get as far as he can from the international debacles Bush has led the U.S. into.

UPDATE: It's "abandon ship"...(WPost):
Secretary of State Colin Powell and three other Cabinet members submitted their resignations on Monday, as the shake-up of President Bush's second-term team escalated. "I believe that now that the election is over, the time has come for me to step down," Powell wrote.

The White House released the letter Powell sent to the president on Friday as well as those written by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, confirming their departures.

The announcements earlier of the departures of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, along with those disclosed Monday, brought to six - out of 15 - the number of Cabinet members involved in the post-election exodus.

There's a good joke here, but it's too early in the morning for me to be witty enough to make one. Feel free to contribute your own -- Beavers Make Dam Out of Stolen Money (WP).

What do you think this is all about -- American Express plans to sue Visa and MC?

UPDATE, from (AP):

American Express Co., the travel and financial services giant, said Monday it was suing Visa and MasterCard over anticompetitive business practices.

The way for the lawsuit was cleared by the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 4, when it issued a final ruling in an antitrust case brought by the Justice Department, which accused the two biggest card associations in America, Visa USA Inc. and MasterCard International Inc., of restraining competition.

The high court's decision let stand a lower court ruling requiring Visa and MasterCard to allow their member banks to issue competing cards. That cleared the way for American Express of New York and Discover Financial Services Inc., a division of the New York-based Morgan Stanley, to begin partnering with U.S. financial institutions.

Immediately after the Supreme Court ruling was announced, Discover Financial Services filed an antitrust suit against MasterCard and Visa in U.S. District Court in New York seeking unspecified damages for alleged anticompetitive behavior that kept it out of the lucrative bank market.

We grow our own terrorists here just as well, thank you.

As one of the interviews in this article says, "everybody is concerned about the guy in a turban." No one is really looking at the "home-grown terrorists" here. (USA TODAY):
Since Sept. 11, the nation's attention has been focused on possible threats from Islamic terrorists. But home-grown terrorists have been steadily plotting and carrying out attacks in unrelated incidents across the nation, according to federal authorities and two organizations that monitor hate groups.

But some of the alleged domestic terrorists who have been arrested had ambitious plans. The people and groups range from white supremacists, anti-government types and militia members to eco-terrorists and people who hate corporations. They include violent anti-abortionists and black and brown nationalists who envision a separate state for blacks and Latinos. And they have been busy.

"Not a lot of attention is being paid to this, because everybody is concerned about the guy in a turban. But there are still plenty of angry, Midwestern white guys out there," says U.S. Marshals Service chief inspector Geoff Shank.

...Alleged terrorist plots by U.S. citizens are not new, but many of the recent conspiracies were overshadowed by 9/11 and the hunt for terrorists abroad. Most of the foiled plots didn't get very far. And few got much publicity. But there were some potentially close calls, such as the scheme by William Krar, an east Texas man who stockpiled enough sodium cyanide to gas everyone in a building the size of a high school basketball gymnasium before he was arrested in 2002.

Shank, whose unit mainly searches for fugitives, including some wanted on domestic terror-related charges, led the manhunt for Clayton Lee Waagner, 48, of Kennerdell, Pa. Waagner was convicted in December of mailing hundreds of threat letters containing bogus anthrax to abortion clinics in 24 states. During his trial in Philadelphia, prosecutors documented Waagner's ties to the Army of God, an extremist group that believes violence against abortion providers is an acceptable way to end abortion.

The article goes on to mention a list of pretty shocking domestic terrorism events by organized groups of neo-Nazis, eco-terrorists, anti-abortion wingnuts and other hate groups. There have been attempts by a militia to attack a military base, plots to steal nuclear materials and chemical weapons, and electronic blocking of police signals. You don't hear the administration talk about these efforts, which of course would be something the Patriot Act would cover as well. Some of Bush's supporters might get investigated for their activities under the Act. Continued publicizing of these domestic terrorism counter-efforts is necessary.

More phony baloney goverment "false sense of security" activity, just more bureaucracy. Visitor screening program expands. (USA TODAY):
Federal agents in three cities along the Mexican and Canadian borders will begin photographing and fingerprinting some foreign visitors Monday as part of a program aimed at preventing terrorists from entering the USA. But critics say the system is too costly, ineffective and vastly scaled back from what Congress ordered after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The program, which has cost about $1 billion to implement so far and could eventually cost up to $10 billion to put in place, is called US-VISIT, for United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. It has been used at 115 airports and 14 seaports since the start of the year. In that time, 319 people have been detained or turned away, though none was a suspected terrorist.

Under the program, any foreigner who needs a visa to enter the USA must provide fingerprints from two fingers and be photographed at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. When the visitor arrives at the border, his fingerprints and photos will be taken again to make sure they match. That information, along with the visitor's name and other personal information, will be run against government watch lists of known and suspected terrorists and sexual predators, as well as the FBI (news - web sites)'s criminal databases. If there's a match, the visitor will be denied entry.

Among the problems cited by skeptics, including members of Congress, the Government Accountability Office and representatives of the business and travel communities:

* Agents will take only two fingerprints; the FBI database uses prints from all 10 fingers. Critics say the two-print database won't work well with the FBI's database and will lead to a high error rate, especially against terrorists who alter their prints to try to slip through the system. US-VISIT Director Jim Williams says that collecting 10 fingerprints from each person would add another $1 billion to the cost and require larger equipment that can't fit in existing Customs and inspection areas. "We don't know that the accuracy goes up" enough to make it worth the cost, he says.

...* Only about 4% of the visitors crossing the USA's land borders each day will be checked when the initial phase is running Jan. 1 at the 50 busiest border crossings in 10 states. Foreigners from 27 nations deemed at low risk for harboring terrorists, including Mexico, Canada and many European nations, do not have to apply for visas and will not be fingerprinted or photographed.

...Laredo businessman Dennis Nixon, president and CEO of International Bancshares Corp., calls US-VISIT a "feel-good policy" to make the public think the government is securing the border. He says the government should track down terrorists on its watch lists. "What is the purpose of all this checking and rechecking of legitimate visitors?" Nixon says.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

An article in tomorrow's NYT examines how "Losses in South May Erode Democrats' Last Link to Center".
In the new Congress, only 4 of the 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy will be Democrats, the lowest number since Reconstruction; as recently as 1990, 15 of those Southern senators were Democrats. In the House, the Democrats suffered smaller but still significant losses in Texas, where a Republican redistricting plan took down a group of veteran lawmakers, including the paradigmatic Southern conservative: Representative Charles W. Stenholm, a 13-term deficit hawk and longtime leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of centrists in the House.

..."Our candidates were the ones people in the South feel comfortable with," said Senator George Allen of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Republican Senate candidates carried two-thirds or more of the white vote, according to surveys of voters leaving the polls.

Professor Black of Emory University said: "Here's the problem Democrats face in the South: They've lost the white conservatives. They're now losing the younger, white moderate voters, who are now much more likely to be Republican than Democrat."

Democrats can still win in many Southern states without a majority of the white vote, because they usually get such strong support from blacks, Professor Black noted. But they cannot prevail against such lopsided losses among whites.

What the article didn't say is how the Dems plan to attract those younger, moderate voters. There isn't a surefire plan when much of the region is polarized, with blue clusters of voters in many of the Southern states that still go Dem in local races. This is going to be the hot topic of discussion for many months as Dems (and bloggers) strategize whether to try to reclaim some of these Southern voters, or abandon the South to the GOP and work on the more libertarian bent of the Western states.

The UK Times Online reports what we pretty much knew already -- that the U.S. ships terrorist suspects to countries that routinely use torture in their prisons. Of course, we do well enough on our own in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but for the heavy duty stuff, the Pentagon likes to "outsource" this nasty task.
"An executive jet is being used by the American intelligence agencies to fly terrorist suspects to countries that routinely use torture in their prisons.

The movements of the Gulfstream 5 leased by agents from the United States defence department and the CIA are detailed in confidential logs obtained by The Sunday Times which cover more than 300 flights.

Countries with poor human rights records to which the Americans have delivered prisoners include Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan, according to the files. The logs have prompted allegations from critics that the agency is using such regimes to carry out -- torture by proxy -- a charge denied by the American government.

There is a gem of a story by James Jenega in the Chicago Tribune today. It is a "You Are There" soldier story -- Bradley crew's shift: 19 hours in Fallujah shooting gallery. Here's just a taste of the lengthy article:
After nearly 18 hours in the claustrophobic urban canyons that constitute the front lines of the battle for Fallujah, the crew of the lead Bradley Fighting Vehicle was cramped, weary and low on ammunition.

Then they came under heavy enemy fire for the first time all week.

Within 15 minutes, as shooting erupted around them, their radio crackled with the news that their company commander's vehicle, blocks behind them, had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The blast killed an interpreter and severed a soldier's arm. A Bradley that sped to the rescue was hit by another RPG that slipped under its high-tech armor, wounding the driver.

A block away, they heard the boom as a third rocket from insurgents took out the transmission on a huge Abrams tank. The tank's turret wouldn't move. Nor could the tank drive in reverse or pivot.

...They fought for a night and much of a day in streets so narrow they couldn't turn around, cruising devastated roadways that any second could explode in a barrage from rockets and Kalashnikovs.

Inside the troop compartment of Bradley Alpha 2-1--a space hardly larger than two refrigerators--a hulking 17-year-old from Florida crouched across from a skinny 24-year-old team leader, weighed down by 65 pounds of gear. Along with the reporter, two other soldiers crammed in, buried in equipment and juggling two machine guns, a grenade launcher and an anti-tank missile launcher the size of a fence post. The weapons were useless inside the vehicle. But in this neighborhood, getting out and fighting on foot would be too dangerous.

Ames and the Bradley's commander, Lt. Michael Duran, 24, rode in the turret above the troop compartment. Spec. Clint Hardin, 23, rode up front, steering the 30-ton vehicle using a monitor and periscopes.

The men in back slept uneasily for much of the night, leaning helmets against metal or one another as the Bradley's 25 mm gun tore apart houses and buildings where insurgents were thought to be hiding.

But at dawn, rifle rounds began pinging off the Bradley's armor and the RPGs began exploding, rocking the vehicle, raining dust on the men inside and sucking the air from the compartment again and again.

The wingnuts have been beside themselves because Julia Boseman, an out lesbian has been elected to the NC state senate (and they are eager to revive the attempt to pass a state and national constitutional amendment).

The Wilmington (NC) StarNewsOnline withdrew its endorsement of her opponent, Woody White, when he decided that gay baiting/gay bashing was a legitmate campaign tactic. It backfired, he lost, and now his supporters are lashing out.

Thanks to House Blend reader Fredda for passing along these interesting Letters to the Editor (she's scouting out for more)...
EDITOR: On Nov. 2, Christian Americans made a loud statement. Eleven states passed amendments to define marriage as exclusively between a man and woman.

They also came out strong in supporting President Bush, who is pro-life and against embryonic stem cell research.

While nationally Christian conservatives drew a line in the sand, here in Wilmington we somehow found ourselves stalled in the '90s mentality of moral appeasement by electing Julia Boseman to represent New Hanover county as state senator.

We feared the stigma of being labled "intolerant." Star-News columnist Si Cantwell slammed Woody White's ad questioning Ms. Boseman's association with the Victory Fund, as "overly strident," potentially stirring up hatred and prejudice, yet it raises a valid point. I guess it just wasn't a P.C. point, was it, Mr. Cantwell?

If you log on to the Victory Fund web site, they clearly state that their intention is to increase the number of gay and lesbian public officials. I, for one, resent the way Mr. White was vilified for pointing this out.

The sad fact is, the Victory Fund painted a target on New Hanover County, took aim, and scored a bull's eye. Now we will be subjected to their agenda, as a result.

Tom Lewis


Weddings are a cause for celebration – and so are the election results from states where voters were asked whether the traditional definition of marriage should be protected.

Eleven states approved marriage-preservation amendments – every one that had one on the ballot. Voters in those states demonstrated their understanding not only of the last two millennia of history, but also of social science data that clearly indicates the value of the traditional family to children and society.

Sadly, though, the ballot box is no match for the judge's gavel in modern-day America. Don't be surprised if the next headline you read about this issue involves a state court's ruling one of the amendments unconstitutional …

The only weapon to effectively battle such tyranny is another amendment – to the U.S. Constitution.

Cathy Ibrahim


Pro-Boseman letters...

Grandma knew mud and fleas
EDITOR: Many, many years ago my late grandmother correctly pointed out to me that "If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas" and, "If you throw mud at someone, you'll usually get some on yourself."

Should state Sen. Woody White choose to run for public office again, he might do a great deal better if he paid attention to my grandmother's wisdom.

Don Brauer


EDITOR: It was a happy moment to see Julia Boseman win a seat in the State Senate over Woody White.

Not because she is gay, or a woman, mind you, but because she showed more class during Woody's reign of gay-bashing than he has in his pinkie finger …

She stuck to her qualifications and agenda and didn't allow his childish rant to affect her campaign and she didn't offer return bashing and kept her maturity intact.

What a tacky last-ditch effort, bashing her sexuality …

Bye, Woody White. Good riddance. Now you might have time to sit back and learn something from a very professional and wise woman.

Annette Warner

Yet another political map of the US is out there, and it slices the electoral analysis in an interesting way.. It's chronicled on a great Daily Kos diary by litho, and presents the work of Robert David Sullivan, of CommonWealth ( I'm going to quote the witty litho on Sullivan's work:
Sullivan divides the Old Confederacy into five different regions, four of which overlap with other parts of the country. Kerry won one of those regions, El Norte (composed mostly of Spanish speaking areas in South Florida, South Texas, and Southern California), outright. Another, Big River (which follows the Mississippi from Arkansas to Minnesota) is the quintessential swing region; Kerry lost this region by 1.1 points.

"Southern Comfort" is the name Sullivan gives to the region populated by what I call "idiot rednecks": basically the Gulf Coast from Southern Florida through Louisiana including all of East Texas, most of Oklahoma and parts of Western Missouri and Arkansas. Bush took 61.3% of the vote here, his second highest percentage in all of Sullivan's regions.

Here's the map:

Click to enlarge

The marriage amendment has a better chance of passing than this one, or does it? Ads to back Schwarzenegger for president: "Californians will soon see advertisements urging them to help give Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other foreign-born citizens the chance to run for president.

The cable television ads, set to begin running Monday, are from a Silicon Valley-based group that wants to amend the U.S. Constitution, which limits the presidency to people born in the United States. Schwarzenegger was born in Austria but became a U.S. citizen in 1983.

"You cannot choose the land of your birth. You can choose the land you love," Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones says in the ads.

She is a San Francisco Bay area mutual fund manager and major Schwarzenegger campaign donor who is helping pay for the ads and created a companion Web site.

Schwarzenegger, 57, has said he would consider running for president if the Constitution allowed but hasn't pushed for a constitutional change."

Uptight fundamentalist wingnut Bill Frist thinks Arlen Specter better start licking Bush's shoes -- and like it -- if Arlen wants to be chair of the Senate Judiciary committee.

More evidence of the growing paranoia at the White House, now that Bush has won the election and has nothing to lose. Arlen Specter's getting spanked for his pro-choice leanings and has been told he's got to tow the White House line if a Supreme Court nominee is sent up there by Shrub. I hope the moderates in the GOP are happy that they didn't make a stink about this, because this fundamentalist crowd is out of control. The moderates' heads are on the chopping block now; it's not just the homos.

Bruise from the "pretzel choke incident." The leader of the free world is unfit for duty.

The paranoia of the Bush White House is in full flower as Porter Goss has been instructed to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush.

The mass resignations are just the start. When Bush and Goss get through, we're going to see a return of J. Edgar Hoover-like policies, mark my words.

If any of you have read Justin Frank's convincing and thorough psych profile Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, you would not be surprised at this development.
Among the other subjects Frank explores:

* Bush's false sense of omnipotence, instilled within him during childhood and emboldened by his deep investment in fundamentalist religion

* The president's history of untreated alcohol abuse, and the questions it raises about denial, impairment, and the enabling streak in our culture

* The growing anecdotal evidence that Bush may suffer from dyslexia, ADHD, and other thought disorders

* His comfort living outside the law, defying international law in his presidency as boldly as he once defied DUI statutes and military reporting requirements

* His love-hate relationship with his father, and how it triggered a complex and dangerous mix of feelings including yearning, rivalry, anger, and sadism

* Bush's rigid and simplistic thought patterns, paranoia, and megalomania -- and how they have driven him to invent adversaries so that he can destroy them

At once a compelling portrait of George W. Bush and a damning indictment of his policies, Bush on the Couch sheds startling new light on an administration whose record of violence and cruelty seems increasingly dependent on the unstable psyche of the man at its center. Insightful and accessible, courageous and controversial, Bush on the Couch tackles the question no one seems willing to ask: Is our president psychologically fit to run the country?

An interview with Frank is here.

Just back from an amazing, late-fall bicycle ride today on the American Tobacco Trail here in Durham. The path is part of a country-wide rails-to-trails program, converting old railroad track beds to paved surfaces for pedestrians and cyclists. One of the entrances is about a quarter-mile from our house, and one branch goes all the way downtown to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Medics and nurses unload an injured American soldier from a Marine medevac helicopter at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq (news - web sites) Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004. The soldier received a gunshot wound to the head and later went into surgery.(AP Photo/John Moore)

Just the fact, ma'am. The AP's round up of Saturday's events in Iraq says it all. When you string a list of facts together like this for ONE F*CKING DAY, you see the magnitude of the carnageand the toll it is taking. No strategy, no spin. We do not have control of the situation, even around the so-called Green zone. (via Herald-Sun):
U.S. troops declared the entire city of Fallujah was "occupied but not subdued," saying it could take several days more to clear pockets of resistance. Iraqi officials acknowledged the two most wanted figures in the city -- Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Sheik Abdullah al-Janabi -- had escaped. The offensive against Fallujah claimed the lives of at least 24 American troops and an estimated 1,000 insurgents.

-- At least five heavy explosions rocked central Baghdad after nightfall. There was no immediate explanation for the blasts. Sirens were heard coming from the fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. and Iraqi leadership. The U.S. military had no immediate comment. A militant group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on the Internet. The claim's authenticity could not be verified.

-- A mortar round whistled overhead at the Green Zone as journalists and others were waiting to accompany interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to southern Iraq. The projectile did not explode. The round passed over just before Allawi arrived at the helipad for the trip.

-- Iraq's health minister said the evacuation has begun of wounded civilians trapped inside Fallujah during four days of military operations. On Friday, aid agencies including the Red Cross warned of a major humanitarian disaster unless Iraqi and U.S. authorities allow food, water and medicine to reach the trapped civilians.

-- A car bomb exploded in the northern city of Mosul as a convoy of Iraqi National Guards passed, injuring seven, said Radwan Hannoun of the Jumhuri Hospital. An armed uprising in sympathy with Fallujah's insurgents has killed 10 Iraqi National Guards and one American soldiers in recent days.

-- Airstrikes and clashes west of Baghdad between U.S. troops and rebels have left four people dead and 29 others wounded, police and hospital officials said.

-- Mortar rounds hit a residential neighborhood in Samarra, killing two children and injuring eight people, police said. Six of the wounded were children and the other two were women, the police said. Witnesses said they believed the rounds were fired at a U.S. base but missed their target.

-- A U.S. warplane dropped a 500-pound bomb in Fallujah to destroy an insurgent tunnel network, CNN embedded correspondent Jane Arraf reported.

-- Saboteurs attacked an oil pipeline north of Baghdad, sending flames and smoke billowing against the night sky. The pipeline carries crude from Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, to the Dora refinery in Baghdad.

-- Insurgents attacked three Marine convoys in the western flashpoint city of Ramadi, but a Marine spokesman said there were no casualties. U.S. troops have been engaged in heavy clashes with militants in the city for weeks. Ramadi is 70 miles west of Baghdad.

-- U.S. forces clashed with insurgents in northern Iraq, leaving one Iraqi killed and 10 others injured in the crossfire, a hospital official said. The clashes erupted when insurgents attacked an American patrol in Tal Afar, 30 miles west of the northern city of Mosul.

-- Three clerics from an influential Sunni Muslim scholars group were arrested by Iraqi security forces, along with nearly 20 of their followers in raids on mosques in and south of Baghdad, the group said.

-- More than 70 U.S. soldiers from Iraq were flown to a military hospital in Ramstein, Germany, most of them wounded in the battle for Fallujah, officials said.

-- France believes two French journalists held hostage in Iraq are still alive, but authorities have lost direct contact with their kidnappers, the foreign minister said.

-- Insurgents armed with grenades attacked a Romanian army convoy in Iraq, Romania's Defense Ministry said. No casualties were reported. Romania has about 730 troops in Iraq.

-- Relatives of Kenneth Bigley, the Briton beheaded in Iraq, remembered him at a tearful memorial service in Liverpool, England, as an honest, funny man whose brutal killing devastated those who loved him.

A Look at U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq. (AP, not DOD):
As of Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004, at least 1,179 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 903 died as a result of hostile action, the Defense Department said as of Friday. The figures include three military civilians. The department did not provide an update Saturday.

The AP count is thirteen higher than the Defense Department's tally, which was last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EST.

The British military has reported 74 deaths; Italy, 19; Poland, 13; Spain, 11; Ukraine, nine; Bulgaria, seven; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, two each; and Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary and Latvia have reported one death each.

Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,041 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. That includes at least 794 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

A couple of local items...

* No one else is going to care about this item but me...FINALLY, a heinous traffic bottleneck in my area is going to be fixed.
Work should begin soon on the last phase of the four-lane Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway that runs from southwestern Durham into the booming area around Research Triangle Park.

The parkway, intended to provide a fast-moving thoroughfare and relieve traffic on Interstate 40, drops to two lanes between Old Chapel Hill and Hope Valley roads, where it is currently called Archdale Drive. With a $2.9 million contract approved by the City Council recently, that final three-quarter-mile phase should be widened within about 18 months.

* Outsourcing the local economy -- A great piece by Anne Krishnan in the Durham Herald-Sun reports on the "offshoring of white-collar RTP jobs. Welcome to the Bush economy. Our area has had explosive job growth in the last couple of decades, and now many of those jobs are being transferred for the cheap labor. And remember, NC is a "right to work" state.
Nine time zones away from Cisco Systems' campus in Research Triangle Park, Sekhar Reddy leads a 40-person team that's creating next-generation mobile phone technology.

Reddy, who worked at IBM in the Triangle for a year and then at Cisco's office in San Jose, Calif., for eight years, returned to his native India this spring as a manager in Cisco's mobile wireless group.

...Over the past 30 years, companies have sent millions of blue-collar manufacturing jobs overseas. Now the debate rages as white-collar, knowledge-based positions such as paralegals, accountants, software programmers and Web designers -- jobs previously shielded from global competition -- head to countries like India, China and the Philippines.

The issue isn't so much how many jobs are currently being sent overseas in the practice known as offshoring; it's what kinds of jobs are going.

"Apparel workers in North Carolina have been in competition with workers from around the world for 20 years," said Josh Bivins, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. "We may now see that competition entering new sectors of the American economy."

...Large firms such as IBM, Ericsson, Nortel Networks, SAS and Cisco have been offshoring for years. Now smaller Triangle firms such as Cary's Ultimus, Apex's Translogic Systems and Morrisville's LVL7 are operating offices in India or Pakistan. Other high-tech companies, like Durham's StrikeIron and RedPelican, are doing work in Vietnam and Russia, respectively.

Still, experts say the number of white-collar jobs currently moving overseas is relatively low.

Goldman Sachs estimates that the U.S. economy is losing 5,000 to 10,000 nonmanufacturing jobs each month to offshoring and has lost 300,000 to 400,000 over the past three years. Forrester Research predicts that U.S. companies will send 3.4 million white-collar jobs overseas by 2015.

Local companies like the Research Triangle Institute, SAS and IBM all employ people in the Triangle who work for clients around the world, he said. In September alone, American companies provided $4 billion more services to foreign companies than came into the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported last week.

"Americans are good at this," Grennes said. "I think that gets missed by all of the politicians and the popular discussion."

...The human story associated with offshoring is complex, said Arie Lewin, director of Duke University's Center for International Business Research, or CIBER. CIBER is conducting a multi-year study that tracks 400 companies' offshoring decisions and results. It also will hold a national conference on trade policy in December, with much of the discussion about white-collar offshoring.

U.S. institutions aren't equipped to help people with the adjustment, said Lewin, who said he doesn't know how severe the exodus of white-collar jobs could become.

"We have a better institutional structure to help blue-collar workers when they lose their work," he said. "But if you're a white-collar worker and you've worked your way up and think you have a secure, middle-income kind of office work and you get offshored, it's psychologically difficult to take."

Bivins is concerned that continued offshoring will create polarization in the U.S. economy, with corporations and businesses becoming more profitable while a large group of workers' wages and employment suffer.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Here's an update on the lieutenant that was raped and ordered to report for duty. She was going to be charged for going AWOL after two weeks if she didn't report to the Mississippi base where her assailant was still on duty. I wrote a Daily Kos diary on this, if you want background. It looks the fellow lieutenant is going to be charged. Finally.
An Army lieutenant will face a hearing next week into allegations he raped a fellow soldier in Mississippi, military officials said Saturday.

Michael R. Hall of the 278th Regimental Combat Team will appear at an Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian court grand jury hearing, on Tuesday at Camp Shelby, Miss.

The hearing will consider charges of rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and adultery, Lt. Col. Richard Steele said.

The alleged victim, also a lieutenant, said she was raped in August by a fellow officer in the Tennessee-based combat team, which was training at Camp Shelby. The soldiers are among the New Jersey National Guard members who belong to the combat team.

...The woman has requested an immediate discharge, according to her attorney

Stories like this piss me off because it's yet another example of how drug companies put the public at risk for the sake of a profit. I was put on Warner-Lambert's Rezulin a few years ago, which had to be pulled in 2000 because people were dropping dead from liver failure. Why wasn't this caught? Here's why:
[Rezulin is] Linked to 90 cases of life threatening liver damage, at least 63 deaths have resulted from the use of this diabetes drug. Approved on the FDA's "fast track" in just six months, FDA physicians describe the approval conditions as lowered safety standards.

...The FDA doctor considered the top expert in assessing and preventing deaths related to the use of prescription drugs concluded that Rezulin patients are 1,200 times more likely to suffer liver failure. Approved to treat type-2 diabetes, Rezulin manufacturer Warner-Lambert has been accused of knowing as early as 1993 of at least one case of a patient who showed liver damage after taking Rezulin. The L.A. Times reported the Rezulin manufacturer downplayed liver damage concerns when seeking federal approval by assuring Rezulin was low risk.

Has anything improved? Fast forward to the present ....

Merck had to pull multi-billion-dollar-generating arthritis drug Vioxx because of compelling evidence it was contributing to cardiovascular issues --strokes and heart attacks. What folks didn't know until after the fact is that despite warnings, Merck took its time before recalling it. (NYT):
Merck decided not to conduct a study solely to determine whether Vioxx might cause heart attacks and strokes - the type of study that outside scientists would repeatedly call for as clinical evidence continued to show cardiovascular risks from the drug. Instead, Merck officials decided to monitor clinical trials, already under way or planned, that were to test Vioxx for other uses, to see if any additional signs of cardiovascular problems emerged.

It was a recurring theme for the company over the next few years - that Vioxx was safe unless proved otherwise. As recently as Friday, in newspaper advertisements, Merck has argued that it took "prompt and decisive action'' as soon as it knew that Vioxx was dangerous.

But a detailed reconstruction of Merck's handling of Vioxx, based on interviews and internal company documents, suggests that actions the company took - and did not take - soon after the drug's safety was questioned may have affected the health of potentially thousands of patients, as well as the company's financial health and reputation.

The review also raises broader questions about an entire class of relatively new painkillers, called COX-2 inhibitors; about how drugs are tested; and about how aggressively the federal Food and Drug Administration monitors the safety of medications once they are in the marketplace.

The decisions about how to test Vioxx were made in a hothouse environment in which researchers fiercely debated how the question should be pursued, and some even now question whether the drug needed to be withdrawn. It also took place amid a fierce battle between Vioxx and Celebrex in which federal regulators said marketing claims ran ahead of the science.

Today Merck faces not only Congressional and Justice Department investigations, but also potentially thousands of personal-injury lawsuits that could tie the company up in litigation for years and possibly cost it billions to resolve.

We all know they have no shame, but what the hell is the government, our government, going to do to stop the shameless pimping by the Big Pharma of doctors, and the FDA fast-tracking of drugs without adequate safety trials)? I fear nothing. So next time you hear those disclaimers at the end of the commercials with all the possible side effects ("some fatal"), think twice before getting a prescription filled for one -- you may be the guinea pig for Big Profit Pharma.

Somehow, I don't think Dobson, Falwell, et. al. will like this story: 'God gene' discovered by scientist behind gay DNA theory. (News-Telegraph):
Religious belief is determined by a person's genetic make-up according to a study by a leading scientist.

After comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples, an American molecular geneticist has concluded that a person's capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals.

His findings were criticised last night by leading clerics, who challenge the existence of a "god gene" and say that the research undermines a fundamental tenet of faith - that spiritual enlightenment is achieved through divine transformation rather than the brain's electrical impulses.

Are these Republicans?

Amusing story of the day: Elephants Rampage Through India Villages:
Wild elephant herds have been terrorizing India's remote northeast, killing people, flattening houses and even guzzling local rice beer supplies, prompting villagers to retaliate against the pachyderms with firecrackers and bonfires."

...The wild elephants have stampeded across the region, stomping down houses and feasting on standing crops, Pradyut Bordoloi, Assam state's forest minister, said Saturday.

Rice beer is an attraction. Workers in tea plantations in Assam make rice beer at home and store it in drums.

"There are many instances of wild elephants guzzling the brew and returning for more
," Bordoloi said.

More NC residents are getting shipped off to Iraq. (Herald-Sun):
Twenty-eight soldiers of the 217th have been mobilized as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 217th was winner of the state Conley Award in 2000 for excellence in food service and has won the Army Superior Unit Award for devotion to duty and superior peacetime efforts.

The unit's duties in Iraq will include supervising mail operations for Kellogg Brown and Root, a division of Halliburton.

Ugh. Just reading Halliburton makes my skin crawl.

Will Dick tie his bib for him too? Cheney Protects Rumsfeld's Job.

UPDATE (1:45 EST): Cheney's just been taken to the hospital with shortness of breath. Rumsfeld (and a whole lot of other folks) better pray.

UPDATE 2 (2:25 EST): AP and CNN have stories up.

Sickle cell anemia (L), Tay-Sachs (R)

The recent news that a drug combination used in a trial was clearly effective on black heart-failure patients has made it possible that the Food and Drug Administration may approve a drug aimed at a single racial group for the first time.

In the NYT editorial today, "Toward the First Racial Medicine," the breakthrough raises some ethical quandries this path of action can get us into.
The danger that any perceived differences might be used for evil - to imply superiority or inferiority for a particular racial group, for example - was simply too great. Thus it is a welcome sign of increasing national maturity that medical experts, both black and white, are now grappling openly with the issue of race as it applies to medical treatments.

That is a danger, but hardly a reason not to proceed. After all, there are conditions that are commonly known to occur more frequently in certain racial/ethnic groups, and are recognized as such, for instance sickle cell anemia. It occurs in about 1 in every 500 African-American births and 1 in every 1000 to 1400 Hispanic-American births, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research. There's also Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic disorder. The NIH says that it is more common in people of Ashkenazi (eastern and central European) Jewish heritage. The genetic mutation that causes Tay-Sachs disease is also more common in certain French-Canadian communities of Quebec, some Amish groups, and the Cajun community of Louisiana.

So, where does that leave the medical ethicists, politicians and just plain citizens/medical consumers on this front? I agree with the Times editorial:
Yet there are reasons to go slow in moving toward race-based medicine. The chief drawback is that race is too superficial and subjective a concept, mostly based on skin color, to match up well with any underlying genetic or physiological differences that may affect how an individual responds to a disease or a drug treatment. Medical scientists are using race as a crude surrogate for what they assume are genetic differences yet to be identified.

But there is considerable genetic variability within any racial group, so it is likely that the new pill may fail some black patients, while white patients who could benefit may not get it because they don't fit the racial profile. The ultimate goal, still years or decades away, is to develop medical treatments based on an individual's genes and life experiences, not on membership in some poorly defined racial or ethnic category. Race-based prescribing makes sense only as a temporary measure.

I can speak with some experience on this front. My racial/ethnic background is extremely varied, but I do know, for instance, that type II diabetes exists on both sides of my family, for at least two generations, and I am one of the few in my family on either side to receive the kinky hair gene. My gene pool represents the multi-culti phenomenon that is part of the colorful history of the United States. It's nearly impossible to easily pigeonhole someone like me into any clear category, though I do, when I feel like it, check the African-American box to make someone else comfortable with clerical matters. The truth is that checking the box denies all the pieces of genetic history that makes me who I am -- I have white American, West Indian (Barbados), white European, American Indian (Shinnecock, Lumbee), and possibly Chinese ancestors in my family tree. It's harder for people in my boat to trace things like this back too far, but there are folks on both sides of my family trying to do so. What does that make me (other than a proud "mutt" -- and a white supremacist's embodiment of what is wrong with America)?

For the medical community, it's a first step, but it is indeed a crude one. Let's hope they don't get sidetracked too far, since our population is becoming less ethnically and racially defined, not more so, no matter what the white separatist religious wingnuts desire.


I also posted the above as a DKos diary.

Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor, Queens a month after 9/11.

Remember that plane crash in Queens, NY a month after 9/11? They are finally building a memorial for the 260 people that died on American Airlines Flight 587. The AP story illuminates the typical NY issues that crop up when you have ethnicity and class issues over turf and sentiment getting in the way. This is one unique aspect of life in NYC I didn't miss at all when I returned to NC.
The crash devastated two close-knit communities - the Dominican-American enclave of Washington Heights in Manhattan and Belle Harbor, an oceanfront part of Queens just south of Kennedy Airport that is home to firefighters and other city workers.

Most of those aboard the flight were Dominicans traveling to visit their homeland or to see relatives there. Five victims were killed on the ground, dealing Belle Harbor a fresh blow just a month after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

Belle Harbor residents resisted the idea of a memorial in their neighborhood, saying it would disturb the peace and provide an unwelcome reminder of a devastating time.

Their resistance and the rebuilding of homes on the site has angered victims' relatives, who say the spot where the plane fell is sacred ground.

Off topic, but was there any valid explanation for why it happened? I have relatives in Queens, and it was a frightening time. Everyone there assumed that some kind of terrorism was involved. What was interesting is that, despite all the (logical) time it takes for the NTSB to find out a cause for a plane crash.

The official explanation, at the end of this story says, "The National Transportation Safety Board ruled last month that turbulence prompted the co-pilot of Flight 587 to aggressively move the rudder back and forth to try to steady the Airbus A300 plane. The movement put excessive pressure on the tail, tore off its vertical fin and sent the plane plunging."

I don't know if anyone there really believes this, but that's what we've been told.

Eliot Spitzer has been kicking the asses of Wall Street corporate thieves for some time now. These days, he's turned to an industry everyone knows has to be rife with corruption as well -- insurance companies. In this case, he's been busting workplace insurance brokers like Marsh & McClennan, and now Universal Life. This is a fairly dry white-collar crime story to the average Joe to grasp, but these middleman companies affect the premiums that come out of your paycheck. It's a easy grab, and these companies know it. Spitzer has caught them red-handed funneling contracts insurance companies in exchange for millions. It's a white collar pickpocket operation, and these bastards need to go down.
The attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, sued Universal Life Resources, accusing the firm of steering business to insurers like MetLife, Prudential and Unum Provident in exchange for millions of dollars in payments, which, until 2003, were not properly disclosed. The insurance coverage was bought for employees of companies like Viacom and Intel. The complaint also contends that Universal Life inflated certain fees relating to benefit enrollment materials, ultimately passing that cost onto the client's employees.

Mr. Spitzer's lawsuit against Universal Life is the second against an insurance broker since his investigation of the industry began last spring. The investigation's focus has been on bid-rigging by brokers of commercial insurance, resulting in a lawsuit against Marsh & McLennan, the biggest insurance broker, on Oct. 14.

Like Marsh, Universal Life is another influential middleman, but in the area of employee benefits: the life, disability and accident insurance a company obtains for its workers. While the earlier lawsuit portrayed corporations as the victims, investigators said the latest action directly affected individuals.

"This case brings the insurance industry fraud that we have uncovered to the ordinary consumer, where monthly premiums have been inflated by the gamesmanship and illegal conduct of U.L.R. and the carriers," Mr. Spitzer said yesterday. "This conspiracy to defeat competition and push business not to the lowest-cost provider but to the company willing to make a payoff is destroying competition."

In today's NYT, Jeffrey Rosen speculates whether Bush will be able to deliver a conservative Supreme Court. It's a worthy read. It helped me understand the evolution of the term "strict constructionist," and why Bush is likely to succeed at finding and nominating justices that subscribe to the conservative philosophies that we all fear, simply because their views will be more transparent and thus predictable. On the other hand, transparency can work in our favor; the Senate Judiciary committee will be able to Bork anyone that is clearly on the wingnut side of essential issues -- we'll have to keep the pressure on them.
By promising to appoint strict constructionists, Mr. Bush has embraced the mantra of every Republican president since Richard Nixon, who first made that promise in his 1968 campaign. Yet Republican presidents have largely failed in their efforts.

In the last 36 years, four Republican presidents have appointed all but two of the current nine justices.

But on the most contested social issues - abortion, affirmative action, school prayer and gay rights - the court has sided with liberals, while only modestly advancing the deregulatory agenda of the Republicans.

"If the goal of Republican presidents was to build a court that exercised its own power with greater restraint or adhered strictly to the original constitutional text, then they have clearly failed," said Thomas Keck, a political science professor at Syracuse University and author of "The Most Activist Supreme Court in History."

Can President Bush do better than his predecessors? There is every reason to believe he can. Over the last three decades, the definition of "strict constructionism" has been refined to coincide more precisely with the political goals of its adherents, allowing fewer surprises among a conservative farm team of lawyers and judges.

...When Nixon first used the phrase "strict constructionist," he seemed to have in mind justices who would slow the Warren court's expansion of the rights of criminal defendants, as well as end court-ordered school busing. By these standards, he succeeded.

But Nixon's justices did not reverse the Warren court's expansion of individual rights. Three of his appointees, Justices Warren Burger, Lewis Powell and Harry Blackmun, proved to be moderate conservatives, who sided with liberals in cases involving school prayer, affirmative action and abortion.

...In 1995, Douglas Ginsburg, a federal appellate judge whom President Reagan tried unsuccessfully to nominate for the Supreme Court, wrote an article calling for the resurrection of what he called "the Constitution in exile," by which he meant strict constitutional limitations on federal power that were abandoned after the New Deal. In that article, Mr. Ginsburg wrote that he never expected these forgotten doctrines to be resurrected in his lifetime.

But his article coincided with the beginning of the so-called federalism revolution on the Rehnquist court. In 1995, for the first time since the New Deal, the court said there were limits on Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce. And since then, the court has struck down 33 federal laws. During its first 70 years of existence, the court invalidated only two.

Nevertheless, the federalism revolution hasn't quite delivered what conservatives hoped. Each time the court's strict constructionist justices have appeared on the brink of striking down environmental laws or health and safety laws, the moderates, Justice O'Connor and Justice Kennedy, have stepped back from the brink. They are less willing to overturn 60-year-old precedents that might strike at the core of the regulatory state.

"If the 'Constitution in exile' were taken seriously, a lot of environmental regulation could be under attack, occupational safety and health regulation, even possibly some securities regulation," said David Strauss, a law professor at the University of Chicago. "Minimum wage and maximum hours laws? You never know."

Today, when President Bush says he wants to appoint strict constructionists, he seems to have in mind justices who subscribe to the "Constitution in exile" movement. Indeed, former administration officials say all of the names on Mr. Bush's short list for the Supreme Court are considered strict constructionists who are closer to Justice Scalia than to Justice O'Connor.

"An entire generation of lawyers have been reared and trained in Justice Scalia's philosophy," said Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, who led the second President Bush's Office of Legal Counsel after Mr. Yoo. "So the Bush administration is likely to be more successful than its predecessors in finding reliably conservative nominees."

Bush has to keep deluding himself about Iraq. Thus the need to self-stimulate during his weekly radio address...

Did you know that the "training of Iraqi security forces" in some cases involves as little as requiring they wear a uniform? Read on. This is complete bullsh*t. Bush is going to leave this country in complete chaos.
...Bush applauded the assault on Fallujah, west of Baghdad. About 80 percent of the city was said to be under U.S. control, with insurgents pushed into a narrow corner. But the battle has claimed 22 American lives and wounded about 170 U.S. troops and violence has now spread to other Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq.

"Our forces have made significant progress in the last several days. They are taking back the city, clearing mosques of weapons and explosives stockpiled by insurgents and restoring order for law-abiding citizens," Bush said.

He said "support continues to grow" internationally for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, even though the multinational force will see some reductions in the coming months.

While the largest members of Bush's "coalition of the willing" — Britain with 8,500 troops and Italy with 3,000, are standing firm — Hungary says it won't keep its 300 troops there beyond March 31, the Czechs plan to pull out by the end of February and the Dutch soon afterward. Bulgaria says it may slightly reduce its contingent of 480 infantry soldiers next year. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all plan to stay through June. Japan is feeling pressure to withdraw and Spain pulled out its 1,300 troops earlier this year.

...Some doubts have been raised about the reliability of Iraqi security forces. For instance, the General Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said recently that many Iraqis have been insufficiently trained and equipped. In some cases, the only "training" required of new policemen was that they wear a uniform, the report found. And only a fraction of the total number are actual troops.

Possible good news for a NC National Guard unit. It looks like 5,000 may return from Iraq in January 2005. Of course, it's entirely realistic that this won't happen, pending the crap going on in Fallujah. The rug can get cruelly jerked out from under them. (AP):
[Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, director of the Army National Guard] Schultz was interviewed Friday at a conference of military reporters and editors in Arlington, Va. The 30th Heavy Separate Brigade left North Carolina in February and March. Its members have been responsible for security and other duties in a broad area of Iraq northeast of Baghdad.

Schultz said that a replacement unit for the 30th has already begun arriving in Iraq. Tens of thousands of fresh troops will rotate into the country this winter. The old and new units will overlap in January to bolster security for the planned national elections in Iraq.

Porter Goss really is f*cking up in the CIA faster than anyone could have imagined. Remember in deleted scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 (here on Michael Moore's site) when Goss admits on camera that he isn't qualified to run the CIA? Guess he wasn't kidding. Now folks are turning in their resignations. This is dangerous; if we're in a war on terror and the CIA is imploding, we have to look ripe to the terrorists, Shrub.

John E. McLaughlin, a 32-year CIA veteran who was acting director for two months this summer until Goss took over, resigned after warning Goss that his top aide, former Capitol Hill staff member Patrick Murray, was treating senior officials disrespectfully and risked widespread resignations, the officials said.

Yesterday, the agency official who oversees foreign operations, Deputy Director of Operations Stephen R. Kappes, tendered his resignation after a confrontation with Murray. Goss and the White House pleaded with Kappes to reconsider and he agreed to delay his decision until Monday, the officials said.

Current and retired senior managers have criticized Goss, former chairman of the House intelligence committee, for not interacting with senior managers and for giving Murray too much authority over day-to-day operations. Murray was Goss's chief of staff on the intelligence committee.

Transitions between CIA directors are often unsettling for career officers. Goss's arrival has been especially tense because he brought with him four former members of the intelligence committee known widely on the Hill and within the agency for their abrasive management style and for their criticism of the agency's clandestine services in a committee report.

Three are former mid-level CIA officials who left the agency disgruntled, according to former colleagues. The fourth, Murray, who also worked at the Justice Department, has a reputation for being highly partisan. When senior managers have gone to Goss to complain about his staff actions, one CIA officer said, Goss has told them: "Talk to my chief of staff. I don't do personnel."

The overall effect, said one former senior CIA official, who has kept up his contacts in the Directorate of Operations, "is that Goss doesn't seem engaged at all."

Friday, November 12, 2004

Sunday chat show line up, if you're still tuning in to these things post-election:
"ABC's 'This Week' -- Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.; Richard Haass, former State Department director of policy planning.
CBS' 'Face the Nation' -- Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
NBC's 'Meet the Press' -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Republican strategist Mary Matalin, and Democratic strategist James Carville.
CNN's 'Late Edition' -- Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Israeli Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat; Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney; retired Army Maj. Gen. James A. Marks.
'Fox News Sunday' -- Senate Majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn."

Have to see poodle Tony squirm. Also have to see lesbian-novel writing Lynne Cheney answer why she only defends her gay daughter from John Kerry and not the religious wingnuts that just dissed her.

Scumbag, woman-abusing, former Bush official Robert Blackwill.
Ex-Adviser Reportedly Hurt Embassy Aide. Apparently the high moral standards of the White House continue...(WP):
Robert D. Blackwill, who resigned last week as the White House's top official on Iraq policy, was recently scolded by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told her that Blackwill appeared to have verbally abused and physically hurt a female embassy staffer during a visit to Kuwait in September, administration officials said.

The incident took place as Blackwill was rushing to return home after a visit to Baghdad to join a campaign swing planned by President Bush. As six officials describe the incident, he arrived at the Air France counter at the Kuwait airport and learned he was not on the flight manifest. Blackwill then turned in fury to an embassy secretary who had accompanied him to the airport and demanded that he be given a seat on the flight, grabbing her arm at one point, the officials said.

Powell found out about the incident and informed Rice. He then had staff members gather facts and materials to present to Rice, including photographs of the woman's arm, a State Department official said.

A National Security Council spokesman confirmed that Blackwill's actions in Kuwait raised questions but said he could not comment on the details. He said the incident was not the reason Blackwill quit his job three months before Iraq is to hold its first elections. An official at the lobbying firm Blackwill just joined -- Barbour, Griffith and Rogers -- said yesterday that Blackwill was traveling to Europe.

"Ambassador Blackwill has served the country with great distinction, including in tense and dangerous situations in Iraq," the NSC spokesman said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House.

So they can't comment on anything excep the man served with distinction. It's also "tense and dangerous" to be a woman around this bastard.

Maybe it's just too late in the evening, but what is an "Internet in the sky"? This is some kind of cockamamie Pentagon project (no doubt costing billions - cha-ching!), that will help provide a "God's-eye view" of battle. Do you hear the giant sucking sound of your wallet being emptied?
This "Internet in the sky," Peter Teets, under secretary of the Air Force, told Congress, would allow "marines in a Humvee, in a faraway land, in the middle of a rainstorm, to open up their laptops, request imagery" from a spy satellite, and "get it downloaded within seconds."

The Pentagon calls the secure network the Global Information Grid, or GIG. Conceived six years ago, its first connections were laid six weeks ago. It may take two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars to build the new war net and its components.

Skeptics say the costs are staggering and the technological hurdles huge.

Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and a Pentagon consultant on the war net, said he wondered if the military's dream was realistic. "I want to make sure what we realize is vision and not hallucination," Mr. Cerf said.

"This is sort of like Star Wars, where the policy was, 'Let's go out and build this system,' and technology lagged far behind,'' he said. "There's nothing wrong with having ambitious goals. You just need to temper them with physics and reality."

Sh*t. This system is at least more foolproof than a Diebold voting machine. (AP).
The state that is the king of bizarre election finishes added another page to its quirky electoral history Friday: a city council race decided by a coin toss.

G.P. Sloan, 77, and Richard Flynn, 75, each received 689 votes in the Nov. 2 election. No one emerged a winner after two recounts, so the candidates and three dozen supporters gathered for a coin flip Friday in the community center of this town of 4,400 residents located 25 miles west of Orlando.

The city manager flipped a bicentennial dollar coin, and Flynn shouted "Heads." City manager Jason Yarborough caught it and flipped it on to the back of his hand. "Tails it is," Yarborough said, giving Sloan the victory.

Hey Georgie! Pay up, love Tony. Three British soldiers and an army interpreter are suing the American military after their vehicle was rammed by a US tank transporter in Iraq.

Duh. Is this news now? It should have been way before the election. Major bugs found in Diebold vote systems.
Computer Science Professor Avi Rubin of John Hopkins University analyzed Diebold's 47,609 lines of code and found it uses an encryption key that was hacked in 1997 and no longer is used in secure programs.

Rubin said Diebold has said it repaired the security flaws in subsequent programs, but that the company has not produced the code for analysis.

Diebold did return a call for comment.

The Digital Encryption Standard 56-bit encryption key used can be unlocked by a key embedded in all the source code, meaning all Diebold machines would respond to the same key.

Rubin, his graduate students and a colleague from Rice University found other bugs, that the administrator's PIN code was "1111" and that one programmer had inserted, "This is just a hack for now."

The implication is that by hacking one machine you could have access to all Diebold machines.

WTF is this? How could any election board not have hired consultants to vet these systems? This is sheer incompetence and fraud.

Hmmm. I don't know enough about Vilsack other than his name keeps popping up he's jockeying with Howard Dean for DNC leadership.: "Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told Democratic leaders on Friday he may seek the party's top job as the jockeying to replace chairman Terry McAuliffe intensified.

Vilsack, an ally of failed presidential nominee John Kerry, telephoned several Democratic National Committee members as he traveled in Europe, seeking their advice and asking them to withhold their endorsement of any candidate until he decides whether to seek the job.

Vilsack said that decision will come after his return from Europe next week, according to three officials familiar with the conversations. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Vilsack's candidacy appeared likely despite several complicating factors.

One is a long list of other Democrats interested in the job, including former Kerry rival Howard Dean who began calling DNC members this week seeking support. The 400-plus DNC membership meets in February to select a replacement for McAuliffe, who is not seeking another term."

...Vilsack's term as Iowa governor expires in 2006, a point that might trouble Democrats who want a full-time party chairman. Vilsack could serve as chairman while a Democratic strategist runs the party's day-to-day operations, but that might not satisfy some DNC members. In his calls, Vilsack did not indicate how he would structure the job if he sought it.

Serving as chairman could also complicate - or end - Vilsack's presidential hopes should DNC members seek a commitment from him that he not leave the party post for a White House bid. Vilsack, a finalist on Kerry's list of potential vice presidential candidates, has made no secret of his presidential ambitions.

WELCOME! Hello to all readers from John Aravosis's excellent activist AmericaBlog. Feel free to surf a while on the rest of the blog, get angry, laugh and comment. -- Pam

Mary Cheney gets flipped the bird by the Right.

Having a hoot over at AMERICAblog. The fundamentalist wingnuts are turning on Mary Cheney now, because of her "open flaunting of her homosexuality is the antithesis of what the administration claims to stand for." As John said, "Couldn't have happened to a nicer girl." Bahahahahaha.

James Dobson, "the religious right's new kingpin," according to Slate.

He's back, in a neat Slate profile. I had a hard time trying to stop laughing long enough to type this. His utter, complete fixation on homosexuality is curious. Freepers hate for us to talk about these unhinged religious wingnuts...
Forget Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who in their dotage have marginalized themselves with gaffes (this week Robertson referred to potential Supreme Court nominee Miguel Estrada as "Erik Estrada"). Forget Ralph Reed, now enriching himself as a lobbyist-operative, leaving the Christian Coalition a shell of its former self. Forget Gary Bauer, now known chiefly as a failed presidential candidate who tumbled off a stage while flipping pancakes. Dobson is now America's most influential evangelical leader, with a following reportedly greater than that of either Falwell or Robertson at his peak.

Dobson earned the title. He proselytized hard for Bush this last year, organizing huge stadium rallies and using his radio program to warn his 7 million American listeners that not to vote would be a sin. Dobson may have delivered Bush his victories in Ohio and Florida.

...It was the gay-marriage debate that finally hurled Dobson into politics wholeheartedly. The subject of homosexuality seems to exert a special power over him, and he has devoted much idiosyncratic thought to it. When discussing gays he spares no detail, no matter how prurient. In Bringing Up Boys, he gleefully reprints a letter he received from a 13-year-old boy who describes wiggling his naked body in front of the mirror to "make my genitals bounce up and down" and admits to having "tried more than once to suck my own penis (to be frank)." Dobson believes that such adolescents suffer from what he calls "pre-homosexuality," a formative stage which results from having a weak father figure. Dobson further contends that homosexuality, especially in such an early stage, can be "cured." His ministry runs a program called Love Won Out that seeks to convert "ex-gays" to heterosexuality. (Alas, the program's director, a self-proclaimed "ex-gay" himself, was spotted at a gay bar in 2000, an episode Dobson downplayed as "a momentary setback.")

To Dobson, gay marriage is a looming catastrophe of epic proportions. He has compared the recent steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor and likens the battle against it to D-Day...

...Dobson himself predicted future disappointment during an appearance on ABC's This Week last Sunday. Asked whether Bush would fail evangelicals, Dobson replied, "I'm sure he will fail us. He doesn't dance to our tune." If that's true, and Dobson believes his words about putting principle ahead of power, then his new bond with the GOP may already be in jeopardy.

Good article in Wired News about the underuse of both the independent political blogosphere and the campaigns' own blogs.
"If Kerry had addressed the Swift Boat issues on (political blogs), it would have popped back up into the mainstream media," said Larry Biddle, a veteran Democratic political operative and former deputy national finance director for Howard Dean. "I would have said to Kerry that you need to do this, you need to respond to this.... There are instances where the (blogging) community creates mainstream news, creates big conversation, and it becomes so attractive to the mainstream media, the broadcast media, that they pick it up."

...Many in the blogosphere are acutely aware that most political campaigns, like most companies that have started to publish corporate blogs, have yet to discern a way to incorporate blogs in any meaningful way. And at last weekend's BloggerCon at Stanford Law School, many bloggers bemoaned the fact that most candidates are missing the boat on what could be a powerful political tool.

One issue raised at BloggerCon was whether candidates' blogs need to be written by the candidates themselves to be effective.

"It's very important for campaigns to have a voice," said Cameron Barrett, the author of the blog CamWorld. "But it's important whose voice it is. If (a voice other than the candidate's) becomes identified with the campaign, that can become a problem."

I don't really care about this, but it's about to happen: Calif. Jury to Announce Peterson Verdict at 4 p.m. EST. If he gets off, I wonder if he and O.J. will team up to find "the real killers."

UPDATE (4:15 PM EST): Guilty, 1st degree for Laci, 2nd degree for the baby, special circumstances.

It's small but significant story -- Peru removes restrictions on gays in the military. (AP):
"Peru's constitutional court has granted gays in the military the freedom to have sex, declaring that a rule which had deemed such relations illegal was unconstitutional.

The army's rule had stipulated that military personnel could not engage in sexual relations with persons of the same sex either within or outside their barracks.

...Gays in the armed forces had been subject to expulsion or prison sentences if they engaged in homosexual relations, even outside their barracks, under a rule that Aldo Araujo of Lima's Homosexual Movement gay rights group declared "a violation of people's right to privacy."

I figured this would get the dander up of the Freepers, so I took a surf over there and look what they have to say, the little homophobes. [I didn't correct any of their spelling, mind you]:
"I saw a bumper sticker once that read, "We don't want our Mountain Men mounting men." I do not remember what it was in reference to but this made me think of it."

"What a great way for leftists to destory a countries military, make it into a gay free for all. Gays are usually pretty left wing and can be easily blackmailed. Ta-Da the military is all yours or hopelessly undisciplined. Either way the hierarchy will be dominated by homosexuals as they will promote based on who sodomized the best."

"I always thought they would be too busy swishing and simpering to fight. Besides, they might ruin their manicures...."

"Puru may as well have put up a sign "country available for invasion!" The muslims are probably making plans now to take it over. Not that they will eliminate rump rallies, but they will put it back into the closet."

U.S. body count: 22 U.S. Troops Killed, 170 wounded so far in Fallujah. No one is counting civilian casualties.

Bush is pushing the Patriot Act hard. He sees its renewal and expansion as essential. Watch your privacy rights slip away. Any measures to weaken it will get a veto.
More than a dozen provisions of the law are set to expire by late October 2005 unless renewed by Congress. These include authority for judges to issue search warrants that apply nationwide, authority for FBI and criminal investigators to share information about terrorism cases and the FBI's power to obtain records in terrorism-related cases from businesses and other entities, including libraries.

During his re-election campaign, Bush repeatedly called the Patriot Act "a powerful tool in the war on terror" and urged lawmakers not to weaken or kill it. "Congress needs to make sure law enforcement has the tools necessary to defend the country," he said in August.

...One bipartisan bill, dubbed the Security and Freedom Assured Act, would tighten standards for issuance of so-called "sneak and peek" warrants -- warrants issued without immediate notification of the target -- require that "roving" wiretaps identify the person or place under surveillance and exempt libraries from parts of the law that allow FBI expanded access to records.

"This legislation intends to ensure the liberties of law-abiding individuals are protected in our nation's fight against terrorism, without in any way impeding that fight," said a prime sponsor, Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

The Bush administration, however, has threatened to veto that bill if it passes.

Think your government cares about your health and safety? A NC drug expert has been bounced from a panel on Vioxx's safety (AP):
"A federal drug safety adviser said Friday the government rescinded his invitation to participate in a February meeting on the risk of Vioxx and other arthritis drugs because he had already publicly expressed doubts about the medications.

'The reason was that I had expressed my views publicly,' said Dr. Curt Furberg, a Wake Forest University School of Medicine professor of public health sciences.

This week, Furberg's analysis showing a doubling of risk of heart and stroke among heart disease patients taking Bextra was discussed at the American Heart Association's annual meeting. Furberg was quoted as saying, 'Basically, we showed that Bextra is no different than Vioxx, and Pfizer is trying to suppress that information.'

On Thursday morning, when the agency was closed for the holiday, an FDA official called Furberg, a federal adviser on drug safety and risk management, to say he was no longer welcome at the February meeting.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a reporter's request for comment. "

Why 23% of gays voted for Bush (Southern Voice). I won't waste bandwidth posting excerpts.

Richard Burr's election to the John Edwards's Senate seat is going to have a big impact on three judicial nominations in NC.
The election of Republican Richard Burr to the Senate is responsible for the change. Now, the judicial candidates will have the backing of both Burr and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.

Outgoing Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., had blocked the nominations, using a Senate procedure that former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., also used to block Clinton administration nominations.

The three judges in question are Bob Conrad of Charlotte, nominated to federal court in North Carolina's Western District; James Dever of Raleigh, Eastern District of North Carolina; and U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle of Edenton, President Bush's choice for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

Boyle is likely to be the most controversial of the three and the possible focus of a Democratic filibuster.

Edwards, a former trial lawyer, stalled all three judge candidates by invoking a Senate tradition that generally requires both home-state senators to OK a judicial nominee.

He objected to Boyle's nomination, telling Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, that Boyle "has inaccurately interpreted the law in a way that undercuts basic civil rights protections."

Edwards has never publicly explained why he refused to let the nominations of Conrad and Dever come before the Judiciary Committee.

...Edwards did support other Bush nominees, including Brent McKnight of Charlotte and Allyson Duncan of Raleigh. McKnight is now a U.S. District judge in Western North Carolina; Duncan now sits on the 4th Circuit Court.

N.C. resident in video of Iraq hostage. Apparently a Charlotte-area man was kidnapped, but no one knows when it happened. (The Charlotte Observer/AP, via Durham Herald-Sun).
The balding, middle-aged man, who carried a U.S. passport and an identification card in the name of Dean Sadek, was shown Thursday sitting in front of a green wall. Al-Jazeera did not air any audio but quoted Sadek as saying all businesses should stop cooperating with U.S. authorities.

Sadek formerly worked for SkyLink USA, the Observer reported. SkyLink provides air and logistical support on a contract basis in Iraq, company spokesman Nick Franzen told the newspaper. Sadek had worked for the company about a year, he said, but by mutual agreement he left his position with them in Iraq in June.

...It was unclear when Sadek was kidnapped. Last week, the Interior Ministry said a Lebanese-American was seized by armed men from his home in the city's Mansour district but gave the name as Radim Sadeq.

The NYPost reports that ABC will be running a piece on 11/26 that contends Matthew Shepard's killing is just a mugging gone wrong, and is tied to meth use by the perpetrators. ABC promises "surprising revelations, including Laramie's underground world of methamphetamine use that may have contributed to the crime and whether or not Shepard knew his killers."

This is outrageous. Remember, the defense team was the proponent of the "gay panic" defense and drug use came up at the trial as well, so if this is now Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson trying to rewrite history while in the slammer, it represents more abuse of the victim. Look they did it, and Matthew is dead and cannot speak for himself. Again.

Read this portion of Matthew Shepard's dad's closing statement at Aaron McKinney's trial. It reminds us why this violent, sick slaughter cannot be forgotten, or who was really to blame. Thanks to poster at DKos dadanation for the pointer.
Matt officially died at 12:53 a.m. on Monday, October 12, 1998, in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. He actually died on the outskirts of Laramie tied to a fence that Wednesday before, when you beat him. You, Mr. McKinney, with your friend Mr. Henderson, killed my son.

By the end of the beating, his body was just trying to survive. You left him out there by himself, but he wasn't alone. There were his lifelong friends with him--friends that he had grown up with. You're probably wondering who these friends were. First, he had the beautiful night sky with the same stars and moon that we used to look at through a telescope. Then, he had the daylight and the sun to shine on him one more time--one more cool, wonderful autumn day in Wyoming. His last day alive in Wyoming.

His last day alive in the state that he always proudly called home. And through it all he was breathing in for the last time the smell of Wyoming sagebrush and the scent of pine trees from the snowy range. He heard the wind--the ever-present Wyoming wind--for the last time. He had one more friend with him. One he grew to know through his time in Sunday school and as an acolyte at St. Mark's in Casper as well as through his visits to St. Matthew's in Laramie. He had God.

I feel better knowing he wasn't alone.

Matt became a symbol--some say a martyr, putting a boy-next-door face on hate crimes. That's fine with me. Matt would be thrilled if his death would help others. On the other hand, your agreement to life without parole has taken yourself out of the spotlight and out of the public eye. It means no drawn-out appeals process, [no] chance of walking away free due to a technicality, and no chance of lighter sentence due to a "merciful" jury. Best of all, you won't be a symbol. No years of publicity, no chance of communication, no nothing--just a miserable future and a more miserable end. It works for me.

My son was taught to look at all sides of an issue before making a decision or taking a stand. He learned this early when he helped campaign for various political candidates while in grade school and junior high. When he did take a stand, it was based on his best judgment. Such a stand cost him his life when he quietly let it be known that he was gay. He didn't advertise it, but he didn't back away from the issue either. For that I'll always be proud of him. He showed me that he was a lot more courageous than most people, including myself. Matt knew that there were dangers to being gay, but he accepted that and wanted to just get on with his life and his ambition of helping others.

Matt's beating, hospitalization, and funeral focused worldwide attention on hate. Good is coming out of evil. People have said "Enough is enough." You screwed up, Mr. McKinney. You made the world realize that a person's lifestyle is not a reason for discrimination, intolerance, persecution, and violence. This is not the 1920s, 30s, and 40s of Nazi Germany.

My son died because of your ignorance and intolerance. I can't bring him back. But I can do my best to see that this never, ever happens to another person or another family again. As I mentioned earlier, my son has become a symbol--a symbol against hate and people like you; a symbol for encouraging respect for individuality; for appreciating that someone is different; for tolerance. I miss my son, but I'm proud to be able to say that he is my son.

There is a DKos diary on this as well.

UPDATE: Unfortunately it looks like Sully is joining in the dragging (and is part of the segment according to DKos posters) ...
"I never joined in the sanctification of Matthew Shepard. What happened to him was appalling, evil, horrifying. But what gay rights groups made of it was, in my view, exploitative and crude. I gave up counting the number of direct mail requests for money I received using Matthew Shepard's name. I wrote about my misgivings here. My opposition to hate crime laws is laid out here. Harper's Magazine has already sketched the role that crystal meth may have played in the scenario that led to Shepard's murder. Now ABC News has prepared an important, thorough and debunking review of what happened. I was tangentially involved in the documentary, but wasn't privy to its most closely held findings. I have a feeling it will reveal how dangerous it is to rest an entire political argument on one incident, whose details were always murky and subsequently turned into myth."

Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, Matthew Shepard's killers.

OK. My comments here are being made without having seen one second of the 20/20 segment. There, got the obvious out of the way. That said, I'm willing to watch and see what information comes forward, but nothing that anyone says can explain away the gay panic defense, which purported that Aaron McKinney was so intimidated by the thought he might get hit on by a gay man that he flew into a blind rage and couldn't help himself when he drove Matthew out to the fence, beat the crap out of him and left him to die. The defense had ample opportunity to present it as a simple mugging, a Dan White Twinkie defense, temporary insanity, whatever. That wasn't the tactic they chose.

UPDATE 2: The "gay panic" defense in this case, courtesy of Salon in 1999. You read, you decide.
Several observers had predicted the defense team might resort to a "gay panic" defense later in the trial, if it could not convince the jury that drugs and alcohol diminished McKinney's ability to understand the severity of the crimes he committed. But no one in the stunned courtroom seemed prepared for the risky defense outlined in Tangeman's opening statement. Nor were they prepared for the follow-up development: Tangeman argued that McKinney erupted "savagely" not because he was some sort of country hick who'd never crossed paths with a gay guy, but because of his own homosexual experiences.

At the age of 7, McKinney was forced to suck another boy's penis, Tangeman announced. "Aaron will tell you this humiliated him. He did carry it with him." At 15, McKinney willingly engaged in a homosexual act one time with a cousin, according to the lawyer. And not long before the murder, he inadvertently entered a gay church with his girlfriend and fled sobbing from the sight of men kissing.

Reaction from the gay community was swift and severe. Jeffrey Montgomery, spokesman for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, staggered out of the courtroom, collapsed in a chair and gasped, "I'm almost speechless. I never thought they'd be so blatant." He said he'd observed more than a dozen "gay panic" defenses, including the "Jenny Jones" trial -- a highly publicized murder case using the controversial defense strategy, which suggests that a defendant is thrown into a panic by a sexual advance from a person of the same gender -- but had never seen any so extreme. "Everyone thought it was going to be subtle," he said. "He's put [Shepard] on trial. It's a scoundrel's defense, it's a bankrupt defense, but it's all they have left."

Tangeman also outlined a defense based on the fact that McKinney was under the influence of methamphetamines and alcohol; the jury could return a lesser verdict of second-degree murder or manslaughter if they found that he was too intoxicated to clearly understand his actions. Certainly McKinney was fueled by those chemicals, his lawyer argued, but the attack was unleashed by a sexual advance from Shepard that recalled a "haunted" and "sexually confusing" past and threw him into a blind rage.

The Bush effort on civil rights.

How long has the lazy press been sitting on this report? Today's NYT editorial talks about the official Bush record on civil rights. Basically, he sucks. But at least we get details on how badly. The report itself is at
...a majority of the eight commissioners on the United States Commission on Civil Rights voted in 2002 to put the agency's staff reports on the Internet as soon as they are completed. That way, the public can read them before the commissioners hold public hearings to discuss the staff's findings.

The latest report - an assessment of President Bush's civil rights record - was put on the agency's Web site in September. But at their October meeting, less than a month before the election, the commissioners declined to discuss it. Objecting to the report's timing, the four commissioners appointed by President Bush and the Congressional Republican leadership managed to put off any discussion until the postelection meeting, scheduled for today.

The commission owes the public a spirited debate, especially if, as the report indicates, the apparent aim of the Bush administration is to break with long-established civil rights tactics and priorities. This question takes on a new urgency with the appointment of the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, as the next attorney general because he was deeply involved in the formulation of administration policy on these issues in the first term.

The report, which is still available online, is a scathing 166-page assessment of an administration that has, at best, neglected core civil rights issues. It cites numerous examples of administration attempts to replace affirmative action with "race neutral" alternatives, to focus on voter fraud rather than the more insidious problem of voter disenfranchisement and to recast taxpayers' support for religious institutions as a civil right for people of faith, rather than as a constitutional issue involving the separation of church and state.

Why did the press sleep on this...oh, nevermind.

Some morning NC news blend...

* They are still sorting out the voting system mess in NC. (Herald-Sun):
Two statewide races -- for agriculture commissioner and the superintendent of public instruction -- remained unresolved, with narrow margins separating the major-party candidates and provisional ballots still being tallied until late Thursday in the county that is home to Charlotte, the state's biggest city.

The most noteworthy problem has been the permanent loss of 4,532 early ballots in coastal Carteret County. A machine used to store electronic ballots ran out of storage space and county officials mistakenly continued to try to save ballots to it.

The manufacturer, UniLect Corp. of California, erroneously told elections officials that the early voting unit's storage capacity was 10,500 votes.

Instead, only 3,005 ballots out of 7,537 were saved. State elections officials have said that the glitch could result in a new statewide election for races that end with a margin smaller than the 4,532 votes that were lost.

Keith Jennings, director of the Atlanta-based Count Every Vote 2004, a nonprofit election watchdog group, called the Carteret County incident one of the worst he's heard of nationally in this year's election.

...In Mecklenburg County, the count dragged on because of a flood of provisional votes cast by voters who could not be found in registration books on Election Day.

* Gov. Easley Allows Execution to Proceed:
"A man whose death sentence for impulsively killing a woman during a 1992 robbery was opposed even by some capital punishment supporters was executed by injection early Friday.

Frank Chandler, 32, was put to death at Central Prison for killing 90-year-old Doris Poore, who surprised him when he broke into her house on a misguided search for drugs. "

...The jury agreed with prosecutors that he killed Poore with the aggravating factor of seeking financial gain, which made him eligible for the death penalty.

But State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, a death penalty supporter, argued that Chandler shouldn't be executed since he didn't kill Poore for money.

Orr, who stepped down from the court in July, had urged Gov. Mike Easley to stop the execution, but Easley rejected a request for clemency about six hours before the execution.

* Bad, but explainable news here: Durham has state's highest Hispanic teen pregnancy rate. There are many factors here, but the basic reason is that the explosive growth of the Mexican population here was far outpaced the city's ability to hire Spanish-speaking personnel in a variety of municipal departments; local social service organizations are also dealing with this problem. [For the non-Southerners reading -- fortunately, there is not an issue of the bible-beaters fighting the providing of such services here].

Arafat's terrorist minions are irrationally ready to lash out. Boy, it didn't take long for the predictable to happen. (AFP): Call to avenge Arafat 'assassination'.
THE militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades urged militants to attack Israel to avenge the "Zionist assassination" of Yasser Arafat, who died hours earlier in a Paris hospital, said a statement received by AFP today.

"Zionist Israel and the government of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon are responsible for the assassination of our leader by putting him under siege," the armed offshoot of Arafat's mainstream Fatah party said.

Announcing a state of high-alert across the Palestinian territories, it called on people to "hit out and strike the occupation everywhere. This crime will not go without punishment."

Out lesbian Julia Boseman fought off an extremely homophobic opponent, Woody White.

Some NC politics. On MyDD, southerndemnut wrote a fabulous synopsis of bright spots in the NC elections. While the state went Red for Bush, Dems made gains in the state, including the election of Julia Boseman, an out lesbian to the state senate.
While most of the rest of the south was almost a disaster, Democrats did well to improve their lot in North Carolina. Sure, Erskine Bowles did lose the US Senate race, which was a blow, though not entirely shocking. Federal races seem to favor Republicans, so much so that a Democrat has yet to win a US Senate race, in a Presidential year, since 1968. Of course Bush won the state, which was not unexpected though I had wish the margin was closer. With that said, otherwise the Democrats did well. Gov. Mike Easley won a landslide victory, 55%-44%, we won control of the NC House by at least a 3 seat margin, we added to our already healthy NC Senate lead by winning Patrick Ballantine's old seat that he vacated to run for Governor. Ironically, the person who won the election to succeed Ballantine is Julia Boseman, who will become the first openly gay member of the NC General Assembly. Locally increased their hold on County Commissions by 3 to 63-37.

...NC has always been part of the south and has always been affected by southern issues. However NC has always prided itself in being different and progressive and I think that is reflected in the campaign dialogue and ultimately the election results.

However the biggest story coming out of NC is the possibility, however remote, that there may have to be a revote due to vote count irregularities in many places across the state. In a situation that rivals Florida in 2000, but without all of the media attention, problems range from simply double counting of absentee votes, to 4,500 votes in one county simply 'disappearing.' Supposidly a disc from one machine was erased before the votes were actually downloaded to the main computer. Several races, including Commissioner of Agriculture, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and several local races will be affected. The biggest problem is those 4,500 votes that were 'wiped' out in Carteret County. A judge could order that only those people affected could revote (their names are known), a revote in the county, or a revote across the whole state.

A couple of things weren't mentioned by southerndemnut. One is the fact that NC avoided having gay marriage on the ballot because of the hard work of the significant queer and progressive communities here. Senate Bills 1057 and 1606 were stopped with the help of Equality NC, a statewide lobbying and advocacy organization for the LGBT community. I expect that the wingnut sponsors will try again during the next session, but we'll pick up the fight again.

The other matter is our able and competent re-elected governor, Mike Easley. Late in the game, he decided to come out in favor of a state anti-gay marriage amendment, so Equality NC withdrew its endorsement. He is going to get no end of grief from both sides on this. His feet will be held to the fire, I assure you.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Local anti-GOP "activism".

Some Call Vandalism At GOP Headquarters Civil Disobedience ( Looks like the three arrested for vandalizing the HQ are being defended in a "Release the Raleigh Three" email campaign. The Triangle area is loaded with lefty groups, some more flaky than others. Hey, the area is just one big college town in many ways.

Raleigh police said an apparent mob of vandals attacked the state GOP headquarters on Hillsborough Street Friday night with the intent to burn down the building. (WRAL)

This sounds like an attempt at faux 60s radical stuff. It's seems more like dumb, drunken frat-boy level activity if you ask me. The last line of the excerpt is a howler.
...Police arrested and charged Melissa Brown, David Hensley, and Vanessa Zuloaga with felony vandalism. Now, various online anarchist supporters consider them misunderstood. They are now referred to as the "Raleigh 3," and there are calls to help post bond for them.

E-mails to WRAL defend the attack on the GOP offices as a calculated non-violent destruction of property driven by opposition to the idea that power and domination are necessary for society. "Release the Raleigh Three," wrote one supporter.

Earlier this week, another supporter, Asa Collier showed his frustration when he went after TV cameramen. He was released on bond on assault charges.

"There is a movement that has a propensity towards violence and damage to property. We take it seriously," Mathias said.

Police point to smoke bombs in Research Triangle Park suspected by a similar group as evidence of a pattern. Some backers compare the so-called 'Raleigh 3' to other rebels in history. Whatever their political views, police question the tactics.

The "Raleigh 3" remain in jail on $50,000 bond. WRAL tried to contact various people within the movement, but they did not return the messages. As a side note, not everyone in the so-called anarchist movement supported last week's destruction of property.

Cathy Heighter, one of the moms that reads her late son's letter home.

I forgot to watch this at 9PM tonight; it looked like a must-see (I'll DVR it at midnight on HBOW). I'm talking about HBO's documentary "Last Letters Home: Voices of American Troops From the Battlefields of Iraq". Heather Havrilesky at reviews it.
Chances are you'll have other plans, or maybe you'll watch a few minutes of mothers and girlfriends and sisters and fathers reading the last words they received from their loved ones, and you'll feel sick and want to switch over to "The Apprentice." But chances are, you don't know much about who's dying over there, or how it feels for their families. Is it possible to make a responsible statement about your position on Iraq without having some concrete notion of the human toll we're paying overseas, every single day?

Dear Mother,

Today is a blissful day. Mother, you are the most important person in my life, and today is the first time I've realized you, only, have tried your hardest to bring the bestowed, hidden, optimistic and spontaneous qualities out of me. Well, Mother, my feet have been placed on the firm ground. Without your teaching me what you have, it would not have been possible. As I sit here in tears, I thank you.

Time goes by like a continuous Ground Hog Day over here. In the beginning, there was a lot of bloodshed, but now it's all over, though there are still terrorists that don't want us here. The good news is, I will be home to see you in September or October at the latest.



After reading her son's letter out loud, Cathy Heighter explains, "The minute that I opened this letter and read it, my heart sank from the very first line. Because I had never heard my son write this way, speak this way. He had never expressed himself in this manner, so I knew that there was something terribly wrong, something going on inside of him that he felt the need to let me know that he was thinking of me in this moment and how much he loved me ... Two days later, they came to tell me that my son had been killed in Iraq. Which just ... I went crazy. [Starts crying.] I'm sorry."

Tough to take, huh? Not surprisingly, every single one of these letters is tough to take, as are the tears and the long pauses between sentences, as each mourner reads the same repeated promise that the deceased will be home soon. But far from an exercise in extreme rubbernecking, Bill Couturié's film is about taking a long, unflinching look at the people who are really paying for this war.

[I posted this here a few days ago, but they're discussing it over at AmericaBlog so I am moving it back up the food chain. -- Pam]

My wifey hails from Alabama, and it's an endless source of my ribbing here. Four years ago, Alabama finally repealed a ban on interracial marriage, but 40 percent of the state still voted in favor of the ban. Apparently they're still in favor of living in back in the cotton-picking days, since the crackers voted to leave segregationist language in the state constitution. (WP):
"Old times are not forgotten in the heart of Dixie. Alabama voters elected a Supreme Court candidate linked to Old South ideals and apparently killed a move to strike segregationist language from the state Constitution, a victory of sorts for the state's neo-Confederate crowd.

Michael Hill, president of the pro-secession League of the South, said Tom Parker's election Tuesday and the Amendment Two results make it obvious many Alabama voters still identify with Southern causes.

A black law professor said the twin developments were worrisome.
'The message is that people don't care, they don't understand, and that some people are bigots,' said Bryan Fair, who teaches at the University of Alabama.

Parker denied any race-based agenda, and Amendment Two opponents said their objections were based solely on the possibility that the measure would lead to new taxes for public schools, not racism. But issues and symbols dating back generations became an undercurrent flowing through some races in Alabama. "

I had to ask Katie about this so I could try and explain this. She said the folks in Alabama have no clue that these beliefs are as backward as they are to the outside world. They are proud of their roots and traditions and have a selective memory regard sh*t like Bull Connor siccing dogs on people. This is why you've got people driving cars down the street with air horns that blare "Dixie" and they don't think it offends anyone. Entirely too recently she said there was a legendary sign at the entrance to a town called Cullman that said, "Welcome to Cullman", and as a subhead it said: "Nigger, don't let the sun set behind your back."

Much of the Alabama white population of means is "quaintly" racist and votes accordingly, mostly because they choose to have little or no contact with people of color other than ones they hire to clean or garden. (I guess they've progressed to the point they're willing to pay them for what they consider "menial work", since they can't own them!).

She says that since they don't socialize with people of color they have zero frame of reference other than what they see on the news. They live in their insulated world, creating their own 1950s society of Birmingham Belles and other precious southern traditions.

Punish that state -- it'll never go Blue.

"Kinsey=Mengele" -- Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute

Man, you'd think I was joking, but you cannot make up this sh*t (via AmericaBlog). Conservative Groups Denounce 'Kinsey' Film:
Indignant conservative groups are protesting this week's opening of the film "Kinsey," denouncing it as propaganda seeking to glorify the researcher they blame for inspiring the sexual revolution.

"Alfred Kinsey is responsible in part for my generation being forced to deal face-to-face with the devastating consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, pornography and abortion," said Brandi Swindell, head of a college-oriented group called Generation Life that plans to picket theaters showing the film.

"Kinsey," starring Liam Neeson as the pioneering professor, opens in limited release Friday and nationwide in the following weeks.

..."Instead of being lionized, Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele or your average Hollywood horror flick mad scientist,' said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute. "

Philip Carter's piece at Slate presents a good outline of questions the Senate Judiciary Committee might want to ask Alberto Gonzales when he ponies up to the table; check out the article.
However, before the Senate gives its advice and consent to Gonzales' nomination as the nation's chief law-enforcement officer, he does have some explaining to do. One set of questions grows out of Gonzales' work for then-Gov. Bush as his lawyer in the Texas Statehouse, where critics allege his work on death penalty cases fell far short of what a professional attorney in that position should have provided the governor. The second set of questions arises from the decision adopted by the White House, apparently on advice from Gonzales and other administration lawyers, to set aside the Geneva Conventions and other laws as part of the global war on terrorism. His conduct in both situations raises significant questions about Gonzales' lawyering skills and his apparent willingness to sacrifice the rule of law for the policy positions of his client, George W. Bush.

A shout out to my friend Kelly, who hails from Greenville, SC, home of Bob Jones University. Kelly's gay and lived practically next door to the campus; she quickly realized that she had to move up here to Durham to escape that oppressive environment.

The enlightened campus of BJU.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I'm posting is that good old Bob Jones, seems to be exhibiting the same, strange, hateful, egomaniacal, priggish symptoms we've been noticing a lot lately from the fundamentalist wingnuts. It's spreading faster than a staph infection. Read his triumphant, modest letter letter to the President upon his re-election. Emphasis is mine alone, not the hand of the almighty.
Dear Mr. President:

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

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

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

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years—a brief time only—to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

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

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you—that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III

The holy war is on folks.

The chilling effect of Bush's FCC hits home.

Our local public radio/NPR station is buckling to the pressure of the Janet Booby Effect. Look at this sh*t -- you have to be worried about free speech: NC public radio station bars use of phrase 'reproductive rights'. (Herald Sun):
There's a big difference between reproductive rights and reproductive health, says the head of a group forced to substitute one word for the other in an underwriting announcement on a local radio station.

WUNC-FM recently informed Chapel Hill-based Ipas that use of the phrase "reproductive rights" in the group's on-air underwriting announcement could be interpreted as advocating a particular political position.

The station required Ipas, an international women's rights and health organization, to use "reproductive health" instead.

Ipas' executive vice president, Anu Kumar, said she disagreed with WUNC's interpretation and said the words don't mean the same thing. But she said she was less upset about WUNC's decision than with the political climate that led to it.

"What concerns me is the chilling effect of the world we're living in, which makes everybody super-cautious about what they say," she said. "The issue of reproductive rights, like many others, has been cast as an `either you're with us or you're against us' issue, and so much of the language is assumed to be code for something else."

WUNC's general manager said the station made the change to avoid trouble with the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC prohibits public radio stations from airing underwriting announcements that advocate political, social or religious causes.

"We can accept sponsorships and make announcements from advocacy groups, but we can't use advocacy language," said general manager Joan Siefert Rose. "Unfortunately, the FCC doesn't specify what that is. There's no list of forbidden terms. The only way to find out if you've stepped over the line is if someone challenges it and the FCC issues a fine. So we are always pretty conservative in interpreting the announcements we make."

Kumar said the original phrase has an internationally understood meaning that better conveys the scope of the organization's work.

"`Reproductive rights' is not a euphemism for abortion," Kumar said. "Among other things, it means the right to infertility treatments, the right to contraception, the right to information, the right to live free of rape and violence. In global forums, those meanings are universally understood. And `reproductive health' doesn't convey all of that. It's important to say that our work is about rights as well as health."

"It's hard to be a centrist in the House," said Sen. Thomas "Boohoo, I'm in the Center" Carper (D-MD).

WTF? Here we go again, Dems hand-wringing about "recapturing the center." I guess it's all about winning, not principles. This Third Way group smells like the in-bred cousin of the DLC.
Third Way is the latest in a series of organizations aimed at rescuing Democrats from the perception that they have lost touch with middle-class voters, particularly in the heartland states that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush over Sen. John F. Kerry.

The group, which has enlisted the support of several senators from Bush-backing "red states," hopes to rebut the notion that Democrats represent an outdated brand of liberalism by producing new policy proposals designed to create a "moderate majority," said Matt Bennett, Third Way's communications director.

...Third Way is the idea of three political entrepreneurs who in recent years have fashioned a career out of trying to make Democrats more competitive on issues that have been historical vulnerabilities. The founders -- President Jonathan Cowan, Policy Director Jim Kessler and Bennett -- are all veterans of Americans for Gun Safety, which sought to craft centrist gun-control proposals while emphasizing support for some gun-owners rights. While in his twenties, Cowan, now 39, was a founder of "Lead . . . or Leave," which advocated generational fairness and reform of entitlement programs.

Among Third Way's programs will be a "New South" project, aimed at crafting policies and political strategies for cultural and values issues that have played against Democrats in that region in recent decades. The project will be led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a vice chairman.

Third Way will also conduct a national security retreat and craft policy initiatives on health care, taxes, tort reform and Social Security reform -- all identified by Bush as key items on his second-term agenda.

The group plans polling to help Democrats find more effective political language to advertise their policies, similar to the way Republicans embraced the phrase "death tax" to describe the estate tax.

Let's see how long before they take Big Bill's advice to Kerry and toss gay rights overboard.

Keep checking The Raw Story today. It looks like they've got a story coming up on pressure by BC04 on newspapers to kill a story that the "Bush campaign manager" was gay. Heheheheheh.

the "Bush campaign manager"

UPDATE: John Byrne/The Raw Story follows through with info on the Bush-Cheney campaign's attempt to squash stories outing Ken Mehlman (an openly gay man on the social scene, but closeted to the wingnuts that may have objections to a queer man running the BC04 holy war campaign). Mike Rogers of BlogActive has also been getting the brush off from Mehlman when trying to get at the truth. A few snippets...
Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman, who is now in the running to be chairman of the Republican Party, has repeatedly refused to answer questions about his sexuality in both public and private settings.

Steve Schmidt, deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, also refused to deny that Mehlman was gay on the record in a telephone call with the activist weblog, blogACTIVE, which has been outing homophobic public officials, including California Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) and former Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.). Schmidt did not return to a call seeking comment today.

RAW STORY was party to an investigation of claims Mehlman was gay in the run-up to the election but no one was willing to go on the record.

Two of the sources told blogACTIVE, that they had been pressured by the Republican Party to remain silent. The site adds that two New York City newspapers “were called by press folks at the Bush campaign attempting to kill the Mehlman story.” So as to protect the reporters involved, this site cannot post the papers’ names online.

Mehlman, 37, who is single, spearheaded the Bush re-election campaign. The campaign used aggressively anti-gay tactics, including the mailing of a flyer in some states which suggested liberals would allow gay marriage and ban bibles. Many analysts believe Bush’s support for anti-gay marriage measures carried him to victory.

...RAW STORY revealed last month that both the Chief Financial Officer and the number two political adviser to the Republican National Committee are openly gay.

Neither would answer questions relating to the party’s policies, which many see as homophobic.

Asked about his sexuality Wednesday, Mehlman hung up the phone

Here's Finkelstein, according to a CNN story "Arthur Finkelstein: Out Of Sight But In Control."

As I mentioned in an earlier post, N.Y. Governor George Pataki, who's thinking about 2008 bid for the White House, already has his advisor Arthur Finkelstein, an out gay man, taking on the religious wingnuts.

What you may not know is Finkelstein is about as nasty and right wing as they come on the campaign trail. If he's slamming the Bush team's capitulation to the wingnuts, that's saying something. Finkelstein has a history of hardball politics, working with Jesse Helms on his Senate run against Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.

I was living in NC during this time period, and it was the nastiest, most racist campaign the GOP has seen in a lifetime. It was a close race (Gantt leading 47-45 percent), until Finkelstein ran the infamous "white hands commercial" showing a close up pair of a flannel-shirtsleeved hands crumpling a job pair of white hands crumpling a termination notice, with an ominous voiceover explaining that a well-deserved job went to someone else because of affirmative action. This appealed to the blue collar, textile working folks in the rural areas, and Helms won handily. Here's a quote from local gay activist Mandy Carter from 1996:
All this from a politician whose main strategist during his first run for Senate - as well as last time - was Arthur Finkelstein. Who? You know, the guy who lives with his male partner and their two adopted children. It's not a secret or anything. "The height of hypocrisy," snaps Mandy Carter, campaign coordinator of NC Mobe. "I just don't get Finkelstein, but Helms? This is the one who claims not to know anyone gay, swears he'd never hire anyone who is and opposes gays adopting children. And yet he retains a gay advisor. What does that tell us?"

This is the same Arthur Finkelstein who today is slamming Bush's anti-gay bedfellows and their agenda -- Bush and his wingnuts better belt themselves in tight, because they're in for a helluva bumpy ride, if Finkelstein's attitude is any indication.

MSNBC reporter David Shuster follows up with additional investigation into election irregularities in Ohio and Florida. The bottom line is that he sees enough smoke to justify the GAO (Government Accountability Office) investigation demanded by several members of Congress.

Gay Activists Gather for St. Louis Meeting. AP reports that this is the first gay and lesbian conference since the election (the relevance being, of course, after 11 states passed gay marriage bans). There better not be lot of moping, as this article suggests. Folks need to get angry and organized; the GOP is on the wrong side of this issue, and they know it. We're not going to let the Falwells of the world get to hijack what family values are.
Matt Foreman of New York, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, likened the blow to a death, with soul searching in order.

"Our movement needs to regroup and buckle down," said Sue Hyde of Cambridge, Mass., director of the "Creating Change" conference that runs Thursday through Sunday.

Last week's presidential election saw 11 more states pass constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. Missouri and five other states already had passed similar measures.

It's tough when "the vast majority of citizens in your state not only do not understand you but take hostile steps to change the constitution to take away rights we never even had," Foreman said. "There's no way you can put lipstick on that pig."

Still, organizers are taking the long view, knowing that gay people have moved beyond past discriminatory practices. They were purged from the U.S. military after World War II, blacklisted as subversives by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s and subjected to police raids of their gathering places before fighting back in New York City during what became known as the Stonewall Riot of June 27, 1969.

On Nov. 2, 40 gay candidates were elected to local, state and federal offices, according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the nation's largest gay and lesbian political action committee.

Foreman said the gay rights movement cannot retreat from working for social and legal rights, though the battle is "extremely uphill."

He and other organizers at this week's conference said they may not be able to change political leaders, and they see no point in talking to what they call "Anti-Gay Inc." — to them, a right-wing, anti-gay leadership whose mission is "to demonize us."

"We have to engage our neighbors and co-workers in a deep conversation about our humanity, and the need to be able to take care of our families," Hyde said.

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the conference, which is sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the oldest national group advocating for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Hyde said organizers believe the state measures passed by voters will be interpreted very broadly to prohibit recognition of gay and lesbian relationships and families, and conference organizers anticipate the Bush administration will push for a U.S. constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Organizers say they are deeply troubled that the lives and families of gay people were portrayed as a threat to society in the state campaigns for a gay marriage ban. Hyde fears that passage of the measures now means it's possible for openly gay people in some communities to be physically hurt by those who fear or hate them.

Roey Thorpe, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, shared a personal story that she believes illustrates the prejudice that a gay person cannot love as truly or as deeply as a heterosexual.

The Portland, Ore., woman said an employee who was grieving over the death of her husband asked Thorpe, "Do your people feel sad when your person dies?"

"It tells it all," Thorpe said. "I said, 'you saw me as a little less human and for me to realize it breaks my heart.' "

That last bold quote said it all -- people are just clueless in how they view long-term gay relationships. Coming out and educating is the only long term solution. The short term one is to get on the offensive against the fundamentalist wingnuts that want to legislate us into second-class citizens.

We all know that this ridiculous Arafat life and death dance was all about the Benjamins...NYT: Arafat Mystery Lingers -- Whereabouts of His Hidden Fortune.
The battle over Yasir Arafat's legacy involves an unstated but widely acknowledged concern: He personally controlled several billion dollars, and no one else knows where it all is.

The extent and whereabouts of this fortune, which relies on different aides and advisers as co-signers, had been a hidden part of the disputes at his bedside, Israeli and Palestinian officials say.

Mr. Arafat, who died in Paris on Thursday morning, kept knowledge of the accounts compartmentalized, and only he knew all the details, well-informed Israeli officials say, in assertions confirmed reluctantly by Palestinian officials who do not want to harm Mr. Arafat's legacy.

MyDD discovered that tanks rolled down LA's streets to control a peaceful protest. Is this Tiananmen Square?

Here is the video

Over at AMERICAblog, John A. has been in contact with some of the people involved and this is the feeble excuse coming from the military at this point:
"...I just called the protesters out in LA and confirmed it by phone. And I also just read a NEW excuse the military is now offering. The tanks "got stuck at a traffic light," and that's why they just happened to stop in front of an anti-war protest in the middle of a major US city. Uh huh.

The claws are coming out...more GOP infighting about the fundamentalist Right's role in the party. NY Gov Pataki's advisor slams Bush's fealty to the wingnuts in his party.. Oh, and the advisor is openly gay. Pataki is on growing list of potential candidates for a 2008 run. (NYP):
Gov. Pataki's top political adviser has trashed President Bush, attacked the "Christian right," and said Bush's re-election means Pataki can't become president in 2008.

The shocking comments by Arthur Finkelstein appeared in the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv, which also quoted the nationally known GOP consultant as saying that in the presidential election, "the Republican Party became the Christian right, the most radical in modern history ever."

Finkelstein, the one-time political guru to former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, is also described by Maariv writer Boaz Gaon as "hating" Bush.

In the story, which ran last Friday, Finkelstein accused Bush of trying to "dictate to America how to live and what to believe in."

Finkelstein, who has helped run several Israeli elections, is also described as claiming Bush is more interested in banning abortion than he is in winning the war in Iraq.

And Finkelstein, who told a Boston newspaper several years ago that he is homosexual, described Bush's campaign strategy as being more interested in banning gay marriages than in improving the American economy.

Finkelstein, who is credited with orchestrating Pataki's stunning upset victory over then-Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994, told the newspaper Bush's victory is bad news for Pataki, a social liberal who supports abortion and gay rights, because it means the "Christian right" is in charge of the GOP.

Asked if Pataki could run for president in 2008, Finkelstein responded:

"Bush's victory not only establishes the power of the American Christian right in this candidacy, but in fact established its power to elect the next Republican president."

UPDATE: Here's more background on Finkelstein's right-wing pedigree.

Nice to see that gay taunts are still effective in schools, isn't it? People are still churning out bullies and fists fly before kids think. Teen Beaten Over Bush Gay Marriage Remark:
"Three high school students were charged for allegedly attacking a Bush backer who reportedly said only gays would support Sen. John Kerry. One of the students allegedly used a baseball bat in the attack."

Local brew with national impact: How could I avoid a story where officials mention Arnie and health care in the same sentence?

Governor Ahh-nold. Saviour of Medicaid?

A conference was held on our failing health care system, and what is clear is that neither Bush nor Kerry have any real fixes for this mess. (Durham Herald-Sun):
The U.S. health system did not win top grades during a forum Wednesday that brought together educators from three of the nation's premier medical schools -- even though two of the panelists were former federal health officials.

Although representing different points on the political spectrum, the panelists seemed to agree that America's medical infrastructure is mired in decades of bureaucracy, waste and political pressures.

UNC's top doctor, Bill Roper, and Bruce Vladeck, a professor of health policy and geriatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a member of the New York City Board of Health, are both former administrators of the federal Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) -- now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

They spoke during the forum, hosted by the joint UNC-Duke Health Policy Forum, on the topic, "What the 2004 Election Means for Health Policy in 2005 and Beyond". Joining them were panel moderator Tom Ricketts, a UNC health policy specialist, and Duke's Kevin Schulman, a health care economics expert.

Roper, who was HCFA's administrator during the Reagan years, proclaimed himself a longtime Bush supporter at the outset of Wednesday's discussion.

That would indicate he prefers less government, Roper said, but as dean of UNC's School of Medicine, chief executive officer of UNC Health Care and vice chancellor for medical affairs at UNC, he probably should champion the expansion of the national health system. That would be in UNC's best interest, he said, because it could bring more hospital payments from Medicaid and Medicare and more grants for medical research from the National Institutes of Health.

..."It's a classic case of where you stand depends on where you sit," he said. Neither George Bush nor John Kerry proposed any form of universal health care during the recent campaign, he said. That is because health policy is driven by the national budget, and there's "enormous pressure to restrict spending in the years ahead."

For UNC, medical liability costs are a major issue, he said. And tort reform isn't likely under the current congressional structure, he said, although he favors a proposal from a group called Common Good that advocates special medical courts, where the verdicts would be rendered by judges trained to evaluate scientific evidence.

Schulman also noted that neither presidential candidate offered a viable plan for controlling health care costs. The Duke professor of medicine and professor of business administration at the Fuqua School of Business and director of the Center for Clinical and Genetic Economics of the Duke Clinical Research Institute also predicted chaos in 2006 when the Medicare Modernization Act takes full hold.

Schulman said he foresees a Medicare decision to pay only for generic drugs for senior citizens. Big pharmaceutical companies won't accept that, he predicted, although the economy has to absorb the rising costs somehow.

"But what worries me most, and what neither party mentioned, is Medicaid," Vladeck said, noting that the state-run health program for the poor and disabled is even bigger and more expensive than Medicare. The program has inherent limits, he said, because states run it and send a bill to the federal government for its share of the program, leading to excess spending.

"God help me, those of us in the Medicaid programs are looking to Arnold Schwarzenegger, believe it or not, as our savior," he chuckled, referring to the California governor's efforts to stem his state's Medicaid spending.

Finally, confirmed: Dead. (AP):
"Yasser Arafat, the guerrilla leader turned Nobel Peace Prize winner who forced his people's plight into the world spotlight, died Thursday at age 75 - still reviled by many as a terrorist.

Arafat died at 3:30 a.m. in a French military hospital. His last days were as murky and dramatic as his life. Arafat was flown to France on Oct. 29 after nearly three years of being penned in his West Bank headquarters by Israeli tanks.

He initially improved but then sharply deteriorated as rumors swirled about his illness. Neither doctors nor Palestinian leaders would say what killed Arafat. "

...Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia was expected remain in charge of day-to-day governing, while Mahmoud Abbas, the former prime minister, would take over running the Palestine Liberation Organization, which also represents Palestinians abroad.

President Bush issued a statement of condolence to the Palestinian people.

"We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors," the president said.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Arafat and assassinated Israeli leader Yitzak Rabin, said:

"The biggest mistake of Arafat was when he turned to terror. His greatest achievements were when he tried to build peace."

Did someone just pull the plug? Was his death AIDS-related or not? Unless someone at that hospital writes a tell-all, it won't come out. And now the chaos begins, especially about the money.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This Arafat "Dead/Not-so-Dead" thing has reached such absurd proportions that each headline tops the other. How about this one -- Arafat's organs 'still functioning (.icnetwork).

Which organs have the mojo?

Guess Arlen Specter has to lick some boots to get chair of the Senate Judiciary committee. The fundies want his head.
Conservative groups want senators to pass over Specter for the chairmanship because of his postelection comment that anti-abortion judges would be unlikely to be confirmed by the Senate.

Specter, who is an abortion rights moderate, has been calling and meeting with senators individually to assure them he wouldn't personally block Bush nominees from being voted on by the full Senate.

The senator now wants to go in front of the GOP's Judiciary Committee members and hash things out next week in a private meeting, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a committee member.

The GOP committee members get the first vote on whether Specter will replace current chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is stepping down because of party-imposed term limits. Whatever decision they make can be appealed to the full GOP caucus later.

Don't forget to tune into the alleged "McGreevey" storyline on tonight's Law and Order.

OK, help me understand this. While soldiers and Iraqis are getting shot and killed in Fallujah, and folks have been getting beheaded over the last several months, the nannies at some ABC affiliates are squeamish about showing 'Saving Private Ryan' on Veterans Day. They are worrying about profanity and Michael Powell's FCC's tight rein since the Janet Super Bowl Booby. Never mind the movie has aired on regular TV before.
The decisions mark a twist in the conflict over the aggressive stand the FCC has taken against obscenity and profanity since Janet Jackson flashed the world during the last Super Bowl halftime show.

Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning movie aired on ABC with relatively little controversy in 2001 and 2002, but station owners -- including several in large markets -- are unnerved that airing it Thursday could bring federal punishment. The film includes a violent depiction of the D-Day invasion and profanity.

"It would clearly have been our preference to run the movie. We think it's a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces," Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications, told AP Radio. The company owns WOI-TV in Des Moines, KCAU-TV in Sioux City and KLKN-TV in Lincoln, Neb.

Other stations choosing to replace the movie with other programming include Atlanta's WSB-TV, WFAA-TV of Dallas, WGNO-TV of New Orleans, WCPO-TV of Cincinnati, WSYX-TV of Columbus, WISN-TV of Milwaukee, WSOC-TV of Charlotte, N.C., WVEC-TV of WMUR-TV of Manchester, N.H., WHAS-TV of Louisville, Ky. and KVUE-TV of Austin, Texas. They are owned by a variety of companies, including Cox Television, Tribune Broadcasting Corp., Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., Belo Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

On to better news...No Sign Elizabeth Edwards' Cancer Spread. (WP)

Can I hurl now? Entertainment update from AP: Bodyguard Says Minnelli Made Him Have Sex. Is there no better news out there to cover?

"He is, once again, over playing his hand." -- Freeper Texasforever

You know Jerry Falwell has lost all credibility when the Freepers are dumping on him. Even they are ashamed of this grandstanding, sanctimonious bastard as he is getting drunk with power again. I love it...keep them squirming, Jerry. We need to exploit this. Actual Freeper comments are below.

"If he didn't exist the mainstream media would have to invent him.
Jerry Falwell choking a Tinky-Winky doll will be put forward as representative of all of us (and he'll willingly go on tv to do it). Just can't wait. He's our own Jesse Jackson."

"Falwell helped elect Reagan in 1980, but then became so controversial he hurt the movement. Moral Majority became a pejorative that the Christian Coalition studiously avoided in later years. I'm not happy to see Brother Jerry out there so soon after the election. This is like handing Rather and co. a bucket of ammunition."

"Falwell is an opportunist who inevitably overreaches.
This is not good news, and I'm sure George W. Bush is not relishing Falwell muscling his way on the stage. Robertson is sure to follow, with his circus."

"I'm not going to say he should be restricted as a citizen from organizing toward a goal we share, I'd just rather he keep it low key. Infact, I'd rather all the high profiles out there keep it low key. Work in the communities and let the lesser known citizens take the lead. More head way is made by unknown citizens working to make their government better, than from high profile un-elected names stepping into the process."

"Of course, here comes the over-reach and Jerry Fallwell is going to lead the opportunistic charge. Now we will see Fallwell on every talk-show, playing into the hands of the media who will be more than happy to portray HIM as the face of conservatism and the Republican party. He will get so much face-time and reasonable conservatives who are actually well-liked by the general populace will be left sitting in the green room. Great."


Elections are over, lower the alert. Check out Jeff Mathews' Muppet Terror Alert.

Hope y'all gay Floridians are ready for a DOMA, because the bible beaters there and Jeb are ready for it. (Orlando Sentinel)
Republican Gov. Jeb Bush weighed in on the explosive issue of same sex marriage Tuesday, saying he might support a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage if the courts open the door to such unions in Florida.

It was his strongest statement yet on the issue and came the same day that the Florida Baptist State Convention in Jacksonville unanimously agreed to seek a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Bush said he thinks the state's Defense of Marriage Act prohibits gay marriages, but he might back putting a constitutional question on the ballot if court rulings force the issue.

"If there was a threat that gay marriage would be accepted in our state, then I might be supportive of it," Bush said. "I'm not sure it's necessary to do this in a pre-emptive fashion."

Bush said he thinks the Legislature would enthusiastically back a constitutional move to ban same-sex marriages if conditions change.

Gay groups and some liberal state lawmakers pounced on the governor's comment, saying it could signal a political move to push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage such as those passed last week in 11 states.

Well, he won't be on the short list for the Supreme Court...Gonzales to Succeed Ashcroft.

This loser is the guy that claimed the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to the detainees in Guantanamo or Iraq. Nice.
Gonzales has been at the center of developing Bush's positions on balancing civil liberties with waging the war on terrorism — opening the White House counsel to the same line of criticism that has dogged Ashcroft.

For instance, Gonzales publicly defended the administration's policy — essentially repudiated by the Supreme Court and now being fought out in the lower courts — of detaining certain terrorism suspects for extended periods without access to lawyers or courts.

He also wrote a controversial February 2002 memo in which Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture law and international treaties providing protections to prisoners of war. That position drew fire from human rights groups, which said it helped led to the type of abuses uncovered in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

UPDATE: Gonzales's logic got another spanking in today's NYT editorial.
The administration argues that Mr. Hamdan is not entitled to be treated as a P.O.W. because he worked for Al Qaeda, not a traditional army, and that the president's declaration to that effect was enough to deny him the protection of the Geneva Conventions. Judge Robertson, however, disagreed. Article 5 of the Third Geneva Convention says prisoners can be denied P.O.W. status only by a competent tribunal. Judge Robertson said the administration did not give Mr. Hamdan the sort of proceeding that would be necessary to deny him his rights.

The Bush administration has a history of flouting the law, and the treaties to which the United States is a signatory, as part of the so-called war on terror. It argued, until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise in June, that the detainees in Gitmo had no right to challenge their confinement, and even tried to apply "unlawful combatant" status to American citizens at the president's discretion. Earlier this year, a now-infamous Justice Department memo came to light that set out a road map for avoiding legal prohibitions on the use of torture.

It is too early to tell whether a post-John Ashcroft Justice Department will view these issues differently. For now, the administration says it will appeal this week's ruling, which could set the stage for another Supreme Court ruling that it has gone too far. Meanwhile, America's image abroad will take another beating, and our soldiers will be in even greater danger in the future of being denied Geneva Convention protections should they be captured. The administration should drop the appeal and concentrate instead on upgrading its flawed policies.

I'm not sure what this is all about, but it's creepy, kind of Parallax View-ish. Man who used 'kill the president' in class found dead.
Michael H. Ballou, a Santa Rosa Junior College instructor questioned last year by the Secret Service over a controversial assignment involving President Bush, has died, the Sonoma County coroner said Tuesday.

The 49-year-old political science instructor died Saturday at his Guerneville home where he lived alone, Sheriff's Sgt. Will Wallman said.

The cause of his death is under investigation, but detectives have ruled out homicide, Wallman said. "There's nothing to say he died at the hands of another, but, otherwise, the book is wide open."

...He became embroiled in controversy in the summer of 2003 when he assigned students to compose an e-mail with the words "kill the president" in the body of the text.

Ballou said he was trying to demonstrate to students' fear of government and the "growing police state."

Although he said students were instructed not to send the message, one e-mailed it to the Washington office of Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena. Within days, Secret Service agents arrived to question Ballou .

Ballou defended his lesson, saying he meant no harm to the president. In a newspaper column, Ballou said the response proved his point.

They're floating Ken Mehlman as a possible successor to Ed Gillespie at the RNC.

If that isn't the height of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. This is the guy that's been dodging questions about his own sexuality (or the other self-loathing queer Bushies besides good old Mary Cheney), in the midst of running the most homophobic campaigns in the history of this country.

Join the discussion (and activism) at John Aravosis's AMERICAblog. Folks are writing the RNC to politely point out the irony of this Ken Mehlman trial balloon. Here's my letter:
Good day.

I have heard in recent news reports that Ken Mehlman is under consideration for the RNC chair. I believe that this would present an interesting change of leadership.

The Republican National Committee is an organization that has openly participated in anti-gay marketing and mailings to help Republican candidates in this election cycle.

Is Mr. Mehlman and the RNC comfortable with aspects of his own life -- that may or may not be in concert with the tone of these policies -- being shared with the voting population he wishes to serve with these well-honed homophobic tactics? Is it relevant that gay or lesbian staff members working for the campaign, the RNC and the White House, such as Mary Cheney, are committed to legislating the restriction of civil rights to gay and lesbian tax-paying citizens?

Mr. Mehlman has declared the gay issue is fair game for politics and this new culture war that has brewed over the election cycle and now, post-election. The fundamentalist Right has declared victory with the delf-described "mandate" of President Bush. FMA is going to be submitted again.

I sincerely hope that Mr. Mehlman will endorse open discussion of anti-gay policies and the Republican party, and will answer frank questions about how policy will affect the lives of gay and lesbian citizens. The GOP has made it clear that gays and lesbians and their relationships are a threat to the sanctity of marriage, to military cohesion, and even to the profession of teaching.

Thank you for your time.

--Pam Spaulding

Stop the madness. This wingnut in Virginia needs a can of whoopass opened on him.
The chairman of Harrisonburg's Republican Party is calling for the disbandment of the local high school's "Gay and Straight Alliance."

John Elledge calls the club an advocacy group for homosexuals. He started contacting School Board members last week -- and is urging concerned city residents to contact the school board.

But Harrisonburg High School Principal Irene Reynolds says students have the right under federal law to form the group. The club's adviser, Sheila Antonnicola, says the club emphasizes civic involvement, and its members try to increase understanding.

Cat Stevens. Man of Peace or Airborne Terrorist? I guess it depends on what list he's on...

The Gorbachev Foundation lauds the "Peace Train" singer.
Yusuf Islam was awarded the "Man for Peace" award in Rome at the opening of a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He last made headlines in September, when he turned up on Washington's no-fly list for having suspected ties to terrorists — a claim he has strongly denied.

"Perhaps it's part of the irony that sometimes you have to go through a test in order to achieve a prize," he told reporters. "So maybe that's a symbol. Today I'm receiving a prize for peace, which is actually, I would say, a bit more descriptive of my ideas and my aims in life."

The British musician was expelled from the United States in September after authorities diverted his London-to-Washington flight to Maine to remove him, saying he was suspected of ties to terrorism.

Islam said he was a victim of an "unjust and arbitrary system," and that he has denounced terrorism. He also pointed out that just a few months beforehand, he had met with officials of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about philanthropy.

Our government looks ridiculous and yet again, incompetent. So they diverted the whole flight after it's airborne. If he was on the suspect list, how did he end up on the plane to begin with?

Just thinking about the U.S. as a simple Red and Blue map doesn't tell the whole story. Take a look at this cool site with various alternate maps and cartograms.

Robert Vanderbei, Princeton University. © 2004 M. T. Gastner, C. R. Shalizi, and M. E. J. Newman

They haven't offed him yet, but it looks like three of Allawi's relatives have been kidnapped. If they cannot provide adequate security for state officials, how do you think the average Iraqi feels? (WP):
Gunmen kidnapped a first cousin of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and two other members of his extended family from their Baghdad home on Tuesday, an Allawi spokesman said Wednesday morning. A militant Islamist group said Wednesday it would execute Allawi's relatives unless U.S. and Iraqi forces withdraw from Fallujah.

...Allawi spokesman Georges Sada said in a telephone interview that Allawi's "cousin, his [cousin's] wife and another relative were kidnapped Tuesday night from their home after a little shooting between their bodyguards and the terrorists." Another Allawi spokesman, Thaer Hasan Naqip identified the kidnapped cousin as Ghazi Allawi, 75. He said Allawi, his wife and his son were kidnapped in Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood.

Sada said early in the day that no group had taken responsibility for the abduction, and neither the Allawi family nor the interim government had been contacted by the kidnappers.

"Not until now," Sada said. "No communication."

Later, however, the Reuters news service reported from Dubai that an Islamist group, Ansar al-Jihad, was claiming responsibility on an Internet site, threatening to kill the relatives in 48 hours unless the raid on Fallujah was halted and prisoners set free. The authenticity of the claim could not be verified.

I'm happy to report ace Hardball reporter David Shuster is joining Keith Olbermann on the vote count story. He's still crunching the numbers and comparing 2000 results.
Florida: Out of the sunshine state's 67 counties, 52 tallied their vote using paper ballots that were optically scanned by machines produced by the Diebold Corporation, the Sequoia Company, or Election Systems and Software.

In 5 counties where Democrats comprise at least 70% of the registered voters (Baker,Holmes, Dixie, Lafayette, and Liberty) President Bush won the county's raw vote total by a landslide. At first glance, the numbers seem awfully strange. But take a look at the 2004 numbers compared to 2000.

Baker County '00: Bush 5,610 Gore 2,392
Baker County '04: Bush 7,738 Kerry 2,180

Holmes County '00: Bush 5,011 Gore 2,177
Holmes County '04: Bush 6, 410 Kerry 1,810

Dixie County '00: Bush 2,697 Gore 1,826
Dixie County '04: Bush 4,433 Kerry 1,959

Lafayette County '00: Bush 1,670 Gore 789
Lafayette County '04: Bush 2,460 Kerry 845

Liberty County '00: Bush 1,317 Gore 1,017
Liberty County '04: Bush 1,927 Kerry 1,070

Each of these counties is in northern Florida where there are large numbers of "Dixiecrats." In other words, the voters have a lengthy tradition of being registered as Democrats but voting for Republicans in national elections.

What about other Florida counties? Across the state, the election results from '04 are not that different from '00. And political strategists on both sides say the Bush-Cheney campaign had an unprecedented Get Out The Vote effort this time around. That ground operation focused heavily on evangelical Christians concerned about "gay marriage." Yes, gay marriage was on the ballot in Florida... and it attracted a huge number of Evangelicals to the polls who stayed home four years ago. In my view, it's not unreasonable to think the Bush-Cheney campaign would have increased their Florida vote total by the number's I've examined. However, I acknowledge that some of you may be saying, "well, the optical scanning machines in these counties must have been rigged 4 years ago."

Later this week, I'll examine the numbers from four years ago and try to compare them to previous elections.

Regarding Ohio: 70% of the state used a punch card ballot system similar to the chad producing method used by much of Florida in 2000. Ohio's Secretary of State reports that more than 92,000 votes did not count. Some ballots were cast improperly (over votes or under votes) and other ballots were counted incorrectly. Furthermore, in Cuyahoga County (greater Cleveland) there were more votes cast than registered voters. The margin was not small... 93,000 more ballots cast than registered voters. As Keith Olbermann reported last night, in Fairview Park (west of Cleveland) there were 13,342 voters registered... but 18,472 votes were cast. And last week, Ohio officials acknowledged that in the town of Gahanna (just outside of Columbus) in one district with only 800 voters, a voting machine added 3,893 votes for President Bush.

What does it all mean? In Ohio, there are definitely more questions than answers tonight. In Florida, I'm not so sure. But, our review continues...

I noted that Shuster had posted a great essay on the gay marriage issue earlier this week.

Arafat - dead or alive update. This could be a drinking game.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Can someone shut this Falwell f*cker up?

Heil Jerry. (WP):
Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed a new coalition to guide an "evangelical revolution."

Falwell, a religious broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values Coalition will be a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the organization he founded in 1979. Falwell said he would serve as the coalition's national chairman for four years.

He added that the new group's mission would be to lobby for pro-life conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another "George Bush-type" conservative in 2008.

"We all, for the first time, began to realize the potential of religious conservatives, particularly evangelicals, when something over 30 million of them went to the polls," he said, noting most supported the president and pro-life candidates and helped vote down 11 same-sex marriage initiatives around the country.

Also, a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court allowing gay marriages "helped energize our people," Falwell said.

And when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began performing gay marriages, it "really caught the attention of people of faith in this country, and what we have been saying could happen actually happened," he said.

"The timing could not have been better. That, along with the abortion issues and the terrorism issue, helped us to get our people awakened."

Oh, and the last line of the article was the best part of the story..."Theologian Tim LaHaye will be the board chairman." As BlogActive points out, Tim and his wife Beverly are the parents of Lee LaHaye, Chief Financial Officer of Concerned Women for America, another wingnut organization. Lee LaHaye is an openly gay man. Hmmm. Hypocritical homos are everywhere, especially in the evangelical family closet.

One sanctimonious prig down, too many to go. Ashcroft Resigns from Bush Cabinet (Reuters).
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, a lightning rod of criticism by civil liberties groups for his anti-terror policies after the Sept. 11 attacks and who once even ordered the robing of two partially nude statues in his department, resigned on Tuesday.

His resignation letter, which is fairly amusing, except it was handwritten so that it didn't leak. Guess he doesn't trust the e-security at Justice.

Can it possibly be more aggressive? Bush will still pursue aggressive' foreign policy. This makes me sick.
President George W. Bush has won a mandate from the American people to continue pursuing his “aggressive” foreign policy, but the US will also reach out to the international community where it can, according to Colin Powell, the secretary of state.

“The president is not going to trim his sails or pull back,” Mr Powell told the Financial Times on Monday. “It's a continuation of his principles, his policies, his beliefs.” In his first interview since the presidential election last Tuesday, Mr Powell stressed Mr Bush had won a mandate to pursue a foreign policy that was in the US national interest.

That policy would also be in the interest of friends and alliances, and while it would be “multilateral in nature”, the US would act alone where necessary.

Mr Powell's office would not comment on whether he would remain as secretary of state during Mr Bush's second term.

Mr Powell said US foreign policy had been “aggressive in terms of going after challenges, issues”. The president was “going to keep moving in this direction”.

I see a need for a lot more body bags in the future.

OK, now he's not dead. Come on media. Get this right.

Below was as close as I could get to the White House when I visited this spring. Between the construction and the security, it felt like a war zone.

But thankfully, it can now be seen from Pennsylvania Avenue if you are a pedestrian. (WP):
First lady Laura Bush reopened a newly designed stretch of the street on Tuesday, two blocks that were closed 14 months ago to replace some of the uglier security measures with more attractive ones.

Gone are the Jersey barriers. In their place are bollards that are retractable for authorized vehicles. The $18.3 million project also includes granite benches, pavement similar to Buckingham Palace and a route for a possible downtown transit system.

The street remains closed to traffic, as it has been since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Thank heaven for small favors. No more Bush candidates in 2008. Jeb's not running.

Serve your country. No matter what. Even if you're raped by a colleague.  NYT: Classified as AWOL, Lieutenant Says She Was Raped at Army Base.
A lieutenant in the New Jersey National Guard has been accused of going AWOL because she has refused for the last two months to return to an Army base in Mississippi where, she says, a fellow officer raped her.

UPDATE: The military morons somewhat came to their senses...she no longer has to report to the base where her attacker is -- Army won't send officer to site of alleged rape (NJ Star-Ledger). It still doesn't sound like they really get it.


The Army has dropped its demand that an AWOL New Jersey National Guard lieutenant who said she was raped at a base in Mississippi report back to duty at the scene of the alleged assault. Instead, Lt. Jennifer Dyer was directed to report to an Army installation in New Jersey.

..."Were there some things we did that shouldn't have been done? We're investigating," Steele said yesterday. "We're reviewing all of our procedures and that would include her treatment."

Dyer has said she felt mistreated by the Army after she reported the assault because her complaint was viewed with skepticism by her commanders and because she had to pay for her own medical treatment. Her alleged assailant, she said, told investigators the sex was consensual.

Dyer views the Army's offer to report to a facility in New Jersey with skepticism.

"This doesn't answer my questions," she said yesterday. "I could go to Fort Dix and they could ship me anywhere they want. It doesn't make me want to trust them."

...Dyer, who said she offered twice to take a polygraph test during the course of the investigation, was interviewed for eight hours over two days by an Army criminal investigator "who kept telling me that filing a false complaint would have a negative impact on my career."

She said yesterday that her only desire is to be allowed to leave the Army.

The updated diary with details is here.

Pam's House Blend

Georgia queers (and allies) are stepping up to the plate already. They are suing over their fresh new state super-DOMA.
Gay-rights supporters sued over Georgia's newly approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying Tuesday the wording did not make it clear that voters were also being asked to ban civil unions.

On Monday, Republican members of the state House vowed to fight the expected lawsuit.

"We will take all actions necessary to defend the decision of the people and will not look kindly upon any tampering with our state constitution," said Rep. Glenn Richardson.

The plaintiffs had previously tried to block the vote on the same grounds - that it was misleading - but the state Supreme Court decided it could not intervene until a vote had been taken.

Georgia was one of 11 states that approved amendments against gay marriage last week. A lawsuit has already been filed in another one of those states, Oklahoma.

You've got dueling efforts at secession going on. For angry rants, check out (children, avert your eyes, overdose profanity ahead):

* Fuck the South.
Fuck the South. Fuck 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.

And now what do we get? We're the fucking Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really?

Cause we fucking founded this country, assholes. Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence? Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?

* Daily Kos: Wingnut wants to secede.
Having been amended only 17 times since 10 vital amendments (the Bill of Rights) were added at the republic's inception, the U.S. Constitution is not easily changed, primarily because so many states (75%, now 38 of 50) must agree. Yet, there are 38 states today that may be inclined to adopt, let us call it, a "Declaration of Expulsion," that is, a specific constitutional amendment to kick out the systemically troublesome states and those trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior. The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Only the remaining 38 states would retain the name, "United States of America." The 12 expelled mobs could call themselves the "Dirty Dozen," or individually keep their identity and go their separate ways, probably straight to Hell.

Before the war begins between these two factions, please let all of us blue folks know so we can get the hell out of Red Dodge. I don't want to be caught in the crossfire. BTW my ancestors were here before all of this sh*t.]

Fallujah -- not good news. Two dead, 35 captured. Who knows how many Iraqis have been killed in this assault. (Xinhuanet): "Mosques in Iraq's restive city of Fallujah announced on Monday that the fighters inside the city have captured 35 US soldiers.
Loud speakers of the mosques blared out the news as US forces were trying to penetrate the rebel-held city, but the news could not be independently confirmed.
US troops and Iraqi special forces stormed into the western districts of Fallujah early Monday and seized the main city hospital and two key bridges over the Euphrates River.
US officials said there may be more fierce fighting to come if US forces try to enter downtown Fallujah on the east bank of the river."

Is it for real this time? Yasser Arafat 'Dead' - Palestinian Sources Say. The 'quotes' really hedge the bet, don't they?

Keith Olbermann's a peach. He is the only TV journalist really hitting the voting irregularities scandal HARD, both on his Countdown program and on his Bloggermann outlet. And he does so in his usual, witty, ironic way.
Bev Harris, the Blackbox lady, was apparently quoted in a number of venues during the day Monday as having written “I was tipped off by a person very high up in TV that the news has been locked down tight, and there will be no TV coverage of the real problems with voting on Nov. 2… My source said they’ve also been forbidden to talk about it even on their own time.”

I didn’t get the memo.

We were able to put together a reasonably solid 15 minutes or so on the voting irregularities in Florida and Ohio on Monday’s Countdown. There was some You-Are-There insight from the Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who had personally encountered the ‘lockdown’ during the vote count in Warren County, Ohio, a week ago, and a good deal of fairly contained comment from Representative John Conyers of Michigan, who now leads a small but growing group of Democratic congressmen who’ve written the General Accountability Office demanding an investigation of what we should gently call the Electronic Voting Angst. Conyers insisted he wasn’t trying to re-cast the election, but seemed mystified that in the 21st Century we could have advanced to a technological state in which voting - fine, flawed, or felonious - should leave no paper trail.

...[In Florida] 52 counties tallied their votes using paper ballots that were then optically scanned by machines produced by Diebold, Sequoia, or Election Systems and Software. 29 of those Florida counties had large Democratic majorities among registered voters (as high a ratio as Liberty County - Bristol, Florida and environs - where it’s 88 percent Democrats, 8 percent Republicans) but produced landslides for President Bush. On Countdown, we cited the five biggest surprises (Liberty ended Bush: 1,927; Kerry: 1,070), but did not mention the other 24.

Those protesting emailers pointed out that four of the five counties we mentioned also went for Bush in 2000, and were in Florida’s panhandle or near the Georgia border. Many of them have long “Dixiecrat” histories and the swing to Bush, while remarkably large, isn’t of itself suggestive of voting fraud.

That the other 24 counties were scattered across the state, and that they had nothing in common except the optical scanning method, I didn’t mention. My bad. I used the most eye-popping numbers, and should have used a better regional mix instead.

Interestingly, none of the complaining emailers took issue with the remarkable results out of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. In 29 precincts there, the County’s website shows, we had the most unexpected results in years: more votes than voters.

I’ll repeat that: more votes than voters. 93,000 more votes than voters.


Talk about successful get-out-the-vote campaigns! What a triumph for democracy in Fairview Park, twelve miles west of downtown Cleveland. Only 13,342 registered voters there, but they cast 18,472 votes.
Vote early! Vote often!

Go to his blog to read the whole thing. He also notes that Kerry's concession speech is just a political tradition, it is not legally binding. This fraud story begs for followup. Our system is broken and the ramifications nationwide are huge. Could the whole election be in question?

Get 'em Keith. Folks are singing your well-deserved praises over at Daily Kos in the diary "Olbermann comes through".

Italy goes the way of the GOP on gay marriage and the ability of gays to adopt.:
"Italians largely oppose gay marriage with 61 percent rejecting homosexual wedlock and even more opposed to adoption for same-sex couples, a poll on Sunday showed.

In traditionally Roman Catholic Italy, home to the Vatican, only 32 percent of the population is favorable to gay marriage, according to a survey carried out for la Repubblica newspaper.

Only 21 percent of Italians thought a homosexual couple should be allowed to adopt a child.

Gay marriage has become a hot topic in Europe after Spain's new Socialist government approved a law last month that would give gay and lesbian couples the same right to marry, divorce and adopt children as heterosexuals.

Spain's move has been a particularly bitter pill for the Vatican since the law will make the traditionally Catholic country only the third in the world to legalize gay marriage after the Netherlands and Belgium."

I'm in for it, what about all those hypocrite fundamentalists? Governor Gives Push to Covenant Marriage. (AP). If the red states want to protect the sanctity of marriage, then make it very hard to divorce.
Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife plan to convert their nuptial vows into a covenant marriage during a mass ceremony on Valentine's Day, giving a public push to the movement that seeks to strengthen marital ties and make it harder to get divorced.

The governor, a former Baptist minister, said Monday he hopes more than 1,000 other couples will join him for the conversion ceremony at a North Little Rock arena. Arkansas has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

...Arkansas' marriage rate is nearly double the national average - 15.1 per 1,000 population compared to the national rate of 8.3, but the state's divorce rate is among the highest in the nation at 6.5 per 1,000 population, according to the governor's office. The national average is 4.2.

...Huckabee said too few couples have taken advantage of the covenant marriage option since he signed a 2001 law creating it. About 600 such unions were created in three years out of about 40,000 marriages that occur annually in the state.

Some opponents say marriage is a religious matter and not one for the government to regulate. Supporters argue it is a way to help slow the divorce trend that they say hurts children.

Let's take a look at the divorce rates of some Red and Blue states, just for emphasis (this is
Derek Baker's work, taken from Bush's Commerce figures:

Red States Divorce rate
State # divorces per 1,000
Utah 4.7
Wyoming 6.5
Idaho 6
Nebraska 3.8
Oklahoma 5.9
North Dakota 3.2
Alabama 5.8
Kansas 4.1
Alaska 4.9
Texas 5
Average 5

Compare to the Blue States, with the lowest rates.

State # divorces
Massachusetts 2.5
Rhode Island 3.6
Vermont 4.4
New York 3.1
Maryland 3.1
Connecticut 3
California 4.3
Illinois 3.4
Maine 4.2
Hawaii 4.3
Average 3.6

Apparently the ones running to divorce court are some of the most eager to "protect" marriage from gays.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The more they dance around revealing Arafat's condition, the more speculation there is about his "mystery illness. The NYT piece also delves into the money game as Suha Arafat is maneuvering for control of the outcome of events.
Mrs. Arafat, sophisticated, blonde and 34 years younger than her revolutionary icon husband, has used French privacy laws to keep the true state of her husband's health a mystery to the world - and to the Palestinians who were closest to him, not to mention the ordinary people who claim him as the father of their nation.

French officials say they are fed up with her maneuvering, and so are the Palestinian leaders trying to keep their people calm and establish a legitimate line of succession to the 75-year-old Mr. Arafat, who kept all positions of real power to himself.

Exasperated and worried, senior Palestinian leaders arrived in Paris tonight to find out for themselves whether Mr. Arafat is alive or clinically dead, curable or not. But as they scheduled meetings for Tuesday with President Jacques Chirac of France and his foreign minister, Michel Barnier, it was still not clear whether they would be allowed to visit the bedside of Mr. Arafat.

The Palestinians abruptly canceled and then rescheduled the trip today after Mrs. Arafat accused them, in what she called "an appeal to the Palestinian people'' from Mr. Arafat's bedside, of trying to bury her husband alive and take over his powers.

Howard Dean is mulling over taking the DNC chair. Well, he'd be a breath of fresh air, feisty and more honest about taking back the party without compromising principles to the point of becoming Republican-lite. At the very least, he could do no worse than Terry McAuliffe.

In NC news, Dell is coming to the Triad area (Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, about 50 miles west of the Triangle). (Herald-Sun).
Gov. Mike Easley is to announce Tuesday that Dell Inc. will build a computer plant in the Triad, an area lawmaker and an Easley administration source said Monday.

Easley's press office scheduled a "major economic development announcement" for Tuesday morning in the House chamber at the old State Capitol. No additional details were provided.

Rep. Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham, said the governor's office told him the announcement would be that the computer manufacturer is coming to the Triad.

"They've already made that decision" to come to the region, Cole said in an interview Monday.

An administration source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the news conference is to announce Dell is coming.

Easley called a special session of the General Assembly last Thursday at which legislators approved a $242 million incentives package aimed at convincing Dell to build a $115 million plant that could generate 2,000 jobs -- and possibly thousands more from related industries.

The impact of Oregon's ban on gay marriage is real. (WP). What makes Oregon stand apart from the other 10 states that just passed amendments is the fact that Oregon has 3,000 legally married same-sex couples to deal with.
As she watched her 3-year-old son convert a box into a spaceship, Kelly Burke was dreading the arrival of a letter that could change their lives. The stay-at-home mom and her partner of 15 years, Dolores Doyle, are among the nearly 3,000 gay couples who wed in Oregon this spring. Now the status of those marriages, and the benefits that come with them, is unclear after Oregon voters decisively approved a ban on gay marriage this past week.

"The mailman came this morning and I panicked," said Burke, who relies on Doyle's employer for health insurance. "My first thought is: 'Oh my God, here comes the letter. They're cutting me off.'"

While 11 states passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage on Election Day, Oregon is the only state among them where the government has already approved gay marriage, albeit temporarily.

Some 2,960 gay couples tied the knot after Multnomah County momentarily flung open the door to same-sex marriage. A judge stopped the practice after six weeks, and the state has refused to acknowledge the marriages pending the outcome of a lawsuit on the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage.

Still, some companies took it upon themselves to view the couples as legally married, extending benefits - such as insurance coverage - not previously available.

Before their wedding, Burke paid $200 a month out-of-pocket for her own, minimal insurance.

"With our marriage came a huge financial relief - as well as huge emotional relief. I could actually sleep at night and know I'll be taken care of. That uncertainty has now crept back in," she said.


This man is so hateful, it's hard to imagine he's happy in his personal life.

While on this topic, I watched ABC's "This Week" Sunday and that god-fearing, fag-hating James Dobson (Focus on the Family) was on. He could barely contain his glee in the Bush victory, but the disturbing thing about the interview is how critical he was of Bush and other Republicans, Arlen Specter in particular. He expects to be somewhat disappointed in Bush's second term (even though Shrub's going to push FMA) because they are not conservative enough. He really ripped Pat Leahy a new one, but in a nice "Christian" way. (Ripped this portion of transcript from Josh Marshall's page).
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. Dobson, you also have a problem with the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy. I want to show something that was reported in "The Daily Oklahoman" during the campaign. In the "Daily Oklahoman," it quoted you saying, "Patrick Leahy is a God's people hater. I don't know if he hates God, but he hates God's people." Now, Dr. Dobson, that doesn't sound like a particularly Christian thing to say. Do you think you owe Senator Leahy an apology?

DR JAMES DOBSON: George, you think you ought to lecture me on what a Christian is all about? You know, I think -I think I'll stand by the things I have said. Patrick Leahy has been in opposition to most of the things that I believe. He is the one that took the reference to God out of the oath.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But Dr. Dobson, excuse me for a second. You use the word hate. You said that he's a "God's people hater." How do you back that up?

DR JAMES DOBSON: Well, there's been an awful lot of hate expressed in this election. And most of it has been aimed at those who hold to conservative Christian views. He is certainly not the only one to take a position like that. But
I think that that is -that's where he's coming from. He has certainly
opposed most of the things that conservative Christians stand for.


DR JAMES DOBSON: No apology.

This guy is a whack job. Dobson is the kind of wingnut that sends me over the edge. It makes me want to go back and read this article to try and remember that there is logic, albeit warped logic, to this evangelical thinking. And it must be fought.

Media Matters for America points out the lying, hypocritical bigot named Jerry Falwell is trying to deny he compared homosexuality to bestiality and crack addiction. They publish numerous examples of the sanctimonious bastard's claims.

Liberals bite back, thank you. Finally there's a story on (AP) where folks are taking back the "morals" argument with framing that addresses all the issues the Right doesn't want to touch with a ten foot crucifix.
Family values, traditional values and now, "moral values." Most American adults would say they have them, and yet that two-word phrase is the focus of an ideological tug-of-war heightened by President Bush's re-election, with conservatives declaring principal ownership and liberals scrambling to challenge them.

"We need to work really hard at reclaiming some language," said the Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the liberal-leaning National Council of Churches.

"The religious right has successfully gotten out there shaping personal piety issues -- civil unions, abortion -- as almost the total content of 'moral values,'" Edgar said. "And yet you can't read the Old Testament without knowing God was concerned about the environment, war and peace, poverty. God doesn't want 45 million Americans without health care."

Many of the advocacy groups that helped mobilize conservative voters for Bush concentrate on a narrow range of issues -- notably opposing abortion and gay rights. Conservative leaders say these were the main issues on voters' minds when many, in exit polls, designated unspecified "moral values" as their foremost Election Day priority.

"Those who view the appeal to 'moral values' as mere political manipulation and ideological posturing have a basic misunderstanding of people of faith," said Janice Shaw Crouse of the conservative Concerned Women for America.

"The 'moral values' that were a top priority in this election -- abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex unions -- are rooted in deep religious beliefs."

Such statements of moral grounding have frustrated Democratic-leaning activists -- in past campaigns and particularly this year. They question the vagueness of the "moral values" exit poll question and contend that their own political priorities, such as fighting poverty and discrimination, have moral weight and popular support.

Proponents of same-sex unions, for example, believe it is moral to afford partnership rights to two men or two women who have committed themselves to each other and, in many cases, are raising children.

"We have a thing or two to say about the 'moral values' involved with permitting a couple who wish to build a life together to enjoy full legal standing as a family," said Ron Schlittler, director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Similarly, abortion-rights advocates believe it is moral to allow the option of abortion to a poor, newly pregnant woman, rather than compel her to bear a child she didn't plan for and cannot afford to raise.

"When the religious right co-opted the term 'pro-life,' that was a coup," said the Rev. Carlton Veazey of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. "Sometimes 'choice' sounds too casual."

"We have to go back and examine what we are we saying, why is it not resonating," Veazey added. "We don't just cave in and say they've got a monopoly on morality."

McGreevey Makes His Farewell Address. Well this guy of questionable ethics (that doesn't set him apart from the average NJ politician) is stepping down soon. We've probably not heard the last of him, or the jokes about him either. Even so, one cannot take away the fact that his coming out was a huge political and personal event.
A contrite Gov. James E. McGreevey delivered a farewell address Monday in which he said he does not apologize "for being a gay American but rather for having let personal feelings impact my decision-making."

McGreevey used the speech to list several accomplishments of his administration, but the Democrat also expounded on the soul-searching that has occupied his time since making his stunning, nationally televised resignation announcement three months ago with his wife and parents by his side.

"I am sorry that I have disappointed the citizens of the state of New Jersey who gave me this enormous trust," said McGreevey, whose family did not attend Monday's speech.

McGreevey is to step down Nov. 15. He resigned over a gay affair with a man identified as Golan Cipel — hired by the governor in 2002 to head the state's Homeland Security department. Cipel has steadfastly denied any involvement with McGreevey and has alleged he was sexually harassed by the governor.

"I don't look back with bitterness, anger or sorrow. I look forward to seeking knowledge, a journey of self-discovery," the governor told a crowd of about 400 people at a museum, at times quoting from philosophers and poets.

...The governor also called for an end to partisan politics and blamed himself for contributing to a climate in which "we smile in person and then throw each other under the bus when we leave the room."

"I'm not seeking to avoid my own contributions at times to this division," he said. "The history of America is to expand civil liberties in a responsible and civil manner."


Don't forget to tune into Wednesday's Law and Order, which looks like there's going to be a gay marriage subplot. Check out the synopsis:
GOV LOVE: GOVERNOR IN TROUBLE WHEN WIFE IS MURDERED AND HIS AFFAIR WITH BUSINESSMAN LEADS TO GAY MARRIAGE SHOWDOWN -- CHRIS SARANDON GUEST STARS -- In a controversial episode torn from recent headlines, Detectives Fontana (Dennis Farina) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) follow the sensational murder of the wife of Connecticut Governor Riordan (guest star Robin Thomas) -- but their spadework turns up a corrupt developer (as Kaplan, guest star Zeljko Ivanek) whose business and romantic links to Riordan cause the official to step down in shame. However, A.D.A. McCoy (Sam Waterston) is stymied when he can't get a third man (as Devin, guest star Jeremy Webb) to testify against the crooked business exec after he claims to have already married him, forcing the dogged McCoy to take the crucial gay marriage issue before the state's supreme court. Chris Sarandon ("The Princess Bride") also guest-stars as Kaplan's defense attorney. S. Epatha Merkerson, Elisabeth Rohm and Fred Dalton Thompson also star.

I miss Jerry Orbach.

You have to join in the discussion over at AmericaBlog (where I cribbed this pic) It's about how it is becoming clear that a dialogue with the fundamentalist citizens of this nation is just not possible when biblical teaching trumps all.

This 40-foot-tall bust of Jesus outside Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, is a symbol of the strong Christian values in Butler County, which gave the president his largest margin of victory in any county in the state, with 52,000 votes. (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

And as several have pointed out, the money spent on creating this "Christian" monstrousity (I thought it was one of Saddam's old palaces when I first saw it) could have been spent on good works in the community, but apparently that thought escaped these members of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. Here's a link to the Baltimore Sun article that started the discussion.

Please read a Hardblogger post by David Shuster of MSNBC. It's a mercifully sane piece on "A loss for true conservatism" regarding gay marriage. I haven't seen much sanity posted in the last week on this topic, only a lot of Freeper gloating and Democrat blame gaming of gays for losing the election.
The basic argument I heard was not about marriage (more on that below) but about being gay. And a majority of voters seem to believe that homosexuality is an "immoral lifestyle choice."

Hmmmm. The problem is that anybody who has a relative or friend who is gay also knows it is not a "choice." It is something wired into the genes of approximately 3 or 4 percent of the human population in every single culture on the planet. Secondly, when it comes to morality, consider this: While the Bible does suggest homosexuality is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22), The Bible also says in Leviticus 25:44 that we may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations; Exodus 35:2 says that my neighbor who works on the Sabbath should be put to death; Lev. 19:27 expressly forbids men from getting their hair trimmed; Lev. 11:6-9 states that touching a dead pig makes us unclean (Are you ready for some football?) and Lev. 19:19 forbids us from planting two different crops in the same field or wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread. The penalty? Lev. 24:10-16 suggests we stone people to death.

Maybe some Americans want to return to the days of slavery, devout observance to the Sabbath, long hair, all cotton clothes, and stoning people... I would prefer that our society move forward.

And the best way to move any society forward is to strengthen the family. I adore my family and consider them to be the best part of my entire life. And I'm absolutely convinced that "marriage" fosters social cohesion, emotional security, and economic prudence. That's why I'm baffled as to why we would keep such an institution away from anybody. (I'm not talking about "religion-sanctioned marriage," I'm referring to the civil institution of marriage—the kind that involves a "state-sponsored" license.)

The fact is, the couple down the street... whether they are straight or gay, has no bearing whatsoever on my marriage or yours. Gay marriage could only undermine or delegitimize straight marriage if it were a real alternative. But, do you know any heterosexuals who could be persuaded by law (or anything else for that matter) to have sex with or marry someone of their own sex? I don't.

Any intelligent and logical thinking person must know that gays are not going away. So why not coax these human beings into traditional values? Marriage reinforces a healthy social trend... and it provides stability. Isn't that what conservatism stands for?

More Arafat AIDS rumors. I mentioned this the other day. The story today again mentioned the KGB evidence linking Arafat to homosexual activities, along with some really homophobic quotes from the a 1987 book by Lt.-Gen. Ion Pacepa. At least today's article tries to back the charge up with the mounting medical evidence.
Arafat has lost a considerable amount of body weight. Hopital d'Instruction des Armees de Percy, southwest of Paris, is known to have some of France's best HIV/AIDS doctors. Other medical experts note that Arafat's activities in recent weeks and months suggest the dementia that accompanies late-stage AIDS.

Medical authorities not connected directly to his case are suggesting that he may have HIV/AIDS. One doctor reported to an Israel Insider source that his suspicions have been growing for more than a year.

"I began to see tell tale signs of kaposis sarcoma. His Parkinsonian tremor was more than just a Parkinsonian tremor and he was also showing signs of weakness. The rumor about homosexuality/bisexuality has been around for decades. So I put two and two together when they started talking about his health over a year ago. The talk of a mysterious illness in this day and age should be a tip-off. He has some of the best physicians in the world attending to him. He can be diagnosed clinically, without perfoming any tests. All the doctors surrounding him know what he has. All this cloak and dagger about tests is a ruse. They understand the implications of divulging that he has HIV. If I were Suha I would be getting a little concerned."

If Arafat has AIDS, that would also explain Suha's reticence to allow the release of significant information about Arafat's condition, and the almost ludicrously tight-lipped reports of the French hospital spokesman, and the refusal of anyone connected with Arafat to hold a press conference in recent days.

If he does have AIDS, those French doctors aren't going to say it.

Beautiful. This post on a DKos diary about the Backdoor draft was a frontal assault on the freshly hatched chicken hawks that have NO GOOD ANSWER when someone brings up the draft and whether they'd serve in Iraq..This is actually a combination of two posts by this person for context...
The draft IS coming. It has to come, or we can't maintain strength.
On a related note, I sat on a promotion board on Saturday. The soldiers we boarded, Specialists and Corporals, were mostly average soldiers. Only 10 out of 80 made the 'promote now' list. The others all go on an Order of Merit list. No surprise there, and some will improve significantly by the next board in a year. In peacetime, 10 would be more than needed, and we'd have the pick of the litter. The problem will come with the fact that we will obviously need more than 10 new Sergeant Team Leaders, as so many first- and second-term soldiers are getting out. The quality of the NCO corps will begin to degrade. Our professional NCO corps is our ace in the hole. The best people are the ones leaving--not terribly surprising either--they're smart enough to get out while they can. The longer this goes on, the more average guys we'll have to promote, and eventually, the below average ones will start getting the nod.

...The young people I meet on campus and elsewhere who support the war, who think that Iraq had something to do with 9/11, who are, in short, rabid republicans, get real quiet when I ask them when they will join up. As one swaggering young man who called me an 'anti-american liberal' with that dripping hate they have, was shocked to learn about my other life said, 'that's not my role.' I said that I needed soldiers, not cheerleaders. I told him I thought he was a pathetic coward who only believed in things when someone else's ass was on the line. He stood up from his table with balled fists. "Swing at me and I'll kill you where you stand," I said. I was pissed at that moment, and everybody in earshot knew it. He didn't move. "Sit your ass down, little boy." I said, growling now, and he did so. Then I said "things are a little different when it's your ass on the line, isn't it?" Then I walked out.
Can we draft him first?

PTI 961

Chris Bowers on MyDD has an excellent essay on "Real Conservative Values". Stop by and pitch in your own thoughts. A snippet:
One of the more preposterous things I see many on the lefty blogosphere post about is how George Bush is not a "real" conservative. In making this argument, many bloggers go on to cite the supposed conservative values that George Bush does not represent. These values go something like this:

* "Real" conservatives value fiscal responsibility and solvency, but George Bush does not

* "Real" conservatives value personal liberties, but George Bush does not.

* "Real" conservatives are not interested in overseas adventurism, especially without the help of our allies, but George Bush does not.

To all of this I say hogwash. George Bush is a self-proclaimed conservative. In this election, 84% of those people who identify as conservatives voted for George Bush, thereby endorsing his policies.

Bill O'Leary -- The Washington Post

The post-mortem stories on the role of the evangelicals keep coming. Today's WP follows up on stories from the summer about BC04 attempting to get church mailing lists for its use. This clearly could place a church's tax-exempt status in jeopardy. But, as their campaign slogan goes, Whatever It Takes.

The more interesting point of the story, however, is something many of us probably thought -- the religious right was actually driving this campaign even further rightward, apparently to the dismay of some in the BC04 camp. It was like a runaway train that they hitched a ride on. Now they have to figure out how not to be on board when it jumps the tracks.
As the presidential race was heating up in June and July, a pair of leaked documents showed that the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign was urging Christian supporters to turn over their church directories and was seeking to identify "friendly congregations" in battleground states.

Those revelations produced a flurry of accusations that the Bush campaign was leading churches to violate laws against partisan activities by tax-exempt organizations, and even some of the White House's closest religious allies said the campaign had gone too far.

Evangelical Christians, such as these activists, were often urged by churches to vote their convictions.

But the untold story of the 2004 election, according to national religious leaders and grass-roots activists, is that evangelical Christian groups were often more aggressive and sometimes better organized on the ground than the Bush campaign. The White House struggled to stay abreast of the Christian right and consulted with the movement's leaders in weekly conference calls. But in many respects, Christian activists led the charge that GOP operatives followed and capitalized upon.

...Nationally, the backdrop for the mobilization of social conservatives fell into place when Massachusetts's highest court sanctioned same-sex marriage in November.

Some Christian leaders perceived not only a threat to biblical morality, but also a winning political issue. Same-sex marriage "is different from abortion," said the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark. "It touches every segment of society, schools, the media, television, government, churches. No one is left out."

Yet Bush was slow to endorse a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. In a January conference call, Rove promised impatient Christian leaders that an endorsement would be forthcoming, and it finally came Feb. 24, nearly two weeks after same-sex couples began lining up for nuptials in San Francisco.

...Some Democrats suspected that the ballot initiatives were engineered by Rove and the GOP, but religious activists say otherwise. In Michigan, state Sen. Alan Cropsey (R) introduced a bill to ban same-sex marriage in October 2003 and assumed it would have the support of his party. Instead, the Roman Catholic Church in Michigan became the amendment's main booster, spending nearly $1 million to secure its passage.

"I couldn't say anything publicly, because I would have been blasted for it, but the Republican Party was not helpful at all," Cropsey said. "It's not like they were the instigators. They were the Johnny-come-latelies, if anything."

Michael Howden, executive director of Stronger Families for Oregon, said it was a similar situation in his state. "There's been no contact whatsoever, no coordinating, no pushing" by anyone at the White House or in the Bush campaign, he said.

Charles W. Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, recalled a meeting early this year when Christian leaders warned White House aides that the marriage issue was likely to appear on state ballots and be a factor in the presidential election. "The White House guys were kind of resisting it on the grounds that 'We haven't decided what position we want to take on that,' " he said.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

This is DEFINITELY a Bush trial balloon via Drudge. There's some sort of "internal review" going on in the WHite House about whether to nominate Clarence Thomas as chief justice if Rehnquist steps down. Good god, he's one of the worst appointments ever, and he's no intellectual giant on the court, as he basically parrots whatever Scalia's line is.

Drudge is right about one thing -- Bush will use up all his political capital trying to push that through. I cannot imagine, with all the large plans on the plate -- tax and Social Security reform, FMA -- that he would burn his capital up on such a contentious nomination.

OK. Off to bed...and back to the grind tomorrow!

Looks like the assault is under way in Fallujah. (NYT):
"Troops were on the move by 9 p.m. to the west and south of Falluja, just across the Euphrates River, and after two hours of steady pounding by American guns, tanks, Bradley armored vehicles, artillery and AC-130 gunships, at least one objective - a hospital less than a mile from downtown Falluja - had been secured by American special forces and the Iraqi 36th commando battalion.

Tracer fire lighted up the sky as the operation began, helicopters crisscrossed the battlefield, and at least one American vehicle was fired upon with a rocket-propelled grenade as American and Iraqi forces converged on the hospital, called Al-Falluja. Shortly before midnight, American forces were exchaning gunfire across a strategic bridge near the hospital with four to five insurgent positions on the other side.

'There has been extensive gunfire going across the river,' said the American commander of the special forces operation at the hospital, which officials called a crucial early objective. 'Bradleys have been shooting over to the east of us, and there has been extensive machine-gun fire to the southwest of us,' the commander said."

...With only three months to go until the country's first democratic elections, American and Iraqi officials are grasping for any tool at their command to bring the insurgency under control. Guerrillas staged brazen attacks on Sunday that left at least 37 people dead across the country, showing they could seize the initiative even as American-led forces geared up for their major offensive in Falluja and the neighboring city of Ramadi.

At dawn, insurgents armed with bombs and Kalashnikov rifles raided three police stations and killed at least 21 people in the far west of rebellious Anbar Province, which encompasses those two volatile cities, said Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman, an Interior Ministry spokesman. In an attack south of Baghdad, he said, guerrillas gunned down three officials from Diyala Province as those officials were driving to the funeral of a colleague who had been assassinated.

Insurgents dressed as police officers abducted a dozen Iraqi National Guardsmen on their way home to the southern holy city of Najaf and murdered them all, The Associated Press reported, citing an official in a prominent Shiite political party. In a similar attack last month, guerrillas in police uniform stopped three minibuses carrying 49 freshly trained Iraqi army soldiers who were going on leave. The guerrillas gunned down the soldiers, most with shots to their heads as they kneeled or lay on the ground.

Puppet. Joker. Irrelevant.

This guy is probably going to get picked off by an insurgent. Who'd want this job? In preparation for the mighty assault on Fallujah, Iraq's Allawi Declares Martial Law. (AP):
Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, grappling with the violence blighting Iraq, lived up to his tough image on Sunday by declaring martial law.

Barely more than four months after he took over from Iraq's U.S.-British occupiers, Allawi's government announced a state of emergency for 60 days, but it was far from clear what impact this would have on a raging insurgency.

Marked for assassination by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Allawi has sworn to crush the foreign fighters and die-hard Baathists he says are operating from the rebel Sunni Muslim cities of Falluja and Ramadi.

He has said the window for a peaceful solution in Falluja is closing. U.S. Marines poised on the edge of the city say they are only awaiting his orders to smash their way in.

Now that they've dropped the "evacuate now" flyers, they'll just carpet/smart bomb the place. Unfortunately with all the media attention about this assault coming up for weeks on end, I'm sure any insurgent with a brain has already left town.

He hinted at it just after the election, but now, Karl Rove confirms that Bush will push FMA. With all the shit he's shoveled, this is apparently more important that cleaning up his f*cking mess in Iraq.
President Bush will renew a quest in his second term for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as essential to a ``hopeful and decent'' society, his top political aide said on Sunday.

Bush's call for a constitutional ban on gay marriages failed last year in Congress, but his position was seen as a key factor motivating Christian conservatives concerned about ``moral values'' to turn out in large numbers and help supply Bush with a winning margin in last week's election.

``If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is that marriage ought to be, and should be, a union of a man and a woman,'' Bush political aide Karl Rove told ``Fox News Sunday.''

Rove said Bush would ``absolutely'' push the Republican-controlled Congress for a constitutional amendment, which he said was needed to avert the aims of ``activist judges'' who would permit gay marriages.

Bush said last month that he disagreed with a Republican Party platform provision that would also ban civil unions of same-sex couples, and he said states should be able to allow such legal arrangements if they wish.

Rove elaborated on this on Sunday.

``He (Bush) believes that there are ways that states can deal with some of the issues that have been raised, for example, visitation rights in hospitals, or the right to inherit, or benefit rights, property rights, but these can all be dealt with at the state level, without overturning the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.''

What he doesn't address, is that he has no intention of dealing with the issue of over 1,138 federal rights and protections married couples receive that civil unions cannot address, as they are granted by the states. I'd like to see that question asked and answered.

Serve your country. No matter what. (NYT): Classified as AWOL, Lieutenant Says She Was Raped at Army Base.
The lieutenant, Jennifer Dyer, 26, says she was raped by a colleague on Aug. 8 while training for deployment to Iraq at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Miss., her fiancé, Edward Ottepka, said yesterday. Lieutenant Dyer would not discuss the case herself, Mr. Ottepka said, and is living in seclusion "close to people who are offering her care and support."

Mr. Ottepka, a police officer and former marine, said the Army granted Lieutenant Dyer a two-week convalescent leave after the attack, but then demanded that she return to Camp Shelby. Although she submitted several reports to the Army stating that "her mental health would suffer" if she returned - and even offered to complete her tour at another post in New Jersey - the Army classified her as AWOL when she failed to report for duty in Mississippi on Aug. 30, Mr. Ottepka said.

"She was presented with a choice of abandoning her sanity or taking a stand and taking care of herself," he said. "She's chosen to hopefully become a productive member of society, but it's made her an outlaw."

...After the attack, Lieutenant Dyer wrote, Army investigators secluded her in a motel room on Camp Shelby where she was interrogated for at least five hours. "I was made to feel," she wrote, "as if I should have never reported the incident at all and that I was the offending party as opposed to the victim in this case."

A few days later, she wrote, Mr. Ottepka flew to Mississippi and helped her get a blood test. In her statement, Lieutenant Dyer said the test "confirmed the presence of herpes type 2."

Then, on convalescent leave, she returned to New Jersey, where she visited the Atlantic County Women's Center, a private psychiatrist and a private doctor - all of whom counseled her not to return to Mississippi, she wrote. Mr. Ottepka said she gave her commanding officers these reports, which "stated clearly that going back would be absolutely disastrous to her short- and long-term mental health."

But the officers ignored the reports, Lieutenant Dyer wrote, and ordered her to return to Camp Shelby or face prosecution. One officer, Lieutenant Dyer wrote, told her "that two weeks was a generous amount of time for leave and that it is enough time for a victim of such a crime to be recovered and returned to duty."

F*ck 'em. Why should the troops ever trust the military?

Rational answers to many questions folks have had about the conservative Christian mentality and this election are here, in an excellent DKos diary, Views from a former Christian conservative. Every progressive needs to read the essay if they want to understand this perspective and regroup for the next election cycle. It's not going to make you feel any better about the state of things, but it frames things better, than say, thinking these people are all stupid, insane or evil. Just a few snippets, since the original is a long, engaging post:
It starts with the fact that we as conservative Christians are taught to see America as our land. I mean, you guys in Europe and the loonies on the East and West Coasts think the Founding Fathers died to bring us religious freedom.

They so did not. They died to give new Christianity a place where it could flourish. And if you think that Catholicism was flourishing perfectly fine before that, thank you, then you don't understand conservative Christianity. See, I grew up being taught that Catholicism was almost-sort-of-not-quite-but-we-won't-talk-about-it cult. Really.

Lots of Southern Baptists believe Catholicism is a cult, despite the fact that it is the largest practiced religion in the world. If you understand that we can believe that about Catholicism then maybe you can understand that American Conservative Christian values don't necessarily fit into any kind of historical, cultural, or anthropological perspective. They never really have.

...When you grow up being raised in this environment, whether you give it any credence or not, what starts to happen is that you see things very easily in terms of whether they fit into the "Us" category or the "World" category. Since, um, most things fall into the World category, it gets very easy to compartmentalize in your head, and to, for example, start thinking, "the media is a tool of Satan, I shouldn't believe what people are telling me." And even if you don't think "TOOL OF SATAN!!!!" every time you hear the media, if you've heard other people around you and in your church say it enough, even subconsciously you start doubting the media.

How this plays out is that you begin to filter your environment as a conservative christian based on what you can easily categorize. Once you have identified, say, George Bush, as one of Us, it's much easier to disregard negative news about him because the Media is one of Them, and the two things can be easily canceled out in your mind.

In the South, the tendency to categorize things, combined with the fact that we are taught to expect persecution as a Christian people, has led us to segregate, commit acts of racism and intolerance, and to be very, very suspicious of anyone from the North or the West, because all of you are part of the World.

If I were still a conservative Christian I can tell you exactly how this election would look to me right now. Kerry is an immoral man of the World, and I thank God that Bush, a man of clear moral integrity who is out to defeat Satan regardless of the forces that stand in his way, has been blessed with victory. He didn't win the election--God chose him as the leader of this nation.

That is how I would view this election. And that is not a stance that would make me ignorant, stupid, bigoted, or homophobic. Because I read just as many newspapers then as now. I was valedictorian of my high school. I was open-minded and tolerant. And I was always pro-gay rights from the time I made my first gay friend at age 9.

...When you blame the voters who chose Bush, you are completely mistaking what is happening in our country today. Bush did not win the election based on ignorance and stupidity. He won the election based on a belief system that has been determinedly advancing across the country because Christians believe it is their spiritual duty to bring people to Christ. And you cannot be successfully brought to Christ until you also commit to serving Christ. You cannot successfully serve Christ unless you do his will. And it is Christ's will that Bush win re-election. Do you see the pattern at work here???

You guys, you democrats and liberals, have a tendency to blame the people rather than the ideologies they represent. It is my belief that people's lives are shaped by ideologies. But people's lives are changed by other people. My life was shaped by the ideology of the Southern Baptist church. My life was changed when I met Jerry Boles, who died of AIDS in 1994. My life was changed when my best friend came out to me 5 years later.

Since the right is looking forward to reversing Roe v. Wade at its earliest convenience, perhaps they should have a plan for what to do when backstreet abortions start happening again.
More than 1,000 women in Portugal had to be hospitalised last year due to complications following backstreet abortions in a country whose laws forbid legal abortion, health statistics showed.

The figure "clashed with the 123 clandestine abortions officially identified by the authorities last year," said a report by the public health authority DGS, published Wednesday in the newspaper Publico.

DGS said the contradiction was due to the fact that public statistics covered only officially proved illegal terminations.

The number of clandestine abortions annually in Portugal is reckoned at between approximately 20,000 and 40,000.

A Lisbon court on Tuesday acquitted a woman charged as a teenager with illegally terminating her pregnancy by taking pills used to treat stomach ulcers, in the latest case to fuel debate on Portugal's strict anti-abortion laws.

A judge found the accused not guilty for lack of proof.

The trial renewed debate in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country on its abortion laws, among the most restrictive in Europe.

Oops. Off to a great start, and a familiar one at that. US strikes raze Falluja hospital.

Maureen Dowd tells it like it is in her NYT piece, "Rove's Revenge".
W.'s presidency rushes backward, stifling possibilities, stirring intolerance, confusing church with state, blowing off the world, replacing science with religion, and facts with faith. We're entering another dark age, more creationist than cutting edge, more premodern than postmodern. Instead of leading America to an exciting new reality, the Bushies cocoon in a scary, paranoid, regressive reality. Their new health care plan will probably be a return to leeches.

America has always had strains of isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism. But most of our leaders, even our devout presidents, have tried to keep these impulses under control. Not this crew. They don't call to our better angels; they summon our nasty devils.

Jimmy Carter won the evangelical vote in 1976, and he won it in Ohio. He combined his evangelical appeal with a call for social justice, integrating his church and laboring for world peace. But W. appealed to that vote's most crabbed insecurities - the disparaging of the other, the fear of those godless hedonists in the blue states out to get them and their families. And the fear of scientific progress, as with stem cell research.

When William Jennings Bryan took up combating the theory of evolution, he did it because he despised the social Darwinists who used the theory to justify the "survival of the fittest" in capitalism. Bryan hated anything that justified an economic system that crushed poor workers and farmers, and he hated that the elites would claim there was scientific basis for keeping society divided and unequal.

The new evangelicals challenge science because they've been stirred up to object to social engineering on behalf of society's most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different.

Yet the Bush conservatives do their own social engineering. They thought they could toughen up the American character with the invasion of Iraq. Now they want to reshape the country on "moral" issues - though their morality seems to allow them to run a campaign full of blatant distortions and character assassination, and to mislead the public about the war.

Time to give a shout-out to a local lesbian organization that's making a difference -- and not just in the gay community. SWOOP (Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects) unofficially began in September 1996 in the aftermath of Hurricane Fran in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Herald-Sun reports on the group's latest efforts in my old neighborhood, Old West Durham. [Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, OWD takes prides in its history and the diversity of its residents; take a look at its web site, which I started up in 1998.]
The years have taken a toll on the once spry Old West Durham couple Lee and Lois Carlton, who have been married for 67 years and live in the same mill house Lois was born in.

Lois Carlton, who once was a shining third baseman for a local baseball league, can no longer walk. Lee Carlton, who used to do yard work and repair lawnmowers in the couple's back yard, is a heart patient who gets weak easily.

Their physical condition made it impossible to maintain the deteriorating work sheds in their back yard or to remove metal junk from their yard. That's why members of the local organization Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects -- or SWOOP -- flocked to the couple's Edith Street house on Saturday.

About 55 volunteers with the Raleigh-based organization tore down two of the decaying sheds, put a new roof on a third shed, painted a back porch and cleaned up the back yard.

It's great to see that this organization is getting recognition by HRC...
The organization was recently picked to receive the annual Equality Award from North Carolina's chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, which works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.

Joni Madison, a local volunteer for the campaign, was helping videotape the group's efforts Saturday for a presentation at the campaign's annual dinner. Many SWOOP members are active in the Campaign, Madison says, adding that their work demonstrates why the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community deserves equal rights.

"They're showing people -- just like everybody -- they have good hearts and good will," Madison said. "And at the end of the day, they're showing everybody in their own special way that they deserve no less than every American citizen."


While I am on positive local matters, here are a couple of interesting items on our downtown historic district...

Brightleaf Square, a renovated tobacco warehouse in downtown, queer-friendly Durham, and home of Duke University Press, publisher of academic books and journals, my employer.

* Development projects in the works or on the horizon in downtown Durham. As in most cities, the downtown areas, often abandoned by businesses for office park in the last couple of decades, are fighting back. Several current projects are encouraging residents to move to renovated warehouses and new construction. Brightleaf Square was renovated more than a decade ago, and was the start of the downtown revitalization efforts.

* Upbeat about downtown:
These days, the lunchtime crowds are small at Blue Mountain Catering. But the owners of the 4-month-old business in downtown Durham are optimistic.

And why not, the co-owner says, when projections for the next three years point to hundreds of new workers and residents moving into the 12-by-14-block area that officials say makes up downtown?

Blue Mountain Catering opened in June at 317 W. Main St. and evolved into a lunchtime restaurant within a month.

Co-owners Brian Lawson and Damion Moore are among the latest entrepreneurs and developers looking to capitalize on the much-discussed and long-awaited rebirth of downtown.

"We do foresee downtown Durham blossoming in the next three to five years, and we want to be a part of that," Lawson said.

For years, city officials and downtown promoters have been on a mission to revitalize the central business district. With a slew of projects in the works and on the horizon, it appears the long hibernation is about to end.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Good Lord, this is sad. Even those of us that have their heads about themselves felt despondent over the election, so news like this is not surprising.

Man commits suicide at Ground Zero
Distraught over the re-election of President George W. Bush, a Georgia man traveled to New York City, went to Ground Zero and killed himself with a shotgun blast, police said yesterday.

The suicide victim, Andrew Veal, 25, was discovered just before 8 a.m. yesterday when a worker for the Millennium Hotel looking at Ground Zero from an upper floor saw a man lying atop the concrete structure through which the 1 and 9 subway lines run.

The worker, thinking the man was sleeping, alerted colleagues and the Port Authority police were notified.

But when they got to Veal's body, they realized he had killed himself with a shot to the head from a .12-gauge shotgun.

No suicide note was found, but according to a Port Authority police source, family members said Veal, a registered Democrat, was despondent over Bush's defeat of Sen. John Kerry. A second source said Veal, who lived in Athens, Ga., and worked for the University of Georgia, was also adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq.

At least Bush will make sure that he will be safe. I guess no one will be close enough to throw eggs at the limo, a la F9/11. Unmatched Security Planned for Inaugural (WP):
As tens of thousands of people come to Washington to watch the Jan. 20 swearing in, the city will be filled with military personnel, FBI agents in full SWAT outfitting, snipers on rooftops and scores of bomb-detecting dogs. The region's air defenses have been strengthened to prevent intruder aircraft, and sensors will be deployed throughout the area to detect biological, chemical or radiological material.

About 2,000 out-of-town officers will help with security and traffic details. Undercover officers will work the crowds, and D.C. police officers will be posted every six to eight feet along the parade route.

Plans call for sturdier barriers and more checkpoints and metal detectors along the parade route than in previous years. Officials also are setting up a higher-security ticketing and credentialing system for some events, to prevent people from using counterfeit materials to get into the balls and more restricted areas.

More on the "Quiet Mutiny" of soldiers not willing to be cannon fodder...Veteran Sues After He Receives Duty.... (AP):
A veteran of the first Persian Gulf War is suing the Army after it ordered him to report for duty 13 years after he was honorably discharged from active duty and eight years after he left the reserves.

Kauai resident David Miyasato received word of his reactivation in September, but says he believes he completed his eight-year obligation to the Army long ago.

"I was shocked," Miyasato said Friday. "I never expected to see something like that after being out of the service for 13 years."

His federal lawsuit, filed Friday in Honolulu, seeks a judgment declaring that he has fulfilled his military obligations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Yee said his office would defend the Army. He declined to comment further. An Army spokewoman at the Pentagon declined to comment to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Miyasato, 34, was scheduled to report to a military facility in South Carolina on Tuesday.

...The Army announced last year that it would involuntarily activate an estimated 5,600 soldiers to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Army officials would be tapping members of the Individual Ready Reserve -- military members who have been discharged from the Army, Army Reserve or the Army National Guard, but still have contractual obligations to the military.

Miyasato said he never re-enlisted, signed up for any bonuses or was told that he had been transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve or any other Army Reserve unit.

"I fulfilled my contract," Miyasato said. "I just want to move on from this, and I'm optimistic that I'll be successful."

Miyasato speculated that he may have been picked because his skills as a truck driver and refueler are in demand in Iraq. He told reporters he did the same work as that done by a group of Army reservists who refused to deliver fuel along a dangerous route in Iraq last month.

They're going to need more than Ben-Hur out there. The assault on Fallujah is imminent, and Marines are trying to break pre-battle tension:
"For U.S. Marines awaiting orders to attack Iraq's rebel-held Fallujah, the bags are packed, trucks are loaded and letters have been sent home, leaving one final, pre-assault diversion: the 'Ben-Hur.'

Blowing off steam, hundreds of Marines took their cue from the 1959 Charlton Heston classic and gathered Saturday at a base near Fallujah for a slapstick chariot race featuring cobbled-together carts and confiscated Iraqi horses.

'These men are about to face the greatest personal and professional tests of their lifetimes,' said Lt. Col. Willy Buhl, commander of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines.

'We wanted to lighten things up, take the tension off what we're about to do,' said the 42-year-old commander from Los Gatos, Calif., who dreamed up the 'First Annual 'Ben-Hur' Memorial Chariot Race.'

The Marine charioteers, wearing togas over their body armor, waved baseball bats done up as spiked maces and jumped into carts forged from cast-off vehicle parts. The makeshift chariots were pulled by Iraqi horses commandeered from looters in the area.

Some 10,000 U.S. troops have encircled Fallujah, a city 40 miles west of Baghdad, to attack Sunni Muslim fighters there -- if the final go-ahead is given by Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

U.S. jets pounded Fallujah early Saturday in the heaviest airstrikes in six months -- including five 500-pound bombs dropped on insurgent targets. Insurgents struck elsewhere in central Iraq with suicide car bombs, mortars and rockets, killing more than 30 people and wounding dozens, including more than 20 Americans. "

In response to the article Gay Advocates Examine Role in Election(AP), the Freepers show us why we cannot abandon our core principles. First, an excerpt from the AP article:
Crunching the numbers, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force denies that gay marriage alone boosted turnout among evangelical Christians in Oregon, Ohio and Michigan, the three swing states where constitutional amendments were on the ballot. Bush voters also were motivated by the president's stands on abstinence-only sex education and a ban on late term abortions, said Matthew Foreman, the group's executive director.

"It's sickening and fascinating that when one in five voters said 'moral values" was the most important issue for them, pundits immediately equated that with gay marriage alone," Foreman said. "To pin all of this on 'the gays' is wrong."

Freeper tolerance and intellectual insight follow, but some of this is not far off from things I saw posted on liberal blogs just after the election......

To: paudio
I completely agree with this- it is SO typical of the libs to first of all- BLAME someone (gays) and second- to have no idea how many areas "values" cover.

Neither gays nor religion were my first two thoughts upon seeing moral/values as important voting issues.

I thought of Kerry's betrayal of his fellow vets, then I thought of the complete corruption of the news-media.
Then I thought of Kerry voting against keeping my son fed and armed in Iraq. Then- partial-birth slaughter.

To be honest- I didn't think of religion either- one of the good things about growing up in New England was how freedom of religion was drummed into our heads as youngsters. Maybe I still take it too much for granted- it's like breathing.
25 posted on 11/06/2004 1:14:57 PM PST by SE Mom (Reeling from re-election rapture!)

To: paudio
...First I don't give a GD about their sexual practices. Just stop acting as though you deserve to win the lottery or should have a statute in front of city hall because of it. Second, "gay marriage" is a symantic muddle of the worst kind. Whatever you want to call what it is when you get together, it isn't what is normally referred to by marriage. They get all stuck on the financial and familial rights associated with it - familiy medical plans, married tax advantages (hah!) and family visiting rights when you are in the hospital dying of AIDS. THAT IS NOT MARRIAGE. Marriage is making a long term committment towards a family, with all of the responsibilities that go with it. It means raising kids and participating in a community of people who are raising kids or raised kids or will raise kids. It means going to Aunt Sally's for Thanksgiving and being gracious about the marshmallow sweet potatoes, which I cannot personally abide. It is about community obligations. In terms of rights and priveleges, I was far better off single and without kids and committments. I ain't complaining, but for chrissakes...
26 posted on 11/06/2004 1:16:44 PM PST by AndyJackson

To: paudio
Even Clinton tried to tell Kerry to take the homosexual marriage thing off the table. The 11 to 0 was loud and clear. Homosexuals are going to have to ride in the back of the democrat bus from now on.
31 posted on 11/06/2004 1:20:05 PM PST by cynicom)

To: paudio
Yes --- for me abortion comes out quite a bit ahead of gay marriage as an issue --- and it's not just moral issues --- Kerry was far too pro-UN for me. Then there was the government take-over of health care issue.
32 posted on 11/06/2004 1:20:23 PM PST by FITZ

To: JesseHousman; All; dsc
The homosexuals are not right about anything

Well, why would you trust a man who cannot figure out his biological functions or what his d__k is for? To be disordered and disoriented on even that simple basic level indicates some very serious mental/spiritual problems that automatically preclude the trust of any well-ordered and clear-thinking person.
38 posted on 11/06/2004 1:33:35 PM PST by broadsword

Now, can we all agree on who the real enemy is here? There's also a Daily Kos diary on this.

Centrists, as expected are whining away and wishing they could be Republican-lite in Adam Nagourney's NYT article entitled Baffled in Loss, Democrats Seek Road Forward:
Gov. Janet Napolitano, Democrat of Arizona, which Mr. Kerry made a failed effort to grasp from the Republican column, said: "We need a fresh reassessment of how we communicate with people. How did a party that has been out of power in Washington, D.C., become tagged with the problems of Washington, D.C.? How did a party that is filled with people with values - and I am a person with values - get tagged as the party without values?"

And Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said: "We need to be a party that stands for more than the sum of our resentments. In the heartland, where I am from, there are doubts. Too often we're caricatured as a bicoastal cultural elite that is condescending at best and contemptuous at worst to the values that Americans hold in their daily lives."

Mr. Kerry's loss has, inevitably, created recriminations about a candidate that many Democrats had always viewed as stiff, and a campaign that was often criticized as slow-moving and unfocused. Democrats said that Mr. Kerry had failed to provide a compelling message, coasting on the belief that Mr. Bush would defeat himself, and that the campaign had been slow to respond to attacks on his war record by Vietnam veterans.

And some Democrats, especially centrist ones, expressed concern that liberals would draw a mistaken lesson from the loss: that the Democratic Party needed to swing back to the left to energize Democratic base voters to counter the upsurge of conservative base voters on the right.

"That's not a recipe for winning," said Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat frequently mentioned by party officials as a possible presidential contender in 2008. "That's a recipe for disaster."

Party officials said they were concerned about evidence of a cultural gap between Democrats and much of the country. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico said that his dealings with Mr. Kerry and his advisers had vividly demonstrated to him the problems the party faces.

"I remember being on a trip with him in New Mexico: I put a cowboy hat on Senator Kerry and someone on his staff shuddered and asked me to stop," he said. "This is I think an example of the East Coast not connecting with the West Coast and with the rest of the country."

Guest lineup for the Sunday TV news shows:
ABC's "This Week" -- Sen.-elect Barack Obama, D-Ill.; Sen.-elect John Thune, R-S.D.; James Dobson, founder, Focus on the Family.
CBS' "Face the Nation" -- Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.; Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
NBC's "Meet the Press" -- White House political adviser Karl Rove; Obama.

Can I watch Rove without hurling? Please let Obama go first.

How can we work to stop these evil zealots? They are drunk with power. (LATimes):
"Simply, a majority of Americans have rejected John Kerry and John Edwards and the left because they are wrong. They are wrong because there are not two Americas. We are one nation under a God they reject. We remain indivisible despite their attempts to divide Americans through their relentless warfare against class, ethnic and religious unity.

...The nation has now resoundingly rejected the left and its agenda. We do not want to become European. We do not want to become socialist. We do not want to become secular. We are exceptional. We are unique. And we are the greatest force for good in the world, despite what the left, the terrorists or the United Nations may claim. It is for these reasons that we remain the last great hope in the world for freedom." --Frank Pastore, Former major league pitcher Frank Pastore is the afternoon host on the Christian talk-radio station KKLA, 99.5 FM

We've got a soldier's point of view about the election. From Vert1go4:
4 more years America
If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted.

I hope they stick you in my unit, and you go with me to Iraq when my unit goes back in September. I will laugh when you see what soldiers in that country face on a daily basis. I hope you work with gay soldiers too. I did. One of them saved my life. Think he shouldn't have the right to get married? Fuck you. He fought just as hard as I did and on most days, did his job better than me. Don't tell me gays don't have the same rights you do.

Think the war in Iraq is a good thing? I'll donate my M-16 to you and you can go in my place.

What if there is a mass "orientation conversion" to get out of this Iraq hellhole? Seriously, has the Pentagon thought about what it will do then?

With "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" firmly in place, and the loss of much-needed expertise as the government purged queerdom its from ranks it's going to be a problem as they run out of cannon fodder.

If they lift the ban for expediency's sake, then they will have advanced gay rights more than any perceived action on the Left could with gay marriage.

I feel so badly for the poor folks on the front lines that had no idea this was going to end up a prison sentence, instead of a true duty to protect our nation.

Gary Langer's Op-Ed piece in the NYT points to the now-infamous exit poll question about "moral values" as creating a lot of incorrect assumptions about what Tuesday's vote means.
The news media has made much of the finding that a fifth of voters picked "moral values" as the most important issue in deciding their vote - as many as cited terrorism or the economy. The conclusion: moral values are ascendant as a political issue.

The reporting accurately represents the exit poll data, but not reality. While morals and values are critical in informing political judgments, they represent personal characteristics far more than a discrete political issue. Conflating the two distorts the story of Tuesday's election.

This distortion comes from a question in the exit poll, co-sponsored by the national television networks and The Associated Press, that asked voters what was the most important issue in their decision: taxes, education, Iraq, terrorism, economy/jobs, moral values or health care. Six of these are concrete, specific issues. The seventh, moral values, is not, and its presence on the list produced a misleading result.

How do we know? Pre-election polls consistently found that voters were most concerned about three issues: Iraq, the economy and terrorism. When telephone surveys asked an open-ended issues question (impossible on an exit poll), answers that could sensibly be categorized as moral values were in the low single digits. In the exit poll, they drew 22 percent.

Why the jump? One reason is that the phrase means different things to people. Moral values is a grab bag; it may appeal to people who oppose abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research but, because it's so broadly defined, it pulls in others as well. Fifteen percent of non-churchgoers picked it, as did 12 percent of liberals.

...Moral values, moreover, is a loaded phrase, something polls should avoid. (Imagine if "patriotism" were on the list.) It resonates among conservatives and religious Americans. While 22 percent of all voters marked moral values as their top issue, 64 percent of religious conservatives checked it. And among people who said they were mainly interested in a candidate with strong religious faith (just 8 percent, in a far more balanced list of candidate attributes), 61 percent checked moral values as their top issue. So did 42 percent of people who go to church more than once a week, 41 percent of evangelical white Christians and 37 percent of conservatives.

This local news about the GOP offices being vandalized is not surprising. I can't tell you how many people in the Triangle are beside themselves about the election. Not that it justfies this behavior. (Raleigh News and Observer):
A police officer reported earlier in the night that about 100 people wearing masks and gloves were walking down a street near the headquarters, Raleigh Police Capt. D.S. Overman said. The vandalism happened between 11 and 11:30 p.m., the result of an obviously "planned and orchestrated event," police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

...They also found several spent fireworks, poster boards with slogans and spraypainted expletives on the walls. At least two windows were broken and police said it appeared as if the vandals tried to put incendiary devices inside of the building.


ANYWAY, I looked at the latest print issue of Newsweek where there is a map with the breakdown, by county, of the Bush/Kerry votes. The Triangle area was the same as 2000. Orange (Chapel Hill/Carrboro is here) and Durham counties went Kerry, and Wake (home of Raleigh, the capital, and Cary, both homes of the yuppies) went Bush. You can search and download results here.

Durham: Kerry/72,986, Bush/34,124
Orange: Kerry/42,683, Bush/20,673
Wake: Bush/172,563, Kerry/162,750

The Cleveland Plain Dealer says Kerry actually won Ohio. Why did Dems not get a recount? Read on at as well.
Bush won Ohio by 136,483 votes. In the United States, about 3 percent of votes cast are voided—known as “spoilage” in election jargon—because the ballots cast are inconclusive. Drawing on what happened in Florida and studies of elections past, Palast argues that if Ohio’s discarded ballots were counted, Kerry would have won the state. Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports there are a total of 247,672 votes not counted in Ohio, if you add the 92,672 discarded votes plus the 155,000 provisional ballots. So far there's no indication that Palast's hypothesis will be tested because only the provisional ballots are being counted.

I love this tongue-in-cheek piece in Slate on Moving to Canada, Eh? -decide if it's really for you.
The Web is buzzing as newspapers report hundreds of threats to move north, from unhappy Democrats in New York, California, Oregon, Ohio, Illinois, and, well, Massachusetts (which is really sort of Canada already). The possible Canadian monopoly on disaffected American emigrants prompted nervous Europeans to redouble their efforts to be the place disenchanted Americans go to die. The Canadian immigration Web site had 179,000 visitors Wednesday—six times its usual traffic—the vast majority of which came from the United States.

...Not so fast, my fine Yankee friends. One of the reasons you tend to scare poor Canadians is that you know next to nothing about them. Which is why, hours after the election, Reuters was forced to disseminate this sobering story about how defection is not always just a matter of showing up at the border in a parka and being welcomed warmly by the simple northern folk amassed there to greet you. No, there are hurdles to be jumped and requirements to be met before becoming a Canadian, as Slate explained this week. Here's the immigration test you can use to decide if you're smart enough to get a job there.

Go laugh.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Update on nationwide voting machine fraud and malfunction, courtesy of BradBlog...House Dems Call for Investigation into Vote Count Irregularities.

Today I posted a lengthy entry on a Daily Kos diary called "A minority evangelical speaks."

It touches on the the struggle of evangelical minorities as they confront very real conflicts about principles and politics. I talk about the hypocrisy and denial in the black community about homosexuality, and why the closet is partially responsible for the increase in HIV among black women.

An example is the unforgiving perspective of The Rev. Patrick Wooden (below) of the virulently homophobic Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh. He has called noisy protests to oppose homosexuality, which he calls 'one of the greatest enemies of Christianity.' If you're a black gay man, there isn't room in this particular culture to come out without consequence and shame.

"We have to block the use of euphemisms when we talk about homosexuals," Wooden said. "They are not gay. We've got to use terms like 'deviant' and 'abomination.'" The News and Observer article

Take a look...


The latest issue of the Washington Blade is up and here are a few squibbs of interest, if you care to click:

* Gays ponder Bush victory: President takes one quarter of gay vote, stunning some activists

* Feinstein blames gays for Kerry losing [Good god, will it ever stop]

* S.F. Mayor says he's no scapegoat

* and, my favorite for this week: New book to claim Abe Lincoln was gay:
Sixteenth president ‘never took much interest in the girls’

These f*ckers must be stopped.
Christian conservative leaders say their top priority in President Bush's second term is the appointment of conservative judges to the Supreme Court and throughout the judicial system.

"We have high hopes of changing the judiciary. Every judicial appointment that President Bush makes will make the courts less radical and more in tune with the voters who turned out in Tuesday's election," said Gary Bauer, a prominent Christian conservative leader and president of American Values, a conservative pressure group.

Unprecedented turnout by evangelical Christians was a key factor in ensuring Bush's narrow victory over Democrat John Kerry in the election. Many were motivated by their opposition to same sex marriage and abortion.

...Many Christians see passage of a constitutional amendment outlawing same sex marriage, which Bush has endorsed, as an important priority.

"Getting the amendment enacted within the next four years has become a realistic goal," said Charles Colson, a radio host and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries which seeks to rehabilitate prisoners by converting them to evangelical Christianity.

Influential radio evangelist James Dobson and other conservative Christian organizations lost no time after the election in calling for a renewed push for the constitutional amendment, which failed in both houses of Congress this year.

Chuck Colson, Watergate criminal.

John Aravosis over at AMERICAblog has been combing the web and news reports on the massive amount of voter machine fraud and malfunction that, if truly investigated, may show that the election results should be invalidated -- there's no paper trail on much of this nonsense. I'm posting his incredible examples here, but surf over to AMERICAblog and BradBlog, where Brad Friedman is working this one hard, for more info.
In Broward County, Florida, 97,434 ballots were affected by a glitch that basically erased votes (I believe the erasure was finally caught and reversed, but what if this happened in machines elsewhere and wasn't caught?).

- "A computer error with a voting machine cartridge gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in a Gahanna precinct. Franklin County's unofficial results gave Bush 4,258 votes to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 260 votes in Precinct 1B. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct." -

- In NC, 11,238 more presidential electronic votes were recorded than were actually cast.

- 4530 early votes were lost - LOST - in North Carolina: "Local officials said UniLect Corp., the maker of the county's electronic voting system, told them that each storage unit could handle 10,500 votes, but the limit was actually 3,005 votes. Expecting the greater capacity, the county used only one unit during the early voting period. 'If we had known, we would have had the units to handle the votes,' said Sue Verdon, secretary of the county election board. Officials said 3,005 early votes were stored, but 4,530 were lost." - Yahoo News

- "New information indicates that hackers may be targeting the central computers counting our votes tomorrow. All county elections officials who use modems to transfer votes from polling places to the central vote-counting server should disconnect the modems now.... It appears that such an attack may already have taken place, in a primary election 6 weeks ago in King County, Washington -- a large jurisdiction with over one million registered voters. Documents, including internal audit logs for the central vote-counting computer, along with modem "trouble slips" consistent with hacker activity, show that the system may have been hacked on Sept. 14, 2004. Three hours is now missing from the vote-counting computer's "audit log," an automatically generated record, similar to the black box in an airplane, which registers certain kinds of events." -

Find out more here, and here, and here, and here.

You would rather believe it's a tin-foil hat issue, but it's really scary to see that we've totally handed control of our precious right to vote to Diebold and UniLect -- what can be done at this point? Is the press going to pull this stuff together and investigate?

The Bulge is a bulletproof vest, according to The Blue Lemur, which says the Secret Service didn't want to reveal this while Bush was on the campaign trail.

While time marches backward in Bush's America, a same-sex marriage ban loses ground in Massachusetts, as two more seats were picked up in the state legislature by officials that oppose amending the state constitution.
A Globe analysis of Tuesday's elections found that two or perhaps three newly elected opponents of the proposed same-sex marriage ban are replacing lawmakers who voted in favor of the amendment in the spring. Two more opponents would lower the margin of support from 105 lawmakers to 103 if everyone else voted as they did earlier this year.

However, activists and lawmakers caution that the vote totals are fluid, for several reasons. For example, a dozen legislators who voted against the amendment because they oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions could back the measure this time, because they might view it as better than allowing same-sex marriage to remain legal.

On the other hand, a handful of lawmakers who initially voted for the amendment have told reporters that they are likely to back off next time because thousands of gay couples have married here without significant disruption.


And, one more reason Canada is looking good right now...Saskatchewan has become the seventh Canadian jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriages.:
Gay couples may now tie the knot in more than half of the provinces and territories in the country after a Saskatchewan court ruled the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional Friday.

In a five-page ruling, Justice Donna Wilson sided with courts in five other provinces and one territory, saying existing marriage laws discriminate against gay couples.

...Courts in Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, the Yukon, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have already ruled in the same way Justice Wilson did. In fact, every recent challenge of marriage laws made has ended up winning, either at the introductory or appeal court level.

There are currently two couples challenging the law in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Supreme Court of Canada is in the process of evaluating a draft federal law that could make gay weddings legal from coast to coast.

Ripped from BlogActive, crediting Rex Wockner

You know that the story about e-vote fraud has legs if Drudge is running this link to this story on "Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes" at the top of his page.

Blogger's acting up again, had a hard time posting.

Atrios temporarily turned off comments on his Eschaton blog.
Okay, I'm pulling the comments and taking off until Sunday evening or Monday morning. I'll resist the temptation to post a long-winded explanation, and just say that right now the blog is annoying me, perhaps for the first time since I've started it, and that's a sign that I need to put it on pause for a couple of days.

While he doesn't say why he did so, it was getting pretty hot in there, a lot of Dem infighting and post-election blame game. I think for the diehard, saintly bloggers that worked so hard in this election like Atrios, it hurts to see the dirty laundry aired in public (It looks like O-dub may be feeling much the same way as Atrios -- remember, I'm just speculating about Atrios).

I say that this explosion of dissent and discussion is a good thing -- it should have happened way before this election cycle. The Democrats need to strategize without compromising core beliefs. And to do so on the most contentious issues of the day requires some serious and ugly work, like making sausage. I don't know what they were thinking, but becoming Republican-lite is not the answer. It is however, easier to cast the unpopular concerns such as civil rights for gays and Choice aside if the short term goal is to win.

We have to hash this out so that we can take on the "morality" and "ethics" that Karl Rove wants us and the flock believe we don't have. They've defined it, and the Dems let them.

Props to Derek Baker, who made a kick-ass chart, using figures from the Bush Commerce Dept to show the hypocrisy of the "moral" states that went Bush, and their rates of teen pregnancies and divorce.

Newsweek's "How He Did It" election issue's coming out. It's another slap to the face of gays, this time by Good Old Bill Clinton, in what might best be described as advising Kerry to do a "Sister Souljah" on us.
Clinton Advice Spurned. Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."

Yeah, all the centrists are willing to toss gays overboard to get a Dem elected. Thanks, Bill; at least Kerry had a line he was not willing to cross.


I'm still getting flack about gays being the cause of Kerry's defeat. I'll explain it again to some of the more simple-minded (read S-L-O-W-L-Y, you people). We didn't push any of the amendments. Folks in Massachusetts decided they were ready to tolerate gay marriage. So f*cking what. Meanwhile...

* I can still legally get fired from a job for being gay
* a transgender person can most certainly get the crap beaten out of them or worse in many parts of the country
* gays cannot adopt in many places
* gay couples in several states now cannot form private legal agreements and health care POA because of state super-DOMAs
* gay people cannot legally serve their country (not as if any of us will be running down to serve in Shrub's immoral war anytime soon; I expect a rash of gay declarations if there is a draft, too).

Being gay and lacking civil rights is about more than achieving civil marriage rights. KE04 chose not to redirect the "morality play" of any of the above arguments back to the Right in order to condemn their intolerance. That's the real failure.

The BradBlog has been pulling together stories on possible election fraud, which is also in this AP story. I just noticed that NC had a county affected by the E-vote nonsense. One county had 4530 votes eaten by the machine...totally lost. Now there's democracy at work.

There were not a lot of problems statewide, however. In my part of the state, the optical reader machines were fine. Kerry won big in the middle region, the Triad and Triangle areas. These e-vote machines are just unbelievable. The crapsters at UniLect Corp and Diebold need to be investigated.

The following link is a powerful reminder of why gay rights is about civil rights. And I'm not talking about marriage, either. Life and death. Here is just a sample:
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

On this day, the sixth anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder, I wanted to take the time to educate you of those others we have lost. Brandon Teena, Danny Overstreet, JR Warren, PFC Barry Winchell, Billy Jack Gaither, Billy Clayton, Tyra Hunter, Scotty Joe Weaver, and Roderick George are all those victims of hate crimes here in the United States, the Land of Freedom…or the freedom we continuously fight for.

• Matthew Shepard – October 1998…Most of us are aware of Matthew’s story. A young man eager to succeed in life just like the rest of us. Still young with a lot of potential; ended up being at the wrong place in a small town. Narrow minded individual seduced him as well as deceived him. After beating this individual they left him to die, offered no assistance in anyway. His murders have been tried and prosecuted and currently reside in jail, they were also young and had a life ahead of them…they no longer have that.

• Brandon Teena – December 1993…Brandon Teena, original birth name Teena Brandon. Brandon had moved from his original hometown to another nearby town to pursue life as a male. He was arrested by police who, in a news report, announced he was really a she and two weeks later at a Christmas party was raped and assaulted by two men. Despite being threatened by these men, Brandon turned them in to local authorities; who ultimately procrastinated the arrest. After Brandon’s rapist’s learned of the charges pending against them they plotted the slaying of Brandon and spent a week looking for him before murdering him and two other victims.

• Danny Overstreet – September 2000…Ronald Edward Gay was looking to “Waste some fags” on September 22nd, 2000. He entered Back Street Café and fired off either shots in a quick succession into the crowd. Ronald ended up wounding six patrons and killing Danny Overstreet.

• JR Warren – July 2000…JR was only 26 years old when his body was found beaten to death and dumped alongside a road. It at first appeared to be a hit and run accident by police and later discovered that two 17 year olds had killed this man after alleged “sex boasts” he was making against them. Both suspects no longer enjoy the freedom that we get to everyday.

• PFC Barry Winchell – July 1999…some of us may have seen the movie about 21 PFC Barry Winchell. Barry was in love with a transsexual and was consistently teased and harassed by others back at his barracks. Winchell was struggling with being gay still and was still very confused about himself. After a fellow Army member was taunted and intoxicated, he beat Barry to the point of death.
Pointed to this from the DKos diary Equality is not a wedge issue.

Abandon ship! Here's the roll call of folks expected to leave or change positions in the Bush cabinet (WP): Attorney General John Ashcroft, possibly Secretary of State Colin Powell (with Condi Rice succeeding him), Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge (leaving to make $ -- good riddance -- he can take the terror scale with him).

Time for folks to cash in.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

If you can bear it, read Bush's first post-election press conference for a taste of the humility ahead. If you can't, here are some choice bits.
I'll reach out to everyone who shares our goals. And I'm eager to start the work ahead. I'm looking forward to serving this country for four more years.

...I feel -- I feel -- I feel it is necessary to move an agenda that I told the American people I would move. Something refreshing about coming off an election, even more refreshing since we all got some sleep last night. But there's -- you -- you -- you go out and you make your case and you tell the people, "This is what I intend to do." And after hundreds of speeches and three debates and interviews and the whole process, where you keep basically saying the same thing over and over again, that when -- when that -- when you win, there is a -- a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that's what I intend to tell the Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let's work -- and the people made it clear what they wanted -- now let's work together. And it's one of the wonderful -- it's one of the -- it's like earning capital.

You ask, do I feel free? Let me put it to you this way. I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened in -- after the 2000 election. I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election, and I'm going to spend it for -- for what -- what I told the people I'd spend it on, which is -- you've heard the agenda -- Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror.

Oh, and he doesn't take followup questions. New policy to avoid having to remember what he said or possibly get confused, I suppose.

Let's get raw. We all know the states that voted Bush must be full of stupid people. Well, the IQ numbers tell it all.

The Blue Lemur reports that there are serious concerns about exit polls and ‘actual’ results don’t match and that Evoting states show greater discrepancy. There are irregularities all over the place. I don't know how far anyone can take this argument, but it is a fact that Diebold, manufacturer of many of the Evoting machines was a big GOP donor, and he publicly stated that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."


You got to love Atrios. Go to his site; he's got this hysterical thread going on a proposal for the Dems to toss out there, the "Tax Fairness Act of 2005."
This Act would mandate that, within some reasonable margin of error, your state should get as much back from the feds as is sent to them in taxes. It's time to end this kind of geographic welfare!

He then lists the states that are deadbeats for Bush (ones that receive >110%+ of their tax money back in government largesse -- backwoods like MS, and AL and all the Red ones you imagine), non-deadbeats for Bush (NC falls in this category), deadbeats for Kerry (like Maryland), and non-deadbeats for Kerry, that pay their way and subsidize the losers, such as NY and CA.

God, the depravity never stops coming. These Guantanamo Abuses sound like they will rival Abu Ghraib.
...Only four prisoners have been formally charged at Guantanamo, where most are held without charge or access to lawyers. The military has reported 34 suicide attempts among detainees, though none has been reported since January.

...In one case, a female interrogator took off her uniform top to expose her T-shirt to a detainee, ran her fingers through his hair and climbed on his lap in April 2003. A supervisor monitoring the session terminated it, and the woman was reprimanded and sent for more training, the military said.

The same month, an interrogator told military police to repeatedly bring a detainee from a standing to kneeling position, so much that his knees were bruised, the government said. The interrogator got a written reprimand and Miller reportedly stopped use of that technique.

Also that month, a guard was charged with dereliction of duty and assault after a detainee assaulted another guard. After the detainee was subdued, the guard punched the prisoner with his fist. He was demoted.

In a separate case, a guard was charged with assault after he sprayed a detainee with a hose when the prisoner allegedly tried to throw water from his toilet at him in September 2002. The guard was reduced in rank and reassigned.

Another female interrogator wiped dye from a red magic marker on a detainee's shirt, telling him it was blood, after he allegedly spat on her. She received a verbal reprimand in early 2003.

In March 2003, a military policeman used pepper spray on a detainee allegedly preparing to throw unidentified liquid on an officer. The policeman was acquitted by a court martial.

Sick, sick, sick. Rumsfeld and these folks have put our troops in danger of being abused like this, since we're setting such a shining example of the Geneva Conventions. Oh wait, the Bush admin has decided they do not apply in Guantanamo or Iraq.

This is good news, but then again, it could be bad news. Ashcroft Likely to Leave AG Post. I've been hearing rumors that Bush would consider him for a Supreme Court appointment. That would be one godly (pun intended) nightmare. In the AP story he's described as "exhausted from leading the Justice Department." Crap, I'd be tired too if I spent all the time he has trying to roll back our privacy rights with the damn Patriot Act. They speculate Rudy Giuliani as a replacement, but that seems like a real step down for him -- all risk and no reward being tied to the Bush administration. There's no place to go but down.

More on the shrinking of the Coalition of the Willing. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands are taking a hike, and Japan's thinking hard about it. (AP)

In a blow to U.S. efforts to keep countries from deserting the multinational force, Hungary said this week it won't keep troops there beyond March 31. The Czechs plan to pull out by the end of February, the Dutch soon afterward. And Japan is feeling pressure to withdraw.

There could be even more troop pullouts after Iraq holds elections in January and nations feel their obligations have ended. The United States has about 142,000 troops in Iraq.

"We should never have sent troops to Iraq. Bringing them back now is already too late," said Janos Fekete, a Budapest shopkeeper.

Pray for her fight to beat it. Elizabeth Edwards Has Breast Cancer.

The Rovian right hijacked an issue that was occurring locally in MA -- gay marriage -- and decided to co-opt "values" as they define them. Dems choked in terms of a coherent response to the GOP, which is why we are discussing these issues post-mortem. The discussions about strategy and philosophy should have occurred a long time ago.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that will change hearts and minds about gay people is for all of them to come out.

Gay folks are everywhere, and all those that voted their fears in this election likely work with, are friends with or are related to someone that is gay. And, given their political viewpoint, probably don't know that person is gay. If you're in a virulently homophobix red state, you're likely closeted by rational and irrational fears about coming out, and that is what the homophobes want. They have a hard time dealing with the issue if they know someone.

Like the Cheneys, who are struggling with this in a way that is both realistic and cowardly regarding Mary, the GOP hypocrites are fine if no one knows about "the family's shame", even your daughter was a professional queer working for Coors. Obviously, if your job or life is at risk, coming out presents serious dangers. But ask anyone that has passed through that fire. No one who has would ever want to live in the life-killing place that is the closet.

If people come out, the homophobes will have no place to hide.

Resources for coming out

Lunchbreak [additional] post-mortem. We came close in NC to making a change and we voted in bigger numbers than ever. And despite the gay-baiting in those 11 states that had amendments, the sizeable queer community and allies fought mightily and successfully to keep an amendment off the ballot. I am sure NC would have been state #12 to pass one if it were not for the progressives here.

The GOP knows this state's politics is rapidly changing with the influx of Yankees here to the medical, high-tech and academic areas, along with increasing urbanization. Julia Boseman, an out lesbian, was elected to the State Senate on Tuesday, beating homophobe Woody White, who ran a nasty campaign.

Not all of the South is populated by inbred, toothless, fundamentalist Bush voters. There's here -- I've seen them -- but the quite-large pockets of intelligent, progressive activism are here as well. The center of NC consistently votes Democrat. We should not be abandoned by the Dems over and over in national races. This group needs to be cultivated and energized. NC has 15 electoral votes, people. When you've got parties cherry-picking and going to places like Hawaii to look for votes, for christsakes, it's worth trying to work on a state where you can actually make some headway. Please let the national party find someone better than Terry McAuliffe to lead. He sucked.

Durham Herald-Sun:
...In Durham -- even without a compelling local race -- 109,775 people cast ballots, or about 71.9 percent of registered voters. The previous high percentage mark in recent history was 70.5 percent, set in 1992. The record in raw numbers was 87,467 voters in 2000.

...Durham's unofficial returns don't include provisional ballots, such as those cast by people whose names weren't found in poll books. The figures show that about 68 percent of Durham voters chose Sen. John Kerry, while about 32 percent voted for President Bush. Libertarian Michael Badnarik won 374 votes, while 258 wrote in a candidate.

The returns lean more Democratic than those in the last presidential election, when 63 percent of Durham presidential voters chose Democrat Al Gore, while about 35 percent voted for Bush. Still, other Democratic candidates on Tuesday fared slightly better in Durham than Kerry.

Gov. Mike Easley won 73 percent of the votes and U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles drew 69 percent.

About 61.3 percent of Durham County voters are registered Democrats, while 19.3 percent are Republicans and 19.1 percent are unaffiliated.

In Orange County, Kerry garnered 59.6 percent of Tuesday's votes while Bush won 39.7 percent. But those figures don't include roughly half of the county's ballots that were cast in early voting.

Some news items to chew on. Heading to work now...

"How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB? -- British tabloid Daily Mirror

* And what does the world think about our re-selection of Bush? Take a look. It's not pretty. Not that Bush cares what other countries think anyway.

* What's up for the second term? Here's the laundry list that Bush is working on as his top priorities. 51% of you asked for this. (AP):
He pledged to keep up the fight against terrorism, press for stable democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, simplify the tax code, allow younger workers to invest some of their Social Security withholdings in the stock market, continue to raise accountability standards in public schools and 'uphold our deepest values and family and faith.

Other items include reforms to the nation's intelligence community, halving the record $413 billion deficit, expanding health care coverage, a constitutional ban on gay marriage and moving 'this goodhearted nation toward a culture of life.

* Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is considering a switch to the Democratic Party. The moderate Chafee stated before the election that he couldn't vote for Bush because of his stance on gay marriage, abortion, Iraq, the deficit, and so on. Basically all the formerly known as conservative, small government, out-of-your-private-life principles the GOP used to adhere to before the neocon wingnut movement took hold.

* Arafat is in a coma. Sounds like someone in the Palestinian Authority better have a succession plan. Oh, and there are rumors floating around that the reason they are being vague about what's wrong with him -- "a blood disorder" -- is that he has AIDS. This rumor is alleged by the chief deputy of foreign intelligence for Romania under Ceaucescu, who says had recordings to prove it. If it were true, it would be explosive revelation, causing upheaval in his deeply homophobic community. Actually, it's unlikely that this kind of information would ever be made public, because of that impact.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm in a foul mood, folks, and as anyone who knows me well, know I have a high get-pissed threshold..

What is maddening about discussing the election debacle with other Dems in the blogosphere, who are understandably upset at losing, is that gays didn't drive "push marriage" during the campaign, we laid low during the Dem convention, gave sh*tloads of money to elect KE04, didn't push for them to have gay marriage on the platform, and all we're getting is blame when the blame lies elsewhere -- in the homophobic GOP and the Democratic parties.

It's clear from a tour around many blogs today that any amount of tolerance of gays was too much for some Dems in the party, and it's surfacing now that some Dems are looking for a scapegoat for KE04's defeat.

It's not that gays need to be wholly embraced by the party, but damn, who wants to be slapped in the face as the cause of election woes last night, instead of say:

1) Bob Shrum, eternal loser at running campaigns;
2) Terry McAuliffe, who has run the party deeper into the ground with each election cycle, or
3) KE04, for not even attempting to reclaim the "morality" mantle by pointing out the hypocrisy of the Religious Right.

All you "gay blame game" f*ckers lay off already, and take a look in the mirror. We've all got to take on Bush and the extremists without compromising our principles. Turn their game back on them.

End of that rant.

Fear and Self-Loathing. Tell me who are these losers? OK, one is Mary Cheney. More than 20% of gays vote for Bush (Advocate).
The president received between 21% and 23% of the GLBT vote, about same percentage he received in the 2000 election, according to data from CNN and The Washington Post. Challenger John Kerry received a slightly higher percentage of votes from gay Americans than Gore did four years ago, according to the numbers--77% versus the 70% that were cast for Gore in 2000. As in the previous race, about 4% of voters identified as GLBT. Kerry picked up more votes from those who voted for independent Ralph Nader in 2000.

"I think that the difference for many gay voters was the war on terrorism," said Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the gay political group Log Cabin Republicans. "They went to the ballot box and voted on broader issues." Guerriero said that a year and a half ago--before the Federal Marriage Amendment became a cultural lightning rod--he estimated that upwards of 40% of gay voters would have picked Bush.

The strongest support of the president from GLBT voters came from those living in the South and the rural Midwest. For example, in the Northeast, only about 8% of gay and lesbian voters picked Bush, while that figure soared to about 30% in the South.

We need a laugh. Check out these cartoons (posted on a Dkos thread)...

United States of Canada/Jesusland

"The Deciding Factor: Moral Values"

Geez. Blogger was down for a good while today. I've wanted to post this more-involved essay on our new nightmare.

"The results just go to show that the citizens ... clearly understand the value of natural marriage," said Christina Rondeau, director of the North Dakota Family Alliance, a group that supported the amendment. (AP)

The first thing I thought as the pundits were explaining this "moral issues gap" at 2AM is that the Democratic party is going to tell queer folks to sit down and shut up so they can find a way to win back the presidency. After all, the "marriage protection" amendments passed in all 11 states on which it was on the ballot -- that signals to them that "gays pushed the envelope too far" for our increasingly fundamentalist population.

And sadly, I'm seeing the blame game all over the blogosphere too...

THIS is what's to blame, not the homophobes? Get a backbone people.

Lo and behold, as I predicted, I surfed along and came across a post at Oliver Willis, by ricknro:
I think gay marriage torpedoed us, especially in Ohio. Now, I support a person marrying whomever they choose but America ain't ready for gay marriage. It's a wedge issue that made people who otherwise might not have voted come out to the polls in the 10 or 11 states where it was on the ballot. And why'll they were at it, those close minded conservatives figured that they might as well vote for the crackpot that supported a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage for president.

I think the gay marriage advocates are selfish, single issue voters who pushed an issue that America wasn't ready for. It took us down in Ohio, in my opinion, and gave us another four years of Bush. Gay marriage advocates need to go away for now. America isn't ready. We have to get progressives into power first before we take on such a divisive issue.

and this, on DKos:
...Gay rights issues should be ignored and dropped by any future national candidates for President. It should become a litmus test.

I'm now open to an Anti-Gay, Pro-Abortion Democrat in 2008 for President. The fact is, the coalition they now have, we've thrown everything we have at it. The only way for sane democratic priciples such as eduction, health care and social security to win is if we do it by dropping Gays and Abortion.

I'm pro-gay with gay parents, and I support Roe v. Wade, but if we are to have a democratic majority again, there must be sacrifice, and these issues must be dropped, and dropped in a public way soon.
by Steven R on Wed Nov 3rd, 2004 at 13:15:31 AST

It's not the gay community at fault here. It's the Democrats' timid response to the Religious Right's infiltration of the White House and the GOP, which has resulted in open intolerance and bigotry, and the blurring of the line between church and state, courtesy of Rove and Co. Just because the majority of the voters are "not ready for" gay rights, it does not mean they are correct in attempting to restrict them outright with super-DOMAs. Hypocrisy abounds.

Democrats and tolerant people of faith, should never cease to stand up for those in the minority and for our core beliefs of inclusion. People in the faith community obviously struggled on both sides of the black civil rights movement, each side invoking their religious beliefs as justification for their position on integration.

I think the fact that most of the Dem candidates came off as queasy and slippery when addressing the gay marriage issue only emboldened Rove and Co to press it harder. It was clear that most Dems up for election in the red states felt gay rights was a "loser issue" -- they wanted our votes and our money, but were willing to cast gays and lesbians overboard in order to get elected (this was the case late in the game in NC for Bowles and Easley). At least the GOP was consistent in its beliefs and actions.

Maybe it's an abstract concept to some people, but the impact of religious fundamentalism on the GLBT community is already reality in Virginia (and now Ohio) because of their super-DOMA -- a gay couple cannot even enter into any legal agreements that approximate marriage, including one involving property rights, and employers cannot grant partner health benefits. Ohio's governor and business leaders realized their DOMA was too restrictive and didn't endorse it because of the potential effect it would have on attracting businesses to the state. The homophobes threw that logic out the window, voting their fears.

The moral values of Democrats are ones that need to be framed correctly for that audience of voters that feels the party has gone secular. The GOP has plenty of immorality to show for itself regarding the environment, a living wage, stem cell research, etc. And don't forget the unbelievable immorality of the situation this administration created in Iraq.

I suppose the solution for gays and lesbians, since we're causing so much trouble for the Democratic party, is to move to Canada -- where marriage is legal -- and wait for folks in the U.S. to grow up.

Married in Vancouver, July 2004


I'd also like to post part of a DKos diary by RNinNC on this topic. It sums up the frustrations about this equally well, from a personal perspective:
I'm afraid for my future in this country. There is no way to foresee the destruction to the American way of life which will occur in the next four years. I don't want to see it.

Last night, any hope of ever being anything but a second rate citizen went out the window for me. I will never be able to marry. I will never have spousal rights. Hell, new sodomy laws are likely to arise making my very LIFE a felony once again. Why should I try to wait this out? Im 36. This will not be fixed for at least 25 years considering Supreme Court appointments.

In my one and only life here on this planet, I demand the right to pursue happiness. This administration has destroyed even the possiblity of this pursuit for me. How can I have a future among the kind of people who would elect this man, who would blindly hate me, who would amend the very Constitution to ensure my subservient place in the societal hierarchy?

Im looking at nursing jobs in Canada and Europe online this morning. Abandon fucking ship.

Here's another good DKos diary.


And Sully puts in his two cents.
THE IMPACT ON GAYS: I've been trying to think of what to say about what appears to be the enormous success the Republicans had in using gay couples' rights to gain critical votes in key states. In eight more states now, gay couples have no relationship rights at all. Their legal ability to visit a spouse in hospital, to pass on property, to have legal protections for their children has been gutted. If you are a gay couple living in Alabama, you know one thing: your family has no standing under the law; and it can and will be violated by strangers. I'm not surprised by this. When you put a tiny and despised minority up for a popular vote, the minority usually loses. But it is deeply, deeply dispiriting nonetheless. A lot of gay people are devastated this morning, and terrified. We have seen, and not for the first time, how using fear of a minority can be so effective a tool in building a political movement. The single most important issue for Republican voters, according to exit polls, was not the war on terror or Iraq or the economy. It was "moral values." Karl Rove understood the American psyche better than I did. By demonizing gay couples, the Republicans were able to bring in whole swathes of new anti-gay believers into their party. With new senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, two of the most anti-gay politicians in America, we can only brace ourselves for what is now coming.

Kerry needs Ohio, and he won't get it unless they go to the provisional ballots. If it ends up a 269 tie, then Bush wins anyway, since the House would vote, and it's GOP-dominated.

It doesn't look good folks, and watch for the blame game tomorrow. I'm hearing it already. Folks on MSNBC and CNN are talking about the cultural/moral issues factor in this race, meaning the hate amendments -- the subtle spin is that gays pushed the envelope too far for our increasingly fundamentalist population.

It's open season on homos now if those provisional ballots don't come through. In any case, it proves Karl Rove's plan to put hate amendments on the ballot in critical states was brilliant and evil. The base came out, and frankly, we're outnumbered.

What the Democratic party will likely do now is tell queer folks to sit down and shut up so they can find a way to win back the presidency. Just watch. Our civil rights will take a backseat unless we fight for them.

States like NC, where we fought to keep a super DOMA off the ballot will now find ourselves fighting the state legislator wingnuts, who have vowed to bring the issue back after the election. Even our re-elected Dem governor Easley, caved and said he would support a state amendment in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. :(

Vancouver, anyone?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's a sad, but not surprising day in American when Voters in 9 states OK gay-marriage ban (AP).
The amendments — on the ballots in 11 states — won easy approval in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Ohio and Utah. Exit polls showed the ban winning by 4-1 in Mississippi, 3-to-1 in Georgia and 3-to-2 in Ohio.

The Ohio measure, considered the broadest of the 11 because it barred any legal status that "intends to approximate marriage," gathered equal support from men and women, blacks and whites.

Still to come were results from North Dakota and Oregon.

There's more commentary at AmericaBlog.

A report from MSNBC :

Check out CSPAN's dynamic election results map.

Another update from The Raw Story:
Zogby calls election for Kerry, 311-213 EVS W/14 up in the air...
Kerry up in Florida: 50/49 - Ohio: 50/49 - Michigan: 51/47
Penn.: 54/45 Iowa: 50/48 - Wisc.: 51/46 - Minnesota: 57/42
Bush's Latino support is lower than 2000, exits show


Holy crap! Look what Slate has for NC on exits -- Kerry 49, Bush 51 -- within striking distance!

Daily Kos and MyDD are having a hard time with the server demand, but this gem is up:
Ohio - African American precincts are performing at 106% what we expected, based on historical numbers. Hispanic precincts are at 144% what we expected. Precincts that went for Gore are turning out 8% higher then those that went Bush in 2000. Democratic base precincts are performing 15% higher than GOP base precincts.

Florida - Dem base precincts are performing 14% better than Bush base precincts. In precincts that went for Gore, they are doing 6% better than those that went for Bush. African American precincts at 109%, Hispanic precincts at 106%.

Pennsylvania - African American precincts at 102% of expectations, Hispanics at 136% of expectations. The Gore precincts are doing 4 percent better than bush precincts.

Michigan - Democratic base precincts are 8% better than GOP base states. Gore precincts are 5% better than Bush.

The Raw Story has info on exits, though these are notoriously inaccurate at this stage...
Kerry up in MI 51-48, WI 52-48, PA 60-40, OH 52-48, FL 51-48
Developing: Unconfirmed second round of exits give Kerry slight edge: Leads U.S.: 50-49, FL: 50-49, OH: 50-49, Down NM: 50-48

Why today is so important.

I voted early, as I posted in an earlier entry, but I saved my "I Voted" tag to wear today. :)

Durham County in NC has had unprecedented participation in the 2 weeks of early voting prior to today, the Big Day. Almost 70% of those that voted in 2000 in Durham cast their ballots early. With this morning's turnout, it tells me that enthusiasm for change is in the air. Even though my state is predicted to go Red, it is going to be close. I still hold out a bit of hope that there could be a Kerry upset.

This AM, while driving to work (around 7:30), I passed a school and the lines were out the door and down the sidewalk, and the cars were still pulling into an overflowing lot. I couldn't believe it. All of my friends were speculating that because of the explosion of early votes at only 4 polling places, that today lines would be manageable since all the precinct stations would be open. We were wrong.

Everyone knows how important this race is.

I stopped by a Hardee's to get an iced tea to wake myself up, and I held the door for several elderly black women that came in with me, and they all had their "I Voted" stickers on. One spotted mine and said "I'm proud to wear this today -- it's my badge of courage." She was beaming.


Voting here has gone smoothly. There's been no scandals of voter intimidation or hanky panky with technical issues. Durham uses the optical scan technology (where you fill in a ballot connecting an arrow to indicate your choice, and you insert it into the scanner). The only matter of concern was the fact that the ballot itself was potentially confusing. There is an option to vote a straight party line on the ticket, but what could throw a voter off is that the non-partisan judicial races and the presidential choice itself do not count if you voted this way. You have to mark those arrows separately to vote in those races. The local PACs have been telling all voters not to use the straight ticket option and to take the time to mark for each race. Voting guides handed out at the polling stations alert people to this as well.

So, our democracy, from the location at which I type this, is working. I feel less confident about this process as I read about what is going on around the country. I am particularly disheartened, but not surprised, by some of the tactics the GOP is using to scare or intimidate voters away from the polls. Passing out flyers with false information that blacks cannot vote if their parking tickets aren't paid up. Phone calls to voters with gay-baiting messages that a Kerry win will guarantee gay marriage. That's particularly prevalent where super DOMAs (defense of marriage amendments) are on the ballot. This is the GOP's get out the vote effort. It's sad, and antithetical to the principles our country was founded on.


It's time for a change. So much has gone wrong in the last four years, it's hard to know where to start. Just a sampling...

* September 11. We now know the government had enough knowledge to have prevented this. The president didn't even have the cojones to testify, under oath, or ALONE to the 9/11 Commission.

* The Iraq war. Yeah, we took out the wrong guy. It'll cost us $300 billion, and we aren't ready for another military confrontation because we are overdeployed. A draft may be around the corner.

* The abuse of our National Guard and our troops. Endless tours of duty, not enough armor for Humvees or their bodies, not enough ammo or working equipment. How can Bush ask these citizen soldiers to bear this burden and say he supports the troops? There were no WMDs.

* The abuse at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib . Apparently, this administration doesn't feel the Geneva Conventions apply to the U.S. in the War Against Terror. I hope they like it as we see more heads literally roll and our soldiers are captured and tortured as we set a good example for our enemies.

* The Patriot Act and its gutting of our rights. Ashcroft and Co. can watch where we surf, enter our homes without notifying us, and detain indefinitely anyone with a suspicious-sounding name that ends up on their list. And this is how they would like to safeguard our freedom? And they're just getting started.

* Airport non-security: The world is insane if you can still legally take cigarette lighters on the plane to light your shoe bomb, people still manage to get machetes and weapons aboard a plane, and your 90-year-old granny gets to be strip searched in the terminal.

* Culture of greed (i.e. Halliburton, Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, et. al.). Kenny Boy Lay and his minions are not doing hard time, and people have lost their pensions, jobs and respect for the companies they toiled for. When you have companies like Enron profitting from the power crisis in California, and Halliburton winning blood-money, no-bid contracts in Iraq that fleece the taxpayer, and companies relocating offshore to avoid taxes, that's scandalous. The Bush admin has done nothing to stop this.

* The explosion of HIV transmission in minority communities. All but ignored is the explosion of HIV in heterosexual black women. It's getting little attention by either party, but Bush has had four years to ignore the problem. Trust me, if this was spreading in the boardrooms of America, it would be priority #1.

* The hijacking of the Republican party by religious zealots. The Bush admin has embraced the extreme right and its belief that tolerance is relative, based on whether you are born again. These people see no dividing line between church and state and Bush has appointed people like John Ashcroft that see no reason to stop this trend.

* The incessant attempts to write discrimination in our Constitution. Marriage is both a civil and religious institution. There is no reason to attempt to either amend the constitution to add discrimination against gays, or to even, as Congress tried this summer, prevent it from being heard judicially. This is hate, and the Bush administration has fostered it for political gain. With the balance of the Supreme Court as fragile as it is, a Bush re-selection is a frightening prospect.


President Bush and his campaign have accused John Kerry of doing "anything to win." Funny, it seems that's been their goal since day 1 -- this administration has a difficult relationship with the truth.

* Swift Boaters -- they didn't denounce them when caught in lies.

* Bush's own questionable past -- his draft dodging time in the Texas Air National Guard is so shaky that even today, there are "long-lost" papers about his record still dribbling out. He's no hero.

* The debates -- I lose count of the number of lies told by Bush and Cheney. From the ridiculous -- "I didn't meet you till you walked on stage tonight (Cheney to John Edwards)" to Bush's easily debunked claim that he never said that he didn't give much thought about Osama.

It's as if lying is the status quo for this administration, regardless of whether the prevarications can be disproven. It's shameless and makes you wonder about the litany of lies we've been told about matters of actual consequence -- such as those surrounding WMD, the Patriot Act, and so many other issues.

In sum, whatever faults John Kerry may have as a person or politician, the man has served his country honorably, and is more than capable of handling the job. That is the one thing Karl Rove or Dick Cheney cannot convince any clear-minded person of regarding George W. Bush.

Please let it be Kerry in a landslide.

I pray that our country, so divided on so many political and social issues, can heal after this election. I am not confident that this will happen, since our news and media culture has evolved to thrive on conflict and polarization as sport. I can only hope that violence will not occur on either side.

I'll end with a quote from Rush Limbaugh, of all people, which sums up a good chunk of the electorate (though he was talking about the Left, of course), but it applies to the sad state of affairs today with the average Bush voter. And roughly half the country will be voting for him.
The people are too blind or too uninformed or too uneducated or too ignorant or too whatever to see the threat that faces them because they refuse to take a look at it. That's the job that we all have. That's what you do when you fight for your country: You fight for everybody in it.

Pam's House Blend

Monday, November 01, 2004

Early vote shenanigans -- 13K in Florida have to be recounted after an optical scanner's memory card fails. Hey, at least they have a ballot to send through the machine again, as opposed to those e-vote machines there.
About 13,000 ballots were removed from an early-voting site in Daytona Beach, Fla., Monday and rushed to a secure vault in Deland after an optical scan machine failed, according to Local 6 News.

Local 6 News has learned that a memory card, on the machine failed and all 13,000 votes must be recounted.

A computer error is to blame for the failure of the memory card which records the voting data, Local 6 News reported.

When the error was discovered Monday, representatives from both parties were notified.

Both sides then witnessed the removal of the ballots and their storage in the vault.

The canvassing board will meet Monday to discuss how to recount the ballots.

Freeper alert. They are in full panic mode.
To: The_Republican

You folks out there don't realize it, but you are voting for the future of America tomorrow. If John Kerry wins, Osama bin Laden and his Arab terrorists will have won the war against the United States. I can assure you that once John Kerry is President we will immediately return to the America of Bill Clinton and his ilk and start following a pre 911 course of action, which means no action. Oh, everything will look rosy and the Arab terrorists will even moderate and behave. But, it is all an act. They will set the trap and spring it when retard Kerry and his boys least expect it. The attack will be here in the USA and it will be massive. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Americans will die. I know this sounds like doomsday, but if you just follow the terrorist strategy, you will see that it leads to two places, the destruction of the state of Israel and the destruction of the United States of America. Any American voter that has, or is voting for John Kerry has voted for Osama bin Laden and their own doom!!! You know, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. God help America!!! Lord, forgive these Democrat, Liberal, Traitor fools, they know not what they do!!!



You are so right. Kerry as president will mean death to hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans. But first, he'll play out the peace at any price game with bin Laden, et. al. We will give up freedom and sovereignty to these cave dwelling ignoramuses. Inch by inch, they'll take over this country until Islam rules. Taliban redux. But by then Kerry and the missus and Edwards and that fat harridan he's married to will have fled to Capri or the Cayman Islands. We'll have to fight a determined, brainwashed, homicidal enemy entrenched among us, and it won't be a walk in the park.

Just so you know, the AP will be the sole source of the vote count.
The AP will use a network of nearly 5,000 stringers, who will be stationed at county election centers in every state. They will phone in results to one of several vote entry centers, where clerks will enter the numbers into AP's computerized tabulation system.

Those returns, from about 6,000 races in all, will then be delivered to newspapers, Web sites and broadcasters, including the television networks, in a variety of formats.

In recent elections, AP was one of two organizations collecting the vote nationwide. The other was Voter News Service, a consortium of AP and five television networks which also conducted exit polls. VNS was disbanded after it ran into problems in 2000 and 2002, and the networks turned to AP for vote counting, while hiring two veteran pollsters to conduct the exit polls.

AP's system has been enhanced this year with numerous safeguards to ensure a smooth and accurate operation.

"We've added more redundancy and quality control to an already well-established vote tallying operation," said John Reid, AP's senior vice president for Services & Technology. "For instance, AP's systems contain voting patterns from past elections, and if a number is outside of those parameters it's double-checked for accuracy."

And I thought they shared the same religious values...I guess Tony Blair has finally gotten tired of licking Shrub's boots. he's backing Kerry.

Ann Coulter = evil and sluttish GOP dumbass. From Media Matters for America:
"On October 31, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter said that she does not 'really care about the electorate.' Coulter was a guest on FOX News Channel's At Large With Geraldo Rivera when the following exchange occurred:

RIVERA (host): Are you, Ann Coulter, energized by the energy of the electorate? I mean, there are all these kids registering, all these other people registering.

COULTER: I don't really care about the electorate, but I have two points I want to respond to. One is on the first debate --

RIVERA: You don't really care about the electorate? Oh, okay. "

William V. D'Antonio, in a piece for The Boston Globe , pulls interesting data together on the hypocrisy of the bible belt when it comes to "protecting marriage" and divorce rates. I am just damn tired of the Bible Belt trying to restrict my rights when they cannot even take care of the state of their own marriages.
The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

But don't take the US government's word for it. Take a look at the findings from the George Barna Research Group. George Barna, a born-again Christian whose company is in Ventura, Calif., found that Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates.

The Associated Press, using data supplied by the US Census Bureau, found that the highest divorce rates are to be found in the Bible Belt. The AP report stated that "the divorce rates in these conservative states are roughly 50 percent above the national average of 4.2 per thousand people." The 10 Southern states with some of the highest divorce rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. By comparison nine states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest divorce rates: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

How to explain these differences? The following factors provide a partial answer:

* More couples in the South enter their first marriage at a younger age.

* Average household incomes are lower in the South.

* Southern states have a lower percentage of Roman Catholics, "a denomination that does not recognize divorce." Barna's study showed that 21 percent of Catholics had been divorced, compared with 29 percent of Baptists.

* Education. Massachusetts has about the highest rate of education in the country, with 85 percent completing high school. For Texas the rate is 76 percent. One third of Massachusetts residents have completed college, compared with 23 percent of Texans, and the other Northeast states are right behind Massachusetts.

For all the Bible Belt talk about family values, it is the people from Kerry's home state, along with their neighbors in the Northeast corridor, who live these values. Indeed, it is the "blue" states, led led by Massachusetts and Connecticut, that have been willing to invest more money over time to foster the reality of what it means to leave no children behind. And they have been among the nation's leaders in promoting a living wage as their goal in public employment. The money they have invested in their future is known more popularly as taxes; these so-called liberal people see that money is their investment to help insure a compassionate, humane society. Family values are much more likely to be found in the states mistakenly called out-of-the-mainstream liberal. By their behavior you can know them as the true conservatives. They are showing how to conserve family life through the way they live their family values.

Rehnquist isn't reporting for work today. Did you really think he was? The man is freaking 80 years old and has thyroid cancer. Yes, Bush wants you not to notice this is an important development. VOTE.
Rehnquist, 80, revealed the cancer diagnosis a week ago, prompting speculation about a court vacancy for the first time in more than a decade. The winner of Tuesday's presidential election is expected to name one or more justices to a court that is deeply divided on issues like abortion, affirmative action and the death penalty.

In the statement, Rehnquist said he was receiving outpatient radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer of the thyroid, a gland in the neck that produces hormones to help regulate the body's use of energy, is generally treatable but can be more aggressive in older people.

"According to my doctors, my plan to return to the office today was too optimistic," he said. "While at home, I am working on court matters, including opinions for cases already argued. I am, and will, continue to be in close contact with my colleagues, my law clerks, and members of the Supreme Court staff.

Rehnquist had been hoarse for several weeks before his hospitalization at the National Naval Medical Center in suburban Bethesda, Md. on Oct. 22. He had the tracheotomy a day later.

UPDATE: Here is more evidence and speculation that his condition is more serious: "The combination of radiation and chemotherapy raises the suspicion that Rehnquist's cancer is not one of the common types that are usually easily treatable, said Dr. Joseph Geradts of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

The most common types are papillary and follicular cancer, and they are generally responsive to radioactive iodine, Geradts said. Chemotherapy could be needed if it is the more aggressive form, called anaplastic, he said.

He noted that the gland is often removed as part of cancer treatment, but in cases of anaplastic cancer the thyroid sometimes cannot be readily removed.

The presence of a tracheotomy to ease Rehnquist's breathing also might indicate anaplastic cancer, Geradts said, since that form can squeeze the trachea. "

Three more Baghdad kidnappings -- American and foreign workers at a Saudi company. (AP). You think their ready for elections over there, Shrub?

Not an endorsement the Bushies would like right now: India Inc. roots for Bush, seen favouring outsourcing:
"Bush's "return to power would be good for India as he is for outsourcing to low-cost countries like India," Amit Verma, economist at the Confederation of Indian Industry, the leading business lobby, told AFP."

Wonder what Ohioans think of this -- their economy was a big loser from outsourcing.

More voter fraud and suppression all over. It really makes you pray for a decisive Kerry victory so we don't have to deal with fallout from this sh*t. (NYT):
In Lake County, Ohio, officials say at least a handful of voters have reported receiving a notice on phony board of elections letterhead saying that anyone who had registered through a variety of Democratic-leaning groups would not be allowed to vote this year.

In Pennsylvania, an official of the state Republican Party said it sent out 130,000 letters congratulating newly registered voters but that 10,000 were returned, indicating that the people had died or that the address was nonexistent. Mark Pfeifle, the Republican spokesman, said the numbers showed that in their zeal to register new voters, Democratic-aligned groups had committed fraud.

And in Michigan, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land said she had to put out a statement in mid-October about where to send absentee ballots after voters in the Ann Arbor area received calls telling them to mail the ballots to the wrong address.

...Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that runs a hot line for reports of problems like missing absentee ballots and long lines at polling places, reported yesterday that of 53,252 calls received nationwide, 8,658 have been from Florida, the state where the bitter recount took place in 2000.