An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

U.S. Boosts Tsunami Aid Tenfold to $350M

Friday, December 31, 2004

Guess Bush decided to look under the mattress. I cannot help but laugh at Chimpy's description of his brother's "expertise" as he sends him over there in the U.S. delegation. Talk about craven politics. (AP):
"Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead," Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.

...White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy, who read the president's statement to reporters on the phone, did not disclose details of where the additional U.S. aid was being found in government coffers. He said, however, that the administration was talking with congressional officials about replenishing funds being used to back the tsunami aid pledge.

They're in good hands now...right?

The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has experience with extensive hurricane damage in Florida, will travel with Powell overseas. A congressional delegation headed by Rep. Jim Leach (news, bio, voting record), R-Iowa, a former U.S. foreign service officer, is scheduled to visit Thailand and Sri Lanka next week.

I can't believe this is happening - beach bumming in Thailand

Left: Aerial view of people sunbathing next to Patong beach, Thailand, four days after a tsunami hit the area. Right: rotting bodies being buried in mass graves. (Reuters)

With 121,000 dead (and rising), people apparently didn't have a second thought of vacationing in this disaster area. I don't see how this is safe; there are probably dead bodies still washing ashore, and how is the drinking water and sanitation OK? There is a serious risk of communicable diseases in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

I don't even want to talk about the moral issue of being able to vacation conscience-free while people are sick and dying, starving and homeless just miles from you. Yes, these countries count on tourism dollars as an essential chunk of their economies, but this is not the best way to help these people out at this time -- by putting additional stress on basic services.

What is predictable is that the governments of these nations are downplaying the impact of of the tsunami because of that dependency on tourists and they won't care if it has an adverse impact on locals. (AP):
While foreign survivors of the ocean's onslaught were put up in an international school complete with beds, TVs and Internet connections, Thais from a devastated fishing village slept outside, many without blankets, burning wood to keep warm and keep mosquitos at bay.

..."No one came to help, we just helped each other out," said 65-year-old Yokhin Chuaynui, whose home in Ban Nam Khem was destroyed. "When injured Thais went to the hospital, if they weren't about to die they helped the Westerners first."

...Robert Eunson, 52, from Yorkshire, northern England, said that "the greatest need should be given the greatest care," but he acknowledged there was an element of self-interest in Thai authorities' rush to help foreigners.

"Tourism is so important to them so it's a hierarchy," he said.

Jeanette Dombrowe, 32, a German native who has lived for years on the Thai island of Koh Payam, agreed.

"The villagers are second-class victims, but if we don't look after the Westerners the nation could lose its tourism - so the villagers have to understand," she said.

Want to know who's contributing to the Presidential Inauguration festivities?

Here's the list. I wonder how many of them have given to tsunami relief?
GMAC Horsham PA $100,000

Exxon Mobil Corporation Washington DC $250,000

Kojaian Ventures, LLC Bloomfield Hill MI $250,000

Nuclear Energy Institute Washington DC $100,000

Occidental Petroleum Corporation Los Angeles CA $250,000

S. Davis Phillips High Point NC $250,000

Al Hoffman, Jr. Trust Fort Myers FL $100,000

Rooney Holdings, Inc. Tulsa OK $250,000

Altria Corporate Services, Inc. New York NY $250,000

Tom Benson Metairie LA $50,000

Bensco, Inc. Metairie LA $100,000

Benson Football MetairieLA LA $100,000

Sallie Mae, Inc. Reston VA $250,000

Stephens Group, Inc. Little Rock AR $250,000

United Technologies Corporation Hartford CT $250,000

Elliott Broidy Los Angeles CA $250,000

Dwight Schar McLean VA $100,000

International Paper Company Memphis TN $100,000

Jack Overstreet Englewood CO $100,000

Jeffrey Marcus Dallas TX $100,000

JM Family Enterprises, Inc. Deerfield Beach FL $25,000

Michael Dell Austin TX $250,000

Southern Company Atlanta GA $250,000

Boone Pickens Dallas TX $250000

Northrop Grumman Corporation Los Angeles CA $100,000

Richard and Nancy Kinder Houston TX $250,000

American Bankers Association Washington DC $25,000

Bill G. Hartley Tyler TX $25,000

Corporate Capital, LLC New Orleans LA $250,000

Independent Community Bankers of America Washington DC $100,000

Union Pacific Corporation Washington DC $100,000

Argent Mortgage Company Orange CA $250,000

Ameriquest Capital Corporation Orange CA $250,000

Long Beach Acceptance Corp. Paramus NJ $250,000

Town and Country Credit Irvine CA $250,000

Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley LPA Cincinnati OH $10,000

Andrew Taylor St. Louis MO $100,000

Ilene L. Flaum Rochester NY $100,000

John W. Childs Boston MA $100,000

Thomas F. Petway, III Jacksonville FL $100,000

Pilot Corporation Knoxville TN $50,000

James A. Haslam, II Knoxville TN $50,000

CheveronTexaco Concord CA $250,000

Golden Eagle Industries, Inc. Charlotte NC $250,000

Linger Longer Development Co. Greensboro GA $100,000

Qualcomm Incorporated San Diego CA $100,000

The Boeing Company Arlington VA $100,000

Bradford M. Freeman Los Angeles CA $100,000

Frank Baxter Los Angeles CA $100,000

Lawrence Auriana Greenwich CT $100,000

Robin Arkley Eureka CA $100,000

Valhi, Inc. Dallas TX $100,000

Justice Dept: no info on emergency contraception for women if you're raped

Women's rights are being chipped away with small steps like this. What is the rationale (sorry -- spin) for not telling a sexually assaulted woman that a morning-after pill is available as contraception?

Mention of emergency contraception was included in an early draft (and was not opposed), but is not in the final document. Was removal of this standard precaution info from the Justice Department's medical recommendation guidelines the work of bible-thumping John Ashcroft and our Dear Leader? This development is so frightening, it sends chills down my spine.

We're not even talking about any language pertaining to advocacy of using the contraception in the Justice Department's new guidelines -- just the mere mention of the option was removed. What is happening to our rights, our country?

(Knight Ridder):
The U.S. Department of Justice has issued its first-ever medical guidelines for treating sexual assault victims - without any mention of emergency contraception, the standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.

The omission of the so-called morning-after pill has frustrated and angered victims' advocates and medical professionals who have long worked to improve victims' care.

Gail Burns-Smith, one of several dozen experts who vetted the protocol during its three-year development by Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said emergency contraception was included in an early draft, and she does not know of anyone who opposed it.

"But in the climate in which we are currently operating, politically it's a hot potato,'' said Burns-Smith, retired director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services.

For two weeks, Justice officials were unavailable to talk about the new 141-page protocol, published in September. But in an e-mail, department spokesman Eric Holland reiterrated points made in the document.

"The goals of the protocol are to ensure that all victims, regardless of differences in background or location of service, receive the same high quality medical and forensic exam, while being treated with respect and compassion, and to improve prosecution of sexual assault cases through the appropriate collection of evidence,'' he wrote. "The protocol is not intended to supercede the many state, local, and tribal protocols that are currently in practice.''

Lynn Schollet, a lawyer with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said without emergency contraception, the trauma of rape could be compounded by an unplanned pregnancy.

"It is very unfortunate to set forth a model national standard that is not giving women the best care available,'' Schollet said.

The controversy has erupted just weeks before the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to reconsider whether to make it easier to get emergency contraception. A year ago, the FDA rejected non-prescription sales of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. The ruling delighted conservative groups who had lobbied the Bush administration, but went against the FDA's own staff, advisory panels and major medical societies.

The manufacturer's latest application would make Plan B available without a doctor's orders only to women 16 and over.

The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is now collecting signatures on a petition urging the Justice Department to fix the "glaring omission in an otherwise thorough document.''

In the half-page on pregnancy "risk evaluation and care,'' the protocol says to take victims' pregnancy fears "seriously,'' give a pregnancy test, and "discuss treatment options, including reproductive health services.''

Advocates point out that emergency contraception, which is nothing more than high-dose birth control pills, reduces the chance of pregnancy 75 to 90 percent - but only if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

"This narrow window of effectiveness makes timely access to emergency contraception critical,'' declares the petition.

The development of national guidelines was required under the 2000 renewal of the decade-old federal Violence Against Women Act to develop uniform, quality care for sexual assault victims.

The risk of pregnancy after rape is small - less than 5 percent - but the vulnerable group is large. Of 333,000 sexual assaults and rapes reported in 1998, about 25,000 resulted in pregnancies - of which 22,000 could have been prevented, estimated Princeton University population researcher James Trussell.

..."I think it's very smart not to put that in the guidelines,'' said Dr. George Isajiw, a board member of Physicians for Life, a Philadelphia anti-abortion group.

...Anne Liske, executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the decision should be left to the woman. "The victim needs to be in charge of decisions about her care.''

The American Taliban is quickly taking control over and it feels like the vast majority of people don't even notice (or care) -- and the Dems want to move to the center? At this rate, the center will soon be the Right.

I have a Daily Kos Recommended Diary up here.

Virginia wingnuts on the legislative warpath against gays, women

Alabama may be the most violently homophobic state, but Virginia's got AL beat -- for the moment -- in terms of sheer legislative zeal in its attacks on the gay community. Its General Assembly will attempt to strengthen its already-in-place anti-gay laws.(
Same-sex marriage is back on the General Assembly's agenda, as Republicans attempt to strengthen what some legal experts already consider the most restrictive anti-gay law in the nation. Democrats say they'll fight to repeal it.

Virginia's Affirmation of Marriage Act was amended in the 2004 session to prohibit a civil union, partnership contract or "other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."

Del. Robert G. Marshall, the ass-clown pushing the hate legislation.

Del. Robert Marshall, the law's author, along with fellow Republican Dels. Richard Black and John Cosgrove, said they are planning to introduce legislation that would amend the Virginia Constitution to add the restriction.

Constitutional amendments require passage by separate sessions of the General Assembly and approval of voters.

Marshall, of Prince William, and Black, of Loudoun, said the specifics of the proposal are being completed, but Black said the bill would define marriage as being between a man and a woman and would ban "marriage lookalikes" such as civil unions and partnerships. In an attempt to silence critics, Marshall said the bill would also specify that the restrictions don't affect any other rights or privileges granted to same-sex couples under the state legislature.

Marshall said he wants the wording written into the Constitution to "put the policy on firmer footing."

"The Supreme Court better get the message that average Americans just don't connect with same sex marriage," Marshall said.

Cosgrove, of Chesapeake, said getting the change would protect the statute from being declared unconstitutional by a judge.

Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, the state's leading gay rights organization, said its priority this session will be to fight such legislation. She acknowledged it will be a "challenging session."

Del. Mitchell Van Yahres, D-Charlottesville, has prefiled a bill that would repeal the amendment, which he said is "just going too far."

Spain's government approves gay marriage bill

Woohoo! Another place that will recognize same-sex marriage. (
Spain's socialist government on Friday approved a bill to legalize same-sex marriages, putting this predominantly Roman Catholic country on course to become only the third European country to recognize gay matrimony.

Under the bill, homosexuals would be allowed to adopt children and same-sex couples will be able to inherit from one another as well as receive retirement benefits from their working spouses just as heterosexual married couples do. The bill was approved at a Cabinet meeting and is expected to be presented to Parliament in February for debate.

"The right to marry is a right for everyone, without distinction. It cannot be understood as a privilege," Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told reporters after the meeting. "The recognition of homosexuals' rights eradicates an unjustified discrimination."

The influential Catholic church adamantly opposes the measure.

If the bill passes, Spain would join Belgium and the Netherlands in legalizing gay marriages.

Sweden and Denmark have "civil union" laws for same-sex couples but fall short of legalizing gay marriage. However, the union can be blessed in both countries by the Lutheran Church.

The chaos in Iraq is out of control, and the troops are paying the price

Thursday, December 30, 2004

This sad AP graphic really tells you how bad it is.

Charts show U.S. military deaths and injuries as well as attacks on U.S. forces by month for 2004 and 2003; includes chart showing states with most troops killed so far this year.

In the accompanying article, Violence Against Iraq Troops Takes Toll, it's clear that we've moved into a phase that requires some serious self-deluding spin to say things are going well.
"The prospects in Iraq are grim," Dan Goure, an analyst at the private Lexington Institute think tank in Washington, said Thursday. He assessed the conflict as a standoff, with no clear indication that either side will achieve victory in the coming year.

"Neither side can truly come to grips with the other so far and defeat them," Goure said.

U.S. commanders constantly analyze the insurgents' tactics and make adjustments. Yet although U.S. forces have found tons of hidden weaponry and ammunition, the insurgents kill almost daily with makeshift bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. They plant the bombs along roads or stuff them into cars for suicide attacks.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, a senior Army acquisition official, said Thursday it has taken the Army many months to counter the IED threat because war planners had not foreseen its scope.

"The violence of the IEDs, the sophistication of some of those IEDs, was never anticipated," Sorenson said. "I can certainly attest to that."

The toll is clear.

Pentagon statistics show that for all of 2004, at least 838 U.S. troops died in Iraq. Of that total, more than 700 were killed in action, by far the highest number of American battlefield deaths since at least 1980, the first year the Pentagon compiled all-service casualty statistics.

Theresa Poulin (4th L at rear) follows the casket of her son, Maine Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Lynn Poulin, out of the Notre Dame Church after funeral services in Waterville, Maine December 30, 2004. Sergeant Poulin was among 22 soldiers and civilians killed in an explosion in their dining hall December 21 in Mosul, Iraq. (Reuters)

It almost certainly is the highest KIA total for any year since the Vietnam War.

U.S. deaths averaged 62 per month through the first half of the year. But since June 28, when U.S. officials restored Iraqi sovereignty and dissolved the U.S. civilian occupation authority, that average has jumped to about 78.

Deaths among U.S. National Guard and Reserve troops are rising, reaching a single-month peak of 27 in November. At least 17 were killed in December. Nearly 200 Guard and Reserve troops have died since the war began, and more than one-third of those deaths happened in the past four months.

Gay group helps tsunami relief efforts

I had no idea that this organization existed, but it's a great idea. (PlanetOut):

As the death toll from Sunday's earthquake and tsunamis rockets past 100,000, dozens of relief organizations are working overtime to provide immediate and long-term relief to survivors. One of the organizations raising money is the Rainbow World Fund (, the first LGBT world relief agency.

Jeff Cotter, a San Francisco psychiatric social worker, says he started Rainbow World Fund (RWF) four years ago because none of the traditional relief organizations were developing philanthropy and consciousness in the LGBT community. It is that dual mission -- direct relief hand in hand with changing opinions and beliefs -- that moves RWF. Cotter calls it a solidarity model, rather than a charity model.

...In the past year, RWF has teamed up with relief organizations to increase access to safe drinking water in Central America, eradicate land mines in Cambodia, provide food for victims of hurricane Jeanne in Haiti and save the next generation of Africans from HIV/AIDS (news - web sites). The group works closely with larger charity organizations (such as CARE) to give aid immediately, where it's needed.

...Because administrative costs are covered by the board of directors and grants from various organizations (including the Catholic Church), RWF can ensure that 100 percent of every charitable dollar goes directly to field service work overseas. In the case of Sunday's quake and tsunami survivors, aid will go to food, water, vitamins and medical supplies for many months, and possibly years, to come.

But why doesn't an LGBT relief organization give to LGBT causes? Why enlist gays and lesbians to help victims they know nothing about? The question, Cotter says, should really be: why not?

"We're about changing attitudes toward gays and lesbians," Cotter said. "Many of the places we visit and help have very little LGBT presence. Everyone we've worked with has been surprised by our commitment, and very open and accepting to our presence."

Let's do just one more Alabama story tonight

Gay Marriage Amendment Returns To Alabama. Think it will pass? Bahahahahahaha! God, I'm just losing it. The ass-clown, wingnuts are loving the chance to jump at this. (
Alabama lawmakers will make a second attempt at approving a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage when the legislature resumes.

The bill was among the first to be prefiled for the upcoming session, which begins Feb. 1.

The House and Senate versions are identical to measures taken up in the last session. The Senate version passed easily but the House bill ran into problems and died when the session ended.

Sen. Hinton Mitchem (D-Albertville) who sponsored the 2004 version and has filed the 2005 bill, said his constituents demanding the legislature act to "protect marriage".

"It's unreal, the response," Mitchem told the Montgomery Advertiser.

But, House Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton (D-Birmingham), is against the bill, though he's not a supporter of gay marriage.

Newton said there are more pressing issues to deal with such a projected budget shortfall of $300 million in addition to health care and education issues that should be taken care of first."

Well, I'm glad someone there has some priorities.

Montana court: gays due benefits others get

Nice to report more good gay rights news today. (ABC News):
A divided Montana Supreme Court declared Thursday that the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection extends to gays, and ruled that the state university system must offer same-sex couples the same health benefits available to heterosexual ones.

In a 4-3 decision, the justices struck down the university's policy of denying benefits to employees' gay partners.

The high court said the policy violates the Montana Constitution's guarantee of equal protection because unmarried heterosexual partners could get the benefit by signing a common-law marriage affidavit, while unmarried gay partners could not.

The ruling, which reversed a 2002 lower-court decision, did not address the issue of gay marriage, which is barred under the Montana Constitution.

The case began after the University of Montana refused to let two employees in Missoula buy health insurance for their lesbian partners, who were not university employees. Carol Snetsinger and Carla Grayson and their partners sued, joined by the gay-rights group PRIDE.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature sided with the university system.

Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps -- can he go any lower?

Good tidings from the Westboro Baptist Church for all the victims of this natural disaster.

This is f*cking sick. Thanks to AmericaBlog poster JJ for the pointer.

Gay rights groups organize in north Louisiana

More good news in the Red State of Louisiana. Every little bit helps, especially when it happens at the local level. (KATC2-TV):
Two gay rights groups are organizing in Shreveport. One group is called North Louisiana Concerned Citizens for Equality, the other is the Gay Straight Alliance. Their members say they're optimistic about their potential impact.

Lawyer Casey Simpson wants North Louisiana Concerned Citizens to influence changes in local attitudes. That group met for the first time last month. Simpson wants it to be a resource for people interested in issues that affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.

The Gay Straight Alliance was founded by LSU-Shreveport senior Kim Lewis. She believes the student group will make positive contributions to life on and off campus. Its goals include organizing gay-friendly events on campus, serving as a resource for gay students and mounting an AIDS awareness campaign within local high schools.

Third FL teen in a month dies after being Tasered

The Blue Lemur/Raw Story has details on this Miami Herald story. The 19-year old had no criminal record, and there is controversy over whether he was beaten by deputies.

Out Mag: "Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush's America?"

Striking Back at Hate: A “political funeral” held in New York City for murdered Alabamian Billy Jack Gaither and other victims of antigay and antiminority violence, March 1999. Photo from OUT Magazine

YES appears to be the answer. Where to begin...first, I highly recommend going out and grabbing up the January issue of Out Magazine. I am posting the excerpts here from its web site, but the complete article is only available in the print version. BUY IT.

Anyone speculating about which state is the most homophobic in the nation probably needs to look no further than Alabama. Out magazine poses and answers the question -- "Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush's America?"

My wife Kate, a native Alabaman, escaped from the nightmare, and even she couldn't believe the depth of the hatred and homophobia exposed by this article, including the heinous statistic that 44% of gay Alabamans are physically beaten and assaulted -- by their own family members. It's truly upsetting, and depressing. You wish the queer community would just get the hell out of there, but as with all stories like this, there are those that still want to stay and fight for their rights. I would consider this an almost insurmountable mountain of intolerance that runs both deep and high -- and all the way to the state house. Judge Roy Moore, famous for wanting to keep a gigantic slab of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, is planning to run for governor. He says some frightening things about gays in this story that make you wonder what could happen if he is elected -- and he just may be.

The author of the article, Unsweet Homo Alabama, is Bob Moser. He served as editor of the great progressive local paper here in the Triangle, The Independent Weekly, from 1995 to 2000. He is a senior writer for the Intelligence Report, an investigative magazine published by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.
Unsweet Homo Alabama

I came home from this year’s summer vacation to find just one message waiting on my office phone. That was a pleasant surprise—until I got the message. “Don’t know if you’ve heard, but we had two more gay men killed while you were gone. Just 10 days apart. The vigil’s tonight at the state capitol."

That was no surprise at all. You see, I live in Alabama. It’s been three long years since I left 21st-century America—the West Coast, specifically—and moved to a state that remains, in the words of the Reverend Helene Loper, a long-suffering activist, "stubbornly pre-Stonewall."

When I first got here, out and proud and clueless after years of living in places where holding hands in public with your boyfriend doesn’t seem like a death sentence, everything surprised me. Because I’d grown up in NASCAR country in North Carolina, I figured that I could handle anything Alabama could dish out. But I wasn’t expecting to meet a grand total of just two out gay people in my first three months in Montgomery, Alabama’s capital city. I wasn’t anticipating how flummoxed folks would be when they met me and discovered I was openly gay. (“Oh, honey,” said one new office mate, shaking her head and patting me on the shoulder, “You’re going to be fucking miserable.”) I wasn’t prepared to yank my poor little dog in frantic dashes through my “progressive” neighborhood, leaping over fences and cutting through backyards to avoid SUVs full of teenage boys hollering, “Hey, faggot!” (I have no idea what tipped them off.) And I sure wasn’t ready for the flamboyant bodybuilder I met at my Baptist-run gym. He sported the kind of fussed-over hair, poofy muscles, and sibilant drawl that make it impossible to even consider trying to pass for straight. Except that he was. When I asked him to the office Christmas party, the poor fellow agonized for days before announcing, “I’m not ready to be public like that.” But I work for a civil rights organization, I protested—the kind of place where people are required to like gay people. “You just don’t know what it’s like,” he said. “You’re in Alabama now.” I guess so.

Anyplace else in 2004 America, gay people—and even some straight ones—would be shocked, outraged, and bellowing for justice if two gay men had been killed in less than two weeks. In Alabama we just numbly reassemble for another candlelight vigil on the marble steps of the bleached-white state capitol, right near the spot where Gov. George C. Wallace hollered, “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” On particularly awful occasions, like this double-murder summer, as many as 65 of us will show up. The few, the brave, the homo-bamians. We stand here wondering how many more of us are going to get burned like witches, struggling to keep the candle wax from dripping onto our hands and pants, glancing nervously over our shoulders whenever a muffler-free pickup truck goes roaring by on its five-foot tires. You just know they’re going to holler something creative like “Faggots burn in hell!” You just hope they’re not hanging around waiting when you walk back to your car.

My virgin vigil came just a few months after I’d arrived in town. Despite the grim occasion, I found myself looking forward to it in a strange way—at least I’d get to see some of my fellow homo-bamians in the flesh. Since the vigil was commemorating the third anniversary of Billy Jack Gaither’s murder, I figured there’d be quite a crowd. Gaither’s slaughter in February 1999 was one of the nastiest hate crimes in recent history. Just up the road in rural Coosa County, the 39-year-old was slashed with a pocketknife, beaten with an ax handle, and burned on a pile of tires by two guys who did the deed because “he was queer.”

A dozen people showed up for Gaither’s vigil. Slumping away afterward, forlornly chewing the wax off my fingers, I couldn’t help wondering, Is there something in the water down here that rendered gay people spineless, speechless, gutless?

A couple of days later I started to catch a clue about why Alabama remains, in the opinion of longtime gay activist Ken Baker, “clearly the nation’s most closeted state.” The then–chief justice of the Alabama supreme court, Roy Moore, a likely candidate for governor in 2006, chose to celebrate the Gaither anniversary by spitting out the ugliest display of judicial homophobia in decades. Moore, best known for installing a washing machine–size Ten Commandments monument in the entrance to the state’s judicial building, tacked a 14-page “special concurrence” onto a decision denying a lesbian mother custody of her children. In it, Alabama’s highest judicial officer declared homosexuality “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature.” Gay sex, he wrote, is “an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it,” an “inherent evil” that “should never be tolerated.” And if homo-bamians continued to insist on fornicating? The state might have to use force, Moore wrote, wielding a biblical “power of the sword” to root out this evil once and for all.

Martha Weaver holds a photo of her son Scotty Joe Weaver who was murdered in Pine Grove, Alabama, during the summer of 2004. Photo from OUT Magazine

“All he didn’t do was hand out the rope,” says Baker. No need for that; rope is always in plentiful supply for Alabama’s homophobes—literally and figuratively. There’s the literal rope that bound 18-year-old Scotty Joe Weaver, the first of this summer’s victims, to a chair in his trailer in rural Pine Grove, where he was beaten, strangled, stabbed, mutilated, and partially decapitated over a period of several hours. His body was then dumped in the woods and set on fire, just like Gaither’s. Then there’s the rhetorical rope that led the accused killer of 40-year-old Roderick George, shot in the head while reportedly cruising downtown Montgomery, to matter-of-factly inform police he’d done the deed because George “made inappropriate sexual advances.” He probably figured the cops would give him a pat on the back and send him home. Hadn’t he done what Alabamians are supposed to do when they’re confronted with an “inherent evil” that “should never be tolerated”?

It must have been quite a shock for him to find himself charged with murder. But at least he can rest assured that if a jury convicts him, there will be no hate-crimes enhancements tacked on to his sentence. The state’s hate-crimes statute makes no mention of sexual orientation. Which means that when the FBI’s hate-crimes stats come out next year, Scotty Joe Weaver and Roderick George will not be counted.

Other residents of Alabama have weighed in on the article in comments at the Out website. Go read them.

What can we do about this? Anything? Help the remaining gay folks in Alabama to fight the good fight? Give up on this Red state and tell gays to get the out? I have no idea where to begin. I cannot fathom this level of hatred and bigotry -- gay is the new black. Later in the article, it's stated that because Alabama "lost" the last battle over civil rights, these haters are not going to sit back and let gays gain equality. It's their last cultural stand.

The folks at Equality Alabama, based in Montgomery, clearly need all the help they can get.


Moser also wrote a great article comparing life in Alabama with the gay-friendly area of NC in which I live entitled "In the Triangle, gay-bashing wasn't happening to us". You can sample more of his work at the The Independent Weekly in the Bob Moser Archives.

Tsunami adds to belief in animals' "sixth sense"

As the staggering human death toll from the tsunami exceeds 115,000, this information about how animals got away from the wave of death is interesting. It's obvious that they possess more powerful senses that alerted them to get out of harm's way. (Reuters):
Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said the giant waves that killed over 24,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast seemingly missed wild beasts, with no dead animals found.

"No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit. I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening," H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of Sri Lanka's Wildlife Department, said on Wednesday.

The waves washed floodwaters up to 3 km (2 miles) inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. "There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence about dogs barking or birds migrating before volcanic eruptions or earthquakes. But it has not been proven," said Matthew van Lierop, an animal behaviour specialist at Johannesburg Zoo.

"There have been no specific studies because you can't really test it in a lab or field setting," he told Reuters.

New Election for Ag Post in NC to Take Place

Looks like they finally are going with another vote since the e-vote machines "lost" over 4,000 votes. (AP):
Following nearly two months of court fights and wrangling over lost votes, the North Carolina Board of Elections on Wednesday ordered a new statewide election for the closely contested race for agriculture commissioner.

Republican Steve Troxler leads Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes in final results from the Nov. 2 election. That figure was left in doubt by the discovery that an electronic voting machine error in Carteret County eliminated 4,438 votes.

No date was set for the new election, which won't occur until April at the earliest and cost $3.5 million. Turnout is expected to be low, maybe less than 10 percent of the more than 3.3 million votes cast in November.

The board Nov. 30 had called for a special election limited to Carteret County, but a judge threw out that plan and told the board to come up with a new solution.

Cal Thomas: 'Schwarzenegger could be the Democrat Party's "plant" inside the GOP'

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Good night -- I think helmet-hair Cal could be a "family" man.

This AM I posted that Lou Sheldon was dumping on Arnold Schwarzenegger for his comments about moving the GOP back toward the center. Well-oiled Cal Thomas piles on with his "wit and wisdom," which sounds a wee bit more like tin-foiled hat speculation. (Wash Times):
California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could be the Democrat Party's "plant" inside the GOP, or so it seems from an interview he gave recently to a German newspaper. In that interview, Mr. Schwarzenegger suggested the Republican Party should move left to attract more voters.

Mr. Schwarzenegger told his interviewer Republicans could win 5 percent more of the vote by moving "a little to the left." Since Mr. Schwarzenegger ran and has mostly governed as an economic conservative and social liberal, he can only mean having the GOP move to the left on abortion and same-sex "marriage," among other social issues.

But what he failed to acknowledge was that even if the GOP picked up another 5 percent support, it would lose a far larger percentage of social and religious conservatives, who tend to vote more on principle than they political pragmatism.

The Schwarzenegger "strategy" -- if one can call political suicide a strategy -- would gain favor with editorial page editors in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, but it would return the Republican Party to minority status virtually overnight. Conservatives would stay home or vote for a third-party candidate, not so much in protest as to demonstrate that for them convictions mean more than party loyalty. This is an ideal plan, but only for Democrats. It's a lousy plan for Republicans, at least those who think winning elections is the preferred way to advance policies.

...The country is headed toward the right, which is where the Republican Party is now positioned. Why does the governor of California want to move in the opposite direction? ...

Gay club at med school asked to disband, apparently for changing its name

I collect these stories and the recurring theme tonight is - stop the insanity! Have people taken leave of their senses? They have to disband for (1010 WINS):
A gay-lesbian group is not being allowed to have a student club at New York Medical College in Westchester County. The homosexual students actually had a club - called Student Support Club - but when they changed the name to Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender People in Medicine, the college asked them to disband.

Club president Joshua Sahara says the club's mission is education on health issues - not to promote homosexuality. It has about 13 members.

The college released a statement says it doesn't discriminate in any way on the basis of sexual orientation but it retains the right to conform to practices and procedures as a health sciences university on the Catholic tradition. The school says it will not sponsor a organization whose objectives are incompatible with its values.

Rainbow Flag Causes Flap At Local High School

Come on, people! This is dumb.
Members of Howell High School's diversity club hung the flag over a staircase to promote unity, but some students and parents are viewing it as a symbol for gay and lesbian activism.

..."I believe there's a hidden meaning behind it and I believe some of the students are being lied to by the teachers," Craig McNaughton said.

The school's diversity club put the flag up in November, shortly after Michigan voted in favor of Proposal 2, which called for an amendment to the state constitution to provide that "the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

Perhaps the secret meaning is recruitment. I want my free toaster.

Progress in Arkansas: Judge Voids Ban on Gay Foster Parents

Some good news in a Red state; the irony is that Arkansas actually allows gays and lesbians to formally adopt children, and that the ban on foster care is unique. Unfortunately, reading this article, you see how the losing side of this case presented fallacious reasons for wanting to keep the ban in place, including a claim that gays are more prone to drug abuse. (AP):
An Arkansas judge Wednesday declared unconstitutional a state ban on placing foster children in any household with a gay member.

Ruling in a case brought by the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox said the state Child Welfare Agency Review board had overstepped its authority by trying to regulate "public morality."

At issue was a 1999 board regulation that said gays cannot become foster parents, and foster children cannot be placed in any home with a gay member under its roof.

The ACLU had argued that the regulation violates the equal-protection rights of gays. But the judge's ruling did not turn on that argument.

Instead, Fox noted that the Arkansas Legislature gave the child-welfare board the power to "promote the health, safety and welfare of children," but the ban does not accomplish that. Rather, he said the regulation seeks to regulate "public morality" — something the board was not given the authority to do.

"The testimony and evidence overwhelmingly showed that there was no rational relationship between the ... blanket exclusion (of gays) and the health, safety and welfare of the foster children," Fox wrote.

Rita Sklar, director of the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

"He made extensive findings of fact and he accepted everything we entered into the record refuting the state's reasons for the regulation, including these ridiculous claims that gay people are more likely to do drugs or have diseases," Sklar said.

Tsunami death toll near 77,000; relief organization contacts

A rescue worker looks at dead bodies at a relief center set up at a temple in Khao Lak, north of the devastated Thai tourist resort island of Phuket following the massive tsunami that slammed into the Thai coastline.(AFP/Thomas Cheng)

This is just unbelievable. (AP):
The official death toll across 12 countries soared to near 77,000 and the Red Cross predicted it could pass 100,000.

Bodies were piled into mass graves in the belief that burial would ward off disease. Paramedics in southern India began vaccinating thousands of survivors against cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and dysentery, and authorities sprayed bleaching powder on beaches where bodies have been recovered. In Sri Lanka, reports of waterborne disease such as diarrhea caused fears of an epidemic.

...With tens of thousands of people still missing across the entire region, Peter Ress, Red Cross operations support chief, said the death toll could top 100,000. More than 500,000 were reported injured.

"We have little hope, except for individual miracles," Jean-Marc Espalioux, chairman of the Accor hotel group, said of the search for thousands of tourists and locals missing from beach resorts of southern Thailand — including 2,000 Scandinavians.

The Pentagon says it will divert several U.S. warships and helicopters to the region, some of which can produce up to 90,000 gallons of drinking water a day.

Without clean water, respiratory and waterborne diseases could break out within days, putting millions at "grave risk," the U.N. children's agency said. "Standing water can be just as deadly as moving water," said UNICEF (news - web sites) Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "The floods have contaminated the water systems, leaving people with little choice but to use unclean surface water."


I'm passing on these links from Daily Kos:
American Red Cross International Response Fund

AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund

Direct Relief International International Assistance Fund

Médecins Sans Frontières International Tsunami Emergency Appeal

Oxfam Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Fund

Sarvodaya Relief Fund for Tsunami Tragedy

UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts

'Law & Order' Star Jerry Orbach Dies

Oh, this is sad news for an L&O fan like me. (AP):
Actor Jerry Orbach, who played a sardonic, seen-it-all cop on TV's "Law & Order" and scored on Broadway as a song-and-dance man, has died of prostate cancer at 69. Orbach died Tuesday night in Manhattan after several weeks of treatment, Audrey Davis of the public relations agency Lippin Group said Wednesday.

When his illness was diagnosed, he had begun production on NBC's upcoming spinoff "Law & Order: Trial By Jury," after 12 seasons playing Detective Lennie Briscoe in the original series.

On Broadway, Orbach starred in hit musicals including "Carnival," "Promises, Promises" (for which he won a Tony Award), "Chicago" and "42nd Street." Earlier, he was in the original cast of the off-off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks," playing the narrator. The show went on to run for more than 40 years. Lights on Broadway marquees were expected to be dimmed for one minute at curtain time Wednesday night in Orbach's memory.

Among his film appearances were roles in "Dirty Dancing," "Prince of the City" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors." In the animated "Beauty and the Beast," he voiced the role of the candlestick and sang "Be Our Guest."

Orbach still is expected to appear in early episodes of "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," for which he continued as Briscoe in a secondary role, when the show premieres later this season, Davis said.

"I'm immensely saddened by the passing of not only a friend and colleague, but a legendary figure of 20th century show business," said Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the "Law & Order" series. "He was one of the most honored performers of his generation. His loss is irreplaceable."


UPDATE: 12/31/2004: Friends, Co-Stars Mourn Jerry Orbach (AP):
Jerry Orbach was mourned with music, memories and meditation Friday during a funeral where he was eulogized as the quintessential New Yorker on the long-running police drama "Law & Order."

"He always knew his lines -- and yours too," joked co-star Sam Waterston, who joined about 300 people for the hourlong secular service at Riverside Memorial Chapel on Manhattan's West Side.

Orbach, a Broadway song-and-dance man who achieved his widest fame as wisecracking Detective Lennie Briscoe on TV's "Law & Order," died of prostate cancer Tuesday at 69.

The secular service drew dozens of show business figures, including Chris Noth, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, Tony Roberts, Michael Imperioli, Brian Dennehy, Benjamin Bratt and Malachy McCourt.

Broadway legend Chita Rivera remembered Orbach from their "Chicago" onstage partnership in the 1970s. "This huge silhouette would appear in a fedora, smoking a cigar," she said. "There was our anchor. There was our rock in a pinstriped suit."

Ed Sherin, executive producer of "Law & Order," called Orbach "my best friend -- and I imagine there are a lot of people here who would say the same."

He described Orbach as a man who would "break into song" at any moment, while also enjoying a reputation as "a deadly poker player" and avid golfing partner.

"I loved playing golf with Jerry more than I loved golf," said Sherin, adding that Orbach was not a strict scorekeeper when playing with a friend.

The actor was equally gracious on the set of "Law & Order," the director said, pouring juice for nervous, dry-mouthed colleagues or whispering lines to them if they forgot them.

Orbach lay in a simple wooden coffin draped with white blossoms under the chapel's blue and gold vaulted ceiling. A half dozen pews marked "Friars Club" were filled with fellow members of the New York organization famed for its celebrity roasts.

The service was led by family friend Elizabeth Hepburn, who started and closed the ceremony by leading mourners in a breathing meditation, interspersed with John Denver's "Perhaps Love" played on a guitar.

The service ended with a guitar rendition of "Lullaby of Broadway" and "Try to Remember" -- the signature song of the off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks" that launched Orbach's rise in New York theater in 1960, as El Gallo.

Practice What You Preach: pointing out the real threat to marriage in Texas

Since we have the Falwells and Dobsons of the world pointing out the alleged decadent, immoral behavior of gays as a threat to the sanctity of marriage, a group in Texas, Practice What You Preach, has formed to set the record "straight", as it were. The real culprits, they contend, are casual no-fault divorce and domestic violence, so the Red-staters need to take a look in the mirror. From the release:
Practice What You Preach today offered a mainstream opposition to HJR 6, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Texas.

“If they agree with us that two parents are better than one, then the reactionary legislators pushing this ban should practice what they preach,” said Jason Stanford. “It is a bright and shining lie to say that HJR 6 would do anything to help marriage. The Texas legislature needs to practice what it preaches and focus on the real threats to marriage.”

Marriage is not a wedge issue. In fact, it’s in crisis. Here are the facts:

Texas has one of the highest divorce rates in the country, and with around 100,000 divorces in Texas every year, our divorce rate is 71 percent higher than Massachusetts';

Children suffer more than anyone from the divorce epidemic. A study by the conservative Heritage Foundation found that children of divorce "exhibit more health, behavioral, and emotional problems, are involved more frequently in crime and drug abuse, and have higher rates of suicide." In school, these kids "perform more poorly in reading, spelling, and math. They also ... have higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college graduation."

There are 900,000 victims of domestic violence in Texas every year, prompting the Texas Council on Family Violence to conclude, "Domestic violence is an epidemic in Texas."

Practice What You Preach plans an aggressive statewide campaign and already has a website up and running at

“We’re going to take it straight to them,” said Stanford.

Related Links.

Compliant news media have failed the American people

Excellent op/ed piece in the Baltimore Sun by Lois Melina on the lap dog media. Pretty scathing stuff.
Journalists have allowed political operatives to successfully control what is discussed and how it is discussed. TV programs that pit an extremist on the left against an extremist on the right have made it clear there is no room for moderate voices. Walter Cronkite used to be the most trusted journalist in America. Now Jon Stewart - a comedian with a "fake news" show - may be.

Cronkite photo: Irving Haberman

President Bush invaded Iraq on false pretenses, and many in the news media not only didn't question his assertions but served to legitimize them. The Patriot Act, which authorizes serious abridgments of civil liberties, was enacted and allowed to continue with hardly a whimper from the institutions that depend on the First Amendment for their existence. The story of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib all but died with no high-level official held responsible.

Pursuing these kinds of stories takes time, energy and sources. It is fueled by a healthy skepticism from reporters and courage on the part of editors. And it requires that government be sufficiently in awe of the power of the press so that it provide answers and access.

Instead, we have too many reporters who believe it is their job simply to quote what people tell them - who think being "investigative" is getting a conflicting quote.

...One way the mainstream news media have given up their power is by allowing spin doctors to control what becomes a story and how that story is framed. Political operatives understand the news media better than reporters and consequently are able to control what news is covered and how.

It's fair to blame the Democratic Party's loss of the election on the Kerry campaign's failure to address the Swift boat ads. But it's also fair to ask the news media to be accountable for giving legs to a story that they knew was false. What we have seen is that smear tactics, if repeated often enough, gain legitimacy. And political operatives on all sides have learned how to frame lies in ways that manipulate the news media into covering them as though they have substance.

...[Bush] told the White House press corps that now that he has a mandate, he intends to answer only one question from each reporter. Follow-up questions, if reporters find the president's first answer to be less than adequate, are a thing of the past.

I don't think he was joking. I believe the president was saying he intends to do what he wants to do and was daring the news media to challenge him.

Yes, the press doesn't want to have their access restricted to public officials, especially the White House, because that will mean ratings and revenues will be affected. This is the sorry state of affairs in the mainstream news media.

Wingnut in Atlanta plans to gut the human rights law that the mayor planned to enforce

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is in for a fight, as I mentioned yesterday in the Blend. A local country club denied spousal benefits to gay partners that are legally registered with the city as domestic partners, and she was going to enforce the city's human rights ordinance ($500 a day fine for each day the club does not comply with the ordinance). And, of course, the conservative whack jobs are going after it full-bore. (
Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) says his bill would forbid both the state and municipalities from imposing any penalty on private organizations "engaged in lawful expressive association."

The wording is taken from the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to block gays from becoming scoutmasters. The court said that private organizations have the constitutional right to decide who they want or do not want as members.

Ehrhart said he will submit his bill on Jan. 10, the first day of the 2005 session. As chair of the Rules Committee he will be in a position to determine which bills make it to the House floor for a vote.

Atlanta's ordinance was passed in 2000 and bars discrimination against gays in "public accommodations". Because it is licensed by the city to sell liquor it falls under the ordinance.

The Druid Hills dispute began last January when two of its members, Lee Kyser and Randy L. New were turned down when they sought family memberships for their same-sex partners.

Kyser, a clinical psychologist, and New a lawyer, took the club to the Human Rights Commission alleging bias because of their sexuality.

The club, which charges a $40,000 initiation fee and about $475 in monthly dues, told Kyser and New that their partners were welcome to join but not as a families. Family rates are considerably lower than separate memberships.

This should be an interesting test. I am not sure the ordinance will stand up, but standing up to the challenge is necessary.


Interested in contacting Rep Ehrhart?
Representative Earl Ehrhart (R) (web) (email)

Capital Address:
Legislative Office Building
Room 404
Atlanta GA 30334
(404) 656-0109 (phone)
(404) 651-8086 (fax)

District Address:
5500 Wright Road
Powder Springs GA 301271073
(770) 943-8568 (phone)
(770) 437-2601 (fax)

Tradition Values Coalition media whore slams the Governator

Wingnut holier-than-thou media slut, Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the "Traditional Values" Coalition, has an commentary in the LA Times, "Hey, Governor, the GOP Won." He's chastising Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent comments that the GOP needs to move toward the political center. The Terminator better watch out -- these folks are more dangerous than the T2000. And probably less human -- Sheldon and his minions will eat Arnie for lunch if he sits back and takes it like the Dems did.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a German newspaper this month that the Republican Party needs to "cross the center line" — that is, to slide toward the left. He couldn't be more wrong — and more disloyal to real Republicanism.

The comment made it clear he's part of the only group more disappointed than the Democrats with last month's election results: liberal Republicans.

They desperately want to ignore the Bush values victory and the passage of pro-marriage initiatives in 11 states. Backed by a chorus of liberal pundits, these Republicans engaged in preelection hand-wringing about the "extremism" of religious people in their party and the dominance of something called "the religious right." They predicted a certain Bush defeat and a civil war within the Republican big tent.

...Schwarzenegger told the German newspaper that Republicans reach "from the right to the center" and that "I'd like the Republican Party to cross that center line," saying that if it did, it could take 5% of votes from Democrats. Of course, the governor is playing zero-sum politics by assuming that such a shift would not cause conservative Republicans to stay home.

The governor, however, should look at the example of another liberal Republican, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In the last election cycle, Romney followed the Schwarzenegger victory formula to the letter. He helped bankroll a field of more than 120 mostly liberal Republican candidates to run as a "reform" slate against incumbent state legislators. Not one of these candidates mentioned the word "abortion" and, if you can believe this, in Massachusetts of all places, no Romney-endorsed candidate talked about homosexual marriage. That is the equivalent of running for office in Iowa and not mentioning farming.

Romney's candidates lost. All of them.

...Religious conservatives in California have been skeptical but hopeful as we have watched Schwarzenegger attempt to govern. But Schwarzenegger has shown he is a liberal. He is more committed to liberalism than he is to traditional Republican principles or the success of his party.

I'll agree with Sheldon on one thing -- the Romney example is a good one to bring up. He's right -- why should the wingnuts be the only people talking about civil marriage for gays? The silence by liberal Republicans and Democrats alike speaks volumes about their inability to frame the issue as a moral issue about civil rights.

The fact that you don't talk about it conveys the message that you either 1) don't have a position that you can defend effectively or 2) you also have a problem with the issue and don't want to alienate the progressives in your camp. Either is a ball-less stance.

Thanks to House Blend reader Jon for the pointer.

Smoking makes the campus scene, courtesy of Big Tobacco

Our friends in the tobacco industry, testifying (and dissembling) before Congress about the safety and addictive nature of their products.

Bias alert here: I hate smoke, smoking and cigarette companies. The irony, of course, since I live in NC, home of the tobacco farmer. One reason that I am so anti-smoking (besides the smell, which is godawful) is that my mom, Shirley, died in 1997 of lung cancer. She had actually quit cold turkey some smoking some time before, but as we all know, the damage was done.

So this story really grinds my ass. Since the companies can't (legally) chase children as a target market, they're pimping their lethal products on campuses. They need replacement smokers because the older ones are going to die. (USA Today)
College life has long provided young people with a smorgasbord of late-night diversions. But now students have been flocking to bars, nightclubs and campus parties for a new kind of social event: tobacco-industry-sponsored parties, complete with complimentary cigarettes. A new study suggests these parties are a powerful marketing tool that encourages some to start smoking.

Nearly one in 10 college students have gone to an industry-sponsored party, according to an article in the January edition of the American Journal of Public Health. Students at all but one of 119 colleges surveyed have attended the parties. At some schools, 27% of students have attended tobacco bashes, which often include live music and freebies such as T-shirts.

Students who did not smoke before college were almost twice as likely to start if they attended industry-backed parties that included free cigarettes, the article said. The article was based on results from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Survey, for which nearly 11,000 students were interviewed in 2001. Although the study does not prove that such parties directly led people to smoke, the authors say there might be a strong link.

The findings should serve notice to college administrators, says Nancy Rigotti, director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Tobacco-sponsored events aim to link smoking with alcohol, music and socializing, Rigotti says. Binge drinkers and marijuana users were more likely to attend these parties. The rate of cigarette smoking declined from 1993 to 2000 among all adults, except those ages 18 to 24, according to the study. Researchers note that college students are the youngest legal target for tobacco marketing.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, says the company does not hold any promotional events on college campuses. The company does give away cigarettes at events at bars and nightclubs - which may be located near colleges - but only to smokers who can prove they are 21 or older.

"Brand-sponsored events are a very effective and responsible way for us to communicate with adult smokers," Howard says.

Yes, yes, I know...these college kids are of legal age to decide what they want to do. It's a free country. They allegedly know the risk of these products that are known to kill. I still think these death merchants are evil.

FACT: Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of smokers are not concerned about developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), America’s fourth ranking cause of death even though more than half of them (55 percent) experience at least one of the symptoms of COPD a minimum of once a week. (American Lung Association).

Interested in a regular LGBT news roundup on Daily Kos?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Several posters have asked me to do a regular news roundup diary on gay issues at DKos over the last few weeks, so in turn, I'm asking folks to go post their thoughts. Since this is a broader political audience, not necessarily focused on LGBT issues, it's an opportunity to pull headlines and summaries together for folks that may not get to great blogs like AmericaBlog every day, or news sources like

Feel free to go over to the diary and comment and take the poll.

WTF has this S.F. judge been smoking?

The presiding judge in the current California case deciding the constitutionality of gay marriage is refusing to let the city counter the ludicrous fringe arguments that children need opposite sex partners and that you can change your sexual orientation. How in the hell is this possible? (SF Gate):
The city fears that the presence of those declarations, without opposing evidence, might be used by an appellate court to justify the state's definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, a city lawyer said Monday.

"We don't want that hateful stuff to go into the record without being responded to,'' said Deputy City Attorney Kathleen Morris, citing a declaration by a psychiatrist who described homosexuality as a mental disorder. Morris said the city still hopes to get its own declarations into the record reviewed by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer and the courts that review his ruling.

Last week, Kramer refused to remove the declarations by opponents of same-sex marriage from the case file or to let the city present contrary authorities. He said he intends to base his ruling on legal arguments, not factual disputes -- a signal that the judge may not think the statements already submitted contain anything that needs to be refuted.

[Look at the discredited crap that has already been submitted to the judge -- Pam]

The Prop. 22 organization and another group, the Campaign for California Families, argue that the law is justified because husbands and wives make better parents than same-sex couples. Among the declarations they submitted to Kramer were statements from:

Satinover, author of "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth"

-- Jeffrey Satinover, a Princeton University lecturer and psychiatrist who specializes in "reparative therapy'' for gays, saying the American Psychiatric Association was misled into removing homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973.

-- Alan Chambers and Randy Thomas, leaders of a group called Exodus International, describing their "successful transformation from homosexuality to heterosexuality.''

-- Katherine Young, professor of religion at McGill University in Montreal, saying that "children need a parent of each sex'' because of inherent differences between men and women.

-- George Rekers, a psychologist and professor at the University of South Carolina, saying studies show children do better with heterosexual than with homosexual parents.

Morris, one of the city's lawyers, said the declarations were largely based on stereotypes and "contradicted by science.''

Head of Mormon church: "Gays have a problem"

The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, walking corpse Gordon B. Hinckley, wants to solve our "problem."

[UPDATE: Welcome Buzzflash readers. There is an additional section at the end on a gay Mormon's suicide, illustrating the anguish of reconciling his faith with his orientation.]

Why do these religious zealots give me such juicy bits to blog about? This one is incredible. I think that dementia has set in. If God is truly talking through this gentleman, the signal is scrambled. (
Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of the traditional family, telling King that of gays, "We love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem."

King then asked the 94-year old leader of the world's Mormons if the "problem" is one caused by gays themselves or one they were born with.

"I don't know. I'm not an expert on these things. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem, Hinckley replied.

"Many people who have to discipline themselves. If they transgress, they become subject to the discipline of the Church. But we try in every way that we know how to help them, to assist them, to bless their lives."

...Earlier this year the Mormon Church was instrumental in getting passage of an amendment to the Utah Constitution banning gay marriage. In a statement published by the Church two weeks before voters in the heavily LDS state went to the polls the Church said that men should only marry women and that "any other sexual relations, including [those] between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.


OK. The Mormons don't want you to know that they have unfortunately played a role in practice of "reparative aversion therapy" to rid gay Mormons of their homosexual orientation. Though the church says it is not directly affiliated with organizations responsible for the torture you are about to read about below, gay Mormons have been referred these kinds of centers for "help." Here is an account of the type of "treatment" self-loathing homosexual Mormons put themselves through to avoid being disowned and rejected by both their church and their families.
"I dreamed that I was in a fairly erotic situation with another man, and then midway through, I would just be electrocuted." Jayce Cox says he doesn't have the dream on a weekly basis any more, and he's relieved. Now it's just every couple of months that he bolts up, startled and shaking, in the middle of the night. He attributes this recurring dream to the aversion therapy administered at Brigham Young University.

Jayce tells his story:

It's 1995. He is sitting in an office on the campus of BYU, where his counselor has attached electrodes to his hands, arms, torso and genitals. His Mormon Bishop gave him a referral to the counselor. Jayce is shown pornographic images of men having sexual encounters. Then, ZAP! His body tingles, then aches from the electrical shock administered by his trusted counselor. He is scheduled for twice-weekly sessions for four months. "Toward the end of the program I could press a button and it would stop the shock and then a picture of a woman would come on."

But Jayce is 19 years old and he willingly goes back for more. He gives them his college savings -- $9,000 -- for the treatments which are promised to cure his homosexuality.

"They promised me it would work, and who doesn't want to live a life that's normal and acceptable in your society and have your family embrace you?" he asks rhetorically.

Therapist Ron Lawrence of Community Counseling Center in Las Vegas says this "reparative therapy" is "equivalent to what I would call the kind of torture that people experienced in Nazi concentration camps." Jayce displays the scars on his hands and tells of more scars where the electrodes were placed "on my torso, and [breathing deeply as though reliving some excruciating pain ] on my genitalia."

The words don't come easily to Jayce as he explains why he so willingly gave up his education savings -- and put his earning potential on hold -- in order to endure what Lawrence describes as "assault and battery, abuse".

"You're taught that the leaders of the church will never lie to you, never deceive you and you're taught to believe them blindly," Jayce explains. "I believed the counselors. I believed it would work. I believed that through that [reparative therapy], faith, temple attendance and prayer and fasting I would be healed. I believe that through God anything's possible. And I was told it would work. It probably sounds really naive, but I truly believed it would work."

Jayce's nightmare was also featured in the MTV True Life documentary "I'm Coming Out".


Related Links (from Affirmation - Learning Center for Mormon Gays and Lesbians):
Panelists Agree Therapy Can't Change Sexual Orientation

Gay Author Visits Utah, Denounces Evergreen

"The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature": A Brief History of Homosexuality and Mormonism, 1840-1980

Homosexuality: A Psychiatrist's Response to LDS Social Services

Sin & Death in Mormon Country: A Latter-day Tragedy

Is "reparative therapy" a ticket to Straightville?

Change Therapy

Anything But Straight]

[UPDATE: Here is a story of a gay Mormon's suicide. From the Affirmation web site (Newsweek, May 8, 2000, pp. 38-39):

Henry Stuart Matis (1967-2000)

It had become an all too familiar sound. Late on the night of Feb. 24, Stuart Matis's mother lay awake in bed, listening to her 32-year-old son pacing his room, unable to sleep. She worried that his depression was worsening. A year earlier Matis had told his parents he was gay, and all three, as devout Mormons, had struggled to reconcile Matis's homosexuality with the teachings of their church. Matis found little comfort in Mormon doctrine, which regards homosexuality as an "abominable" sin. A church therapist instructed him to suppress his sexuality or to undergo "reparative therapy" to become a heterosexual. Matis was especially frustrated by the church's energetic efforts to pass Proposition 22, California's ballot measure banning same-sex marriage. The yes on prop 22 signs that dotted his Santa Clara neighborhood, many placed there by church members, were a reminder of his failure to find acceptance as a Mormon and gay man.

Matis concluded he could not be both. That night, his mother got out of bed and wrote a letter asking the church to reconsider its position on gay Mormons. Only later would she learn that her son had been up writing his own letter, to his family and friends, explaining why he couldn't continue to live. Early the next morning, 11 days before voters would overwhelmingly approve Prop 22, Matis drove to the local Mormon church headquarters, pinned a do not resuscitate note to his shirt and shot himself in the head.

Matis's death galvanized gay activists, who accused Prop 22 supporters of driving him to the grave. Friends and family agree that the church's active support of the measure contributed to his decision to end his life when—and where—he did. Clearly, they say, he was trying to make a statement.

But that is only part of the story. Though gays and lesbians enjoy more rights and protections than ever before—last week Vermont approved same-sex partnerships akin to marriage—gays in search of spiritual support often find their church, synagogue or mosque to be far less accepting. To Mormons, who adhere to a strict moral code of conduct, disapproval by the church can be especially devastating. For Stuart Matis, it apparently was too much to bear. (The Mormon Church declined to comment about Matis. "Suicide is a tragedy of great personal loss for family and community," said a spokesman. "We express our sympathy and have respect for the privacy of the families.")

Helping after the tsunami

As the death toll from the tsunami surges past 55,000, it's good to be able to pass along some contact info for relief organizations, thanks to House Blend reader (and extraordinary DKos diarist) Pastordan. Please surf over to his site, Faithforward.

Jesse Helms may have a lake in NC named after him

Eastern North Carolina U.S. Rep. Walter Jones -- the man who brought "freedom fries" to Capitol Hill introduced a bill to name Falls Lake after bigot wingnut ex-Senator Jesse Helms. Walter Jones's quotes are so out there that I was rolling with laughter as I read these to Katie...(Raleigh News & Observer):
It's tough to say how far the bill he introduced Thursday will go. Jones apparently breached congressional etiquette and didn't discuss his idea with either of the Falls Lake-area representatives, Democrats David Price of Chapel Hill and Brad Miller of Raleigh, according to their staffs.

Although Jones' district is Down East, he wanted to rename something near Helms' home in Raleigh. And Jones likes lakes.

"A lake is beautiful," said Jones, a Farmville Republican. "People go there to relax and meditate and enjoy their family. It's everything Jesse Helms stands for." And because Falls Lake is the source for Raleigh's drinking water, residents could recall Helms' legacy every time they open a tap.

"I don't think by changing this name it'll hurt their drinking water at all," Jones said. "Liberals might think it tastes differently, but it won't change."

Get your bust of Jesse Jesse Helms Center Museum Store. I'm not kidding. Scary.

Helms already has the Liberty University School of Government named after him by Rev. Tinkywinky. Training the young minds of tomorrow. Good god. Jesse once referred to Chapel Hill as "the Sodom of the South." What a badge of honor for little blue part of the state.

My Congressman, David Price, is a blue and true Dem, and Falls Lake is actually part of his district. Here's the submitted bill.

Folks may also want to have fun reading the N&O forum Should Falls Lake be renamed in honor of Jesse Helms?.

I'll take Lake Andy Griffith before Jesse.

Atlanta mayor fines golf club for refusing to obey domestic partners rule

Big cheers to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. She is stepping up to the plate and enforcing the city's human rights ordinance. A local country club is denying spousal benefits to gay partners that are legally registered with the city as domestic partners, and thus covered under the ordinance. Of course, you know she is getting flack; this is the first time it is being enforced. (AP via Macon Telegraph):
The case centers on two gay club members, Randy New and Lee Kyser, who want full spousal benefits for their partners, including golfing privileges and the right to visit the club whether the members are present or not.

They also are seeking the right to transfer membership rights to a partner if a gay club member dies. Currently, the club grants such privileges only to people who are married.

Franklin wrote to club president Kent Smith on Dec. 22 that she is ordering the city solicitor to fine the club $500 a day, up to 180 days, for a total of $90,000 unless the club changes its benefits policy.

"Atlanta has a very proud history of promoting and celebrating diversity," Franklin wrote in her letter. "Given the club's failure to address the issues internally, I am compelled to act."

The mayor and Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.

The club's board responded with an e-mail to its 1,100 members saying they would fight the fine because Franklin has no jurisdiction to impose the penalty and that the city's ordinance attempting "to dictate the Club's membership policies are invalid."

"Our policies are non-discriminatory," the e-mail stated. "While we regret this matter has still not been resolved, Druid Hills Golf Club is prepared to defend its position."

Transgender activists celebrate NYC victory

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is announcing the release of guidelines regarding gender and identity discrimination from the New York City Commission on Human Rights this week. Michael Bloomberg signed a human rights law including transgender rights in 2002. When you read about civil rights progress like this in NYC, it almost cannot be reconciled with the horrors that continue to occur for LGBT folks in other parts of the country. From the release:
"These guidelines are a vital step toward preventing discrimination against transgender people in New York City," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and a member of the working group that worked on the guidelines with staff of the Commission on Human Rights. "Many employers, landlords and business owners do not understand let alone know how to avoid discrimination based on gender identity and these guidelines provide real education and guidance."

"The transgender community still faces persistent and severe discrimination, being turned away from housing, health care, and employment on the basis of gender identity and gender expression," says Carrie Davis, a working group member and coordinator of the Gender Identity Project (GIP) at New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. "These guidelines will help our community know its rights and make this law more effective at preventing a systemic discrimination, one that frequently affects our most needy and least powerful members."

The Guidelines come after a two-year process of drafting undertaken by a working group of community advocates, legal experts, and Commission staff. "The release of these guidelines brings New York City into line with other cities across the country that are ensuring equality by both passing laws to prohibit discrimination, and providing detailed guidance to prevent discrimination," said Melissa Sklarz of New York Transgender Rights Organization.

Thanks to House Blend reader Sandra for passing this along.

Powell: U.S. is not 'stingy' when it comes to aid -- oh yeah?

Let's this moment we're looking at a body count of 44,000 and rising from the earthquake/tsunami disaster, and the best the U.S. can do is $15 million for relief? I guess this admin is going to squeeze out whatever few drops of credibility Colin Powell has before he leaves his post. He's out there defending Bush's pathetic aid package. (

I might add these numbers for perspective:
* Halliburton Iraq Contracts Pass $10 Billion Mark

* Contrack International had $325m contract before it blew out of town for security concerns; now has won a $63.9 million US Army building deal in Afghanistan

* Bechtel contract for reconstruction projects -- $1.03 billion

* An estimated $2 billion goes into paying for security and insurance costs

Perhaps they can find a little more cash under the mattress for this human disaster. As AmericaBlog's Rob in Baltimore put it, "15 million is the equivalent of what George Bush spends in Iraq in TWO HOURS. That's right, at $177 million a day in Iraq, $15 million is a pittance."

Gay teen activist gains accolades for inspiring peers -- Freepers go ape

The Miami Herald (sub required) has a wonderful article about a troubled, suicidal gay teen that lived in 17 foster homes before finding stability and support with a lesbian couple that took him into their home. He's now getting good grades and helping other teens as a peer educator to encourage people to get tested for HIV. Take the time to read this heart-warming story. Then read what the cretins in Freeperville have to say about it.
Two years ago, at age 15 and living in his 15th Miami-area foster home, Steven Alicea came out of the closet.

His foster parents at the time, both pastors, said he would go to hell.

''I thought of suicide -- just taking my life. That it was worthless,'' Steven says. ``Thank God I didn't.''

...In his 17 years, Steven has lived in 17 foster homes, group homes and shelters -- some of them physically and emotionally abusive, he said.

''Being in the foster-care system really sucks, especially for a young child,'' he said. ``It's hard to move into other people's homes. . . . It's hard to not be with your loved ones and be with someone who is being paid for it. Being gay makes it worse.''

When he told his foster parents he is gay, they reacted with disbelief. ''If I liked a guy, I was told I was going to hell, that you're not supposed to like boys, that it's wrong,'' he said. ``I've been baptized I don't know how many times trying to please my foster parents. It never helped, obviously.''

He ''felt horrible,'' often skipped school and thought of killing himself. Gays account for 30 percent of all teen suicides, 28 percent of all dropouts and 40 percent of homeless teens, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

...Steven found solace at gay-oriented Pridelines Youth Services near downtown Miami, where he became close to the group's executive director, Denise Hueso.

''She was very cool and down to earth,'' Steven said. ``I started spending a lot of time at Pridelines, doing a lot of community service. That was the turning point of my life.''

Hueso and her partner, Sandra Newson, wanted children and they decided to become Steven's foster parents.

Florida prohibits gays and lesbians from adopting but not from becoming foster parents.

''We talked about it for months,'' Hueso said. 'We talked to a lot of people and then said, `What the hell, we're going to do it.' ''

In February 2003, Steven moved into their home in Little Gables.

''Now, he's got two people who care a lot about him. He calls them his moms,'' said Michael Guthrie, program director at the School for Applied Technology in Northeast Miami, a drop-out prevention academy where Steven is a senior with a B grade average. He no longer cuts school.

Good things came twice last month. First, the national Colin Higgins Foundation honored Steven with its annual Courage Award after Newson nominated him. Higgins died of AIDS in 1988 and was writer-director of hit films including Foul Play and Nine to Five.

''Steven epitomizes resilience and a willingness to speak out for traditionally underserved communities. He has endured overwhelming hate and hostility, yet has handled himself with honor and grace as he educates and enlightens others,'' the foundation's manager, Catalina Ruiz-Healy, said in a statement. Steven received $5,000.

Then, Do the Right Thing -- a program sponsored by the Miami Police Department, British Airways, The Herald and WTVJ-NBC 6 -- named Steven one of October's top 10 Miami-Dade County students.

They cited him for raising his grades from F's to A's, his AIDS activism and achieving "success despite adversity.''

This is how I visualize the average Freeper.

Not even a story this positive can be acknowledged by the hateful, ignorant crowd in Freeperville. Actual Freeper Quotes™ follow...
"Today his self esteem is being stoked by those with a larger agenda. Let's revisit this individual in, say, ten years. I predict many problems because all of the root causes of any problems he now has are being glossed over in these cynical "Awards"."

"Might as well say Steven found a street gang that welcomed him as one of their own. He started to pull small jobs for the gang leader and became well respected on the street for his skilz. What a bunch of hogwash."

"One wonders what type of community services in which a homosexual "clubhouse" engages. Perhaps the work is as mundane as recruiting youngsters for the pleasure of old queens.

Perhaps someday, this youth will wake up, take a good look at himself in a mirror, vomit and seek true help of the spiritual kind that will help him crawl out of the sewer before it's too late."

"Do not worry aids will get him sooner or later. Communism embraces this type behavior for it is against what is morally right."

"And rushing or being pushed pell-mell into the homosexual style of "living" has moved this society even closer to Sodom and Gomorrah.

The continued tolerance and "celebrating" of this evil, perverted lifestyle by adherents and by sycophantic lunatics mystifies the majority of polite society. That mystification is (too) slowly turning to awareness of the evil of homosexuality and the homosexual agenda."

"Behavior modificaiton 101 -- rule of thumb one gets more of
that behavior which is rewarded and less of that behavior that is negatively rewarded. Our corrupt society now calls evil good and good evil and rewards what ought be punished. No wonder we see increase in such behaviors."

Between the outright hatred of people like this (you know many of these Freepers are parents, which frightens me), and the misguided religious nuts in the ex-gay ministry field -- is there any wonder that gay teens are so at risk? In particular, the dangerous ex-gay movement could have finished this vulnerable young man off (read Anything But Straight for more on these sick ministries). Steven Alicea succeeded in spite of all the pressures around him.

This is definitely not about "flying the friendly skies" -- U.S. torture jet

This Gulfstream V turbojet is believed to be used to transport suspected terrorists to other countries for interrogation -- a practice called rendition. (Special To The Washington Post)

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. is using a small jet to take detainees to and from countries that allow torture. Needless to say, this little clandestine activity, called "rendition," is not being received well by human rights organizations. This is total bullsh*t.
The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001 it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers.

The plane's owner of record, Premier Executive Transport Services Inc., lists directors and officers who appear to exist only on paper. And each one of those directors and officers has a recently issued Social Security number and an address consisting only of a post office box, according to an extensive search of state, federal and commercial records.

Bryan P. Dyess, Steven E. Kent, Timothy R. Sperling and Audrey M. Tailor are names without residential, work, telephone or corporate histories -- just the kind of "sterile identities," said current and former intelligence officials, that the CIA uses to conceal involvement in clandestine operations. In this case, the agency is flying captured terrorist suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation.

The CIA calls this activity "rendition." Premier Executive's Gulfstream helps make it possible. According to civilian aircraft landing permits, the jet has permission to use U.S. military airfields worldwide.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, secret renditions have become a principal weapon in the CIA's arsenal against suspected al Qaeda terrorists, according to congressional testimony by CIA officials. But as the practice has grown, the agency has had significantly more difficulty keeping it secret.

According to airport officials, public documents and hobbyist plane spotters, the Gulfstream V, with tail number N379P, has been used to whisk detainees into or out of Jakarta, Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; and Sweden, usually at night, and has landed at well-known U.S. government refueling stops.

As the outlines of the rendition system have been revealed, criticism of the practice has grown. Human rights groups are working on legal challenges to renditions, said Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, because one of their purposes is to transfer captives to countries that use harsh interrogation methods outlawed in the United States. That, he said, is prohibited by the U.N. Convention on Torture.

AP: Gay Marriage Amendment not high on Bush agenda

Does anyone think the Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, Falwell and all the rest of the "marriage sanctity" protectors are going to sit still for this? If you read my earlier post with the LA Times profile on the CWA, you'll know that they are so rabid that they don't mind lashing out at the Rethugs if it looks like the Bushies aren't far enough to the Right for their tastes. (AP):
Opponents of gay marriage concede victory will not be swift in their attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution, even after prevailing in all 11 states where the issue was on the ballot last month.

"We're going to have to see additional court cases come down" supporting gay marriage before congressional sentiment shifts dramatically, predicted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who supports the amendment that failed in both houses of Congress this year.

Critics of gay marriage have long warned of such court rulings. Cornyn and others who support changing the Constitution to ban gay marriage say several cases have the potential to produce a sharp shift in congressional sentiment toward their viewpoint. They point to suits in Florida, California, Nebraska and elsewhere.

But Matt Coles of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project said that's unlikely — and not entirely by accident.

Many of the cases making their way through the courts were filed by individuals not affiliated with leading gay rights organizations, he said, and were not framed to make a targeted challenge to a 1996 law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.

Frontline groups have held off, he said. "People think that neither the country nor the courts are ready for it and probably we'll lose. Nobody likes to take cases and lose."

...It's not clear how aggressively the White House or Republican leaders in Congress intend to push the issue, with the election over and priorities such as Social Security and tax overhaul competing for attention.

White House political adviser Karl Rove said after the election that President Bush intends to continue seeking a constitutional amendment that says marriage must consist of a man and a woman.

...Purely by the numbers, prospects for passage of an amendment in Congress "have definitely improved" following the election, said Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council. "But by enough? That's going to be wait and see."

...At the same time, GOP congressional aides who attended a series of closed-door meetings recently said Rove did not mention the amendment when he outlined the administration's key legislative goals for the year ahead. Nor did the issue figure prominently in strategy sessions held by GOP congressional leaders, added these officials, who declined to be identified by name because the proceedings were closed to the press.

McClusky, director of government affairs for the Family Research Council, said his organization wants more than rhetorical support from the administration.

"We're hoping for a vote early on in 2005 and we're hoping that the president will make the phone calls again," he said. "It's going to be another one of those things of wait and see whether this is going to be something he did for the 2004 elections or this is something he truly believes in."

Hate crimes against gays on the rise in Florida

Monday, December 27, 2004

Do you think Jeb is losing any sleep over this? (
Hate crimes reported in Florida dropped except for those perpetrated against gays and lesbians during 2003, according to a report released Monday by Attorney General Charlie Crist.
...The state began compiling hate crime data beginning with 1991. Since then, race has been a factor in more than half of all hate crimes in every year but 2001. That year, a spike in crimes against Muslims after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks significantly increased crimes motivated by ethnicity and religion.

The number of crimes motivated by the victim's ethnicity rose by seven, from 44 in 2002.

Meanwhile, the percentage of hate crimes motivated by a person's sexual orientation reached its highest level - 20 percent. That compares to a low of 2.8 percent in 1996, when only six hate crimes related to sexual orientation were reported.

'It becomes more and more clear with each passing year that there's a problem in Florida when it comes to protecting gay and lesbian people,' said Brian Winfield, a spokesman for Equality Florida.

There's probably little chance the Republican-dominated Legislature will pass laws in the upcoming year to protect gays, but many cities and counties are doing so, said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

Headline of the day: Minnelli 'in 911 drama after bed fall'

Liza and her ex, the "human-like" David Gest.

You just want to avert your eyes, and not see the human train wreck that is Liza Minnelli. (Daily Telegraph):
..."She was sleeping and she rolled out of bed," People quoted a police source as saying in an article on its website. "She hit her head. Her bodyguard got nervous and he called 911.

"He said he couldn't get her up. She wasn't bleeding. She was on the floor."

Rummy: Sept. 11 flight over Pennsylvania was 'shot down'

The Raw Story reports a really strange comment by Rumsfeld regarding Flight 93, which supposedly crashed when passengers overtook the terrorists in the cockpit.

The CNN transcript had Rummy telling the troops during his trip to Iraq the following:
"And I think all of us have a sense if we imagine the kind of world we would face if the people who bombed the mess hall in Mosul, or the people who did the bombing in Spain, or the people who attacked the United States in New York, shot down the plane over Pennsylvania and attacked the Pentagon, the people who cut off peoples’ heads on television to intimidate, to frighten – indeed the word “terrorized” is just that. Its purpose is to terrorize, to alter behavior, to make people be something other than that which they want to be."

Maybe he misspoke, but man, someone in the administration needs to clarify this statement or even more tin-foil hat discussions will brew.

[UPDATE (9:54 PM): According to CNN, the Pentagon says he misspoke.

NYT: Defrocked Minister Files Appeal With Methodist Church's Court

A 13-member jury made up of Methodist clergy convicted the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud on the second day of her church trial (Dec. 2, 2004). Methodist law bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from ministry. Nine votes were necessary for a conviction and the jury voted 12-1 to find Stroud guilty. It then voted 7-6 to defrock Stroud, the bare majority necessary in the penalty phase of the trial, though her supportive congregation in Philadelphia has said Stroud can continue performing most of her duties.

[See my original post on this.]

I really don't know how successful she will be, but her intention is to effect changes within the UMC on this matter. I guess she knows that she is in for a contentious battle. (NYT):
Ms. Stroud said she hesitated to appeal because she is tired and dislikes being in the spotlight, but "there are questions the larger church needs to discuss and wrestle with."

She said one factor in her decision was something the retired Bishop Joseph Yeakel, the judge who presided at her church trial, said to her after the verdict. Mr. Yeakel told her, "the day will come when the church apologizes for this decision."

Ms. Stroud was tried by her own Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. The case now goes to an appeals panel of the Northeastern Jurisdiction, which covers 12 states and the District of Columbia.

At the trial, Mr. Yeakel barred testimony from six witnesses who oppose the Methodist ban, citing both legal and theological arguments. But the six filed material that is part of the trial record, and the Northeastern Jurisdiction will review that.

If the Northeastern Jurisdiction decides trial procedures were mistaken, it could direct a second Pennsylvania trial, Mr. Yeakel said. It could also refer questions on interpretation of Methodist law to the church's national Judicial Council.

Concerned Women for America: 'the looniest of the loony'

Beverly LaHaye, embalmed chairman of Concerned Women for America; and Robert H. Knight whose incredible bio states: "Robert is a former editor for the Los Angeles Times, the author of The Age of Consent and a sought-after expert on family, the homosexual agenda, television, film, and freedom of religion."

House Blend reader Jon pointed this LA Times piece on our friends at Concerned Women for America, the "masterminds" behind the anti-Subaru campaign. Apparently they are so rabid that they turn on wingnuts that they feel are even too far to the left for them. Note that an ex-Liddy Dole staffer is among the army of CWA knuckle-draggers. These folks are scary.
Concerned Women for America always takes the most uncompromising positions. The group, founded 25 years ago in San Diego, almost never settles for half a loaf. And at the first hint of backsliding, it attacks its conservative comrades with the same fury it unleashes on liberals.

In a town run on the art of compromise, it is an unusual and lately galvanizing strategy.

"We're not just anti-liberal. We put principle above all," says chief counsel Jan LaRue. "We hold anyone's feet to the fire if we think that they're compromising on principle."

That unflinching strategy — plus an $11-million annual budget, more than $200,000 in political action money raised last year and 500,000 members ready to flood Washington with letters, e-mails and personal visits — has begun to make the once-marginal group a player to reckon with.

As the group's leaders see it, President Bush's reelection means their moment has arrived.

"I believe God has built up an army," says Lanier Swann, director of governmental relations, who moved to the organization from the offices of Sen. Elizabeth Hanford Dole (R-N.C.). "Following Nov. 2," Swann says, "they're ready to march."

What Concerned Women for America is ready to march for may be the most zealous interpretation of what it means to be a Christian conservative.

Like other such groups, for example, it opposes abortion and marriage for gays and lesbians. But the organization also objected to this year's proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage because, officials say, the language did not go far enough — it did not ban civil unions. They hope a 2005 version will close loopholes that could have sanctified marriage by another name.

The group opposes hate crime legislation too, because it says making attacks on gays a special crime suggests the government approves of homosexuality.

...Religious liberty, as the group defines it, includes lifting the Internal Revenue Service ban on churches participating in politics. And it includes cheering judges who display the Ten Commandments in public places and championing courts that uphold the right of schoolchildren to say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Robert H. Knight, director of the group's Culture and Family Institute, an in-house think tank, is among those who object to the use of nonspecific holiday greetings instead of "Merry Christmas." He says "millions of Americans are waking up to the fact that the phrase 'Happy Holidays' is less a happy greeting than a pointed assault on our civil liberties."

..."The agenda of the left is to make religion strictly private and pornography public," Knight said. "And the people behind this agenda, more often than not, are homosexual activists."

...Concerned Women for America is especially vigilant when it comes to anything involving homosexuality. When Sen. George V. Allen (R-Va.), a staunch conservative, voted for hate-crime legislation this year, the group attacked him.

To some liberal groups, all this makes Concerned Women for America what one gay rights leader calls "the looniest of the loony." Referring to the organization's tendency to turn on conservatives who it believes compromise, he says, "This is an organization that has no problem eating their own."

Subaru's response to a House Blend reader on diversity

It's great to see a company that will stand up to homophobic bigots like the Concerned Women of America, who are targeting the automaker for acknowledging, supporting and marketing to the gay community.

House Blend reader Arnie wrote the company and received this response from Subaru:
Date: Mon Dec 27 13:29:14 EST 2004
To: arnie
Subject: Re: Owners Story (E-mail #650077)

Thank you for visiting the Subaru Web site and for your message. We appreciate that you took the time to convey your thoughts to us. Your comments will be forwarded to our Marketing Department for their review.

Our marketing strategy is one of targeting customers that appreciate the safety, control, and confidence that the Subaru All Wheel Driving systems provides. Our customers appreciate the adventure and fun that these vehicle attributes allow them to experience. Subaru has a very well educated owner base that celebrates, embraces, and appreciates diversity. Subaru markets vehicles to people who appreciate a safe and reliable value in the automotive category. Subaru does not pass judgement on peoples personal lives. We market vehicles to mountain bikers, skiers, nurses, teachers, rowers, campers, scientists, kayakers, and gays and lesbians.

Have a great New Year!


John J. Mergen
Subaru of America, Inc.

As a happy Subaru owner, I'm really glad to see that you support people of all persuasions through your open-minded advertising. Keep up the wonderful work--on all fronts!


Another letter from a HB reader sent to Subaru that received a response (much the same as above)

Dear Subaru:

Thank you for your support for Human Rights! While I am not a homosexual, I am 100% for equal rights for ALL people.

Subaru's inclusion of domestic partners, regardless of sex, sets a tremendously positive example for all corporations to follow!

I have owned Subarus for years, and now I drive one PROUDLY!

Keep up the great work!

And do not allow the homophobic fanatics to dampen your inclusive resolve - your advertisements representing same sex relationships not only recognize that gays and lesbians are a powerful market, but a powerfully positive force in society. It is the myopic fanatics who threaten our country with hate and fear.

Yours in Peace and Democracy,

We own a Subaru Outback (and a Ford Focus) -- nah, nah Concerned Women for America

The Subaru Outback and Ford Focus wagons.

[UPDATE: Welcome Buzzflash readers...I added new Freeper comments at the bottom, including a choice one.]

[UPDATE 2: A House Blend reader receives a great response from Subaru.]

[UPDATE 3: Here's background on the rabid Right politics of CWA.]

We support the gay-friendly car company, and it looks like the wingnut Concerned Women of America wants to punish them (and Avis). Read the release -- it gives you all the reasons why you should contact Subaru and Avis to thank them for their willingness to court the gay market. Concerned Women for America press release:
It’s important to give credit where it’s due. So car buyers should know that Subaru takes its role as the most pro-homosexual car company very seriously.

In fact, the company bought a four-page, four-color pullout section in the December 21, 2004, The Advocate magazine, surrounding a celebration of 11 “People of the Year” selected by the magazine since 1990. Honorees include V. Gene Robinson (December 23, 2003), the homosexual Episcopal bishop; Rosie O’Donnell (January 21, 2003); George Michael (January 19, 1999), following Michael’s arrest for lewdness in a Beverly Hills restroom, and former Gay and Lesbian Task Force leader Urvashi Vaid and the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe (both December 18, 1990).

...As for Subaru, the fourth page includes this summary:
“Subaru of America celebrates ten years of support for the gay and lesbian community.

• First national automaker to sponsor the Human Rights Campaign
• First automaker to extend domestic partner benefits to all employees
• Featured on The L Word [Showtime’s lesbian drama]
• Recipient of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center’s Corporate Leadership Award
• First automaker to insert custom creative in gay media
• Founding sponsor of the Rainbow Endowment, whose Visa Rainbow Card has raised more than $1.5 million for health, civil rights and cultural causes
• Sponsor of numerous gay and lesbian cultural and athletic events
• Presenting sponsor of the 2004 AIDS LifeCycle.”

Sample ads from past campaigns are pictured, including one with a photo of a Subaru wagon with the slogan above it: “It’s Not a Choice. It’s the Way We’re Built.”

In 2001, all three major domestic auto companies – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – adopted “domestic partner” benefits, with Ford earning a 100% rating this year from the Human Rights Campaign as one of the most “gay-friendly” companies in the U.S.

Not to be outdone, Avis, the rental car agency, purchased a two-page, inside cover ad in the January/February OutTraveler, a companion edition to Out magazine. The ad shows a man with his arms around another man, kissing him on the cheek, with this text:
“For over a decade, Avis has automatically included domestic partners as additional drivers in the U.S. No extra fees charged, no questions asked. And now, we’re coming out in grand style, including domestic partners as additional drivers internationally. So go ahead, take a spin.”

While voters are moving to strengthen marriage laws, and parents are fighting to keep homosexual propaganda out of the schools, many of America’s corporate titans have gone pell-mell for the rich, niche, homosexual market. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign calls corporate America “the driving wheel” of homosexual activism.

...You can also respectfully let companies know how you feel about their sponsorship of homosexual activism. It helps the most to contact local dealers, but it’s also good to contact the company.

Customer Service: 1-800-SUBARU3
Eastern Hours: 8:30 - 5:00 Monday-Thursday, 10:30 - 5:00 Friday
Central Hours: 8:30 - 5:00 Monday-Thursday, 9:30 - 4:00 Friday
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Written correspondence can be sent to:
Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru Plaza
P.O. Box 6000
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Attn: Customer/Dealer Services
Subaru of America, Inc. does not include Canada, but Subaru Canada, Inc. can be visited at

E-mail Subaru

Contact Avis
Avis reservations/comment line: 1 800 230 4898 (United States)
1 800 272 5871 (Canada)


I had to include Actual Freeper Quotes™ on this one...
"Subaru? I always thought faggots liked VW Cabriolets. "

"Subaru must also be promoting the Aids Epidemic then."

"I thought about buying one of their wagons a few years ago until I saw the $25,000 sticker price... for a compact wagon! At that price I could buy a MUCH nicer car from a company that doesn't cater to the fudge packers."

"Shut up! Shut up shut up shut up! (Capriole hides her face in her hands) I bought a Subaru Outback station wagon a couple of years ago because it could carry my kids and a lot of our camping/reenacting/horseback riding gear, go through difficult country with some ground clearance and four-wheel-drive capability, and get much better gas mileage than an SUV that cost the same ($21.5K). And now, despite the NRA, foxhunting, and Confederate First National decals on the back, everybody thinks I'm a lesbian! AAAUGH! Guess I could always trade it in on an F-250 pickup, but then they'd be CONVINCED that I'm a lesbian. I can't win."

"New sales slogan "Subaru; The car most likely to get rear-ended in."

"Cars are not just four wheels, they make a statement. This tells us subaru=homo."

Came across some more; had to share these...

"i suspect most ad execs (like most hollywood/media execs) are gay liberals -- probably worked for volvo before subaru..."

"Boy, am I glad I didn't buy a Subaru. (I was seriously considering it last year) I didn't know about THIS little gem. Of course, the way things are going, I wouldn't be suprised if all car companies "come out of the closet" so to speak soon enough. Sigh. And the degradation of our society continues."

"I guess another clue should have been that one of my Inlaws, a Cornell Prof who lives in Ithaca, the city of Evil, has both a Volvo and a Subaru. It can get tense on occasion since he and his wife are flaming libs. I literally have to leave the room . I once almost got out of the car at in intersection. I was ready to bash his skull in for spouting pure propoganda."

"Soooooo . . . instead of cup holders do Subarus have Gerbil holders ???"

[this one wins the Freep award for most ridiculous comment -- though you have to wonder why this person is paying so much attention to what gay folks are driving, hmm? -- Pam]

"You got to differentiate. Female homosexuals a.k.a. lesbians seem to prefer Foresters (they like cleaning out the underbrush) or Outbacks. Male homosexuals a.k.a. faggots or fairies or whatever like Mazda Miatas and I've seem some lately in those new Mini convertibles. Automakers as well as many other retailers cater to the crowds with the highest disposible incomes. Since the homo community seems to have a collective death wish, it spends like there is no tomorrow and tends to collect certain new cars."

Also see my Daily Kos Recommended Diary on this.

AmericaBlog: What is wrong with the Dem party - how to win again

There's a good discussion going on over at AmericaBlog about what is wrong with the Dem party and how to get back on track. Here's my list...and it's just a start.
1. Lazy-ass, lap dog, shareholder-leashed, mainstream news media: no need to just complain about Faux News or wingnut talk radio; the rest of them are out to lunch -- too interested in ratings, the almighty dollar and not rocking the boat. Even if the folks that own the media are Dems, they'll vote the pocketbook, not principle and vote Rethug (see Sumner Redstone). Dems need to build a base of corporate power -- without losing our principles along the way.

2. Dems With No Balls, part 1 -- Rethug wannabees edition. The balls-free Dem leadership is entrenched and insular. When you have a party that thinks it's better (easier, safer) to try and win over wingnut votes than to educate voters about real "morals" and "values", it's time to toss the DNC leadership overboard and get a new crew. Rethug positions are wrong-headed, and oftentimes highly immoral and disingenuous. Who wants to vote for Dems if they are too lazy and clueless to make a real case to vote for them?

3. Dems With No Balls, part 2 -- vote integrity edition: People have complaining for months about the lack of a paper ballot on the electronic voting machines [see 1, 2, 3, 4]. Where were the Dems? I didn't see serious opposition to these systems being rolled out. Fifty million votes were in play, ripe for corruption, and the DNC didn't see a need to raise holy hell -- before the election?

4. Dems With No Balls, part 3 -- "take the high ground" edition. How stupid is a party when they can allow the Rethugs to attack over and over (think Swift Boaters), and not respond? If they are waiting for the Rethugs to play nice, we'll continue to lose. The GOP knows how to frame an issue, targeting their base by promoting fear and ignorance. You don't have to tell the truth, just repeat lies over enough and busy, non-critical thinking voters will believe you. Dems think they can win a voter back by just presenting a logical high ground counter-argument (with no appeal to address the voters' emotions and fears stirred up by the Rethugs).

Reggie White, football legend and unfortunate bigot, dies at 43

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Reggie White died of a heart attack in Huntersville, NC today. You'll find plenty of obits on his football career. I'm not a football fan, but I've heard plenty about White in his role as a minister.

He was a publicly and stridently homophobic man, using the Bible and his ministry to promote the discredited "ex-gay" movement,. Ex-gay churches have hurt countless gay people so desperate to escape the homophobia in their lives that they believed they could change their orientation. White also said some of the most embarrassingly bigoted statements on race in a public forum I've ever read.
In March 1998, Reggie White, an ordained Minister and all-pro defensive end for the Green Bay Packers stepped up to the podium, looked out at the members of the Wisconsin state legislature and unleashed one of the most memorable speeches ever made by a sports star. It was an unforgettable racist and homophobic diatribe. When he trotted out onto the practice field at the Carolina Panthers training facility a few weeks ago he may have changed the color of his uniform, but he wasn't backtracking from any of the bigoted remarks he's made during the past few years.

White told the legislators that homosexuality was one of the biggest sins in the Bible. He stereotyped several ethnic groups saying:

"When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to black churches, you see people jumping up and down, because they really get into it. White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature and you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people do around the world. Hispanics are gifted in family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home. They were gifted in the family structure. When you look at the Asians, the Asian is very gifted in creation, creativity and inventions. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television into a watch. They're very creative. And you look at the Indians, they have been very gifted in the spirituality."

And as far as homosexuality goes, he fully supported the ex-gay movement. Here is a portion of an ad he appeared in: :
Toward an Open National Debate on Homosexuality...

"I've been called homophobic. I've been called stupid. I've been called unintelligent, and I've been called a nigger by so-called gay activists." --Reggie White ~ NFL All-Pro Football Player

...Without a free and open debate on homosexuality, we might never have learned:

* The truth about the non-genetic roots of homosexuality...and how nurture, not nature, is the real cause of homosexual behavior.

* The truth about ex-gays...and how thousands are leaving their homosexual identity for sexual celibacy, and even marriage.

* The truth about homosexual recruitment in public schools...and how activists have misused AIDS funding to promote homosexuality to elementary-age kids.

* The truth about raw political power...and how homosexual activists are creating laws to mandate acceptance of homosexual behavior in every facet of life from work to school to religion and making it a criminal offense to dissent.

* The truth about sexual sin...and the powerful hold it has on homosexuals and heterosexuals alike and the only way to find real hope and healing.

I only hope that he came to regret some of the things he said and did that were so harmful to so many.


John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog has several posts on this and lots of comments have been contributed to the discussion:

Raging homophobe and bigot Reggie White dead at 43

Here's what Reggie had to say about Latinos and Asians

Why does the NFL Commissioner think bigotry against Asians, Latinos and gays is good for kids?


Chicagochristianleft, over from DKos, sent me this ditty on St. Reggie from ESPN (AP):
School miffed: Reggie White stiffed students
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
DENVER -- A low-income elementary school is still waiting for a $50,000 donation promised five years ago by NFL star Reggie White to create a college tuition fund for 85 students.

"I'm really disappointed," Harrington Elementary Principal Sally Edwards said this week. "I think it's sad that we promised something and we didn't deliver."

White made the pledge in 1998 when his team, the Green Bay Packers, was in Denver for a preseason game against the Broncos. He gave a large cardboard mock-up of check, made out to Harrington Elementary, to the Rev. Leon Kelly, an anti-gang activist who steered White to the school.

White, who retired from the Packers after the 1998 season, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The money was to create a tuition fund for the school's 85 first-graders that year, to be awarded to those who graduate from high school with a C average or better. The students would now be in the sixth grade in various middle schools.

Edwards and Kelly said they haven't been able to contact White despite numerous attempts. Kelly said he feels bad the money wasn't there for the students.

"You can't get a kid to understand that," Kelly said.

Kelly still has the mock check.

If he could send a message to White, Kelly said, it would be, "Hey, Reggie, what's up? Cool. But what's up with this scholarship money?"


Pointer to a cartoon from a House Blend reader:

Recovering stroke victim: why civil marriage for gays matters

Many kudos to the diary posted by sheba on DKos for pointing me to this great article in The Oregonian on gay stroke victim David Bocci.

The article covers the difficulties of physical therapy and recovery of Bocci, but the larger issue is what happened surrounding his immediate care following the stroke. History was made:
Immediate treatment for such a stroke is a potent clot-dissolving drug called tPA, a high-tech Drano for the brain. New evidence suggests that the drug works better when applied directly to clots rather than intravenously.

But two obstacles loomed. The clot-busting treatment, not yet federally approved, required the signed consent of David or his guardian. And it had to be done within three hours of the stroke.

"Time is brain," goes the catch phrase for stroke treatment.

The doctors explained the options and urgency to David's longtime partner, Chris Bidwell, and David's sister, Teri Gellos, who had rushed to the hospital.

Bidwell spoke up. I'm David's husband, he told the doctors. The two, who live in Northeast Portland, had been together 15 years and had recently married -- first in Canada in October 2003 and then in Portland on March 4, the day after Multnomah County pronounced same-sex marriages legal.

The hospital's eight-page consent form described a risky but possibly lifesaving procedure. Chris skimmed the fine print and asked Teri, a critical care nurse, what she thought.

Sign it, she said.

...David became the first Oregon patient to undergo the direct clot-zapping stroke treatment -- and his case marked the first known instance in Oregon in which a same-sex spouse gave consent to approve a potentially lifesaving treatment for an incapacitated patient.

David Bocci undergoes acupuncture treatment at a clinic in SE Portland. Bocci, with the support of his spouse, Chris Bidwell, tried every possible therapy to rehabilitate himself from a stroke which nearly paralyzed his right side. Photo: Michael Lloyd

The obvious comes to mind here -- this is a clear example of why civil marriage for gays is essential. It's also an example of why the resistance to this by the Right makes no sense whatsoever. How does Chris Bidwell's ability to sign life-saving paperwork for his spouse affect Jerry Falwell's or James Dobson's marriage? How does this destroy our society? Why does the thought of even allowing legal arrangements such as health care power of attorney between committed gay partners scare the right? Virginia just deemed such arrangements invalid. Who is hurt by a private legal arrangement?

Accuracy In Media still railing on about liberal media bias

Oh god, does it never end? These wingnut losers won the election and they are STILL blaming the alleged left wing bias -- for making the race close. They've released the latest in unhinged groupthink in the report from "Accuracy in Media," How the Liberal Media Plan to Bring Down Bush. Please try to restrain your laughter at this fact-free drivel, gentle House Blend readers... (AIM):

Cliff Kincaid, ace wingnut, is the editor of the AIM report (and can be reached at

It is a tribute to the rise of the "new media," including Fox News Channel, conservative talk radio, bloggers and Internet sites, that President Bush was able to barely win re-election. The old media, which we have labeled as the Big Media, are not so big anymore. They have clearly lost some of their ability to manipulate the minds of the American people.

From the CBS News "60 Minutes" attack on President Bush, a broadcast that used forged documents, to the last minute New York Times story of "missing explosives" in Iraq, a story designed to undermine the President's conduct of the war in Iraq, the liberal media tried many different tricks. But Bush still came out victorious.

Newsweek senior writer Charles Gasparino, appearing on a CNBC show, admitted the obvious. "We sow the seeds of our own demise," he said. "Journalists have been advocates of the liberal attitude for way too long, and now we're paying the price—Fox News."

It's true—Fox News is a response to the overwhelming liberal media bias.

That bias, said Evan Thomas of Newsweek, was worth between five and 20 million votes for the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

[Is Evan Thomas on crack? -- Pam]

Such mind manipulation is possible because CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather, despite his anti-Bush partisan agenda, continues to get about seven million viewers a night, NBC Nightly News 9.8 million, and ABC World Tonight nine million

The old media thought they could defeat Bush. They failed. But they won't leave their perch of national dominance without a fight.

On the November 5 edition of his public television program, "NOW," liberal media icon and former Democratic Party official Bill Moyers gave us a hint of what's to come. He warned that the Bush administration could be hit hard by the press with corruption stories. Moyers declared that, "I think the next four years are going to be a bonanza for investigative journalism. I just think every time you wed the state and business together like this, you get corruption flowing like the Mississippi River." His point was that the Bush administration is an insidious combination of Big Business and Big Government.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, said Moyers, "the relationship between business and government created more corruption that actually renewed the Progressive Party and brought the Democrats to power."

So this is the game plan—to depict the Republicans as being in bed with corrupt business practices, in order to discredit them and bring the Democrats back into power. That means more Halliburton-type coverage designed to convince the public that the Bush administration has sold out to the big corporations.

[Who needs convincing -- it's true! And now, they tread into the familiar land of homophobia, chastising Bush for even mentioning civil unions. ]

But the "anti-gay surge," rather than being fiction, was evident in those states that passed the anti-homosexual measures. Some who voted for the measures undoubtedly voted against Bush for president because of Iraq or the economy or health care. That may be why the measures passed with at least 57 percent of the vote and Bush only got 51 percent on the national level.

It is reasonable to suggest that Bush could have benefited from their passage if he had explicitly campaigned for them. He did not. Instead, he talked generally about family values, noted his support for a federal marriage amendment during one of the debates, and even endorsed homosexual unions a week before the election.

Pollster [Kellyanne Conway of The Polling Company] confirmed to AIM that Bush's endorsement of homosexual unions, during an interview with Charles Gibson of ABC News, undermined his campaign and actually hurt him with some "values voters." Homosexual unions are just another version of same-sex marriage under a different name.

Rove, the "architect" of the victory, failed to fully comprehend at the time how powerful cultural conservatism had become. He now says, however, that "people would be well advised to pay attention to what the American people are saying." That advice applies to the media—and some conservatives.

The Bush bulge-talk is back...

Is this a LifeVest heart monitoring defibrillator device, or more tin-foil hat talk?

All the talk about Bush's back bulge during the debates (speculation that he was wired for Rovian prompting) was brushed off by his minions as creases and folks in his jacket or just laughed off. Then there was the NASA photo analyst that confirmed it was a wire of some kind. Then Secret service said it was a bulletproof vest. Then a photo surfaced of him driving down in TX in a T-shirt in 2002 where "something" was clearly visible again.

This time it looks like a more interesting theory is being bounced around. Bush may have a condition called atrial fibrillation (AF), which is an occasional rapid heartbeat that can cause fainting, falling and small strokes called TIA (

TIA may explain the "pretzel fainting incident."

George W. Bush apparently is wearing a medical device for "persons at risk of cardiac arrest." It is a LifeVest wearable defibrillator. He started using it sometime after his January 2002 fainting spell, which was attributed to choking. Based on photos showing him wearing the device, one can conclude the fainting was due to atrial fibrillation (AF), which his father also had. His father's AF was caused by Graves' hyperthyroidism, which his mother also has. Bush likely has AF and less likely Graves', based on his family history and symptoms. The AF may have caused a stroke or TIA (mini-stroke), of which physicians watching the debates detected symptoms. Observers have noted psychological symptoms consistent with this and with Wernicke-Korsakoff disease.

Bush recently underwent his annual WH physical. The result: "The President remains in superb physical condition," said Adam M. Robinson, Jr., commander of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, after the president's fourth annual physical at the center on December 11." House Blend reader Jon pointed out:
What are the implications if 1) Bush has AF and 2) if he's been hiding it? This is ironically parallel with the plot of "The West Wing" a few years ago. The fictional president hid from advisers and the public that he had MS. There was a congressional investigation and he was censured for covering up his illness.

AF is a manageable disease, but if Bush had admitted having it during the campaign, he would have lost. If it is revealed now, it will cause an uproar. It would also put pressure on Cheney to resign. I don't think the public is ready to accept what is already a fact: Dennis Hastert is just two heart attacks away from becoming President.

It's not concrete evidence, just more circumstantial tidbits. What is clear is that I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for any investigative journalist to prove just what is strapped to Bush.

Top 10 Most Moronic Stories of 2004

I was rolling at this brilliant post by spatula on These picks are so appropriate; forward to your friends:
"This year was so stupid, in fact, that the dial goes to 11.

11 Having gotten just about as much mileage out of push polls about black babies as he could, Karl Rove's brain child this election season was the now infamous "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," a teflon-coated organization which leveled dubious, unsubstantiated and outright false claims against Democrat candidate for president John Kerry. Instead of a forum about real issues affecting the lives of real people, the electoral discourse degraded into yet another smear campaign.

10 Nobody in the United States of America had ever seen a woman's breast prior to this year's Superbowl Halftime Show. On the other hand, everyone's been hearing about Viagra™, Cialis™, and Levitra™ since birth. So we shouldn't really have been surprised at the horror and outrage at the 70 or 80 pixels we saw of Janet Jackson's boob when boob Justin Timberlake uncovered it at the end of their song combined with the general indifference to commercials warning us about erections lasting longer than four hours (*wink*) during a violent and often-bloody sport.

9 Speaking of boobs, the coalitions, associations and councils who supposedly "defend marriage" and support "traditional values" didn't bat an eyelash at the well-publicized marriage of Britney Spears to her childhood friend Jason Alexander, which lasted almost a whole weekend. Yeah, homosexuals are the real threat to the "sanctity" of "traditional marriage," guys.

8 Though Jimmy Swaggart is no foe to New Orleans hookers, he does feel a certain passion toward gay men. He told his audience during a sermon that if a gay man looked at him "like that" he would commit a homocide, killing the gay man, then he would "tell God he died," Cain-style. Swaggart later said he was only joking. Ha ha ha!

7 We all heard the warnings before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein might supply terrorists with weapons to attack the United States. Unsatisfied with progress in that area, we decided to take matters into our own hands, losing 380 tons of explosives that had been secure at the beginning of the war. Though the government and various right-wing apologists initially tried to explain the loss by saying the explosives weren't there when the war began, video footage from a television station in Minnesota quickly put an end to that discussion. Then shortly after that, the "liberal" media put an end to all discussion. We haven't heard about those 380 tons of explosives since. And presumably we haven't seen them either. ( Or did we?)

6 What could be more controversial than the suggestion that a Christian denomination might consider allowing gays and people of color attend its worship services? CBS and NBC couldn't think of anything more shocking and refused to air advertisements from the United Church of Christ. The ads in question depicted bouncers outside a church turning away various undesirables with the tagline, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." Though they refused to air the spots, we hear plans are underway for a shocking new reality show, "Queer Eye for the Jesus Guy."

5 Seeking to boost rolls at protestant churches, Colorado Springs Catholic Bishop Michael Sheridan ordered all Catholics under his command to vote his way or be denied the sacraments. Though he didn't come right out and say it, the clear message was that a vote for John Kerry was a vote for your own eternal damnation. No word on whether Catholic priests who molest children would be denied communion.

4 Undeterred by the requirements imposed by science as to what constitutes a true scientific theory, and unconcerned about diluting their own religious beliefs down into almost nothing, this year we saw a push for teaching the myth of "Intelligent Design" as though it were a legitimate scientific theory on the origin of life. "Intelligent Design," could also be known as "Creationism-Lite," for it's essentially creationism where the part of "God" is played by one "I.M. Designer." The myth seems to be spreading although not without resistance.

3 Though recovering drug addict Rush Limbaugh said they were just "blowing off steam," most sane, rational Americans were appalled by the wanton abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Unlike the story of 380 tons of explosives going missing (see above), this story won't go away so easily, with new allegations of abuse surfacing periodically.

2 "Liberal Media" giant Sinclair, desperate to show us its "liberal" bias refused to air an episode of Nightline, deciding that its tribute to fallen military personnel was a liberal political stunt. One of the most dull episodes of Nightline ever, that night the names of the then-only-523 killed troops were read. Later in the year, liberal elite Sinclair Media ordered its stations to air an anti-Kerry propaganda film just nights before the election, though it later backed off one notch, electing to air a "documentary" about election propaganda instead, which drew heavily on an anti-Kerry propaganda film.

1 US President George W Bush dropped all pretenses of being something other than a religious fundamentalist and called for a Constitutional amendment against gays. The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which if passed would have become the only standing amendment to limit the freedom of citizens (rather than to guarantee it), ultimately died in Congress. The "uniter, not a divider" President won't be deterred by inability to get the House and Senate, both of which are controlled by his own party, to pass a proposed amendment, and he's promised to make this a priority during his second term. Who is this man uniting, anyway?

Tidal Waves Kill More Than 5,600 in Asia

It is just horrific. The death toll will surely rise. (AP):
The world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across Asia on Sunday, killing more than 5,600 people in six countries.

Tourists, fishermen, homes and cars were swept away by walls of water up to 20 feet high that swept across the Bay of Bengal, unleashed by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake centered off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Credits (L-R): AP Photo/M. Lakshman, AP Photo/Karim Khamzin, Reuters/Asia News International/Via Reuters TV.

Upstanding College Republicans under more fire for bilking seniors

Eric Hoplin, the weasly, unethical national chairman of College Republicans.

Yes, these are clean-cut, true-blue, all-Americans with conservative values. Their defense is that they were naive stooges for the RNC, misled and lied to. Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of individuals. (WPost):
The College Republican National Committee is under fire for using front organizations to collect millions of dollars in contributions, including money from elderly people with dementia.

During the 2004 campaign, the group sent out direct-mail solicitations under such letterheads as "Republican Headquarters 2004" and "Republican Election Committee."

One four-page letter asked prospects to send $1,000 together with an American flag pin for President Bush to wear to "Republican Headquarters" to ensure that Bush knows "there are millions who are giving him the shield of God to protect him in the difficult days ahead."

In small print at the bottom of one page, the letter notes: "A project of and paid for by College Republican National Committee."

Many donors complained that they thought the money was going directly to the Republican Party, and not to the college group, which is no longer affiliated with the GOP. The controversy over the letters has produced angry responses from leaders of state College Republican chapters, including those in Washington state, North Carolina and New York.

The University of Washington College Republicans approved a resolution calling on Eric Hoplin, chairman of the national committee, "to take full responsibility for his actions," acknowledge that those actions have substantially harmed the College Republicans grass-roots organization and "promptly resign."

Dan Centinello, New York College Republicans chairman, complained that the national leaders have not taken prompt and decisive action to correct the situation. "I don't want to see hard work by all of us be tarnished by a fundraising scandal," he said.

Internal disputes over fundraising tactics have been brewing among College Republican groups for at least three years, but they surfaced in late October, after the publication of damaging news reports in the Seattle Times and the Durham Herald-Sun.

The Times reported that a number of elderly donors gave far more money than they could afford.

"I don't have any more money," Cecilia Barbier, 90, a retired church worker in New York who made more than 300 donations totaling nearly $100,000, told the paper. "That was all the savings. . . . Now I'm scrounging."

Monda Jo Millsap, 68, of Van Buren, Ark., told the Times that she emptied a savings account, then got a $5,000 bank loan to give a total of $59,000.

In the immediate aftermath, Hoplin e-mailed top state officials of the organization, telling them not to speak to the news media. "We need the story to go away," he wrote. "The story is full of lies and distortions written by a well-known liberal who is out to get us. If the press asks you about it, tell them you have no comment."

LA settles two gay bias suits in LAPD

Chief William Bratton supports openly gay officers serving. He credits his sensitivity on the issue to the fact that he has a gay sister.

The idea that there is a history of active discrimination in the LAPD against openly gay officers is certainly no shock; that's one police department with a terrible reputation for bigotry. The only course of action for the aggrieved parties is to sue the state and waste taxpayers money because some officers have their panties in a bunch over letting openly gay officers of merit work and advance among them. (LA Times via
Officer Alan Weiner, 45, who alleged he was harassed while serving as a training officer in the Van Nuys Division, would receive about $450,000, according to his lawyer and a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

Sgt. Robert Duncan, a Medal of Valor winner who alleged his career was destroyed after fellow officers learned he was gay, would receive more than $200,000, his attorney said.

Both settlements must be approved by the City Council.

If approved, they would bring to nearly $3 million the total amount the city has agreed to pay to eight gay officers. In 1993, the LAPD agreed to a court settlement mandating a wide range of personnel and training changes designed to produce a discrimination-free workplace.

"To me, it was very clear that Alan was singled out over a series of years because of his sexual orientation. That's wrong and it's also illegal," said Brad Gage, Weiner's attorney. "When a police department breaks the law, that's especially outrageous.

"The department is learning slowly that it has to treat everybody absolutely equal."

Jon Cantor, Duncan's attorney, said the LAPD's efforts to end discrimination against gays have been inadequate. "A gay male police officer absolutely should not apply to work for LAPD. He will not be treated fairly," Cantor said.

An LAPD spokesman declined to comment. At a national police chiefs conference in November, LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said gay officers in Los Angeles have been forced to sue the department to end discrimination against them.

"For gay members of the organization to make change, they have had to engage in lawsuits," Bratton said. "Lawsuits have forced the department to do things it should be willing to do on its own."

Bratton said the department has pushed forward on issues related to gay and lesbian officers.

"We've come a long way in a short time," he said. "As we continue, there are going to be bumps in the road, there are going to be curves and detours that we are going to have to take. But I think the most significant thing is that the journey has begun."

At a seminar during the convention on ending discrimination against gay cops, Bratton said that he was sensitive to the issue because he has a sister who is a lesbian.

The department has no high-ranking, openly gay officer in its ranks. The one bright spot is that Chief William Bratton has the issue on his radar -- again for personal reasons -- because his sister is gay. It proves, yet again, why coming out is the single most important step a gay person can take. That is what the Right fears -- that too many people will find out they know and love someone that is gay -- and it will change minds that may have otherwise been resistant to tolerance.

Sunday Talk Show lineup

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Lynne Cheney and Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.

THIS WEEK: Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).

FACE THE NATION: Sens.-elect John Thune (R-S.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.).

MEET THE PRESS: Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), psychologist and author Phil McGraw, and the U.S. Navy Band Brass Quartet.

LATE EDITION: Reps. David Dreier (R-Calif.) and Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Revs. Jesse L. Jackson and Jerry Falwell, former NATO supreme commander George Joulwan, retired Brig. Gen. David Grange and retired Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong.

Conservative Students Target Liberal Profs

Saturday, December 25, 2004

This development is causing an unsettling chilling effect in academia, mostly because professors are finding that administration officials are not backing them up when a student voices objections to material that "offends" students. (AP):
Traditionally, clashes over academic freedom have pitted politicians or administrators against instructors who wanted to express their opinions and teach as they saw fit. But increasingly, it is students who are invoking academic freedom, claiming biased professors are violating their right to a classroom free from indoctrination.

For example, at the University of North Carolina, three incoming freshmen sued over a reading assignment they said offended their Christian beliefs.

In Colorado and Indiana, a national conservative group publicized student allegations of left-wing bias by professors. Faculty received hate mail and were pictured in mock "wanted" posters; at least one college said teacher received a death threat.

And at Columbia University in New York, a documentary film alleging that teachers intimidate students who support Israel drew the attention of administrators.

The three episodes differ in important ways, but all touch on an issue of growing prominence on college campuses.

In many ways, the trend echoes past campus conflicts — but turns them around. Once, it was liberal campus activists who cited the importance of "diversity" in pressing their agendas for curriculum change. Now, conservatives have adopted much of the same language in calling for a greater openness to their viewpoints.

...To many professors, there's a new and deeply troubling aspect to this latest chapter in the debate over academic freedom: students trying to dictate what they don't want to be taught.

"Even the most contentious or disaffected of students in the '60s or early '70s never really pressed this kind of issue," said Robert O'Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and now director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.

Those behind the trend call it an antidote to the overwhelming liberal dominance of university faculties. But many educators, while agreeing students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs — an essential part of education.

Some also fear teachers will shy away from sensitive topics, or fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship.

Leading the movement is the group Students for Academic Freedom, with chapters on 135 campuses and close ties to David Horowitz, a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative commentator. The group posts student complaints on its Web site about alleged episodes of grading bias and unbalanced, anti-American propaganda by professors — often in classes, such as literature, in which it's off-topic.

Instructors "need to make students aware of the spectrum of scholarly opinion," Horowitz said. "You can't get a good education if you're only getting half the story."

Conservatives claim they are discouraged from expressing their views in class, and are even blackballed from graduate school slots and jobs.

"I feel like (faculty) are so disconnected from students that they do these things and they can just get away with them," said Kris Wampler, who recently publicly identified himself as one of the students who sued the University of North Carolina. Now a junior, he objected when all incoming students were assigned to read a book about the Quran before they got to campus.

"A lot of students feel like they're being discriminated against," he said.

So far, his and other efforts are having mixed results. At UNC, the students lost their legal case, but the university no longer uses the word "required" in describing the reading program for incoming students (the plaintiffs' main objection).

I think the debate is interesting, given the tables are now being turned in some respect, but what is disturbing is that students shouldn't be dictating what they can and cannot read. Presenting "a balanced picture" is a highly subjective goal. I don't know how that can be determined. If they are worried about the purity of their religious beliefs, they are welcome over at Bob Jones U -- they won't be challenged there.

This one hits home for my brother, a professor in DE and a former student at UNC. His girlfriend, also a professor, actually recounted a similar story about a student objecting to reading The Bell Jar because it had a passage that offended her. The student complained to the administration, and the professor was forced to back down and offer her alternative reading material or to "mark off" with post-its any passages that the student might be offended by. This makes no sense.

Forecasters call for N.C. snowfall

No white Christmas, but maybe we'll see some snow.

Irresistible holiday image of our dear leader...

"Merry Christmas, you sh*thead." -- Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner on DKos. Cribbing his most excellent post:

The Grinch that stole Christmas...
...and clean air
...and the hope of federally funded stem-cell research
...and protection for trees and animals in the forests
...and a moderate judiciary
...and the rights of homosexuals
...and the guarantee of a woman's freedom over her body
...and the welcoming of non-Christians in holiday celebrations
...and so on, and so on.

"Perhaps we should throw stones" - another guard unit decries training, equipment

They are not freaking prepared to go to war. Who is going to fix this problem? (LA Times):
Members of a second National Guard unit that prepared for duty in Iraq at the Army's Fort Bliss compound have come forward with allegations that they were not adequately trained. The soldiers said in interviews, e-mails and official documents that they were sent to war earlier this year with chronic illness, broken guns and trucks with blown transmissions.

The unit's M-60 machine guns reportedly were in such bad condition when the soldiers deployed in February that one sergeant -- in a section of a post-training summary sent to his commanders that was titled "gun maintenance" -- wrote: "Perhaps we should throw stones?"

The allegations come a month after another National Guard unit alleged that its training at Fort Bliss was so poor that soldiers feared incurring needlessly high casualties when they arrive in Iraq early next year.

Although the military has defended its troop preparedness, the willingness of units to go public with allegations suggests growing concern among National Guard and reserve members.

In the summary document obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the sergeant reported that some soldiers had arrived in Iraq without ever having fired some of the weapons they would use in war. Military commanders at the Fort Bliss complex, which straddles the Texas-New Mexico line, had misread mobilization orders, costing the soldiers a month of training, the sergeant wrote.

"We have been called away from our homes and families for hostile operations. We are owed a chance to be trained properly and given the tools to obtain that objective," the sergeant wrote.

...He said the soldiers' concerns appear to be related to the changing role of the National Guard and reserve. "Citizen-soldiers" now make up about 40 percent of the troops in Iraq -- and shoulder a large share of the front-line combat roles.

Christmas in Iraq, Yanks and Brits

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, U.S. Marines in Iraq sit inside a dining hall used as a chapel, while a Marine chaplain delivers a midnight religious service in celebration of Christmas. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

British troops enjoy their Christmas meal complete with a traditional Christmas Box of gifts, inside the Basra Air Station military base, in Basra, Iraq. The troops, wearing their bright-red Santa hats, drank beer and pulled Christmas crackers as they celebrated Christmas far from home. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) organised a Christmas box packed with gifts for every British serviceman. (AP photo / British Ministry of Defence/Cpl Pete Murray, HO)

Bush: Can you spare $80 billion?

Bush makes Christmas Eve phone calls to troops from the safety of Camp David, while he picks our pockets. (Reuters)

More budget busting ahead as Chimpy asks us to open our wallets some more for Iraq. (AFP) :
In early February, there will be ... a supplemental appropriation in addition to the 2006 budget for defence submitted to Congress," Jim Kolbe, Republican congressman from Arizona, told reporters.

He estimated the extra funding to range between 75 to 80 billion dollars.

"It would make it the largest supplemental appropriation ... a very substantial amount that would cover not only defence but also some of the foreign assistance," said Kolbe, who travelled to Iraq with four other Congressmen.

Bush will make the new request after he is sworn in for a second term in January.

Kolbe is chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the House of Representatives appropriations committee, which is responsible for deciding how money is spent on supporting foreign governments and operations.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was also in Iraq visiting troops, promised Friday that the extra funds would be spent on equipment for ground forces stationed in the country in 2005 and 2006.

US thinking about military action in Syria

A trial balloon is floated by an "unnamed senior administration official." And where will we get the troops to do this? This is f*cking nuts. (Jerusalem Post):
The US is contemplating incursions into Syrian territory in an attempt to kill or capture Iraqi Ba'athists who, it believes, are directing at least part of the attacks against US targets in Iraq, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post. Another US official said that sentiment reflects a "growing level of frustration" in Washington at Syria's reluctance to detain Ba'athists and others who are organizing attacks from Syrian territory. The official cautioned, however, that whether to take cross-border military action is still a matter of discussion within the administration and that a military incursion is still "premature."

This research is going to set the wingnuts off -- "Was Jesus Gay?"

I have no idea whether these theologians and scholars have found the "smoking gun" that the Right will believe, but the fact that they have discovered missing texts that imply something other than proven heterosexuality is enough to create a firestorm. Somehow, I really don't think we want to go there (sigh). (
Noted Methodist theologian Rev. Theodore Jennings Jr. and Dr Morton Smith, a world renowned Bible scholar, say there is irrefutable evidence that Jesus was at least bisexual. Dr Rollan McCleary of the University of Queensland, in Australia, says he has discovered through his research that three of the disciples were gay.

Prof. Smith points to a fragment of manuscript he found at the Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem in 1958 which he says alludes to Jesus having a homosexual relationship with a youth he raised from the dead. The fragment shows that the full text of St. Mark, Chapter 10 (between verses 34 and 35 in the standard version of the Bible) includes the following passage:

"And the youth, looking upon him (Jesus), loved him and beseeched that he might remain with him. And going out of the tomb, they went into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days, Jesus instructed him and, at evening, the youth came to him wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God".

...British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell says even though the information about Jesus' sexuality remains scant, "there is certainly no evidence for the Church's presumption that he was heterosexual. Nothing in the Bible points to him having desires or relationships with women. The possibility of a gay Christ cannot be ruled out."

"Since there is no proof of the heterosexuality of Jesus, the theological basis of Church homophobia is all the more shaky and indefensible," Tatchell said.

Jimmy Carter publicly backs civil unions

His position is not a complete surprise here, but the important thing is the man is not only a former President, but he is a devout Christian and a Southerner. His public statements of tolerance and support of gay couples' right to civil recognition are significant (Southern Voice Online):
Former President Jimmy Carter confirmed this week that he supports state-sanctioned civil unions for gay couples, in response to a letter from two veteran Atlanta gay rights activists and questions from Southern Voice.

President Carter opposes all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and believes there should be equal protection under the law for people who differ in sexual orientation,” said Deanna Congileo, Carter’s press secretary.

Carter “favors equal protection for gay partnerships formed through a secular, civil union recognized by the state,” Congileo said.

Berl Boykin and Dave Hayward, coordinators of Touching Up Our Roots, a gay history project, delivered a letter to the Carter Center in late October, asking Carter to speak out against a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Southern Voice asked questions about the letter this week.

Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, remained publicly silent on the Georgia amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved on Nov. 2. But his support for civil unions builds on comments he made at Emory University in September and during an Oct. 18 appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Carter conducts an annual public forum at Emory, fielding questions from students. During this year’s event, Carter said he doesn’t “endorse” gay marriage, but feels gay unions “ought to be blessed by governments and by the general society,” according to the Emory Wheel, the campus newspaper.

The inclusive Christmas spirit: homophobic Baptists

Friday, December 24, 2004

After all the hubbub about the United Church of Christ's ad with a message of tolerance and acceptance, we have this bit of news from the American Baptist Church. (
The 25 regional executives of the 1.5 million-member American Baptist Churches in the USA jointly announced that the denomination's ongoing controversy over homosexuality 'threatens to break us apart.'

A pastoral statement to 'preserve unity,' released this month after a meeting of denomination leaders, said they had personally agreed to 'voluntarily refrain from' naming sexually active gays and lesbians to national and regional positions. The church leaders also said they would not participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies, but pledged to shun 'homophobic behavior.

Thanks to House Blend reader Fredda for the pointer.

Hate whore Fred Phelps makes the news again

"God Hates Fags" Phelps is at it again -- he says he has enough signatures to repeal Topeka's gay civil rights ordinance (
Last month the city council voted 5 - 4 to approve the law which bans discrimination in city hiring practices but not the private sector. Nor does it cover the transgendered.

During the debate in council Phelps' followers attacked the ordinance claiming it "endorses sin".

Several times during presentations Topeka Mayor James McClinton interrupted speakers. "We will not become a circus in here tonight," the mayor said.

Once the ordinance was passed, Phelps, whose Westboro Baptist Church is based in Topeka immediately began collecting signatures. The church, which has been described as a cult, proposes a new ordinance to block special protections for gays, lesbians or bisexuals.

Under the city charter a petition drive would need 3,700 valid signatures from registered voters. Church members say they collected more than 6,300.

If enough signatures are verified, the repeal proposal would to the council, which can approve it or put it to a public vote.

Gays Biologically Incapable Of Marriage SF Court Told

Thursday, December 23, 2004

If the parts don't fit...

Are they f*cking kidding? This is what passes as a legal defense of het marriage by the Right? The old "procreation/the parts need to fit" argument? Good god. It's a wonder the judge didn't laugh this out of court. (
A San Francisco judge Thursday was told that gays and lesbians have no right to marry because the purpose of the institution is to promote procreation.

In the second day of a lawsuit brought by same-sex couples and the City of San Francisco seeking to have the state's ban on same-sex marriage overturned, a conservative Christian group argued that the law does not discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Glen Lavy said it was in the state's interest to promote families that include both a mother and a father as the ideal environment for raising children.

"If your honor finds the marriage laws must be available for same-sex couples, you will be likely creating a constitutional right to incestuous and group marriage." Lavy told Judge Richard Kramer.

Rena Lindevaldsen the lawyer for the Campaign for California Families, another conservative group told the court that same-sex couples "can't perform the basic functions of marriage, therefore it's not discrimination."

...But Sherri Sokeland Kaiser, an attorney for the city of San Francisco, reminded Kramer that the state already sanctions marriages of heterosexuals who will likely never bear children, such as women over 50 and convicted criminals sentenced to life in prison. "It is our sex and our sex alone that is keeping us from marrying the person of our choice," Kaiser told Kramer.

Breaking: Rumsfeld Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq

Man, this guy in full job-retention/damage-control mode. You'd hope this trip gave him a dose of reality, because the crap coming out of his mouth over the last week has just been unbelievable. I still hear way to much bombast and bluster from this idiot in this story. He has to go. (AP):
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a surprise Christmas Eve visit with the troops three days after the devastating attack on a U.S. military dining hall here, told soldiers he remained confident of defeating the insurgency and stabilizing Iraq, while noting that to some "it looks bleak."

"There's no doubt in my mind, this is achievable," Rumsfeld, who flew here under tight security, told a couple of hundred 1st Brigade soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division at their commander's headquarters. He promised them that later in life they will look back and feel pride at having contributed to a mission of historic importance.

"When it looks bleak, when one worries about how it's going to come out, when one reads and hears the naysayers and the doubters who say it can't be done, and that we're in a quagmire here," one should recall that there have been such doubters "throughout every conflict in the history of the world," he said.

Hoping to bring holiday cheer to the wounded soldiers and demonstrate compassion for the troops' sacrifices, Rumsfeld landed in pre-dawn darkness and immediately headed for a combat surgical hospital where many of the bombing victims were treated after Tuesday's lunchtime attack on a mess tent. The most seriously wounded already have been transferred to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

During a brief stop at the 67th Combat Surgical Hospital, the defense chief presented a Purple Heart medal to Sgt. Chris Scott, who was wounded a day earlier. Rumsfeld also thanked the hospital's staff for their work in treating the dozens of wounded from Tuesday's attack at the mess hall, located near the base's airfield.

Out of concern for security, Rumsfeld's aides went to unusual lengths to keep his visit a secret prior to his arrival, with only a few reporters and one TV crew accompanying him on an overnight flight from Washington.

How about this local heartwarmer?

This is "putting the Christ back in Christmas," eh? N.C. Homeless Shelter Evicts Pregnant Woman, Three Sons. (
..."We have to have order," said the Rev. Oliver S. Robinson, director of the Tabernacle of Faith Church Outreach Center. "She herself created this situation. She is a young woman who does not want to listen to anybody. And it don't matter what time of year it is, winter time, Christmas time, cold time or whatever."

Valan Garland and her three boys were evicted Tuesday from the shelter, where they had stayed for about four months while waiting for an income-based apartment to open. She paid $50 a month as a donation.

On Tuesday, however, she broke one of the shelter's strict rules, Garland said. The paternal aunt and uncle of her three children came to visit their nephews. When the shelter's caretaker, Rhonda O'Neal, returned, Garland says she realized there was a man in her room.

Garland said she asked the couple to continue their visit outside, which they did. But Robinson told Garland she had to leave, giving until 9 a.m. Wednesday to vacate.

"These are not the easiest people to deal with," Robinson said of shelter clients. "We have to have rules and order."

Garland, eight months pregnant, began crying as she strapped her children into their car seats after loading the trunk of her car with belongings. She then left with Xavier, 1, Javonte, 3, and T'Keel, 5, still in their bedclothes.

At least until Christmas, the family plans to stay with Garland's mother in a one-room apartment in Edenton.

...Garland sees no parallels between her situation and that of the biblical Mary and Joseph, who couldn't find any place to stay for the night on what's considered the first Christmas Eve.

"I don't know if I feel like this is related to Jesus and Mary," Garland said. "But I do feel like it has something to do with the devil. The devil has to put it in your heart to put children out in the night three days before Christmas."

Robinson said his shelter is a credit to the community.

"These people need tough love," Robinson said. "I don't feel comfortable with it. God don't get no pleasure punishing us. But he does it. Jesus would have done the same thing."

I wonder if the pastor running this shelter is friends with our favorite local intolerant man of the cloth, Patrick Wooden, Sr. of Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God?

On a positive note -- the future of the Dems, if they really want him

After posting that sour-face loser below, it's time to put someone up here that represents the future. But first, he has to be an effective Senator, so the Repugs don't try and chew him up. Ah, they'll try anyway. Check out the Newsweek interview.

Bush to Renominate Judges Blocked by Democrats

You bastard.

He's going to pack the lower courts with prime-grade wingnuts, ensuring decades of retro-justice. John Edwards had been one of the Senators blocking Chimpy's way, but he's gone now, with proto-ape Richard Burr taking his seat. (Reuters).
Emboldened by his re-election victory and gains by Republicans in the Senate, Bush plans to renominate a total of 20 nominees to the nation's court of appeals and district courts, the White House said.

"The president nominated highly qualified individuals to the federal courts during his first term, but the Senate failed to vote on many nominations," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

During the hard-fought presidential campaign, Bush sought to brand Senate Democrats, who blocked 10 of his judicial nominees, as obstructionists. Democrats accused Bush of trying to tilt the courts with "right-wing extremists."

Michael Moore taking on Big Pharma

I heard about this some time ago, around the time he released F9/11. Big Pharma is circling the wagons:
America's pharmaceutical industry is putting out an advisory about the latest potential threat to its health: Michael Moore.

...At least six of the nation's largest firms have already issued internal notices to their workforces, preparing them for potential ambushes.

"We ran a story in our online newspaper saying Moore is embarking on a documentary — and if you see a scruffy guy in a baseball cap, you'll know who it is," said Stephen Lederer, a spokesman for Pfizer Global Research and Development.

In September and October, GlaxoSmithKline, the second-largest in retail sales, as well as AstraZeneca and Wyeth, sent out Moore alerts, instructing employees that questions posed by the media or filmmakers should be handled by corporate communications. Heavyweights Sanofi-Synthelabo and Aventis Pharmaceuticals each sent out similar memos before their recent merger. Merck & Co., Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lilly & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries send periodic messages about dealing with the press but haven't singled out Moore by name. Johnson & Johnson declined to comment.

"We have an image problem — not only with Michael Moore, but with the general public," said M.J. Fingland, senior director of communications for the Washington, D.C.-based Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. "We're criticized on the Hill and in the press — put in the category of the tobacco industry, even though we save lives."

[Bahahahahaha...I'm playing the world's tiniest violin.... --P.]

"Moore's past work has been marked by negativity, so we can only assume it won't be a fair and balanced portrayal," said Rachel Bloom, executive director of corporate communications for the Wilmington, Del.-based AstraZeneca. "His movies resemble docudramas more than documentaries."

Tentatively titled "Sicko," Moore's film will probably be released in the first half of 2006, sometime between the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. No deal has yet been reached, but an announcement is expected after the new year. There's interest in the industry, he says, on the part of some of the major studios and not just their specialty divisions.

More "kill and maim" cars on the loose, this time GM

GM is recalling 717,302 minivans because passengers could injure their wrists or arms on the power sliding door. Vehicles affected: 1997-2005 model Chevrolet Venture, 1997-1999 Pontiac Transport/Montana, 2000-2005 Pontiac Montana and 1997-2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette.

Now we have to worry about renegade GM minivans crushing your limbs. This after the 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee seat heaters that fry your ass to 150 toasty degrees. Nice.

The House Blend makeover

I just bumped up the font; feel free to comment on the redesign.

Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion

Ah yes. I'm waiting for the Dems to just pull out one more card that will make the whole house of principles collapse as they fully embrace their inner Republican. Pull the first card off as you move to the right, toss gays overboard (while taking our money). Now let's pull out another -- tell women their reproductive rights are on the table, up for negotiation and those potential Red state voters. Read between the lines folks, more cards are going to attempt to be plucked off. (LA Times):
After long defining itself as an undisputed defender of abortion rights, the Democratic Party is suddenly locked in an internal struggle over whether to redefine its position to appeal to a broader array of voters.

The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November election unless it shows more tolerance on one of society's most emotional conflicts.

Roemer is running with the encouragement of the party's two highest-ranking members of Congress, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Dean, a former presidential candidate, is popular with the party's liberal wing.

If Roemer were to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Democratic chairman in the Feb. 10 vote, the party long viewed as the guardian of abortion rights would suddenly have two antiabortion advocates at its helm. Reid, too, opposes abortion and once voted for a nonbinding resolution opposing Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Party leaders say their support for preserving the landmark ruling will not change. But they are looking at ways to soften the hard line, such as promoting adoption and embracing parental notification requirements for minors and bans on late-term abortions. Their thinking reflects a sense among strategists that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and the party's congressional candidates lost votes because the GOP conveyed a more compelling message on social issues.

But in opening a discussion about new appeals to abortion opponents, party leaders are moving into uncertain terrain. Abortion rights activists are critical pillars of the Democratic Party, providing money and grass-roots energy. Some of them say they are concerned that Democratic leaders are entertaining any changes to the party's approach to abortion.

A senior official of one of the nation's largest abortion rights groups said she would be concerned if the party were to choose Roemer to head the Democratic National Committee.

"We want people who are pro-choice. Of course I would be disappointed," said the official, who asked that her name be withheld because of her close alliance with party officials.

Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Democratic strategists who were pushing for the abortion discussion had misconstrued the results of the November election by overstating the strength of "values" voters.

...Feldt said she had spoken to Kerry and Roemer on Wednesday, and that both had sought to allay her concerns. Both assured her that the party was not changing its stance on abortion, but merely wanted to be more "inclusive."

The debate among Democrats comes at a time when abortion rights supporters are feeling particularly vulnerable. Congress passed a ban on what critics call "partial-birth" abortion last year that Bush signed into law. Last month, abortion opponents were emboldened when four conservative Republicans were elected to the Senate. Also, anticipated retirements from the Supreme Court could give Bush the chance to nominate justices that would tilt the court against Roe vs. Wade.

No one thinks that abortion is the best option; the problem is that the GOP has no interest in dealing with the subject of contraception in any kind of intelligent way, and once a baby is born, the party has no interest in making sure that the mother and unexpected child succeed. It's a slippery slope folks, and if you've got both parties retreating on both rights and responsibilities, we're in a sorry and frightening state in politics.

Handy diagram of inaugural celebration security

Just so you are aware of the security plan for Bush's big day. (AP). Oops, that one image on the right doesn't really belong, or does it?

Groping procedures modified for female air travelers

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Transportation Security Administration has finally listened to women that were tired of being fondled, manhandled and groped by TSA agents that were performing the benignly named "patdown" searches looking for boobie bombs. (AP):
In response to numerous complaints from women, the government has ordered airport security personnel to avoid touching female passengers between their breasts when performing patdowns.

Security screeners now will keep their hands to the "chest perimeter" of women unless detection equipment picks up the possibility that they are hiding explosives between their breasts.

The new method takes into consideration passenger discomfort while remaining steadfast in mitigating risks, said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Mark Hatfield.

The nation's 45,000 screeners are being told to pat down the perimeter of the chest, backsides and abdomen, effective Thursday.

TSA has made other modifications. Last week it began allowing passengers to lower their arms after the first part of a search so they can be more comfortable.

The fall was swift and hard for BK

Who's getting schooled now? Bernie's received a taste of the Washington version of cement shoes. His best bud Rudy has kicked him to the curb; he evidently had no problem taking BK's resignation. Kerik resigns from Giuliani's security firm (CNN):
Former police commissioner and one-time Cabinet nominee Bernard Kerik said Wednesday he will leave Giuliani Partners, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consulting firm.

At a news conference in Manhattan, Kerik said he had apologized to Giuliani for being a distraction because of his messy withdrawal as a candidate to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Kerik had been CEO of Giuliani-Kerik LLC, an affiliate of Giuliani Partners LLC. In a statement Wednesday, Giuliani said Giuliani-Kerik would be renamed Giuliani Security & Safety.

Kerik said he told Giuliani his resignation would be effective immediately. He said he would seek other unspecified business opportunities, and did not take questions from reporters.

President Bush tapped Kerik, 49, earlier this month as his nominee for homeland security secretary, but Kerik abruptly withdrew his name December 10 after revealing that he had not paid all required taxes for a family nanny-housekeeper and that the woman may have been in the country illegally.

He has been hit with other allegations as well, including that he had connections with people suspected of doing business with the mob and that he had simultaneous extramarital affairs with two women.

Kerik's nomination became a political embarrassment for Giuliani, a rising star in the GOP who had recommended his friend and business partner to Bush.

Rumsfeld Passionately Defends Himself

Passionate=raving maniac. (Reuters)

This almost qualifies as a headline of the day. It's so absurd and goes perfectly with the above Reuters photo during today's press briefing. I'm waiting for him to get out an organ grinder and monkey (Bush) to deflect attention from all the death and destruction Rummy's overseen. (AP):
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, stung by criticism that he's insensitive to the needs of the troops and their families, offered his most impassioned defense Wednesday.

The normally stoic Rumsfeld said when he meets wounded soldiers or relatives of those killed in battle, "their grief is something I feel to my core."

"I am truly saddened by the thought that anyone could have the impression that I, or others here, are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible," he said.

Falwell: "We are winning the Christmas war"

Will this media pig ever shut the f*ck up?

Media Matters for America's latest release on the media-whoring activities of teletubby homophobe Jerry Falwell manufacturing a war that he claims is trying to "steal Christmas from America."
In his last televised Sunday sermon before Christmas, Moral Majority founder and Faith and Values Coalition national chairman Reverend Jerry Falwell announced, "we are winning the Christmas war" and thanked God for the "few conservatives" in the media.

In his December 19 sermon, Falwell continued to forward the right-wing claim that "secularists" are waging a war on Christmas; Media Matters for America has documented this claim here, here, here, and here. Falwell asserted that "the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and other secularists" "hate Christ" and want to "steal Christmas from America." He went on to state: "Imagine God raising up an army of attorneys. ... We have declared war on the left, and we're going to sue the hide off of everybody, everybody, who tries to inhibit the liberties of our children and our families from worshipping and honoring the Lord."

Falwell also thanked God for "the few conservatives out there" in the media, specifically mentioning FOX News Channel host and nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, as well as ABC News analyst and nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will -- both of whom Media Matters for America has documented as sources of conservative misinformation.

Media Matters has been doing some great work this year and is deserving of support.

Mess hall attack was suicide bomber

Well, this is the news the Pentagon didn't want to deliver. Spinning it just isn't working anymore, as places keep blowing up (see end of story). They just don't know how to fight this insurgency, and don't want to admit it. (AP):
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that from investigations into Tuesday's blast in a mess tent on the base, "it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker."

The explosive was apparently packed with pellets the size of BBs that ripped across the tent when it exploded, Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of Task Force Olympia — the main U.S. force in nothern Iraq — told Bill Nemitz, a columnist with the Portland (Maine) Press Herald who was embedded with the troops at Marez.

At a Pentagon press conference, Myers defended Ham over security measures at the base. "We know how difficult this is, to prevent people bent on suicide and stopping them," Myer said. "I think he has a very good plan for force protection. This is an insurgency."

"As we know someone who's attacking can attack at anytime using any technique," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said, speaking alongside Myers. U.S. personnel "have to be right 100 percent of the time. An attacker only has to be right some of the time."

The military was looking at better ways of protecting places where U.S. troops regularly gather on their bases, such as dining areas and gyms, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, told CNN. Such areas are frequently targeted by mortars, though usually with little accuracy, and Nemitz told CNN that he heard "a lot of discussion" among troops about the vulnerability of the tent.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, several loud blasts were heard downtown Wednesday evening but the cause was not immediately clear. Insurgents have frequently used mortars, rockets and car bombs to attack police stations, military bases as well as the Green Zone that houses the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government offices.

Freeps defend Rumsfeld for not signing condolence letters -- and crap on Hackworth

Freepers are the stupidest, most unhinged people on the planet. Is it possible to defend this position, as Rumsfeld continues to debase himself and the position of SecDef? And they really let David Hackworth have it for calling Rumsfeld on this shame. Read on, House Blenders, these are Actual Freeper Quotes™ (with original grammar, my BF) :
"As always, Rummy is a life long bureaucrat with a heart. Aside from Dubya, Rummy is my favorite person in this administration."

"The wolves are really out after Rumsfeld. He is the only one of Bush's cabinet appointees to actually take on the entrenched Washington bureaucracy in his department. Bush recognizes this. Unfortunately, some of the other people on our side don't."

"Good old dope smoking hackworth shows up again. As tom Lantos said at least Admrial bota (sp) killed himself. Hackworth is a perfumed prince who figure Ike was a great combat leader and it was cool to smoke dope with the troops, and then the going got tough he ran away to australia."

"The man does have a day job, in case you forgot."

"During the Second World War it was the unit commander who wrote the condolence letters. During the Korean, Cold, and Vietnam wars it was the same. Donald Rumsfeld is a kind and gracious man who decided to send these letters himself. He didn't have to do it. Hackworth, despite his many medals, is not qualified to wipe Donald Rumsfeld's ass. Hackworth should go back to pushing pictures of Prisoner Abuse to the New York Times."

"The men and women in the front lines see it as well. They are deeply loyal to Rumsfeld and these attacks will backfire on those who are behind them. Hack is a hack. That has to be the most disgusting man on the planet. He has tried to have his 15 minutes of fame on the backs of our men and women in uniform and they figured him out a lot faster then most of us did."

"the BIG picture is has he done the job in providing for the troops
The troops have the gear that they train with. It's the army we're going to war with. It's not perfect. Get over it. My SIL doesn't have all of the gear he wants either. Neither do I. Adapt and overcome. Suck it up and move on. It's the fricking MILITARY for God's sake. Privation is part of service. Read Sun Tzu or Clausewitz."

"I don`t understand why so many Republicans are quick to attack their own.Sec. Rumsfeld does not deserve this.It seems to be more of a self serving measure by some politicians who are more interested in TV time or trying to cultivate favorable feelings from a press corp that will destroy them at a moments notice. Sen Lott should know this better than any one of the group."

And this was in the thread, OT, but worth posting for its barf value:

"I received a Christmas card from George and Laura Bush, now I know their a little busy, and the signitures are probably mechanical, but I was still thrilled!!! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!"

So much for democracy in the NC election debacle

As usual, decisions are made, and there is no backup plan. Smart. Judge Throws Out Special Election. (Herald-Sun):
A judge Friday threw out a special election to decide North Carolina's disputed agriculture commissioner race, whose candidates are separated by 2,287 votes out of about 3 million cast.

The special election was called because 4,438 ballots were wiped out in Carteret County due to a faulty computer. People whose ballots were lost were to be eligible to vote in the Jan. 11 election, along with anyone from the county who did not vote in the general election.

But Judge Henry Hight declared the special election illegal and ordered state officials to find another way to account for lost votes. It was not clear Friday evening how and when the state Board of Elections would deal with the decision.

Britt Cobb, the Democratic agriculture commissioner, asked the court to block the revote, saying it violates state election laws. Cobb favored a new statewide election.

Having a hot ass takes on a whole new meaning here...

Let's see...what was that about trial lawyers and limiting lawsuits, Shrub? Paraplegic Sues Chrysler Over Heated Seat (AP):
A paraplegic man who suffered burns when the heated seat of his SUV malfunctioned is suing Daimler Chrysler Corp. for $14.1 million.

Matt Beller, of Klamath Falls, who filed the suit this week in U.S. District Court in Eugene, said he was in his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the temperature of the driver's seat climbed to more than 150 degrees last Feb. 20.

Beller says he has no feeling below his chest because of military injuries and said he did not know he had been burned until the next day.

He underwent skin graft surgery and had to lie on his stomach for three months, he said.

Now the contractors are fleeing Iraq

There's plenty to rebuild, but Contrack isn't sticking around to do any of it. (Reuters)

Do you blame them? It's not like they have to drink the Kool-Aid from the Bush admin that everything is A-OK, and stay and get blown to bits. (AFP):
Contrack International Inc. has reportedly become the first major US contractor to pull out of the reconstruction effort in Iraq, adding that high security costs were to blame.

"We reached a point where our costs were getting to be prohibitive," company president Karim Camel-Toueg told the Los Angeles Times.

Contrack, based in Arlington, Virginia, had won a 325-million-dollar award to rebuild Iraq's shattered transport system.

US officials said Contrack's decision to terminate work in Iraq was reached with the US government in November, but had not been publicly disclosed.

Contrack, the leader of a partnership that won one of 12 major reconstruction contracts awarded in 2004, was the largest company to pull out of Iraq to date, the officials told the Times.

But the company's move would not hamper rebuilding in Iraq, they said, adding that the contract would be put up for rebidding, a process which the newspaper said could take months.

[Bullsh*t detectors on...]

"It's not a terrible loss," Army Burns, spokesman for the Pentagon's Iraq Project and Contracting Office, told the Los Angeles Times.

But some analysts thought differently.

"It's a very bad sign," said Michael O'Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. "If this is how other private companies are thinking, it's a very bad potential warning."

In the eight months Contrack was under contract in Iraq it was paid about 30 million dollars, mostly for site assessments and design work, company and US officials told the daily.

The Conrack partnership intended to build new roads, bridges and transportation terminals in Iraq, but only managed to refurbish a handful of train depots, company officials said.

Can I stop laughing now -- Martha Stewart Calls for Sentencing Reform

Let the bee-otch rot in there a while longer. (AP). The women she refers to in this story are women that she probably would have considered trash in her high-thread-count linen world before getting to know them.
Martha Stewart in a Christmas message posted on her personal Web site, called Wednesday for sentencing reform and took a swipe at the "bad food" in prison.

Stewart, who is roughly halfway through a five-month sentence for lying about a stock sale, urged fans to think about the women she has met in prison who are "devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family."

She suggested Americans should push for reforms in federal sentencing guidelines for nonviolent first-time offenders and particularly for drug offenders, who she said would be better served by rehabilitation than prison.

Stewart, who built a billion-dollar empire in homemaking, reported that her job at the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va., has been cleaning, including sweeping, vacuuming and raking leaves.

I have had time to think, time to write, time to exercise, time to not eat the bad food, and time to walk and contemplate the future," she said.

Minimum-wage earners can't buy housing

Yet another "Shame of Bush's Economy." (CNN):
In only four of the nation's 3,066 counties can someone working full-time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

A two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden -- the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual 'Out of Reach' report. That's nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour."

Check out what someone needs to make for shelter in various places, according to the report (the federal hourly minimum wage of $5.15, has not changed since 1997):

* Crawford, Lawrence and Wayne counties in southeastern Illinois: A one-bedroom apartment was considered affordable for minimum-wage workers, where the housing wage was under $6.29 an hour.

* Washington County, in the Florida Panhandle, was the fourth county listed as affordable for minimum-wage earners renting a one-bedroom apartment. Its housing wage was listed at $6.06 an hour.

* Clay County, in southeastern Illinois: Housing wage for a one-bedroom rental requires $6.52 an hour, just above the state minimum wage about to go into effect. A typical one-bedroom apartment there rents for $250 a month, said William Herrick, executive director of the county's housing authority. The cost of rent and utilities is manageable for someone earning the minimum, "but of course, they wouldn't have any extra money to afford anything else," Herrick said.

* San Francisco, California, metropolitan area; rent and utilities for a one-bedroom apartment in Marin, San Francisco or San Mateo counties in California required a wage of least $22.63 an hour, tops in the nation. The same three counties also led in the wage needed to afford a two-bedroom rental, at $29.60 an hour.

* California topped all states in the hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment, at $21.24, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and New York.

* West Virginia was the lowest, at $9.31 an hour for a two-bedroom rental, followed by North Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama

Notorious unsolved civil rights murder case resurfaces

On June 29, 1964, the FBI began distributing these pictures of civil rights workers, from left, Michael Schwerner, 24, of New York, James Chaney, 21, from Mississippi, and Andrew Goodman, 20, of New York, who disappeared near Philadelphia, Miss., June 21, 1964. The three civil rights workers, part of the 'Freedom Summer' program, were abducted, killed and buried in an earthen dam in rural Neshoba County. (AP Photo/FBI)

One of the most heinous crimes during the civil rights movement happened the year after I was born, 1964. It's still unsolved, but an anonymous donor is offering $100K reward for information leading to murder charges. (AP):
The reward will be administered by an interfaith organization as the state renews efforts to bring charges in the killings of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.

"There are people who have been harboring some of this information for a long time. There was a lot of common knowledge about this," said the Rev. James White, treasurer of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, which is overseeing the reward money.

In 1964, the three volunteers helping to register black voters were murdered on a lonely dirt road as they drove to a church to investigate a fire. They were allegedly stopped by Klansmen, beaten and shot to death. Several weeks later, their bodies were found buried in a dam a few miles from the church.

Nineteen men, many of them Klansmen, were indicted. Seven were convicted of federal civil rights violations and sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years.

But the state never brought murder charges and none of the men convicted served more than six years.

Of those indicted, only seven are still alive, said Jacob Ray, a spokesman for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who has reopened an investigation of the slayings.

It's sad and enraging that the kind of blind prejudice, hatred and violence at the root of these murders existed within my lifetime, and in fact, still exists today. It was only 1998 when James Byrd was dragged to his death in Texas by sadistic thugs that watched as his limbs were torn from his body. It was that same year that Matthew Shepard was violently beaten to a pulp and tied to a fence and left to die (oh wait, ABC said it wasn't a hate crime). It's not just about the South or rural Texas either. The brutal 1982 murder of transit worker Willie Turks by a "wilding" gang of Bensonhurst thugs in NYC (Turks made the "mistake" of walking through "the wrong neighborhood") proves that hate knows no geographic boundaries.

The kind of venom and bigotry we hear from the Right about gays today is a sad repeat of ignorance from the past, no matter how the wingnuts try to spin it. It has to stop. There are countless hate crimes that go unnoticed by the media. We cannot let the moral lesson of crimes like the Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney murders go untaught -- we have come so far, and have so much more yet to learn about the most base impulses of human nature.

Blast at U.S. Mess Tent in Iraq - mortar attack or suicide bomber?

U.S. soldiers tend to the wounded after an apparent insurgent mortar attack on a dining facility during lunchtime on FOB Marez in Mosul, Iraq. (Richmond Times-Dispatch / Dean Hoffmeyer)

I'm not putting on a tin-foil hat or anything, it's just not clear to me what has happened. What is clear is that the Pentagon has no interest in this being caused by a suicide bomber, because that unleashes a whole lot of security questions about how anyone could get inside a mess hall tent to do it.
Initial reports said that a 122 mm rocket ripped through the ceiling of the tent, spraying shrapnel as U.S. soldiers sat down to lunch Tuesday in their Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, some 225 miles north of Baghdad.

But, a radical Sunni Muslim group, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said it was a "martyrdom operation" — a reference to a suicide bomber — that targeted the mess hall.

"We are still investigating what caused the explosion," Capt. Dorren Luke, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said Wednesday.

Later in the story, there are some "bullsh*t detector-ready quotes from Chimpy that are so insulting to the families of the dead and wounded.
President Bush said the explosion should not derail the elections and that he hoped relatives of those killed know that their loved ones died in "a vital mission for peace."

"I'm confident democracy will prevail in Iraq
," he said.

At the military hospital near Mosul airfield, doctors and orderlies treated dozens of soldiers for burns, shrapnel wounds and damage to their eyes.

"This is the worst we have seen in the 11 months since we have been here," said Master Sgt. David Scott, chief ward master for the hospital.

If you're an Iraqi citizen, would you feel comfortable going to the polls when the U.S. cannot even keep its troops safe while they're getting a hot meal?

Headline of the day - Bush won't "negotiate with himself"

U.S. President George W. Bush pauses while giving his year-ending news conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House compound in Washington. In Washington, there are plenty of ways to say 'no comment,' but Bush has offered his own formulation, after he refused to 'negotiate with myself in public'. REUTERS/Larry Downing

It's a couple of days old, but it's precious. What a dumb*ss.

University Of Wisconsin Faces Isolation Over Gay Benefits

What is happening at the University of Wisconsin is a sign of things to come, for those states that are considering constitutional amendments to ban both gay marriage and civil unions. It's going to affect business deals, and employee recruiting. (
In January, the University of Wisconsin will become the only school in the Big Ten that does not offer health insurance for the partners of gay and lesbian employees. Under state law it would be illegal to offer the benefits, and university officials are expressing concern that the school will be unable to attract the best faculty and researchers.

The only other Big Ten school currently not offering benefits is Penn State, but faculty have been receiving them under a plan where private donations fund them, and on January 1, the university's own plan will commence.

"The absence of domestic partner benefits is really a serious recruiting issue for us," UW-Madison Provost Peter Spear told the Wisconsin State Journal. "We know of instances where we have lost outstanding candidates because of it."

The university is also concerned about a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. Wisconsin already has a Defense of Marriage Act outlawing gay marriage.

The proposed amendment passed in the last session of the legislature (story). If it wins final legislative approval in January, it would go before voters as a referendum next April.

"It's an issue that's becoming more and more painful for people," Mariamne Whatley told the Journal.

Whatley, a lesbian and associate dean in UW- Madison's School of Education said: "With this marriage amendment, suddenly Wisconsin is looking a lot more hostile, and a state that was a leader (in non-discrimination matters) is really falling behind the whole Big Ten."

Larry Klayman and Alan Keyes think that companies and institutions should stop providing partnership benefits to gay employees, I hope they take a look at this. Actually, they probably don't give a rip about academic institutions anyway, because they believe the schools "breed liberals." The elected officials and business leaders in Ohio warned about this to no avail when their state amendment came up -- the voters have spoken -- and now that state will suffer the consequences as companies will be forced to withdraw partner benefits.

A thought-provoking Christmas card...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

No time to news blog this evening; still catching up. I'll have fresh Blend up tomorrow. Also, I have some changes to the House Blend, including a redesign. Hopefully that will go smoothly. Should happen in a couple of days.

I received this bit of business below while away from House Blend reader Paul, a Vietnam vet and gay activist. It does make you think about all the hell that's gone on over the last year. Bush and his crew have turned whatever positive reputation we had with the international community into total crap. It's happy holidays, all right...

"I sat down last night and photo-shopped up what I hope is a thought provoking Christmas Card."

Oy, back from the land of dial-up...

I'm back. My brother Tim has got to do something about that dial-up situation. While I was there, he dug up this ancient picture of us from mid-70s NYC (he's about five years younger than my graceful 41). :)

Bush Defends Rumsfeld As 'A Caring Fellow'

Well, it depends on what the meaning of the word "caring" is.

That's the actual AP headline. Please turn off your bullsh*t detectors, gentle House Blend readers, because your finely-tuned meters may explode as you read this article.
Accused of being insensitive to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and their families, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld received a fresh endorsement Monday from President Bush, who called him "a caring fellow."

"I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way
," Bush said at a White House news conference.

Still, a poll suggests slippage in public support for Rumsfeld.

Just over half in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 52 percent, said Rumsfeld should resign, and 36 percent said he should not. Rumsfeld's job approval has been dropping, with 41 percent now approving and 50 percent disapproving. People were evenly split on Rumsfeld's performance in May, but most approved of his handling of the job about a year ago.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., blasted Rummy on the chat shows.

Congressional criticism of Rumsfeld has increased in recent weeks, with lawmakers of both parties accusing him of appearing indifferent to soldiers' pleas for more armored vehicles. Some have complained about his use of a mechanical device to sign condolence letters to military families whose loved ones have died in battle, rather than signing them himself.

"My goodness, that's the least that we could expect of the secretary of defense, is having some personal attention paid by him," Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. said Sunday. Rumsfeld said last week he will personally sign letters in the future.

Bush, who personally signs condolence letters, was asked why he was willing to overlook Rumsfeld's failure to do the same.

"I know Secretary Rumsfeld's heart," Bush said. "I know how much he cares for the troops
," adding that Rumsfeld and his wife visit hospitalized soldiers "all the time to provide comfort and solace."

Why they must be stopped -- the wingnut bloodthirst for power

Monday, December 20, 2004

Senator's-elect Johnny Isakson, Tom "sterilize-'em Dr. Mengele" Coburn, John Thune, Mel "homophobe that employs self-loathing queers" Martinez, David Vitter and Richard "marriage sanctity" Burr join Sen. George Allen on Capitol Hill. (Getty Images)

This is why Dems cannot lie down like dogs. (USA TODAY):
"The election was a mandate for conservative leadership in Washington," declared the new chairman of the House Republican Study Committee. The conservative caucus has grown from 40 members in the late 1990s to about 100 in the new Congress — not including five conservative former House members who are moving to the Senate.

Exit polls indicate social conservatives voted in about the same proportion as in 2000. But Pence and others credit them with President Bush's margin of victory over Democrat John Kerry and say the election was a referendum on conservative values.

"It's a new day," Pence said, "and a new Congress."

For conservative Republicans, it's also a new chance to enact their agenda — whether it jibes with the president's or not

The wingnuts have their plan outlined, clearly and in boldface. What is going to be the Dem response? How are they going to frame the debate, or are they just going to be steamrolled?
Conservatives say they plan to pursue new, stalled and previously defeated initiatives, including:

Abortion limits. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., will reintroduce a bill that would require those who perform abortions after 20 weeks to tell mothers that their fetus feels pain and to offer it anesthesia. The Bush administration has not declared a position but argued during last year's successful effort to ban late-term or "partial birth" abortions that fetuses feel pain. "This was a very clear election cycle. ... The country has shifted. You've got a pro-life electorate," Brownback says.

Gay marriage. Congress failed last year to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. But since 11 states approved initiatives against gay marriage, conservatives say they have momentum. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, who chairs the House Republican Conference, predicts the amendment, which Bush supports, will be voted on again.

Spending. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., will resubmit a long-shot balanced budget constitutional amendment that would oblige the government to spend no more than it takes in. The House passed the measure in 1997, but the Senate was one vote short at a time when it also had 55 Republicans. If approved by Congress, the amendment must be passed by three-fourths of the states to become law.

[Good luck on this one -- it's their president (and a GOP Congress) that busted the budget. --Pam]

Environment. Several new Republican senators favor oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They could give Republicans the last few votes needed to pass the controversial provision as part of a larger energy bill stalled in the Senate.

Clergy and politics. Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., will reintroduce a bill that would make it legal for churches to participate in political campaigns without losing tax-exempt status. It's not clear whether Bush will weigh in on the issue.

I am sick of the Dems having no balls, afraid of the Religious Right

What ever happened to the party of civil rights? The article excerpts below contain some of the most tepid, timid, 'nad-less reactions by Dems in CA regarding the state's legal battle over gay marriage. A trial court in SF is about to begin hearings on whether the state's ban on gay marriage is legal and you can see the Dems squirming on this already. They clearly have made no internal attempts to reframe support for civil marriage for gays as a moral principled stand. This, in a state with a Republican-light governor that has expressed support for gay marriage. You could understand Arnold's reticence to push things (and even he has urged his own party to move leftward).

The Right, however, has clearly staked its ground without fear; it plans to push for a radical state constitutional amendment that will also be a super-DOMA -- it will strip gay couples of partnership benefits as well -- read the out-front homophobic comments. They aren't unsure of their positions. This should outrage Dems nationwide, let alone California.
On the same day that California Assemblyman Mark Leno introduced a bill seeking to legalize gay marriage, the Traditional Values Coalition also launched a legislative drive for a ballot measure that would not only write the statutory ban on same-sex marriages into California's Constitution but also strip gay and lesbian couples of existing domestic partnership rights.

''We're going to stand our ground and take back what was taken from us when it comes to marriage. We're doing what it takes to push this back into the closet where it belongs," said Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the coalition, a faith-based advocacy group based in Orange County, among the state's most conservative quarters.

To see the p*ssy comments by the Dems below, it's just f*cking shameful -- the Left, aside from the gay rights advocates, is running for cover. Where is the leadership? At what point will the gay population see any balls from the Democrats? Will we all have to be rounded up and put on boxcars to re-education camps before we are worthy of being defended as worthy of civil rights?

''There's always a general assumption that we [Democrats] are all on the same page on this," said Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, a Democrat who represents a San Francisco Bay Area suburb. ''From a political strategy, a number of us are concerned after seeing the results of the national election."

...''You can certainly win the battle, but lose the war," Canciamilla said, suggesting that Leno's bill could be ''used as a rallying point for the Lou Sheldons of the world," referring to the conservative minister and firebrand who founded the Traditional Values Coalition.

''There are a lot of members who want to make a point of this, who see it as a civil rights issue and want to make a political issue," Canciamilla said, adding that ''most members are afraid to talk about the issue" and will not be heard from until a vote.

So f*cking what? The counter the Lou Sheldons of the world with why gay civil marriage will help, not hurt our culture?. The party certainly didn't mind taking gay dollars during the campaign, yet the post-mortem line from many circles in the party was often a "blame the gays for losing" theme -- we didn't push those amendments. Wake up Dems, it is NEVER going to be a convenient time to fight for civil rights. It is going to be politically hard, and require political courage and strategic thinking -- I don't see the commitment there or, quite frankly, the smarts in the leadership to handle this issue. All I see is cowardice and shuffling and jiving in front of the intolerant, hypocritical American Taliban.

The latest in homophobia-driven fundraising from the Right, courtesy of Larry Klayman & Judicial Watch

Read all of this hateful (originally posted on AmericaBlog by John A.) solicitation of funds by wingnut Judicial Watch's Larry Klayman. It's clear that his approach, knowing that a national constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is a long shot, is to say that any kind of partnership benefits granted by PRIVATE corporations will cost taxpayers money and bankrupt the nation, raise the costs of goods, oh, you name it. He wants to take legal action against companies that provide partner benefits as a start. This pretty much tosses in the kitchen sink -- even the support of Alan Keyes for good effect. This is long, but why cut any of this sh*t? It needs to be read. It's yet another roadmap for the Democratic leadership if they ever get out of their collective comas.

Secretly... Stealthily... radical homosexual activists have been picking the pockets of American companies -- and their customers, like you. In the process they're undermining America's families and the sanctity of marriage. And I know THEY don't care about you and your family, and traditional family values, but you do -- and I do! That's why I had to write you this letter.

Dear Trusted Friend,

YOU PROBABLY KNOW that the recent Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas basically gives homosexuals the right to do whatever they want, including "marriage" in Massachusetts -- and soon, in your state too!

BUT WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW is that the financial benefits of marriage have already been handed to them -- over and over again -- by American companies YOU do business with!

What I'm talking about is that homosexuals who work for American companies, in increasing numbers, are demanding and getting the same benefits for their "partners" as a legally-married husband and wife.

In fact, a homosexual "partner" can move in on Sunday and begin getting benefits on Monday! And these FREE benefits include free healthcare, bereavement and family leave benefits, free life insurance, the use of fitness facilities, AND sick leave.

And to be "fair," these companies sometimes (not always!) extend the same benefits to live-in boyfriends and girlfriends of heterosexuals, too.


Of course, ANY kind of "equal" treatment for non-married couples sends the message that "Marriage is no big deal," and "Our company sees no value in marriage!"

So you might think it was just a handful of companies that would act this way. But NO -- I'm talking about companies YOU deal with all the time! Companies like:

American Express, Procter and Gamble, Bank of America, Barnes & Noble, the stock broker Charles Schwab, Coca- Cola, Compaq Computers, Kodak, Ford Motor Co., JP Morgan Chase, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Qwest Communications, Shell Oil Co., Starbucks, The Gap, Inc., Time Warner Co., and Verizon Communications.

... and I could, unfortunately, go on and on!

Not only that, but the number of companies who knuckle under from pressure and threats from radical homosexual activist groups goes up almost weekly!

In fact, a recent poll shows that one-third of all U.S. companies either DO offer, or are WILLING to offer, "marriage" benefits to homosexuals living together. Its not that I hate homosexuals. But they should not be given special privileges, which are not provided for under our Constitution and other laws.

Click here to help us by contributing now:

MY TEN YEARS ON THE CULTURAL BATTLE LINES Ten years ago I started Judicial Watch, the independent watchdog group that uses publicity and legal action to hold government, and elected officials, accountable to the public. In that time, I've seen every kind of trick by special interest groups to get their way with politicians.

Now I'm seeing homosexual groups use the same pressure tactics on American businesses.

And, as you may know, while I was Chairman of Judicial Watch before I left to run for the U.S. Senate last year, it was the ONLY organization to win a verdict against Bill Clinton for any of his illegal and immoral activities. That success has given me a national voice.

So now, in the same way, I want to use that voice to expose another kind of injustice. It is an injustice against the decent families of America -- families like yours. The very companies you patronize are denigrating marriage. Their policies proclaim they have NO pro-family compass.

Not only that, but they see no benefit for themselves in workers who have stable, loving families! Rather, they give homosexual employees special privileges by virtue of their sexual behavior!

But their offense is not just against our families, although that is wrong enough. You see, they also blithely ignore the financial cost of these "domestic partner" arrangements, sweeping them under the rug when their stockholders meet.

Yet the fact is, my friend, that such "domestic partner" arrangements have HUGE costs. While I support medical treatment for AIDS, you should not have to pay for it. The cost of anti-HIV drugs alone for homosexual domestic partners is immense! The insurance companies then recover that cost by raising the premiums they charge everyone, including you!

Plus, homosexuals living together as "domestic partners" often file as "married" with the IRS for further benefits.

Not only that, but companies, to pay the higher premiums their "open-mindedness" costs them, usually pass on the costs to their customers!

So every Coke you drink, every piece of Microsoft software you buy, every roll of Kodak film you buy, and the Ford or GM car you drive -- plus your health insurance -- have an inflated price to pay benefits for non-married (mostly temporary) "partners."

To me, that's just not right, and it's not fair to you or to any other American who has a stable family.


You see, radical homosexual activists haven't been satisfied just with "domestic partner" agreements from these companies! They've also gotten them to donate millions to radical pro-homosexual lobbying groups at the local, state, and federal levels.

For example, you may have wondered, "Gee, I don't have money to pay a lawyer to sue somebody. Where did a homosexual guy get the money to sue the state of Texas -- and take them all the way to the Supreme Court -- and win?"

The answer is: Radical Homosexuals undoubtedly use some of the money from these corporations to help finance this.

And, as the refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts shows, it is becoming more and more necessary to see this corporate high jacking of the American consumer come to a stop!

A Constitutional amendment, while necessary, will take many, many years to push through, after all the damage has been done. That's why it is so very critical you help me succeed now in cutting off the funding of the radical homosexual effort to destroy marriage!

Click here to contribute now:


You see, we need to reverse this growing trend among American companies:

* Because their "generosity" pushes up the cost of the products YOU buy and the health care premiums YOU pay.

* Because once the "camel's nose is in the tent," many of these same companies go on to give BIG bucks to radical homosexual groups -- the same ones who are pushing to force homosexual "marriage" through the courts in every state.

* Because corporate endorsement of homosexuality further erodes the place marriage MUST hold in any healthy society.

You see, my friend, corporate America depends on "regular folks" like us to use their products. They never could survive on homosexual customers alone (about 1-2% of the population by current estimates).

But they think they can count on our ignorance, or apathy. That's why they effectively funnel millions of dollars they get when we buy their products to radical groups who are at war with everything we believe in -- groups who are determined to wipe out the special place of the traditional family.

THIS LETTER IS MY ANSWER: WE'RE NOT GOING TO LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT. Because I know, and now YOU know, just what they're doing!

So I'm asking you to join with me in a 5-part strategy to counteract what radical homosexual activists are doing in corporate America.


Before I lay out my strategy, let me explain to you why so many companies -- more every week -- are caving in to the demands of these radical homosexual groups.

In a few cases, it's because the company leadership is so "liberal" that they actually believe that trashing marriage is a good idea.

But in most cases, it's because they're SCARED! Scared of the kind of venom, hatred, harassment, and embarrassment that radical homosexual activists will cause ANYONE who opposes them.

Believe me, I know what I'm talking about! In every public campaign I've done to promote the family, or to promote traditional American values, some of my most bitter opponents have been radical homosexual activists and the politicians who are beholden to them.

So, frankly, I understand why these company executives just want to be left alone. That's their motive. Just leave me alone, they say, and let me sell cars, or coffee, or financial services.

So our basic strategy has to be: let's NOT "just leave them alone." We have a five-part plan:

FIRST, I need to alert conservatives like you to what's going on and get your backing.

SECOND, you and I must let the leadership of companies that aid and abet radical homosexual activists know we are aware of their actions and we will call public attention to it.

THIRD, we will alert company Board members, and especially stockholders to the effect these "domestic partner" arrangements are having on the company's bottom line. Believe me, the company executives who promote radical pro-homosexual policies do NOT want a big stink raised at stockholder meetings! They DREAD it! But that's what's coming at them if you'll help me!

FOURTH, we must demand they make amends by supporting, at least as much as they do radical pro-homosexual groups, those groups working to strengthen the traditional family. Homosexuals represent a mere 1-2% of the population, and we're over 40%, so support for our causes should be made at least 20 fold!


Frankly, my friend, we are probably going to have to pursue legal means to achieve our goals. We need your significant help financially, since the radical homosexual activists hope we will run out of funds, shut up, and go away.

But if you'll help me, I won't let that happen. It's just like when I started Judicial Watch in 1994. The political special interests thought they could out-finance me and block any attempt I made at shedding light on government malfeasance.

They were wrong! Because of folks like you, we shone the cleansing light of truth into many seamy pockets of Washington.

You see, the main thing needed is knowing HOW to put pressure on powerful interests -- and then sticking it out until they cave in.

Yet to get this effort off the ground, I need a great response from folks like you. Because I do not have "deep pockets." But if you'll help me, I promise to persist with company after company until they see the light on this issue.

So please help us in this "outreach to corporate America" because if you do not, I fear the tide is turning against the American family. Unless we act NOW, the family as we have known it in America will be swept out to sea, and God only knows whether it shall be restored.

So will you please make a small investment in your family's future, and America's future, by giving a gift, today, to the "Citizen Action Now!", a project of Declaration Alliance which I have agreed to head up. Declaration Alliance was started by my friend Alan Keyes precisely to focus on community-wide issues that relate to the foundational principles of America.

Click here to contribute now:

As you probably know, Alan Keyes and I have joined efforts to embark on this tough new endeavor. When Alan ran for President in 2000 he told me he wanted to make me his Attorney General if he won. Now, I am truly acting as a private Attorney General for the family. So Alan and I have been preparing to launch "Citizen Action Now!" for a long time. NOW is the moment -- and he has asked me to partner with him on this effort!

A gift of $35 or more, from every person who gets this e-mail, will fully fund our efforts -- at least until we can get a few companies to see the light and come to our aid!

And some, I know, just can't give more than 5 or 10 dollars. So if you can donate something extra -- $50, $100, $150, or even $500 or $1000 or more, would you please do that so there is nothing lacking in our effort?

Click here to contribute now:

Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is Americans like you, under God, in whom I put my hope.

Yours for the Family,

Larry Klayman

P.S. Corporate support of radical homosexuals is the biggest single battering ram destroying the family and the home. In courts and in corporate boardrooms, radical homosexuals use corporate profits to support and legitimize their lifestyle AND their politics of family destruction. And the actions of these corporations create the social "climate" that even influences the do-nothing and gutless Supreme Court! please, help me stop the destruction of the family by giving to "Citizen Action Now!" in this Outreach to Corporate America. Please let me know how much YOU can help and WHO you think we should focus on first by returning the enclosed reply form. Thank you, and God bless you!

Click here to contribute now:

If you prefer to donate by mail, please send your check to:

Declaration Alliance / Citizen Action Now!

Social Security Admin rejects het licenses because of gay marriage limbo

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The blowback is occurring. Now straight folks are getting a taste of the unfair and insane government bureaucracy surrounding gay marriage. Both het and gay marriage licenses granted in cities where it was briefly allowed are currently in limbo both in state courts and now with the SSA, creating this problem. (AP):
The Social Security Administration is rejecting marriage documents issued for heterosexual couples in five communities that performed weddings for gay couples earlier this year.

The agency is rejecting all marriage certificates issued in New Paltz, N.Y., Asbury Park, N.J., Multnomah County, Ore., and Sandoval County, N.M., during the brief periods when those localities recognized gay marriages.

Susie Kilpatrick, 30, of New Paltz, said the local Social Security office told her that no marriage documents from the town could be used to establish identity if they were issued after Feb. 27, when New Paltz's mayor began marrying gay couples. About 125 heterosexual couples have been married since then.

Kilpatrick said her marriage certificate was rejected when she went to get a new card earlier this month so she could take her husband's name.

"What concerns me is that the certificate is the only way to prove that we're married," she told The New York Times for Sunday editions. "If something happens to us, or some other couple from New Paltz, we can't prove we're married. We would not be able to draw benefits."

The agency did not respond to repeated requests from the Times for comment. A call from The Associated Press for comment on Sunday was not immediately returned.

The agency posts rules on its Web site spelling out which documents can be used to obtain Social Security cards.

It accepts civil-union documents from Vermont and marriage licenses for gay couples in Massachusetts. Marriage certificates for gay couples from San Francisco are not allowed, but those for heterosexual couples from the city are being recognized.

The Web site said the legality of marriage documents in the other localities, including New Paltz, is "still unresolved at the state level."

New York state officials, including Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Gov. George Pataki, have said same-sex ceremonies violate state law. Several lawsuits challenging the law are pending, and New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, is widely expected to make the ultimate decision on the legality of gay marriage in the state.

Residents in New Paltz are confused why Social Security officials are targeting heterosexual marriage licenses from their town.

Dan Wilen, New Paltz's town supervisor, said the agency never contacted town officials to inform them that the certificates would not be recognized. He called the policy unfair.

"They're delving into every aspect of our lives, including marriage," he said. "I'm appalled."

Bush is Time's Person of the Year - time to hurl

Gag, gag, gag. I know, Hitler's been Person of the Year on Time's cover before, but this just reeks. Actually, the Bush pick isn't surprising. The media has been all up his bunghole since Sept 11, and has, with few exceptions, been lap dogs, held in check by their corporate masters. Personally, I would have preferred to see either Karl Rove and Mehlman or Falwell, Dobson, ("Religious Right") named on the Time cover. At least it would be a nod to the manipulation and brainwashing tactics used in the GOP's politics that got Bush back in the White House. I want these folks who are running the show defending their policies, beliefs and tactics as much as possible -- out in the open where their hypocrisy and contempt for the voting population can be exposed.

Putting that smug loser on the cover gives him more legitimacy than he deserves. (AP):
The magazine's editors tapped Bush "for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership."

...After a grueling campaign, Bush remains a polarizing figure in America and around the world, and that's part of the reason he earned the magazine's honor, said Managing Editor Jim Kelly.

"Many, many Americans deeply wish he had not won," Kelly said in a telephone interview. "And yet he did."

In the Time article, Bush said he relishes that some people dislike him.

"I think the natural instinct for most people in the political world is that they want people to like them," Bush said. "On the other hand, I think sometimes I take kind of a delight in who the critics are

Kelly said Bush has changed dramatically since he was named Person of the Year in 2000 after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency.

"He is not the same man," Kelly said. "He's a much more resolute man. He is personally as charming as ever but I think the kind of face he's shown to the American public is one of much, much greater determination."

The magazine gives the honor to the person who had the greatest impact, good or bad, over the year.

Asked on ABC's "This Week" how Bush reacted when he learned of Time's decision, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said the president was "not worried about what pundits might be saying."

[OMFG, what sh*t is being shoveled by Card here... -P]

Card praised Bush as a "great liberator" for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq and lauded Bush's tax cuts, education and Medicare reform packages and plans to remake Social Security.

It's nice to get a welcome mat like this rolled out by neighbors

Homes under construction in a housing development burn in this Dec. 6, 2004 file photo, in Indian Head, Md. Three more people, including at least one volunteer firefighter, were arrested Saturday, Dec. 18, 2004, in connection with the largest residential arson in Maryland history, a collection of blazes that caused $10 million in damage to houses in an upscale development. The suspects are white, and many of the families moving into the development are black. (AP Photo/St. Mary's Today, Terrance Greenhow, File)

I never thought this was about eco-terrorism. That one seemed far-fetched. Now arson because you don't like people of color -- that's not far-fetched at all. I'm surprised, once the news mentioned that the development was one considered an upper-middle class African-American neighborhood, that a racial motive didn't become the first thought. Oh well; maybe authorities just don't want to think that there's a possibility that some crackers out there just don't like black people. The other thoughts that came to my mind when the story first broke were a) it's a fire fighter reject that couldn't cut it and make it into the dept, or b) some employee that was fired and had an ax to grind. It looks like this case might have all three.
Racial animosity and revenge may have been motives in the fires that caused $10 million in damage in Maryland's largest residential arson case, a spokesman for federal investigators said Sunday.

Four men have been charged with arson at the Hunters Brooke development, where fires on Dec. 6 destroyed 10 houses and damaged 16 others. No one was hurt; many of the homes were still under construction.

Michael Campbell, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said investigators are considering revenge and race, along with several other possible motives.

"Two typical motives for arson are revenge and race," Campbell said. "It's something investigators are looking at."

A federal law enforcement official speaking on the condition of anonymity said two of the four suspects in custody allegedly made racial statements to investigators during questioning.

...The official also said that one of the suspects, Jeremy Daniel Parady, was turned down when he tried to get a job with Lennar Corp., the company building the houses south of Washington.

On Saturday, officials arrested Patrick Stephen Walsh, 20, of Fort Washington; Parady, 20, of Accokeek; and Michael McIntosh Everhart, 20, of Waldorf. They were to appear Monday before a U.S. magistrate judge in Greenbelt.

A fourth person, Aaron L. Speed, 21, who worked for a security company hired to guard the development, is being held until a hearing Tuesday. In statements to investigators, Speed said he was upset his employer didn't show enough sympathy after his infant son died this year.

...Attention then turned to whether the arsons could have been a hate crime. While many of the buyers of the half-million-dollar homes were black, Charles County is largely rural and mostly white.

The scale of the arson - the fires broke out almost simultaneously over a 10-acre site - led investigators to believe that more than one person may have been responsible. Authorities believe the fires were set using an accelerant and a propane torch.

Parady was a "riding member" with the Accokeek Volunteer Fire Department, which meant he could ride with fire crews but not actively engage in firefighting, Fire Department President Wayne Jordan told The Washington Post.

NC Guardsman killed Iraqi after sex

I'll probably have more to say about this later...can anyone tell these people that "gay panic" as a defense is just ludicrous? This sick "I'm not gay, it's just sex, I can't help myself" crap is just out of control. It's wrong on so many levels, the lies just kept flowing from this troop's mouth to cover his actions. And look at the level of self-loathing -- the solider shot the victim 11 times -- that amount of overkill is just monstrous. The thought of killing the person was less of a conflict for him than his own sexual conduct.

(Raleigh News and Observer):
A North Carolina National Guard member thought to be the first U.S. soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi said he "snapped" and shot the 17-year-old boy after they had consensual sex, according to court-martial records released this week.

Pvt. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, of Biscoe, a tiny town south of Asheboro, pleaded guilty during a court-martial in Iraq to shooting the Iraqi national guard private, whose name the Army withheld.

Merida was sentenced Sept. 25 to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank. He will be dishonorably discharged.

Army officials at Forward Operating Base Danger, where the court-martial was held, withheld details of the case, saying the records had to be approved by a general. They released the records to The News & Observer on Thursday.

Maj. Neal E. O'Brien said Army rules required that most of the names be inked out, including that of the victim. The Los Angeles Times reported shortly after the court-martial that the victim's name was Falah Zaggam.

According to the records, Zaggam and Merida were on guard duty May 11 in a tower on the perimeter of an Army camp near Tikrit in northern Iraq. About 10:30 p.m., Merida shot Zaggam repeatedly with his M-4 carbine.

The "gay panic" motive was the third that Merida offered. He first told investigators that Zaggam demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed Zaggam because the boy forced him to have sex.

Interviewed a third time by skeptical investigators, Merida said he got angry after the two had consensual sex. When the boy went to the latrine, Merida began to craft an excuse for killing him.

According to the records, Merida told investigators that he picked up Zaggam's AK-47 rifle and chambered a bullet so that it was ready to fire. He then pulled out the magazine, which held the rest of the bullets, and put it aside.

When Zaggam returned, Merida handed the gun back. Merida then grabbed the boy's trigger finger, forcing him to fire a bullet into the ceiling.

Merida then radioed the camp headquarters and said Zaggam had tried to kill him after demanding money. Merida dropped the radio and raised his own gun, a short version of the M-16 assault rifle.

Merida first shot at the floor of the guard tower, then into Zaggam's legs, according to an account that Merida signed for the court-martial. Zaggam tried to wrest away the rifle, and Merida shot him in the groin. Zaggam clutched at a railing and fell down the stairs as Merida kept shooting.

"The accused fired a couple more rounds into the lifeless body ... then took his magazine out and set it aside, put his weapon down, and called ... to report that he had just killed the [Iraqi national guard] soldier who had tried to rob him," the account signed by Merida said.

The boy was hit by 11 bullets.

In an agreement with the Army that limited his prison sentence to no more than 25 years, Merida pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder but guilty to murder without premeditation. He pleaded guilty to two counts of giving false statements in his initial explanations. He was found not guilty of dereliction of duty for having consensual sex while he should have been guarding the camp.

US military sees sharp fall in black recruits

(UK Telegraph). Again, where is the surprise here? Who wants to join up for this debacle -- they know their asses will be shipped off to Iraq. I love the spin below of how the drop off of black enrollment is actually a good thing because the racial balance of the military is being restored.
For years, black Americans have formed the backbone of the all-volunteer US army, filling a quarter of its ranks, though blacks account for only 13 per cent of the population. Blacks are more likely to treat the army as a lifelong career; a third of senior sergeants and non-commissioned officers are black. Suddenly, that is changing.

Apart from a sudden fall in the past two months in recruiting for the part-time National Guard, army recruitment as a whole has held more or less steady this year, with the help of increased enlistment bonuses and an early call-up for some youths originally due to enter basic training next year.

But the proportion of black recruits into the army was only 15.6 per cent, down from 22.3 per cent in the fiscal year 2001. In the part-time army reserve, the drop is sharper.

Army officials decline to speculate about the collapse in black recruiting, instead noting what they call a positive development, that army numbers will now reflect the make-up of society better.

Behind the scenes, there is more concern, according to Prof David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

"If there are fewer blacks coming in - and it is blacks who stay in and become NCOs - then six, seven, eight, nine years down the road, you can anticipate a shortage of sergeants," he said.

Prof Charles Moskos, an expert on the military and race at Northwestern University in Chicago, said the drop-off began even before the Iraq war, with the election of President George W Bush in 2000 in the face of overwhelming black antipathy, an attitude that lingers to this day.

That hostility increased exponentially with the invasion of Iraq, which was opposed by a large majority of black Americans, amid suspicion over the reasons given for toppling Saddam Hussein and anger at billions of dollars spent overseas, rather than at home.

...Crucially, among older generations there are also sharp memories of the Vietnam War, in which blacks were seen as bearing an unfair burden of casualties. Martin Luther King spoke of it being fought by people of colour against people of colour in the interests of whites.

Kayla Roach, a black woman, said: "I know families whose kids want to join the military, and their parents are saying no. Maybe they have just one or two children and it's scary to them."

Colorado Springs Gazette nets $36K for bible supplement

After the Washington Post took six figures for the homophobic Both Sides insert recently, it's no surprise to see smaller papers make similar moves like distributing whole custom-tailored New Testaments to its citizens. Yes, even its Jewish citizens. Found this unbelievable item Via Talk Left (AP):
Colorado Springs has its official daily newspaper: the Gazette.

And, thanks to the International Bible Society, Colorado Springs now has its own customized Bible.

This Sunday, Dec. 19, the two will officially join hand in glove. That's when all 91,000 Gazette subscribers will retrieve from their driveways or their porches -- or their rooftops -- copies of the New Testament, tucked inside the newspapers standard blue plastic wrappers.

...Colorado Springs is merely the first city where the International Bible Society plans to distribute the New Testament inside daily newspapers. Jackson said the group is currently in discussions with the Denver Post to distribute a Denver version; Seattle, Nashville and Santa Rosa, Calif. are also high priorities.

From the Gazette, there has been -- at least so far -- scant warning or public discussion about the undoubtedly controversial decision to distribute Bibles. An article detailing the plan appeared two months ago in the newspaper's Oct. 16 lifestyle section, in which Gazette publisher Bob Burdick compared the plan to other endeavors, like giving out laundry detergent and America Online computer disks. "Just because we distribute something doesn't mean we endorse it or don't endorse it," said Burdick.

[Sound familiar, Washington Post? -Pam]

...The Gazette's editor so far has remained publicly silent, but, not surprisingly, over at Temple Shalom, the city's largest Jewish congregation, the matter has already been widely discussed. Leave it to say, not everyone is thrilled. Temple Shalom administrator Mary Simon says some congregants plan to cancel their subscription in protest. But they also have another idea for people who don't want the New Testament with their Sunday newspaper. Temple Shalom plans to collect unwanted Bibles and deliver them to a church or a homeless shelter that needs them. "We're trying to make a positive statement," Simon said.

Now that's admirable, especially since the Gazette initially planned to distribute the New Testaments on Dec. 12, until some bright bulb realized that day falls in the middle of Hanukkah and maybe, just maybe, getting a Bible from the Gazette might be an even harder slap in the face to non-Christians.

Pimpin' Bush and meglomania

Texas pimp Bush walks to the WH limo.

The official meglomania of this president

I'm reading this AFP piece and wondering why we bother with elections. This man wants to be dictator. And not a benevolent one.
A Justice Department lawyer reportedly wrote a secret memo to the White House in 2001 concluding that President George W. Bush has the authority to wage preemptive war against terrorists and countries even if they were not linked to the September 11 attacks.

According to the memo there are effectively "no limits" on the presidents authority to wage war, Newsweek magazine reports, noting that it seems to lay the legal groundwork for Bush to invade Iraq even without approval Congressional approval.

"The President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the states that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of Sept. 11," the memo reads, according to Newsweek.

The memo, titled "The Presidents Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them," argues that the president should be allowed to order whatever military action "in his best judgment" are necessary to protect the United States.

The presidents decisions to use force "are for him alone and are unreviewable," the memo reads.

The 15-page document, dated September 25, 2001, was written by conservative Justice Department lawyer John Yoo and addressed to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. Yoo has since left government and is a university law professor.

Can this be any more frightening? Think Iran or North Korea -- are they next on his list?

Who's your Daddy? Big business, energy foot Bush inaugural bill to the tune of $4.5 mil

Saturday, December 18, 2004

So checking email, finding one thing to post via dial-up before giving up and turning in. This caught my eye because it reminds me of Fahrenheit 9/11 and Shrub talking about "his base," referring to corporate fat cats. I'm sure having this list of big moneybags giving to Bush's inauguration fund are just being patriotic and have no agenda whatsoever... (USA TODAY):
More than $4.5 million from the corporate world has flowed to President Bush's inauguration fund, much of it from the energy industry and some of its executives in contributions of $250,000 each.

Outside the energy sector, New Orleans Saints football team owner Tom Benson gave $50,000 and his companies gave $200,000, the fund reported Friday.

Northrop Grumman Corp., the world's largest shipbuilder and second-largest U.S. defense contractor, donated $100,000.

Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Inc., the world's largest personal computer maker, gave $250,000. So did United Technologies, maker products ranging from escalators to aircraft engines. your daddy?

Investment banking firm Stephens Group Inc. of Little Rock, gave $250,000. And the education loan firm Sallie Mae gave $250,000.

Occidental Petroleum Corp., whose business stands to benefit from the president's actions concerning Libya, donated $250,000, as did Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company. Exxon Mobil reported record third-quarter profits, thanks to higher prices for oil and natural gas.

...Other donors from the energy sector included Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, who gave $250,000; and former Enron President Richard Kinder, who left the firm five years before it collapsed and now is CEO of one of the largest energy transportation and storage companies in the country. Kinder also gave $250,000.

Energy provider Southern Co., which owns utility companies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi, gave $250,000.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the policy organization of the nuclear industry, gave $100,000.

Woman Charged in Grisly Theft of Fetus

Law enforcement officers search a house near Melvern, Kan., Friday night, Dec. 17, 2004, where Lisa M. Montgomery was arrested earlier in the day. Montgomery, 36, of Melvern, was charged Friday with killing a pregnant woman and kidnapping the baby that was cut from her womb. Authorities found the infant in good health, ending a day of frantic searching. U.S. Attorney Todd Graves said Montgomery was charged with kidnapping resulting in death in the slaying of 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was found nearly dead Thursday in her Skidmore home. Paramedics tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

I had to find out how this L&O: SVU-like sick story ended. House Blend reader Justin Cognito wrote that the TV show did, in fact, feature an episode with the same kind of sick crime featuring the late John Ritter.

Alabama may get the governor that they deserve...again

I guess George Wallace would be their first choice again, but he's uh, dead. Ten Commandments Judge May Run for Gov.. Guess I better phone Katie and let her know what "her people" down there in Sweet Home Alabama are probably all excited about the prospect of this wingnut f*cktard heading to the state house. (I'm in DE on dial-up -- I'm dying here). (AP):
Ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said Friday he is considering running for governor in 2006.

"I'll be praying about it and considering it," told reporters.

Moore was ousted in November 2003 for defying a federal judge's order to remove his 5,280-pound Ten Commandments monument from public display in the state judicial building. He appealed his ouster to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost.

If Moore were to run as a Republican, he could face a GOP primary battle with Gov. Bob Riley, who has not yet said whether he will seek a second term.

I wonder how many phone calls Rummy had to make to get these statements?

His ass is in the frying pan.

The stilted quality of these "endorsements" is telling. I smell a sense of desperation and flop sweat in the air....GOP Senators Spring to Defend Rumsfeld. (AP):
"I am confident that Secretary Rumsfeld is fully capable of leading the Department of Defense and our military forces to victory in Iraq and the war on terror," Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in a written statement. "Most importantly he has the confidence of his commanders in the field and our commander in chief."

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP whip, said Rumsfeld "is an excellent secretary of defense and we are fortunate to have a man of his courage and vision serving the president at this critical time."

Frist and McConnell came to Rumsfeld's defense after several days of GOP criticism aimed at the man who has steered the Pentagon during the Iraq war and its messy aftermath. More than 1,300 American troops have died since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in 2003.

None of Rumsfeld's congressional GOP critics has yet called for his ouster. Still, they have grown increasingly outspoken in recent days, less than two weeks after White House disclosed that the president wanted the defense secretary to remain in his post into a second term.

...In the face of GOP criticism, White House spokesman Scott McClellan has been issuing declarations of presidential support on a regular basis.

[Pass the crack pipe around in the WH, Scott... -- Pam]

"Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a great job leading our efforts at the Department of Defense to win the war on terrorism and to help bring about a free and peaceful Iraq," he said on Friday. "And he's instrumental in our efforts during this time of war we are in."

Other than Frist and McConnell, David Keene of the American Conservative Union issued a statement of support during the day. He said much of the GOP criticism was "petty, coming from some who do not care for the secretary's blunt, plain-speaking style. ... It's also true that much of the criticism is really intended for President Bush but aimed at Rumsfeld."

...Frist's brief written statement seemed to refer to such concerns. "I think it is important to not confuse style with substance," he said.

The Sunday shows are probably going to be chattering about this. This, I am sure, Rummy is scared of. He knows that when the pressure reaches a fever pitch, this president has no problem tossing problem children to the wolves.

I'm going to have blogging withdrawal...

Friday, December 17, 2004

Getting my last bit of blogging in before I go off to Delaware. Can't help it...

* Amber alert for stolen fetus. (CNN). This is the weirdest, Law & Order: SVU-type of case. I am half-asleep in bed and hear the folks on CNN saying this headline and I burst out laughing. I logically knew that something horrific must have happened for this to have occurred (not having heard any more than the headline), but my crazy brain had visions of a "thinking fetus" on the run.

* Did Kerik even have a nanny? Considering all the sordid details of Bernie's professional and personal life, the nanny problem is looking more and more like a cover story for his withdrawal. I called this one earlier. (NYT): "...six days after Mr. Kerik withdrew his nomination, citing 'questions about the immigration status of a person who had been in my employ,' the figure central to the scandal - the nanny - remains a complete mystery."

* Sprint and Nextel to merge. (NYT). I've still not forgiven Nextel for foist that crap "push to talk" walkie-talkie feature. Why in the hell is it necessary for people to not only talk to people on the phone in inappropriate places, but to jabber on where you can hear both sides of the conversation. Stop the madness!

* Here's a real internal vote of confidence: FDA scientists question safety. Apparently two-thirds of them thought two years ago that the FDA couldn't adequately monitor prescription drug safety. And 18% of the almost 400 respondents said they had been pressured to approve or recommend a drug despite reservations about its safety, effectiveness or quality. WTF? Remember, the Bush admin wants to limit lawsuits against Big Pharma, using the fig leaf that if the drugs pass FDA muster, then they must be safe. Sigh.

* God, I am old. It's the 20th anniversary of Bernie Goetz's shooting spree on the NYC subway system. I was living there during that time. He was the nerd that shot 4 black teens that he said he felt threatened by. He paralyzed one of them (Darrell Cabey). It all happened during a particularly bad time in the city in terms of crime, especially in the subways. Muggings and shootings occurred every day. Goetz's famous "Dirty Harry" line after he first shot Cabey, "You don't look so bad, here's another," put some serious fear into the black community at the time, since folks were scared that it was going to start a whole new round of faux vigilante justice, based on fear and ingnorance. Of course there was an equal amount of fear over the crime wave in the minority communities, which by far are proportionally victimized more by it anyway. It was just an ugly time. The subways and NYC are so much nicer and cleaner now that it takes a reminder like this Goetz anniversary to remind you how things were.

Hack: like having it signed by a monkey

Seeing that his nuts are in a sling, Rummy's decided to try some damage control and hand sign each condolence letter to families of fallen solders. It only draws attention to the fact that the f*cktard's had instructed his office to use an autopen to impersonally sign the documents, something that has never been done before. It's a complete lack of respect and a slap in the face for the ultimate sacrifice that these families have made for their country. (Stars and Stripes):
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures.

In a statement provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday, Rumsfeld tacitly admitted that in the past he has not personally signed the letters, but said he was responsible for writing and approving each of the 1,000-plus messages sent to the fallen soldiers’ families.

“I have directed that in the future I sign each letter,” he said in the statement.

“I am deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss.”

[Here's the bullsh*t excuse for why they weren't being signed. Can the foot be inserted any further down his throat? -- Pam]

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, “In the interest of ensuring timely contact with grieving family members, he has not individually signed each letter.”

...To me it’s an insult, not only as someone who lost a loved one but also as someone who served in Iraq,” Army Spc. Ivan Medina told Stripes.

“This doesn’t show our families the respect they deserve,” said Medina, a New York resident whose twin brother, Irving, was killed in a roadside bombing in Iraq this summer.

Illinois resident Bette Sullivan, whose son John was killed in November 2003 while working as an Army mechanic in Iraq, was incensed when she, her son’s wife and her grandchildren received the exact same condolence letter with the apparently stamped signature.

“If each family receives two copies, how many signatures does that amount to?” she asked in an e-mail response to Stripes. “I can understand the use of stamped signatures for his brothers’ mementos, but for those of his wife and children and mother? No, no, no.”

Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, an author and frequent critic of the Department of Defense, publicly criticized Rumsfeld in a syndicated column earlier this month for not reviewing each KIA letter personally.

He called the fake signatures “like having it signed by a monkey

Go, Hack!

House Blend on short vacation...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I'll be around blogging at Christmas time, but I'm off to visit my brother in Delaware for a few days. The guy is a professor and he still doesn't have broadband at home. I would take my laptop, but I need a break. If I dare to dial up maybe I'll be able to post (or go mad trying and give up). Anyway. I'll be back and online late Tuesday.

It's coming soon to a city near you...


Send those young Repubicans over to enlist; they're the true patriots anyway, right? This sh*t is all falling apart at the seams. Guard Reports Serious Decline in Recruitment (NYT):
In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000.

In addition, the head of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, said on Thursday that he needed $20 billion to replace arms and equipment destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan or left there for other Army and Air Guard units to use, so that returning reservists will have enough equipment to deal with emergencies at home.

The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police.

...The Guard has already said it intends to increase the number of recruiters to 4,100 from 2,700 over the next three months, the first large increase since 1989.

"We're in a more difficult recruiting environment, period," General Blum told reporters in disclosing the new figures and the new incentives. "There's no question that when you have a sustained ground combat operation going that the Guard's participating in, that makes recruiting more difficult."

There are 42,000 Army National Guard soldiers serving in Iraq and Kuwait, and 8,200 serving in Afghanistan. Since Sept. 11, General Blum said, there have been about 100,000 Army National Guard troops activated for duty at home or abroad at any given time.

General Blum's remarks come just a few days after the chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, told The Dallas Morning News that the Army Reserve recruiting was in a "precipitous decline" that, if unchecked, could inspire renewed debate over the draft. General Helmly told the newspaper that he personally opposed reviving the draft.

For the first two months of the fiscal year 2005, which started Oct. 1, the Army Reserve has also stumbled, falling 315 recruits short of its goal of 3,170 soldiers - a drop of 10 percent.

Take this man's license -- doctor tried to ignite patients

WTF? This pyro needs to be locked up. (Wash Times):
The chief of medical staff for Prince George's Hospital Center has said under sworn testimony that he has tried to ignite a surgical preparation solution on unwitting patients, court records show.
Testifying as an expert witness in a lawsuit in April, Dr. Willie C. Blair said he had tried to "set people on fire" in a deposition for a lawsuit stemming from an accident in which a female patient was burned in an operating room at the Washington Hospital Center in 2002, according to court records and transcripts of his deposition.
"I've been trying to set people on fire for the last three months and can't do it," Dr. Blair said in his April 30 deposition.
"How did you go about trying to set people on fire?" said plaintiff's attorney Robert R. Michael.
"I mean, I put the prep on and wait, and put the prep on and go early; do a lot of using the Bovie [an electric surgical device], but I haven't been able to ignite anybody," Dr. Blair said.
..."I still can't imagine how someone could justify intentionally trying to set patients on fire," said Robert M. Veatch, professor of medical ethics at Georgetown University and former director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown.
"I can't imagine any possible defense. I suppose he could claim he had reason to believe that he couldn't hurt people by trying this and was trying to prove his point," Mr. Veatch said.

Spelling Bee, Mr. President?

Good god. Perhaps Dan Quayle handled the graphics here. President George W. Bush and Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolton (C) talk to conferees, above a misspelled sign, at the White House Conference on the Economy in Washington, December 16, 2004. The White House went all out to showcase the advantages of U.S. President George W. Bush's ambitious financial agenda this week, but in the end the 'challenges' proved too much. The word 'challenges' -- a main theme of a two-day White House economic conference that ended on Thursday -- was misspelled on a large television monitor that stood in front of Bush during a panel discussion. (Reuters)

You know they don't want to go back to Iraq when they ask to be shot on purpose

What does this say about the state of morale in the armed forces? They're really eager for another tour of duty. Yahoo(AP):
Police have arrested a soldier they say had his cousin shoot him so he wouldn't have to return to Iraq.

Army Spc. Marquise J. Roberts, of Hinesville, Ga., suffered a minor wound Tuesday to his left leg from a .22-caliber pistol, police said. He was treated at a hospital, then arrested after he and his cousin allegedly admitted making up a story about the shooting.

After giving differing accounts of the incident, "they just broke down and confessed that they concocted the whole story so he didn't have to go back to the war," Philadelphia police Lt. James Clark said Thursday.

Police charged Roberts with filing a false report and charged his cousin, Ronald Fuller, with aggravated assault and other charges.

Roberts, who was visiting family in Philadelphia, initially claimed he was shot during an attempted robbery, but Fuller had said the incident occurred at another location during an argument, according to Clark.

Roberts, 23, was on a two-week leave from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which led the assault on Baghdad in 2003. He is scheduled to return to Iraq within the next few months. The division has been home since the summer of 2003.

Police said Roberts, a supply specialist who had spent seven months in Iraq, was distraught about having to return to combat duty and wanted to stay with his family.

Headline of the day: Millions of Bees Spilled on Vegas Freeway

Want some honey? (AP):
A truck carrying 12 million honeybees hit a wall on a highway ramp, dumping its load across the pavement shortly before the evening rush hour.

The truck was carrying 480 bee colonies, each with 25,000 insects, to California to pollinate the state's almond crop when it struck the wall Wednesday afternoon.

The collision spilled the bees and gallons of honey onto the highway and forced troopers to close the southbound ramp between Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 for more than four hours.

State police believe the driver lost control on the curving ramp.

Authorities summoned beekeepers to help but decided capturing the bees alive would take too much time and money. Firefighters doused the insects with water to kill them.

"We're talking millions of bees," said Don Grogan, owner of Sedona Honey Co. in Las Vegas, who was helping with the cleanup. "And tomorrow they'll all be dead. ... It breaks my heart."

Oy. Trent Lott is calling for Rummy's head...

If I were Rummy, I'd be typing up that draft resignation soon. The following statements are "Capitol Hill-speak" for GET OUT. (Mississippi Sun Herald):
"I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott, R-Mississippi, told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers."

Rumsfeld has been criticized since a soldier asked him last week why the combat vehicles used in the war in Iraq don't have the proper armor. Both Rumsfeld and President Bush have said more vehicle armor will be shipped to Iraq.

Lott said the United States needs more troops to help with the war. The country also needs a plan to leave Iraq once elections are over at the end of January.

Lott doesn't think Rumsfeld is necessarily the person to carry out that plan.

"I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so," Lott said. "I'm not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point."

Dems are letting the GOP split the religious black community

You don't see a lack of Dem politicians running to the churches come election time, looking good at photo ops and asking that folks of color turn out to fight the good fight at the polls.

But there is a not-so-quiet movement out there to unravel the coalition of color that Dems solidly rely upon. The GOP is masterfully creating a schism in the religious black (and I'd add Hispanic) community over gay rights by spreading patently false information and preying on fear and ignorance.

Where are the Dems and progressives on this? Where is the counter campaign?

Some black churches are doing what they can to keep black voters motivated. Turnout was strong in support of Kerry, but there were warning signs, with the state amendments to ban gay marriage passing so easily, that many people of color voted Kerry and for those amendments.

There are black churches out there that are not only increasingly, stridently homophobic, but they are also politically and publicly associating the left with moral decline.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, homophobic bigot pastor, Patrick Wooden, Sr. of Raleigh's Upper Room Church gives it just as good as Falwell when it comes to demonizing the left.

Then we've got the Washington Post printing an advertorial targeted at the religious black community to incite homophobia with disinformation.

This is dangerous on so many levels (including a public health one, if you're driving fearful queer blacks underground with the spread of HIV what it is). The publication is full of "information" such as:
-- sexual orientation has no genetic basis
-- gays die at the age of 41.
-- that you can become an ex-gay

Dr. Derek Grier, pastor of Grace Christian Church and editor of the homophobic rag, BothSides, and the man behind the "junk science," Paul Cameron.

Where has been the outcry by mainstream Dem talking heads about any of this GOP "strategy" as they watch their loyal base split apart? Folks will stay at home, or worse, gravitate to the enemy because Dems can't make the sale.

<crickets chirping>

And, in the meantime, the Dems are letting the likes of Falwell plan new coalition to recruit 10 million new evangelical voters for 2006 and 2008. Do you think that he and others of his ilk won't gain some traction with religious minority voters? They're working on a timetable, where is the Left?

The Dems obsession over courting the "NASCAR circuit" voters makes me sick. They've lost an election and are looking to recapture a hunk of the Jerry Falwell crowd? This while they let their most loyal base of voters be courted with this GOP-endorsed crap?

What in the hell happened to Dem backbone?

There a diary up at Daily Kos on this as well -- Dems letting the GOP split religious black community.

Navy SEALs Expanding Iraq Photos Probe

More depravity that they cannot ignore. (AP):
The Navy SEALs are expanding their investigation into recently published photographs that show freshly captured prisoners and grinning commandos sitting or lying on hooded and handcuffed detainees in Iraq, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Following a preliminary inquiry, senior SEAL officials have decided to take a more thorough look at the circumstances surrounding some of the photos, Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender said. Some of the images also show the bloodied faces of detainees.

Such an investigation, which will take up to a month, could result in disciplinary proceedings.

The preliminary inquiry by a single Navy investigator found that the majority of the 15 photographs published Dec. 3 by The Associated Press were taken for legitimate intelligence-gathering purposes and showed commandos using approved procedures, Bender said. He cited as an example a photo in which a weapon with a flashlight attached is pointed at a detainee's head to illuminate his face as another commando snapped a photo.

But other photos appear to show Navy SEALs posing for photos on top of hooded and handcuffed detainees in the back of a pickup truck. Bender declined to comment on the pickup truck photos, citing the ongoing investigation.

Bender said some SEALs have been called in for questioning during the preliminary inquiry, which was launched after the AP brought the photos to the Navy seeking comment.

An AP reporter found 40 photos of detainees on a commercial photo-sharing Web site. They were among hundreds posted by a woman who said her husband brought them back from Iraq.

Taking photos of prisoners for administrative or intelligence purposes is an exception to Navy regulations that generally forbid photos of prisoners of war.

Finding homosexual threads in Lincoln's legend; Freepers unravel

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The cover of the book; Joshua Speed, with whom Lincoln shared a bed for four years. (Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky.)

Was Lincoln gay? A new book that's (heheh) coming out says it's likely. (NYT):
The subject of the 16th president's sexuality has been debated among scholars for years. They cite his troubled marriage to Mary Todd and his youthful friendship with Joshua Speed, who shared his bed for four years. Now, in a new book, C. A. Tripp also asserts that Lincoln had a homosexual relationship with the captain of his bodyguards, David V. Derickson, who shared his bed whenever Mary Todd was away.

In "The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln," to be published next month by Free Press, Mr. Tripp, a psychologist, influential gay writer and former sex researcher for Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, tries to resolve the issue of Lincoln's sexuality once and for all. The author, who died in 2003, two weeks after finishing the book, subjected almost every word ever written by and about Lincoln to minute analysis. His conclusion is that America's greatest president, the beacon of the Republican Party, was a gay man.

But his book has not stopped the debate. During the 10 years of his research, Mr. Tripp shared his findings with other scholars. Many, including the Harvard professor emeritus David Herbert Donald, who is considered the definitive biographer of Lincoln, disagreed with him. Last year, in his book "We Are Lincoln Men," Mr. Donald mentioned Mr. Tripp's research and disputed his findings.

Mr. Tripp was the author of "The Homosexual Matrix," a 1975 book that disputed the Freudian notion of homosexuality as a personality disorder. In this new book, he says that early biographers of Lincoln, including Carl Sandburg, sensed Lincoln's homosexuality. In the preface to the original multi-volume edition of his acclaimed 1926 biography, Sandburg wrote: "Month by month in stacks and bundles of fact and legend, I found invisible companionships that surprised me. Perhaps a few of these presences lurk and murmur in this book."

Sandburg also wrote that Lincoln and Joshua Speed had "streaks of lavender, spots soft as May violets." Mr. Tripp said that references to Lincoln's possible homosexuality were cut in the 1954 abridged version of the biography. Mr. Tripp maintains that other writers, including Ida Tarbell and Margaret Leech, also found evidence of Lincoln's homosexuality but shied away from defining it as such or omitted crucial details.

As is my custom, I went over to Freeperland to read how this revised history lesson went over. As you can imagine, not well.
Actual Freeper Quotes™ on Lincoln being queer...

To: ZGuy
Look for Oliver Stone to do a Lincoln movie next.

To: ZGuy
Its "queer as a THREE dollar bill", not five dollar bill. Arrrgggh, bloody pufta historians.

To: ZGuy
If this is true, they need to take Lincoln off the penny and $5 bill NOW.

To: ZGuy
NYSlimes is still pressing their agenda. I get so tired of the rewrite of history to conform to a particular agenda. What is next, Christopher Columbus was gay?

To: SaveTheChief
Liberal historians have been pushing this for years. While working on my history degree at Texas A&M, I can't even count how many times some idiot liberal would try to prove to the class that everyone in the last 2000 years from Jesus to Ronald Reagan was homosexual. They could rarely offer any proof (the exception being a few famous Romans) and would sooner or later resort to name calling and attacking those who disagreed with them.

To: ZGuy
Steaming load of lying, liberal-demokkkRAT BS.

"Destroy America's History, at all costs. Fabricate, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie ..................!"

To: ZGuy
Oh good grief! Considering Lincoln referred to homosexuals as sodomites (Jefferson thought they should be executed) ....this is to stupid by half.

To: ZGuy
They will not rest until they have dragged the name of every honorable dead man in history through this mud in an effort to tarnish their images and advance an agenda.

To: ZGuy
Anything to smear a great American.

[My personal favorite one below -- Pam]
To: ZGuy
I'm not buying it. People were different then. Like it says, men sleeping together was no big deal. Sleeping arrangements were just different. The guy who had the room that Lincoln died in continued to sleep in the same bed for a couple of years, I believe, kind of proud to sleep in the bed where the President died. Even when I was a boy, if you got a massage, a man would always have a man do it -- unless he was visiting a whore. Likewise, skinny-dipping was a same sex sport, and lounging in the nude in the YMCA wasn't creepy at all like it is now.

To: SaveTheChief
Next we will hear he had a homosexual relationship with a slave.

To: ZGuy
Sick man pushing his sick ideas and perverted mind from the grave.
A pant-load of revisionalism.

Never mind the details about navigation interference...

That's the least of our worries. FCC to Vote on Wireless Access on Planes. They better come up with a "silence" section on planes if it goes through, or there's going to be an exponential increase in air rage. And I'll be one of them.

Marriage Keeps You Healthy, U.S. Study Shows

Then let us do it. (Reuters)
People living together but not married are more likely to have health problems than married adults, the survey found, and the findings hold firmest for the youngest adults.

The report, which can be found in the Internet at http:/, is in line with many other studies that show married people tend to be healthier. There are two major theories as to why, said the researchers.

"Marriage protection is the theory that married people have more advantages in terms of economic resources, social and psychological support, and support for healthy lifestyles,' the report says.

"Marital selection is the theory that healthier people get married and stay married, whereas less-healthy people either do not marry or are more likely to become separated, divorced, or widowed."

Falwell's overreaching again...

This is the living end. The man has named the School of Government at his Wingnut Liberty University after my former homophobic, racist senator Jesse Helms. Falwell plans new coalition to recruit 10 million new evangelical voters for 2006 and 2008. This blowhard is so out of control. Read the drivel, courtesy of The Raw Story. This is part of his letter, sent to potential supporters.
DATE: December 14, 2004
FROM: Jerry Falwell

Two days after the November re-election of President George W. Bush and the substantial increase of pro-life and pro-family members of Congress in both the House and Senate, I announced the formation of The Moral Majority Coalition (TMMC).

A primary goal of TMMC is the registration of 10 million new evangelical voters for the 2006 and 2008 general elections. We have no time to waste if we are to reach this ambitious goal.

Effective January 2, 2005 I am launching a four-year voter registration campaign I call “OPERATION: CHRISTIAN VOTE".

TMMC will work in conjunction with the new Helms School of Government at Liberty University . Named for retired five-term conservative North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, whom I consider a true statesman and a national treasure, this school seeks to train young people to enter public service with a Christian worldview and a bold passion to confront a liberal-oriented culture.

Through “OPERATION: CHRISTIAN VOTE", students at Liberty will spend weekends and summers over the next four years working hand-in-hand with pastors and staff members of evangelical churches all over America, registering voters in the churches and neighborhoods along with educating parishioners on issues of concern to them.

...With more than 225,000 Bible-believing churches in this nation, the potential impact of such a massive voter registration campaign is tremendous.

I believe that America was founded as a Christian nation, respective and tolerant of all religions, but we are indeed One Nation Under God. And it’s time that the people of God exercised their right to vote and vote their Christian convictions.

“OPERATION: CHRISTIAN VOTE” is the most ambitious voter registration project undertaking I have launched since we registered 8.5 million voters through the Moral Majority in 1979 and 1980, resulting in the election of President Ronald Reagan.

“OPERATION: CHRISTIAN VOTE” can result in an overwhelming victory for socially, politically and fiscally conservative candidates in coming elections and it may be the catalyst that saves our nation. I am seeking nothing less than overwhelming victory at the ballot box!

He goes on to make a plea for $25 contributions for the cause, which will get you a CD called "Hymns" featuring Robbie Hiner and the OTGH Quartet "singing classic hymns of the faith like: Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus, Nothing But The Blood, Victory In Jesus, There is a Fountain Filled With Blood, Send The Light, In The Garden, The Old Rugged Cross and more."

Local bigot pastor spends $7600 on "Christmas" ad. How many homeless people could that money have fed?

First-class local homophobe and pious pastor Patrick Wooden, Sr. of Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God proudly bought a full-page newspaper ad urging 'all Christians to spend their hard-earned dollars with merchants who include the greeting 'Merry Christmas' in their holiday advertising promotions this Christmas'. The church spent $7,600. How many homeless could that have fed? (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

This guy makes me sick. He has been a hostile local force against gay people in the Triangle and has no problem railing on about gays in print:

"I cannot stand by and say nothing while this wicked phenomenon takes place."

"We have to block the use of euphemisms when we talk about homosexuals," he said. "They are not gay. We've got to use terms like 'deviant' and 'abomination.' "

"If we're labeled as being fanatical Christians, we embrace it."

"[Homosexuality is] 'one of the greatest enemies of Christianity.'"

Now he's graduated to religious intolerance:

"There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, `Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left."

But to many, the threats and demands that stores put up "Merry Christmas" signs are no laughing matter.

"Why not simply require stores owned by Jews to put a gold star in their ads and on their storefronts?" the Rev. Jim Melnyk, associate rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Raleigh, wrote in a letter to the editor.

Army women in combat ban? No problem, make them "units of action"

The Pentagon is going to attempt to quietly set a precedent (as much as that can be these days!). It is about to deploy "mixed-sex units" on the front lines. I wonder how this will go over with the Right? Hey, this is one of the last gasps by the Bush administration to stave off the draft. Here's the spin from the Moony, winger paper. (Washington Times Op-Ed):
The Army's 3rd Infantry Division is scheduled to head to Iraq next month to bolster security before the Jan. 30 elections. When they leave, they could be the first division that deploys mixed-sex units near all-male combat units. The reorganization is part of Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker's plan to change the basic combat brigade into self-contained "units of action" that train and deploy with their support teams. The mixed-sex units, known as Forward Support Companies, would be on the ground near fighting, but not actively involved in combat.

As Rowan Scarborough has reported, the redesign has created a stir inside the Pentagon, as well as among civilian defense organizations, as some allege that "collocating" mixed-sex units with combat units violates a ban imposed in 1994.

...Those crying foul see a degree of political correctness sneaking into the one government department that should resist such pressure. While it is true that in the past the armed forces have not been immune to such tinkering, the Army's current reorganization doesn't seem to be one of those cases. In May, an internal Army briefing paper set forth a sober analysis of its current personnel problems: "Army manpower cannot support elimination of female soldiers from all units designated to be units of action elements," the document states. In other words, for the Army to go forward with Gen. Schoomaker's transformation plan, it would not have enough male personnel to fill out the forward support units. The paper further states, all-male FSCs "creates potential long-term challenges to Army; pool of recruits too small to sustain force."
As Mr. Scarborough has reported, some inside the Pentagon see the proposal as "skirting" the existing 1994 ban, if not violating it. That very well could be the case. Events in Iraq have shown that insurgencies do not operate on a front, thereby removing the safety support brigades enjoy being "behind the line." Placing mixed-sex forward units with support brigades could endanger more female soldiers than would otherwise be the case.
Even so, it would be far more detrimental to the Army's transformation objectives to deplete other units, possibly combat units, of needed manpower. To secure the highly mobile, self-contained fighting units Gen. Schoomaker envisions, combat units must be in close contact with support brigades. Allowing women to serve in such support units might not be the best alternative, yet until the Army increases its retention and recruitment it seems to be the only available one.

I think it's safe to say if this sleight-of-hand change isn't enough, then they'll definitely overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell before going ahead with a draft. Queer boys and gals, get ready to serve your country.

And now the Freeper reaction:
To: Former Military Chick
What's our military coming to? I hope the Army one day comes to its senses, drops the PC baloney it's been tinkering around with since the 90's, and returns to the tough old days. It's not just the women in combat thing, it's also been a general slump in combat readiness caused by feel-good commanders and such, but both are tied together. Our Army is still the best in the world, but letting it slip like it this sets a dangerous precedent.

To: Former Military Chick
While I was active, the military flirted with the idea of women in combat. I felt it would cause the death of many a young Marine. Not do to the womens combat skills, but the fact that we would try harder to keep her safe, thus causing our deaths due to compromised fighting abilities.

To: Former Military Chick
My half-sister just got out of the Army after her stint in Iraq. She says she quit because combat is not for women. Duh. I could have told her that when she was 18. Actually, I did.

To: longun45
IIRC Canada put a test program in place to get women through combat infantry training on an equal par with men.

ONE woman out of the test group made it, for a total investment in the *millions* of dollars.

They gave up the idea.

When I think of women in combat, I always remember the procedure I've seen for how to pick up a wounded, incapacitated soldier off the ground and lash him to your back and carry him off. I've =never seen a woman who looked like she could do that, with the possible exception maybe of one of those bodybuilder "steroid specials"...

Katie, your state's at it again: AL Judge Wears Ten Commandments on Robe

Roy Moore couldn't keep the monument in the Judicial building, so Judge Ashley McKathan's trying a new approach.

My Alabama-native wife will get more grief tonight. This YahooAP story highlights, yet again, why Alabama is just about a lost cause.
A judge refused to delay a trial Tuesday when an attorney objected to his wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.

Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan showed up Monday at his Covington County courtroom in southern Alabama wearing the robe. Attorneys who try cases at the courthouse said they had not seen him wearing it before. The commandments were described as being big enough to read by anyone near the judge.

Attorney Riley Powell, defending a client charged with DUI, filed a motion objecting to the robe and asking that the case be continued. He said McKathan denied both motions.

"I feel this creates a distraction that affects my client," Powell said.

McKathan told The Associated Press that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth "and you can't divorce the law from the truth. ... The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong."

He said he doesn't believe the commandments on his robe would have an adverse effect on jurors.

"I had a choice of several sizes of letters. I purposely chose a size that would not be in anybody's face," he said.

The case raised comparisons to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from office in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Moore said Tuesday he supports McKathan's decision to wear the Ten Commandments robe.

Joe says no to Homeland Security, UN posts

I don't know why he'd want the job anyway. Pretty thankless, though he'd probably fly through a confirmation, something Bernie Kerik surely would not (wouldn't those hearings have been dee-lish?). But as others have said, he sometimes sounds like a DINO, so he would be the one Dem Bush would probably have in the cabinet in some capacity. Lieberman rejects White House overtures (CNN):
Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned.

The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

White House officials declined comment, saying they do not discuss personnel matters.

Canada and gay marriage: light years ahead of the U.S., even when the politicians disagree

Left: Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. Right: Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative party in the Great White North, is opposed to same-sex marriage, but his position is still light years ahead on this issue from the views of most politicians in the U.S.

There is a small brush fire going on over gay marriage in Canada. Measures to pacify those opposed to it have been thrown a bone -- civic officials that disapprove cannot be forced to perform them. This measure is being proposed by the Liberal party to appease those that do not support gay marriage, but this is not enough for Conservative Stephen Harper, who wishes to create a separate but equal status for same sex unions. I find this "controversy" amusing because any and all of what you read below is so much more than anything gays in the U.S. have on the table at all (even Massachusetts).
Federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said that the legislation will contain a clause that lets civic officials who do not approve of same-sex marriage to refuse to conduct ceremonies.

...Cotler's move to exclude a requirement for local civil servants to conduct ceremonies for gay couples could mean that in smaller rural communities there would be no one to solemnify a marriage.

The move has also failed to appease Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

Harper said that his party would put forward three amendments to the Liberals' same-sex marriage bill when it is introduced in late January.

Harper told reporters Tuesday that one amendment would ensure that the legislation would preserve the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. He said a second amendment would protect the rights of non-traditional unions so that they are afforded the same benefits as married couples. The third amendment, Harper said, would provide substantive protection for religious institutions to be free from performing gay marriages.

Harper also had a warning for the minority Liberal government: "Should these amendments not be adopted by the House, a Conservative government will introduce them as legislation in the future and hold a free vote at that time."

Meanwhile, the premier of the only province officially opposed to gay marriage, Alberta's Ralph Klein, has conceded that the province has virtually no legal options to oppose same-sex marriage.

Harper, I suppose, would be classified politically here as "wingnut lite" from the Canadian POV. When we were in Vancouver getting married in July, all the news and talk in town was about the elections (Harper ran and lost in a fairly close race against the eventual winner, Liberal Paul Martin). Most Canadians we spoke with dismissed him, but he still had a generous amount of support when it came down to a national vote, particularly in the more rural provinces, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan. There is talk that he has a separate, subversive anti-rights agenda, but again, his position is still more progressive than what you hear in this country -- that's is a sad commentary on the U.S.

In the Winnepeg Sun, Harper's motives for the proposed amendments are being questioned by the local press -- it's clear he's queasy about taking a firm public position when it comes down to the details.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper yesterday dodged questions about whether he supports same-sex marriage, prompting criticism he has a hidden agenda from a national gay rights group. "I think he needs to be honest with Canadians about exactly what he wants to do here," said Laurie Arron, EGALE's director of advocacy.

"He clearly wants to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage and create a separate but equal scheme."

The criticism comes as Harper revealed three amendments his party plans to table when the Grits bring forward the same-sex marriage legislation early next year.

The three amendments include a recognition of the traditional definition of marriage; full recognition of same-sex relationships possessing equal rights and benefits; and protection for religious institutions.

"I believe this position represents the view of a majority of Canadians," Harper said.

"Should these amendments not be adopted by the House, a Conservative government will introduce them as legislation in the future and hold a free vote at that time."

When Harper was asked to explain how already-married gay couples would be affected by the amendments and whether their marriages would stand, he refused to say.

Late yesterday, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler was compelled to shoot down a number of statements made by Harper, saying Harper's plan would require him to invoke the Constitution's notwithstanding clause.

"Mr. Harper come clean and tell us where you stand," Cotler said."We are not being required to legislate, we are choosing to legislate."

Married in Massachusetts, single in North Carolina

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Great article on how a lesbian couple, married in Massachusetts, watched all their legal rights as a married couple slip away once they moved to my state of North Carolina. They settled in Charlotte, which is a large city, but in many ways it's more conservative (meaning: not as queer-friendly, despite a sizeable gay population) than the Triangle area. Charlotte is a banking metropolis, but it's also a NASCAR town at heart. (Charlotte Observer):
Karen Kitchens-Law and Mary Stuart Law were sitting in their lawyer's office in July, closing on their $343,000 home in University City in Charlotte, when they came across a question in the paperwork:

Are you married?

The couple, partners since 1988, had wed in a legal ceremony in their Massachusetts backyard in June, shortly after the state legalized same-sex unions.

"We are married," Karen Kitchens-Law recalls saying.

Their lawyer answered: "We don't recognize that here."

"Single" they wrote on the paperwork.

And so began life in North Carolina for the Law family.

The couple is Exhibit I in the nationwide debate that has led 37 states to ban gay unions. Voters in 11 states did so in November, refusing recognition to same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

The Carolinas have had their laws in place since 1996, when Hawaii considered legalizing same-sex unions. An effort in recent years to put the restriction in the North Carolina Constitution has failed.

But as couples like Karen, an occupational therapist, and Mary, a financial analyst at TIAA-CREF, move out of Massachusetts, they are challenging how their new homes handle their union.

The Laws, who have two adopted children, cannot file their state income taxes jointly this year, as they would have done in Massachusetts.

There, they could visit each other in the hospital, make medical decisions on each other's behalf, or inherit the other's property in case of death, no questions asked. Here, they need to set up legal documents ensuring all that.

"We're single again," Mary says.

It's not clear what will be proposed, but the wingnuts in the state legislature plan to try again in January to introduce a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. It could be a simple definitiion of marriage as between a man and a woman, or it could be an Ohio or Virginia type proposition, which would nullify any legal contracts between same-sex couples that approximate marital rights and prevent civil unions. For more information, see Equality NC.

NC laugh of the day -- dumbasses in Electoral College can't count

No, these aren't members of the NC Electoral College, but you might think so after reading this entry.

Unbelievable. (
In perhaps fitting manner, another voting problem surfaced Monday when the members of the state's Electoral College unanimously awarded President Bush 16 votes.

The trouble: North Carolina has just 15 such votes -- one for each of its 13 congressmen and two senators.

But this voting controversy required no lawsuit or protracted fight.

After a few awkward moments, Robert Rector, state chairman of the Electoral College, verbally polled the 15 electors. This time the vote came out right, and the ballots were signed, sealed and shipped to Washington to be opened Jan. 6 with the electoral ballots from the 49 other states.

"I think (there were) a couple of people who didn't understand what they were supposed to do," said Rector, a political science and history professor at Louisburg College. "Or they may have passed out an extra one."

Voting problems have plagued North Carolina's election this year. A machine lost more than 4,000 votes in Carteret County, resulting in a planned revote in the state agriculture commissioner's race.

Gay Marriage ban may fail in Idaho

It looks like there's a possibility that a state amendment to ban gay marriage might be defeated -- in the strongly conservative state of spuds. (
A conservative group working on a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Idaho may not have as much support as it thinks.

The Post Register has identified 12 state senators who at least partly oppose the amendment -- enough to kill the effort in the Idaho Senate.

Some of the senators who oppose the amendment were willing to say so on record, the Idaho Falls newspaper reported. Others declined to go on the record, saying they want to see how the amendment is worded before making a final decision.

"I believe gay marriage is a wedge issue promoted by the far right to tear apart the Republican Party," said Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene. "I don't think this exercise is worth a hill of beans."

The House is a different story. Last year, an amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman easily passed the House and is expected to do so again.

And amendment supporters say they don't expect any problems in the Senate, either.

"I believe we've got the 24 votes (in the Idaho Senate) needed to get the job done," said Meridian Republican Gerry Sweet, who along with Nampa Republican Curt McKenzie is working with conservative groups from Idaho and around the country to make gay-marriage bans the law of the land.

But the two other members of Senate Republican leadership -- Joe Stegner of Lewiston and Brad Little of Emmett -- oppose the amendment.

The world's tallest bridge is inaugurated in southern France

This is a gorgeous sight.

Stretching 1.6 miles through France's Massif Central mountains, the Millau Viaduct, designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster, will enable motorists to take a drive 891 feet above the Tarn River valley. It creates a direct route between Paris and the Mediterranean coast. French President Jacques Chirac participated in the inauguration ceremony today. The bridge opens to traffic on December 17. (Reuters above, AP below). Story.

The shell game is over -- GOP eyes Social Security cuts

Why does George Bush hate seniors of the future? After all of the brouhaha about creating private investment accounts during the campaign, the GAO lays it on the line thatthere's no way to save Social Security without cutting benefits. Didn't Kerry warn about this? Oh that's right...59 million of you weren't paying attention to that. (NYT):
As President Bush gears up for a major public push to overhaul Social Security, he has focused almost all his rhetorical energy on the need to let people divert some of their taxes to private retirement accounts.

But nearly every leading Republican proposal on Capitol Hill acknowledges that private accounts by themselves do little to solve the system's projected shortfall of at least $3.5 trillion. Instead, those proposals rely on deep cuts in benefits to future retirees.

That uncomfortable political truth was driven home on Monday by the head of the investigative arm of Congress.

"The creation of private accounts for Social Security will not deal with the solvency and sustainability of the Social Security fund," that official, David M. Walker, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, said in a speech on Monday.

Or, as Thomas Saving, a Republican-appointed trustee to the Social Security trust fund put it last week: "Fundamentally, if you don't reduce the benefits, you don't reduce the debt."

Some of the Republican proposals would raise the age when people can start to receive benefits. Others would reduce payments to beneficiaries to account for longer life expectancies. Still others would reduce payments to married couples and scale back the annual increases that are made to keep pace with inflation.

But the biggest single idea is included in the plan the White House most often points to, abandoning the practice of setting benefits as a share of people's pre-retirement earnings.

Analysts affiliated with both political parties say that that one change could save more than $10 trillion over the next 75 years, more than enough to wipe out Social Security's projected shortfall. People retiring today or even in the next 10 years would feel almost no impact.

But in decades to come, analysts say, many people would see sharper drops in their incomes when they retired. And because benefits would not keep up with wages, many retirees could feel steadily poorer compared with neighbors who still work.

It's official: Zell's a Republican -- he's joining Faux News

The Atlanta Journal Constitution (via The Raw Story) reports that Zell Miller is joining the Faux News Channel as a "contributor." The educator-cum-"law firm whore" will start in January.

Stormin' Norm rips Rumsfeld

I think the Rummy resignation snowball is gaining speed, since Schwarzkopf is ripping him a new one right after McCain did.
Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf said yesterday he was "angry" at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's response to a soldier who complained he and his fellow grunts in Iraq lack sufficient armor plating.

..."They [the troops] deserve every bit of protection we can give them," Schwarzkopf scowled in an interview with "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on MSNBC. "I was very, very disappointed - let me put it stronger - I was angry by the words of the secretary of defense."

More than half of the more than 1,200 U.S. troops killed in Iraq have come from insurgent attacks on the vehicles.

"When he [Rumsfeld] laid it all on the Army, I mean, as if he as the secretary of defense didn't have anything to do with it, the Army was over there doing it themselves screwing up," Schwarzkopf said.

The lefty blogger 2004 Koufax Awards Nominations Are Open

Was surfing over at DKos last night and saw that the Koufax Awards are taking nominations over at Wampum.
At its core, the Koufax Awards are meant to honor the best of the left of blogtopia." At its core, the Koufax Awards are meant to be an opportunity to say nice things about your favorite bloggers and to provide a bit of recognition for the folks who provide us with information, insight, and entertainment usually for little or no renumeration. The awards are supposed to be fun for us and fun for you.

...One of the real joys of hosting these awards is becoming familiar with new blogs. It is no longer possible for any one person to keep up with all of the entrants. This is a great category for self nominations. Who is the best of the new crop of lefty bloggers?

The categories look really interesting -- Best Blog, Best Writing, Best Post, Best Series, Best Single Issue Blog, Best Group Blog, Most Humorous Blog, Most Humorous Post, Most Deserving of Wider Recognition, Best Expert Blog, Best New Blog, Best Commenter. Wampum has complete descriptions of what to consider in each category when voting.

I haven't voted yet, but there are many lefty blogs that rate a vote. It's safe to say the usual, excellent suspects will turn up in many of the categories, such as Daily Kos (which doesn't want to be considered in the Group slot), Eschaton (Atrios), Oliver Willis, etc. I am definitely going to vote for AmericaBlog for Best Group Blog, since John A. and his able crew have really kicked ass this year. It's the first site I visit each day. I might have to find a way to cast a vote for John's "F*ck the South" blog, lol. And a couple of other deserving blogs are Brad Friedman's Brad Blog (and now the BradBlog Too), reflecting his herculean effort to make sense of the voting scandals, compiling more information than one can digest; and Mike Rogers' BlogActive, for all the grief he's had to take uncovering the gay hypocrites (and their enablers) during the election cycle. Best commenter: my fave is Bill in Portland Maine, Daily Kos (Cheers & Jeers).

Does Pam's House Blend rate a nomination in the Best New Blog category, or maybe Most Deserving of Wider Recognition? Even though they encourage self nominations, I am kind of modest when it comes to these things, not knowing exactly how good a job I am doing other than hearing from you (I have gotten some nice feedback from readers -- and I thank you all).

Anyway, I encourage everyone to go nominate blogs you frequent that you find interesting -- I will. I think it's good to recognize all the folks out there on the lefty side of the blogosphere that are making inroads.

The page with the description of the Koufax awards and categories is here.

The comment area to post your nominations is here. They've got daily threads going to accommodate all the voting.

I'm just going to re-post this list of folks without comment

Moving this back up a bit on the hit parade keep them coming in...
This partial list of upstanding conservatives was posted by a Steven Jandreau in the comments over at The Raw Story. I've added links to some, which are below.

NEW! Bernard Kerik (the almost-head of Homeland Security) - Three failed marriages, simultaneous affairs, political corruption
Jim Bakker – adultery
Jimmy Swaggart – adultery
Bob Dole - adultery
Ann Coulter – “Let’s say I go out every night, I meet a guy have sex with him. Good for me. I’m not married.” Rivera Live
Helen Chenoweth (R – Idaho) – serial adultery
Sue Myrick (R- N.C.) - adultery
Henry Hyde – adultery
Bob Barr – adultery
Dan Burton – adultery
Bob Livingstone – adultery
Bob Packwood – sexual harassment
Steve Symms – (R- Idaho) – serial adultery
Newt Gingrich – adultery
Beverly Russell – (S. Carolina) – child molestation
Jim Bunn – (R – Oregon) – adultery
Jim Nussle – (R – Iowa) – adultery
Joe Scarborough – (R- Florida) – adultery
John McLaughlin – sexual harassment
Tim Hutchinson (R – Arkansas) – adultery
Rudy Giuliani –adultery
George Roche III – adultery with his son’s wife
Earl Kimmerling – child molestation
Mike Trout – adultery
Mike Bowers – adultery
Richard Delgaudio - (he brought us Paula Jones) – child pornography
Ken Calvert – arrested for engaging with a prostitute
Matt Glavin – homosexual indecent exposure
Deal Hudson – sexual harassment of a female student
Edward L. Schrock (R-Va.) – married but solicited sex from male homosexual
Philip Giordano – sexual child abuse
Randal David Ankeney – attempted sexual assault on a child
Robert Bauman – homosexual sex with a minor
John Hathaway – sex with a minor
Stephen White – soliciting a 14 year old boy
Jon Matthews – indecency with a child
Earl “Butch” Kimmerling – child molestation
Paul Ingram – incest
Andrew Buhr – sodomy with a 12 year old boy
Keith Westmoreland – indecency with minors
John Allen Burt – molesting a minor
Parker J. Bena – child pornography
Larry Jack Schwarz – child pornography
Robin Vanderwall – soliciting sex with minors of both sexes
Marty Glickman – unlawful sexual activity with a minor
Dan Crane – sex with a minor (a Congressional page)
Donald “Buz” Lukens – sex with a minor
First Lady Laura Bush - Manslaughter
Vice President Dick Cheney - Draft dodger
Entertainer Rush Limbaugh - Drug abuse
Entertainer Bill O'Reilly - Sexual harassment
Outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft - Draft dodger
CA Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger - Serial groping, sexual harassment, drug abuse
Former South Dakota Gov Bill Janklow - Manslaughter
Former Drug Czar Bill Bennett - Gambling addiction
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - Draft dodger
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey - Draft dodger
House Majority Leader Tom Delay - Draft dodger
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist - Cruelty to animals
Rep. David Dreier - Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies
Rep. Mark Foley - Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies
Prospective RNC Head Ken Mehlman - Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies
TV evangelist Paul Crouch - Closeted gay who supports anti-gay policies, accused of bilking flock

DKos diary: Gay Teen Expelled From Christian High School

Ryan Davis of has a diary up on Daily Kos about this outrage in Dallas. A closeted teen at a Christian private school starts up a web site to be able to chat with other gay teens on-line for support and then, when someone alerts the school, he's outed and expelled. Excerpts from the entry:
What would you do if you were a closeted eighteen-year old senior in high school and your principal told your parents that you were gay? James Barnett, who was a senior at Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas.

...A snoopy kid at school told several heads in the administration that James was gay and ran a gay-themed website. He was called into the office and grilled about the site and his sexual orientation. After the discussion James asked the principle repeatedly not to inform his parents. "I again emphasized and I explicitly said, 'I am 18, I reserve the right for my parents not to know and I do not want them involved.'"

What happens next?

"The first people I see to walk in the door are my mother and my father. This is where I bury my head in my hands and don't really know what to do, how to respond - I for the first time in my life have never felt that betrayed and first time I've ever been speechless." The principal took it upon himself to out his student. "They tell my parents "I am struggling with homosexuality." My mother broke down in tears, my dad wasn't particularly thrilled..."

If this wasn't enough they took six days to decide to expel James from school, citing 'immoral behavior and supporting an immoral cause.' "The reason for expulsion and the suspension is the fact that what I have done/am is a Class A offense. I am not given a chance to appeal to honor council, it's "too sensitive."

He has contacted the ACLU about the expulsion, but considering it's a private religious school that can set its own rules (including discrimination against homosexuals), I unfortunately don't think the kid has much of a chance on that front. The fact that his principal outed him, and not allowed James to disclose his orientation to his parents, however, is cruel and humiliating.

Bush is going to spawn an "Iraqi Hitler"...

So says Interim Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar. says the continued instability and humiliation of the people could lead to a worse situation than when Saddam was in power.

The Times Online's story is a big shot over the bow at the Bush admin. You can't get more frank than this in terms of criticism.
In a series of media interviews on a trip to London, Iraq's political figurehead also criticised Washington for its disastrous decision to dismantle Iraq's security forces after its invasion last year - which paved the way for a breakdown of law and order.

"We could have screened people out instead of screening them in and this could have saved us a lot of hassle and problems," Mr Yawar told the BBC.

Mr Yawar's criticisms of Pentagon policy in Iraq came a year to the day after the capture of Saddam Hussein created a short-lived euphoria among the US coalition and its civilian administrators.

...Mr Yawar said that the continuing instability and violence presented a long-term threat to the prospects for democracy in Iraq, where nationwide elections are scheduled for January 30.

"This could in the long term create an environment in which an Iraqi Hitler could emerge like the one created by the defeat of Germany and the humiliation of Germans in World War I," he told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published today.

The BradBlog is all over the vote-rigging scandal Judiciary Committee testimony

The Brad Blog has a first-hand account of software programmer Clint Curtis's testimony yesterday where, under oath, he implicated U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney. Feeney (a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee) as allegedly asked Curtis to create "vote-rigging" software when he was a Florida Congressman prior to 2000 elections. He was the only witness asked to go under oath. Links to the Curtis testimony video are here.

Also, Brad covers the equally important testimony of Green party presidential candidate David Cobb at hearings in Columbus, OH on vote tampering charges. Cobb's testimony included the story of an election official's eyewitness account about election machine tampering by a worker from Triad Governmental Systems, Inc. as late as last Friday. So, head over to the Brad Blog for a boatload of details...

Will the U.S. ever do this?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Romania Elects Pro-Gay, Anti-Corruption President. (UK Gay News).
Traian Basescu, the leader of the opposition, has been declared the new President of Romania, defeating the “leftist” Adrian Nastase, the Prime Minister.

The election victory gives hope to the Romanian gay community as Basescu is one of the few politicians in the country to publicly support gay rights.

His record on gay rights was one of the main issues that Social Democratic Party (CSD) opponents used against him in the presidential election.

It was in 2000 that Basescu, a former navy officer who commanded the largest ship in the Romanian navy for more than five years, became mayor of Bucharest. Then two years later, after he started a campaign for more tolerance towards gays, the government repealed Section 200 of Romanian law which dealt with sexual offences and opened the way to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Former NC oral surgeon and retired Army colonel, 70, sent to Afghanistan

Please wake me. I must be having a nightmare. This cannot be true. WTF is is the Pentagon doing? (The Marion Star):
Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.

"My first reaction was disbelief," Caulfield said. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old."

In fact, he was so sure it was an error that he ignored the postcards and telephone messages asking if he would be willing to volunteer for active duty to "backfill" somewhere on the East Coast, Europe or Hawaii. That would be OK, he thought. It would release active duty oral surgeons from those areas to go to combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But then the orders came for him to go to Afghanistan.

Today, Caulfield, a colonel from Satellite Beach, Fla., is an example of how the continuing demands of keeping ground troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are forcing the military to go to extraordinary measures to keep its ranks filled. He's attending to patients - U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and civilians - at the Army's 325th Field Hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan.

He is one of about 100 over the age of 60 known to be serving. The Department of Defense couldn't provide exact figures.

Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said the service has taken back some 350 soldiers who had already retired from the military. But some of those could have done 20 years of duty and still be only in their late 30s. He did not know how many of the returning retirees are 60 or older.

The reason, he said, is clear: "It's the continuing demand in the service."

The Navy has 36 medical personnel and 16 chaplains who are over 60.

There is one Marine between 60 and 65 currently serving.

The Air Force has 12 chaplains over 60 and 32 medical personnel between 60 and 65.

...Caulfield lived and practiced oral surgery in Salisbury, N.C., before moving to Satellite Beach two years ago.

Thanks to John at AmericaBlog for the pointer.

More Halliburton bullsh*t

How about hiring Colombian mercenaries for security detail?

Did you feel your wallet getting pickpocketed?

Waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer funds and they'll be back to take some more out of your pocket, just wait. No-Bid Halliburton: $10B And Counting (CBS):
The largest U.S. contractor in Iraq, Halliburton Co., has passed the $10 billion mark in work orders from the Army for services supporting troops and rebuilding the country's oil industry.

The Army has ordered $8.3 billion worth of work from Halliburton under a contract to support soldiers with meals, housing, laundry and other services. Halliburton got $2.5 billion more in work from the Army Corps of Engineers to put out oil well fires and shore up Iraq's dilapidated oil infrastructure.

Allegations of financial misdeeds, including corruption and overcharging, have led to criminal, congressional and Pentagon investigations of Halliburton's work in Iraq.

The investigations of Halliburton's work in Iraq include:

A criminal investigation into whether kickbacks were involved in Halliburton's use of a Kuwaiti subcontractor to provide gasoline for Iraq's civilian market. Halliburton says it notified federal authorities after an internal probe found two of its former employees may have been involved in corruption worth $6.3 million.

* A review of that fuel contract by the Defense Contract Audit Agency, which concluded Halliburton overcharged the Army by $61 million.

* An investigation by the former Coalition Provisional Authority's internal watchdog which found Halliburton could not account for scores of items in Iraq worth millions of dollars.

* A report by Congress' Government Accountability Office, which found a "pattern of contractor management problems" by the Army on Halliburton's largest Iraq contract. The nonpartisan GAO said the problems including taking more than a year to finalize the documentation on work orders worth billions of dollars.

* A Pentagon audit, which found that Halliburton charged the Army for meals it never served to troops. Halliburton said the problem was caused by the widely fluctuating levels of troops in and around Iraq. Halliburton has repaid $36 million and set aside more than $140 million for a possible settlement as it negotiates with the Army on that issue.

McCain: No confidence in Rummy

Well crap, what took so long? Sounds like a call for a resignation to me.

Thar he blows (again)!
U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops.

McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him."

"I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops - linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc.," said McCain, R-Ariz. "There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue."

When asked if Rumsfeld was a liability to the Bush administration, McCain responded: "The president can decide that, not me."

Wingnut Matt “Bam Bam” Barber needs a reality check

Who is J. Matt “Bam Bam” Barber? He's a guest writer on this wingnut site called He's written a smooth piece entitled "The Gay Agenda vs. Family Values." Here's a sample of his stunning, groundbreaking philosophizing.
...Rather than approaching our analysis of homosexual behavior from the traditional, liberal, PC perspective, let’s look at it from the rarely visited “Biologically Correct” (BC) vantage point. For one to believe that homosexual behavior, the act of sodomy in particular, follows the biological order of things, one must ignore the fact that sodomy violates natural law – you know… wrong plumbing…square hole/round peg. The whole thing really is a testament to man’s creativity. Give us something good, and we’ll bend over backwards to twist it into something else.

Without delving into the overly descriptive mechanics, suffice it to say that, scientifically speaking, the sexual act was designed for procreation – nothing more, nothing less… I know, not very romantic, but we’re talking science here. Further, the design behind the human digestive system was solely and entirely intended for digestion, not for makeshift sexual activity – there’s not a sex organ in the mix. The notion that the act of sodomy is a natural, biological event simply does not square with biological reality. It may be PC but it sure ain’t BC.

I hope he hasn't had any BJs lately. Oh, and here is his bio:
J. Matt Barber is a non-practicing attorney, an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer (Matt “Bam Bam” Barber), and a jazz drummer in Chicago, IL. In addition to his Law Degree, Barber holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Regent University. Matt is a Contributing Editor for, and a Contributor to the Washington Times “Insight Magazine,” as well as a number of other top conservative publications.

You can give Bam Bam feedback if you wish, by posting comments on his board.

Texas trooper suspended for telling gay couple not to kiss

The trooper got a little too hot under the collar watching the homos kiss, and forgot that it's not illegal. Oops. (
Department of Public Safety Trooper Michael Carlson got into trouble for telling two gay men who were kissing at the state Capitol that homosexual conduct is illegal in Texas.

One of the men is John Corvino, who teaches at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Corvino and another man were kissing in September while sitting on a park bench in Austin. In a complaint filed with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Corvino said the trooper told them, "We won't have you doing this on Capitol grounds."

One of the men complained to authorities. Carlson has been placed on job probation for six months and given a written reprimand. Carlson also must get more training on state laws.

For the record, Texas doesn't outlaw same sex kissing. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's anti-sodomy law.

I'm waiting for the Freepers to pick up on this one.

The shame of Bush's America, part 2: soldiers survive, but are maimed for life

Typical pattern of injury among soldiers wearing Kevlar vests to protect the chest and abdomen.

UPDATE: I posted on this on 12/9, but I'm moving it back up the food chain because the New England Journal of Medicine has published the photos now. The article is entitled "Caring for the Wounded in Iraq — A Photo Essay," by George E. Peoples, M.D., James R. Jezior, M.D., and Craig D. Shriver, M.D.

Warning -- some of these pictures are extemely graphic. This is what the Pentagon doesn't want the public to see. After all, they don't even want you to see flag-draped coffins, let alone pictures like this.


Remember, this administration is not taking care of its veterans. Medical needs are not being met in times of budget cuts, and tens of thousands are returning home from Iraq after surviving hellish wounds. How are they going to pick up the rest of their lives? More U.S. Soldiers Survive War Wounds (AP):
For every American soldier killed in Iraq (news - web sites), nine others have been wounded and survived — the highest rate of any war in U.S. history. It isn't that their injuries were less serious, a new report says. In fact, some young soldiers and Marines have had faces, arms and legs blown off and are now returning home badly maimed.

"This is unprecedented. People who lose not just one but two or three extremities are people who just have not survived in the past," said Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who researched military medicine and wrote about it in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

The journal also published a five-page spread of 21 military photographs that graphically depict the horrific injuries and conditions under which these modern-day MASH surgeons operate.

...In one traumatic case, Gawande tells of an airman who lost both legs, his right hand and part of his face. "How he and others like him will be able to live and function remains an open question," Gawande writes.

"The critical core, your chest and your abdomen, are protected," said Dr. George Peoples, a Walter Reed Army Medical Center surgeon who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Parodixically, what we've seen is devastating extremity injuries because people are surviving wounds they otherwise wouldn't have."

By mid-November, 10,369 American troops had been wounded in battle in Afghanistan or Iraq, and 1,004 had died — a survival rate of roughly 90 percent. In the Vietnam War, one in four wounded died, virtually all of them before they could reach MASH units some distance from the fighting.

They're gearing up -- Christian conservatives turn to statehouses

This is what I have been talking about. Progressives have to work at the local level to stop these wingnuts. They want to roll the social clock back by passing legislation in the state houses. In North Carolina, we fought off two bills to put to a public vote an amendment to the state constitution on same sex-marriage. The wingnuts are planning to bring it back up again when the legislature reconvenes in January. They must be stopped. (NYT):
..."I think people are becoming emboldened," said Michael D. Bowman, director of state legislative relations at Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian advocacy group based in Washington. "On legislative efforts, they're getting more gutsy, and on certain issues, they may introduce legislation that they normally may not have done."

Mike Pulizzi praying in the South Dakota Senate gallery as senators debated a bill to outlaw abortion. Photo: Doug Dreyer/Associated Press

It is on the state level "where most family issues are decided," Mr. Bowman said. And it is there that local advocacy groups hope to build quickly on the momentum from the election when legislatures convene in the new year.

..."People were mobilized during the election and they're still mobilized," said Judy Smith, Kansas state director for Concerned Women for America, which is working to put a measure on the ballot in 2006 to amend the Kansas Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. "We would be stupid not to act now. This is exactly what we had hoped for."

Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood cautioned that despite surveys of voters leaving the polls showing that President Bush was supported by 80 percent of those who listed "moral values" as their top concern, conservative Christians might not have gotten the mandate they say they have.

"It's important to underscore that there are large portions of the country that believe in gay rights and in a woman's right to choose," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

One state where liberals and conservatives expect a bold step is South Dakota, where conservatives were instrumental in unseating the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle. Last year, the State Legislature passed a bill banning abortions, except when a woman's life is in danger or she might suffer irreparable harm.

The bill was vetoed by Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, because of imprecise language, liberal and conservative advocates said. The wording was changed accordingly, and the bill will probably be reintroduced and signed this time by the governor, they said. Kate Looby, the state director for Planned Parenthood, said conservatives might feel more confident this time because they expect Mr. Bush to appoint Supreme Court justices who will eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

Liberal advocacy groups say they plan to fight many of these efforts. But Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U. said that beyond filing legal challenges, liberals needed to appropriate the language of morality from Christian conservatives to capture the popular imagination.

"Lawsuits are about telling stories, and we need to talk about why we picked this case and why it's important," he said. "For instance, we need to ask, where is the morality when a partner of 20 years is denied hospital access because a state doesn't believe in gay marriage? Where is the morality in forcing a teenage girl into a back-alley abortion?"

Conservative state officials, like Ms. Martin in Kansas, say they are responding to an increasingly vocal constituency that has already made up its mind about moral issues and wants to shape public policy.

Looks like "Chimpy" work got artist in hot water...

Artistic freedom takes a hit in Bush's America. Bush Portrait Draws Fire Over Details, Not Subject (NYT):
Artwork in an exhibition that drew thousands to the Chelsea Market for its opening last week was abruptly taken down over the weekend after the market's managers complained about a portrait of President Bush fashioned from tiny images of chimpanzees, according to the show's curator.

Bucky Turco, who organized the show, said that a market director had expressed reservations about the Bush portrait, a small colorful painting by Christopher Savido that from afar appears to be a likeness of the president but viewed up close reveals chimps swimming in a marshy landscape.

"I approached them with the idea of bringing an edgy show by emerging artists here. I showed them an issue of our magazine, and they were psyched," said Mr. Turco, publisher of Animal, a quarterly publication with offices in the market that features photographs and graphics inspired by urban culture.

Mr. Turco said that while he had cleared the work to be hung with Irwin Cohen, a director of Chelsea Market, the management took issue with the image of Bush.

"When we hung the show on Wednesday, we were asked to take down the Bush piece," he said. "I agreed but said I thought it makes a strong addition and I would re-hang it for the opening."

Mr. Turco did that, and last Thursday, the meandering hallway of the market on Manhattan's West Side filled with a gallery crowd of artists, models and rap singers. But the presence of a disc jockey and open bar created a nightclub milieu. That provoked another person who helps manage the market, Mr. Turco said.

"The party's over right now," Mr. Turco said the market worker told him before calling security to clear the crowd.

"I said, 'Let's walk and talk this over,' and when we passed Chris's painting, he flipped," Mr. Turco said. "If I didn't take the show down he was going to have me arrested, seize the art, and evict me from of my office," he said. Mr. Turco delivered a contrite letter to the market management the following day but was forced to remove the 60 art works, photos and paintings on Saturday, about a month before the show was supposed to end. The offices of Around the Clock Management were closed over the weekend and there was no response yesterday to repeated messages to a market representative.

Seven Marines Killed in Iraq's Anbar Province

The body count continues to rise...(AP):
"Seven U.S. Marines were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the military said Monday, a day after American warplanes pounded Fallujah with missiles as insurgents battled coalition forces in the city.

It was unknown if the deaths were connected to the fighting in the volatile western Iraqi city. In a statement, the military said the seven Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died while conducting 'security and stabilization operations' in Anbar province, a vast region that comprises Fallujah and Ramadi.

As of Monday, at least 1,296 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. "

nuMarketing: Target's chastity underwear

Drudge had a link to this (like he's into girls anyway). WTF?
Target sells Chastity Underwear. Here is the actual marketing copy for this item:
They call them "chastity underwear" at Blue Q, but we question whether these hot little low-rise hipster briefs would do much good in terms of guarding. In fact, we might go so far as to recommend NOT wearing them if you're expecting to ward off any impure thoughts. They're gilded panties, for the love of Saint Agnes. Elaborately ornamented, with a golden lock at the front and center, they are designed to "keep the royal treasures under lock and key" and even have the words "safe & secure"...

In this day and age, I'm sure this stuff is worn by the Britney set, which is scary. This is just dumb, though I suppose it's better than receiving a ChiaPet.

I wondered what was going on with these poor folks circling the earth

Sunday, December 12, 2004

NASA is in disarray -- they cannot restock the pantry for the astronauts up on the International Space Station, so the astronauts are having to cut calories -- there's a space diet for you. Since Columbia burned up during re-entry in that awful accident (caused by loose insulation compromising its fragile tiles during takeoff), the U.S. has been dependent on aging Russian shuttles.
"The two astronauts aboard the International Space Station have been asked to curb their calories because of a food shortage, NASA officials said Thursday.

Supplies of food and water on the station have fallen so low that if a Russian cargo vessel scheduled to arrive on Dec. 25 has a mishap or is significantly delayed, the astronauts, one American and one Russian, will have to abandon the station and return home months ahead of schedule, the NASA officials said.

The space station manager at NASA, William Gerstenmaier, said the situation was manageable if nothing unexpected occurred. But Mr. Gerstenmaier said juggling consumable items like food, water and even light bulbs had been a challenge since the space shuttles were grounded because of the Columbia disaster in 2003."

NYT: The 'Acting White' Myth

This NYT article by Paul Tough is absurd; it postulates that the phenomenon of black kids experiencing grief (claiming one is "acting white") for excelling academically by their underscoring peers is a myth. It's no f*cking myth -- I've experienced it first-hand.. Read this crap, and then my personal encounter with the phenomenon...
When Bill Cosby spoke out publicly in May against dysfunction and irresponsibility in black families, he identified one pervasive symptom: ''boys attacking other boys because the boys are studying and they say, 'You're acting white.''' This idea isn't new; it was first proposed formally in the mid-80's by John Ogbu, a Nigerian professor of anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, and it has since become almost a truism: when smart black kids try hard and do well, they are picked on by their less successful peers for ''acting white.''

The only problem with this theory, according to a research paper released in October, is that for the most part, it isn't true. Karolyn Tyson, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and William Darity Jr., an economist at Duke and U.N.C., coordinated an 18-month ethnographic study at 11 schools in North Carolina. What they found was that black students basically have the same attitudes about achievement as their white counterparts do: they want to succeed, understand that doing well in school has important consequences in later life and feel better about themselves the better they do.

So where does the idea of the burden of ''acting white'' come from? One explanation the authors offer will make sense to anyone who has ever seen a John Hughes movie: there's an ''oppositional peer culture'' in every high school -- the stoners and the jocks making fun of the nerds and the student-government types. When white burnouts give wedgies to white A students, the authors argue, it is seen as inevitable, but when the same dynamic is observed among black students, it is pathologized as a racial neurosis.

My mom (born in NYC to a West Indian father, who was a first gen American from Barbados and a Native American/black woman) was a huge reader and read to us constantly and fostered a lifetime love of reading. By the time I went to kindergarten I was already reading, and my mother always taught us that academics were a priority. I grew up in Durham, NC and I attended Catholic school for K-6 . I had a culture shock when I attended public school for 7th grade (this was in 1975).

My late mom, Shirley (L); and ugh -- it's grade-school Pam.

Boy did I get slammed by the kids for "talking white" and "acting white" because I was doing well in school -- they said so. It was made worse by the fact that I didn't have a southern accent.

The sad truth is, in a school that was at least 75% black, I was pulled over by one of the elderly black teachers one day and she told me that she was so proud of me -- I was the first black student to make the honor roll in that school.

If that isn't a sad reflection of the state of things in the 70s, I cannot imagine what it is like now growing up, with the saturation of anti-intellectualism and materialism foisted upon and soaked up as "culture" by some in the black community.

And I don't even want to begin with the tales about "good hair" vs. "bad hair" and what shade you are -- it was/is an insane obsession for some black folks.

This ad is ridiculous -- straight hair=success?

Maybe someone is going to write that those things don't exist either. Total BS. And the dirty laundry Cosby is airing needs to be out there.

My hair journey

Strom's secret daughter tells all in book

Essie Mae Washington Williams, Strom's black daughter that he supported throughout her life, even as he paradoxically fought against the civil rights of black people.

This is a fascinating story on so many levels, but it's truly an All-American one, warts and all. It's the kind of story that the Right wishes would go away because this woman is a living example of the South's racial contradictions, discomfort with the sexual habits, exploitation of black women and the self-perceived genteel "traditions" of that society all rolled up into one. And tied with a nice bow at that. [It's also explains why you can have idiots like principal Larry Stephenson of Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using the racist booklet "Southern Slavery, As It Was," just presenting "a Southern perspective."

Here's a big hunk of the AP story.
"I always thought I had a fairly normal childhood, until I found out my parents weren't who I thought they were." So begins the autobiography of Essie Mae Washington Williams, the daughter of longtime U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and a 16-year-old black maid who worked at his family's home.

Williams, now 79, came forward a year ago, after Thurmond's death, with the secret she had held for more than 70 years. Her upcoming book, "Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond," deals frankly with her relationship with the one-time segregationist who privately acknowledged her as his child but never spoke of her publicly.

Williams confronted Thurmond about his support of segregation, but watched with disappointment as his political star rose in the 1940s and '50s. "He became an outright racist, cloaked in the ancient doctrine of states' rights," she wrote.

The book, co-written with William Stadiem, is set to be released Jan. 27 by ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Williams was raised in Coatesville, Pa., by Mary and John Washington. Her world changed at age 13 when Mary Washington's sister, Carrie Butler, told Essie Mae that she was her biological mother.

A few years later, when she returned to Edgefield for a funeral, Butler took her to a local law office where she first met Thurmond.

"He never called my mother by her first name. He didn't verbally acknowledge that I was his child. He didn't ask when I was leaving and didn't invite me to come back. It was like an audience with an important man, a job interview, but not a reunion with a father," Williams wrote.

It was the first of many visits between Thurmond and Williams. He provided for her financially, but their meetings were always formal events where Thurmond — a health fanatic — asked more questions about her exercise and eating habits than her personal life.

During one visit around 1946, Thurmond offered to pay her tuition at an all-black college in Orangeburg, now known as South Carolina State University.

Moving to the school in the South meant she had to adapt to a segregated culture. The black students rarely left campus and, when they did, they were forced to sit in the backs of buses and visit only certain restaurants and shops.

Many of her classmates came from prosperous black families. While they talked about their fathers' jobs, Williams held back.

"With all the family comparisons, I was tempted to brag about my father. ... But the temptation quickly passed. I wasn't crazy. And I was very grateful to my father for making it possible to come here to State. I couldn't afford to lose the opportunity in front of me. For me, it was a state of grace."

Williams watched her father's career from afar. She attended his gubernatorial inauguration in January 1947 with her classmates. She watched her father and his family.

"This was my family, but I didn't know them and they didn't know me. In time, in time, I prayed to myself. If my father could change this state, with its Confederate flags flying and its Confederate soldiers standing vigil atop their obelisks, I had reason to hope he could change his own house," she writes.

Thurmond said segregation laws were needed to protect the purity of the races.

"I wasn't sure if this was my father talking or the ghost of Adolf Hitler," she wrote.

When Thurmond ran for president as the State's Rights Party candidate during the 1948 election, he said: "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the army cannot force the Negro race into our theaters, our swimming pools, our schools, our churches, our homes."

Nearly a decade later, he set the Senate record for filibustering when he spoke against a bill to end discrimination in housing.

On one visit, Williams asked Thurmond how he could say such things about blacks. She said blacks were treated unfairly, but he defended it as the culture and custom of the South.

This tale has explains many paradoxes and social contradictions of the religious Right and the South in regards to race and homophobia. They cannot be exactly equated, but what is true in both cases is that people of the mindset of Thurmond can reconcile their public beliefs versus the private realities in a way that most outside of their sphere cannot understand. It's how you manage to get the Ed Schrocks of the world, railing on against homosexuals in the military in public, while (the former Navy man) dials up for sex with men in private.

March divides followers of Martin Luther King

This is up on The Raw Story. There's a family rift on gay marriage -- Coretta Scott King is a strong supporter of gay rights and daughter Bernice is not. This illustrates you the extreme ambivalence in the religious black community about homosexuality, and why trash like the junk science advertorial that the WPost ran is being targeted at this demographic. It's fertile ground for the intolerance/ignorance movement. Quote from Bernice:

"I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex unions."

Based on what? She was a child when he was shot -- her mother knew and understood the man's views, yet Bernice still cannot reconcile the possibility that her father could embrace the concept. This is why the struggle for understanding continues to be hard.

I did not need to see this headline at 6:15 AM

Michael Jackson Prints Found on Porn Mags. Eeeww.

Kerik gets schooled-- don't embarrass Bush, he'll humiliate and destroy you

Boy, Bernard Kerik didn't know how tough Washington is, and he certainly seems to have had no idea that Bush has no problem diminishing, trashing and destroying anyone that embarrasses him. This WPost story is a cautionary tale for anyone that Bush initially puts his arm around. Chimpy's team (lead by Alberto Gonzales) f*cked up the vetting process to catch Kerik's prevarications, so the blame for this had to go onto Kerik.
Kerik, who withdrew his own nomination Friday and apologized yesterday for embarrassing Bush, was asked numerous times by White House lawyers if he had employed an illegal immigrant or failed to pay taxes on domestic help, the sources said.

Kerik was told he would humiliate his family, himself and the president if he lied on either account, the officials said. He responded with firm denials. After digging deeper, however, Kerik said he discovered last week that he might have a problem on both accounts and withdrew his name.

In the vetting process, which was conducted by the office of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, Kerik also never mentioned that a New Jersey judge had issued a warrant for his arrest in 1998 over a civil dispute over unpaid bills, the sources said. The existence of the dispute was first reported by Newsweek Friday night.

It is unclear why White House lawyers could not uncover a warrant that Newsweek discovered after a few days of research, although some are blaming Bush's insistence on speed and secrecy for failing to catch this and other potential red flags in Kerik's background.

...Bush did not say anything about the matter yesterday, but he teased reporters by cupping his hand to his ear as he walked across the White House's South Lawn to his helicopter, as if to invite a question. Asked whether he was upset about Kerik, the president smiled and cupped his hand to his ear again, even though he appeared to have heard the question.

The other lesson for Kerik -- sh*t sticks to you when you don't have someone willing to apply the teflon -- this isn't NY politics, where the rough and tumble, tough-guy can get by politically with some "ethical battle scars" and oh, outright lying and survive, since most other politicians will cover for each others' indiscretions. Bush has no problem sucker-punching people that make him look bad -- that's rule #1 on how to get on Shrub's loyalty list -- you fall on the sword for the Chimperor. Bernie just got schooled on that one -- clearly Rudy protected him on all counts on this in the past.

And, as I said yesterday, Kerik's problems that infuriated the White House were more than a "nanny problem." That was just the least onerous (but still legitimate) reason to dump him.

AP: Bush Will Make Air Pollution Priority

Saturday, December 11, 2004

He can reduce a lot by simply shutting his freaking mouth. (AP):
"The president decided to make a strong push at the start of next year to complete his clean air and clean energy agenda," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt, who met with Bush to discuss the strategy earlier in the week.

"The centerpiece will be 'Clear Skies' legislation and/or the 'Clean Air Interstate Rule,'" Leavitt added in an interview. "Both of those will provide a 70 percent reduction of nitrogen oxides and of sulfur dioxide. It would be a $50 billion investment in clean air; it would take more tons of pollution out of the air."

The Clean Air Interstate Rule would call for reducing pollution according to a timetable and strategy that closely mirror the proposals the administration offered nearly three years ago in a Clear Skies initiative that stalled in Congress.

Environmentalists, however, say the Bush legislative proposal carried by Inhofe goes further than the rule, weakening parts of the Clean Air Act.

"The Bush administration is now staking its money on a bill in Congress that weakens and delays public health protections already provided under the current Clean Air Act, while forcing the EPA to delay public health protections under current law," said John Walke, director of clean air programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Creepy news, but no surprise

The picture combo shows Viktor Yushchenko in file photos dated March 28, 2002, left, and Dec. 6, 2004, right. The Ukrainian opposition leader and presidential candidate's mysterious illness that scarred his face was caused by dioxin poisoning, doctors said Saturday Dec. 11, 2004, in Vienna, Austria. (AP Photo/Viktor Pobedinsky/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Sunday talk show lineups...

FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), Jon S. Corzine (D-N.J.) and John Breaux (D-La.).

THIS WEEK: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Wilson's son, Army National Guard Capt. Alan Wilson.

FACE THE NATION: Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.); former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda; author Buster Olney; Hal Bodley, USA Today baseball editor; and New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica.

MEET THE PRESS: Former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D), military analyst William M. Arkin and retired Gens. Wayne Downing, Barry R. McCaffrey and Montgomery Meigs.

LATE EDITION (CNN): Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Afghan President Hamid Karzai, author Kanan Makiya and former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski

Atrocities come up in hearing of soldiers seeking asylum in Canada

Ex-Marine testifies about ‘psychopaths' serving in Iraq. A NC-based soldier is petitioning for asylum in Canada says "several men in his unit were 'psychopaths' who enjoyed killing unarmed Iraqi civilians who posed no threat." (AP):
Jimmy Massey, a staff sergeant who was in the Marines for 12 years and served three months in Iraq before being honorably discharged with post-traumatic stress syndrome, made the allegations before Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board on the final day of an asylum hearing for Army Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman, 26.

Hinzman fled Fort Bragg, N.C., to Canada weeks before his 82nd Airborne Division was due to be deployed to Iraq. He had served three years in the Army but applied for conscientious objector status before his unit was sent to Afghanistan in 2002.

He is asking for refugee status for himself, his wife and 2-year-old son, claiming he would face persecution if forced to return to the United States. Hinzman's lawyer, Jeffry House, said he would be the first American soldier granted political asylum in Canada if his petition succeeds.

Massey, who did not know Hinzman before the hearing, said Hinzman likely would have been forced to commit atrocities that violated the Geneva Conventions if he went to Iraq.

Massey, 33, of Waynesville, N.C., said his 7th Marines weapons company killed more than 30 civilians during a 48-hour period in April while stationed at a checkpoint in the southern Baghdad district of Rashid. The victims included unarmed demonstrators and a man who drove up in a car and raised his hands above his head in the universal symbol of surrender.

"I know in my heart that these vehicles that came up, that they were civilians,'' he said. "But I had to act on my orders. It's a struggle within my heart.''

The orders, he said, were to shoot at anyone who drove into what is known as the "red zone'' surrounding the checkpoint because they could be suicide bombers.

Massey told the tribunal he got caught up in the frenzy and shot at civilians as well.

"I take full responsibility for my actions,'' he said. "We deliberately gunned down people who were civilians. I became so concerned because I felt that Marines were honestly enjoying it. I saw plenty of Marines become psychopaths. They enjoyed the killing.''

The Marine Corps denied Massey's allegations.

"We're not saying he's lying, but his perception of what the situation was in relation to the rules of engagement, and what was justified, is different than ours,'' said Maj. Douglas Powell, a spokesman for the Marine Corps at the Pentagon. "It was investigated and any acts of wrongdoing, in regards to violations of the laws of war, the laws of armed conflict, were unsubstantiated.''

Armor-producing firm: Rumsfeld is a liar

Refreshing to have this come right out into the open. The Pentagon simply hasn't asked the companies to ramp up production. More Shame of Bush's America in the support of its troops. (AZ Republic)
"We've been telling the Pentagon for months that we have the capacity to double our production," said former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a consultant for ArmorWorks of Tempe.

"We're ready, and we haven't heard a thing." advertisement

The issue of adequate armor protection for military vehicles in Iraq became front-page news this week when a National Guard soldier from Tennessee stood up at a town hall meeting in Kuwait and confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?" Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked the secretary.

Wilson's surprisingly blunt question drew applause from fellow soldiers, who are preparing to ship out from Kuwait to Iraq.

Rumsfeld said he spoke with a general at the Pentagon before traveling to Kuwait and was told the military was doing its best to provide troops the resources they need.

"It's essentially a matter of physics," he said. "It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

Salmon said that simply isn't true, at least in the case of ArmorWorks, which has a $30 million contract to provide composite armor kits that are fitted onto Humvee vehicles in three hours by soldiers in the field.

"The Pentagon right now, in its postdebacle spin, is trying to convince everyone that contractors are operating at peak capacity," Salmon told The Arizona Republic. "In our case it's flat-out not accurate."

Salmon, a conservative Republican who narrowly lost the 2002 governor's race, has been a paid consultant for ArmorWorks for more than a year.

He said the firm is producing about 300 armor kits a month but easily can ship twice that many.

The $30 million contract the Pentagon awarded ArmorWorks in September called for the Tempe factory to produce 1,500 armor kits by January. Salmon said 1,200 already have been shipped, but ArmorWorks hasn't been told whether it will be offered a new contract.

"We haven't been told anything about what's going on," he said.

"I think a lot of this is the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing."

Yeah, let's stop those frivolous lawsuits...

See, this kind of story is why you have to continue to hold corporations responsible for the products they make. Chrysler is recalling 600,000 trucks and SUVs because the f*cking wheels might fall off. Only the fear of being sued has made these companies recall vehicles. Look at the freaking Ford Pinto issue.

Supremes: church can use hallucinogenic tea

Bushies are probably fuming...this is an update on a freedom of religion I first posted about here. (CNN):
The U.S. Supreme Court sided Friday with a New Mexico church that wants to use hallucinogenic tea as part of its Christmas services, despite government objections that the tea is illegal and potentially dangerous.

The high court lifted a temporary stay issued last week against using the hoasca tea while it decides whether the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal is permitted to make it a permanent part of its services.

The legal battle began after federal agents seized 30 gallons of the tea in a 1999 raid on the Santa Fe home of the church's U.S. president, Jeffrey Bronfman.

Bronfman sued the government for the right to use the tea and the church won a preliminary injunction, which was upheld by 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The Bush administration then took the case to the Supreme Court.

The church, which has about 140 members in the United States and 8,000 worldwide, said the herbal brew is a central sacrament in its religious practice, which is a blend of Christian beliefs and traditions rooted in the Amazon basin.

Hollander said the tea is drunk in a ritual similar to the Catholic Communion. Church members then sit in a circle and meditate; they believe the tea brings them closer to God.

The tea is brewed from plants found in the Amazon River Basin and contains DMT, which officials say is a controlled substance under an international treaty.

However, Bronfman's complaint contends the tea is "non-addictive, is not harmful to human health and poses none of the risks commonly found with the use of certain controlled substances."

The church had drawn parallels to federal protection for members of the Native American Church using peyote, which also has hallucinogenic properties.

Bush said he supports civil unions, now he's got to face the Social Security issue

There's been a fairly big controversy over HRC position itself to support Bush on SS reform, with the caveat that the same-sex benefits issue be pushed in the package. Tactically, it's interesting, since Bush is going to have to respond to his late-campaign statement that he supports civil unions. That state's rights position of course dodges the issue of the 1000+ federal benefits, including social security and handling of federal taxes, that are not available to gay couples without the ability to have access to existing civil marriage.

The post-election debate on political strategy and tactics has angered a lot of folks in the gay community who are wrestling on where to go from here, there was a tart response from the NGLTF, and a lot of discussion on the blogs about HRC's inside-the-beltway-focus-at-the-expense-of grassroots orgs that may have contributed to the woeful amendment showing. Check out the debate at AmericaBlog here and here. So read between the lines in the article below...

Gay Rights Groups in Debate Over Stance on Social Security (NYT):
Leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay advocacy group, said this week that they would consider supporting Social Security revisions that included private retirement accounts if the changes brought the right of gay partners to receive survivor benefits under the program. Because federal law does not recognize gay marriages, surviving partners of gay men and lesbians, and their nonbiological children, are not entitled to Social Security benefits.

The political director of the Human Rights Campaign, Winnie Stachelberg, said on Friday that although the group did not endorse any particular approach to Social Security reform, it was willing to discuss changes that would extend equal benefits to gays and their partners. Ms. Stachelberg was elaborating on a statement on Thursday in an article in The New York Times by another official of the group.

"We have to talk about the denial of benefits in a way that people can hear," Ms. Stachelberg said. "We have to say privatization might bring more equity to the system because it gives an individual more flexibility in designating a beneficiary. That addresses one concern of the gay and lesbian community, but it may raise others."

Forcing Bush to define his position on civil unions will, in my 2 cents worth of opinion, make it clear for Dems to define what the civil rights struggle needs to be. But is this tacit approval of Bush's reform plans of the SS system what HRC should be doing at all? Will the Dems actually pick up the civil rights charge this debate will inevitably generate, or will the hand-wringing wimp Dems continue their drift to be Repug-lite? Who knows.

Lightish posting today

Just out there getting the last shopping done (at this point it's gift cards, I have no imagination left!), but check back later...

Kerik withdraws, citing "nanny issue". Yeah and I got a bridge I want to sell you too...

Here's the official explanation for the quick withdrawal of Bernie Kerik:
Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush's homeland security secretary, a victim of the embarrassing "nanny problem" that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials.

The surprise move late Friday sends Bush back in search of a Cabinet official to help guard the nation against another terrorist attack.

While assembling paperwork for his Senate confirmation, Kerik said he uncovered questions about the immigration status of a housekeeper-nanny that he employed. As homeland security secretary, Kerik would oversee the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

"I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people," Kerik said in a letter to Bush.

...Democrats also were focusing on Kerik's recent windfall, which he made by exercising stock options in a stun gun company that does business with the Department of Homeland Security.

Now here's probably the real reason he's stepping away...a litany of questionable ethical issues that have trailed him for years -- not simply allegations, either. Guess he wasn't ready for the rough and tumble of hearings to defend them.

A DKos diary, written by DemWatch (the latter link is to the blog) before the announcement, had a lengthy list of choice items.
A few reasons why Bernard Kerik is not fit to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security...

1. Kerik has furthered the lie that Iraq was involved with 9/11:

New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

"Saddam didn't do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train al-Qaida? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?"
2. Kerik does not believe in the right to free political expression:

Also from New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

"Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."
3. Kerik may have perjured himself before the 9/11 Commission:

New York Times, 5/20/04

"On Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, Bernard B. Kerik, the former police commissioner under Mr. Giuliani, offered a version of events that conflicted with the accounts of virtually every senior official in the Fire Department. Mr. Kerik testified that he saw police officers serving as liaisons to the Fire Department at the main fire command post on West Street. Mr. Kerik identified only one of those officers, a police sergeant who died in the collapse."
4. Kerik has extensive ties to the terrorist-funding Saudi royal family:

BBC, 5/16/03

"Mr Kerik says he speaks a smattering or Arabic - from four years spent in Saudi Arabia training security staff."
Update: As Michael pointed out in the comments, this is kind of weak as criticism goes. To a certain extent, he's right. However, considering both the Saudi royal family's history of funding terrorists and their history of brutal repression of their own people, the fact that Kerik worked for them in security is pretty unattractive. Were Kerik looking at a job heading up security for a major international corporation, I'd shrug it off. But we're talking about the future Secretary of Homeland Security here. The Saudi ties are not something to be taken lightly.

5. Kerik's tactics as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority disturbed our British allies and inflamed tensions with Iraqi citizens:

London's Financial Times, 7/10/03

"Some UK officials have been appalled by the language and tactics used by the US security supremo, Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner dubbed the "Baghdad terminator" because of his uncompromising style.

"The Americans need to learn that civil policing is not about 'kicking ass', it is about democracy. There are going to be problems if we continue with our different philosophies and different approaches to law enforcement," one UK official said."
6. Kerik's term as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority was abruptly cut short, with no explanation, contradicting months of statements Kerik had made about his long-term commitment to the job:

May 2003: "I will be there at least six months - until the job is done."
June 2003: "By the time he leaves -- in three to six months -- Kerik must create a police force that understands, as he puts it, 'the principles of a free and democratic society,' but has enough public respect to maintain order
"No one, not even Kerik, thinks the task will be complete by then."
August 2003: " 'We've only been here for 100 days and you want what? Come on!'
"He predicts his job will be completed in the next two months, and then he will leave."
September 2003: "The Bush administration's top security adviser in Iraq has completed his stint and is returning to the United States, the Pentagon said Friday.
"Kerik's departure comes amid severe security problems in Iraq.
"[D]efense officials said Friday that Kerik was scheduled to leave this summer and actually had 'extended his stay to finish his ongoing projects.'
"A spokeswoman for Kerik in New York said his job was supposed to have lasted only 90 days."
7. During the recent Presidential campaign, Kerik openly employed fear as a political weapon, such as in this op-ed column:

New York Post, 11/1/04

"... the next plot might not be against our skyscrapers but our schools, that the next Madrid could be Penn Station and the next Beslan, Russia could be Bayonne, New Jersey."
8. Kerik's tenure as the head of NYC's Department of Corrections was marked by scandal:

New York Times, 12/3/02

Bernard B. Kerik, the man atop the Correction Department, administered Mr. Giuliani's unapologetic zero-tolerance approach faithfully, and his work in the jails ultimately led to his appointment as police commissioner in August 2000.

But now, a range of investigations into the conduct of some of the top lieutenants credited with the transformation of the city's jail system is threatening to sully one of Mr. Giuliani's accomplishments.

Mr. Kerik's successor, William J. Fraser, who had been one of Mr. Kerik's top officers, resigned last week after reports surfaced that he had used correction officers to do work at his house in Belle Harbor, Queens.

Both the Manhattan district attorney's office and its Bronx counterpart are also looking into concerns about senior officers at the jails.
9. Kerik's tenure as the NYPD Commissioner was also marked by scandal:

New York Post, 7/15/04 (reposted here)

The NYPD has launched an investigation into the purchase and disappearance of four high-tech security doors bought while Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was in command, a high-ranking police official said yesterday. The $50,000 doors, which were built by Georal International and ordered in June of 2001, were to be placed in the lobby of 1 Police Plaza, but turned out to be too heavy for the floors.

The deal involved some highly unusual practices, including the lightning-like speed with which the doors were ordered and delivered and the decision to not issue specs on the doors to make sure they would work, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

"Because of the lack of paperwork and apparently incomplete recollections of potential witnesses, the police commissioner decided to direct the Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate the matter," Browne said yesterday.

Alan Risi, the president of Georal, has already been indicted on separate charges after the city Department of Investigation found he was submitting inflated invoices while supplying doors to the Department of Citywide Administration.

After Kerik left as commissioner, he joined the board of the holding company that owns Georal.

Cary Christian School and racism, and the demographics of the Triangle

Friday, December 10, 2004

Whew. Been out all day and just catching up on news. This one is a good local story and it has received a lot of coverage in the news and on blogs.

Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using "Southern Slavery, As It Was" (Raleigh News and Observer).
Students at one of the area's largest Christian schools are reading a controversial booklet that critics say whitewashes Southern slavery with its view that slaves lived "a life of plenty, of simple pleasures."

Leaders at Cary Christian School say they are not condoning slavery by using "Southern Slavery, As It Was," a booklet that attempts to provide a biblical justification for slavery and asserts that slaves weren't treated as badly as people think.

Principal Larry Stephenson said the school is only exposing students to different ideas, such as how the South justified slavery. He said the booklet is used because it is hard to find writings that are both sympathetic to the South and explore what the Bible says about slavery.

"You can have two different sides, a Northern perspective and a Southern perspective," he said.

Clearly a wingnut that doesn't get it. OK. You read these excepts and decide whether this is just a matter of "perspective."
* "To say the least, it is strange that the thing the Bible condemns (slave-trading) brings very little opprobrium upon the North, yet that which the Bible allows (slave-ownership) has brought down all manner of condemnation upon the South." (page 22)

* "As we have already mentioned, the 'peculiar institution' of slavery was not perfect or sinless, but the reality was a far cry from the horrific descriptions given to us in modern histories." (page 22)

* "Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence." (page 24)

* "There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world." (page 24)

* "Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care." (page 25)

* "But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends." (page 27)

* "Nearly every slave in the South enjoyed a higher standard of living than the poor whites of the South -- and had a much easier existence." (page 30)

The school, to its credit, pulled this crap from its curriculum after the bad press, but it wouldn't have done so otherwise.


As a native Tar Heel (born in Durham, lived in NYC and returned to live in Durham -- I claim dual "citizenship" as Southerner and Yankee, lol), Cary is a not a hotbed of retro-style racism. It is, as others have said, a bedroom community between Raleigh and Durham.

The racist private schools are a result of the general nature of schools in the south post-desegregation. The white flight from the schools were a boom for religious and private schools of all types, including the wingnut fundie schools which don't mind teaching this filth.

I would venture a guess that with the general wealth in this area that folks with little kids either send them to private, progressive schools or live in areas in the Triangle area where the public school system is strong (like Chapel Hill and Cary).

The fundie, redneck crowd sends their kids to places like Cary Christian School.

For more debate and discussion on this topic, visit the interesting diary by Plutonium Page over at DKos.


The Triangle area and the surprising NC gay boom

It is known as "sCary" to folks in Durham because the stereotype is that it is where most Yankee breeders move. It is chock full of folks driving high-end SUVs and minivans with soccer moms that have 1.5 kids and live in gated or planned communities with restrictive covanents. If you're a lesbian couple raising kids, you're more likely to live in Durham; I don't know why this is. BTW, the number of identified gay and lesbian couples in the state is extraordinary, considering its politics. Here is some information on the demographics of the queer population in an amazing piece by a former work colleague of mine, Fiona Morgan in a progressive publication in our area, The Independent Weekly. It focused on the gay "baby boom" here, but is chock full of information about life here if you're gay, and why civil marriage is important for us.
In reality, families headed by same-sex couples are prospering, becoming more visible and integrating into mainstream society. According to a study of 2000 Census data released last month by the Urban Institute, gay and lesbian couples live in 97 percent of U.S. counties, and one out of every three lesbian couples and one out of five gay couples are raising children. The number of gay and lesbian couples in North Carolina rose 720 percent between 1990 and 2000. As of 2000, there were 16,198 gay and lesbian couples in the state, and 31 percent of them were raising children. The wave of same-sex couples conceiving and adopting children together began in the mid- to late-1980s. Today, those kids are school-age, and society is facing its ambivalence toward gays and lesbians on new territory: in the classroom, on the soccer field and at the PTA meeting.

In the eyes of the state, Cathy Surles (right) has no legal relationship to Kelly Rimer (my former neighbor in Old West Durham) or to their children. Photo By Alex Maness/for the Independent

Gay and lesbian parents are looking for the same things other parents are looking for: proximity to extended family, safe neighborhoods, affordable real estate, good schools, parks and so on. "Same-sex couples [with children] look more like the people around them than like other gay people," he says. Among metro areas in the state, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill ranks second for the proportion of gay families, with Durham the overwhelming favorite of lesbian parents. "Asheville is by far the 'gayest' city in North Carolina," Gates says. Third place is Charlotte, followed by Greensboro and Wilmington.

So the scrap metal dumpster-diving program was part of the Pentagon readiness plan...

They had to f*cking beg to get the armor. It's coming, but you know it won't be there fast enough.

Senior military officials can't explain it, so Bush does a little Rumsfeld-dumping (not the kind we'd like -- he still has a job), and the Dems are taking advantage of the latest Shame of Bush's America. Military Said Working on Armor Upgrade. (AP):

Close to three-quarters of the Humvees in the Iraq war theater now have upgraded armor protection, but many larger trucks and tractor-trailer rigs do not, according to congressional figures.

At the White House in Washington, Bush, too, was asked about the situation.

"The concerns expressed are being addressed and that is — we expect our troops to have the best possible equipment," Bush said. "If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country, I'd want to ask the secretary of defense the same question. And that is, 'Are we getting the best we can get us?' And they deserve the best."

Democrats have more questions for Rumsfeld. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he would put his in a letter demanding increased production of armor kits and an explanation for why soldiers are searching for scrap metal in landfills.

"This administration has received every dollar they have asked for from Congress, and oftentimes more," Durbin said Thursday in his Chicago office. "So, the money has been there."

[Do you think Halliburton might be sucking up some of that dough? -- Pam]

Sen. Evan Bayh , D-Ind., said the problem may have been the Pentagon's shortsightedness about the mission in Iraq.

"We've got a moral responsibility to provide our troops with the equipment they need to accomplish their mission and protect their security," Bayh said Thursday in a telephone news conference.

Questions have been raised about why the military had not started armoring its vehicles sooner than August 2003, when insurgents turned to bombs to attack U.S. forces. Some critics point to the lack of light armored vehicles as further evidence the Bush administration was unprepared for the kind of insurgency it has faced in Iraq.

It's the big trucks that do much of the heavy hauling around Iraq, ferrying supplies, troops and even other vehicles through rough stretches of highway. The better-known Humvee serves as a light troop carrier, weapons platform and all-purpose jeep.

But the big trucks, like the five-ton M939 medium truck and the tank-hauling Heavy Equipment Transporter, face some of the same threats as the Humvees, including roadside bombs and gun and rocket ambushes.

Some have weapons on board, but very few have armor, and of those that do, the armor offers less protection than is carried by many Humvees.

As to the issue of soldiers turning to scrap piles to better protect their vehicles, senior military officials have offered a few explanations. One is that units heading into Iraq are allowed to scavenge outgoing and damaged vehicles for spare armor plates.

It's 1:45 AM, and I don't know, but this seems ludicrous

Government Says Terrorists May Use Lasers (AP):
Terrorists may seek to down aircraft by shining powerful lasers into cockpits to blind pilots during landing approaches, federal officials are warning in a bulletin distributed nationwide.

The memo sent by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department says there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers as weapons, though there is no specific intelligence indicating al-Qaida or other groups might use lasers in the United States.

"Although lasers are not proven methods of attack like improvised explosive devices and hijackings, terrorist groups overseas have expressed interest in using these devices against human sight," the memo said.

Al Franken going to Iraq on USO tour -- Freepers are freaking out

According to the Freepers, Air America host, author and kick-ass political wit Al Franken announced that he is going to visit the troops with the USO again in January. This will be his fifth tour with USO, the last being in January of this year. Franken refers to doing the tours as a moving experience, and that the troops love seeing him. Here are some comments from an interview he did with Paula Zahn upon return from the last tour:
This is my first time in an active theater of battle. I was in Kosovo in '99, but it was very different.

It was very moving, to see these guys who are -- and women -- who are in harm's way. And also very moving to see -- like on the first show we did in Kuwait, we sang "God Bless America" every night at the end of the show. And looking at the guys in the front row, I saw there was a black soldier with his arm linked with a white soldier, with a woman, and going back and -- and swaying back and forth, and really, this was America to me. And thinking that, you know, the military can really teach a lot of college campuses a lot about affirmative action.

ZAHN: Can teach us all a lot of things.


ZAHN: Let me ask you this: You've been highly critical of the president, as this march to war went on. What do you say to the folks who in spite of your history of doing these USO tours, found your appearance in Iraq disingenuous in some way?

FRANKEN: I don't know anyone who has. I know that the USO invited me, and when they did, I said yes immediately. They don't know me. I mean, I support our troops. I'm from the Vietnam generation. I didn't serve. This is my way of serving. I tell a few jokes and leave very quickly. I was there eight days. These guys are there for nine months.

The soldiers themselves -- and there are soldiers who came up to me and said, I don't agree with anything you say politically, but I really appreciate your coming. And that, you know, then I say, well, it's my honor. And they'd say, no, it's my honor.

ACTION: The idea of Franken returning to Iraq is causing no end of grief for the folks in Freeperland. In fact, they plan to bombard the USO with requests to not include him on the next tour. There is a USO feedback form that they plan to use to do this freep:


Phone: 703-908-6400

Please go and let the USO know your support for comedy and wit and patriotism -- the troops need a taste of Al Franken, especially now.

Here are some typical, ignorant Freeper comments to spur you on.
"The USO is a respected organization that does great work for the military, I believe they made an error in this case."

"Sending Franken as part of a USO tour is like having Hanoi Jane Fonda visit the troops in Nam!!!"

"Yea well, if we can get him booted off I would be pleased, I am sick of the liberals support the troops crap, they loathe the military. I cant see any good coming from his trip, I would feel exactly the same if they booked michael moore (shudder)."

"I think it will be a great news feed when the GIs BOO him off stage"

"Are you certain this is under aegis of the USO? Maybe he's going independently. If so, maybe he'll get the chance to meet Zarqawi personally and convince him to lay down his arms and "Just get along". :-)"

"I dont have a problem with liberals going over there, in some cases it may change thier point of view, Franken is such a flaming you know what that I can see him trying to start a revolt."

Though Franklen is certainly an ass clown in the highest order, I'll give the USO the benefit of doubt here."

"Yeah! Jane Fonda visited the wrong troops. Hope Franken lives but it's not at the top of my Christmas wish list."

AND ONE VOICE OF SANITY ON THE BOARD (I can't believe I'm saying it -- Pam):

"At least he is going. I haven't heard that Hannity or Limbaugh are putting on their boots."

Is the Washington Post going to publish the next homophobic installment?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dr. Derek Grier, pastor of Grace Christian Church and editor of the homophobic rag, BothSides, and the man behind the "junk science," Paul Cameron.

While CBS and NBC are turning down a benign ad from the UCC about tolerance, the Washington Post is probably going to take money from these folks again and not have a problem with this again. The junk science insert, Same Sexuality and Race, published by the Grace Christian Church of Woodbridge, Virginia, targeted the religious black community to instill fear and hatred toward homosexuals with its ignorant drivel. Here's Grier:
Grier says homosexuality is not a civil right issue, and reports that his church felt it was so important to communicate that message the church took out a loan to found and publish the magazine.

As to the controversy surrounding the content of BothSides, Grier says many of those who protested do not understand the difference between race and sexuality. "As an African-American, my color -- or the melanin in my DNA that causes me to be brown -- is a result of simple chemistry," he says. "However, sexuality is not a physical trait; it's a behavior.

"To interchange the color of my skin, which is not considered immoral in the Bible or anywhere else for that matter, [and] to equate sexual behavior with the color of my children's skin, is quite offensive," Grier adds.

The pastor says the controversy has brought the church a good bit of publicity, but he urges readers to pay attention to the message of the magazine. There will be additional opportunities to do that, he says, as the church plans to publish more editions of BothSides.

Also, read this bullsh*t on the BothSides web site, if you aren't already disgusted enough:
Proponents of the homosexual lifestyle argue that as race is merely a byproduct of inherited genes, so is homosexuality. The weakness of this position is that people of color reproduce and pass on the DNA that makes the skin brown; however, homosexuals cannot reproduce in their preffered sexual expression. If homosexuality is purely a genetic trait, as is my race and homosexuals were true to their orientation, the trait would have virtually disappeared over the ages. Nature does not perpetuate homosexuality.

Interested in sharing your opinion with them? Here you go...
BothSides Magazine
P.O. Box 7538
Woodbridge, VA 22195-7538
Ph: 703.738.4216
Fx: 703.652.4370

Letters to the Editor should be e-mailed to

You can also contact the WPost ombudsman and ask them if they're going to accept money from these people again -- they did it once, so clearly they don't object to the content:
- (202) 334-7582

What you can do to help the UCC take on CBS and NBC as it presses the FCC for a hearing

I wanted to post some action items as a result of the United Church of Christ's announcement that it is filing a petition to deny license renewals to two Miami-area television stations: Viacom's WFOR-TV and GE-owned WJVT-TV (these are owned, not affiliates). CBS and NBC national rejected the church's "God is Still Speaking" commercial. [I've noted before that local stations here in NC were used a target market for the ad, and there was no outcry, in fact several gay friends of mine specifically mentioned this ad renewing their faith and exploring the UCC.]

The press release is here.

The web site with details on the action is here; this site was put up by the UCC Office of Communications,a wholly separate functional and financial entity from the church itself.

The actual petition (in PDF) is here.

The reason the UCC is making this move is that these stations use the airwaves, which are public, not private. The must renew their licenses every eight years. Florida's stations are up during this time period, and so this is why the UCC is targeting them with a licensing challenge. This type of action, in fact, is sanctioned by the FCC itself as the appropriate forum for addressing complaints about the use of the airwaves in a discriminatory or inappropriate way that compromises the concept of free and open debate or stifles it altogether.

The briefing also mentions the concept of the "Fairness Doctrine," which bound networks to present both sides of a given issue equally. This came about due to a 1973 Supreme Court ruling ("CBS v. Democratic National Committee"). This was true up until 1987, when FCC deregulation resulted in the demise of the fairness doctrine. The networks no longer have to play fair, and thus the only recourse now for an aggrieved party like the UCC is to make its case during the license renewal process. Parties can submit "informal objections" from the public along with their documentation, in this case "raising substantial and material question as to whether the broadcast company has been operating in the public interest." Since the networks own these two stations they can be held accountable for all that they own as a result of this filing and force a public hearing.

The UCC was and is serious about the original campaign that included this ad; according to Bob Chase, the Executive Director of the Office of Communications for the UCC, it is a four-year, $30 million outreach to promote "extravagant welcome." The original reason for wanting to run its ads on networks, he says, is to reach those that are not easily reached -- the poor, most without cable -- who use free TV as a primary information source. CBS and NBC prevented UCC from doing so, with their convoluted thinking and explanations for turning down the ad.

Chase also wanted to make sure folks out there understood that the UCC views this as a "gift" that they intend to be good stewards of -- these are everyone's airwaves and it is more than an issue over tolerance for gays, or attendance at its churches. Incidentally, as a result of the controversy, the UCC web site has had over 70,000 hits to its "find a church" link. Clearly, the intended message is getting through.

OK. What can you do?

The UCC's web site for the action,, has an online form where you can file an "informal objection" to the FCC in support of the UCC. This will be part of the documentation considered for the renewal of the license. Please do this by January 2, 2005; petitions sent up until that date will be most effective, but the UCC says they can be submitted up until mid-Feb. Take no chances, do it now.

Here is the form.

You can also donate to the advocacy campaign. As I noted above, the Office of Communications is handling this action, and it is a separate entity from the church itself.

So, that's my info rant on this...please take action; I'm damn tired of the American Taliban trying to take control of my country, spewing intolerance and doing all it can to suppress ideas and dissent.

If you have a blog, continue to spread the word; the UCC appreciates all of you in the blogosphere that have generated buzz about this!

BBC: Laptops may damage male fertility

Better watch your "boys" when using it on your lap..

I wonder if guys out there cringe while reading this.
Men who use laptop computers could be unwittingly damaging their fertility, experts believe.

Balancing it on the lap increases the temperature of the scrotum which is known to have a negative effect on sperm production, researchers found.

Lead researcher Dr Yefim Sheynkin, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, said: "Laptops can reach internal operating temperatures of over 70°C.

"They are frequently positioned close to the scrotum, and as well as being capable of producing direct local heat, they require the user to sit with his thighs close together to balance the machine, which traps the scrotum between the thighs."

The researchers asked 29 healthy male volunteers aged between 21 and 35 to take part in an experiment.

They then recorded the temperature changes to the scrotum caused by laptop use and different seating positions over one hour time periods.

Just sitting with the thighs together, a posture needed to balance a laptop, caused scrotal temperatures to rise by 2.1C.

So, did they have a thermometer down there? Wires? How'd they take the temp? Nevermind.

Oh Canada! Green light for same-sex marriage law

They did it -- the Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for the federal government to legalize same-sex marriage, ruling that Parliament has the right to redefine marriage. (CBC):
The federal government had asked the court to consider whether excluding gays and lesbians from legal marriage violated equality rights under the Charter.

But the court said that by failing to appeal a number of lower court rulings that said excluding gays from marriage was discriminatory, the federal government had already accepted that position.

Those lower court rulings have already made same-sex marriage legal in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the Yukon.

The United Church minister who performed the first gay marriage in B.C. is pleased with Thursday's ruling.

"I think it's really appropriate, the time has come," says Tim Stevenson, who is also a Vancouver city councillor.

"We're obviously leading the world and many many other countries will be looking at this ruling and realizing that Canada has made a mark in the world, and will be following."

Actual Freeper Quotes™ including bonus points for Freeper bigots in Canada...
"Religious freedom is not protected, since the government, rather than merely allowing, is promoting homosexual activity through civil same sex marriage, despite the religious and moral beliefs of many."

"Nothing would surprise me anymore with our Supreme's Not even that!. God help us! Maybe now all the gays who want to get married can join the dems who are still upset with the re-election of Bush and move to Canada. With the guys who don't want to go to Iraq as well. One big happy country!"

"Don't worry, they will start work on the US directly! You have a lot more gays than we do...although they will probably all be swarming up here now twittering away, wedding rings at the port...BLAH!!"

"Disgusting, absolutely disgusting.

This country will now be like a magnet to homosexuals. With them comes their diseases but no problem, we have socialized medicine so we can all pay to aid and abet this sordid lifestyle CHOICE.
I so wish I had gotten out years ago."

"For now! We know how libs work, even in Kanada. They attempt to play both sides of an issue, no matter how transparent.

Give it another year, 2 maybe and religious officials (which means Christians) will then be forced to perform unions or else.............."

The UCC fights back for tolerance -- filing FCC license challenges

They won't take this sitting down.
United Church of Christ files petition with FCC over networks' refusal of church advertisement

UCC: Ad's rejection denies 'full range of religious expression'
UCC campaign site:

CLEVELAND -- The United Church of Christ today (Dec. 9) is filing two petitions with the Federal Communications Commission, asking that two network owned-and-operated television stations in Miami be denied license renewals for failing to provide viewers "suitable access" to a full array of "social, political, esthetic, moral and other ideas and experiences."

WFOR-TV (a CBS station) and WJVT-TV (an NBC station) -- whose operating licenses are currently up for FCC review -- are being challenged because "there is substantial and material question" as to whether the stations' parent companies, Viacom, Inc., and the General Electric Company, have operated the stations in the public interest, the petitions state.

The action stems from a much-publicized decision by both networks to deny an advertisement that makes clear the church's welcome of diverse, even marginalized, segments of the population. CBS and NBC have said the all-inclusive ads are "controversial" and, therefore, amount to "issue advocacy," something the networks have said they do not allow.

In a signed statement that accompanies the petition, the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, "The religious, ethical and moral right of members of UCC churches and other citizens to have access to diverse programming has been harmed by the refusal of NBC and CBS to carry [the ad], as well as by their failure to carry programming reflecting the full range of religious expression in the United States on their networks and on their owned-and-operated stations."

Similarly signed complaints from a group of UCC members in south Florida make the case that those who live in the network stations' viewing area are being denied a positive message of inclusion.

"Ensuring that all Americans, especially women and people of color, have the opportunity to be seen and heard in today's media-saturated culture is vital to free expression," said the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry. "It gives voice to God's rich mosaic and is essential in a full democracy."

Said Andrew J. Schwartzman, President and CEO of Media Access Project, "Broadcasters agree to serve the needs of the communities where they are licensed in exchange for receiving free use of publicly owned airwaves. That means everyone, not just people their advertisers care about."

"The viewing public is harmed when powerful networks can label an ad 'controversial' and refuse to air it. Repeal of the Fairness Doctrine was supposed to result in the airing of more, not less, 'controversial' programming," said Angela Campbell, Director of Georgetown University Law Center's Institute for Public Representation. "It is time for the FCC to re-examine whether some sort of public right of access is required under the Communications Act and the First Amendment."

Ironically -- long before the current television ad controversy -- the United Church of Christ, through its Office of Communication, Inc. (OC, Inc.), has been at the forefront of media access issues for more than 40 years. During the civil rights era, the UCC was the first voice to demand that those holding FCC licenses and authorizations act on behalf of the public interest and be held accountable as stewards of the public trust.

Only three months ago, on Sept. 1, 2004, the UCC's Office of Communication, Inc., filed a petition with the FCC to deny license renewals of two television stations serving the Washington, D.C., area for failing to serve the educational needs of children.

"Who would have guessed that it would one day be our voice that was silenced?" Chase said. "When CBS and NBC refused to air our commercial because they considered it 'too controversial,' we found ourselves in the very position as other groups for whom we have historically been advocates."

Gloria Tristani, OC Inc.'s managing director and a former FCC commissioner (1997-2001), said, "NBC and CBS and their stations must be accountable to the communities they are licensed to serve. How can it be in the public interest for television stations to exclude a church's message of inclusion?"

The FCC filing was done on behalf of the United Church of Christ by lawyers from Media Access Project and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University.

More information about the petition and the campaign can be found at:

On the web:

Watch this space tomorrow for an update on the UCC ad controversy

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

NBC "graphic": AmericaBlog

Be sure to check out House Blend tomorrow for some breaking news about the controversy over CBS and NBC rejecting the United Church of Christ's TV ads. I'll have some info about what the UCC plans to do in response to the absolutely juvenile position the networks have taken regarding the hopeful, benign inclusive ad. A spot, by the way, that says nothing about gay marriage, and nothing specifically about homosexuals at all -- it's about the UCC's tolerance and open arms to welcome anyone that wishes to worship.

CBS and NBC totally caved to the religious Right, our American Taliban, for fear of who knows -- boycotts, hate mail, Freepers on get the idea. It's not like it would take balls to run an ad as benign as this one -- even Jerry Falwell thought it was dumb not to allow it to run. It test-ran in the Triangle area months ago, without fanfare or negative feedback. Shame on CBS and NBC.

So tune in here tomorrow for an update. Again, here is the ad.

Hack: recruiting's tanked -- the draft's next

Retired Col. David H. Hackworth, still shooting from the sidelines at Soldiers for the Truth, says the recruiting numbers are far worse than anyone is hearing. Hack's talking to the recruiters first-hand and the problem, no surprise, is in all branches of the military -- Regular Army, Reserves and Guard. Recruiting is at half of expectations. They've lowered standards for recruits and have resulted to throwing LAN parties to garner interest from potential recruits.

Hack says a draft is imminent, as there is no way to replace the estimated 50,000 KIA, WIA and non-battle casualties from Iraq that have been sent back to the States.

We'll soon have 150,000 U.S. troops stuck in the ever-expanding Iraqi quagmire, a number that will probably grow even larger before Iraq holds elections presently scheduled for the end of January '05.

...The job of finding fresh bodies to keep our units topped off falls mainly to the Army Recruiting Command. But the "making-quota" jazz put out by the Recruiting Command and the Pentagon to hype their billion-dollar recruiting effort, with its huge TV expenditure and big expansion of recruiters during the past year, is pure unadulterated spin. Not that this is anything new. The Command has a sorry reputation for using smoke and mirrors to cover up poor performance.

"Hack, here's a snapshot of how little of our 1st Quarter mission has been achieved," says an Army recruiter. "Look at it from a perspective of a business releasing quarterly earnings information. To keep unit manning levels up out in the field, especially in Iraq, there's no question our recruiting mission is in serious trouble."

"These are totals for the 41 USAREC (Recruiting Command) Battalions, so these stats represent the USAREC mission accomplishment:

Regular Army Volume (all RA contracts):
Mission: 25,322
Achieved: 12,703 (50.17 percent)

Army Reserve Volume:
Mission: 7,373
Achieved: 3,206 (43.48 percent)."

The Army National Guard is faring no better. A Guard retention NCO says: "The word is out on the streets of Washington, D.C. `Do not join the Guard.' I see these words echoing right across the U.S.A."
By the end of this recruiting year, the Regular Army, Reserves and Guard could fall short more than 50 percent of its projected requirement, or about 60,000 new soldiers. And according to many recruiters, quality recruits are giving way to mental midgets who have a hard time telling their left foot from their right.
Shades of our last years in Vietnam.

...Moms and dads are outraged about desperate Army recruiters on a relentless campaign to sign up their teenagers. High-school kids are actually running away from recruiters like they were George Romero's living dead.

"Recruiters have called my son a minimum of 20 times in the two years since he finished high school," a dad reports. "The phone calls usually come in clusters. I answered five calls in a two- or three-week span. Each time a recruiter calls, he receives the same polite, respectful response from me or my son ... no interest, and please take the name off the list. When asked why the name hasn't been removed, excuses are made. While recruiters are brief with me, when my son is on the phone, the sales tactics are clever, prolonged and very high-pressure."

...Unless a miracle happens and the new Iraqi security force decides to stop running and start fighting, we'll be in Iraq for a long time. Most likely with a draftee force.


Actual Freeper Quotes™ about Hack's article:
"I fear Col. Hackworth has gone over to the dark side. Please explain to me how wrong I am....and why."

"Oh shut up, Hack! Shut up."

"You're not wrong. Hack's been off his game for well over a decade, now. He's great as far as soldier advocacy issues, because he does seem to care about troops and what they're going through. The problem is he's just clueless as to what warfighting has become, and his insights on operational matters have been wrong since the 1991 Gulf War. Now he's riding his fame into the dirt, and making a joke out of himself."

"He's nuts. Things are really bad over there, no doubt about that, but the Iraqi government is just now getting its feet on the ground. Recent large-scale operations involving both American and Iraqi forces should have been sending the wake-up signal that we're closer to the light at the end of the tunnel."

"Benedict Arnold and John Kerry were decorated war veterans as well. Doesn't mean they're infallible and can't be called on the carpet for their asinine conduct."

"I don't mind Hackworth's opinion, what bugs me is that he acts like such a pu$$y when he gives it."

"Have you not noticed that the man is no longer on FNC? During Afghanistan, Hackworth was on all the time. now...never. I don't think they trust his opinion either."

"Guess he noticed how popular John McCain and Ariana Huffington got by turning against conservatives."

"You're not wrong. Hack joined up with Darth Clinton a long while back."

"Hack must be smoking too much dope again."

"Hack likes wearing that stinky black turtleneck on the MSM TV shows. He noticed he gets called when he's slamming the military, and ignored when he doesn't. It's Pavlovian."

Zell-fire rises again -- in a law firm -- and he isn't a lawyer

How can an wingnut moron and former educator (that's funny on its face) Zell Miller got a cushy job in a law firm -- and not be a lobbyist? Perhaps he will be ordering office supplies or making coffee. (WMAZ):
Retiring Senator Zell Miller, a teacher not a
lawyer, will join the government affairs practice of one of his home state's major law firms when he leaves his Senate position early next year.

According to a statement from the firm, his employer to be, McKenna Long And Aldridge, provides expertise to clients in such areas as tax policy, international trade, homeland security, health policy and higher education.

Miller will work from the firm's Washington and Atlanta offices.

He had a hard time today describing exactly what his duties will be. Miller said -- quote -- 'I haven't been able to talk to anybody very concretely because of the rules of the Senate.'

But, he insisted, one thing he won't be is a lobbyist.

Miller said -- quote -- 'I'm not going to be walking any halls of the Capitol or taking any folks out for a steak dinner.' "

Holy f*cking Moses

Ten Commandments Backed by Bush Administration in Court Fight. Guess the administration has nothing better to do except carry water for folks like Judge Roy Moore (yes, another dumbass Alabaman -- it never ends) that don't understand the concept of the separation of church and state. This particular fight is over framed copies of the Big 10 in a Kentucky courthouse. (Bloomberg):
The Justice Department today filed a brief supporting two Kentucky counties accused of violating the constitutional ban on government establishment of religion by posting framed copies of the Ten Commandments.

"Official acknowledgement and recognition of the Ten Commandments' influence on American legal history comport with the Establishment Clause,'' the administration argued in a brief filed with the court in Washington.

The shame of Bush's America: homeless Iraq vets turning up at shelters

Read this. Support our troops -- hell, the Chimperor won't increase combat pay, he reduces services for veterans, and won't properly arm those in harm's way. Now this. (UPI):
U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."

"I drove off in my truck. I packed my stuff. I lived out of my truck for a while," Seabees Petty Officer Luis Arellano, 34, said in a telephone interview from a homeless shelter near March Air Force Base in California run by U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans.

Arellano said he lived out of his truck on and off for three months after returning from Iraq in September 2003. "One day you have a home and the next day you are on the streets," he said.

In Iraq, shrapnel nearly severed his left thumb. He still has trouble moving it and shrapnel "still comes out once in a while," Arellano said. He is left handed.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand -- and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

"It is all about numbers. Instead of getting quality care, they were trying to get everybody demobilized during a certain time frame. If you had a problem, they said, 'Let the (Department of Veterans Affairs) take care of it.'"

"This is what happened with the Vietnam vets. I went to Vietnam," said John Keaveney, chief operating officer of New Directions, a shelter and drug-and-alcohol treatment program for veterans in Los Angeles. That city has an estimated 27,000 homeless veterans, the largest such population in the nation. "It is like watching history being repeated," Keaveney said.

Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows that as of last July, nearly 28,000 veterans from Iraq sought health care from the VA. One out of every five was diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to the VA. An Army study in the New England Journal of Medicine in July showed that 17 percent of service members returning from Iraq met screening criteria for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder or PTSD.

Dean: Dems stop whining and stick to your convictions

Oh wait, that was just me paraphrasing Howard Dean. Dean doesn't mince words, though. Good for him. (AP):
"We cannot win by being Republican light," Dean said, repeating a line that helped make him a darling of the left in the early presidential race. "We've tried it, and it does not work."

Speaking to still-enthusiastic supporters at a George Washington University auditorium, the defeated presidential candidate ticked off a list of issues that he said Democrats should tout as moral values — health care, education, election reforms.

"Honesty is a moral value," Dean said, drawing cheers from those who still love to hear the former Vermont governor reproach the president, even indirectly.

"If this election had been decided on moral values, the Democrats would have won," Dean continued. "I think it's time for us to start framing the debate. We have to learn to punch our ways off the ropes."

"When some people say that we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified," Dean said. "They cannot. On issue after issue, we are where majority of the American people are."

Dean said the party must fight for victory in every state at every level of government and added, "we can't be a party that wins the presidency by running an 18-state campaign."

While 4,400 get the heave-ho, Colgate executives get petsitters

Perhaps all those laid off will get a goodie bag with Total toothpaste from Colgate.

It's so wrong, but it's so the American Way. Merry Christmas, F*ckers. Colgate Executives Get Thousands for Perks (AP):
Colgate-Palmolive Co., which announced Tuesday it is eliminating 4,400 jobs, disclosed in a regulatory filing that many of its top executives and officers are given allowance of up to $11,500 a year to spend on anything from pet sitters to running shoes to karate lessons to movie rentals.

The plan, called "Above and Beyond," was detailed in the consumer product company's quarterly filing in November with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The program has been in place since 1986 and covers 800 executives.

Under the plan, executives and officers can ask for reimbursement for exercise equipment, such as rowing or skiing machines, instructional videos, grooming and boarding services for pets, pet walking services and sitters, and veterinarian fees and visits.

Twenty top officers are each eligible for an $11,500 yearly allowance. Between 110 and 120 vice presidents are eligible for $10,000 allowances and 650 executives are eligible for allowances of either $2,000 or $4,000, depending on their rank. Not every eligible executive uses their allowance, the company said.

The Associated Press came across the program while searching SEC filings from thousands of companies for information about compensation for the use of personal trainers and other perks. Few companies detailed programs as extensive as that of Colgate. A story was prepared on Monday, before the corporate restructuring was announced, but the AP held it for a day while waiting for the company's response.

"Colgate has consistently tried to be fair and very modest in this distribution of any perquisites," said a company spokesman who asked not to be named. "A total of 800 people in the 'Above and Beyond' program have access to a modest, fixed stipend that can be used for home computers, baby sitters, fitness training, tax assistance and other benefits that can make their lives somewhat easier."

What a freaking sleaze bag

This guy has no shame. He also has nine lives. I'm wondering what final scandal will take him out. Gifts Broke Rules, DeLay Trustee Says (NYT). His folks his legal defense fund (he obviously needs one) "inadvertently" donations in 2001 from registered lobbyists.

Is she getting out that soon?

Martha Stewart May Get New TV Show. No comment.

More Rummy fun -- FBI had warned Pentagon on tactics

Rummy like torture, whether or not it delivers credible intelligence, so says a USA Today story, which recounts early warnings from the FBI that the interrogation tactics used on prisoners wouldn't give them reliable intelligence. And Rummy went on torturing.
The documents were turned over recently to the American Civil Liberties Union by the Defense Department to comply with a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Several civil liberties groups filed suit in New York seeking records of military interrogation techniques in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq. (Related story: FBI letter cites aggressive interrogations in Guantanamo)

In several e-mails, unnamed FBI officials recalled that they engaged in "somewhat heated" battles with defense officials here and at the military prison at Guantanamo about the military's "stress and duress" interrogation tactics, which included sleep deprivation, verbal abuse, forced nudity and chaining detainees in uncomfortable positions in cold rooms.

FBI officials said in the documents that agents preferred the bureau's long-accepted, court-approved interrogation policy of building rapport with detainees to obtain information about terrorism.

The FBI declined to comment. Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, said the United States condemns torture. He said several investigations have been conducted or are ongoing into allegations of detainee abuse. Many of the records provided to the ACLU came from those probes, he said.

In an undated e-mail, an unnamed FBI Behavioral Analysis adviser said he observed "aggressive interrogation practices" at Guantanamo. He also said he was aware of "extreme interrogation techniques that were planned and implemented against certain detainees."

But in a May 5 e-mail labeled "high" importance, an unidentified FBI official said, "We need to be careful here. Everyone should pay particular attention to the distinctions between allegations of abuse and the use of techniques which fall outside of FBI/DOJ training and policy. ... I am not aware of any credible allegations of abuse by anyone (at Guantanamo)."

An unidentified FBI official recounted in a May 10 e-mail to Tom Harrington, a top FBI counterterrorism official, how he pressed generals in charge of Guantanamo "early on" about the military tactics. "Both agreed the bureau has their way of doing business and DOD has their marching orders from SecDef," the official said, referring to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The FBI official also recalled a conference call with unidentified Pentagon officials in which he criticized the quality of intelligence gleaned from one detainee.

Rummy gets reamed by the troops

Instead of the usual pumped-up cheering session with carefully selected troops, Rummy got blasted in a Q&A session in Kuwait. These soldiers are about to get deployed in Iraq, and they don't have the resources they need -- and they are not afraid to speak up. Please read the utter bullsh*t responses that Rumsfeld shovels; I don't see him getting out there in the battlefield to get his ass shot at -- he'd certainly make sure if it were his son or daughter out there he'd have the vehicles armored. Oh wait, if they were his relatives he'd get them out of having to serve. Nevermind. (AP):
Disgrunted U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumself on Wednesday about the lack of armor for their vehicles and long deployments, drawing a blunt retort from the Pentagon chief.

"You go to war with the Army you have," he said in a rare public airing of rank-and-file concerns among the troops.

In his prepared remarks earlier, Rumsfeld had urged the troops — mostly National Guard and Reserve soldiers — to discount critics of the war in Iraq and to help "win the test of wills" with the insurgents.

Some of soldiers, however, had criticisms of their own — not of the war itself but of how it is being fought.

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, for example, of the 278th Regimental Combat Team that is comprised mainly of citizen soldiers of the Tennessee Army National Guard, asked Rumsfeld in a question-and-answer session why vehicle armor is still in short supply, nearly two years after the start of the war that ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked. A big cheer arose from the approximately 2,300 soldiers in the cavernous hangar who assembled to see and hear the secretary of defense.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north," Wilson said after asking again.

Rumsfeld replied that troops should make the best of the conditions they face and said the Army was pushing manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it as fast as humanly possible.

And, the defense chief added, armor is not always a savior in the kind of combat U.S. troops face in Iraq, where the insurgents' weapon of choice is the roadside bomb, or improvised explosive device that has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands, of American troops since the summer of 2003.

"You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up," Rumsfeld said.

Freeper-captioned photo -- add your own comments...

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

These are Actual Freeper Quotes™ about Commander Dress-Up:
"And rightly so! That is an incredible picture of an incredible man."

"Let's just hope that some of the soldiers weren't superimposed into the picture."

"I liked the jacket too, but it looked a little small on him today."

"Looks like Abe Lincoln at Gettysburgh"

"Well have you ever seen a bad photo of him??? I sure haven't!"

"I think Bush is so cute. He is just a cute guy. Cute=Sexy to me. I'm probably terrible to see him that way but I can't help it."

"That jacket is a perfect fit. It's a military cut. It looks goooooooood."

"I sure GWB will have the respected place in history he deserves! And yes, it will sadly not be realized for some time in a broad sense. I feel privileged to be here living through and witnessing it!"

Alabama - the armpit of the union

My wife, if you've read this blog over time, is from Alabama; she's actually there now visiting her wingnut family. She's completely embarrassed by her home state -- obviously as a lesbian she knew she would have to escape to be able to live a decent life. Today she called me to tell me how frightening it was driving around and seeing all these "Put Jesus back in the USA signs" everywhere (this is Birmingham). She lost count of the BC04 stickers on the backs of Lexus SUVs. No KE04 sticker sitings yet. I don't expect her to see many.

I posted earlier on the unhinged wingnut Representative Gerald Allen announcing a bill in which he has proposed to remove any books containing homosexual material from any establishment receiving state funding. And of course this is the state that just in 1999 repealed its anti-miscegenation laws:
Alabama became the last state in the union to formally lift its ban on interracial marriage, a law that has been unenforceable since 1967. There are an estimated 1,600 interracial couples on Alabama, and the state is 26 percent black. Amendment 2, as the proposal to lift the ban was known, passed by a 60-40 percent vote, indicating that many Alabama residents, perhaps a majority of whites, favor keeping the ban. The only organized opposition to removing the ban came from the Southern Party of Alabama, a new political party founded in 1999 to establish the South as an independent nation, separate from the United States.

Alabama couldn't manage to remove Jim-Crow era segregation language this year either. The folks there are so taxophobic that they refuse to guarantee an education to their already-undereducated population. It's like you don't know where to begin with Alabama.

At least NC realized that instead of fixating on Jim Crow, agriculture and textiles, it had to reinvent itself and focus on education, technology and quality of life that would attract people from all over to move there are create an economic engine. Alabama has remained culturally insulated and it shows, over and over. That's sad. I don't know what to suggest to fix the problem for gay folks living in 'Bama, other than finding another state to live in.

LAN parties -- the new recruiting tool for the Army

Shaun Henry, right, plays America's Army during a tournament last month. Henry, 18, already interested in joining the military, said the game party hosted by an Army recruiter made a positive impression.

This is pathetic. I really don't think hard-core gamers are going to be the best soldiers -- even if they can hit a virtual target. But desperate times call for desperate measures. (Seattle Times):
...America's Army [is] a computer "first-person shooter" game, in which players advance through the stages of soldierhood — drilling in basic training, taking target practice with an M-16, studying basic emergency medicine and, finally, going into combat.

It's been such a hit that the Army has recently gone one step further with the game, organizing video-game parties around the country like this one in Woodinville, offering free game play, free "chow" and plenty of exposure to the Army's recruitment tactics. Woodinville and Bellevue recruiters plan to repeat the events every three months.

...The Army makes no bones about the fact that it designed the game to attract a new generation of potential soldiers reared on ever-more-realistic video games. Information on joining the Army is a mouse-click away through an Internet link.

Since the Army released the game in July 2002, it has proved to be a low-cost advertising jackpot. The game has been downloaded more than 16 million times, and the Army estimates that nearly a third of all young people of prime recruitment age have been exposed to it.

Last month, Sgt. 1st Class Alvin Martin, one of two recruiters at the Army's Woodinville office, rented a computer-gaming business called LanWerX for the tournament. The same day, recruiters hosted a parallel event at another LanWerX branch 12 miles away in Bellevue.

Martin put up fliers and made phone calls to offer free food and a day of free America's Army gaming to any interested boy, girl, man or woman over age 13 — no commitments required. A khaki Humvee was parked outside.

Thirty-five players showed up in Woodinville to compete. The six winners then took on the winning team from the Bellevue tournament, via a high-speed Internet connection.

The video game America's Army, seen onscreen at a recent Eastside tournament, is reaching a high percentage of young people, although it drew only mixed reviews from some local gamers.

Canada Looks to Move Quickly on Gay Marriage Law

Six of 10 provinces and one of three territories in Canada already allow gay marriage (we got married in Vancouver in July), and now the Supreme Court will give its opinion on whether gay marriage is required as a civil right, not merely allowed. (Reuters);
...The issue is a political hot potato, one on which a newly united Conservative Party appeared to have made gains against the Liberals in the June 28 federal election.

With the Liberal government holding only 134 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons it must rely on the support of other parties to remain in power. Minority governments rarely last much longer than 18 months to two years.

The political calculus suggests that with the support of two smallest parties -- the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democrats -- the Liberal government should be able to win the bill's passage, even though some Liberals oppose gay marriage.

However the Supreme Court may not make life as easy as the government hopes.

After an Ontario court ruled that the traditional definition of marriage as solely between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, the federal government drafted a bill that would open up marriage to gays across Canada.

It asked the Supreme Court to give a nonbinding opinion on the question of whether this would be allowed under the constitution. But it then added another much tougher question -- whether gay marriage was actually required, not just allowed, under the constitution.

To have a ruling that it would be required would enable the government to say it had no choice but to introduce the legislation, but it looks as if the court might decline to answer that particular question.

Several of the high court justices balked at the idea of answering the question, in an Oct. 6-7 hearing, saying this would mean the court was taking on the government's role.

Currently, gay marriage is allowed in six of Canada's 10 provinces and one of its three territories. Because the court is only offering an opinion nothing will change immediately.

That legal patchwork is another reason Justice Minister Irwin Cotler wants to move quickly.

You'll will want to put this on if you're heading to France

The Canada kit contains a T-shirt, flag pin (top right), patch and window decal (lower right). A quick reference guide titled "How to Speak Canadian, Eh?" is also thrown in. (AP)

Under the heading of "Peculiar Postings," MSNBC has up a clothing kit for Americans to pose as Canucks while abroad. Considering I've heard from friends that across the pond we're either disliked or considered stupid for electing Chimpy (even if you're not one of the 59,054,087 morons), I guess this will sell well.

Family values of a strong Bush supporter and youth pastor

Sexual exploiter of a child and Bush tax-cut recipient, Rev. Mike Hintz of the First Assembly of God Church in Des Moines, IA. Right: Mike getting a handshake from the Chimperor for all his good deeds in October at a campaign rally.

This sweet one's via Atrios. While reading up on good conservative behavior, don't forget our rogue's gallery of upstanding citizens.

Woohoo -- NJ same-sex ban likely to be overturned

KYW Newsradio is reporting that the Appellate Court in the Garden State is likely to rule same sex marriage legal.
A lower court ruled a year ago that the state’s ban on same-sex marriages did not violate the state constitution, so the couples appealed the ruling.

Arguing for the state, assistant attorney general Patrick DeAlmeida said same-sex couples now get many legal rights because of New Jersey’s domestic partnership law:

“There is nothing in the text, the history, or the intended purpose of the state constitution that would require the legislature to rewrite the definition of marriage in the way the plaintiffs request.”

David Buckel, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the state ban against same-sex marriages sets apart a group of individuals for inferior treatment under the law.

Yes, and you know I had to hit Freeperville...
To: Sub-Driver
Is the Domestic Partnership law just for homosexual fornicators, or can any fornicator participate? What about mistresses? Do they get some benefits? I mean heck, they've got to share the partner, they at least ought to get their own governments benefits.
3 posted on 12/07/2004 9:44:16 AM PST by The Ghost of FReepers Past

To: Sub-Driver
I am really really becoming tired of this same sex marriage issue. I am so sick of it infact that I am willing to support a Consitutional Amendment sayiing it is illegal to be gay. Wow. If that is PC then nothing is.
4 posted on 12/07/2004 9:49:50 AM PST by metalmanx2j (Thank the Good Lord for George W. Bush)

To: Sub-Driver
why privilege a relationship because it is sexual, to use their terms? Why not let everybody get a partner? It could be your sister, or your best friend, or a golfing buddy.

*&^% bloody activist judges and the republicans they rode in on.
6 posted on 12/07/2004 9:54:13 AM PST by heartwood

Oops...someone got a hold of the CIA transmission on Iraq

So who is Bush going to punish now for leaking this CIA cable on the deteriorating Iraq situation? 2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq's Path (NYT):
...The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq.

The officials described the two assessments as having been "mixed," saying that they did describe Iraq as having made important progress, particularly in terms of its political process, and credited Iraqis with being resilient.

But over all, the officials described the station chief's cable in particular as an unvarnished assessment of the difficulties ahead in Iraq. They said it warned that the security situation was likely to get worse, including more violence and sectarian clashes, unless there were marked improvements soon on the part of the Iraqi government, in terms of its ability to assert authority and to build the economy.

...Asked about the cable, a White House spokesman, Sean McCormack, said he could not discuss intelligence matters. A C.I.A. spokesman would say only that he could not comment on any classified document.

...A separate, more formal, National Intelligence Estimate prepared in July and sent to the White House in August by American intelligence agencies also presented a dark forecast for Iraq's future through the end of 2005. Among three possible developments described in that document, the best case was tenuous stability and the worst case included a chain of events leading to civil war.

After news reports disclosed the existence of the National Intelligence Estimate, which also remains classified, President Bush initially dismissed the conclusions as nothing more than a guess. Since then, however, violence in Iraq has increased, including the recent formation of a Shiite militia intended to carry out attacks on Sunni militants.

The end-of-tour cable from the station chief, spelling out an assessment of the situation on the ground, is a less-formal product than a National Intelligence Estimate. But it was drafted by an officer who is highly regarded within the C.I.A. and who, as station chief in Baghdad, has been the top American intelligence official in Iraq since December 2003. The station chief oversees an intelligence operation that includes about 300 people, making Baghdad the largest C.I.A. station since Saigon during the Vietnam War era.

The senior C.I.A. official who visited Iraq and then briefed counterparts from other government agencies was Michael Kostiw, a senior adviser to Mr. Goss. One government official who knew about Mr. Kostiw's briefings described them as "an honest portrayal of the situation on the ground."

Spitzer to Run for Governor in New York

This wasn't a surprise. Great news for NY and the white-collar-crime buster. It was clear he was going to do this once Chuck Schumer took himself out of the running. More on Spitzer from an earlier post here.

The taxpayers just keep getting screwed - now it's pharmacists

Is there any element of the health care system that isn't broken or corrupt? Pharmacists Accused of Inflating Prices. (AP):
Pharmacists are taking advantage of Medicaid pricing rules to reap two and three times their cost for generic medicines, lawmakers said Tuesday.

"Evidence gathered by the committee suggests that Medicaid reimbursement is more generous than that of most private payers," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel's investigation into Medicaid drug prices was the subject of a hearing Tuesday.

Information supplied by five large retail pharmacy chains showed that drug stores paid an average of 22 cents for seven widely prescribed generic medicines, but received 56 cents in reimbursements from Medicaid, the investigation found.

Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor, spent more than $31 billion on prescription drugs in 2003, triple the amount spent 10 years earlier. The program's costs are shared by the federal and state governments.

Any story with a government agency and "experimental" in makes you queasy these days

Do you want to be among the first to receive this? HHS Buys 'Experimental' Glaxo Flu Vaccine. (AP):
U.S. health officials on Tuesday approved the importation of up to 4 million doses of influenza vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline, bringing the U.S. total to 65 million vaccines for this flu season.

The Health and Human Services Department said it would buy 1.2 million doses immediately, leaving another 2.8 million doses from the company available later in the flu season.

"With the latest purchase we will be able to protect more high-risk Americans this flu season in communities across the country," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said.

...Officials approved Glaxo's vaccine, called Fluarix, as an investigational drug, which means patients will have to sign an informed consent form before receiving the shot.

Ohio says it's over...

Ohio Certifies Bush Win by 119,000 Votes. (AP). The Kerry campaign last week joined the presidential candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties who are asking for a recount. (The latter only garnered 0.5 percent of the vote).

The whole 80s revival has jumped the shark

These guys are back. Why? Motley Crue to Reunite.

Taiwan fields gay-friendly candidates

Taipei Independent legislative candidates Lin Cheng-hsiu, left, and Wang Fang-ping, participate in a signature drive for a gay rights petition, at a press conference to list gay-friendly legislators that took place at the NTU Alumni Association on Saturday. PHOTO: CNA

At least these folks are not afraid to be pro-gay. It's good to see these allies out there in other countries, fighting for gay rights. We are everywhere, no matter what the American Taliban thinks. (Taipei Times):
A minority group called the Tongzhi Hotline Association yesterday published a "Rainbow List" of gay-friendly candidates in Saturday's legislative elections, hoping to draw out pink voters hidden in the nooks and crannies of Taiwan's polarized political world.

The association sent out 100 survey forms to all legislative candidates in Taipei City, Taipei County, Taoyuan County and Taichung City, quizzing them on the group's policy agenda -- which includes offering free cocktail drug treatment for those infected with HIV, inclusion of different sexual orientations in the Gender Equality in Employment Law, and a proposed "basic human rights protection" law that would ensure gay people's right to work, adoption and having a family.

Of the 30 responses the group received, it picked the 14 candidates most likely to address the concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities. The 14 recommended candidates from across the political spectrum signed a white paper proposed by the association and pledged to revise relevant laws should they be elected.

...Lai said that in a society where few gays dare to come out of the closet, the number of pink voters is hard to measure.

Despite the uncertain number of gay voters though, the association said that they still have a chance to tip the balance of power if their preferred candidates are elected.

"Look at the 4,000-strong gay pride parade last month," Wu said, "Several politicians and legislative candidates showed up to court gay votes. This speaks to the growing potential of pink voters."

Bush Replaces Outspoken Civil Rights Chair

Bush could hardly wait to do this. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has blasted his administration for the pathetic last few years of enforcement and policies. It's unclear whether the terms of Mary Frances Berry and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso's terms expired at midnight or on Jan 21, 2005, but the White House believed it to be the former and replaced them both. (AP):
The eight-member panel investigates civil rights complaints and publicizes its findings. It has no enforcement power. Four years ago, Berry and the commission were heavily critical of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for his administration's handling of the disputed presidential election won by his brother.

The newly named commissioners are Gerald A. Reynolds, former assistant secretary for the office of civil rights in the Education Department, and attorney Ashley L. Taylor of Richmond, Va. Bush intends to designate Reynolds the commission chairman, succeeding Berry, and to name Abigail Thernstrom, already a commission member, as vice chairperson.

Berry is a contentious figure, so I'm not surprised the admin is pissed; what is also not surprising is that she managed to survive all presidents since Carter but Bush was the first vindictive enough to go ahead and sack her. He takes slights like the early report that was released personally and takes no prisoners.
Tip to House Blend reader Matthew for the pointer.

This is a big blow to the "ex-gay movement"

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sully points out that the leading British pastoral couseling movement to steer self-loathing gays to psychotherapy or religion, Courage, has thrown in the towel. They've gotten a sign from above to stop trying to "cure" gay folks.
New Developments at Courage by Jeremy Marks: ...When Courage began in 1988, I shared the view commonly held amongst conservative evangelical Christians that, according to the Bible, we are all made male and female and that the union of a man and a woman fulfils God’s purposes for mankind with godly marriage and family life forming the essential building blocks for a stable society. I still hold firmly to that view.

...After ten years, however, six spent running residential discipleship courses, followed by years of weekly group meetings, it was increasingly clear that however repentant people were, and however much dedication and effort they put into seeking change, none were really ‘successful’ in the long term in ‘dealing with the deeper issues’. This is not to say that people gained no benefit! Many matured greatly. A few married (though their same-sex attractions remain an ongoing issue for them). But the kind of change everyone really hoped for – to re-orientate and reach a point where their struggle with being gay was over – remained elusive. We never saw the fruit we longed for.

But many gay Christians have suffered too, facing a life of inner conflict and loneliness with courage, as they renounced the possibility of a gay relationship. Celibacy, it seemed, was still the only option for a gay Christian.

Yet the word celibacy is not to be found anywhere in the Bible. The idea of ‘renouncing marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven’ was introduced by Jesus (Matthew 19:12) and supported by Paul (1 Corinthians 7:7). But they are clear: singleness is a gift. In fact, insistence upon celibacy has no biblical support.

Nevertheless the Church still demands celibacy for all unmarried people. Under this pressure, I’ve seen many folk become seriously disillusioned over the years. Some became deeply depressed and hopeless, even suicidal; others embraced a more ‘liberal’ theology and sought gay relationships. Some just lost their faith altogether – a tragic conclusion that I found heart-breaking, as a pastor committed to helping people find their hope in Christ.

In contrast, I saw that those who began, on their own initiative, to embrace the possibility of a gay relationship, benefited greatly. Common to all was an underlying longing for companionship and intimacy – a heart-longing, not merely a craving to pursue gay sex! So I realised that to dismiss erotic intimacy between gay men merely as the pursuit of lust was to seriously misjudge the situation. Gay relationships, entered into sincerely, with mutual commitment, provide value and a sense of belonging. And when Christ has central place, people’s morale – above all their hope in God – recovers.

So, where does that leave the ex-gay movement here in the States? Do they have any other, more effective tricks up their sleeve? What do brethren Falwell and Phelps think of this?

Falwell and Rev. Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps.

Victory in Philly: Court OKs benefits for same-sex life partners of city employees

More forward momentum at the local level for gay couples, this time in Philly. City employees can form "life partnerships" and receive worker benefits that married couples receive. Note the demeaning comment by the wingnut judge that plans to appeal. (
The justices overturned a lower court, which ruled two years ago that city lawmakers had overstepped their authority and created "a new marital status" by recognizing same-sex relationships. Only the state, that court said, had a right to regulate marriage.

Writing for the high court, Justice Russell M. Nigro said Philadelphia hadn't created a new type of marriage at all, or trampled on state sovereignty, when it decided in 1998 to let the long-term romantic partners of gay and lesbian city employees participate in city health and benefits plans.

"We do not believe that the city's mere designation of "life partnership" as a "marital status" demonstrates that it was equating life partnerships with state-sanctioned marriage," Nigro wrote. "Indeed, even though the legislation affords life partners certain limited rights and benefits that spouses also enjoy, those rights and benefits are but a small fraction of what marriage affords to its participants."

Even with the law, he noted, same-sex couples still wouldn't have the right to file joint tax returns, or avoid testifying against each other in a criminal trial, or automatically receive workers compensation when their partner dies.

William Devlin, the conservative activist who sued to stop the city's plan, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is confused on this if they don't think that the city of Philadelphia has created a new class of marital rights," Devlin said.

"I guess what they're saying is that 'the family' is anybody who has appeared on Jerry Springer," he added, referring to the television talk show host whose programs often feature people in unorthodox and destructive relationships.

[I want to note here that the county and city government of Durham, NC have partnership benefits; it was the first county to do so in the state -- a RED state. We're an island of blue in wingnut state.]


UPDATE: You knew I would do this. I headed over to Freeperland, just to see the response to this story. The ignorance just doesn't quit.
How about by doggy?? Will she qualify???
5 posted on 12/06/2004 5:31:55 PM PST by jrfaug06

So this is only for Gay people and not strait folks? Special privilages because they chose an unethical lifestyle?
6 posted on 12/06/2004 5:40:28 PM PST by MaxMax

To: Sub-Driver
Break those insurance companies so legitimate families can no longer have health insurance and Hillary care will be baaaack on the street again...

Bring the worst human disease into the hospitals where others can get infected as well....

Sodomites are bio terror incubators ,carriers and inoculators
11 posted on 12/06/2004 6:03:47 PM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)

To: EdReform; backhoe; Yehuda; Clint N. Suhks; saradippity; stage left; Yakboy; I_Love_My_Husband;
Homosexual Agenda Ping - more from Philadelphia, which used to be known as the "city of brotherly love" and is now known as the "city of same sex sodomy".


There has been lots of nastiness from Philadelphia and the "gay" agenda. This is just more dribbles from the same fetid swamp. Aided and abetted, you'll notice, by leftist judges. Let me and ItsOurTimeNow know if anyone wants on/off this pinglist.

13 posted on 12/06/2004 6:52:54 PM PST by little jeremiah (What would happen if everyone decided their own "right and wrong"?)

12 Gays Sue Over 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Are queers going to be shipped to the front lines? If this challenge is successful, you betcha. (CBS):
The Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is being challenged by 12 homosexuals who have been separated from the military because of actions related to their sexual orientation.

They plan to file a federal lawsuit Monday in Boston that will cite last year's landmark Supreme Court ruling that overturned state laws making gay sex a crime as ground for overturning the policy.

Other courts have upheld the 11-year-old policy, but C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which is advising the plaintiffs, said those decisions came prior to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling.

"We think the gay ban can no longer survive constitutionally," he said.

Justin Peacock, a former Coast Guard boatswain's mate from Knoxville, Tenn., who is among the plaintiffs in the planned U.S. District Court lawsuit, was kicked out of the service after someone reported he was seen holding hands with another man.

"I would love to rejoin, but even if I don't get back in at least I could say I tried to get the policy changed," Peacock said.

Two other lawsuits challenging the policy have been filed since the high court's reversal.

One was brought in California by the Log Cabin Republicans, a political organization for gays. Osburn said that group could face a difficult fight because it is not bringing its suit on behalf of a specific injured party. He also noted a federal appeals court in California has upheld "don't ask, don't tell," but the appellate court for Boston has not ruled on the issue.

Hearing under way for American war resister seeking refuge in Canada

Jeremy Hinzman fled to Canada with his wife, Nga Nguyen, and their son, Liam, in January.

Jeremy Hinzman fled a Fort Bragg NC unit to avoid being shipped to Baghdad, giving the reason that the war itself is illegal. He surfaced in Toronto with his wife and child and (which is now in a hearing by the Immigration and Refugee Board. (AP):
"If I was going to go shoot depleted uranium rounds at Iraqi children, or into the Iraqi ground and raise the cancer rates, then that is contrary to good standards of human conduct," he said.

Immigration and Refugee Board officials have said that Hinzman needs to distinguish between persecution and prosecution, the latter of which he would definitely face if he goes back to the United States.

Hinzman will also have to explain why he joined the U.S. Army when he knew combat might be a possibility. A member of the 2nd Battalion of the 504th Brigade Parachute Infantry Regiment, Hinzman could be prosecuted as a deserter if sent back to the United States.

Hinzman was serving in Afghanistan when his application to be a conscientious objector was denied. He had said he wanted to fulfill his service obligation but not to participate in combat.

BradBlog exclusive: Programmer Built Vote Rigging Prototype at Republican Congressman's Request

Well this is one whistleblowing that is going to shake up things on the Hill. Brad Friedman has an exclusive -- a copy of the sworn affadavit of Clint Curtis, who said that he was asked to build, at FL Congressman (now U.S. Congressman) Tom Feeney's request, a vote rigging software program.

Pioneering novelist of mysteries with gay protagonist dies

The LA Times has an obit on Joseph Hansen, who created the first gay protagonist in the mystery genre, Dave Brandsetter.
Hansen, an activist for sexual rights who wrote for pioneering gay magazines, died Nov. 24 at his home in Laguna Beach, said a family member. The cause was heart failure due to a long respiratory illness.

Five early Hansen novels and a collection of short stories that dealt frankly with homosexual subject matter had been released by small publishers under the pseudonym James Colton when Harper & Row published his first Brandstetter mystery, "Fadeout," in 1970.

Like other fictional sleuths such as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe or Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, Hansen's middle-aged protagonist was tough, smart and self-assured. Indeed, Brandstetter was the mystery genre's typical shamus except for one thing: He dated men instead of women.

"My joke," Hansen told the Orange County Register in 1998 after moving to Laguna Beach from Culver City, where his home had been wrecked in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, "was to take the true hard-boiled character in American fiction tradition and make him homosexual. He was going to be a nice man, a good man, and he was doing to do his job well."

Tip to House Blend reader Jon for the pointer.

No redneck boyz in the hood - Klan loses appeal to anti-mask law

50/50 percale, or Egyptian cotton, the hoods have gotta go.

I really have no sympathy for these losers. These freaks think it's "free speech" to HIDE under a sheet when demonstrating? What a bunch of f*cking cowards -- what's the shame in stating your opinions out loud and proud, showing your face to the world in a public demonstration? Apparently the Supreme Court agrees. (Reuters):
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected on Monday a free-speech challenge to a New York law banning the wearing of masks at public gatherings by a group claiming ties to the Ku Klux Klan.

Without comment, the justices let stand a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that upheld the law as constitutional and rejected the challenge by the Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

...In 1999, the American Knights filed a lawsuit arguing that the refusal of New York City police officials to allow it to conduct a rally wearing hooded masks violated its free-speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

...A federal judge in 2002 ruled that the law violated the group's free-speech rights, but a U.S. appeals court early this year upheld the anti-mask law as constitutional.

"Since the robe and the hood alone clearly serve to identify the American Knights with the Klan, we conclude that the mask does not communicate any message that the robe and hood do not," the appeals court said.

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has represented the group during the legal battle, appealed to the Supreme Court.

They argued the appeals court was wrong in concluding that the First Amendment right of anonymous speech does not cover a right to conceal one's appearance at a public demonstration because of fear of retaliation and harassment.

The attorneys said the ruling could have a broad impact, affecting other groups across the political spectrum. For example, "persons of Iranian descent who protested against the shah and who wore masks out of fear of reprisals against family members in Iran would not have been protected," they said.

New York officials told the high court the city's compelling interest in law enforcement and public safety outweighed any burdens on the group's free-speech rights.

Is Paul Martin drinking the Kool-Aid - more Canuck troops to Iraq?

Is Bush putting the thumbscrews on Martin?

I've gotten the impression that the Canadians have no interest in participating in Shrub's Folly over in Iraq. But the Winnipeg Sun reports that Prime Minister Paul Martin is considering boosting the military's ranks by 5,000 full-time soldiers and 3,000 reservists, with some going to Iraq, some to Afghanistan.
...when pressed during an interview on CNN's Late Edition on whether Canada could deploy to Iraq once it bulks up the military, Martin responded: "That's going to depend on where we're asked to go."

And when asked whether Canada is outright against contributing a military force in Iraq, Martin answered that Canada simply doesn't have the soldiers to staff a mission.

"Our commitments are such that it would be very hard for us to commit troops into Iraq," the PM said.

Martin said Canada is stretched too thin to even contribute 1,000 troops to provide security during the upcoming Iraqi election.

Martin said that, for Canada, the military commitment in Afghanistan would always trump a decision to answer the call for more troops in Iraq.

The number of Canadian soldiers patrolling Kabul were reduced from a high of 2,000 to 900 this year to give the exhausted army an 18-month break from deployments.

Former Laramie Police chief blasts slanted 20/20 piece on Shepard

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Now more of the truth trickles out about the biased reporting of Elizabeth Vargas and the 20/20 crew on the revisionist history of the Matthew Shepard piece. And it's not some lefty blogger like me doing the criticism this time, but the former Laramie police chief, Dave O'Malley, who was interviewed for the show. He's pissed. I'm excerpting a great deal of this here, because it is an extremely effective rebuttal to the naysayers that insisted 20/20 was doing straight journalism on this topic. From the Laramie Boomerang:

“Only three people know what really happened that night,” retired Laramie Police Chief Dave O’Malley said. “One of them is dead and the other two are known liars and convicted felons — murderers.”

O’Malley was a detective with the Laramie Police when 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered six years ago.

He was one of several people interviewed for ABC’s 20/20 that aired Nov. 26. He said that the interview and the way the show was ultimately put together has left him angry.

...The people interviewed for the show did not surprise him. He was, however, surprised that “a production as popular as 20/20 would hinge all of their support for their theory on meth addicts, Doc O’Connor and two convicted murderers … it did not surprise me the way the thing came out.”

O’Malley said that he did find out what the focus of the show was shortly after the interview was over and the crew left Laramie. Someone with the crew had left copies of e-mails on his dining room table — 10 pages of information discussing the overall focus of the program and “their pre-conceived focus that this was not a hate crime. This was a drug crime. That’s what they went with,” he said.

When he was approached by the producers of this particular segment, O’Malley said he had a weird feeling. “After 30 years, you learn to trust your gut instinct. I asked them specifically if they were coming to do something from a particular angle … I wanted to be able to answer intelligently, think things out.”

In the conversation with the producers, O’Malley was assured that the report would be objective, six years after the actual event.

Prior to the arrival of the 20/20 crew, he had heard that the show might be more about the methamphetamine issue. When they arrived at his home, O’Malley asked a few questions of his own.

“I was trying to be comfortable … and I felt comfortable. But when Elizabeth Vargas got into the methamphetamine portion of it, it surprised me,” he said. “Actually, it made me extremely angry and, in my opinion, these guys lied to me.”

O’Malley said that if the 20/20 crew had been objective, they would have learned that a lot of what was said by Kristen Price early in the investigation was corroborated. Price also told authorities that McKinney and Henderson had not used any methamphetamines for several days because there was no money.

“That night (Oct. 6), they bought two pitchers of beer with pennies, nickels and dimes,” he said. “Also, after they were arrested, they exhibited no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. A person who has been on a meth binge, there will be withdrawal symptoms apparent.”

20/20 did not discuss the expertise of the arresting officer.

“Flint Waters is a trained narcotics officer. … in controled substances,” O’Malley said.

Waters reported that Henderson exhibited no signs of being under the influence of meth, just an odor of alcohol.

O’Malley said that 20/20 failed to report on the jailhouse letters that McKinney had written — letters that added information that this could have been a gay-hate crime.

The 20/20 segment with McKinney indicated that he, along with his lawyers, had concocted this gay panic issue, but, according to O’Malley, police interviews with McKinney showed that he had already started that (the gay panic issue) without the benefit of council.

The statements he made, the fact that after he was sentenced he was high-fiving other inmates and signing autographs in the jail — if it wasn’t motivated by bias, he was sure eating that up.” O’Malley said.

Shepard was struck between 19 and 21 times, all to the face and head area.

It was a concentrated effort to destroy somebody,” O’Malley said. “I believe it was triggered because Matt was gay. I’ll go to my grave believing that.”

My earlier post on the 20/20 smear is here.

Thanks to House Blend reader Fredda for forwarding this one.
Reader Patrick also recommends the excellent analysis of this story at Orcinus

The ass-kicking Frank Rich skewers the 20/20 Matthew Shepard piece, Freepers

Thank god for the NYT's Frank Rich. He's telling it like it is regarding the awful piece by Elizabeth Vargas on 20/20 about Matthew Shepard's not-a-hate-crime killing.
A creepier example of the shift toward red news could also be found last weekend when ABC's prime-time magazine show "20/20" aired an hourlong "investigation" into the brutal 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in the red state of Wyoming. "20/20" added little except hyperventilation to previous revisionist accounts of the story, most notably JoAnn Wypijewski's 1999 Harper's article filling in the role crystal meth might have played in driving the crime. But ABC had obtained the first TV interviews with the killers and seemed determined to rehabilitate their images along the way. The reporter, Elizabeth Vargas, told us that while the pair had been "variously portrayed in press reports as 'rednecks' and 'trailer trash,' " they were actually just all-American everymen with "steady jobs, steady girlfriends and classically troubled backgrounds." Aaron McKinney, the killer who beat Shepard into an unrecognizable pulp, wasn't even challenged on camera when he said he had "gay friends" (none of whom were produced or persuavely vouched for by ABC) and that he had only invoked a homophobic "gay panic" defense in his trial because that's what the lawyers told him to do. What's not to like about the guy?

As chance would have it, this episode of "20/20" ran opposite the special "Dateline NBC" farewell to Mr. Brokaw. There could hardly be a more dramatic illustration of the changing of the tone, as well as of the guard, in network news.

Rich's column, which is about the state of news journalism, also gets in some great licks about the horrible treatment NBC reporter Kevin Sites has been getting by the Freepers (including death threats) for covering the story of the Marine shooting the wounded Iraqi in a mosque.
Mr. Sites is an embedded journalist currently in the employ of NBC News. To NBC's credit, it ran Mr. Sites's mid-November report, on a newscast in which Mr. Williams was then subbing for Mr. Brokaw, and handled it in exemplary fashion. Mr. Sites avoided any snap judgment pending the Marines' own investigation of the shooting, cautioning that a war zone is "rife with uncertainty and confusion." But loud voices in red America, especially on blogs, wanted him silenced anyway. On right-wing sites like Mr. Sites was branded an "anti-war activist" (which he is not), a traitor and an "enemy combatant." Mr. Sites's own blog, touted by Mr. Williams on the air, was full of messages from the relatives of marines profusely thanking the cameraman for bringing them news of their sons in Iraq. That communal message board has since been shut down because of the death threats by other Americans against Mr. Sites.

Senate Majority Leader (and medical doctor) Bill Frist: "It would be very hard" to transmit HIV through sweat and tears

Waxman (L) and Frist (R) probably have different thoughts on what sex education is.

Perhaps Frist needs more education on this matter, now that he's calling for a review of the government's atrocious, factually inaccurate "abstinance programs." You'll recall that Senator Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) report on this found that disinformation was included such as:
• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

One curriculum, called "Me, My World, My Future," teaches that women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.

NFL player turned soldier Tillman died from friendly fire

According to a new report, Pat Tillman died in the midst of misguided signals and a barrage of friendly fire. Photo: Mike Haskey, Columbus Ledger Enquirer via AP.

It took the Army a month to change the record to show that Tillman, the Arizona Cardinals defensive back who gave up a $3.6 million contract to become an Army Ranger, was killed last April not by Afghan guerrillas but by his Ranger colleagues.

Even then, the statement by Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., head of the Army's Special Operations Command, gave few specifics of the corporal's death and implied that he was trying to suppress enemy fire when he "probably died as a result of friendly fire."

I think this voting irregularity thing is getting out of hand.

Unfortunately, more than 181,000 dead people were listed on the voter rolls in the six swing states. (Chicago Trib).

Is SC trying to race to beat Alabama as the most homophobic state in the union?

Homophobe and southern-fried wingnut John Graham Altman III, R - SC (119)

Look at this nonsense. A SC legistator wants to cut the state educational TV budget because it aired a documentary on gays in the South.
"I thought it was just social, leftist propaganda that they had no business airing," said state Rep. John Graham Altman, R-Charleston. "They were actively promoting homosexuality as an OK thing to do."

SCETV President Maurice Bresnahan says his agency isn't promoting an agenda by showing "We are your Neighbors" as part of its twice-monthly Southern Lens series of stories about life in the South.

"An analogy would be a librarian buying books for the bookshelf. 'We are your Neighbors' was just one 26-minute show out of 8,700 hours of programming. We are just presenting a point of view. This is just one book on a shelf of thousands of books," Bresnahan said.

Sunhead Projects, which produced the documentary, said they intended to promote acceptance through understanding.

...Altman sees the "Neighbors" documentary as an effort to promote a "militant homosexual agenda."

Altman says if SCETV can afford to produce such programs to influence the Legislature, then it can afford to have its budget cut. The agency runs on a budget of $12.7 million, down from $20.3 million four years ago.

"As soon as the session starts," he said, "I'm going after them."
Guess we can go after him too:
Representative John Graham Altman III
306B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29211
Phone: (803) 734-2947

Gay right struggles are tough here, but in Jamaica, it's so much worse.

Anti-gay sentiment in the U.S. is in a strange, and convoluted resurgence with the election and hysteria over same-sex marriage. It's easy to forget, however, that gay rights struggles here pale in comparison to the homophobia in a country like Jamaica, which is dealing with a life and death health epidemic. Homophobia kills, and in this instance, the fear and ignorance is so painful that the American media is actually taking note (and you know that's bad, since the corporate driven, risk-averse media has been asleep at the wheel on most important political stories of the day). Caribbean nations such as Jamaica have the highest incidence of HIV infection outside of Sub-Saharan Africa. We should care about this, and the cultural homophobia and denial that helps the virus spread.

In the Dec. 2 NYT editorial, 'Hated to Death' in Jamaica, you get a taste of the problem at hand.
A disturbing new report from Human Rights Watch suggests that Jamaica cannot win the battle against AIDS until it confronts the virulent forms of anti-gay bigotry that run through the country's popular culture, its police force and much of its medical system. The report, grimly titled "Hated to Death," alleges that a pervasive anti-gay bias is driving the epidemic by forcing people at risk to avoid hospitals, and by making it difficult for them to acquire condoms and other things that would help them remain free of the infection.

Not surprisingly, "Hated to Death" has drawn fiery condemnations from some in the Jamaican government. But it will take more than angry denials to sweep away the distressing testimony in this report, which recounts the experiences of gay Jamaicans forced to flee their homes under threats of violence and death. One of the bedrock problems is the government's timidity in the face of a primitive set of laws that criminalize gay sex among consenting adults. The police appear to extend their harassment to outreach workers, who are sometimes persecuted for passing out condoms.

When you read something like this editorial by Ian Boyne in the Jamaica Gleaner it makes you sick. This crap is exactly why the island nation is in the situation it faces. You get a clear-eyed view on the incredible cultural mountain that must be climbed.
Gay apologetics is simple and simplistic: "I am born this way. It's natural. Sex is like breathing and eating so why should you heterosexuals have it and I can't?" If culture, custom and the democratic will of the people stand opposed to homosexuality, by what moral authority does the homosexual assert the inviolability of his sexual practice? If the majority of Jamaicans want homosexuality to remain criminalised, on what philosophical or political ground do you as a gay person demand its repealing? The natural world (human and animal) is overwhelmingly heterosexual. Civilisations and cultures throughout history have been universally heterosexual (in terms of being predominant). So what gives you, the gay person, the inalienable right to the expression of a sexual orientation which the majority deems unacceptable? Only the sovereignty of your urges and desires. Nothing else. The philosopher David Hume says "Reason is the slave of passion", and nowhere is that more apt than in listening to gays justify their sexual practice.

...Suppose I have a powerful, overwhelming desire for young girls. I find a bright, precocious 14-year-old who consents to have sex with me. What would be wrong, apart from the fact that the society believes that a man in his 40s should not be having sex with a 14-year-old? There are some people who have an overwhelming, overpowering desire for sex with eight-year-olds. Pedophiles have strong sexual desires, too. How is your strong homosexual desire different in substance from the strong sexual desire of the pedophile? Don't raise the matter of consensual sex. For who says sex has to be consensual? What if the majority opinion is just backward and oppressive?

...Gays just want to have sex and lots of it like most of us heterosexuals. They feel it's unfair that we should have it and they should have none. When you really press them (oops!), they have no intellectually unassailable defence. It goes back to the sovereignty of their irresistible desires. They are just helpless slaves to their passions. Their reasoning violates every rule in even naturalistic ethical construction.

It's clear that a frank assessment of the cultural homophobia is needed or Jamaice is going to experience a devastation of its population if they do not wake up. Views like Boyne's are going ensure a death sentence for Jamaicans.

One can hope that we don't return to the days of this level of ignorance, even though the American Taliban would probably prefer this.

Oh, you can contact Mr. Boyne to share your views at or

More on military fatigue as Iraq elections approach and as chaos continues

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, cordon off an area around the crater left by large car bomb which exploded near an entrance to the International Zone in Baghdad. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Sgt. John Queen)

The administration is pushing the limits of soldier deployments and there's no end in sight. Newsweek reports on the sorry state of affairs. Note that Joe Biden adds fuel to the fire started by Dianne Feinstein (see earlier post) regarding the administration being up front with the solidiers and the American people. He was on that same fact-finding trip.
...the elections may end up sucking U.S. troops deeper than ever into the morass. By Jan. 30 election officials want only Iraqis openly standing guard at the country's polling places, with no U.S. forces in sight to upset voters. But insurgents are targeting Iraq's security forces. Last week alone, attacks on police facilities in Ar Ramadi and Baghdad left at least 57 officers dead. Many cops on street patrol in Baghdad now wear masks to hide their identities. Without U.S. military backup, Iraqi security forces could be decimated on Election Day—dealing a drastic setback to the planned security handover that is vital to America's exit strategy.

The Iraqis' chief U.S. trainer insists he's not worried. "There's no shortage of recruits" despite the insurgent attacks, says Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. "We have more candidates than we have spaces." Large numbers of new Iraqi forces will be deployed in the next few weeks, he promises. And he was elated by reports on Friday that Mosul cops succeeded at last in fighting off insurgent attacks at four police stations.

The administration's critics say a U.S. troop buildup is long overdue. "We should have leveled with the American people to begin with—absolutely, positively necessary to do this four months ago, six months ago, eight months ago," said Democratic Sen. Joe Biden on a visit to Baghdad last week. "If I sound like I'm angry, it's because I am." Even so, senior officers insist the boost is only temporary. Otherwise the Army is in for a desperate scramble. The brass is convinced that reneging on the "365 days" pledge would send re-enlistments plunging. And there simply are no remaining units stateside to replace those troops who are sent home.


Here's an update on which countries are supplying military support in Iraq.

United States 150,000*
Britain 8,530
Albania 70
Australia 850
Azerbaijan 150
Bulgaria 455
Czech Rep. 92
Denmark 510
Dominican Rep. 300
El Salvador 360
Estonia 55
Georgia 150
Hungary 300
Italy 2,700
Japan 1,000
Kazakhstan 25
Latvia 120
Lithuania 105
Macedonia 28
Moldova 25
Mongolia 180
Netherlands 1,263
New Zealand 60
Nicaragua 115
Norway 150
Poland 2,400
Portugal 120
Romania 730
Singapore 200
Slovakia 105
South Korea 675 (3,000 on way)
Thailand 460
Tonga 44
Ukraine 1,700
Sources: Reuters news reports/
* Planned troop level for Jan. 2005

Research: Take thyroid meds and diet pills, have gay kids -- OK, now what?

OK. Let's assume this research is accurate. Now what do you think the fallout of this news will be? 'Pregnant women who take slimming pills 'are more likely to have gay children'. (Telegraph):
A study of thousands of mothers and their adult children has revealed that Thyroxine – used to treat thyroid deficiency – and amphetamine-based diet pills appear to influence sexual orientation. Both were identified as being strongly linked to a higher rate of homosexuality among female offspring.

The mothers of homosexuals were found to be up to eight times more likely to have taken such drugs, with the effect being strongest with daughters whose mothers took the drugs during the first three months of pregnancy. The discovery, to be published by researchers in America, backs claims that human sexuality is determined by genetic and biochemical factors at work during early pregnancy.

So, for all of the wingnuts that think it's a choice, this blows that out of the water. The flip side is that the research implies a pregnant woman could eventualy choose the orientation of her child by taking a chemical cocktail of some sort. Interestingly, here are what some Freepers had to say:
To: nmh
why couldn't some drug cause gay children? unless you think being gay is normal... plenty of drugs cause mental and physical disorders
12 posted on 12/04/2004 6:52:55 PM PST by KneelBeforeZod (Deus Lo Volt!)

To: BenLurkin
"Maybe this discovery will open doors to finding a cure."
A brilliant observation!

Support research to find a cure for homosexuality!
18 posted on 12/04/2004 6:57:17 PM PST by airborne (God bless and keep our fallen heroes.)

To: nmh

THAT is NOT what causes "gay children".

It's ABUSE, sexual or otherwise that determines if they are gay or promiscuous etc.. certainly NOT a pill."

Highly recommended book: Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, by Jeffrey Satinover. An eloquent work by a brilliant psychiatrist exlaining step by step how poor the science is that is used to try to prove a genetic or chemical basis for homosexuality and explaining how the gay political agenda has spent the past 30 years propagandizing that there is no choice about sexual orientation, when in fact, despite the environments that have led to homosexual behavior, there always is. An enlightening book.
29 posted on 12/04/2004 7:27:11 PM PST by Seeing More Clearly Now

To: Seeing More Clearly Now
NO dount about it - being "gay" is a CHOICE!

I've read up on it as well.

Thanks for the reference. I may buy it for our minister. He's a complete a**hole when it comes to this topic. Needless to say, we are looking around for a new church.

To: Alouette
I have to confess that I am very alarmed after reading this article, and am diligently reading everyone's comments. I am hypothyroid as a result of an autoimmunity, and have taken Synthroid (the drug referred to in this study) for years. I have a 3 year old male child. The article lacks any specificity regarding the drugs affect during pregnancy on a male child. I am also a little skeptical about the claims, since the thyroid replacement hormone simply replaces what my body would otherwise be making, and brings the hormone within the body up to normal levels. It just doesn't make sense. But I am still concerned....
40 posted on 12/04/2004 7:47:28 PM PST by diane in IL

To: uncbob
"Either they are born that way or something in their formative years has caused the situation"

NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE is born that way.

Read up on FORMER homosexuals and they'll tell you it's all about abuse - sexual, emotional etc.. You need to read some testimonies on this. Go over to Here are the testimonies If you're still in doubt, give them a call.

79 posted on 12/05/2004 7:58:24 AM PST by nmh (Intelligent people recognize Intelligent Design (God).)

If you're in a nursing home and needs meds, Bush is screwing you

Roz Jackson, an aide at Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, Md., prepares to give Beatrice Kruhm her daily medications. What's Kruhm going to do now? Photo: Carol T. Powers/for NYT

Bush and those writing the new Medicare prescription laws clearly weren't thinking about how the vast number of seniors with cognitive disabilities (that are supposed to "shop around" for cheaper drugs under the complex plan) were going to handle this new program. Are the lawmakers just plain stupid? Oh, never mind. (NYT):
-term care express serious concern that the new Medicare law will be unworkable for most of the 1.5 million Americans who live in nursing homes.

Nursing home residents take large numbers of prescription drugs, an average of eight a day. But many have physical disabilities and brain disorders that impair their memory and judgment. So they cannot easily shop around for insurance plans to find the best bargains on their drugs, as other Medicare beneficiaries are supposed to do.

Federal and state officials, pharmacists and nursing home directors said they had no idea how these patients would obtain their medicines under the new program, which begins in January 2006.

"Nobody knows where they're going to get their drugs from," said Stanton G. Ades, senior vice president of NeighborCare, a company in Baltimore that supplies drugs to more than 1,500 nursing homes and assisted living centers in 32 states. The role of such long-term care pharmacies under the new law is unclear.

A month's supply of each drug prescribed for each patient is kept in a separate little box labeled with the patient's name. The cart has 165 boxes, indicating an average of about eight prescriptions for each resident. Since each prescription may call for 2 or 3 pills a day, a patient may be taking 20 to 30 pills a day.

The nurses keep detailed logs that show every pill given to every patient. NeighborCare, which supplies drugs for all 250 patients in the home, continually reviews those records to ensure that patients are taking the right drugs in the proper doses.

By contrast, the new law relies on private health plans to provide drug benefits to the elderly. Each Medicare beneficiary will have a choice of two or more government-subsidized plans. Each plan can establish its own list of approved drugs, known as a formulary, and its own network of retail pharmacies.

Premiums, generally expected to average $35 a month, can vary from plan to plan. The premise of the law is that Medicare beneficiaries will carefully compare these plans and enroll in the ones that best meet their needs.

Aetna, for example, might offer a Medicare drug plan, dispensing medications at discounted prices through retail pharmacies around the country. But the network would not necessarily include NeighborCare, the supplier at Asbury Village.

Bush administration officials said they were seeking ways to meet the special needs of nursing home residents and recognized the value of long-term care pharmacies. Dr. Mark B. McClellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the administration would ensure that beneficiaries had access to "all medically necessary drugs." Moreover, Mr. McClellan said drug plans cannot "discriminate against any particular type of beneficiaries." In a preamble to the proposed Medicare rules, the government said access to such pharmacies "should be preserved," but did not say how.

The new Medicare benefit, as envisioned by Congress, will be delivered by insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers like Medco Health Solutions and Express Scripts, through drug stores like Walgreens and CVS. But the typical retail drugstore or pharmacy benefit manager has little experience with nursing home residents.

Medco manages drug benefits for 60 million people of all ages. In an interview, its president, David B. Snow Jr., said none of them were in nursing homes.

Another benefit manager, Express Scripts, serves 55 million people. A vice president of the company, Stephen E. Littlejohn, said nursing homes were "not on our radar screen."

Walgreens operates 4,623 drugstores in 44 states, but a spokesman, Michael Polzin, said it had no program to supply drugs to nursing homes

Well there's a program that's ready to roll out.

Tell truth on troops' stay, says Feinstein

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Good for her. Someone needs to be saying this, because it's apparent that the rose-colored glasses crowd are doing our troops more harm than good by not saying how desperately bad the situation is. Dianne Feinstein needs to be joined by many more who are willing to speak the truth. (SFGate):
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, fresh from what she called a "very sobering'' one-day trip to Iraq, challenged President Bush on Friday to "tell the American people the truth'' that large numbers of U.S. forces would have to stay in Iraq for several years.

Feinstein was one of four senators who flew to Baghdad and Fallujah on Thursday to meet with American commanders and soldiers and Iraqi leaders. She said the experience of being shuttled around Baghdad by heavily armed guards while wearing an armored vest inside an armored vehicle and flown to and from Fallujah at 100 feet above ground in a Blackhawk helicopter showed that security in the Sunni heartland of Iraq remained a major challenge 1 1/2 years after Saddam Hussein was ousted.

Feinstein, who voted in October 2002 for the resolution authorizing Bush to begin military operations in Iraq, said the president's decision this week to increase U.S. forces in Iraq from 138,000 to 150,000 before the scheduled Jan. 30 Iraqi elections was "long overdue.''

But she said the president must tell the American people that troops would have to stay in Iraq "for a substantial period of time.''

"The rumor in the souk (the marketplace in Iraqi towns) is that we'll start to pull out after the elections," the Democrat said. "I believe the American people have to be told the truth.

"Every military person says it will take two, three or five years at least. It's really true,'' added Feinstein, who was joined on the trip by Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

Bush has declined to put a time limit on the U.S. military presence in Iraq, saying to do so would tell insurgents how long they must wait out the Americans. On Thursday, Bush again said at the White House that "at some point in time, when Iraq is able to defend itself against the terrorists who are trying to destroy democracy, as I've said many times, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned."

Guess I wasn't the only one that thought Tommy Thompson's remarks were inane

I posted earlier on asinine remarks of outgoing Health and Human Services Sec Tommy Thompson regarding the ease with which terrorist could attack our food supply. Guess someone told Shrub to make a statement on that, except it does nothing to contradict or reassure anyone. Just move your lips and we'll make up the rest, you moron. Bush Downplays Thompson's Terror Worries. (AP):
Bush said that the government is doing what it can to safeguard the public from threats, but much work remains.

...Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in a speech Friday announcing his coming departure from the Bush Cabinet that he worries "every single night" about a possible terror attack on the food supply.

Despite dramatic increases in inspections of food imports, only "a very minute amount" of food is tested at ports and airports, Thompson said.

"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."

Asked to respond to Thompson's comments, Bush neither criticized them nor implied that the food supply is safer than Thompson asserted.

It's sadly reassuring to know that the French police can f*ck up security as badly as we do

House Blend reader Paul found this incredibly case of French Police Misplacing Explosives on Jet. (AP):
Police at Paris' top airport lost track of a passenger's bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday. Warned that the bag may have gotten on any of nearly 90 flights from Charles de Gaulle, authorities searched planes upon arrival in Los Angeles and New York.

French police said the explosives were harmless and there was no chance of their going off, since no detonators were connected to them.

More than 300 passengers were evacuated and their luggage searched when their Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle arrived in Los Angeles late Friday the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said

Two Air France and one American Airlines flight to Paris were also searched in New York City, TSA spokesman Norm Brewer said. No explosives were found on any of the flights.

French police at Charles de Gaulle deliberately placed up to five ounces of plastic explosives into a passenger's luggage Friday evening, police spokesman Pierre Bouquin said.

But a "momentary lack of surveillance" led to the bag being lost on a conveyor belt carrying luggage from check-in to planes, he said.

Like it makes much difference when folks on the no-fly lists manage to get up in the air on transcontinental flights without question.

I've lost track of Baghdad car bombings this week -- here's the latest

Double Suicide Car Bombers Strike Near Green Zone, 7 Dead. (Reuters):
A double suicide car bomb attack devastated a police station just outside Baghdad's fortified Green Zone on Saturday, killing seven people and wounding 57 in the latest strike against Iraq's beleaguered security forces.

Iraqi police gather at the site of a suicide car bomb exploded outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. At least four police were killed and 49 others wounded by the deadly car bomb. (AFP/Essam Al-Sudani)

Another suicide car bomber destroyed a bus carrying Kurdish militiamen in Mosul, killing seven, and insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades also fought street battles with U.S. troops in the northern city for a second day.

Police sources said the Baghdad attack, which shook the city center shortly after 9:30 a.m., also destroyed 35 vehicles, including 17 police cars. It was not clear how many of those killed were police.

...One blast was so powerful it blew a car onto the roof of an annex next to the police station.

The area around the site of the attack, which includes an entrance to the protected Green Zone often used by foreigners and the media, was quickly sealed off by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Right near the "safe" Green Zone. Do you get the feeling that the insurgents have unlimited amount of explosives at the ready? Why was the Pentagon clueless about this? No wonder Homeland Security Chief-to-be Bernard Kerik high-tailed it out of his assignment there .

It must be more than national security that the Army wants to hide

Army Murder Hearing Halted Over Access, (LATimes):
An Army appeals court stopped a hearing Friday for soldiers charged with killing an Iraqi general during an interrogation and ordered the military to explain why the proceedings have been closed to the public.

The Army Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay sought by The Denver Post on the second day of the hearing at Ft. Carson, an Army post 70 miles south of Denver.

On Thursday, hearing officer Capt. Robert Ayers closed all of the proceedings to the public, citing national security. He also said publicity might jeopardize the safety of the defendants, some of whom were assigned to military intelligence units.

But the appeals court gave Ayers 10 days to show why nonclassified portions of the hearing should not be open.
Ft. Carson officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Four soldiers are charged with murder and dereliction of duty in the death of Iraqi Air Force Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who investigators say was suffocated last year. The soldiers could get life in prison without parole if convicted.
The hearing is being held to determine whether the soldiers should stand trial.

Legal analysts said it was extremely rare for a military preliminary hearing to be closed to the public, and appeals courts frown on such decisions.

Media attorney Steve Zansberg had asked Ayers to close only portions of the hearing that could threaten national security.
'This is information the American people are profoundly and legitimately interested in knowing,' he said.

Tommy -- give them specific ways while you're at it, you dolt

Health and Human Services Sec Tommy Thompson handed in his resignation Fri. Look at what he said as a parting shot. God knows if some Dem got up there and said this: "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." The Repugs would be howling.

Guest Lineup for Sunday TV Chat Shows

Friday, December 03, 2004

ABC's 'This Week' -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.
CBS' 'Face the Nation' -- Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
NBC's 'Meet the Press' -- Interim Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer; incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
CNN's 'Late Edition' -- Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf; Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin; Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif.; NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.
'Fox News Sunday' -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "

So is it the flavor that is the aphrodisiac?

Why is this happening? Is the IL gov on crack? I had to do a double take because I thought this was a joke. Illinois Governor Puts Kibosh On Flavored Condoms (NBC4-IL):
Illinois' governor is pulling the plug on flavored and colored condoms. Gov. Rod Blagojevich is ordering the state public health department not to buy any more of the lively condoms.

A spokeswoman for the governor said Blagojevich feels the condoms are inappropriate because they encourage sexual activity.

But some health workers are disappointed by the decision. One outreach specialist, Dante Bryant, says the condoms in bright colors and flavors were able to catch the attention of young people.

"That's the generation we're trying to get because they're engaging in risky behavior," Bryant said.

For all you people that say I only think Americans are dumb...

The Brits obviously have a big problem with education too: Most younger people have never heard of Auschwitz (The Independent).

Media Matters for America corners CBS on rejection of UCC "tolerance" ad

Media Matters for America has justifiably been on CBS's ass for turning down the United Church of Christ's tolerance ad. They got the equivalent of a blank stare and stammering from the network's spokesperson, who couldn't explain why CBS has run advocacy ads that support Bush administration views. From the MMFA site:
The CBS spokesperson wrote: "CBS has a long standing policy of not accepting advocacy and issue oriented advertisements" and provided the text of the network's policy on the matter, as well as a January 28, 2004, statement on the same. The written policy added no significant information to what is already known: that CBS says it doesn't run "advocacy" ads on "controversial issues of public importance." But the statement ostensibly explained why the network's decision to air White House ads about drugs did not run counter to CBS's ban on advocacy ads:
Suggestions have also been made that we are violating our own policy by allowing the airing of messages which aim to curb drug abuse and smoking by minors. CBS is unaware of responsible groups which advocate drug abuse and smoking by minors, so it is hard to understand how these laudable efforts would constitute "controversial issues."

Media Matters found this paragraph curious, and CBS's advocacy policy still seems to be inconsistently applied. Seeking clarification, we asked the CBS spokesperson the following questions via email:

Why did CBS not consider the White House's Medicare ad an advocacy or issue oriented ad?

What is "controversial" about the message that "all are welcome in our Church"? Even the Reverend Jerry Falwell said on CNN yesterday that he didn't understand why CBS & NBC refused to air the ad. See: link

The CBS statement of 1/28/04 says "CBS is unaware of responsible groups which advocate drug abuse and smoking by minors, so it is hard to understand how these laudable efforts would constitute 'controversial issues.'" The network's position, then, seems to be that advocacy ads are fine, as long as no "responsible groups" would disagree with the message. A) What "responsible groups" take the position that minorities, the handicapped, or an apparently homosexual couple should be barred from attending Church? B) Under what rationale would a group that advocates such discrimination be deemed "responsible"?

Do advertisements for commercial products that depict apparently homosexual couples (or minorities, or the handicapped) also run afoul of the network's opposition to "controversial issues"? Does that mean that CBS rejects such advertisements?

The network spokesperson replied two minutes later, indicating that CBS's written statement and policy would have to speak for themselves.

Scratch that last item - U.S. OKs Evidence Gained Through Torture

Is this really the American Way? I hope that the Bush admin is happy when our troops are captured and tortured. (AP):
Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government says.

Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday.

...Boyle replied that the United States never would adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even if the data came from questionable practices like torture by a foreign power.

Several arguments underlie the U.S. court ban on products of torture.

"About 70 years ago, the Supreme Court stopped the use of evidence produced by third-degree tactics largely on the theory that it was totally unreliable," Harvard Law Professor Philip B. Heymann, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, said in an interview. Subsequent high court rulings were based on revulsion at "the unfairness and brutality of it and later on the idea that confessions ought to be free and uncompelled."

Leon asked whether U.S. courts could review detentions based on evidence from torture conducted by U.S. personnel.

Boyle said torture was against U.S. policy and any allegations of it would be "forwarded through command channels for military discipline." He added, "I don't think anything remotely like torture has occurred at Guantanamo" but noted that some U.S. soldiers there had been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday it has given the Bush administration a confidential report critical of U.S. treatment of Guantanamo detainees. The New York Times reported the Red Cross described the psychological and physical coercion used at Guantanamo as "tantamount to torture."

Apparently Navy SEAL torturers are as stupid and cruel as the cretins at Abu Ghraib

The whole thing is sickening because it just goes to show you that any branch of the military is capable of being stupid and arrogant enough to torture captives and photograph them for fun. And they seem to relish in the abuse, which they clearly don't think will get them into trouble.

Photos that appear to show commandos in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees are seen on a commercial photo-sharing Web site operated by a woman who said her husband brought the photos from Iraq after his tour of duty. The Navy SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into the photographs. Date stamps on some photos suggest they were made in May 2003, which could make them the earliest evidence of possible abuse of prisoners in Iraq. (AP Photo)
An Associated Press reporter found more than 40 of the pictures among hundreds in an album posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site by a woman who said her husband brought them from Iraq after his tour of duty. It is unclear who took the pictures, which the Navy said it was investigating after the AP furnished copies to get comment for this story.

These and other photos found by the AP appear to show the immediate aftermath of raids on civilian homes. One man is lying on his back with a boot on his chest. A mug shot shows a man with an automatic weapon pointed at his head and a gloved thumb jabbed into his throat. In many photos, faces have been blacked out. What appears to be blood drips from the heads of some. A family huddles in a room in one photo and others show debris and upturned furniture.

"These photographs raise a number of important questions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and detainees," Navy Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a spokesman for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, said in a written response to questions. "I can assure you that the matter will be thoroughly investigated."

The photos were turned over to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which instructed the SEAL command to determine whether they show any serious crimes, Bender said Friday. That investigation will determine the identities of the troops and what they were doing in the photos.

Some of the photos recall aspects of the images from Abu Ghraib, which led to charges against seven soldiers accused of humiliating and assaulting prisoners. In several of the photos obtained by the AP, grinning men wearing U.S. flags on their uniforms, and one with a tattoo of a SEAL trident, take turns sitting or lying atop what appear to be three hooded and handcuffed men in the bed of a pickup truck.

A photo found posted on a commercial photo-sharing Web site operated by a woman who said her husband brought the photos from Iraq after his tour of duty appears to show prisoners in the back of a truck with a foot atop one of the detainees. The Navy SEALs have launched a criminal investigation into photographs that appear to show commandos in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and photos of what appear to be bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head. (AP Photo)

Headline of the day: "Dave Dreier: Gay and Ashamed"

Love it. Looks like Hustler Magazine has come out with its expose of California Representative Dave Dreier's homosexuality. This GOP hypocrite as a long record of voting anti-gay and apparently his orientation has been well-known in local circles, including the press that covers the district he serves. Raw Story and blogActive have been on the story for months now. Both sites have excerpts of the article.

Daily Kos : The "Coalition of the Billing"

Kos has an excellent post that I am cribbing here, but feel free to click over to the story to participate in the dialog.
So here's the best data on the status of Bush's coalition of the billing:
1. United Kingdom: 12,000 (will decrease to 10,500 in near future)

  1. Italy: 3,169
  2. South Korea: 2,800 (will increase to 3,600)
  3. Poland: 2,400 (gradual complete pullout in 2005)
  4. Ukraine: 1,400 (complete pull out over next few months?)
  5. Netherlands: 1,345 (complete pullout by March 2005)
  6. Romania: 700
  7. Japan: 750
  8. Denmark: 496
  9. Bulgaria: 485 (pulling out 20 of those in near future)
  10. El Salvador: 380
  11. Hungary: 300 (complete pullout by March 2005)
  12. Australia: 920
  13. Mongolia: 180
  14. Georgia: 159 (850 by end of 2004)
  15. Azerbajian: 151
  16. Portugal: 128
  17. Latvia: 122
  18. Czech: 110 (down to 10 in near future)

  19. Lithuania: 105
  20. Slovakia: 105
  21. Albania: 71
  22. Estonia: 55
  23. Tonga: 45
  24. Kazakhstan: 29
  25. Macedonia: 28
  26. Moldova: 12
  27. Norway: 10
That makes for a total of 23,900 troops, over half from the Brits.

Countries who have already pulled out: Thailand, Spain, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Philippines, Singapore, and New Zealand. Armenia was supposed to offer a 50-man contingent, but that is now up in the air. Fiji will send 130 troops to serve as security for the UN mission.

Recap: the anti-gay week in review

I posted this at OW, but I thought I'd post this roundup here because it's amazing when you pull it all together how the American Taliban has so successfully and quickly turned the tide against tolerance for gays in the political sphere. The items below are just a few that happened within the last week, for goodness sake. The only positive things are that it's given me a lot to blog about, and a lot of motivation to work even harder to fight these people.

* the ABC 20/20 Matthew Shepard revisionist history piece, saying it was only about a robbery and that the heinous, overkill beating was merely a meth fueled rage, despite testimony that one of the killers is a conflicted bisexual, and that may have played a role in the savagery. My post here.

* The Washington Post accepted the wonderful homophobic advertorial "Same Sexuality and Race," which targeted the black community with all kinds of junk science by Paul Cameron about gays, including the nugget that all gays die by the age of 41. My post here and here.

* NBC and CBS turning down a benign advertisement for tolerance (not even specific to homosexuality) by the United Church of Christ for being "too controversial" 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." My post here.

* Blue State Michigan pulls same-sex benefits. Jennifer Granholm and the administration decided to remove the provision in light of voter approval of Proposal 2, the state constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman and "similar unions for any purpose" to heterosexual couples. My post here.

* Wingnut Alabama State Rep. Gerald Allen has submitted a bill that would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda." My post here.

This all makes me sick, and Karl Rove's master plan is to force Dems into a corner to either defend or dump gays (and abortion rights). Howard Fineman in Newsweek:
"In the next term, Rove said, Bush will push—hard—for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union of man and woman, and for "strict constructionist" judges. "Voters like the president because he doesn't blink and he doesn't waver," says Rove, "and he isn't going to start. He says he values life, and he means it." The cold calculus: force Democrats to defend gay rights and unfettered access to abortion."

I'm concerned about the choices the Dems are going to make.

Wrong, wrong, WRONG. Soldier recalled, with no one to watch child

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Single mom Nia Salakielu, who is being recalled by the Army, sits with her son, Noa, at a restaurant in Clarksville. Photo: Greg Williamson/The Leaf-Chronicle.

This is the height of insanity -- once you reach this stage of desperation for warm bodies, the draft is around the corner. This single mom has no one to care for her son and she's being deployed or court martialed if she refuses to go. (The Tennessean):
Nia Salakielu , a 28-year-old former Army sergeant and single mother, left active military duty in April 2003 because she needed to care for her infant son, Noa. Now, the administrative specialist is being recalled for Operation Iraqi Freedom and must report to Fort Jackson, S.C., on Jan. 2 — possibly with Noa.

If she doesn't show up, she will be considered absent without leave and could be court-martialed.

''Is America going to step up and watch my child while I'm off fighting for our freedom?'' asked Salakielu, who lives in Clarksville and is studying to be a nurse.

Salakielu said because she is divorced and Noa's father also is on reserve, and the grandparents cannot care for Noa, she has no choice but to take Noa along.

The situation also makes her not in compliance with the Army's Family Care Plan, which requires single- and dual-military parents to spell out who will care for children in case of deployment. If the soldier does not comply, he or she can be put out of service.

Salakielu said each plea to the Army Human Resources Command for ''extreme hardship'' has been denied.

Salakielu still has an obligation of her enlistment and is part of the Individual Ready Reserve. In the past, most soldiers on IRR status were able to serve the remainder of their enlistment as civilians. But with the Presidential Executive Order of Sept. 14, 2001, many IRR soldiers have been recalled to fill the ranks of a thinly stretched Army.

House Judiciary Dems to Announce Hearings on Voter Irregularities - Brad Blog

Inside sources have told The Brad Blog that there are going to be House Judiciary Committee hearings on all the voting irregularities around the country. This is supposed to break wide tomorrow. Oh, and by the way, no House Republicans plan to participate in the hearings. Surprised?

It's over - Methodist Church Defrocks Lesbian Minister (AP)

A 13-member jury made up of Methodist clergy convicted the Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud on the second day of her church trial. Methodist law bars "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from ministry. Nine votes were necessary for a conviction and the jury voted 12-1 to find Stroud guilty.

It then voted 7-6 to defrock Stroud, the bare majority necessary in the penalty phase of the trial, though her supportive congregation in Philadelphia has said Stroud can continue performing most of her duties.

Orbach of 'L&O' Has Cancer, Michael Imperioli subs for Jesse L. Martin

Jerry Orbach has prostate cancer, but he's doing fine and is shooting his spin-off "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," set to debut next year.

Orbach, Green, Imperiole, Farina.

In other L&O news, Jesse L. Martin is taking leave to film the musical "Rent" and Michael Imperioli of "The Sopranos" will appear in the NBC drama as the son of Detective Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina).

Bush Brown-noser Kerik Named to Lead Homeland Security

This guy is a Bush toady, he prostituted himself at the GOP convention (along with Rudy) as living symbols of 9/11. Guess is the payback. (AP):
Kerik inherits a sprawling bureaucracy from Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, who resigned last month. The creation of the department in 2003 combined 22 disparate federal agencies with more than 180,000 employees. Kerik's first anti-terrorism work was as a paid private security worker in Saudi Arabia. He joined the New York Police Department in 1986, first walking a beat in Times Square. He eventually was tapped to lead the city's Corrections Department and was appointed commissioner in 2000.

It was in that position that the mustachioed law enforcement chief became known to the rest of the country, supervising the NYPD's response to the 2001 terror attacks, often at the side of then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani. In 2003, he took on a temporary assignment in Iraq to help rebuild the country's police force. Most recently, he has been a consultant for Giuliani Partners, working to rebuild Baghdad's police force.

Also, the same story goes over some more administration shifts:
Bush also announced his choice of Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns to be agriculture secretary, selecting a dairy farmer's son who has traveled widely to promote American farm sales abroad.

U.N. Ambassador John Danforth submitted his resignation after holding the job for less than six months. He had been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of state, a job Bush gave to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

The flurry of moves came as Bush reshaped his team for his second term in office. Seven members of the 15-member Cabinet have submitted their resignations; Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson also appears to be preparing to leave.

Ha ha ha -- fundie wingnuts mad at Target from banning homophobic Salvation Army

I heart Target.

The Blue Lemur/Raw Story reports that the wingnuts are beside themselves because the Salvation Army has been banned from soliciting in front of Target stores.

Following are some snippets from the AP article and some background on the women’s group (Concerned Women of America) and the seemingly innocuous but sharply conservative Salvation Army.

In 2001, the nation’s oldest charity initially opted to allow regional divisions to offer health benefits to employees’ domestic partners. But it backtracked after pressure from conservative religious organizations.

The Salvation Army was also exposed in 2001 for trying to work behind the scenes with the Bush Administration to dilute local civil rights laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination. The Army has said publicly that it tries to keep openly gay men and women out of leadership positions.

...“For Target to say that the Salvation Army is no longer welcome at the inn should send a message to Christians that perhaps they’d like to do their shopping elsewhere,” said Robert Knight, a spokesman for Concerned Women of America.

Oh...and AmericaBlog has found an interesting item for sale at the big T. (A screen grab, since it may not be on the Target site for long).

The Best of the American Taliban

Check out this neat site, John Perr's Perrspectives. It has handy thumbnail sketches of the usual suspects often referred to here (and elsewhere in the lefty blogosphere) as members of the American Taliban. The burgeoning list includes: Bush, Scalia, Roy Moore, Ashcroft, DeLay, Hyde, Santorum, Coburn, DeMint, Dobson, Falwell, Reed, Robertson, and more.
Now thanks to the Bush administration, a Republican Congress and the conservative ascendancy, Americans need not travel to Kandahar to learn about the perils of theocratic rule. Right here in the United States, a network of politicians, religious leaders, “faith-based” organizations and (literally) their amen corner are working overtime to make a particularly onerous concept of Christianity the de facto law of the land. Armed with the Bible in one hand and the Patriot Act in the other, George W. Bush and his GOP jihadists threaten to fundamentally change the role of government in monitoring Americans’ lives, liberties and even bodies.

I think there are plenty more that could be added to that list too.

The more you learn about NBC's policy rejection of church's tolerance ad, "the more you know" about the network's hypocrisy

AmericaBlog has nailed NBC cold on this one. The television network (as well as its affiliates) refuses to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial" (see earlier post).


But lo and behold, the networks own The More You Know public service campaign has a specific spot on tolerance that references the role of church in promoting acceptance:
Addressing the roots of prejudice in our communities, workplaces, and houses of worship sets an example of courage and hope for the future of our society, the future that our children will inherit.

Why, other than political fallout from the wingnuts, would the UCC ad be too hot to handle? You decide. Here is the ad.

ACLU Says FBI Spying on Religious, Protest Groups

Think Bush's FBI is infiltrating the churches of Falwell or Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps? NOT.

I would hope that the effort would be equal opportunity offensive, but somehow I don't think so. (Reuters):
The American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) on Thursday accused the FBI (news - web sites) and local police of spying on political and faith-based groups and formally asked the government for information about such FBI surveillance.

In Freedom of Information Act requests filed in 10 states and Washington, D.C., the ACLU sought information about the FBI's use of Joint Terrorism Task Forces and local police for what it called political surveillance.

It pointed to some documented examples of task forces' involvement in the investigation of environmental activists and anti-war protesters.

"The FBI is wasting its time and our tax dollars spying on groups that criticize the government, like the Quakers in Colorado or Catholic Peace Ministries in Iowa," said ACLU associate legal director Ann Beeson.

"Do Americans really want to return to the days when peaceful critics become the subject of government investigations?" she said. The ACLU is America's most prominent independent advocacy group for civil liberties.

The FOIA requests seek FBI files on groups and individuals targeted for speaking out or practicing their faith.

The FBI denied using the task forces -- a key element of the government's efforts to prevent another terror attack like those on Sept. 11, 2001 -- to spy on innocent individuals.

Asked about the ACLU action, an FBI spokesman said, "The FBI does not investigate individuals or groups that are engaged in exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of expression.

He added, "Only if they are engaged in criminal activity in support of a cause would we be interested in them."

Freedom of religion issues getting flogged by Bush

I'm no big fan of mind-altering substances (even caffeine gets to me), but I'm wondering if Bush would have been fighting hard over a TEABAG if some fundie winger church that supported him was on the other side of the argument. Breyer Blocks Use of Church Hallucinogen. (LATimes):
The Bush administration on Wednesday won a Supreme Court stay that blocks a New Mexico church from using hallucinogenic tea that the government contended was illegal and potentially dangerous.

The government has been in a long-running legal fight with the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal over hoasca tea, brewed from plants found in the Amazon River Basin.

The church won a preliminary injunction in a lower court, and the Supreme Court was asked to intervene.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, acting on behalf of the full court, granted a temporary stay to give both sides time to file more arguments with the court.

"Compliance with the injunction would force the United States to go into violation of an international treaty designed to prevent drug trafficking worldwide, which could have both short- and long-term foreign relations costs and could impair the policing of transnational drug trafficking involving the most dangerous controlled substances," acting Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote in a court filing.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver found that the church probably has a religious-freedom right to use the tea.

The Bush administration plans to appeal, but wants the church barred from using the tea in the meantime.

Connecticut GI threatens suicide over going back to Iraq

This guy clearly doesn't want to return. (CT Post):
A serviceman, apparently distraught over the prospect of being sent back to the war in Iraq, threatened to kill himself as he stood naked and screaming outside his house.

Police took the man into custody at his Fernwood Drive house. He was taken for treatment to Bridgeport Hospital.

Dispatched to investigate a report of a possible suicide attempt Thursday, officers saw the man naked with blood on his body in front of the garage area, police said. As officers approached, the man yelled at them and ran back into the house, according to police.

After struggling with officers, the man told police that he was scheduled to be sent back to Iraq in January, but didn't want to because he would be forced to kill more people, police said.

The man, who said that he had been drinking, told officers that "he just wanted to die," police said.
This poor soul clearly is in no condition to go back to Baghdad; the question is whether his psychological condition was caused by whatever it was he experienced there, or whether he was troubled to begin with.

Pedestrian Death Statistics -- where folks are getting run over

Honda's POLAR II pedestrian dummy eating a Honda CRV. Really.

This AP article comes with no explanation, just a list of statistics regarding pedestrian deaths in a variety of U.S. cities, based on areas with 1 million or more people ranked by average annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people in 2002-2003. Does this mean almost four times as many people are being run over by folks down there in St. Pete as in Cleveland? Must be the senior drivers. OK, that's not fair to all senior drivers, but you know what I'm talking about -- that little man with a hat barely peering over the steering wheel, either going 5 mph or 75 mph careening out of control. Someone take the keys away from me before I kill someone doing that...
Metropolitan areas with 1 million or more people ranked by average annual pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people in 2002-2003:

Metro Area
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 3.69
Orlando, Fla. 3.15
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 2.94
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, Fla. 2.86
Las Vegas 2.74
Phoenix 2.44
San Diego 2.33
New Orleans 2.24
Los Angeles 2.11
Sacramento, Calif. 2.08
Memphis, Tenn. 2.07
Detroit 2.03
Jacksonville, Fla. 2.02
Houston 1.97
New York 1.94
San Antonio 1.94
Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, N.C. 1.90
Philadelphia 1.87
Raleigh-Durham, N.C. 1.84
Atlanta 1.83
Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, Md. 1.76
Chicago 1.67
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose 1.61
Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Mich. 1.56
Denver 1.54
St. Louis 1.54
Dallas-Fort Worth 1.53
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 1.51
Oklahoma City 1.44
Nashville, Tenn. 1.40
Kansas City, Mo. 1.36
Seattle-Tacoma 1.36
New Haven-Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn. 1.35
Louisville, Ky. 1.34
Richmond, Va. 1.31
Austin-San Marcos, Texas 1.29
Portland-Salem, Ore. 1.28
Charlotte, N.C. 1.26
Hartford, Conn. 1.24
Rochester, N.Y. 1.23
Indianapolis 1.20
Salt Lake City 1.09
Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Va. 1.08
Pittsburgh 1.05
Boston 1.02
Milwaukee 1.00
Columbus, Ohio 0.97
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. 0.96
Cincinnati-Hamilton 0.80
Cleveland 0.65
Source: Surface Transportation Policy Project

Ford's new "pedestrian-protection" technology. I kid you not.

Duh! Electoral Process Faces Difficulty in Iraq

Guess that's the dumb obvious headline of the day, but the story highlights that Bush is smoking something if he thinks the January elections are going to prove "democracy" is taking root in Iraq. (AP):
The bearded man in a white robe spoke politely but his parting words to Mohammed Abdullah, a grocer entrusted with distributing voter registration forms, carried a thinly veiled threat.

"Let the fear of God reside in your heart," the man, who never identified himself, repeated twice to Abdullah before leaving. He had earlier tried to convince Abdullah that participating in Iraq's January election violates Islamic law.

The Jan. 30 election is a key step in Iraq's transition to democracy. But the run-up is proving just how difficult that process will be. Already, the election has widened sectarian divides, triggered an increase in military operations and produced a campaign of intimidation.

..."There are areas in Iraq, where the security situation is very bad. There are areas where no one has been able to give out even one voter registration sheet. What we care about more than holding elections is the result of these elections," he told a news conference.

...In Mosul, for example, insurgents last month torched a warehouse that contained election registration papers. There have also been reports of widespread intimidation targeting Iraqis involved in the electoral process.

Gay Methodist Pastor Has Setback at Trial

The Rev. Beth Stroud (right) with her partner, Chris Paige.

Update on this story. It's just painful to see this happening to someone committed also to her faith. (AP):
A Methodist minister being tried by her church for announcing last year that she lived with a lesbian partner faced a setback when the presiding judge excluded expert testimony from six defense witnesses who believe the church's gay ban violates its own legal principles.

The defense witnesses believe the church's gay ban violates its own constitution. But the judge, retired Bishop Joseph Yeakel of Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that constitutional questions were "not relevant to this case." He issued no formal explanation.

Given Yeakel's ruling, Stroud had little doubt what would happen when the jury decides, possibly by late Thursday.

"To win a verdict would be an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. I don't expect that," she said at a news conference.

Bishop Peter Weaver, formerly of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, then testified that a celibate lesbian can remain in the ministry but someone in a relationship would be violating Methodist law.

Under questioning by Hall, Stroud spoke of her relationship with partner Chris Paige, who listened nearby. "One aspect of our relationship is that we express our love for each other sexually and with our bodies," Stroud said.

Stroud's defense attorney, the Rev. J. Dennis Williams of Cornwall, Pa., asked why Stroud insisted on a career with the Methodists. "I felt I was called to go home. This is the church I grew up in," she said.

Stroud said in an interview that while at Union Theological Seminary in New York City she considered a career with the Episcopal Church or United Church of Christ, which have more liberal practices, but only briefly.

Williams argued that the case might seem "a slam dunk" because church law is specific. But, he noted, "there is no evidence at all that Jesus said anything on this matter, let alone condemned it. He also said Methodist founder John Wesley decided women should preach "if they are under an extraordinary impulse of the Spirit" -- despite New Testament passages that appeared to forbid this.

FDA getting cold feet on "female libido" patch

Well at least the Vioxx mess is now making them at least take a look at the sh*t they are trying to foist on the public. New Female Sex Drug Raises Safety Concerns. Just the fact that the benefits are marginal and they don't know the long term risks of use, suggests, yet again, the FDA is asleep at the wheel and your health is on the line. By the way, it's Proctor & Gamble trying to get this onto market.
The hormone patch Intrinsa aims to restore women's lost libido, but some health experts are concerned that potential health risks may eclipse the benefit of marginally better sex.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel was considering Thursday whether the agency should approve the first drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women who have had their ovaries removed or damaged and are receiving estrogen therapy.

Clinical trials showed that women using Intrinsa had only modest improvements to their sex lives. Women who applied the patch to their abdomen twice weekly had one more "satisfying sexual event" per four weeks, compared with a placebo.

The FDA, chastised before Congress for ignoring safety concerns with drugs, has asked its Reproductive Health Drugs advisory committee to consider whether that slim benefit offsets potential risk from long-term use of the hormone testosterone. Women using the Intrinsa testosterone patch will also take estrogen.

The Women's Health Initiative, a program established by the National Institutes of Health, found that postmenopausal women taking the hormones estrogen and progestin had higher risks of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer.

"The unexpected safety findings ... indicated that short-term or uncontrolled studies may not provide adequate estimates of the risks of hormonal therapy," the FDA told its advisory panel.

Oh, and if you want to see P&G's version of the efficacy of this patch (and you know it's glowing research), check out their press release.

Why is SpongeBob being kidnapped?

Is it all about the eBay economy, Dick Cheney? Is it a frat boy prank? Or is it a Burger King PR landslide? Armchair detective, peruse for clues. Inflatable SpongeBob Characters Disappearing From Burger Kings. I drive past one here in Durham every day. I'll keep an eye on this one to see if it disappears. I haven't ever watched SpongeBob; this thing is so damn ugly that I cannot imagine wanting to take one. ( - FL)
There is a nationwide rash of thefts of 9-foot-tall and 9-foot-wide SpongeBob SquarePants inflatables propped on the roofs of Burger Kings.

More than 50 SpongeBob-nappings have been reported from Florida to Utah since the pop icon started appearing on fast-food restaurant rooftops in a promotional tie-in with his movie Nov. 11. Employees at a Burger King near Palatka are among the latest to report the theft of the $500 balloon last weekend.

"We don't have any theories. SpongeBob SquarePants is kind of a fad. It could be a childhood prank or an adult trying to get a fad item for Christmas," Putnam County sheriff's Lt. Steve Rose said Wednesday. "If any leads come across, we will follow up in hopes of making an arrest."

..."From a marketing point of view, stealing generates value," he said. "They will show up in fraternity houses for sure."

Burger King is not actively pursuing the missing inflatables, said a Burger King spokesman, who refused to be identified.

"At the moment, it is sort of a very amusing phenomenon. We hope it is just a prank, and the SpongeBobs come back."

NC gay folks take note - this is what the Right wants to do here

Michigan pulls same-sex benefits from contracts. This is why we have to continue the fight against wingnuts that will try to propose a state amendment. If they include questionable language such as Michigan's Proposal 2 (limiting marriage and "similar unions for any purpose" to heterosexual couples), it's going to through a wrench into a lot of things. Partners of gay and lesbian employees do not receive spousal benefits at this time, but language added to the state constitution will preclude it from ever being included.

Moreover, if the language is made muddy enough to also prohibit private companies from offering benefits, it will mean many of the major corporations in the area that do have partner benefits may have to withdraw them.

People, the American Taliban preys upon the ignorance of the voter. They will try to craft a "marriage defining" amendment that people of generally tolerant minds won't understand also outlaws civil unions and partner benefits. I guarantee that some of the straight folks in those eight states that voted to permanently define marriage (and ban civil unions) didn't realize the amendment did the latter.

Unless the community mobilizes to pick at the language of these amendments BEFORE they get on a ballot, this is what you get -- Virginia, Michigan and Ohio are now being forced to roll back any hope for increased tolerance over time by outlawing it.

Round 2 with the tissues

Of course, I went back to work too soon. Relapse. I am barely able to talk, and coughing again, chills, bleary-eyed here blogging. I really should stay home...arrgh. What was the point of the flu shot if I got sick anyway? I know, different strain. Still sucks.

Well, this would make the race interesting - CA looking at a way to split electoral votes

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

It's both exciting and scary to think of a Blue state doing this. But I certainly understand the appeal of splitting electoral votes so that campaigns will spend more time in a state to court voters, instead of playing the "map game" of calculating which states you just give up on vs. ones you count in your column.
Two Republican lawmakers are introducing a bill that would award California's most-in-the-nation electoral votes by congressional districts, a step they say would make it "the leading battleground state for all future elections."

Democrat John Kerry won California's 55 electoral votes on Nov. 2 by taking more than 54 percent of the popular vote.

But if legislation to be introduced Monday by Assemblymen John Benoit and Tom Harman had been in effect, Kerry and President Bush would have split the state's electoral votes because of Bush's strong showing in the state's inland areas and a few coastal counties.

Under the bill, a presidential candidate would get one electoral vote for each of the state's 53 congressional districts in which he or she had the most votes. Two electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who got the most votes statewide.

Two other states, Maine and Nebraska, use the same type of system. Colorado rejected a ballot measure this year that would have divided its electoral votes based on each candidate's share of the popular vote.

Benoit and Harman said their bill would make presidential elections more democratic, increase turnout and discourage candidates from ignoring California. This year there was little campaigning in the state by either Bush or Kerry because of Kerry's big lead in the polls.

"It's a slap in the face of California voters that our 55 electoral votes, the largest bloc in the country, are given to one candidate without anything more than a token campaign being launched in our state," Benoit said.

Wacky NC election politics - 24,000 to go back to the polls

It's been a wild ride in Election 2004 here in NC, with votes lost, found and all kinds of monkey business. The latest news is that in Carteret County, 24,000 voters will have a second chance to vote for agriculture chief. (News and Observer):
State elections officials, struggling to wrap up the agriculture commissioner's race, decided Tuesday that about 24,000 people in Carteret County should have another election day.

Steve Troxler, right, candidate for agriculture chief, and his lawyer, Marshall Hurley, confer. Photo: Ethan Hyman

...The candidates for the agriculture job didn't know what to say about the surprise decision in their contest, which was thrown into turmoil when 4,400 ballots were lost by a voting machine in Carteret County. Republican challenger Steve Troxler has a 2,300-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Britt Cobb in the statewide tally.

The elections board voted 4-1 to allow the people in Carteret County whose ballots were lost, as well as registered voters in the county who didn't vote in the general election, another chance to vote. That adds up to nearly 24,000 voters, state elections director Gary Bartlett said.

The special election was scheduled for Jan. 11. The votes will be added to the current statewide totals.

"It's a little bit bizarre, to tell you the truth," Troxler said.

Troxler had suggested that the 4,400 voters whose ballots were lost be asked to vote again. He wanted to talk to his lawyer before saying whether he would challenge the board's decision to also give another chance to those Carteret voters who didn't vote.

Cobb's attorney, John Wallace, argued that the law required another statewide election. Any legal challenge of the board's decision would be up to Cobb, he said. Cobb did not attend the hearing, and a spokesman said later that he was not ready to talk.

A thorough investigation of all the election voting shenanigans is over at The Brad Blog. Brad's been working overtime to bring all the voter suppression, e-vote "disappearances" and mistabulation all over the country. Highly recommended. Here are a few headlines:
  • BRAD BLOG Reveals Exclusive Details on Delaware County, OH's Activist Republican Judge! Uses Tax-Payer Funded Website to Quote Scripture! And More!

  • Activist OH County Judge Halts Green/Lib Recount! And the KERRY/EDWARDS Campaign Comes to the Rescue!!!

  • Files Lawsuit Against Palm Beach County, FL!

  • NY DAILY NEWS: 3rd Party Candidates Out-Polled Bush in OH! Precinct-by-Precinct Analysis of Cuyahoga County Shows Disturbing Trends. As Another Mainstream Media Outlet Enters the Investigation!

  • Kerry's Margin over Bush increases by 9,242 in Cuyahoga County, OH After Provisionals Counted Count Certified after Testimony Heard about the 34% of Provisionals Tossed Out

  • A nice local story on gay-straight alliance in HS

    Riverside High School students Evan Menchini (left) and Laura Jackman talk during a meeting Wednesday of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. (The Herald-Sun/Walt Unks)

    Some nice news about tolerance here in Durham, NC, as opposed to the backward, redneck homophobe news from Alabama. A world of difference in this part of a red state. (Herald-Sun): Gays, straights allies at Riverside.
    Walking the hallways of Riverside High School hasn't always been the easiest of journeys for Laura Jackman.

    "I was very alone when I was a freshman here," said Jackman, now a 16-year-old junior. "I was different. I had a shaved head. People would make comments like, 'Are you a guy or a girl?' I've been constantly harassed in the halls, been knocked into and been cursed at."

    Upset at the lack of tolerance for gay, lesbian and bisexual students, Jackman and some of her friends worked to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at Riverside last year.

    The club now has 30 active members and aims to provide a zone of comfort for students who may be questioning their sexuality or want to support gay and lesbian friends and family members.

    Riverside's club, which formed as a social and support group, does not try to push an activist agenda, members say. Members and Riverside Principal James Key said the group -- and the school as a whole -- does not promote sexual activity of any kind.

    "We work to promote awareness and tolerance," sophomore Evan Menchini said. "We are not doing anything that's weird. There is nothing inappropriate happening at our meetings."

    Riverside isn't the only high school where a GSA club is flourishing.

    There are now 13 such clubs at high schools across the Triangle, up from four groups only two years ago. In addition to Riverside's group, clubs have formed at Jordan High School, Durham Academy, the Durham School of the Arts, the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and Carolina Friends School in Durham.

    In addition, both East Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill high schools offer GSA groups, as do five schools in Wake County.

    ...But not all Triangle school principals have welcomed the groups, Weiss said. When one Wake County student wanted to start a GSA at her school, the principal refused to meet with her, she said.

    "She couldn't find a single teacher that would agree to be an adviser," Weiss said.

    ...Key said he also had received a "minimal" number of phone calls from parents who wanted the school to stop the group from meeting. Key said that when the parents call, he tries to explain the GSA's purpose to them.

    "I'm proud anytime we can promote tolerance and respect for different ideas, cultures and philosophies, and I know the GSA here is seeking to do that in a positive way," Key said. "We will never support any student being bullied or harassed. I'm aware there are a lot of students who do feel isolated and lonely, and I hope this club can provide support for that."

    Riverside's club, which meets on Wednesdays, discusses everything from the history of the gay rights movement to depression rates among gay teenagers. The group also has marched in Durham's Gay Pride Parade and has distributed Hate-Free Zone signs to any teacher at the school who wanted to hang them in the classroom.

    My wifey's home state continues to embarrass her

    Katie just can't catch a break from me. I tease her about Alabama's backward racist, homophobic ways, and then yet another story comes forth with characters you just cannot make up. Check out this story from the Birmingham News...Gay book ban goal of state lawmaker.
    An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

    Homophobe redneck Gerald Allen, submitted the bill in advance of the 2005 legislative session, which begins Feb. 1

    A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda."

    "Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle," Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.

    Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

    "I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.

    A spokesman for the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center called the bill censorship.

    "It sounds like Nazi book burning to me," said SPLC spokesman Mark Potok.

    If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as a genetic trait and public libraries couldn't offer books with gay or bisexual characters.

    Want to give him a piece of your mind? Here's his contact info (no email is available):
    State House: Room 531
    11 S. Union Street
    Montgomery, AL 36130
    Work Phone: (205) 556-5310

    Methodist pastor on trial for being a "self-avowed practicing homosexual"

    The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud of Philadelphia could be defrocked.

    More clashes like this are going to occur as people come out. Her church wouldn't place her in this position if she had lied and kept her relationship on the DL. Coming out is forcing the church to acknowledge and either accept or punish their clergy.
    The latest clash in the struggle among mainline Protestant denominations over gay clergy hits a critical point today with the church trial of a United Methodist Church minister who declared in a sermon last year that she is a lesbian living with her partner.

    The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud of Philadelphia could be defrocked if she loses at the trial, which is expected to run two or three days.

    It's the third test of the church's 1984 law barring "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from the ministry. The policy was reaffirmed by a 72 percent vote at the Methodists' General Conference in May.

    Given that language, conviction might seem automatic. But last March, a church court acquitted the Rev. Karen Dammann, a pastor in Washington state who also lives openly with a same-sex partner, and the Methodists' national supreme court decided it had no power to review the verdict.

    In the other such trial, the Rev. Rose Mary Denman of New Hampshire was defrocked in 1987.

    Stroud, 34, was ordained and assigned in 1999 as associate pastor of Philadelphia's First United Methodist Church of Germantown. Two years later, Stroud held a "covenant ceremony" with her partner, Chris Paige, at Paige's Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia.

    Stroud notified her Germantown congregation of the relationship in a sermon on April 27, 2003. "I know that by telling the truth about myself I risk losing my credentials," she said, but decided "my walk with Christ requires telling the whole truth."

    Stroud says if she is defrocked, the congregation has promised she can continue her educational, pastoral and preaching work under lay status, though she would no longer be able to preside at baptisms or communion services.

    The presiding judge at the trial is Joseph Yeakel, the retired bishop of Washington, D.C., who in 1996 joined 15 bishops in saying "it is time to break the silence" and protest their church's stance on gays.

    As the story says the church's policy on her homosexuality is clear cut, but this trial highlights whether committed individuals that wish to serve honorably and honestly in the church leadership should be penalized for living openly gay lives. This is a difficult challenge, as it has been for the Episcopal church, which is dealing with a schism over the first openly gay (non-celibate) bishop, Gene Robinson.

    No wonder the Merck rats want a golden parachute...

    Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi acts as the NY state pension fund's trustee. He's pissed -- "These actions have put lives at risk and cost shareholders billions of dollars." (Ruth Fremson/NYT)

    Of course, this is probably going to be cited by Bush as a reason to ban/control lawsuits against Big Pharma, even when they are caught red-handed trying to screw the public with a bad drug for profit. Pension Fund of New York Files Suit Against Merck (NYT):
    The main pension fund of New York State filed a federal lawsuit yesterday against Merck & Company, accusing it of misleading shareholders about the safety of its arthritis pain drug Vioxx, which has since been withdrawn.
    The suit, brought in United States District Court in Trenton, said that the pension fund lost about $171 million on Sept. 30, when the company, citing increased heart risks in tests of people who had used Vioxx for more than 18 months, withdrew it from the market. On that day, the price of a share of Merck stock plummeted 27 percent, and it has since drifted lower. Merck shares are down almost 40 percent so far this year, though they closed up 35 cents yesterday, at $28.02.

    The suit appears to be the first by a pension fund against Merck, which is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J. A company spokeswoman, Joan Wainwright, said that about 15 lawsuits had been filed, contending that Merck misled shareholders. Several hundred personal injury lawsuits have also been filed against Merck by people claiming to have been injured by Vioxx.

    ...The New York State Common Retirement Fund, as the pension fund is formally known, is the second-largest public pension fund in the country, after Calpers.

    It has some $120.8 billion in assets and more than 970,000 retirees, beneficiaries and members.