An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Your tax dollars at work: Army transport vehicle puts troops at risk

Thursday, March 31, 2005


Soldiers emerge from a Stryker during a battle with insurgents in Mosul, Iraq, in February. An Army study criticizes the vehicle's performance. (Jim Macmillan/AP)

It's unfortunate that when you sign up to serve your country, the military sends you out with resources like this. Troops are at risk from rocket-propelled grenades because the Army's new troop transport vehicle, the General Dynamics-built Stryker, is riddled with defects -- and the taxpayers' wallet is $11 billion lighter. The Washington Post (reg req'd, excerpts at Raw Story) has a obtained a copy of the classified Army study that spills the beans.
...the Army's Dec. 21 report, drawn from confidential interviews with operators of the vehicle in Iraq in the last quarter of 2004, lists a catalogue of complaints about the vehicle, including design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are "getting worse not better." Although many soldiers in the field say they like the vehicle, the Army document, titled "Initial Impressions Report -- Operations in Mosul, Iraq," makes clear that the vehicle's military performance has fallen short.

The internal criticism of the vehicle appears likely to fuel new controversy over the Pentagon's decision in 2003 to deploy the Stryker brigade in Iraq just a few months after the end of major combat operations, before the vehicle had been rigorously tested for use across a full spectrum of combat.
It should be noted that Army has no data in this report that confirms the number of soldiers that have been wounded while riding in the Stryker deathtrap. Some of the facts revealed in the report are almost beyond comprehension; how can the Army explain this laundry list of negligent manufacturing and testing issues to taxpayers, let alone military families:

* an armoring shield installed on Stryker vehicles to protect against unanticipated attacks by Iraqi insurgents using low-tech weapons works against half the grenades used to assault it.

* The shield is so heavy that tire pressure must be checked three times daily. Nine tires a day are changed after failing, and the current figure is "11 tire and wheel assemblies daily."

* The main weapon system, a $157,000 grenade launcher, fails to hit targets when the vehicle is moving, contrary to its design.

* Its laser designator, zoom, sensors, stabilizer and rotating speed all need redesign - it does not work at night. Some crews removed part of the launchers because they can swivel dangerously toward the squad leader's position.

* The vehicle's seat belts cannot be readily latched when troops are in their armored gear, a circumstance that contributed to the deaths of three soldiers in rollover accidents.

* On the vehicle's outside, some crews have put sand-filled tin cans around a gunner's hatch that the report says is ill-protected.

It sounds like there was about as much attention paid by General Dynamics to the vehicle's design and engineering as a five-year-old's to a Lego creation. But the river of denial runs deep in the Army, even as its most precious resource, its soldiers, are placed in all-American harm's way.
Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, the Army's director of force development, said that when he rode in the Stryker for the first time, he "marveled at how much nicer it was" than riding in a Bradley vehicle or an older troop transport, the M113, which he likened to being inside an aluminum trash can being beaten by a hammer. He said the Stryker was "amazingly smooth" and quiet by comparison.
I think troops would trade off a smooth ride for a rough one if it raised the chances of getting back to base alive.


It's over.


A van allegedly carrying the body of Terri Schiavo, is escorted by police as it leaves the Woodside Hospice on Thursday, March 31, 2005, in Pinellas Park, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

This excruciating story had become such a morbid sideshow, from her parents pimping out supporters' addresses and emails for profit, to yesterday's ghoulish release of 2002 videos showing brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, involuntarily groaning and moving in her bed that her passing this AM couldn't have come soon enough. This family's torment was a private affair the public battle became obscene. Sadly, the political mess this case has wrought won't be cleaned up for a long while.


Guest blogging at Facing South today



Chris Kromm of the blog Facing South, invited me to guest blog while he's on vacation. It's an effort of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies. ISS publishes the award-winning investigative journal, Southern Exposure. I told Chris that I promise to be good and not wreck the place -- no four-letter words! Here's a snippet of my first entry, Old and New South, Red and Blue. [Can %&$#@ Blogger not crap out for just one day?]...
I have Red State/Blue State "dual citizenship," since I have native New Yorkers on one side of the family and I lived in NYC during its unforgettable heydey of urban decline of the 70s and 80s. When I returned to my hometown in 1989, it was clear that Durham, and its southern identity, had changed dramatically.

The best of Southern Culture has been retained here -- brewed ice tea, good barbecue, a slower pace of doing things, a greeting of "Honey" or "Sugar" to you by people you don't even know -- it can be disconcerting to folks from other parts of the country that move here. Only last week I was at a business meeting with arrivals to these parts from Western and Northern states, and they freely admitted to being freaked out because they were addressed "Ma'am," and that people weren't in a hurry to get in line at the grocery store. Yes, the South is a different place, a lovely place to call home.

The South, even as the culture embraces bagels, scones, trendy coffee shops and NY-style pizza, still has some serious work to do as it adjusts to lives of its residents in the 21st century. For instance, NC has its first openly gay state senator, Julia Boseman, but the bible still beats hard over "values" issues here and elsewhere in the region.
You can read more of my post (and a lot of other, most-excellent writing) at Facing South


Ann Coulter, intellectual heavyweight, flaps her gums for another $25K


Ann Coulter spews wingnut stupidity at the Lied Center as part of the J.A. Vickers Sr. Memorial Lecture Series. Kay Wright, Lawrence, carries a copy of Ann Coulter's book "How to Talk to a Liberal." Wright hoped to get it signed for her son, Lt. Col. Kevin Wright, of Fort Knox, Ky. (Richard Gwin/Journal World-Photos)

(via Raw Story). Bony ass, bed-worn b*tch of the Reich, Ann Coulter fills her pockets on one of her regular road trips to campuses where she faces fans and hecklers. I hope Kansas University felt it got its money's worth with sterling commentary like this (The Lawrence Journal-World):
Coulter fired off one zinger after another about liberalism while promising to answer questions from left-wing members in the audience who could "thrash their way to a coherent thought."

"I've come to find I like liberals a lot more," Coulter said early in her speech. "They're kind of cute when they're cold, shivering and afraid."

Coulter spoke as the 37th J.A. Vickers Sr. Memorial Lecture Series lecturer to a crowd estimated by KU officials at about 1,800 people. The lectures, which began in 1971, were established through a gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association by the Vickers family of Wichita. Coulter received several standing ovations during her speech, but she also found herself interrupted several times by a small, scattered group of hecklers.

"I think there are some people in the audience who meant to be at the sexual reorientation class down the hall," Coulter said, in response to the heckling....Later, when heckling broke out again, a couple of uniformed KU Public Safety Department officers appeared and escorted about six people out of the auditorium.

Coulter resumed her critical remarks, calling Sen. Ted Kennedy a "human dirigible" and the Democrats' "spiritual leader." She also made fun of the Democrats' dalliance with filmmaker Michael Moore and former presidential candidate John Kerry, who she said got away with telling "big, fat, enormous lies." Despite Kerry's loss, Democrats think their political stances and ideas just "need new labels for their bottles," Coulter said.

She also blasted the nation's judicial system for its handling of the Terri Schiavo case. "We no longer have a single check on the judiciary," she said.
My favorite quote from the article comes from John Altevogt, a wingnut Repug activist -- "Ann Coulter is logical, rational and an independent thinker," he said. "In essence, everything the left hates in their womenfolk."


Leaders of the three faiths unite in support of homo-hating


Religious leaders met on Wednesday in Jerusalem in a united protest against a gay pride festival planned there in August. From left: Sheik Abed es- Salem Menasra, deputy mufti of Jerusalem; the Rev. Michel Sabbagh, the Latin patriarch; the Rev. Aris Shirvanian, the Armenian patriarch; Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardic chief rabbi; and Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi. The man at right was not identified. (European Pressphoto Agency)

This is a sad landmark event -- faiths at the center of wars and countless deaths over the millennia because of conflicts with one another unite to bash gays. Jerusalem WorldPride 2005 (the theme: "Love Without Borders,") is under attack by major leaders of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in a way that suggests some kind of fall of civilization will occur if the event takes place. (NYT):
"They are creating a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable. It hurts all of the religions. We are all against it."
-- Shlomo Amar, Israel's Sephardic chief rabbi


"We can't permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem."
-- Abdel Aziz Bukhari, a Sufi sheik


[It's] "the spiritual rape of the Holy City. This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land."
-- Rev. Leo Giovinetti, an evangelical pastor from San Diego's Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, author of the petition against the festival, "Homosexuals to Desecrate Jerusalem"


[It's an] "offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics across the world."
-- Pope John Paul II, in reference to the first WorldPride festival, held in Rome five years ago.

WIth all the ills and suffering in the world today, this is what leaders of diverse faiths can come together over in the spirit of brotherhood. Perhaps they should focus and speak out on these kinds of problems with equal vigor:

* Chief Rabbi accused of sexually harassing 4 males
* Rise of Extremism, Islamic Law Threaten Iraqi Women
* Priest faces 29 child sex charges

Aside from the supporters of this bigotry, why is there little response by American religious leaders to this sad statement of unity overseas? At some in the thick of things are speaking out.
"That is something new I've never witnessed before, such an attempt to globalize bigotry," said Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of Jerusalem Open House, a gay and lesbian group that is the host for the festival. "It's quite sad and ironic that these religious figures are coming together around such a negative message."

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, co-chairwoman of the festival and the rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a gay synagogue in New York City, said the controversy was another sign that each religion had become polarized between its liberal and conservative wings.

..."I reject that they have the right to define religion in such a narrow way," Rabbi Kleinbaum said of religious leaders who denounce homosexuality. "Gay and lesbian people are saying we are equal partners in religious communities, and we believe in a religious world in which all are created in God's image."
Thanks to House Blend reader (and Julien's List contributor) Holly for the pointer.


A hoot from Heretik

Nice.


(The Heretik via Shakespeare's Sister)


Gender politics, take 2 3 4?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I've lost track since the tussle began. Kevin Drum has taken another crack at discussing gender issues. This time he deserves credit for largely hitting the mark. He correctly points out that the most passionately debated topics are sex/gender related -- sex ed, reproductive rights, pornography, gay rights and low-wealth/welfare issues -- all passionately and successfully framed by the Right in the last election cycle.

Social conservatives have sought and gained power in the name of maintaining (or returning to, depending on your perspective) traditional sex and gender roles. Michigan's "Conscientious Objector Policy Act," which would "allow doctors to refuse to treat gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients based on moral, ethical or religious beliefs" is is a logical result when theocrats take control of the social agenda. It explains the trends such as pharmacists across the country refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills (again, based on personal beliefs). Drum:
This is why gender equality per se should get more attention from the liberal community: because it's the underlying core of so many emotional, election-deciding issues. I know, I know: this kind of talk is just so 70s. And it's true that the tone of feminist rhetoric - especially academic feminism - probably puts off a lot of liberal men, including me from time to time. But it's hard to make headway on all these disparate issues without understanding the core sensibility that drives so many of them. We shouldn't allow pique to get in the way of that.
All that forward social momentum from the 70s is threatening. Eventually a line in the sand had to be drawn, a comfort level had been breached. Men of all political persuasions found themselves uncomfortable and unsettled by the rapid social changes over the last three decades. As Rox notes:
In the early 80s, it all came to a grinding halt. Why? Was it backlash? The Reagan Revolution? AIDS? Whatever it was, we haven't recouped.

I tend to believe that those who had power didn't want to relinquish any more of it. They gave some of us a few crumbs to keep us sated. It was the "steam control" Tom Wolfe describes in his 80s classic, The Bonfire of the Vanities.
For social conservatives, the cultural road map was already there to address their world-gone-to-hell-in-a-handbasket: a return to the idealized Eisenhower-era society (actually, for some whackjobs, it appears the social ideal occurred several hundred years ago). The disaffected could unite around a common vision for social order that was like mac-and-cheese comfort food.

However, men committed to progressive social change have a different problem. How do you recognize, embrace and express discomfort with the changing roles of gender/sexual politics constructively without appearing like a cave man? The politically correct social framework that has evolved over the last few decades doesn't make it easy to be honest about the complex emotions surrounding gender politics, does it? It doesn't make those feelings go away, safely unexpressed.

The fact that the testosterone clubbiness of op-ed pages, blogs, and opinion magazines exists speaks volumes -- the club generally steers away from those sex/gender issues because it's just not comfortable. It's not because those topics are unimportant, but they involve opening honest conversations that might make liberal men queasy as they struggle to understand the emotional impact of shifts in our culture and the balance of power in the national social mosaic. Drum touches on this.
And it's true that the tone of feminist rhetoric - especially academic feminism - probably puts off a lot of liberal men, including me from time to time. But it's hard to make headway on all these disparate issues without understanding the core sensibility that drives so many of them. We shouldn't allow pique to get in the way of that.
Conservatives have no such dilemma. The agenda is not about change, but conformity, tradition, and clear gender roles/sexual identities.

At least now the door to discuss this is cracked open; I hope Drum and his peers decide to loosen up a bit -- it's no time to hold back when you have the AmTaliban nipping at the country's heels, ready to move up and bite us all in the ass.

Props to Shakespeare's Sister, whose commentary and correspondence with Drum helped moved this conversation to the next level. It needs to continue. It's clear that the other side never sleeps.


It's official: Pope's on a "rope"


Pope John Paul II attempts to talk from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 30, 2005. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Yeah, the headline is in bad taste, but since I'm apparently going to "hell" anyway, I've got nothing to lose. As the Pope John Paul II Deathwatch continues, word is out from the Vatican that he is officially on a feeding tube (through his nose). (AP):
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said John Paul was fitted with a nasogastric tube to "improve the calorie intake" and help him recover his strength.

The statement was issued shortly after the pope tried unsuccessfully to speak to the crowds in St. Peter's Square for the second time in a week. After managing just a rasp of his voice, he blessed well-wishers by making the sign of the cross with his hand and withdrew from his window.
Pope Politics

Since we're in between election cycles here, why not play horse race with papal candidates? Speculation about possible successors has been going on for a while, even though JPII hasn't kicked it yet.

There is a piece in the London Observer that gives thumbnail sketches of possible successors. Because 97% of the 120 cardinals were appointed by the Pope, there's not a chance in good old hell that a more moderate Pope is on the horizon. The "traditionalists" are closing ranks to ensure any movement on female priest, celibacy, homosexuality and reproductive rights will be quashed.

The fact that nearly 65 percent of Catholics live in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the article notes, may influence the pick, since the northern hemisphere has seen a loss in followers. The contrary view is that they need another white guy in place to stop the hemorrhage. I will be surprised if they go with a Pope of color; it would generate an interesting response in this country, to be sure.

* German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: The 78-year-old is a hardline conservative and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's chief think tank, which has dominated discussions on sexual morality and birth control, and prevented liberals from gaining ground. Even though he is in the inner circle, he is considered a long shot.


* Cardinal Francis Arinze, 72, of Nigeria. He would be the first black African pontiff since Gelasius I (492-496). Arinze is said to take a hardline position on abortion and contraception and denounces homosexuality.


* Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, 62, from Honduras, who teamed up with Bono to campaign against third-world debt


* Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels, 71 is seen as too liberal.


* Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, 58, is a favorite of the European traditionalists but is seen as too young (!).


Also, it looks like there was some sort of Pope Derby going on in Ireland even back in 2002, on the BBC News site. Someone nominated Father Dougal McGuire of Craggy Island, a scatterbrained priest character in a popular sitcom, Father Ted. His odds with the bookmakers are set at 1000-1.


The art of journalism...coming to the National Press Club

Who is the whiz-bang journalist described below? He's scheduled to appear in the Holeman Lounge at the NPC on April 8. AMERICABlog knows.



Now there's a reporter that likes to be "out in the field" getting the Big Story.


Cry-Baby AmTaliban feels like it's "in the closet"


A flaming cowpile of crap -- Peter LaBarbera of the Illinois Family Institute: "It is time for Christians like Pinney to "get out of the closet" and get involved in politics and government." Have I missed something -- who's in charge these days?

Are we supposed to feel sorry for the AmTaliban when they drop a 300-foot-high pile of flaming crap like this? The Illinois Family Institute feels the Anti-Defamation League is intimidating a Christian school board candidate for her homo-hating beliefs, which she says is grounded in her religion. Lesley Pinney is crying that she is being told in a letter to "refrain from political appeals based on religious faith."

Let me ask you -- when was the last time any of these fundamentalists held back on expressing their "Christian values" (or acting upon them, for that matter)? If religious zealots had any more control over our government and culture I'd be walking around in a burqa. After reading this nonsense from the right-wing propaganda organ AgapePress, you'd think pagans, atheists and homos were in charge of everything and that the fundies are being persecuted. :
Pinney, a candidate for the District 214 school board in Arlington Heights, had informed local pastors her decision-making while on the board would be based on her Christian beliefs. In a letter to the pastors, she asked for support as a "Christian engaging the culture."

Peter LaBarbera with the Illinois Family Institute says it is apparent that homosexuals have come out of the closet -- but that they want to push Christians into the closet. "It seems that liberals are afraid of Christians who will run for office as Christians," LaBarbera says. "It's ironic that a group that fights discrimination is willing to basically foment discrimination against people of faith. I just found it shocking."

But LaBarbera sees the ADL's reaction as consistent with a tactic typically employed by liberal groups. "The liberal strategy these days on social issues is to create sort of 'front church groups,' which are basically religious organizations that, in my view, support immoral causes," he explains. "For example, there's Catholics for a Free Choice, which is [a] pro-abortion [group] -- and they're not really Catholic of course; they're promoting abortion. Then there's the Interfaith Alliance, which supports homosexual special rights."


Wingnuts Fear RFID Chips Could Herald 'Mark of the Beast'



While I'm a firm advocate of privacy rights, leave it to the religious wingnuts to take "caution" to the next level. Satan is around the corner, and you better be ready for The Rapture. This is another "I'm not sh*tting you" post. (AgapePress):
A Christian group is calling for a nationwide boycott against the use of radio frequency identification devices, or RFID, to track students in schools.

AgapePress recently reported on a California school that not long ago used RFID technology in a test of an experimental attendance monitoring system (see related story). While the company that introduced the system is continuing to develop and market the technology, one religious group is denouncing RFID as a dangerous herald of the advance of a demonic "new world order."

...John Conner is a spokesman for "The Resistance for Christ," a group that opposes the formation of the so-called new world order. He believes one day every student in the world as well as the population at large will be forced to wear tracking devices under the premise of security.

"What these devices are going to do is just, ultimately, turn over ever last bit of privacy that we have to this global system," Conner says. Potentially, he warns, RFID will become a form of technological oppression that "dehumanizes every student and every person who is forced -- mind you, forced -- to take these beastly tracking devices, and this opens the door for limitless abuse."

..."This is the precursor to the 'mark of the beast' -- the 666 Satanic mark that the Bible talked about," Conner says, "and [the proponents of the RFID technology are] implementing this system under the guise of security and [saying] it's going to keep your children safe." But, ultimately, the San Diego activist warns, "what it's going to do is it's going to turn every single one of us into a piece of inventory -- not a human being -- a piece of inventory, a number."

Conner says even though born-again Christians will be "raptured" from the Earth before the tribulation reign of the anti-Christ, they should resist the use of RFIDs and other Orwellian influences in society.
Check out the Resistance Manifesto for a good laugh.


Woman Sues Over Tar Heel Anti-Cohabitation Law

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Debora Hobbs was "living in sin," and her boss forced her to pick her boyfriend or her job as a 911 dispatcher; Sheriff Carson Smith says it was a moral issue as well as a legal question.

Ass-backwards, redneck laws...It's A-OK for Kate and I to live together here in the Tar Heel state (guess they didn't have queer people in mind 200 years ago), but if you're straight and living with your opposite-sex partner, you're breaking the law. Even more insane, since many laws like this go unenforced, is that an employer actually had the Taliban cojones to pull it -- he gave a worker an ultimatum to marry her boyfriend, move, or give up her job. What the f*ck does it matter who you are living with when it comes to your freaking job? (AP/Herald-Sun):
A former sheriff's dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina's law against cohabitation. Debora Hobbs said she was told to get married, move out, or find another job after her boss found out about her living situation. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

The lawsuit seeks to abolish the nearly 200-year-old -- and rarely enforced -- law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law.

Convicted offenders face a fine and up to 60 days in jail. "The government has no business meddling in the private relationships of consenting adults," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation.

Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn't want to marry; Hobbs quit last May rather than be fired.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs' employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn't send out deputies to enforce the law.
Thanks to House Blender Medaka for the pointer.


Johnnie Cochran kicks it


"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

Yep, the one that got away. Too bad Johnnie didn't live long enough to see O.J. catch "the real killer." Right.

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., died today of a brain tumor, at 67. Rather than spending time on the above travesty of justice (there's plenty of that to be found on the Web), there are other cases he handled that are worthy of praise. (MSNBC):
He also represented former Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. When Cochran helped Pratt win his freedom in 1997, he called the moment "the happiest day of my life practicing law."

He won a $760,000 award in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Ron Settles, a black college football star who died in police custody in 1981. Cochran challenged police claims that Settles hanged himself in jail after a speeding arrest. The player's body was exhumed, an autopsy performed and it revealed Settles had been choked.



His clients also included Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who was tortured by New York police, and Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old black woman shot to death by Riverside police who said she reached for a gun on her lap when they broke her car window in an effort to disarm her.
The Louima case, which occurred in 1997, was a particularly brutal affair, it reinforced the opinion in many of the NY minority community that a segment of the NYPD took pleasure in brutalizing people of color when taken into custody.

Abner Louima was arrested outside a nightclub in 1997, was cuffed and taken Brooklyn's 70th Precinct. It was there that Officer Justin Volpe sodomized Louima with a broken broomstick; other officers continued "shoving a wooden stick into his rectum and mouth while his hands were handcuffed behind his back." Louima suffered a torn bladder and intestine and required several surgeries. Officer Justin Volpe pleaded guilty and is serving 30 years. Another officer, Charles Schwarz, guilty of pinning Louima down during the brutality, and four other officers were convicted of lying to authorities.

Abner Louima received $8.75 million settlement from the city due to Cochran's efforts. (CNN):
"I hope that in the future that it puts police brutality to rest and there will be no more victims," said Abner Louima. The agreement was the largest police brutality settlement in New York City history. Louima attorney Johnnie Cochran said his client's lawsuit was not about money.

"It was about trying to bring about some change. It was about the future. It was about a society in which Abner Louima feels his children will be safe, safer then he was." Cochran said. "I hope that will be the legacy."


Jesus = Tom DeLay:The Hammer thinks so

I totally missed this Easter Egg over at Perrspectives. It was a real howler.
In recent days, criticism has unfairly rained down on House majority leader Tom Delay for supposedly comparing himself to Jesus. As Delay put it in his own defense, "people hate the messenger. That's why they killed Christ."

On this Easter Sunday, it is worth noting that the similarities between Jesus and Tom Delay are striking:


Head over there for more (Jon Perr has a PDF version of the above). And check out the list of the American Taliban, complete with thumbnail sketches.


Falwell on respirator, Pope needs feeding tube, Terri's dad cashes in


The Rev is on a respirator, and we are on a Pope deathwatch, Terri Schiavo's dad has contracted with a direct marketing firm that's selling lists of donors for $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses collected during this insanity. Tom DeLay was definitely "The Hammer" with his dad.

What a freakshow. Is today the day for complete irony re: Rev. Tinkywinky and John Paul II, and the compassionate pro-lifers for Terri? It's really a kicker that her parents are cashing in, authorizing a wingnut direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters. And the body isn't cold yet, folks.

On to the sick/deathbed watch...If I were Falwell, I'd watch out for The Hammer's support, since he pulled the plug on his dad without a second thought. (Roanoke News):
Falwell, 71, was admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital shortly before midnight suffering from "respiratory arrest," the hospital said in a statement. He was put on a ventilator and stablized but remained in critical condition, the statement said.

"He is on a respirator and he's resting comfortably and in stable condition," said Ron Godwin, Falwell's executive assistant. "It's a reoccurence of the viral pneumonia."
(Houston Chronicle):
Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported today. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might have to have the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.
Check out Shakespeare's Sister for an excellent rant on the latest Schiavo media whore Jesse Jackson, and his entry into the insanity.


Boy Scout director: child porn creep


Douglas S. Smith Jr., who is expected to plead guilty, is still active in troop activity in Texas.

(via Raw Story Q). Upstanding gay scouts are tossed from this organization, yet among Boy Scout leadership is this creep, a soon-to-be-convicted-felon. It's about character, not orientation, but they just don't get it. They put the man on paid leave when this broke; at least he had the sense to step down. (MSNBC):
The national director of programs for the Boy Scouts of America has been charged with receiving and distributing child pornography, the U.S. Attorney's office here told NBC News on Tuesday.

Douglas S. Smith Jr. was charged with one felony count of having photos that show "minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct." Sources in the U.S. Attorney's office told NBC that Smith was expected to plead guilty. The images were of young boys and the investigation started in Germany, the sources added.

In a statement Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America said it had no indication of prior criminal activity. "We are dismayed and shocked to learn of the charge," it said. "Smith was employed by the organization for 39 years, with no indication of prior criminal activity. He was not in a leadership position which involved working directly with youth."

...Smith, 61, would not comment when reached by phone at his home. He was expected to appear in federal court Wednesday morning. If tried and found guilty, he faces prison time ranging from five to 20 years. A resident of Colleyville, Texas, Smith is still active in troop activity and is himself an Eagle Scout.


Mary, Mary, quite contrary


Mary Matalin sucks up to the Cheneys by landing Gay Hypocrite™ Mary a book deal. Wonder if Cheney's partner Heather Poe will get swept under the rug in Mary's account of Campaign 2004?

The Sludge Report has info on what is destined to be one of the great white-wash books of all time -- Mary Cheney is going to do her tell-all about working for her dad Darth in last year's campaign. She's certainly got a lot of explaining, er, spinning to do.
The curious and bold first acquisition of former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin in her new position at publisher SIMON & SCHUSTER is valued in the mid-six figures, top sources reveal. A top executive at VIACOM, parent of SIMON & SCHUSTER, who asked not to be named, was initally alarmed the deal would be seen as a "Thank You" from Matalin to the Cheneys.

"It's so not the case," said a SIMON & SCHUSTER insider. "This was a great opportunity to secure a great political story. Period."

Mary Cheney, who during the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns served as a top aide to her father, will write from her unique perspective as both a campaign senior staffer and as a daughter. Her book will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the high intensity world of political campaigns. It will also offer her account of what it was like to become an issue in the 2004 presidential election.

...Matalin, editor in chief, said about her inaugural acquisition: "Mary Cheney was smack-dab in the middle of every major event at the highest level on the last two national campaigns."
Perhaps she will give us the back story about what happened at the GOP convention, when Dick concluded his speech and was joined on stage by his wife Lynne, his straight daughter, Elizabeth (along with her husband, and their children) -- and Mary and Heather were hidden away on another side of the arena far away from the action, as if they had the plague. Oh, that's right, the GAY plague.

I'd like to see her comment on her mom's unhinged and breathless "cheap and tawdry political trick" remark after John Kerry mentioned Mary in one of the presidential debates. She can address the notion that the "GOP outrage" following Kerry's comment was orchestrated by Gay Hypocrite™ Mary herself.

Or maybe she'll fill us in on what it felt like to be called "a selfish hedonist" by fellow Republican Alan Keyes.

It would be interesting for Mary to give her perspective on it's like to be "out" as a professional queer for Coors, traveling the country, trying to persuade owners of gay bars to sell the company's beer, and then later having to re-closet herself for her bigoted party. What was it like, Mary, to sell your soul to the American Taliban?

For extra fun, check out Mary Cheney's formerly invisible partner Heather Poe in a series of AP/Reuters photos with captions at the blog The Pryhills.


Repug government jumps selectively for "culture of life" issues

It's a world turned upside down when you have lawmakers meeting in the dead of night to legislatively soothe fundamentalists screaming over Terri Schiavo, yet these same elected officials move like snails on medical issues before them that could help thousands each year facing life-threatening situations. Apparently aneurysms and drug-resistant TB (the latter is on a bioterror-threat list) aren't important enough for government attention. (AP, via Durham Herald-Sun):
It often comes down to the willingness of the government and lawmakers to spend money, say those who must make the pitch to Congress and federal agencies.

The National Aneurysm Alliance has been pressing Congress for months to approve federal funding to screen Medicare patients for deadly abdominal aortic aneurysms, but so far has come up empty on money for the roughly $80 to $100 tests. Contrasting that fight with congressional leaders' weekend rush earlier this month to try to get Terri Schiavo's feeding tube restored, the alliance's leader can't hide his frustration.

'Our best estimate is that about 15,000 Americans die each year from ruptured aneurysms, and I grew up in a town in central Connecticut where the entire population was about 30,000, so that's about half my town keeling over,' said Dr. Robert Zwolak, chairman of the alliance and a surgery professor at Dartmouth Medical School.

'Those lives would all be saved if we could find them by screening,' Zwolak added. 'Yes, the Schiavo case is tragic, but the reality is on average about 40 people a day are going to be dying of ruptured aneurysms.'

After 12 years of research that led to a possible cure for a worldwide health menace called multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, Dr. Albert Owens, who formerly headed the Johns Hopkins University Hospital, is finding that getting final funding for the drug is almost as challenging as his lab work.

Owens, now president of FASgen, a drug development company founded by Johns Hopkins faculty members, has hired lobbyists and made at least a half-dozen trips to Washington in recent months asking Congress and federal agencies for the roughly $5 million to $8 million needed for human testing. "We're looking for help. Now, we're not trying to take shortcuts," Owens said. "On the other hand, we don't want to waste any time either. We want to move forward as quickly as the science will let us move."

Even though the deadly and painful disease is starting to appear in the United States, is on a government bioterror-threat list and federal money helped finance the research to this point, Owens and his team are still searching for the last bit of money they need to get the drug to patients.


Caption this boob...

Monday, March 28, 2005


Chimpy grabs one of the paws of Barney the presidential pooch. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)


Which blogger is slated to appear at the National Press Club?


Let's see...John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, or Jeff "White House Rent Boy" Gannon?

What a pathetic state of things. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out which of the above men is an actual blogger, able to speak to the issue of blogging and journalism?

The National Press Club has come to the conclusion that the most qualified people are cub reporter/prostitute Jeff Gannon/James Guckert and Wonkette. No slam on Wonkette, but that is a humor column, not blogging-as-journalism. This outrage is confirmed by Editor and Publisher. I need a barf bag. NOW.
Yes, the same day that the prestigious Washington, D.C., journalism organization plans to present a lunch talk by former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee, it will also allow the former White House reporter/sex site operator to be on a panel discussing bloggers and online journalism.

Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert, resigned his job with the conservative Talon News last month after it was revealed he had used a pseudonym, had little journalism background, and had ties to male escort Web sites.

Still, Press Club leaders will include Gannon on the panel April 8 that includes Wonkette.com editor Ana Marie Cox, National Journal's John Stanton, and others.

Gannon told E&P today that he always considered himself a legitimate journalist, and "perhaps their invitation is recognition of that."
Perhaps JG/JG had a little help from his friends in the White House to get this gig...



As John says over at AB:
Not a single actual journalist-blogger is even on the panel that will be discussing blogging-journalism, and most certainly not anyone representing the "other" side of the GannonGuckert credential issue.

Look who's on the panel:

1. Gannon, who thinks he's an acceptable journalist.
2. Wonkette, who thinks we should err on the side of accepting him as a real journalist, per her own quotes to Howard Kurtz in the Wash Post, and
3. Then there's Congress Daily, whose sister publication, the Hotline, wrote a scathing editorial against our role in the GannonGuckert story.

So, the august National Press Club is holding a panel on the issues surrounding the GannonGuckert story and the only person they invite who was actually involved in the story is GannonGuckert himself.
You can contact the National Press Club and offer your opinion about this sham. They can do better than this -- and invite John A. to actually represent the blogosphere, which he has ably done many times during Propagannon.

National Press Club Front Desk
202-662-7500


Tale of the tape - who's making what

Interesting stats, but it's not sliced enough -- it would be useful to see a breakdown of the types of jobs held, and in what industries in order to comment effectively. But here you go... (NYT):
Black and Asian women with bachelor's degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.

A white woman with a bachelor's degree typically earned $37,800 in 2003, compared with $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a black woman, according to data to be released Monday by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home $37,600 a year.

...A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any similarly educated man or woman - $66,000 a year, the Census Bureau said. Among men with bachelor's degrees, Asians earned $52,000 a year, Hispanics $49,000 and blacks $45,000.

Workplace discrimination and the continuing difficulties of minorities to get into higher-paying management positions could help explain the disparities among men, experts say. The figures come from the Census Bureau's annual look at educational achievement in America, culled from a survey in March 2004.


Did the BK folks see "Super Size Me"?


First came the Hardee's Monster Thickburger (1,420 calories), now you can start loading the arteries in the AM, thanks to BK's Enormous Omelet Sandwich.

Wake up to a mouthful of breakfast with the Enormous Omelet Sandwich. Two slices of melted, American cheese, two fluffy eggs stuffed with three crispy strips of bacon, and a sizzling sausage patty, piled high on a toasted bun. The Enormous Omelet Sandwich from BURGER KING®. So big, breakfast will never be the same.
--from the Burger King web site


I caught Super Size Me on cable and it was enough to give me agita. I do not know how the filmmaker could stomach McDs for that many days in a row. Apparently the good folks at Burger King don't think you have have too many heart attacks on a bun if they are unleashing this beast. Whatever happened to a good bowl of Kashi in the morning? (AP):
Burger King began offering two new breakfast sandwiches Monday, including one that packs more calories and fat than a Whopper.

The Enormous Omelet Sandwich carries 730 calories and 47 grams of fat and comes with two eggs, sausage, three strips of bacon and two slices of melted American cheese on a bun. It's heftier than a Whopper hamburger, which weighs in at 700 calories and 42 grams of fat.

Officials at Miami-based Burger King Corp. said that healthier choices are also available, but surveys showed customers wanted bigger sandwiches.

"By expanding our indulgent breakfast sandwich menu, Burger King restaurants now offer even more alternatives for our guests who want a convenient and filling breakfast," said Russ Klein, Burger King's chief global marketing officer.


100,000 House Blenders have visited

Sunday, March 27, 2005

At some point over the weekend, my 100,000th visitor stopped by for a cup of House Blend. Thanks to everyone for reading, lurking, commenting -- and apparently deciding to return. [It's actually up to 100,591 as of this post; the Site Meter's been up since October 2004, but the blog itself has been brewing fresh java since July of the same year.]

I'd give number 100K a free cup, but I missed you. :)



Prices, then and now...


This Walkman cost about $200 in 1980 dollars.

As we watch gas prices soar, it's interesting to think about what the price of other things are, relative to the "good old days." For some items, specifically related to technology, prices have fallen significantly.

I remember waaaay back when the first Sony Walkman came out. I was in high school (Stuyvesant, in Manhattan), and a kid came in with one. Of course everyone's mouths dropped open, because we knew his dad spent a mint on that thing. How cool was this to have a personal stereo that small (now you can get a knockoff of the little guy for $10 in your local drug store).



This, of course, was the era in NYC history where a "personal stereo" was a boom box that weighed 20 lbs or more, and it was carried by b-boys that subjected you to their tastes in urban music on buses and subways -- and you better like it, lol.

From the Houston Chronicle...

OUT OF POCKET, THEN AND NOW
Do you pay more today for essential household items than you did in 1980? Surprisingly, no. The basics such as butter, milk and beef have actually dropped in price when adjusted for inflation. But the price for big ticket items such as automobiles has soared.


Click to enlarge.


Mortgage companies illegally strong-arming military families


Guess Wells Fargo thinks its patriotic duty is to run the wagon train over servicemen and women, then claim ignorance of a 65-year-old law.

Nothing like your friendly neighborhood bank and mortgage company, breaking the law, trying to strong-arm military families to pay up or begin foreclosures. You know the system is broken when a person has to get on the horn to elected reps and call the media dogs on a company like Wells Fargo before they finally let up.

The question is, how many families don't take charge and assert their rights in time to stop these greedy maneuvers? You cannot tell me that mortgage companies are unaware we are at war or even a corporate drone cannot look up the law -- this is yet another end-run to preserve their bottom lines. They should, at the very least, be publicly shamed so that business is not driven their way. (WashTimes):
When Army Reservist Steve Welter was called up for active duty in Iraq last August, his wife never thought she would face her own fight to save the family's home from foreclosure. A 65-year-old federal law, which Congress expanded last year, provides protections for activated reservists and for Guard members called up by the Pentagon.

Those protections include a 6 percent cap, under certain circumstances, on consumer and mortgage interest rate debt incurred before activation; protection from eviction or foreclosure; payment deferral for federal taxes; and a stay on civil proceedings, including divorce and bankruptcy.

Keira Welter knew the law was supposed to protect a soldier's property from creditors during active military service. But for months, she said, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Co. did not seem to care about the law, no matter how many times she explained her case. "We had worked so hard to own our own home, and while my husband was over there serving our country it was going to be taken away," said Mrs. Welter, 31, of Osawatomie, Kan.

After Wells Fargo started foreclosure proceedings in February, Mrs. Welter contacted the state attorney general's office and members of Congress. It was not until a local television station aired her story and Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, intervened that the company finally backed off.

The Welters are not the only ones who faced hurdles seeking protection under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Lt. Col. Bruce Woolpert, a legal adviser to the Kansas National Guard in Topeka, said he fields desperate calls every week from soldiers and their families trying to understand their rights. "We had a foreclosure that was actually going to occur the next day," Col. Woolpert said. "It was going to happen until we could generate the letters and get them to the company and say, 'Please stop this, it's not a valid foreclosure.' Wisdom prevailed and it was stopped."

Kevin Waetke, a spokesman for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Co. in Des Moines, Iowa, said the company has apologized to Mrs. Welter and dismissed the foreclosure action. Mr. Roberts, outraged by Mrs. Welter's story, took the issue to the Senate. "I remain concerned that those responsible for complying with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act are not fully educated about their obligations and that the problem is nationwide," he said.


Religious wingnuts working to control Ohio politics


Rod Parsley: "We're calling people to act, not just wring their hands in the pews." Colin Hanna (r) of Let Freedom Ring trains pastors in conservative political activism; Secretary of State Ken Blackwell plans to profit from the support of the fundamentalists in his race for governor of Ohio. NC embarrassment Rep. Walter Jones is pushing H.R. 235, which would allow pastors to endorse candidates without jeopardizing church tax exemption. (Blackwell photo: Greg Sailor for The New York Times).

This is a clear example of why the Democrats cannot be complacent about the religious black vote. The Right is mobilizing, organizing and training its religious leaders to help get conservatives elected at all levels of government by politicking over the sheeple. I've been posting on this for quite some time (here, here, here, and here for starters), primarily watching the trickle and later the flood of black pastors to Bush's faith-based trough. It's like the Dems are in caught in quicksand over the party's relationship to the faith community, as the sink even deeper into intransigence over whether to deal with it. Keep waiting and watching, because the GOP has no fear of the issue.

Even more outrageous is the effort by NC Representative Walter Jones, who has submitted H.R. 235, which would allow political endorsements from the pulpit. After they obliterate this line, the goal is to get a federal marriage amendment "through the back door" by electing a flood of zealots into Congress, as well as a full adoption of the AmTaliban agenda. Jones has been courting black ministers -- because many believe they should be allowed to discuss political matters without jeopardizing the tax-exempt status of their churches -- as a cover for this effort. The folks in Ohio clearly have support at all levels of the government. (NYT):
In a manifesto circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year.

The initial goal is to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative Republican, as governor in 2006. The group hopes to build grass-roots organizations in Ohio's 88 counties and take control of local Republican organizations.

"The establishment of the Ohio Republican Party is out of touch with its base," said Russell Johnson, the pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church and the principal organizer of the project. "It acts as if it lives in Boston." Johnson's challenge to the party establishment could have far-reaching consequences in a state dominated by Republican elected officials but still considered a bellwether in presidential politics. Conservatives in other swing states are watching closely.

"In Ohio, the church is awakening to its historic role as the moral voice in the community," said Colin A. Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a conservative group based in Pennsylvania that trains ministers in political activism. "Ohio is in the vanguard of that nationally. I very much want Pennsylvania to be with them."

The church leaders say they will try to harness the energy of religious conservatives who were vital not only to President Bush's narrow victory in Ohio but also to the passage of an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. The amendment, known as Issue 1, was credited with drawing large numbers of rural and suburban conservatives to the polls and increasing Bush's support among urban blacks.


White supremist/homo-hater runs for Montana school board

Saturday, March 26, 2005

[Welcome Buzzflash readers...be sure to check out BigBrassBlog for more of "what liberal politics has been missing," including:
* The 21st Century: Opus One on the neo-cons' plan for its vision of the world
* Mortgage companies illegally strong-arming military families
* The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same on the Pentagon's decision to take 'no action' on the ongoing problem of sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy.]

***

These white supremacist morons make me sick. Most of the time, you can't take their quasi-Nazi sh*t seriously, but every once in a while, one of them slips through and does something newsworthy that makes you think "what were they thinking." In this case I'm referring to the 39 residents of Bozeman, Montana, since Kevin McGuire is now one of four candidates who will vie for three open seats on the Bozeman school board in the May 3 elections. They signed his petition to allow him on the ballot, so he will garner at least that many votes in May.

Hopefully people will come to their senses, since he has proudly spewed his enlightened views to the local paper: "Our children are taught about the histories and cultures of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Jews and Native Americans but any sense of White racial solidarity or White racial pride is condemned as White racism; and that is not right."

He belongs to some group called the National Alliance, which made its presence known in Bozeman last summer after fliers were dropped anonymously in several neighborhoods at night warning that the future of the white race was in peril -- McGuire is the group's spokesman. The local paper, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, says McGuire is peeved that he is called a Nazi or white supremacist. If the shoe fits...go to the National Alliance's Web site and you will read the following:
* the goals of education are to teach ideas, useful skills and "those traits of character valued by a healthy Aryan society."

* it calls for a new educational system, like one that "enjoyed an all-too-brief revival earlier this century in National Socialist Germany, before being outlawed by the advocates of permissiveness."

* By ensuring that each child born to our race grows into the strongest, most capable, most responsible, and most conscious future citizen that his genes make possible, we will gain an enormous advantage over any race without such an educational system.

* In spiritually healthier times our ancestors took as theirs those parts of the world suited by climate and terrain to our race: in particular, all of Europe and the temperate zones of the Americas, not to mention Australia and the southern tip of Africa. This was our living area and our breeding area, and it must be so again.

* We must have White schools, White residential neighborhoods and recreation areas, White workplaces, White farms and countryside. We must have no non-Whites in our living space, and we must have open space around us for expansion.

* (from its handbook): Feminism is a threat to our race for two principal reasosns: it divides the race against itself (which is the principal reason for its practically unanimous support by Jews), robbing us of solidarity and weakening us in the struggle for racial survival; and it reduces the White birthrate, especially among educated women, and undermines the family by taking women out of the home and leaving the raising of children to television and day-care centers.
Well, that's pretty clear. I didn't see anything about white supremacy, did you?

I came across a Montana blogger who has been following this joker. Wulfgar, whose blog is called a Chicken Is Not Pillage, has something to say on this.
I think it's gonna' be a hoot! It seems that Kevin McGuire, our local outspoken white supremacist, is going to run for the Bozeman schoolboard. The article refers to Kevin as a "white separatist", but I personally reject that terminology. A Giraffe is not a horse, private sector accounts controlled by government mandates are not personal accounts, and someone who believes that the white race is superior to others is not a "separatist". Yes, I would dearly love to argue that out with Kevin some time ... and blog about it afterwards. But, I digress.

You can read more about Kevin McGuire here, here and here.  It seems that Kevin, emboldened by his recent celebrity, has decided to take firm political action against the mudification of our fine white minds, by making sure that Bozeman school children will receive a proper white education.

...Personally, I don't think this is going to play that well with Mr. and Mrs. Bozeman Parent, but you never know. The National Analliance is on the move, you know.
Before folks start feeling superior, that perhaps it's just a "fly-over" country thing -- that the National Alliance is a tiny organization, there's a page with a list of phone numbers for their branch organizations, and it isn't short. Here are the ones in NC:

Benson, NC (919) 207-2047
Charlotte, NC (704) 559-6402
Laurinburg, NC (910) 384-4226
Raleigh, NC (919) 785-0600
Siler City, NC (919) 742-2438
Wilmington, NC (910) 509-2312

You can also find contacts in Baltimore, Tampa, Seattle, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit.


Tar Heel company markets log homes to gays



Does this make them Log Cabin Republicans? Just kidding. Businesses should take note; Log Homes for Us realizes pink dollars = green dough in the bank. All those homophobes that don't want our money, fine. We'll give our disposable income to companies that acknowledge us. This NC-based company won't have trouble finding queer buyers in this area, I assure you. The other company in this story, Carefree Cove, has already sold out all the lots in its developed phase in the mountains near Asheville. That tolerant city is also known as A-SHE-ville because of its sizeable lesbian population. :) (Advocate):
A month-old company based in Rocky Mount, N.C., hopes to find success in the very niche market of gay and lesbian buyers of log homes. Justin Porter, founder of Log Homes for Us, said he noticed a market to sell the homes to gays and lesbians while working for a larger company, of which his firm is now a division. At log home exhibitions, "I realized one out of every 10 to 15 couples was a gay or lesbian couple," Porter said Friday. "And I realized there was no company catering to that demographic."

He guessed--correctly, he says now--that the salespeople in the log home business, which he describes as "a very good ol' boy industry," lost interest when they learned they were dealing with gay couples.

Porter, who is gay, describes the response to the limited advertising placed by Log Homes for Us as "unbelievable." "We're just getting call after call," he said.

Log Homes for Us is a division of the Original Log Cabin Homes Ltd., which began in 1973 and moved its headquarters to Interstate 95 in Rocky Mount in 1987. President Tom Vesce says he envisions Log Homes for Us selling 300 to 400 homes in its first year and accounting for as much as one sixth of overall sales. "We've had over the years many, many gay and lesbian customers," Vesce said. "This is an opportunity to acknowledge them publicly and salute that segment in the marketplace."


Carefree Cove's partners, Gina A. Razete, president, and Cathy L. Groene, vice-president, are working with Log Cabins for Us to build a gay community in the N.C. mountains, near Boone; one of the completed cabins.

Log Homes for Us has contracts for more than 75 homes, he said. And the company is working with the developers of Carefree Cove, a private community for gays being built in Zionville. All the homes in the community, located north of Boone, must have log or cedar siding. Developer Gina Razete said CJR, the company she owns with her partner, Cathy Groene, is building spec homes from Log Homes for Us kits. In addition, the developers will recommend Log Homes for Us to property owners. So far, CJR has sold 54 lots and plans to sell the last 30 or so lots this summer.

...Log Homes for Us markets itself with ads that are sleeker and more contemporary than those the parent company uses, said Porter, adding that gay and lesbian couples tend to buy larger homes than straight couples. Its Web site makes oblique references to why log homes should appeal to gays and lesbians, saying the Americans who settled the West "owned their own land and were free, both politically and economically."


Air Force: sexual assaults are A-OK


Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) considers the Air Force's ruling an abomination.

“The Acting Secretary of the Air Force has reviewed the Department of Defense Inspector General’s (DoD/IG’s) report and the Fowler report on sexual assault problems at the AF Academy...After considering all the facts and weighing all the interests at stake, the Acting Secretary found that no administrative action is warranted against those officers identified in those reports as bearing some responsibility for Academy’s sexual assault problems.”
-- Acting Secretary of the Air Force Peter Teets in a letter to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter


Total and utter bullsh*t. Serve your country, get raped by a co-worker and just suck it up -- we aren't going to help you. (Raw Story):
“The Acting Secretary gave significant weight to their uniformly excellent and lengthy service and to the fact they were not intentionally or willfully derelict in their duties,” Teets added. “He also found that any mistakes or misjudgments some of them may have made are mitigated by the complexity of the issues faced, the necessity of policy tradeoffs and compromises, and the difficulty of measuring program effectiveness.”

Rep. Slaughter blasted the Pentagon for what she considered “sidelining” victims of sexual assault.

“It is reprehensible that the rights of sexual assault victims are so easily sidelined by the Pentagon as ‘too complex’ to address,” Slaughter remarked in a statement to RAW STORY. “This is the kind of ‘head in the sand’ approach we would have expected from the military in the 1950’s; in 2005 it is an abomination. Where is the accountability?”

“What the Pentagon clearly doesn’t want to discuss, and what all Americans should know, is that women are being sexually assaulted on an ongoing basis in the military and at our nation’s military academies by their colleagues,” Slaughter continued. “Is this the best we can do for young Americans who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom?”

Leniency towards sexual assault in the military has long been viewed as standard practice.

A November 2003 article in The Denver Post noted that twice as many accused Army sex offenders were doled out administrative punishment as were court-martialed.

“In the civilian world, four of every five people arrested for rape are prosecuted,” the Post noted. “Nearly 5,000 accused sex offenders in the military, including rapists, have avoided prosecution, and the possibility of prison time, since 1992, according to Army records.”
I cannot speak to the issue of what it feels like ot be a victim of such an assault, but I sure as hell can empathize enough to know that someone needs to be prosecuted for this behavior. There is NO justification for sending a message to young women in the military that they must offer up their bodies at will to any colleague that has a hard-on. What else does " the necessity of policy tradeoffs and compromises" mean except this? There are reasons -- they know better than you do, after all -- why non-consensual sex is something you just have to live with if you want to serve your country.

Please read Shakespeare's Sister's post over at Big Brass Blog.


Former Alabama judge Roy Moore is a crackpot on evolution and so much more


Rense.com

(via Media Matters). This is the man that wants to run Alabama. He's not officially announced his run for governor yet (he's praying on it), but ousted Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore is now pontificating on evolution:
From the March 22 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MOORE: There's no scientific evidence of evolution. Evolution is a theory and has been recognized so by many. You have always heard of the missing link, haven't you?

MATTHEWS: Right.

MOORE: It is still missing. In other words, they can't explain how male and female came and every species from one atom or one amoeba.
The amateur scientist and biblical scholar has been in the news lately, since the monument of the Ten Commandments that cost Roy his job wrapped up its nationwide tour as of yesterday. The tour included rallies at state capitols, churches and courthouses; Moore gave permission to a group called American Veterans in Domestic Defense and named the project American Veterans Standing for God and Country "because he felt that veterans had a stake in the preservation of our godly heritage and the protection of our religious symbols."

He's also got a new book out, I suppose to bolster him on the campaign trail, outlining his opinion that the separation of church and state may be a credible and legitimate tenet, it has been largely misconstrued and abused during the last forty years -- and it's up to him to restore order. He'll be hawking this AmTaliban manifesto for quite some time to come.

He may sound like a crackpot, but he has significant support in Alabama. Remember, however, that an Alabama law mandating racially separate classrooms is still on the books -- a state amendment to repeal the Jim Crow-era law was defeated last November. Roy Moore was leading the fight. As he said at the time regarding the amendment: "This is the most deceptive piece of legislation I have ever seen and it is simply a fraud on the people of Alabama." Supporters of the measure said it was not about taxes — but about erasing the last vestiges of Jim Crow provisions from Alabama law.

To get a flavor of the level of intolerance and backward thinking in this state, read my post: Is Alabama really the worst place to be a gay person in Bush's America?"

***

In a diary on DKos about this, there was an excellent post by Corncam, that I want to repeat here...
I remember Wallace (4.00 / 2)

I am an Alabama native, and I can remember when George Wallace was governor of our fair state. I hope that y'all will forgive me for such a negative posting, but I am virtually certain that Roy Moore will win, and I'm afraid that he will bring back the reign of terror that characterised our state for nearly 100 years, up until 1964.
When I moved out of state twenty years ago, I thought that racism was a dying way of life, and that Alabama would soon rejoin the rest of the modern world, but I have begun to doubt that conclusion. The rejection of Amendment 2 in November was especially alarming, because I know how sensitive Alabamians are to any suggestion that they are intolerant rednecks.

Roy Moore's hatred of gays, and extreme religious intolerance are, unfortunately, right in tune with Alabama's mainstream. If he is elected, I expect to see police raids on known same-sex families, and increased profiling & harassment of religious minorities, especially Muslims. I wouldn't even be surprised if lynchings started up again.

The idea that a Democrat might win is just a forlorn hope, and anyway, no one to the left of Zell Miller could possibly be elected. Gov. Riley has been the best man to hold that office in 20 years, and he is a far better man than Alabama deserves right now.

The fact is that most Southern conservatives don't believe in the US Constitution, and once they are confident that Washington won't step in to enforce its provisions, then they will begin to flagrantly violate the basic rights of their fellow citizens, just like they did during the Jim Crow era.

"The past isn't dead, it isn't even past." - Faulkner


Ridge pics of Tonka

As requested by House Blend reader Medaka, here are pics of Tonka's ridge.



Day two is going well so far. Kate and I will be going out on short trips to get him used to being left in the house. This will make it easier when we go back to work on Monday.

He sits very nicely when you offer him a treat, and this AM we noticed Tonka and Bailey already sitting on the couch together snoozing. It was sweet. Sorry no picture of that; we'll have to catch that another time. Here is more information on Ridgebacks.

Breed Characteristics (from the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States):
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a native of South Africa. The breed's long history dates back to early in the 16th century when the first European men explored the interior on the Cape of Good Hope and found with the Hottentot tribes a domesticated dog with the hair on his spine being turned forward. This is the condition which we now refer to as the "ridge."

...The Rhodesian Ridgeback has the advantage of having keen sight, and a good nose for scent. Due to the wide-open terrain of the southern African veldt, coupled with the habits of the game to be hunted and the techniques required to hunt such game in that terrain, the Ridgeback was developed as a silent trailer, characteristic of its sighthound ancestry. When the terrain becomes more varied, where baying is desirable to keep track of the hunting pack (such as in areas of the United States where these dogs have been used), supplementation with baying hounds (more typical of scent hounds) has been done.

Possessing many of the characteristics generally associated with hounds, the Ridgeback has a quiet, gentle temperament, rarely barking. While able to enjoy lazing around in a patch of sun, or in front of a winter fireplace, a Ridgeback can be instantly alert if a stranger should appear or he is in pursuit of legitimate prey. Where he gave the impression of a big, lazy, slow-moving animal, the Ridgeback can be a threatening presence as a watchdog. Developed not only to hunt, but also as a family protector, his affectionate disposition makes him a trustworthy companion for a small child. He is easily trained, being, more than many hounds, of above-average tractability.
The breed standard calls for males to be around 85 lbs/27' high at the shoulder; Tonka is 125 lbs, and over 30"; the foster dad said Tonka is from a California breeder, and that out there, they are breeding them larger than standard. This, of course, is probably an attempt to make the dog even more imposing-looking. This is ludicrous and wrong-headed of breeders to cultivate this. The dog's temperament is not to be vicious, and it's dangerous to do that to this breed, given its strength.

I've yet to have a Ridgeback that's been an alpha dog; though the foster mom has two females and she said they are definitely counter-surfers and more assertive (a prey-drive, more prone to want to escape) than the males. My first dog Addison, I had when my backyard had no fence. He never ran off when I left him out there. Red was even more reserved; he didn't want to be outside if it was cold, hot, or wet if he didn't have to. He loved the comforts of A/C and the couch more than getting mussed, lol.


Tonka's home with us!

Friday, March 25, 2005



Today we went to the foster home in Apex, NC ("the PEAK of living" is their motto, lololol) and picked up Tonka, the Rhodesian Ridgeback rescue dog we've adopted. We brought him home around 3:30 and have been getting him acquainted with the other dogs. The foster mom said he's a definite couch dog, so he'll fit in here with the rest! He seems to know sit, come and stay, and takes treats very politely from your hand.



He is a BIG boy, 125 lbs, and no flab (Red, who passed away in February, was about 107). Tonka's extremely gentle and passive, which is great considering his size -- he could do a lot of damage. Bailey, our Alpha Lab/Weimeraner mix, took to him right away, since he let her be the boss. Tonka hasn't quite figured out what exactly the fluff-ball Bichon we call Chloe is.



Knight: Activist Judges Out to Destroy Marriage at All Costs

Seriously, the Right is completely blind of the irony of its attempts to "protect" marriage from gays, even as they ask for judges to make "activist" decisions to negate the power of Terri Schiavo's marital bond? The PR machine churns on unabated. (AgapePress):
A pro-family advocate with the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) says activist judges consistently turn their backs on the lessons of history in making their decisions. A recent case in point, says Bob Knight, is when two activist judges on opposite coasts negated their respective state's laws banning same-sex "marriage." In doing so, he says, those judges ignored tradition and statistical studies.

Knight says that is typical of activist judges. "Liberals have always had anti-family policies, from abortion to promoting pornography and homosexuality," he says. "It all fits one scheme, which is to say that God's plan for sex within marriage is no longer applicable -- in fact, wherever it is applicable, it produces families that get in the way of our great agenda."

The CFI director contends that in pushing their own agenda, liberal judges sacrifice everything else. "I'm not surprised to see liberal judges throw out the law, throw out precedence, throw out history, and throw out common sense in trying to put destructive laws on the books or take good laws off in order to destroy marriage," he states.

Knight says ignoring the vast amount of data available in order to decide an issue leads to "lunatic" decisions. And such judicial decisions, according to many pro-family groups, is the reason why traditional marriage needs to be protected by law.


Thin skin of the Technorati Testosteroni

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog.]


Perhaps Atrios is using the "Chief Brody technique" of writing -- throwing chum at his readers in an attempt to keep them hungry and coming back -- while he takes a creative breather.

Sometimes being polite (and astute) doesn't get you anything but grief. Talk to Jesse of In Search of Telford, who made the ungainly mistake of noticing that Atrios is coasting on his Big Blogger reputation with some pretty thin commentary on Eschaton. I don't know Jesse, and have never been to Telford before today, but a whole mess of folks have been over to visit now because of a little electronic dust-up.

As I said, Jesse wasn't exactly flogging Duncan Black for being a dimwit or gum-flapping fool on Eschaton; he has a lot of respect for the blog and the man:
Atrios is a heavy-hitter in the blog landscape. He deserves respect for simply being so successful. I read Eschaton daily and have now for a couple of years. He is a true pioneer in this medium and, for that, I praise him.
The fun begins when Jesse tells it like it is...call it what you may...lethargy setting in, the smell of death, reaching the point of "jumping the shark", you know what we're talking about...
One "open thread" after a cryptic, one line link, followed by another "open thread" smooshed in between a post about "Bobo's World" or "Big Media Matt". The total amount of thought put into the blog appears to be next to zero.

...He didn't become a full time blogger who lives off ad revenue by doing what he's doing now. He did it by fostering a community on his blog and supporting Democratic causes. He did it by developing a knack for getting right to the heart of a matter. He did it by not resting on his laurels.

My point is, he seems to have lost a step on his blog.
The response of Atrios to this mild criticism was to get his panties wadded up in a bit of snark:
Open Thread

Just to annoy the people who don't think I'm keeping it real anymore.
-Atrios 8:34 PM
That's a pretty lame, flip-the-bird response, but it's truly disturbing and petty of Atrios to take it to the next level and point his band of "progressive Freepi" regulars over to Jesse's blog to cut loose instead of giving a thoughtful response to the question of whether Eschaton is in creative hibernation.

Maybe Atrios is waiting for the next election cycle while he recharges, but damn, he could at least pass the baton to those with a tad more energy to take on the cause of political commentary, for crying out loud. The plight is simple -- there are plenty of issues out there that people would like to see Atrios's commentary on, but if he doesn't have the time or inclination to do so, there are plenty of bloggers out there, as Jesse points out, toiling at their blogs for zip, trying to get their voices recognized. [And, no I'm not whining for an addition to a blogroll, a link or anything of the sort -- as if writing a post like this is going to garner it!]

Eschaton has the feel of a blog that's "done," is all Jesse is saying, and I have heard this from many others around the blogosphere -- they just aren't posting about it. The fork is in it, people. No one is saying Eschaton can't be meaningful again, but there isn't a whole lot of cutting-edge politics/activism going on there right now. It's coasting time. The saddest aspect of all is that the Atrios minions really did sink to Freeper mode, unleashing juvenile comments worthy of Freeperland...

Actual Atrios Creatures Quotes™
"WaWaWa....dickhead"

"We're all deeply sorry that Atrios has ignored you. Reminds me of my only lonely years being unable to get a call back from Brittney Spears. Why won't she call?! Waaaaaahhhhhhhh!"

"fuck u cum junkie"

"Whoa - now *there's* a concept: get mega-hits by taking a candy-assed slap at someone very well-established in the same field, then revel in the echo-chamber comment-section slobberings of a gang who would probably be bested in a ninth-grade civics flash drill."

"Shorter Jesse: "Atrios didn't kiss my feet! Waaahhhh! (But at least my whining conned people into visiting my site! Go me!!!!)"

"m coming oh god im coming oh yes fuck me oh god yes fuck im coming, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh put it in me oh yeah put it in me oh god oh oh oh fuck me oh yes oh god im coming oh yes oh fcuk oh god im coming im coming ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh ohhhh"
Are we back in kindergarten? So much for polite discussion about a legitimate topic in the growing, diverse, progressive, online political commentary community. The most embarrassing comment of the Atrios regulars that bombarded Jesse's site belonged to none other than fellow big blogger bat Steve Gilliard, who picks on the guy's blog design.
Boy, blogging is so easy. I mean, it's so easy I'd have time to worry about how other people run their blogs. Take this blog, for instance. It really needs a new, easier to read design. Then it needs some art, yet art would help. I mean, how much time did you put into this design? You know they have other designs in blogger. Try using them.
Note to readers: Gilliard's News Blog uses a tired Blogger template, so I'm not sure how this places him in an exalted position to throw design stones. C'est la vie.

Atrios only a couple of days ago, in his post Whiners, took Dem members of Congress to task (specifically Adam Schiff) for being babies over Dave Sirota's critical letter that pointed out political contributions trumped constituent interest in the bankruptcy bill vote. The Dems lamely cried "personal and inappropriate." The response of Atrios to Jesse's post feels strangely similar...oh, the irony. It really is unseemly for a big blogger to send his "Frist!" faithful over to harass a smaller blogger.

Personally, I feel for Atrios. I mean it's got to be hard to keep fresh content up all the time with all those readers to please -- it's a lot of pressure. You feel like you're letting folks down if you don't have something to say every day, or point to some new nugget or story that is flaming hot that might require mobilizing the next big move for progressives. When you have as large a readership and as high a profile as Eschaton, he has to feel like Amity Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) in Jaws, sitting on the Orca, shoveling bloody chum overboard to draw in the shark to Captain Quint's boat. It's hard to keep 100,000 daily visitors (and those advertisers) coming back, right?

The bottom line is that while keeping a blog current and relevant is hard, Eschaton is whatever Atrios wants it to be; he's entitled to change the format or approach of the blog, or to simply call a content "time out" between election cycles. What is disingenuous is saying he's "keeping it real" when there has been a change in tenor and content at the blog. Jesse's criticism wasn't exactly a foaming-at-the-mouth rant; it deserved a response of equal courtesy. If Atrios didn't want to bother responding, he didn't have to link to him. By linking he knew full well his minions would follow the link to respond, not surprisingly, inappropriately. That's being a baby, er, passive-aggressive, my friends.


Maine moves to extend anti-discrimination laws to gays

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Martin Ripley of Augusta delivers emotional testimony during a hearing on LD 1196 Wednesday. He said he has experienced workplace discrimination because he is gay. Right: Opponents of the bill, (from left) Glyneta Thomson of Surry, John Linnehan of Ellsworth, Matt McDonald of Bangor and Charla Bansley of Ellsworth. Bansley is state director of Concerned Women for America of Maine. Photo: John Clarke Russ.

Tell me how reasonable (supposedly Christian) people in this day and age to think that it's just fine for a worker to be harassed, abused and forced out of a job simply because they are gay. Oh that's right. We're under the scornful eye of the AmTaliban-types such as the Concerned Women for America, which is providing the opposition in Maine to a bill backed by the governor to add sexual orientation to its human rights laws. (BangorDailyNews):
Gay rights supporters squared off with religious conservatives in an emotional, standing room only public hearing Wednesday about whether Maine should extend its anti-discrimination laws to homosexuals. "The long and short of why I am here is this: I am a hard worker and enjoy having a job. But it's been very hard for me to keep a job since I came out nine years ago," Martin Ripley of Augusta told members of the Legislature's Judiciary Committee during testimony on Gov. John Baldacci's gay rights bill, LD 1196.

Ripley said he was subjected to death threats while working at Bath Iron Works and decided to quit after he was struck in the back with a bolt. He said his sexual orientation caused him to be fired from subsequent jobs, although he now has a decent occupation.

"At times, I've slept in my car for weeks at a time or camped out in a tent because I could not afford any rent," said Ripley. "I am a hard worker. I have moved on because I have had no choice."

But opponents argued that other factors must have been at play if gay workers were fired and that there is no need to extend "special" rights to any class of people. They also believed supporters had another agenda.

"Don't kid yourselves. If enacted, this legislation will ... open the door to civil unions and same-sex marriage," Glyneta Thomson of Surry, a Christian and a social conservative, told the committee.

...On a fast track through the Legislature, the bill would amend the Maine Human Rights Act to add sexual orientation as a class protected against discrimination in employment, credit, housing, education and public accommodations. Race, gender, religion, age, and physical and mental disabilities are among the classes already protected by the act.

Supporters far outnumbered opponents at the hearing, which lasted for four hours in an upstairs committee room, overflowing with people and television cameras.


Supreme Court Won't Hear Schiavo Case

Can this nonsense just end now? Anthony Kennedy took the brief last night and the Supremes dispatched things just a few minutes ago, making it the fifth time they've passed on intervening in this case. No indication of the vote breakdown among the justices. (AP).


Chimpy pic of the day

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Chimperor and Canada's Prime Minister Paul Martin, right, and Mexico's President Vicente Fox at a joint news conference following their initial summit meeting at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Your turn to caption the above...

Bonus. What folks with sense are already thinking...


Dave Giannino, of St. Petersburg, Fla., protests against the possibility of Jebbie stepping in to hijack Terri Schiavo's body, in Pinellas Park, Fla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Army to miss recruiting targets, sibling combat policy on the table


[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog.]

By serving the country and protecting our freedoms, your son or daughter will be building a better future for others as well as for him or herself. A future full of pride, honor and opportunities.

But the benefits don't end there. Your son or daughter can also earn money for college, gain training in a multitude of skill areas, receive excellent healthcare benefits and take advantage of a wide variety of career options, just to name a few.
-- GoArmy.com Web site

Have you seen the sorry-ass commercials for the Army lately? The latest campaign is a naked appeal to parents' patriotism, and so far, I've seen ones featuring white, black and Latino families, each with young people (men and women) talking to their parent about "making a commitment" or "doing something to make a difference in the world" -- all soft-sell stuff -- the punch line is the Army logo up onscreen. The bottom line is that the kid is "doing the right thing to make their folks proud of them." Take a look at one of the PR efforts here.

It's such transparent bullsh*t that you realize how desperate the situation must be. The Army is so hard up that it has already raised the maximum age for the National Guard and Reserve to 39. Even the limit on the amount of siblings from one family they will allow in harm's way is under discussion. Anything to avoid the draft. (Boston.com):
The Army missed its recruiting goal for February by 27 percent, and that was the first time it had missed a monthly goal since May 2000. The last time it missed its full-year goal was 1999.

As of Feb. 28, the regular Army was 6 percent below the number of recruits it had expected to sign up at that point in the recruiting year, the Army Reserve was 10 percent off and the Army National Guard was 25 percent off.

The Army is forecasting that all three elements -- active, Guard and Reserve -- will fall short of their targets for March and April. That means they will have to make up the lost ground this summer -- traditionally the best recruiting season -- in order to meet their full-year goals.

One of those new approaches is designed to persuade more parents to steer their children to the Army. "We're going to appeal to patriotism," he said. That might be done through a new advertising campaign, he said. He also is encouraging more members of Congress as well as senior Army leaders and Army boosters to spend time in local communities touting the benefits of military service.

The Army also has increased the number of recruiters on the street by 33 percent and is offering bigger signup bonuses. Last week the Army announced that the National Guard and Reserve were raising the maximum age for recruits from 34 to 39 in order to expand the pool of potential enlistees. The regular Army could not raise the maximum age without congressional approval.

...Harvey also disclosed that the Army is "looking at" changing its policy on having more than one sibling in a combat zone at the same time. He did not say how the policy might be altered, and he declined to say more about the subject, other than to indicate that it came up when he visited the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where wounded U.S. troops are treated.

The current policy is that if one of two siblings in a combat zone is killed, the Army will consider removing the remaining one from the combat zone if the surviving soldier or his parents request it, according to spokeswoman Hart. She said she was not aware of any planned change.


Slow Queer Boat to Nowhere

What do you say about dumb sh*t like this? The best part of this article, about a cruise ship denied entry to St. Kitts because of the homos on board, is the name of the person explaining the issue -- Oral Brandy. It can't get better than that, huh? (365Gay.com):
The Windjammer Barefoot Cruises ship is carrying 110 passengers. The clothing optional cruise was organized by Source Events.

A police patrol boat stopped the S.V. Polynesia, a 248-foot schooner carrying 110 passengers on a six-day cruise, as it was approaching Charlestown, Nevis, the ship's captain Cornelius Plantefaber told the Associated Press. Plantefaber said three officers boarded the ship and demanded he accompany them to a meeting onshore. The meeting lasted about an hour and port authority, police, customs and immigration officials were present, he said.

'We do not want to allow people on the island who from what I've heard could be naked and carry a certain lifestyle and practices,' said Oral Brandy, acting general manager of the Nevis port authority. 'We don't want it to be a part of our culture ... It's not a practice society likes here.'

Sodomy is illegal in St. Kitts and Nevis, punishable by a jail term.

The ship put out to sea late Wednesday afternoon, head for St. Barthelemy.
The refusal to allow the ship into harbor on Nevis was met with surprise by an official at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority.

'We have had gay passengers and cruise ships and there has never been any problem in the past,'' said Randolph Hamilton, a senior manager at the tourism authority. "


Fear for the sheeple


"We agree that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims. We also conclude that the district court's carefully thought out decision to deny temporary relief in these circumstances is not an abuse of discretion."
-- 11th Circuit Judges Ed Carnes and Frank Hull, issuing their majority opinion, declining to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube

"What Judge Whittemore did in his decision was to defend the 'culture of freedom' that each of us has to exercise control over our lives, and the circumstances of our own death."
-- Howard Simon, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida

Thank god, this has held up so far. The surrealistic events over this case in the last few days leave you astonished at the state of our democracy. This is a train out of control, driven by the theocrat motormen, hurtling down the tracks about to fly off the rails, flattening the constitution, privacy rights, and -- must I say it -- the sanctity of marriage. It's an institution that the Repug Congress feels is threatened more by queer folks that wish to partake in it, than this incredibly bold move to legislatively run over those civil marital priviliges at will. People need to be scared, but not of that lesbian couple living down the street.



It appears to be blowing up in their faces as a PR stunt, but the frightening aspect of the behavior of Congress and this President is that they have no fear of doing an end-run on the very "culture of family" that they claim to want to protect from government interference (excessive taxation, second amendment rights, cultivating an "ownership society," etc.) when it suits their biblical perspective. It's butting up against their "culture of life" that wants to control a woman's womb and the hospital bed when people are aching over a private decision regarding medical options. We need to pummel the elected and unelected American Taliban with this over and over. (CNN):
If the federal courts decline to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, Congress and Bush could pass and sign another law to try to keep the brain-damaged woman alive, said CNN legal analyst Kendall Coffey.

There is little precedent for Congress passing a law that would undo several years of court rulings, Coffey said.

The challenge congressional leaders would face, Coffey said, would be crafting legislation that would withstand U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny. Congress would need to be mindful of the constitutional provision of separation of powers, he said.
The sad truth is that too large a segment of the voting public fails to pay attention as their rights fritter away. They have been lulled into complacency by lazy media shacked to corporate masters interested in profits, not journalism, a lack of critical thinking skills in too many voters (encouraged by our test-focused education system) and a level of political corruption and manipulation that has left people totally disengaged and unmotivated to pay attention to this assault on our rights -- they are the sheeple. Shakespeare's Sister has a great essay on the urgency of this overall situation up over at Big Brass Blog that you need to read. A snippet:
Call me a conspiracy theorist, call me a pessimist, call me a radical, call me every name in the book. But it doesn’t change the reality that we are on the brink of losing that which is dear to us, perilously close to going over the edge, where the damage to our democracy becomes irreparable.

America is so big, and more importantly, so wealthy, that the average American experiences little difference in his or her day-to-day life regardless of who is president. It takes so very, very long for the reality of bad (or good) policy to affect personal circumstances—and even then, often such changes are untraceable for those who are not immersed in politics. Most people do not see, nor care about, the changes that are happening in our government; most people wouldn’t believe you if you tried to tell them. By the time they “get it,” it will be too late.

So what are we to do? We’ve recently discovered our ability to push stories into the mainstream media. It’s really our only chance. We must repeat over and over and over again that we will not let this stand; we must point out that this maneuver was not simply foolhardy or politically expedient, but in fact seditious; we must identify those who seek to destabilize our system of checks and balances as the treasonous opportunists that they truly are; we must make noise.


John DeLorean kicks it

Tuesday, March 22, 2005



Boy, this makes me feel old. Back to the over-the-top, snow-blown 80s.
John Z. DeLorean, the flamboyant automobile industrialist whose dream of running his own car company dissolved into bankruptcy, died Saturday evening at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. He was 80 years old and lived in Bedminster, N.J. The cause was complications after a stroke, his family said.

...DeLorean Motor produced only one model, the DMC-12, but it made a lasting impression. In the early 1980's, with increasingly dull cars coming from Detroit, the unpainted, stainless steel-bodied sports car had doors that opened upward like a gull's wings and was featured in the "Back to the Future" movies starring Michael J. Fox.

Although the car remains a collector's item, the life of Mr. DeLorean's company was brief, with about 9,000 cars produced at a factory in Northern Ireland before the company went bankrupt in 1982. Soon after came charges by authorities in the United States that Mr. DeLorean was selling cocaine to prop up its finances. Mr. DeLorean was acquitted in 1984 after a highly publicized trial.


Ann Coulter can be popped into a DVD player


Something's going to be blown, no doubt.

The bony ass, bed-worn, intellectually bankrupt b*tch of the Reich is the focus of a brand-new documentary, "Is it true what they say about Ann?". The breathtaking "special offer" on WingNutDaily is such a barrel of laughs that I had to post a snippet...
The most controversial political commentator of our day, Ann Coulter has sparred with Katie Couric on the "Today Show," faced down Alan Dershowitz on "Geraldo" and sparked stormy confrontation on scores of college campuses. The author of four New York Times bestsellers, Coulter has a mad-cap mouth and an allergy to political correctness.

But who is the woman behind the stinging barb and the quick wit? [and the packs of pathological lies?] And what does she really believe when you strip off the rhetoric?

"Is It True What They Say About Ann?" - a new documentary DVD by Patrick Wright and Elinor Burkett - takes you behind the bombast through original interviews with the woman Al Franken calls "the reigning diva of the hysterical right" and who George magazine selected as one of the 20 most fascinating women in politics.

The DVD includes:

* "Is It True What They Say About Ann?" 40 minutes
* Watch an additional 40 minutes of exclusive interviews with Ann
* Delight as Ann lets loose with her fans at the Conservative Political Action Caucus [Is this some kind of wingnut porn?]
* Watch Ann eviscerate a special issue of the New York Times
* Go up close and personal with Ann at a Clare Boothe Luce event
* Flip through an Ann Coulter Photo album

Who wouldn't want to see even more images of our favorite racist, homo-bigot man-vessel of the right wing elite?

I hope that they got a chance to interview Ann about her spirited defense of White House Hooker "Jeff Gannon", and her Helen "Old Arab" Thomas comment that had to be edited out of her syndicated column (but appears in its original glory on Coulter's web site).

Oh, and if you hand over your $22.50 for the pleasure of owning this DVD, WingNutDaily will send you three issues of its "acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine."


Caption Condi...hair politics edition


This is a perfect example of a woman that hates her natural hair texture. She's been applying the lye for years to that mess; she probably doesn't even know what her real hair actually feels like.

You will never see Condi with a kink in her hair. For all her political power, she too has bought into the "good hair/bad hair" mentality (that kinky hair is unfeminine, uncultivated, unclean -- it goes on and on) and chooses to wear this asinine, conked style in order to "assimilate" into the dominant culture.

Would Condi have acheived the political power and position she holds today if she sported a short natural, braids or locs at the start of her career? Think about it. In the GOP? Good grief. Not when you have ads like the one below that feed into the mentality...



The Rotting Cryptkeeper Phelps goes after Judy Shepard tomorrow at Ole Miss

Monday, March 21, 2005


The hate-filled roadshow stops in Mississippi to spew on Matthew Shepard's mother Judy, who is speaking at an event sponsored by the University of Mississippi Gay Straight Alliance. Click on the document to see the awful WBC release (PDF).

There's no end to the filthy behavior of the Westboro Baptist Church's Reverend Fred Phelps. The Rotting Cryptkeeper's next public display of intolerance will be tomorrow. As his "press release" states:
WBC to picket the sodomite whorehouse (Ezek. 16:24) masquerading as the University of Mississippi, the Ole Miss GSA feces-eaters, and the Mother-from-Hell Judy Shepard - Fulton Chapel on the Ole Miss campus at 7 p.m. Mar. 22...Judy Shepard as God sees her: the morally-diseased witch living like an ugly carcass of her dead faggot son.

...All the fag candlelight vigils, memorials and maudlin speeches by his vulture mother (at $10,000 a pop) combined, can't buy Matt a drop of water to cool his tongue in Hell's flames.



Children being poisoned by the hate of Fred Phelps.

Fortunately, that sideshow isn't going to stop her appearance, which is warmly welcomed by the university. (Daily Mississippian):
J. Thomas Vasser Jr., vice president of the GSA, organized the effort to bring Shepard to Ole Miss. He said her availability and the power of her message influenced the GSA’s choice to have Shepard speak here. “First of all, Judy Shepard’s mission and lecture reflect the theme of this year’s national Women’s History Month, which is ‘Women Change America,’” she said, “Secondly, the Center’s gender studies courses analyze the existence and causes of the ignorance and hatred that Shepard brings to our attention.”

“Homophobia and sexism, for example, reinforce each other. Homophobia usually insists on rigid gender roles that may prevent us from achieving full personhood.”

Marc Showalter, director of the University Counseling Center, believes events like Shepard’s lecture bring up topics that can positively affect diversity on campus.

“Events like Mrs. Shepard’s lecture begin conversations that ask about her message and what she’s trying to say,” he said, “It’s important to have these conversations even if they’re uncomfortable or controversial.”


Nonprofits targeted by Bush goons at the IRS, government agencies


James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a group that does not fully support President Bush's program advocating abstinence only. (Matthew Cavanaugh for The New York Times)

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog]

Chris Kromm at Facing South highlights the unseemly behavior of various government agencies, including the IRS, of targeting nonprofits for alleged "political activity," or threatening to pull (or pulling) funding from organizations that don't tow the line on conservative policies like abstinence education. The organization with the highest profile of late is the NAACP, which is refusing to hand over internal documents to Bush's bureaucratic henchmen that intend to revoke its tax-exempt status. From today's NYT:
...While it is rare for an organization to defy the I.R.S. openly, the N.A.A.C.P. is not the only group that believes it is being made a government target for its positions on issues.

Roughly a dozen nonprofit organizations have publicly contended that government agencies and Congressional offices have used reviews, audits, investigations, law enforcement actions and the threat of a loss of federal money to discourage them from activities and advocacy that in any way challenge government policies, and nonprofit leaders say more are complaining quietly.

"In previous administrations, there's been the occasional instance of what might appear to be retaliation, but when it started happening in a serial way, it began to look like a pattern to us," said Kay Guinane, counsel for the nonprofit advocacy project of OMB Watch, a government watchdog group that has published two reports on the issue.
Some of the other non-profits targeted include (Facing South):
On the wingnut side Jerry Falwell actually ran afoul of the IRS several times for mixing preaching and political activity. In 1993, his television ministry, the Old Time Gospel Hour, agreed to pay $50,000 in tax penalties for political activity in 1986 and 1987.

In July 2004, The Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the IRS asking for an investigation of Falwell's Jerry Falwell Ministries, which is not supposed to engage in political activity, and his political organization, Liberty Alliance. The Bush administration didn't initiate action against this flagrant nose-thumbing at the IRS by Falwell:
“...every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush.”


Think these pious cheerleaders want to square off against the TX rump-shakers?


The Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders are unlikely to offend Texas State Rep. Al Edwards, who's extremely concerned about "bumping and grinding on the sidelines."

Here's a nice bookend to yesterday's post, Buffy in Texas better not bump and grind on the football field. A Texas legislator wanted to pass legislation because he was outraged by the way cheerleaders are "shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down." In Georgia, we have a group of gyration-free cheerleaders for Christ that might pass State Rep. Al Edwards's muster for "booty call-free" action on the field. (AgapePress):
A Georgia-based organization is bringing together cheerleaders who have a passion for Christ and a desire to be servant-leaders.

It was nearly 20 years ago when the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders (FCC) was formed. Since then the Lawrenceville, Georgia-based organization has sponsored numerous competitions each year throughout the nation, summer camps, and other activities. John Blake, national event coordinator for FCC, says there are many cheerleaders who want to honor God with their talents and gifts.

"We want to use cheerleading as a way that we can reach out," Blake explains. "Cheerleaders are supposed to be servant-leaders -- people who reach out to other people, not people who want the spotlight on themselves; and that's what we want to equip them to do. We want to equip them to be servant-leaders, to be leaders who lead by example -- not in a negative light, but in one that's positive and uplifting like a cheerleader should be."


There must be a better way to spend $2 billion

Sunday, March 20, 2005



Barry Diller nears $2B buyout deal for Ask Jeeves (via Raw Story). Surely we can think of more useful things for Barry to do with his cash than this. Perhaps he was swayed by his uncanny resemblance to Jeeves.


Who's got Big Brass...Blog?



[UPDATE (Sunday, 3/20): Still leaving our B3 promotion up here, please scroll down for new Blend material.]

Big Brass Blog is rolling out; it's a joint effort started by fellow bloggrrl (and rabble-rouser) Shakespeare's Sister and myself. We figured it's time for a group blog that pulls together some of the best of the "unknown" bloggers, including our no-holds-barred, brass knuckles crew of:

* The Dark Wraith
* Ms. Julien of Julien's List
* John at Blogenlust; and
* Linnet at Looking at the Stars.

We've also got a brassy back-up section of writers as well, including Mr. Shakes and Mr. Furious from Shakespeare's Sister.

Big Brass Blog is dedicated to delivering a powerful, progressive message through a variety of voices that you'll probably shout out in agreement with a lot of the time. Our mission is to ensure that the issues often identified as "secondary" issues by establishment politicos, mainstream media (and sadly, even some progressive bloggers) -- gay rights, women's rights, abortion rights, etc.-- are given the same attention as those about which we are all concerned, such as preventing Bush's Social Security reform.

The content will be informative, but irreverent and entertaining -- there will be no sacred cows that are going to be safe from the big brass knuckles if they deserve a good whack. And most importantly, even though our focus is on new ideas and resolute progressive principles, we intend to have a lot of fun. We don't take ourselves seriously, even though our commitment to the project is as serious as Dick Cheney's latest heart attack.

We also intend to add other bloggers we love (you know who you are) and others we discover along the way, as we move forward. B3's site features include a low-traffic mailing list, a live chat room for scheduled events with the crew and other features, such as podcasting, that we will be rolling out soon.

And one more thing -- the site is still dusty and under construction, but we hope you'll stop by for a while and comments are welcome!

Oh, and add us to your blogrolls... :)


Freepers, feminism and the vote

[Cross-posted at Big Brass Blog.]

Today's Freeper topic, interestingly enough, is about the controversy over Susan Estrich's tiff with Michael Kinsley over the lack of female representation on Op-Ed pages (his latest entry on this is here). Considering a good amount of the traffic to the nascent Big Brass Blog has been generated by the -- let's say -- interesting exchanges between fellow bloggrrl ShakesSis and some of the Technorati Testosteroni, I thought it would be equally interesting to probe the minds of our knuckle-dragging friends out there. My, my, I feel the clock winding back for women, even as I type...have barf bags at the ready.

Actual Freeper Quotes™:
"Feminists are always hysterical. It is the nature of the beast."

"Noisy feminists are the reason that sites like these are blossoming: AmericanWomenSuck.Com"

Back 10,000+ years ago, women only had something like 10 menstrual cycles in their entire lives. This was due to menarche (the onset of having menstrual cycles) occurring over 3 years later than it does now, nursing infants more universally, being pregnant more of the time, and having much shorter life expectancies than now.

By comparison, the average Western woman has something like 400 menstrual cycles during her lifetime. That means that women are undergoing (and men are having to put up with the effects from) FORTY TIMES as much PMS as is supposed to be the case! No wonder women's heads are screwy in many cases so much of the time (divorcing for no real reason, etc.). Makes you think that maybe the Founding Fathers were on the right track when they excluded women from the vote and elective office; I'd hate to think of a woman President during "that time" having to make a decision about nuclear weapon use..."

"Feminists lost all credibility. Gosh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize they ever had any credibility."

"Makes you think that maybe the Founding Fathers were on the right track when they excluded women from the vote and elective office

Hold on a minute, buddy. I said feminists are stupid. I didn't say all women are stupid. I happen to be of the female persuasion, and I would put my voting record up against some dumbass union worker any day. Not only that, this country would be a whole lot better off with me in office than Kerry, Byrd or Reid."

"The rise in socialism in America tracks almost perfectly with women getting the franchise. Unmarried women have been proven to vote on average considerably more in favor of socialism than men do (married or not). Basically, in terms of how the country fares, it doesn't matter much whether married women vote or not. It matters very much whether unmarried ones do (it would be best if they did not).

Two other arguments against women having the vote:
1) Each complete household traditionally got one vote during much of American history, with even men often not getting to vote if they were propertyless and/or wards of the state (on welfare). Men who headed a household voted on behalf of the whole family, so arguably everyone was represented. Women not married are arguably between lives, not fully part of society. Too, unmarried women were traditionally still living in their father's homes for the most part, and were represented by him.

2) The right to vote historically accompanied the obligation to defend the nation as a combat soldier. Women are arguably unfit as a group for this role, whereas no nation can endure if its men shirk this role in time of need. Men as a group have this obligation (which women even now do not), so merit the vote that way. Allowing women the vote would be to give them something that they have not and never can earn.

(I believe that women only belong in the military in clerical and nonfrontline medical, but that's another story/)"

"Intriguing information. However, if we make any changes as to who is qualified to vote, I say we initiate a voter's test. If you pass, you get to vote. If you are stupid, you fail, and the rest of us are protected from your stupidity. Democrats would never hold office again. [Uh...If that's the baseline, there are a whole bunch of dumbf*ck Repugs that will be disenfranchised, my friend.]

I believe that women only belong in the military in clerical and nonfrontline medical, but that's another story.

I agree with you on this point. I also think the social and moral decline in our country directly corresponds to women leaving their families and going to work."

"Agreed re a voter's test. I would have it include all of the following:
1) Test of facility with spoken and written Standard English.
2) Proof of citizenship and born of citizens legally here (parents were never illegals).
3) Minimum intelligence (over an 85 at least); this would disenfranchise just over half of blacks, BTW...
4) Knowledge of American history and the Constitution.
5) No known moral turpitude, such as homosexuality, habitual drug use, advocating socialism or feminism, membership in PETA/ELF/Greenpeace or the like, membership in La Raza or the like, Muslim belief, not having divorced a spouse in a marriage with minor children without having PROVED pre-1960 legal grounds, etc.
6) Then, something like Heinlein's suggestion comes to mind. Put in a troy ounce of gold, and have XX seconds to solve a quadratic equation. Succeed, you vote and get your gold back. Fail, you get neither. Given the above, no minimum age to vote.

Oh, and anyone voting should not have been on welfare in the past 18 months, or birthed and kept an illegitimate child."

One thing I can give the Freepi props for -- at least they don't mind publicly stating what their private thoughts are.


The politics of hair (again): school bans white girl with braids


My kinky locs. Should I be fired for this hairstyle or refused service in a salon?

Or, as in this U.K. case, must a schoolgirl remove cornrows because she is white? Laugh at the U.K., but this kind of ignorant crap happens in the U.S. all the time, as you will see below. (Guardian):
Olivia Acton, 13, had her hair braided while on holiday in Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands, but she was turned away from classes in February because her new look broke her school's code. Her parents are angry that the headteacher, Allison Crompton, allowed two other pupils, with African-Caribbean heritage, to attend school wearing their hair in braids because of their cultural and ethnic background.

Olivia's father, Michael Acton, said: "Olivia asked why and [the headteacher] replied 'it's not your culture'. Olivia said to her that that was racist. The [school] policy only bans 'extreme' haircuts. How can she discriminate between a white person [with] a haircut like that and a black person? If it's extreme for one, it's extreme for another."

Ms Crompton said: "We don't allow any extreme hairstyles at the school. We are a high-achieving school with high standards. We don't allow any street culture into school. If we didn't allow some leeway for their cultural and ethnic background I think it would probably be discriminatory."

The Actons' MP, Jim Dobbin, said he was trying to break the deadlock by asking the governing body to mediate. "I think the parents and Olivia have a genuine complaint." The school said Olivia could return but only if she stayed on her own in the learning support unit. Her father insisted he would take the case to court. "If it has to go to court for racial discrimination that's what we will do."

Councillor Colin Lambert, Rochdale's education spokesman, said: "The school should concentrate on what goes into the students' heads not what is on their heads."
What kind of ass-hat thinking is going on here? Do they have a list of what is considered extreme -- are they talking about anything outside of the Western "norm"? As long as your hair is clean and groomed, what on earth does this have anything to do with learning?

As I said, there's plenty of this kind of thinking going on right here at home. I'm not even trying to present a cultural argument on this topic; it's simple common sense. Why does it matter what hairstyle you wear unless it gets in the way of you being able to do the job? How are locs an impediment any more than magenta hair, a long ponytail or a mohawk 'do? Take a look at these home-grown stories of discrimination.

* Dreadlocks don't cut it at St. Louis bar. The Cheshire Inn denied entry of two men into the bar because of their dreadlocs. Jack Lueders, president of the corporation that operates the Cheshire Inn said:
"You can't wash that hair, and it stinks, and we're a crowded bar, and we don't want stinky people in the bar," he said, explaining the policy. "If you look nice and you're obviously clean, nobody's going to go up and smell your hair."
Good god. What on earth is this man talking about? I wash my hair every day during the summer (every other day in the winter -- I have very dry, brittle hair). The ostensible reason for this policy is that it was to keep out a homeless man that had dirty dreads. Right. Two men dressed to attend a wedding = unwashed homeless man.

* Judge Upholds Public School Ban on Cornrows. U.S. District Court Judge Scott O. Wright in Kansas City, Missouri upheld a long-standing rule imposed by Boonville High School Coach Richard Smith that prohibits basketball players from wearing braided cornrows during games or practice. No reason is given in the story as to why this particular hairstyle is banned; only that the judge ruled citing federal appeals courts in general have deferred to the authority of the public schools.

* Dreadlock Lockout: The Dallas Police Department is firing employees based on their hairstyles. Two dozen police officers were stripped of their duties last spring when the Dallas Police Department decided to “crackdown” on dreadlock and other unconventional hairstyles. As the author of the opinion piece, Gjared Robinson, says:
The department claims that officers must look authoritative and assume a role of power. I don’t know about most people, but if I were pulled over by an officer, the badge he wears on his chest is all I need to see to know they have the power to arrest and charge me.
* Hair Cuttery Accused of Racial Discrimination. Monica Clark of Capitol Heights and Leslie Mercer of Reston claim in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, that they were mistreated because of their race repeatedly at several Hair Cuttery locations in the Washington area. In visits to separate stores, they tried to charge them $10 more for services because of their race, or were denied service.
When Clark complained, she said, the stylist refused to serve her. After having her hair done by another stylist, Clark said, she complained to a store manager. She alleges that the manager told her that "her kind of hair" was difficult to blow dry. Mercer, the second plaintiff, said that in August she went to a Hair Cuttery in Reston and requested a roller set. She alleges that she was denied service and was told that her "type of hair [was] too difficult to do."
The bottom line is that many black people are turning away from the chemical processes used to straighten kinky hair. Permanent chemical treatments, like perms, texturizers, alter the hair from its natural state. Sadly, the majority of black women don't even know what the texture of their hair actually is, because they have undergone the lye (and the lie) from the time they were young -- when they were told that kinky hair = bad hair. If they didn't get that relaxer as a young child, then they underwent the torture of the hot comb.



I was old enough to experience the "pleasure" of the thermal hot comb -- you rested it over the gas flame of the stove to heat it up. Then the grease was carefully applied to your hair and that comb sizzled through the kinks till it was bone straight, hissing as you prayed the comb didn't touch your scalp -- inevitably you got scalp burns because the "stylist" f*cked up. [By the way, the "stylist" for most folks was usually a relative, but in my case, everyone in my family had straight hair, so my mom had to take me to a salon till she figured out what to do.]

Once the chemical relaxer came into vogue it was the same problem with a different twist, it became a watch-the-clock endeavor to see how long you could leave the vile-smelling chemicals on to achieve maximum straightness before your scalp started to peel, burn and get open sores. Anything for that damn straight hair.

Why would anyone do this? It can't be because it's fun or easy to maintain. Black women who wear their hair in straight styles obsess about it all the time. Don't let it get wet, humid or exercise too hard because if you do, it will "go back" at the least opportune moment. At this point and time, the problem is two-fold:

1) an internalized self-loathing passed down through the generations of being told your natural hair is a "problem" and "fixing" it by using such extreme measures is a means to assimilate into the dominant culture (boy, that's working real well, considering the above stories, huh?); and

2) the dominant culture still has bigoted ideas about blacks and kinky hair that can profoundly affect the employment of, and treatment of people. This of course, means #1 will continue to occur.

If you want to read more about the serious politics of hair, click over to an earlier post of mine on Pam's House Blend, and check out more links here. If you want a laugh, click over to my Hair Journey, a visual chronicle of learning to love my natural hair.

And by the way, you can still buy those thermal hot combs. I saw one online for $9.50. Some poor child is still getting fried out there.


Buffy in Texas better not bump and grind on the football field

I haven't been to a football game recently, but I can't imagine that high school cheerleading is the equivalent of a strip show or pole dancing. Who on earth is going to define what constitutes "sexually suggestive"? Try reading this without laughing. (Local6.com):
State Rep. Al Edwards of Houston is proposing a law to ban dirty dancing by cheerleaders. Edwards wants to put an end to "sexually suggestive" performances by cheerleaders at athletic events and other extracurricular competitions.

Edwards is outraged by the way cheerleaders are "shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down."

"And then we say to them, 'don't get involved in sex unless it's marriage or love, it's dangerous out there' and yet the teachers and directors are helping them go through those kind of gyrations." He said it's hypocritical for educators to teach sexual abstinence, while condoning all sorts of bumping and grinding on the sidelines. Under the Houston Democrat's bill, the state education commissioner could reduce a school district's state funding if it knowingly permits sexy cheerleading.

Edwards said he filed the bill as a result of several instances of seeing such ribald performances in his district.
I think that last line is critical. Perhaps Mr. Edwards was getting a little too hot under the collar and "little Mr. Edwards" was getting a rise out of the on-field action. The abstinence argument is futile. Those kids in Texas are knocking boots despite the "don't do it" message.


The 'Natural Family' vs. the Homo Agenda


One of the authors of the "family manifesto", Alan Carlson of the Howard Center.

As I have been working hard on spreading word about the Homosexual Agenda, it looks like the wingnuts have working overtime to create "The Natural Family: A Manifesto." It was developed by the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Illinois, and the Utah-based Sutherland Institute. You can download the drivel, but you have to register and give your address. From American Family Association's propaganda organ AgapePress:
At a press conference this week, co-author Dr. Alan Carlson reported that the document is designed to remind society of the importance of the family unit for one reason: "Healthy family life and healthy societies advance and decline together," he stated. The "natural family," Carlson said, is viewed as "the union of a man and a woman through marriage for the purposes of sharing love and joy, propagating children, providing their moral education, building a vital home economy, offering security in times of trouble, and binding the generations."

Paul Mero, the other author of the document, said the pro-family movement needs the Manifesto. "The fact is that the side of the natural family is losing the culture war, and we have been for nearly 40 years," the Sutherland Institute president said. Anyone who doubts that statement, he added, "need only reflect on the battles we fight presently."
As Ms. Julien and others on Big Brass Blog have been noting, the Right cries about the sanctity of marriage and family until you have a case like Terri Schiavo, and then all bets are off. You get Tom DeLay in your hospital room, trying to call the shots over the legal rights of her husband. You see an indirect acknowledgment of this by one of the authors of the document, in reference to the elderly:
Mero described several of those battles. "Men and women care little about marriage and even less about having children. Sending a child to daycare is no more of a concern than sending a child out to the store to buy a loaf of bread. Divorce has become a 'healing balm.' And old folks, our aged parents, have become worthless burdens, encumbering our busy and convenient lives."
This crowd also has an unhealthy fixation on procreation, and you can easily see how the ultimate goal is rolling back reproductive freedom and women's rights under the guise of building healthy families.
Mero said he hopes the Manifesto will become a unifying tool that pro-family supporters can use it the struggle to bolster and rebuild the family. According to Carlson, the document offers an agenda to do exactly that.

"We will build a new culture of marriage where others would define marriage out of existence," he said. "We will welcome and celebrate more babies and larger families where others would continue a war on human fertility."
They want more women shooting out babies. Do I sense a feeling of desperation here? I don't think it's an overstatement to conclude that Mero and Carlson they are more concerned about white fertility, since that is the demographic where birth rates are not keeping pace to those of color.

These AmTaliban certainly have a pathetic, narrow and unrealistic view of what "family" is in today's world. No amount of manifesto writing is going to change the fact that women work, gays are raising children and more folks in bible-beating Red states get divorced than those in Blue states. It would be a lot of fun to see how far they would get in a push to make divorce harder, though.

Covenant marriage is already being touted, most publicly by Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (a state that has one of the highest divorce rates in the country, btw). Few couples in the state have taken up the offer to engage in covenant marriage, which requires pre-marital counseling and counseling if problems arise in the marriage. The only valid reasons for ending a covenant marriage include adultery, criminal behavior, physical or sexual abuse, "habitual drunkenness for one year," and "cruel and barbarous treatment."

Looks like the "Family Manifesto" folks have a lot of work ahead of them. I better get back to my Homo Agenda right away:
1) Assume complete control of the US Federal, State and local Governments as well as all other national governments
2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle
3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages
4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels
5) Establish planetary chain of "homo breeding gulags" where over -medicated imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly pederastic gay leadership
6) Bulldoze all houses of worship
7) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media for the exclusive use of child pornographers.


Flu update

OK. I'm going attempt to post a bit today. Fever broke last night big time, but I'm still having big vestibular problems:
Symptoms of vestibular impairment may include dizziness, imbalance, vertigo, nausea, and fuzzy vision, and may be accompanied by hearing problems, fatigue, and changes in cognitive functioning.
Thanks to being married to an audiologist, Kate could explain the technical meaning of being "f*cked up" by this virus.

The room still feels like it's moving, though when I'm on the sofa with the laptop and a cup of tea, if I'm really careful not to move, I only feel halfway beaten up. I have a three-day manager workshop starting tomorrow, and I better be well-enough to go; at this point, I wouldn't want to get behind the wheel of a car.


Bush hiding behind his mommy's apron as his SocSec plan tanks with the public

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Former first lady Barbara Bush listens to her son, President Bush (news - web sites), as he advances his Social Security destruction proposal before a hand-picked audience at the Lake Nona YMCA Family Center in Orlando, Fla., Friday, March 18, 2005. In a state with a large population of retirees, Bush wants to assure seniors that they will continue to receive their regular government checks, while he pushes for a system of private accounts which would enable younger workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes from Social Security deductions and into stock market investments to bankroll their retirement. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

You know he's in trouble when he rolls mommy out. It's amazing that the woman has such a high approval rating when she has a reputation as a cut-you-off-at-the-knees operative. She really came off poorly in Kitty Kelley's The Family.


Sick as a dog today

This is hopefully the last damn flu bug of the season, courtesy of the kids in the Wake County Public Schools. Kate brought this one home. Nothing like running a fever of 102 for two days. I can barely think -- but yes, I am insane. I am actually posting. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be back in fighting form and have stuff to post here and on B3.


Two years and counting in Iraq...


An Iraqi boy, Ahmed Muhsen, plays in the crater left after a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi Army patrol in southern Baghdad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)

There's no end in sight. From the wonderful blog, Facing South, some sobering statistics:
Percent of U.S. soldiers that are from Southern states: 42
Percent of soldiers that are based in the South: 56
Number of U.S. soldiers that have died in Iraq: 1,520
Estimated number of soldiers wounded: 17,000
Percent in U.S. who think number of U.S. casualties has been "unacceptable": 70
Estimated number of civilian deaths in Iraq: 100,000
Cost of Iraq war to U.S. taxpayers, in billions: $157.9
Number of children that could have received health insurance for that amount: 94,000,000
Number of permanent military bases currently being constructed in Iraq: 11
Sources on file at the Institute for Southern Studies.


Granny gets left high and dry in the nursing home over prayer

Friday, March 18, 2005

The absurdity over church/state separation continues... (AgapePress):
An Arkansas company has decided to stop operating four nursing homes where it recently instituted guidelines on mealtime prayers by elderly residents. The guidelines allow private prayer at individual tables, but not public prayer. Three weeks ago, a senior citizen threatened to sue Friendship Community Care unless the public prayers stopped. Friendship then sent a letter to residents, advising them that as a state-funded institution, it had to observe separation of church and state. The company has since decided that it does not want to get entangled in lawsuits over the issue. Its board has voted to give 30 days' notice to the Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas.


Spike Lee, Essence Magazine speak out on the pimp/ho arm of hip hop


Director Spike Lee recently spoke in Toronto and said enough is enough with the "pimp/ho" arm of hip hop's effect on black students, which glorifies bling and a piece of *ss over education. Essence Magazine's response to hip-hop's degradation of black women is Take Back the Music that began in January. Graphic: Essence Magazine.

Al Sharpton recently took on a subgenre of hip-hop that thrives on a violent image of its "artists" by calling for a 90-day ban on radio and television airplay for any performer who uses violence to promote albums. Spike Lee now joins the increasing number of voices that are seeing the wrong influences rewarded in the black community, and promoted by corporations that rake in the bucks off of the image. (Canadian Press):
Many black students today are failing in school on purpose because peer pressure via media images has convinced them that smart equals white and that it's cool to become pimps or "video ho's" says pre-eminent African-American filmmaker Spike Lee.

And Lee told an audience comprised largely of Ontario university students that people can vote with their pocketbooks to convince artists, record companies and media conglomerates like Viacom that the images in today's music videos or lyrics in gangsta rap are unacceptable.

"As African-Americans we let artists slide," Lee said in the Monday night speech. "(But) those days are over. I think that we have to start to hold people accountable." Lee was invited to speak in Toronto by the Ryerson University student administrative council to help mark the International Day For the Elimination of Racial Descrimination on March 21.

While known for his outspokenness, especially on issues of race, Lee seemed to aim his heavy guns at fellow black artists. He said that while he wasn't calling for a boycott, the father now of a 10-year-old girl said he could no longer listen to the music of R. Kelly because he saw the bootleg video of the rapper with some underage females.

"These artists talk about 'ho this, bitch this, skank this' and all the other stuff. They're talking about all our mothers, all our sisters. They're talking about their own mothers, grandmothers."
The question that is being asked now is why do these artists, and their corporate masters, feel it's OK to portray women this way, and where is that sentiment coming from? Why have women allowed this portrayal to remain popular and accepted? The sad truth is this music sells.

What this discussion of culturally-approved misogyny by a segment of the hip-hop community will bring to light is another view of the sad, seemingly widening gulf between black men and women in mutual trust and regard, and in education and economic opportunities. You see it in the disparity between college-educated black men and women, the incarceration and unemployment rates for young black men, and, if you read Essence regularly, the grim dilemma of women looking for "marriage material" with those long odds and concern about men on the DL.

Stanley Crouch, in a New York Daily News column a while back, discussed Essence Magazine's "movement" to combat the image of black women in hip-hop. The way women are treated and depicted in some of the music videos is enough to make one sick. The pathology runs deep, as the women in these videos obviously don't mind degrading themselves in the 'ho vein.
The magazine is the first powerful presence in the black media with the courage to examine the cultural pollution that is too often excused because of the wealth it brings to knuckleheads and amoral executives.

This anything-goes-if-sells attitude comes at a cost. The elevation of pimps and pimp attitudes creates a sadomasochistic relationship with female fans. They support a popular idiom that consistently showers them with contempt. We are in a crisis, and Essence knows it.

When asked how the magazine decided to take a stand, the editor, Diane Weathers said, "We started looking at the media war on young girls, the hypersexualization that keeps pushing them in sexual directions at younger and younger ages."

Things got deeper, she says, because, "We started talking at the office about all this hatred in rap song after rap song, and once we started, the subject kept coming up because women were incapable of getting it off their minds."
The other issue, raised by Spike Lee, is the culture of ignorance that is glorified, the "Acting White" phenomenon. I wrote a Blend entry on this, NYT: The 'Acting White' Myth. A snippet here:
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).

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.


Has the Red Sea parted? Atrios adds ShakesSis to his blogroll.

Atrios, after surfacing in the comments over at Shakespeare's Sister last night, did the right thing and added her worthy blog to his blogroll and linked back to her site.

It's about time. As she said today: "Well, I guess the squeaky wheel really does get the grease, eh?"

It's been a real interesting couple of weeks, with all the hullabaloo over Kevin Drum and his "search" for female political bloggers, and the reaction to the Steven Levy Newsweek article, Blogging Beyond the Men's Club. [My rant is here.]


The Eagle is soaring into Pat Robertson's arms



Will Ashcroft be composing hymns while he talks about how he invaded the privacy of U.S. citizens for our own good? Or perhaps he can share fashion tips on how to cover the boobies of statues at the Justice Department. (WAVY):
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft plans to teach at Regent University. Officials at the Christian school founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson say Ashcroft will teach for two weeks a semester for the next five years. The topic will be national security law.

Ashcroft, a conservative Christian, was attorney general under President Bush until he left last month. He was known for spearheading the U-S-A Patriot Act, the nation's widely criticized anti-terrorism law.


Friday pet blogging and open thread



It's actually "almost-pet" blogging day, since we're one step closer to adopting Tonka (above). The Ridgeback Rescue coordinator said that Kate and I came out on top in terms of suitability for providing him with a new home! His prior owner went bankrupt, lost his house, and decided to give Tonka up to Rescue. That is at least more admirable than the former owners of our Lab/Weimeraner mix, Bailey, who was found running loose in a mall parking lot. Someone just dumped her off.

The next step is to meet Tonka and see how he gets along with Bailey and Chloe. If all goes well, in a few weeks we should have him. So,keep fingers crossed...



Taking on the big, bad, blogging dogs so we can pee on the political hydrant too

(UPDATE: Cross posted at BigBrassBlog, added response to reader comment at the end.)



This is the one time it's safe to say, that a dialogue about race is actually less of a minefield than talking about sexism, passive or not-so-passive, in the political blogosphere. I read the Steven Levy Newsweek article, Blogging Beyond the Men's Club, and instantly saw an acknowledgment of sexism.

Steve Gilliard responded to the Levy article in a way that shows the complete disconnect between men and women on this issue. He spends his entire response fixated on race, due to the quote from an unknown female blogger named Hailey Suitt, who gave the inflammatory bite, "It's white people linking to other white people!" But this is what Gillard obsesses over in his breathless analysis (my emphasis below):
Yet, there's a problem with the diversity of bloggers?

I like Steven Levy, but he's taking the circle jerk at Harvard way too seriously. I've never heard of Hailey Suitt. Wouldn't know her if she fell off a truck with a large screen TV on it. What A list? I've never seen this woman quoted once. Never. Not anywhere I read. I've never seen her linked to anyone I read. Quoted on the Daou report? Never. Mentioned in the sex blogs? Never. So exactly who's friend was she?

So exactly when did Kos become white? I mean, if you're going to have this discussion, you might want to mention our biracial friend with the wildly successful web site. But that's just me.

See, the problem was that the Harvard Circle Jerk was for the friends of the people who held it. Working bloggers`were NOT invited and we ridiculded the whole fucking thing. Is it my fault they don't read Rude Pundit and Black Commentator? They stick to their little cult of friends and Dave Weiner, who should get a trademark on the word asshole, it's used so often in connection with his name.
You want to talk about a circle jerk? Gilliard really doesn't see the irony. Check out the most trafficked blogs out there, and what do you see? I see a lot of big dogs linking to each other.

He's condemning the establishment media for the same kind of clubbiness that exists in the upper atmosphere of the blogosphere. The lack of curiosity and glass ceiling just take a different form.

No one is saying the "old boys network" is inherently evil -- of course you would link to your peers, I link to mine, and blogs that have something to say about I topic that I want to know more about. What is different is the defense floated out there that isn't a hierarchy in the major blogosphere. This is ludicrous -- there is passive resistance to acknowledge, seek out or promote new political voices, especially those that have something to say about gender politics from a perspective that is not white or male -- why wouldn't you want to bring something fresh to the table. You wouldn't if you didn't have a serious interest in those issues.

Our big boy bloggers have tended to gloss over the fact that the blogosphere is still, looking at sheer numbers, the domain of the Technorati testosteroni. Men currently rule the roost in terms of perceived bloggers of influence, and the article points that out. Guys arrived at the party first, and it's a remained a fairly closed system on the Left for reasons that are complicated, but not excusable.

We already have as evidence the revealing arrogant post by Kevin Drum that there is a dearth of worthy political bloggers out there. Drum's "investigative work" to find some estrogen consisted of: 1) looking for female bloggers on the TTLB Ecosystem, and 2) looking at his male peers' blogrolls. He also asserted that men are "more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing."

OK. At least he's covering the topic again, but it still appears to be a papering over of the real problem. ShakeSis responds to KDrum's latest crack at addressing the issue. I'm going to quote her from a earlier piece on the Drum missive that captures were we both are on this; we've been discussing this topic at length for some time now, and it's spurred us on to create Big Brass Blog, so I guess we should thank KDrum, hahaha.
And there's the tiny challenge we face each and every day of men who like to think of themselves as egalitarian who clearly are not, and instead of ever facing up to their latent sexism, attribute disparities to inherent traits in women, thereby making it our collective fault for lingering inequalities and implying that said traits are immutable, with reasonable rebuttals dismissed as anecdotal. Spirited, but anecdotal.

It is inexplicable that otherwise intelligent men cannot wrap their minds around how such an attitude is insulting, nor grasp that women's issues are not tangential concerns of the overall progressive movement. The insistence upon marginalizing legitimate concerns of women is sexism at its very worst, and yet because dudes like Drum aren't lounging around in a beer-stained wife-beater ordering their bitches into the kitchen, they somehow manage to convince themselves that they are infallible supporters of feminism (and feminists). Suppressing women's voices, who are miraculously loud, plentiful, and in direct contradiction of the small-minded assertions that periodically bring them to the fore en masse, is not a minor thing, and continuing to feign innocence to its detrimental effects is not forgivable when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

There are plenty of boys who manage to be good to the girls in the blogosphere. The only difference between them and the boys who don't is that their heads aren't up their own asses. Maybe Drum and his ilk should consider coming out for a peek; they might be surprised by the plethora of interesting and amazing bloggrrls populating the landscape.
And what about Kos? Well, I had an interesting exchange with him on a thread back in Nov. 2004, when he was asking Kossacks about adding new guest bloggers, and the subject came up about hoping for more female voices and diarists of color...
definitely similar picks...and add diversity (none / 0)

pastordan rocks, as does kid oakland.

Also, I'd vote for a few more identified voices of diversity on the main page (women, people of color, GLBT, religious/non-religious). Speaking as someone who inhabits some of those categories, it was great to read those perspectives in the days immediately following the election (ihlin's "A minority evangelical speaks" comes to mind). It was also equally enlightening to hear "majority" reaction to those voices. The spirited debates resulted in the education of all of us.
OK. My post was quite benign. Here's his response:
No (none / 1)

I have never chosen anyone based on diversity. In the online world, no one knows your color or sex unless you volunteer it.

And yet, my crew of guest bloggers has been shockingly ethnically and racially diverse.

The exception is women. I chalk that up to overwhelming presence of men on the site (60-70 percent). And while that's something I would like to see change, I won't predicate any decisions on it.

The web is as close to egalitarianism as we can get. Where else can a Latino rise as quickly into prominence as I have?

I intend to keep that spirit alive.
I was not saying throw any minority up on the front page, or that there shouldn't be a meritocracy at Daily Kos, but whew, his panties wadded up in a bunch right quick, huh? I responded:
identified voices (none / 0)

The nature of this forum should remain a meritocracy. I wholeheartedly endorse that, Kos. That doesn't preclude a desire to hear from more identified voices of diversity.

I can always choose to post anonymously and establish an online political persona that has no bearing on my race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. It's someone's argument or counterargument that I always find engaging first.

However, I find that an opinion is definitely received differently by readers when someone self-identifies (particularly when they hold an opinion counter to the perceived "conventional wisdom opinion" of the group to which the author belongs). I see it all the time.

I find it's sort of like calling a business contact on the phone, developing a rapport and they build preconceived notions about what to expect when you meet -- the reactions can be priceless when you do. It happens all the time, it's mostly amusing.

It's good to shake up the mix, that's all. I'm always amazed at what I learn about human nature here
The big boys really don't get it, Houston, we have a problem. I am a hat trick - black, female and lesbian, and I write about all those topics, but not to the exclusion of general politics, or the very mundane. But my background, for what it's worth, informs those opinions. It's not all or nothing if you self-identify. In fact, by doing so you actually have an opportunity to show what common ground we all share, that we are more alike than different. We can pee on the political fire hydrant too.

UPDATE: A reader, anonymous coward, stated in the comments:
Are you saying you have something special to say that's not already being heard? If so, what is it? I've looked at your site. It's great, but I don't see anything here that would look out of place at Eschaton.

My response: I've written about plenty that you would see and wouldn't see on Eschaton. I write about general progressive politics, so yes there would be similar content, but have you ever seen Atrios talk about:

* the politics of having kinky hair
* being followed in a store while dressed up for the theatre by a store owner that thinks you're a shoplifter
* Southern politics, the black church and reframing gay rights
* what it's like to be a black lesbian in the South
* the 'Acting White' Myth

You get my drift (you can find those blog entries by scrolling down on this page to the 'Greatest Hits' section).

Atrios may have an opinion about those issues, but I certainly haven't seen them expressed on his blog, or any of the other big bloggers. I've seen them on Daily Kos, because I've written diaries on those topics.

My complaint isn't that they are all white males, since some of the big bloggers are of color. It's the closed nature of the hierarchy/circle jerk that the big boys don't want to cop to.

I'm saying that the big blogger responses to the Newsweek article conveniently gloss over the "male" aspect of the criticism. The silence in the responses of the big boys is deafening, or, in the case of KDrum, offensively dismissive.

As I've said before, major props to the guys out there that do link to women political bloggers; personal hat tips to two most deserving of big bloggerdom (is that a word yet?), John Aravosis and Mike Rogers, for taking the time to read and promote my work.

***

Read Shakespeare's Sister's take on Kevin Drum's latest missive on women and political blogging, here you go.


So what was that about states' rights?

How is the Schiavo case the concern of Congress? I want the Repugs to remember this when they talk about activist judges and intervention by the Federal government.
In a last-ditch effort to save Terri Schiavo's life, a House committee plans to issue subpoenas Friday to stop doctors from removing the severely brain-damaged woman's feeding tube.

The extraordinary legislative maneuver comes after the House and Senate failed to agree on legislation to keep the woman alive before leaving Washington for their spring break. House officials hope that the subpoenas will stop doctors from removing Schiavo's feeding tube at 1 p.m. EST Friday.

"We will issue a subpoena which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow Congress to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis said in a statement. "The subpoena will be joined by a Senate investigation as well.
ShakesSis pointed me to a great breakdown of this case by Majikthise that illustrates how this tragic situation has turned into yet another wingnut propaganda campaign. Poor Terri.


Diocese of San Diego denies Catholic funeral rites to bar owner

You cannot even leave this earth in peace if you're gay and you own a couple of bars. When will the gay-bashing stop? It's completely enraging to read crap like this. I doubt that a murderer or thief (or, might we say, a pedophile priest) would be denied a Catholic funeral service. Talk about big brass American Taliban balls. (SanDiegoDailyTranscript):
A member of the Greater San Diego Business Association and owner of two gay bars has been denied a funeral at the University of San Diego and in any Catholic church or chapel in the Diocese of San Diego.

John McCusker, 31, owner of Club Montage and ReBar, two local gay nightspots, died early March 13. McCusker suffered an apparent heart attack while at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort on vacation. The bars are closed indefinitely according to a notice on the Club Montage Web site.

The Mono County Coroner's Office said that an official cause of death is pending the outcome of a toxicology report.

A 1996 graduate of USD, McCusker's family wanted to have the funeral service there, but was denied after church officials received information about him and his businesses. Joyce Marieb, executive director of the Greater San Diego Business Association, called McCusker, "a great leader and the kind of guy that people love to see because he gives back and is very generous to the community."

"We all know what this is about," Marieb said, who knew McCusker for the past five and a half years. "They [the Catholic Church] claim they've buried other gay people and that it's because of the bar aspect."

A statement released earlier Thursday by Rodrigo Valdivia, chancellor for the Diocese of San Diego, explains the church's actions. "The facts regarding the business activity of John McCusker were not known by church officials when arrangements were requested for his funeral. When these facts became known the bishop of San Diego concluded that to avoid public scandal Mr. McCusker can't be granted a funeral in a Catholic church or chapel in the Diocese of San Diego."

[You want a public scandal? How about the hundreds of abused children, molested at the hands of priest that they trusted? The millions spent sweeping it all under the rug and the millions that are now being paid out in lawsuits? Good night!]

So what about McCusker would cause a public scandal? "His business is adult entertainment, which is inconsistent with Catholic teaching" Valdivia said. "People would be scandalized that the church granted a funeral to a person who had this type of business activity."

But, according to Valdivia, the Catholic Church does not consider all bars and clubs "adult entertainment "There's a lot of different things that can play into what would make a business activity something that was notoriously against Catholic teaching or not. It would not necessarily be if (the club) was gay or not."

When asked what about McCusker or his business goes against Catholic teaching, Valdivia said he couldn't say, for legal reasons.

...McCusker's memorial service is now planned for 11 a.m., March 18 at St. Paul's Cathedral, an Episcopal church.


Couple Sells Candles That Smell Like Jesus

Thursday, March 17, 2005



A headline of the day. It seems like I have to keep saying this when I post these items, but I am not sh*tting you. The product is flying off the shelves. Perhaps this is the same market that is buying the Jesus chastity rings or gets Christian investment advice. This also sounds like the same demographic that's gullible enough to give their money to the phony pastor scams and televangelists -- and are often left so poor that they are left eating Alpo meatloaf. (NBC10.com):
You can find candles with just about every fragrance imaginable, from blueberry to ocean mist to hot apple pie. Now there's a candle that lets you experience the scent of Jesus, and they've been selling out by the case. "We see it as a ministry, " says Bob Tosterud, who together with his wife came up with the idea for the candle.

Light up the candle called "His Essence" and its makers say you'll experience the fragrance of Christ.

Bob Tosterud and wife Karen say the formula is all spelled out in Psalm 45. "It's a Messianic Psalm referring to when Christ returns and his garments will have the scent of myrrh, aloe and cassia," says Karen Tosterud. Wondering what that must smell like, Karen Tosterud ordered those oils, a combination that produces sort of a flowery, cinnamon aroma. Then she called on a friend who just happened to be a candle-maker.

"And in October, we got our first batch of 768 candles. We had no idea how it would go," Karen Tosterud says. But once word got out they went through 10,000 candles. "It's the only one on the market and everyone tells us it's very unique and nothing like it," says Karen Tosterud.

"We wanted people to be able to experience Christ in new ways and to be able to read a bible and have that scent and that candle as a reminder that he is with us all the time." "You can't see him and you can't touch him," says Bob Tosterud. "This is a situation where you may be able to sense him by smelling. And it provides a really new dimension to one's experience with Jesus."

The candles never stay on the shelves for long. The Tosteruds say each one that goes out is like a ministry in itself. The candles sell for about $18. They are sold in about 150 stores around the country. Or you can order them online at www.hisessence.com. You can also call this phone number: 877-psalm-45.


Freepers coming to NC to protest

Do they make Purell in a big enough economy size to disinfect Fayetteville? The Freepi are gathering on Sunday to provide a counter-protest to anti-war demonstrations in the city. Yawn. (NC Rumors):
Patriotic Americans from Freerepublic.com and Carolina Support the Troops, along with families of Veterans, families of WTC victims, VFW's and active military personnel will be gathering--in the clearly demarcated "American Zone"--across from Rowan Park in Fayetteville on Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 11 am, to show support for our troops and the families of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Freerepublic.com will also be counterprotesting the Socialist Antiwar events taking place over the weekend. Once again, busloads of leftist activists will descend upon Fayetteville, NC, in an attempt to demoralize the will of our American troops, by targeting their loved ones with antiwar drivel in this economically hard-hit, military town. The leftists will march with socialist banners and bring out an array of speakers decrying the war and advocating every variety of left-wing topic from Marxism and socialism, to homosexual "issues," to secularism, to pro-Hezbollah Palestinianism. (Seriously - last year they all were really there!)

Last year, FReepers countered the leftwing protests with the added participation of Rolling Thunder, Protest Warriors, Vets and other patriotic Americans. This year, we'll do it again!


GQ: 'Ken Mehlman isn't gay', and Repug hypocrites on the Hill


GQ pic via Raw Story.
"Ken Mehlman is not gay," Steve Schmidt, a senior official of the Bush campaign and a friend of Mehlman's told Jake Tapper, an ABC News correspondent who wrote the piece for the magazine.
(Raw Story via AmericaBlog). So I guess Schmidt saw Ken f*cking a woman as proof? How the heck is that a clearing of the air when the man himself won't say is he's gay or not...oh nevermind...It's all in the latest issue of GQ, including interviews with John Aravosis and Mike Rogers of RawStoryQ/BlogActive.

The more interesting aspect of the article is the kept-inside-the-Beltway fact that the Repugs are personally more tolerant than their constituents when it comes to their gay staffers. Hypocrites, all.
Republicans in Congress appear as ghosts in the piece saying they won't fire staffers who are outed as gay. Rogers began his campaign outing some staff members of prominent congressmen who voted against gay rights.

"One person related to me a story of Republican congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois joking that if he ever ran into Rogers, he'd punch him in the nose," Tapper writes. "Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina reportedly told her staff they had nothing to worry about, should any of them be outed. With the exception of Senator Inhofe parsing between his personal and committee staffs, no one has said anything to distance himself or herself from a gay staffer Rogers has targeted."

Inhofe, senator from Oklahoma, has said he would hire gays for his committee staff in Washington but not at his district office.

Barney Frank, a Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, comes to Rogers defense. Frank is one of three openly gay members of Congress. "There still is this official doctrine that we're immoral," Frank told Tapper for the piece. "But the Republican attitude is that they have now moved to the point where they accept the fact that you're gay as long as you act somewhat embarrassed about it."

One staffer tells Tapper a fact known inside the beltway but not widely reported-that some members of Congress posture as being more anti-gay than they actually are to please constituents. "We're a representative democracy," the staffer told GQ. "And while members may not have personal problems with having gay staff, they vote the way their constituents want them to."
It's the Mary Cheney syndrome. You're ok as long as you're quiet and hidden away like crazy granny in the attic.


No homos welcome in the Holy Land


Pastor and radio show host Leo Giovinetti says "we can't let the proposed homosexual event take place."

Real-Life Radio talk show host and evangelical Leo Giovinetti is a new name to me. He's based in San Diego. There's a petition campaign to try and stop a world Pride celebration, and he's leading the charge. (Agape Press)
A coalition of ultra-Orthodox Jews from Jerusalem and evangelical Christians from the United States announced yesterday that their group intends to try to stop an international homosexual celebration called the "World Pride Parade" from taking place in the holy city this summer. However, the mayor of Jerusalem has said he has no means to prevent the "gay pride" event from occurring. The coalition, which includes a number of Israeli lawmakers, is hoping to collect a million signatures in opposition to the celebration. San Diego pastor Leo Giovinetti is the leader of the Christian group. According to Associated Press reports, organizers of the parade claim they want to promote tolerant coexistence, but Giovinetti believes holding the homosexual pride parade in Jerusalem will offend the religious sensibilities of many communities. He is quoted as stating that millions worldwide who pray for the peace of Jerusalem are "heartbroken" over what he calls a misguided effort to "divide, inflame and sow disunity." InterPride, the group that organizes homosexual pride parades around the world, made the decision to host the international event in Jerusalem this year. The last World Pride Parade was held in Rome, Italy, in 2000. Giovinetti believes the choice of a major religious center both then and now is no accident, but demonstrates clearly that the InterPride agenda is to provoke and offend religious communities.


Phelps on James Dobson: "caving to the faggot juggernaut"


Fred "The Rotting Cryptkeeper" Phelps (L) thinks James Dobson is an old heretic; Mel White of Soulforce is an "old fag preacher."

I laughed till I hurt on this one. Somehow, I almost feel sorry for James Dobson, the wingnut running Focus on the Family (nah). His AmTaliban credentials are outstanding; after all:

* Dobson has opined that "Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage," and "It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth."

* He, along with his fellow wingnuts of the Arlington Group, threatened Bush's kneecaps on Social Security if Chimpy didn't bend to their social agenda.



* FOF's head landed on Time's 25 Most Influential Evangelicals list.

* The organization is notorious for its promotion of pathetic "ex-gay" conferences, called Love Won Out.

Mel White, head of Soulforce, plans to take a delegation to confront Dobson about FOF's policy of gay-bashing in Colorado Springs on May 1. That should make for an interesting event. Soulforce's mission is the polar opposite of Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church. Its goal is to ensure "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance."

For Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps, Dobson's wingnut cred is apparently not good enough. As far as he's concerned. Dobson is in bed with the homos and is going to burn in hell, so he's loading up a bus of his fundies and plans to picket at the event as well. That should make for some interesting fireworks. Take a look at the competing information sheets on the upcoming event. Phelps is in rare form with this one.

The Phelps approach to demonstrations vs. Soulforce's.

We understand that the old fag preacher -- Mel White -- who sloughed off his wife and children to "marry" a male jackass and anally copulate happily ever after -- is planning to bring equally depraved fags and dykes to Colorado for three days -- April 30-May 2 - to harass another old heretic -- James Dobson -- into caving in further to the faggot juggernaut.

Mel White calls his pitiful band of Hell-bound fag dogs and dyke sows, Soulforce. Dobson calls his brigade of equally heretical Hell-bound hypocrites, Focus on the Family...White and Dobson will both meet in Hell ere long, in pain, and amazed one at the other, and their faces shall be as flames...
Well, alrighty then, Fred. Guess Dobson won't be inviting you over to say grace over dinner.


Jeb's raising smarter sheeple future voters in FL



No Child Left Behind is one kick-ass Bush plan. It is designed for force educators to teach to the test instead of teaching fundamentals to young people. The horrorshow consequence of NCLB, since it draws a test-score line in the sand, is that schools that fail have two choices:

* ask for increased funding and programs to help the kids learn and reach grade performance

* lower the academic bar so you can pass the Chimpy NCLB standard.

Which one do you think schools (and taxpayers) will pick? In Florida, the choice is clear. They want to churn out even more sheeple that learn just enough to pass a test and nothing more. Move those goal posts, Jebbie. (Palm Beach Post):
After 77 percent of Florida schools failed last year under the state's version of the federal No Child Left Behind law, Education Commissioner John Winn said Tuesday he's considering lowering student achievement standards under that law. The changes would alter standards Florida set for itself under the federal law, something Gov. Jeb Bush and Winn said they wouldn't do just a few months ago.

Changes are needed because Florida has "such a high number of schools not making" adequate yearly progress, Winn said at a state Board of Education meeting in Miami. He said he wants Florida's plan changed before this year's calculation of adequate yearly progress.

Winn said he and Bush recently went to Washington and spoke with federal Education Secretary Margaret Spellings about changing Florida's requirements. A formal request is due by April 1. Under the No Child law, states must create standards-based tests, test students with them annually and 100 percent of students must be passing the tests by 2014. But each state sets interim benchmarks, called adequate yearly progress, for meeting this long-term goal.

In Florida, schools are labeled as making adequate yearly progress if enough students pass the math and reading FCAT, including students with disabilities and children who are learning English. Every one of eight groups that are measured at a school must meet the threshold.

The way Florida's plan is written, one of these subgroups can be just 30 students, who may make up a tiny fraction of a school. One of the things the state wants to adjust is the size of these subgroups, Winn said. The state superintendents' association also has proposed counting only subgroups that make up at least 15 percent of a school's population. In Palm Beach County, the only reason some schools didn't make adequate progress last year was because of one group.

Winn also wants to lower requirements this year that 48 percent of each subgroup pass the reading and 53 percent must pass the math test, which are significant increases over last year when so many schools failed.

"We talked about different approaches in the annual increases for our proficiency goals going up," Winn said of his conversation with Spellings. The state superintendents' association proposed using last year's benchmarks for another year.

It should be noted that this is wonderful news for Neil Bush's enterprise, Ignite Incorporated, which profits handsomely under NCLB (see an earlier Blend post on this), Ignite's a software company that helps students prepare to take comprehensive tests required under the act. Neil can rake even more dough by pimping his software to school systems since there are so many students wholly unprepared to succeed on their own. Ignite has charged 30 dollars-per-year-per-student for its software (netting 60 million dollars).

The obvious tragedy in all of this is that the children are the big losers, because the adults are playing political football with their education. No one is really asking the question why did 77% of the schools still fail, given their mandate to teach to the test. That level of failure suggest Florida's schools are broken and they need to get back to fundamentals of considering class size, teacher qualifications and a whole host of other basic things -- and that costs money. It's clear that those issues are now going to be swept under the rug by educators that are running scared of school failure rates -- instead of looking at how to improve Johnny and Jane's ability to read, write and add.


Freepers are all for the sanctity of marriage, but guys, protect your wallet from the b*tch

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Oh, this just too rich. Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman. It's so precious, fragile, and beautiful that it has to be protected from the homos, who will destroy the institution, along with the family, the country...oh, and of course the children.

The divorce rate is 50%, so heterosexuals aren't doing too well at the institution, but the Freepers, in their perpetual state of transparent ignorance, show their true colors in responding to an article in the satirical Hoosier Gazette entitled, "More engaged men are setting up divorce nest eggs." First snippets from the article:
The high percentage of marriages that end in divorce has created a new trend; many men are planning financially for their divorce before they even get married.

A recent survey conducted by the Indiana Marriage Research Institute (IMRI) found that 79% of men who are engaged to be married worry that their marriage will end in divorce and they will be ruined financially. As a result, more than half of these men admitted to setting up secret nest eggs in case their fears become reality.

“Some people believe this is the height of pessimism, but to me it makes perfect sense,” says Dr. Phillip Haus, director of the study, “Many of these men are professionals who have worked hard for their success and don’t want to start from scratch if the woman they marry turns out to be a total witch to live with.” Haus says the most common way engaged men plan for the worst is by setting up a savings account in the name of a relative they trust who has had a long, sound marriage so their funds will be safe. This way once the joint assets are divided after a divorce, they will have a little something extra to fall back on.

“Let’s face it,” added Haus, “The man is the one who almost always get screwed over when a divorce occurs. Even though he usually made more money than the woman in the marriage, he loses the house, and ends up paying child support since the woman will get custody of their offspring. This new trend just provides him with a little insurance so he can enjoy a decent standard of living.”
OK. Before we get to the demented Freepi, who clearly took this article seriously (check out the site -- the front page features a headline for " THG team training for the 2006 rope skipping world championships").

Anyway, so what about facts, like those little details matter in Freeperland. They have their own sense of reality about live, love and trust in the sacred institution of marriage. And it all gets exposed like a horse's ass. One Freeper actually tells them it's satire, but they're on a misogynist roll and cannot help themselves.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"A better way is to create a separate IRA or 401K account, contribute to it while single, then stop contributing completely before being married... then it will grow and it is never commingled into the assets."

"I can understand getting a prenup or postnup. It's like fire insurance...you hope to never need it, but it's there if you do. And it's done with the knowledge and consent of both parties."

"Sounds pretty good to me. Instead of all of those self-help books and marriage counseling, there should be some classes on how men can keep some their money."

"For those who don't know, the "Hoosier Gazette" is kind of a local version of "The Onion". Not quite as funny for non-Hoosiers who don't always get the in-State jokes."

"Been married 42 years, Long enough to know the basic principals of marriage are love and trust. How can anyone trust a person who has secretly salted away funds for a divorce. My advice is if you dont trust the woman you are marrying , dont marry her."

"Never , ever let a good piece of tail enter your thoughts of marriage. too many men think with the little head. Marriage is a lot more than sex."

"It's understandable but I suspect it will become a self fulfilling prophecy. It's not the proper attitude to have when embarking on a marriage. It's too bad that energy isn't directed into making sure this is the right female and making it work."

"Advice that would destroy the divorce industry if followed. As we speak, a league of domestic attorneys and state child welfare workers are being dispatched to track you down and bring you into compliance."

"The divorce system is NOT a pain from the female side - it's filled with incentives. The only way this could be a deterrent is to get rid of the "no-fault" divorce. Let the person who strays, leaves, or creates a hostile environment for the spouse pay. The way it is now, women more than likely get custody (and therefore child support, whether or not it goes toward the child's benefit), a LOT of property (usually including the house, especially when there are children), plus alimony (whenever they can). That's quite a benefit package for the unfaithful woman."

"I realize most states require that insurance policies cover only fortuitious events, but I wonder how long before it comes to "divorce insurance." In fact, I wonder if Rush Limbaugh has such coverage....though he is a very high risk....."

"You're right. Having a secret stash of cash is very different than pre-nups. Keeping secrets (other than "well...yeah, maybe your butt does look a little fat in those jeans") is no way to make a relationship work."

"The article doesn't reference men on a second trip around the park. They may well have life experience that compels them to hedge their bets before getting back on the ride."

"I do agree though that some of these measures seem so cynical that the guys taking those precautions should probably not get married, but not for their sakes....they'd be doing the woman a favor by stepping down."

"The divorce rate is approaching 50%, with most divorces initiated by women. The overwhelming majority of these men trusted the girl when they married her. Several of them were friends of mine who got raped in the divorce. No matter how much you trust a person NOW, and no matter how trustworthy a person is this week, people change. There is no guarantee that the woman you love and trust this week will not turn into a 14-ct b***h in 10 years."

"Heck, these men aren’t getting good advice. They should be advised to setup offshore foundations. In those foundations they can place their house, cars, bank accounts, clothes, etc., and nobody will be able to touch it or claim it but the individual. In these offshore foundations, the person can leave a last will and testament and/or instructions dictating to whom and how his possessions should be distributed should he become incapacitated (mentally) or die. Also, their names do not appear in any public document; therefore, nothing can be traced to the “owner.”"

"I've never been married, but I can't even fathom women trying to destroy someone they claimed to love at one time. If I ever get married I would work hard to make it succeed, but if it did end in divorce, I would expect to leave only with what belongs to me."

"And I bet that if your future husband knew you wanted to be able to screw him royally in the event of a divorce, he'd be livid too."

"Yes, the woman makes out like a bandit. Typically in her mid-thirties with a couple of kids -- now there's the kind of hot prospect guys are looking to date/marry."


Episcopal Dispute Over Gay Policies Halts All U.S. Bishop Appointments

Sad decision. With all the ills in the world that could be attended to by the church, the most urgent matter for the Episcopal Church is to put a stop to the appointment of any more bishops. I have no idea how they are going to come to a resolution by sitting this out for a year. It's clear that there isn't going to be a meeting of the minds over openly-gay Gene Robinson's consecration and what it means to the church's future. Openly gay and closeted priests are in church, and there are gay Episcopalians in the pews. It's hard to imagine that there isn't going to be a split over this. (NYT):
The bishops said that they needed to take such an "extraordinary action" in order to "contribute to a time of healing" in the global communion, where fractures over homosexuality deepened after the American church consecrated an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

After a six-day retreat and meeting in Navasota, Tex., that ended today, the American bishops also pledged not to bless same-sex couples or to authorize "public rites" for such ceremonies for a year. But the wording of their statement left open the possibility that some priests could bless gay unions, since some in the church consider the blessings to be "pastoral care."

The American bishops themselves are deeply divided over the issue of homosexuality, but together they must lead an American church that is now being ostracized by fellow Anglican churches, to which they are linked through a common heritage in the Church of England.


Headline of the day: Sex doll sparks post office bomb alert



You just can't make this stuff up. Given our lax security, I'm sure a vibrating, gyrating, blow-up-Bambie would make it through any airport or post office. (Reuters):
A blow-up sex doll has sparked a bomb alert in a German post office after it started to vibrate inside a package awaiting delivery, police say. "Workers were unsettled when it began vibrating and made strange noises," a spokesman for police in the eastern city of Chemnitz said on Wednesday. "They were worried the package might be a bomb."

Officers brought the sender to the scene and discovered the source of alarm was an electrical device inside a life-size female sex doll. The man told police he had wanted to return the doll because it kept turning itself on at the wrong moment. Order was restored after the sender removed the doll's batteries so the defective product could be returned.


Mother Schlafly wants to b*tch-slap the ACLU



In January I reported on Phyllis Schlafly's Conservative Agenda for 2005, in an edition of the House Blend's "Get To Know Your American Taliban" series. She's hard at work now in March, flapping her gums over her ludicrous agenda item that was at the top of her list, under the heading "Curb Supremacist Judges." She wants the ACLU to be prohibited from receiving funds for any cases involving church/state issues. Mother Schlafly, whose son John is openly g-a-y (just so you know -- there's an interesting family dynamic), pulls no wingnut punches. Paging Nurse Ratched...(AgapePress):
Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum says the American Civil Liberties Union is getting rich at the expense of religious expression. She contends that the ACLU is stuffing its coffers with money gained by challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and Ten Commandments displays in various public buildings around the United States, and she wants something done about it. "Congress should repeal the law that allows the ACLU to collect attorneys fees when they have these Pledge of Allegiance and Ten Commandments cases," she says. Schlafly believes U.S. lawmakers should amend the law so that the organization could not benefit monetarily from challenges to the acknowledgement of God under the establishment clause. According to the pro-family spokeswoman, the ACLU litigants are making millions of dollars from these court challenges -- especially when they manage to get an activist judge to hear the case. But Schlafly says the law was never intended as a financial tool to generate windfalls for the ACLU or anyone else.


My wallet feels lighter, how about yours?


In the 2004 elections, we ran on large issues; we campaigned on a platform of big ideas; we discussed those ideas at every campaign stop. And the American people responded. And now it is our turn to respond and do what they expect. We campaigned and said that we will be wise with the taxpayers' money. I have submitted a budget. Congress is now working on that budget to make sure that when we spend money, we do it wisely or not spend it at all. To keep the economy growing and creating new jobs, we must make tax relief permanent.
-- President Chimpy, last night at the National Republican Congressional Committee Dinner
Our president wants to keep money in the taxpayer's pocket right? What about these little items:

* President Bush had asked that $658 million in his request for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan be spent on a fortified diplomatic compound that could house a staff of 1,000 in Iraq. That was sliced to $590 million. [Thankfully, the House approved an amendment that bars money in the spending package from being used for embassy security, construction and maintenance.]

* Halliburton continues to pick our pockets -- A Pentagon spokeswoman said an audit released by Democratic congressmen on Monday that questioned $108 million in costs by Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root was conducted to determine whether "fair and reasonable" prices were charged for fuel it brought into Iraq.

* An Army spokesman said KBR had been awarded $9.4 million in bonus payments from its work in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

* 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.

* Halliburton subsidiary KBR paid inflated fees for cell phone services, bought hundreds of rolls of duct tape for $60 each and obscured the waste by failing to file paperwork properly. In one case, he said, a fellow procurement employee recorded a multimillion-dollar purchase as a $200 order, then dismissed it as a mistake.

Just asking. And, now he wants his hands on Social Security? BTW, he's already conceded today that the plan that he's shilling across the country won't actually fix anything. Shakespeare's Sister has more on the folly of our budget.


What's the big deal about that rainbow flag, anyway...



Surf over to Julien's List for a great entry, "If Only More Straight People Could be as Understanding." When you're dealing with wingnuts that have no concept of what it is like to be an oppressed minority, you come up against questions like this.
So, folks, recently I received a question (in response to a comment I made about how nice it was to see all the rainbow flags hanging from many of the stores and restaurants in Key West)...the question was:

I mean no disrespect, but I am just curious. Why is it the so many homosexual people choose to display the rainbow sign or flag? I don't see nearly as many "straight" flags of bumper stickers.

Of course, being one of those who love differently than the mainstream, I took the post at great disrespect.

My thoughts, immediately, were as follows...

Do you REALLY need an answer to that? People who love differently are subject to higher taxes, lesser rights in child custody and adoption, the butt of jokes and insults, and countless crimes just for being who they are.

And upon further reflection (like 5 minute's worth...):

Do you know how wonderful it is to be able to walk into a community where I can hold the hand of the woman I love more than myself, enjoying beautiful weather, and good food, and each other, without hateful words, nasty looks, or other actions from those who do NOT need to hang a flag to show where a "safe" zone is...
Go read the rest.


Christian abstinence program plans to 'Take the Town'

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


A Jesus ring to help you say "I don't," before you say "I do". From Hall Jewelers.

There's no doubt that abstinence is the safest route for young people, given the rampant STDs, teen pregnancy, and poor-to-middling sex ed. However, when you have programs like this nonsense, which promotes abstinence-only education and virginity pledges instead of facts teens need to know about contraception and sexual health, you are asking for trouble.

In February, a study of Texas teens came out proving that abstinence-only programs, a major plank in President Bush's education plan, do not work. Over $130 million is being stolen from the taxpayer cookie jar to fund this crap. The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls had sex before receiving abstinence education. After the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex. For boys the result was even more stark: for tenth graders (14 to 15 years old), jumped from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

Despite these statistics, the religious right continues its chastity crusade. The marital purity movement marches on. (Agape Press):
A Christian abstinence program has launched an initiative designed to help communities find strategies for reclaiming and proclaiming the value of sexual purity among young people.

True Love Waits (TLW) is a youth-based international campaign that uses positive peer pressure to encourage teenagers to commit to remain sexually pure until marriage. And now, through its new "Takes the Town" initiative, TLW is encouraging cities around the United States to engage in a unified, community-wide approach to promoting abstinence.

Jimmy Hester, a co-founder of TLW, says the new initiative will encourage more of America's communities to embrace abstinence education in a comprehensive way. "And when I say community," he explains, "I'm talking about the different parts of the community, such as businesses, health organizations, education organizations or schools; also media, and maybe even so local government."


"Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime. Give a girl a jesus head chastity ring, and her fish won't be eaten until she's married." (credit to ShakesSis). Factory79 Jewelers.

...TLW hopes to involve 50 communities during the first year of its "Takes the Town" initiative. The movement's co-founder says the abstinence education initiative will not only challenge those cities and towns, but will also encourage those students who have actively participated in True Love Waits programs and emphases in recent years.


The Dark Wraith on Social Security, rising gas prices, and a blogScream

Whenever I want to fill my brain with info on the chugging (or not-so chugging) economy, I turn to The Dark Wraith Forums (it's recently moved to new domain digs, so check your blogrolls). He has interesting comments up on SocSec...
As far as Alan Greenspan's testimony today, it was largely more of the same scare-the-pants-off-everybody blather about the future of Social Security. His emphasis during this session was on the need to slash benefits for future retirees unless something is done right away to shore up the system. It remains to be seen if any of the ruling party legislators will take the courageous step of removing the cap on personal income subject to the Social Security tax, a change that would, by most accounts, make the system solvent until near the end of the century.
Check out the rest of the post, "Stock and Bond Prices Sucked Down as Gas Prices Pump Up."

On another front, Dark Wraith is helping to break open the clubby atmosphere of political blogs by creating a wire service, blogScream, to help spread the word about lesser-known but newsworthy blogs. The announcement is here.



Today's rally: NC religious leaders oppose constitutional amendment


Folks at the rally; redneck bigot and sponsor of the marriage amendment bill, Gaston's James Forrester.

Here's the first report on today's rally in Raleigh, from the (News & Observer):
Some 100 clergy and people of faith lobbied state legislators Tuesday to oppose a bill that would amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman...The rally was the second for the N.C. Religious Coalition for Marriage Equality, which seeks to counter the perception that all clergy oppose same-sex marriage.

"Not all people of faith are of one mind on this issue," said the Rev. Jack McKinney, the pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh and co-chair of the coalition. Few lawmakers were on hand to hear the speeches. The group spoke mainly to the press.

A bill sponsored by Sen. James Forrester, a Republican from Gaston County, calls for an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But that bill is tied up in a legislative committee, and Forrester doesn't hold much hope that Democrats who control the House and Senate want to grapple with it.

"It doesn't look optimistic unless I get a groundswell of support from people back home," Forrester said..."The silent majority hasn't spoken."

North Carolina is one of 39 states that recognizes only heterosexual marriages as valid. But Forrester says North Carolinians need an added level of protection that a constitutional amendment affords. As proof, he cited the ruling by a California judge Monday who found that the California's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The Rev. Mary Grigolia, the associate minister at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Durham, spoke about her own struggles as a lesbian to get life and health insurance benefits for her partner, who she identified as "Cindy."

A hospital stay last year convinced the couple just how vulnerable they were without any of the benefits married people automatically get — benefits as simple as allowing a family member into a hospital Intensive Care Unit. "Cindy and I do not threaten the institution of marriage," Grigolia said. "It's cruel and unnecessary hardship to exclude anyone's partner from a hospital room."


Wingnut trouble brewing: if Repugs don't shape up, vote Dem or third party



According to his bio, Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and made his own bid for the Idaho State House. That would place him firmly on the winger edge. He has an interesting column on Keyes's Renew America web site that's a clear call to the disaffected bible-beater set that feels it's been short-changed on the cultural wars by Chimpy and Co.

The big news here is that Graham is calling for wingnuts to consider voting for Democrats, if they pass the anti-choice/anti-homo smell test. There are plenty of conservative Dems in the South and West, so there's fertile territory for a shift; he's not blowing smoke.

That's big bad news for queen Ken Mehlman, who has to attempt to pacify the Beltway elite of his party while holding on to the foaming-at-the-mouth American Taliban crowd. This guy is pissed.
Republicans love our votes. As the GOP has run on a platform of traditional values, Religious conservatives joined the GOP in droves. Without the votes of religious conservatives, Republicans would have a hard time in the South and much of the West.

However, there are Republicans and I'm sad to say a growing number of them, who want to take our votes and our hard work, and give us nothin in return. It should come as no great surprise that the first great promise of the campaign President Bush backed away from was his push for a Constitutional Amendment on gay marriage. Defenders of the President may point out that Bush is correct in stating that the Amendment has little chance of passage.

Granting that argument, why did Bush push it during the campaign? After all, the election of 2004 was a best case scenario for supporters of traditional marriage. There's no way he could have ended up in a better position to push the Amendment. The only reasonable conclusion is that the President said he'd push for the Amendment to get our votes.

...If Rudy Giuliani can remain a Republican and even be a top contender for the White House after backing Mario Cuomo's re-election in 1994, why should religious conservatives feel that supporting Republican candidates is a requirement of being in the GOP?

If a pro-family Democrat is running against an anti-family Republican, back the Democrat. If neither candidate is right on the issues than back neither or support a third party. If a socially conservative third party garners significant support and the Republican loses, a message will be sent loud and clear.
Keyes and his supporters may be the fringe, but look at how vocal and growing the fringe element of the GOP is. The establishment Repugs are going to have to figure out something other than the bait-and-switch plan...the sheeple are finally figuring out that they have been used. And they won't sit back and take it.

At least the bible-beating AmTaliban will make a stink about it -- unlike the many Dems that are willing to roll over and toss out progressive principles and chase the fraudulent "values" voter bloc.


Two of a kind: Bush brothers working hard


Taken while President Bush met with Jordan's King Abdullah in the White House. (Larry Downing/Reuters). Jeb speaks at a tort reform rally in Tallahassee. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Caption these, if you please...



Ditto on 'another straw man bites the dust', girlfriend


Are they registered at Williams-Sonoma and Target yet?

The Freepers and the mainstream wingers constantly rail about activist, liberal judges destroying civilization by overruling the will of the people when it comes to gay civil marriage. It was predictably "deja vu all over again" yesterday after news of the ruling in California that affirmed the rights of gay couples to marry.

However, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer is a Catholic Republican appointed to the bench by a former GOP governor. Oops.

Shakepeare's Sister rips the sanctimonious Right again, as she does so well...
And as an aside, of which I was reminded by Judge Kramer’s wise reference to the humanity of law, you’ll recall the Freepers who are worried that all hell will break loose because of this ruling, that it will open the door for “cats to marry chairs” and “ferrets to marry toilet bowls.” The leap from two men or two women who love one another to marriage with non-sentient things is indicative of a very real and very ugly contempt for even the most basic humanity of gays and lesbians.

I find all kinds of reasons to be disgusted by such an attitude, but the one thing I find most repellent about it is that you find this view most frequently among those who also revile Darwinism because they believe the concept of having evolved from apes devalues human existence. So make no mistake—when a Freeper compares a homosexual to a chair or a toilet bowl, it’s not just mindless hyperbole. It’s a calculated attempt to reinforce the dehumanization of lesbians and gays in the eyes of other like-minded human superiorists.
I second that one.


More of the unhinged Right react to the California gay marriage ruling


John "Box Turtle" Cornyn is ready for another round of FMA.

[UPDATE: I gathered up some additional winger comments, added at the end, from Agape Press.]

Last night I posted the Freeper reaction to the ruling that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. They were completely over-the-top. The "mainstream" wingnuts had to sleep on it, and now they are out with their guns blazing. (SFGate):
Conservative backers of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage say a San Francisco judge's ruling Monday that may pave the way for such marriages in California will help spark their renewed effort in Congress to pass the constitutional ban.

...Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a major supporter of the amendment, said Monday's ruling showed how gay activists and sympathetic judges are overturning the will of voters and state legislatures. California voters passed a ballot measure in 2000 with 62 percent of the vote that limited marriage to heterosexual couples.

"Although this was just a lower court ruling, it's a vivid reminder that opponents of traditional marriage have not given up their effort to overturn the will of the people," Cornyn said Monday.


Concerned Women for America's Robert Knight and highly lacquered Jan LaRue are caterwauling about the decision. Sweet.

...Religious conservative groups reacted angrily to Kramer's ruling. The Concerned Women for America issued a statement calling the judge's decision nonsensical and urging that Kramer be removed from the bench.

Robert Knight, the director of the group's Culture and Family Institute, said the ruling was as irrational as the Massachusetts Supreme Court's decision allowing same-sex couples to be wed in the Bay State.

"These judges are no longer acting rationally, and are imposing their own radical agenda, ignoring the law and the will of the people," Knight said.

"This trial court ruling will be appealed and reversed unless the appellate courts are content to allow a rogue judge to make a mockery of the state Constitution and turn rational basis into a meaningless term," added Concerned Women for America's chief counsel, Jan LaRue.

...Evangelical Christian groups, which take credit for helping re-elect Bush, gave the White House an ultimatum before the president's State of Union speech in February: Lobby for the marriage amendment or we won't support the president's other initiatives, including overhaul of Social Security.
Here's a few more choice comments from the AFA propaganda organ, Agape Press...
Randy Thomasson of the Sacramento-based Campaign for Children and Families says Kramer's legal logic is "twisted."

"This is not an equal protection case," the CCF spokesman says. "Every adult Californian already has equal access to marriage as proved by law, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Instead, this actually is the establishment of a completely new privilege that never existed before."

And Kramer, he adds, is an "arrogant San Francisco judge" who apparently "hates marriage and the voters" -- a reference to Proposition 22. "Kramer has trashed the people's vote ... and violated his oath to uphold the law instead of making new laws out of his own head," Thomasson says. "This is the worst type of judge."


Randy Thomasson, Lou "out of his mind" Sheldon, and Larry Jacobs of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society have homos on their minds.

Louis Sheldon, chairman of Traditional Values Coalition in Washington, DC, agrees with Thomasson. "The decision issued by [Kramer] ... is yet another example of judicial tyranny," Sheldon says in a press release, "and makes it clearer than ever that California needs a constitutional amendment to protect marriage."..."Maybe [Kramer's] decision will serve as a wake-up call to California citizens to get behind [the two] proposed constitutional amendments that ban homosexual marriage, civil unions, and any other fake marriage arrangements," Sheldon adds.

...Larry Jacobs is vice president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society in Rockford, Illinois. Jacobs says threats to family stability -- such as divorce, promiscuity, and working parents -- have never been more serious than they are now. "This is not the time to be venturing into misguided social experiments with marriage," he says. The Howard Center official says the wide gap between popular opinion and that of the "elite" portends that something has to give. "Usually it foreshadows a political revolution -- like the takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994," he says. "Those who oppose the natural family are on the wrong side of history and thus are in danger of being swept away by the coming tide."


Rally Planned Against 'Defense of Marriage' Amendment in Raleigh

[NOTE: House Blend background on NC's amendment fight is here, complete with the rogue's gallery of redneck losers pushing the legislation and their contact info. I'm chained to my desk today, so my activism will have to be virtual -- if folks attend and get pix, send them my way!]

There's going to be a rally today at the General Assembly Building in Raleigh, led by members of the faith community in support of gay civil marriage. (N&O):
At noon Tuesday, around 100 religious leaders from across the state will gather in front of the general assembly building to rally against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage in North Carolina as only between a man and a woman.

The demonstrators say the "Defense of Marriage" amendment is discrimination against same-sex couples.

Organizers say people of diverse faiths are coming together on this issue, while other people of faiths are defending the traditional definition of marriage.
March 15th Lobby Day and Rally--

Come Out Against the proposed Anti-LGBT Constitutional Amendment. Right now, proposed constitutional amendments sit in both the House and Senate of the NC Legislature. If passed, the amendment would deny any kind of partnership recognition for same sex couples in North Carolina, including domestic partner benefits we have obtained at the city and county level in some areas of the state. Join the NC Religious Coalition on March 15th as we say NO to the discriminatory amendments and YES to equal rights for same-sex couples and members of the LGBT community in North Carolina.

Who: All People of Faith and Religious Leaders who support equality and justice for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community

When & Where: Tuesday, March 15th, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Schedule for the day includes Breakfast, Worship and Training at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh (for directions: www.pullen.org) followed by a Rally and Lobbying at the General Assembly Building

8:00-8:30 Check in and registration
8:30-11:00 Breakfast, Worship and "Lobbying 101" Training
12:00 Noon Rally at the Legislative Bldg
(16 W Jones St, Raleigh for directions: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/help/directions.html)
1:00-3:00 Lobby Your Elected Officials @ Legislative Bldg

There is a full day planned. Join us for whichever parts you are available ~ particularly the rally at NOON in front of the legislative building (16 W Jones St. Raleigh). If you are planning on attending the morning events at Pullen, please contact: borne@email.unc.edu or call 919-260-2189.


New member of the activist reality-based community - check out MailtoBlog

You want easy activism? Here's a great place to stop to find out the latest intolerant activities of the wingnuts and to help combat them.

MailtoBlog (http://mailtoblog.blogspot.com/) provides a way to counter the wingers at their strength -- e-mail campaigns. Several issues a week are covered, focusing on human rights. Each topic covered has email-embedded links so that you can take action and contact the people that need to hear an opposing viewpoint, since we know the Right effectively floods the inboxes of influential people and decision-makers.

The blog already has action items up countering the American Family Association, homophobic columnists, and and a medical school in NY that has banned an organization for LGBT students. Check it out, and Freep better than the Freepi themselves.


Freepers react to California judge on gay marriage

Monday, March 14, 2005

I compiled this from a couple of Freep threads, pulling out some of the funniest and most pathetic crap I've seen in a while.

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"What a $%^&ing twit!!!! outies go to innies...no outies to outies, no innies to innines...Is that RATIONAL enough for ya?"

"America is dead. The greatest country the earth has ever witnessed is now on the decline simply because we did not have the backbone to preserve such a great way of life and standard of living. My fellow Americans I wish you well."

"Here are some more threads about this vile idiocy:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1362645/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1362646/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1362648/posts"

"I am currently a judge (at a fourth grade science fair), and I say that sodomites cannot be married. My proclamation will have just about as much effect as that joker's, except no lawyer will make money on the appeal from my decision."

"only in EUROfrisco"

"Oh Goody! What's next, multiple spouses, someone marrying their mom, dad, sister or brother, their dog, their pig. Perversion is endless and it has obviously reached those in our courts."

"What the HELL is the point of voting if a g***amned judge is just going to run the state (and the country) by edict? Why bother with a republic when we have a dictatorship from the bench? America needs a revolution to restore the Republic. I never thought I'd say that."

"He clearly states in his opinion that the people's will, and their voices, are irrelevant and are not 'rational' values which should be considered in rendering his judgements. He should be impeached immediately, and then run out of the country. Cuba or North Korea are much better suited to his political and civic ideals."

"I see no rational reason why a woman couldnt marry her Grandfather. They are certainly in love. Not likely to have kids, she could get his pension when he kicks off. No rationality for someone not to be able to marry as many husbands or wives as they like either."

"No, of course not. Nor limiting to human beings. Nor sentient beings. Nor living objects either, for that matter. Marriage should be open to unions between cats and chairs, children and grandparents, ferrets and toilet bowls. Any limit at all is purely irrational and discriminatory."

"Let's not get carried away. They haven't gotten away with this YET. This could work in our favor. It will certainly increase the turn out of conservative Californians for an amendment to enforce the ban, which could translate into added power in the State Legislature for Republicans (which is sorely needed). Let's just see how this plays out."

"So, does this mean I can marry my kitty-cat and then use the "married filing jointly" tax tables on my IRS return?"

"This so called judicial ruling will have zero impact beyond this fudge packing Judge's hot tub and on Polk Street in Gayfrisco."

"This type of screw the voter mentality will only worsen until people begin to impeach these legislate from the bench elitists. People must hold accountable lawyers, judges, politicians, etc. or surrender their freedom now."

"And with the latest edict from the culturally-elite dictators-in-robes, another piece of America dies. President Washington, be glad you're in your grave, that you needn't see what has become of all your labors."

"Bring your cat to the courthouse. Have your friends all bring their pets also. Hold a rally and demand the court recognize your unions. If enough people did this across the country, people might finally get the idea of the magnitude of the problem they are creating here."


Judge says CA gay marriage ban is unconstitutional



Great news from the west coast...how long before some wingnuts start preaching the end is near and that the state will fall off into the ocean for its sins? (AP):
A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, saying the state could no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman. In the eagerly awaited opinion likely to be appealed to the state's highest court, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," Kramer wrote. The judge wrote that the state's historical definition of marriage, by itself, cannot justify the denial of equal protection for gays and lesbians.

"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Kramer wrote.


Wingnut Tony Perkins: abortion and homosexual lobbies - a perfect pairing


Tony Perkins, of FRC continues nipping at the heels of the Left, unabated.

Does this demonizing crap not stop? If only the Dems could be so consistent and persistent in fighting off the completely fraudulent arguments coming out of the right-wing propaganda machines. I do envy the ability of the AmTaliban to stay on message. (AgapePress):
The close relationship between homosexual and pro-abortion advocacy groups has grown even closer. The chief executive officer of the leading abortion political action committee, EMILY's List, has been named president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest homosexual lobbying group. The president of the Family Research Council observed recently that, although it might initially appear to most that homosexuality and abortion are unrelated subjects, there are many similarities between the aims of their proponents. According to [Tony] Perkins, both the abortion and homosexual lobbies, upon failing to win their arguments in the public square, turn to activist courts to further their agendas. Also, the FRC spokesman notes, while both groups claim they want the government to stay out of the bedroom, their philosophy ends when it comes to facing the consequences of their constituents' actions; then they are all for government-funded abortions or taxpayer subsidies for programs to address AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. "In addition," Perkins asserts, "the abortion and homosexual advocates cry 'free speech' when they try to put their preternatural agenda, yet they are the first to applaud censorship of religion when it speaks out in defense of traditional culture." Although one group is trying to redefine family and the other hopes to redefine life, the FRC president says the abortion and homosexual lobbies with their equally extremist anti-family agendas may be, on second glance, a perfect pair.


Newsweek: Blogging Beyond the Men's Club

Looks like Newsweek's technology writer Steven Levy might have come across Shakespeare's Sister's responses (here and here) to Kevin Drum's incredibly arrogant and lame post that there is a lack of good female political blogging out there.

A reminder -- Drum's "investigative work" to find some estrogen consisted of: 1) looking for female bloggers on the TTLB Ecosystem, and 2) looking at his male peers' blogrolls. That's going to be real effective at finding the new blood out there. His most ridiculous and dismissive assertion was that men are "more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing." Oh, it's getting me angry all over again...

As the BlogAds survey illuminated, the Technorati testosteroni currently rule the roost -- 75% are men. Those numbers aren't scientific or comprehensive, but based on the local BloggerCon I attended, that seems about right, but I have no problems bumping into political gals in the blogosphere.

I'll have more to say about this topic later when I have some time (damnation - I have to work!), but I thought I'd point you to the column, so Blenders could share their thoughts. A snippet:
Does the blogosphere have a diversity problem?

Viewed one way, the issue seems a bit absurd. These self-generated personal Web sites are supposed to be the ultimate grass-roots phenomenon. The perks of alpha bloggers—voluminous traffic, links from other bigfeet, conference invitations, White House press passes—are, in theory, bequeathed by a market-driven merit system. The idea is that the smartest, the wittiest and the most industrious in finding good stuff will simply rise to the top, by virtue of a self-organizing selection process.

So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous? It appears that some clubbiness is involved. [Female blogger Halley] Suitt puts it more bluntly: "It's white people linking to other white people!" (A link from a popular blog is this medium's equivalent to a Super Bowl ad.) Suitt attributes her own high status in the blogging world to her conscious decision to "promote myself among those on the A list."


Jeebus is my investment banker...


Austin Pryor, guiding your investments, one prayer at a time.

I had no clue there was a market out there for Christian investment advice, since it seems kind of, well, inappropriate. Is the acquisition of wealth and the worldly goods one of the guiding principles in the Bible (help me out here, pastordan)? I know it's clearly been a priority of Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn and a whole host of so-called spiritual leaders, who sleep like babies at night while ripping off the sheeple, but is this really some kind of mainstream thinking taught from the pulpit?

Here we have one Austin Pryor of Sound Mind Investing writing a little self-promotion piece for the American Family Association's propaganda organ AgapePress.
The right investing decision is one that is consistent with a specific, biblically sound long-term strategy you've adopted. One common trait that I find among many of those I counsel is that their current investment portfolio tends to be a random collection of "good deals" and assorted savings accounts. Each investment appears to have been made on its own merits without much thought of how it fit into the whole.

...The right investing decision is one where you've taken plenty of time to pray and to seek trusted, experienced Christian counsel. Because your decisions have long-term implications, you should take all the time you need to become informed. Don't be in a hurry; there's no deadline. A good friend once commented to me: "The Christian life isn't a destination; it's a way of travel." Likewise, you're not under pressure to predict the best possible portfolio for the next six months or make next year's big killing. Your goal is to settle into a comfortable investing lifestyle that will serve you well for decades.

You need time to pray, ask for the counsel of others, and reflect. You should consider the alternatives, examine your motives, and continue praying until you have peace in the matter. If you're married, you should pray with your spouse and talk it out until you reach mutual agreement. You're in this together and, rain or shine, you both must be willing to accept responsibility for the decision. This will add to your steadfastness during the occasional rough sledding along the way.
The piece wraps up with info on this guy's company: Published since 1990, Sound Mind Investing is America's best-selling financial newsletter written from a biblical perspective. To see how their specific saving and investing advice can benefit you, visit them online.


Rotting Cryptkeeper Phelps unleashes his filth in an Indiana forum


A crowd listens as Fred Phelps Sr. of Westboro Baptist Church takes his turn at the microphone during a gay rights debate Sunday at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne; Kathy Sarris, president of Indiana Equality, speaks Sunday during a gay rights debate at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Photos by Clint Keller/The Journal Gazette.

He came, he spoke, he continued to spew hate. At least people got to confront the man in a forum where he had to defend his views. He didn't hold back. (Journal Gazette):
Fred Phelps Sr.’s visit to Fort Wayne ended quietly Sunday as the controversial pastor known for picketing funerals left with his supporters, leaving behind a small crowd of people discussing non-violence and tolerance.

...In a forum moderated by Rev. Terry Anderson, the associate director of Associated Churches of Allen County, Phelps debated Kathy Sarris, president of gay-rights group Indiana Equality, and Dan Funk, who is on the steering committee of the Interfaith Coalition on Non-Discrimination. After the panelists left, about 50 people stayed behind for an audience discussion sponsored by the Center for Non-Violence.

...Organizers said the debate, which drew about 150 people, was meant to explore the issue in a civil way instead of shouting past picket signs. Bleachers in the gymnasium at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne where the debate was held were divided to keep the two sides separated. On one side sat more than 100 people, while the other half was empty except for nine Westboro teenagers and their chaperons who quietly read their Bibles before the forum started. Police watched the event closely but there were no incidents.

Funk drew applause when he said Christianity is not about hatred. “I am a gay man and I am a Christian and I am here to tell you God doesn’t hate fags,” Funk said.

Phelps said his message is not based on hate, but on love, saying the Bible requires us to warn our neighbors of their sinfulness. “If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will warn him his sin is taking him to hell,” Phelps said.

Sarris said Shepard’s slaying must be regarded as a tragedy regardless of one’s views on homosexuality, but Phelps said the only issue is that Shepard is being punished for his sins. All else, including “The Laramie Project,” he said, is homosexual propaganda taking advantage of Shepard’s “pitiful” life. “It has nothing to do with tolerance and diversity,” Phelps said. “We’re talking about a monstrous sin against God Almighty.”

Phelps quoted Scripture condemning homosexuality, but Funk said the quotations were taken out of context and that the Bible only condemns sex that is threatening or abusive. He called some passages “amazingly gay-positive.”

Responding to a question on same-sex marriage, Phelps said America’s tolerance is sending it “to hell in a fornicator’s hand basket.”


Perhaps this is what the American Taliban has in mind for homo control

This happened in Saudi Arabia, but I'm pretty sure we could find a few members of our American Taliban that would see this as a good thing. It's a multi-pronged kind of justice from their perspective. The Saudi culture is hostile if you are openly gay - so for two gay men to kill another for threatening to expose their homosexuality is no surprise there. This story gets bonus points because the two men are then executed. That's three fewer homos to sully the Kingdom. (Independent Online):
Saudi Arabia has executed two men who beat to death a Pakistani to stop him exposing their "shameful" homosexual relationship, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

It said Ahmed al-Enezi and Shahir al-Roubli, both Saudis, ran over Malik Khan in their car, beat him on the head with stones and set fire to his corpse "fearing they would be exposed after the victim witnessed them in a shameful situation".

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Saudi Arabia, a deeply conservative Muslim kingdom which implements a strict version of sharia Islamic law. Convicted murderers, rapists and drug traffickers are usually executed in public. The ministry said the two men were executed in the northern town of Arar, close to the border with Iraq.

Saudi Arabia has put to death at least 21 pople so far this year. At least 35 people were executed last year and 53 in 2003.
Lest we forget the American-style version of this kind of justice...


Renie Phillips, mother of murder victim Richie Phillips, chokes back tears as she testifies about her son.

* Richie Phillips: Beaten, strangled, stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into a lake in Elizabethtown, KY. His killer, Joshua Cottrell, 23, used the "gay panic" defense, claiming Phillips made an unwanted sexual advance on him after Cottrell lured the gay man to his hotel room (the murderer's own aunt said he killed Phillips on purpose).



* Billy Jack Gaither: In rural Coosa County Alabama, the 39-year-old was slashed with a pocketknife, beaten with an ax handle, and burned on a pile of tires by two guys because "he was queer." Steven Eric Mullins, one of his killers, said in a police confession "I had to 'cause he was a faggot.". At trial, however, a number of witnesses came forward to allege that Steve Mullins himself had been involved in homosexual acts, and may have, in fact known or been involved with Gaither (sounds terribly familiar to the revisionist smear on Matthew Shepard by ABC's 20/20).

* Scotty Joe Weaver: a gay 18-year-old that was tied to a chair in his trailer in rural Pine Grove, AL, 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. Detectives say the murderers’ primary motive was robbery, but that they did select Scotty as their victim because he was gay



* James Maestas: 21, attacked by five men, beaten to unconsciousness, after having lunch with several female friends at a Santa Fe restaurant. The five men followed the group to the hotel and along the way they "pumped" themselves up by talking about "fucking those faggots up".

And, of course, we have the recent gay-bashing in Chapel Hill.

It all points to the fact that we don't need sharia law here to get the same results in the good old US of A, as long as we have the Dobsons, Falwells and the like stoking the violence against gays, letting the violent cretins of society mete out their own sense of sick "justice" as they see fit. Same deal, same results.


Sunday open thread

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Beautiful day out, working in the yard again. Plan to do a fish fry outside -- catfish and hush puppies with veggies and have dinner out there as well.

Anything happening today?


NYT: More faux news shilled out by the Bush White House and our lazy-ass media

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Is it real (news) or is it Memorex? A "report" on airport security improvements, courtesy of the Bush White House spin machine. Radio-Television News Directors Association's Barbara Cochran thinks some of the ethics codes might need tightening up, Bahahahaha.

Un-f*cking-believable. The NYT reports in a lengthy, detailed piece, that even more fake news reports are being created by the White House and are being released to (and played by) media outlets that are broadcast all or in part without vetting. These phony news reports give viewers the impression that they are watching journalism in action. The real crime is that there is no outrage about the slack-ass, disturbing lack of journalistic ethics (and utter laziness) by the news outlets that are showing these pre-digested shill pieces for Chimpy policy.

News outlets, bastions of that highly regarded and above-reproach profession we know as journalism, that look down their noses at bloggers.

You'll recall that the Bush administration spent over $250 million (in ithe first term) on public relations contracts. That, according to the Times, is nearly double what the last Clinton administration spent, so there's a wealth of this slickly-produced propaganda out there to sway the unsuspecting public.
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source.

Federal agencies are forthright with broadcasters about the origin of the news segments they distribute. The reports themselves, though, are designed to fit seamlessly into the typical local news broadcast. In most cases, the "reporters" are careful not to state in the segment that they work for the government. Their reports generally avoid overt ideological appeals. Instead, the government's news-making apparatus has produced a quiet drumbeat of broadcasts describing a vigilant and compassionate administration...Critics, though, are excluded, as are any hints of mismanagement, waste or controversy.

Some of the segments were broadcast in some of nation's largest television markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.
The next section really grinds my *ss because it's clip-job journalism. These news stations/affiliates seem to have abandoned all pretense that they want to do original work, and actually welcome these pre-digested news bits. It makes you understand why broadcast journalism has become one big dung heap, a mass of waste product that's pawned off to the sheeple, who don't have critical thinking skills and that's one big set up for what happened in election 2004.
...Local affiliates are spared the expense of digging up original material. Public relations firms secure government contracts worth millions of dollars. The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them. The administration, meanwhile, gets out an unfiltered message, delivered in the guise of traditional reporting.

...in three separate opinions in the past year, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that studies the federal government and its expenditures, has held that government-made news segments may constitute improper "covert propaganda" even if their origin is made clear to the television stations. The point, the office said, is whether viewers know the origin. Last month, in its most recent finding, the G.A.O. said federal agencies may not produce prepackaged news reports "that conceal or do not clearly identify for the television viewing audience that the agency was the source of those materials."
So you would think that maybe the news directors would self-police, making sure that their mission of their stations is not compromised. Apparently not, and the FCC hasn't stepped in to stop the corruption either.
"Clearly disclose the origin of information and label all material provided by outsiders."

Those words are from the code of ethics of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the main professional society for broadcast news directors in the United States. Some stations go further, all but forbidding the use of any outside material, especially entire reports...the news directors association is close to proposing a stricter rule, said its executive director, Barbara Cochran. Whether a stricter ethics code will have much effect is unclear; it is not hard to find broadcasters who are not adhering to the existing code, and the association has no enforcement powers.

The Federal Communications Commission does, but it has never disciplined a station for showing government-made news segments without disclosing their origin, a spokesman said.


Interesting results from BlogAds reader survey are up

Want to know something about yourselves (yes, you out there blogging or reading blogs)? Henry Copeland of BlogAds has been collecting data on folks, and here are some of the findings...
Last year, we got 17,159 responses. This year, 30,079 blog readers responded.

Last year, 61% of responding blog readers were over 30 years old. This year, 75% are over 30 years old.

Last year, 40% had family incomes greater than $90,000. This year, 43% exceed that figure.

Year over year, some figures are remarkably stable. One reader in five is a blogger. As was the case last year, exactly 1.7% are CEOs. Almost the same number (44%) spend more than $500 for air tickets. 86% purchased music online, last year and this. Last year, 79% were men. This year, 75% are men. [That's no surprise, still a guy's domain, but bloggrrls are making noise. :)]

The most interesting news comes in section 8. Aficionados of PR-speak will recognize these questions as benchmark tests to identify who is an opinion maker, a member of the ten percent of Americans who are believed to set the agenda and steer the opinions of the other 90%. To qualify as an official "influential," RoperASW, the leading firm consulting in the field, you have to answer 3 of those questions (excluding a petition) in the affirmative. Clearly the blogosphere is crawling with certified grade A opinion makers.


Freepers pushing Jeb in '08, but still obsess over Condi



Love the Freepers. I haven't pulled some quotes in a while. They started ruminating about Jeb-based tickets in '08 as a result of a squib in a Bob "The Prince of Darkness" Novak column. Strange thing is, they just can't stop talking about Condi Rice.

Actual Freeper Quotes™
"Rice/Bush?"

"Gingrich/Bush?"

"McCain/Bush????????"

"Tommy Franks/Jeb Bush"

"I'd like to see either:
Sanford/Bush
Pawlenty/Bush
Pence/Bush
Owens/Bush
Allen/Bush"

"If Jeb is anything like his brother I don't think we can afford the bill." [Bahahahahaha!]

"GOP politicians agree that five Bush presidential nominations out of the last six campaigns would be one too many for the country to take."

"I like girls. Especially the smart, experienced and very savvy ones like: Elizabeth Dole/Connie Rice That'll get my vote."

"Actually, Governor John Ellis Jeb Bush would actually make a great Republican Presidential candidate for the following reasons: 1. He's a governor of a very populous state. 2. He is well-liked and quite popular. 3. He speaks Spanish fluently, which means he can easily court the increasingly powerful Hispanic vote. That type of credentials is a major winning combination that is very hard to beat."

"Not unless he saves Terri!!"



"Condi won't pick Jeb - wouldn't be prudent -- but instead will look to Senator Santorum to shore up her conservative credentials, and lock up Pennsylvania which, as we have found out is an essential electoral collegel state. here you have it - the definitive 2008 inside scoop."

[OK, Blenders, read the following quote and tell me what the hell is this conspiracy they are talking about? WTF?]

"Elizabeth Dole was either too incompentent or too compromised to EVER even mention the fact one Bill Clinton had been definitively proven to have been the source for tainted prison plasma which infected countless recipients of various blood derivatives fractionated in Canada. She sat on the story through two election cycles, leaving the party to prattle about bimbo eruptions instead of the bad blood which might have blown a hole in one of his most shrill constituencies ... the Log Cabin sorts the GOP's been courting in earnest since 2000."



"Quayle/Bush" [OMG - is this person on crack?]

"Jeb Bush/Condi Rice 2008"

"A Jeb Bush/Condi Rice ticket would be my choice for two reasons: I really do think it would be great for the country and I think it's an unbeatable ticket."

"For the reasons that Jeb would be an excellent candidate, add to that brilliant, stylish Condi pulling the votes of women and blacks, and we'd have a landslide. Frankly, I can't think of anyone else who would come close to having that high probability of win."



"Now living in Florida, I've seen a lot of Jeb Bush. The man is PERFECT for the job of VP or P. There is something about him I can trust and I think many people, both on the left and right, feel the same way."

"I think Condi is great, but I am not sure she would be perceived as being ready to run for president. She may well be ready, but perceptions matter -- she would need to get elected. But 8 years as a VP under Bush, would make her a shoo-in afterwards. And if we would get 8 years of Jeb/Condi, then another 8 with Condi as president, by the end of that Democrats would be extinct -- they would have all moved to France."



"Rice probably could reduce the landslide margin by which Hillary would beat another GOP candidate among blacks, and possibly among women. But whose to say those gains wouldn't be offset by a loss of support from the base? We know she is liberal on racial preferences (like Bush), so that probably bodes ill for her stance on other social and cultural issues."

"Where is she on marriage? Abortion? Immigration? Second Amendment? Judges?"

"All this talk of femme candidates is sorta silly, though. The GOP will deliver the first openly-gay nomination before it backs a woman for President. That foundation was being laid as early as the 2000 convention when, instead of giving the slot to some pro-lifer like Keyes, they proudly featured their openly homosexual Republican speaker at the convention. Mark my words."

"Personally, despite his doing a fine job as FL Gov., I don't think he brings much to the ticket, other than the name. The lib media will have a field day with the whole "corrupt dynasty of stealing elections" crap."

"In the current political climate I agree with you. I just don't see a woman president anytime soon for America. Even Hilligula I dont' believe the dems will nominate. They'll run some white very high IQ, smooth talking, communist, wealthy elitist, male."


GodZella pimping himself with the Rev. Teletubby



I'm so tired of Zell Miler prostituting himself to the Religious Right as a "Democrat" whose party has left him for the moral gutter. The former Georgia governor and senator has made a fool out of himself most of the time -- his unhinged challenge to a duel to Hardball's Chris Matthews is now legendary. It's fraudulent for him to continue to trot his sorry ass out every time a wingnut picks up the phone to stroke his ego. When you read this pathetic article written by Rev. Teletubby for WingNutDaily, practically planting a big wet one on Zell's country *ss for speaking at Liberty University. (WorldNetDaily):
Sen. Zell Miller, the lifelong Democrat who broke party ranks to support George W. Bush in the 2004 election, spoke to an overflow audience of 10,000 students, faculty and staff at Liberty University on March 9, urging our young people to live out their lives of faith within a culture that is increasingly forsaking the foundational truths of the Bible. In his speech, Sen. Miller advocated the acceptance of the Ten Commandments in the public square and a return to biblical values in America.

"The admonition that you cannot serve God and mammon hits us between the eyes and forces us to choose on issues like public displays of the Ten Commandments, or abortion on demand, or stem-cell research or homosexual marriage," Sen. Miller stated. He called same-sex marriage "a very dangerous social experiment" and denounced "activist judges" who have placed their stamp of approval on it.

The one-time Georgia governor reminded the audience that a beautiful depiction of Moses handing down the Ten Commandments appears at the U.S. Supreme Court building: "It is the perfect display for the highest court in our land, for it was the Ten Commandments that provided the foundation of not only our moral law, but our judicial law."

He continued, "Larger than life, Moses is shown displaying the Ten Commandments in one of the most public places, in our nation's capital city. So why not in our schools, in our city halls and our courthouses across this Christian nation?"

Sen. Miller believes America is at a pivotal historic place as despisers of our Judeo-Christian culture accelerate their attempts to conceal and deny our nation's Christian heritage.


The legend lives on...

"We have reached a critical juncture as a nation," he stated firmly. "If we continue to allow indecency in our courts, in our schools, entertainment, businesses and in our nation's capital, we will go the way of those other civilizations that first rotted and then disappeared. But if we replace this deficit of decency with common sense, compassion, tough love and the truth of God's word, our example of liberty and freedom will become a beacon throughout the world."

..."There's always an ongoing struggle between liberty and tyranny, between good and evil," said Sen. Miller. "And we must always make a choice between the two."
Zell doesn't have a problem at all giving "legitimacy" to the AmTaliban -- the Freeper crowd loves this guy (is that a surprise?). As far as I can tell, Zell no longer holds any positions remotely resembling Democratic values.



Chimpy's SocSec disinformation road show continues, folks aren't buying it down South


President Bush discusses his Social Security dismantling plan to an audience at the Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, La., Friday, March 11, 2005. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite); graphic: hermes-press.com

Guess he might need to bring out some tap dancers and an organ grinder with a monkey out to help drum up support. Here's how a swing through Tennessee went. The GOP rep Bush was there to shore up didn't even bother to show up for a photo op with Chimpy -- that's when you know they are on the retreat.(Tennesseean):
The president's Social Security travels have taken him to 14 states since his Feb. 2 State of the Union address, with visits to Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona to come later this month.

Many polls show public skepticism of Bush's plan.

A survey released yesterday by The Associated Press showed that 56% of respondents disapproved of Bush's handling of Social Security, compared with 37% who approved. Other recent polls have found that support for Bush's plan has declined since the president launched his sales campaign last month.

''President Bush is having a hard time selling his plan on Social Security because there is no elite consensus that the problem is as serious as he paints it,'' said John Geer, director of political science graduate studies at Vanderbilt University. ''It's going to be a tough sell.''

In both stops yesterday, Bush spoke highly of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democrat who established a public retirement safety net. ''Franklin Roosevelt did a good thing when he set up Social Security. It has worked,'' Bush said in Memphis. ''And so the discussion today is not to get rid of Social Security; the discussion today is to build on what Franklin Roosevelt put in place.'' [What a crock of sh*t.]

...Many Republicans are worried about the political fallout if they tangle with the popular government retirement program. So, in hopes of making it easier for more Republicans to go along with him, Bush has begun emphasizing the need to tackle the less controversial issue of the program's long-term solvency. He also has focused much of his traveling on areas represented by GOP lawmakers who are either still on the fence or are taking heat for backing his proposal.

Bush's Memphis stop was aimed partly at Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, whose 7th District touches the fringes of both the Music City and the Bluff City. The Democratic National Committee ran ads to coincide with Bush's visit, slamming the president's private accounts proposal and telling listeners to encourage Blackburn to oppose it.

Blackburn, who did not return to Tennessee from Washington to appear with Bush, has been supportive of creating private accounts, but only after the Social Security system's long-term solvency has been addressed, her spokesman, Ryan Loskarn, said.

All of Bush's events the last two days have been infiltrated by protesters — sometimes more than one. Bush was interrupted four times by people in the Memphis crowd trying to shout out an alternative message. One woman was escorted out; the rest were drowned out by the president's remarks and the largely supportive audience.




Lesbian wins sexual harassment/gender presentation suit against UPS


Riki Wilchins, executive director of GenderPAC, says Kathy Hoskins' victory "is a huge step forward for women everywhere who want to be judged for the quality of their work, not how they express their gender."

The knuckle-dragging UPS supervisor in this case got his company in big trouble. Tell me how does the way a UPS delivery person looks affects their ability to get a package from point A to point B? The plaintiff had to fight this on sexual harassment, abusive work environment and the history of lack of advancement and hiring of women generally by the supervisor.

The company does not have a "gender identity and expression" in its Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) polices, so on its face, that kind of discrimination would have been considered A-OK. (Gay Wired):
An openly lesbian former United Parcel Service (UPS) worker was awarded $63,000 this week in her hostile work environment sexual harassment suit against the world's largest package delivery company. The jury concluded that the 14-year UPS veteran experienced severe, widespread and persistent harassment that created a hostile and abusive work environment, which ultimately led to her wrongful termination.

"The outcome of this case sends a clear message to UPS and the rest of corporate America that harassment based on gender stereotypes will not be tolerated," said attorney Waukeen Q. McCoy of the Law Offices of Waukeen Q. McCoy, who represents the plaintiff in this case. "Discrimination in the workplace must stop, and stop now. We will continue to fight this case against UPS at the appellate level."

The case, which was argued in San Francisco Superior Court, focused on Kathy Hoskins' complaint of persistent harassment by coworkers and supervisors about her appearance. She also was denied new work equipment and other uniform and safety equipment that was readily available to male employees. Hoskins is an African-American woman whose gender presentation does not fit the stereotypical feminine model.

"According to my former supervisor, I wasn't 'feminine' enough," said Hoskins, who worked at a UPS facility in San Bruno from September 1988 to February 2003 as a package car driver.

Ms. Hoskins was one of only four women out of a total of 56 employeesthat worked at the San Bruno facility. The supervisor who was the primary source of the disparaging comments and actions did not hire a woman during his five-year tenure at that facility and promoted only one in his entire 22-year management career . "UPS should take the court's judgment seriously and enforce policies that provide a safe and equitable work environment where every employee can perform their job free from discrimination and harassment," said McCoy.

"This judgment is a huge step forward for women everywhere who want to be judged for the quality of their work, not how they express their gender or how feminine they can appear," said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), a nonprofit group in Washington, DC that fights discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes. "Kathy Hoskins' case is emblematic of a wider trend toward zero tolerance of gender harassment in the workplace that's not only taking place in the courts, but in state and local legislatures and corporate America as well."


Another reason why our health care system is f*cked

While millions of people are underinsured or not insured at all, you've got corrupt doctors (and patients) working the system's labyrinth of paperwork that makes it simple to perpetuate fraud to the tune of $1.3 billion. (NYT):
Twelve Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, working with the F.B.I., said Friday that they had broken up an elaborate insurance scheme in which thousands of patients from 47 states were sent to California to undergo unnecessary surgical and diagnostic procedures, for which doctors filed more than $1 billion of fraudulent insurance claims.

Insurance executives and law enforcement officials said that surgery clinics in Southern California typically paid recruiters $2,000 to $4,000 for each patient who received a medical procedure. The patients, they said, received rewards in the form of cash or discounts on cosmetic surgery.

Daniel M. Martino, acting chief of the health fraud unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the payments to patients ranged from $200 to $2,000 each. Mr. Martino said the outpatient surgery clinics had billed more than $1.3 billion for services provided as part of the scheme, while insurers and employers had lost $350 million in claims paid to date.

...Steven E. Skwara, a fraud investigator at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, said, "It's astounding, the degree of brazenness of some of the folks perpetrating this scheme." He spoke at a briefing with Blue Cross executives and federal and state law enforcement officials. William J. Feccia, an assistant district attorney in Orange County, said the patients traveled to California from 47 states.

Mr. Martino, the F.B.I. official, said insurers became suspicious when, for example, "50 people from Boston arrived in Southern California in a three-week period and filed claims for colonoscopies performed every other day."

...The civil-suit complaint includes abundant detail drawn from insurance claims. In a typical case, an Arizona couple had three identical procedures at a clinic in Buena Park, near Anaheim, Calif. On Saturday, March 22, 2003, the husband and wife had endoscopies. They had colonoscopies the next day. On March 29, both had surgery for sweaty palms.

As compensation, some patients got cash and others received discounts on cosmetic procedures including a "tummy tuck," breast enhancement and surgery to correct the sagging or drooping of eyelids, according to the insurers. The insurers said that doctors had fabricated symptoms and diagnoses for patients, but performed the surgical procedures. Thus, the medical records looked "legitimate or semi-legitimate," Mr. Skwara said.

No patients were named as defendants. But Paul F. Brown, vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, a trade group that helped coordinate the investigation, said: "The vast number of patients knew exactly what they were doing. They did this to get money. They did not need the procedures."


He'd be a Darwin Award nominee - except he's not dead



Georgia Man Accused Of Setting Up Meth Lab In K-Mart Bathroom (News4Jax). Unfortunately to win a Darwin Award, which "salutes the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally kill themselves in really stupid ways," this guy didn't blow himself up cooking meth.
A man who created suspicion by collecting items from various department of K-Mart and taking them into the restroom just before closing time Wednesday arrested after police said they found him operating a methamphetamine lab in the bathroom.

According to Kingsland police, store security began watching Eddie Young, 34, when he came back into the store after making a purchase. After seeing Young get a Coleman lantern from sporting goods and various over-the-counter drugs from the pharmacy area, they said he took the items into the store's restroom.

Store employees reportedly went into the bathroom to tell Young the store was closing in a few minutes, they became even more suspicious and notified police. Finding a powder that tested positive for methamphetamine in the bathroom, Young was arrested for possession of items to manufacture methamphetamines and possession of a controlled substance.


Most excellent graphic on the loser Dems that voted for the bankruptcy bill

Friday, March 11, 2005

from Blogtopus:



Rice Does Not Rule Out Prez Run 2008



Drudge is screeching about this tonight, in advance of a Washington Times interview that's coming out. WTF is a 'Mildly Pro-choice' stance on abortion?
Rice gave her most detailed explanation of a 'mildly pro-choice' stance on abortion, she would not want the government 'forcing its views' on abortion... She explained that she is libertarian on the issue, adding: 'I have been concerned about a government role.'
I have to hand it to her, she has the whole political b.s.-speak down pat. I'd say the woman is unelectable after that 9/11 testimony, but I can never underestimate the stupidity of the sheeple any more.


Today would have been my mom's 70th birthday


Wedding day.

My mom, Shirley Barbara Atwell, would have been 70 today. She passed on in 1997 from lung cancer; I miss her dearly, and think about her often. Thankfully my mom didn't suffer a long illness. I've never smoked myself, but I've not only lost my mom but two other friends to lung cancer.


The pic on the left (click to enlarge) is from a contest in the local paper. Mom won 25,000 free savings stamps. The clip is from June 16, 1963, so she's mondo pregnant with me. I remember her continuing to do those booklets of stamps when I was little. I can't remember what she ever redeemed with them. Mom with me, leaving the hospital in Durham, NC in 1963.

I never smoked because I witnessed my mom cough suddenly up blood at the dinner table when we were kids. I never forgot that image. She spent time in the hospital for a clot in the lung. It was touch and go, but she recovered, and quit smoking. She was smoke-free for several years, but the stress of divorce and raising two kids with not a lot of money in crime-ridden NY during the late 70s drove her back to smoking.

But enough of that. Tim and I had many good years with Mom and I cherish all the good times, and even the hard times. Here's to you mom -- I'll go out and do some gardening for you, and plant your favorite impatiens when the last frost passes.



A web page I made after she passed away is here.


Action alert for political bloggers


Scott E. Thomas, of the Federal Election Commission is going to get hit hard by the poitical blogging community.

An effort by political blog heavy-hitters on both the left and the right is under way to send the message that political speech and opinion on blogs should not be regulated. The Online Coalition is sending letter to Scott Thomas, Chair of the FEC. Snippet:
One area of great concern is the potential regulation of bloggers and other online journalists who distribute political news and commentary exclusively over the web. While paid political advertising on the Internet should remain subject to FEC rules and regulations, curtailing blogs and other online publications will dampen the impact of new voices in the political process and will do a disservice to the millions of voters who rely on the web for original, insightful political commentary.

Under the current rules, “any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication,” is exempt from reporting and coordination requirements. It is not clear, however, that the FEC’s “media exemption” provides sufficient protection for those of us in the online journalism community.

As bipartisan members of the online journalism, blogging, and advertising community, we ask that you grant blogs and online publications the same consideration and protection as broadcast media, newspapers, or periodicals by clearly including them under the Federal Election Commission’s “media exemption” rule.
Take time to sign on if you agree (I'm little blogger signee #641, btw).


Update on the depraved adoptive (and heterosexual) parents, John and Linda Dollar


The Dollars in court. These people managed to adopt five kids and perpetrate heinous crimes against them.

I can't imagine what the defense is going to be in this case. Insanity? The kids did it to themselves? This happened in Florida -- Jeb's state -- which has ruled that gay people are ineligible to adopt. The state, however, did nothing to ensure that this sick heterosexual couple was qualified to adopt FIVE kids to live in their house of horrors? (USAToday):
Five children who say they were abused by their adoptive parents told investigators they were denied food for up to three days and hung by chains in their home, according to court documents.

John and Linda Dollar, who live about 70 miles north of Tampa, have pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated child abuse after five of their seven children told authorities they had been tortured and starved. Three of the children, ages 12 to 17, were severely malnourished. The Dollars face 30 years to life in prison if convicted. The children were placed in foster care after the Dollars' 16-year-old son — weighing less than 60 pounds — was taken to the hospital in January with a head wound and red marks on his neck.

The couple's 14-year-old son told investigators that he and his siblings would sleep in the closet of their parent's master bedroom as punishment for stealing food, according to transcripts of police interviews released Thursday.

The boy also alleged the children were spanked with belts, paddles, switches and whips; kicked if they were caught stealing; and on at least one occasion struck with a cattle prod. Along with being taped to chairs, chains had been wrapped around their stomachs and their father would hang them until they blacked out, the boy said in the transcripts.

The 14-year-old also told police his toenails had ripped off with pliers, saying it hurt "very bad." He said he would scream to make them stop.


Headline of the day - Pay as you go: FL lawmaker seeks to tax toilet paper


FL State Sen. Al Lawson wants to tax two cents a roll. There will be a market for truly economy size rolls now.

Bloggrrl Ms. Julien's down in Key West. I hope you get to comment on this one. What is going on in your state? (Sun-Sentinel):
Florida's Legislature is flush with good ideas. Sen. Al Lawson's involves a 2 cent-per-roll tax on toilet paper to pay for wastewater treatment and help small towns upgrade their sewer systems.

The Democratic lawmaker's pay-as-you-go bill has been the source of many jokes -- bathroom humor you might say -- but he says the issue is a serious one, especially in some of the fast-growing Panhandle coastal counties in his district. ``They're experiencing a tremendous boom in growth and they're not able to accommodate the growth,'' Lawson said.

``We've got 17 million people in this state and all of them can contribute to protecting our underground water supply.''

In a Republican-dominated Legislature that doesn't like new taxes, the idea is likely to pretty quickly end up in the tank. Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, said he didn't think it would get too far, but didn't rule it out.

``We'll be getting to the bottom of it real soon,'' Lee said.


Falling Tree Injures Accused Mississippi Klansman


No change in his ways: Edgar Ray Killen and Richard Barrett (of the white supremicist Nationalist Movement), getting on like peas in a pod in Neshoba County in 2004.

Is this karma? (Reuters).
A suspected Ku Klux Klansman who faces trial on murder charges next month for the notorious 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers is in serious condition in a Mississippi hospital after a falling tree crushed both his legs, officials said on Friday.

Edgar Killen, 80, was rushed to Rush Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, on Thursday after the accident, Newton County Sheriff Jackie Knight said. He was transferred to University Medical Center in Jackson, the state capital, where he was scheduled for surgery on Friday.

An avid woodsman and ordained Baptist minister, Killen was arrested two months ago in connection with the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney, who were shot on a remote road outside this town 41 years ago.

... Prosecutors say Killen was the mastermind of a Klan plot to abduct and kill the civil rights workers on June 21, 1964, shortly after they were released from the local jail where they had been held on charges of speeding and arson.

Killen was among 18 men, including several known Klansmen, who were tried for federal civil rights violations in 1967. Seven were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of between three and 10 years. Killen's trial ended in a hung jury.


Judge shot in Georgia courthouse


Court Judge Rowland Barnes and his court reporter were killed.

(AP):
A judge presiding over a rape trial was shot to death Friday along with two other people at the Fulton County Courthouse, authorities said. A fourth person was wounded and a search was under way for the suspect, the defendant in the trial.

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor confirmed that Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes and his court reporter were killed. He gave no other details in announcing the deaths in the state Senate. A deputy died later at a hospital, while a second deputy had minor wounds, police said. The judge was shot on the eighth floor of the courthouse, while one deputy was shot on a street corner just outside the building, said Officer Alan Osborne with the Atlanta Police Department.

...The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newsroom staff was told that Don O'Briant, a features reporter for the paper, was beaten by the suspect and carjacked outside the courthouse. Mike King, an editorial board member for the paper, said O'Briant was taken to Grady.

All the judges in the building were locked in their chambers. The courthouse and other buildings in downtown Atlanta were on lockdown. Schools around the area were also on lockdown.


Forbes's Ten Richest


Well, #1 is no surprise -- he was on top last year; actually the last 11.

Just so you know who is rolling in the billions, AP has Forbes's top ten folks with disposable income. The bright light is that some of the Waltons (Wal-Mart) fell off the list. How'd the Ikea guy get so loaded?
1. Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, net worth of $46.5 billion

2. Investor Warren Buffett, $44 billion

3. Indian steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal - the biggest dollar gainer after quadrupling his net worth by $18.8 billion to $25 billion - climbed 59 rungs from last year to No. 3 in 2005.

4. Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu, up from No. 17 in 2004;

5. Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud


6. Ikea's Ingvar Kamprad rose to No. 6 from No. 13 last year.

7. Microsoft's Paul Allen

8. German supermarket company owner Karl Albrecht

9. Oracle Corp.'s Lawrence Ellison - returning to the top 10 after slipping to No. 12 last year

10. Wal-Mart's S. Robson Walton.

Four other Waltons took spots 11 through 13, with Alice and Helen Walton once again sharing the title of richest woman in the world with $18 billion each. The five family members of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton are together worth over $90 billion.


Bush is calling for his "mommy," Karen Hughes



One gets the feeling that Bush's camp must be in some amount disarray if he's calling for Hatchet Mommy Hughes to come back to the White House to provide strategy and brainpower. My guess, even though the article denies it, is that the reality of his SocSec dismantling plan's poor reception is sinking in, and Chimpy's getting testy and sore. So now Mommy has to be flown in to rock the baby, and tell him he's smart and loved by the sheeple. (Houston Chronicle):
Karen Hughes, the longtime adviser to President Bush often described as the most powerful woman ever to work in the White House, plans to return to Washington soon to rejoin the president's team as he sets forth on an ambitious second-term agenda, White House officials and outside Republican advisers said.

Seen as a virtual alter ego for Bush who understands how he thinks better than any other adviser, Hughes helped the president build his administration as his counselor in the first term before her surprise resignation in April 2002 to return to Texas with her family. Her forceful presence and physical stature helped cement her position as a key player in any policy decision.



...Several Republicans close to the White House were heartened at word of her return. "Obviously, she's far and away the president's inner voice in many ways," said Wayne Berman, a longtime GOP operative close to the White House. "It's very valuable for any president, particularly at a time when we're at war, to have someone who has that kind of special sense of his words and views and thinking."

Hughes' return to Washington will come at a time when Bush has embarked on a variety of bold but controversial domestic initiatives, including drives to restructure Social Security, rewrite the U.S. tax code, crack down on frivolous lawsuits and liberalize policy toward illegal immigrants.

..."The president's got a lot of major battles, and he and Karen really do think alike," said another Republican adviser who asked not to be named. "A second term is really about taking on big projects that you cannot take on in other circumstances."


USANext's ass is getting kicked by the faggots

Over at AmericaBlog, John Aravosis has been chronicling the progress of the lawsuit by the gay couple whose picture was used by USANext to gay-bait/pump up opposition to the AARP. John's doing PR for this, so he has the latest inside scoop.
In Washington, DC today, US District Judge Reggie Walton (an appointee of President Bush (41)) granted the gay couple's request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against USA Next. The TRO requires USA Next to cease and desist from further use of the couple's photos for any purpose. This is a big deal because it means the judge has found that the guys have reasonable likelihood of winning their case, and he also said he could see how they could get damages.

Basically, the couple's lawyer, Christopher Wolf (counsel with Proskauer Rose, LLP), argued that a TRO was necessary to stop USA Next from using the couple's image for additional ads. USA Next's lawyer would not promise that the image wouldn't be used again. And USA Next's ad consultant even said in an AP story last night that the gay couple was to blame for getting married!

USA Next's lawyer, Robert Sparks, argued that there was no indication that the couple would be irreparably harmed if the TRO wasn't granted (that's part of the requirement for granting one).

Wolf responded that had USA Next come to the couple in advance, and offered them money in exchange for the couple signing a model's release so their image could be used in this hateful campaign, the couple would have said NO, there's NO amount of money you could offer. Thus, the damage from USANext running the ad again was incalculable - there is NO amount of money that could compensate them adequately as no amount of money would have led them to cooperate in the first place.
Remember, these losers were boasting how they were going to destroy AARP over Social Security at the time of the release of the ad (NYT):
'They are the boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts,' said Charlie Jarvis, president of USA Next and former deputy under secretary of the interior in the Reagan and first Bush administrations. 'We will be the dynamite that removes them.'"
Oh this is rich in hindsight! Then, after the ad campaign was revealed to be irrelevant and lame-ass -- how on earth is gay marriage relevant to Social Security savings accounts -- USA Next said the ad was designed to "test to see how liberals would react." Sweet. That's when the couple decided to sue their ass for misappropriation of their images.

Hey USA Next, you're getting a taste of the pansy crowd that you mocked kicking your bigoted, idiotic asses now. How does it feel, baby? It's not like going up against the impotent Kerry campaign with the Swift Boat crap, huh?


Al Sharpton rips Bush (and Dems) a new one



The guy is wacky and over-the-top, but he is saying all the things the establishment Dems should have said in 2004 and should be saying now. He is on target -- he has no fear. There are so many quotes to highlight in this article! (Capital Times):
The Rev. Al Sharpton compared George W. Bush's re-election a few months ago to a shell game in New York's Times Square where con artists separate tourists from their money.

"George Bush and Karl Rove engaged the public in a three-card political monte game last year," Sharpton told a revved-up crowd in a near-capacity Union Theater Monday night during his Distinguished Lecture Series "sermon." The Republican shell game included No Child Left Behind, an education program in which the administration "left the funds behind," Sharpton said. The Bush campaign never addressed the 45 million Americans with no health insurance or the 1.8 million people who were put on the poverty rolls in the past four years, he said.

"You would think that these and other domestic matters would have been debated and discussed. But they played the card game on us," Sharpton said.

"They had us debate gay marriage. Whatever your opinion of gay marriage is, it has nothing to do with being president of the United States," he said, to overwhelming applause. In fact, Sharpton, a controversial civil rights activist who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2004 election, received a rare pre-speech standing ovation that turned into a complete ovation by the end of his talk.

"The president of the United States has no say at all on the issue of marriage in this country. So how do we have a presidential election on an issue that has nothing to do with the presidency?" The election should have been about whether Bush had done his job right for the past four years, Sharpton said.

Instead, the election swung on two so-called moral issues dealing with sex: gay marriage and a woman's right to choose. "In their definition of values and in their definition of morals, poverty is not a moral," Sharpton said to cheers, adding that we live in a country where children go to school for 12 years and get five years' worth of education, and where senior citizens don't have enough money to afford prescription drugs.

"That's not immoral to them," he added.

"Even if you want to - and I don't - act as though their moral position is biblically based, then why are we limiting it to one or two items?" he asked. Sharpton said that on occasion he finds himself debating the Rev. Jerry Falwell. He is always amazed, he said, at how selective the religious right is with the Bible, pushing for a constitutional amendment on marriage.

"Why don't we have a constitutional amendment on lying, George Bush?" Sharpton said, drawing hoots and hollers. "Why don't we have a constitutional amendment on adultery? Adultery has split up far more marriages than gay marriages have."

It was absurd that the Democrats stayed on the defensive and allowed the Bush camp to define the issues in the campaign, Sharpton said.

Bush's attacks on John Kerry were equally absurd: "Where was he in Vietnam? When first of all, we are in Iraq. Who cares if he was on a Swift boat or slow boat or boat at all?" Sharpton said with a delivery that conjured comedian and fellow Brooklynite Chris Rock and elicited lots of laughter.

"We are engaged in a war right now. We are not voting based on where you were 30 years ago, we are voting based on why are our troops in danger's way right now!" Sharpton said.


Caption these pictures


Here's the straight-faced caption: U.S. President George W. Bush jokes with senior citizen George Wood of Montgomery, Alabama, as he hosts an event about Social Security in Montgomery, March 10, 2005. Bush is on a two-day trip to promote his proposals to reform Social Security. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)


Bye Blue, hello Green?



Shakespeare's Sister is shaking the tree. I hope a whole orchard's worth of fruit doesn't fall on her head because she's asking the third-rail question -- why should progressives even waste their time on the Dems when our investment gets us little or nothing in return? A snippet:
If you are, like me, a true progressive, you're being let down by the Democrats. They can't pull together an effective opposition, they can't deliver a concise message, and they sell out liberal interests in a heartbeat as they make a break for a muddy middle, which they inexplicably remain convinced will help them win elections. I'm finding myself increasingly required to defend positions (such as gay rights or legal abortion)-to other Dems-that shouldn't even be in question. And to boot, many career Dems are just as beholden to special interests as the GOP and are motivated little by the needs of the people they are meant to represent.

Historically, we've insisted on sticking with the two-party system for understandable reasons. If we split the liberal vote, then the GOP will get control of everything. Well, look where our determined solidarity has gotten us. They control the White House, both Houses of Congress, and a large swath of the judiciary, with the Supreme Court looking to go more conservative in short order as well. So how much sense does it make, I wonder, to continue compromising on what we really want, only to end up with what we really feared.
Right on, Sister. I don't know how effective we can be at retaking the party either; I think it will be telling in how effective Howard Dean is as leader of the Dem party. If he becomes a Dem pod person, droning on about moderation that compromises gays, a woman's right to choose and commitment to the separation of church and state, I'd say the party is too f*cked to salvage. At that point going third party cannot do any worse for us than what we've witnessed in the last 15 years of Dem movement to the center and a Repug takeover of everything.


Is this Dean's future?

Remember, the party started going centrist with Clinton and he gave us DOMA and DADT. Gays have been cast to the wolves by both national parties, so there's not much to lose, other than to keep our bags out of the attic in case we need to flee to Canada before the AmTaliban loads us onto the boxcars headed for the "ex-gay" camps.

If you're a woman, you're quickly realizing that your womb is not your own, as far as this administration is concerned, and that the Dems are trying to curry favor with the anti-choice voters at the same time your rights are under attack. It doesn't sound like we're getting our money's worth for our commitment to the Democratic Party.

Centrist Dems (and even allegedly progressive ones in the blogosphere) have decided that "we have to choose our battles." The caving of party discipline over the bankruptcy bill perfectly illustrates that there isn't a sliver of daylight between the parties when it comes to allegiance over corporate money and campaign ambitions.

So far I haven't seen too many legislative battles that Dems have been willing to go to the mat for us on -- aside from Social Security, and Chimpy's plan is self-destructing -- that can hardly be considered a "victory", that would be a TKO.



The Establishment Dem's sh*t is starting to stink like a dirty baby nappy in the hot sunshine of a Tar Heel summer. They need to wake up and toss the crap out.


Official Prayers for the Chimperor, courtesy of the Freepers

Thursday, March 10, 2005



I'm not sh*tting you. This site is for real -- Pray for President Bush. I thought this was a joke, but it's not. In fact, the Freepers have a running post each day on the daily prayer for our jokester President - it's up to "Pray for President Bush - Day 1635."

Really, I don't have a problem with praying for the President in principle; but any site that says the following deserves some scrutiny (my emphasis):
"Prayforgeorgewbush.com is a non-denominational, non-partisan ministry dedicated to lifting up President George W. Bush in Prayer as he serves this country as President of the United States. For over four years, God-fearing Americans have gathered to lift up the man whom God has placed in the office of the Presidency"
Flipping through this site, I came across a page, Action Items, that I eventually expected to find, which nukes any pretense of being non-partisan, even after the above lunacy...
Please lift our President Up In Prayer in the following areas:
l Pray that God would be with our Commander In Chief and this nation throughout all overseas conflicts, including the efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Phillipines, and beyond."
l Pray that in every matter, President Bush will be in the center of God's will for his life and for the life of this nation.
l Pray for stability for this people in time of war.
l Pray that any anti-Bush anti-war propaganda will be exposed for what it is and that in all things the truth will prevail.
l Pray that President Bush & those in his administration would have Godly discernment and wisdom in dealing with the decisions which face them.
l Pray for the safety of President Bush, Mrs. Bush, their daughters, and all who are near and dear to them.
l Pray for the safety of members of his administration and for the safety of our military.
Pray for wisdom for the leaders of our military.
l Pray for our P.O.W.s and their families and friends.
l Pray for minimal losses in the way of "collateral damage."
l Pray for the enemies of this nation and freedom, that a change would occur in their hearts; and, if not,that they will no longer be able to have any influence over people ever again.
l Pray for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan as they rebuild their countries after their historic elections.
l Pray that any further plots against this nation will be made known before they are able to be carried out, and that all who are working actively for the destruction of this nation will be revealed and brought to justice.

[snipped out much more drivel, including one on abortion.]
Again, I have no problem with the idea of prayer or praying for guidance and wisdom for your leader (hey, this fool needs all the help he can get), but don't say it isn't partisan when it is. This is the work of the Freepi and friends.


Like I needed to read this foul NC story at this hour


This perv, Dr. John Hall, asked to continue practicing dentistry while he filed an appeal after his license was revoked by the N.C. Board of Dental Examiners last year. It was denied. Uh, that was a no brainer.

why Why WHY???? What is wrong with this man?! Former N.C. dentist could face assault charges in semen case (News14Carolina).
The lawyer for a former Mecklenburg County dentist accused of squirting semen into the mouths of female patients expects a grand jury to charge his client as early as next week.

Defense lawyer George Laughrun said he expects misdemeanor counts of assault on a female against Dr. John Hall to go to the grand jury on Monday. Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney David Maloney confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that he plans to submit seven counts to the grand jury. Hall could face up to 120 days in prison if convicted.

At an August hearing, former patients testified that Hall squirted a foul-tasting substance from a syringe into their mouths. In all, Hall was accused of injecting semen into the mouths of six female patients.


Report: Global lesbian-baiting attempts to stifle women's activism


Susana Fried of IGLHRC says women are silenced by gay-baiting. Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick sees the attacks directly hampering women in leadership from actively supporting gay rights issues.

Both the Village Voice and Planet Out have stories on the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission's report, "Written Out: How Sexuality is Used to Attack Women's Organizing." It's sobering news about the constant barrage of gay-baiting used to smear and discredit women that dare to challenge the status quo. It is sadly still the norm. (Planet Out):
"With the rise of fundamentalism in both the U.S. and abroad, we are seeing that women who take public leadership on any range of issues are on the receiving end of very calculated attacks," says Susana Fried, IGLHRC's program director. "We want to connect the dots to show how women's sexuality is manipulated in this specific and increasingly common way to discredit and silence women around the world."

The 189-page report, written by Cynthia Rothschild, documents examples of such attacks in countries ranging from the United States to Argentina, India, Thailand, Costa Rica and more. "If a woman is single, she's attacked as a lesbian," says Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's executive director. "If she's married, she's attacked for neglecting her family. Either way, the issue becomes gender and sexuality rather than the merits of the issue under discussion."

One result, says Ettelbrick, is that it becomes more difficult for women's groups to support gay and lesbian rights. "It makes our natural allies more afraid," she says. "We see female politicians retreat into self-censorship. Not only do campaigns go down to defeat, but leadership and vision suffer as well."
The fact of the matter is that women organizing around the globe are hit with a level of hostility that American women cannot fathom. We may be fighting against our elected Cro-magnon representatives' attempts to roll back the clock on Roe v. Wade, but we are not in the type of mortal danger women in many third world countries are. It's disgusting. (Village Voice):
Lesbian- or feminist-baiting can turn threatening, even violent. Last month in Uganda, a coalition of women's organizations were eagerly preparing a staging of Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues when the Ugandan government abruptly banned it.

Jessica Nkuuhe of Isis-Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange, one of the organizations involved, recalled her government's rationale: "'You can't start addressing issues of the vagina. It's a vulgar issue.'" When the play's producers appealed the decision to Uganda's Media Council, they were greeted with vitriol from religious fundamentalists on the radio and television, and in print.

"One man came from one of the churches and said [on the radio that] feminists and homosexuals have a hidden agenda to destroy the culture of our nation and bring in the Western violence of homosexuality," said Nkuuhe. "Some of the our organizations were labeled as led by lesbians and promoting lesbianism." This is no small thing in a country where homosexuality is a deep-seated cultural taboo and remains a crime, offering gays virtually no protection.


FannyAnn Eddy, founder of Sierra Leone Lesbian & Gay Association, was strangled in her office in 2004.

Not all victims of lesbian-baiting are lucky enough to escape injury. Last September, FannyAnn Eddy, the founder of the first-ever gay organization in Sierra Leone was murdered as the result of her work.
To learn more about FannyAnn's work (she left behind a 9-year-old son), visit the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice's web site. An interview with her is here, and an update on the case is at Gay.com.

Thanks to House Blend reader Cat for the pointer.


Women, sports and sexism - has anything changed?


Ria Ledwaba, head of the South African Football Association:"At the moment you sometimes can't tell if they're men or women." Center: South African "lady" footballers; Right: The "Rockford Peaches" of A League of Their Own (1992).

It's like stepping back in time...to the days of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 50s (romanticized in the entertaining Penny Marshall flick A League of Their Own). The "girls" were professionally groomed, sent to charm school and expected to be a lady. From the charm school guide:
You should be the best judge of your own beauty requirements. Keep your own kit replenished with the things you need for your own toilette and your beauty culture and care. Remember the skin, the hair, the teeth and the eyes. It is most desirable in your own interests, that of your teammates and fellow players, as well as from the standpoint of the public relations of the league that each girl be at all times presentable and attractive, whether on the playing field or at leisure. Study your own beauty culture possibilities and without overdoing your beauty treatment at the risk of attaining gaudiness, practice the little measure that will reflect well on your appearance and personality as a real All American girl.
These young women, some of them lesbian, were allowed to play pro baseball - but all of them were forced to present a feminine image to the crowd, to assure that only heterosexual energy was radiating on the field. (Reader's Companion to US Women's History):
The Midwest-based All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which drew over a half-million fans annually between 1943 and 1954, adopted a similar approach. The league employed what officials called the "femininity principle," a shrewd strategy designed to contrast athletes' "masculine skill" with their "feminine attractiveness." Dressed in pastel, skirted uniforms and forbidden by league rules to wear their hair in boyish bobs or to dress in masculine garb, AAGPBL players courted public approval with a wholesome girl-next-door image while thrilling their fans with stellar play. Although some players approved of the femininity principle and others found it ludicrous, all agreed that abiding by the rules was a small price to pay for the chance to pursue a dream—playing high-level professional sport before appreciative audiences. Women of color were denied this opportunity, since the all-white league management believed that African American players, in particular, might damage the league's "feminine" image.
That was history, but apparently nothing much has changed. From today's headlines: (Pretoria News):
The South African women's soccer team is to be coached in etiquette and given tighter T-shirts in a drive to soften its image and attract sponsorship ahead of a 2007 World Cup bid. A top official yesterday said female players who dressed and acted like men were giving women's soccer a bad name and they needed to nurture their feminine side.

"They need to learn how to be ladies," said Ria Ledwaba, head of the women's committee at the South African Football Association (SAFA). "At the moment you sometimes can't tell if they're men or women."

The national team would be given a more shapely kit to emphasise their femininity on the pitch and would swap dowdy track suits for skirts and jackets when travelling. "Obviously they can't wear skirts on the pitch. But they will be given outfits made for women, with female shirts that are shaped for breasts," Ledwaba said.

SAFA would also hold etiquette workshops to turn the players - often plucked from township streets and with little schooling - into national assets. "We need to teach them etiquette and the importance of being a role model," said Ledwaba.

"There are mothers out there who won't let their daughters play football because they think they'll start acting like boys."
Before you dismiss this extreme stupidity and knuckle-dragging thinking as a South African problem, it wasn't that long ago in NY that lesbian fans of the WNBA's NY Liberty team were carefully avoided when the camera panned the stands. The ardent base of support for the league, the paying customers filling the stands, were considered a liability for marketing the game, as experts chased the "family-friendly" demographic. (Gay City News)


Many lesbians have similar stories of how Madison Square Garden has tried to suppress any indication of lesbians in the arena. In 1999, Jess Dobkin recalls, “I made a banner that said ‘Lesbians For Liberty’ and brought it to the game on Gay Pride Day. I was so excited to be going to the Liberty game where there were so many lesbians.”

At the game, Madison Square Garden personnel demanded that she put the banner completely out of sight under threat of eviction from the arena. “There were other banners and signs” Dobkin says, “They wouldn’t let me have [my banner] open at all. They wouldn’t let me and several other people hold it on our laps. We asked if we could hold it during time-out, and they wouldn't let us do that.”
Have women made no progress on this front? Thankfully, due to Title IX of the 1972 Educational Act, which forced equal funding of women's and men's sports in educational programs that received federal funding, women are getting to pursue their dream of athletic competition as never before. But the above Liberty tale shows us that sexuality and women in sports are still a problematic combination for our culture to digest.

I mean, what on earth explains Anna Kournikova's endorsements -- it's certainly not her game, it's her booty. No one begrudges Kournikova for cashing in (at least I don't), it's the fact that she hasn't earned that reward for her athletic abilities, it's for her looks. Martina Navratilova never had lucrative deals on that scale despite her landmark impact on women's tennis, in fact, tennis overall.

So where does that leave us? I guess the dollars and cents of women's sports are still going to be a matter of balancing T&A for some time to come.



Repug "phone jammer" heading to the slammer


Chuck McGee's heading to the Big House for seven months; Chimpy's former New England campaign chairman, James Tobin, might be joining him.

Nice to see one of those upstanding Republicans forced to admit to screwing around with the democratic process. And he's got no regrets except that he got caught, since he plans to go back to work for the GOP for the next election cycle. I'm sure they will welcome this criminal with open arms. (Boston.com):
The former executive director of the state Republican Party was sentenced Thursday to seven months in prison for jamming Democratic telephone lines during the 2002 general election. Chuck McGee pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to make anonymous calls to annoy or harass. He also was fined $2,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. He faced up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"I made a mistake," McGee said as he left court. "I'm prepared to pay for that mistake."

McGee resigned in 2003 after police alerted federal prosecutors to the phone-jamming operation. He denied any wrongdoing at the time. He later admitted paying $15,600 to a Virginia telemarketing company that hired another business to call get-out-the-vote phone banks around the state. The computer-generated calls -- more than 800 in all -- lasted for about an hour and a half. They also disrupted a nonpartisan firefighters' union phones.

"Actions of this nature strike at the core of the democratic process," U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico said.

...James Tobin, the former Northeast political director of the national party committee working to elect Republican senators, also is charged in the case. Prosecutors say he orchestrated the jamming. Tobin has pleaded innocent.

...McGee asked to serve his sentence promptly. He must turn himself in by April 26. "I'll be back in 2006 to help some good Republicans get elected," he said.


Scenes from the rally in Indianapolis on the state's marriage amendment


More than 1,000 supporters of an amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman rallied inside the Statehouse, while more than 500 gay-rights advocates rallied in the blowing snow outside.

House Blend reader and contributor to Julien's List Holly passed along a great slide show of the Indianapolis rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday. Take a look.

Here's story on the event from the Indy Star.


'Ex-Gay' quack dropped from mental health advisory committee

Wednesday, March 09, 2005



This mental health professional and producer of a video on "ex-gays" titled I Do Exist, feels there was "pressure from some unnamed source" that disagreed with his his views about changing one's sexual identity. (Agape Press):
Last September, Dr. Warren Throckmorton was asked to serve for a sixth year on the National Provider Advisory Committee of Magellan Health Services. But last month, Magellan retracted is offer, arguing Throckmorton's views on homosexuality were too controversial. In a recent conference call, chief medical officer Alex Rodriguez accused Throckmorton of mixing religion with mental health perspectives.

Throckmorton, a counselor and psychology professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, says he expected those who disagree with him to attempt to marginalize his views -- but he says he was surprised Magellan could not make a decision based on principle.

"I think it's tragic that a billion-dollar company charged with the mental health care and well being of 60 million subscribers can be, in a sense, bullied by people who disagree with client self-determination," he states.


Laugh out loud time -- "You Wish"



via Sully, hat tip to Oddjob.


Come to Jeebus: Mississippi House OKs Ten Commandments, other phrases in public


Unquestionably heterosexual Mississippi Dem Rep. Tommy Reynolds submitted the holy-roller bill; AmTaliban Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association is ecstatic over its passage.

This kind of bullsh*t almost leaves you breathless. Watching the legislative obliteration of the wall between church and state is akin to watching a 30-car pile-up in slow motion, seeing the carnage and not being able to do anything about it. (WingNutDaily):
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that allows for the posting of religious texts in public, including the Ten Commandments, the national motto "In God We Trust" and pronouncements from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount known as "The Beatitudes."

In 2001, Mississippi passed the first state law in the U.S. that requires its public schools post the motto "In God We Trust." The American Family Association hailed the bill's passage.


Rep. Jim Evans, is also a minister and says politicians that use holy texts for their own purposes "have a weak understanding of God's word." Rep. John Mayo is concerned about using the Lord's name for political gain.

"We commend the Mississippi House for approving legislation that acknowledges America's spiritual heritage and its role in the foundation of society," said Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, in a statement. "Mere acknowledgement of religion and public symbols that reflect our religious history do not equate with establishment of religion."

The bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Tommy Reynolds, was not supported by all his fellow Democrats. Rep. Jim Evans, a minister, objected to the legislation, saying politicians who use holy texts for their own gain have a weak understanding of God's word, the Delta Democrat Times reported. And Rep. John Mayo wrote of the bill: "I hope God forgives us for using his name for political gain."
The bill now goes to the state Senate; the AFA will be lobbying hard.

Thanks to House Blend reader Oddjob for the pointer.


Caption these photos, folks...



BTW, yesterday's captions were quite smashing -- very funny entries from House Blenders.


Hope this empties USA Next's coffers


Using this picture in its anti-AARP ad could cost USA Next $25 million. Beautiful.

[UPDATE: After I posted this I saw that John Aravosis at AmericaBlog is representing the couple that is suing USA Next. John's press release on the action is here. That is most excellent!]

I love this. The gay Portland couple whose wedding picture was hijacked for wingnut propaganda by USA Next, has slapped the organization with a lovely lawsuit in federal court. (365Gay.com):
M. Raymen and Steven P. Hansen are seeking $25 million in damages. The ad, by USA Next, is attacking the AARP for opposing the Bush administration's proposed changes to Social Security and attempts to "discredit" the organization by suggesting it supports gay marriage and opposes the war in Iraq.

The AARP has come under fire from conservatives for opposing President Bush's call for Social Security reform. The ad was produced for USA Next by Mark Montini International, Montini is a GOP strategist and chief executive officer of CampaignSecrets.com.

Last week USA Next and Montini admitted they did not have legal rights to the picture of Raymen and Hansen. The couple married last year during Portland's brief attempt to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The suit names both USA Next and Montini and alleges that the use of the couple’s image without permission constituted an invasion of privacy, was libelous, violated their right of publicity and constituted an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Our privacy and personal integrity were violated when our wedding photo was stolen and used to portray us as treasonous, unpatriotic, and a threat to American troops,” Raymen said Wednesday. “We have been harassed and humiliated by this hateful ad campaign and by the bigotry and anger it has generated against us nationwide.”

"Our lawsuit is intended to make USA Next and Mark Montini pay for the harm they have caused and to send a message to them that they cannot recklessly play with peoples' reputations and make them targets of hate, as they have done with us,” Raymen said. “When we get our judgment, we intend to donate to those who fight the kind of hate and homophobia that USA Next and Montini have demonstrated."
Guess that little bit of GOP dirty tricks business backfired. :)


The Brad Blog on the reopening of the 'suicide' of Clint Curtis investigator



Those of you that have been following the election/voting fraud scandal know that Brad Friedman of The Brad Blog has been tirelessly investigating the ins and outs of this issue.

The latest break is that the mysterious suicide of Raymond Lemme of the Florida Inspector General's office was reopened by Valdosta, GA police after Brad "broke the story of computer programmer Clint Curtis' sworn affidavit charging that he had built a 'vote-rigging software prototype' at the request of Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)."

This background on story can be like trying to untangle an unwieldy vine; I highly recommend a trip to Shakespeare's Sister for a nice summary of the importance of the events and links to The Brad Blog as well.

If you're already up on the story, here's the direct link to The Brad Blog's details, including graphic photos from the actual crime scene, which the original police report alleged didn't exist because the digital flash memory in the camera failed.

Brad's work is the kind of reporting our lazy-*ss news media just refuses to do anymore. There are no ratings or circulation numbers to be found in this type of long-form journalism that requires both an attention span and diligence. Reward his work by checking it out. I mean, it's only our democracy at stake, for crying out loud.


Teresa Wright, Stage and Film Star, Dies at 86



Another one of my favorite actors from the golden age of Hollywood has passed away. I loved Teresa Wright in one of Hitchcock's best, Shadow of a Doubt (with Joseph Cotten). She was also wonderful in The Best Years of Our Lives. (NYT):
Teresa Wright, the high-minded ingénue who marshaled intelligence and spunk to avoid being typecast as another 1940's "sweater girl" and became the only actor to be nominated for Academy Awards for her first three films, died on Sunday at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She was 86.

...After seeing her on Broadway, Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary producer, asked her to play the role of Bette Davis's daughter in "The Little Foxes" in 1941. Her performance in the film moved its director, William Wyler, to tell The New York Times that she was the most promising young actress he had ever directed.

She proved his point by being nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for the picture. The next year, she was nominated for best actress for her next role, opposite Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig's wife in "The Pride of the Yankees," and won the Oscar for best supporting actress as the love interest of Greer Garson's war-bound son in "Mrs. Miniver."

Her work included a starring role in Wyler's "Best Years of Our Lives," winner of the best-picture Oscar in 1946; playing opposite Marlon Brando in his first movie, "The Men," in 1950; and creating the character of Charlie, the innocent but suspicious niece of a serial killer, in Alfred Hitchcock's harrowing "Shadow of a Doubt" in 1943.


Check out "It's time to go, Joe."


Don't let the door hit you on the way out, DINO.

(via AmericaBlog). Great site that tells you why Connecticut needs a real Dem next time around. It's collecting pledges for ANY real Dem that will run against him in the next cycle. Just a few tidbits that show you why Liebertwat has to go...


DINO Joe Votes
2005 Session

1. Boxer Rebellion (Electorial Ballot Count). Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
2. Confirmation Condoleeza Rice (she who lied about 9/11), of California, to be Secretary of State. Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
3. Confirmation Alberto R. Gonzales (he who approved torture and thinks the Geneva Convention is quaint and antiquated) to be Attorney General. Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
4. Senate Bill 5 - Class Actions. Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
5. Confirmation Michael Chertoff, of New Jersey, To Be Secretary of Homeland Security. Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
6. Cloture Motion on Senate Bill 256 - Bankruptcy Bill. Joe voted WITH the Republican Majority
Senate Bill 256 - Bankruptcy Bill. Not voted on yet.


Things got ugly at the Indiana state house over gay marriage


Indiana State Troopers attempt to calm the situation between the supporters and opponents of the state marriage amendment.

Yipes. Indiana was already dealing with the Rotting Cryptkeeper parading about with his "God Hates Fags" campaign, and now they are attempting to trade blows in the Statehouse over gay marriage. (The Indy Channel):
Troopers intervened at the Statehouse Tuesday as verbal exchanges between supporters and opponents of a proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage threatened to escalate.

The confrontation happened at a rally where about 1,000 people expressed support for the proposed amendment inside the Statehouse. Some people from an earlier rally outside the building -- one that protested the proposal -- went inside and heckled the speakers.

Two people tried to grab one of the primary hecklers, but others intervened and prevented any violence. State troopers then stepped between the two groups, preventing one side with making physical contact with the other, RTV6's Norman Cox reported.


Eric isn't crazy about homos, and he's a strong "Sanctity of Life" advocate.

An organizer of the pro-amendment rally, former gubernatorial candidate Eric Miller, spoke over the hecklers, arguing that children must not be taught that there is no difference between traditional and same-sex marriage.

"Our children must continue to be taught that marriage is between one man and one woman," Miller said.

As the amendment supporters left the building, people against the amendment chanted slogans demanding equal treatment for gays and lesbians.

Troopers diffuse a confrontation between a heckler and a man who tried to get him to stop. About 500 people against the amendment held their rally on the east steps of the Statehouse earlier in the day.


Roy 'Ten Commandments' Moore's new book



I came across former Alabama judge and ace wingnut Roy Moore's new book when cruising some wingnut sites (there are ads for it), Instead of going to Amazon to check it out, I went to a Christian bookstore to check out the synopsis. Read and laugh, but I'm sure he'll be hawking this AmTaliban manifesto on the campaign trail in his run for governor.
Chief Justice Roy Moore believes the state must acknowledge the moral principles on which America was founded and that it is not illegal to do so. While the separation of church and state may be a credible and legitimate tenet, it has been largely misconstrued and abused during the last forty years.

Moore was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. His critics, both within conservative circles and without, have maintained that he violated the law by disobeying the order of a federal judge to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments. But Moore brilliantly argues that those who have ordered him to violate his oath have, in fact, broken the law.

So Help Me God will articulate why he believes elected and appointed government officials have the right and the obligation to acknowledge God as the foundation of American government and jurisprudence.


'Sweatshop-on-wheels amendment' - Wal-Mart wants truckers on 16-hour shifts

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


He's in the pocket -- Boozman's taken almost $100K from Wallyworld and its employees to pass legislation for the company's anti-worker agenda. Public Citizen's Joan Claybrook says tired truckers threaten the safety of those around them on the roads

Wal-Mart is shooting to keep those prices low, no matter what. First, violations of wage and hour laws, then landing in court with sexual discrimination suits, and, sickeningly, paying its workers so little that they are forced into state-funded health plans -- it goes on and on.

The latest outrage is a bill in Congress, being pushed by retailers like Wal-Mart to allow drivers of 18-wheeled, lethal weapons to drive 16 hours. How on earth does this make any sense, other than to fatten the bottom line of companies? It certainly shows no regard for the safety of people on the road. Truck drivers are already falling asleep at the wheel. It should be noted that the sponsor of this amendment has received nearly $100K in campaign contributions "from Wal-Mart and its employees." (CNN):
Rep. John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican whose district includes Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, is sponsoring a bill that would allow a 16-hour workday as long as the trucker took an unpaid two-hour break. The proposal is expected to be offered as an amendment during debate over the highway spending bill on Wednesday.

"Truckers are pushing harder than ever to make their runs within the mandated timeframe," Boozman said. "Optional rest breaks will reduce driver layovers and improve both safety and efficiency."

Current rules limit drivers' workdays to 14 hours, with only 11 consecutive hours of driving allowed, union leaders and safety advocates say. That gives truckers three hours to eat, rest or load and unload their trucks. Critics of the proposal accuse Wal-Mart of trying to fatten its profits by forcing truckers to spend more time waiting at the loading dock without getting paid.




...Joan Claybrook, president of the safety advocacy group Public Citizen, said drivers could end up starting their workday at 8 a.m. and quitting at midnight. "This is a sweatshop-on-wheels amendment," Claybrook said. "The last thing we need is for tired truckers to become even more fatigued and threaten the safety of those around them on the roads."

The current rule had been struck down in federal court because it didn't take into account truck drivers' health. In October, Congress reinstated the rule for one year. If the Boozman proposal is adopted, it would retain the 16-hour workday regardless of any new rule.

Nearly 5,000 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2003, and those vehicles were three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than passenger cars, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.


Mount St. Helens is erupting again


(CBC News).


Caption this photo



What is Chimpy doing here? (AP Photo)


Finally - some black pastors worry about being on the faith-based take

There are leaders in the black religious community finally questioning the motives of Bush and his faith-based agenda. What took so long? They are realizing that it could blow up in their faces.

Even as these folks are wary, remember, Chimpy and his constitutional wrecking crew want to give religious organizations the right to discriminate when hiring (see my earlier post, House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Job Discrimination). Some of these religious leaders would, in fact, also be on board with this law because the issues that gives them pause about the faith-based initiative - are that they will have to follow guidelines counter to their faith, and that they would have to refrain from proselytizing. (Agape Press):
A black conservative social policy activist says she thinks George W. Bush's faith-based initiative is taking the wrong approach in trying to empower churches and faith-based groups to care for the needy.

Last week, President George W. Bush renewed his commitment to his faith-based initiative, which would allow churches and other religious groups to receive federal taxpayer funds to assist the poor and provide numerous social services. But Star Parker, founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), feels the president's plan is off base.

She questions why so many conservatives who would normally oppose the big government approach of throwing U.S. citizens' hard-earned tax dollars at poverty and related social problems are failing to speak out against a plan to get churches involved in much the same approach.

"Most people on the right, in particular the Christian Church community, are saying nothing," Parker complains. "In fact, even worse than saying nothing, many of them are actually lining up to get a government grant. This is not the [government's] responsibility, to give out grants of other people's money and redistribute wealth to try to take care of the needs of the poor."

The CURE spokeswoman says Christians should be wary of taking government money. The moment churches start accepting federal funding, she contends, the government immediately starts putting restrictions on churches, such as prohibiting them sharing their faith with those who receive benefits through their faith-based programs. "One of the things that government will do," the activist warns, "is regulate [churches] and make sure that they don't do the first step [to help people] out of poverty, which is preach the gospel."

...Prominent urban church leader Bishop T.D. Jakes also strongly cautions Christians about being quick to take advantage of the faith-based initiative. In an Associated Press interview last year, he remarked that tax-funded religious charities should serve everyone, but they need to retain their right to hire only fellow believers.

Jakes, the pastor of The Potter's House congregation in Dallas, says his church has provided input but refrained from taking funds from President Bush's faith-based initiative. The well-known minister and author does feel it is possible to separate a church's spiritual and secular missions; nevertheless, he advises churches that accept federal money to keep it carefully separated from other church finances in its own account.

Jakes says churches that do opt to take part in the faith-based initiative must take care to remain free and reserve their right to hire only people who share their faith and mission, or else run the risk that they may "cease to be the Church."
On another front, you'll recall that the other frustration by pastors on the Right, the inability to endorse from the pulpit, is also being challenged with legislation submitted by U.S. Rep Walter Jones (R-NC) -- H.R. 235.

After they obliterate this line between church and state, the goal is to get a federal marriage amendment "through the back door" by electing a flood of wingnuts into Congress. I'm sure many of these pastors will be on board with that too.


United Church of Christ continues its "God Is Still Speaking" campaign


NBC "graphic": AmericaBlog.

Last year, CBS and NBC national rejected the United Church of Christ's "God is Still Speaking" commercial. They totally caved to the religious Right, our American Taliban, for fear of who knows -- boycotts, hate mail, Freepers on blogs...you get the idea. 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.

The spot, by the way, says nothing about gay marriage, and nothing specifically about homosexuals at all -- it's about the UCC's tolerance and extravagant welcome to anyone that wishes to worship. Even Jerry Falwell thought it was dumb not to allow it to run. (You can see the latest iteration of the campaign in the ad at right).

The ad also test-ran in the Triangle area months ago, without fanfare or negative feedback -- there was no outcry, in fact several gay friends of mine specifically mentioned this ad renewing their faith and exploring the UCC.

BTW, the Freeper crowd considers the UCC to be an agent of the homo agenda anyway, so that's A-OK in my book. Check off another box on my agenda to-do list.


Log Cabin couldn't wait to get back in bed with Bush


Log Cabin's Political Director Christopher Barron has sipped the Bush Kool-Aid.

What a bunch of fools -- what does it take for them to see the light after this last election cycle? While they watch their party trash gays and lesbians, the deluded Log Cabin Repugs sign onto Bush's Social Security destruction plan. Their feeble reasoning is that it presents "an opportunity" for gay folks since you can will your private investment accounts to a partner, whereas traditional Social Security cannot.

Look people, the followers of Chimpy would love to recriminalize homosexuality, ensure you can be fired from a job, never adopt kids, and most certainly make the idea of getting married disappear. I think that's a tad more important than the backing the President's shell game on Social Security. (Log Cabin group backs Bush reform):
A gay Republican group that vehemently opposes President Bush's attempts to ban same-sex marriage has hired a top lobbying firm to back an administration effort it does support, Social Security private accounts.

...Christopher Barron, Log Cabin's political director, said the promise of Social Security reforms in the 109th Congress prompted the group to increase its profile on Capitol Hill. Barron, who wouldn't disclose how much the Log Cabin Republicans would spend on lobbying this year, said the possibility of private Social Security accounts provides a "tremendous opportunity for gay and lesbian couples.

That's so because when married heterosexuals die they can pass on Social Security benefits to their spouses but gay people cannot. Money accrued by participation in private accounts could be willed to one partner, however, even if gay men and women can't legally marry. "The ownership society that the president has talked about is empowering to gays and lesbians," Barron said, referring to the president's push to give Americans more control over their financial assets through a series of measures, such as Social Security reform or private health savings accounts."
Just so they know, the Freepers had their own reaction to the LCR cozying to the Chimperor...

Actual Freeper Quotes™

"The reason why I am posting this article is because DUers have said they will lurk here and post it on our forum because they know how anti-Gay we are. I hate the idea of a DUer troll posting something and drooling to see what our response will be. They think we will oppose Bush's plan because this group is for it. Freepers don't act like spoiled children - DUers do!"

"Since black conservative Republicans are not really black (according to black "leaders"), who from the left will step forward and claim that the LC Republicans are not really gay?"

"I wish they'd haul their logs over to the DemocRAT Party where they truly belong."

"I agree. The only reason that this group exist is to infiltrate the Republican party in an attempt to influence the party policy on thier agenda." [He also posted this link: Ex-Houston man jailed for killing Fla. deputy; Kenneth P. Wilk headed Houston Log Cabin club but was impeached]


Chapel Hill Council backs gay rights; the usual anti-gay suspects show up

It was a positive, but non-binding event against the state's marriage amendment push, and the current Defense of Marriage Act. Note that members of the homophobic, bigoted Upper Room Church of God in Christ showed up, like the Cryptkeeper's forces, to chastise supporters of gay rights. (N&O):
They swooped in by the busload to the town they said was filled with "dead churches" that "disregard the Bible," hoping to win over some sinners.

"I came here because I love Chapel Hill," said the Rev. Ron Wood, pastor of Celebration Assembly of God on Weaver Dairy Road and a member of the anti-gay-rights group Called 2 Action. "I'm an ordained minister, too," he added, referring to several speakers at the Town Council meeting Monday who identified themselves as clergy members. "But I'm not one who believes I have the right to disregard the word of God."

Their message was rejected by the majority of Chapel Hillians who met them at Town Hall with signs, T-shirts and buttons proclaiming their support for gay rights. "If we give gays and lesbians their civil rights," read one of the more sarcastic handmade signs, "then everybody will want them."

"I consider myself deeply religious and deeply moral," said Darlene Nicgorski, a former Catholic nun and a lesbian, her voice shaky with emotion. "I have a partner of 18 years. I am here taking care of her 87-year-old mother. Is that not love and family values? That's Christianity. That's morality. That's religious. You don't have a corner on that."

The podium at Town Hall became a pulpit as activists clashed over proposed legislative requests that would expand or protect the rights of gays and lesbians. The town's requests to the General Assembly are not binding.

The meeting became a front in the national culture war over same-sex marriage, with more than 250 people packing council chambers. A side room brimmed over with people watching the meeting on television.

About 100 members of The Upper Room Church of God in Christ [Wooden's church] came from Raleigh in a chartered bus to oppose the legislative requests, something the Rev. William Cooper said was "standard operating procedure" for the activist church.

"Amens" and "Hmm-hmms" greeted speakers who voiced their views. Snickering and clucked tongues chided those who disagreed with them.

Outcome was expected

Though the crowd was split about evenly, most of the speakers favored the town's stance on gay rights. Council members approved the measures unanimously.

Lawmakers from Chapel Hill and Orange County will be asked to support the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which says same-sex marriages in other states can't be recognized in North Carolina; support adding sexual orientation to the state's hate crimes law; and oppose a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The outcome was expected, but both sides said it was important that their message be heard.

"We came in good numbers, and we said what we needed to say," said Hazen Ham, a Called 2 Action leader who was granted 10 minutes to speak for his organization. "The community hasn't seen the last of us, because we're going to keep pushing the truth."

But many saw the Monday meeting as a sign that groups such as Called 2 Action won't make major inroads in this liberal-leaning community.

...Local activist Ruby Sinreich asked those in the audience who were both members of Called 2 Action and Chapel Hill residents to raise their hands. Just a few went up.

"I think my point is made," she said. "The people of Chapel Hill have shown over and over that they very much support the rights of gay people."

The people on the left say, 'We tolerate everything in the name of love.' That's just as wrong. The truth is in the middle. It's time the church of Jesus Christ comes out of the closet and stands up for the truth." People such as Ham might have a more welcoming audience in Raleigh. The constitutional amendment has 84 sponsors -- nearly half of the 170 members of the General Assembly. An amendment will require a three-fifths vote in both chambers.

Council member Mark Kleinschmidt, who is gay, said the impact of the constitutional amendment wouldn't just be symbolic. It could jeopardize Chapel Hill's current program that provides benefits to "domestic partners."

He called the proposed amendment "extraordinarily broad" and "frightening."


Toss a condom, get suspended for 10 days


Red Bank High School in Chattanooga -- scene of the rubber crime.

It's tiring to report the stupidity of people some days. A Tennessee high school student got suspended for 10 days for tossing a few condoms into a crowd, yet real problems like bullying and hazing go unpunished in schools around the country. Administrators don't have their head screwed on straight. (News 9 Chattanoga):
Josh Eustice says he was trying to educate his classmates about having safe sex.
But his actions angered school officials. The senior was modeling tuxedos for Red Bank's upcoming prom. As he walked off stage at the packed gym assembly last Friday, he tossed out condoms to his classmates. He was in trouble before he got off the stage.

Eustice treads lightly at home and in school this afternoon. His dad gave him a long list of house cleaning chores after the Red Bank senior tossed about 30 condoms to his classmates last Friday. And his assistant principal suspended him for ten days.

That makes Josh bristle. Eustice said, "I don't agree with the ten days at all. I mean I didn't throw out anything illegal that was hazardous like cigarettes or anything. People have done much worse things and got suspended for much less days."

The senior says the prom fair in a packed gym seemed the appropriate stage. He adds he threw out the single condoms to protect his classmates after Red Bank's prom. "I did it more or less for a reminder so people would think about stuff like that. STD's and pregnancies and stuff like that it happens all the time."

Principal Wade Kelly said this was an internal discipline issue, stood behind the harsh punishment and says he's frustated to be second guessed. Kelly says he stands behinds the harsh punishment.

Students reacted to it. One freshman said the punishment was more than it needed to be. Eustice's friend and fellow senior Andrew Williard said, "I don't think he should've got suspended because he was just trying to promote safe sex and it's going to happen either way."

...The assistant principal who suspended Eustice says he used his own discretion because the policy manual doesn't cover this type of offense.


Yes, I'm sure this "white racialist" moron just wants to send fed judges greeting cards


Judge Joan Lefkow's picture was posted on Hal Turner's web site with the caption, "Gotcha." Nice.

[UPDATE: Looks like he took the "Gotcha" photo offline, the loser. Welcome, Buzzflash readers. If you want to read more of the House Blend when you're through, click here.]

While an inordinate amount of time and effort is being spent to boot gays out of the military, and to pass marriage amendments, you'd think there might be a better use of our tax dollars to fight terrorism. Domestic terrorism. We've got a home-grown threat to our way of life that you'd think would be a priority, given the level of animus toward our judicial system. However, you don't see the AmTaliban losing sleep over the kind of hate and violence being encouraged by people like Hal Turner. (NBC5):
A self-described "white racialist" Internet author is soliciting the addresses of three judges who ruled against white supremacist Matthew Hale, one week after the family of a federal judge was murdered.

One week ago, federal judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's husband and mother were found murdered in her home. Lefkow is now under federal protection. There have been more than 600 tips to a special police hot line on the Lefkow case, while there have been more than 30 calls to "America's Most Wanted" television show, which featured the case this weekend.

On his Web site, Hal Turner makes references to all three 7th Circuit judges who ruled against Hale in a trademark solicitation case, NBC5's Phil Rogers reported. He then asks readers to provide their home addresses. Turner said he wanted the judges' addresses to apply pressure to them through protests, mail or other external means for their rulings.

"I can understand why people might think that's something to be concerned about," Turner said. "But certainly, I have no malicious intent -- I do not intend to hurt the judges or incite any harm to the judges, but have you to have faith in the American people."

The FBI is investigating Turner, Rogers reported, and paid a visit to him last week.

Turner's Web site is loaded with references to other judges who have been the subject of violence. Turner's Web site has posted a photo of Lefkow with the caption "Gotcha." Turner said he has the judges' addresses, but doesn't know if he will post him on the Web site.
Hal Turner is right up there with Fred Phelps in terms of intolerance and hate. I sullied my keyboard by going to his extremely low-rent web site (I'm not going to point you there; you can Google it yourself) and it's just disgusting. He proclaims that he covers "News & Commentary that the 'Mainstream' won't touch." Here's a taste of his "commentary":


FEDERAL JUDGE GETS EXTRA PROTECTION AFTER HUSBAND AND MOTHER SHOT TO DEATH "EXECUTION STYLE"

Hope you think your job was worth what it seems to have cost you.

If, as authorities suspect, the killer is related to the pro-white group formerly known as "World Church of The Creator" then every other federal Judge in America should take a good hard look at how they treat white nationalists from now on; especially since these killings took place on the anniversary of the federal raid on the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX! White people are tired of being pushed around by the government. We are slow to anger, but when we reach our limit, it isn't pretty.

and...

The killing of a federal Judge's family is going to have a "chilling effect" on other government officials. Sure, the cops and feds will tell government officials they are safe, but nothing can change the fact that the family of a federal judge is dead. Murdered. Brutally murdered! Other government people know this and they will be scared. They will be hesitant to do anything to a "Pro-white" for fear of the same thing happening to them or their family. The government can't allow that. The only way to allay those fears is for a MASSIVE show of force against pro-white people by law enforcement. MASSIVE!!! It won't work, but they'll try anyway.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Turner is the maestro of radio hate - a man who rants about a "Portable Nigger Lyncher" machine, "faggots," "savage Negro beasts," "bull-dyke lesbians" and "lazy-ass Latinos ... slithering across the border."

I'd say he and the Rotting Cryptkeeper are bed buddies, alright. This moron clearly has a right to spew this crap, but you have to wonder, where are the condemnations of this kind of nonsense from the Right? The tone doesn't fall under the category of "love thy neighbor" -- the silence from the Christian conservatives is deafening.

BTW, Turner also had a radio show, which went off the air due to "health and financial troubles." He's raising money to start it up again. SPLC notes that Turner's unspecified illness always seemed to worsen when the bills came due.

Email: HalTurnerShow @ Netscape.net

***

Bonus filth: more that Turner has up on his site. Tell me this isn't fomenting domestic terrorism...
SAVAGE NEGRO BEAST BRUTALLY ATTACKS WHITE MAN IN PIZZA RESTAURANT

Filthy Nigger woman starts outburst by yelling, screaming and then SPITTING ON white people, when fat nigger buck attacks. Cowardly, brainwashed white people do NOTHING as their fellow white is attacked. I suggest retaliatory attacks by whites against blacks. In fact, I think a full day of violence against blacks to celebrate my birthday on March 15 would be a really nice thing. Maybe call it "Beat The Blacks Day" complete with lynchings, church burnings, drive-by shootings and bombings to put these sub-human animals back in their place? Violence by blacks against whites is reaching epidemic proportions; we must fight back!


Oh I wish I was in a land of cotton...

Monday, March 07, 2005


Not only did Lincoln free slaves, he might have been a homo. That thought makes Lindsey warm at night.

Do you think any of Bush's black pastor oinkers-at-the-faith-based trough heard little Lindsey Graham's remarks? The senator from SC is still sore over Lincoln freeing the slaves. (Raw Story):
“We don’t do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina,” Senator Graham told a Lincoln Day gathering in Tennessee Saturday. “It’s nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things.”
Thanks, now I don't want to hear any more sh*t from the GOP that racism and discrimination are so yesterday and that we need to just get over it. Wonder what those black conservatives over at Project 21 think about their fellow GOoPs.


I am not paying attention to this trial and this is why

A momentary aside from standard political programming. I promise that I won't be covering this crap on a regular basis, I just had to get this out of my system...

Boy Tells Jury Michael Jackson Groped Brother. (Reuters). 'Nuff said. I can't watch any of the coverage of this trial, because the whole sordid affair makes my stomach churn.

No one seems to have asked the obvious question -- why isn't this man in therapy? [Well maybe he is, but it clearly isn't helping.] His mind is FUBAR -- look at him. He is a walking testimony that all the money in the world cannot buy sanity (I guess Howard Hughes predates him on that one, but it's hard to believe anyone would ever top that man's pathologies).



How can all the hangers-on, fans, and his celebrity friends be in so much denial that they cannot admit, at the very least, he's bonkers. Why would any parent leave their child with this freakshow? God, so many questions that will never be answered (truthfully).

Off the Wall was a great album. That seems like a lifetime ago (1979). WTF happened?


"Center-tilting" Santorum's trojan horse to destroy wage and hour protections



Geoff Earle at The Hill must be smoking crack. He has a story up, "Santorum shifts left for '06 run" that makes no sense whatsoever -- unless he's trying to pump up the homo-obsessed senator from Pennsylvania's prospects.

If we are looking at the ideological spectrum with Ted Kennedy on one end, Mr. Man on Dog from Pennsylvania has to be on the other. Any perceived shift by this dude leftward would only keep him from teetering off the wingnut edge. And it's all a crock of sh*t anyway, as you will see below -- Santorum basically wants to gut the Fair Labor Standards Act. First, Earle's attempt to spin Santorum's "shift."
Santorum, who is up for reelection in 2006 and a possible presidential candidate in 2008, is one of the Democrats’ top targets in a state that was carried by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) last year. Some conservatives have grumbled about Santorum’s recent positions in blogs, conservative editorial pages, and internet sites, although many observers predict Santorum will be able to hold onto GOP base voters in his reelection effort.

Santorum has become the point-man for the GOP leadership on developing a proposal that would raise the minimum wage by $1.10 over two years, to $6.25 an hour. The proposal — which would also include tax cuts intended to lessen the burden on small businesses — was conceived as an alternative to a more generous proposal raising the minimum wage by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Kennedy has been considering offering the proposal to a bankruptcy reform bill this week.

...Asked whether Santorum was tacking left, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said, “The question is, in what ocean is he sailing.” Dorgan continued, “It’d be pretty hard to see that if he did [move left], because he’s so far on the right side of the spectrum.”

Added Phil Singer of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, “His version of running to the left is tilting his body slightly one degree in that direction. He sees that he’s got a tough election campaign coming up, and he’s starting to say, ‘Hmm, maybe I should start representing the people I represent.’” Singer also noted that Santorum voted to prevent a vote on the minimum wage in 2003.
That move to raise the minimum wage, which is purported to represent Santorum's move toward the center, is no such thing. Armando on DKos points to Labor Blog, which says that this smokescreen is a bold attempt to destroy wage and hour provisions that protect workers -- hardly a bleeding heart proposal -- it's an assault on fundamental laws workers take for granted. Read this and your blood will boil.
This is as low as it goes, as the GOP fights to expand sub-minimum wage sweatshops across the country. Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum is leading the charge for a GOP bill that would ostensibly raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour, but in reality would cut wages for millions of American workers and expand unregulated sweatshops across the country. As this Economic Policy Institute analysis details, the bill is a trojan horse for assaulting workers rights.

Licensing Sweatshops: While a $1.10 per hour minimum wage increase by itself would help 1.8 million workers, Santorum includes a poison bill exempting any business with revenues of $1 million or less from regulation -- raising the exemption from the current $500,000 level.

The upshot: while 1.2 million workers could qualify for a minimum wage increase, another 6.8 million workers, who work in companies with revenues between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year, would lose their current minimum wage protection.

And an even larger number of businesses, those with revenues under $7 million, would be exempt from fines under a range of other safety, health, pension and other labor laws. Essentially, the realm of unregulated sweatshops would be expanded and legalized under Santorum's bill. . . .

Banning State Minimum Wage Laws . . .

With Santorum's bill as law, you would end up with a situation where small and even medium size restaurants and other businesses with tipped employees would be exempt from the federal minimum wage, and state governments would be barred from requiring employers to pay actual wages to tipped workers. Essentially, those workers could be hired for zero dollars and told they had to live only off tips, however little those were.

. . . Killing Overtime: It gets worse-- the 40-hour work week would be abolished and companies would not have to pay overtime if they cut hours the next week.


Facing South: Taxpayers Pay for Wal-Mart's "Low Road"

Facing South, the blog of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies, has some sobering stats on how the taxpayer is subsidizing Wal-Mart's ability to profit off of its workers' low wages and pitiful benefits. Yes, that's how they achieve those "falling prices."

State and local governments already entice corporations to set up shop -- to the tune of over $1 billion -- by giving incentives and tax breaks. Companies like Wal-Mart are then double-dipping into our pockets by forcing its poverty-level employees into state-funded health plans. This is evil.
Wal-Mart -- one of the biggest and most profitable companies in the world -- is forcing taxpayers to underwrite the costs of their business to the tune of billions of dollars.

Good Jobs First, an excellent advocacy group for "high road" development, has released a survey about how many workers and their families are forced onto Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs in different states to make up for Wal-Mart's dead-end jobs. Some disturbing results from the South:
ALABAMA: The Montgomery Advertiser found in February 2005 that families of Wal-Mart workers are the top dependents on Medicaid. 3,864 children of Wal-Mart employees depend on Medicaid for health insurance. The next highest company, McDonald's, has 1,615 employee's children on the program.

FLORIDA: In December 2004, the Tallahassee Democrat revealed that 50,000 workers and their dependents rely on Medicaid for health insurance. McDonald's was the worst culprit in the Sunshine State, with 1,792 claims filed. Wal-Mart had 756.

GEORGIA: 10,261 children of Wal-Mart workers rely on PeachCare for Kids, the state's program for low-income families, according to a February 2004 report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

TENNESSEE: 25% of Wal-Mart workers in Tennesse are enrolled in TennCare, the state's health plan for the poor and uninsured, according to a January 2005 investigation by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. That's 9,617 employees.

WEST VIRGINIA: The Charleston Sunday Gazette-Mail revealed last December that 452 Wal-Mart workers in the state have children dependent on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the most of any company.
(Note: this isn't just a Southern thing, of course. The survey also looks at reports out of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. And I notice a story out today showing that 845 Wal-Mart employees in Iowa rely on Medicaid for health insurance.)

Most disturbing of all is that Wal-Mart is driving up public assistance caseloads at the very time state lawmakers are demanding sharp cuts in these programs. For example, Tennessee's excellent TennCare program is under assault due to rising costs (in part caused by Wal-Mart and kindred companies), with proposed cuts that could strip thousands of health coverage.

There's more where that came from.


Gay civil marriage progress in Washington State

There's a great, long feature piece in The Olympian on the gay civil marriage front in Washington State. Even better, it features activist, self-proclaimed "all around gadfly and sh*t disturber," and regular House Blend reader Paul Barwick. Paul has been on the front lines of this battle long before many of you out there were even born. He sued the state back in 1971 for the right to marry.

According to The Olympian, the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the same-sex marriage lawsuits today. The cases are Andersen et. al. v. King County et. al. and Castle et. al. v. the state of Washington. At issue is whether the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which defines legal marriage as between a man and a woman, unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples by denying them protections given to heterosexual couples. Nineteen couples from Washington are suing for the right to marry.

It was only a few years after Paul Barwick came to terms with his homosexuality that he and his partner walked into the King County administration building and applied for a marriage license -- setting off the first legal battle in Washington and only the second in the country over same-sex marriage.

On Sept. 20, 1971, Barwick and his partner, the late John Singer, applied for a marriage license and were turned down. They responded by filing a lawsuit, contending that the denial violated their constitutional rights under the state's recently enacted Equal Rights Amendment, which bars sex-based discrimination.

The case was shot down by a trial judge, and an appellate court upheld the decision.

"I don't think any one of us had any real hopes that we were going to be allowed to be married," Barwick said last week during a telephone call from his home in San Francisco. "But it was certainly a start, and it got people talking. It's come a long way in 30 years."

Barwick, now 58, is much more hopeful for 19 same-sex couples who sued the state last year in two lawsuits for the right to marry. Unlike 30 years ago, two judges ruled in favor of the couples, finding the state's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. One of those cases was heard by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard Hicks.

And unlike when Barwick and his partner filed an appeal, this time the state asked a higher court to overturn the decisions. On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments from teams of attorneys representing all of the parties.

Barwick said it takes him back, albeit to a period when the public was much less aware of gay-rights issues. When he pursued his legal challenge, it didn't draw thousands of demonstrators expected outside the state Supreme Court's chambers this week.

Back then, people didn't take same-sex marriages seriously enough to be concerned, he said.

"Things are a lot different," he said. "People have changed their ideas about equality and civil rights. But the backlash is incredible these days. I think people feel we're a target -- a lot of people, myself included."
Please read this whole article; it's a wonderful profile, and an amazing history of what it took to pursue the civil right to marry at a time when coming out, let alone asking for your rights, was a risky proposition. Thanks, Paul.


Milwaukee HS principal freaks out over cross-dressing fashion show


Joel Littleton's work is scheduled to be shown this Friday, but will he get to wear it?

Perhaps the principal thinks cross-dressing may be "catching" or he got phone calls from some frisky AmTaliban residents. Idiot. It's a freaking school of the arts, for goodness sake. (The Milwaukee Channel):
A fashion show is turning into a fight for expression at Milwaukee's High School of the Arts.

At the annual show two years ago, Joel Littleton modeled his women's-wear design. But this year, he said the principal decided he could only participate if he wore men's clothing.

Littleton is a senior and said no one has questioned his cross-dressing in the past. He even wore a dress to prom. Fashion show organizers asked the American Civil Liberties Union to step in. Littleton believes the decision violates his right to free expression.

"They didn't really give me a reason why he shouldn't be in the fashion show. All they told me was he has to wear gender-specific clothing in order to participate," student organizer Amaker Johnson said.

...Late Thursday afternoon, Milwaukee Public Schools' central office told 12 News the principal at the High School of the Arts would reopen discussions about Littleton's participation in the event.

Thanks to House Blend reader Bruce for the pointer.


A documentary on Fred "The Rotting Cryptkeeper" Phelps is under way

Sunday, March 06, 2005

On the Blend we've been running a series of posts on Fred Phelps and his hate machine, and many of you out there, along with me, cannot fathom what makes this mad tick. In an article today on the Phelps clan's upcoming event to pick a museum putting on The Laramie Project, there was information on a documentary being made about Phelps by Ben Williams, a Huntington College student from Columbus, Ohio. (Journal-Gazette):
What he has found so far, Williams said, is a complicated picture: Until he was disbarred for unprofessional conduct and harassing court officials, Phelps was a civil rights lawyer who won landmark cases and was honored by civil rights groups, including the NAACP. Now, his church is monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project as a hate group. The Intelligence Project says the church has about 50 members, almost exclusively relatives of Phelps.



Phelps said there is no disconnect between fighting for civil rights in racial issues and fighting against civil rights along lifestyle lines. “I’m an old-time Baptist preacher, and God Almighty never said it’s an abomination to be black. Just the opposite,” Phelps said. “But you can’t believe the Bible and follow the Bible if you support sodomy.”

Williams said what fascinates him about Phelps is also what frightens him most. “What is it in him that causes him to hate, and do we have that in us?” Williams asked. “There’s some need in him to hate something, and I’m not sure why.” Williams said he completely disagrees with Phelps, but he can’t paint him into a convenient box, either.

“I don’t see him as an evil person like a lot of people do,” Williams said.

Still, he added, the Phelps’ family is frightening. “I talked to his daughter, and it scared me a lot,” Williams said, because “she talked like a lot of my friends. She never even mentioned any hate toward homosexuals. … She could have been anyone my age.”


BTK suspect says he's depressed



He's having sleepless nights. I'm sure he will have plenty more of those ahead -- when he can think about the ten women who are no longer on this earth because of his sick behavior. (CNN):
The man accused of being the BTK serial killer has complained about depression and asked about his family, who have not talked to him since he entered prison, his lawyers say.

Dennis Rader, 60, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder in deaths that have haunted Wichita since 1974, when investigators began looking for a man who called himself the "Bind, Torture, Kill" strangler and taunted police with letters and packages sent to media outlets.
I'm playing the world's tiniest violin for this bastard.


These people tire me: "Will Presbyterians go the homo approval route?"

That's the actual title of the editorial. It's another beaut from the ignorant Joseph Grant Swank, Jr. (a pastor and columnist) at The Conservative Voice. I wrote one up on him last week (More stupidity "machining on" from religious wingnuts).
What will keep the infiltrating homosexuals from consuming this Protestant denomination? Only if that denomination adheres continually to the Westminster Confession of Faith — which, by the way, the denomination provides via its web site.

...While homosexuals have infiltrated the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ (Congregational) so as to turn those denominations into apostasy centers, they have not yet seen through such devilment with the Presbyterian Church of America.

However, the homosexuals did attempt to overrun the United Methodist Church at the latter’s last annual gathering. Nevertheless, with much angst throughout the assembly, the practicing homosexuals and their team members did not win out in the balloting. But it can still happen. It won’t happen if the United Methodists cling to the same scriptural convictions as the Presbyterian Church of America.

But in all this wrestling match with souls, time will tell the outcome. The infiltrators do not give up. They continue to take over local congregations as well as pulpits and committees and seminars and talk-outs of one sort or another. However, if the Presbyterians heed reality and biblical truth, they may stave off the devil’s crew.
He rants on for a while, but he finishes up and ties it all with a bow with the usual biblical quotes from Leviticus and Romans for extra effect.


Do Liberals hate America? It looks more like the conservatives do



Head over to Shakespeare's Sister for a great post, You Can't Claim to Love America if You Hate Americans. Fred Phelps and his ilk may represent what some think is hate beyond the pale, but he's pointing to other Americans - gays and lesbians -- as the enemy.
The truth of the matter is, conservatives hate lots and lots of Americans—anyone who isn’t like them, or fails to share their condemnation of people who aren’t like them. Liberals may be roundly perplexed and frustrated by Americans who seem to vote against their own best interests, but when was the last time card-carrying ACLU members were seen marching down Main Street Red State America after a devastating flood, carrying signs declaring that Mother Nature had gotten her revenge against those who sought to pollute her with the exhaust of their behemoth SUVs? It just doesn’t happen.
ShakesSis points out your garden-variety mainstream conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson spew enough ignorant, hateful crap that they might as well ride shotgun with the Rotting Cryptkeeper. Go read.


The interview with Ridgeback Rescue went well!

Yesterday I posted about our application to adopt a Rhodesian Ridgeback through Rescue and Kate and I had our interview with the coordinator. It was great; she thinks we would be able to provide a great home for one dog that is available. We'll cross our fingers and see what happens after that, since there are more steps along the way. There's another family that is a possible candidate for this rescue.


The 40th anniversary of Selma's Bloody Sunday and its role in the Voting Rights Act


Bloody Sunday in Selma Alabama. (1965, AP)

I was two when this Selma occurred, but I know how much people sacrificed to ensure I could cast my vote. I know how much the events in Selma changed the South, in its perception of itself, as well as the rest of the country's perception of the region. We're still playing out those differences today, in the incredible divide that has grown politically that we now discuss abstractly as Red and Blue. It's good to take a look back and the progress and the work that remains. (Montgomery Advertiser)
Albert Southall still gets emotional when he remembers that bloody day 40 years ago.

Southall, 58, was just one of the hundreds of people from across the nation to converge on downtown Selma on Saturday for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. The atmosphere in the small town was cheerful as people celebrated the progress black Southerners have made since the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the fight for civil rights.

...Underneath all the cheer, however, remain the memories of what happened on March 7, 1965. That was the day Alabama State Troopers and Dallas County Sheriff's deputies used billy clubs, tear gas and cattle prods to stop a group of about 600 black Alabamians and supporters from marching to Montgomery in a bid for voting rights. "They turned us around 'cause they said we didn't have a permit to demonstrate," Southall said. "It was eerie when we crossed the (Edmund Pettus) bridge and saw all those troopers, the dogs, the horses. We were ready, but you can't really get ready for something like that."

After issuing warnings to the crowd to disperse, the troopers blasted the marchers with tear gas. "The tear gas is what did it," Southall said. "Tear gas makes you feel like you're going to die. Everybody panicked...."I got a cattle prod," Southall said, pointing to an area around his upper rear thigh. "It was like somebody shook your body to the bones."

The ACLU's release on the anniversary notes that five months after "Bloody Sunday," Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. The act put an end to poll taxes, literacy tests, and other discriminatory barriers commonly faced by black voters. The increase in the number of black elected officials as a result of the act is staggering -- from 300 in 1964 to over 9,100 today. That is progress to celebrate, even as there is much work to be done.

Elected officials that attended a ceremony marking the anniversary are keenly aware that the people that lived through those times, the ones that can speak first-hand about the experiences, are passing on. To keep the importance of this landmark civil rights event in our collective cultural mind requires teaching future generations about what happened and why. It's frightening, as you'll see a bit below, that our President is one of those people that requires education on this.


From left, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Cincinnati, Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson, D-Texas, lay a wreath at the Southern Poverty Law Center's Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery on Saturday. (via Mongomery Advertiser)

(Mongomery Advertiser):
[U.S. Rep.] John Lewis, who has led the delegation to Alabama for the past several years, suffered a concussion on March 7, 1965, when Alabama State Troopers and Dallas County Sheriff's deputies routed 600 activists who had tried to march to the Capitol to see Gov. George Wallace.

...."We're down the road for sure, but we're not at the end yet," said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who was making his third trip with Lewis to Alabama. "I brought four high school students from my district with me." Upton was 10 when Bloody Sunday occurred, but it made an impression on him that remains strong. "Until Selma, the country didn't wake up," he said. "The congressman from my district who served during the '60s actually voted against the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts."

Upton said the Voting Rights Act is set to expire in two years, but predicted that bipartisan support will help secure a 10-year extension "if not a permanent extension."
Folks should note that Reagan was aware of its importance and ratified its extension, as did President Ford and Chimpy's father -- George H.W. Bush.



Where is Chimpy on this? Well, "Houston, we have a problem." I posted on this back in January, when columnist Clarence Page wrote about the unbelievable response from the Chimperor when members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders asked him about renewal of the Act.
According to various eyewitnesses at a private meeting in the White House Cabinet Room last week, the president was characteristically cordial, yet remarkably non-committal in responding to a wide range of questions, mostly about racial disparities concerning such issues as employment, education, health care and legal rights. But the most "mind-boggling moment," in the words of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), came after Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) asked the president, "Do we have your support in extending and strengthening the 1965 Voting Rights Act when it comes up for renewal in 2007?"

The president responded, according to witnesses, in a way that made caucus jaws drop: He did not know enough about that particular law to respond to it, he said, and that he would deal with the legislation when it comes up.

People that wish to exercise their right to vote today may not have state troopers beating on them with billy clubs or blasting tear gas, but we're certainly facing a whole lot of high-tech chicanery that has effectively made casting a vote an uncertain proposition (see The Brad Blog's tireless work on 2004's election fraud and mistabulation).

The irony is that "race", an artificial construct created to ensure political and economic power remains in the hands of the dominant culture, is just as important today, sad to say, but the conflict manifests itself in different ways. Bull Connor's dogs may not be nipping at folks' heels, but the "driving/voting/shopping/walking/hailing a taxi while black" phenomenon is alive and well in many parts of the country, Red and Blue.

BTW, I've personally experienced the "shopping while black" and 'hailing a taxi while black" variations on the above theme -- and those happened while I lived in NYC. My friend Carole (she's black) and her husband Dave (he's white) and I would play this game where Carole and I would step out and watch cab after cab go by, not stopping. He would then step out and BOOM. One would pull right over. Then we'd all hop in.

I was followed by a shopowner in a green grocer in NY as I went down the aisles browsing (I was dressed up, no less, because we had just gone out to a Broadway show). I turned and asked her if she had a problem, and she said no, she had just had problems with shoplifting recently, and then she skulked off. That may not be violence, but it's the kind of bullsh*t that could eat at your self-worth over time if you don't have your head on straight.

One has to commend Coretta Scott King for her strong support of gay rights, but there are way too many in the community, well aware of Selma, that see the struggle of gays and lesbians not to be fired from jobs, to serve in the military and to marry, as invalid, siding with the Religious Right. You've got self-loathing blacks cozying up to the GOP (see our friends at Project 21), and advisers to Dr. King like Walter Fauntroy holding press conferences with Rick Santorum in support of FMA.

That's progress, huh?


Keeping incompetent elderly drivers (and reckless teens) off the roads

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The following is not made up.

Katie told me about this area in Alabama called Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, where a significant number of elderly citizens live. They frequent the old fashioned strip malls there (the kind where you pull up to the storefronts). An ungodly amount of accidents occurred when a driver (probably with dementia), put the car into drive instead of reverse and shot through the plate glass windows of the stores. On one of Kate's trips home, she saw a newspaper of yet another incident showing a picture of a storefront with its new ventilation, courtesy of a senior that was confused. There was also an empty baby stroller in the picture, left by a frantic mother that ripped her child from the pram in the nick of time before it was whacked the careening vehicle.

This kind of incident occurred so frequently that a measure to put concrete pylons on the sidewalks to block the cars from racing into the merchandise was proposed. It was turned down because the resident thought it would "ruin the aesthetics" of the community. As if the shattered glass and debris were not an eyesore.

And I know all of you have stories about encounters on the road with people whose skills are compromised by failing vision and cognitive abilities. Lest you think I'm beating up on old folks, you're wrong, I'm talking about the incompetent ones that are on the road, weaving and clueless to the traffic and pedestrians around them. These folks need to be off of the road before they kill someone or themselves. Statistically, seniors are involved in more fatal crashes. What's more, if we take those licenses away, there must be transportation alternatives available (vans, buses) for those that live outside of metropolitan areas with good public transportation

Anyway, the reason I am writing about this is because there is a measure up in Wisconsin that calls for elderly drivers to face more frequent license renewal, along with vision and driving competency exams. It's a good idea, and the seniors agree. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):
State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require drivers over age 75 to renew their licenses more frequently, take more frequent vision tests and, after age 85, pass a traffic skills test.

One of the bill's co-sponsors is Rep. J.A. "Doc" Hines (R-Oxford), who, at age 77, is the oldest member of the Assembly. Hines told the state Assembly's Committee on Transportation at a Thursday hearing that he's familiar with the effects of aging - on his friends and himself - and how his driving skills have been affected.

While 7% of drivers over age 65 were involved in crashes in 2003, people over age 70 are more likely to be involved in a crash while driving, and more likely to die in that crash, the state Department of Transportation says. Medical experts testified that seniors commonly face vision problems such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, which affect driving. In the meantime, nearly half of those over age 85 have some form of dementia.

...The bill is backed by senior citizen advocacy groups such as AARP and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, but some lawmakers were critical because of the harsh impact it could have on elderly drivers who live in remote areas. "It really means, the person has to go to a nursing home or move to an urban area, because there is no Option B," said Rep. Gary Sherman (D-Port Wing). "It is impossible to live where I live if you don't drive."

...Under current law, most people in Wisconsin are only required to renew their licenses and take a vision test every eight years. The bill would change those rules to require people between the ages of 75 and 84 to renew their licenses every three years, and each time they must pass a vision test. For those over age 85, licenses would come up for renewal every two years and would be contingent on passing a vision test and a traffic skills and knowledge test.

The intent is not to keep seniors from driving but to target people "who can't see, can't think and shouldn't be on the road," said Rep. Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee), one of the bill's sponsors. "If you're 100 years old and you can think and see, you should be (able to drive)."

As far as the other end of the age spectrum goes, at least there are programs in place to corral bad teenage drivers, who are equally dangerous on the road because they are so easily distracted and often reckless because of their lack of experience. In NC, there is a graduated license program to ease young drivers into the responsibility of operating a lethal weapon, and it's been successful. (News14Carolina):
The Tar Heel state became one of the first states to enact the new rules in the mid 1990's and car crashes involving teens have dramatically dropped.

“Even though we have more 16-year-olds in the population right now we're still finding that we have fewer 16-year-olds involved in fatal crashes,” Susan Ferguson of the Institute for Highway Safety explained.

North Carolina's program requires 16-year-olds to drive with an adult for an entire year. For six months after that they can't drive from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and can only have one other driver under 21 in the car. Only then with a clean record can they drive without restrictions.

And there's no better proof the program is working than the statistics. The number of teens in accidents has dramatically dropped. Bob Foss of the UNC Highway Safety Center said, “Crashes among 16-year-old drivers are down by 34-percent and among 17-year-olds it's down 21-percent.”



Gay-bashing homo Mark Foley (R-FL) getting shredded on Monday by BlogActive


from RawStoryQ

As I posted earlier this week on the Blend ("WTF is this? House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Job Discrimination"), Congress passed legislation that will allow faith-based organizations to bypass local anti-discrimination laws. Why would any gay person vote for this? Well, we know at least one did. (365gay):
The Workforce Investment Act passed by a 224 - 200 vote after Republicans defended the hiring language. [It] would repeal workplace protections in job training programs signed into law by President Reagan and written by then-Senator Dan Quayle. Specifically, it would allow religious organizations, which receive federal funding to operate job training programs, to discriminate in employment based on religious grounds - including objections to an individual's sexual orientation.

House Democrats argued that the bill amounts to government-sanctioned discrimination. "This provision is offensive, ugly, wrong," said Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat. "It is a slippery slope from here on out and I fear this is just the beginning." LGBT civil rights also decried the legislation which still needs Senate approval.

"Republicans are attempting to force taxpayers to pay for their own discrimination," said Eric Stern, Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats. "No American should have to pass a religious test in order to receive a federally funded job. The valuable work of our religious institutions should not be corrupted by discriminatory policies advanced by Republicans."

The vote followed an "action alert" Tuesday by the conservative Family Research Council urging its members to contact their representatives to vote for the measure. "Organizations that oppose homosexuality and abortion often need extra protection when receiving federal aid or using federal facilities," said Tony Perkins, FRC President.

Among the Republicans who voted for passage of the legislation were Charlie Bass (NH), Judy Biggert (IL), Mary Bono (CA), Mark Foley (FL), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Nancy Johnson (CT), Jim Kolbe (AZ), Jim Leach (AZ), Deborah Price (OH), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Joe Schwarz (MI) and John Sweeney (NY), all of whom received endorsements and financial support from national LGBT organizations last November.

Well, well, well. Mark Foley. Gay Mark Foley. The hypocrite is going to be torn a new one by Mike Rogers of BlogActive on Monday. A taste of what's to come...

Birds of a Feather
Two haters, one picture:
Gay-bashing straight man John Ashcroft and Gay-bashing gay man Mark Foley



This is United States Congressman Mark Foley
He voted this week for a law to allow hate groups to fire gay and lesbian people at will
The law he is supporting will overrule ANY local laws on the matter.
MARK FOLEY IS GAY
MARK FOLEY WILL BE EXPOSED FOR THE HYPOCRITE HE IS THROUGH A MAIL AND INTERNET CAMPAIGN THAT WILL REACH INTO EVERY HOME IN HIS DISTRICT.


THIS MAN IS A DANGER TO GAY MEN AND LESBIANS

DO NOT SLEEP WITH THIS MAN

IF HE CRUISES YOU IN THE BATHROOMS OF CONGRESS,
IGNORE HIM!

IF HE HITS ON YOU AT THE NEXT REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
IGNORE HIM!

THE NATION MUST BE WARNED ABOUT THIS
ABOMINATION IN THE GAY COMMUNITY


Please to support our educational and advertising campaign against this right wing hypocrite, click here and join the battle for true lesbian and gay liberation.


COMING MONDAY ON BLOGACTIVE: The entire Mark Foley story...Read about my recorded discussions with staff members and former staff members of Rep. Mark Foley...Read about how Mark Foley hit on men less than half his age at the Republican convention...Read about how Mark Foley voted to remove protections from those same young gay men and lesbians and anyone else violating a local discrimination law!!!

Not everyone cares for Mike's guerrilla tactics, but with people like Foley on the loose in Congress passing laws to make gay people second-class citizens, and the Repugs more than willing to support homophobic reporting from a rent-boy in the White House, this is what it comes down to, since establishment Dems are out to lunch. Go Mike.


Open Sat thread...yard work and new chat feature edition



Today Kate and I will be working out in the yard. Last March, the big project was digging and filling a walking path from one yard gate entrance to the other. Lots of trips to the Homo Depot for pebbles and mulch. Lots of Icy Hot afterwards.

The lot is irregularly shaped, and the grade declines toward the house, which means there was an erosion problem the prior owners didn't deal with very well. The grassy area near the house was almost always marshy. This amateur-hour landscaping of ours you see in the "after "picture did work. We laid timbers, and filled them with leaves and mulch (and pots of impatiens for aesthetics) and this solved the problem.


Before/after.

Our work was put to the test a few months later when we had several days of hard rain. No erosion problems. More pics here. [One includes a nice pic of Red, my boy that passed away this Feb.]

This year won't be as dramatic. Need to buy more pebbles. Going to put down some landscaping fabric in the grassy areas to kill it (the goal is not to have to mow anything in the back), and put down mulch, and later, pot and distribute some annuals and perennials when we know there won't be any more hard freezes.



In other news...

Some of you have asked me about what I use to post.

I use Blogger for posting, but it doesn't host the files, it FTPs the blog entries to my space at APlusNet). I was poking around in the features that came with my web space account this AM and it has a live chat feature. I enabled it and you will find a button over on the left side of the main page that looks like this:



I've named the room "House Blend Perk". I don't know if it's useful or not, but it might be fun if I decide to announce chats on certain topics sometime and see who shows up. Or maybe I'll just be typing into an echo chamber by my lonesome. Drop into it, see if it breaks, or just post a comment to let me know if it's a good idea. [FYI potential trolls: I can ban users on this system.]






Also, I submitted our application to Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue and we are scheduled for an interview tomorrow with the NC coordinator. She plans to interview us to see if we would be good future moms to a Ridgeback. She said, based on our application (and prior ownership of Ridgebacks), that we should pass with flying colors.

There is sometimes a long wait for a rescue Ridgeback, since the breed isn't all that common, but I love them. There is one available in our area, but there's another family that is under consideration for him, so I don't know whether this will be "the one," but whatever is meant to happen will happen.


Red, March 2004.


U.S. to UN: All your wombs should belong to us


Boos and catcalls greeted U.S. delegate to the UN Ellen Sauerbrey's remarks.

Chimpy's "womb God Squad," led by UN delegate Ellen Sauerbrey, tried to strong-arm an amendment that would not recognize abortion as a fundamental right for women, threatening to withdraw our country's re-affirmation of the landmark Beijing Platform for Action. The agreement, developed with the full endorsement of the U.S., ten years ago, marked the commitment of 189 countries to advancing universal education for girls, ending violence against women, and ensuring access to reproductive health care.

That re-commitment shouldn't be controversial, but the U.S. wants to export its AmTaliban agenda to the world body -- apparently the world body of women) -- when it comes to reproductive rights. This one time it thankfully failed. (Reuters):
Jeers and catcalls greeted the top U.S. delegate to a global women's conference on Friday as she stressed Washington's opposition to abortion and support for sexual abstinence and fidelity.

After withdrawing an unpopular anti-abortion amendment from a key U.N. document, the United States joined in approving the declaration that reaffirmed a 150-page platform agreed 10 years ago at a landmark U.N. women's conference in Beijing. The final approval prompted cheers, applause and a standing ovation by some participants.

However, top U.S. delegate Ellen Sauerbrey drew boos from the audience, which included some of the 6,000 activists who came from around the world, when she commented on Washington's interpretation of the document. "We have stated clearly and on many occasions ... that we do not recognize abortion as a method of family planning, nor do we support abortion in our reproductive health assistance," Sauerbrey said.

The loudest catcalls, unusual at the world body, came when she articulated U.S. policy on AIDS prevention for adolescents: "We emphasize the value of the ABC -- abstinence, be faithful, and correct and consistent condom use where appropriate -- approach in comprehensive strategies to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS and the promotion of abstinence as the healthiest and most responsible choice for adolescents."

The first version of the abandoned amendment said the Beijing meeting's final document did not recognize abortion as a fundamental right; a later version said the document did not create any new international human rights, code for abortion.

"We think we have really accomplished what we set out to do," Sauerbrey said. "We have heard from countries ... that our interpretation is their interpretation. So the amendment we recognize is really redundant, but it has accomplished its goals. We will be withdrawing the amendment."

Despite U.S. lobbying, support for Washington's abortion stance was limited to the Vatican, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. Mary Ann Dantuono, the Vatican delegate, was interrupted by shouts when she said the Catholic Church "would have preferred a clearer statement emphasizing that the Beijing documents cannot be interpreted as creating new human rights including the right to abortion."

Delegates from the European Union, Asia and Africa forcefully opposed the U.S. position. "The text of Beijing is unequivocally clear. We should not spend hours splitting hairs over phrases that mean the same thing," said New Zealand's U.N. Ambassador Don Mackay, speaking for his country, Canada and Australia. He said the Beijing document included a woman's right to control her sexuality

That 1995 commitment to women's fundamental rights seems so yesterday, doesn't it? Boy have things changed around these parts in ten years, with our Dear Leader in charge. How far away is a statement on the need for women to be "barefoot and pregnant" again? Or for our sexual histories to be accessible to the state? Oh wait, scratch that one. They are working on that in Kansas.

The attempt to roll back all sorts of rights has been boldly and unashamedly pursued by this White House. Seeing this happen on the world stage is both embarrassing and frightening.



Jesus gets you better car insurance rates

Friday, March 04, 2005


"Faithguard" has you riding in safety next to the Almighty; can Lucifer hitch a ride and save a buck?

Is this company also offering discounts to the Church of Satan or the World Church of the Creator, the haven of white supremacist and murder suspect Matt Hale? Just asking. (AgapePress):
Churchgoers and religious volunteers could receive special discounts on their home and car insurance under new policies being offered by an Iowa insurance company. GuideOne currently specializes in insuring churches and private schools. But the Iowa Civil Liberties Union says offering lower rates to churchgoers appears to violate laws barring discrimination on the basis of religion, and predicts that a lawsuit could be filed. Under the policies, the faithful would not have to pay a deductible if they are in a car accident on the way to church activities of if they lose personal property while at church. The policies also would provide up to $750 to cover a policyholder's church donations.


There is a God...Falwell told not to preach



Unfortunately, it's only temporary. (AP).
"The doctors agreed to let me go home if I agree to not preach," Falwell told the Lynchburg News & Advance. The 71-year-old pastor and chancellor of Liberty University remained weak Thursday, and had a raspy voice after a 13-day hospitalization for pneumonia.


AIDS is crushing Africa. The numbers are staggering.



[UPDATE: added some of my fellow bloggrrls' input for the day on this topic at the end, and my own letter to Chimpy up top.]

Dear President Bush,

We've spent billions (with more to flow) to avenge your daddy and free the Iraqi people, yet a pittance has been spent in Africa as the level of human misery exceeds all comprehension. The millions affected are probably not thinking about your foreign dreams of bringing freedom and democracy to the planet right now. They are just fighting to stay alive. And they are losing the battle and the war.

What Would Jesus Do, Mr. President?

Sincerely,
Pam's House Blend


The devastation is in proportions that people in the U.S. cannot wrap their minds around. (AP):
More than 80 million Africans may die from AIDS by 2025, the United Nations said in a report released Friday, and infections could soar to 90 million -- or more than 10 percent of the continent's population -- if more isn't done soon to fight the disease.

More than 25 million African have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. UNAIDS estimated that nearly $200 billion is needed to save 16 million people from death and 43 million people from becoming infected, but donors have pledged nowhere near that amount.

In its report, "AIDS in Africa," the U.N. agency examines three potential scenarios for the continent in the next 20 years depending on the international community's response. The three scenarios include a best-case situation, a middle-case and a doomsday scenario. They all warn that the worst of the epidemic's impact is still to come. "There is no single policy prescription that will change the outcome of the epidemic," the report stated. "The death toll will continue to rise no matter what is done." Under the worst-case scenario, experts have plotted current policies and funding over the next two decades.

UNAIDS has reported that life expectancy in nine countries has dropped to below 40 because of the disease. There are already 11 million orphans because of AIDS, while 6,500 people are dying each day. In 2004, 3.1 million Africans were newly infected, the agency said.
In our the spirit of my bloggrrl sisterhood's ring on this topic today, visit:

Shakespeare's Sister -- We Turn Our Backs on Africa.
Dear President Bush…

Please read the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s about a man of a different background giving aid to someone who was left for dead. If you’ve already read it, please read it again, because I don’t think you understood it.

Sincerely,
Shakespeare’s Sister

Julien's List -- The Child-Mothers of Uganda.
Dear President Bush,

At least you don't have to worry about these girls getting abortions. I guess that makes you sleep easy at night.

Ms. Julien in Miami


UNC frat can ban gays

I'm not surprised at this one. (365gay):
A judge has ruled that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must recognize a Christian fraternity that refuses to admit gays.

Alpha Iota Omega's status as an official campus group was revoked after it refused to sign the university's nondiscrimination policy. The policy specifies that groups cannot deny membership to students based on personal characteristics such as age, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation and gender.

The fraternity argued in court that it shouldn't be forced to admit nonbelievers or gay students. It claimed the university has infringed on its members' rights to free speech, free association and free exercise of religion.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Bullock Jr. issued an injunction ordering the university to recognize the fraternity, which has only three members. The case may still go to trial, and Bullock's injunction will remain in place until a decision is made.

"We continue to believe in the merits of the university's position and the value of the nondiscrimination policy," the statement said. "The university's goal remains the proper and careful balancing of students First Amendment rights with the rights guaranteed by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions to equal protection of the laws and freedom from discrimination."

The ruling came only days after students at the university demonstrated to show support for a gay student who was taunted and beaten.


Flying the friendly, inebriated skies

Another pilot tries to board drunk. And they can now be licensed to carry firearms aboard too?


Farrakhan Endorses Gay and Women Participants at 10th Anniversary Million Man March


Farrakhan is ready to welcome gays and lesbians; NBJC President Keith Boykin was surprised by the open acceptance and progress by the Nation of Islam.

The world really has turned upside down. This declaration by Farrakhan has to be some kind of turning point in the recognition of gays and lesbians of color by an extremist religion with a history of anti-homosexual views. If the Nation of Islam can make a public declaration of support for gays, where does this leave our bible-thumping, homo-hating pastors that are cozying up to Chimpy and his faith-based booty? Clearly, Farrakhan didn't have to make this statement, and he has to have an agenda. (GayWired):
Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan said Saturday that he supports allowing gay people and women to participate in the upcoming 10th anniversary march commemorating the Million Man March in October. "The makeup will be our people whoever we are," said Farrakhan. "Male, female, gay, straight, White, dark, rich, poor, ignorant, wise."

Farrakhan was one of several high-powered leaders of Black America gathering in metro Atlanta at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia for the annual State of the Black Union symposium. National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) President Keith Boykin was also a panelist discussing the future of Black America. The program was divided into one discussion on healthcare and two separate discussions on developing a priority list of issues for a so-called "contract" or "covenant for and with Black America."

Keith Boykin said he was surprised and pleased with Farrakhan's announcement at the symposium's news conference. "I remember in October 1995, there were about 200 of us black gay men marching among the million in DC," said Boykin. "We were not necessarily welcomed, but we gathered courage and marched anyway and we were respected by those who saw us participate."

"For Minister Farrakhan to welcome us this time shows tremendous growth in understanding and respect for us" said Boykin, who told the 6,000 people in the audience and the millions watching on the live C-SPAN television cablecast, of a rare and special moment backstage. Boykin approached Farrakhan and told him who he was and that he was a gay Black man, and in turn, Farrakhan smiled and said, "You are my brother, I love you." Both men hugged each other.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH organization who was on the same panel too, told reporters after the Farrakhan announcement that it was high time for African Americans to pay attention to important matters and stop discriminating because of someone's sexual orientation.
As late as 1997, Farrakhan had not renounced any of the homophobic views of former head Elijah Muhammad, so some change in thinking or strategy has occurred. The group is still unapologetically anti-Semitic. And, after all, the following statement on separatism is still on the Nation of Islam web site:
WE BELIEVE that the offer of integration is hypocritical and is made by those who are trying to deceive the black peoples into believing that their 400-year-old open enemies of freedom, justice and equality are, all of a sudden, their "friends." Furthermore, we believe that such deception is intended to prevent black people from realizing that the time in history has arrived for the separation from the whites of this nation.
I still dismiss Farrakhan and the NOI as bigots (who can forget his "Jews practice a gutter religion" remark). However the larger, issue here is the deliberate inclusion of gays in the march by Farrakhan in what is the most conservative, (or to some, fringe) element of the religious black community.

What does this mean for the mainstream churches? This will begin to force public statements and explanations from Bush's new colored friends on the take. At the very least, it will cause some interesting political in-fighting. The lesson here is that all these religious leaders at one time or another have to reckon with their own flawed moral leadership in the face of oppression. It's especially pointed when their own bigotry involves other minorities.

Organized religion just doesn't work for me on so many levels.


House Dems submit bill to reverse 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'



Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA): "The policy is a proven failure." CA Repug Duncan Hunter's war on terror is actually a war on the homos - DADT is too lenient for him.

Well, this is going to be one uphill battle in this Congress, even with a GAO report outlining DADT's legacy of forcing out over 750 foreign-language translators, code-breakers, interrogators, and counterintelligence specialists. That little venture has cost us over $200 million and untold progress on the anti-terrorism front. (Boston.com):
A group of more than 50 House members filed a bill yesterday that would reverse the 12-year-old ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in uniform, arguing that the ban against them undermines national security at a time when the military is struggling to recruit soldiers.

...''The policy is a proven failure," said Representative Martin T. Meehan, a Lowell Democrat who is the bill's lead sponsor. ''In a time of war, it's outrageous that the military continues to discharge thousands of experienced, courageous, dedicated service members, with many of the critical skills that are needed in the war on terror, for reasons that have nothing to do with their conduct in uniform."

The bill is a long shot in the GOP-controlled Congress; of its 53 sponsors, only one -- Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut -- is a Republican. The House Armed Services Committee will take up the measure; its chairman Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, favors a complete ban on gays in the military, and said the ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is too lenient.



[this spin is just plain sad...snowball's chance...] Patrick Guerriero, president of the gay-rights group Log Cabin Republicans, acknowledged that ''a lot of work" has to be done to persuade his fellow Republicans in Congress. But he said the political climate has changed greatly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, because of the increased strain on the US military. Some coalition forces serving in the war on terror are now being led by openly gay British officers, with no ill effects on morale or job performance, Guerriero said.

...Meehan's bill has been endorsed by eight retired generals and admirals, including three who are the highest-ranking US officers to come out publicly as gay or lesbian. On another front, the ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is being challenged in court in two separate cases: one involving 12 soldiers who were dismissed from their units and another involving an undisclosed number of service members still in uniform but not openly homosexual.

Thanks to House Blend reader Cat for the pointer.


Reminder: The Rotting Cryptkeeper goes after John Edwards tonight in Kansas



John Edwards will be the keynote speaker tonight (8 PM) at the Kansas Democratic Party's 100th Anniversary of Washington Days celebration at Topeka's Ramada Inn. Phelps plans to picket him, since he's there at the "bidding of his fag/dyke masters."

Funny, I don't remember briefing the former NC Senator and VP candidate before he left town on his "filthy fag agenda" marching orders. Did any of you fags and dykes on the Committee to Destroy Society remember to read our Homosexual Agenda to John and set him "straight" on our goals, as it were?

Meanwhile, here is Fred Phelps, media critic, since he no doubt will be rubbing shoulders with the media this evening:

Modern Media are a monolithic propaganda machine for Satan's Big Lie: It's OK to be gay! Every editorial decision is skewed by all Media to promote that Big Lie. God's Word and those who preach it (It's NOT OK to be gay; rather, It's a monstrous sin against God that will destroy the life, damn the soul, doom the nation) are systematically reproached and reviled by all Media. All Media metaphorically smear fag feces and semen on the Bible. All Media -- in contemptuous hatred, disrespect, disregard -- metaphorically urinate on the Bible
An earlier Blend post on this idiot is here.


Some pocketbook stats from the Institute for Southern Studies



Great food for thought. Also check out the latest newsletter by the institute, as well as its blog, Facing South.
INSTITUTE INDEX - A Bankrupt System

* Number of individuals who declare bankruptcy each year: 1.6 million
* Of 15 states with highest rates of personal bankruptcies, number in the South: 7
* Percent of bankruptcies that result from job loss, medical bills, or divorce: 90
* Rank of elderly among fastest-growing age group for bankruptcies: 1
* Percent that credit card debt increased for the elderly from 1989 to 2001: 149
* Amount consumers lose annually to predatory mortgages, payday loans, and other credit abuses: $16 billion
* Estimated annual profits of the credit card industry: $30 billion
* Amount in federal political contributions from banks and credit card companies over last six years: $101 million
* Vote of Senate Judiciary Committee in approving a measure to restrict ability of consumers to discharge debt through bankruptcy, now before the full Senate: 12 to 5

Sources on file at the Institute for Southern Studies.
The Insitute's Chris Kromm has an excellent piece on the recent "New Strategies for Southern Progress" conference, held in Chapel Hill. It drew 200 Dem party leaders, academics, journalists and progressives. The tall order, Chris notes, was to "identify pragmatic and innovative solutions to the region's toughest problems" and, more boldly, "chart a new progressive vision for the region." There's a bit of in-fighting over whether and how to court the "NASCAR dads". One telling excerpt:
The differences came into focus on day two, during a panel charting the changing attitudes of the Southern electorate. The pollsters, consultants and academics honed in on a key reason for Democratic losses in the South: the defection of the white moderate. "We've lost the white working-class male," said David "Mudcat" Saunders, the much-quoted Virginia consultant and ambassador of the "NASCAR dads" strategy.

Poll analyst Ruy Teixeira rolled out a compelling set of numbers to back up the claim: Although the ideology of the Southern electorate hasn't changed over the last decade -- it's now 14 percent liberal, 41 percent moderate and 45 percent conservative, only a hair to the right of 1996 -- voting patterns have. Bill Clinton got 46 percent to Bob Dole's 44 percent of the Southern white moderate vote in '96; in 2004 Kerry had a 58-to-41 deficit to Bush among the same voting group. Even accounting for Clinton's Southern touch, it's clear that Democrats have lost ground.
The rest of the discussion is quite interesting, and again, the idea that "cultural" issues must be catered to is the main theme. It's such a third rail area that Chris's article doesn't even address gay rights issues. That must be beyond the pale for establishment southern Dems. Not good.

That said, I still think there is a formula that can reached the white "NASCAR" southerners and the black religious voter; Mel Watt surely does. My entry on this: Congressman Mel Watt (NC): framing gay rights for the black community


Check out this multi-part series on the Religious Right

I got an email from House Blend reader Faithful Progressive, about his series, Extremely Influential: The Christian Right in America 2005. FP is former official Bob Graham Blogger, former Kerry Internet Town Meeting Organizer, and current member of an ELCA/UCC partnership church. This is a recommended read. A snippet:
When Faithful Progressive was growing up, there were many religious leaders to admire. First and foremost was Dr. Martin Luther King--who taught a whole generation to stand up for what was right. After working with hundreds of young people on the recent election, one thing is clear to me: many young people hold Christianity in very low regard. The Simpsons captured this view well when it sent cartoon character Ned Flanders to Bible camp "to learn to be more judgmental." A whole generation associates religion with hate, intolerance and war--exactly the opposite of what my generation learned from Dr. King. How did this come to be? How did the faith-- what King called the "warm and reviving breeze of hope"-- become the harsh wind of self-righteousness and triumphalism?

When and how did Christianity become so ideological and rigid? Faithful Progressive will explore this issue at length over the next weeks. Here's our essential premise: there is a new right-wing "orthodox fundamentalist Christianity" that has penetrated American culture at a level that makes it the semi-official religion of the U.S. It strives to be the semi-official culture in the broader society as well. It is a view of religion, politics and culture that is urged upon us by a group of multi-layered corporations, foundations and co-religionists that have access to government at the highest levels. There is a significant group that hold extremist views and subscribe to bizarre conspiracy theories. So far, the more mainstream members of the Christian Right have been unwilling to distance themselves from the extremists. First, what do we mean by the term the Christian Right?
Go here for more.


How the news in the rest of the world sees the U.S.

Another recommendation. Check out WatchingAmerica.com, a portal for links to news about the U.S. written outside the U.S. The site is the brainchild a former editor of the International Herald Tribune, Robin Koerner.

The nice thing about this site is that it presents English translations of foreign-language news sources that are not available elsewhere. As we have all found out, our media is slack-ass when it comes to covering foreign or domestic news these days -- it's all about ratings/advertisers and access to power with the consolidation of MSM. Example: Iran Wants to Keep U.S. Out of Nuclear Talks With Europe (Iranian Republic News Agency).

Editorial decisions are being made that are not in Americans' best interest if we are to be part of a world community. Sources like WatchingAmerica.com are promising alternatives.


Phelps should roll out the welcome mat -- Aryan Nations is moving to Kansas

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Bite this "beast", Kreis.

Kansas is really booking for state of the month. First American Taliban ghoul, Attorney General Phill Kline's efforts to peep into women's sex histories ("for the children"), then clean-livin' Dennis "BTK" Rader gets caught, then Rotting Cryptkeeper Fred Phelps and his Westboro hate machine spews, and now we've got new violent bigots coming to town to make it a three-ring, actually four circus. Kansans, you've got your hands full. (Kansas City Star):
The Aryan Nations — one of the most notorious neo-Nazi groups in the United States — is moving its national headquarters to Kansas City, Kan., causing alarm among civil rights groups. The group's members, who believe that Jews are “the children of Satan” and African-Americans are “beasts of the field,” chose Kansas City, Kan., because of its central location, said “High Counsel” August B. Kreis III.

Kreis, who lives in Florida, said Wednesday that the Aryan Nations national director, Charles Juba, recently relocated to the metropolitan area from Pennsylvania with the aim of enlisting new members. [Note: I went to the Aryan Nations web site and they say that Juba has "stepped down" and "a press release is forthcoming."]

It was unclear how significant the move is, because the group has never revealed how many members it has and it is in the process of rebuilding after its leader was bankrupted as the result of a lawsuit in 2000. A spokesman for the FBI in Kansas City could not be reached for comment. But those who watch the radical right said area residents should be concerned about such groups.

I can say without equivocation that the (Aryan Nations) is the most violent wing of the white supremacist movement,” said Leonard Zeskind, president of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, and a board member of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau. “He (Juba) has vowed to rebuild the organization …”

...Juba could not be reached for comment. Kreis, however, didn't dispute that members of his group have been connected to violent incidents. “But it's the same thing with any organization,” Kreis said. “There's going to be good and bad people in all organizations.”

White supremacist groups again are in the national spotlight following the murders this week of the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago. Authorities were investigating whether Monday's shooting deaths were carried out by hate groups linked to white supremacist Matt Hale. Hale, leader of World Church of the Creator, is facing up to 40 years in prison for trying to arrange the murder of the judge, Joan Humphrey Lefkow, who presided over a case involving the group.

When asked about the murders, Kreis said his group wasn't involved, but added: “We love it!


What is it with the AmTaliban today - Sports Illustrated leads to porn addiction



Is the moon full? The Religious Right is unleashing a spewing geyser of stupidity today. (AgapePress)
...The president of Michigan's American Decency Association is encouraging Christians not to stand by while disguised pornography gets a foothold through local checkout stands. Bill Johnson says now that the yearly Sports Illustrated 'Swimsuit Edition' is in retail outlets everywhere, it is an opportunity to let those stores know the magazine's special edition does not agree with Christian standards and values. Johnson suggests believers ask store managers to remove the issue altogether or at least place it out of sight of young children coming through the stores. Also, he adds, 'It's important to tell the manager you're a regular shopper and that you have other friends who, if they were made aware that the store is carrying this magazine, you're certain they would stand together with you.' Johnson says the kind of exhibition of women as sex objects that takes place in the popular sports magazine's swimsuit issue should bother Christians, because that is the starting place for the lust that drives millions into eventual addiction to hardcore pornography.

Quite frankly, I think a lot of those Christians skip past the swimsuit issue and are ordering the hardcore porn right in the comfort of their homes. They are the sex-obsessed crowd.


The FEC's coming crackdown on political blogging

(via Atrios). Oh sh*t. I was trying to think of how the government was going to try to whip political blogs into submission, and I think they have found a way -- through election laws. They want to say that political advocacy is a means of "contributing" to a political campaign, and subject to the rules (unlike the press). (CNET):
Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.
Go read it.


WTF is this? House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Job Discrimination


Chimpy: "Receipt of federal funds should not be conditioned on a faith-based organization's giving up a part of its religious identity and mission."

The clock continues to roll back -- a flagrant (and unconstitutional) attempt by the White House and the elected AmTaliban to violate civil rights laws, with absolutely no shame. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? (House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Jobs):
The House on Wednesday approved a job-training bill that would allow faith-based organizations receiving federal funds to consider a person's religious beliefs in making employment decisions.

Under current law, religious groups that receive federal money for job-training programs must obey civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in hiring or firing. Passage of the bill, on a largely party-line vote of 224-200, came a day after President Bush told a group of religious leaders that he would attempt to institute the faith-based employment policies through an executive order if Congress did not approve them this year.

In a statement Wednesday supporting the bill, the White House said, "Receipt of federal funds should not be conditioned on a faith-based organization's giving up a part of its religious identity and mission." The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. It provides funds for training and vocational rehabilitation programs for adults and dislocated workers, as well as activities for low-income youth.

Its prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where Democrats are objecting to cuts in some programs and the religious discrimination provision. Administration officials contended that some faith-based charities were discouraged from seeking federal grants because they feared the ban on discriminatory hiring would cause them to lose their religious identities.

But opponents alleged that allowing organizations to use such considerations in employment decisions amounted to government-sponsored discrimination. Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the group was very disappointed with the results of Wednesday's vote but nonetheless hopeful.

"We are confident that the Senate will not go along with this, and ultimately it will not become law," Conn said. "President Bush has pushed this faith-based initiative for years now, but he hasn't been able to get it through Congress due to concerns over civil rights." Earlier Wednesday, the House rejected, 186-239, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.) that would have removed the religious-based employment language from the bill.

During debate on the amendment, Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) said the provision allowing consideration of religious beliefs was equivalent to "turning the clock back on civil rights."

If Chimpy gets his hands on the Supreme Court vacancies, we might as well kiss our rights goodbye.


The right-wing press is going to be all over this junk science by Paul Cameron


Paul Cameron (L), the bogus scientist behind the homophobic insert that ran in the Washington Post is at it again. Cameron was booted from the American Psychological Association "for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists."

"Dr." Paul Cameron has come out with a "scientific study" that claims 34% of sexual molestations of foster children were same-sex. It may be junk science, but watch for the right wing press and religious zealots regurgitate this all over the media. Truth doesn't matter to this guy, who clearly has his own issues. (WingNutDaily):
A six-year study of sexual abuse committed by foster parents in Illinois found a highly disproportionate percentage of the cases were homosexual in nature. About one-third were same-sex while estimates are that no more than 3 percent of people in the general population say they engage in homosexual acts.

An article in the March issue of the peer-reviewed publication Psychological Reports presented data analyzed by Dr. Paul Cameron, chairman of the Colorado-based Family Research Institute.

Cameron believes it's likely the Illinois figures reflect the situation among the nation's estimated half-million foster children. "What's shocking, is that 34 percent of the molestations were homosexual," Cameron told the Illinois Leader.

According to a DCFS spokeswoman, the agency does not track the sexual orientation of prospective foster or adoptive parents.

"We track our foster and adoptive parents on the basis of their being single or married. That's it," Marjorie Newman told the paper last year.

"Professional societies are so taken with gay rights they are ignoring the evidence," said Cameron. "Just last year, the American Psychological Association [APA] declared opposition to 'discrimination against lesbian or gay parents adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care and reproductive health services.'"

OK. To put this "research" into perspective, take a look at Cameron's reputation as a scientist.
On December 2, 1983, the American Psychological Association sent Paul Cameron a letter informing him that he had been dropped from membership. Early in 1984, all members of the American Psychological Association received official written notice that "Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists" by the APA Board of Directors.

Cameron has posted an elaborate argument about his expulsion from APA on his website, claiming that he resigned from APA before he was dropped from membership. Like most organizations, however, APA does not allow a member to resign when they are being investigated. And even if Cameron's claims were accepted as true, it would be remarkable that the largest professional organization of psychologists in the United States (and other professional associations, as noted below) went to such lengths to disassociate itself from one individual.
 
  • At its membership meeting on October 19, 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that it "formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality."
     

  • In 1985, the American Sociological Association (ASA) adopted a resolution which asserted that "Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism" and noted that "Dr. Paul Cameron has repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, substantiating his call on the basis of his distorted interpretation of this research."The resolution formally charged an ASA committee with the task of "critically evaluating and publicly responding to the work of Dr. Paul Cameron."

    At its August, 1986 meeting, the ASA officially accepted the committee's report and passed the following resolution:


    The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research. Information on this action and a copy of the report by the Committee on the Status of Homosexuals in Sociology, "The Paul Cameron Case," is to be published in Footnotes, and be sent to the officers of all regional and state sociological associations and to the Canadian Sociological Association with a request that they alert their members to Cameron's frequent lecture and media appearances."
     
  • Cameron's credibility was also questioned outside of academia. In his written opinion in Baker v. Wade (1985),

    Judge Buchmeyer of the U.S. District Court of Dallas referred to "Cameron's sworn statement that 'homosexuals abuse children at a proportionately greater incident than do heterosexuals,'" and concluded that "Dr. Paul Cameron...has himself made misrepresentations to this Court" and that "There has been no fraud or misrepresentations except by Dr. Cameron" (p.536).

  • And there's plenty more.

    Thanks to House Blend reader Sandy for the pointer.


    Charlotte Pride wins 2005 permit, after battle with religious wingnuts and city officials


    The fundy mayor: "I do not want that festival in a park setting," he said. "If they need to do it, I think it belongs in a hotel." Bible-beating homo-bashing, anti-choice activist Sheryl Chandler says Operation Save America will be taking pictures and videos of what goes on, to document any illegal behavior

    A victory in the Queen City. Idiot Repug Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory has been under pressure from the fundy group Operation Save America to restrict the use of public parks, specifically targeting Charlotte Pride. [Note Mayor McCrory made it on the Blend earlier this week for snubbing a major HRC convention's request for a letter of welcome.]

    Despite all of that, Charlotte Pride has succeeded in getting its park permit for this year. (Charlotte Observer):
    ...About 100 protesters urged the city council in January to not issue Charlotte Pride organizers a permit, saying last year's festival contained explicit photos and skits they believe were obscene and illegal.

    City officials, however, said in memos that the festival's organizers were protected by the First Amendment, and they believe no laws were broken at last year's festival. Still, they've warned organizers to keep vulgar language and pictures out of the park this year.

    A routine meeting last month between city officials and organizers to discuss logistics for the May 7 event included detailed briefings on First Amendment laws and appropriate behavior, Pride organizers and city officials said. And in a letter to Pride leaders Kris Conyers and Nathan Smith, Mayor Pat McCrory asked them not to use foul language or have vendors where "pictures and words would be better suited for a private sector convention display."

    ...In an interview with the Observer, McCrory said he believes Charlotte Pride isn't appropriate for a public place. He said he's talked to lawyers about the legality of the festival, and has been told that it would be unconstitutional to deny organizers a permit based on what they might do. "I do not want that festival in a park setting," he said. "If they need to do it, I think it belongs in a hotel" or other private setting.

    ..."We're very disappointed," said Sheryl Chandler of Charlotte. "I just hold fast that this does not belong in a public park. ... I don't think they can clean up their act." Chandler sat down with city and police officials last month before the permit was issued, and asked them not to allow another festival. She said she believes festival organizers broke obscenity laws last year.

    "Leather and Lace (strip club) cannot say, `One day a year, we're going to take our operation down to the park," Chandler said. "Because this group is politically protected and people are afraid of them, they're not held to the same obscenity standard."

    Last year, she and other protesters walked through the crowd preaching the Bible. This year, she says, her focus will be less on evangelizing and more on taking pictures and videos of what goes on, to document any illegal behavior.
    It should be noted that last year's attendance at the event topped 8,000, and, according to Q-Notes, which covered Charlotte Pride in 2004, OSA members went in and out of the crowd "harassing LGBT festival-goers by videotaping them, and asking them about their sexuality and suggesting they should consider changing their orientation." This group called for the police working the Pride event who wore rainbow pins "to be reprimanded" for this simple act of freedom of speech.

    Earlier posts on this are here and here.


    Serial killers A-OK in the church, gays, not so much.


    Dennis Rader, church council member, self-proclaimed BTK murderer. His pastor says that he may "have to relinquish some church leadership positions."

    This guy gets a "God pass," but if you're in the American Taliban, homos don't. Just pointing that out. (via Yahoo News).
    "We are not going to cut him off. I could tell that he was relieved," Michael Clark, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, told The Associated Press. "He is still a part of the body of Christ - and that is something some people will have a hard time hearing."


    Phelps thinks Topeka was duped by the fags

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Oh man, he's frothing at the mouth...desperate, old, rotting coot.



    Headline of the day: Stripper Selling Infamous Breast Implant on eBay

    You just cannot make this stuff up (Reuters):
    The woman known professionally as Tawny Peaks said on Wednesday she recently came across the implants in a box in her closet after watching a television discussion about crazy things sold on eBay and decided, "Why not ... I don't need it any more."

    ...She explained that she had her size 69-HH implants removed and underwent breast reduction surgery in 1999 after retiring from the business to start a new life...Peaks won notoriety in 1998 when a man sued her and her employer, the Diamond Dolls nightclub in Clearwater, Florida, saying he suffered a whiplash injury when she swung her breasts into his face at a bachelor party. He said they were "like two cement blocks."
    I've heard of implants exploding because of air pressure changes on an airplane. Tawny's ta-tas exploding would have been one freaking mess. What surgeon would implant those beach balls in a woman's body? Oh, never mind. BTW, the high bid so far is $71. Bleh.


    I've hit the big time -- I've been cited in Freeperland

    Oh this is too much, I love it...the thread was entitled "College Republicans Plan 'Straight Pride Week' (University of Central Oklahoma)" over at Free Republic. Someone doesn't like the fact I repost comments from a public board.


    Hey everyone,

    I was wondering what the copyright rules were for this site and the comments posted on it. The reason I ask is that some lefty sites like to copy the comments, without attribution to the actual users who posted them, and post them on their own sites.

    For an example, please see the tolerant postings of a female homosexual here:

    http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/2005/01/oklahoma-college-republicans-plan.html

    I just wanted to see what everyone's thoughts on these were.
    I think this is the first time I've been cited there! The author was a little late to the parade, as the thread died on 1/29, so no one got to respond to his/her comment. Damn. No happy dance for me.



    NC wingnut Walter Jones wants political endorsements from the pulpit to shove through FMA


    NC's Walter Jones is a truly delusional and frightening member of Congress; Jim Backlin of the Christian Coalition (with Chimpy) will be lobbying in Congress for the wretched, unconsitutional bill to allow political endorsements in churches.

    The Right is so sore that FMA is not getting traction, that NC embarrassment Rep. Walter Jones is getting together with the Rev. Walter Fauntroy (mentioned earlier here) to push the American Taliban agenda by submitting legislation to allow religious leaders to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. After they obliterate this line between church and state, the goal is to get a federal marriage amendment "through the back door" by electing a flood of zealots into Congress. This nonsense is almost beyond comprehension. The bill is H.R. 235. (The Hill):
    Proponents of legislation sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) say it is a step on the long journey to collecting enough support to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    Jim Backlin, vice president of legislative affairs for the Christian Coalition, said passing the Jones bill would enable religious leaders to endorse candidates who support a federal marriage amendment. Down the line, Backlin said, more candidates who support a constitutional amendment would be elected to Congress. Backlin will meet House and Senate Republican leaders this month and plans to stress the importance of the Jones bill."

    ...The Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said the effort to pass a constitutional amendment on marriage and H.R. 235 are linked. The Jones bill would give new clout to conservative churches, which would use that authority to elect candidates who back a marriage amendment, he said. “Walter Jones’s purpose of his bill is very partisan,” Lynn said.

    ...Like the marriage amendment, Jones’s bill needs more support among Democrats to pass in the 109th Congress. To that end, Jones has courted Democrats — specifically black ministers — who believe they should be allowed to discuss political matters without jeopardizing the tax-exempt status of their churches.

    Jones will appear with black ministers at a press conference today to rally support for his bill. The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is scheduled to speak out for the Jones measure. The Rev. Anthony Muse, a Democrat and senior pastor of the Ark of Safety Christian Church in Maryland, will also praise the bill today. They are expected to invoke the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to make their case for passing the Jones measure.

    Again, the religious black community is being targeted/used/pimped to front for the Right's homophobic agenda. And these pastors are willing to be used.


    Phelps to spew hate on John Edwards on Friday



    Just a reminder that although Fred Phelps may have lost the battle over Topeka's anti-discrimination law, this Friday, March 4, he'll be back at it again with the Westboro Baptist "Church" bigot crew. He's going after John Edwards at the Ramada Inn in Downtown Topeka, where the Kansas Democratic Party's 100th Anniversary of Washington Days celebration will be held. Edwards is the keynote speaker.

    Phelps's hate machine released some of the most hateful sh*t in recent memory about the death of Edward's son Wade in the above document:

    "God Almighty warned John Edwards by killing his son, but he hardened his heart & stiffened his neck, embracing the filthy fag agenda for political expediency."

    "At the bidding of his fag/dyke masters, Edwards called a press conference and issued a public statement condemning WBC for suggesting a monument to Matthew Shepard as a memorial to his entrance to Hell for defying God Almighty...Edwards' family will join Matt in hell for his hard speeches against WBC."

    ***

    Phelps's reaction to his ass-kicking in the election:



    Faith-based billions and our dry-drunk President

    Talk about a payoff with dividends. Here's where your tax dollars were flowing while Chimpy was stumping for re-election. Bush Says $2 Billion Went to Religious Charities in '04 (NYT).
    "In his bluntest remark, the president said religious charities that accepted federal money were not allowed to discriminate against people of other faiths.

    'What that means,' Mr. Bush said, 'is if you're the Methodist Church and you sponsor an alcohol treatment center, they can't say, 'Only Methodists, only Methodists who drink too much can come to our program.'

    'All drunks are welcome, is what the sign ought to say.'

    Mr. Bush is a Methodist, and by his account used to drink too much.

    The conference, organized by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, intended to help religious charities apply for federal money for programs that help addicts, prisoners, the homeless and others. The 'faith based initiative,' as the White House calls it, is a central part of Mr. Bush's 'compassionate conservative' agenda that tries to bring a new Republican approach to social problems and poverty."

    ...Legislation that would have made it easier for religious charities to seek government money for social programs faltered in Congress in Mr. Bush's first term, forcing the president to bypass Capitol Hill and sign three executive orders that established religion-based offices in 10 federal agencies.

    ...His critics have long countered that he is promoting the view of a highly religious White House, breaking down barriers between church and state and using taxpayer money to promote organized religion.

    No wonder we have the black pastors bellying up to the trough. I've blogged plenty about this nonsense before, but I want to point you to another, great essay on this buy-out of the religious black faith leadership by Canaan Parker, "Thanks for nothing Reverend Fauntroy". A snippet:

    Rev. Walter Fauntroy, supporter of FMA and beneficiary of Bush's faith-based largesse.

    Like all gay people, I'm dismayed when Walter Fauntroy, a key lieutenant to Martin Luther King and pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church, holds a ballyhooed press conference with Bill Frist and the hateful likes of Rick Santorum in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. But let me be crystal clear. Right now I'm speaking as a black man, not as a gay man. As a member of Fauntroy's African American constituency, I think I've been sold out. Fauntroy knew damn good and well he was helping to re-elect George Bush. Fauntroy went to the Capitol Building and all I got was Republican hegemony.

    ...As a black man, I feel culturally tarnished by Fauntroy's peddling of his Civil Rights pedigree. A company can license its registered trademark for profit - it's called franchising. McDonald's make billions that way. By joining forces with the Republicans, Reverend Fauntroy in effect licensed the name of Dr. King like a trademark. Now whenever I see a debate on marriage, I see white conservative 'franchisees' brandishing Fauntroy's Civil Rights credentials to shield themselves from charges of bigotry. The low point came when I heard right wing buzzsaw Ann Coulter invoke Civil Rights to attack gay rights. When you sell a license to Ann Coulter to speak for Martin Luther King, I'm sorry but that just stinks. Coulter, who publicized the possibility of 'DNA evidence' on Monica Lewinsky's dress, befouls the legacy of Dr. King by even speaking his name. And the right wing has the audacity to accuse us of 'highjacking Civil Rights' when we march on Washington for gay equality.

    Reverend Fauntroy's argument against marriage equality is very feeble. First he claims that he's defending the black family. Then he wanders off into the clouds to think up some vaporous link between gay marriage and the stability of Black families. He can't find a link in concrete reality, so he has to wander way out into the moonie realms of existential sociological theory to find one. You want a link between gay rights and black families? AIDS destroys black families. Gay activists fight AIDS. There is nothing theoretical about that. Dick Cheney may not have a clue, but you won't find a single gay AIDS activist who doesn't know the mortifyng statistics on HIV reported by the Black AIDS Institute. I read the statistics in Gay City News. Reverend Fauntroy doesn't read that paper or he'd know that when he attacks gay rights, he undermines the fight against AIDS. An army of gay and lesbian activists, some 10,000 strong according to Larry Kramer's estimate, has been fighting a two-front war for 25 years. When Fauntroy attacks us on one front - the gay rights front - he weakens us on the AIDS front.

    ...Now, if Reverend Fauntroy claims that marriage equality is a greater threat to black families than HIV, he's either seeing things or he's taking money.

    What an excellent rant...and Canaan's just warming up. Go read the rest.


    Updates on the Chapel Hill gay-bashing incident and protest



    More Than 300 Rally In Chapel Hill After Beating Of Student

    Crowd Rallies At UNC After Gay Student Beating

    Some Want N.C. Hate Crime Law Changed To Include Gays. Here is that story:
    If someone is attacked in North Carolina based on sexual preference, it is not considered a hate crime. North Carolina is one of 20 states where sexual orientation is not covered by hate crime laws. One state senator believes it is time the law is changed.

    Chapel Hill police say last week, six or seven young men hurled insults about Thomas Stockwell's sexual orientation before attacking him. Police call it a hate crime, but state law does not back it up.

    Orange County Sen. Ellie Kinnaird supported a bill last session that would have changed the law, but it never got to a vote. "Probably because it was an election year. When you have an election year bill, you really have people worried about attack ads and perhaps that is the saddest commentary of all in our society," she said.

    Current state law increases penalties for hate crimes against race, color, religion, or national origin. Kinnaird wanted to expand the law after Matthew Shepard, a former Raleigh resident and University of Wyoming student, was killed because he was gay.

    However, some state lawmakers believe expanding the law is not necessary. "The crime you talk about is reprehensible and the people who do those type of things need to be punished and punished severely, but presently there is enough punishment on the books to take care of those people who commit those crimes," said Rep. Leo Daughtry.

    Police said a witness did come forward in the Chapel Hill case, but the person did not shed any new light on the case. Police have not named any suspects.


    Topeka slam dunks Fred and Jael Phelps


    If the repeal effort failed, Phelps promised: "If you succeed in passing a gay-rights ordinance, the next morning, we'll be back on the streets, collecting signatures."

    The people have spoken, Rotting Cryptkeeper, and they didn't listen to your bile. (AP):
    The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. was undaunted after voters upheld the anti-discrimination measure Tuesday and publicly dared the City Council to enact another, broader ordinance.

    ...In final, unofficial results, 53 percent, or 14,285, opposed the repeal effort, while 47 percent, or 12,795, voted for the repeal. Had it passed, the measure also would have blocked future efforts to reinstate such a law for 10 years. Some said they opposed repealing the measure partly because of Phelps, who has long been a fierce foe of gay rights. His church has picketed the funerals of AIDS victims for more than a decade. And his protest outside the 1998 funeral for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming, led to his portrayal in the play "The Laramie Project."

    Susan Kitchkommie, 49, said Phelps was a factor in her "no," vote, adding, "I don't think anybody should be discriminated against." Even some voters who wanted to repeal the ordinance distanced themselves from Phelps. Retired teacher Jim Paramore said he was "not for Fred Phelps," explaining that he voted to repeal the ordinance because "there doesn't need to be special consideration made for homosexuality."

    Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the vote was encouraging, coming after voters last year amended 13 states' constitutions to ban gay marriage. "This really was a question in every gay American's mind whether Fred Phelps represented the voters of Topeka," he said.

    One of the minister's granddaughters, meanwhile, fell short in her efforts to unseat an openly gay member of the City Council. The granddaughter, Jael Phelps, and council member Tiffany Muller were among four candidates in a nonpartisan primary. Jael Phelps finished last. Muller finished second, behind an attorney, but advanced to the city's April 5 general election.


    "The Real Gulf War": Ms. Julien on the pain of political family rifts

    Tuesday, March 01, 2005

    Surf over to Julien's List for a glimpse of the familiar in the era of the Chimperor -- family political differences that are seemingly insurmountable.
    So I was having a conversation with my sister (age 35) recently. The ongoing saga is that while we love each other very much, she gets more and more conservative with each passing day of her life (I knew it was bad when my NRA-card-carrying father said that my sister put the original "C" in "conservative"...)

    She had just seen the movie Hotel Rwanda (which, to my shame, I have not yet seen...this weekend). She loved the movie, but made very quickly the comment "We are sure lucky to have George Bush as our president, because he is at war to protect us from the terrorists like the ones in the movie, who hate Americans." [sidebar: I have learned that it is best not to comment, and quickly changed the subject. Not to be ignored this day was my sister, who repeated her comment. My response: "Yes, we Americans sure are hated in the world."]

    Given the fact that GWB's administration and policies have created a gulf like none other in decades between US citizens - not to mention that between the US and the world - it is virtually impossible to discuss this rationally with my sister, and people like her.
    Good stuff. Read more.


    The House Blend and Freepers agree: Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is an indecency dumb*ss


    Ted Stevens says sex toy discussions gives him the willies.

    The world must be coming to an end - the knuckle-draggers in Freeperland actually have an issue I can get on board with. At this point and time, we've got such over-reaching by Washington in the area of "indecency" that wingnuts are freaking out. Lawmakers want to extend broadcast standards to cable television and satellite television and radio to "protect the children." I'm telling you, the internet is next. If they ever find a way to police this venue, our collective ass is grass.

    "Cable is a much greater violator in the indecency area. I think we have the same power to deal with cable as over-the-air" broadcasters...There has to be some standard of decency."
    -- Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK)

    "Taliban Ted should resign from the Senate and find a more appropriate place to be a censor -- like Alabama or Saudi Arabia."
    --Actual Freeper Quote
    (Reuters):
    Stevens cited the discussion of masturbation and sex toys during prime time television as one example of content that bothered him. He told reporters he would extend the restrictions to premium channels like HBO as well.

    "If we can work out the constitutional questions, I'd be supportive of that," [House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe] Barton of Texas told reporters later at the conference. "I think they ought to play, to the extent possible, by the same rules."

    ... Stevens disputed assertions by the cable industry that Congress cannot impose limits on its content. "If that's the issue they want to take on, we'll take it on and let the Supreme Court decide."

    Note that our freshly minted Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has the elimination of porn on his mind too.



    Unhinged AgapePress: Planned Parenthood promotes pedophilia


    Rock for Life's Erik Whittington says Planned Parenthood "support all forms of sexual immorality." He is also the American Life League's youth outreach director. His bio says: "prior to joining ALL, he combined a musical career with pro-life activism."

    AgapePress, the "news" organ of the loony anti-choice, homo-bashing American Family Association takes it up a notch for its attack on Planned Parenthood, which it says has an apparent alliance with pedophiles. Give me a f*cking break. Does that mean the Pope, pray tell, has an "apparent alliance" with them as well? Just asking.
    ...An advocate with Rock for Life says Americans should be outraged that the Bush administration gives taxpayer money to a group that not only profits from abortions but also even promotes pedophilia. That the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the world's largest abortion provider is fairly common knowledge; however, probably less well known is the fact that Planned Parenthood, through its sex-ed website "Teenwire," also promotes risky behavior, such as sex between children and adults. A current advice article on the Planned Parenthood site is about sex between young girls -- or boys -- and older men; and rather than discourage the practice, the article invites youngsters to "think things through" and "enter the relationship with your eyes wide open." Erik Whittington of Rock for Life, a project of the American Life League, feels U.S. taxpayers and values voters should be outraged that the site's abortion-mill sponsor receives government funding. "The public should be contacting their senators and congressman and demanding that not one cent of our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood," Whittington says, "because not only do they support the killing of one-third of our generation through abortion, but they support all forms of sexual immorality." In Kansas, Planned Parenthood's apparent alliance with pedophiles has led the state's attorney general to investigate the group for refusing to release the names of individuals who may be responsible for raping children.
    Bonus points for these nuts for tying this to fellow American Taliban ghoul, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline's efforts to toss out the privacy rights of women.


    A must-read on Gannon and Sully

    Oy, this is just a dish-and-a-half from Mike Rogers at BlogActive.
    Jeff Gannon, the newest voice on the right wing blogosphere never served at The New Republic like his fellow blogger Andrew Sullivan, but apparently some of the republic’s great military leaders have serviced Mr. Gannon.

    As Talon News promises a "top-to-bottom" review of it’s staff and volunteers, my congratulations to the now-closed news service for getting right to the point. We know from the on-line reviews of Mr. Gannon's prostitution services that he must be the "top" in the conservative news site’s introspection. I wonder if the rest of the media thinks that it's just as relevant a question as to whom the "bottom(s)" may be. I can tell you this much readers, this story is NOT about private sex lives and it’s NOT about the right to be gay in private.

    This issue is about much more than that. I found it funny that Ann Coulter actually attempted to claim the civil rights high ground by framing an argument that Gannon is a victim of anti-gay forces. Did I miss Gannon saying he was gay? Or, finally understanding the work or blogACTIVE, is Coulter now in favor of his "outing"? The questions that Coulter is not asking are the same ones the White House has refused to answer for me.

    Now, a bit about the timing here; is it coincidence that Gannon's rise comes on heels of “pretty-boy-cum-bear-man/blogger” Sullivan walking off stage right for a break?

    It gets better...check out more about Sully and the White House "Debriefing Room" over at BlogActive.


    UNC junior attacked in hate crime; protest to be held on campus today

    [UPDATE: Freeper ignorance and bigotry abound on this issue. I wanted to post the hateful sh*t here because this is the evil we face -- and they have no problem spewing it. The comments follow the original post.]

    It's a sorry day when I have to report a hate crime like this in the Triangle. A UNC student was beaten by seven homo-bigots early Friday AM and a protest is being held today, along with a petition signing, to demand that sexual orientation be included in North Carolina's definition of what constitutes a hate crime. At this point and time, NC has an "ethnic intimidation law", but that of course, does not include anti-gay crimes. Folks in Chapel Hill are in shock. No arrests have yet been made. (Daily Tar Heel):
    A University junior was assaulted while walking alone on Franklin Street on Friday morning in what Chapel Hill police are investigating as a hate crime.

    And the University community, particularly members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender-Straight Alliance, is mobilizing its resources to show support. The 21-year-old student was walking near 100 E. Franklin Street at 2:04 a.m. when six to seven men began making derogatory remarks about the student's sexual orientation while walking behind him, police spokeswoman Jane Cousins said.

    The group of men then began attacking the student, hitting and kicking him in the face, upper torso and all over, Cousins said. The individuals were calling him derogatory names throughout the incident, Cousins said.

    Police arrived on the scene at 2:06 a.m. and found the student kneeling on the sidewalk, where he was treated for injuries. Those injuries were initially characterized as minor but have now been revised to include broken bones, Cousins said Friday. The student was not transported to UNC Hospitals.

    To respond to the incident, GLBTSA executive board members decided Sunday to organize a rally in the Pit to take place Tuesday. Beginning at 6 p.m., students will gather to show support for the student and to speak out about the incident using an open microphone. Those assembled will then hold a candlelight speak-out and will march to Franklin Street where the student was found.

    "People are obviously upset and shocked about it," GLBTSA executive board member David Ruskey said. "The biggest emotion I'm feeling is disgust. "Obviously ... there were people on Franklin Street who saw this and didn't call the police." [Franklin Street is the main drag in Chapel Hill, you can find people out and about at all hours.]

    Ruskey said the organizers are asking that all in attendance wear white T-shirts to show unity.
    Questions about the rally are being fielded by Anissa at qiethart@hotmail.com

    ***



    Actual Freeper Quotes�:

    "2AM in Chapel Hill on Franklin Street and no witnesses. My guess is that someone got drunk and got in a fight."

    "My guess. His Boyfriend beat him up, but when he went to the ER he didn't want to say that. It was much more expedient for him to blame it on "Gay Bashers"."

    "Sometimes they're too stupid to realize inventing a hate crime will lead to media attention and scrutiny (whereas, if he claimed a single person beat him and robbed him, there would be no news story). Other times, they make up the hate crime story because they want the associated attention."

    "'a popular stretch of roadway'?"

    "Franklin Rd is the main drag through town around campus. Many of the bars a restaurants are there."

    "There was a similar case in Missouri just a few months ago. A young gay man filed a police report saying that he had been assaulted by a group of men. The men made inflammatory comments about his sexuality, and even went so far as to carve the letters F-A-G into his forehead. Witnesses? None. The case didn't take very long to solve since the "victim" gave away the game: the letters were carved backwards."

    "2 AM, Friday night, Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and there were "no witnesses"? Not in a million years."

    ".....same thoughts here!"

    "How would the attackers know what the victim's sexual orientation was in the first place just by seeing him walking along a popular roadway at 2:00 AM? Was he wearing a sign?"

    "I rather wondered that, myself. One of several factors that make this story, initially at least, somewhat less than convincing."

    "Maybe it was the leather assless chaps."

    "Six or seven people beat him and he didn't require hospitalization? Just doesn't sound right."

    "I was walking with a friend in Ft Lauderdale at 2AM going to a bar and a bunch of guys started harassing us about being "gay". I'm not exactly the gayest looking person in the world. Imagine Cooter from Dukes of Hazzard without the beard."

    "Why does it matter what sexual orientation of the victim or the motivation for the taunting and bullying. This sort of thuggish behavior should be wrong and punished no matter who the victim is, who the perps were, or what their motivation was."

    "Well, they were white, weren't they?"

    "Remember, if you can get "hate crime" into the story, you might get paid in an eventual civil case. It's all about "gittin paid" in certain communities, and the gays seem to be taking a cue from the race charlatans."

    "IMO the media will still ignore the story if it becomes apparent that he was beaten by another queer...."


    I better close out that savings account before it destroys my marriage


    David Brooks, protecting the sanctity of marriage, one bank account at a time.

    Thanks to Rook's Rant for pointing me to the the latest ass-clown column by Kevin Brooks. If it didn't hurt like crap to laugh today, I would be rolling.

    About half of all couples today have multiple bank accounts. Brooks sees this as an apocalyptic trend. Apparently separate bank accounts are a harbinger of secrecy, infidelity and divorce. Seriously, I think this might be one of the dumbest efforts ever put out by a "mainstream" columnist. [That's ruling out the complete wingnuts, you know, like bony ass, bed-worn b*tch of the Reich™, Ann Coulter.] Read and weep:
    I'm not saying that people with separate accounts have marriages that are less healthy than anybody else's. I'm saying we should pause before this becomes the social norm. Private property is the basis for our market democracy. But private property in the home is an altogether trickier proposition.

    For one thing, separate accounts can easily turn into secret accounts. A person's status and resources inside the home shouldn't be based on how much he or she is making outside it. A union based on love can easily turn into a merger based on self-interest, where the main criterion for continuing becomes: Am I getting a good return on my investment, psychic or otherwise?

    Makes you wonder about his relationships, doesn't it? He goes on to say that our institutions should be based on "self-sacrifice, loyalty and love" -- and that the growth of multiple-account households represent a sense of individualism that will destroy the relationship. No, you f*cktard, it's the lack of ability to make a relationship work, the trust, honesty, and communication that makes a lasting marriage or partnership. You have to ask, what exactly is he advocating for -- joint accounts only, with one person keeping the books? Tell that to the women in those "traditional" relationships that were left high and dry and unaware of how to manage money when their husbands ran off. Some statistics for Mr. Brooks to consider:

    * Drop in standard of living of females after divorce as of 2000: 45%
    * Married women earning at least $5,000 a year more than their husbands: 8.408 million (14.9% of all married women)
    * Unmarried women earning at least $5,000 a year more than their partners: 821,000 (21.5% of unmarried couples)
    * Married men earning at least $5,000 a year more than their wives: 33.228 million (58.8% of all married men)
    * Unmarried men earning at least $5,000 a year more than their partners: 2.099 million (54.9% of unmarried couples)
    * Married couples in which only the husband is employed: 12.642 million (22.4%)
    * Married couples in which only the wife is employed: 3.855 million (6.8%)
    * Married couples in which both partners are employed: 30.212 million (53.5%)

    And some key ones:
    * Percentage of divorces due to economic problems in 1997: 4.2%
    * Percentage of divorces due to irreconcilable differences in 1997: 80%
    * Total single mothers maintaining their own household: 7.571 million
    * Total single fathers maintaining their own household: 1.786 million



    What she said, again - Shakespeare's Sister on Kevin Drum and Bloggrrrls

    Kevin Drum stepped into a pile of it when he gave his analysis that there aren't many political female bloggers out there, based on his "investigative work": 1) he couldn't find more than a few female bloggers on the TTLB Ecosystem, and 2) he saw the dearth of female bloggers listed on male bloggers' blogrolls. His most ridiculous assertion is that men are "more comfortable with the food fight nature of opinion writing." Whatever.

    Fellow political Bloggrrrl Shakespeare's Sister rips him again and she writes such tasty morsels when doing so that I couldn't resist sharing. Emphasis mine.
    It’s a problem throughout the political arena (could that be why so many single women don’t vote, perhaps?), and it’s part and parcel of the assumption that we’re done with the whole “sexism thing.” I mean, hey—we’ve got a female GOP Secretary of State, right? How much can women really have to complain about?

    Well, there’s the small problem of still earning less money for the same amount of work than our male coworkers. There’s the issue of abortion rights, which, while it may be an acceptable compromise for liberal men, isn’t something on which liberal women are willing to compromise…and we’re none too pleased that the men don’t back us up on that one, either. And there’s the tiny challenge we face each and every day of men who like to think of themselves as egalitarian who clearly are not, and instead of ever facing up to their latent sexism, attribute disparities to inherent traits in women, thereby making it our collective fault for lingering inequalities and implying that said traits are immutable, with reasonable rebuttals dismissed as anecdotal. Spirited, but anecdotal.

    It is inexplicable that otherwise intelligent men cannot wrap their minds around how such an attitude is insulting, nor grasp that women’s issues are not tangential concerns of the overall progressive movement. The insistence upon marginalizing legitimate concerns of women is sexism at its very worst, and yet because dudes like Drum aren’t lounging around in a beer-stained wife-beater ordering their bitches into the kitchen, they somehow manage to convince themselves that they are infallible supporters of feminism (and feminists). Suppressing women’s voices, who are miraculously loud, plentiful, and in direct contradiction of the small-minded assertions that periodically bring them to the fore en masse, is not a minor thing, and continuing to feign innocence to its detrimental effects is not forgivable when there is so much evidence to the contrary.
    I also agree with SS that there are plenty of good (secure) guys out there willing to visit Bloggrrrl sites and add them to their rolls. As far as House Blend goes, I can heartily thank both John Aravosis of AMERICAblog and Mike Rogers of RawStoryQ for giving this blog visibility from those larger sites. [Is there any irony there that these are two gay men that stepped up so early on to send traffic my way?]

    I am thankful when anyone takes the time to recognize our work and passes the word on. To be egalitarian when it comes to linking to good, funny or insightful writing is a no-brainer, I can't seem to understand why there are these sorry, sore egos out there that just cannot admit they have a small problem with recognizing the expanding number of political female voices in the blogosphere. [As if readership is being "stolen" from anyone.]

    More and varied political voices lead to better informed people on a host of issues that affect us all. It helps shape our political strategies in ways that can make progressive issues more accessible. Opening the forum can dispel stale, and often unintentionally prejudicial thinking about women (or gays, or Southerners, or people of color -- oh, look, I'm all of those). No one demographic group can be pigeon-holed politically if we are all able to weigh in with our unique perspectives -- it is important to be seen. We're out here, Kevin.


    Can I just say this - PCOS sucks the *ss of death.

    If you know what that is, then you know what I mean. Still sick.