Saturday, June 14, 2008
On June 12, the Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, said she will veto the bill.
That veto threat lit a fire under Father Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life. The reverend father has "called upon the state legislature to override the Governor's action."
Why would a Roman Catholic priest stick his nose in the business of the state of Michigan? Well, because he "knows," not only the "first purpose" of government, but also "the responsibility the law has to preserve the proper role of the physician."
And, according to the Rev, "The first purpose of government is the protection of human life. This promised veto contradicts that purpose."
This is typical Roman Catholic dogma deriving from the non-scientific belief that a fetus is a person. The fact that such a dogma is not accepted by the majority of physicians, scientists and regular people in this country makes not a whit of difference. You must understand that the Roman Church claims a direct pipeline to the deity.
No one in their right mind promotes any type of abortion as a good thing. It's always the lesser or two evils. Unfortunately, "partial birth" abortions have become politicized by so-called religious conservatives who believe they have the right to impose their beliefs on everyone else.
One common name for the procedure is "intact dilation and extraction" or IDX or Intact D&X. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists uses the term "intact dilation and evacuation." The American Medical Association prefers the term "intact dilation and extraction."
None of the recognized medical associations use the term, "partial birth abortions." This is a political term first introduced "by pro-life congressman Charles T. Canady" in 1995.
As noted, IDX is not something that is done lightly. Often it is done to preserve the health or the life of the mother. In fact, it is a very rare procedure, "representing 0.17% ... of all abortions in the United States in 2000.
Generally, in the United States, anti-abortion activists have targeted the IDX procedure because of its rarity and because it appears to be more brutal than other abortions to some people. But in many, if not most cases, these activists insist that it not be performed even to protect the health or life of the mother! That indicates they are operating, not from an humanitarian standpoint, but from a political/religious standpoint.
Furthermore, these anti-abortion activists believe if they can arrange to ban partial birth abortions on the basis that a fetus is a human being, they are well on the road to banning all abortions.
There are some other problems relating to the actions of the anti-abortion activists. One is they usually have little interest in a child following its birth. These are the same conservatives that consistently vote against welfare programs that would benefit low-income parents and their children, and most often oppose health care for the needy.
These anti-abortion activists, who like to promote themselves as "pro-life," are actually not that at all. To allow a mother to die to feed their moral fever is a pro-death stance. That same stance is reflected in the fact they are often the most vocal supporters of war, such as the police action in Iraq, and in their unrelenting fervor for the death penalty; George W. Bush being the prime example in both instances.
Back to the state of Michigan. So far as the reverend Pavone is concerned, the legislature of the state of Michigan did a fine thing banning "partial birth" abortions. The governor, however, at least in his opinion, has abandoned her role as a protector of human life by threatening to veto the bill. Therefore, says Pavone, "Michigan legislators have the opportunity to correct this mistake, and I urge them to do so."
The Rev. Frank Pavone is from Staten Island. He has hung out with such lesser lights as Rush Limbaugh, Steve Forbes, Charlton Heston and Ben Stein. His Priests for Life is a multi-million dollar operation with the goal of goading priests into a more active stance against abortion in order to get all abortions banned in the United States. Pavone also has connections in Rome, and has been called the pope's "vicar for life." His group spends millions of dollars annually promoting his anti-abortion message.
Some folks think Pavone is a bit off the wall. He's too chummy with the extreme end of the "pro-life" movement -- the ones out there blockading abortion clinics. He's appeared with Randall Terry of Operation Rescue and the Rev. Flip Benham. Mark Crutcher, an anti-abortion activist who is trying to litigate abortion clinics out of business with malpractice suits, is a friend and has appeared on Pavone's TV show. Another ally of Pavone's, Joseph Scheidler, who runs the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago, was found guilty a few years ago of violating federal racketeering laws by harrassment and intimidation tactics at abortion clinics.
One of the largest donors to Priests for Life is Tom Monaghan, the ultra-rich, ultra conservative, ultra Catholic founder of Domino's Pizza.
Interestingly, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a member of Priests for Life.
But while we grant "Father" Pavone (isn't it interesting how these folks like to be called "father" when their church won't let them be real fathers?) to have the right to believe anything he wants, we have to ask who the hell he thinks he is, as a representative of a moribund, decadent, scientifically-challenged institution like the Roman Catholic Church, to tell the elected leaders of a secular state they need to obey his organization's religious precepts?
God save us from the self-righteous!
What follows derives from Onenewsnow.com.
This is what "guest" columnist Matt Friedman said a TV cameraman said about Senator Barack Obama:
"Oh man," he admitted more than swooned. "He's a rock star."
Friedman doesn't have much use for "rock stars." He says that the TV cameraman didn't seem to "applauding the concept [of rock star], but he did in fact acknowledge that America seems to be gushing over a candidate with a certain appeal that is viscerally emotional and hard to contain."
Hmm...you know where this is going, right? Friedman claims that people see Obama as the "Lightworker," who "isn't really one of us," with a "powerful luminosity," and "a unique high vibration integrity," or a "Rare kind of attuned being."
"You read this stuff," he says, "and you think, My goodness, some people have finally found their god." Freidman just can't be nice, and turns really nasty, unChristian even, and a liar:
"But then you wonder if this god won't reach under his chin after the election, grab the edge of the mask and yank off the facade to reveal himself as the man who told us in language we weren't listening to and a voting record that was obfuscated by a cult of personality that I am indeed the One."
Oh, my god, Obama IS the anti-Christ!
Just listen to this Friedman character, this fine up-standing Christian:
"The One who promised to raise your taxes; buddy up with our sworn enemies over a latte; grow government in an attempt to assuage every conceivable un-addressed woe; appoint to the courts 'moderates' who reflect the most liberal justices we currently have (thus re-redefining moderation); push further the boundaries of life by supporting partial-birth abortion and even refusing to protect children accidentally born alive because the abortionist missed; and redefine marriage so that marriage doesn't matter much anymore.
"And here's what is wrong. To some people in this nation, that kind of a leader is god-like. Not really just one of us. A rock star. Lightworker. Their daydream."
There's more of this bullshit, but Friedman, the good "Christian," concludes his tirade of character-assassination (all in the names of God and goodness and Jesus, you know) by saying:
"It no doubt surprises some theological 'progressives' that there are still people who believe in devils. Less astonishing is the fact that many of us recognize the reality of political devils..."
Well, Mr. Friedman, you might be surprised that you don't fool us theological "progressives."
We've read your work and we recognize the devil when we see him!
For the Christian Right, homophobia or hatred of homosexuals is called "neutrality."
Someone named Ed Thomas, writing for OneNewsNow.com, a Christian right Website, says that "Pro-family leaders are commending ExxonMobil for remaining neutral in the cultural battle over homosexual rights. Company shareholders decided again this year to retain a company policy that neither grants special rights based on sexual orientation nor includes benefits for same-sex partners."
Isn't that wonderful? First of all, we must no longer allow these Christian right phonies to co-opt the word, "pro-family." Anyone who loves families, including homosexual families, is "pro-family." And as those of us who live in the real world know, just because a "family" is comprised of Daddy, Mommy, and kids, does not make it a "good" family; and that homosexual families can provide as much or more love and care and moral values as any heterosexual family.
Remember the forgotten Ted Haggard?
Secondly, why would so-called Christians want to deny other human beings health and pension benefits because they are attracted to persons of the same sex? Exactly where in the scale of "Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Do unto others" does this denial fall?
Focus on the Family thought ExxonMobil's decision was a "commonsense" decision while noting that ExxonMobil was the "only Fortune 500 company and major oil company that has not adopted such a policy."
Randy Sharp from the American Family Association said he thinks "it says a lot for the leadership of [ExxonMobil]. They know right from wrong, [and] they have some type of a moral compass that tells them that special-interest groups are just that: they're special interests, and (instead) they're going to remain neutral."
ExxonMobil leaders know "right" from "wrong"? Right!
Focus on the Family folks and the AFA people give Christianity a bad name!
Don't buy your gas from ExxonMobil.
The essay is called "The Turning Point."
May 1, 2003: Bush said, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
July 7, 2003: Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, said: "This month will be a political turning point for Iraq."
July 22, 2003: The White House said: "While there is still much work to do in Iraq, the Iraqi people can see progress each day toward a better and more prosperous future for their country."
November 6, 2003: Bush observed: "We've reached another great turning point..."
June 16, 2004: Bush claimed, "A turning point will come two weeks from today."
July 17, 2004: Neocon columnist Max Boot said, "Despite the Negative Reaction by Much of the Media, U.S. Marines Did a Good Job in Fallujah, a Battle That Might Prove a Turning Point."
June 28, 2004: Bush wrote on a napkin, "Let freedom reign!"
February 2, 2005: Donald Rumself said: "On January 30th in Iraq, the world witnessed an important moment in the global struggle against tryanny, a movement that historians might one day call a major turning point."
March 7, 2005: William Kristol wrote, "[T]he Iraqi election of January 30, 2005... will turn out to have been a genuine turning point."
May 30, 2005: Dick Cheney said on Meet the Press, "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
December 15, 2005: Sen. Joe Lieberman said, "The last two weeks have been critically important and I believe may be seen as a turning point in the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism."
December 18, 2005: Dick Cheney, while conceding "the level of violence has continued," told ABC News, "I do believe that when we look back on this period of time, 2005 will have been the turning point...."
May 1, 2006: Bush claimed the formation of a new Iraqi government was "a turning point."
May 20, 2006: Bush said, "We believe this is a turning point for the Iraqi citizens, and it's a new chapter in our partnership."
June 9, 2006: Bus said, "Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaeda. It's a victory in the global war on terror, and it is an opportunity for Iraq's new government to turn the tide of this struggle."
January 7, 2007: Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman recently returned from a fact-finding mission to Iraq...in light of a possible change for U.S. strategy in Iraq, they called the recent events a probably turning point.
September 12, 2007: McCain said "the next six months are going to be critical."
March 17, 2007: McCain claimed that the U.S. had finally reached a genuine turning point in Iraq and that his faith in the surge was (once again) vindicated. "We are succeeding. And we can succeed and American casualties overall are way down. That is in direct contradiction to predictions made by the Democrats and particularly Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. I will be glad to stake my campaign on the fact that this has succeeded and the American people appreciate it."
Oh, stop laughing. This is serious stuff!
This first came to my attention at Mother Jones, but since yesterday a variety of Websites have posted it and commented on it.
Cheney, is a big supporter of dredging oil up from under any surface available no matter what the long-term consequences might be. Alaska, off shore, Colorado, anywhere is fine with him. Nor does it matter that even if we were able to recover all the oil available to us, it amounts to the proverbial drop in the bucket, and would not be available for at least ten years.
So much for solving our oil crisis!
Why, then, would Cheney want to drill for oil everywhere and anywhere? Ah, glad you asked. Cheney is an oil man, and if he can help his cohorts increase their already obscene profits, he will jump at the chance.
So, Dick heard a story as to how the Chinese were drilling for oil in Cuban waters. Here's what he said:
"[O]il is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida. We're not doing it. The Chinese are in cooperation with the Cuban government... Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply. Yet Congress has said... no to drilling off Florida."
That would be funny, if it wasn't such a blatant plea to fill the pockets of his oil company buddies. I love that "even the communists" bit.
Then, Roy Blunt (R-MO), the House Republican Whip jumped into the ring:
"Even China recognizes that oil and natural gas is (sic) readily available off our shores; thanks to Fidel Castro, they've been given a permit to drill for oil 45 miles from the Florida Keys."
Notice how the story got even better. Now it's "oil and gas," and Fidel hisself's involved, and the Chinese got a permit and they're only 45 miles off the Florida coast!
Wow! The United States is getting blown out of the water, so to speak.
Except the whole thing is phony. China is not drilling off the coast of Cuba or off the coast of Florida or off the coast of Atlantis! China does not have an off shore drilling permit. It does, however, have a permit to drill on Cuban land. But it's not doing that, either. They've done some seismic testing but that's the extent of it.
It seems that a reporter got his facts mixed up, but fed them to Cheney, who went public with the horrible news that China was getting oil off Florida but we couldn't because Congress was so nasty!
Cheney's office has since issued a correction.
Not to worry, though, Cheney will think up another big lie to feed the American public. My guess is that the next one will have to do with how much better McCain would be to "protect" the American people from the bad guys, than Obama; because, well, you know, Obama being an "elitist" and all.
Habeas corpus is Latin for "produce the body," loosely translated. Habeas corpus is guaranteed in our Constitution. President George W. Bush does not believe in habeas corpus and has routinely and regularly violated this constitutional guarantee.
The United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 9: "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion of Invasion the public safety may require it."
DovBear has written a beautiful and historical explanation of habeas corpus and how it relates to the detainees at Guantanamo Bay as well as the recent Supreme Court decision which referred Mr. Bush and company back to our Constitution.
The right of habeas corpus goes back to the year 1215 C.E. - to that wonderful English work that serves as one of the foundational documents for our own government - the Magna Carta.
"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land." - Magna Carta, Article 39, as granted by King John in 1215.
"Yes, TWELVE FIFTEEN.
"I am deeply distressed by the thought ... that habeas corpus is some weak-wristed liberal idea designed to protect, benefit, and otherwise coddle terrorists and other murderous fiends. This is ahistorical and backwards.
"Habeas corpus dates to the Magna Carta at least. The Magna Carta was granted in 1215, and the men who put it together were not, I assure you, a bunch of crazy-commie-liberals. What habeas corpus means is that individuals cannot be imprisoned at the whim of the king or for the sake of his own convenience, i.e., no one goes to jail without a good reason. The king can't say per speciale Mandatum Domini Regis and throw away the key. He has to demonstrate cause and explain to the court why he thinks you should be imprisoned. If he can't, you are set free.
"What should be obvious to anyone with even a child's grasp of logic is that habeas corpus does nothing to help criminals. What it does is protect innocent men (men who might have been arrested by mistake, something that, presumably, could happen to any one of us) while also reassuring us all that the government is behaving credibly.
"Absent habeas corpus we don't know that all of the men in Gitmo are terrorists. Absent habeas corpus, it's possible that some of them have been imprisoned simply to magnify the glory of the president, to make it seem like his absurdly expensive War on Terror is producing results. It's also possible that honest mistakes were made, that some of the incarcerated men were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or that bounty-seeking warlords turned them in.
"Like you, I desperately wish to believe that all of those men are hardened enemies of America, but without habeas corpus how can we know for sure? How do we know that every last one of those men languishing in prison have been apprehended for good reasons? The answer is we don't and, as the Supreme Court yesterday agreed, basic 800-year old principles of fairness demand that we find out. And the very worst that will happen is that any men collected by mistake, or handed in by bounty-seeking warlords will be set free. This is an outcome no freedom lover should oppose."
I have one final comment. In the process of establishing a dictatorship in any country, the first "right" to go is often the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Thanks to DovBear.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Maybe you've seen it. It's titled "Stupid is as stupid does," and the title could not be more appropriate considering the material. The material is stupid and the author is stupid. I explain below.
It begins with a statement that has no connection with what follows:
"A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine that America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to them."
As it stands, that makes some sense. Bush invaded Iraq and that disaster is now costing us $12 billion per month in BORROWED money, but the only real inconvenience (other than for those who have to fight and die over there...oh, and their families...) is that the price of oil is going through the roof and after five years of the mess, inflation is soon gonna be in the double-digits! Oh yeah, one other thing, we owe our shirt to the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Saudis!
But this letter doesn't talk about that. Instead it relates all the bad things that various Muslims have done in the past 40 years, like assassinating Robert F. Kennedy, and bombing planes and embassies, etc. I guess those things were inconvenient for the people involved, but they really didn't affect most of us except tangentially.
Furthermore, the letter ignores all the "bad" things the United States has done; like torture, preemptive invasions, rendition, illegal spying, murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan...which are even now inconveniencing the hell out of most of us, and this is just the beginning.
Then the letter jumps to another subject and comments in a rather snide and sarcastic fashion about how the government doesn't want to do "profiling" of male Muslims between the ages of 17 and 40 (those specifics become important as you shall see in a minute) but would rather pick on old ladies and little kids, and secret agents and aged, crippled Congressmen.
It's all pretty silly although I have to say the Homeland Security folks who work at the airports don't seem to have all their oars in the water much of the time and they have made some rather blatant errors in judgment.
However, and here it comes, just what you've been waiting for - the IDENTITY of the Anti-Christ!!! Dum, de dum, dum!
"According to the Book of Revelations"...well, gotta interrupt here, 'cause there is no book of Revelations...there is the book of Revelation, or The Revelation of John, which is its real title, but no book of Revelations. People who call it the "book of Revelations" almost always have no frigging clue what they're talking about. In spite of the fact that it is said to have been written by John, we know not who wrote it or when it was written. There were a gazillion Johns running around the Fertile Crescent in those days, and the writer is not further identified. So that's a bummer right from the start. In order to determine the validity of a book, you must know who the author is and what his/her credentials are!
Not only so, but if these idiots would just read the beginning sentences, they might figure out that the Revelation of John is totally irrelevant to their lives! It starts out by explaining "This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ." What? I thought it said the Revelation of John? "It was given to him so that he might show his servants what must shortly happen."
Aha! All this stuff was going to happen SOON, not two thousand years later!
But if the "revelation" was given to Jesus Christ, how'd John get into the picture? "He" which I assume refers to Jesus Christ, "made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who, in telling all that he saw, has borne witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Wait just a minute! Did an angel come down from the sky and tell this "John" what to write? Or did an angel simply appear out of nowhere pen in hand? Or maybe the angel floated down on a cloud just before a storm, took John by the hand and led him into a cave, where by candlelight he dictated the "book of Revelations?"
It's interesting, though, 'cause it's kinda the same story as that Mormon guy, Joseph Smith, who had a revelation brought to him by an angel, too! Wow. And it must all be true! But the stories of John and Joseph both can't be true! What to do? Who to believe?
The last sentence in this introduction says "Happy is the man (sorry ladies!) who reads, and happy those who listen to the words of this prophecy and heed what is written in it. For the hour of fulfilment is near."
It's near. It's nigh. It's coming soon.
Oops. None of that happened! Now what? Well, if you're stupid you make up all kinds of crap based on the so-called "prophecies" in the "book of Revelations" and then write really stupid letters with slamming lies about Barack Obama.
People who think that the Revelation of John has anything to do with the 21st Century indicate that they are maybe not so stupid as that they are ignorant fools who know nothing of biblical scholarship. The Revelation of John is mostly apocalyptic material written to give hope to Christians in the first century who were having a problem with the Roman authorities. The wild and weird stuff was code that was comprehended by these early Christians but is incomprehensible for us and has nothing whatsoever to do with anything today.
Nevertheless, we shall proceed with this stupid letter. "According to the Book of Revelations:
"The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of MUSLIM descent, (did you get that MUSLIM bit? But didn't that other boob, Jerry Falwell say he was already on earth and he was Jewish? Damn, who to believe?) who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal...the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, ... (Oh my God, that sounds like Obama...Oh my God) he will destroy everything."
(Wow. Can you imagine? This is really sumthin'! Shore enuf! Jest in case yer thinkin' maybe it weren't Obama, the letter continues...)
"And Now: For the award winning Act of Stuidity (sic) Of all time the People of America want to elect, to the most Powerful position on the face of the Planet -- The Presidency of the United States of A merica (sic)
of 17 and 40."
(Holy crap. We's in big truble!) But there's more...this is shore worrisome!)
"Have the American People completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason??? I'm sorry but I refuse to take a chance on the 'unknown' candidate
"I hope this goes to as many people it can so that the Gloria Aldreds and other stupid attorneys along with Federal Justices that want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves -- if they have any such sense.
"As the writer of the award winning story 'Forrest Gump' so aptly put it,
'Stupid is as stupid does.'"
That sums it up nicely 'cause it'd be hard to write anything more stupid than to suggest that Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ based on the "book of Revelations!"
You go to God Voter! Click here.
The really nice thing about the folks at God Voter is that they have figured out for you just what questions to ask and then have actually asked them. They have also ranked the candidates. John McCain, they suggest is of the Christian faith. The waffle a bit about Barack Obama and point to his "Muslim background," etc.
It's pretty obvious that Obama won't get the God Voter's vote.
But they don't much like McCain either.
To Obama they gave a grade of "D." McCain got a "C." Hillary a "C-."
They gave the obscure ultra right wingnut, Duncan Hunter - an "A." The only "A." But Duncan answered all the questions "correctly."
The questions asked of presidential candidates by the God Voters group include ones dealing with personal faith, e.g., "Are you a Christian?," and "How would you define your relationship with Jesus today?" There are ten of these.
The second ten questions are related to what one believes. "Do you believe Jesus to be God or the Son of God?" and "Do you believe Jesus was born to a virgin, died and rose from the dead?"
The third set of ten questions are the real lulus, though. "What is your position on a Constitutional ban on abortion, and why?" And, "What is your position on a Constitutional ban on homosexual marriage, and why?" And, "What is your position on prayers and Bible studies in schools, and why? And "If elected, the ban on what type of guns, if any, would you support, and why?"
There's more, but it is very interesting to note that these last ten questions have literally nothing to do with Christianity but rather reflect a rightwing political stance. It's all nonsense, for rather than expressing concern related to those things that Jesus actually said something about--taking care of the poor and the sick, not caring about material wealth, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor and your enemies, and so forth--these wingnuts ask rather about phony issues they have incorporated into their fundamentalist Christian faith!
It's all very sad to think that millions of our fellow citizens are so lacking in understanding and commitment to the ideals upon which this country was founded. The people behind the God Voter Website obviously either do not know or do not care about the Constitutional ban on a religious test for public office in this country.
So, you have to ask, what is their agenda? Are they about establishing a government based upon fundamentalist Christianity? Is that what they believe their god requires of them? Furthermore, is it not crystal clear by now that a person's profession of faith means nothing; that we must always consider, not words, but action. How many politicians claiming to be sincere Christians ( that's why they oppose abortion and gun bans) have to go down in flames before the religious nutcases finally figure it out?
And what is the difference between Muslim fundamentalists who insist that governments must follow Muslim law, or sharia, and Christian fundamentalists who insist that governments must follow Biblical law (as they interpret it)?
We have had Christian fundamentalists shoot and kill doctors who do abortions, an act they believe their god favored or even ordered. We have a Christian fundamentalist president who believes God told him to invade Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein, an action that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
We have had Muslim fundamentalists blow up innocents all over the world because they feel it is their god-given duty to eliminate the "infidels" from the face of the earth.
Is there a difference?
"Without privatization, I don't see how you can possibly, over time, make sure that young Americans are able to receive Social Security benefits."
Schecter then says that on Thursday, June 12, 2008, "during a back and forth with an elderly gentleman, McCain/McBush said this:
"I am not for privatizing Social Security. I never have been. I never will be."
Wait, there's more: In the March 3, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal, McCain is quoted as saying, "As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it - along the lines of what President Bush proposed."
The following comes from Cliff Schecter's book, The Real McCain.
October 2006. Chris Matthews on Hardball asked McCain if he supported gay marriage. "McCain said, 'I think gay marriage should be allowed if there's a ceremony kind of thing if you want to call it that. I don't have any problem with that.'
"When the show resumed after a commercial break, McCain hijacked a question on a completely different topic and interjected, 'I think private ceremonies are fine. I do not think gay marriage should be legal.'
"The next month, McCain was a guest on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos asked McCain whether he was against civil unions for gay couples. 'No, I'm not,' McCain replied. A few minutes later, Stephanopoulos tried again. 'So, you're for civil unions?' 'No,' McCain said."
As Schecter notes, he was "Neither for nor against civil unions. McCain went on to clarify his position. He was against 'discrimination,' and he referred obliquely to certain partnerships qualifying for things like 'hospital visits.'"
Also from The Real McCain, Schecter tells a howl of a story how McCain couldn't answer whether he believed condoms were effective in preventing the spread of AIDs until he had checked to see what Dr. Coburn had to say. Then he said,
"I'm not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it in the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception--I'm sure I'm opposed to government spending on it it, I'm sure I support the president's policies on it."
Does this not sound like a moron in the Bush mold?
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees. McCain, showing little understanding of our fundamental Constitutional principles, said:
"These are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens and I think we should pay attention to Justice Roberts' opinion in this decision."
McCain was referring to Roberts' dissent from the majority. But, the corker is that McCain hadn't even read the damn decision and it is likely he hadn't read Robert's dissent either! But, he still quacks like a duck and gives an opinion.
Now, consider Obama's response:
"Today's Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo - yet another failed policy supported by John McCain. This is an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus. Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy."
Hot damn! Finally, someone running for elective office who has a clue about the nature and substance of our beloved land!
Jindal converted to Roman Catholicism and like many converts, has taken his new faith to heart, if not to extremes.
From Jesus' General: Jindal has a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. "She's obviously depressed by that and a recent suicide attempt made by one of her closest friends. She's acting erratically, and for some unknown reason, you smell the scent of sulphur whenever you are around her.
"Suddenly she collapses and suffers a seizure in front of you and a number of your colleagues. What do you do?
"If you're a liberal, you'll probably make her comfortable while one of your colleagues calls an ambulance to take her to the nearest hospital. The's the typical libislamunistofascist response--throw the insurance company's or taxpayer's money at a health problem."
But...if your the governor of Louisiana, by name of Bobby Jindal, you and your "colleagues immediately [begin] an exorcism by commanding the seizure demon to leave the stricken woman's body."
This was difficult as that nasty devil kept hanging on! "At one point Gov. Jindal and his fellow amateur exorcists had to physically hold the woman down so she wouldn't run away. Here's how he describes it:
'Maybe she sensed our weariness; whether by plan or coincidence, Susan chose the perfect opportunity to attempt an escape. She suddenly leapt up and ran for the door, despite the many hands holding her down. This burst of action served to revive the tired group of students and they soon had her restrained once again, this time half kneeling and half standing.'"
This time these agents of God were successful. "The exorcism was successful beyond anyone's dream. Not only was the demon eventually defeated, but Gov. Jindal reports that the woman's cancer was cured as well."
Sound like Governor Jindal should be in jail. But as Jesus' General suggests, if McCain hears about this he'll probably put Jindal in charge of "reforming health care."
Read the entire article, titled "Your Mother Sews Socks That Smell," here.
The "newly elected" president of the Southern Baptist Convention is a fraud. Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, "identifies himself with the title 'Dr.' and lists two accredited educational institutions on his personal Web site from which he did not receive a doctorate. Yet he is often identified publicly as having degrees--degrees that come from two diploma mills."
For example, last February, at the annual pastor's conference of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, the program noted that Hunt had "received a Doctorate of Divinity from Immanual (sic) Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Sacred Laws and Letters from Covington Theological Seminary."
Immanuel Baptist Seminary is an interesting institution. Located near Atlanta it offers an "external degree program" so you can earn college and/or seminary credit in the comfort of your home. "Three of Immanuel's faculty members, included its president and executive vice president, are family members. Many faculty members appear to have residences in Ghana, India, Indonesia, Korea and Nigeria. An Internet search of a number of faculty members turned up only links to Immanuel."
Covington Theological Seminary is another fascinating place to gain an "education." This school "offers night classes, which allows 'students an opportunity to have daytime jobs while earning a Bible education.'"
As with Immanuel, three of Covington's poohbahs are related - the president, executive secretary and director of administrative services. "The school's vice president for academic affairs has a Ph.D. from the Southern Baptist School for Biblical Studies, a degree that the school does not appear to offer."
There's much more which you can read in an article by Robert Parham here.
Parham concludes that these fraudulent claims to academic training place "the question mark of integrity over the SBC."
You can get a taste as to how whacked out this guy is when he says he thinks that "if voters really want a different kind of politician, then McCain is that man." Ha, ha, ha, ha. I guess McCain is different in one sense - he flip-flops on issues more than most other politicians. Otherwise, McCain reprises Bush in almost every way.
Back to town hall meetings. This from Gottalaff at The Political Carnival:
"After reporting that the McCain campaign held a townhall with Democrats and Independents, Fox's Shepard Smith admitted that the McCain campaign had done no such thing. 'We have now received a clarification from the campaign and I feel I should pass it along to you. The McCain Campaign distributed tickets to supporters, mayor (sic) Bloomberg, who of course is a registered republican (sic), and other independent groups."
In other words, or as the Washington Post put it, "Microphone in hand and surrounded on all sides by friendly inquisitors, Republican Sen. John McCain called on a man in the back row of New York's Federal Hall on Thursday night and waited for another opportunity to demonstrate his mastery of the off-the-cuff answer."
"Friendly inquisitors!" Hah. What is John McCain afraid of? Real people with real questions?
But there's more:
Oliver Willis reports from the McCain "town hall" meeting in New York City that those attending were all white!
McCain is really McBush. Following the same line, the same procedures. Just like Bush, McCain fears folks who dare to disagree with him in public, so the way to keep safe is to issue invitations only to "friendly inquisitors" at your "town hall" meetings.
Sheesh. He talks the talk but he just can't seem to walk the walk!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
We've all heard the slams, smears and mud being thrown at Barack and Michelle Obama.
Here is another website designed to take out the trash. If only we could figure out a way to re-educate those filling the Web with this garbage!
Click Fight the Smears here.
Upon further investigation, the authorities added up their evidence and discovered that not only was this number 1 a teacher in the New York public school system, but he was also thought to be a member of the notorious and secretive Al-gebra movement.
Attorney General Mike Muckupcasey summed up things at a press conference where he wrote on a chalkboard that prime suspect number 1 was in custody and would be charged with possession of weapons of math instruction. The FBI believes he fully intended to use these weapons on many unsuspecting students in the school where he was employed.
Before leaving to give the President advice on how to tap telephones without Congressional approval, Muckupcasey warned the reporters present as to how Al-gebra was a "fearsome cult." Muckupcasey said Al-gebraeans "desire solutions by means and extremes and often go on tangents in search of absolute values.
"They are hard to catch because they use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and on the Internet they refer to themselves as the 'Unknowns.' We have discovered, however, that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.
"As the Greek philanderer Iso sceles used to say, 'There are three sides to every triangle.'"
The reporters, representing the MSM, headed for the White House post haste and en masse. The President was located in the Rose Garden counting his petals. Muckupcasey had just left but the President said he'd be happy to answer any questions concerning things for which they had not yet calculated answers.
When asked about prime suspect number 1, the President said "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes."
Two White House aides clapped loudly and told the reporters they could not recall a more intelligent and profound statement by the President, except for the time when he stepped in a pile of cowshit in Crawford. While what he said was indeed intelligent and profound, they could not repeat it for prime time.
Bush beamed and thus encouraged, continued to add to the discussion. Nothing, it seemed, could subtract from his enjoyment of the moment:
"I am gratified," spake the President, "that God hath given our government a sine that is intent on protracting these math-dogs who want to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murkey statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence. Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line."
He then ordered one of the two aides, which was one half the number of aides present, to go retrieve for him a vodka martini, which was to be carried over the shoulder from the White House bar to the Rose Garden.
When the aide returned, the President, sipping his drink continued: "Ah, let's see where was I? Muckupcasey, are you still here? No? He's not here? Why can't I ever count on that SOB? Well, all right, we'll continue on to draw the proper conclusion.
"These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex."
The aides clapped so loudly the reporters awakened with a start. Two fell off the rickety chairs onto their asses in the grass.
Meanwhile, Muckupcasey, the Attorney General, had returned. He whispered in the President's ear something which made the President's entire face turn red, and he whispered back "What airport stall?" with just enough volume for the reporters to hear.
Muckupcasey, realizing the situation had become untenable or unfiveable, in other words, something was amiss, grabbed the mike from the President's trembling fingers and said:
"As our Great Leader who stands here before us today would say, "Read my ellipse."
Muckupcasey sat down. One of the aides brought him a vodka martini which he drank in one gulp. He stood back up. He said:
"The Al-gebra movement is fearsome. It is frightening. It is death on pencils and erasers. It often leads us on calculated journeys where we fail to find solutions. But there is one principle our Great Leader is uncertainty of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypoteneuse tightens around their necks."
The aides clapped loudly. The president awakened suddenly and fell off his rickety chair on his ass in the grass. Muckupcasey sat down in his rickety chair and went to sleep. The reporters left for their offices to write about how the most feared terrorist was amathmetized and the President couldn't hold his liquor since becoming a twice-born Texan.
(Thanks to my good friend Bob for sending me one version of this story. The story is all over the Internet and I could find no attribution of authorship. The above is my revised version of the story.)
The following is from "War Room," by Alex Koppelman at Salon.
Fox News. Wednesday, June 11. "During a segment discussing conservative attacks against Michelle Obama, the wife of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama, the network described the former as 'Obama's baby mama.'"
What the hell is that supposed to mean? We all know that Fox News is not about "news" at all, but propaganda. With this kind of slam, however, Fox sinks to a new low!
The segment was anchored by Megyn Kelly and featured the hateful conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin. "...at one point, Malkin says, 'By the way, it's not just Republicans who are criticizing some of her comments, but also statements have been made in the left-leaning blog Salon about her comments."
Mr. Koppelman says he's searched the Salon site and "can't find anything like what Malkin is talking about." Koppelman emailed Malkin who finally responded to say she was mistaken and meant to refer to Slate, not Salon.
The point, however, is not that Malkin makes mistakes. That's normal for her. The point is that the Malkin and the other nasties are coming out of the woodwork and attacking not just Obama but his wife, Michelle. Maureen Dowd in The New York Times warned that "Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama."
Dowd then went on, as is her wont, to name some of the nasty rumors floating in cyberspace about Michelle. One involved a videotape in which she supposedly denounced "whitey." But Dowd did say that such attacks might come back on the Republicans. After all, "[Michelle] Obama worked her way up from modest childhood roots to reach Harvard Law School, while Cindy McCain inherited a brewery fortune."
Nothing will stop the attacks, though. The Tennessee Republican Party, known for neither integrity nor honor, has put together a video with Michelle's "famous" comment how "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country," as if there is nothing in our country of which we should not be proud! Michelle Malkin, the rattler named above, calls Michelle Obama "Obama's bitter half," and the right wing National Review printed a cover story about her with the title, "Mrs. Grievance."
Robert A. George who is a "conscientious" conservative, notes that there is no such "whitey" tape as mentioned above. He says "This is the '08 version of a really weird conservative urban legend that pops up every four years. The names change, but the basics remain the same: 1) It always involves the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate; 2) it always portrays the wife -- not the candidate -- committing some anti-American, unpatriotic act."
Vincent Rossmeier, in another article from Salon, describes how the legend worked in the past:
"In 1988, Idaho Sen. Steve Symms [a Republican, of course!] claimed that photographs existed of Kitty Dukakis burning a flag at an antiwar protext. No such photos ever emerged and Dukakis denied the charge.
"In 2004, John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, grabbed headlines for her altercation with a Pittsburgh conservative editorial writer who said she had used the term 'un-American' in a speech. Kerry denied that she had used the phrase and told the writer to 'shove it.' Right-wing Web sites like World Net Daily also propagated unfounded rumors that Heinz Kerry had links to terrorists."
It would behoove the Repubs to play carefully with Michelle Obama in this election season. They have another wife, Cindy McCain, who is quite vulnerable to being slammed for miscreant behavior.
After all, John was smitten with this striking blonde and engaged in an affair with her before he dumped his first wife who had become crippled in a car accident. Cindy thus could be termed an adulteress, if one wanted to play that game.
Not only so, but Cindy became a drug addict a few years back. That's quite a story, and "supposedly" she's kicked the habit (see how easy it is to slip in a slur?), but who knows? Cindy's vulnerability, though, is not merely in the fact she became addicted to prescription drugs, but the fact that she stole them from the American Voluntary Medical Team, her own charity.
It was 1994 when Cindy first claimed to have kicked the habit. She was no longer addicted to Percocet and Vicodin. Amy Silverman, a reporter from Arizona, tells of how "[Cindy] granted semi-exclusive interviews to one TV station and three daily newspaper reporters in Arizona, tearfully recalling her addiction, which came about after painful back and knee problems and was exacerbated by the stress of the Keating Five scandal that had ensnared her husband...
"The local press cooed over her hard-luck story ...
"What ... [they] didn't know was that, far from being a simple honest admission designed to clear her conscience and help other addicts, Cindy McCain's storytelling had been orchestrated by Jay Smith, then John McCain's Washington campaign media advisor. And it was intended to divert attention from a different story, a story that was getting quite messy.
"I know," writes Ms. Silverman, "because I had been working on that story for months at Phoenix New Times. I had finally tracked down the public records that confirmed Cindy McCain's addiction and much more, and the McCains knew I was about to get them. Cindy's tale was released on the day the records were made public."
Ms. Silverman says that the real story was not so much Cindy's addiction but "about her efforts to keep that story from coming to light, and the possible manipulation of the criminal justice system by her husband and his cohorts."
The way it happened was that one of the McCain's high-powered lawyers, John Dowd, "tried to get back at the man on Cindy McCain's staff, Tom Gosinski, who had blown the whistle on her drug pilfering to the DEA. But in the course of trying to get local law enforcement officials to investigate Gosinski -- Dowd and the McCains considered him an extortionist; others might call him a whistleblower -- Dowd set in motion a process that would eventually bring the whole sordid story to light. When that maneuver backfired, the McCain media machine went into overdrive to spin the story.
"Get the story out -- even if it's a negative story. Get it out first, with the spin you want, with all the details you want and without the details you don't want.
"McCain did it with the Keating Five, and with the story of the failure of his first marriage ... So what you recall after the humble, honest interview, is not that McCain did favors for savings and loan failure Charlie Keating, or that he cheated on his wife, but instead what an upfront, righteous guy he is.
Candor is the McCain trademark, but what the journalists who slobber over the senator fail to realize is that the candor is premeditated and polished. John McCain shoots from the hip -- but only after carefully rehearsing the battle plan, to be sure he won't get shot himself."
Please read the rest of this excellent article by Ms. Silverman here.
And all you Michelle Malkins of the world - beware! The poison from your pen may flow back to stain your self-righteous souls!
The wingnuts have helpfully uncovered some very interesting factoids about the Junior Senator
from Islamabad, er Illinois that I did not know. Since we’ve only got 5 months until the general, I thought it’d be good to review them, so we call make the best possible choice.
Thanks to them, we now know that Obama is a Muslim and a radical leftist – more specifically, a Marxist who idolizes Che Guevara. But we’ve also found out that he’s a fascist who’s like Hitler with a Messiah complex and cult-like supporters.
Additionally, we’ve discovered that Obama’s a racist, elitist snob who is blatantly unpatriotic and hates America and, not surprisingly, is married to someone who hates America even more.
But most disturbingly, it appears that Senator Obama might not be (sic) American Citizen and is a Manchurian Candidate who’s quite possibly a terrorist.
And it’s only June. They’re just getting warmed up. I can’t wait until they reveal that he’s a gay abortionist pornographer who eats puppies.Click here to go to the original article for links to various sources.
You have probably received emails with supposedly "legitimate" Obama quotes. For a thorough debunking of this nonsense, click here.
In an article titled "GOP not conservative enough," he presents a pile of noxious and notorious clap-trap about Bush and the failed Bush policies. For example, Ambrose says that Bush did not lie us into a war with Iraq. How do we know that? Well, because "the claims he made about weapons of mass destruction were made earlier by President Bill Clinton and his secretary of state, by liberal senators during debate on the war resolution and by the best intelligence agencies in the world."
There are so many falsehoods in that statement it's hard to know where to begin. What does Bill Clinton have to do with Bush's claim of WMDs in 2003? Not a thing. The two are unrelated. What Bill Clinton said or did not say prior to Bush's stolen election in 2000 is totally irrelevant to Bush's flat-out falsehoods leading up to his illegal invasion in the spring of 2003.
I will grant you that some so-called "liberal" senators, wanting desperately to believe that their president would not out-and-out lie to them, accepted the nonsense about WMD's.
But the United Nation's team found nothing. No WMDs. And said so, again and again. Our intelligence agencies, far from supporting Bush's lies, actually denied them. That's why Rumsfeld, Cheney and others had to put together their own clandestine "intelligence" outfit within the administration to give their chicanery some semblance of legitimacy.
Now, of course, we have further confirmation of the Bushite deceit from Scott McClellan who speaks from personal experience. Bush lied, thousands, if not millions have died. Scott has given us chapter and verse how it happened.
Ambrose then moves into economics and claims this about the Bush tax cuts: "...in fact, it was the middle class that profited most. ... the middle class was getting richer by the day ... per capita income was rising as most progressed steadily in their circumstances."
Bosh! As Glenn Greenwald points out in his excellent book, Why We're Liberals, the Bush tax cuts created the opposite:
"In 2005, the wealthiest 1 percent of the country earned 21.2 percent of all income, according to IRS data, while the bottom 50 percent of all Americans earned just 12.8 percent of all income, down from 13.4 percent, a year earlier. Together, these two figures define a new postwar record for American economic inequality, which is believed by many economists to be greater today that at any other time since the 1920s.
"For working people, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the process of collecting this data began more than sixty years ago. In the period since 2000 the number of Americans living below the poverty line has increased by nearly a third. Meanwhile, the average CEO of a Standard & Poor's 500 company took home $13.51 million in total compensation in 2005 ... Believe it or not, by 11:02 A.M. of the first day or work on the first day of the year, one of these average CEO's will 'earn' more money that a minimum-wage worker in his company will make for the entire year."
Ambrose further complains that the Democrat's financial plans relative to Social Security and Medicare will "sink us."
(One of the main problems with Ambrose is he offers nothing to back up his allegations - other than the usual ultra-conservative mantra against big government, entitlement programs, etc., ad nauseum.)
Consider this, again from Mr. Greenwald:
"...under President Bush, tax collections fell to 16 percent of the GDP, while overall spending rose from 18.5 percent to 20.3 percent. Taken together, this imbalance creates a massive structural deficit that coming generations must somehow make up. (During the Clinton years, federal spending actually fell as a share of GDP, from 21.4 percent in 1993 to 18.5 percent in 2001.) Republican fiscal irresponsibility in this regard dwarfs that achieved during the 'taxing and spending' heyday of liberal Democrats, and yet it masks a case of even worse fiscal malfeasance that lurks barely beneath the surface: the entitlement budget. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, for instance, which today consume 7 percent of GDP, are slated to rise to 13 percent in 2030, at which time, according to present projections, they will represent 25 percent of the entire U.S. economy, or an unthinkable $700 billion a year in higher taxes. Current accounting practices allow these numbers to remain hidden to most journalists, and therefore most Americans, but the fact is, if the federal government were forced to adopt the standard accounting rules of corporate America, the 2006 federal deficit would have been more than $1.3 trillion, rather than the $248 billion claimed by the Bush administration. As of May, 2007, U.S. taxpayers owed a rapidly rising $59.1 trillion in liabilities, or the equivalent of more than half a million dollars for every household."
No, Mr. Ambrose, it has not been the "liberal" Democrats that have brought this country to its knees, it has been the so-called "conservative" Republicans, and, I might add, with malice aforethought.
But what Mr. Ambrose says next takes the proverbial cake. He concludes that "The overriding conservative principle is the maintenance of liberty in a constitutionally ordered democracy." And then has the audacity to warn, "If Democratic power increases as much as now appears likely, the party will almost surely go much further than the Republicans in waltzing away from liberty, the chief political foundation of our strength and energy."
It boggles the mind. Mr. Ambrose is not stupid. But those are incredibly stupid statements which have no connection with reality! The organization which actually cares about "the maintenance of liberty in a constitutionally ordered democracy" is not the Republican Party but the Democratic Party.
No group has done more to destroy "the maintenance of liberty in a constitutionally ordered democracy" than the bunch of Republican shysters running our government for the past seven and one-half years! From ignoring the laws of the land through signing statements, to suspending constitutional guarantees, to illegal spying on our citizens, to establishing laws denying certain people the right to vote, to attempting to establish a national ID system, to politicizing every area of government including the judicial branch, to rendition and illegal torture, the Bush administration and its Republican supporters have come perilously close to dismantling the basic structural foundation on which this country has stood for 200 plus years!
When it comes to "waltzing away from liberty," no group can possibly compete with the Republican Party!
The McCain website has been offering for sale a "McCain Golf Pack." This consisted of "a black pouch with McCain's name lettered in white. Funnier than the fact that this item appears on a presidential candidate's website in the first place are the comments about the item - - typically: '...when I'm out on the golf course I use it as a subliminal message to remind my caddy that I don't support minimum wage' and 'This product is perfect, the balls play well, and often I think about how I could best show my support for the troops and our war on terrorism while enjoying an afternoon on the links. I know the folks at the club are going to want a set of their own.'"
I believe the golf pack has been removed from the site, but click here to see how it appeared.
More comments can be found here.
The McCain campaign - another drive out of bounds!
"You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false..."
Here Mr. McCain specifically denies that his policies mirror those of George W. Bush. He further specifically calls Senator Obama a liar and accuses him of trying to mislead the American people.
Almost three years ago on June 15, 2005, McCain was interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press. Russert mentioned an article appearing in the Arizona Republic that said, "At odds with Bush. John McCain repeatedly has taken maverick positions that have put him at odds with President Bush's administration." Russert said to McCain, "The fact is you are different than George Bush."
McCain responded: "No. No. I -- the fact is that I'm different but the fact is that I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush. So have we had some disagreements on some issues, the bulk -- particularly domestic issues? Yes. But I will argue my conservative record voting with anyone's, and I will also submit that my support for President Bush has been active and very impassioned on issues that are important to the American people."
So, who's right - the 2008 McCain or the 2005 McCain? As Greenwald said, "The 2005 McCain was right."
It is also clear that Senator McCain, not Senator Obama, is the liar?
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
How much is enough? It is now costing the United States $4 billion per month to keep the Taliban at bay in Afghanistan. That might be a bargain, but the effort has not been all that successful. In certain areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban rule. If the goal was to remove the Taliban from the country, or at least erase their influence, we have failed.
Four billion dollars a month! That's merely money. There's also the human cost: The dead, the wounded, and the destruction of a country.
Now, according to an AP report out of Paris, the Bush administration wants to send another $10 billion to Afghanistan over a period of two years "for development and related aid." How's that for obscure language: "development and related aid"?
"Afghan leaders hope to raise $15 billion to $20 billion in immediate help for their desperately poor, war-scarred nation." I'll bet they do. The problem is that "development and related aid" stuff. What does that mean? Who gets the money? How, exactly, will that money be spent?
From previous experience, it is difficult to have confidence in the desire and ability of the poohbahs of Kabul to use this money wisely and in the manner intended.
There is no question that Afghanistan is a poor, war-scarred nation. There is no question that Afghanistan needs help. The question is will this $10 billion really help those who need help?
And I can't seem to forget that the damage caused by Katrina continues to claim more victims. The city has not been rebuilt. People are still not back in their homes. The area is still poor and hurricane-scarred.
From todays news reports, it appears we have another disaster rising in Iowa and Minnesota as flood waters claim land and homes: a disaster which may require the resources of our government.
When will the Bushites turn their "compassion" on our own citizens? To give $10 billion to the Afghan leaders for "development and related aid" is not much different than throwing the money up in the air on a windy day. Maybe some of that could be used in places like New Orleans and the Midwest?
There's a lot of these folks around. John Iannone, an educated but foolish man, is on a mission to prove the validity of this shroud. He travels the country speaking to foolish Catholics on the topic, "The Mystery of the Holy Shroud: The Case for Authenticity." He once saw the shroud in Turin, Italy and thought it was "awesome." He convinced himself he "was looking at the same material Peter and John looked at 2,000 years ago."
Notice the photo at the top of the page. Does this "imprint" not resemble a Medieval monk of about 60 years rather than a 1st century Jew of 30?
The Roman Church does not consider the shroud a "relic." Evidently, the Vatican is not yet convinced Jesus actually lay down his head on the thing. Pope John Paul II said it was an "icon." Pope Benedict XVI is displaying it publicly for 40 days in 2010. Oh, to live so long!
Iannone, an educated but foolish man, says that God gave it to the Catholic Church "to make us think." Think about what? He doesn't say, but claims he just wants to "share" his views on the shroud and let people make up their own minds.
Oh, yeah. Iannone claims that the carbon dating on the shroud was flawed, because the material used came from a "woven-in repair" from the Medieval period and is different than the rest of the shroud.
Then we have the tale of the priest who "is the chief exorcist for the diocese of Rome." Father Gabriel Amorth, 82, claims to have conducted over 70,000 exorcisms. His core belief is that "Evil exists in politics, quite often in fact." (I think he may be right on that one!) "The devil," says Fr. Amorth, "loves to take over those who hold political office."
Hmmm. Does G. W. Bush come to mind?
Anyway, this gentlemen also believes the Hitler and Stalin were possessed by the Devil. How would he know that, you ask. Well, "Because they killed millions of people. The Gospel says, 'By their fruits you will know them.'"
Methinks Fr. Amorth may be losing it. Does the number of people killed determine possession by the Devil? What about all those Nazi SOB's who carried out Hitler's or Stalin's orders, those who did the actual killing? Do they get a pass? Was the Devil not interested in them?
And what about today? If someone kills six people, is he/she possessed by the Devil? Does the Devil go by numbers? Could a one-person murderer be possessed?
Fr. Amorth further states that, "Unfortunately, an exorcism on them [Hitler & Stalin] would not have been enough, since they were convinced of what they were doing. We can't say it was a possession in the strict sense of the word, but rather a total and voluntary acceptance of the suggestions of the Devil."
It's all so confusing. Were Hitler and Stalin possessed or not? What were they doing that they were convinced of? What's the difference between possession and "a total and voluntary acceptance of the suggestions of the Devil"?
Perhaps it would help if Father Amorth came out from behind the walls of the Vatican more often.
It seems to me that down through the years the Vatican could be charged with "a total and voluntary acceptance of the suggestions of the Devil." What say the good father to that? Actually, I think the ban on women in the priesthood is in fact the suggestion of the Devil. I think the ban on married priests is the suggestion of the Devil. And what about all those fine, upstanding clerics who have seen fit to molest little boys and girls down through the years? Do they fall through the cracks, somewhere, or did the Devil get to them, too.
Less serious, but what about a guy like this Iannone person who spends his life going around trying to convince people that a piece of cloth was imprinted with the features of a god-figure who himself was a mythological construction? Could that be the Devil's work also?
And when do we take responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming our misdeeds and evil on some legendary character derived from ancient fairy tales?
Would Father Amorth even understand what I'm talking about?
Muslim women in Europe know that without a hymen, Muslim men will reject them as unsuitable marriage partners. Even if a woman has all of the qualities that make for a good marriage partner, if she is not a virgin she is considered damaged goods.
Because of this, a number of Muslim women in Europe who no longer have a hymen due to either accidental causes or sexual intercourse, are electing to undergo a surgical procedure called hymenoplasty, to "restore" the hymen.
Elaine Sciolino and Squad Mekhennet, in an article in The New York Times refer to a 23-year old French student of Moroccan descent who paid a fee of $2,900 in Paris to have a hymenoplasty. In 30 minutes, she was as good as "new."
She did this, she said, because "In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt. Right now, virginity is more important to me than life."
The article went on to say that "Gynecologists report that in the past few years, more Muslim women are asking for certificates of virginity to provide proof to their fiances. Cosmetic surgeons claim that if done properly, a hymenoplasty cannot be detected and will bleed at first intercourse -- i.e., on a wedding night.
Two things. First of all this reflects the ancient patriarchal view that women are not fully human, and therefore may be treated as objects or property, and used however the males desire. This viewpoint is often buttressed by claiming it is beneficial for Muslim women because it shields and protects them from the vagaries of life.
Unfortunately, it does not allow them the basic human freedoms. And the fact remains that women are thought of as inferior, a lower form of life.
Secondly, the women who undergo hymenoplasty are not "restored" virgins. They are not any kind of virgins. Their virginity is gone forever, not to be reclaimed - not matter what procedure they undergo.
Rather than virgins, they become liars. They deceive their spouses in a fundamental manner about something considered to be of ultimate importance. Their deceit will cause them to live their entire lives hiding the fact they were not virgins when they were married. And as hymenoplasty becomes more common and garners more publicity they will be followed by the fear that their spouses will investigate and discover the truth--that they are married, not only to someone who was not a virgin, but to a woman they cannot trust.
Trust is the bedrock of any relationship. If one is willing to lie about being a virgin, what else will she lie about?
Do I castigate these women. Absolutely not. In a Muslim culture, their choices are limited. I feel desperately sorry for them. But I haven't a clue as to what to do about it. I'm afraid the only way the situation will change is if, as women did in the United States, they stand up for their rights and put their lives on the line.
John McCain attacked Barack Obama's economic policies. That was the headline in numerous MSM outlets yesterday. Nothing about the fact that Obama hit back. And isn't it funny that a man who represents years of failed economic policies is attacking the policies of a person who actually has some viable ideas?
The truth is simple: John McCain's economic plan is pretty much a carbon copy of George Bush's economic plan--which includes extending tax cuts for the ultra-rich. As Obama said, "We've got the most fiscally irresponsible administration in history, and now John McCain wants to give us another."
McCain claims Obama wants to "spend, spend, spend." Obama is a "tax and spend" liberal.
Ha, ha, ha, ha. That shoe fits the McCain/Bush foot. It isn't a matter of spending money; that's what governments do with the taxes they raise. It has to do with HOW that money is spent. The Democrats have this weird notion that tax money ought to be spent to help the people not fund corporate efforts to make obscene profits.
So under a Republican administration, we're not only showering the ultra-rich with tax dollars, we're tossing away $16 billion each frigging week in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Iraq operation alone costs us $12 billion each week in BORROWED MONEY!
It's a Republican administration that has taxed, borrowed and spent us into a gazillion dollar deficit!
The Republicans are the party of tax, borrow, and waste!
Obama claims that McCain's economic proposals would do nothing to help ease our current lending crisis, that his health plan would benefit primarily the "healthy and wealthy," and that his individual and corporate tax cuts "would add $5.7 trillion to the national debt." Given McCain's admitted lack of economic knowledge, Obama's probably right on target.
Here's an example as to how McCain doesn't know what he's talking about, economically. He wants a gas tax cut, which he claims would delete 18 1/2 cents per gallon. Big whoop! Actually, it wouldn't even do that! It's a shell game. If his plan went through, the producing companies would simply cut back supply to keep the prices where they want them.
McCain's plan would actually put more money into the oil companies' pockets! Now either he doesn't know that which means he's not very bright, or he knows it too well and that is actually his plan - to put more money into the coffers of the oil companies!
McCain is losing it. The Last Chance Democracy Cafe tells how McCain deployed this "most brilliant political maneuver" - he compared Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter. Who?
It was on Fox. Speaking to Carl Cameron, McCain mentioned the Carter connection and suggested Obama wanted to return "to the failed policies of the '60's and '70's."
Then on NBC with Brian Williams, McCain whined that "Senator Obama says that I'm running for a Bush's third term. Seems to me he's running for Jimmy Carter's second."
Wow! What a slam. Who's Jimmy Carter again? And what did he do? On, he's the guy out there working with Habitat for Humanity. And didn't he win a Nobel Prize?
After this scenario, I got to thinking...maybe McCain isn't running for a Bush third term after all. Maybe he sees himself following someone ... like ... ah, yes, Herbert Hoover!
(Or, perhaps McCain's campaign thought up the Carter line of attack, figuring that would hurt Obama with the Jews because of Carter's meddling in Middle Eastern affairs?)
McCain's got another problem. He's one of those old pol's who says one thing one day and another thing the next day and in previous lifetimes that wasn't a problem 'cause we didn't have all those video cameras recording every single second. Today, McCain can't get by with that even though he tries. Oh, how he tries. Youtube may be the contributing factor in his downfall.
This from The Huffington Post: "During his New Orleans speech, McCain promised to deliver 'hot water' to dehydrated infants." Reading from a prepared speech, he "actually inserted the word 'hot' on the fly." ... The Prepared version: "We should be able to deliver bottled water to dehydrated babies and rescue the infirm from a hospital with no electricity."
This was, of course, a bit of a slam at the Bush administration's failure to deal adequately with the Katrina crisis. He didn't mention that at the time Katrina was blowing New Orleans away, he and the prez, oblivious, were celebrating McCain's 69th birthday on the tarmac of Luke Air Force Base in Arizona!
Then, McCain seemed to start a "War on Beer." Or, as The Huffington Post put it: "Perhaps thinking of his wife's family fortune, McCain accidentally promised to veto all earmark-filled beers."
McCain didn't quit there. He tried to explain how to use "the Google." Speaking of his vice presidential vetting process, McCain said, "We're going through a process where you get a whole bunch of names, and ya ... Well, basically, it's a Google," you just, you know, what you can find out now on the Internet. It's remarkable, you know."
Finally, McCain looking more and more and more like a loser, chided "the press for their treatment of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: "The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of million of Americans."
An interesting comment, and one that makes McCain appear halfway decent, which he most certainly is not. And that was confirmed when a Newsweek reporter asked him about what he said and he "flatly denied making" it!
"I did not [say that] - that was in prepared remarks, and I did not [say it] -- I'm not in the business of commenting on the press and their coverage or not coverage."
When the McCain camp was shown "the video [which showed] that the GOP nominee did in fact read the remarks as they were prepared, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said Newsweek's account of McCain's answer is 'paraphrased and unclear.'" Huh?
Yup. McCain said it, but we won't admit that. Uh...maybe he was alluding to something else?
Newsweek says they quoted McCain verbatim.
Uh...maybe he just forgot. Again. Or maybe he was thinking about the "hot" water he's in?