Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jim DeMint doesn't get it, either

Jim DeMint, in case you've never heard of him, is an ultra-conservative senator from South Carolina.

At the moment, Senator DeMint is pissed off. He has publicly chastised his fellow senator, John McCain, for blowing the election by blowing off and "betraying conservative principles." The Republican Party should, according to de candy man, DeMint, "represent freedom, religious-based values and limited government."

"Religious values?" Does this clown have a clue? Whose religious values? How about Muslim religious values? Or Hindu religious values? Or Wiccan religious values? Or the values of the Cult of Death?

Anyway, de candy man held up a laundry list of McCain's failings at a speech in Myrtle Beach. And these, he said, were what brought down the party of god, religious values and freedom:

"McCain, who is a proponent of campaign finance reform that weakened party organizations ... His proposal for amnesty for illegals. His support of global warming, cap-and-trade programs that will put another burden on our economy. And of course, his embrace of the bailout right before the election was probably the nail in our coffin this last election. And he has been an opponent of drilling in ANWR, at a time when energy is so important. It really didn't fit the label, but he was our package."

Poor John. Day after day he's gonna look out over the Senate floor and there he'll see the candy man, all glum and crochety, glaring at the "loser."

DeMint, who sometimes doesn't know the difference between Ted Kennedy and Ted Stevens, could not be more wrong. McCain didn't lose because he betrayed conservative principles, but because he didn't have any principles.

Peter Beinart has an article in the latest issue of Time, titled "The New Liberal Order." A couple of paragraphs in that article summed things up rather well, even though his assumptions regarding the "liberal cultural agenda of the 1960s" may be a bit out of whack.

"Starting in the 1990s, average Americans began deciding that the conservative agenda was a bit like the liberal cultural agenda of the 1960s: less liberating than frightening. When the Gingrich Republicans tried to slash Medicare, the public turned on them en masse. A decade later, when George W. Bush tried to partially privatize Social Security, Americans rebelled once again. In 2005 a Pew Research Center survey identified a new group of voters that it called 'pro-government conservatives.' They were culturally conservative and hawkish on foreign policy, and they overwhelmingly supported Bush in 2004. But by large majorities, they endorsed government regulation and government spending. They didn't want to unleash the free market; they wanted to rein it in.

But here's where I think Beinart is really on target:

"Those voters were a time bomb in the Republican coalition, which detonated on Nov. 4. John McCain's promises to cut taxes, cut spending and get government out of the way left them cold. Among the almost half of voters who said they were 'very worried' that the economic crisis would hurt their family, Obama beat McCain by 26 points.

"The public mood on economics today is a lot like the public mood on culture 40 years ago: Americans want government to impose law and order--to keep their 401(k)s from going down, to keep their health-care premiums from going up, to keep their jobs from going overseas--and they don't much care whose heads Washington has to bash to do it."

The candy man is blowing in the wind. I mentioned McCain didn't have any principles -- that was hyperbole. He and his sidekick, Palin, ran precisely on the Republican "principles" that DeMint claims they abandoned: "freedom, religious-based values, and limited government."

DeMint doesn't get it, either, just like the other religious neanderthals in the Repugnican Party. I also said he was pissed off, but it very well may be that the reason he's angry with McCain is not that McCain abandoned conservative principles for he did not. It may be that de candy man is mad because McCain didn't choose him to be the vice presidential candidate. I mean his name did float above the Republican coffin for a brief period. And I'm sure DeMint thinks he would have done a much better job than that lying hockey mom from Alaska.

It's kinda fun to see the Repugs implode, though!

Watch de candy man in action in 2007 with McCain at his side. He praises McCain as a champion of reform and he derides earmarks such as the "Bridge to Nowhere." It's hilarious!

John McCain and Vietnam's MIAs

Sydney H. Schanberg, "a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter ... [who] has reported extensively on the POW story ... " tells the story how John McCain has for years blocked information on military personnel "missing in action" in Vietnam.

In an article, "Why Has John McCain Blocked Info on MIAs?", which appeared in The Nation on September 17, 2008, Schanberg details McCain's inexplicable efforts "to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn't return home. McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents."

This is very strange, says Schanberg.

And there is a great deal of material. "The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a Special Forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington and even sworn testimony by two defense secretaries that 'men were left behind.' This imposing body of evidence suggests that a larger number--probably hundreds--of the U.S. prisoners held in Vietnam were not returned when the peace treay was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain."

From what Mr. Schanberg says, it appears that the issue snowballed out of control for various reasons until it simply wasn't politic to release the accumulated information. For example, a transcript of a senior North Vietnamese general's briefing of the Hanoi Politburo noted that "Hanoi was holding 1,205 American prisoners but would keep many of them at war's end as leverage to ensure getting reparations from Washington."

On February 1, 1973, President Richard Nixon, in a formal letter to the Pham Van Dong, Hanoi's premier, "pledged $3.25 billion in 'postwar reconstruction' aid."

The North Vietnamese didn't believe Nixon and held back prisoners. The pledge was never honored.

Although a huge mass of evidence was collected down through the years that a number of prisoners were indeed "left behind," that evidence was covered up and played down. Nobody wanted to fess up to such a scandal. And the man in the middle of the cover up was John S. McCain.

"An early and critical attempt by McCain to conceal evidence involved 1990 legislation called the Truth bill, which started in the House. A brief and simple document, the bill would have compelled complete transparency about prisoners and missing men. Its core sentence said that the 'head of each department or agency which holds or receives any records and information, including reports, which have been correlated or possibly correlated to United States personnel listed as prisoner of war or missing in action from World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam conflict, shall make available to the public all such records held or received by that department or agency."

The bill was "bitterly opposed" by the Pentagon and McCain. It was introduced the following year but disappeared. Then McCain came up with a new bill, which "created a bureaucratic maze from which only a fraction of the documents could emerge--only the records that revealed no POW secrets. The McCain bill became law in 1991 and remains so today."

Additional legislation in following years which would have provided information about POWs was also fought by McCain, including the Missing Service Personnel Act. McCain was able to attach "a crippling amendment to the act, stripping out its only enforcement teeth, the criminal penalties, and reducing the obligations of commanders in the field to speedily search for missing men and report the incidents to the Pentagon."

Not only has McCain fought transparency and openness with regard to Vietnam's missing POWs, but "has insisted again and again that all the evidence has been woven together by unscrupulous deceivers to create an insidious and unpatriotic myth. ... He has regularly vilified those who keep trying to pry out classified documents as 'hoaxers,' 'charlatans,' 'conspiracy theorists' and 'dime-store Rambos.' Family members who have personally pressed McCain to end the secrecy have been treated to his legendary temper. In 1996 he roughly pushed aside a group of POW family members who had waited outside a hearing room to appeal to him, including a mother in a wheelchair."

McCain's motive for this behavior is unknown. He claims he is afraid releasing POW information "would only stir up fresh grief for the families..." But that makes no sense. The families have been dealing with grief all along and merely want closure. Most of them say not knowing is what grieves them.

The mainstream media has largely avoided this story for unknown reasons. But it is an important story, and the POW-MIA problem is still an open wound for hundreds of our citizens. McCain's role in hiding pertinent information should be publicized and McCain should be questioned as to his motives, and the information should be released. We are a long way from 1973!

There is much more in Schanberg's article, and you can read it all here.

President-Elect Obama's Weekly Video Address

(Thanks to Americablog)

Palin/McCain rallies and threats to Obama

Threats against a new president usually increase after an election, "but from Maine to Idaho, law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before."

Here are a few examples as reported by AOL News.

* In Vay, Idaho, a sign with Obama's name was posted on a tree with an offer of a "free public hanging."

* Racist grafitti "targeting Obama" was "found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus."

* A Maine convenience store invited "customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin.

* One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day."

Doug Rushkoff, in his book, Coercion - Why We Listen to What "They" Say, describes how sports spectacles, along with political and religious rallies, impact those involved.

"The modern sports spectacle is cousin to a much more pointedly political sort of rally ... in which the same basic set of crowd-unifying techniques are used to promote something much more potentially dangerous that simple consumerism: ideology. It is a tradition that finds its most extreme expression in the political rallies of dictators like Adolf Hitler, who depended on pageants and spectacles to keep their followers committed to a collective mission and free from taking individual responsibility for what they were doing."

And therein lies the power of a religious or political rally: "...when we are caught up in the madness of a crowd, we no longer feel individually responsible for our emotions or actions. We can allow ourselves to shout, sing, cry, or strike without the temperance imposed by personal accountability.

"The more repressed a culture, the more pent-up its passion becomes. In those rare opportunities when we are permitted to vent this energy, we are brought into unfamiliar emotional territory. We feel alive as never before, and strangely honest -- as if in our daily lives we have been living a lie. We may shed tears of joy or sadness, but underlying these tears is a sense of rage at not having been allowed to express these feelings all along, which magnifies the rage even more."

Rushkoff notes that a political rally often begins with "unifying rituals" which builds commonality among those present. The talk is frequently about the "values" held by the group as opposed to "outsiders" who don't.

The "outsiders", thus become the enemy. The rally-goers are unified against the enemy. And the rage and frustration builds.

Most importantly, Rushkoff says that often people are left to stew in their rage as they are not given any tools to change the situation. "Because of the many unresolved emotions it leaves in its wake, spectacle [a rally] is a dangerous way to generate enthusiasm for one's cause ... "

Please understand that I'm not comparing Sarah Palin to Hitler. I find it frustrating, however, that she refuses to take responsibility for the rage and racism she unleashed at her rallies.

Nor am I saying that Palin is directly responsible for the increased threats against Obama. Yet it seems very likely that the rage and unresolved emotions dredged up by the McCain/Palin campaign have led some of their more frustrated followers to give expression to their rage by issuing threats and/or engaging in actual physical violence.

Day after day on the campaign trail, Sarah Palin told her adoring fans that "He [Obama] is not one of us!" Obama doesn't share the same values! He's an "elitist." Day after day, she and McCain asked the question, "Who is Barack Obama?" Day after day they enraged the crowds with the cry, "He pals around with terrorists!"

Perhaps neither McCain nor Palin realized they were using time-tested techniques to turn a crowd into a mob -- a mob where people are given license to behave irresponsibly and irrationally, and to even engage in violence against their perceived "enemy." But they should have!

To this day, Palin refuses to apologize for her cries that Obama "pals around with terrorists." Just a few days ago, in an interview with Larry King, she said she thought she was right to use that language and feels it is still appropriate to tie Obama with Ayers, who she claims is an "unrepentant terrorist."

I'm fairly certain that neither Sarah Palin nor John McCain wished that Obama would be assaulted or killed. But they are both adults. They had to know that the cries of "He's not one of us" and "He pals around with terrorists" would unleash very dangerous emotions in the crowds gathered in front of their podiums.

They had to know they were enraging their base. And they should have known that leaving people with unresolved emotions and unresolved rage could very well create a surge of hatred and violence toward Barack Obama.

They have no excuse. For that alone, both should be forever banned from the political life of our nation!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The war on Christmas, courtesy of PZMyers

"Oy," says PZMyers, "it's War on Christmas time again.

"Fresh off the British Humanist Association's successful bus campaign, the American Humanist Association has fired up its own set of big signs on buses in the Washington DC area. Their message is 'Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake'.

"Of course, CNN considers this another salvo in the War on Christmas. Silly news organization. Didn't you get the word? The war on Christmas is over. We won. It's a secular holiday, atheists can celebrate it any way they want, Christians can continue to pretend it's baby Jesus' birthday, and everyone has the freedom to interpret the meaning of the day in whatever way they choose. The freethinkers of America are victorious.

"The only people left fighting it are desperate holdouts who look sad and comical when the[y] emerge from the jungles of their own making. Like the American Patriarchy Association.

"In mid-October, the American Family Association started selling buttons that say 'It's OK to say Merry Christmas.' The humanists' entry into the marketplace of ideas did not impress AFA president Tim Wildmon.

"'It's a stupid ad,' he said. 'How do we define "good" if we don't believe in God? God is in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world.'

"Guess what, Tim? It is OK to say 'Merry Christmas'. Even I have been known to say it. Go ahead, have a good time with the greeting, although it does rather rip the spirit out of it if you say it through clenched teeth with furrowed brow, looking like you're daring everyone to object so you can punch them in the throat. It's also OK to say 'Happy Soltice,' 'Season's Greetings,' 'Happy Holidays,' and 'Merry Cephalopodmas,' whatever feels right to you.

"But I'm sorry, this Biblical god fellow is not a very good source for goodness. If we went by that definition, Christmas would be a time when we'd slaughter Amelekites, get drunk and have sex with daughters, stone gay people, and treat molluscs as abominations. None of those things sound very merry to me. Wouldn't there be a better source for goodness that doesn't rely on archaic xenophobia and delusion from bad old books? How about empathy and the general principle that we should do to others what we would like them to do for us? Atheists can follow that one, and they don't believe in god at all."

The original article, with links, is here.

PZMyers, pictured above, is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He blogs at Pharyngula.

Palin and you guys at the guv conference

I went through the transcript of Palin's speech to the Republican governors. Ugh! But I read all the way to the end. Ugh! Here are some highlights:

"Honored to be here. Get to speak with and to my fellow governors."

"...And I thank you guys so for your assistance with John McCain's good run." [My emphasis]

"...I think it's about time that we all remembered that the greatest measure of a president is whether he protected and defended this great country. America's 43rd president took that foremost responsibility, that most important charge, seriously. He poured his life into it. He succeeded in keeping America safe from another attack. I'm thankful he is my soldier son's commander in chief. And for that I say God bless George W. Bush. And I thank you, Mr. President." [She must have missed how Georgie was asleep at the wheel when 9/11 came around. Kept us safe? We are more vulnerable now than we've ever been and bin Laden is threatening another attack soon!]

"But on election night in Phoenix, after a hard and honorable defeat, I was more proud than ever to have been the running mate and friend of a great man, Senator John McCain." [Hard and honorable defeat? What the hell does that mean?]

"...I wish Barack Obama well ... it's time for us to reach out to this new administration. Time for us to reach out to Barack Obama, so that he'll understand our perspective as experienced chief executives ... so he will understand that bigger federal government and more unfunded mandates hurt the economy and our states and America's opportunities." [Yeah, Palin's reaching out means showing Obama how to run the country just like the Bushites ran it for the past eight years!]

"Let's help show him and Congress the way." [As if she has a clue!]

"Along the trail, it was my husband, Todd, who was my right hand. ... It's kind of relying on Todd with that optimism and the thankfulness in all situations, that I'm certainly going to be there with him along those lines." [Huh?]

"And I'm going to remember all the people along the way who said that they were praying for us. They were such a strength and a shield, those prayer warriors, and ..." [Ah, yes, those prayer warriors ... but god must not have been listening?]

"And I remember folks like Joe the Plumber ..." [Yup. Sam the schmoe. Got his own Web site now. Gonna go to Washington and tell people how to get the job done. Maybe he'll pay his back taxes first and return all the money he got from being on welfare, twice. That's too damn much spreading the wealth, it seems to me!]

Speaking of Down Syndrome children: "But so thankful that the thing is that they were welcome, and that that, too, is what we represented as Republicans is that good heart of America, that equal opportunity for all and defense of those who maybe are vulnerable and weak." [If there is anything that does NOT characterize the Republican party it is concern for the "vulnerable and the weak"!]

"John McCain knew what it is that we represent, what I represented, and all of you. From the moment he named me on Election Day (sic), I had the rare enough privilege in politics of praising a candidate whose story and character and personal heroism required no embellishment." [Election Day?]

"And, I say, God less you, in your states, and thank you for all you are doing for this great country. And we're going to step it up even more."

"So, RGA, thank you guys. God bless you." [you guys?]

There's much more but it is mind-numbing! 23/6 printed a quote from Camille Paglia on Sarah Palin which hits the proverbial nail on the proverbial head:

"She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist."

Hell, she's a cheerleader. What do you expect?

Prior to her speech, Palin performed at a press conference for 3 minutes and 23 seconds. 23/6 describes it this way:

"What did we learn? That...

* Republican governors 'govern with strong executive experiences.'

* She doesn't allow 'excessive extreme partisanship to get in the way.'

* She's just learned the word 'plenary' and likes to use it.

* 'This group' is 'uniquely qualified,' and a 'unique team,' and 'a team' and a 'unique group' and 'a unique team.'

* 'The past is past. It's behind us.'

* 'The future' is 'next year.'

* 'Only we, by working together, can bring back the change that has been so desired by the American public, that we know that we can usher in.'

* Her voice seems to make cats aggressive.

* She 'treats everybody equally -- women, hispanics.' ...

* Her intelligence apparently peaked during the campaign."

Several commentators noted that Ms. Palin was "cold-shouldered" by her fellow governors. Tim Pawlenty, for example, explained that "Drill, baby, drill," was not an energy policy!

A priestly hell

According to one so-called "man of god," a Roman Catholic priest in South Carolina, Catholics who voted for Barack Obama are going to hell and should not receive communion unless "they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

When word of what this priest said got to heaven, Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father, who is himself, next to the Holy Ghost, who is also himself, said loudly to the angel Gabriel, who was seated in front of the trinitarian One, "Jesus Christ! These people are idiots! Did they not ever listen to what I said? Bring me a martini, Gabe, straight-up, shaken, not stirred."

"Aye, aye, Sirs," said Gabe, who straight-away went to find a bar. There's one on every corner in heaven, you know.

"Now, settle down, Jeez," said the Father who is Jeez and the Holy Ghost. "No sense getting your robe in a knot. They'll never learn. We made a serious mistake with that vision you cooked up for the faux rabbi, Paul! Who knew he'd screw everything up so badly?"

"Hey," chimed in the Holy Ghost who is Jeez and the Father. "I could do one of my numbers on that priest and make him disappear when he's putting on his alb in the sacristy. Presto! I could turn him into sacramental wine. He'd be gone."

"Ah, phooey," said Jeez. "That wouldn't solve the problem. Those damn bishops are making all kinds of noise about this abortion thing, too. God, you'd think they'd have better things to do!"

"Yup!" said the father.

"You know we worked hard to get Obama in the White House," said the Holy Ghost. "All those damn prayer warriors whining about that goofball cheerleader from Alaska! Give me a break!"

"That was a pain," said Jeez. "They just about shut down our whole system for a month! Wait until I get my hands on that Muthee character and that Dobson nut out in Colorado Springs! Muthee's gonna do about a million years with the witch of Endor. That oughta shut him up! And Dobson, well, when I get through with him, he'll be begging me to toss him off the top of Pike's Peak!"

"So, what now?" asked the Father.

"I don't know," the Trinity cried in unison. "We've fought these self-righteous bastards for 2,000 years and what have we got to show for it? Benedict XVI, John Hagee, Dobson, Ted Haggard, Pat Robertson, Joel's Army, Pentecostalism ... I'm about ready to throw in the towel."

"Nah, we can't do that," said Jeez. "We've got too much invested. Boy, I sure wish we'd had better biblical editors. They really screwed things up. Nobody knows what to believe and the ones who think they know are making the situation worse."

"All right, I'm about ready for my nap," said the Father as Jesus and the Holy Ghost suddenly became very tired. "We gave these idiots free will and we can't go back on our word. But we can change our reward system, 'cause they really don't know what we've got planned. I'd suggest that a special hell be set up where all those who claim to have the Truth will go when they die. It will involve horrible torture and I expect there will be lots of pain and screaming. But we'll let the Devil deal with that."

Jesus and the Holy Ghost, almost asleep now, asked groggily, "What the hell are you talking about, Dad?" They never call the Father, Dad, unless they're very tired and of course being One they already knew what he was talking about.

"We're going to make them listen to Sarah Palin speeches over and over again for seven million years!"

"Oh, my God!" they exclaimed in a unified trinitarian cry.

And then, the three of them, as one, took a nap.

But that South Carolina priest has no idea what he's in for!

John McCain is not a man of honor

John McCain's campaign for president proved that, if at some time in the past he was a man of honor, he is no longer so.

This sorry saga is still unfolding.

McCain has been in Georgia to push for the re-election of Saxy Chambliss to the United States Senate. In 2002, the incumbent Senator from Georgia was Vietnam veteran, Max Cleland. Max had the misfortune to lose three limbs in that war. Chambliss' campaign that year painted Cleland as being too cowardly to deal with a world threatened by terrorism. A now famous Chambliss ad pictured the face of Osama bin Laden merging with the face of Cleland.

The best thing one could say about the ad was that it was despicable!

John McCain, at the time, said this: "Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to a picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield -- it's worse than disgraceful, it's reprehensible."

BuzzFlash reminds us that if anyone was a coward, it was Chambliss, who "received five student deferments and one medical deferment ... entirely avoiding service. Yet he can often be seen stumping in military gear and on bases around his home state."

Chambliss also "voted repeatedly against the new GI Bill as well as funding for necessary armor and equipment for our troops and other measures meant to help out our men and women fighting overseas. In fact, Chambliss voted against our troops at least 23 times in his short tenure in the Senate. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America rated Chambliss as a D- in 2006."

This year Chambliss was challenged by Democrat Jim Martin. Because he did not receive 50 percent of the vote as required by Georgia law, a run-off must be staged, said run-off to be held on December 2.

Jim Martin spent two years in Vietnam. "He's been campaigning with vets that actually support our troops, such as Jim Webb."

John McCain, however, has thrown his support behind Chambliss. About 1500 people showed up to hear him urge Georgia voters to also support Chambliss, claiming that the Democrats will increase taxes and cut defense spending. He was also to appear at a Chambliss fundraiser.

We can only conclude the following:

* McCain's "maverick" stance and his touted bipartisanship are bullshit; it's all politics, all the time. McCain believes its better to have a reprehensible Republican than a decent Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

* McCain is trying to revive his image among the Repugnican rank and file after running such a miserable campaign.

* John McCain is not a man of honor. He is just another typical Repugnican hypocrite who puts party above the country. Or as we said before about his campaign slogan: "Country First, my ass!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Maldives (& Miami Beach) & rising seas

Miami at high tide

Those who are as yet unconvinced that global warming is real and largely the result of human activity, will probably not change their minds by what follows. Sarah Palin, for example, in the face of overwhelming evidence, still maintains global warming is a natural occurrence.

AOL News reports that the Maldives is in danger of "sinking" into a rising ocean. "The Maldives is an archipelago of almost 1,200 coral islands located south-southwest of India. Most of the islands lie just 4.9 feet above sea level."

While the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is forecasting sea levels will rise 7.1 inches by the end of the century, some scientists argue that sea levels are rising much faster that expected and that forecast is dangerously flawed. Indeed, there is evidence of this right now.

The president of the Maldives, Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, is so concerned about his nation's vulnerability that he is taking steps to move his entire nation to higher ground. A portion of the $1 billion that the Maldives takes in each year from tourism is being held in a special account to buy a new homeland.

Maybe Miami should begin taking similar steps instead of building new high-rises next to the ocean.

Eye on Miami reported on the danger Miami is facing from rising seas back on October 1. "On sea level rise, we're waiting. For the most part the local conversation is not whether sea level rise will occur but when."

It is especially interesting that the projections put forward by "the science committee of the Miami Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force" do not reflect "the possibility of a catastrophically rapid melt of land-bound ice from Greenland, and it makes no assumptions about Antarctica."

Indeed, other scientists, including James Hansen of NASA, are much more pessimistic. The ice is melting just about everywhere, and the seas are rising more rapidly than anyone has projected. Some scientists predict that much of Miami Beach could be underwater by 2012.

One piece of evidence to support that has to do with the rising tides along the southeastern Florida shore. A climate change scientist noted that "tides are running about 6-8 inches above that predicted."

In other words, "when" is now.

The photo above shows tidal flooding in downtown Miami. "It has become the regular twice a day occurrence of the tide. ... low lying streets all over Miami and Miami Beach are experiencing increasingly regular, non weather event, flooding."

Eye on Miami notes further that "this flooding is a very recent phenomenon otherwise the condo's foundation and surrounding infrastructure could never have been completed."

The photographer insisted salt water flooding in Miami's downtown happens on a regular basis.

The evidence tends to show that the rise in sea levels is increasing at a much faster pace than anticipated. Thousands of miles of U.S. coastline are vulnerable. The Bush administration has not only refused to deal with the issue, but has fought any and all attempts to mitigate human causes of global warming.

It appears we will have to wait for the Obama administration to take action. We can only hope it is not too late.

Read more from Eye on Miami here.

Sarah Palin is a "hoax"

It now appears the story about Palin believing Africa was a country and not a continent may have been a hoax. It's hard to tell because 1) some of the same people that were involved in the hoaxing are involved in the de-hoaxing, and because 2) Palin is as dumb as a sack of rocks.

The right-wing bloggers are bloviating all over the place about the left-wing bloggers who went with the story.

Hoax or no hoax, does not, in the least, mitigate the fact that Palin is an idiot. One hoax doth not a genius make. All one has to do is listen to her varied and increasingly numerous statements in varied and increasingly numerous interviews - she is a religious freak, a liar, a truly nasty person, and is pretty much ignorant about the real world.

The evidence keeps accumulating!

For example, see if you can decompress this: (from Daniel Larison)

Palin: Sitting here in these chairs that I'm going to be proposing but in working with these governors who again on the front lines are forced to and it's our privileged obligation to find solutions to the challenges facing our own states every day being held accountable, not being just one of many just cansting votes or voting present every once in a while, we don't get away with that. We have to balance budgets and we're dealing with multibillion dollar budgets and tens of thousands of employees in our organizations.

Or this: (from Alaska Dispatch)

Palin (to Van Susteren): It [Alaska] is not like other states where perhaps the oil company actually owns all the resources underground and they're the ones that solely benefit from development. Here in Alaska we partner with the oil industry. Alaskans own the resources and the oil companies lease the ground and lease the rights to develop, and ..."

Actually, Palin again proves she knoweth not whereof she speaketh. There are no "other states" where the oil companies own all the resources underground and there are many states that generate revenue from issuing leases to develop oil and gas on state land.

Even worse, though, is this incessant bragging about Alaska's addiction to oil. As Alaska Dispatch says, "...[B]eing addicted to oil isn't something we should be proud of. Since Prudhoe Bay was discovered in 1968, we've had 40 years to develop new economies not tethered to our natural resources. We've failed miserably..."

Furthermore, "O]ur proven oil reserves are running dry. What about ANWR and offshore oil, you say? Keep dreaming. Those ideas have been around forever, just like the gas pipeline that governor after governor has championed (Besides, the Feds would take the majority of the oil royalties if ANWR or federal offshore leases were ever developed.)"

McCain's pick of Palin might have been a hoax on the American people. He has been said to sometimes play dirty tricks.

For certain, it has been a nightmare.

h/t to Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish

Jon Kyle is not reaching across the aisle

Repugnicans like to talk a good game.

That's all they do, though, talk!

John Amato at Crooks and Liars tells how Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has already threatened to fight Obama on his Supreme Court nominees. Talk about jumping the gun.

But Kyl, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, is a right-wing blowhard who has walked pretty much lock-step with Bush and his cronies for years. He is partisan to the extreme. Amato puts that partisanship in perspective by commenting on a speech made by Kyl to the Federalist Society a few days ago.

Kyl "...warned president-elect Barack Obama that he would filibuster U.S. Supreme Court appointments if those nominees were too liberal. Kyl, Arizona's junior senator, expects Obama to appoint judges in the mold of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Stephen Breyer. Those justices take a liberal view on cases related to social, law and order and business issues, Kyl said. 'He believes in justices that have empathy,' said Kyl. ... Kyl said if Obama goes with empathetic judges who do not base their decisions on the rule of law and legal precedents but instead the factors in each case, he would try to block those picks via filibuster."

Wait, wasn't it the Republicans who were damning the Democrats for not immediately approving Bush's judicial appointments, no matter how ultra-conservative or unqualified those persons were?

Or as "Steve" says, "Think about that [what Kyl said]. The second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, just a few days after the election, is already talking about blocking Supreme Court nominations that haven't been named, in response to Supreme Court vacancies that don't exist."

What a bunch of maroons!

Catholic bishops to oppose...

[AP photo]

The Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, are, as we all know, paragons of wisdom and spokespersons for god and the pope. How could they err? How could they possibly be wrong?

I've just finished reading James Carroll's book, Constantine's Sword - The Church and the Jews. It's a fascinating treatise, detailing the relationship of the Roman Church to the Jews from the early days of Christianity to the present.

Carroll is an ex-priest of the Jesuit persuasion, however, and can't let go. The Roman church has him caught in its clutches -- probably until he dies.

For example, in this very excellent book, he stresses over and over again that there were occasionally individuals and popes who sort of did the right thing toward the Jews. But ultimately, that fact is completely overwhelmed by the Church's 2,000-year history of unremitting hatred, persecution and torture of the Jews.

For anyone who still believes that the Roman church and/or its prelates cannot err or change, this book should be required reading.

Today, the Roman church has tried to make nice with the Jews, except for the current pope, Benedict XVI. He's not too concerned with reconciliation. Never has been. He was one of those vociferously opposed to Vatican II as well as the excision of the anti-Semitic passages from the Good Friday liturgy.

But the Church has its "new" foe, anyway - abortion. The Roman bishops in the United States believe that abortion is always wrong and should be illegal. They intend to fight President-elect Obama on this issue and they have raised their battle flags.

There isn't any question that the Roman bishops can believe anything they want about anything. They can believe their pope is the repository of god's grace and is the vicar of Christ on earth. They can believe god is three people in one. They can believe wine turns to blood and crackers turn to flesh. They can establish their own schools and teach all of this to their young 'uns.

And they can believe that abortion is evil.

What they can't do is impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

But the Roman church has always assumed that they have that right. And in every single instance where the Roman church has gained enough political power, they have tried to enforce their belief system on everyone.

There are good people who believe all abortions are wrong. There are good people who believe women should be allowed the right to choose what to do with their own bodies. President-elect Obama believes abortion should never be taken lightly, but that women should have the right to choose.

Let's tell the good bishops to shut up about abortion and put their energy into opposing the war in Iraq, and capital punishment. Let's tell them to go back to their palaces and sacristies and try to ferret out their priests who are molesting children. And let's tell the good bishops when they find such priests to toss them out of the church instead of moving them to another parish where they can molest still more children.

Let's tell the good bishops that they have NO authority over the rest of us, and they need to keep their damn noses out of political arena. Furthermore, whatever moral authority they might have claimed in the past is long gone. The Roman collar has become a symbol of repression, reluctance to do what's right, and blindness to truth.

The word, "abortion," is quite often used as a synonym for something very bad. The attempt of the Roman Catholic bishops to impose their religious beliefs on the nation as a whole is an "abortion"!

Will god and Alaska call Palin to the Senate?

This morning it appears that Senator Ted Stevens may go down in Alaska, which also means that god has closed the door on Palin heading to the Senate in the near future.

On the other hand, if Stevens should win, the Senate may very well throw him out, and then Palin could say, "God saved the day, I'll just have to appoint myself to the Senate and maybe the good folks of Alaska will elect the First Dude as guv - he's really a good guy and under my administration he's gained a ton of executive experience!"

But it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Oh darn.

Plus, she's still got almost two years to serve as guv, and she like, really loves her job!

Nevertheless, Palin like just knows the people of Alaska and like how much they love her. She like trusts them. "I will do what the people of Alaska want me to do," she says. usual, god might get involved in Palin's life again. Here's how she put it: "...if they [the people of Alaska] call an audible on me [isn't that cute?], and if they say they want me in another position, I'm going to do it. ... My life is in God's hands. If he's got doors open for me, that I believe are in our state's best interest, the nation's best interest, I'm going to go through those doors."

How do you suppose Palin knows when God opens a door or when the Devil opens a door? What criteria does she use to determine that? And notice that even if she thinks God has opened a door she ain't going through it unless SHE determines that it's in "our state's best interest, the nation's best interest." Isn't that second-guessing god herself?

And if you believe any of this phony bullshit, you should move to Alaska so you can better "love" Sarah and help her govern, until she determines god wants her in the Oval Office and she must walk through that open door!

Children chant "Assassinate Obama"

This is from Tommy Christopher at AOL News.

It happened in Idaho - a red state? Elementary school kids riding a school bus. Chanting "Assassinate Obama. Assassinate Obama."

Occasionally they'd include the name of another child: "Assassinate Obama and Kate."

Where do you suppose they learned something like that? From a teacher at school? Unlikely. From a religious leader? Unlikely. From the manager at McDonalds? Unlikely.

From their parents? You betcha!

Certainly Ms. Sarah Palin, guv of Alaska, is not responsible for these children chanting obscenities on a school bus, but her rhetoric on the campaign trail was designed to foment hatred for Senator Obama, no matter what she says now. And it worked! As we've seen, the threats on Obama's life spiked greatly after Palin began implying Obama was a "terrorist," and asking her followers "Do we really know who Obama is?"

So evil remains entwined in our society at every level: From a candidate for vice president to little kids in Idaho.

It is so sad.

Here's how the incident was reported by KIDK TV:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Joe Lieberman should go

Joe Sudbay at Americablog suggests that "Every Democrat on the Hill needs to watch video [below] compiled by Jed. Watch Joe Lieberman say:

* The real ticket for change this year is the McCain/Palin ticket.

* I'm not going to go that convention, the Republican convention, and spend my time attacking Barack Obama.

* Colleagues like Barack Obama were voting to cut off funding for our American troops on the battlefield.

* On Iraq, John McCain has been right and consistent, and Senator Obama has been wrong.

* The fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise a question.

* Senator McCain has more experience, more balance, knows when to be tough, when to be soft. I worry that Senator Obama has not had that experience and therefore ultimately will compromise our security.

* Senator McCain was the one who said "I'm going back to Washington and I'm suspending my campaign." Senator Obama followed him here yesterday and left right away.

* The Democratic party has been taken over by people who are not from the mainstream of America.

* Is, notwithstanding his celebrity status, Barack Obama ready to lead? And my answer is no.

Hmmm...may rendition to Egypt is too good for ol' Joe!

The Republicans STILL don't get it!

Sarah Palin is one of the most divisive politicians to appear on the national political scene in many years. That is something that McCain will have to live with for the rest of his life.

Sarah Palin is also ethically-challenged and a liar, as we've noted many times.

The Miami Herald's blog, Naked Politics, has this:

Crist in 2012?

A poll of 1,000 Republican likely voters for Rasmussen Reports finds Gov. Charlie Crist trailing Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney on a list of potential 2012 Republican presidential nominees.

The results were Palin at 64 percent; follow by 12 percent for Mike Huckabee; 11 percent for Romney; 4 percent for Louisiana guv Bobby Jindal; 2 percent for Crist and just 1 percent for Tim Pawlenty.

Sixty-four percent for Sarah Palin? Sixty-four percent want Sarah Palin after this election where Palin and her party were soundly trounced and she was outed as a serial liar and con artist?

I'd say "Bring her on!" That would ensure that Obama would be reelected!

The Republicans STILL don't get it!

Mormons baptizing murdered Jews & The Salvation by Proxy New Church of God in Jesus Christ and Sts. Paul and Mary M.

Mormons, whose religious beliefs are even flakier than some fundy christianists, are convinced that their followers will live forever in an afterlife which will consist only of Mormons like themselves. It becomes very important then, that they baptize as many people as possible so extended families can enjoy the pleasures of heaven for all eternity.

Is there any evidence whatsoever for such a belief? No.

That hasn't stopped the Mormons, however, for like most religious people, evidence is not required. Faith or what passes for faith is the most important thing even if the evidence contradicts that faith.

You should not be surprised, therefore, if some of your deceased relatives have been baptized into Mormonism without your knowledge or consent. "Using genealogy records, the church ... baptized people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool." In this case, the Mormons believe, like many religionists, that the ends justify the means.

What's really pissy, though, is that the Mormons have been baptizing Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust! According to an AP article appearing in The New York Times, Jews and Mormons signed an agreement in 1995 "to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims."

The Mormons, however, have not lived up to their side of the bargain for some time. This was confirmed in 2005, when "...ongoing monitoring of the database by an independent Salt Lake City-based researcher show[ed] both resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews."

The Jews have said enough is enough or not enough. They will negotiate no longer. Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that it isn't enough that the LDS make changes in its database to make it harder for Holocaust victims to be proxy baptized, the Mormon Church must also "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

Unfortunately, the Mormon Church is typical of religious creedal associations who believe that they and only they have the "truth." So church elder Lance B. Wickman told reporters that to stop proxy baptizing of Holocaust victims entirely would mean Mormons would have to change what they believe.

"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines. If our work for the dead is properly understood ... it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It's merely a freewill offering."

Okay. Let's turn this around. Let's start a new church!

First we'll find some "holy" books buried in Hawaii (that way we can get a tan while we dig). Our holy books, buried years ago by the angel Proxy, will be written in King James English and detail how Native Hawaiians descended from the Apostle Paul. We know Paul wasn't married. But our holy books, the Proxy Chronicles, will reveal to the world for the first time Paul's affair with Mary Magdalene. It will also describe how Paul and MM traveled by boat and camel to the Hawaiian Islands in the year 82. Because miracles still occurred in those days, Paul and Mary had 12 children.

The story of Paul's martyrdom in Rome is a myth.

Our new church will be called The Salvation by Proxy New Church of God in Jesus Christ and Sts. Paul and Mary M. One of our major doctrines will be that only members of our church will live eternally with the father, his son and the holy ghost. Another main doctrine is that the Mormon church is obviously non-Christian and therefore all Mormons are going to hell.

It will be our evangelistic mission to save not only living Mormons -- and we'll do that by sending out female missionaries by twos dressed in brief bikinis (in cold weather they'll wear overcoats) to call door to door around the world -- but also to save dead Mormons.

To save dead Mormons, we'll borrow the LDS database and conduct baptisms into our new church, known as SPN & MM for short. All proxy baptisms will be performed in the Hawaiian Islands, and proxies will have to spend at least two hours in the Pacific Ocean, unless it is raining, then they may merely dip their big toe in the surf and head for Joe's Bar & Grill.

Now, I know that the LDS folks are not going to like this. Migod, they'll probably think it is a slap in their face and disrespectful to their religion. They'll probably ask us to stop doing it. They'll probably say, "You must stop baptizing our Mormon dead by proxy!" And they'll mean it. They might even threaten legal action.

We'll say, no, we're not being disrespectful. And we don't think we should have to change our doctrines to please you. "We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines. If our work for the dead is properly understood ... it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It's merely a freewill offering."

That's what we'll say.

I think that if they could, the Holocaust folks baptized by the Mormons would say, "Thank Hashem, already!"

Joe Lieberman - what to do?

A lot of Democrats are calling for the head of Senator Joe Lieberman. They want to strip him of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and they want him tossed from the Democratic caucus.

At least four Democrats are trying to save his ass: Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

President-elect Obama told Harry Reid that he believes Lieberman should be allowed to remain in the Democratic caucus. Jesus Christ! That sounds like Jesus Christ!

According to Paul Kane at the WaPo, "Obama said that expulsion of Lieberman for his support of the Republican presidential ticket would send the wrong signal after Obama's promises to set partisanship aside ... "

Those who wish to retain Lieberman stress that in spite of his fawning over McCain, he has voted with the Democrats most of the time. Obviously, the desire is to retain that vote.

But...but...maybe retaining Lieberman would send the wrong signal. Bipartisanship goes both ways. And, any way you slice the apple, Lieberman is a slimebucket and a traitor. He didn't just "support" McCain and Palin by giving a speech like Colin Powell "supported" Obama, he spoke for McCain at the Republican National Convention, he toured with McCain, he stood there in silent assent when the McCain camp went off the rails and viciously attacked Obama with scurrilous and untrue allegations, and when Palin riled up the rednecks and racists to the extent that Obama's life was being threatened by McCain/Palin supporters.

But...but...maybe Obama is right. He is the duly elected president-to-be and his wishes must be considered. If Lieberman remains in the Democratic caucus, however, there has to be some way to make him pay for his treasonable actions. Furthermore, we know he is a traitor, which means he cannot be trusted.

Maybe he can be turned over to the CIA for a little "rendition treatment" in Egypt.


Obama the ethicist

Damn, is it nice to have a president who actually believes in ethics. For eight years, we been stuck with a religious born-again phony who talks about talking to god and loving Jesus and doesn't have an ethical bone in his body. Worse, he has surrounded himself with unethical, lying, thieving criminal types in sharkskin suits.

As the transition gets under way and Bush takes leave of the White House (finally!), Obama and his team have laid down some ethical rules, the violation of which will get your ass tossed out on the street!

John Podesta, the transition co-chair, claimed these rules provide an indication of what we can expect from the Obama administration: "the most open and transparent transition in history."

Here are the rules:

1. Federal lobbyists cannot contribute financially to the transition.

2. Federal lobbyists are prohibited from any lobbying during their work with the transition.

3. If someone has lobbied in the last 12 months, they are prohibited from working in the fields of policy on which they lobbied.

4. If someone becomes a lobbyist after working on the transition, they are prohibited from lobbying the [Obama] administration for 12 months on matters on which they worked.

5. A gift ban that is aggressive in reducing the influence of special interests.

(from the WaPo)

Paul Broun - Repugnican twit from Georgia

You may remember Paul Broun, a Republican congressman from the state of Georgia. His last 15 minutes of fame came awhile back when he tried to forbid our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from reading "porn," which he defined as magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse.

Broun, you see, loves Jesus, and has concluded that he must impose his particular religious beliefs on society as a whole - to help save the world, you know.

Broun is back in the news, confirming that he is not just a twit from Georgia, but a truly evil man. Why is it so many of these born-againers stink of sewage and rot?

Broun is claiming "President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship." The reason is because back in July, Obama made a speech which suggested that we establish a civilian national security force. An Obama spokesman said that this referred to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps "that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as re-building infrastructure -- an idea endorsed by the Bush administration."

Broun, however, thinks he knows better than Obama what Obama meant. This kind of civilian national security force, says Broun, is "exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did.

"When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

So, to Broun, Obama is either like Hitler or Stalin?

The man is obviously an ignorant moron, and exemplifies how difficult it will be for the Democrats to "reach across the aisle" and work in a bipartisan manner for the good of the country. How do you work with someone who's as nuts as this clown?

If Broun is really worried about a military force, he ought to be fussing about the fact that Bush has, for the first time in history, and in aanother show of disdain for our Constitution, put U.S. Army combat troops on the streets of America to help keep "law and order" in time of crisis.

Whether that is Hitlerian or Marxist is really irrelevant. It is scary as all hell!

Update: Broun has apologized for calling Obama a Marxist. No word yet as to whether he will apologize for comparing Obama to Hitler.

As the Arctic goes, so goes ...

The Arctic began warming back in the 1960s. That warming trend has continued and has increased. Robert Boyd of McClatchy Newspapers, referring to a report by an international team of scientists, notes that "Temperatures in the Arctic last fall hit an all-time high -- more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit ... above normal -- and remain almost as high this year."

The loss of sea ice in the Arctic warms the oceans and causes "global sea levels to rise even faster than predicted." While global warming is not the only cause, it is the most important one. And what happens in the Arctic has a world-wide impact.

Renee Schoff, also of McClatchy, reports that scientists are insisting the United States take
action on climate change. She quotes James Hansen, NASA climate scientist, who has repeatedly stressed that Congress and the president "must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation."

The danger comes from the fact that our options are closing. If something isn't done now, we may lose the opportunity to protect the planet. We must "reduce the level of gases enough to prevent changes such as rising oceans and dying plant and animal species." The result of inaction will lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity's control."

The Bush administration has, for many years, denied the reality of global warming, even going so far as to rewrite scientific reports to coincide with that denial. The Bush administration's policies over the past eight years have not only been ineffective as far as dealing with climate change goes, but have actually increased the problem.

John McCain, contrarily, though belatedly, said "We know that greenhouse gas emissions, by retaining heat within the atmosphere, threaten disastrous changes in the climate.

President-elect Obama cautions that "There can no longer be any doubt that human activities are influencing the global climate and we must react quickly and effectively."

Already, some Repugs are touting Governor Sarah Palin for their presidential candidate in 2012 (that is, of course, if god approves)! Consider Palin's take on global warming and the environment in general.

The Alaskan governor has "questioned the science behind predictions of sea ice loss linked to global warming." Not so long ago, "the state of Alaska under Palin's guidance sued Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in an attempt to reverse his decision to list polar bears as a threatened species. Palin said that scientists' predictions that global warming will eliminate the ice where the bears live in summer were unreliable."

That, in spite of the fact, that because 2007 set a record low for sea ice in the Arctic, reindeer, walruses and polar bears were threatened as their habitat was being destroyed.

As the Arctic goes, so goes the rest of the world. Anyone seeking public office should be questioned thoroughly on his/her understanding of global warming. The reality of global warming, whether caused by human activity or nature, can no longer be denied. To ignore or deny global warming is to invite catastrophe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reversing Bush's damage

Unfortunately, it won't be possible to reverse all of the damage that George W. Bush and his cronies have inflicted upon our nation and the world.

But Ceci Connolly and R. Jeffrey Smith at the WaPo report that President-elect Barack Obama and his team are working to undo a few of Bush's regulations that were imposed for "'overtly political' reasons, in pursuit of what ... was a partisan Republican agenda."

That, it seems to me, would include everything Bush and his cronies did!

Here are a few things that Obama is looking at to undo or toss out or negate:

* The "controversial limit on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, a decision that scientists say has restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson's. It is also important to note that this limit was imposed for religious reasons!

* The "global gag rule barring international family planning groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal. " Again, this rule was imposed for religious reasons!

* The decision by Bush last December to deny California the authority to regular carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles.

* The refusal by Bush to follow an EPA task force recommendation that carbon dioxide emissions be declared as harmful to human welfare. Bush's refusal was to "protect the utility and auto industries."

Much more will be coming for the Bushites did massive damage. And as Winnie Stachelberg, of the Center for American Progress, said, "It took eight years to get into this mess, and it will take a long time to get out of it."

But hey, we're on the way!

Bush trims health care for poor

This from Chris in Paris at Americablog.

This is why we sent the bastards packing. They really are disgusting and selfish people in the Republican party.

In the first of an expected avalanche of post-election regulations, the Bush administration on Friday narrowed the scope of services that can be provided to poor people under Medicaid's outpatient hospital benefit.

Public hospitals and state officials immediately protested the action, saying it would reduce Medicaid payments to many hospitals at a time of growing need.

The new rule conflicts with efforts by Congressional leaders and governors to increase federal aid to the states for Medicaid as part of a new economic action plan.

President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed those efforts. At a news conference on Friday, he said that legislation to stimulate the economy should include "assistance to state and local governments" so they would not have to lay off workers or increase taxes.

+ + + +

And isn't it interesting that the Republican party and President Bush invariably attempt to trim the budget on the backs of the poor?

Maybe we could humbly ask those bankers who are now wallowing in bailout cash, and who are using that money to pay themselves big bonuses and take half-million dollar retreats, if they could give some of it back so we could broaden the scope of services that can be provided to poor people under Medicaid's outpatient hospital benefit.

Palin, God and the White House (& medical records)

Just what we need - one more christianist freak who talks to an imaginary deity who in turn tells the christianist what to do - like run for president, or invade a sovereign nation, or beat up on poor people!


In an interview with FOX News, Palin the prevaricator, said she didn't know what she'd do in 2012, that it was too far away.

"I can't predict what's going to happen a day from now, much less four years from now," said the liar from Alaska.

But she thinks or hopes that her deity will show her the way.

"You know, I have - faith is a very big part of my life. And putting my life in my creator's hands -- this is what I always do.

"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.

"Even if it's cracked up a little bit, maybe I'll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don't let me miss an open door.

"And if there is an open door in 12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

But first, dear Sarah, like, couldn't you learn how to speak without sounding like, well, you know, like a goofy teenager?

And, like, please tell your deity to slam the door shut tight, 'cause you have a way of seeing doors that aren't open. Evidently you didn't see that the door was closed in 2008, and maybe that's why your deity didn't help you beat Obama, even with all your "prayer warriors" interceding mightily for months that your deity put you a heartbeat away!

Forget about 2012. I already talked with Zeus and he said there's no way! You're too big a liar, plus you're connected with those really crazy witch hunter Pentecostal movements who are trying to take over the world and redistribute the wealth!

And why the hell do you say you have released your medical records when you have NOT done so? A page and a half from your doctor saying you're in good health doth not a medical release record make!

Unpack for good, Palin, 'cause we've had enough of Repugnican liars littering up the streets of Washington!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Grover Norquist and the resurrection of the GOP

Resurrection implies death.

Sam Stein, writing at the Huffington Post, suggests that Grover Norquist is busily plotting the GOP's resurrection.

The Republican Party is dead! The man plotting its resurrection is the man largely responsible for its death!

Grover Norquist is famous for several things, one being his close relationship with the convicted felon/lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The two met in 1980 and began working closely with college-age Republicans. Abramoff shortly thereafter became the chairman of the College Republican National Committee. This was the breeding ground for the divisive, hateful, swift-boat style of politics endemic to the Republican Party to this day.

In 1985, Norquist formed Americans for Tax Reform. It's mission was "to oppose any effort to increase the taxes on individuals and business." In his book, Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean explains that Americans for Tax Reform accomplishes its goal by circulating "petitions to elected officials at the local, state, and national levels, asking them to promise that they will oppose all taxes. Norquist's Web site boasts that 'President George W. Bush, 222 House members, and 46 Senators have taken the pledge."

Norquist is often noted as saying, "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

For Norquist, the political arena is a battleground. He is, as many have found to their dismay, a vicious political opponent. There are few rules. Winner takes all. The ends justify the means. Dean says that he "advised 2005 conventioneers, "There are no rules in a knife fight."

In a side note, Dean explains that Norquist "views politics as war, and invokes chilling language whenever discussing political matters. In another political contest, for example, he explained, 'Our goal is to inflict as much pain as possible. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like the king who would take his opponents head and stick it on a spike for everyone to see."

We haven't heard a lot about Norquist lately, because, as Jonathan Weisman of the WaPo reported on July 9, 2006, he was reported to have "served as a cash conduit for disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff." Norquist was especially unhappy with John McCain because McCain's Senate Indian Affairs Committee came to the damaging conclusion that, "for a small cut, Americans for Tax Reform served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns."

But Grover Norquist is back. Stein puts it this way: "Hoping to pick up the pieces after an electoral drubbing, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist held one of his famous Wednesday meetings yesterday to plot out a renaissance of sorts.

"About 150 individuals were in attendance ... in addition to GOP officials calling in from 40 states. And while Norquist acknowledged that Republicans were licking their wounds a bit, he already had charted the avenues for a resurrection, much of it premised on an anticipated Democratic overreach."

That "overreach" is a Norquist vision that sees the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank bombarding Congress with programs they've waited years to put in place. We can expect, says Norquist, tax increases, a massive spending program, a government takeover of health care, etc.

Furthermore, Obama is going to have problems because the country is not up to his "to-do list." In other words, Obama may have been elected by a landslide, but the voters don't want him to do the things he said he would do while running for office.

That makes about as much sense as Norquist's cheerleading for Sarah Palin:

"McCain's choice of Palin brought his polling numbers above Obama's--until McCain endorsed the Bush bailout. Palin draws large crowds and has energized Reagan Republicans, gun owners, women and people of faith. Obama knows this and has his surrogates trashing Palin with a 'sack the quarterback' strategy most recently joined in by Colin Powell. She is an asset and the most consequential VP candidate in a generation."

Or not.

Back during the first of the year, Norquist's comments showed how badly he misread the American people. He said that "Barack Obama has been able to create his own image and introduce himself to voters, but the swing voters in a general election are not paying attention yet. He is open to being defined as a leftwing, corrupt Chicago politician."

Notice that the notion of telling the truth never enters Norquist's mind. The ends justify the means. Norquist and the tribe with which he travels are amoral.

It's very likely that McCain picked up much of his campaign strategy from Norquist's ethically-challenged approach, for Norquist goes on to suggest that "Republicans can teach people who don't know him [Obama] who he is."

Norquist further promotes the idea that Obama's associations can bring him down, especially his association with Antoin "Tony" Rezko and William Ayers. The McCain campaign bought into both of those ideas, although the strategy failed in the end.

Grover Norquist has shown himself to be strident, hot-headed, unethical, and vicious. He has also been very wrong.

Now, he's taking after George W. Bush, who he believes, along with millions of other co-called conservatives, has almost single-handedly decimated the Republican Party. Bush, these folks say, was not "conservative" enough. He ignored basic conservative principles, such as small government.

Stein again: "Arguing that every president has a certain amount of 'bandwidth' with which to work, the head of American's for Tax Reform chastised Bush for 'deciding to take five years to be the mayor of Baghdad instead of the United States.'"

That must be especially hurtful to the president for it was Mr. Norquist who put him in the Oval Office in 2004!

And that is an especially interesting story. Norquist played an instrumental role in the 2000 election by mobilizing the Muslim community in the United States (and especially Florida) to vote for Bush.

The story is told by Craig Unger in House of Bush, House of Saud.

Unger writes that "Republicans had just woken up to the fact that there were roughly 7 million Muslims in America -- a huge pool of voters who had largely been ignored by both political parties. To remedy that, Bush campaign strategist Grover Norquist came up with an aggressive plan to win them over by making alliances with groups run by Islamic fundamentalists. He invented the notion of a Muslim-American electoral bloc."

And Norquist was the right man for the job. "...Norquist was a founding member of the Islamic Institute, a nonprofit foundation promoting Muslim political movements. His Muslim partner, Khaled Saffuri, was deputy director for the American Muslim Council (AMC) and had an extensive network of contacts with other Muslim-American leaders."

As the story proceeds, it becomes more detailed and more complicated, but suffice it to say that Norquist went to bed with a number of shady characters, not a few of which were connected with the funding of Islamic terrorism. And many were virulently anti-Semtic. For example: "At a 1998 rally sponsored by CAIR [Council on American Islamic Relations - funded in part by Saudi Arabia and the American Muslim Council] ... five hundred people sang a song with the lyrics 'No to the Jews, descendants of apes.'"

The American Muslim Council is not benign, either. "Eric Vickers, executive director [of AMC] has refused to denounce any terror group practicing suicide bombing in the Middle East and has even declined to denounce Al Qaeda, calling it a 'resistance movement.'"

Bush and Norquist "aggressively pursued the Islamists in hopes of winning their endorsements. In appearances on TV, Bush and fellow campaign staffers referred not just to churches and synagogues as places of worship, but to mosques as well. Again and again, Governor Bush sought out meetings with Muslim leaders -- often without looking into their backgrounds."

Bush invited the founder of the AMC, Abdurahman Alamoudi to the governor's mansion in Austin, even though Alamoudi was "A self-proclaimed supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah... [and] reportedly attended a terrorist summit in Beirut later in 2000 with leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda.

"But such a militant background did not keep Alamoudi away from Norquist and Bush. According to an article by Frank Gaffney, Alamoudi wrote two checks for $10,000 each, one an apparent loan, to help found Norquist's Islamic Institute."

Then there's the problem of Bush palling around with Sami Al-Arian, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, but "under investigation by the FBI for his associations with Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist group." Al-Arian had a number of other questionable connections also, and Newsweek claimed he was tied to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

In 1998, as a guest speaker at the AMC, "Al-Arian referred to Jews as 'monkeys and pigs' and added, 'Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution! Revolution! Until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem!'"

There are many more connects between Norquist and Bush and the Islamic community. It was a matter of getting elected and in that situation they both operated from the viewpoint that "anything goes."

And it worked! While it took the Supreme Court to hand Bush the election in the end, it was the battle in Florida that worked magic for the Bushites. And that magic was largely Muslim magic. "According to an exit poll of Muslims in Florida conducted by the American Muslim Alliance, 91 percent voted for Bush, 8 percent for Ralph Nader, and one 1 percent for Al Gore. Likewise, the Tampa Bay Islamic Center estimated that fifty-five thousand Muslims in Florida voted and that 88 percent of them favored Bush. All of which meant that the margin of victory for Bush among Florida Muslims was many, many times greater than his tiny statewide margin of victory of 537 voted."

Norquist wrote in the extremist American Spectator, that "George W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote ... That's right, the Muslim vote."

Or, as Craig Unger puts it: "In other words, without the mobilization of the Saudi-funded Islamic groups, George W. Bush would not be president today."

One major question kept popping up in my mind as I researched this article: Why would Norquist be so interested and involved in pro-Islamic groups? I can understand why he would mobilize the Muslim vote for Bush - he wanted to win the election. But his Muslim connects began before that.

I still don't know the answer. But here's a hint or a clue or something - I guess it's whatever you make of it.

Daniel Pipes (Yikes!) wrote an article back on October 1, 2005, the title of which was, "Is Grover Norquist an Islamist?"

He quotes Paul Sperry, author of the book, Infiltration, saying that Grover Norquist is "an agent of influence for Islamists in Washington." In an interview with, Sperry was asked "why a Republican anti-tax lobbyist should so passionately promote Islamist causes." Sperry suggested that Norquist had converted to Islam.

"He's marrying a Muslim, and when I asked Norquist if he himself has converted to Islam, he brushed the question off as too 'personal.'"

And Norquist did marry a Muslim, one Samah Alrayyes, a Palestinian, on April 2, 2005. Pipes says that "Alrayyes (now known as Samah Norquist) has radical Islamic credentials of her own; she served as communications director at the Islamic Free Market Institute, the Islamist organization Norquist helped found. Now [in 2005], she is employed as a public affairs officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development. ... "

While I'm one of those who believes that whatever Daniel Pipes says must be taken with several grains of salt, a number of other sources have referred to Norquist's marriage and Islamic ties. A number of other sources have also suggested that because it is impossible or highly unlikely that a non-Muslim man can be married to a Muslim woman, Norquist must have converted to Islam.

The point of all this is that when push comes to shove, Grover Norquist is a scumbag who will do whatever is necessary to achieve his objectives at the moment. That judgment is clearly appropriate for as we've seen, he has allied himself closely with Islamist organizations which were tied to either the funding of terrorism or the acts of terrorism, in order to win an election for the Republican Party and the Saudi's best friend, G. W. Bush. Now, after serving as one of G.W.'s point men for years, he's dumping all over the president.

And I have no problem with that, in and of itself. Bush needs to be dumped on! But if the Republican Party allows this amoral hack to have anything whatsoever to do with its reconstruction following it's decimation in the election of a few days ago, it will confirm to the world it has no soul, no integrity, no vision, and offers nothing but misery and despair to the American people.

The Republican Party, for the moment is dead. And one of the main reasons it is dead is Grover Norquist. If he is called to preside at its resurrection, he may put flesh on its bones, but it will still be dead, for he represents all of its failed philosophies and faulty policies.

Or, as Christy Hardin Smith put it a few weeks ago:

"What we are seeing this election cycle is a wholesale rejection of what Norquist has birthed within the Republican party, along with fellow cronies Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff and their selfish ilk. We are all reaping the fetid, stale, whirlwind sown by republicans..."

And Everything Was Changed.....

This excellent post is from distributorcap NY.

While the past 6 days has been a remarkable time in American politics, we cannot forget that not all of America is looking forward to this realignment and shift in the tenor of the nation. While everything has changed - some people just may not be so accepting of this change that awaits us.

25% of the country still thinks Bush is doing a good job. A good chunk of the 57,000,000 people who voted for McCain/Palin actually like Sarah Palin and her brand of anti-intellectual, hate-filled speech, and they are already pushing her for 2012. There are still many, many people in this country that have a problem with an African-American being in charge. And we cannot forget that there are loud mouthpieces out there (like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh) that really want Obama to fail - and they have already started spewing their own special brand of hate
"The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen," Limbaugh told his radio audience of 15 million to 20 million on Thursday. "Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression." But maybe that shouldn't be so surprising, because radio's Biggest Big Man also assures us that the Democrat welcomes "economic chaos" because it gives him "greater opportunity for expanded government." "They're going to take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security trust fund, whatever the hell that is," Limbaugh woofed. "Trust fund, my rear end."
I know I have written about this before, but we can never talk about this enough. And with the hate and racism already starting -

Today - November 10th - is the 70th anniversary of the what many consider the start of the Holocaust - Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass. It was a two day rampage throughout the Third Reich on November 9-10, 1938 that finally told the Jews of Germany - their time was up.

Even though the Nazis had began passing laws to restrict the rights of German Jews in 1933, many of the 500,000 Jews living in Germany proper refused to believe their world was closing down - after all they were born in Germany, part of its 'society' and many had fought for the Kaiser during World War I. But none of that mattered to the Nazis. After the initial laws were passsed, it only got worse. In 1935, Hitler personally signed the infamous Nuremberg Laws - which prohibited Jews from being citizens and made intermarriage between Germans and Jews/Gypsies/blacks illegal and punishable.

At this point, many of the wealthier the Jews realized what was going on. However, the world's borders began to shut - as fewer and fewer nations were willing to take in the German refugees, especially Jews. On October 18, 1938, Hitler ordered 12,000 Polish born Jews expelled - they were given only a few hours to leave and not allowed to take most of their property. The Nazis seized what was left behind. They were dropped at the Polish border.

Herschel Grynspyn, a 17-year old German Jew enraged by his family's expulsion from Germany, walked into the German Embassy in Paris on November 6, 1938 and fired five shots at a minor German diplomat Ernst vom Rath "in the name of the 12,000 Jews." Two days later, the ambassador died.

The German government's reaction was swift and harsh. On November 8, all Jewish publications were shut down. Jewish children were banned from attending "Aryan" schools and all Jewish cultural activities were suspended. But the legal steps were not enough for a good portion of the population that was filled with hate and animosity toward the Jews. Within hours, Germany found itself in the grip of skillfully orchestrated and severe anti-Jewish violence. Businesses and homes were destroyed, Jews were beaten and arrested, the angry mobs could not be controlled (frankly the German police did nothing to quell the violence). November 10th was also the 455th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther. Many Germans used Luther's pamphlet Jews and Their Lies as another justification for the violence.

Over 25,000 Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps like Dachau. 200 synagogues were burned and vandalized, thousands of Jewish businesses were simply destroyed. Joseph Goebbels justified German behavior during Kristallnacht as "healthy instincts."

The world did react, albeit tepidly - the US recalled its ambassador, but did not break off diplomatic relations. While world opinion turned against Hitler's regime, the West sat back and did nothing. Nothing stopped the Nazis from their growing militarism, power and continued persecution. It only fueled more German nationalism.

Kristallnacht was a precursor of things to come. Germany was never the same - Hitler had his excuse to begin his systematic persecution and ultimately murder of the Jews. Hermann Goring further foreshadowed the impending Final Solution. On November 11th, the day after Kristallnacht he stated, "The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in any time soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews." For the Jews under German control, their fate was sealed. On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland - and World War II began. Five and half years later - the world would come to know what Auschwitz, Belzec, Buchenwald and Treblinka really were.

In 1988, historian Max Rein wrote "Kristallnacht came and everything was changed."

Ironically, on November 9, 1989 - 61 years after Kristallnacht, the Berlin Wall was opened - thus ending the division of Germany and paving the way for reunification. In many ways the end of the Cold War coincided with the ultimate end of the World War II.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Life of Reason, George Santayana 1905