Easter Lemming Liberal News

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I can't believe it, NSA Head Hadley is worse than Condi Rice

Writes a memo dissing the Iraqi PM and has no clue about Iraq. Did al-Maliki blow off Bush because of the Hadley memo or because he just lost his governing majority for preparing to meet with him?

More interesting times bad dreams:

I had a dream last night. While Cheney was visiting the House of Saud he suffered a stroke and went into a coma. As an aide was rushing up to tell Bush in Jordan someone in al-Maliki's party blew them all up.

Hello President Hastert.

Who would be approved as VP? McCain? Lieberman? Frist? Allen? Gingrich?

We live in interesting times, as the Chinese say.



RIAA and US force Russia to stop cheap music downloads
Allofmp3.com has denied charges of piracy by pointing out that the company is compliant with Russian copyright law. It says it is careful to pay royalties to artists via the Russian Multimedia and Internet Society, which claims to represent copyright holders.

Russia has agreed to shut down Allofmp3.com and other music sites based in that country that the U.S. government says are offering downloads illegally.

The nation has struck the agreement with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as it seeks entry to the World Trade Organization. The U.S. has suggested [threatened] that it would hold up Russia's acceptance in the WTO unless leaders there took action against digital piracy.
I downloaded my last Tenacious D The Pick of Destiny - "The Government Totally Sucks" for about 9 cents.

Now, I have $0.0525 left in my account which should be enough for a relatively low quality version of Neil Diamond's Cherry, Cherry but for some reason it won't let me get below 7 cents for that song. Is there some kind of conversion cost with a one song order?

OK, continued searching brought me to "How to handle a disaster" from the Broadway play "How to succeed in business without really trying." That will cost me 4 to 5 cents depending on format and quality - CD quality for a nickel. One megabit - five cents OK. I'll let them fight over the unused quarter cent I'll leave them with Putin and the RIAA.

I could have gotten instead The Pirate Dance from the same play for a nickel but only under Microsoft's lowest 50% quality WMA format. What a bunch of pirates - no way.

Maybe I should have been looking for the Beatles or the Beach Boys instead for my last Russian download. If you could get only two more downloads what would you pick? What should I be looking for now for totally free downloads instead?

AllofMP3.com was a high-quality excellent site I highly recommended.



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More on the lying fantasies of right-wing bloggers and pundits


One - anti-union attacks on Pelosi misfire. As an employer you are forbidden to encourage your workers to unionize and her vineyards pays better wages than union ones.

Two - AP accused by right-wing bloggers of making up a story on six Sunni worshippers being set on fire by Shiite militia. "AP wants terrorists to win" accusations thrown by some of the biggest and supposed most respected right-wing blogs. AP goes back and reconfirms the story. Should Powerline and Michelle Malkin commit harikari over their loss of face? Of course not, they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Then the Prager story and the Imam story and all the other Nancy Pelosi stories. I thought when they lost it might snap some sense into them, not make them more hysterical.

When will their hysterical fantasies be over? It looks like not any time soon as former Science Fiction great and now Right-Wing political hack Orson Scott Card releases a novel for a multi-media franchise on the Red-State / Blue-State Civil War. The liberal elite from universities in Blue States kill the Prez and VP and stage a coup with the help of Arab terrorists while gallant Christian men and their DINO wives struggle to keep the nation from falling apart or coming under the dominion of the scientifically advanced secular fiends. Beyond satire, beyond irony, almost beyond belief, but not beyond shameless hypocrisy. The dialogue is hysterically funny - think right-wing blog talk and Ralph Peters and Sgt. Fury - Agent of Shield. Despite all this, OSC knows how to tell a story based on the excerpt.

Speaking of irony, Robert sent me this from the NYT:
"Among the concerns voiced in the memo was that Mr. Maliki was surrounded by a small group of advisers from the Shiite Dawa Party, a narrow circle that American officials worry may skew the information he receives."
***
thank god our own executive branch doesn't suffer from that problem!



Dennis Prager - Bigoted Ignorant Tool

Dennis Prager shows he knows nothing of the Constitution or history when he writes a Muslim must take the oath of office on a Bible. I'll let Carpetbagger speak for me:
Prager's commentary is wrong, sloppy, dishonest, bigoted, and embarrassing. And yet, some right-wing groups, including the Eagle Forum, were so impressed with it, they sent it to their membership via email yesterday.
Of course, Stop the ACLU doesn't know its history or the Constitution either while disagreeing mildly with Prager.

Nearly all of the right-wing bloggers also went hysterical on this story of the 6 Imams removed from a plane. Note that it is from the right propaganda paper the Washington (Moonie) Times. It has no statements from anyone on the record and is all wild hysteria and speculation. That was perfect for the xenophobe bigot blogs.

The truth is the Imams were religious leaders. They prayed as their religion requires them to do. Hysterical passengers overreacted. The Imams went to their preassigned seats on their tickets. They asked one passenger if they could switch seats because one of the Imams was blind. Two of the Imams were fat so they asked for seat belt extenders which the steward agreed and gave them. During the long, long wait the head Imam went to talk to the others. After their release from being hand-cuffed and after over five hours of interrogation, US Airways denied them passage on any of its other flights and refused to help them obtain tickets through another airline. Amy Goodman had the real story.

I hope they sue US Airways for a few million.

Bigoted, ignorant scared-to-death fools - the Republican Party base now. Bigoted, ignorant tools - the Republican Party spokesmen now. Stupid airlines going bankrupt - the price for ignorance and hysteria now.




So how is that booming Texas economy?


Jim forwarded me this from a friend:
Yesterday I got real bitchy, because TXU, the fascist regime that they are, turned off my electricity again. I had mailed the check, but because of the holiday they didn't get it in time. So a couple of hundred phone calls later, I got it turned back on, with all the fees and whatnot added in. Plus the fee to cancel the check that I had mailed. Whatever. It still upset me and made me stressed out.

But what hit me later was the fact that I was stressing harder than I needed to because of my little house guest. Ashley, sweet, sweet, dear Ashley, Ravenne's best buddy in the whole world, is staying with me this week. Her father and her two brothers are staying at a hotel. In the last six months that man has had to endure more than most people do in a lifetime.

Edward is a nice man, a good father, a single father, to two rambunctious boys and Ashley. He had a good job working for the school district and had just bought a house and a used mini van. One day he collapsed after having suffered from migraines for a few weeks. His children called 911, and he was rushed to the hospital with a near fatal case of spinal meningitis. He was in a coma for 3 days and in the hospital for about a month. During that time, he lost his job. Then he lost the car. And then the house. They had to move into a really rough apartment complex that he could barely afford, and he started working nights at the grocery store, leaving his 3 kids alone overnight. But his strength wasn't back yet and between walking to and from work and the overnight job, he couldn't manage, and quickly lost that job. Then he went to work as a manager at Jack in a Box. But they couldn't work around his having to walk his kids to school, so he lost that as well.

Now the crappy apartment complex that they were living in was just bought by another company and they have decided to raise the rent in the middle of every one's leases and if you can't afford it, then they are evicting everyone. Right now, as I said, Ashley is staying with me, her dad is unemployed and not able to get a job because he is too busy walking over 20 miles a day to get her brothers to school and to meet with charity organizations to try and find some help for their family. I have done as much as I can, but he doesn't like asking for help, so I never know if I'm doing enough.

All I'm saying is that with the holidays coming up, and Ashleys birthday in about 2 weeks, this guy has got to be losing it. But he's cheerful, tries to stay positive and is fighting for his children with an amazing tireless strength. I gave him a ride today, and he apologised the entire time. I told him that there have been times when I was in a bad way, and if I didn't have my family, my friends, people that stepped up and helped me, then I wouldn't have made it. And I know those people would want me to help someone else if I could.

So my little day of a few hours with no electricity seems rather silly now. It's back on, I still have a roof over my head, and my kids still have a home. Not such a big deal really when you think about it.
I'll add to that story two more anecdotes. I just returned from getting a part-time job at a community college for $7.40 an hour, the only "benefit" is you are in their retirement annuity system instead of Social Security. Unless you are an upper income employee and stay a long time this is actually a "disability" instead of a "benefit."

Pat is also applying for temporary Christmas job at $7.50 an hour tomorrow - "We will work you 12 to 16 hours a day for 10 days with no overtime."

Once many people get a good job with benefits they start voting Republican because of the one constant Republican promise - we won't tax you as much. They overlook that the richer friends of Republicans are getting better deals and they don't care what government services and regulations are cut. The best a good Democrat can say is that if you are an average citizen your taxes may go down because we will make sure everyone pays their fair share of taxes and we will attempt to help the less fortunate and prevent the most blatant unfair labor and health practices. Some DINOs won't promise that much. Who you vote for, how you vote, affects a lot of people.




New Senator wanted to slug Bush already

Expect to see the first Democratic member of Congress who actually slugs W to jump to the lead in Democratic presidential polls.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.





Perry's Unethical Texas Ethics Panel

The stupid cronies of Perry's have refused to see reason and continue to say gifts to candidates or public officials need no real description. "Check" is good no matter the amount. "A wheelbarrow" is sufficient rather it is empty or gold plated or filled with a few million in cut diamonds. "Currency" or "cash" can be used for all cash contributions.
The 5-3 decision outraged watchdog groups and some officials who unabashedly accused the commission of failing to enforce state campaign finance laws.

"What the Ethics Commission has done is legalize bribery in the state of Texas. We call on the commission to resign en masse," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, who heads Texas Citizen, an Austin-based group that advocates for campaign finance reform.



Charles Stross - A dirty killing and a clear warning

Whoever killed Putin critic Litvinenko in London demonstrated they have access to current restricted nuclear materials. If they wanted to that could have been a dirty bomb in London. One particle 1/100th the size of a period on this page will kill if inhaled. The suspects are Putin or a rogue intelligence operation in Russia. Litvinenko is a former Russian intelligence agent who has been telling of Russia's nasty dirty tricks and other nasty things involving the increasingly dictatorial Vladimir Putin.

Bush might need to go back to Moscow and relook Putin in the eye to recheck his soul.




Cheney didn't plan to consult with the House of Saud


They summoned him. Buried in the Washington Post article about the chaotic breakdown and no plans for Iraq you learn the real President was summoned by the real masters.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

UPDATE - Peace Sign in Christmas Display - Satanic or Anti-Bush?

A story about a stupid homeowner's association and it's freaky President. After recieving some complaints about a home that had put up a Christmas display that included a wreath in the shape of a peace symbol the President of the home owners association referred it to the control committee. After the committee saw nothing wrong with the display he fired all five members and sent the resident a cease and desist order and threatens a $25 a day fine. Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs is a real character - also calling the peace symbol a sign of Satan. Bob Kearns also said Wednesday that he had required another resident to remove peace symbols a week before, and that property owner complied.

"I just wanted to put a message of peace out there," said Lisa Jensen, who hung the wreath Nov. 19. She said Wednesday she didn't intend the wreath as a statement against the Iraq war.

"I was really trying to be in favor of something - peace," Jensen said.
More here - which also indicates the board is not enforcing the restriction they have cited in numerous other instances.

UPDATE: The President of the homeowner's association surenders to peace. Peace wreath can stay. Spreading bad publicity forced him to get an unlisted number. Offers poured in to Lisa Jensen to pay the fines. Kearns and two board members who supported him resign. Residents in town held a march and stamped out a giant peace symbol in the snow in the soccer field.




OnlinePhoneBanking.com for Ciro Rodriguez (TX-23):: Contact Collaborate Unite

You can support Texas Democrats from where you are right now.

Just pick up the phone and try it out.



Houston Chronicle Runs Anti-Union Lobbyist Letter to the Editor


Rick Berman is a nasty man and a liar. He was a corporate lawyer for large corporations until he found he could make a great living setting up front groups to be nasty for companies and lie for them. Those that paid his million dollar fees.

One of the companies that paid him was Uniroyal, the company that produced Alar(tm), a pesticide used on apples. It was generating a lot of bad PR because scientists said it caused cancer. Through one of his front groups, then the Guest Choice Network (currently the Center for Consumer Freedom), Berman published a newsletter that minimized the risks of Alar to children. In the newsletter it stated, "According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one would have to eat 50,000 pounds of apples a day over a lifetime to contract cancer from Alar." EPA spokeswoman Denise Kearns responded: "To my knowledge, EPA never issued that kind of statement." Later Berman was forced to admit that the source of his information was Uniroyal and not the EPA. Alar was later banned due to cancer risks as scientists warned. Information from SourceWatch and more here and here.

Recently he started a new group to go after unions. He won't reveal who is funded this "Center For Union Facts" though Wal-Mart or people connected to it are suspected. It may include very rich conservatives that hate unions and the support they give to regular workers and progressive causes. It may include some anti-union restaurant groups. Wal-Mart has admitted to a close relationship with the group but denies the company is funding it. Wal-Mart is not required to reveal its financial support. The recent activities of CFUF have been general union bashing though advertisements and PR work. The ads resemble the worst of bad political campaign smears but I already said that Berman and his groups are nasty and liars.

Bret Jacobson, senior research analyst at the Center for Union Facts and one of their few employees, has been functioning as a PR spokesperson. He told Cybercast News Service he viewed a new alliance between the United Steel Workers and the Sierra Club as a sign of desperation for both groups. He also took the occasion to repeatedly bash the USW to the extreme conservative news group and its readers.

Upon the settlement of the Houston janitor's strike the Houston Chronicle printed a Letter to the Editor from Bret Jacobson. The letter was a generalized smear of the SEIU and the settlement it won for the workers and revealed little knowledge of the facts. The strike only last a few weeks and the members were not required to strike if it created hardships. Despite this Jacobson, or his boss, claims that "it will take a long time for the 1,700 striking janitors to earn enough in their slightly higher salaries to make up for missing weeks worth of pay." A quick calculation reveals that workers who struck will win back all the lost wages in a very few months while the wages go up for three years with annual large percentage increases and the settlement also includes many other benefits. Many of the workers were only working 4 hours a night for $5.15 an hour. The additional hours and the wage increase mean that janitors who make $5.15 an hour will see their income more than double by the end of 2008.

I am surprised that the Houston Chronicle accept a non-local letter from a professional paid to write lies and nasty smears. Do you think the Chronicle should be told that is outrageous?




Introduction to a Real Centrist Agenda
Wage Standards and Workplace Freedom
Balancing Work and Family
Health Care for All
Smart Growth and Clean Jobs
Tax and Budget Reform
Clean and Fair Elections

One small demographic, what Pew calls "Enterprisers" who make up just 9% of the population, are the ONLY group whose members generally oppose raising the minimum wage, the ONLY group which opposes guaranteed health care, the ONLY group that thinks outsourcing is good for the economy, and the ONLY group whose members generally think environmental regulations are not worth the costs.

What is startling is that this last small voting group, just 9% of the population, in combination with the corporate-backed rightwing apparatus, has been the tail wagging not only national and state politics but driving many policies with which even the majority of the Republican base disagrees.



Abraham Lincoln - Unitarian, Universalist, Deist, or Atheist?


A pretty comprehensive look at the religious beliefs of Abraham Lincoln and the early controversy when Christians tried to claim him as one of theirs after his death. After their first attempt in a hasty biography by a Dr. Holland was shot down by the more comprehensive biography by his friend Colonel Ward H. Lamon, a second attempt was made by a Presbyterian minister in Springfield who claimed his predecessor Rev. Dr. James Smith had converted the adult Lincoln, a very vocal atheist in his youth. The evidence seems clear that Mrs. Lincoln joined the church and Lincoln was presented with a book by Dr. Smith attempted to sway the unchurched but that Lincoln never joined the church.

Another long letter from Lincoln's close friend William Herndon goes on extensively about his lack of orthodoxy.

As a politician, Lincoln had learned to express his faith in God or Providence while avoiding expressing his lack of belief in the veracity of the Bible and the divinity of Christ. This is similar to the experience of the Deist Thomas Jefferson which the more ignorant and credulous of Christians have also claimed as one of their own. As with Jefferson and Thomas Paine, Lincoln had produced a small book of his religious beliefs and lack thereof but a friend of Lincoln's tossed the book into a fireplace for fear it might damage his political career. Jefferson's redacted New Testament with all the miracles and "superstitions" taken out was not published until after Jefferson's death while Thomas Paine's religious books harmed his later reputation in the United States.

The friend who was instrumental in getting Lincoln the Republican nomination for president gave Lincoln a complete set of the works of the Unitarian Dr. W. E. Channing as well as the writings of Theodore Parker. Afterwards he had discussions with Lincoln and thought Lincoln had a religious viewpoint similar to that of Parker - author of the sermon The Permanent and Transient in Christianity which argues against the veracity of the Bible. Another Parker belief:
"Manly natural religion -- it is not joining the Church; it is not to believe in a creed, Hebrew, Protestant, Catholic, Trinitarian, Unitarian, Nothingarian. It is not to keep Sunday idle; to attend meetings; to be wet with water; to read the Bible; to offer prayers in words; to take bread and wine in the meeting house; love a scape-goat Jesus, or any other theological clap-trap."
Jesse W. Fell wrote:
"On the innate depravity of man, the character and office of the great head of the Church, the Atonement, the infallibility of the written revelation, the performance of miracles, the nature and design of present and future rewards and punishments (as they are popularly called) and many other subjects, he held opinions utterly at variance with what are usually taught in the Church. I should say that his expressed views on these and kindred subjects were such as, in the estimation of most believers, would place him entirely outside the Christian pale. Yet to my mind, such was not the true position, since his principles and practices and the spirit of his whole life were of the very kind we universally agree to call Christian; and I think this conclusion is in no wise affected by the circumstance that he never attached himself to any religious society whatever.
Another close friend of Lincoln's, Bishop Matthew Simpson of the Methodist Church in Washington, is often given as another source for the"Christianity" of Lincoln but his actual words on the subject say "as to his religious experience I cannot speak definitely, because I was not privileged to know much of his private sentiments" and then shows his character and actions as examples of the highest Christian virtues. Like many Christian ministers he fails to make clear to his audience that Christian virtues can be found among the non-Christians. Many infidels, including Thomas Paine, Robert Ingersoll, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, have admired some of Christ's teachings, but none of them believed in his divinity or supernatural character.

The case for Lincoln's Universalist beliefs can be summarized by Lincoln's Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who recalled the following story often told by Lincoln to illustrate his disdain for the doctrine of eternal punishment:
"I recall President Lincoln's story of the intrusion of the Universalists into the town of Springfield.

"The several orthodox Churches agreed that their pastors should preach down the heresy. One of them began his discourse with these emphatic words: 'My brethren, there is a dangerous doctrine creeping in among us. There are those who are teaching that all men will be saved; but, my dear brethren, we hope for better things." (Travels Around the World, p. 545.)
In the Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 336-337, it is related that Mr. Lincoln gave a Universalist minister an appointment as chaplain, notwithstanding that a delegation of the orthodox waited upon him to protest against the appointment.
Regarding eternal punishment, he said: "If God be a just God, all will be saved or none." (Manford's Magazine.) In this connection he was fond of repeating the epitaph on the Kickapoo Indian, Johnnie Kongapod:
"Here lies poor Johnnie Kongapod;
Have mercy on him, gracious God,
As he would do if he were God
And you were Johnnie Kongapod."

"Abraham Lincoln's belief was clear and fixed so far as it went, but he rejected important dogmas which are essential to salvation by some of the evangelical denominations. 'Whenever any Church will inscribe over its altar as a qualification for membership the Saviour's statement of the substance of the law and the gospel, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself," that Church will I join with all my heart and soul.'" (Abraham Lincoln, p. 375.)

A little more history in closing:
In 1864, Lincoln issued a fervent Thanksgiving Proclamation. Of this, Judge Nelson says: "I once asked him about his fervent Thanksgiving Message and twitted him with being an unbeliever in what was published. 'Oh,' said he, 'that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.'"

The Opinions of Independent Investigators. The New York World (about 1875), in summing up the facts concerning Lincoln's religious beliefs, said:
"While it may be fairly said that Mr. Lincoln entertained many Christian sentiments, it cannot be said that he was himself a Christian in faith or practice. He was no disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. He did not believe in his divinity and was not a member of his Church.

"He was at first a writing Infidel of the school of Paine and Volney, and afterwards a talking Infidel of the school of Parker and Channing."
The World then refers to Lincoln's friendly attitude toward the Churches during the war:
"If the Churches had grown cold -- if the Christians had taken a stand aloof -- that instant the Union would have perished. Mr. Lincoln regulated his religious manifestations accordingly. He declared frequently that he would do anything to save the Union, and among the many things he did was the partial concealment of his individual religious opinions. Is this a blot upon his fame? Or shall we all agree that it was a conscientious and patriotic sacrifice?"
As evidence of Lincoln's piety, we are often referred to the picture of himself and his family in a reverential group. Lincoln has a Bible before him, and his son Tad is at his side. The Boston Globe said:
"The pretty little story about the picture of President Lincoln and his son Tad reading the Bible is now corrected for the one-hundredth time. The Bible was Photographer Brady's picture album, which the President was examining with his son while some ladies stood by. The artist begged the President to remain quiet, and the picture was taken. The truth is better than fiction, even if its recital conflicts with a pleasing theory."
Manford's Magazine (January, 1869), a religious periodical, published in Chicago, made the following comment:
"That Mr. Lincoln was a believer in the Christian religion, as understood by the so-called orthodox sects of the day, I am compelled most emphatically to deny; that is, if I put faith in the statements of his most intimate friends in this city (Springfield). All of them with whom I have conversed on this subject agree in endorsing the statement of Mr. Herndon. Indeed, many of them unreservedly call him an Infidel."
The Herald and Review, a Seventh Day Adventist journal, said, in 1890:
"The testimony seems conclusive.... The majority of the great men of the world have always rejected Christ, and, according to the Scriptures, always will; and the efforts of Christians to make it appear that certain great men who never professed Christianity were in reality Christians, is simply saying that Christianity cannot stand on its own merits, but must have the support of great names to entitle it to favorable consideration."
Several other ministers seem to have taken it upon themselves to describe their conversions of Lincoln many years after the supposed events of which no evidence exists and which contradict many other sources and the other conversion stories. Probably the less said about these Christian embarrassments the better.

The Rev. John W. Chadwick, the well-known Unitarian minister, of Brooklyn, N.Y., in an address delivered in Tremont Temple, Boston, in 1872, upon a proposed "Christian Amendment" to the Constitution, recognizing the Bible, God, and making Christianity the state religion, said:
"Of the six men who have done most to make America the wonder and the joy she is to all of us, not one could be the citizen of a government so constituted; for Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, certainly the mightiest leaders in our early history, were heretics in their day, Deists, as men called them; and Garrison, Lincoln and Sumner, certainly the mightiest in these later times, would all be disfranchised by the proposed amendment... Lincoln could not have taken the oath of office had such a clause been in the Constitution."
During February, 1892, the Chicago Herald published an editorial on Lincoln's religion. The most important points:
"He was without faith in the Bible or its teachings. On this point the testimony is so overwhelming that there is no basis for doubt. In his early life Lincoln exhibited a powerful tendency to aggressive Infidelity. But when he grew to be a politician he became secretive and non-committal in his religious belief. He was shrewd enough to realize the necessity of reticence with the convictions he possessed if he hoped to succeed in politics."

"So it must be accepted as final by every reasonable mind that in religion Mr. Lincoln was a skeptic. But above all things he was not a hypocrite or pretender. He was a plain man, rugged and earnest, and he pretended to be nothing more. He believed in humanity, and he was incapable of Phariseeism. He had great respect for the feelings and convictions of others, but he was not a sniveler. He was honest and he was sincere, and taking him simply for what he was, we are not likely soon to see his like again."

Had Abraham Lincoln died as an obscure Springfield lawyer and politician; had he advanced no further in political preferment than his one term in Congress, nothing would have ever been said about his being a believer in orthodox religion. But when a man becomes prominent, and reaches the highest place in the gift of the nation, and in addition becomes a hero and a martyr, he is idealized. His virtues are exaggerated and his faults extenuated. Regardless of his real religious views, the ministers laud him as an orthodox believer and shining exemplar of Christianity. In time this passes as history, unless it is vigorously contradicted. If a man is a good man, they hold that he must have been a Christian. They likewise say that no bad man can possibly be one.
Maybe some other time I will post some arguments on the possibility that Lincoln was the first bisexual President and the second gay or on the heresies of George Washington.



Monday, November 27, 2006


Kevin Drum: If you love warhawks you'll love McCain

More intelligent than Bush, a bigger political flip-flopper, just as non-conservative about the size of government and the power of the executive branch, and the most hawkish member of the Senate.




War Plan Green - Prelude to Iraq 80 years ago


Floyd Rudmin: Secret War Plans and the Malady of American Militarism. From 1919 through 1939 high level war plans were drawn up for America's next wars against her natural targets - the British Commonwealth and Mexico. War Plan Green, the Mexican War, is a blueprint for the Iraq War and occupation.
In both plans, the goal is to seize control of another nation's oil.

In both plans, there is a priority on protecting the oil production facilities from damage by the defending national forces.

In both plans, economic sanctions and blockade will weaken the nation prior to the U.S. invasion.

In both plans, Congressional authorization for war can be circumvented by presidential command and by twisting of words.

In both plans, propaganda will claim that the invasion is benevolent, intended to free the population from a bad government.

In both plans, the war is seen to be quick and easy to win, against a weakened national army defending an overly centralized government in the national capital.

In both plans, there is contempt for the military abilities and valor of the defending national forces.

In both plans, the U.S.A. imagines that it can make a new government in the conquered country that will serve U.S. interests.

In both plans, a national militia army will be hired in order to cheaply save American soldiers from being bogged down in a protracted guerrilla war.

In both plans, the conquered nation will pay the costs of this national militia.
The Red Plan against Canada and the United Kingdom was the most detailed and most advanced with three secret air bases constructed for a pre-emptive gas attack on Canada.

Why were these plans so advanced? Why was there no War Plan Black against Germany? Because American optional wars are fought for business strategic interests and no one wanted anything Germany had. The argument that these are simple contingency plans every War Department has ignores the Cabinet and higher level involvement these plans received and the construction of secret bases.

These detailed plans, now available from the Government Printing Office, unless Cheney has classified them again, also form the basis of a planned new movie documentary - Our War Against Canada. Director and writer Alex Cox:
"The war plans were to cripple potential economic rivals and to seize the natural resources of Mexico and Canada. Germany was viewed entirely as an ally by the US military, and thus, one assumes, by the American oligarchy: the Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Duponts - not to mention a very minor US oligarch named Prescott Bush, whose firms had extensive dealings with the Nazis, even after America had entered the war. The moral here is that a nation as powerful as the United States didn't - and doesn't - need allies. It has vassal states, instead. Step forward my own dear Britain!"



The Hero of Houston's Janitor Negotiations


Mother Jones: Why Ercilia Sandoval Took Her Wig Off.

A video of Ercilia Sandoval is here.

She felt sick for nearly a year before she was able to save the $200 for a good exam. After that it took 60 days to be enrolled in Harris County's health program for the poor - which is not a very good program. Very long lines and a huge amount of time spent anytime you need to see anyone and you must go through all the paperwork again every six months and often several steps to see a doctor.

Now taxpayers of Harris County, including those online thugs who laughed at the poor ignorant Mexican's demanding better conditions, are paying for her chemotherapy. She might soon get on Social Security disabilty which takes longer and leaves federal tax payers with her health bills.

The new contract that she had a part in winning provides affordable health insurance for Houston's janitors among other normal benefits. The companies pay and the not the taxpayers. We can debate another time rather it would be better for jobs and better all around if companies didn't provide health insurance because that was a government function like in all other civilized countries. For now, Ercilia Sandoval won and she is getting treatment.





Republicans Raising the White Flag on Taxes

Conservative Republican and Miser Ben Stein - "Rich Don't Pay Enough in Taxes." I would say we are in Bazarro World now but from the details it sounds like he had Warren Buffett finally explain to him he wasn't one of the really rich the tax system now favors.




Its Over - GOP hauling out white flags
"The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose." - Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel



China financing Iraq War's hidden costs for Bush

“This is a war that is being fought by poor people while the rest of the country drives round in its SUVs barely noticing it is happening.”




Recommended


Movie: Bobby -- A good look at the late 60's from the fictional stories of those who ended up being near Robert F. Kennedy when he was shot. Pat complained the great speech overlaid at the end was lost to her because she was too busy watching the film. 3 out of 4 stars. I need to find other places to get my film reviews as most American reviewers seem to be idiots now. Probably just choose a few prolific reviewers and learning their biases would be best. Amy Biancolli is pretty good. She may even make me reconsider my distaste for the tasteless Borat.




Houston Press Turkey of the Year - SSG

I saw some imaginative spellings of Shelly Something but not as weird as those Fort Bend accepted. She did get one vote for governor I know about in my precinct. It didn't count as she didn't register for that race.
Having a name like "Shelley Sekula-Gibbs" and deciding to run a write-in campaign is, in a word, genius. It called to mind the immortal jingle sung by The Simpsons' Schwarzenegger character, Rainier Wolfcastle: "Mein bratwurst has a first name, it's F-R-I-T-Z. Mein bratwurst has a second name, it's S-C-H-N-A-C-K-E-N-P-F-E-F-F-E-R-H-A-U-S-E-N."

Sekula-Gibbs took things to a whole other level, however. To produce her radio ads, she apparently had her staff scour the country to see if there were still any singing groups out there in the Mitch Miller/Lawrence Welk mode. They came through with flying colors, resulting in a jaunty little song that sounded like it was first used to sell Burma Shave back in the '40s.

All you had to do to vote for Shelley, the ads energetically explained, was spin a little dial until it reached the proper letter on a computer screen, then hit "enter," then move on to the next letter until you had spelled "Shelley Sekula-Gibbs"!! What could be easier? Remember to pack a lunch, though -- you might be in the voting booth for a while.

J.R. Perez of the Fort Bend County elections office says voters were pretty inventive in spelling Sekula-Gibbs's name. Fort Bend is only one of four counties in District 22, but the list of spellings that were accepted as write-in votes (by a bipartisan panel who ruled on voters' intent) is 28 pages long.

Voters cast their write-in ballots for, among others: Kelly Segula Gibbs, Snelly Gibbr, Schikulla Gibbs, Sheila Gibbs, Shelly Schulla Gibbs, Shelly Gibkula and, by someone who obviously never wanted the joy of using the machine to end, ShelleySkulaGibbsssss.

The name "Sekula" was spelled as Sektula, Sukla, Sequila, Sedoko and Sedoka (by puzzle fans?), Meklua, Sekluda and Shecola.

One voter couldn't be bothered, just putting in SSG. (It counted.) Another, for some reason, entered Sekula Smith.

Another voter entered "Shelle Sekula Fibbs," which might have been a hidden political message. Not so hidden, but counted as a vote just the same, was "Shelly DraculaCunt Gibs." (We like to imagine the bipartisan discussion on that entry: "Well, they misspelled the first and last name, but that's definitely a Shelley vote.")
I think I will use the write-in spots to leave political commentary for election judges next time.

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Robert Novak turns on Bush
"something deeply wrong with George W. Bush's presidency"
No shit Sherlock. Of course, Novak is only upset about the way the loyal soldier Rumsfeld was fired.



601,027 additional dead Iraqis since invasion


This is the study the right has screamed about but has not found any scientist to challenge its validity.

"Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey” was written by Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy and Les Roberts.

Funding for the study was provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Johns Hopkins Center for Refugee and Disaster Response.

The critics have no case except that "it seems too high." The only respectable critic, no expert in statistics but instead of military forces - Antony Cordesman, just dismissed it without examination as "politics.' Another article by him was dismissive because it did not agree with other available figures - in an otherwise interesting article not reported in the media in which he concluded Iraq is now undergoing a civil war - PDF. Cordesman has been actively involved in seeking a solution, the almost good, the bad, and the ugly, for Iraq - PDF. Two weeks ago he was quoted in the Washington Post stating Iraq was in a civil war in an article that still used the headline "sectarian strife."

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LAT stops the Iraq semantics game
BAGHDAD — Iraq's civil war worsened Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed more than 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before. A main Shiite political faction threatened to quit the government, a move that probably would cause its collapse and plunge the nation deeper into disarray.
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The Left Won Big and IS taking Back the US and the planet

Some cheerleading from Rob Kall:
Watch your local daily newspaper-- probably owned by a wealthy REpug family or part of a megacorporate syndicate-- start spewing the same garbage-- that local Democrats won by acting like Republicans, so that really, it was a win for conservatism.

But don't buy it, and don't put up with it. Call them on it. Send letters to the editor, call in to complain. Let them know you know. And keep the positive talk up between your local grassroots networks.

The Left won massively. The effects of the wins are barely beginning to be felt yet. They will be magnified like an explosion, come 2007. It will not be a totally smooth road. Some Dems will need to have their feet held to the fire. That should happen fast and tough. Dems who sell out Populist, progressive values and issues should get clear messages that they're on probation.
After writing this he then went fishing.

His OpEd News depends on contributions to survive and has an email newsletter to keep you informed.

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Very Rich Are Leaving the Merely Rich Behind

This is another in a series of articles and editorials complaining about the very well off making out like bandits compared to the next step down. I first spotted these pieces about the same time The New York Times turned away from its fawning Bush support. You can't say NYT editors and reporters are dumb - once they convincingly showed that they as the upper-class were not getting the real bennies from their support they thought they would they reacted like a lover scorned. This article's tone is less resentful then some of the others and does not focus on tax policies.

As my brother says, what has been totally missing from these reports of "the haves" and "the have much mores" are what is happening to the "have nots." That is not the Times marketing demographic.

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Election '06: Lessons learned by dissecting votes - USATODAY.com

USAToday: Independents and moderates rejected Republicans campaigning on appealing to their base.

Minorities turned even more against the GOP.

The Northeast is now more solidly Democratic than the South is solidly Republican.

Populism wins for Democrats.

Nation still pretty evenly divided.

GOP lost inner suburbs
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Sunday, November 26, 2006

FEAR! and conservative principles


I read a lot of idiots to get a well-rounded view of what is happening. Some of the more idiotic are Michelle Malkin and some of her dittohead followers. Her latest crusade gives her more chances to smear Ruth Ginsberg, The New York Times, Islam, and those who don't support our supposedly great war against the barbaric Arab horde. As her followers themselves admit, they are close to foaming at the mouth about The New York Times. When they actually start foaming can we have them put down?

The government is trying to expand its power to track down leakers by acquiring the right to get phone records of reporters. The judicial vehicle in this case is an investigation into who leaked info about what actions the federal government was going to take against Islamic charities in the United States.

“If the government is permitted to proceed to scrutinize the telephone records of The New York Times and its journalists it will be in a position to identify literally scores of confidential sources, thus imperiling both the ability of the press to gather the news and of the public to learn it.” - Floyd Abrams, a lawyer for The Times.

Michelle Malkin and her backstage husband, "I can't be a racist because I'm a minority" are fanning the anti-New York Times and the anti-Islam flames on this case by attempting to make this a national security issue in a time of war. For more on the unhinged unhonest Michelle Malkin see the Orcinus 6-part series.

This is the usual hyperbole from the usual shortsighted right-wing nuts. If there was a liberal President in power they would be fighting tooth and nail to keep this subpoena power out of her hands. This is such a great idea - letting those in power get the phone records of critical reporters. NOT.

9/11 and the continued FEAR! campaigns of this administration and the former Republican majority, aided and abetted by the So-Called Liberal Media and fanned by the Right-Wing Noise Machine have recreated the conservative paranoia of the 60's with the hysterical foaming at the mouth supposed patriots.

Conservatives at one time were against big powerful government, wanted to limit executive and judicial power. I think this just shows what a continued campaign of FEAR! does.

This has been a liberal rant, you may now return to our unbiased news coverage. This has also been an example of the type of ad hominem attacks the conservative sites dish out daily. Did you think that except for parody I would really advocate even these misguided souls be put down as mad dogs?

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Bush nominee to head family planning considers "contraception demeaning to women"

Continuing a pattern of finding the most unqualified people for his appointments, Bush may have outdone himself.
Keroack is a Massachusetts gynecologist opposed to abortion, family planning, and, apparently, the scientific method in general. He is the medical director for a string of crisis-pregnancy clinics that actively discourage abortion and consider birth control "demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." His other qualifications to oversee 4,600 family-planning clinics include a study he co-authored claiming that sex with multiple partners makes it difficult to form relationships later in life. Other scientists have accused him of twisting their research and practicing pseudoscience to fit his personal beliefs.

Bush, who has also felt free to twist data and science to suit his desires, probably sympathizes with Keroack's efforts. But health advocates and congressional Democrats are livid. Last week, 14 senators signed a letter decrying Keroack's appointment and urging Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to withdraw it. Twenty-five scientific and family-planning organizations followed with their own letter.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Who killed the Kennedy's?


A BBC report show three top CIA agents in Robert Kennedy's hotel the night he was killed.
Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA's Miami base for its Secret War on Castro.

David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends:

"I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard."

Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations.
JFK killing: A conspiracy involving the Mob. Left out of this article is the close association the CIA in Florida developed with the Mafia who were interested in overthrowing Castro and getting their Cuban operations back.

First link from Janette
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The Wreckage of Modern Day American Conservatism

The former director and trustee of the National Review is now free to speak of the intellectual impoverishment of the conservative movement. He likens the modern day conservative leaders to Ingsoc, the totalitarian groupthink government in 1984.
Whatever its past accomplishments, the conservative movement no longer kindles any “ironic points of light.” It has produced fewer outstanding books even as it has taken over more of the intellectual and political landscape. This trend will only continue. Worse, no reckoning will be made: they hope in vain who expect conservatives to take responsibility for the actual consequences of their actions. Conservatives have no use for the ethic of responsibility; they seek only to “see to it that the flame of pure intention is not quelched.” The movement remains a fine place to make a career, but for wisdom one must look elsewhere.
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Friday, November 24, 2006

Iraq - Chaos and Civil War

After Republicans telling us for weeks the upsurge in violence was only a ploy to influence the American elections, in the last several days Iraq violence has spiraled out of control.
233 Dead in Civil War Carnage
Health Ministry Besieged
3,000 Widows Created Each Month


The footage from Sadr City on Aljazeera looked like the seventh level of hell, with vehicles burning, the air thick with smoke, and mortar shells and small arms fire boiling in the background.
The Prime Minister of Iraq's largest coalition partner has threaten to withdraw support if he meets with Bush next week.

I believe that Cheney may have accidentally been right five months ago when he said the Iraq War was "in it's last throes." What are the odds now that we will have to start evacuating the Green Zone from the roofs of buildings?

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Why I hate, rather than dislike, the Bush movement

Glenn Greenwald speaks for a lot of us. He also addresses why liberals, who started out as fans of the media, are so disgusted with them as well.



Science Breakthrough and Moral Pop Quiz?


Looks like a major breakthrough in human genetics. Normally people carry two copies of genes. This breakthrough finds that people carry multiple copies of over 10% of their genes. The number of copies varies between people and may account for more variation in humans. People can also carry only a single copy of a gene. An example of variation is how likely a body is able to fight off an infection which may vary by the number of copies of a gene.

This new scientific knowledge was partially funded by the American taxpayer through supporting science like the Human Genome Project. This is the type of research that is supported at the Baylor College of Medicine Genome project in Houston and the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Human Genome Project

POP QUIZ TIME: Applying Republican principles to science freeloaders. Should medical breakthroughs be provided to individuals that hinder science or don't believe in the science that makes those breakthroughs possible? You don't believe in evolution - you don't get the new medicines and new treatments. Republicans would counter by saying that if Democrats don't support the obscene profits the drug companies make the drug companies should withhold their medicines from those people. Are these arguments equivalent? Is withholding medicine due to a person's philosophy morally the same as withholding medicine due to a person's lack of financial resources? Use Kohlberg's Stages of moral development in your replies. I am aware of the biased language used in this example. "I'm a blogger Jim, not a miracle worker."




Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fractured Christmas Carol Number One


Lie and Die (tune - Let it snow)

Oh, the neocon's most were Marxists
Their followers now are heartsick.
For they spread their Iraqi War lies
Lie and die, my o my, stay and die.
They're showing no signs of stopping
As our brave soldiers they keep dropping
Chickenhawks in the bye
Lie and die, my o my, stay and die.

They lied us into Iraq
Who knew they were smoking crack?
They don't know how to leave
But Iran's next I believe.
One quagmire's not enough
When you don't have all the right stuff
Their brains are turned way down low
Lie and die, my of my, lets don't go.

When our troops finally do come home
They'll cut their benefits to the bone.
Those who support Bush/Cheney
Somehow lack a wienie.
They really keep on a dissing
While another war they're a wishing
Watch when they cry their next big lie
Lie and die, let them go and die, my oh my.




Janitors in Houston are thankful this Thanksgiving


Settling for small wage increases that may be meaningless when the Democrats raise the minimum wage to above the settlement but getting health care and longer hours was probably good negotiation.

Perry Dorell scolds those who didn't do much and those who called this strike pointless. Brains and Eggs: Corporate greedheads give in; janitors strike ends.

Perry Dorrell also points to the story of how the janitors were treated in Houston jails - like in a third world country just to demoralize the strikers. Houston made visible the class warfare being waged in this country against the poor. But only if you saw any of the stories on the main stream media not filtered through the conservative lens of "those strikers deserved anything that happened to them for inconveniencing my driving."

In another effort to break the strike, bond was set for the peaceful protesters charged with misdemeanors at $888,888 each! Standard bail for street protests is $500. Recent murder suspects in Harris County man had bail set at $30,000. After the settlement, the bonds were reduced by another judge to $1,000.

Blatant mistreatment and harassment in jail was "like a third world country." Guards ignored a severe diabetic woman who had collapsed, continuing with a roll call. Guards kicked the cast of a woman with a fractured arm. First night the temperature was set too hot and one person had seizures. The next night they took away blankets and set the temperature to almost freezing. Guards called the female protesters "whores" and said "This is what you get for protesting." One of them said, ‘Who gives a shit about janitors making 5 dollars an hour? Lots of people make that much."

Someone should talk to the policeman's union about this. Now that they have some rights and better pay they want to kick others who are down?




Biggest Turkey this Thanksgiving?


Robert Kaplan lying about why he advocated going into Iraq. Some people can still remember or find your articles urging the war.

Or the Washington Post's conservative slanted reporter VandeHei turning down a huge raise at the Post to go with a new small circulation DC newspaper/website on Washington and politics. At least they also gave him a huge raise for an iffy venture. I am not the only one seeing overwhelming ego and hubris in this: “I think we’ll show that we’re better than The New York Times or The Washington Post,” Mr. VandeHei said.

Or the New RNC Chairman Martinez condemning Vietnam for holding terrorist suspects without charges while praising Bush for doing the same thing.

Also from Atrios, Lawrence Kaplan making up polls to support his argument. TNR has been wallowing in the mud for years and is now sinking into a quagmire of it's own.

Since I hold the biggest turkey has to show the greatest stupidity and have the biggest ego I am going with VandeHei by a gobble.




I can't be sued for the postings here

As long as I am quoting someone else's words. Technically this only applies in California but it seems to be the developing law in other states.



Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Renowned Scientists Get Together to Bash Religion

Digesting George Johnson at the NYT:
Somewhere along the way, a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., which might have been one more polite dialogue between science and religion, began to resemble the founding convention for a political party built on a single plank: in a world dangerously charged with ideology, science needs to take on an evangelical role, vying with religion as teller of the greatest story ever told

“We should let the success of the religious formula guide us,” Dr. Porco said. “Let’s teach our children from a very young age about the story of the universe and its incredible richness and beauty. It is already so much more glorious and awesome — and even comforting — than anything offered by any scripture or God concept I know.”

By shying away from questioning people’s deeply felt beliefs, even the skeptics, Mr. Harris said, are providing safe harbor for ideas that are at best mistaken and at worst dangerous. “I don’t know how many more engineers and architects need to fly planes into our buildings before we realize that this is not merely a matter of lack of education or economic despair,” he said.

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University known for his staunch opposition to teaching creationism, found himself in the unfamiliar role of playing the moderate. “I think we need to respect people’s philosophical notions unless those notions are wrong,” he said.

By the third day, the arguments had become so heated that Dr. Konner was reminded of “a den of vipers.”

“With a few notable exceptions,” he said, “the viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?”

In the end it was Dr. Tyson’s celebration of discovery that stole the show. Scientists may scoff at people who fall back on explanations involving an intelligent designer, he said, but history shows that “the most brilliant people who ever walked this earth were doing the same thing.” When Isaac Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” failed to account for the stability of the solar system — why the planets tugging at one another’s orbits have not collapsed into the Sun — Newton proposed that propping up the mathematical mobile was “an intelligent and powerful being.”

It was left to Pierre Simon Laplace, a century later, to take the next step. Hautily telling Napoleon that he had no need for the God hypothesis, Laplace extended Newton’s mathematics and opened the way to a purely physical theory.

“What concerns me now is that even if you’re as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops — it just stops,” Dr. Tyson said. “You’re no good anymore for advancing that frontier, waiting for somebody else to come behind you who doesn’t have God on the brain and who says: ‘That’s a really cool problem. I want to solve it.’ ”

“Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance,” he said. “Something fundamental is going on in people’s minds when they confront things they don’t understand.”

He told of a time, more than a millennium ago, when Baghdad reigned as the intellectual center of the world, a history fossilized in the night sky. The names of the constellations are Greek and Roman, Dr. Tyson said, but two-thirds of the stars have Arabic names. The words “algebra” and “algorithm” are Arabic.

But sometime around 1100, a dark age descended. Mathematics became seen as the work of the devil, as Dr. Tyson put it. “Revelation replaced investigation,” he said, and the intellectual foundation collapsed.

He did not have to say so, but the implication was that maybe a century, maybe a millennium from now, the names of new planets, stars and galaxies might be Chinese. Or there may be no one to name them at all.




Jim's Thanksgiving Links


I am too busy for much blogging. Jim has sent these.

The New York Times Class War: The Haves vs. the Have Mores. Where are the Have Nots?

Screw the Soldiers - the VA.

A LA Times article he had is now behind the subscription wall - I am substituting: One of our newly elected anti-war Dems was a neo-con who stovepiped intel to get us into war.

Fall Out Shelter Handbook.

Back to 1890 for our public colleges. Ensuring higher education is not wasted on the wrong class of people.

Gov. Romney - compassionate conservative. Happy Thanksgiving to the disabled.

The taser happy cop who protects LA libraries.





Conservatives latest cry "It's all the damn hippies fault"

Jim sent the link to that editorial. Wow, I'm having a 35 year flashback. Atrios also spotted the Washington Post opinion writer Richard Cohen writing he supported the Iraq war because the damn hippies were against it.


Monday, November 20, 2006

The Next War - Iran


Bush: I'd understand if Israel chose to attack Iran - Ha'aretz, Israel

Bush's Desire for a Conflict With Iran Is A Crisis Made in Israel - Scott Ridder

"We Must Bomb Iran" Force Is the Only Answer; Diplomacy Has Done Nothing to End Tehran's Nuclear Threat - Joshua Muravchik.l He a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute and this is a LA Times OpEd.

"To negotiate successfully in the Middle East, you have to convince the denizens that you have and are willing to use power." - Another AEI paper by another 'scholar' rejecting calls for talking with Iran and Syria.

Add to this Seymour Hersh's Iran: The Next Act I previously linked to and it is clear Bush is determined to act and the propaganda groundwork continues to play out for the next war.

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UPDATE: Bush Lied They Died T-Shirt Now Illegal in Two States

A protest T-shirt with the words Bush Lied They Died and the names of all the soldiers who have died in Iraq is now a free speech issue. Oklahoma and Louisiana recently passed laws intended to outlaw such products. A third bill is pending in the Louisiana legislature with more draconian penalities. Meanwhile, two bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would effectively ban such products in all 50 states.

To my doubting commenter - maybe he would believe Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: You took your anger to the Oklahoma legislature. What happened?

VINCENT: I took my anger to my state representative, and we got together and I directed a deal.

And Oklahoma governor signed the bill, the bill into law of May of this year.

O'REILLY: What does the law say?

VINCENT: And—it's illegal to use the fallen without our permission.

O'REILLY: Illegal to use anyone killed in combat without a family member's permission for profit - profitable gain? Is that it?

VINCENT: Yes, sir, that's right.

O'REILLY: OK. I think Louisiana also has a law like that. It may be unconstitutional, because free speech. We don't know yet. But he operates out of Arizona, this guy. And, as you said, he's selling off the Web site. So you'd have to get him on a federal beef. Unless he came through Oklahoma or Louisiana. Then you could arrest him. Because the law did pass. It is in play?

VINCENT: Yes.

O'REILLY: Are the feds going to do anything about him?

VINCENT: Governor—not Governor Boren—Congressman Boren introduced a law into Washington July 11 of this year. And currently, they are on recess, though we're just waiting to see...
UPDATE 2: Welcome Houston Chronicle readers.

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Global Orgasm for Peace Day - December 22

Make plans now, or at least learn the secret signal.

Can we get people discussing this, instead of bans on a children's book about gay penguin parents?




Draft Bill to be introduced

Do you still support the Iraq war when you (age limit 18 - 42) could be randomly selected?




Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush - washingtonpost.com

Hard to tell apart what the former Bush employees are saying now from what us liberals were saying years ago - "the debacle that was Iraq."



“Make no mistake: President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office”

Rumsfeld resignation and the attack on Iran were both discussed in the weeks leading up to election. Cheney assures officials, don't worry - there is nothing the Democrats can do to stop us. CIA report finds no evidence to justify an attack but is dismissed by neocons. Another breaking Seymour Hersh article.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Election geeks - preparing for next time


The precinct level voting data is available for Harris County. Better have a fast connection. It is not a database but PDF files so you have to do some keyboarding, or importing and converting to use it. My suggestion is to use the Adobe select tool on the data rows you want, save into a text file and import to Excel as space delimited.

Here is an example of what I do with the data. This is Texas House District 144 and shows Talton's percentage of the vote mapped over approximate precinct voting locations. Approximate because I don't have the few hundred dollars needed to update my mapping software and they need to be adjusted anyway for the voting locations with more than one precinct.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
District 144


Note the conservative heart of his support in the white upper-middle-class subdivisions from Spencer to Crenshaw. District 144 days of being in Republican hands are numbered with the changing demographics of Harris County and the Democratic Party rebuilding from the roots.

Here is another mapping of votes project done along Richmond where I used to live. Another election graphic for the same area. Chuck Kuffner, another election geek, has also been crunching the data.

Speaking of election geeks -- for $5 you can pick up a fun little software game as a stocking stuffer. You have been chosen the political manager of a presidential candidate in March after he wins the primaries, now what do you do? Lots of fun with political ads, speeches and dirty tricks - just remember you don't need a majority of votes - hit those battleground states, concentrate on one to three broadly popular issues, set up campaign donor collectors grass roots organizations in the wealthy states to get name recognition for fund raisers later - The Political Machine.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Whiskey Bar: Comrade Webb

Republicans may not recognize the new conservative Democrats.



Segregation Alive and Well in Texas Schools

Dallas school argues for separate but equal classrooms to prevent white flight.

Numerous instances of a principal's policy to have "white only" elementary classrooms in an effort to attract more white students and the conspiracy to cover this up revealed in court. Judge rules not enough evidence was presented that the school district knew what was going on but fines teacher and orders integration.
For years, it was an open secret at North Dallas' Preston Hollow Elementary School: Even though the school was overwhelmingly Hispanic and black, white parents could get their children into all-white classes. And once placed, the students would have little interaction with the rest of the students.

The result, a federal judge has ruled, was that principal Teresa Parker "was, in effect, operating, at taxpayer's expense, a private school for Anglo children within a public school that was predominantly minority."

Judge Sam Lindsay's opinion paints an unflattering picture of the elementary school and a principal who was so desperate to appease the school's affluent white parents that she turned back the clock on school desegregation 50 years.
This happens at a number of schools in Texas. At the end of the article you can see the school district searching for some legal methods to maintain de facto segregation.

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9 Billion-Year-Old ‘Dark Energy’ Reported - New York Times

Another victory for the Cosmological Constant and Dark Energy and Satan

9 Billion-Year-Old ‘Dark Energy’ Reported - New York Times

The dark energy that causes galaxies to fly apart has existed for at least 9 billion years and appears to not change over time. Several theories thought this anti-gravity force could be a changeable value.
Ever since the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, the galaxies and the rest of the universe have been flying apart like a handful of pebbles tossed in the air. Astronomers reasoned that gravity would be slowing the expansion, and the teams were trying to find out by how much and, thus, determine whether all would collapse one day into a “big crunch” or expand forever.

Instead, to their surprise, the two teams, one led by Saul Perlmutter of the University of California, Berkeley, and the other by Brian Schmidt of the Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories in Australia, found that the universe was speeding up instead of slowing down.
Religious conservatives don't believe in the Big Bang so some of the smartest people in the world and the billions of dollars for the Hubble Space Telescope are just tools of the devil.

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Why Murtha Lost

Hoyer's seniority, experience and deep connections and broader mainstream Democratic appeal ended a mild and not divisive fight. When are the DC sages going to be as mature and as astute as the Left blogosphere? Instead we get silly high school nonsense.

UPDATE - Jamison Foser at Media Matters has more on the sophomoric media and so does Digby. More press bashing from liberals added.

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Howard Dean Defends 50-State Strategy, Assails 'Old Democratic Party'
"It was a great win for what I call the new Democratic Party," Dean said in a speech to the Association of State Democratic Chairs. "This is the new Democratic Party. The old Democratic Party is back there in Washington, sometimes they still complain a little bit."

"The people who complain always get the headlines," Dean said, adding there are other high-profile Democrats who support his initiative. "But the fact is that this strategy not only works, it works in states Democrats have given up on for 30 years.

"We cannot give up on anybody."

"We are going to do the 50-state strategy for the next 150 years so we can be the dominant party power in this country again," he said. "You can't be the powerful party in this country who controls the government unless you are willing to let the people control you. And the only way you can do that is ask everybody for their vote, understand everybody is our boss even if they vote for you or not."

The Association of State Democratic Chairs, gathering at this ski resort getaway, adopted a resolution voicing strong support for Dean, who turned 58 on Friday.
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More Laughter


I haven't done this in a while - let's see what Daniel Kurtzman has collected.
"Germany is filing a war crimes lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for allegedly allowing the torture of prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Man, that's when you know you've crossed the line -- when Germans are accusing you of war crimes." --Jay Leno

"President Bush said he is now listening to Democrats in a new way -- without wiretaps." --Jay Leno (Does it work as well if he said "with wiretaps"?)

"Tomorrow President Bush is leaving for Vietnam. I guess this time his father couldn't get him out of it." --David Letterman

“The (2008 presidential) field's already getting crowded with candidates. Everyone knows about Hillary and McCain, but who else has a shot? On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani. Hero. 9/11. Time person of the year. Member of the comb over club. But also a member of the New York, divorced, pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-stem cell research, gay-friendly wing of the Republican Party. I'm sorry, did I say wing? I meant room. Did I say room? I meant corner. Did I say corner? I meant table -- for one." –Jon Stewart

"On Tuesday night, in an ironic turnaround, Iraq brought regime change to the U.S." --Amy Poehler

"President Bush held a news conference where he vowed to work with the new Democratic majority. Which, if true, can only mean one thing -- the Democrats have a nuclear bomb." --Amy Poehler

"Bush had lunch with the new Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. I believe the main course was Rumsfeld's head on a platter." --Jay Leno

"I don't want to say that George Bush is a lame duck, but this morning, Cheney shot him." --Bill Maher

"I understand a political group is now raising money to have John Kerry become the Democratic candidate for president in 2008. Will it happen? I don't know. It depends on how much money the Republicans can raise." --Jay Leno

"Donald Rumsfeld has been let go. Insiders describe Rumsfeld's reaction as shocked and awed. How does that make Rumsfeld feel when George Bush tells you you're not competent enough?" --Jay Leno

"Here in California, the voters overwhelmingly decided they do not want Arnold Schwarzenegger to ever make another movie." --Jay Leno

Dan Rather, providing election an analysis on The Daily Show:
"She ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie." --on Hillary Clinton's Senate victory
"I'd say as ugly as a hog lagoon after a bachelor party." --on the Virginia Senate race
"If you ain't got the yolk, you can't emulsify the Hollandaise." --on why
Rep. Don Sherwood, the Peruvian mistress wife-strangler, didn't win
"I realized pretty early on that I was just a four-dollar gopher in a two-dollar pelt." --on appearing on The Daily Show
"You know what really gets me, Democrats didn't even win this thing, the Republicans lost it. They ran away from the president. 'Hey, the ship's in trouble, quick, let's drown the captain!' We were this close to Jesus coming back. And you Republicans that turned your back on the president are going to wander in the desert for the next two years. Literally, someone's going to have to replace those troops in Iraq." --Stephen Colbert
Saturday Night Live doing a Nancy Pelosi skit:
"We Americans have always been a religious people, a member of my staff tells me. Whatever you may have heard, the Democratic Party is not anti-religion. Whether you're a Wiccan priestess, druid, tantric Buddhist priest.... Presbyterian or member of the Cult of Collie, your faith will be respected, so long as no animals are harmed during your ceremonies -- except, of course, gerbils."

On the diversity of the new Dem-controlled Congress: "Chairing the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers; at Ways and Means, Charles Rangel; at Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson; at Government Reform, Ernesto Guevara Jr.; at Agriculture, this naked hippie and his old lady; at Small Business, yet another black dude; at Finance, the drummer from Rage Against the Machine; and at Intelligence, al-Qaeda number two man Ayman al-Zawahiri. Truly a Congress that looks like America."
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